Pod

'Pod' movie poster

Release: Friday, August 28, 2015

[Netflix]

Written by: Mickey Keating

Directed by: Mickey Keating

The tradeoff for watching a movie as pointless as Pod is it won’t be very taxing on your daily schedule. A scant hour-and-fifteen-minutes long, this half-baked story struggles to justify the full-length feature treatment and despite a few genuinely skin-crawling moments it fails to justify itself, period.

I resent sitting through something that ultimately makes me feel like I’ve wasted my time. Pod is one such film. Maybe it only seems that way because of its complete and utter disinterest in providing any depth whatsoever to any major cinematic component — characters, story, cinematography, not even the score resonates. And if you thought The Sopranos had a terrible ending, wait until you get a load of Pod. Even with the emotional stakes being considerably lower here than that of a six-season series, it speaks volumes how the concluding moments still leave you feeling like you’ve been slapped in the face with a dead fish.

Story concerns family drama amongst a trio of squabbling siblings who become victims of an alien presence that comes out of nowhere. Here’s my attempt at characterization: Ed (Dean Cates) is this douchey little psychiatrist who doesn’t have the greatest relationship with his younger sister Lyla (Lauren Ashley Carter). She’s drunk all the time and hanging out with coke heads. She does this presumably as a coping mechanism to deal with the loss of both her parents. Whatever. That’s their backstory over and done with. They have another brother, Martin (stuntman-cum-actor Brian Morvant) who has a history of severe mental illness and now has shut himself in at a lakeside house, claiming he has been attacked by some extraterrestrial being and blabbering on about some kind of government conspiracy. Martin says he has the proof trapped in the basement.

After receiving a disturbing message Ed decides it is time to stage an intervention and in so doing strings Lyla along with him, hoping for some extra emotional support. When they arrive Martin is more hostile and paranoid than ever. Ed doesn’t buy his story about aliens, despite everything he sees around him. Aluminum foil covers all doors and windows to the outside. Inside, doors are boarded up and mysterious scratch marks adorn the walls. Morvant proceeds to shout his lines at us for the next 20 minutes, time enough to spell out precisely what Pod plans to do and yet still not sufficient enough to make us give a care. It’s one of the most over-acted performances this blog will ever feature.

What follows is an utterly predictable series of events in which director Mickey Keating, who also penned the script, tries to throw the audience off-guard by diverting attention to the poor performances rather than on what should have been a genuinely unsettling, otherworldly presence. Instead of creating the world we just talk about it — evidence of a very restrictive budget I suppose but the dialogue isn’t compelling or convincing. We run around for awhile, we watch people die. Too many of them. A weird guy in a hat lurks around in the vicinity. This is Big Brother. Lyla nurses her flask of liquor . . . whenever she’s not screaming. Someone farts. (That might have been me.)

There’s something to be said about Keating’s . . . erm, curious . . . directorial choices and to leave much of the mystery unexplained. There’s a palpable tension generated in a few of the movie’s better scenes but in the end, and given the way the narrative comes to a screeching halt, he takes the cheap and easy way out. Look to Pod for an example of low-budget horror done wrong.

Brian Morvant in 'Pod'

Recommendation: Plays out like a bad episode of The X-Files, although it would be an insult to The X-Files to consider Pod in the same class. There are so many things that should have happened here that never eventuate. I would advise skipping Pod unless you’re just morbidly curious about something that promises a little and then ends up delivering nothing.

Rated: R

Running Time: 76 mins.

All content originally published and the reproduction elsewhere without the expressed written consent of the blog owner is prohibited.

Photo credits: http://www.hellhorror.com; http://www.imdb.com

Under the Skin

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Release: Friday, April 4, 2014 (limited)

[Theater]

I don’t really know what it’s going to take to prevent me from seeing a Scarlett Johansson movie. It would have to take an unbelievably bad story or her sudden interest in starring alongside someone like Pauly Shore where I’d just toss my hands in the air and say, “You know what? No. It’s just not worth it. I don’t care how good she is. It’s. Not. Worth. It.”

