Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Dukes See a Movie: Dredd 3D

"I am the law." Never has there been a one line tag line that has encompassed the feel of an entire movie better that this one does. Dredd takes place in a future in which the world has been devastated by nuclear war and the country is a wasteland. The entire American population of 800 million is living inside a mega city that stretches from Boston to Washington DC (aptly named Mega City 1). The skyline is dominated by super skyscrapers, hundreds of stories high that are surrounding by the crumbling ruins of the old cities.

It is in this city that we find Judge Dredd. He works for the Hall of Justice as, you guessed it, a judge. It this cramped society, crime was running rampant and the old judicial system did not have the ability to keep order. So as a solution they streamlined the entire process. Now, the men and women of the Hall of Justice act as police, judge, jury and, if the judgment demands it, executioner. In this society Dredd is in fact "the law", and if I were in his shoes I would like saying it as well.

Yeah you are!
This movie is another in a long line of comic book adaptations and movie remakes. The character got his start in the late seventies in Great Britain in a serial called 2000 AD. He has been a super popular character for years over there and has had some struggles crossing over here. A major issue was with the 1995 film adaptation, Judge Dredd with Sylvester Stallone. It was a terrible movie, but to be completely honest if it is late at night and I see it on demand I will watch it and I will enjoy it, nothing will ever change that.

Many fans of the comic were upset by the movie because they took away the best parts of the character and decided to add some random character development. In the comics you never see Dredd's face. It was started as an unofficial guideline, but ended up being put down as an official rule for the artists to follow. The creator John Wagner explained it this way. "It sums up the facelessness of justice- justice has no soul. So it isn't necessary to see Dredd's face, and I don't want you to."  The first movie failed in that regard a ton. You see Stallone's face all over the place. If you really want an example I can show you a picture. I am warning you it isn't pretty.

Well if you are sure...

He had this look on his face the entire time.
The best part is that he wore blue contacts for the role when in the comics they don't even know the color of his eyes so his normal brown eyes would have been just fine. Silly Hollywood. I guess enough time (17 years seems like enough) had passed and the powers that be felt a remake would be a good thing, and I find myself agreeing with them.

In this version the titular character is played by Karl Urban. You might remember him from his role in RED or his role as Bones in the new Star Trek movie. His chiseled jaw and even stubble made him a great person for a role that would require him to cover everything but his mouth and chin.

As the movie starts Dredd is tasked with taking a new recruit out into the field for a final exam. The recruit is a young mutant psychic. They are out on a normal case when it takes a turn towards mayhem. The building defenses go up and the two judges are forced to fight their way up the building. For those of you that say it is just like The Raid you are wrong and should feel bad for being wrong.

See even Zoidberg agrees with me.

For having a fairly limited budget by today's standards I thought they did a good job with the special effects. The movie uses the popular time slow down technique, but they actually come up with a reason as to why it is being used. Having that logic in there made me happy. Urban does a great job being the stalwart no-nonsense judge. He doesn't convey many emotions because he isn't conflicted by who he is and what he is doing. If you have nothing against violent images and you want to see a good shoot 'em up movie I would recommend this one. Also I would like to leave you with this message.

Rating: 4 stars

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Dukes See a Movie: Resident Evil: Retribution

Well this was the reunion episode of the series. They were kinda tired from all the "writing" and they decided they would just reintroduce some of the old characters and creatures to make it easy, because writing new things is just too hard. I should have known what I was in for since the director clearly has a type of movie he loves to make. That type just happens to be crappy ones with lots of violence and nonexistent plots. I will give you a few examples here: Death Race, DOA Dead or Alive, The Three Musketeers (the crappy new one), Alien VS Predator, Mortal Combat (not terrible) and five Resident Evil films. I am sure there is a special place in Hell reserved for this man; Ricky claims it is right next to the man responsible for Skyline and I hope that for all eternity they are forced to watch each other's movies. Each moment of agony they suffer as they attempt to kill each other, without results since you can't murder corpses, is well deserved for the pain and suffering they have caused to me and my friends.

This is the intro to my nightmares.
As you already know there wasn't much of a plot so I will give you what I was thinking as the movie progressed.

Movie starts: "Hey that intro was kinda cool."
8 minutes in: "Oh look they are going to rescue Alice so they can get on with the rest of the story."
15 minutes in: "This rescue will be ending shortly."
35 minutes in: "Wow this rescue is taking longer than I thought."
40 minutes in: "Are those zombie Nazis?'
80 minutes in: "Hey look they are on the surface and Alice is fully rescued! Oh wait no she isn't. Stupid submarines."
90 minutes in: "This looks awesome they finally have gathered together as the last remnants of humanity to fight the infected! The evil army outside is huge and awesome looking! This is going to be fantastic!"
93 minutes in: "Wait those had better not be the credits. That cannot be the end of this! I got Skylined* again!"

