The Fate of the Furious (aka F8, 2017)

Wow so here we are huh, the eight movie in the franchise, this thing just keeps on goin’ doesn’t it. Obviously by now the entire population of this little blue planet knows how this shitshow works, its not to be taken seriously…at all. Yet despite that clear cut fact I cannot help but tear the opening sequence of this movie apart, and here we go.

It begins in Havana, Cuba where Toretto and Letty are having their honeymoon. Conveniently Toretto’s cousin is also in Cuba and is having some debt issues with some local petrolhead. Luckily this all takes place at an auto show (randomly in the middle of the city) which is filled with hot women that are basically half naked (won’t someone think of the children?). The perfect scenario for Toretto to show his stuff…aww yeah. So Toretto challenges this young guy with a super modified car to a race to get his cousin outta trouble. Unfortunately Toretto only has his cousins broken down wreck of a car to use. No worries, Dom fixes it up within five minutes (mainly using ‘Cuban NOS’? Any different to regular NOS?) and its ready to roll.

What follows is essentially the backbone of the franchise, how it all started, a gritty illegal street race. They throw this in at the start just to remind you of the franchises roots before it goes all xXx and Mission: Impossible on you. Yeah so they have this illegal street race through Havana. All the traffic is stopped merely by two motorbike riders who follow the race and block junctions. Miraculously there are no accidents with other traffic users and absolutely no police presence anywhere. The two cars tear up the city streets with Toretto eventually winning the race in a shit heap that is actually on fire. But no worries because xXx manages to dive out of the car (at top speed) just before it hits a concrete barrier, flies into the air, explodes and lands in the sea. Naturally good old Dom sustains no injuries whatsoever.

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As said, this is what we’re dealing with now with this franchise, complete disregard for anything actually based within the realms of reality (although this isn’t the first time, but its gotten way worse). It also makes it very hard to review such a movie because we all know this. We all know its not supposed to be a serious movie, we all know its throwaway popcorn trash that exists purely to provide Bay-esque visuals. So of course on that front the movie succeeds in every aspect, it does exactly what it says on the tin. The flip side is how far can this be pushed before it just becomes fucking ridiculous. The answer to that is of course about four movies ago.

Essentially this movie is now practically a superhero flick. All the characters are pretty much invincible and I doubt any will ever be killed off. Hell, if Paul Walker hadn’t actually died in real life then I’m sure his character would still be alive and well with the others. But this is a major problem with the franchise (alongside so many other problems). You just don’t care about the characters because you know they’re invincible. There’s no way any of the main protagonists will die, no flippin’ way. Even when one does get killed in this movie they end up coming back. All this does is equal zero tension, zero thrills and zero risk. Fuck me even the villain is too big to get killed off it seems, future sequels are gonna have impossibly large casts.

And what is the antagonists goal here exactly? The big bad villain (female of course, Charlize Theron) wants to start off a world war I believe it was, why? And in order to do this she needed Toretto’s help to get some vital bits and pieces in order to activate a nuclear sub and start a nuclear war. She couldn’t do this herself with her henchmen? And in order to keep Toretto under control she kidnaps one of his ex-girlfriends who is pregnant with his child that he knows nothing about. Convenience much??!! I guess you could say she’s lucky Toretto is even bothered about this considering its his ex.

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There is so much stupidity and deus ex machina in this movie its painful, so very painful. The way characters (Toretto) seem to just have secret rendezvous or help outta nowhere, like magic, only to be explained towards the end of the movie. Yeah because that’s really clever. There are numerous car chase sequences that are essentially fights with various vehicles, its like watching Transformers. Each vehicle also seems to represent its driver so Dwayne Johnson naturally drives a huge, hulking 4×4 jeep thing that probably has really shitty fuel economy and moves like a bus. Its also apparent that in these sequences the hero vehicles don’t sustain damage…until its clearly unavoidable (because product placement). The same is often seen with weapons, in other words Dwayne Johnson is always seen with a huge shoulder cannon type thing (what’s he compensating for?).

