Tremors 2: Aftershocks, They’re Baaack

Tremors 2: Aftershocks
And this time, Val’s out of the picture. He got hitched to Rhonda between the first and second movie, so sorry Kevin Bacon fans! You’re out of luck. Fred Ward is back as Earl Bassett, and accompanying him on his second thrilling journey is the obnoxious and energetic Grady Hoover, played perfectly by Christopher Gartin. This time around, the Graboids pose an entirely different threat to an entirely different area, so keep up, okay?

Earl lost most of the money he made discovering Graboids on an ostrich farm and several other stupid investments, and so he’s a few steps away from living the dream. Senor Ortega, a client from the Petromaya Oil Fields, arrives with Grady Hoover in tow to ask Earl to hunt the Graboids that have been terrorizing his field. Earl, petrified that Graboids aren’t extinct, refuses. That is, until Grady tells him that the oil company will pay $50,000 for every one of the buggers killed, and double that if one can be caught alive. Earl scoffs at the idea of bagging a live one, and heads off the to fields with Grady.

They meet Pedro, the company’s chief engineer, and Kate Reilly, a geologist. Julio, another worker for the company, brings them a seismic monitoring device to help them catch Graboids. Grady provides a chain with cans on it. You know, to hook up to the back of the truck and make noise and… yeah. After a successful hunt, a Graboid snags the chain and takes the two on a merry ride. This happens to draw a whole shitload of other tunneling beasties, so Earl enlists the help of Burt Gummer.

Tremors 2: AftershocksHeather left Burt since the last movie, so he shows up alone with a military truck full of high-powered explosives and oodles of other fun gadgets. The hunting resumes and goes well, until Earl and Grady stumble upon a Graboid that tries to run away from them. They chase it into a small ridge, and accidentally trash their truck when it startles them by breaking the surface. Hours later, they hear it making terrible noises, then return to find that something had busted out from inside it.

Their luck proves to be horrible, as Pedro was called to pick them up, yet his car careened to an ominous stop half a mile from their position. A quick investigation reveals a pair of arms and a destroyed car engine. A long walk to the radio tower reveals more trashes equipment. How the hell would Graboid know to do that? Or maybe it wasn’t Graboids at all… When they finally make it back to the refinery, they find a bunch of tiny little biped creatures that look oddly like Graboids, only smaller. Earl blows them to hell without a second thought. Burt, on the other hand, is ambushed on his way back to the refinery after the radio towers go down.

When everyone gets back together, they begin to hatch a plan to wipe out the newly dubbed Shriekers once and for all. That’s as much of the synopsis as I’ll give you, so if you want to juicy spoilers, you have to see for yourself.

Tremors 2: AftershocksIn regards to quality, Tremors 2: Aftershocks is actually a step up from Tremors. A sequel that kicks more ass than the original. Isn’t that something? The humor’s goofy and great, the tone never dips to dark, and the acting is just right. Not too serious, not too corny. All in all, a kick-ass second installment to the cult classic, Tremors. Check it out.

TV Guides has a lovely little review that gives you a shorter layout of what to expect from Tremors 2. Have a look and see what someone other than me thinks about this slice of cinematic wonder:

RoboCop, Big Bad Business

RoboCop is a classic of sci-fi corporate/criminal warfare. With a greater plot and cluster of subplots to direct the audience’s attention, the odds are you’ll have a lot to catch up with if you miss a part. Mixing stop-motion, spiffy makeup and badass outfits, RoboCop is as much about the flash and flair of the cybernetic age as it is about the complex sequence of events that lead up to the death of the a member of Omni Consumer Products.

Dick Jones presents to the chairman of OCP a new line of mechanical law enforcers, the ED-209. During its exhibition, it murders an executive attempting to perform a disarming procedure. Thus, Bob Morton steps in and offers up RoboCop, the revolutionary cyborg police officer. Since nobody is quite willing to sacrifice their body for the sake of this project, Bob turns to the Detroit police. He keeps tabs on high-risk operations, eventually nabbing Alex Murphy as his candidate.

Murphy has a bad run when trying to take down notorious crime lord Clarence Boddicker at an abandoned warehouse, and is shot to death. Bob’s crew claims the corpse and builds it into RoboCop! Crime gradually begins to taper off with this big guy on duty. Only, despite his memory wipe, he’s starting to flash back to his past, little by little.

