Sunday, August 28, 2011

Disaster Movie

Credentials: 1.7 out of 10, #21 (Bottom 100) ( / 2% Certified Rotten ( / 15 out of 100 ( / Nominated for SIX Razzies, won nothing at the 29th Annual Golden Raspberry Awards (Worst Picture, Worst Supporting Actress- Kim Kardashian, Worst Supporting Actress- Carmen Electra, Worst Prequel, Sequel, Remake or Rip-off, Worst Director, Worst Screenplay)
Plot: Hmmm… Does the sound of me sobbing uncontrollably count as a plot description? No? Damn, thought I had it. Ok, a group of people wander aimlessly through non sequiturs and pop culture references for 90 of the longest minutes you can possibly imagine. Occasionally a tornado drops by or someone gets crushed by an asteroid, but these events are mere afterthoughts, shoehorned in for the sole purpose of justifying the title.
Thoughts: In honor of the events of this past week (earthquake on Tuesday, hurricane Saturday and Sunday, apocalypse Wednesday) it only seemed appropriate to watch a movie with disaster right there in the title.

Want to watch “Disaster Movie” but don’t feel like actually sitting down and watching “Disaster Movie?” I don’t blame you. Here’s a fun and easy way you can experience it without ruining your cinema street cred with Netflix or the guy behind the counter at Blockbuster.
                Step 1: Turn on your television set
                Step 2: Pick up you television remote control
                Step 3: Place the remote control under a cushion on your couch
                Step: 4: Sit down on said cushion
                Step 5: Remain seated for 90 minutes
                Watching the channels flip by randomly, catching 30 seconds of one show, 15 seconds of another, should give you a pretty good idea of what “Disaster Movie” is like. Actually, it might be slightly more cohesive and linear, but you’ll get the point.
                This movie has absolutely ZERO redeeming qualities. I can’t imagine how anyone or anything walking, crawling or slithering across this great planet of ours or swimming in its oceans could actually derive any sort of twisted pleasure from it.
                Mug shots of writer/directors Aaron Seltzer and Jason Friedberg should be hanging in post offices all around the nation, bearing the phrase: "Wanted for heinous crimes against cinema." This is the decidedly un-dynamic duo behind such noted masterpieces as “Date Movie,” “Meet the Spartans” and “Scary Movie.”  
                Masquerading as a “spoof” of disaster movies, this is anything but. It’s just a collection of clips, characters and jokes from ANYTHING that was popular during the time period after “Epic Movie” came out. “The Day after Tomorrow,” “Juno,” “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls,” even “Hannah Montana” are all fair game for some reason.   
                Seltzer and Friedberg clearly have a very low opinion of their audience. You can almost hear them saying: “We need to have a fart joke or pop culture reference every 3 seconds or we’ll lose them!” And so that’s exactly what they do. It’s ADD filmmaking at its umm… finest, I guess.
                It’s weird because the pair only do comedies, yet they have no comedic timing whatsoever. Like I said, usually the jokes fly way too fast and end up running into each other.  Occasionally though, the jokes are dragged out over painfully long, stretches that had me bargaining with my computer screen for it to all end.
                The best and most clever insight they come up with is to point out that “Juno” doesn’t talk like a high school girl and that the character was “overwritten.” Yeah, except your movie came out a year after “Juno,” and so we all already knew that. And since when did you guys become Billy Shakespeare and Herman Melville? Who are you to criticize anyone else’s writing?
                If you’re still not convinced all of the unsold copies (I’m sure there are plenty) of “Disaster Movie” on DVD and Blu-Ray (HA!) should be rounded up and dropped into an active volcano as a peace offering (or counterattack) to Mother Nature, consider this: Kim Kardashian is one of the female LEADS! And it’s not a reality show or sex tape! Amazing.  
:01- Oh good, got that first poop joke out of the way
:03- Wow, sort of an unfortunate Amy Winehouse joke there
:29- Yeah that stupid foot gag wasn’t funny in “Don’t Mess With the Zohan,” so I’m not sure why you guys thought it would work better here…
:31- Hold on a minute. Was “Jumper” REALLY worth spoofing? I mean, does anyone even remember that movie?
:38- In the last two minutes this movie has ripped off “Terminator” AND “South Park,” now they’re just messing with me
:44- I’m kind of torn between which character is more grating to listen to… the “Enchanted” princess or “Juno”
:57- When are we going to move past this idea that nerdy white people talking and acting like gangsta rappers is funny?
:57- Oh good a Michael Jackson joke. Wouldn’t be a Seltzer/Friedberg joint without one of those
1:12- No one wanted to watch the Love Guru in “Love Guru,” what makes you think we want to watch him in another movie?
1:20- Just dawned on me that this movie was made in 2008. Sad, I really thought we were better than that…
                And so thar she blows. “Disaster Movie.”

