Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012) - It Bites


Ingredients: Benjamin Walker, Dominic Cooper, Anthony Mackie, Rufus Sewell, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jimmi Simpson, Marton Csokas and Erin Wasson. Directed by Timur Bekmambetov. Run time: 105 minutes. Rated: R.

At First Bite: Seth Grahame-Smith's novel is one of my favorite books of the last five years. I can't say I was shocked to find out there was going to be a movie version, but I was definitely psyched to see it. Without a second thought, I spent the required $15 for the 3D version in an RPX theater (60-ft screen, dual 30K lumen digital projectors and 100,000-watt sound system) for the midnight premiere.

Abraham Lincoln (Walker) turns to vampire hunting after one of the monsters kills his mother.

A vampire hunter named Henry (Cooper) helps Abe and takes him under his wing, and recruits him to kill evil vampires.

Tough to Swallow: The movie is loosely based on the novel. Really loose. So loose, in fact, the only things it really has in common with the book are Abraham Lincoln and vampires.

Jack Barts (Csokas) plays too prominent of a role, and two other baddies have been invented.

Henry's origin story is different (the book's version is awesome) and the truth about him doesn't come out until about an hour into the movie.

Will Johnson (Mackie) is a brand new character and plays a significant role, while several more important characters are missing completely.

Vampires can't kill vampires? Silver? Invisibility?

The second floor balcony of the White House is visible a few times. It wasn't there until the late 1940s.

The most disappointing part was the ending. The movie quits two endings before the book did.

Something to Chew On: Based on the novel by Seth Grahame-Smith, who also wrote the screenplay. Apparently, there were many, many drafts, and another writer came in while Grahame-Smith took time to work on DARK SHADOWS.

Walker beat out Timothy Olyphant, Eric Bana, Adrien Brody, Josh Lucas, Oliver Jackson-Cohen and James D'Arcy for the role of Lincoln.

Tom Hardy had to turn down the role of Lincoln due to scheduling conflicts with THE DARK KNIGHT RISES.

Joaquin Phoenix turned down the role of Henry.

Alan Tudyk, probably one of the bigger names of the cast, appears uncredited as Stephen A. Douglas.

Aftertaste: Man, I was really disappointed with this movie. Would I have enjoyed it more if I hadn't read the novel first? Possibly.

But, then I would have read the book after watching the movie, and still been pissed about the movie.

I kept thinking about how about Benjamin Walker reminded me of Liam Neeson and Eric Bana. I also kept thinking they should have tried to get Nathan Fillion to play Abe. More star power probably would have helped.

The action is decent, but over-the-top, especially in the stampede and train scenes.

Essentially, Bekmambetov took a brilliant mix of history and fiction and tried to turn it into a straight-up action thriller. Ugh. It's so infuriating. This should not have been a summer blockbuster-type film in 3D. It should have been a smart, 2D horror flick released sometime closer to Halloween.

In conclusion, read the book and don't watch the movie.

Or, watch the movie and don't read the book.

Otherwise, you'll be in for a letdown.

It's really like taking a stake to the heart.

Sorry. Just being honest, Abe.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

ActionFest Buffet 3.0: Leftovers

On the Menu: THE RAID: REDEMPTION (2011)

Aftertaste: Possibly the best action flick of ActionFest 2012.


On the Menu: THE DAY (2011)

Aftertaste: Like THE ROAD, but with young peeps, including the lovely Shannyn Sossamon.


On the Menu: BAD ASS (2012)

Aftertaste: A real-life viral video becomes a vigilante flick starring Danny Trejo. It's WALKING TALL with a fanny pack.


On the Menu: COMIN' AT YA! 3D (1981)

Aftertaste: The most fun movie at ActionFest 2012 not named MANBORG, but it's not purposefully ridiculous. It's just ridiculous.


On the Menu:

Aftertaste: This secret screening was a nice surprise. You'd never know Tomer Sisley is a stand-up comedian by trade. Dude rocks the action-thrillers.


On the Menu:

Aftertaste: A little confusing with all the characters, and I was hoping for more action. More of a drama until the second half.


On the Menu:

Aftertaste: Goldthwait's stuff is always risky/ballsy. Twisted and over-the-top, but I agree with most of the soapboxing when it comes to how our culture has devolved.


On the Menu:

Aftertaste: A well-done mix of comic book history and girl power. Sometimes inspirational, too. I'm still waiting for the live-action Wonder Woman summer blockbuster. I vote for Gina Carano.


Manborg (2011) - ActionFest Buffet 3.0: Plate #5

On the Menu: MANBORG (2011)

Ingredients: Matthew Kennedy, Ludwig Lee, Meredith Sweeney, Conor Sweeney, Adam Brooks, Jeremy Gillespie and Andrea Karr. Directed by Steven Kostanski. Run time: 60 minutes. Rated: Not rated.

At First Bite: The late-night movies at ActionFest are usually the best, e.g., TUCKER & DALE VS EVIL and HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN. So, I made sure to secure a ticket to MANBORG.

A soldier (Kennedy) dies while he and his brother are fighting the evil Draculon (Brooks) and his army. He's brought back to life as a half-man, half-cyborg.

Draculon now rules the world.

Manborg, as he now calls himself, teams up with Mina (Sweeney), Justice (Sweeney) and #1 Man (Lee) to fight Draculon and his Killborgs.

Tough to Swallow: I can't think of anything bad to say, except I wish it were longer than 60 minutes.

