Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Down to the Nitty Gritty with TRUE GRIT

Is it just me, or are westerns on the way to being the new vampire?

This is Bennett, taking a break from kidnapping John Matrix's daughter.

I never really cared for westerns; thought they were, generally, slow, boring, and cheesy. John Wayne's characters, despite their iconic place in Hollywood history, never struck me as authentic or interesting. But recently I've had a change of heart, thanks in no small part to Garth Ennis's fantastic comic series, Preacher. Ennis's take on the spaghetti western and its themes of manhood, honor, and love has sparked in me an interest in the genre that's steadily grown over the past few years. The Coen Brother's last foray into the genre, No Country for Old Men pretty much branded me an avowed fan of the western. I even went out and read the book by Cormac McCarthy and loved it.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Bennett has One Question for Robin Hood: Why?

Ah, pining for Kevin Costner. Who'da thunk it?

This is Bennett, taking a break from kidnapping John Matrix's daughter.

Caught Robin Hood a while back with Hombre Lobo for six bucks at a pre-11 a.m. viewing at Tysons Corner. I'm gonna be honest. I hate Russell Crowe. Now, before you scream about how awesome Master and Commander is, or how badass he is in Gladiator, or how you rooted for him in Cinderella Man, I honestly have to say that I don't particularly love any of those movies. I don't . I don't know why, but it may have something to do with my intense, illogical hatred for Russell Crowe.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Captain America Costume Pics!


Pics are up at of the Captain America costume. My first reaction is:

Wow. This looks pretty good. I'd prefer the classic chain-mail-type look with the scales, but whatever. I'm still not on board with Chris Evans. But this looks good. I'm more than willing to keep my mind open on this though.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Big Ups to My Sister MAI-LINH HONG and Her New Husband BRIAN UTTER!!

Hey look, it's a baby. What a coincidence that I'd find a picture of a baby when I googled images for a goat. No pressure, guys. None at all.

Memorial Day. A day for thankin' the troops, sunburn, barbecue, and haulin' ass in an eighteen-wheeler.

And memories, right?

Well, on May 29th and 30th my big sis Mai-Linh and her fiance Brian tied the knot! The Vietnamese ceremony was held at our parent's home, and the 'traditional' wedding at a goat farm in Luray, Virginia.

My favorite memory of the weekend was after the second wedding, when some of Mai-Linh's friends from childhood and college and I sat around the living room of the ranch which housed us for the weekend , and a tired, smiling Mai-Linh bustled through in search of her friend Debbie who performed the ceremony. Apparently she and Brian weren't sure if they filled out the marriage certificate properly. A long, drawn-out conversation ensued in which nobody could determine if Mai-Linh and Brian were legally married. Mai-Linh's childhood friend Robin (who sang beatifully during the ceremony, by the way) remarked, ever so poetically, and romantically: "Only in a room full of lawyers could we not figure out if they are legally married!"

I love you guys!

Friday, May 28, 2010

My Life, According to Daniel LaRusso

Ask about my Karate Kid 5 screenplay, tentatively titled: Karate Kid 5: The Search for Vengeance, in which LaRusso, now an older, grizzled, retired CIA agent must be reenlisted by the Company in order to infiltrate a South American fighting tournament funded by the drug cartels under the control of a powerful Yakuza mobster--the same man who was responsible for Mr. Miyagi's murder.

Fight ‘til the end
Cause your life will depend
On the strength that you have inside you

-Joe Esposito, You're the Best


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Quick Thoughts: THE HURT LOCKER


Saw The Hurt Locker for the first time the other day. Can’t say that I’m that impressed. I’ve heard people say that this is a superior film to Black Hawk Down. I can’t say that I agree in any respect. This is an implausible film, firstly. In what world would a hotshot risk-taker be allowed to lead a team of bomb techs? I think the portrayal of the soldiers was pretty good, and the characters were interesting, but to say that this is an accurate view of a bomb unit’s job is kind of misleading. It’s not, from what I understand. Compared to the other films nominated for the Best Picture Academy Award, I’d have to say that Hollywood really screwed the pooch on this one. Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire is a far superior film in terms of characters, content, accuracy, story arc, tension, and its ability to draw in the viewer.

Jack Burton Scoffs at MacGruber's Attempts to Rejoin the 80s!

A removable radio and a Miata. How could this not work?

This is Jack Burton in the Pork Chop Express, and I'm talkin' to whoever's listenin' out there.

The commercials looked funny. Copious amounts of toilet humor were promised. The casting looked solid. The concept is, well, awesome. But somewhere, somehow, inexplicably, MacGruber fell apart. And it breaks my heart to say so, because this may very well have been my most anticipated film of the year’s remaining crop.