Under the Skin, a new movie from a director you’ve never heard of, is f***ing incredible. And Johansson is just as good in it. This is one in a cluster of memorable dramatic outings as of late. Just off the top, her contribution to Spike Lee’s Her via a challenging off-screen performance, the way she seduced Joseph Gordon-Levitt and lifted his directorial debut Don Jon to heights perhaps otherwise unobtainable as northern Jersey girl Barbara Sugarman. This is still without even turning attention to Natasha Romanoff in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, where she has carved out a nice little niche in that ever-expanding franchise and has effectively ensured a solid fall-back plan should her other ventures prove to be fruitless.

Fortunately she has no real reason to consider The Avengers a safety net. By now it should be abundantly clear the woman can more than hold her own in a variety of role types and is destined for extraordinary success in the future if she insists on being this good.

In Jonathan Glazer’s distressing, disturbing and occasionally even disgusting Under the Skin, the role is almost exclusively a physical one and is simultaneously her most matured and affecting role to date. Known only as “The Female,” her modus operandi is seducing random, unsuspecting men she comes across, often roadside and on their own. First she strikes up a conversation and then quickly lures them back to her place. While that sounds like a good deal, it’s a process that never ends well for the men, to say the least. Her physicality certainly helps elevate the procedure to bizarre extremes.

In fairness, it’s not just Johansson’s possibly insatiable appetite for challenging roles that makes this an experience to remember. Her performance contributes mightily, but its what director Jonathan Glazer is able to do with the fabric of reality surrounding this displaced alien that sears many a strange image into the viewer’s mind, where they are likely to reside for long after. And a script from Walter Campbell could not have been more intriguing and downright strange.

While “Laura” ambles her way across the barren, windswept landscape she lives and breathes very much in a ‘real,’ physical, somewhat hostile environment. The men she approaches time and again are apparently real Scotsmen who have never acted before and remain unaware that they’re being filmed until after the scene has been shot — a tactic that adds tremendously to the realism quota. Glazer takes things one step further by presenting our world as only surface-level, a platform from which he enjoys departing frequently and sending Dorothy tumbling down the dark rabbit hole over and again.

The trance-like state we occasionally lapse into wouldn’t be quite as powerful without the unnerving soundtrack, though. An original score from Mica Levi blends high-pitched (bordering on white) noise and slow, tempered beats to create the ultimate head-trippy experience. Whenever it fades into the background, the film is crisp with ambient sound — the pitter patter of rain and the fierce raking of the Scottish winds help put our feet on the ground on occasion. All this works seamlessly to affect the mood of the piece.

Under the Skin remains a thoroughly ambiguous film, however. For some it might just remain too much so, given the considerable lack of dialogue, lethargic pacing, and a clear decision to not explain many of the major developments in any great detail. These factors will undoubtedly repel the viewer who is wishing to be spoonfed more information than Glazer was obviously willing to provide.

Though he’s sure to secure a passionate fanbase, Glazer also has the power to divide general opinion right down the middle. His style isn’t one a great many are going to associate an actress of Scarlett Johansson’s stature with. This is understandable considering the profundity of the themes that are presented, and the obvious decision the director makes to not clarify many of them. Quite frankly I left this film with a lot of doubts and concerns about what I had just witnessed. I wasn’t sure what I was meant to take away, other than the privilege we have as humans to feel emotion and to experience them changing over time.

Such a possibility does not exist for something like “Laura;” she’s a clean slate. But watching her trying to fit in to society proves to be one incredibly fascinating experiment, one that won’t be forgotten soon. In this regard, the film succeeds immensely.

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4-5Recommendation: The major selling points of Under the Skin boil down to a brilliant performance from Scarlett Johansson and an opportunity to journey deep into the human psyche. Emotionally investing, visually arresting and occasionally deeply distressing, Glazer’s second feature is a challenging experiment that got under my skin and inside my head but in the best way possible. If you’re up for a cerebral challenge, you might find yourself in the same boat.

Rated: R

Running Time: 108 mins.

Quoted: “Do you think I’m pretty?”

All content originally published and the reproduction elsewhere without the expressed written consent of the blog owner is prohibited.

Photo credits: http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.imdb.com 

The World’s End

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Release: Thursday, August 22, 2013 (limited)

[Theater]

All this charming British camaraderie had to come to an end some time. The triumvirate of genius creators Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost decided that it would do so during a pub crawl. Typical blokes, they are. Fortunately, their keen sense for blending outrageous satire with an interesting, heartfelt story doesn’t fail them here, either, for their third and final installment in their “Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy.”