Then of course you have the finale where they all take on a nuclear submarine and we see a sequence which is pretty much straight outta the school of escaping ‘Prometheus’ style. Toretto survives a massive blast from a heat-seeking missile striking the sub (as do all their vehicles apparently). Roman is even more of an unfunny idiot but unfortunately doesn’t get killed here. Other characters from previous movies such as Tej and Frank Petty merely make up the numbers and continuity. Scott Eastwood is in here for no particular reason, I genuinely don’t know why he’s there. Statham does the same shit as before and some others pop up blah blah blah, who cares. Oh and Toretto names his son (from the ex) Brian after Walker’s character, even though in the movie Brian isn’t dead sooo…why?

One of the main problems with this movie (and some others) is the fact that you kinda have to know the previous movies to get everything. Bottom line this is not a good stand alone movie, its not a good movie but even more so because you gotta know the backstories to a degree. Other than that its not much different from the Transformers franchise for me, just glossy garbage that ticks all the correct boxes. The epitome of modern movies.

3/10

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Despicable Me 3 (2017)

Just when you thought they couldn’t milk this franchise any further, we get a trilogy, as if it was obligatory (I actually think it is).

I have never understood why this franchise was even remotely popular. The first movie was reasonably passable capitalising on the now exhausted superhero genre. An evil super genius getting long in the tooth tries to remain relevant amongst the growing number of younger supervillains. And in the end the supervillain becomes the hero. Then came the sequel which simply went straight down the old supervillain versus superhero route. The supervillain from the first movie now essentially a superhero fighting crime. Now along comes the third movie which is clearly struggling for ideas.

It now turns out that old Gru (Steve Carell) has a long lost brother called Dru (ugh!!). Dru of course looks identical to Gru except he has hair, he is also voiced by Carell. Dru is a budding supervillain and dreams of working with his infamous super genius brother. Problem is Gru is now a superhero and can’t find a way to break this to his brother. So in the long run Gru ends up tricking Dru into helping him take down a problematic supervillain called Balthazar Brat (Trey Parker). Gru does this by pretending they are actually carrying out an evil plan. But anyway, yes they drag up the old long lost relation plot angle to keep this nonsense going. I really don’t need to explain how lame this is do I?

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Right so we already know Gru, his wife Lucy and their kids. So what about Dru, what’s he like? Well like I said he looks identical to Gru, except for his flowing blonde hair. His voice is fairly similar to Gru’s because he’s voiced by Carell, oh and he dresses in white…to counter Gru’s black. So yeah…that’s about as imaginative as it gets for that. But wait! There is actually a positive note here, and that’s the new evil character of Balthazar Brat. This is mainly down to two simple reasons. Firstly he’s voiced by Trey Parker who has that simple, yet amusing tone of voice that we all know and love from South Park. Really hard to pinpoint why his voice is so catchy because its generally pretty normal. I think its Parker’s ability to sound so satirical and mocking in a relatively deadpan manner.

Secondly its because the character of Balthazar is stuck in the 80’s. He’s obsessed with the 80’s, anything and everything to do with that era. Being an 80’s gen bloke this of course appealed to me greatly and I enjoyed the various pop culture references. Admittedly most of the references, quips and visual gags weren’t anything overly original. He dances to various classic 80’s pop songs while he works and plays with various 80’s toys and gadgets. He dresses in typical 80’s fashions, he has a mullet, and his evil plan involves a giant robot or mech rampaging through Hollywood (in typical Godzilla or 80’s Saturday morning cartoon type fashion). So whilst this character was indeed a totally unoriginal idea, for me he was fun to watch. Not overly sure how kids these days would quite get him though. I would of thought most of the references would go sailing over their heads.

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Indeed its only when Balthazar is on the screen this movie is any fun. Most of the movie is filled with mind-numbing crapola showing Gru looking after his insufferable kids. Like the sub plot involving one of his daughters trying to find a unicorn…eh? Or the other daughter and her potential boyfriend…ugh! Or spending time with his brother and his supervillain inventions (like we haven’t seen that kind of stuff before). As for the minions, hell they’ve been relegated to a sub plot also. You don’t actually get that much minion screen time a tall really because they leave Gru after he refuses to return to villainy. Of course they return for the finale but overall they’re in and out of the picture. Odd because I thought they were a cash cow.

I dunno, I just didn’t get the point of this movie because it literally offered nothing new. Even the bad guy, who was enjoyable, was completely unoriginal in every aspect. Yes the movie looks great as all CGI animated movies do nowadays, so that’s kinda inconsequential at the end of the day. The soundtrack is the usual god awful collection of hip-hop and rap which every kids movie has to incorporate it seems. Its not particularly funny and its not particularly exciting. The entire feature simply feels like a by the numbers production merely chugged out to try and squeeze the last few drops of money out before it inevitably dies. Well its dead alright.

