Ladybugs (and a bonus mini) review

90s rated: 2.5/5

2017 rated: 3.5/5

So my initial interest in this film drew from information I had gathered that this is one of Rodney Dangerfield’s best films, the others being Easy Money and Back to School. But when the film got going, all of a sudden I found another reason to get into it. This film also has the kid who played “Stuttering” Bill in the 1990 It miniseries, Jonathan Brandis. I kept waiting for this kid to stutter, but unfortunately he never did (except for maybe one brief moment in one scene, but that doesn’t count).

Anyway, this movie is a bit bizarre. It seems like it should be a kid flick. It’s constructed like one. Has plot developments like one. Has that 90s kid stuff that makes it seem like one. But it ends up being as much of a kid flick as Game of Thrones is a porno. Sure the latter has some nudity and sex scenes, but that hardly qualifies, even during the first 2 seasons. As for this film, oh man, the dialogue and content are way out there.

She seems pretty concerned doesn’t she?

Where to start? Oh let’s just start with the fucking swearing. There weren’t any fuck-bombs dropped, but they sure let loose with everything else. Asshole, son of a bitch, blind bastard, a girl soccer team called the beavers, bullshit, shit, and bitch are all words uttered at one point or another during the film’s runtime. I mean, I guess I could’ve taken a hint early on by seeing that the film was rated PG-13, but why look at the rating when the poster looks so family friendly?

Now if I was watching this in 1992 (or during the 90s in general), I wouldn’t have thought much else about it. Yeah it had Rodney doing his one-liners (most of which are definitely PG-13 rated), but it also has typical 90s kid hi-jinks and some painful attempts at comedy. If you’ve seen enough 90s films aimed at being comedies, especially the kid ones, you know exactly what I’m talking about. The sort of stuff that if you’re kid talked into seeing today, you would be thinking, “Christ, why didn’t I get an abortion?” It would be one of those films you wouldn’t think to much of after seeing it.

However, this isn’t the 90s anymore. Today’s cultural climate is different (for the worse) compared to that of the 90s. Stuff that was typical and moderate back then is considered far too extreme and offensive today. That isn’t a good thing under almost every circumstance I can think of, but one way in which it is a good thing is that it got me to enjoy this movie more. Back then, it was just a so-so comedy elevated by Rodney Dangerfield’s presence and dialogue with a couple decent morals, marred by some painful attempts at comedy (not all attempts are painful, but there’s enough to make you hurt). By today’s standards, this is one of the most politically incorrect sexist racist perverted stereotypical homophobic films ever made. Not to mention Rodney Dangerfield plays the dirty creepy old man angle so well it would make the Japanese proud. It turned me into one happy masochist. I tolerated the painful moments just to be showered in the anti-PC nature of this film. How the changing of times can make one appreciate things of the past.

Anyway, the plot of the film.  Rodney Dangerfield plays the main protagonist who works for a company that he wants a promotion at.  And he’s not the most pleasant fellow around, he’s a womanizer, and spouts one-liners that put everyone down, of all ages, genders, and races.  And that’s part of his charm, because I’m not going to lie, as despicable and politically incorrect the jokes he makes are, that’s what makes them so funny.  Like much of the stand-up humor back then, the jokes were so shockingly outrageous and offensive you just had to laugh at them.  But in any case, he’s despicable, and is willing to stoop to despicable levels to get his promotion.  So he winds up coaching a girl’s soccer team in the hopes of getting them to win the season.  And he knows jack-shit about soccer, much less how to coach a soccer team.  And as to be expected, the team sucks.  They play like shit and couldn’t win a game to save their lives.

It’s at this point you would be able to guess correctly exactly how this film is going to go from here.  The team is going to learn to overcome their differences/obstacles/lack of talent, they’re going to get better, and they’re eventually going to come out triumphant.  And that does happen, but it’s how it gets there that makes it interesting.  Rather than Rodney mustering up the willpower to read the Soccer rulebook (which his black assistant played by Jackée Harry is at least willing to do, even if I’m pretty sure she doesn’t finish it), or do better coaching, he decides to take his stepson, who is a talented athlete but has issues with authority, to dress up as a girl and join the team and get them to win more often.  Let the tranny and sexist jokes fly (let alone the pedophilia)!

“Oh how I want to tap that young manly ass.”

Oh yeah, this film got fun real fast.  It makes bearing through the “90s painful humor” bits worth it for all that gets unleashed.

Oh and don’t worry.  There’s room for racism too.  Like this discussion between Rodney and Jackee have about sports:

“You know that black people are the best at sports, c’mon! We’re the best runners, the fastest runners, the best at track. We’re the best at baseball, the best at boxing, the best at basketball, football. Hey, you name it! ”

“Eeesh, black people are best at sports. Are you kidding? How about hockey? And waterpolo? Fencing! Best at sports… hey, badminton! Yachting! Best at sports… Oh, I forgot fox hunting! Best in sports…”

And this other moment when their Asian goalie blocks several ball shots, and Rodney says something along the lines of, “She’s become the Great Wall of China!”

I love this film, in all of its anti-PC glory as much as I hate political correctness with all of my little black fucking heart.  The film and Rodney let these jokes fly not giving a single flying fuck about who (or what) it would offend.  Even to the very end (even if the last joke is really stupid), do these jokes continue.

But anyway, back to a more serious note (yeah right), Jonathin Brandis disguises himself as a girl named Martha at the behest of Rodney so that he can teach the game to get better.  However, because the stepson is a selfish prick, he’s all about himself during the game.  Playing on his own, scoring on his own, leaving the rest of the team in the dust and getting pissed at them when they’re not playing on the same level as him.  Basically acting the same way he would when playing with the guys.  On top of that, he rarely puts forth the effort to disguise his voice as a feminine voice, and often still yells around like a dude.  But eventually, he learns to be less selfish, starts teaching the other girls how to play better and function as a team, and by the end they are able to play fine and win games even without his help.  In fact, the final game of the film is played entirely without him.  Have to admit, for such an immoral film, it actually has some decent moral lessons in it.  It’s all brought to light with an inspiring speech by Rodney near the end:

“You don’t need a boy to help you win! You’re women! You don’t need anyone! You’re liberated! You got the vote! You can burn your bras! When you get them!”

