Friday, August 5, 2022

BONUS: Lego Star Wars Summer Vacation

I couldn't resist.

That time has dawned once again, another brief departure for me and how serendipitous this released today before I go. I'm not sure if this is my favorite of the Lego Star Wars specials but it's highly possible. Following the vein of the previous specials, Finn has planned a vacation for all his friends aboard a luxury starcruiser and through tales of beloved faces from the past learns about how experiences should be treasured and how close you should keep your friends. And each story has a summer notion tied to it, Obi-Wan helps a rebel pilot infiltrate a birthday barbecue, Vader and The Emperor go to a beach party, and the Solo's go on a family vacation, with the true end of the special dealing with saying goodbye to dear friends as they all go their seperate ways like friends you make and lose during summer break. There's always a tinge of bitter sadness to summer ending for a great deal of people, back to school, loss of cool new friends, experiences felt and memories made, and strangely the special succeeds in that respect. And I gotta tell you man, I was not expecting to walk away from this with a new piece of wisdom I learned from Star Wars, you never know how long a moment will last so enjoy it while you can. Damn. But it's not all bittersweet, the comedy still worked a fair bit for me and you can tell they had writers who were enjoying themselves on this project, and while there isn't much physical slapstick which may defy the Lego staple, the dialogue was effective and I enjoyed it throughout. I was a bit surprised how much star power we got in this, with James Arnold Taylor (who sings and it is frick fraking amazing), Kelly Marie Tran (love you girl), Billy Dee Williams (still smooth as ever), and of course Weird Al Yankovic. I'm kinda upset we didn't get Weird Al canonized in live action but it's fun and great regardless. The animation quality remains consistant, and speaking as someone who just loves the Lego games even beyond Star Wars it's always a treat to see little blocks make jokes. And screw it, I count this as canon. Finn is gonna be a seeker and find more Jedi, Rey is heading to the Unknown Regions to discover more temples, Poe is going to train the next generation of X-Wing pilots, and Rose is going to volunteer around the galaxy, I want to see that! If this is the real cap off for these characters, the last time we'll really see them in anything except novels, I feel it's a sweet and simple enough sendoff that still leaves plenty to the imagination. Favorite segment, just guess. You know my stance on these characters. So yeah, not a bad way to end for about a month and then I'll be back. 3 stars, 7.5/10! We're getting closer to that 1,000th review. Soon will I rest, earned it I have. Twilight is upon me, and soon night must fall. That is the way of things. The way of the Force. Everything ends and it's always sad, but everything starts again and it's always happy. I'll be happy when I come back.

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Bullet Train

Not my most anticipated movie but it was up there.

Something about the trailers hit me, and I was like oh yeah this is gonna be one of the better films of the year. Didn't disappoint to much all in all and I enjoyed it a good deal. So our story follows a member of an organization who doesn't actually kill people but people certainly die around him, taking a new assignment to retrieve a briefcase from a bullet train in Japan, but there's actual legit assassins on the train who all have their own orders and targets that merge with each other. It's a very complicated case man, a lot of strands to keep straight in the Duder's head this time around but it all ties together at the end so even if you forget a detail the film is polite enough to remind you. Hijinks most certainly ensue. It's not super flashy or different for different's sake in terms of direction and cinematography, focusing more on telling an entertaining and involved story rather than trying to flip the script and break new ground. I can respect that, and the movie does indeed have good shots, choreography, and humor throughout so it's not like it's a generic summer action movie. Though I do have minor quibbles here and there, obviously the movie takes primarily on a train so you don't get the sights of Japan from Tokyo to Kyoto (try saying that three times fast) but you get lots of other bits of the culture. Second, this is zero slam on the actress but Joey King man I hated her character, she's that antagonist who you just want to see meet a grisly end every second and maybe that was just because of my contempt but man I haven't felt hate for a character like that in a minute. Then again if you can get that severe a reaction out of an audience member, sterling performance, like well done madam! Third, this briefcase is purely a McGuffin I understand that and I like how it comes into play near the end, yet it didn't feel entirely pivotal to the plot and it has that Pulp Fiction grab of well what's in it? Nothing interesting I can tell you that, in fact I was expecting some Kill Bill-esque elements in it. No such luck. The cameos were a bit out of nowhere and of course all this bullshit springs from one guy, who I do not like as an actor but find passable as a person, I will try never to review his more popular movies, whose name I may or may not have brought up previously. F***ing guy. So far from perfect, but I'm very happy I saw it and could genuinely see it becoming a cult action hit. Brad Pitt is awesome, like ever since I saw him in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood my appreciation has grown and I love the idea of this reforming agent who doesn't like using guns and is a very open minded, easy going, inner peace kind of guy who can still throw down. Great character! Brian Tyree Henry, such a funny guy, who I can actually believe whacks people, and can pull off those emotional moments. Hiroyuki Sanada is always a joy to see and still rad, who has quite good comedic timing and I hope his fanbase flourishes more after being Scorpion in the newest Mortal Kombat movie. Before I go, just gotta say the funniest part hands doen for me was the anime mascot getting abused. I don't know why but seeing a giant anime catsuit just get punched in the face is just the funniest f***ing thing. Oh my God, you think that might have been some cathartic therapy for people who reeeeally do not like Pikachu or Pokemon? Could be. Overall, it's a solid movie and you can have a good time with it, it strings you along very nicely and never once gets boring or uninteresting. I give it 3 stars, 7.5/10!