Wright returns to direct the giddy pair of Brits in The World’s End, another delightful satire in which a group of lifelong buddies led by Gary King (Pegg) attempts to conquer the Golden Mile — a goal they had all had as youngsters** to drink a pint at each of the 12 pubs located in their hometown of Newton Haven. But as they make their last attempt at this epic night, strange things begin to happen around them and they realize that now that they’ve returned to their childhood, everyone — and everything — seems to be just a little bit. . . . off.

There will be debate until the world’s end about whether or not this film is “the best” out of the three — or even, which one in this pack of comedies actually gets that distinction. Regardless of the superlative, its quite obvious that these fellows consciously put forth quite the effort to provide another quality product, even if they might not have broken new ground necessarily. They could have easily said ‘Sod it, let’s make an easy cash-grab,’ and when they walked away from the set, their credibility may still have been more-or-less in tact. . . .the next big project (another Star Trek for Pegg, perhaps?) laying in wait. However, this was absolutely not the case with the final installment here.

There’s a certain intelligence that underlies this trilogy of goofy outings that seems missing from a great many comedies. With Shaun of the Dead, they completely flipped-upside down onto its own decaying head the zombie/horror genre itself, making one of the most comical and enjoyable spoofs in recent memory. With Hot Fuzz, the buddy-cop actioner is joyfully challenged with a hilarious twist of its own, as a small-town cop learns that not everything is as peaceful and calm as it first would appear to be. And now, we’ve been handed a film that spins the sci-fi/supernatural thriller in another, otherworldly direction as well.

Because it’s the final film under this particular guise for these guys, the film wastes little precious time in launching us into the headspace of the grubby Gary King, who, after all these years is still as gung-ho about getting smashed with his mates at the pubs in town. Claiming it was one of the formative nights of his young adult life, Gary is woefully blissfully unaware that life is passing him by. When he goes to all of his mates to see what they think of the plan, they all appear to have moved on and had families, gotten promotions, etc. But Gary looks past it all with a wink and a nudge (and a few amazing throw-away lines) that end up leaving the others indignant and the audience reeling with laughter. Yes, indeed it is Pegg who steals the spotlight in this show. This time it is he who is a little bonkers, at times going stark-raving mad about reliving his memories to the bitter end. “Or the lager end,” as he amusingly. . . muses.

Meanwhile, Nick Frost subdues himself in a straight-edge performance as Andy, Gary’s “former” best mate. As we get into it in the earlygoing, we notice how good the writing here is again: we quickly surmise that the tension between them likely stems from something Gary did long ago; that there is a legitimate reason for Andy to be so ticked off at him from the get-go. Gary’s antics and general manchild-esque demeanor offer no apologies though, and it makes the character perhaps Pegg’s least-amiable one to date. Fortunately, he’s still downright funny in the role, and as the story unfolds, while we can empathize for Andy after Gary’s been seen doing some pretty inane things, it’s much more fun to watch Gary check off each pub on the list, and listen to him wax nostalgic about the good ole days in the meantime.

Filling in the hilarious cast this time around, we have Paddy Considine playing Steven; Martin Freeman as Oliver; and Eddie Marsan taking on the role of Peter. Each contributes often and consistently to the bickering that is ongoing during the pub crawl, all of which is mostly aimed at Gary for his demonstrable lack of concern in doing anything but getting drunk. They’ve all moved on with their lives — most have families, respectable job titles, and such. This actually becomes a steadily more compelling theme as the general atmosphere becomes more and more strange. The limits of everyone’s friendships are put to the test as they all realize that the world around them in a much more general, profound sense, is changing for the worst.

When you throw in a few interesting cameos from the likes of Rosamund Pike (who plays a potential romantic interest for Steven) and Pierce Brosnan (an old teacher from years ago, named Guy Shepherd) the entire atmosphere gets a little giddy, reaching its fevered pitch by the time they all stumble into a pub named The Beehive. This is where the truth of the gang’s reality is set straight for them once and for all, and where a real rift divides in the gang. Unfortunately I can’t say anymore in fear of revealing too much of the goodness, but suffice it to say, this film only gets better (in my opinion) as it progresses. The World’s End is a rare gem in that regard, considering this is also the third film in a pseudo-franchise that, in the hands of anyone else other than Wright, Pegg and Frost, might have worn out its welcome much, much sooner. While it may be bittersweet that the Cornetto trilogy is over, what the future holds for the lot of them is surely nothing less than extremely promising.