Plus he even learns to value those around him rather than his promotion in another fairly decent speech.

“The best, the best. That’s all I keep hearing. You want to be the best. Let me ask you this, what good is being the best if it brings out the worst in you?”

Granted, the last moment of the film pretty much pisses on all of those good morals for the sake of a cheap laugh; but hey, at least they’re there.

But anyway, going outside the box for a moment, this also reminds me of other issues today.  Of guys not only disguising themselves as women, but identifying as a woman, on and off the field.  Like that transgender MMA fighter Fallon Fox, and an actual transgender soccer player Miranda Salman, among other cases.  Plus the 2018 Olympics should be interesting since they’ll freely allow transgenders to participate in whichever gender section they feel like, regardless of how they were born.  The point is, as this film shows, and as other real-life cases have shown, men tend to be better than women at sports.  Sorry ladies, but it’s a fact.  You can wipe the floor with us at college studies and the mental games, but we tend to be dominant when it comes to physical sports.  It’s just not fair (and biology proves this) for people born as men to compete in a women’s sports division.  It’s unfair to the other (naturally born) women.  Most women aren’t like Chyna damnit!

That being said, this isn’t the only soccer film to do this concept, and it pretty much fires back against that last paragraph you just read.  Over 10 years later, and a similar plot would be used in another movie, but with the gender roles reversed.

Now, by the end of Ladybugs, I was reminded of She’s the Man.  I remember watching it many years ago, remember thinking it was a so-so film, and didn’t think anything of it afterwards.  But now that I’ve seen Ladybugs and have been reminded of this film again, and have seen some of the comments made about this film in more recent years, comments long the lines of, “This movie invented [modern] feminism.”  In this movie, a girl decides she wants to play soccer in the men’s division at college, and so dresses up as a guy to fool everyone.  And it pretty much goes the same as in Ladybugs, a soccer ball to the crotch joke, a love interest, everything working out in the end.  So I rewatched it, and determined that there wasn’t enough material there for a big review.  Like Ladybugs, it also has annoying humor.  And the first 15-20 minutes is fucking agonizing in that film, it made me question my tastes in films a decade ago.  Then some familiar faces start to show up.  Like, “Hey, that’s Vinnie Jones!  Hey look, a young Channing Tatum!  Hey look, that Jewish guy who shows up in films like this!”  The humor in the film is nowhere near as great or memorable as in Ladybugs, but there’s enough there to keep the movie going once it gets past the first 20 minutes; and then I was reminded of why I didn’t think it was all that bad back then.  I mean, it does have a moment where, when they discover the protagonist is carrying tampons (while she’s playing a dude), she uses the excuse that she shoves them up her nose when she gets nosebleeds, and Channing Tatum takes the advice later on.  There’s also a scene in a pizza restaurant that worked better than I thought it would.  And the flashing at the soccer game.  But then there’s the fact that the protagonist falls for Channing Tatum rather than that hot chick who was into her.  Come on, they were a better fit for each other.  Let the girls kiss each other damnit!

“Kiss her!”

Other than that, it does have a couple characters who pretty much say what I stated earlier about men being superior to women in sports, only a lot more assholish about it.  Because, you know, yay feminism!  Even so, I kinda wonder if even this film would be made today with dialogue like this:

“Listen, I know I should have told you who I was, but I was afraid. I’m sorry.”

Well, you know maybe if I had known you were a girl, we wouldn’t have talked like we did, and got to know each other the same way. And that would’ve been a shame.”

“Just so you know, everything you told me when I was a guy, just made me like you so much more as a girl.”

“Ok, but just from here on in, everything would just be alot easier if you stayed a girl.”

Then again, there is dialogue like this:

“Just remember, inside every girl, there’s a boy. That came out wrong but you know what I mean.”

Honestly though, the movies not half-bad once you get past the first act.

So, back to Ladybugs, some of you outraged fellows may be wondering how it is I could enjoy such tripe as Ladybugs, wondering why it is I haven’t moved on the the immature and intolerable 90s era.  I’ll tell you why.  It’s because I’m sick and tired of the safely manufactured and sterilized humor of today.  Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against safety PC humor in of itself, but only so long as the unsafe homophobic transphobic non-white-phobic humor is still around in other films, which they’re not, nowhere near the extent of stuff like this.  “But isn’t that a good thing, like moving on from The Birth of a Nation films and such?”  No, it isn’t, and here’s why.  Today it’s considered ok (ie open season) to make fun of straight white people.  Today it’s not considered ok to make fun of anyone or anything else (just ask Milo Yiannopoulos).  Worse yet, it’s become taboo, to the point where it can’t even be discussed with people why it should or shouldn’t be ok to use this type of raunchy humor.  And lest we forget, that’s all it is, humor.  It’s not meant to start a gender/race war with anyone, it’s made for laughs (cheap or otherwise).

“But these jokes put those people down as being inferior.”

All jokes do that!  Every funny joke is done at the expense of either some individual or some group of people!  And I’m not biased, I love seeing jokes made at my expense, at white people’s expense, and at straight people’s expense (let alone at the pervert’s expense).  But I want to see jokes fly everywhere at everyone.  In fact, I think it should be mandatory for everyone to be made fun of at some point in time.  It makes them learn how to deal with insults and such (and if they’re quick-witted, they may learn to deal a few of them back), and they learn how to toughen up and not let it get to them.  Or maybe it does get to them and they end up committing suicide.  Didn’t say there weren’t cons, but the pros outweigh the cons as far as I’m concerned, because the alternative is a lot fucking worse as I’ve seen.

