G.I. Joe Retaliation Review


Nearly a year ago I had the opportunity to see a test screening of G.I. Joe: Retaliation. I have been sitting on my feelings about the movie since then. I have let slip a few times here and there on The Gorram Nerd Hour that I hated it. So why did I watch it again? For the same reason I watched the other movies I’ve seen at test screenings again, to see what they changed. It’s always interesting what the studios take away from the comment cards they ask you to fill out at the end of a test screening. On my card I filled it with stuff like “Why was this movie greenlit?” and “What was the point?” Did I change my opinions after the reshoots? Or were the “fixes” they made just as bad?

When I first saw the movie the only positive thing I took away from it was that Snake Eyes was awesome. I love Ray Park and he gave the movie his all despite how bad it was. Sort of like what he did for Star Wars: Episode I. With the reshoots we got a little more Duke, played by Channing Tatum. In the original version Duke was dead as fast as it takes the average person to blink. Of course, by the time the movie started I was praying for toothpicks to keep my eyes open because my eyes just wanted to close to avoid having to take in anymore of that horrible movie. The Duke scenes were designed as a passing of the torch to Road Block, played by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Although the movie worked better watching Tatum and Johnson play off each other. The moment Tatum was out of the movie the fun left with it…until Bruce Willis entered the movie. Sadly, this fact has not changed. Sure, they added a couple more scenes with Tatum and Johnson together but teasing the audience with a fun movie for a few more minutes only serves to enrage them more overall. 

Duke still dies…oops, sorry. I meant to warn people of spoilers. Oh well, too late. After his death the movie falls into a boring lull for a good 40 minutes until Willis enters. Cobra Commander, Zartan and Firefly couldn’t bring the fun. Adrianne Padalecki (sic) couldn’t save it by looking hot as Lady Jaye. Nothing worked. Not even the coolness of Jonathan Pryce and Walton Goggins. This still has not changed from the previous version. There were random tweaks done to the movie but none so substantial that it made it worth watching. 

In all fairness I will say this. The few changes that were made to the movie made the film a bit more enjoyable. In fact, I think I’ve come to the conclusion that I liked this one almost as much as first. That’s still not a compliment. At least the first had a bit more of an emotional aspect to it. Plus it tried harder. This was just lazy screenwriting. I don’t blame the director or the actors. They did what they could. But when you polish a turd all it does is make the cloth dirty.

A quick note to the writers – Zombieland was fun. Was it a fluke? Or did you just sell out? If Deadpool ever gets made I’ve now become scared about what you’re gonna do with it. Are you going to be the next Ehren Kruger? 

I’m done. I don’t want to talk about this anymore. 

For the original version of the movie I give it 1/2 * out of 5. For the reshot and delayed version I give it 1 and 1/2 *’s out of *****. 

I’m sure Brian and I will be discussing this on the next episode of The Gorram Nerd Hour so make sure you tune in for it.


A Bad Day To Die Hard

I have a huge love for the original Die Hard. The second movie has its moments as well. The McClane character was still intact at that point. Part three felt like a great follow up to the first. Part four was really the beginning of the end but performed well having been edited down to a PG-13 rating.

This time around John McClane is back in all his R rated glory. Or is he? The movie is about John going to Russia to find his estranged son. When he gets there he finds more than he bargained for when he barely steps of the plane and is involved in a car Chase through Russian streets while chasing Tue people chasing his son. The cavalier attitude Bruce Willis shows as McClane amidst all this destruction is seriously disconcerting. This is the man who didn’t even want to let Hans Gruber die at the end of the first movie. Now he’s driving around in a foreign country destroying cars and presumably injuring their drivers in the process.

This is the new jaded John McClane. And that is not an improvement. He used to be someone we rooted for, someone we could relate to, someone we could have a beer with. Now he’s this larger than life Superhero that doesn’t connect with the audience.

I will give writer Skip Woods a small bit of credit when it comes to the script. He tried to bring the feeling of the first film back by trying to add some heart to the story. It didn’t work but at least he tried. Willis didn’t seem like he was trying at all. He seemed morose and bored through most of it.

The story was also very weak, the directing was technically good but there seemed to be a disconnect there…and not in a good David Fincher sort of way. Even the action scenes were bad. At one point I actually said out loud in the theater “You HAVE GOT to be kidding me!”