I’ll cheers to that one, boys!

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4-0Recommendation: For the legions who have loyally followed the journey of the highly-enjoyable Pegg-Frost comedic duo, this will be the furthest thing from a disappointment, or even much of a come-down from the last two films. In a way, the addition of a third film will excitingly fuel further speculation as to what’s next for both the actors and director Edgar Wright, as well as it will ignite controversies over which one of the Cornetto films was truly the most delicious. I loved these films and everything they represented, and it’s a shame to see them go. But at least it went out with a big, blue bang!

Rated: R

Running Time: 109 mins.

All content originally published and the reproduction elsewhere without the expressed written consent of the blog owner is prohibited.

Photo credits: http://www.impawards.com; http://www.imdb.com 

TBT: Men in Black (1997)

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I can’t really expect to cover Will Smith for a month and get away without including the one thing he did with Tommy Lee Jones that had aliens in it. So we turn again away from Smith’s more serious side and return to a role where he gets to be a “little” bit more at ease. The very first time I saw this film was amazing. After that, the movie really retains its wonders and is a real nice flashback to being the age I was when first seeing it. Watching it now I get more of a kick out of the interplay between Smith and Jones; it’s such a well-cast movie that it’s hard to pick another with Smith that is this much fun (because of the cast, let alone great set pieces). 

Today’s food for thought: Men in Black

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Release: July 2, 1997

[VHS]

Here come the men in black, galaxy defenders. I actually don’t know which became a bigger hit — the movie, or the song. Every time I so much as think about this flick the song/melody is right behind that thought and I begin humming (or worse, singing) it and pretty much get to those lyrics used above before I realize what I’m doing and stop. But whatever the cause may be, we know that the chicken (in this case, this sci-fi smash hit) came before the egg (one particularly catchy song on Big Willie Style).

In 1997 Barry Sonnenfeld delivered this intergalactic cinematic wonder to the masses, and to say he received a positive response would be the understatement of the century. Men in Black was a phenomenal success (an estimated budget of $90,000,000 yielded a gross of $250,000,000 by January ’98). At the center of this very popular sci-fi comedy is an effective meshing of concept and costume, which is mainly what I’d like to discuss with this movie.

The Concept: Aliens have inhabited our planet — some are good, some are not (like the roaches) — and it is up to this secretive agency (M.I.B.) to protect the human race from any danger caused by their presence. The agency’s overseen by Rip Torn’s “Zed,” and whose main agent, at least for the purpose of this movie, is Agent “Kay” (Jones) is one with several doubts on his mind, the forefront of which being should he have chosen this life over a life with his wife. With technology that supersedes even today’s weaponry (the Neuralizer is one of my all-time favorite movie weapons, right behind the light saber), agents go out into the field and eliminate pests at the same time as clearing the slates of any person who has had contact with aliens. As Will Smith’s Agent “Jay” comes to understand, protecting the public from alien interference is a lifelong servitude. Quitting this job means getting your memory wiped clean so your knowledge of such classified information is no longer a threat to anyone else. It’s not a high-brow concept by any means, but it’s certainly strong enough to make for a thoroughly entertaining flick.

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The Costumes: First of all, the good guys dress in black — remember that. (Another lyric.) The agents themselves are certainly quite stylish — a simple black suit with white collared shirts here truly make a statement. But beyond that, it’s really the aliens and the designs of the many types/classifications of the alien race. Starting with the main “villain” here, a massive and angry roach that invades the body of a redneck farmer  (Vincent D’Onofrio), given the computer graphics of the late 90s, the creature doesn’t look all that bad. In fact, it’s rather creepy and disturbing — and D’Onofrio gives a spectacular performance considering what he had to do to sell the fact he’s a 9-something-foot alien in a 6-foot human body. This undoubtedly is the centerpiece and best asset of the original Men In Black; as the movie progresses, the hostile extraterrestrial bug becomes more a part of the storyline. Too, it becomes increasingly nasty-looking, as the film finally culminates in a crazy, if not slimy, climax near the New York State Pavilion viewing towers in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. Aside from this temperamental guy, a host of other aliens we encounter along the way all possess interesting, fun designs that are likely burned into everyone’s brains for long after (how about “Mikey” in the introductory scene with Kay in the desert?). These designs alone may set apart the movie from all other movies involving aliens, friendly or hostile.

one of the great comedic bits of the film is that, apparently, coffee ain't a foreign concept to aliens.

one of the great comedic bits of the film is that, apparently, coffee ain’t a foreign concept to aliens.