                Before we go, let's find out what Hitler thought of "Disaster Movie"

                Spot on. Bumblebee tuna.  

Monday, August 22, 2011

Birdemic: Shock and Terror

Credentials: 15% Certified Rotten ( / 1.9 out of 10 (
Plot: Actual Netflix description: “When sexy model Nathalie (Whitney Moore) and software guru Rod (Alan Bagh) head to a motel for an afternoon tryst, they are attacked by a flock of savage exploding eagles and other birds of prey in the first wave of an all-out avian war against humanity.” Oh thank god she’s a sexy model. I’m so tired of being burned by unattractive models in movies. Better summary: Lingerie model Natalie (don't need the "h") and her horribly awkward and unfathomably lucky boyfriend are menaced by a flock of irritatingly loud birds who occasionally explode. Later the confounding couple are savagely beaten over the head with a metric ton of environmentalist literature.
Thoughts: “Birdemic: Shock and Terror” is like watching a double feature of “An Inconvenient Truth” and “The Happening” with Fran Drescher laughing into your ear for the last half hour. If Al Gore got really, really drunk and was severely concussed, he’d probably come up with something similar to the script of “Birdemic.”      
                Honestly, that doesn’t even do it justice. There are really no words that can properly describe what an astonishing mess this movie is, but I shall do my best.
                Despite its place in the title and prominent mention in the plot summary, the “Birdemic” doesn’t actually take place until very late in the movie. Somewhere around the 45 minute mark. (I can’t say for sure because the “Birdemic” DVD doesn’t bother with time stamps)
                I hope for all of their sakes, the people in this movie were just friends of writer/director/producer James Nguyen. May god have mercy on their souls if they actually consider acting as a possible career path. I appreciate following a dream, but accept your limitations people. You don’t see me trying out for the Pussycat Dolls, do you?
                The most notorious member of this murderer’s row of horrific acting is Alan Bagh, who is sadly our leading man. Bagh is a robot. There's simply no doubt about it. He has the uncanny ability to make walking down the street appear unnatural. In fact, the only thing more awkward than his walking (or talking or general existence) is his dancing, which we’re also forced to endure.   
                To be fair to the actors, Nguyen’s script contains some of the most stilted dialogue ever put to paper. (At one point Bagh says: “I think you’ll look great in those lingerie.”) Still, it’s called acting guys. You don’t need to read every single typo on the page right? Who are you Ron Burgundy?
                Anyway, the dialogue itself is bad enough, but editor Kim Chow makes it worse with her insane habit of letting scenes linger way too long. The end result goes something like this: Start on shot of guy. “Hi my name is Rod.” One Mississippi. Two Mississippi. Three Mississippi. Cut to girl. “Hi I’m Nathalie!”
                Another weird production flaw occurs when the characters head outside. Their dialogue often gets drowned out by heavy winds blowing into the microphone. No one thought about fixing that in post?
                For a while “Birdemic” teeters into the “so horribly bad it’s hilarious” territory of “The Room.” But then the actual bird attack comes along and ruins everything.
                The last act is borderline unwatchable due to the horrible, endless screeching sounds the winged villains make. I actually had to mute my computer a few times because the high-pitched shrieks were upsetting my dog.
                The effects that bring the birds to life are only marginally worse than the ones featured in the old Nintendo game “Duck Hunt.”                       
                One more script problem: The characters seem to have only a passing fear of the killer birds, once even wandering into the middle of a huge field to have a picnic. There are exploding birds on the loose and you’re having a picnic?!
Lastly, ham-handed doesn’t even begin to describe the movie’s eco message. Characters make senseless statements like: I’m not worried about the birds (which explode, did I mention that?), I’m worried about global warming!
                They’re called priorities you idiots! Deal with the killer birds first and THEN worry about global warming!
Breakdown (No time stamps because the DVD sucks)
--- Hmmm… I’ve never heard of a “Supporting Casts” credit before…
--- What do you mean you caught the big fish, Bagh? Does it still count as “catching” if you have to bribe it with a 50% discount?
--- "So you’re a cat’s lover?" Hang on. Did Nguyen type this script with his feet or did Bagh’s character just accuse the girl of bestiality?
--- I’m confused, does her mom want her to be a real estate agent or a gold digger?
--- You’re literally a millionaire! You own a huge house! So why the heck are you bringing your lingerie model girlfriend to a sleazy motel to get it on?
--- If only this movie had someone get killed by acidic bird pee… oh wait! Cross that one off the list.
--- Wow… these kids just watched their parents get eaten by eagles, but give them a PSP and some Band-Aids and they’re good to go
Video Evidence
Yeah, the whole thing is this bad