Something to Chew On: The budget was an estimated $1,000.

Brooks portrayed both Draculon and Doctor Scorpius.

The director is also credited as playing Assorted Killborgs.

Kyle Hebert is the voice of #1 Man.

Regional premiere at ActionFest 2012.

Won the 2012 Spirit of ActionFest Award.

We were told before the movie to yell "Manborg!" if there should be a technical issue with the projection/sound. Funnily, the following day, people were yelling this when other films had problems or while simply waiting for a film to start.

Raven Banner Entertainment picked up the distribution rights back in February, so hopefully a DVD is on the way soon.

Aftertaste: It would be very easy to confuse MANBORG with a straight-to-VHS flick from the '80s, and for good reason. The filmmakers at Astron-6 make these types of movies for a living. They purposefully made the company name sound like Vestron, which was responsible for EARTH GIRLS ARE EASY, BIG MAN ON CAMPUS, DREAM A LITTLE DREAM and, surprisingly, DIRTY DANCING. A number of Vestron's films haven't been released on DVD despite the library now being owned by Lionsgate.


Here we have a low-budget work of art. It was all filmed in a garage on a green screen. Manborg's costume is made from everyday scraps painted to metallic. Throw in some voice dubbing, some stop-motion animation and some lasers, and it's like you're in nerd heaven.

There's so much involved in this movie, it's difficult to believe it's only an hour long.

The Baron might be the film's best character. He's a baddie with a soft spot for one of his prisoners. He's the comic relief in a movie full of ridiculousness. Of course, having #1 Man's voice dubbed makes him pretty hilarious as well.

Call it a poor man's ROBOCOP. Or a poor man's TERMINATOR. Throw in some TRON and make it a comedy.

Just remember it looks the way it does on purpose.


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Prometheus (2012) - Like Beautiful Swiss Cheese

On the Menu: PROMETHEUS (2012)

Ingredients: Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Guy Pearce, Charlize Theron, Logan Marshall-Green, Idris Elba, Rafe Spall, Sean Harris, Kate Dickie, Emun Elliott and Benedict Wong. Directed by Ridley Scott. Run time: 124 minutes. Rated: R.

At First Bite: The trailer looked pretty cool, but I can't say I was anxiously anticipating the film's release. However, my co-worker Jared was totally psyched to see it. So, we checked out the opening midnight show.

It's 2089. A couple of archaeologists, Shaw (Rapace) and Holloway (Marshall-Green), have discovered a map in cave drawings from around the world. They believe it's an invitation from our creators.

Four years later, Weyland Corporation sends a crew of top scientists, along with an android named David (Fassbender), aboard the spaceship Prometheus to find answers to the origin of mankind.

Of course, things don't go quite as planned.

Tough to Swallow: David tells Vickers the crew has been in hyper sleep for 2 years, 4 months, 18 days, 36 hours and 15 minutes. 36 hours? How many hours are in a day in the year 2093?

In Shaw's dreams, she is a child speaking to her father, but we see the child. Most of my dreams are from my point-of-view.

Pretty sure David would have had to learn more than symbols to be able to SPEAK the alien language.

You'd think top scientists wouldn't want to contaminate an alien planet. Seems like there is no protocol at all in this movie.

The decapitated Engineer's head wouldn't gurgle without lungs.

Something to Chew On: PROMETHEUS is a spin-off of ALIEN, not a prequel. Although, it comes really close to being a prequel.

The film was originally titled PARADISE (December 2010).

Carey Mulligan, Natalie Portman, Anne Hathaway and Olivia Wilde were a few actresses considered for the role of Shaw.

James Franco was considered for the role of Holloway.

Michelle Yeoh was considered for the role of Vickers.

Patrick Wilson appears in a dream as Shaw's father.

Ian Whyte, who plays the Last Engineer, has also been cast as predators in the ALIEN VS. PREDATOR series.

The Weyland logo appears as part of David's fingerprint.

At the end of the credits, a logo appears and reads "Brought to you by Weyland Corporation - Building better worlds. Since 10/11/12."

Aftertaste: I've seen all the ALIEN films, but I'm not a fan boy when it comes to the series, which is probably why Jared was more disappointed in the movie than I was.

To me, the best part of PROMETHEUS is its look. I wouldn't be surprised to see an Oscar nomination/win for Best Art Direction.

Fassbender and Rapace are the two bright spots in the cast. Fassbender's David is the most intriguing character, by far. He's an android with a thirst for knowledge, a love of LAWRENCE OF ARABIA and a super-creepy vibe. The creepiness comes into play because he seems to be programmed to be curious and mischievous for no reason.

Shaw has the best scene of the movie. I won't ruin it for you, but it involves the med pod.

So, that's three things the movie has going for it. I'll make it four by adding the connection to Greek mythology. I love me some Greek mythology.

Prometheus is known for creating humans from clay and stealing fire from the gods. He gave the fire to humans and was punished by the gods for it. Okay. I think the Engineers represent Prometheus, the black goo is the fire and the xenomorphs are the gods. The recordings of the Engineers running to escape something seem to suggest a form of punishment, perhaps, but for what? Giving the black goo to humans? That is yet to be seen.

The science parts are just too laughable to take seriously. I spent most of the 124 minutes shaking my head.

People are complaining that the film leaves too many questions unanswered. Eh. Whatever.

There will be a sequel, I'm sure. Luckily, I don't have to worry about as many crappy scientists next time around.

Despite the numerous holes in logic, PROMETHEUS is visually stunning.