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Mikey. Probably my favorite.

The graphics may lend a certain credence to the idea that the planet has been invaded by aliens and the fact that some of them come in peace while others do not. When we are presented all these different characters, most of them are a likable bunch of cousins of E.T., but the finishing touches come in the form of the human element. The acting in M.I.B. helps propel the film from “great” to “classic.”

At the time of M.I.B.‘s first release, we did not know where the story was going to take us — only where we were currently going. Case in point, I have not cared to see the next installments just because I feel like the first story was where the rapport between Old Veteran (which would be TLJ) and the Young Gun (Smith) is likely to be the strongest. Despite having heard positive reviews of M.I.B. 3, I realize that I need to go through 2 to get there — a movie which did not, apparently, live up to its own hype. I want to keep the movie as a gem of its own, therefore I don’t think I’ll see anything other than the first. The banter between Jones and Smith here is both hilarious and purposeful: how would a former member of the public react to gaining classified, Top Secret information? This movie is a colorful version of what it must be like entering into the CIA or Secret Service or something.

The movie does have its weaknesses, though they are easily overlooked due to the novelty of the concept. Aliens being placed among us, living in human form and subsequently evaluated by a shadowy organization of suited men to determine their purposes on Earth — that’s a pretty radical, cool concept if you ask me. And it seems well-adapted from the novel. It is a blockbuster type of film, however, and it will occasionally sink into cliches and platitudes, but again, these come about relatively infrequently and are more likely to become the observations one makes during a second or third viewing. The first time you get to see this film, I bet it’ll be hard for even the most cynical of moviegoers to say “nay” to this intergalactic keggar.

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“Your breath stinks, pal.”

4-0Recommendation: If you haven’t seen Men In Black, first of all, shame on you. Secondly, go rent it, pronto. If you enjoy having a good time with a movie, I think this one has got you covered.

Rated: PG-13

Running Time: 98 mins.

All content originally published and the reproduction elsewhere without the expressed written consent of the blog owner is prohibited. 

Photo credits: http://www.imdb.com

TBT: Independence Day (1996)

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How’s the weather where you are today? It’s a drab, rainy afternoon here in Knoxville, with no sign of the clouds really making an effort to allow us to see some big bright explosions in the sky later. For some reason, the weather never seems to cooperate around this time, but maybe that’s just my poor memory failing me. I sure hope they don’t end up shooting off fireworks regardless, because standing there in the street staring up at a bunch of colored clouds is not what I would imagine to be the best celebration of America’s birthday. Regardless of the fireworks show, the rain can never stop a good blog post from happening. And in honor of it being July 4 (even though I’m British and really have no room to talk), I’d like to send everyone back to a time and place where Roland Emmerich actually made a really good movie. Well, I guess ‘good’ is a relative term; I really can’t imagine him topping this epic disaster film. 

Today’s food for thought: Independence Day

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Release: July 2, 1996

[VHS]

While Emmerich makes it quite easy to rail against his style of direction —  the use of campy situations, cheesy dialogue and wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am action sequences to excess — here’s the one movie that really seemed to make the most of all of his trademarks to deliver a smash hit that we can go back to again and again. Although it’s a little odd to label some global catastrophe as an event that’s typically reserved for the United States following their successful break from British rule, there’s no doubt this movie is one of those that can stand the test of time. It may be cheesy, it may be bombastic, but man is it a fun film.

