Movie Madness Update #4

Movies featured in this update in BULLET TO THE HEAD, OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL, HANSEL & GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS, JOHN DIES AT THE END, WRONG AND PARKER

#191: Bullet to the Head

Sly Stallone is 67 years old. He has been making action films probably more longer than any other actor in Hollywood history. His age just seems to make him leaner and meaner when it comes to taking down bad guys as 2008’s Rambo marked a new style for Stallone. In “Bullet to the Head”, Stallone teams with grisled action director Walter Hill. It is shocking that the two have been making action films since the mid-70s and never worked together. Hill is famous for “48 Hrs”, “Red Heat” and the 70s classic “The Warriors”. “Bullet” is a southern-fried buddy action flick with hitman Stallone teaming with police detective (Fast Five’s Sung Kang). They are out to takedown a ruthless despot (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) after turns on Stallone’s character. Like Stallone’s previous action films, Bullet is brutal and stylish and the key fight between Stallone and Jason Mamoa is nowhere near as fun or choreographed as when Stallone took down Jean Claude Van Damme in “Expendables 2”. There are so real fun throwbacks to cop-buddy flicks but this really is just popcorn and a case of beer kind of flick and not much more. (3 out of 5)

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#192: Oz the Great and Powerful

I cringed at the idea of Disney to try and reawaken the magic of OZ. I threw a tantrum when James Franco was cast as the lead. I feared the worst and who dares try remake the biggest classic of all time. But after pushing my preconceptions aside, OZ isn’t a remake but really a look at OZ, the place, from a different perspective. Kind of like what author L. Frank Baum did with his non-centric Dorothy stories. Franco’s casting kind of works because OZ, the magician, is a con-artist and freeloader. He’s no hero instead an opportunist. The movie has quite an interesting flavor for about half the film. The other half needed some work. The length of the film. Mila Kunis‘s transformation is kind of sad. And Rachel Weisz feels like she is standing on a soapbox trying to sell some cheap remedy. It just meanders too much and never gets the just due from it’s ensemble. (3 out of 5)

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#193: Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters

The title pretty much sums up what the film is all about. The folk tale siblings are all grown up and now hunting down the dastardly witches who tried to bake them for dinner. Hansel is the muscle and a diabetic from eating all that sugar in the witch house. Gretel is the charisma and she carries around defibrillator that is charged by a crank. The movie is extremely goofy and well extremely loud.  Jeremy Renner made “H&G” a couple years before “The Avengers” and “Mission: Impossible 4” so it is interesting to see his performance here and how it is a precursor to becoming the action hero he is now. All I can say is it was better than “Van Helsing”! (2 out of 5)

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#194: John Dies at the End

Director Don Coscarelli saw a resurgence in his career when he made the indie super-hit “Bubba Ho-Tep“. It was an unlikely occurrence since his last hit was the 80s horror franchise “Phantasm”. So what was Don going to do for a follow-up? Meet Dave and John, two slackers/supernatural hunters who one night take a drug called Soy Sauce. The drug opens their minds both psychically and figuratively to another world.  My favorite scene is “I have something to show you in my truck.” That scene just really brings home the premise. It’s like “Naked Lunch” meets TV’s “Supernatural”. The problem with the film is an hour in it forgets to keep having fun and gets bogged down in useless weirdness. Coscarelli did have similar problems with “Bubba” and pulled it around but here he burns up on reentry   (2.5 out of 5)

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#195: Wrong

I can sum up this film in seven easy words. “The weirdest comedy I have ever seen”. See it and be completely baffled like me. Witness the Weird! (3 out of 5)

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#196: Parker

Statham isn’t all invulnerable and a superman in this film. Statham plays a thief who is double-crossed by his crew and left for dead. So he goes on the warpath as his former buddies try to takedown the filthy rich of Palm Beach. Statham runs into a realtor (Jennifer Lopez) who might know where his former crew are. So they team up to split the score and terminate the crew. Lopez is the damsel in this film and Statham is the anti-hero. The movie seems like it came from a script punch-card but thanks to director Curtis Hanson (LA Confidential) we really get more of a treat than a cliche. Hanson grounds Statham and he’s actually quite vulnerable. He also keeps Lopez in check. A little goes a long way. It is a really solid and enjoyable Statham action flick. (4 out of 5)

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