*Skylined- To be Skylined is to be suckered into a movie with the promise of something decent. As the movie goes along you hate so many things about it, but at the end something happens that makes you think the movie might have found redemption. As you get your hopes up again and begin to believe anew the credits begin. It is the Rick roll of the movie world, but without the catchy song.

You never should give them up Rick, never.

I was so blown away that this had happened to me again that as the credits began to roll I began to laugh. Not a quiet gentle laugh, but one of those guffaws that come from deep in the belly. It was the only reaction that made sense to me at the time. I felt that if I didn't laugh I would be forced to rip up the row of seats we were on and use them to batter the screen until I collapsed in the shredded remains of the fabric, weeping for an end of terrible movies that I know will never come.  The movie was a constant barrage of poor acting, poor writing and stupid one liners. The only redeeming quality of the movie was the fact that Milla Jovovich is an attractive lady and things got shot.

Don't see this movie. I don't care if you have nothing better to do. It is not worth dying a little more on the inside just to kill some time.

Rating: 1 Star

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Dukes See a Movie: Lawless

Before I get into the movie review there is something I need to tell you. Now I want you to know that this has nothing to do with you, it is all me. If that sounds kind of like a breakup you are right, but you are wrong about the implication. Yes I am going to be spending some time other places and with some other blogs. Just because I am joining Spencer and Nathan on Spitwads doesn't mean that I will care for this blog any less. I am still a Duke at heart and I want you to know that. Well that seems a little more melodramatic than I meant. The truth is the new blog is a blessing. It means that you all have access to more writers who happen to put together much better posts than I do. I will be posting the movie reviews in both places, but each one will also be getting original content in the form of my other random thoughts. I am sure that in time you will come to understand what I have done and forgive me. 

Any movie based on a true story is subject to artistic license. In this case the movie is based on a book called "The Wettest County in the World". This book just happens to be written by one of the descendants of the Bondurant brothers and who in the world would try and paint a better picture of their ancestors? Now I am not going to say that he purposefully put them in a better light to look more like the Han Solo version of rebels (I totally am), but it seems like a bit of a stretch to say that "when the law became corrupt, outlaws became heroes." like it does on the movie poster. What are they the modern day version of Robin Hood and his band of Merry Men? They clearly were in it for their own profit and not to improve life of the community.

I was quite pleased with the casting of this movie for the most part. The only one I was worried about was Shia LaBeouf. He has always just come across as super whiny and just about the worst thing ever. In Transformers he seemed to feel entitled to everything because he had done something noble once. I helped an old lady across the street the other day and I don't think I deserve some huge reward or howdy do about it. Same thing goes for his characters in Wall Street (awful movie) and Indiana Jones (awfuler movie). In all honesty I miss the young LaBeouf from Holes. Why can't he be more like that?

What do you know? Age IS related to douchiness in his case. 
I hold the rest of the cast in a much higher regard. I am a huge Tom Hardy fan and that made me super excited for this movie. The best news for me is that the filming for this took place at the same time as filming for The Dark Knight Rises so he was still all huge and bulky. We also were going to see Guy Pearce as a crazed lawman in from Chicago and Jessica Chastain as a former dancer looking for some quiet. Gary Oldman is a part of the cast as well, but he appears in the movie so briefly I think they just had an agreement that if they could use his name in the marketing they would throw fistfuls of money at him.

Ah the joys of being a name prostitute
With all the cast in place I was hoping for a good story. As the movie starts we see the three Bondurant brothers working together as moonshine makers and small time bootleggers during the Prohibition Era. Shia is the youngest and whiniest brother (big surprise there). Tom is the middle brother, but he is in charge of the operation due to his levelheadedness and supposed invincibility. The oldest brother is a drunken brawler who at times is not dependable.

Things are going along just fine until a new deputy, who also happens to be an OCD sociopath, comes into town and demands that he and the other officials need a cut of the bootlegging profits or they will be shut down. That is a quite shady, but is it really surprising that someone would try to take advantage of people doing something illegal? Well that whole thing didn't make the non-murderable Bondurant very happy, and he made his feeling known.

Kinda like this but outside and more old timey
So the movie goes on and the two sides to battle and one comes out the victor. I enjoyed the movie overall, but there were a few places where I felt the story dragged a little. There were some very good action scenes and also some moments that made me laugh. There was even a scene that I swear took place near Hogwarts. If you were to guess what scene and you said the one where Harry has to face the dementors on a frozen lake you would be correct.