Perhaps no Emmerich film has been as loaded with iconic imagery as this global-scale disaster film. We have the moment when the ships appear in our atmosphere: the loud groaning of the crafts coming to a halt over major metropolitan areas, the embankment of clouds an inferno of friction with the force of these gigantic slivers of metal making their dramatic entrance. Of course there’re the aliens themselves, which — correct me if I’m wrong — were rather well done considering the date on this film. You have the great cities of New York and Los Angeles getting obliterated in one of the most memorable attack sequences of any movie (certainly upon New York City); Lady Liberty left face-down in shallow waters following the attacks, a sight that is far more perturbing than seeing her engulfed in 100-foot drifts of snow like she was in The Day After Tomorrow.

And then, of course, you have the cast, with Will Smith being the icing on this blockbuster cake. You could argue the storyline borrows very heavily from a lot of other sci-fi/disaster films but without these significant elements and visuals, Independence Day would have very little with which to plant its seed in our memories. Quite simply, it would be as forgettable as Godzilla, or as asinine as 2012. But this film from the late 90s actually does have staying power, and not just based on its overt (if not slightly abused) sense of patriotism.

“Should we win the day, the Fourth of July will no longer be known as an American holiday, but as the day the world declared in one voice: ‘We will not go quietly into the night!’ We will not vanish without a fight! We’re going to live on! We’re going to survive! Today we celebrate our Independence Day!” President Whitmore (Bill Pullman) addresses a fleet of fighter pilots accrued from all over the globe in the early morning light before launching the largest counterattack ever attempted on the technologically-superior extraterrestrials. Yes, because a year from now we are all going to move on from apartheid, starvation and wars over water and other base needs. . .we will be a human race indeed reborn. This digression really doesn’t mean anything, though. It’s just a thought. The point being: there’s a strong high we experience in watching the humans stage a massive attack against the almost inconceivably brilliant aliens. With the release of this movie around July 4, 1996, that particular birthday for America might be more remembered for that than anything else. Emmerich deserves a little pat on the back for that.

Even though the film approaches unremarkable, generic status with its larger-than-life ambition, it still manages to anchor two enjoyable personal journeys — those of David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum) and Captain Steven Hiller (Will Smith). David is a brilliant mind but a terrible underachiever. His father Julius (Judd Hirsch) is a hilarious filter for our curiosity as to what exactly his major malfunction is, and quite honestly he could be one of the more memorable performances in the movie. As for Smith’s role, he’s stuck playing the young gun who’s got plenty to prove for himself. He’s good at these kinds of roles, but it’s certainly not a new discovery. Still, he is a great fit for this film, particularly when push comes to shove and he’s face-to-face with one of the alien invaders. And how’s that for another iconic image — Smith sitting on the fallen craft, smoking a stogie and ripping off a couple of quips about the fallen alien? He almost dies in the pursuit of this thing, but he’s just annoyed that he had to put his barbecue plans on hold. Oh, the cheesiness. But in this case, I am willing to accept it. It really works.

As does the beyond-ludicrous concept that Levinson devises in the film’s clumsy-getting-clumsier third act. How exactly does one expect to give a machine a ‘virus,’ as he purports to be able to do to the mothership, which hovers on the edge of Earth’s atmosphere? Oh wait, it was a computer virus. With any luck, the “technologically superior” race of beings that have provided our armageddon have PC’s and not Macs — Apple has really established itself as one of the leaders in virus-resistant technology. While completely filled with plot holes, the unification of David and Captain Levinson is somewhat rewarding and a whole mess of fun to experience when they are jettisoned into space. They do their job, but of course problems arise. (I did mention this film’s predictability, right?)

At worst, this plot is more riddled with holes than Swiss cheese; at best, it’s an impossible but irresistibly spirited testament to humanity’s unwillingness to throw in the towel, even in the face of certain annihilation. Emmerich’s directorial lunacy reaches a fevered pitch during the Area 51 scene in which our Commander-in-Chief makes contact with the captured alien by speaking in English. The alien communicates via its many tentacle-like appendages, coiled around the vocal chords of a human victim — in this case, an eccentric scientist. (The moment that guy says something to the effect of “As you might imagine, they don’t let us out much….” and then begins laughing uncontrollably, I knew this guy was destined for great things. . .) The alien wishes death upon everyone and everything, before unleashing a terrible sound that somehow gets stuck in only the President’s brain and no one else’s. Again, one must overlook such gaps in logic, because to do otherwise would be…well, you just wouldn’t be a true patriot. Even as dumb as this scene is, when I first experienced it as a kid, I was actually deeply disturbed. It was between this moment and the surgery scene.

