"Arguably two of the greatest martial artists in the world today."
Setup on false drug charges, George "The Iceman" Chambers is sent to a Russian prison that just happens to be home to underground Fighting circuit, where the warden and Russian mob attempt to cohearce Chambers into fighting.
I can't give Michael Jai White enough praise, the man's a weapon of mass destruction and I'm happy to sit back and watch the world (and the bad guys) burn. UNDISPUTED 2 was known to me when it first hit DVD, but for some reason I forgot about it until my MJW fix needed to be administered. And did I ever get high off BLOOD AND BONE, White's newest martial arts throwdown. Then, after writing a piece for JoBlo on oldschool martial artists (C'mon Hollywood #222), and befriending my man Loren Avedon (KING OF THE KICKBOXERS, NO RETREAT, NO SURRENDER 2,3), he and I got to talking about martial artists and he mentioned UNDISPUTED 2, thankfully slapping it back on my radar.
MJW is fantastic here, but he's not the only guy in the spotlight this time around. Scott Adkins (who Avedon also spoke very highly of), is all over this flick in a huge fucking way. Apparently Adkins is a lot like White, a guy who's been in the martial arts biz for years, waiting for a break. I'm happy to also add that Adkins was in X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE, playing the role of Weapon XI, the doctored up Deadpool with all the crazy abilities and sewn up mouth. Sure, he almost looks like Ryan Reynolds, but come on, did you really think Reynolds was pulling off all those sweet martial arts moves. Both these men are phenomenal at their craft and BOTH deserve to see more A-list action flicks. Fellas, I'm in your corner!
The story, tone, look and feel of this film are congruent with what you've come to expect over the years by way of Jean Claude Van Damme, Steven Seagal, Jet Li and so many others. I had a guy respond to my C'mon Hollywood article with an argument about the repetition of these sorts of films, which begs the question of "do we really need to see the same ol, same ol" five, ten or how ever many times the martial artist in question makes a movie. I understand the theory behind this question, but in all honesty, we're all slaves to repetition and not only is it very necessary, but nine times out of ten we're foaming at the mouth in anticipation. Why make BATMAN 3 or IRONMAN 2? We KNOW Bruce and Tony are going to win, but we still enjoy the repetitive journey so long as it's provocative and entertaining.
UNDISPUTED 2 is a worthwhile watch, a fighting movie with a decent story and some heart mixed in there to tug at a heartstring or two. Michael Jai White's presence onscreen is nothing short of "awe"some, and you bet your ass I wanna a hell of a lot more from Scott Adkins. There is so much potential out there for great action flicks, if Hollywood execs would break this awful pattern of laziness and remake fascination. I for one, want to see more action, and these are two men I want to see tearing it up on screen. Until that happens, do yourself a favor and watch UNDISPUTED 2, BLOOD AND BONE, and re-watch WOLVERINE if for no other reason than take another look at Adkins's prowess. And for MJW fans, lets just hope his (rumored) attachment to PREDATORS is something to look forward to.
"Arguably two of the greatest martial artists in the world today."
News: Exclusive: First Look At Robert Rodriguez's Predators!! | Latino Review
I try not to get too excited about scrips as they don't always pan out, which can be really depressing if you read something you liked (like the HE-MAN script that was going around a few months ago, which was ultimately squashed). I enjoyed the CONAN script and I have to say this PREDATORS script seems promising to say the least. It was also interesting to hear that Rodriguez first propositioned this after the original PREDATOR. Let's hope people adhere to this vision and give us something else to look forward to next summer. Click the above link and head over to Latino Review for the video.
Now here's the opposite side of the remake spectrum in CHILDREN OF THE CORN. Fact one: This was never a good movie idea or franchise. Face two: Beware any trailer that's only about minute and a half long. Fact 3: You pretty much KNOW a remake of a film is gonna be a complete piece of fucking garbage when doesn't hit theaters and goes straight to DVD. Please, watch and indulge in this trailer to see just how low Hollywood will stoop to try and make an extra buck by squeezing the holy hell out of a run down, pathetic premise.
Well, the much anticipated (debated) first look at the Platinum Dune's NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET remake. I love the setting, the gloomy backdrop and overall revamped taste of a classic masterpiece. Will it hold up? Well, the acting seems to be there, Jackie Earl Haley MADE the WATCHMEN so I can only assume he'll rock Freddy out of the park here. This IS only a teaser, so like the title implies, we only get "teased" by a quick look at Fred's mug. It looks good so far, and it's rated R, so I'm hungry for more.
"Hang on, the Joker hacked into my Facebook again and fucked everything up."
In a time of economic crisis, Lex Luthor takes advantage of the situation and buys the presidency. As the new President of the United States, he sets Superman up for murder and then puts a one billion dollar ransom on his head.
As I've previously mentioned, the world of anime (especially on the Comic book front) has done nothing but excel over the past five years. And despite being the underdogs, DC has managed to hold their own with Marvel this year, if not tip the scales a bit in their favor. I won't get into the semantics surrounding the Marvel/Disney merger, or DC's quest to re-launch (and re-invigorate) their roster, but all in all, DC's stock has greatly improved in this fan's eyes. The story is a combination of Marvel's CIVIL WAR saga, with a touch of WATCHMEN and ARMAGEDDON, making it a mixed bag for sure, but it works.
Fresh of the high of BATMAN: ARKHAM ASYLUM, the best comic book themed game I've ever had the privilege of playing (and trust me, I've played em all), I was overjoyed to find a new Batman animated flick on the market. I enjoyed SUPERMAN: DOOMSDAY, a lot actually, despite how linear I feel this character is. Bruce Wayne is a tortured soul, and it's his human side we relate to as well as his constant moral battle with idea of someday crossing the line. Superman has no lines. He's nearly a God, for lack of a better description. This is why I'm a huge fan SMALLVILLE over the comics and Superman movies, because at least in the show, Superman appears to struggle more with the idea of being human, rather than exploring the idea of immortality.