The clapping was not doctored in any way. That's how it was edited in the movie.
I forgot about the ear-splitting soundtrack

CUT! For the love of god cut!

And now for a word or two on "Birdemic: Shock and Terror" from our friends at RiffTrax!
                And so there it is: “Birdemic: Shock and Terror.” Bumblebee tuna.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Omega Man (1971)

Credentials: 6.6 out of 10 ( / 59% Certified Rotten (
Plot: The year is 1977 and Earth has been decimated by a supervirus released during a war between Russia and China. Way to go guys. Anyway, most of the Earth’s population is dead and the rest have turned into silly-looking albino mutants. The closest thing to a normal person left on the planet is Charlton Heston, for God sake. Heston plays Robert Neville, the last man on Earth and a military doctor hell bent on finding a cure to the supervirus. Better late than never I suppose. Meanwhile, the mutants are hell bent on killing Neville because he is “a user of the wheel” as they put it. Meh, I guess Texas has killed people for less.
Thoughts: I hate to play the “not as good as the book” card, but there’s no way around it in this case. I’ll make it quick like a Band-Aid. Ready? At no point during its 90 minute run time does “The Omega Man” even come close to doing its source material, Richard Matheson’s “I Am Legend,” justice.
                The only way the film could have treated Matheson’s work with less respect would be to have had Heston using copies of the novella for target practice. Maybe that was a deleted scene.
                “The Omega Man” breaks a handful of the cardinal rules of cinema and ends up looking like a second rate, cheap knock-off instead of a legitimate Hollywood movie.
                During far shots of a supposedly deserted downtown LA, you can see cars driving along the stretches of road the filmmakers didn’t shut down. Hmm… so Heston is the last man on Earth, except for those people in the other cars? Congrats filmmakers, you’ve taken me out of the movie before it even got going.
                Also, the movie features SEVERAL jump cuts.
Now look, editors have a tough job. No one notices what they’re doing unless it’s incredibly good or… as is the case here… an unmitigated disaster. No movie with any sort of budget should have jump cuts in it. Ever. No excuses.
Charlton Heston, one of the most notorious hams in movie history, is our acting main event. Sadly, he doesn’t deliver the bacon (or any other pig product) like he usually does. I mean sure he holds conversations with a bust of Caesar and wears more track suits than Sue Silvester, but I wanted some more over-the-top and wholly unnecessary shouting.
I mean, we got some, but not nearly enough. Certainly nothing as memorable as: "Soylent Green is... (Spoiler Alert to all my readers in 1973)... people!" 