RoboCopOff on the side, Bob makes some unpleasant remarks about Dick, which earns him an assassination by none other than Clarence himself. Apparently, Dick is in deep with several crime families, and he’s looking to lead the company after the old CEO dies. Ruling with an iron fist, likely enough. Unfortunately for Dick, Murphy’s memories lead RoboCop back to Clarence, which could expose the entire operation.

When RoboCop tries to reveal the video he recorded that documented Clarence’s admission of working with Dick, the secret fourth protocol disables him. Dick then activates ED-209 in an attempt to destroy RoboCop, which fails miserably. But with this protocol in place, how can RoboCop arrest the man who set all the loopholes in place?

That about covers the almost non-spoiler synopsis, anyway. As for the quality of the actors, props, effects… It’s about on-par with what you’d expect from a late 80’s sci-fi movie. Stop-motion, borderline silly lines from the robo-cop, criminals with enough spunk to do stand-up comedy. You get the concept. In this particular movie, however, these things blend and flow; no sudden stops to realize how stupid something is. It’s a classic for a reason, kay?

RoboCopThe final bit of commentary I have for RoboCop is: Doin’ it right. If you don’t know how to go about making a cyborg, do it in as vague a way as possible. That way people can’t say you did it wrong. How clever, says this observer.

For those who are more aware of corporate and political matters, James Berardinelli’s review is the one for you. He describes the movie as a “biting satire of big business practices.” Looking back after having viewed RoboCop again, I certainly do agree. But that hardly matters, since I’m about as aware of business crap as I am of how Mark Wahlberg keeps getting acting jobs. Non sequitur zing! Here’s the link, before I get too distracted:

The Happening… Has it Yet?

The Happening
From the cesspit of lame horror movies crawls this spectacle of suicide… The Happening! Complete with Mark Wahlberg and Zooey Deschanel. I’ve heard that they’re meant to be good actors, and based on what I’ve seen from this particular movie, I cannot agree nor disagree. Simply put, good actors do not a good movie make. I didn’t like the end product when the plot was dumped in, but the final opinion’s up to you based off the synopsis. Away we go.

Elliot and Alma are a couple having problems. Elliot’s a science teacher, Alma is some sort of legal type person who just baaarely cheated on Elliot by seeing some other guy for lunch. Julien is their math teacher buddy, and Jess is his daughter. None of this matters yet, because first you have to see a bunch of people commit suicide because of the “event.” Some people stab themselves, some people jump off buildings, some crash their cars, so on, so forth. No explanation yet, so bear with me.

The event is initially blamed on terrorist poisonings because it tends to pop up in the middle of parks and places with a generally high population. Elliot and his lot flee to Philadelphia via bus, but wind up stranded in a small town with some botanists who think that plants are causing the mass suicides. As the plot progresses, they discover that it is indeed the terrorist plants, and that the size of the targeted populations is gradually shrinking. Inevitably, the poison will target the tiny, fleeing groups via wind.

The HappeningThere’s a lot of room for stragglers and secondary characters in this one, since a most of them wind up dead. After Julien dies while trying to meet up with his wife, every other new character you meet shortly follows suit. So, you know, don’t get too attached to anyone.

I’ll save you the trouble of waiting for the “exciting conclusion” and tell you now that the Elliot, Alma, and Jess survive. The wind catches up to them and they wind up trapped in an empty house, only to discover that the event has ended. They become one big happy family, and the news tells them that there’s NO chance this event will ever happen again. You know, because science can’t prove that it will.

The main shortcoming of this movie is that it feels like a corny science show. The characters feel really stereotypical and plastic, the dialogue can get a little (very) cheesy, and the overall plot is rather flimsy, relying on the suicides to leave an impact. It’s one of those movies that you watch once and ONLY once unless you’re bored off your ass and have literally nothing else to do.

The HappeningNigel Floyd of Metacritic stabs the movie right in the kidney, pointing out that all the initial buildup and suspense amounts to an empty, boring conclusion. According to him, the characters are flat and dreary, and I couldn’t agree more. Take a peek at his review here:

The Island: Sci-Fi Made Easy and Dumb

The IslandHere’s a movie that thinks itself a statement about control, wealth, and morality. It comes relatively close as well, although at times it may get a little pretentious. I’m actually watching it right now, and the two leads are “learning how to make out” and are soon going to be having a gratuitous sex montage. Right after a daring chase scene ending in a clever deception. Yes, it’s that kind of movie. Aren’t you excited? Don’t be. This futuristic action thriller is riddled with clichés and irritating nuances that’ll twitch your eyebrows or slightly clench your fist.