4/10

The Emoji Movie (2017)

I guess it had to happen, we live in a time now where nothing is sacred, nothing is safe from being milked dry, and anything is free game. We’ve seen it all from various obscure choices in the videogame archives; to Barbie to Thomas the Tank Engine to board games and to Lego. They will make a movie out of bloody anything given half a chance. I’m half expecting an animated movie about the world of marbles to roll along anytime soon (yes I’m proud of that pun).

I think its fair to say I wasn’t expecting anything much from this movie, if anything I only saw it out of pure morbid curiosity. I was simply intrigued at how they could construct a narrative around some mobile phone app icons. And my God do they try their best here! They really stretch and reach and twist that thin ass plot as best they can. Does it work? Not really no, but kudos for trying.

I mean I can’t deny there are some nice little touches here, its not all terrible. The emoji’s live inside a phone (duh) which is owned by a young boy named Alex. Said boy is going through the usual pre-pubescent angst with girls and whatnot and of course being young he uses his phone a lot. Within the phone the emoji’s dwell in the city of Textopolis (I like it), their daily job is to produce their emoticon or expression on demand (when Alex uses it). Gene is a ‘meh’ emoji but he can also make other expressions which is looked upon as freakish, or like having a rare disease. When Gene gets his chance to be used by Alex he has a nervous breakdown and fudges it up. He then finds himself listed for deletion because he is now deemed a malfunction. Gene must now flee the city with another has-been emoji to help him find a hacker to hopefully get himself fixed.

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So the plot is pretty much the same old shit we’ve many times before. The protagonist must go on the run to evade the antagonist and her henchmen (henchemoji’s). Along the way the protagonist meets new friends that are considered losers basically; and in the end after numerous scrapes they all discover themselves and make friends (whilst saving the day). Its a standard plot mapped on top of this emoji concept.

Despite that its still flippin’ convoluted though, the nonsense they set up to explain how emoji’s are used on a phone. Its kinda treated like a gameshow scenario where talented, experienced and obviously popular emoji’s are used regularly (almost like a sports team). But if an emoji shows good promise or whatever then they get the chance to be ‘promoted’ onto the phones main app screen. It sounds ridiculous because it basically is. Then all the emoji’s that aren’t used anymore get lumped into a loser lounge type scenario. Very predictable but also somewhat daft as I’m sure most emoji’s actually get used a fair bit the world over.

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Call me stupid but one of the main fun things about this movie was spotting all the different emoji’s (sad I know). And sure enough they’re all here, right down to the national flags. I quite like how the old emoticons are presented as old age pensioners, umm…that’s about as clever as it gets really. Aside from that the entire movie plays out like a long TV advert for various smart phone apps like Twitter, Candy Crush, Just Dance etc…The movie also uses every flippin’ bit of computer jargon it can muster, in a very predictable and cringeworthy fashion. For instance, pirating is represented by…yep…pirates. A Trojan horse is…umm…a big horse. A firewall is a big fiery wall (ugh!!!), and a virus is a sick looking electronic bacteria (flip me!). Add to that a whole bunch of nauseating pop songs, modern trendy teen lingo, various brands and voilà!

The sidekick characters bland and unfunny (hi-five and a princess), again totally predictable. Alex decides to completely wipe his phone when a few apps play up, why not just uninstall them? When the phone is almost wiped Alex stops because of an unusual emoji?? (Gene pulling a stupid face). This emoji is then sent to the girl he has a crush on and she instantly likes him because of that?? Most of the emoji’s in Textopolis are erased during this process, but they all come back perfectly OK when the phone is rebooted? No side affects from that?

Overall the movie certainly isn’t as bad as I thought it was gonna be (but its still quite bad). There are some kernels of a good idea hidden away within, the odd sparse highlight. But again overall its still very very basic, bland, uninspiring, unfunny, and it doesn’t even look that great really. This was always gonna be an uphill battle simply because what the hell can you do with emoji’s?? I stand by my kudos to all involved for actually managing to produce something that isn’t a complete train wreck, but at the end of the day I think we can all agree with was a complete waste of time and money. Heck the aim seems to be to push young kids towards their phones more than ever. As if youngsters need that kind of encouragement these days.