 Instead, we get one insanely creepy scene where Neville lovingly caresses a mannequin. Thankfully, he gets interrupted before he could start rounding the bases with his plastic gal pal.
    I feel like I'm repeating myself but: Another bad movie, another uninteresting set of villains. The mutants with their silly robes, extra pale complexions and big speeches aren’t scary or menacing in any way.
It’s extremely hard to take someone seriously when they say things like “users of the wheel.”
By the by, just where the hell did they all find those matching black robes? Did they hand sew them? Where did they get the thread? Are those sunglasses they wear handmade also? Surely if the mutants don’t like the wheel, things like synthetic fibers and plastics aren’t kosher either…
Also, they hate technology, but they use a catapult. Certainly no technology there... this is what happens when bad writers try to be clever.
With plot holes like that, it’s clear the script is a sorry state of affairs. It’s just not possible to care about anyone or anything in the movie.
None of the side characters manage to distinguish themselves in at all. The side plots are there solely to pad the run time.
When you consider Matheson’s smart and depressing novella, the script for “Omega Man” looks even worse.
The fact that screenwriters John William Corrington and Joyce Hooper Corrington were able to take a fully realized vision and still somehow drop the ball is a startling display of mediocrity. Although to be fair, there have been three stabs at adapting “I Am Legend” and none have been any good so maybe it’s harder to pull off than it seems.
Or maybe a good writer hasn’t ever been given a crack at it.
:01- Take that you damn dirty ape! Wait, what movie is this?
:09- Damn right there’s no phone, there’s no spoon either.
:13- Simmer down ladies, it’s just a shirtless Chuck Heston talking to his reflection. Nothing to see here.
:16- I’m so tired of the whole jive-talking, zombie druid with an afro cliché.
:32- Maybe he’s allergic to shirts.
:39- “Take him to… the little room!” Oh no! Not the little room! Anything but the little room! Worst threat ever? Yes.
:43- So, Neville’s punishment for being a “user of the wheel” is to wear a giant dunce cap?
:44- I’m sort of rooting for Neville to get killed and an hour’s worth of end credits
1:13- God, can’t keep a shirt on Neville. Should’ve just done the whole movie shirtless. Cut the wardrobe budget in half and hired a real editor
1:17- Shirtless again! Twice in four minutes! Insane

Video Evidence
Heston on trial
This is what happens when the NRA gets their way

                So there you have it, “The Omega Man.” Maybe one day a writer will get “I Am Legend” right. I mean, someone other than Matheson. Or maybe three strikes and we’re out.
                Bumblebee tuna.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Alien Apocalypse (2005)