Let’s get on with this, shall we? The Island is initially set in a cloning facility hidden away beneath an old military bunker. The clones are imprinted with the thought that they want to go to a special place known as the Island, which is actually the company’s euphemism for death. All the little copy-kids are told that they were saved from a global contamination and placed inside the facility for safekeeping. They are slowly taught rudimentary English and motor skills, and are then integrated into the false society. And, when their buyer requires parts from them, (skin, organs, a baby), the clones automatically win the Lottery and are sent to The Island.

The IslandLinkin Six Echo is the guy, and he’s very curious about things. Jordan Two Delta is the cute, empathic, and somewhat clueless girl. They like interacting a lot, which already clues you in to future scenes. So, Linkin sneaks around and witnesses one of the subjects being terminated after giving birth. When Jordan is selected to win the Lottery, Linkin quickly connects the fact that subjects who are to achieve motherhood automatically win. He intervenes to save Jordan, and with help from an outside friend, they manage to locate Linkin’s sponsor.

The CEO doesn’t like this, though, so he sends a crew of mercenaries to wipe the two escapees out. What he doesn’t realize is that, like the clones, the lead merc is also branded with a mark that signifies that he is less than human. It’s the deus ex machina that causes him to switch sides even after Linkin and Jordan kill many of his men throughout each and every one of the long and dramatic chase scenes.

Oh, and here’s a fun little bit of bonus deus ex machina for your consideration. Part of it makes sense. Linkin starts gaining memories from his sponsor, Tom Linkin, and he subsequently learns how to ride hovercycles, cars, boats, and everything else he would need to perform well in epic chase scenes. Ever witnessed a three year old clone do aerial flips on a hoverbike from vague motor memories alone? I would assume not. I should be more lenient because of the nature of the movie, but there’s only so much deus ex machina a guy can handle.

The IslandSkipping ahead a little bit, every single clone is released into the world. That’s around one thousand clones just let loose in the middle of the desert, while Linkin and Jordan escape on their boat to paradise. So they get to live while all the other clones starve to death. What an epic conclusion.

In short, this isn’t exactly the best movie. It’s got its good parts, some of the technology is actually pretty badass. The effects are nice. The main problem is the lack of sci-fi realism. I mean, sci-fi is supposed to be a realistic form of fantasy, so you can’t just throw the plot in there willy-nilly then not expect the awesome tech to generate any holes. Still. It looks good.

Inception vs Shutter Island: Same Protagonist, Almost Different Plot

InceptionYou’re lucky I decided to be mature about this and title it the way I did. If I hadn’t had that moment of clarity, the title would be “Incraption vs Shitter Island.” But it’s Inception vs Shutter Island, so yeah.

I think it was definitely a mistake to see Shutter Island before seeing Inception. Maybe seeing both of them was a mistake in itself. A lot of people say Leonardo DiCaprio is an excellent actor, but these two movies sorta sucked the agreement out of me. While it is true that these are the only Leo DiCaprio movies I’ve seen and my perspective is rather limited, I do believe I’m justified when I say he plays the same character in both. Tweaks and twists here and there, but overall annoyingly similar.

Shutter Island: Leo plays a delusional mental patient who thinks he’s a detective investigating an institution for the absence of another patient. He keeps hallucinating and seeing his wife, his children, and other horrifying images on the hunt, but keeps these things to himself. He starts to catch on to a self-made conspiracy in which he’s part of a big experimental brain surgery scandal, only to find out that it was just the head psychiatrist trying to make him confront reality be seeing the falsehood in his own delusions. It turns out his wife was crazy and killed his kids, then he went crazy and killed her. Kind of a let-down ending. I’m not spoiling anything important.

InceptionInception: Leo plays a man who’s wanted for the murder of his own wife because she went crazy and set it up to look like he did it. As it turns out, he actually did. He used Inception and dream-sharing to plant an idea in her head that her world wasn’t real, and she needed to kill herself to wake up. He did this to get the both of them out of subconsciousness, which was a good reason enough, but he sort of botched it. Anyway, throughout the movie, projections of his wife constantly appear and ruin all the plans he tries to make because he’s in denial and wracked with guilt. Sound similar? Yeah. You bet it does. In the conclusion, he has a catharsis and admits to the projected her what he did. And she gets mad, he still feels bad about it, and the ending is ambiguous.

