For a good chunk of “Five Deadly Venoms,” it’s more John Grisham than Jackie Chan. There’s a long stretch in the middle that’s actually a legal thriller involving witness intimidation, false testimony, corrupt judges, phony confessions and finally the execution of an innocent man. It’s kind of like “A Few Good Men,” but if Tom Cruise got a needle pushed through his brain at the end. Continue reading
Shark Week may be over for this year, but there’s enough B-roll footage in “Shark Attack 3: Megalodon” to create at least one Discovery Channel special. Between these clips, actors talk at each other and sometimes take off their clothes when they’re not having their arms ripped off by shark puppets. This is one way to make a movie, I guess.
The movie stars John Barrowman as Ben, who is head of security for a Mexican resort on the ocean. A giant telecommunications company has stretched a fiber optic cable along the ocean bed, and one day Ben finds a shark tooth embedded in it. He can’t place the tooth, so he takes a picture of it and puts it on the Internet. A paleontologist named Cataline sees it and immediately heads south of the border. You see, the electrical impulses from the cable are stirring up the sharks in the water. One of those sharks is the prehistoric ancestor of the great white, megalodon. Continue reading
It must have been very easy and very difficult to make a science fiction movie in the late 70s. It was easy because after the success of “Star Wars,” studios were throwing money at anything with robots in it. But it was difficult because the genre was in a very weird place. Before “Star Wars,” big-budget sci-fi movies generally were thoughtful, philosophical works. But after “Star Wars,” the A-list sci-fi movie transformed into something more visceral. Movies with a message gave way to pure spectacle. “Logan’s Run” was pushed aside for “Flash Gordon.” “Saturn 3” tries to have it both ways. It wants to split the difference between “2001: A Space Odyssey” and “Alien.” That’s how we get a movie in which Harvey Keitel accidentally teaches a robot how to be horny. Continue reading
WARHAWK TANZANIA. Continue reading
If you’re a woman in a horror movie, yours is often a lonely existence. If you haven’t been hacked to pieces or eaten before the end of the movie, you’re probably the lone survivor of the killer’s rampage. Whether you climb into the back of a conveniently passing pickup truck, float out into the middle of the lake in a canoe or get saved at the last minute by Donald Pleasance, you’re the Final Girl. Your friends are all dead, and you have to make it through the last act of the movie all by yourself. Being a woman in a horror movie usually means you either become self-reliant, find a man to save you, or you die.
That’s a big part of the reason why I found “Patchwork” to be so refreshing, because it’s one of the rare horror movies I’ve seen where the focus is on the relationships between women. Even if it’s not entirely successful in that regard, it’s at least attempting something different. Rather than make its lead characters stronger by isolating them, “Patchwork” focuses on its women surviving by getting closer together. You literally can’t get any closer together than the women of “Patchwork” do, as a matter of fact. Continue reading
There’s a notion baked into our national identity, as American as apple pie, that America is here to stay. The thing I personally love most about our national anthem is that it manages to make the very idea of soldiering on in the face of defeat and humiliation a heroic act. Rather than being about a great military victory or the inherent superiority of our democratic republic, “The Star-Spangled Banner’s” triumphant moment comes when Francis Scott Key realizes that the flag simply is “still there.” Although that says a lot about our national ideals of perseverance, self-reliance and determination, there’s a dark inverse of that idea implied by the anthem. It’s the idea that America can be “still there” even after it’s been broken, battered beyond all recognition, and left to limp along in a pathetic, crippled state. It’s an idea that may have had an influence on the national mindset in the post-Vietnam era. And once they made a movie about it where Jay Leno’s mother kicked him in the balls. Continue reading
“Metamorphosis” is an Italian-made variation on the classic mad scientist tale of a brilliant man cursed by his own hubris to turn himself into a Halloween costume. Seemingly made with ample inspiration taken from David Cronenberg’s remake of “The Fly,” “Metamorphosis” ratchets up the mindless violence but tones down the tragedy. Unlike Jeff Goldblum’s doomed Seth Brundle, the main character of “Metamorphosis” only succeeds in making himself as physically ugly as he is spiritually. Continue reading