Independence Day may take its fair share of bashing, but there’s no denying how much fun it was. Still is. I haven’t revisited it in quite some time, but it might be a real fun journey back in the time machine to the days before CGI really stepped up in quality. That said, there are plenty of moments throughout that succeed without being Transformers-quality. Seeing the city of Los Angeles laid to waste was rather disturbing. Watching the various ships crash landing to Earth at long last was satisfying to no end. The aliens themselves looked menacing.

I only have one question to pose for Emmerich, though: what happened after 1996, man???

I also have one piece of advice that might help counteract your crumbling image: don’t you dare go through with this next idea. For if you truly celebrate humanity, you won’t do this. Of course, I’m no director and I shouldn’t be dishing out advice to those with experience, but I shall again play devil’s advocate……..should Emmerich have created an alternate ending, it should have gone something like this:

3-5Recommendation: ….I’m pretty sure most of us have seen this blockbuster by now. If you haven’t, what are you waiting for? Celebrate America’s birthday with this loud, raucous and oversized military science fiction thriller. You (probably) won’t be sorry.

Rated: PG-13

Running Time: 145 mins.

Best Scene: 

The Watch

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Release: Friday, July 27, 2012

[Theater]

I’ve always been curious about how it would go — putting men of the Stiller/Vaughn/Hill variety into situations that become larger than life, as opposed to the white suburban hills garden variety stories these actors have been pampered by. A Hollywood director thought it could work. Umm…..big mistake.

Originally titled ‘Neighborhood Watch,’ Akiva Shaffer’s newest attempt at filmmaking (okay, I’ll concede 2007’s Hot Rod) has been plagued from the beginning with issues. Following the tragic shooting in Sanford, Florida, the film had to undergo a title change to avoid controversy. The resultant film stirs an equal dose of controversy as it shoots for the stars, while missing horribly.

I consider myself not among the populace’s more mature individuals, and even I thought there were one too many penis references for an alien movie. Hell, it was the most inspired moment of all when, towards the end, it was revealed that these alien invaders have a weakness in their crotch department. That the aliens could be taken down with a simple shot to the cock was hilarious. A dangling, awkward and downright immature script otherwise fell all over itself throughout the majority of this piece.

And that’s a real shame, too. If given a cast with professional penis-joke-tellers and facial-expression masters, one should be able to achieve great things. Shoot for the moon, and beyond, even. Instead, Shaffer’s idea was to bring the stars to them, to a little innocent neighborhood in Ohio, to be exact. Although not entirely original, it’s an interesting enough premise that invites all the potential for some ridiculous anti-alien invasion jokes. I don’t think there was one insult made on an alien; instead, we get caught up in our own domestic lives, bitching about stuff that doesn’t truly matter when compared to……yes, an alien invasion.

An extremely irritating, borderline brain-dead acting performance from Will Forte made me hope I will never cross paths with him in a movie setting ever again. I almost felt the same with Stiller. Since the man went over the hill in age, so did his acting skills. Or perhaps he hired the worst agent ever. Can we please have a fourth installment of Meet The Parents?

To give some credit, the cast do what they can with a script from co-writers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg that gives them an anorexic joke reel (oddly enough they were the parents of Superbad, relatively a successful comedy when compared). The chopping block must have become so crap they ended up ad-libbing many lines. Vaughn yells most of his. And some guy named Richard Ayoade predictably reveals himself to be not of the terrestrial sort.

I can handle all the silly cliches and recycled penis jokes — 60% of the time, they work every time. But come on, Rogen. You’ve been in the business, how long? — and I can completely understand if it was co-written with your five-year-old niece. I wouldn’t put this film down on your resume, pal; there’s no telling how many residents you just pissed off with this bit of film.

the-watch-3

2-0Recommendation: I would recommend, just on the basis that it will not be the worst film you’ll see this year. But I also recommend taking the trailer below with a large grain of salt. It’s rather misleading. I was equal doses disappointed and not overly surprised by the cheese factor that resonated after The Watch.

Rated: R

Running Time: 100 mins.

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Photo credits: http://www.impawards.com; http://www.imdb.com