You see the point I’m trying to make, though, right? That Inception and Shutter Island are basically two movies in which Leo plays a crazy, haunted fella who accidentally kills his crazy wife? Because it’s a little obnoxious to have to listen to him bitch and moan about his dark and brooding past, or have it bitched and moaned to him. Redundant, don’t you know.

The sci-fi aspect of Inception was rather intriguing, though, as were the musical scores used throughout. I must admit, I was both pleased and disappointed with the ways they bent and shaped the subconscious. I know Leo is used to playing in rather realistic movies, so throwing in anything truly subconscious, namely flight, really strange images, weapons, whatever, wouldn’t exactly be up his alley. Which is a shame, because if you think about it, using the dreaming mind to its fullest, nonrealistic extent would have made the movie so much more interesting.

InceptionYes, they were trying to be convincingly realistic to a guy so they could break into his mind and do some Inception. But as Eames so indelicately put it, “You mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger.” In context, he was talking about his grenade launcher versus Arthur’s classy assault rifle, but my point still stands. They could have had laser guns. Just saying. Just saying that the movie came off as an action thriller with some vague aspects of subconsciousness in it. Kinda like the dreaming part was essential though still thrown in there to make everything fancier.

Well, Shutter Island sure ate up a fair bit of this review. I think it’s safe to say that those looking to be impressed (or the easily impressed) will be impressed by both of these movies. Inception more so than Shutter Island, because the latter has a bit of an anti-climactic ending, though I personally found it to be rather satisfying. You can watch them if you want, but for the love of everything, only watch one. If you see both, you’ll be plagued by the exact same general disliking of Leo DiCaprio that I’ve described.

The Terminator: He’ll Be Back… In the Sequels

The TerminatorWatch out, people, we got a classic on our hands! And how. Y’know, there’s a certain satisfying irony in reviewing old movies versus new movies. With new movies, I’d usually remain either neutral or negative about the special effects, blaming the focus on such as the reason for the degraded plot or half-assed characters. In old movies, the effects are rarely more complicated than some low-resolution on-screen lightning or puppets that look nothing like the actor they’re meant to represent. Or even stop-motion animation! It’s really quite marvelous, I do declare. The irony is in the fact that I like and notice the crappy effects more than I do the newer, fancier ones. Why? I couldn’t say.

The plot of this movie, dear readers, is a perfect example of why you don’t play with time. Paradoxes arise, the impossible is pointed out, and everyone scratches their head and shouts plot hole. In this particular case, Sarah Connor is to give birth to John Connor, who leads the human resistance to victory against the machines in the future when robots try to wipe out the human race. Future John Connor sends back Kyle Reese, his father (and Sarah’s short-term lover), in hopes of protecting Sarah. You know, because if Sarah and Kyle don’t get freaky, John will have never been born and will never have led the human resistance to victory.

The TerminatorBut of course, if Kyle is from the future, so how the heck did he originally hook up with Sarah in the first place? How could John have initially sent Kyle back if he was never born? If Kyle had no idea he was John Connor’s father and was his age at the time of the resistance? Technically, that would be entirely impossible. The movie acts as though the initial events are irrelevant to the overall timeloop, which sort of leaves the audience… you know, scratching their heads and shouting plot hole.

Point being, the whole movie is about Sarah and Kyle falling in love, running away from Arnold Schwarzenegger, and getting John made so the sequels could happen. I mean, that’s really all it is.

It starts off as Sarah Connor finding out that someone’s been killing all the Sarah Connors in the phonebook for whatever reason, warning her that she’s bound to be next. Kyle manages to get to her first before AHNOLD riddles her with bullets, and the sappy dramatic future-past romance story blossoms and blooms and… Yeah. And Terminator followed them every step of the way. The thing that made the Terminator so scary was that he just kept on coming back no matter how many times he got exploded or smashed. Good thrills indeed.