“But they should never be put down!”

Says who and by what authority and what logical reasoning?  Let me provide some insight into what some legends of the profession have to say about this (not George Carlin, I’ve used him enough for now):

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today program, Brooks stated: “We have become stupidly politically correct, which is the death of comedy.”

“It’s not good for comedy,” he added. “Comedy has to walk a thin line, take risks. Comedy is the lecherous little elf whispering in the king’s ear, always telling the truth about human behavior.”

Source

 

 

 

 

 

PS: Honestly, I wasn’t planning on ending this on a rant about the current state of comedy.  But sometimes, that’s just the way things go.

 

PPS: Oh, right.  She’s the ManRated: 3/5

 

Blade Runner 1 and 2049 dual review

Blade Runner rated: 3.5/5
Blade Runner 2049 rated: 3/5

Like the first film, this one ended up bombing at the box office, even though it’s ranked at #1 for the weekend (well thank fuck not that many dumbass kids and fucking bronies are giving My Little Pony that much fucking money). Will it gain as much of a cult following and reach the same level of fame as its predecessor? Or will it just be remembered as a meh movie? Only time will tell. Until then, here’s my opinion.

So I was going to be very disappointed in this film if it didn’t at the very least provide a visual treat that is pure ecstasy for the eyes. Not only because the first film was also that, with intense attention to detail, but also because it provided a way to make both things that are pleasant and/or horrible (death, pollution) beautiful to look at. There is beauty even amidst suffering and a toxic environment. Not only because of that, but also because the first film had a theme that was all about the eyes. That film opened with a visual shot that ended up being a first person perspective of the city of Los Angeles 2 years from now (hey, it could still happen), and showcased this by switching from a view of the city, to a view of the eye that reflects the city. This film opens in a similar way, minus the fire and smoke. It opens with an eye. I’m honestly not sure why, because if it’s supposed to be the main protagonist’s eye, which was my assumption, then it shouldn’t have started with Gosling asleep at the wheel, with his eyes closed. Fuck advertisements against drinking and driving, they need advertisements about not sleeping at the wheel!

“But the flying vehicle is on auto-pi–“
I don’t care!

Anyway, the first film had a lot of instances with regards to “eyes,” which is a central theme/symbol in that film. Not just with the showing and highlighting of the eyes, but also the discussing of them.

 

Blade Runner 2049, on the other hand, only uses “eyes” as a brief callback to the first film, in only 2 scenes. I didn’t catch anything particularly re-ocurring objects throughout the film in that way, at least not on this watch.

That being said, as I had hoped, this film is fantastic from a visual perspective. The special effects, set designs, all fantastic. One of the best-looking sci-fi films since Tron: Legacy. And aside from some scenes in the city, the film largely carries a different color scheme to it, a different atmospheric film, than the first one. That’s not a bad thing, because it looks great in any case. Plus we actually get a look outside Los Angeles in this film. Usually foggy, sometimes an orange color.  Both films use atmosphere and visuals as their primary strength, becoming a mood-piece, leaving the plot and characters secondary, and this works to their advantage since both films have their own share of plot holes (more on that in a moment).  It makes it easier to overlook those flaws in that way.  How scenes drag on and let the music carry you, how the sound effects carry you, how the pleasant visuals allow you to settle into and take in all that there is in each well-crafted sequence.  Letting the colors dominate to create a particular mood, almost making things dream-like.  This is when both films are at their best.  In the case of the previous film, the mood of it is dream-like, but slowly becomes more and more like a nightmare (with less music to lighten the mood I might add), before rising back up to its dream-like quality, and then having the final sequence take place in silence as if the dream is over, we are awake, and on edge, wondering what will happen next.

The 2049 film follows this aspect for the first half of its runtime, but becomes more plot/character driven during its latter half (with a couple scenes here and there that return back to the welcoming atmospheric style), which ends up being to its detriment because then one has to consider the problems with the plot if there’s going to be heavier focus on it.

But make no mistake, the previous film has some plot holes (or at least some leaps in logic) as well.  It may be a masterpiece, but it’s a flawed masterpiece.  For starters, why the fuck would they be designing androids to look exactly like humans? Pleasure models I can understand, but models made for work and labor, why? Not to mention why the fuck they would program them to act real and have emotions? Seems to me like a lot of the problems brought up in these films would be solved if they stopped making robots look and act human, since it brings no logical benefit. I mean seriously, how are they profiting off of these things if they’re going to make this many? Does the robot labor force make so much profit that the Tyrell Corporation have no problem putting the entire workforce at risk by giving them emotions and making them all look and act human, giving all of them unique looks and personalities in the process? Granted, this film mentions the aftermath of all that and how it lead to Tyrell going bankrupt and being bought out by some other company, that would continue to make the exact same fucking mistakes that Tyrell did before going under!

Another problem with both films is the security issue. Not just in the city air, but also inside actual security buildings! In both films, an employee/employer of importance within the company gets blasted/knifed/thumbed into oblivion, while inside the security building, and the perpetrator gets away each fucking time in each fucking movie! That’s just insane! Did Los Angeles turn into Mega City One or something?

As for the flaw unique to this film, it’s more of a storyline and thematic issue. As a sequel, it is mandatory to compare this to the first film, and consider how it’s going to develop the story/world/lore/character(s). In terms of developing the theme, it honestly doesn’t. The theme of the first film is if artificially created beings are capable of being human, of being alive, of feeling/giving love, etc. This film is basically the same thing, except limited to Ford’s and Gosling’s characters. Any other (supposed) replicants don’t count because they’re not given enough screen time to matter, even if it happens in one scene for the sake of sequel-baiting. It doesn’t take the theme in any other meaningful direction that expands from the first film, except that it ignores the religious aspect of fallen angels from heaven, and implies robots will eventually fight back and threaten to take over the world. That’s bullshit, and that only belongs in Terminator, Battlestar Galactica, and Planet of the Apes films.