3.5/10

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Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017)

Or as its known in Europe ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge’. Why? I have no idea nor do I particularly care. Which I might add is pretty much how I felt about this movie and this franchise. We’re five movies in now and this whole thing is just becoming monotonous and very familiar. The problem is I can’t not watch it because I’m somewhat invested in the series; its like I have to watch to simply find out how this shitshow will end. Essentially its the same scenario as the Star Wars prequels, you knew they were poor, but you had to watch them all to see how it all tied up. You just had to!!

So what the hell is going on in Pirateworld this time? Well its basically a soft reboot of the very first movie. The ghostly crew of the Silent Mary, under Captain Salazar, are after Captain Jack Sparrow because of the fact Sparrow landed Salazar and his crew in the devil’s triangle which cursed them all (many many years prior). So yes yet again Sparrow is being pursued by undead pirates. At the same time a young Henry Turner (son of Will Turner) is trying to free his father from the Flying Dutchman by locating the Trident of Poseidon. The trident can break all curses upon the sea.

Conveniently, at the same time Henry bumps into the young and beautiful Carina (a Horologist and astronomer) who can help him find the trident (and lead into a very convenient romance). Conveniently Captain Barbossa pops up again who initially sides with Salazar to avoid being killed, but then sides with Sparrow later on to get his hands on the Black Pearl. He then conveniently double crosses Sparrow to take the Pearl and conveniently discovers Carina is his long lost daughter, because of course she is. In the end they all conveniently team up together to defeat Salazar in a highly predictable manner.

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The infamous Jack Sparrow is pretty fleeting in this movie it must be said. Apparently director Joachim Rønning wanted to go back to the original concept where Sparrow crashes in and out of scenes as comedic relief. Well they certainly fudged that up because Depp’s iconic character is pretty much useless in this movie and could of easily been cut out completely. His character has no story here, he literally pops up here and there for some slapstick. He’s just tagging along for the ride, the other characters actually have goals where as Sparrow merely gets in the way. His only hook is that he lost his crew after they lost confidence in him, so he’s a bit depressed basically. This is why he accidentally unleashes Salazar from the devil’s triangle (by giving up his compass for a drink; something that escapes me because you probably gotta recall the last movie).

I understand what Rønning was trying to do but here’s the thing, in the original movie Sparrow was a bright new character. The character took everyone by surprise with his antics. This type of old fashioned visual humour was a real breath of fresh air; but now the character is a has-been, old hat, nothing left, milked dry. Jack Sparrow’s run is essentially over and this merely proved it.

Naturally this franchise is now all about the spectacular visual effects and stunts and naturally this movie does maintain that. The movie is chock-a-block with CGI visuals as you would expect, some good, some not so much. I think we can all agree that landscapes and vistas work best for CGI shots. An attack of undead cursed sharks might sound like a cool idea but its also an example of how some CGI sequences looked utter crap. Strangely enough despite the fact the movie is stunning to look at, its nowhere near as good as the previous movies, it didn’t feel as grand or lavish to me. There was also quite a lot of bad looking greenscreen shots too.

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But the real guff came in sequences and ideas that either didn’t make any sense or just went nowhere. At the start of the movie a very young Henry rows out into the middle of the ocean and throws himself over-board tied to a large rock. He then proceeds to sink to the exact spot where the Flying Dutchman is sunk, or waiting? I dunno exactly. Sure the kid had a map but really? The British Navy (that are briefly seen here and there) don’t believe in all the supernatural stories they’ve heard. Again really?? With everything that happens at sea in your world?? You’d think this shit would be common knowledge. Sparrow and his men attempt to rob a bank by pulling its enormous steel safe out of the building (through a wall) by horsepower…yeeeah that’s really stupid on so many levels.

At one point the movie literally stops dead just so Sparrow can talk quickly to his uncle Jack. Yep the movie stops dead in its tracks to simply give Paul McCartney a pointless cameo. The guards carrying Jack just haul him over to the cell holding his uncle so they can chat. Why would they do this?? Oh yeah…Paul’s cameo. At another point Sparrow is captured by some Irish (?) pirates who want to force him to marry one of their own as payment for a debt or whatever. Clearly there is backstory here but we don’t find out what. Then Barbossa turns up and kills the Irish leader and that’s that, on with the show. Salazar’s ship is just a bare skeleton of the hull or rotting wreck, but somehow it eats other ships or something. This also causes other ships to explode for some reason…eh??