That said, seeing Batman and Superman team up against a slew of villains with Lex at the head table may not be "fresh territory" but it's still very entertaining. I'll admit, I'm not overly schooled in Superman villains, but I still enjoyed the ride. The voice talent is what shines the brightest here, led by Kevin Conroy (Batman) and joined by others such as Tim Daly, Jerry O'Connell, Robert Patrick, Tony Todd, Thomas F. Wilson, Michael Dorn and SMALLVILLE's Allison Mack. It never ceases to amaze me when I see the voice roster behind these films, honestly, it's nothing short of amazing to see so much talent go to work on an animated film.
PUBLIC ENEMIES won't blow everyone's skirt up, as (believe it or not) there was still more than enough "haters" out there when it comes to anime. I'm happy as hell to see more and more great stories brought to light via this format, and it's an even bigger treat to see some of our favorite heroes team up for adventures such as this one. DC has upped their game of late, and I'm behind them one hundred and ten percent. That said, as great a time as I had with this film, my eyes are peeled for Marvel's PLANET HULK, which is number one on my animated must see list. There's by no means nothing wrong with taking in a little Batman/Superman action while we wait.
"Why do all the shitty movies have the greatest posters?"
Two FBI agents try to get to the bottom of a highway crime scene that resulted in five fatalities, one of which being a cop. The surviving victims, one from each of the three vehicles involved, all have different perceptions of the incident.
Surveillance looked like a cool, gritty psychological thriller from the trailer, one that I was stoked to see. Problem was, I knew EXACTLY who the killer was after watching this trailer, and that's definitely not a good thing. Sure, I hoped to God I was wrong, but sadly I was not. I didn't have all the mechanics figured out (I'm not THAT good), but it was fairly obvious to me who's face was behind that mask. Did that little tidbit make the whole movie a wash? Not exactly, but I'll get to THAT can of worms next.
Seeing as how I write psychological thriller, a genre that sometimes greatly pushed the boundaries when it comes to suspension of disbelief, there isn't much I won't take with a grain of salt in hopes of supporting a story. Yet, there are SOME things, like the idea of our two campy police officers (as big a hillbillies as they may be) getting drunk on the side of the road and shooting out random people's tires as they pass by on the road. Really guys? Even the fake cop in TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE put on a respectable enough front until he got his victims back to the house.
This film is one of those flicks that begins a story arc, blanks out the key pieces and then adds them in little by little as the victims and FBI agents are attempting to get to the truth. There are some cool elements wrapped in and about this film, no question, and that cute little girl sure can act, but despite Bill Pullman, Julia Ormond and Michael Ironside giving "sub-par" performances and a small wink here and there to genre, this film's integrity is strongly compromised by the idea of police acting the way they do and a weak as hell ending to finish things off. But hey, at least the poster is cool.
Denzel may be fifty-five years old, but the man can still kick ass with the best of em as far as I'm concerned! This trailer looks badass from start to finish, sprinkle in some Mila Kunis and Gary Oldman and this soup tastes good enough to be on Hell's Kitchen. I'm always curious when there's an object at the center of things, something we need to survive. It's small, but crucial details like this that can make or break a film that otherwise looks like more of the same.
"Ahhh, the good ol days, a distant memory stabbed through the heart by another (soon to be) atrocious sequel."
THE LOST BOYS remains one of my favorite films of all time. I was never once bedazzled by sequel news (LOST BOYS 2 went through so many different script ideas over the years), and thus went into THE TRIBE with a heavy heart and a nostalgic longing for something more.
I didn't mind that certain elements of story seemed cut out of the first one and then super-glued into the second, or that Edger's lines were a tad recycled as well. Hell, I didn't even mind the CRY LITTLE SISTER remix. Where LOST BOYS 2: THE TRIBE failed was how it failed to explore even remotely new territory with its characters and circumstances. I understand that the premise had to be similar, but come on guys, a little distinction between storylines would have been nice, especially since it took the better part of two decades to produce and (as the Coreys like to call it) "make perfect."
THE TRIBE's ending didn't exactly scream sequel, and though interesting, didn't translate into the "OMG AWESOME" territory they hoped it would. Which begs the question, why beat a dead fucking horse!? Oh wait, because Corey Feldman has nothing better to do with his time than suck the life out of a "franchise" that died with the first film. Sigh. Just another day in Hollywood.
My Two Cents: "One of my JoBlo counterparts said (Gimme a Kiefer Sutherland cameo and I'll pre-order my copy right now). I wholeheartedly agree."
I'm a little late writing this piece, but it's been a long week and this was the first chance I got to do so. Patrick Swayze. I'll never forget the first film I saw him in, ROAD HOUSE (still a huge favorite of mine). I was just a kid, hanging with my buddy Ian on my grandparent's farm. He was all energized telling me about these two kickass flicks he'd just seen and how if it was the last thing I ever did, I NEEDED to watch these movies! The movies in question? ROAD HOUSE and YOUNG GUNS. But to be perfectly honest, he was far more impressed with Patrick Swayze's ability to rip people's throats out, than he was with Billy the Kid.
Of course I've watched GHOST, though my distaste of Whoopi Goldberg has stopped me from re-watching it over the years. POINT BREAK is second on my Swayze cool list (for all intense purposes DIRTY DANCING is NOT on this list, if for no better reason than to retain my high credibility as a man's man), and to this day has one of the coolest, most powerful ending I've ever seen. The bond between Swayze and Keanu at the end of that flick was magical. I was also happy to see him in DONNIE DARKO, despite his character role. And speaking of "characters" he played a rather interesting one in NEXT OF KIN.
Swayze was cool, the man was regarded as an icon for years, and then as a hero for his dedication to his TV series THE BEAST, which despite obvious pain, he refused to take meds as he felt it would dull his acting ability and compromise his character performance. Now THAT is a fucking method actor. Patrick Swayze, your work will live on, and I for one, will always remember you as one of my first action heroes. My deepest condolences go out to your family and friends, and as a tribute to the good times, I leave you all with the hilarious SNL skit with him and Chris Farley (another great actor taken before his time). Enjoy!
A nameless warrior conceives a plot to kill a King by defeating his three greatest enemies and bringing proof of their demise to trade for an audience that will bring him within ten paces of his target (a rare honor). Close enough, to deliver a skillful deathblow.