Also it relies too heavily on the existence of the first film. I’m not talking about building off of established plot/world/characters; I’m talking about the last scene ending not only on a character of the past film, but also not ending on any note that is thought-provoking and/or conversation-starting like the first film did, let alone making you view the film differently on a second viewing knowing what you know after a first view. Speaking of that, if you’re wondering whether or not this film answers the question definitively if Deckard’s a replicant or not, to my surprise, it doesn’t. It actually handles Deckard’s character in such a way it would be the same whether he was a human or replicant. So viewers can look at this movie with either conclusion they arrived at after seeing the first film.

That aside, the pacing was well-done in the 2049 film. It starts at a crawl, but starts to kick into gear about 30-40 minutes in when Gosling’s character arrives at a junkyard.

Back to the visuals for a moment. In this film, there’s a (kind of) sex scene that I’m sure people will talk about afterwards. It’s not explicit or anything (if it was that would be legendary, us guys would get to see 2 smoking hot females in the nude, and the girls and gay guys would get to see Ryan Gosling’s six-pack and incredibly tight muscular ass; fair trade), but it’s an interesting stylistic scene with a digital girl trying to “sync” with a physical human during sexual intercourse. If that scene was cut down to to MPAA censors, then I want to see a goddamn director’s cut! This honestly wouldn’t surprise me, since the sex scene in the original film was also cut down, I shit you not.

Like the first film, this film succeeds as an atmospheric visual film, with everything else taking second priority at best. The scenes in both films are top notch. The 2049 version even manages to succeed the original in terms of visuals for a brief duration when Gosling visits the corporation (and after he leaves it) that took over the Tyrell Corporation. The lighting, the rooms, the sounds. It’s glorious.

Anyway, I’ve discussed the flaws of the film, but there’s one other thing I personally consider a major fault, but only on a personal level. I felt it played it too safe and strayed too close to reliance on the original in a way different than mentioned above. It’s that this took place on Earth. In both films it is mentioned that there are colonies established on other planets, some of which are used for replicant slave labor. I’d like to see a film take place on one or more of those, to see what life is like there. This would expand the world building (a lot), and potentially the lore and themes in this way. Plus there wasn’t any good reason to continue a story arc for Ford’s character. This film didn’t take it in a direction any more interesting than Gosling’s character, and it was wrapped up in a satisfying way in the first film.

And, well, there it is. The first film is better, but this film is worth seeing just for the visuals alone. And the story, despite my gripes, is still worth going through even if just to experience the visuals.

 

Edit 10-9-2017:

Oh, right, and the villains didn’t have as much depth as those in the previous film.  They came off as cookie-cutter villains compared to those from the first film who had a sympathetic plight.  It wasn’t enough to make them out to be good guys, but it made them more relate-able, even if they were machines.  And in my opinion, that’s the whole point/purpose of films that focus on artificial intelligence.  Using robots as a metaphor for some aspect or element to humanity, so that humans can know more about themselves, what it’s like to be alive, what it’s like to be human.

Golgo 13: The Professional review

Rated: 3.5/5

“Yes, if only I were like you, devoid of human sentiment.”

Now this!  This is how you do a movie about an assassin! A heartless, emotionless, cold-blooded killer with no sympathy and feels no compassion for anyone, and only speaks when necessary. It’s all about the job and finishing it. None of that, “Romantic interest who reminds him what it’s like to be human again” bullshit is present here. Tackling the themes of emotions (or lack thereof) and the things they can cause us do, and the destruction they cause.

Continue reading

The Last Boy Scout and 8 Man After dual review (football edition)

Are you ready for some football? I’m not. I’ve never really been a football fan. WWF/E, MMA, and Ice Hockey are my preferred sports for viewing. But regardless, it’s difficult to avoid football when it’s America’s most popular sport, and when my dad watches it religiously. Plus there’s the Super Bowl. So I get caught up in a game or two off and on. But lately, as it’s been impossible to avoid for the past several months, these cocksucking players do their kneeling bullshit, to the delight of the coaches apparently, and it’s all for bullshit reasons. So, I’ve decided it fitting to review 2 films where football players get killed on the field.

 

 

Rated: 2.5/5 Yes, I’m implementing a decimal system in my ratings now. Don’t worry, it’s always going to be rounded to the nearest 0.5. There won’t be any 2.1s, 4.7s, etc.

“Now this being the 90s you can’t just walk up to a guy and smack him in the face. You gotta say something cool first, you know what I mean?”

“Yeah, like ‘I’ll be back.'”

“Yeah only better than that. Like if you hit ’em with a surfboard you would say–“

“‘Surf’s up pal!'”

“Yeah, something like that.”

So the film begins with Billy Blanks, playing a football player, taking a pistol out on the field and blowing away a few tacklers before reaching the goal and then blowing his own head off.  Guess he wasn’t shooting any blanks.  Great start!

Anyway, this all starts off the plot of the film, making the viewer wonder, “What? Why?” and how it’s all connected to Bruce Willis’ case. And Bruce Willis here, well, this is one of those roles he could play in his sleep, and it looks like he is playing it in his sleep most of the time. But let’s face it, 90s Bruce Willis could get away with that because he wasn’t old and tired (more than usual) back then, and still oozed charisma and coolness that made everyone want to take on a bald or short-hair look, before neo-nazis made a comeback.

And then there’s Major Payne, played by Damon Wayans. He definitely tries, he makes a legit effort to act well in this role, but he’s just so-so at best.