This movie is my new least favorite Die Hard film. I feel bad for Jai Courtney who hopefully will recover from this and still get hired for movies in the future. He was the only real bright spot in a film that was bogged down with nods to the previous films but done in a such a manner that you wanted to punch Bruce Willis.

One last thing before I finish here – I have a bad feeling 20th Century Fox is going to look at lower returns and think it is due to the R rating and not because it sucked. So I just want to say this to Fox – this movie sucked. It would have suck just as bad, if not worse, if it had been PG-13. I know Bruce Willis wants to make another one. If you are dumb enough to let him at least get John McTiernan back to direct and give him full creative control because he seems to be the only who understands the John McClane character.

This movie should get no stars. Yes I really disliked it that much. But I fear it’s partially due to my feeling about the Dying Hard franchise. So I’m going against my better judgement and giving it 1 1/2 stars.

Why I Like JJ Abrams For Star Wars

When Star Trek ended it’s long run of spin-off series after something like 19 years the movie franchise had already gone down in flames. People were saying it was the end of Trek. Rick Berman, the man who took over for Gene Roddenberry, had simply refused to break too far from the formula he felt still worked after all these years. The problem was the formula was making it increasingly more difficult to ever begin watching Star Trek without starting from the beginning. 

Many years of non-stop television series, ten movies over twenty five years, and constant complaints…even from the most die hard fans meant we may have seen the end of Star Trek. Thankfully Paramount wasn’t ready to accept it. They wanted a way to make Trek accessible to the masses. So they said, “To hell with the fan’s Prime Directive. We’re gonna shake things up.” And shake them up they did. After creating the best Mission Impossible up to that point Paramount was highly impressed with JJ Abrams and wanted to extend their working relationship with the man. Soon after they announced he would be taking the reigns of one of the most beloved franchises in the history of media. 

Let me say something here – I hate remakes/reboots/prequels or whatever other name they spend more time coming up with than the actual scripts of the remakes/reboots/prequels Hollywood makes. For some reason, though, after seeing Star Trek in 2009 I was completely satisfied. It was sort of a remake/reboot/prequel/sequel all rolled into one. And it worked. Abrams was not really a fan of Star Trek but two of his good friends and frequent collaborators Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci were. He tasked them with the near impossible – make a script that marries all of Trek together and changes everything to make it fresh and new. Abrams used his love for Star Wars by creating some great fights and seriously cool space battles, something more epic than we had seen in any of the previous Trek films. 

Star Trek Into Darkness is coming this Summer. I have seen the 9 minutes of footage they played in front of the Imax version of The Hobbit and let me say I was seriously impressed. Some say it’s a betrayal of Trek franchise for Abrams to leave it. I don’t see it that way. He has a proven history of laying the groundwork for other people to expand on the worlds he creates. With Alias he took a backseat after a couple years and allowed others to continue it on. With Lost he allowed Damon Lindeloff and Carlton Cuse to make it into the show that became event television for six years. Fringe was left in the hands of others as well. He continued to stay on as executive producer for all of them but nurtured others into taking these shows and moving them in exciting new directions. Even after Mission Impossible III he stayed on as producer, hired a couple of writers he’d worked with in the past and entrusted the directing duties to Brad Bird. He took the fourth film and made the best one in the history of the franchise. So when it comes to Trek I have faith that Abrams will find the right person to replace him and take the franchise to new heights. 

As far as Star Wars is concerned I am very excited. Abrams has a very fertile imagination, a great eye for dynamic shots, and the ability to pace a story very well. The problem with George Lucas was that he felt bored. It was like he felt obligated to make the prequel trilogy but didn’t really want to. So he loaded it with boring stuff about trade embargoes and the inner workings of the Imperial Senate. It was like the odd numbered Star Trek films and how they were slow, boring movies with little action.

Between hiring Michael Arndt as the writer, bringing in Lawrence Kasdan to consult on the script, and hiring Abrams as director I feel like this new Star Wars film could be the best on since Empire Strikes Back.

Now, let the casting rumors begin. 

Ghostbusters 3 Back On?

Rumor has it that Ghostbusters 3 is now going to happen by summer. I don’t want to say I am opposed to the idea. I’m not. I just don’t like that Bill Murray doesn’t want to come back and they still plan to move ahead with or without him. If they can’t get the main four guys there’s no point.

