The Mad Max Trilogy

A little known Australian franchise began in 1979 that focused on an apocalyptic world where gangs ran the world and gas is a very fucking high commodity. The trilogy that was born in the desert with flames and explosions galore. Fast-forward 30 years later and the now widely-known Mad Max is being rebooted by its creator George Miller with a Hollywood treatment and a cool hundred million dollars. So before we cross the finish line with Mad Max: Fury Road, let’s gear up for the weekend by returning to the classic car-chases, consumptive waste land, and the desperate, deviant characters of the early 80s with a cumulative review of the original trilogy. 

mad maxMad Max of 1979 was a bit of a blur; cars exploding, gangs fucking shit up, and very little dialogue that was actually pretty difficult to follow without subtitles. The difficulty wasn’t just on me and my download though, apparently when the film hit theaters in America in ’81–as the sequel was coming out–they dubbed American speakers over the actual dialogue to help not confuse the audience about the film specifically taken place in Australia? The film follows Max (a young Mel Gibson) as a police “Interceptor” who tries to keep a handle on the rising crime and gang violence whom eventually takes a break from the force as his partner is badly tortured and eventually dies from a gang. So Max becomes the perfect husband and father while taking a long vacation with his doting wife and son (the son may have been playing with an actaul gun in the first seen we meet him…. CaRAZY!) Honestly, you could skip Mad Max if you wanted because the sad back-story of the Road Warrior (excluded here because of major spoilers) is reprised in a much more effective manner in the beginning of the sequel. 

mad max 2

1981’s Road Warrior is another tough pill to swallow but somehow has, like, a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes? It’s a fun film, more fun then the first, but still makes the fatal mistake of being a very serious action movie. There are few moments of laughter at a clever script or perfectly placed explosion which is why I wouldn’t give it that high of a rating. It’s a bummer that I am watching the film this late in my life, within the heavily influenced world of bigger budgets and CGI, but the fact that these explosions really happened with real stunt people in them, that’s pretty fucking insanely cool. Max himself has very little dialogue in this installment and he is contracted to help out a gasoline-rich community out-run a nasty raiding gang. A gang that is into leather and some same sex loving! But, you know also a gang that Max did kind of lead straight to their door, so the least he could do is help the community out. So Max is the resentful Road Warrior, it takes him time to look out for anyone other than his dog and himself but eventually he becomes our resisting protagonist in this dark and dreary life.

thunderdomeBeyond Thunderdome-oh sweet sweet Thunderdome. If you haven’t figured it out yet, Thunderdome is by far my favorite of the trilogy because it finally stops taking itself so damn seriously. Miller Americanized it a bit, with a star as big as Tina Turner in it, it’s hard to think they kept it Australian. The characters in Beyond Thunderdome are the most colorful and least civilized of the franchise and they make the movie so much more enjoyable. The very beginning is a bit confusing, but I feel as though this is a running theme within Miller’s work at this point. But soon enough we meet the glorious, rampant Auntie (Turner) who runs her Barbertown under a strict rule. She strikes some sort of deal with Max who is new to the city, and soon we find him fighting a giant “George Milton” who is ruled by a very small “Lennie Small” in the Thunderdome. And the dome is pretty damn rad. Two men enter, one leaves, and I will leave the rest of the awesomeness for you to view on your own time (because I personally think it’s the best part of the film). Eventually, Max is annexed back into the deathly desert and finds himself as a savior of a “Lord of the Flies” scenario. Our once again reluctant hero finds himself slowly helping a rag-tag group of survivors. 

Overall, Mad Max is a bit of a scramble, we have a few good characters that we only get for half the film (Fifi, Max’s Chief of  Police Department and his partner Jim Goose), some sweet ass car chases, but really the film doesn’t age well as it takes itself much too serious for an action revenge film. 1981’s Road Warrior has twice the amount of action, as sequels usually do, a better climax and a silly Feral Kid (calling Short Round?) at Max’s side after he unfortunately looses his dog to a gang member (that’s twice now!!!). For me, it wasn’t the best of the three, but definitely a fun ride to take. 1985’s Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome is personally my favorite and I believe it to be the best out of the Mad Max trilogy, even though it rated lower than both its’ predecessors on Rotten Tomatoes. But the whole trilogy rates over an 80% for critics which is god damned impressive for a franchise that started nearly 40 years ago. The plot for Thunderdome is easier to follow and it has enough action to hold you over, but maybe some people find it not as entertaining as the first two because there isn’t as much car chasing because we have the actual Thunderdome instead, along with some covert affairs going on too.

One thing is for sure, I can see why Hollywood wants to revamp the franchise for a new audience as the first three were successful and looked back on fondly as an exhilarating ride. But as a first time viewer, 30 some years later, and as a viewer who is actually younger than the latest film, it makes sense to make another installment for a fresh-faced audience.