Who doesn’t remember MacGyver with some level of fondness? From the mullet-sporting Richard Dean Anderson to his irrational use of household items to stop bombs and escape from vaults, the show was, well, kind of awesome. But 80s-awesome, not regular-awesome. So when the news that the Saturday Night Live parody, MacGruber, was advertised, I was right on board. But I really should have thought it through. The skit simply doesn’t have enough in it to work in a longer format, and this movie really shows it.

But even so, the story and plot should have been enough. MacGruber, a super-seasoned veteran who is thought to be dead for the past ten years, is brought back into the fold by his old colonel in order to track down his nemesis, Dieter Von Cunth. Between the poor delivery of poorly-written one-liners, and the incredibly unfunny toilet humor, there are flashes of genuinely funny moments. The incredibly cringe-inducing sex scenes will make you laugh and stick with you but they run a little too long. MacGruber begging for another chance is hilarious. But other than that, as a parody for the 80s action film, it just isn’t working.

Take for instance Hot Shots and Hot Shots: Part Deux. These are genuinely funny parodies. And they work because they don’t overload the viewer with gags that are toilet-based or run too long or that don’t add to the movie itself. You care about the characters, the storyline is solid, and the scenes are—for that time anyway—original. MacGruber, however, drags at points and the humor just isn’t original or funny. The film makers are going for more shock-and-awe than really allowing the film room to breathe and the characters to be their funny selves.

What’s more is that the characters in MacGruber aren’t particularly likable. They’re kind of boring, and annoying, and you don’t really get any sense of attachment. There’s no depth to anyone, no matter how hard the film makers try to add it with a long and convoluted back story. There’s also a scene in which Macgruber reassembles a team of heroes. But that lasts for about a minute. What was the purpose of that scene? Did it really add that much? It didn’t have any weight, didn’t get us hyped for the rest of the film, nothing. Like the rest of the film, it was such a wasted opportunity.

The performances were nothing to write home about either. Ryan Phillipe mailed this sucker in, and he can usually pull off funny (see Cruel Intentions). Kristen Wiig doesn’t really spark my interest until she reverts to her super-nice, super-cheerleader line delivery from SNL at the end. And Will Forte. Will, Will, Will. What to do with you? Stick with the side characters. You don’t have the presence to carry a film.

Anyway, I’ve gone on way too long about this and haven’t really said much. But skip this. It’s not worth it. I have a Robin Hood review coming up and I’m catching Prince of Persia later tonight. Till next time, Pork Chop Express is signing off.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

My Life, According to Rocky

Timeless words and a timeless man.


There's no easy way out,
There's no shortcut home.
There's no easy way out,
Givin' in, givin' in, can't be wrong.

- Survivor, No Easy Way Out


Monday, May 24, 2010

Jack Burton Wishes They'd Iron Out the Flaws in IRON MAN 2

Like Favreau himself, this film needs to lose the fat and get some action in its life.

This is Jack Burton in the Pork Chop Express, and I'm talkin' to whoever's listenin' out there.

Caught Iron Man 2 recently. I guess it’s the “official” kick off to the summer blockbuster season. And to build on that football metaphor: the receiving team took it all the way to their opponent’s ten-yard line. Where they fumbled. And the kicking team recovered the ball.

So what does that mean? I have no idea. I think that it’s not good for the movies though. Whole lot of spectacle, not a lot of scoring. Okay. I’m going to go ahead and drop the football shenanigans.

Anyway. So Jon Favreau, of he-who-must-cast-himself-in-every-single-movie-he-directs fame, returns to helm the lackluster, slow, plodding, and oftentimes boring Iron Man 2. Sure, we get more eye candy in Scarlett “How Do You Spell That?” Johansson in the ultra-cool and ultra-tight Black Widow outfit. But it’s really not enough. And after her last foray in comic book filmdom, the justifiably-maligned Frank Miller ego-trip, The Spirit, you’d think she would just lay back and kind of do the movies she’s good at. Like Lost in Translation or Ghost World or whatever she’s famous for. I really can’t remember.

It’s not that she’s bad in this movie, it’s just that, well, there’s not much for her to do. And not much for anyone to do. The movie kind of rehashes whatever you thought was cool about the supremely superior first Iron Man. There are suits, there’s Robert Downey Jr. as the narcissistic and entertaining Tony Stark/Iron Man, and there are cool special effects. But nothing really works together. We get more of Tony Stark, but he comes across as more annoying than cool. He’s hiding a secret from his “loved ones,” and more than anything, I caught myself wondering: why isn’t he just being straight with everyone? Why not just admit it? And I think that this stems from a serious flaw in how his character is translated in the script and in the performance.