This is the first time I’ve watched HERO since it came out back in 2004, and I’m embarrassed to admit that I’d forgotten how unbelievably magnificent this film is. Before we get into that however, I feel it necessary to acknowledge how lucky we are to be able to experience this display of Asian culture. Films like this one are abundant in Asia, but have only recently (the past ten years or so) surfaced in a mainstream fashion with budgets large enough to paint such a breathtaking work of art. I, personally, am moved by this level of cinematic genius, feeling as though the combination of so many brilliant elements gives me a heightened sense of my surroundings, be it every so briefly.
Director Yimou Zhang’s eye for detail is astounding, and is only accentuated by the limitless potential of Blu-ray technology. I felt bathed in the rich color scheme, who’s ebon flow all but jumps out of the screen. The landscapes are so alive with detail and beauty, you can almost feel the wind in your hair or beads of water on your skin. Again, this film invokes the use of all your senses, from Tan Dun’s haunting score to Christopher Doyle’s amazing cinematography. Now combine those efforts with a flawless cast of professionals and prepare to have your breath taken away. The underlining themes of unity, peace, war, sacrifice and honor all play a vital role of their own, which is wonderfully reinforced by the fascinating addition/use of calligraphy.
The story is flawless and cuts like the sharpest blade. The concept of Li’s character being honored for his feats by gifts as well as the opportunity to get closer to his King was a clever setup. Li’s plan was well thought out, and executed with a master’s skill. I loved the many forms of "the truth" conveyed through some of most pristine, elegant, and down right jaw dropping battle sequences I’ve ever seen captured on film. Words can’t properly describe the dance of blades between the Nameless One, Sky, Broken Sword, Flying Snow and Moon. These are some of the worlds greatest martial artists, who also happen to be quite fluent in the art of weaponry (do you have any idea how difficult it is to fight THAT WELL with a spear or polearm). The energy and passion generated by this amazingly talented cast is unrivaled in my books.
HERO is a movie I was bound to enjoy no matter what. I’m a HUGE Jet Li fan (and I’m also a touch in love with Ziyi Zhang), and absolutely love ALL his movies, both foreign and domestic. I wasn’t even bothered by the fact this flick contains subtitles, in retrospect, I feel that any other way would have severely cheapened the experience. And man does this already kickass presentation soar to new levels on Blu-ray! This is definitely a film to be viewed in HD. I wasn’t overly enticed the ending (which I won’t spoil as this flick’s not very old), but in all fairness it does go hand in hand with this film’s thematic elements so I can’t say I’m disappointed. This picture is such a pleasure to behold, and I can’t stress enough how important it is for you to see it at least once.
"I seriously think MY ENDING (see this week's JoBlo comic strip) is better!"
A historical account of Scottish Knight William Wallace who led the resistance during the Wars of Scottish Independence. This film is a tribute to the life, love, countless battles and eventual heartfelt execution of a man who fought and gave his life for his people’s freedom.
I couldn’t help but laugh at the irony when I found BRAVEHEART in my bundle of movies this week, after using the final scene as the basis of this week’s Requiem for Nachos comic strip. I can’t imagine many people out there who didn’t fall in love with this hard hitting masterpiece (I know I did), and Mel certainly earned his five Academy Awards (this was nominated for ten), including Best Picture and Best Director. It’s almost hard to believe a film based upon actual events (not to mention one that clocks in at 177 mins), could be so well paced, engaging and despite the ending (nobody likes seeing a hero die), satisfying. Gibson’s status as an actor was already written stone, but this movie earned him an outstanding director status as well.
Sure, it wouldn’t be wrong of you to say this flick’s storyline is a bit of a bummer, I mean shit, nothing will start a war quicker than coming home to find your woman tied up with her throat cut. That’s a pretty huge F*CK YOU. And for me, it’s this execution that not only sets the stage for a revenge driven plot, but also allows us to except (and in my case, enjoy) the vicious bloodbath to come. And does it ever come. The battles staged throughout the course of this film were not only epic in nature, but became a precedent for many a great movie after (TROY, GLADIATOR, THE MESSENGER, pretty much anything that featured insane battles). For me, this style of war is refreshing, graphic, but refreshing. War is brutal, and should be treated as such.
Many things have been said about Mel Gibson, but I feel he’s one of the greatest actors to ever grace the business. He’s utterly magnificent in ALL his roles, and that list is a long one indeed. I have even more respect for an actor who can both direct AND star in a picture, which only multiplies when set picture is this good. His supporting cast isn’t too shabby either. My favorites would have to be Brendan Gleeson for one, who’s no stranger to “epic battle” flicks. There’s also Brian Cox (he and Gleeson were fantastic in TROY), and then the turncoat Angus Macfadyen (it took me half the season of CALIFORNICATION to figure out where I recognized him from), who’s nuts you really wanna stab with an icepick by the end of it. There was no shortage of great acting here.
BRAVEHEART is one of those films you can watch once a year (I do), despite its somber overtone. And there’s no better way to enjoy it then in 1080p HD, the visuals are so insane I found myself wincing whenever blood sprayed, thinking I might end up with some on me. James Horner’s soundtrack was mesmerizing enough, but Blu-ray takes it to the next level. There’s also more than enough extras to wet your appetite, making this a safe bet when it comes to double dipping. It’s films like this one that make Blu-ray technology soar, and though I sound like a Blu-ray commercial, I certainly feel that BRAVEHEART fans owe it to themselves to experience it the way it was meant to be seen. It’s worth it.
I'm always up for more Ed Norton and Milla Jovovich, and yes, Robert DeNiro ain't too bad either. The premise seems kinda "obvious" from the trailer, as I'm assuming this is supposed to be a thriller. It's not what I'd call an original concept either. That said, I'm a dedicated Norton fan (and I'd never pass up a peek at Milla's goodies either. Oh yes, that WAS her boob in the trailer), but I'm not so sure this one to rush to the theater over.
"Behold, Maryann, goddess of bullshit!"
Vampires are the least of Bon Temps' problems this season. We have a mysterious horned monster on the loose, the Fellowship of the Sun preparing for war, and someone/something ripping out people's hearts. Not to mention some love interest ups and downs.