The film goes into topics about how heartless the NFL corporation is.  That they really don’t care about the players, they only want money, blah blah blah.

To be honest, that’s the best I can describe this movie. So-so. It’s decent and entertaining enough, but I do think it’s good enough to have earned this cult-favorite status. A couple action scenes are fun, but most are just meh. The chemistry and interactions between the two leads aren’t as satisfying as I hoped they would be. Sure it has Bruce Willis and one of the Wayans brothers in it, and sure it also has some faggot named Milo getting butchered by helicopter blades.

Wait a minute…

There’s a gay guy who’s the main villain in a Bruce Willis film and his name is Milo!? Oh, I’m going to have some fun with this.

So Milo plays an asshole who is responsible, either indirectly or directly, for the deaths of a black woman and a police officer in this film. And on top of that he wants to assassinate the Senator.  On top of that, he’s likely jealous of this bromance between Bruce and Damon because he wants to suck Damon’s cock, because there’s nothing like the thick throbbing black NFL player dick.  And lastly, he just might enjoy rap music.  He must be stopped! And if football players can’t stop him, there is only one person who can. Bruce fucking Willis!

So Bruce Willis kills Milo, saves the day, and saves feminists and football players so that can continue bitching and playing. Come to think of it, many, including Roger Ebert, have called this film sexist with its depictions of women. With this one football star trying to force a woman to blow him, that asshole senator whipping a woman just because, and Bruce trash-talking his wife (though in all fairness she is a cheating bitch and she wanted Bruce to trash talk her, so…).

Now for things to get animated.

 

 

 

Rated: 3/5

So this anime is basically a glorified remake of Robocop. It’s not a complete retread of that film, it takes the concept of making a man into a machine in different directions than Robocop did, so it becomes it’s own unique thing. But the plot does revolve around a criminal linked to a corporation taking out a private detective who gets reworked at a “special” hospital and then goes out to fight crime. But that’s where the similarities end.

With that introduction out of the way, let’s get to the part I’ve been wanting to get to. Yes, there is football in this. And it is fucking glorious.

With that out of the way, to be honest, this is actually a pretty decent anime.  It has an intriguing plot that doesn’t treat the audience as stupid.  For a while there, I was thinking the film would try to pretend that we’re not supposed to know who 8 Man is, even though the main protagonist gets (nearly) killed prior to his appearance.  Thankfully, it’s not long after 8 Man’s first appearance that we see the protagonist hacking into a computer terminal using his abilities (in a way that’s also ripped off from Robocop), and we see that he has become a cyborg.

But the similarities don’t stop there (so I lied earlier, sue me).  To my surprise, this also adapts another plot element from Robocop 2, thus in essence becoming a combination of both films.  The bad guys need drugs in order to maintain themselves after getting robotic parts.  Without the drug, their body won’t be able to power their cybernetic parts and will eventually shut down.  Think if it as a necessary shot of adrenaline in order to function.  But like most drugs, there are side effects, such as addiction and going completely fucking crazy and wanting to kill a bunch of people.  Thankfully for 8 Man, he has access to a drug that is more clean and pure, without the bad side-effects.  So unlike Robocop 2, our protagonist needs this drug too in order to function.  The downside to getting “improvements” installed to your body.

But what really surprised me is that the villains aren’t superhuman, in that they can’t be killed by anyone other than 8 Man.  The cops actually take down a few of these thugs.  A bullet to the head (or two) works just fine.  So the film maintains an acceptable amount of believably (by my standards anyway, take that as you will considering this is an anime).

In regards to the plot, there aren’t really any surprises or twists or anything like that.  The film is fairly straightforward, but has enough interesting stuff in it to maintain the viewer’s interest.  Plus, 90s anime animation style is a dead breed, which is a pity.  I miss this style of animation.  It was bad enough that it got replaced with this more cartoony look we’ve had for the past decade, but now it’s getting even worse with this weird CG style which I believe they are doing simply because it’s easier.  No longer is hand-drawn needed.  No longer do we need simple cell-shaded style.  Now we get this weird CG shit.  I wouldn’t take such issue with it if it wasn’t for the fact that it seems to be replacing all other forms.  At least Studio Ghibli is still dishing out some decent styles, for now.

So anyway, if you haven’t seen it, check it out.  It’s worth a watch.

Ender’s Game review and novel comparison

Rated: 2/5

WARNING: THIS REVIEW HAS SPOILERS FOR BOTH THE FILM AND THE NOVEL

If I had seen this movie before I read the book, I would have thought it was just ok. But because I saw this after I read the book, I thought it wasn’t all that great.

The biggest problem this movie has is a problem I fear that every novel adaptation has, and that’s pacing. The movie is too fast for its own good. It doesn’t allow the viewer to settle into a single scene for very long. There are a couple exceptions, such as the first time the students enter the Battleroom. But for the majority of the film, it’s difficult to get into because the scene transitions happen too often without allowing the atmosphere to set in, or allowing the characters to settle into their respective roles for how they are to act in a scene. This film doesn’t have the worst case of this symptom that I’ve seen, but the film suffers from it regardless.

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Combat Shock and They Live dual review

So this particular dual review I’m doing at the behest of the 2 guys running the Slaughterfilm podcast.  I got them to review a few of my recommendations in the past, so today I’m going to return the favor.  They asked me to review Combat Shock (aka American Nightmares) from Troma films (likely the only film they’ve ever done that is dead serious and not tongue-in-cheek in any way), and John Carpenter’s They Live.

 

 

Rated: 2/5

I was going to do a drunk review of this film. But this film is anything but fun. Badly acted (though the main character is decent when he’s not narrating), poorly edited (seriously, there’s a moment about 2 and a  half minutes into the film where everyone is standing still for a split second before the director yells, “Action!” and they start moving), and depressing as hell. It’s not pleasant, which pretty much makes this film one of the ultimate buzzkills.