Credentials: N/A (Not reviewed, / 4.3 out of 10 ( / N/A (Not Reviewed,
Plot: A team of astronauts, led by smart-aleck Dr. Ivan Hood (Bruce Campbell), return from a mission to the far-reaches of outer space, expecting at the very least some type of ticker-tape parade to celebrate their homecoming. Instead, they find that Earth has been taken over by a gang of over-sized alien termites and all of humanity has been enslaved. Not content to let the wood-chompin’ ETs spoil his party--- and armed with a chin capable of cutting diamonds and a never ending quiver of one-liners--- Hood sets out to exterminate the hostile infestation with extreme prejudice. Hail to the king, baby!
Thoughts: The cover of the “Alien Apocalypse” DVD box boldly proclaims it as the “Highest Rated Sci-Fi (now: Sy-Fy) Pictures Original of All Time!” Now, you can take that as either a symptom of how unwatchable every other Sci-Fi Original was or simply attribute it to fanboy willingness to give everything B-movie icon Bruce Campbell does the time of day.
                Campbell is a truly unique species of actor, one who can survive even in the harshest of climates. Good script or putrid script, he’ll be immensely entertaining regardless. His quick wit, signature mannerisms and over-the-top persona can elevate even the mangiest movies to enjoyable levels.
He’s on his wise-ass best in “Alien Apocalypse,” happily tossing around one-liners and corn-ball jokes with ease.
                He needs his A-game too because he is surrounded by very little. The rest of the cast is comprised of a bunch of Bulgarian actors who apparently spoke very little English and worse: Renee O’Connor, who regular readers may remember from another Cheese List stinker: “2010: Moby Dick.”
                O’Connor is nothing special. All the role calls for her to do is sit back and be seduced by Campbell’s charms, which she does. So, from that point of view--- great success!
                The movie’s only an hour and 23 minutes, so even though the story loses steam in the second half, it could be worse.
                The biggest problem: The aliens aren’t particularly threatening or effective in any way. Also, I’m not sure who decided they should all sound like Spongebob on helium, but it was a mistake.
                Once the humans start fighting back, the aliens pretty much roll over. They’re dispatched so easily that it makes you wonder how they managed to take over the Earth in the first place. I know this isn’t a documentary but still, my disbelief can only be suspended so far.
                The effects that bring the giant termite villains to life are exactly what you’d expect from a Sci-Fi Channel production--- cheap and hokey. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I’m just saying.
                Now, Campbell’s spun gold out of cheap effects and shaky stories before, but here he’s a man on an island. He does his best, but by god he’s only flesh and blood.
                Like I said, the rest of the cast is just so utterly forgettable and useless.
                Even though Campbell’s the only actor anyone remembers from the “Evil Dead” movies, he actually co-starred in them with Sam Raimi’s insane sense of humor. And so movie history was made.
“Alien Apocalypse” writer/director Josh Becker (longtime friend to both Campbell and Raimi) does an admirable job and he shares some of Raimi’s visual flair and penchant for silly sight gags, but he’s just not nearly on the same level.
The jokes are spread too thin and the action scenes are underwhelming. Maybe if the fearsome alien overlords weren’t such sissies and didn’t die so easily.
                Still, Campbell’s performance, along with the breezy run time, makes it impossible not to like “Alien Apocalypse.” Fanboys will certainly get a kick out of it and the uninitiated should get a good laugh or two.
                Besides, as far as straight to DVD Sci-Fi Channel productions go, you could do a lot worse.
                :01- I’ve said it before: How come no matter who is in charge of the planet (humans, aliens, monkeys, orcs) horses always get stuck carting everyone around? Is there no justice? When's "Planet of the Horses" coming out?!
                :14- So the aliens came to Earth to dine on wood, heads, fingers. You’d be hard-pressed to find a pallet that diverse anywhere, other than the Food Network, of course. Those people will eat anything.
                :36- Question- “How do slugs mate?” Answer (provided by Campbell)-“Very carefully.
                :45- “Tippacanoe and Tyler too?” Holy crap, you’ve found a reference that falls on deaf ears both in the future AND in 2005. Well played.      
                :59- What?! An ineffective politician? Well, I never!
                1:07- Wow, “Alien Apocalypse” just turned into “Robin Hood,” only instead of Kevin Costner, we get Bruce Campbell and giant termites… fair trade.
Video Evidence
Bruce being Bruce...