Left Behind (2014)

Left Behind poster work

The end is nigh…. For Nic Cage’s career

So we all know that Nic Cage has made a few poor decisions in the past ten years when is comes to casting choices. From Ghost Rider to The Wicker Manour boy Nicolas has been drawing the short stick for decent movies. And the case of bad roles doesn’t break with Left Behinda story about the people “left behind” after the rapture happens. Nic is the father of one of the skeptics of God that loses her younger brother and crazy, punch drinking mother in a naked daze (as all that is left behind of the raptured are their clothes).

Left Behind is a slow moving catastrophe that arrives without a pulse. I checked it out on Netflix in the hopes that it would be so bad that it would be fun, but boy, was I wrong. Left Behind will be of no interest to anybody outside the tight bible belt as these slow characters come to realize that they missed their chance at God’s gift.

Even if bored at the end of the night, I’d steer clear of this dud of a movie.

rock

Hercules (2014) The one with Dwayne the Rock Johnson

Said action based poster mentioned below.

Said action based poster mentioned below.

The year 2014 could also go down in history as the year of Hercules, the demi-god known for his strength and his…. well let’s just say “amorous” father: Zeus. At the beginning of the year, screens were graced with a gritty, action drama; The Legend of Hercules, starring Kellan Lutz who you might remember as the beefy Emmit Cullen in Twilight or even the Greek Sea God, Poseidon, in 2011’s ImmortalsThe film overall tried far too hard, and left the audience feeling lack luster.

With not only the summer heating up, but the theater selection as well, in rolls Dwayne the Rock Johnson in 2014’s HerculesThe movie opens as a Grecian boy describes the most gruesome, famous labors of Hercules. The young narrator begins with the legend of the Lernaean hydra, moves onto the Erymanthian Boar, and gets interrupted during what is ironically Hercules’ first labor: Nemean lion.

Sorry for the low quality screen cap, best smirk I could find.

Sorry for the low quality screen cap, best smirk I could find.

As you watch Hercules take each monster down, you begin to wonder: “is this the same disastrous, overzealoused CGI film that Director Renny Harlin farted out earlier this year?” And then Dwayne struts into the camp of pillagers that kidnapped his nephew who happens to be our young narrator. The Rock is draped in the lion’s pride, the lion mane gloriously haloing around his head. As the camera slowly pans up to his face, we see him smirk and laugh, nearly right into the camera!

And you begin to wonder, is he being cheeky?

What type of movie is this going to be? (You especially wonder this, if you’ve kept your nose out of any trailers, commercials, or reviews for the film.)

Then something wonderful happens, Hercules takes out four men with one blow of his club with the lion’s teeth attached to the end. As his nephew, Iolaus, played by Reece Ritchie, continues to boast Hercules’ strength, we see him take down more and more men before he lures the enemy behind a wall so the leaders of the pillagers cannot see what’s happening. And that’s when you realize exactly what type of film this is.

3/5s of the band of misfits, and you can see how much of Atlanta's skin is vulnerable

3/5s of the band of misfits, and you can see how much of Atlanta’s skin is vulnerable

It is a campy, tongue in cheek, action film that delivers the type of fun that a summer flick should deliver. You meet the rest of Hercules’ crew of misfits, all of who hold their own genuinely interesting back-stories, along with a wonderful display of individual weaponry. Rufus Sewell (as the deviner, knife-wielding Autolycus, friends with Herc since they roamed the streets as orphans), Aksel Hennie (as the young wildling Hercules took under his wing when Tydeus’ entire town was massacred), the lovable Ian McShane (the seer who had “seen” his own death, therefor could go into any battle knowing he wasn’t going to die yet, Amphiaraus), and my personal favorite Ingrid Bolsø Berdal (as the badass “Amazonia” warrior, who inexplicably wears next to no armor Atalanta) all play their parts perfectly.

Just the right amount of seriousness and cheese; Hercules is one of those films where you can tell the cast had a load of fun while filming. It plays into all the stereotypes and tropes of action flicks while winking at the viewer, like “We know what you like, and we’re gonna ride it hard and long allllll night. Oh yeah.” It’s frustrating that they wouldn’t portray this elevated funness in the posters or advertisements, because the film is doing hella decent on Rotten Tomatoes (for a mid-summer action non-marvel flick) and only decently in the box office.

Director Brett Ratner’s Hercules is the best darn mythos-based movie I have seen since Disney’s 1997 Hercules. What writers Ryan Condal, Evan Spiliotopoulos, and (Radical Comic writer) Steve Moore did was more than just stick to the myth, they made Hercules a man, a man with pain and anguish, a troubled past, but also, more importantly, a man with a friends, a man who is both loved and feared, a man who became a legend thanks to his cohorts. He was no seed of Zeus, but since he believed he was a hero, he was one. And that is by far the best message one could take away from not only any movie, but also Hercules’ Legend.

Hercules (2014) is based off of Radical Comic’s character from The Thracian Wars and The knives of Kush. The film currently rates a 62% on Rotten Tomatoes and has grossed more than $56 million domestically as of August 6th, 2014.

