I’m going to preemptively defend myself here: I love trash films most of the time. I watched The Bye Bye Man, for Christ’s sake. It was atrocious, but honestly, I kind of love that I hate it so much. It’s a weird feeling. But you’re not here to read about my gross, icky feelings, you’re here to read about my gross, icky feelings about movies.
Hackers might just be the most ’90s movie I’ve ever seen. I cannot stress this enough: Hackers might just be steeped in it’s own decade more than any other movie in existence. Everything about the ’90s shows up in Hackers, and even the plot itself couldn’t have been conceived in any other decade.
Dade “Crash Override” Murphy (Jonny Lee Miller) has just moved to New York City with his mom and has enrolled in a new high school in his senior year. He’s excited, not just for a new start but because he’s been banned by law from interacting with any computers or touchtone phones since he was eleven years old, and now the ban has been lifted. How was young Dade banned from using computers? Well, he hacked with them. He hacked so good that he caused a stock market crash in 1988 and crashed over fifteen hundred computers. Dade makes friends with Kate “Acid Burn” Libby (Angelina Jolie!), Ramon “The Phantom Phreak” Sanchez, Emmanuel “Cereal Killer” Goldstein, and Paul “Lord Nikon” Cook, all young students who are also a part of the local hacking scene. Why the crazy alias, you might ask? Because on the internet you need a sick, radical username when you’re surfing the net and fighting the good fight, man. The the hacker gang gets framed by Eugene “The Plague” Belford (who always insists on being called by his online alias), another hacker who happens to work for the FBI and who is framing innocent hackers for a virus that is causing oil ships to capsize and pollute the ocean.
I want you to make sure you understand the gravity of the situation here. The bad guy has hacked a bunch of boats so hard they flipped over and caused an environmental crisis. Bogus! It’s up to our ragtag group of hackers to take down the man and clear their names once and for all so they can continue to do their illegal
Despite my love of weird, artsy movies, I’ve got soft spots for schlock and Big Dumb Action Movies. Commando, Predator, Crank are all well within my wheelhouse, and while I thought at most of these films were stuck in the ’80s or only found in crazy neo-grindhouse directors like Neveldine/Taylor, turns out I only needed to look at the most popular modern incarnations of Big and Dumb and Action. Lucky for me, they all reside in the same thing: WWE Wrestling.
The Marine is a 2006 action movie starring John Cena as John Triton, a marine who is honorably discharged from the US Marine Corps for single-handedly annihilating an Al-Queda base in Iraq against orders. Once he’s reintegrated back into the normal, mundane life of being a war-hero-turned-office-security-guard, he finds himself yearning to use the skills he learned out on his tour of duty that would get him arrested or fired here. Lucky for Mr. Triton, his wife gets kidnapped by some high profile diamond thieves (read: his wife gets plot deviced by some shoehorned plot devices) while they’re at a gas station, and BAM!
John Triton gets to go on a wild rampage across rural America to save his wife by murder, violence, explosions, guns, guns, boom, pow, running, jumping, car chase, running, blam blam blam, ka-pow! Maybe an American bald eagle soars in the distance, I don’t know. This movie was a flurry of blows to the senses, so it’s hard to write about it coherently. It’s produced by WWE Studios, which I always dismissed as being the producers of low budget, low quality action flicks that are just made to cash in on the success of whatever wrestler is popular at the time and while I can’t vouch for any of their other movies, they’ve definitely marked themselves on my radar after watching The Marine.
Tombstone is one of those movies that nobody talks about, but anytime you admit that you haven’t seen it, whoever you’re talking to is bound to violently react with a sharp gasp and a “what do you mean you haven’t seen Tombstone?!” like you just admitted that you’ve never eaten a hamburger in your life. Today, I fixed that problem. Watched Tombstone, that is. Anyone who looks at my midriff will know for a fact that I’ve eaten many, many hamburgers in my lifetime.
Tombstone is an American western-action film based on the true story of Wyatt Earp (Kurt Russel), a retired wild west lawman who wants to settle down in Tombstone, Arizona, but is roped back into dishing out rifle-fueled justice with his brothers Virgil (Sam Elliot) and Morgan (Bill Paxton, R.I.P.) and an old friend and con-artist Doc Holliday (Val Kilmer). The Cowboys, a gang nearly one hundred strong has been terrorizing Tombstone and its surrounding area, and after a couple violent and bloody run-ins with the gang and it’s leaders Curly Bill (Powers Boothe) and Johnny Ringo (Michael Biehn), the Earp brothers and Doc don law badges and set out to clean up Tombstone once and for all. Also, if you’re marveling at how all-star this cast is, let me inform you that Charlton Heston, Stephen Lang, Jason Priestley, and Paula Malcomson are also in it.
We’re just burning through Criterion movies here like the entry-level-hipster-self-proclaimed-film-buffs we are! Out of all of the films that sit on the Criterion shelf at movie stores, The one I’ve looked at more than any other has got to be The Complete Lady Snowblood. The simple elegance of the title alone was enough to hook me, and once I found out that Meiko Kaji starred as the titular assassin, I was sold. She was the best part of Female Prisoner #701: Scorpion and I was really interested to see what she could do in a less sleazy film. For those of you who read this blog just for the bad movies, I promise I’ll get back to Hellraiser soon.
Lady Snowblood (Shurayuki-hime) follows Yuki, a young woman raised from birth to be an assassin and carry out a vendetta against the leaders of a small gang in 1800s Japan. These ne’er-do-wells are responsible for killing Yuki’s father and raping her mother before her birth. When Yuki’s mother attempts to get her own revenge, she is imprisoned for life and decides to have a baby that can grow up to exact her revenge.
Now 20-something years old, Yuki prowls the countryside piecing together whatever information she can to track down those responsible for devastating her family, using her umbrella sheathed katana to doll out bloody justice whenever she sees fit.
Oh boy. I’ve had this one coming for a while. Jupiter Ascending is the latest full length film from the Wachowskis, the dynamic duo of writer/ directors who are known for occasionally popping into the Hollywood scene and flipping the sci-fi genre on it’s head. They dropped The Matrix in 1999, and… umm… I guess they fumbled around with it’s sequels, then there was Speed Racer in 2008 which only made back 75% of its 120 million dollar budget. There was also Cloud Atlas in 2012, which had pretty mixed reviews, and, well, I guess they knocked it out of the park with The Matrix and just kind of floundered for almost two decades since then.
So, that brings us to Jupiter Ascending. This movie is about Jupiter (Mila Kunis), a daughter of a Russian immigrant who’s family flirts with the poverty line running a house cleaning business for the rich and the upper class. Her life sucks, having to wake up before 5am every morning and scrubbing toilets all day, every day, but her life gets flipped, turned upside down when she meets Caine (Channing Tatum) a half-man-half-dog (he’s his own best friend!) hybrid from space who brings her to space so she can find out she’s Queen of Earth because her DNA is exactly the same as the actual Queen of Earth whose dead now and the Princes and Princesses of this intergalactic royal family are fighting over who gets to own Earth so they can farm the humans to make big glo-sticks that keep you young forever. This is all the first 15 minutes of the movie. Confused? Me too. (more…)