Incredible one-liner
Uhhhh... yeah.
                So there it is: “Alien Apocalypse.” Bumblebee tuna.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Ghost Rider

Credentials: 5.2 out of 10 ( / 27% Certified Rotten ( / 35 out of 100 (
Plot: A motorcycle stuntman named Johnny Blaze (Nicholas Cage) sells his soul to a devil (not THE Devil, but some second rate demon called Mephistopheles) to save his father’s life. Blaze is then apparently cursed with the ability to become an indestructible, fire-wielding member of Mephistopheles’ debt collection team. I say apparently because there doesn’t appear to be any downside to this alleged curse. Blaze maintains his free will, often doing the exact opposite of what his other-worldly pimp desires and gets all those cool new super powers to go with it. Plus, his head turns into a flaming, pun-spewing skull at night, which is totally awesome. Oh yeah, and eventually a bunch of other demons show up to take over the world and Blaze has to stop them. Still, as far as curses go, doesn’t seem so bad.
Thoughts: I was one of those unlucky souls who saw “Ghost Rider” when it first slithered its way into theaters way back in 2007. I remember walking out of that theater a little dazed and confused by what I had just witnessed. Not even several savage slaps to my face by a trusted business associate could lift me out of my fog.
The plot was a complete and utter mystery, a fact that’s haunted me ever since.

Determined not to let “Ghost Rider” beat me, I sat down to watch it again, four years older and wiser. My senses honed by over half a year of sifting through Hollywood’s garbage.
I’m proud to say that after my second viewing, I now can claim to understand “Ghost Rider.” I wouldn’t recommend that others sit through it twice, I’m a trained professional and it’s just not worth it.
After all, there's more to a good movie than just understanding what’s going on.
For starters, the script by Mark Steven Johnson (who also directed this) isn’t anything special. I don’t know why, but for whatever reason the pun is the best friend of the horrible writer. Without any sort of skill to fall back on, these individuals take to cramming as many puns as they can into a single line of dialogue.
The biggest thing working against “Ghost Rider,” though, is for an action movie, it lacks any sort of action. Our hero swats away his main adversaries like they were flies. The end result is like watching someone play a videogame on easy.  You can’t help but thinking: “Boy there should be more to it than that!”
Nicholas Cage takes a lot of heat for being a bad actor. I disagree with that. I think he’s an OK actor who makes horrible choices. And despite that, he rarely just collects a paycheck. He’s always willing to burn calories for his audience, usually donning a crazy wig and/or silly accent. Anything to keep people interested. Sometimes it works, sometimes not so much.
Cage is in all his glory here. He eats red and yellow jelly beans out of a martini glass, he’s obsessed with howler monkeys and adores The Carpenters. If any of that was in the script, I’d be shocked. So credit where credit is due, at least he’s trying.
The same can’t be said for his supporting players.
The legendary Peter Fonda (Mephistopheles) wanders around like a lost child in an amusement park. It’s hard to blame him, the script is also pretty directionless. The rest of the demons, led by Edward Cullen wannabe Blackheart (Wes Bentley) are just as forgettable.
Eva Mendes is hot, the great Sam Elliott is old and grizzled and Donal Logue is… umm… there. Really, other than Cage, no one’s even breaking a sweat.   
:16- The amazing Johnny Blaze? What? I could not land that jump too and it wouldn’t make me amazing.   
:34- If you ever wanted to watch two demons fight over a light switch, well, here you go
:54- The obvious question here would be: “Hey, Sam Elliott, how do you know the ins and outs of life as a Ghost Rider?”
1:00- People do a lot of leaving town in this movie. I think that’s a strictly Hollywood thing. In the real world, people move, they don’t leave town
1:12- The trail of fire Ghost Rider’s motorcycle leaves is a pretty horrible plan. Makes him pretty easy to track down. “Which way did he go?” “I dunno, maybe we should follow this flaming trail.”
1:14- Ghost Rider just took a dump all over the laws of physics
1:19- Really Johnny Blaze!? Still NO interest in how Sam Elliott knows the intricate and mysterious history of the Ghost Rider?! Not concerned at all about that, even a tiny bit???     
Video Evidence
Take that physics...
                So there you have it: “Ghost Rider.” Mark your calendars, kiddies, there’s a sequel coming out in February!
                Bumblebee tuna.