The below trailer is the closest perfect description I could probably find online without spoilers, and without it being the actual perfection that is Hercules. Beware, the trailer contains many scenes that are not in the final theatrical cut, but I am very happy to report that Hercules’ wife in this adaption is Megara (seen above), and they dress her in purple. Like I said the most tongue in cheek mytho movie ever.

This Is The End (What did Jacki K Watch? Day 09)

This is the End Poster

I saw by far the most amazing movie of the summer tonight. And because of how amazing it was this review will contain spoilers. I honestly don’t know how else to talk about this brilliant Action/Comedy/Horror movie. So if you came to my sight for a spoiler free review, I suggest you search else where. You have been warned.

This Is The End opens with Seth Rogen waiting for his fellow Canadian BFF Jay Baruchel at the airport for a weekend of shenanigans in L.A.  Little did Jay know that he would be spending the Apocalypse  at James Franco‘s new house, one of Seth’s newer friends, whom Jay does not care for. If you didn’t know, this film is based around the worst, funniest, and demeaning sides of the actors themselves. They are their own selves but magnified. And I love that concept of the movie, and so should you. Remember how that same concept was applied to that really shitty 2010 summer release of Grown Upswhere it turned into a giant roast between the cast that wasn’t funny or delivered well? Well, 2013’s This Is The End is the best Action/Comedy I have ever seen in my entire life. My face was actually sore after the movie from smiling the whole 107 minutes. Continue reading

From Dusk Till Dawn (A Review)

So I have no idea why it has taken me just about a decade of personal viewing freedom to finally watch From Dusk Till Dawn, but today, May 12, 2012, I finally have. And may I just say, like always, I’m late to one gruesome, amazing party. This is definitely not the first Robert Rodriguez film that I have been exposed to, but hot damn, its probably my favorite now. I’ve tried catching the film on TV and let me tell you: bad idea. First time I tried viewing this, I missed the first ten minutes of it and thought it was droll as hell. This is a movie you need to watch uninterrupted by commercials, and from the beginning. Especially if you are into the gritty crime/action twisted with horror genre, this film will get you aroused.

The basis of the movie is revolved around two criminal brothers Seth and Richard Gecko (played brilliantly by George Clooney and Quentin Tarantino) who are trying to meet up with Seth’s “business partner” at a bar in Mexico called the Titty Twister. Apparently they need hostages to make it there and cross the boarder, so enter a broken family of 3: Jacob, Kate, and Scott Fuller. Jacob, the father, was once a priest, but lost faith when his wife died in a car accident (*shocker*). Kate and Scott, two teenagers trying to figure out where the hell their fathers faith went are struggling with the impromptu drive around the country in a trailer home bit, but the family in a whole keep it together for the most part when they become hostages. Kate, played by a young Juliette Lewis, is dynamite, playing young and innocent, but as the film goes on, she losses her innocence and becomes a bad ass, vampire fighting machine.

Where do the vampires come in you ask though? Oh about right around the half way marker, when the Gecko’s make the poor decision to treat the “Pussy” door man like shit when they walk into the bar. When the door man (one of the 3 characters that Cheech Marin plays) bitches about the beat down, which is after a very sexy, snake dance performance by Salma Hayek, the vampires bust out. Finally after so much pressure and build up, the movie explodes! BOOM! With blood of red and green everywhere, the 10 or 15 minute fight scene bursts into fire, wooden objects, crosses, and yes, even pencils. It is everything you would expect from Rodriguez and it’s just the right amount of gore and corn to keep the audience gasping and laughing. The movie goes on to have the few survivors regroup and then kick more vampire ass.

Although no vampires appear in the film until half way through the movie, they are worth the wait. I knew about this film for the majority of my life, but mostly hadn’t a clue that it was a vampire film until my recent Vampire in film and TV class that I just finished up. My professor suggested that I take a gander at the film, seeing as I prefer scary vampires over glittery ones, and boy am I glad I gave it another chance. The vampires in the film are more than grotesque, they may drink blood but their bodily fluids are green and slimy, when they are in their hunting form they are a combination of demon from hell, bats, and (because of the green body fluids) a 1984 Ghost Buster’s Slimer. But the vamps are a combination of horrifying and goofy at the same time. They are so over done in make up and prosthetic’s that you can’t help but chuckle at what some of them look like.

There is great character development for nearly all the leads, and there are some incredible, memorable one liners and zings throughout the movie. The way that it is filmed is too fold, it is that classic grind-house motif, and since Rodriguez and Tarantino are the creative minds behind it, it is their very recognizable style.

Overall, it’s sick, it’s sadistic, it’s gore, it’s horror, it’s humorous, it’s cheesy, it’s original, it’s everything you want for a fun, scary, bloody good time of a QT and Rodriguez film.

10 for 10 in the action/horror genre.

~Jacki K