The main flaws in this incredibly-flawed film are in the lack of overall tension. Nothing seems to be drawing the viewer in during the hour-or-so between the beginning and end. Mickey Rourke’s version of Whiplash is rather hokey, Tony Stark is annoying, Don Cheadle kind of fades into the background, Gwyneth “I named my child after a fruit” Paltrow is kind of interesting, but at the end of the day she doesn’t seem authentic in her role as a personal assistant/love interest-turned-CEO. The big bright spot of the film rests squarely on Sam Rockwell’s shoulders. As Justin Hammer, Rockwell has his charm on full blast. He’s funny, he’s satirical, he’s absolutely awesome. So there is that, at least.

But there’s too little action in what should be an action-packed film. There’s too much melodrama that isn’t handled well—at all. Nobody is interested in the issues brought up, and they’re not handled with any depth or weight by Favreau anyway. While the film has some enjoyable parts, I’d say skip this unless you could see it at a reduced rate. What’s the point in IMAX, too? The climactic battle is a bore.

I think I’d rather rewatch the first Iron Man on mute and add my own dialogue a la Mystery Science Theater 3000. Until next time, Pork Chop Express is signing off.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Jack Burton Runs Screaming from NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET

Katie Cassidy: the only reason to watch this monstrosity.

This is Jack Burton in the Pork Chop Express, and I'm talkin' to whoever's listenin' out there.

In the remake/sequel/prequel machine that Hollywood has become, there exist a few great films. Dawn of the Dead comes to mind readily. The Hills Have Eyes is a fantastic trip through parody and satire. What will never, ever come to mind is the latest in a long line of failures: A Nightmare on Elm Street.

Now, full disclosure: I was never a big fan of the Freddy franchise. I just didn't get a chance to watch them when I was a child so I guess they never left an imprint on me. When I finally watched some of those films, well, predictably, the magic wasn't there. They came across as cheesy, silly, and not very suspenseful. And this remake is exactly the same.

The remake is very much like the original: a dream entity (Freddy) is killing the children of the people who killed him in life. The only thing new that's been brought to the table is that the would-be victims may or may not have actually been molested by Freddy as children; but they did definitely claim that he molested them. The parents believed the child victims and hunted Freddy down. And for a short while, the audience is given an interesting little nugget on which to chew: what if those kids caused that man's death, and what if his desire for revenge was, well, kind of warranted? It's a nice twist and it plays out okay to the end. But other than that, well, skip this thing. It's kind of boring. The kills aren't particularly interesting, and really, Katie Cassidy's hotness (as evidenced above) is too short-lived.

There is, however, an excellent scene in which the protagonist, Nancy, is backing away in an aisle of a pharmacy while she blinks in and out of a dream state. Pretty nifty stuff there. I just wish it would have been expanded and built up. As it is, this film misses in so many ways; the characters aren't particularly likable. Freddy is so one-dimensional that you can't even root for him, which is odd, considering Jackie Earl Haley is pretty good at these types of characters. It may be the makeup that's screwing with it. I don't know. Any of the interesting stories, such as a boyfriend being framed by Freddy for killing his girlfriend, are tied up a little too quickly. The tension just isn't there.

So skip this and count yourself lucky. Till next time, Pork Chop Express is signing off.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Jack Burton Doesn't Lose it for THE LOSERS

Wow. How far you've come, Ms. Saldana.

This is Jack Burton in the Pork Chop Express, and I'm talkin' to whoever's listenin' out there.

Well. Time to review The Losers, one of the countless comic book adaptations out there. There's nothing really wrong with this movie--not anything I can really pinpoint, anyway. It's all just sort of generic. Which is striking, considering its comic book origins.

It actually works well as a cheesy-80s-action romp: brainless and fun in the vein of Commando or Predator or the billions of others just like them. The characters are relatively fun, easily identifiable, Zoe Saldana is, once again, beautiful, Chris Evans does douchey and hilarious as well as Chris Klein from Just Friends, and through it all, we get a solid, easy-to-follow, action-packed story.

But it doesn't push the boundaries of action films, nor does it try anything new. If you saw this, there is no way in hell you'd think this was based on a comic book. That's not a swipe at films such as Road to Perdition, History of Violence or anything--lord knows I'm a proponent of comics as literature--but The Losers is none of that. It isn't literary, or serious, or anything. It's just generic. And I wonder if the comic is also this generic. What was it that made the comic enjoyable enough for a movie studio to option? Whatever it was seems to have been lost or at the least horribly translated. Because this thing is forgettable.