Season one of TRUE BLOOD was a masterpiece of interesting characters, vampire lore, humor, violence, sex and all out horror action. I was very excited for season two. Now a couple episodes in, when I saw this "horned monster" in the forest, I had mixed emotions. On the one hand, I thought "wow, this thing looks like a Minotaur and that's pretty damn cool," but on the other hand, I wondered if this was taking things a little too far off the beaten path. I mean vampires, shape shifters, werewolves, these are all things we accept as being part of this universe, but there's a fine line you have to watch when trying to come off as a believable series of events happening in the "real world." That said, I was happy to find out this was just a mask.
The storyline featuring the anti-vampire league, The Fellowship of the Sun, was interesting enough. I found it logical to have a group like this present in a world suddenly open to vampires. Jason's rise and fall within their wall was entertaining, especially when it came to Sookie being kidnapped and freed by Godric. Speaking of which, Godric was a cool character, and I was sad to see him go. I would have loved to see more flashbacks with him and Eric, and considerably less of Bill and his maker. Those ones were a touch too bland for my liking.
Now as for Maryann, where to begin. I found her remotely intriguing at first, especially when you find out she's the horned monster and the one responsible for the heart transplants. I was disappointed by the lack of details surrounding her origins however, her Maenad creature persona was little more than thrown into the realm of Greek Mythology and never truly cultivated beyond that. And as for her power to invoke crazed orgies, well, I'll admit she'd be lots of fun at parties, but I was kinda hoping for more (it's also worth mentioning that her claw/poison/control deal was pushed to the sidelines and all but forgotten as the season wore on, which is a shame as THAT was far cooler than her orgy dances).
The Bill/Eric/Sookie love triangle was a nice touch, if for no other reason, than to keep things interesting. There is no shortage of tension between these characters and some of our newcomers as well, especially in regard to Sookie. We still don't know what Sookie is at this point, but I'm cool with the intrigue this mystery is building. I was a little surprised to see Eric's Neo-MATRIX leap into the sky in episode 11. Ummm, when the fuck did Eric (or vampires at all for that matter) get the ability to fly like SUPERMAN? That was pushing it for me. The final episode's wedding theme was a touch much too, but I was happy as hell to Sam take care of business.
TRUE BLOOD season 2 was up and down, but for the most part was a pleasurable experience leaving me still eager to see more. Some of the characters felt underused this season, Lafayette for one, though I can't complain too much there as they kept him around instead of killing him off like they do in the books. I felt Eggs' exit to be a bit uncharacteristic, feeling more like they had to get rid of him because there was no future for him next season. Bill's proposal dinner was beautiful and I'm sure captured the hearts of more than a couple viewers, and his kidnapping was a nice touch, I KNEW the cliffhanger was gonna be between them. Was it Eric, was it werewolves (as I hear they're making an appearance next season) or was it some new foe who has yet to reveal themselves? All I know is, she's a long wait before we'll find out, but I'm looking forward to it.
Finally, the real deal trailer for the TWILIGHT SAGA's NEW MOON. People can say what they want about TWILIGHT, I've watched the flick twice and enjoyed it both times. I'm nowhere near the point of fandome generated by the hordes of women out there who go to bed hoping for Edward to show up at their window and take them away, but I will say this, I'm excited for NEW MOON, and a hundred times more so after watching this trailer. I'll always be a fan of all things vampire, and this installment looks damn interesting...in a completely heterosexual kind of way.
"If I'm not in the next season of DEXTER, I'll give you a real crash course in murder!"
The world of online gaming gets a severe makeover in the future, putting the control of real people in the hands of players. This new game, SLAYERS, has death row inmates on a battlefield fighting for a chance at freedom.
Kable is the number one "Slayer" who's won twenty seven consecutive battles. Not only is he the first to do so, this makes him only three battles away from winning his freedom. Sadly, as this story always goes, there is no freedom and poor Kable is fucked either way. I'm happy to see Gerard Butler back where he belongs, kicking ass and taking names. 300 was an epic montage of action and violence that put Butler at the top of my "action hero" hit list. Unfortunately, this was a bit of a tease as he's not really followed through with it quite the way I'd hoped. GAMER just happens to be a perfect example of why Butler NEEDS to be an action hero.
The story here is a mesh of THE RUNNING MAN with mixed with a dash of DEATH RACE. I'm not complaining, I had lots of fun with both those flicks as I did here with this one. Consequently, writer/director Mark Neveldine (CRANK, CRANK 2: HIGH VOLTAGE) brings us something in between his two CRANK films. The first CRANK was fun, the second was a touch...off. GAMER comes off as a mixed middle ground film that (to me) isn't as good as CRANK but nowhere near the mess that was CRANK 2.
Butler was great as the badass, take no prisoners Kable and though I'm happy to see DEXTER's Michael C. Hall hit the big screen, his character was a little over the top, missing most of the film and suffered from one of the cheesiest accents I've ever heard. That said, he still did great and I was glad to have him on the team. The action was constant (not a fan of the "shaky camera" approach), the nudity was present and accounted for, but some of the content via the "SIMS-like" game were more disturbing than entertaining (an obese dude playing a female character who's constantly trying to bang dudes!? Lost me on that one).
GAMER was worth the price of admission simply because it was exactly what I thought it was gonna be: a mindless action flick with all the trimmings. It was nothing to brag about, and certainly not a title I'll rush out to buy when it hits DVD/BLU RAY, but I'd no doubt watch it again if it were on TV or someone rented and I just happened to around. I wanted to give this film some theatrical love because of Butler and Hall, and of course the fact there aren't many R rated action flicks around lately. I enjoyed it for what it was, but it certainly could have been better.
"Arkham is one nuthouse I simply didn't want to leave."