See what I mean?

As for what it’s about, it’s about a Vietnam vet who is living a low-class lifestyle after the war with a wife and deformed baby (caused by him being exposed to agent orange or something while he was in Vietnam). He tries his damnedest to get things right financially, but never succeeds. The world is cruel, and its cruelty makes others cruel as well.

Foreshadowing.

But he isn’t the only one we see suffer in his poor low-class state (aren’t soldiers supposed to be getting payed for their service in the war or something?). A friend of his is hopelessly hooked on drugs, and in dept to drug lords. And he dies at the end of a needle, hopelessly lost in his miserable state of being.

As for the main protagonist, he has shellshock (hence the title Combat Shock), but he still tries to remain positive, hopeful that he will get work, get a job, get some money to improve his current living situation with his wife and deformed couple months old baby. But as the film goes on, the more hopeless it gets, until he loses all hope of making an honest living and turns to theft (though to be fair, he does rob a bitch of a lady, though she’s probably only a bitch because she’s in a similar low-income situation as him), only to get mugged. So then he turns to violence. Eventually, it all gets to be too much for him, and he snaps.

Believe me, I’m making this sound more interesting than it actually is. This is a slow-burn and depressing low budgeted film, with potential with some of its photography and themes. There’s potential, but it’s squandered mainly due to poor acting and some of the horrendous flashback dubbing during the first 10 minutes of the film. I mean, the acting gets particularly bad when the main character is getting mugged and beat up, you can clearly tell the actors are pulling their punches. It’s one of the most unrealistic looking beat downs I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen Strike Commando, which is a much more entertaining film than this in that it can at least be enjoyed on a so-bad-it’s-good level. This film, it’s too goddamn slow and too goddamn boring and too goddamn poorly made (despite its few strengths, especially when it comes to capturing the icky griminess of the environment, to the point that I though I could feel/smell it) to be entertaining.

Which is the exact fucking opposite of what you would expect to get with the trailer, which is undoubtedly the most severe case of false-advertising I’ve ever seen in my life.

This is seriously some of the lines used in the trailer to describe this film:

“More action than Rambo!”

Bullshit, and loads of it!

“More terror than the Terminator!”

Well, I guess that depends on what sort of “terror” you’re looking for.

“More gut-wrenching violence than Commando!”

Uhhh… Ok, I’ll give it that, at least on the “gut-wrenching” aspect, since it’s not a fun kind of violence. This main aspect is seen during the film’s finale, when he “snaps.” Since it’s not worth sitting through the entire film (in my opinion) just to see the only moment that can get (combat) shocking, I’ll just spoil it and bring up the video of the ending here:

Fuck the trailer, and fuck the movie. And, *sigh*, fucking Forest Taylor of Slaughterfilm recommended this to me. I warned them that I would bash both the movie and them if they recommended a shitty movie, and a shitty movie this is (despite its serious intentions). But they did also request that I review They Live, which I know isn’t a shitty movie, so I guess 1 out of 2 ain’t bad.

Subliminal messaging foreshadowing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rated: 3/5

Ah yes, this movie. The ultimate film on subliminal messaging. Something still relevant to this day. The Matrix (because The Thirteenth Floor wasn’t good enough) of the 80s.

The film opens with western-style music, something John Carpenter took theme-wise with his other film Escape From New York. Our western here is played not by Kurt Russel, but by “Rowdy” Roddy Piper of WWF fame. He was a bit before my time when it came to me getting into professional wrestling (God I wish I got into it years before I actually did, I started in 2003 when I really should’ve started in the early 90s, when the attitude era was in high gear). He was one of the most entertaining manic talkers prior to when Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson stepped onto the scene. And like The Rock, he was a better talker than a wrestler, but he could still put on a decent wrestling performance.

One of those wrestlers that one would hope would enter onto the movie scene like Andre The Giant did with The Princess Bride, and like Hulk Hogan did with whatever piece of shit he decided to be in (although No Holds Barred is a film I consider to be one of the penultimate so-bad-it’s-good films), and what The Rock would eventually do. Aside from The Princess Bride and some of the films The Rock was in, this film pretty much stands as one of the best films ever made starring a WWF/WWE wrestler. His chiseled features and his energetic personality, it’s a big attraction for directors.

“One idea that crossed my mind was: As soon as they let us see the aliens, we’ll all get together, ’cause it’ll be us against them. And you need some sort of shock value like that. Either that or we’re going to self destruct. I think that in all cultures people are basically very good-hearted, it’s just that extremists are the ones running and pushing the buttons. I think they want one governmental force to govern the world. It’s just that everyone’s got their own agenda, you can’t get that done unless Ghandi’s around. We can’t get everyone on the same page.”

 

So Roddy plays a drifter, drifting from some other place where he used to have a solid blue-collar job, but recession and hard times caused him to lose that job. So off he goes, like a lone ranger in the wilderness, into the next temporary job in the city where he hopes to make a living again. The belief in the American dream drives him, as it does others. The dream shown on television, with images of Mount Rushmore, the American flag, the bald eagle, cowboys & indians, and a big big yard where white beer-drinking dudes can play football; all this being watched by a black man off the street.

“I believe in America. Everyone’s got their own hard times these days.”

Then the television gets interrupted by a pirate signal, with a man spouting off conspiracy theorist information.

We have been lulled into a trance.
Artificially induced state of consciousness.
We have been focused only on our own gain.
They have made us indifferent, to ourselves, to others.
They are dismantling the sleeping middle class.
We’ll do anything to be rich.
They want benign indifference.
They Live, We Sleep.