That's not to say that it doesn't have its cool moments. Like I mentioned, Chris Evans is a fun character. The action gets your heart pumping a little faster. There are some genuine laughs, too, like Evans being a Journey-singing delivery boy. But it's not enough to stick with you. And that's this movie's flaw.

Oh no, I lied. There's another flaw. A major one. And it goes by the name of Jason Patric, the "bad guy." Wow. If there was an award for "Most Annoying Bad Dude Ever," Patric should definitely be in the running. His performance invoked little tension and fewer laughs. Was he hamming it up on purpose? It seemed that way. But his hijinks missed so often I really couldn't tell. He was by no means a proper villain. Not in the least. He struck absolutely no fear in anyone's heart. Horrible casting.

Anyway, I'd watch this again on TV if it was free, but I wouldn't purchase or rent it. Till next time, Pork Chop Express is signing off.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Jack Burton Returns from Sabbatical to KICK some ASS

Actual screen shot.

This is Jack Burton in the Pork Chop Express, and I'm talkin' to whoever's listenin' out there.

Yeah, it's been a while. Can't say that I missed you. I'm going to post a bunch of short reviews, starting with Kick-Ass, perhaps the GREATEST COMIC BOOK MOVIE EVER. Obviously I won't give it the attention it deserves. But I beg you: GO SEE THIS MOVIE. And since it's been out for over a month now, I assume there aren't many places to go see it if you haven't already. So travel. Travel to the ends of the earth, or at least your state. Whatever you need to do, do it. To see this movie. This masterpiece of comic film.

The gags and jokes fly at you fast and never feel stale or old. Everything has a distinct edge of freshness, including the ultra-violent moments involving Hit-Girl. Yes, there has been much made about a prepubescent girl cursing like a sailor and killing people like a video game character, but really, who cares? I'm not going to engage in this moral debate because, frankly, movies like The Professional and Taxi Driver make use of little girls in much more explicit and jarring manners than Kick-Ass.

Anyway, the premise is simple: kid likes comics. Kid wants to be a superhero. Hijinks ensue. With such a simple conceit, I worried that the film would devolve into mediocre gags and predictability. The key is that the film respects itself and its source material. It makes no qualms about what it is (a parody of comic films), but sets out to do a damn fine job telling its story and lets everything else take care of itself. And it works. My god, it works.

Go see it. Go buy it. I'll be adding this to my blu-ray collection.

I can't remember the cost. Perhaps my morality? Until next time, Pork Chop Express is signing off!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Jack Burton is Training His Dragon!

No, not these assholes.

This is Jack Burton in the Pork Chop Express, and I'm talkin' to whoever's listenin' out there.

Every few years or so, there comes a film that includes such a remarkable scene that it literally impacts the world around us. In 1992, everyone wanted a magic carpet ride. Five years later, everyone wanted to be king of the world. Then everyone wanted a hippogriff in 2004. Now, dragons. How to Train Your Dragon 3-D includes such an amazing scene of flight that--despite it being an animated feature--you feel a huge sense of exhilaration, vertigo, and yes, even romance. It can't help being compared to the magic carpet ride from Aladdin, and it more than holds its own. Well, the entire movie is kind of like that. It's absolutely fantastic, a thrilling film with plenty of heart, pitch-perfect comedic timing, and charm enough to make even the most grizzled, behind-his-quota movie cynic wish, at least for a moment, for a dragon.

Hiccup (Jay Baruchel of this one of the few other films I enjoyed this year, She's Out of His League) spends his days working and daydreaming against what appears to be his predisposition to being a viking washout. It's a tentative issue, considering his father (Gerard Butler) is the viking head honcho, a warrior of legendary status, while Hiccup can barely lift a sword. But the kid's got heart, as he must in these films. He yearns to be accepted into viking life, and to earn his place in society. But when Hiccup manages to capture an elusive dragon that's never been seen or studied by the vikings, he discovers mercy in himself and ultimately friendship in the dragon. The dragon's been injured and Hiccup must create a prosthetic piece to go on the dragon's tail in order for them to fly. Along the way, Hiccup is put in training to fight dragons with a group of other viking teens. He has a crush on one of them, Astrid, a rough, picture-perfect viking teen. As Hiccup trains with his dragon, he learns their species' foibles and use them against the dragons he trains with, thus elevating his status among the trainees.