Batman’s got the Joker and is en-route to Arkham Asylum, but something just doesn’t feel right and the Dark Knight decides to escort him to his cell. Well, Batman needs to trust his gut more often cause the Joker busts loose, turns the villains loose and puts Batman and Commissioner Gordon smack dab in the middle of things. Arkham is the PERFECT place to not only stage a coup, but create an eerie, dangerous and suspense filled adventure. Arkham island is a vast playing field where you’ll encounter various super villains, crazed inmates as well as the Joker’s private army. Add to this a set of challenges put forth by the Riddler, an array of crime fighting gadgets and weaponry (the grapple gun is sooo much fun), and best of all, a detective mode which enables you to utilize Batman’s sharp detective skills (something I wish wasn’t so underused in the films).
I was particularly impressed by Arkham Asylum’s control system and gameplay. Seeing as how this is a game featuring various areas which need a specific “item/gadget” to get to, walls, buildings and cave systems that need scaling and a variety of stealth-maneuver/character outwitting scenarios the require quick witted thinking (and even quicker fingers), the control system was surprisingly gentle. Granted, some things take a little more getting used to than others (fighting combos, ledges and batarang targeting), but fear not, if you can’t figure something out and die because of it, the “game over” screen usually tells you what TO do or NOT to do.
Due to the grapple gun, and the ability to scale just about everything you see, Arkham Island feels like a suburb of Gotham City itself, letting you lose and fully immerse yourself in it’s creepy terrain. A word of advice, if you can climb it, do so, and jump off every edge you see as a few of the Riddler’s challenges/riddles/trophies are cleverly concealed (I found more than a couple by accident). The camera angles are pretty decent as well, you can jump into first person and zoom in for a close up, or just take a long, hard look at your surroundings. And when all else fails, slip into detective mode (a badass version of night vision) which may very well point out the solution you were looking for.
The graphics blew me away, especially in regards to Batman and all his villains. The cinematic scenes were fantastic, and these characters never looked so real and lifelike in any game I’ve ever played. It’s all in the details, like how Batman progressively gets roughed up as the story unfolds. You see cuts on his face, holes in his cape and small rips and gashes in his suit. Very cool. There’s also a brooding and sinister darkness surrounding all these characters, and it’s conveyed wonderfully through the gorgeous artwork and design.
The storyline unfolds in clever, well thought out layers, just like any good movie. Batman’s onto the Joker from the start, and is curious about the ease in which he facilitated his takeover. Well, you soon find out he had some help, and then a cool plot starts to unfold regarding a weaponized vision of Bane’s Venom. Another unique (and truly marvelous) idea was the aforementioned recorded patient analysis tapes and the Chronicles of Arkham. The first one is a series of taped interviews between some of the various Arkham doctors and inmates, which attempt to probe into the their psychosis. These tapes were a lot of fun, and I guarantee you’ll search high and low until you find them all. The second, are a series of monologues made by Amadeus Arkham, the founder of Arkham Asylum. They catalogue his tragic downward spiral into death, but are a fantastic, richly written added feature that definitely helps increase this game’s dark intrigue.
The best part about the story is the voice talent. And what a treat it is, especially if you’re a fan of the nineties animated series. Kevin Conroy (who’s voiced the Dark Knight in nearly EVERY animated format he’s appeared in) is back as Batman and knocks it out of the park. And who better to voice the Joker than Mark Hamill, who’s also pretty much been THE voice for Joker in all things animated. I loved ALL of Batman’s animated stuff and words can’t describe how thrilled I was by the prospect of this game’s voice actors. And then to see it all so masterfully executed was beyond perfection from THIS fan’s perspective.
Ok, so maybe this game isn’t for everyone, there ARE people who don’t care for Batman. FORGET THEM! Because for those of you that DO love Batman, this is definitely the game for you, my friends! A lot of games tend to focus on ONE aspect of things more than the others (ie: great graphics, deep storyline, stellar gameplay), and in doing so, leave the fun factor swirling in the dust. Not this game! Not only does it provide all of the above, it delivers non-stop fun, guilty pleasures like instant-kill take-downs (hanging from the gargoyles is a blast), trophies, unblockable/downloadable content and countless winks/nods to all the hardcore fans. I didn’t want this game to end (the ending was especially cool if you’re a Bane fan), and when it did, all I could think about was how bad I wanted a sequel!
I was a little disappointed by the fact that there wasn’t more of a payoff for solving the Riddler’s challenges (some of them were pretty tough). I was hoping for a boss battle to come out of it, but alas, you simply turn him over to the authorities. The boss fights were crafty, and make use of all your skills (the dreams with Scarecrow are nuts). You don’t fight as many super villains as you want to (and brace yourself, as you may not see all your favorites), but hey, that’s what sequels are for. Everything about this game was an original take on a beloved set of characters and source material. Nothing about it felt rushed, underused or out of place, as I said, you won’t want it to end. Great games like this are rare indeed, and I can’t recommend buying this title enough, this is one game you NEED to own. It’s a fan boy’s dream come true.
OK, so first, this trailer IS in Russian (couldn't be helped as there's no English one at this time), but second, this thing looks SO FUCKING AWESOME, I decided it really doesn't matter if I can't understand what they're saying. The only sour note in this tune is that it seems like they show waaay too much in this two minute trailer. Yet, be that as it may, this movie looks unbelievably fascinating and features the very underrated James Purefoy (RESIDENT EVIL, A KNIGHT'S TALE). Here's hoping this flick does his career justice.
(UPDATE: Found an English version today!)
MARVEL ULTIMATE ALLIANCE was the first game I bought for my PS3, not that I had much of a choice with their slim amount of launch titles, but it was still a pretty fun game if titles like X-MEN LEGENDS are your thing. What makes this newest adventure so cool? The Civil War storyline for one. Civil War was a comic series that took place throughout the Marvel Universe when the government decided ALL heroes must reveal their secret identities to the world. Naturally, not all heroes agreed with this course of action and there was war. Here's the trailer for what promises to be best Marvel game title yet!
"I'm fairly certain DC has more than just Superman and Batman up their sleeve."