Soon afterwards a massive police raid happens in the middle of the night, with the police acting like robots and emotionless in their demeanor. Soon after that Roddy Piper gets a hold of one of these special sunglasses left behind after this raid, and then he realizes he’s stumbled upon a conspiracy greater than anything he’s ever dreamed of or imagined. And it’s quite fitting that Roddy Piper would be in this. In addition to being a natural fit in the role and doing a decent acting job, he also had legit beliefs as a person, not an actor, of NWO government “big brother is watching/controlling you” beliefs, some of which stemmed from the short film The Bronswik Affair, a mockumentary from the 70s warning against the dangers of consumerism, and showing clear influence on the film They Live (as was the short story 8 o’clock in the Morning by Ray Faraday, also known as Ray Nelson). Except that Roddy Piper believes that the stuff shown in The Bronswik Affair was real, and that They Live is a documentary in disguise. In other words he’s a conspiracy guy. Perfect!

So, as for who “They” are, they’re basically aliens from space who wish to dominate and control all beings on Earth. Why? Uh, I’ll let badass Keith David explain it:
Maybe they love it. Seeing us hate each other, watching us kill each other off, feeding on our own cold fucking hearts.

There’s the joy, then there’s the idea that they want humans to act in this way, ultimately causing the planet to become polluted and filled with CO2 so that climate change fanatics can be proven right and then the world gets destroyed, and they will move onto another planet to do the same. Hence why these aliens look like rotting corpses, resembling human corruption and decay. It’s not exactly taken all that seriously, and it shouldn’t, because this film, despite its serious themes, is clearly tongue-in-cheek, though not to the extent of Big Trouble in Little China.

Speaking of conspiracies and foreshadowing, drone spying!

To fuel conspiracy theories spawned from and surrounding this film, an interesting little tidbit of information is, and I quote from a made-for-They-Live-dvd-documentary, “They Live opened at the #1 at the US box office, and disappeared from theaters soon afterwards.” Haven’t heard anything like that since The Warriors, except that one at least had the legitimate excuse of having gangs invade the theaters and get involved in gang fights and stuff.

And speaking of gang fights, John Carpenter was perfectly aware that Piper was a wrestler, and so allowed for some indulgence into that aspect to have a mini-WWF hardcore street brawl match in the middle of the film. A fight over putting on a pair of sunglasses. Honestly, there’s been many worse excuses than this to get in a fight in the WWF, or WCW. This portion of the film is particularly great to watch if you do so drunk, make some gay jokes, and do some commentary WWF style.

My favorite moment is between 3:24-3:31, just the growling at each other, it has me busting up every time I see it.

And the reason this fight is so long, aside from WWF fan indulgence, is, according to IMDB:

The big fight sequence was designed, rehearsed and choreographed in the back-yard of director John Carpenter’s production office. The fight between Nada (Roddy Piper) and Frank (Keith David) was only supposed to last twenty seconds, but Piper and David decided to fight it out for real, only faking the hits to the face and groin. They rehearsed the fight for three weeks. Carpenter was so impressed he kept the five minutes and twenty seconds scene intact.

But to put a serious thematic justification on top of all of this, it’s that this fight can be considered a metaphor for how difficult it is for someone who is aware of the subliminal advertising, of the brainwashing, to try and convince someone else who has been affected by this very thing. It’s something that can be clearly seen today, with the arguments people get into over politicians, over Marvel comics, SJWs, feminists, racial topics, what is taught in schools, among other things.

 

The brainwashing can drive people to a point where they would react violently to anything that endangers their current belief system rather than have a rational discussion about it. Then again, in the case of this film, it’s not like Roddy Piper’s character is any good at having reasonable discussions in the first place. This is the guy who invented Piper’s Pit after all, and we all (should) know how those usually turn out.

And then of course the consideration should be made that there are those who are perfectly aware of this subtle form of mind control, yet are ok with it. Those who are in league with the subliminal advertisers. There are a few individuals who are like this in the film, one of which is represented by Meg Foster (who’s acting I found to be a bit horrendous, and she tries to disguise this with her decent looks, that faraway look in her eyes, and this monotone face expression). The signs are there early on that she’s in league with “they,” with her seeing Roddy wearing the sunglasses, yet pretending “she didn’t know” when she sees him later. And there’s her claiming that the alien signal isn’t coming from this station she works at, when it’s shown later on that it is. Easy to pick up the clues that she isn’t all she seems.

And this movie actually makes a prediction. By 2025, “they” will have us all under their control. Well, here’s hoping that’s not going to be the case less than 8 years from the time of this post.

And there’s another group of people to consider.  There’s the elite/authority who are in charge and causing the subliminal messaging in the first place.  There’s the victims.  There’s those who are aware and wish to fight against it.  There’s those who are aware but on the side of the elite.  And then there’s some in positions of authority who are also victims.  In this case, police who are simply there doing their job, as opposed to the police who are aliens in disguise.  A real-life situation like this could be considered soldiers who wish to defend their country, but end up getting involved in battles that aren’t what they signed up for.  In the case of the era this film was released in, the Vietnam war comes to mind, and the upcoming war in the Middle East when George Bush Sr. would take over and end the Ronald Reagan era.  And John Carpenter is definitely not a Reagan fan, and is on record stating that this film was “a vehicle to take on Reaganism.”  Yet Roddy Piper was a Reagan fan.  And Piper didn’t want to become outspoken of his beliefs mainly because of his green card status at the time, but also because he didn’t agree with the film politics of They Live.  Interesting…

Roddy Piper on Monstervision with Joe Bob Briggs?  Good God do I wish I was more into this stuff than I was back in the day.  I didn’t know how good I had it.  The only thing that would’ve made this better is if the same thing happened again.  Oh wait, it did, on Immortal Combat!

So when it comes to subliminal advertising, the film’s message is that those in power are pushing subliminal advertising aimed at making mass citizens to be mass consumers, wanting to marry and reproduce, obey orders, respect authority, submit, and not be capable of independent/creative thought.  Today, that still tends to be the message being pushed, for the most part.