Then in the finale the ocean parts (yes parts) for the characters to find the trident, this is quite a quick process. Yet when the movie reaches its climax and the ocean starts to fall back in on itself, this takes AGES!!!. In fact it takes just enough time for the main protagonists to be rescued. I might add that this entire sequence on the ocean floor with the CGI parted ocean, looks terrible. Then right at the end (God knows where) various characters from the previous movies just all turn up randomly, outta nowhere, conveniently at the exact same spot for a soppy reunion. This led me to simply ask…how on earth is this actually happening? Its like Rønning just said, fuck it! we’ll just toss in these characters because we can, no one will question it because its a silly fantasy. Are you even trying anymore with this movie/franchise?

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The real problem for this movie I fear is the fact that you gotta remember everything that’s happened previously, to some degree. Don’t get me wrong, its cool that the continuity is well maintained but with the number of movies in this franchise and their convoluted plots, its more like actual work than anything to keep up. Next to that the action felt very poorly choreographed and edited this time round. Just not exciting really, just mundane and unimaginative. There are way too many characters now, its really ridiculous actually. To top that it seems like they’re bringing back yet another character from a previous sequel for the next movie (ugh!!!). As said the movie looks glossy but its by far the worst looking of the franchise. And last but not least, the movie is simply a rehash of the original. We’ve seen this before and its slowly happening more and more it seems, its just not acceptable.

Folks at the end of the day if you’re a fan of the franchise you will probably like this; although I’m very sure you may not rate it highly. If you’re not a fan of the franchise or a casual movie goer, I’d say skip it because you’ve seen it all before I guarantee. Its not really a good stand alone movie. This franchise has officially capsized and sunk.

4/10

Blood Father (FRA, 2016)

Apparently this movie is based on a novel of the same name and a French action thriller. I did not know this and I’m surprised. Surprised that’s its a French made movie because I certainly didn’t get that vibe in the trailers. And I’m surprised at yet another novel adaptation, like almost every other flick!

Again the plot is nothing really original (a rarity these days), its main hook is the fact we see old Mel Gibson back in action again. The plot starts with Lydia (Erin Moriarty) who is in a relationship with a gang leader called Jonah (Diego Luna). During a hit on some tenants Jonah claims stole money from them, Lydia accidentally shoots Jonah. Thinking she’s killed him she runs off and gets in contact with her ex-convict father John (Gibson). Lydia explains the situation and John decides to look after Lydia at his trailer house in the middle of nowhere (hoping no one will find them). Alas Jonah’s gang members come after Lydia and drag John into the fray. What follows is a somewhat slow moving chase thriller as John must protect Lydia from the gang out for revenge.

I think the problem with this movie is the fact it doesn’t really offer anything new (plus it literally feels like it could be another movie about old man Wolverine/Logan). Gibson’s character is your standard gruff, hardassed, tattooed, ex-con who’s turned his life around and deep down has a good heart. His slutty looking daughter Lydia is your typical slutty looking mouthy teen, who has gotten herself into shit and needs her daddy to bail her out. All the while being somewhat ungrateful about it along the way. The bad guys are your stereotypical tattooed Latino gangsters. And most of the folk we meet along the way are all scruffy looking redneck biker types, complete with some Nazi and Confederate imagery for good measure.

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As the story unfolds its not hard to guess what’s gonna happen really. Obviously at first John and Lydia are a tad distant, Lydia doesn’t completely trust John, and John wants to ween Lydia off the drugs and alcohol she’s hooked on. It really is the all the usual beats. John must ask favours from various friends, some good like Kirby (William H. Macy) and some not so good like Preacher (Michael Parks). Speaking of stereotypical characters, Preacher has his own biker garage/club set up where he sells all his (Nazi and Confederate) war memorabilia. You know straight away not to trust this bloke. Anyway as time passes John and Lydia grow closer together until at the end Lydia realises how much she loves and needs John (naturally when its too late).