Well, apparently the gloves are off and it's go time! In light of the Disney/Marvel merger (or so I would assume as the timing is quite perfect), DC has decided to clean house and make a few leadership changes of its own. Here are some of the major details, courtesy of my crew over at Joblo.com:
DC Entertainment, a separate division of WBEI, will be charged with strategically integrating the DC Comics business, brand and characters deeply into Warner Bros. Entertainment and all its content and distribution businesses. DC Entertainment, which will work with each of the Warner Bros. divisions, will also tap into the tremendous expertise the Studio has in building and sustaining franchises and prioritize DC properties as key titles and growth drivers across all of the Studio, including feature films, television, interactive entertainment, direct-to-consumer platforms and consumer products. The DC Comics
Paul Levitz, who has served as President & Publisher of DC Comics since 2002, will segue from that role to return to his roots as a writer for DC and become a contributing editor and overall consultant to DCE. This transition will take place as expeditiously as possible without disrupting DC's business operations. In his new role, Levitz will be called upon for his deep knowledge and more than three-decade history with DC Comics, both as a comic creator and an executive. Besides serving as a writer on a number of DC Comics titles, he will be a contributing editor and consultant to DC Entertainment on projects in various media. Additionally, he will consult as needed on the transition and integration of the DC Comics organization into DC Entertainment and will utilize his unique experience, knowledge and relationships with the comics industry's creative community to help achieve DC Entertainment's goal of maximizing the value of DC properties. Further, Levitz will advise DC Entertainment on creative and rights-holder relationships, in particular regarding the legacy relationships that have been a part of DC Comics for decades.
"The founding of DC Entertainment fully recognizes our desire to provide both the DC properties and fans the type of content that is only possible through a concerted cross-company, multi-platform effort," said Nelson. "DC Entertainment will help us to formally take the great working relationships between DC Comics and various Warner Bros. businesses to the next level in order to maximize every opportunity to bring DC's unrivalled collection of titles and characters to life."
So, the good news is, we should be seeing big things from DC in the theatrical future. Personally, I feel Marvel dropped the ball awhile ago now, and with this Disney merger, I truly hate to think what's in store for the Marvel roster. DC, however, have rocked us with the two new BATMAN films, THE WATCHMEN and (hopefully) the upcoming GREEN LANTERN film (that is, if they can overcome this Australia currency crisis). My advice, concentrate on those graphic novels and keep the mood/tone dark.
My Two Cents: "Up until Justin Hartly's GREEN ARROW appearance in SMALLVILLE, I thought very little of the character (orange goatee and Robin Hood outfit? Come on!). That said, if they reinvent him for the big screen like they did for TV, I'd be totally down for THAT movie."
"Not the greatest tag line, but are YOU gonna tell him that? Didn't think so."
Ex-con, Isaiah Bone takes the Los Angeles underground fighting world by storm as a means to an end, in hopes of fulfilling a promise he made to a friend who died on the inside.
First off, let me start by saying I'm a HUGE fan of Michael Jai White, and have been ever since SPAWN. No, that wasn't his best performance ever (neither was UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: THE RETURN), but stuck it out and did a kickass job in the Steven Seagal led flick, EXIT WOUNDS. Since then, White's done a lot of voice work for anime and a movie here and there (you'll no doubt remember his meager role as Gambol in THE DARK KNIGHT), but this is the first time I've seen him at full force and I gotta tell ya, he rocked this party like a key of cocaine after a Tequila-shot contest!
White dropped a couple pounds, but he's still jacked, ripped and fast as all hell. I'm glad to see him in a martial arts flick dedicated to fighting. I couldn't help but think of the movie FIGHTING, and how THIS is what a movie called "fighting" should be. The fight scenes were aplenty, brutal and easy to follow for a change (no crazy close ups shots and profile lingering). I don't see many movies like this anymore, which is a shame, but it makes finding one feel so much better. My biggest problem with this film is simply that it didn't go to theaters. White is one of the best martial artists out there, and deserves a seat at the table when it comes to "prime" action roles. Dear Hollywood: I WANNA SEE MORE MICHAEL JAI WHITE!
And despite the fact Bone is beating the bejesus out of just about everyone, all the time, there's actually a pretty nice subplot to this tale that says a lot about friendship and loyalty. But just because Bone has a big heart doesn't make him soft, that's for damn sure. It was also cool to see Dante Basco and Julian Sands, yes, I'm all for adding a nostalgic edge to my action films. All in all, BLOOD AND BONE was a hell of action flick with epic fight scenes, a cool storyline, some great lines (I enjoyed the Genghis Khan tribute), and even some killer swordplay. If only there had been some nudity, we'd have had a full house! Can't win em all, I guess. All jokes aside, this is the PERFECT action flick to kick back to if you're in the mood for some testosterone based fun.
"Hmmm, I wonder what's about to happen..."
Derek starts poking around the neighbourhood for clues when his little brother Tobey takes a shortcut through the woods on his way home from school, only to find a gutted dog and a creepy old man with a shovel.
Well, part of the intrigue here (for me anyway) is that the production team behind this film is none other than Adam Sandler's crew, Happy Madison. These guys are known for their comedy, not horror, and on that note, I salute them for taking a step into new territory and a much more debatable genre. The story doesn't reach out and grab you, but it's enough to string you along and keep you interested. The cast are decent and the acting not bad for the teen beat. The characters here are well written (mostly), and despite being a HUGE stereotype (and coming off a bit over the top), the "crazy old man" wasn't too bad of an antagonist.
Maybe I'm a hardened veteran when it comes to horror, but I didn't find this tale all too disturbing as some of the reviews I've read boast. And if you're expecting to find harsh content, don't worry, this flick's rated PG-13 (something I missed going in, but it makes sense to me now). The story here is engaging, but far from original and because we've seen this scenario played out dozens of times, you'll probably have no trouble guessing where this "shortcut" leads. And therein lies the heart of my problem. I didn't much care for the ending.
THE SHORTCUT had me going, I was interested enough to care up until the final moments where the film just tried too hard to be clever. I'm a stickler when it comes to endings. Even the most intricate, layered, masterpiece of a film can slowly start to unravel upon reaching a poorly conceived climax, dooming itself (and us) to suffer through a pointless, hammy excuse of an ending that does neither the film or it's characters justice. Oh yes folks, this is THAT kind of ending and I assure you, it ain't pretty.