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Hard Boiled

Alright I'll admit, it was pretty awesome.

Hard Boiled has been on my radar since probably 2008, and now that I've finally seen it I can appreciate it that much more. It's not as off the wall over the top as Crank but still illicited strong vocal reactions from me and I really loved it. The plot involves two police officers, one undercover and one putting pressure on the outside to bring down a weapons magnate and crime lord. Very simple plot but the execution is what makes it work so well. The movie had me hook, line, and sinker before the 10 minute mark, the fact alone the movie was about a cop who offtimes as a jazz musician is enough for me to pay pre-screening prices to see this movie. I've just never seen that in a movie before, and the soundtrack itself is very jazz/blues mix with some damn good action beats which reminded me of a combination of Blade Runner and Cowboy Bebop. Awesome. And once again, for reasons unbeknownst even to myself I friggin' love asian cinema around this time period, the movie was released in 1992 which hits that sweet spot for me, if a movie was made in Japan or China from the span of 1984 to 1998 I'm there. The action, ho mah gawd. It's insane, but with many recognizable cliches which I enjoy a great deal. More henchmen than you can shake a stick at, guns that never have to reload, good use of slow-mo, guys flying through plate glass windows, it's not a realistic movie but who says action has to be? Chow Yun-Fat is needless to say a great lead, flawless in his action man status but very funny and has the range to play up emotional states. At first I thought Tony Chieu-Wai Yeung was going to play an undercover cop torn between being an officer of the law and right hand man of a crime boss, but he's a good guy but has to do some bad stuff and that's a real good character dynamic. He hits the emotional scenes much more than Chow has to and I thought was mighty good. Teresa Mo what a class act, she was friggin' brilliant, at first being a comedic relief cutie pie but at that climax hell to the yeah. Speaking of climax, that 3 minute shot that everyone raves about is well deserved. They have this running gunfight through the hallways of a hospital, no edits, no trick photography, expertly timed choreography and gun effects, for almost 3 minutes. Pretty impressive I must say. The stuntwork and effects involved throughout must be commended, cause you really got to know what you are doing to make it all seamless and they by God do it. I read that they used legit guns and not prop weapons, and about 100,000 squibs and I'm not sure how many squibs were used in The Wild Bunch which supposedly was more than actual bullets used in the Mexican Revolution but it was a lot. Maybe not one of the more flowery written action movies or bloodiest even, but it was a treat to see this movie and I loved it from start to finish. 4 stars, 8.5/10, and Bullet Train is speeding onwards tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 2, 2022


What the shit was that?

I'm honestly speechless. It's been a minute since I've seen an action movie this batshit, it's kind of incredible to behold from start to finish. So the basic story is an assassin named Chev, played by Jason Statham before he got super famous, is injected with a virus known only as "the chinese shit" that will kill him in one hour, but the man has stuff to do, places to be, and people to kill and quickly finds out if he keeps his adrenaline pumping constantly it won't kill him as fast. So it's like if Speed was a human body instead of a bus, and the movie kicks off almost from the word go. Terrific opening by the way, this movie sold me with Quiet Riot and a 80s arcade machine style title card, and I...I don't know what else I can say. The movie itself is shot like it just did four lines of cocaine and chugged 12 energy drinks, with lots of handheld running shots which thankfully aren't shaky, slick as hell editing, dramatic zooms and camera sweeps, the cinematography itself exudes energy, frantic speed, and an accelerating heart rate. I don't fully know what the definition of an exploitation movie is but this almost seems to fit the bill, fully warranting the R rating with lots of balls to the wall action, sex and nudity, and language. But what's great is it's just so over the top, pass 11 and goes to a 12 that you can't help but laugh at the insanity. Sure, do some cocaine off a gross bathroom floor, go for it and rail your girlfriend in a public crowd, yeah let's go wreck shit and chug Red Bull, so much happens you kinda are left reeling throughout. But that's the fun of it. Our main character isn't a great guy by any stretch, he's a bit of an asshole to more than just the people who poisoned him and pulls some hardcore dick moves but Jason makes it work. I never had any opinion on the guy but after seeing this I can understand why he gained a lot of popularity through the years. Amy Smart is kind of a mess, but an insanely cute hilarious mess that adds to the chaos and yet can bring the film down periodically for a slow more intimate scene. Jose Pablo Cantillo is an assssshooooole in this movie but hot damn does he play it well, that perfect villain you just enjoy hating to the max. We got two surprise cameos in this movie, Efren Ramirez plays a small supporting role and it's wild seeing Pedro in this, but yet again motherf***ing Sam Witwer pops up again clear out of the blue as a rando henchmen I don't even think he has a line but you can bet your sweet sainted mother I lost my shit something fierce seeing him near the end. Hell I could almost argue he plays a big role in how the climax resolves, just like Maul you never expect him but he'll shank you before the end. Mental action, surprisingly funny, a complete mindmelting crazy movie but done much better than you would think. What do I even rate it? In terms of entertainment I'd give it a 9, in terms of story and technicals I'd give it a solid 7.5, soooo I'll give it 4 stars, 8/10, and tomorrow we're going foreign action with one of the cornerstones of the genre.