I guess the million Dollar question was, was the films main selling point of Mel Gibson being the anti-hero protagonist enough? Could Gibson still deliver a knockout? In my opinion the answer to that would yes and no. Lets not beat around the bush here, Gibson has clearly changed his image in recent years. He’s clearly been hitting the gym and getting roided up (health issues at his age?). Anyway performance-enhancing drugs aside, Gibson does look good despite the ravages of time on his looks. Strangely enough he actually looks even more badass in his old age and possibly even more of a better fit for an aged Wolverine.

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Gibson definitely dishes out a solid weighty performance bursting with raw scary beardy-faced energy. In fact his beard is almost its own character, its an awesome beard, the white patch on his chin being the clear highlight. So much so that when he shaves it off his character noticeably becomes less interesting. All of a sudden we lose the unhinged, wide-eyed, muscular, Wolverine-esque, bearded one. And we’re left with a boring looking Mel Gibson from ‘Payback’ (1999). The thing is I believe you could swap out Gibson with any number of decent action thriller actors such as…Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe or Liam Neeson, and probably get the same result. So even though I liked Gibson in this movie, I’d say his presence wasn’t a make or break factor.

Overall I’d have to say I was actually somewhat disappointed with this movie. The trailer was pretty epic and kinda gave me the wrong impression really. I was expecting a more rock ’em, sock ’em action flick top heavy with kickassery. But what you get is a more heartfelt, slow paced drama with the odd burst of action that isn’t really that good. Yes its authentic, its not over the top and stupid, but I just got the impression we’d be seeing more of Gibson kicking ass. We actually see very little of Gibson kicking ass which seems a waste considering all that muscle he’s packed on.

In the end the movie finishes as you knew it would do, in fact I’m sure we’ve all seen the same ending before in other movies. I can’t help but think this could have been a really stonking gritty action flick, but Gibson wanted to show his acting chops (which aren’t quite there I’m afraid). Its by no means a bad film or a mediocre film, its a very solid film, just not as good as the posters and trailers make out.

7/10

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The Mole People (1956)

Only the cinematic era of the 50’s could come up with a movie like this, a movie about actual mole humanoids (or humanoid moles). As I’ve said before, within this decade they pretty much used every kind of insect and animal they could think of to besiege humanity.

The movie starts off in a unique way by having a science and history lesson. And by that I mean an actual Californian professor (Dr. Frank Baxter) talks and explains to the viewer about various old theories of a hollow Earth and how this movie is a fictional representation of those theories. Although I enjoyed this amusing little snippet from a stereotypical looking 1950’s professor in his stereotypical 1950’s looking study, it all seemed rather bizarre to me. What was the need for this? Did the audience back then really need confirmation that the movie was fantasy?? Did they need to have a professor talking about ancient hollow Earth theories?

‘Primitive man, going into caves, reaching back and back and down and down, wondered what lay beyond. Then in terror he fled out!’
Is this proper English, Mr. English professor? Who wrote this?? Its terrible geez!

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Any way the plot is what you might expect. Some archaeologists are digging around somewhere in Asia and discover ancient relics that are apparently Sumerian. One thing leads to another and before you know it they’re up a mountain discovering a temple, then the ground opens up and some bloke falls down into a deep cave. Well I guess you know what comes next, down the hole they go and piff paff poof! They end up discovering a lost Sumerian civilisation beneath the Earth. These people are of course way behind the times worshiping ancient gods. They are albino, can be killed by sunlight, oh and they also enslave a race of mole people to harvest fungi which they eat.

So first off let me just point out the casting of Alan Napier here as Elinu the High Priest. Yes that Alan Napier of the campy classic 1966 Batman series with Adam West. The rest of the cast are pretty much your standard affair truth be told. There is nothing special about any of them. A couple stout white blokes, a sexy blonde bit of totty for them to rescue…and of course fall in love with. All the native actors are of course white and generally terrible at acting in a charming kind of way. But then you have Alan Napier, clearly a class act, clearly on another level in terms of talent and experience. The man gives this movie credibility it does not deserve. Whilst the rest of the crew are merely meh, Napier’s campness is fecking marvelous! When a native girl starts her ritual dance before, what I presume to be virgins, are sacrificed to the light; the girl flirts her way over to Napier’s High Priest. She starts to seductively jiggle before him which results in the most brilliant look of disgust, disapproval and exasperation from Napier’s priest.