Again, I applaud the boys over at HM studios for giving this a whirl, but fellas, this is horror, straight to DVD horror at that, you can't expect to win anyone over with PG-13 fluff that's not only been done to death, but lacks the resounding "edge" needed by a first time stab at the genre. A flick like this will only squash your integrity and label you as "that type" of horror. Not only will your next horror attempt remain straight to DVD flare, it'll no doubt ALSO remain on the video store shelves. Wanna see it done right? Pick up Bill Paxton's directorial debut, FRAILTY. Now THAT, ladies and gentlemen is how break into the genre.
"How many more times am I gonna have to fight a fuckton of zombies?"
Well, I'm not essentially blown away by this news, though I kinda figured they'd wrap up the fourth one first, before talking about rebooting the entire franchise. There are a slew of things that make this news ridiculous, but first and foremost are that they plan on remaking (they're using the term prequel, but after I give you the synopsis you'll agree this feels more like a remake) the first RESIDENT EVIL without Milla and with very little change in the original storyline.
"While it's a long, long, long way off, the idea is to redo the story of a special
So what you're saying is, pretty much the same thing that happened in the first film without the Milla/husband story arc. Sigh. If you're gonna remake the fucking franchise, I have an idea and it's waaay out there so bear with me, why not follow something a little closer the fucking source material/game series it's based on! Nope, that'd be too easy and may just cater to the fans a bit too much. God forbid.
My Two Cents: "The animated flick RESIDENT EVIL: DEGENERATION is the perfect example of what they should do with a remake/prequel, especially if they're dropping Milla. Bring in one of the game's male leads and you've got a new trilogy right there! Again, nope, too easy."
"Maybe Disney DOES have a sinister side."
Admittedly this is kinda old news now, I didn't write about it here as this is the feature issue of this week's C'mon Hollywood column over at Joblo. But hey, when the hell was I ever gonna get a better opportunity to use THAT pic!?
I'm certainly not a hundred percent happy about all this, and have no idea what this will mean for future Marvel films (as I mention in my article, Marvel is honoring all existing contracts so we probably won't see much in the way of changes for at least five or so years).
I've been so happy with the mature avenue Marvel's anime adventures have been taking, and with the arrival of PLANET HULK, I've allowed myself to hope that in time I may see animated films make from THE INFINITY GAUNTLET, THANOS QUEST, WORLD WAR HULK and so many other great comic book sagas.
Will Disney squash these dreams? Am I destined to see Marvel/Pixar feature films featuring Wolverine and Buzz Lightyear, or Namor the Submariner having to "find Nemo" again. Who knows, but the mere though sends shutters down my spine. Time will tell.
My Two Cents: "As I searched the net for a relevant edge to spin in my news about this merger, I came across the trailer for the Disney/Square's latest endeavor, KINGDOM HEARTS 3: THE KEYBLADE WARS. Two things, that's a BADASS title and the trailer was even cooler!"
"So you peeps here in Ontario aren't digging the cowboy hat? They loved it back in Calgary."
Veteran radio host Grant Mazzy just transferred to the Northern Ontario town of Pontypool where bizarre occurrences begin to unfold and flood the airwaves, unleashing a strange epidemic unlike anything you've ever seen.
I'm always on the hunt for smart, richly written, brooding psychological thrillers to take my sick mind for a long walk in the park, problem is, they're not easy to find these days. PONTYPOOL is based on Tony Burgess's novel PONTYPOOL CHANGES EVERYTHING (thanks for the heads up ARROW), and treads a fine line between intelligent thriller and horror. I think the two genres go hand in hand anyway, reminding me of something Dean Koontz said to me about genre placement, "Just call your work a thriller. That covers a wide variety of types of fiction. And anyway, the publisher will decide what niche it best fits in. Then if you don't agree--as I never agreed with the "horror" label--you'll spend years fighting to get a new identity, as I did. It's part of the game."
That said, this flick does involve a zombie-like virus, but doesn't jump off the deep end with it quite the way you'd imagine. Clearly I must choose my words wisely to not give away anything vital, but suffice to say the avenue in which this film delivers the goods is smart, original and very clever. My best friend Aaron nailed it when he said, "If you're smart, you'll LOVE this flick! But if your dumb, you won't get it." I agree. The only people you'll find complaining about this story's venue are the simpleminded asshats who thought MISSION IMPOSSIBLE was too complicated and DONNIE DARKO didn't make sense.
For a film that takes place primarily in a radio office consisting of three to four rooms and a cast of three to four major characters, PONTYPOOL delivered and earned a deserving spot on my "MUST SEE/OWN" psychological thriller list. Despite the fact this film has a mystery that doesn't fully unfold until the climactic final moments, I still feel there's a good amount of replay value here and above all else, this is a great conversation piece to show off to friends that have yet to see it. The cast worked, the dialogue was believable (I was digging the claustrophobia mixed with impending doom vibe), and it's always refreshing to see a genre flick take the unbeaten path into fresh (debatable) territory. You won't find this baby in theaters, but you should definitely look it up and grab it on DVD. PONTYPOOL is a perfect example of how you don't need a multimillion dollar budget and eye popping special effects to make a worthwhile, intellect engaging film worthy of praise.
"Martin, this is your agent, WHAT THE FUCK WERE THINKING saying yes to a BIG MOMMA'S HOUSE 3!?"
Michael Bay fan or no, I would hope most people appreciated both BAD BOYS films as much as I did. This is arguably Smith and Lawrence at their best and their on screen chemistry is the stuff of legends. I'm not always big on sequels (I suppose they're better than remakes) but I've been praying for a BAD BOYS 3 and now it's reported to be a go.
However, as great as that news is, there's still a couple details that need hammering out. Will Smith, Martin Lawrence and Michael Bay are yet to be attached to this project, which scares the fucking shit out of me as these guys (especially Smith and Lawrence) are what makes these movies tick.
Personally, I think they could make it work without Bay (that said, I love the guy and hope he signs on for it), but they need Will and Martin to avoid a surefire dud. Big Willy's been doing fine, but I'm sure he'd be up for the task. And Lawrence, well, we all know the state of HIS career (sadly, him signing on for a BIG MOMMA'S HOUSE 3 was no joke), he needs this more than ever. My ear's to the ground on this, so you'll know when I know.