Ivan Reitman, the director of the first two films, had another movie in pre-production at Paramount that just got put into turnaround. Supposedly the reason Paramount did this was to allow him to make Ghostbusters 3. I don’t see Paramount and Sony working so well together to allow Reitman to bail on them for a higher profile project. I have a feeling they didn’t have enough faith in him or the script and that’s why it happened. I think Paramount and Reitman are just trying to save face. In the last 15 years Reitman has been floundering as a director making bad movies like Evolution and My Super Ex-Girlfriend. That’s greatly diminished his clout. He needs Ghostbusters to get back on top. Dan Aykroyd has been pushing to make this happen for years. That’s not a good thing either. He did the sequel to The Blues Brothers, sullying the memory of John Bulushi, and now is considering making an third Ghostbusters without Bill Murray. I say no.

Sure, I have faith in Etan Cohen as a writer but without all the pieces this could very easily fall apart. I would rather have no new Ghostbusters than an inferior sequel too many years after the fact. Let’s just hope it all comes together right or not at all. We don’t need another Star Wars or Indiana Jones type screw up. If it could be like Rocky or Rambo I would be okay with it.

At this point I guess it’s just a wait and see kind of thing.

Is A Robocop Remake Justified?

I am a huge fan of Robocop. My dad took me to see it in the theater as a boy and I was in love. Even before I could grasp the subtlety of the film I loved the aggressive, over the top violence and reckless abandon of the film.

I have always been a fan of movies. For as long as I can remember I have loved everything about them. But Robocop was a wholly new experience for me. It was as though I was worshiping at the alter of exploitative cinema.

Cut to present day. After crying myself to sleep at night due to the lackluster sequels, cartoon, television mini-series, cereal, and video games I had given up any more decent Robocop coming my way. Then I heard Darren Aaronofski was going to make a rebootquel. My crying changed to tears of joy. Then he dropped out. Tears of sadness again. When I heard Jose Padilla was involved I immediately said, “who?” Then I looked him up and thought he might do something fun with it. Eventually he was joined by a very talented cast like Joel Kinneman and Michael Keaton. Things were looking good.

They released a teaser trailer for the remake as a commercial for Omni Consumer Products. The teaser was good. It seemed to have a subtle sense of humor about while not trying to mimic the commercials in the original film. Plus, there was the ED-209 in all its glory. It seemed for one brief moment all was right in the world and there may be some hope that the new version of Robocop could work.

Shortly after the teaser hit rumors started about Jose Padilla fighting with the studio about his vision for the film. MGM wants so desperately to have a hit film that isn’t James Bond again they will interfere to a point where something visionary will become a disaster. It happens all the time with studio projects. They want money so they hold focus groups. The focus group says they like Robocop but he needs to seem more human. They say they like the story but they don’t understand why Robocop can’t spend more time rescuing kittens. They say they love the gritty realism but they think Robocop should fly. When these things happen you end up with Robocop 3.

Here’s my feeling on the subject – Robocop’s suit was amazing in the original movie. It was big and bulky and could stand to be streamlined but don’t make it look like a black spandex suit. He doesn’t look like a robot. He looks like a ninja. Don’t lose the humor. That’s part of what made the first movie so great. And let the director make a movie with the studio interfering. Movies by committee rarely work.

Clerks II – A Worthy Sequel

There was a lot of concern when Kevin Smith decided he was going back to the well after the poor reception of Jersey Girl. He had made an attempt to make a movie without relying on any of the characters from his previous movies for the time and it was a critical and commercial failure. So when he announced Clerks 2 people, myself included, were worried.

One of the great things about certain people in movies and television I admire is when they are faced with adversity they shine brighter than ever. Joss Whedon has done this numerous times. Buffy and Firefly are great examples. Kevin Smith did it with Red State, a movie no studio wanted. He made it himself and it was his best work. When your back’s against the wall and you have something to prove sometimes that is the defining moment in your career. Had it not been for the wonderful Red State I would say Clerks 2 was that moment for Smith.

The movie is a simple one. It follows Dante and Randall as they are now in their 30’s and still aimless. Now, rather than the Quick Stop, they work at a fast food joint called Mooby’s.