Consumerism will always be a thing, it’s just a matter of who’s in charge and what products they want you to buy.

Marry and reproduce?  Not so much anymore, though you don’t need subliminal advertising for the “reproduce” part.

Obey orders and respect authority, well that’s not quite the same now.  I’d even argue how big that was back when this was made.  I mean, yeah, obviously they told people to respect authority.  But authority figures were far from immune to scrutiny in films, satire or otherwise, even back then.  Maniac Cop went on the idea that authority couldn’t always be trusted because some cops are maniacs, so many films released about corporate corruption, the films about Vietnam scrutinizing soldiers and/or the leaders who ordered them, just about everything regarding Nixon.  Nowadays, the opposite message seems to be pushed, even subliminally (and bluntly).  The pro-war on cops, pro-black lives matter, pro-illegal immigration, pro-diversity.  From the commercials advertised during the previous Superbowl, to celebrities at the Oscars and Emmy’s, subliminal or blunt, it seems as if an anti-authority message is pushed nowadays.  Don’t trust cops, ICE and president Trump are the enemy, all Republicans are cocksuckers and all Democrats are sinless angels, Milo is the spawn of Satan’s sperm, Samantha Bee is funny, John Oliver and CNN and MSNBC are the best and only reliable source of news information, etc.  Google is better than Bing and DuckDuckGo.  You know, that sort of thing.

Submit.  Always applies to who holds the most power.  For Carpenter, that was Reagan and his cabinet and supporters.  Today, they would like you to think that’s Trump and his cabinet and supporters, rather than a mixture of corrupt Democrats and Republicans on both sides, let alone Hollywood itself when it comes to the entertainment business.  And Disney/Marvel, Google/Facebook/Youtube, Verizon, AT&T, Spectrum, and Amazon, and Vince McMahon.

No independent/creative thought.  Oh, that’s definitely still a thing, more-so than ever.  Can’t even have a reasonable debate on a college campus anymore without some protesters showing up and ruining everything.  Don’t even need a robotic brain-dead police force to show up and ruin that anymore.

Subliminal messaging changes over the years.  And the only other movie I’ve seen that addresses this concept is Josie and the Pussycats (which I guess you could say is the chick flick equivalent of this movie, minus the sci-fi).  They mention subliminal advertising through music, but by the end the military comes in and says audio CDs are outdated, now they use television to push their subliminal messaging.  Nowadays, it’s the Internet and smartphones (along with the television).  And subliminal messaging in of itself isn’t always a bad thing.  Subliminal messaging of calling for peace not war, independence, being a reasonable individual, and supporting the porn industry.  But most of the time, subliminal messaging is for devious purposes, such as the pushing of politically correct language, class warfare, selfishness, anything to keep people divided so the national peace (let alone world peace) will continue to be unacheivable, so that we’ll be too focused fighting against anyone but the elite, or at least those causing the division in the first place.  The scary thing is, it’s still working, big time.  My main worry is that subliminal messaging corrupts to the point where it no longer needs to be subliminal.

But anyway, that’s my opinion on subliminal messaging.  As for my opinion on this movie, it’s low budget, but 80s Carpenter knew how to work within a budget, and he can make masterpieces regardless of budget.  And the film, well, I wouldn’t call it a masterpiece by my personal standards, but it’s a fun cult classic for sure that deserves to be watched at least once by everyone.  Entertaining, made well enough, acted well enough, and one of the few great films out there that stars a wrestler.  The main thing that gets this film to hold up overtime, aside from the famous improv line that Duke Nukem stole, “I’m here to chew bubblegum and kick ass, and I’m all out of bubblegum,” is the theme of the film.  Subliminal messaging, ever since the 30s, is something that is likely to remain in our society, permanently.  The important thing is to be aware of it, whether you agree with it or not.  For instance, even this film has subliminal messaging.  “Ronald Reagan is bad, Reaganomics is the work of the devil, capitalism is evil, etc.”  Whether you agree with some, all, or none of the messages is your own opinion, but it’s best to be aware of it.  At least then you won’t be a mindless robot a slave to such messages coming out of films.  Many films have this element to them, it’s just the message that differs.

It’s subliminal.

Hell, even the poster practically spells out that you should vote Democrat in the fall election.  “You might even vote for one this fall.”:

I bet something like this will pop up in 2018 or 2020.

Of course, there is the danger that both the subliminal messaging and the main point of the film flies over the heads of the viewer and it ends up being viewed entirely different from what the director and all parties involved had in mind.  Fun fact, courtesy of IMDB:

However, over the years, several neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups co-opted the movie for their own purpose, spreading rumors that it is really an allegory for Jews controlling the world. This forced Carpenter to respond on Twitter in 2017 by stating “They Live is about yuppies and unrestrained capitalism. It has nothing to do with Jewish control of the world”.

Oh the potential for a sequel or something.  Not that I’m saying this film needs one, just that it’s fun to imagine.

PS: Oh, right, interestingly enough, there is something about They Live that can actually tie in to that Combat Shock film.  Fun IMDB trivia fact:

After finishing the film, John Carpenter was going to direct an action horror film Shadow Company sometime around 1989. Written by Shane Black and Fred Dekker, movie was to be produced by Walter Hill (who also co-wrote some of the script) with Kurt Russell in the main role. The script was about group of US Special Forces soldiers who died during the Vietnam War. Years later, after their bodies are brought back, the soldiers, who were members of an Army project involving dark experiments, rise up from their graves, raid the armory from nearby Army base, and attack the town in which they were buried, killing everyone in it and wiping it off the ground during Christmas night. Due to some problems in pre-production, the movie was never made, although original script has gained cult following from fans of Carpenter, Black and Dekker.

Why couldn’t we also get that movie!?

RIP: 1954-2015