Effects wise its what you have come to expect from these movies. The first opening shot of the lost Sumerian city is a nice matte painting back-projected against some live action of the actors. Again bog standard fair but it looks relatively acceptable, some nice depth. All the caves are generally very basic looking whilst the very clean and in good condition temple areas (they are supposedly 5000 years old) are clearly sets that look more like a theatrical stage productions (although large). As with many of these black and white movies the lack of colour helps sell the effect because it hides the joins so to speak. All the natives are wearing rather hokey medieval/Arabian looking outfits that look more like Halloween costumes. But surprisingly the mole humanoids (or humanoid moles) actually look pretty good. It does appear that maybe the budget was maybe spend on getting the mole masks looking as terrifying as possible…and it was worth it! Obviously they are just men in suits with big rubber claws and rubber masks but they do work.

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I must also point out how effective it was seeing these mole people rise from the earth like the undead (hmmm). Its a simple effect for sure but very eerie and again it works wonders here, I’m sure the audience would have been scared shitless seeing this. But like I said, other than the mole people its all a bit average really, stereotypical ancient tribal stuff. Everyone is albino so they’re simply painted white from head to toe. The characters generally don’t seem fazed by anything such as finding mole people, finding a Sumerian civilisation and vice versa them finding modern humans. The heroes take it all in their stride whilst the natives just wanna sacrifice everyone to their God. Final mention to the native dancing girl for the most obviously made-up native dance ever; plus the actress looks to be Asian as in possibly Chinese or Southeast Asian, whoops!

Lets also just overlook how they managed to get so much metal and precious stones down there, surely the mole people could only mine so much in that region. Oh and how they made their clothes, why they sacrifice young women and not die out, how they only live on mushrooms, and how this civilisation never ventured back to the surface in 5000 years! I suppose I should also mention that the mole people are actually not required in this movie despite being awesome. They have no real point to the plot other than to scare the audience, plus we never find out what they are or how they came to be. You could of quite easily just had a movie about the explorers in this subterranean world. So the movies title is a bit cheeky. I’m also unsure as to how exactly the Sumerians managed to keep the mole folk in slavery for so long with only whips and swords. The mole people aren’t allergic to light so that gave them an advantage.

But I think one of the most surprising aspects in this movie (other than the excellent looking mole monsters) is the fact they used a real ancient civilisation. I’m sure I wouldn’t be alone in expecting them to just make up some ridiculous sounding ancient race like ‘Zynapians’ or something (I Googled that word and its definitely not an ancient race). But on the other hand that means they would have had to get the Sumerian culture visually correct, did they? I don’t know not being up on my Sumerian culture, but kudos for going there I guess. I suppose we should all just be thankful they didn’t resort to using ancient Greek or Roman costumes. This movie is good fun in the usual schlocky way; its certainly engaging with its natives, moles and crazy Fu Manchu priest. Just don’t expect anything to be explained much, it all just happens because.

7/10

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A Night at the Roxbury (1998)

Or as it was originally known ‘The Roxbury Guys’ was another reoccurring sketch within the classic American late night show Saturday Night Live. Whilst I’m not entirely sure who came up with the original idea, the two main characters in the sketch were always played by Chris Kattan and Will Ferrell. The duo were often joined by a third character who would be played by another famous actor. The most well known seems to be Jim Carrey’s contribution.

The entire idea behind this sketch was simple. Two (or three) guys that are habitual clubbers, dressed in garish rayon suits, adorned with tacky bling, slicked (90’s) hair, and desperately trying to pull anything in a dress with a heartbeat. Even though the guys are experienced in clubbing, their clubbing escapades are generally huge fails because of their adolescent approach to basically everything. The guys come off more like permanently horny teenagers gagging for the slightest bit of female interaction. And when they get it they’d probably cum in their pants straight away.

The movie takes this premise and expands it somewhat. Chris Kattan and Will Ferrell are the main two protagonists again but there is no third member. The duo are now brothers that still live with their very wealthy parents in LA, I think. Most definitely somewhere on the Californian coast. The premise is entirely the same with the brothers spending all their time thinking about clubbing and getting laid. In the background their artificial plant store owner father (Dan Hedaya) is trying to get Steve (Ferrell) to marry Emily (Molly Shannon). Emily being the daughter of a wealthy light fitting store owner that sits next door to the artificial plant store. Meanwhile Doug (Kattan) is trying to keep Steve’s mind focused on their plan of owning a top nightclub in the area.