The setting almost doesn’t matter in this film. It’s all about revisiting these characters and seeing yourself in them. When the first Clerks came out it was felt like it spoke to those disenfranchised youth we once were. This one shows us what we may be or could have been if certain things had been different in our lives. It shows us how we all eventually grow up despite how much we fight against it.

There’s a certain beauty to this film that is closer to the surface than it was in the first film. But it doesn’t shy away from Smith’s trademark witty dialogue and vulgar sense of humor. This time he even included a donkey show. That’s the great thing about his movies. Even Dogma, which had a pretty heavy tone, never got weighted down because he added fart jokes.

The other wonderful thing about this movie is watching how much Smith matured as a director over the twelve year span between the first and second film. The man may not know his lenses but he knows how to make things look good, much of that is his choice of director of photography David Klein who made the first film.

This movie is quite an achievement. Smith made a sequel that was better than the original. Very few people can claim that. 4 1/2 out of 5 stars.

Ded Moroz – A Sequel To Lepus

I was kicking around ideas of writing a sequel to something mainly just to see what we could do with it. After having a fun experience writing Lepus and Terrestrial Brian and I wanted to have another short film we could make. I had an idea for a sequel to Lepus.

Given that Lepus takes place on Halloween and has to do with the Easter Bunny I thought it would be fun to make the sequel set at Easter with a copycat killer dressed as Santa Claus. It would afford us the opportunity to still have the town sheriff dressed as Jesus fighting these killers. This time the sheriff has the role of Jesus in his church’s Easter Pagent when he’s called upon to fight Santa.

The tone will still be the same where we shoot it like an experimental German art film and fill it with weird jokes and homages to previous horror films. When Brian and I discussed it last night we both saw a lot of potential in continuing the story in this way. Plus we both wanted to experiment with writing a sequel, even if it is just a short film.

Sequel News – Prometheus 2 Set For 2014 or 15

I guess it seems that worldwide box office was good enough for Fox to say yes to direct sequel to Prometheus. Michael Fassbender and Noomi Repace are signed and Ridley Scott wants to do it. Damon Lindelof may be too busy to script the film bit everything else seems to he falling into place.

This is a sequel I can get behind. I thought Prometheus was a great film. I liked the tone and thought the story was entertaining and thought provoking. The ending left it open to continuing the story. And if Scott wants to do it then I say go for it.

I just hope that this doesn’t become the mess that the Alien films fell into, where they let them just become progressively worse eventually killing the franchise. Given this is set in the same universe it seems like a valid concern. Let’s hope Ridley Scott sticks around to help guide this series to keep it from following in the footsteps of the Alien films.

Oh Dear God! – A Reboot Of The Brady Bunch!

Somehow Vince Vaughn and CBS think it would be a good idea to bring a new version of The Brady Bunch to the small screen. And if that wasn’t bad enough it’s not just a reboot…it’s also a sequel!

According to the release I just read it states that the new series would focus on Bobby Brady’s blended family. He and his wife will both have kids from previous marriages as well as one they share together. The big change this time is that the exes will be part of their lives.

The Brady Bunch is one of those shows that never seems to die. After the run of the original series it had a variety show, a spin-off about Marcia and Jan, a couple TV movies, a new hour long series in the 80’s, two theatrical features, and another TV movie.

Sure, I have a fondness for the original show just like most people do. Maybe that’s why I want to let it die. Please, Hollywood, let it die.

I’m Not Reviewing Tremors 4

I own it. It came in the Tremors Attack Pack box set but it’s the only Tremors movie I don’t like. I’ve tried watching it a few times. I just can’t get myself to enjoy it. At the point where they have gone through the life cycle of the creature going back to an old west setting and having Michael Gross play his own ancestor seems like a cheap way of grabbing a little cash and capitalizing on the Tremors brand.

Sure they tried to offer something new with the baby Graboids that can jump up from the ground and kill. The sets were cool too. But the movie made me sad. I hope the Tremors movies are done for good. I certainly don’t want to see Tremors In Space. It was enough that they sent Critters, Jason and the Leprechaun there. All we need is Bury Gummer to jump on a spaceship to Mars or somewhere and discover that the origin of the Graboid was, in fact, extra terrestrial.

Now that I think about it I may have just inadvertently given someone an idea for a fifth Tremors movie in my “non” review of the fourth. Damn.