The TerminatorNow, for lack of anything more relevant and important to talk about, I shall speak on the amazing old-fashioned special effects that I love so very much! And the other movie goofs that just make Terminator so great. First off, obvious stunt doubles. If you’re not caught up in the action, you’ll realize that every time Kyle or Termie take a punch, it’s really not them. Heh. And let’s not forget that puppet of Termie as he cuts his eye out. It’s like, whoa, maybe that could be Arnold if he actually was a robot and looked extra effeminate.

I don’t think I need to ramble on any further to further prove just how old this movie is. Check IMDB for all the goofs; good for a laugh. On the whole, though, Terminator is a pretty good movie. As a standalone, it’s rather lacking and lame, but because it’s the first of many Terminator sequels and spin-offs, it earns a 50% bonus on its quality score. It’s definitely not just me thinking that older movies are better just because they’re the originals. Fortunately for you, goldie oldies are always turned DVD, so you can pick Terminator up at Rasputin’s, Netflix it, Amazon, whatever. It’s probably dirty cheap, so go get it.

Sucker Punch > Inception

Sucker PunchYou read the title, didn’t you? Inception was a good movie, and Sucker Punch is better. So why are you not seeing Sucker Punch right now? Wait, what do you mean opinions aren’t facts and need to be backed up with solid arguments? Crap. Fine. I’ll make this review longer than one paragraph. Lousy opinionated masses…

Right! First thing that makes the movie fantastic: Emily Browing! … What, you don’t remember who she is? Oh, please. She was Violet in the crappy Series of Unfortunate Events movie. She was the crazy sister in The Uninvited! And she’s damned cute. You can’t tell me that’s not enough to make you see the movie! … Content quality? Are you serious?! Fine! Fine. Why don’t I paint your house while I’m at it.

Sucker Punch is better than Inception because the dreams in Inception are all like James Bond movies. Completely realistic to a fault and loaded with guns and people that get shot. Yes, they talk about dreams, and dreams are involved, but these dreams reflect nothing of the subconscious! Except for guns and dying and a stalker projection. There. Now that Inception has been cast in a bad light- Oh, you want content from Sucker Punch. I guess that’s only reasonable. Workin’ my fingers to the bone…

Sucker PunchSucker Punch is about a little platinum blonde Babydoll whose stepfather lusts after her and her sister’s inheritance. Has nothing to do with The Series of Unfortunate Events movie, and is in no way similar. At all. He kills their mother, and when he finds out that the wealth goes to her daughters, he tries to kill them too in a drunken rage. He gets the younger sister, then frames Babydoll for it and sends her to an asylum, paying off one of the orderlies to forge a signature permitting a lobotomy. Babydoll has three days to escape. Will she make it? Let’s dive another layer down.

Sucker Punch is about a little platinum blonde Babydoll orphan who is delivered to a strip club by a priest that looks just like her stepdad in the upper layer. Weird, huh? She has to learn how to dance her stripperiffic dance in order to impress her clients, yet at the same time plot to escape the horrible and corrupt house of tail, and more importantly, the High Roller (who looks oddly like the lobotomist). Will she make it? Let’s dive yet another layer down.

Sucker Punch is about a platinum blonde warrior Babydoll who is watched over by a nameless Wise Man, from whom she receives a katana and a handgun. With these symbolic weapons, she must cleave and gun down all manner of icon-foes, some of which look oddly like her stepdad and the strip club owner. What a world. The various objectives she must complete seem impossible, but with the crew of girls she has backing her, their efforts will guarantee victory/escape/escape!

Sucker PunchSo which fricken’ story is the real one? Who can tell? That’s the draw. All of these perceived realities are connected yet disconnected from one another, making for one hell of an interesting movie. Yes, it may seem a little bit focused on the whole girls in skimpy outfits kicking major ass with guns and swords, but… They’re so sincere when they go about doing it! Best way to describe it. Sincere. It fits the tone of the movie.

Let’s close with shortcomings so you can end on a good note. Does that make sense? Does this movie make sense? Those are rhetorical questions. Sucker Punch offers a lot as a movie with spunk and mind screws. It offers some likeable if not somewhat flat characters whose shortcomings are made up for with seriously amazing special effects. Because who needs plot these days? Okay, so Inception had a better plot. But you know what’s really great? Emily Browining. For the record, this review makes as much sense as Sucker Punch does, so feel free to compare this review to the movie when you’re watching it. Because you should. And you will. Emily Browning.