Still not 100% sure which movie this came from
Rating 4 Stars

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Dukes See a Movie: The Expendables 2

If a movie ever had a chance to give you chest hair this one would be in the top five for sure. Almost every actor in this movie could be considered a man's man and when you put them all together pure awesomeness in the form of violence is sure to come out. As you go down the casting list each name is as manly as the next. Just reading the names made it seem like a grizzly bear was riding a laser beam shooting Abraham Lincoln while holding an American flag. It is the sort of experience that can do nothing but pump you up. I case you don't believe me read some of the actors and a few things they have been in.

  • Sylvester Stallone- Rocky I-VI (or six hundred), Rambo I-IV (The Bloodening), Judge Dredd (he is the law!), Cliffhanger (who knew John Lithgow could play a villain?).
  • Jason Statham- Transporter I-III (watch how you drive after seeing these), Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, and any other movie where they needed a tough street savvy British guy.
  • Jet Li- This man is a martial arts legend. All of you should watch these movies: Once Upon a Time in China I-III, Tai-Chi Master, Fist of Legend, The One, Hero, and the other 38 movies he has been in.
  • Dolph Lundgren- I have a soft spot in my heart for this giant Swede, partly because I too am a giant Swede. He was Drago in Rocky IV (he must break you), he was also He-Man in Masters of the Universe.
  • Chuck Norris- I don't know where to begin with this man. In his professional fighting career he fought for ten years and at the end he retired as undefeated Professional Full-Contact Middleweight Champion and was fighter of the year several times. Watch him in Lone Wolf McQuade, Way of the Dragon and Missing in Action I-III. Oh he was also the first westerner to ever be awarded with the 8th degree black belt in Tae Kwan Do.
  • Jean-Claude Van Damme- He has one of the greatest nicknames out there "The Muscles from Brussels". So many fighters out there would give up almost anything for a nickname like that. See him in Bloodsport (even though Bolo Yeung has the better pecs), Kickboxer, Lionheart, Universal Soldier and Street Fighter.
  • Bruce Willis- Die Hard I-IV (soon to add V: Die the Harderest) and any other role with a tough cop/retired military (The Fifth Element, The Siege, Hart's War, Tears of the Sun, Hostage, Sin City, and more).
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger- The former Mr. Universe became the go to guy for action movies. Everyone out there has heard at least one of his corny one liners, but most people haven't had the joy of seeing him in his first role as Hercules in Hercules in New York. It is so bad it is awesome, but only see it once. Other titles include: Conan the Barbarian and Destroyer, Terminator I-II (III didn't happen), Commando, Predator, Total Recall and a billion others.
  • Terry Crews- The really muscly guy in the new Old Spice Commercials. Maybe the Longest Yard can be put on here or I guess there is Terminator Salvation. He was in the NFL for about six years so that counts maybe. I think they felt they needed a black action star and I guess they didn't want Fred Williamson which saddens me. I like Terry Crews but we could have had Black Caesar.
  •   Randy Couture- MMA legend. First champion to hold belts in two weight classes in the UFC.
You see it too don't you?

Just reading over the previous part almost gave me a black eye. Now for the actual review. The first Expendables movie was just one large pile of action that they tried to claim had a plot because you saw Mickey Rourke cry. This one didn't try to put together a plot with actual character development so that made it much better. I was not going into this looking for a story. I wanted random violence and explosions and boy did it deliver.

Imagine this for 103 minutes

The best part is that no one took it too seriously. For example Chuck Norris made a Chuck Norris joke about himself and several of his old movies were referenced. When he first shows up on screen they say "hey we heard that you had been bitten by a cobra" Chuck responds back with "yeah I was. After five days of excruciating pain the cobra died." That is classic. Dolph Lundgren gets in on the self-ridicule when they make a remark that his character has an advanced degree in chemical engineering and that he left his Fulbright scholarship to MIT to be a bouncer to impress a girl. The truth is that in real life he does have a master's degree in chemical engineering but he left MIT to be a bodyguard for his girlfriend at the time. There also is a part where Arnold says "I'll be back" and Bruce says "you've been back enough I'll be back" to which Arnold responds "Yippee Ki Yay".  During that same scene the two of them steal a Smart car and make fun of it and rip off the doors. That is now one of my life goals.
This will happen!
I won't go into the plot very much because there isn't much of one and really who cares. All I will say is the bad guy is Jean-Claude Van Damme and he does a spinning jump kick to Stallone's face. Twice. The actors are also in really good shape for being the age of many retirees in this country. I hope I can have those muscles when I am that age. Maybe if I watch this movie enough the manliness will rub off and I will succeed in that goal. A guy can dream at least.

Rating 3.75 stars.