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The first few sequences of the movie start in exactly the same way the short SNL sketches do. The camera slowly moves through a crowded club towards the bar where the brothers stand, backs to the camera, nodding their heads to the beat. The beat in question is of course ‘What is Love’ by Haddaway which played through every sketch. See it as the theme tune for ‘The Roxbury Guys’. It is painfully obvious that the first 10 minutes or so of the movie are actually the most enjoyable. A collection of short clips showcasing what the brothers are like, how they behave, and how unsuccessful they are. It sums up the entire concept of the characters and all the main gags from the SNL sketches in one blast. Unfortunately this kinda renders the rest of the movie pointless because they were the best bits. Its like they blew their load straight away and no need to carry on.

I like how the brothers feel like their lives are hard and they have to deal with many injustices. When in reality their parents are very rich (from artificial flowers?), they live in a large mansion complete with pool and guest house, and they seemingly have no responsibilities. I like how the parents seem to be a very stereotypically über wealthy LA couple. The mother (Loni Anderson) has a very fake looking face due to plastic surgery and tonnes of makeup. Indeed one of the jokes is how she shows off her new chin to family friends. Hedaya’s character (presumably down to his family heritage) dresses in a very flamboyant Greek-like style, or maybe very Miami Beach-esque. I dunno really, being British I’m not too au fait with US west coast cultures, but that’s how it looks to me.

The entire movie mocks the entire wealthy west coast beachfront lifestyle. You know what I mean, everyone you see seemingly being beautiful. All the guys are ripped, all the women are blonde, the tans, muscles, gyms, perpetual sunshine etc…Then by night its all glitzy clubs where your name has to be on a list to get in, unless you’re famous and rich. The whole look and feel of it is actually really vomit inducing, so fake and materialistic. This is capitalised on by having a couple of sexy club sluts (gold-diggers) trying to get into the brothers pants after they’re seen with a super rich club owner (Chazz Palminteri).

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So I guess it felt totally natural that they stick in a has-been of the big and small screen, Richard Grieco. Now this guy totally encapsulated the entire image of this movie (obviously why they cast him). A relatively big star, slowly fading, now living life as a rich socialite. The girl on his arm is obviously there for the ride, he only gets into clubs because (at that time) he was rich and famous, and he’s now overweight with a fake looking face (makeup much!). It seems he’s in the movie for the purpose of showcasing the worst aspects of Hollywood and the glitzy lifestyle. The real question is was Grieco in on the joke?

That’s not to say this movie is totally unenjoyable, oh on, there are some good laughs to be had. Kattan (who has a face like Kermit the Frog) and Ferrell are both pretty amusing here. Apart from the obvious things like their hair and attire, the visual gags, slapstick and dialog are generally OK, it raises a giggle. Doug is the brains of the duo so to speak, whilst Steve is more the gentle doofus. Much like Jim Carrey, Kattan is good with his rubbery face and physical comedy. Where as a young Ferrell seems to be good at playing simple and vulnerable. I like how Hedaya’s character constantly scorns and mocks Doug and how he reaslise Steve is a moron, but obedient. Molly Shannon puts in the perfect performance as an overbearing bitch who is more interested in making money than enjoying life. She’s almost like executive dominatrix and gets her way by literally sucking Steve off. I didn’t see a problem with this relationship myself, I’m down!

Some bits I could even relate too. When Steve starts showing doubt about marrying Emily, Hedaya’s disciplinarian father figure calmly and firmly tells him, the caterer has already been paid for and his grandparents flew half way around the world just for this. In other words you’re marrying Emily because it would be seriously inconvenient and a waste of money not too. That is totally something my own mother would say I swear to God!

In general I can fully understand why this got slated upon release because its the epitome of a one trick pony padded out into a movie. There was never a need to make a movie out of the original sketch because the original sketch just worked so well. Nevertheless I can’t deny its a bit of a guilty pleasure flick for a lazy night in. Its one of those movies you can throw on again and again for a bit of a silly laugh. Either take a trip down memory lane back to the 90’s, or to cheer yourself up if you’re a bit down. The soundtrack is also, like the movie, a guilty pleasure boasting tracks you probably danced to back in the day (age depending of course). Yes its a brainless feature and essentially a collection of skits stuck together. But I believe the two leads are likeable enough to keep you entertained, and possibly come back for more.

6.5/10

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