My Two Cents: "And I thought we'd finally gotten past the flicks featuring a skinny man in a female fat suit. Damn you Tyler Perry for keeping this awful trend alive!"
"I don't care what my lawyer said, I'm not paying taxes on this movie."
Jason Statham plays a detective suspended for a shooting gone bad, who's called back into action when an extremely intelligent bank robber pulls him into his latest heist.
A couple weeks ago I reviewed a film called DUPLICITY for Joblo.com. Now this flick (starring Clive Owen and Julia Roberts) was advertised as being a cool, intelligent and sexy caper. Well, that film ain't got shit on CHAOS. Though I wouldn't call this film sexy (it's mostly a dude cast), it's by far one of the coolest and most intelligent heist/caper/robbery films I've seen since THE INSIDE MAN. You'd be amazed at how many hidden gems there are in this genre, wasting away on video shelves or those "ten dollar" movie bins. I missed this one till now (thanks Aaron), and it so very reminds me of three similar overlooked gems which are STEAL (with Stephen Dorff and Natasha Henstridge), FOOLPROOF (with Ryan Reynolds) and STARK RAVING MAD (with Sean William Scott). You NEED to watch ALL four, but lets get back to CHAOS.
First off, the cast is what blew me away. I love (and miss) Wesley Snipes who's nothing short of stellar here as a badass reincarnation of DEMOLITION MAN's Simon Phoenix. And there's the sorely underrated Ryan Philleppe who plays Statham's new partner there to keep him in line and help win the day. Philleppe kinda fell off the map when he divorced Reese Witherspoon, and I'm still very fucking angry about that (the falling off the map part, not the divorce). I was first wowed by Philleppe when he starred in an episode of THE OUTER LIMITS, and then became an avid follower of his career. You're still the fucking man Ryan and I hope to see more of you soon. Lastly there's Statham, who also rocked the shit out of this mother. The cast was perfect and thoroughly entertaining.
I love a great thief movie, especially when it's layered up nice and thick like CHAOS is. The story here was awesome, the action, the pace, everything was on like Donkey Kong and I was fully hooked from start to finish. I won't give away the ending, but rest assured it's brilliant and well worth your time. The last five years have really changed the face of straight to DVD flicks, and more often than not, I'm finding myself more excited over some of these gems than I am over the shitstorm whistling about the theaters lately. There is so much to love in CHAOS, as well as the other three films I mentioned (four if you count THE INSIDE MAN). If thief filled thrillers are your thing and you HAVEN'T seen some (or all) of these flicks, then I reckon I just made your day.
The BOONDOCK SAINTS is a cult classic for a reason, because it put foot (and gun) to ass in a huge way and captured the sick minds of fans (myself included) worldwide. This was 1999 and a lot's changed since then (some of the cast haven't aged all too well). Sequel news was in pipeline for years and I never thought this film would see the light of day. The trailer has me curious and the addition of Clifton Collins Jr. is ALWAYS cool in my books.
"A Lannister always pays her debts. I'll take mine in gratuitous nudity please."
It's no secret that I'm fucking pumped as hell for George R.R. Martin's GAME OF THRONES to hit HBO, and today fortune once again smiles on we, the fans. Actress Lena Heady (300 and TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES) has been chosen to dawn the crown of Queen Cercei Lannister!
What a perfect fit in my books. Heady's got the look, the assets and she damn sure has the attitude. This cast is getting hotter and hotter by the minute and I for one am overwhelmed with excitement and anticipation for what I know will be THE fantasy/show/series event to watch for once it hits HBO. Winter is coming, and it's gonna be fucking great!
My Two Cents: "With any luck (and it shouldn't take much) this show will be such a hit that we'll see ALL Martin's novels in the series follow. And maybe, just maybe, other authors will follow suit."
"Did I ever tell you how I got this scar?"
Quentin Tarantino spins a dark tale of Nazi Germany like no other, pitting a group of soldiers turned executioners called "the bastards" in a plan to end the war by killing Hitler and three hundred and fifty of his men at a film premier.
I suppose I should start by saying I'm a big fan of Quentin Tarentino, most of his work is nothing short of genius. That said, I kinda feel that he's been slacking lately, and honestly, I can't dock his too many points there as they can't all be winners when it comes movies (or anything for that matter). This film went back and forth a lot while in production, and most of the debate came in the form of length. They were gonna trim some off the top and then in the end decided not to. Well sir, I think they should have, because as good as the good parts were, the pace was far deadlier than Eli Roth's baseball swing.
I applaud Tarantino's style, his attention to detail, his gratuitous display of violence and his dark sense of humor. His dialogue is what usually stands out for me, and there were some good lines here but I never felt truly awed by any particular conversation. Even GRINDHOUSE had some choice dialogue battles between the babes that took on Kurt Russel. Now I will admit, Brad Pitt stole the show with nearly all his lines...what few there actually were.
From the trailers one would assume that Pitt and his team were a rampaging force running rampart over Nazi ass, but I'm afraid this isn't entirely correct. Hell, there were even parts of the trailer missing (dude running with the big Gatling gun, shooting with shells flying every which way), and though the action was pretty damn sweet, there sure as hell wasn't much of it to be admired. I would have loved to see more of Brad Pitt and Eli Roth, even poor Til Schweiger who was by far the coolest member of the team but unfortunately didn't last too long. And what the hell happened to the origin story I was hearing about that put Pitt and his crew there in the first place?
There is far too much hype going around about this film right now, even my colleagues over at Joblo are raving about how this was #1 on their top five summer hits list. INGLORIOUS BASTARDS did NOT make MY top five, that's for sure. This film had its moments, but was far too long and in need of some serious editing. The story was watered down by a ridiculous subplot and useless secondary characters who ate up most of the screen time and took away from Pitt and his crew (who we all wanted to see more of, at least I did anyway). I'm not totally surprised, Tarantino is hit or miss, and though some people will surely disagree with me here, this film was more MISS than HIT. Don't rush out to see it in theaters, it can wait till DVD I assure you.