Monday, February 14, 2011
A former special forces agent would like nothing better than to live in his mountain cottage with his daughter and cut lumber, eat ice cream and feed wild deer. Sadly, a deposed foreign dictator wants him to assassinate a political rival and kidnaps the daughter. This does not go according to plan.
John Matrix: Arnold Schwarzenegger is our one-man killing machine who will shoot the population of a small country to get his daughter back.
Jenny Matrix: A REALLY young Alyssa Milano plays Matrix’s spunky, resourceful daughter who gets kidnapped by the bad guys. So yeah, she’s kind of just a plot device here.
Cindy: Rae Dawn Chong plays a flight attendant/stewardess who gets caught up in all of this madness when Matrix boosts her car (with her in it)
General Arius: Dan Hedaya is the deported dictator of a small island nation who wants Matrix to assassinate his replacement. This really doesn’t go according to plan. He’s got an army of mercenary goons, including Sully (David Patrick Kelly) and Cooke (Bill Duke) that provide little more than speed bumps for Matrix’s bloody revenge.
Bennett: Vernon Wells plays a former member of Matrix’s squad now working as Arius’ second in command. Bennet has…questionable taste in mercenary clothes (he wears a vest with what looks like a hammock sewed on) and a very…passionate desire to kill Matrix.
Directed by Mark L. Lester, the movie is a giant vehicle for action sequences. Ridiculous, over-the-top and thoroughly insane action sequences. It does them well.
Screenplay by Steven E. de Souza with story by Jeph Loeb, Matthew Weisman and Steven E. de Souza. The plot is goofy as all hell and the dialogue is chock full of Arnold one-liners, and for a movie like this, that is EXACTLY what is needed.
The original score by James Horner is full of 80’s era driving beats, but also a lot of steel drums. This is both weird and awesome at the same time (which can be said of the movie as a whole, actually).
Pleasures really don’t get much guiltier than Commando. If you want Arnold spouting one liners and single-handedly killing off the equivalent of a small island’s population, this is exactly the movie for you. Its not good cinema. It’s awesome cinema and should be watched alongside Swayze’s Road House.
Thursday, February 10, 2011
“They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. *That's* the *Chicago* way!”
Prohibition Chicago, a city effectively ruled by crime boss and bootlegger Al Capone (Robert De Niro). A young Federal Agent named Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner) arrives in town intent on enforcing the law and bringing Capone to justice. He has a rough time of it until he assembles a hand-picked team of not-dirty cops to help him out: Jim Malone (Sean Connery), Oscar Wallace (Charles Martin Smith) and George Stone (Andy Garcia). Together, they become known as The Untouchables (Dun dun dun) for their incorruptibility.
Directed by Brian De Palma, the movie is really well shot with excellent pacing and some really impressive action set pieces. About the only thing I really, really didn’t like was the shootout near the end, the famous “Odessa Steps” remake in the station. I know, I know, its an homage to one of the great scenes of the silent era and I can respect that, but here its such a gigantic shift from the rest of the movie that it felt a little, I hate to say it, out of place.
And if you feel like seeing just how many times said Odessa Steps sequence gets homaged/referenced: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yH1tO2D3LCI
Screenplay by David Mamet and “suggested by” the book “The Untouchables” by (the real) Eliot Ness and Oscar Fraley. Naturally the screenplay takes a lot of liberties with history (there were more than just four Untouchables, Capone’s lieutenant didn’t die like that, etc) but that doesn’t really bother me since 20th century history isn’t my area. The dialogue is sharp, the characters well defined, and the story keeps moving at a good pace.
Original music by Ennio Morricone, and the music is very, very good.
The Untouchables really surprised me. In the best possible way. The cast all do a solid to excellent job with their characters, the writing and plot are incredibly solid despite the liberties they take with history, and the visual feel of the movie is incredibly stylish and well done (with one exception that I mentioned above). Awesome movie though, and heartily recommended.
Tuesday, February 08, 2011
The Three Amigos are Lucky Day (Steve Martin), Dusty Bottoms (Chevy Chase) and Ned Nederlander (Martin Short), three big time actors in Hollywood who get a little too big for their pay scale and get fired for demanding too much from their cranky boss (Joe Mantegna and Jon Lovitz & Phil Hartman as his henchmen). Unknown to them, a lovely woman from Santa Poco, Mexico named Carmen (Patrice Martinez) has seen one of their films and thinks they’re real gunfighters. She writes them and invites them to drive off a bandit that’s been terrorizing Santa Poco, and they comply, thinking it’s a paying gig. That soon changes when they run into the murderous El Guapo (Alfonso Arau), his sidekick Jefe (Tony Plana) and their gang.
Directed by John Landis, the movie is both solidly shot and brings a lot of sight gags to the table, both of which are very important to comedy. Of note is the fake Three Amigos movie shown at the beginning, which is shot just like an old silent short.
Written by Steve Martin, Lorne Michaels & Randy Newman. The beginning is a little slow and a few early jokes miss the mark, but when the movie gets up and running, its great. Martin, Chase and Short are all funny (as expected), but some of the funniest scenes in the movie come from El Guapo’s exchanges with Jefe.
Original music by Elmer Bernstein and “The Ballad of the Three Amigos” written by Randy Newman (who was also the voice of the Singing Bush). With that kind of pedigree, you better believe the music is excellent.
Yet another movie in the pile of films that Kes loves unabashedly. Three Amigos! makes up for what it lacks in originality (let’s face it, it owes everything to The Magnificent Seven) with bizarre, tongue-in-cheek hilarity.