The trainees with whom Hiccup works are an incredibly well sorted bunch. My favorite was Fishlegs Ingerman, the fat, dorky viking (Christopher Mintz-Plasse... "McLovin") who possessed an encyclopedic knowledge of dragons and spouted out traits of each in the form of Dungeons and Dragons verbiage.

So the only downside? Well, the love story kind of develops out of nowhere, and in a superficial way. I didn't really dig that. I wanted more there. But it's a children's story. It shouldn't make you hesitate in the least.

It's a heartwarming story of acceptance in yourself, from your parents, finding love, and finding friendship. Obviously these are all themes that resonate and echo through the best of children's films, but How to Train Your Dragon really juggled these themes well. Combined with the excellent CGI, I really can't say anything more except: if you haven't seen this, go see it.

Cost Breakdown:

16.00 for a ticket
4.00 gas

20.00? I'm willing to pay full price for this on blu-ray. So yes, go. Go now. This actually topped Shutter Island as my favorite film of the year... but my Kick-Ass review is coming... how did the kid in green do? Till next time, Pork Chop Express is signing off.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Clash of the Titans Sucks.

And it started out as such a good day.

This is Jack Burton in the Pork Chop Express, and I'm talkin' to whoever's listenin' out there.

Caught the 10.45pm Clash of the Titans 3-D viewing with Hombre Lobo, Home Theater Hans, and a few other friends on Thursday evening. I'm not sure if it's my worsening eyesight or what, but this was perhaps the worst viewing experience I've ever had at a movie theater. No lie. It was absolutely unwatchable.

First of all, they showed the movie in one of the smaller theaters. For 3-D. What? And they charged 16.00. Are you fucking kidding me? The lighting in the film was already dark and "busy"--add to that the dark ass 3-D glasses and guess what? You can't see shit. This is one of the few times I wished I was in the first fucking row. Absolutely unwatchable. I found myself watching the film without the 3-D glasses, for god's sake.

And the trailers looked so promising. Alas, Sam Worthington phones in yet another performance. I really don't see the appeal in this black hole of screen presence. No charisma, no acting chops, and a generic, forgettable look. I actually preferred him in Avatar than in this mess. Louis Leterrier, the director of the Incredible Hulk (the Ed Norton one, aka the good one), helmed this affront to humanity so I guess a lot of the blame falls on him. It's weird. He was the only reason I thought this film would be any good. I really loved the Incredible Hulk and thought that Clash would be the exact kind of film that Leterrier could handle flawlessly. But no. It's uneven, the themes are not resonant, the tension isn't set up properly, and the film is fucking boring. Boring.

How can a film with huge scorpions, Medusa, Pegasuses, a city-devouring Kraken, a badass villain (Hades), and people made of bark (like on the trees) be boring? Fuck if I know. Right off the bat, the film sets up some conflict between humanity and the Olympian gods. But it's not fleshed out. We have no idea why people give two shits whether they should pray to the gods or not. Apparently the gods are such dicks that the people are rebelling against them. But we never see them be dicks. No, instead we get boring ass narration about how Zeus loves the people and he's too nice to them. Jesus fucking Christ, is it too much to ask to show us why the people reject the gods? And on top of that, the filmmakers dig themselves deeper with some theme of humans espousing the pride they find in being human. Being "a man" and all that shit. Give me a break. Throughout the movie, Perseus (Worthington) goes on about how he can complete the quest "as a man" because he rejects his demi-god status. Cue eye rolls and walkouts.

And so Argos, a rebelling city, is being threatened by the Kraken, a huge octupus/orc-like thing that eats cities and is controlled by the manipulative Hades. Perseus sets out with a band of city guards to hunt down Medusa and bring her head back so they can use it to turn the Kraken to stone. Simple enough, but boring nonetheless.

Anyway, so the tension is fucked 'cause we don't particularly hate the gods so we're not on Perseus' side, really. And lord knows Worthington doesn't have the charisma to make us like him for the sake of liking him. He's just blundering through as he always does, though I guess if I was a fan, I'd call his acting style "understated." His companions are utterly useless. The leader of their quest, Draco (Mads Mikkelsen) seems to have some interesting personality traits, but they're buried under the uneven handling of the film. He goes from asshole to grudging, Yoda-esque figure to "oh I'll die for you, Perseus!" a little too quickly and frankly he's not given much to work with. The shining point in this film is, naturally, Ralph Fiennes' Hades. Yes, Mr. Voldemort himself. Fiennes is putting together quite a list of iconic characters. I loved his take on Hades. He was creepy, dignified, and a complete badass. After learning how Zeus tricked Hades into becoming lord of the underworld after their rebellion against the Titans, I found myself rooting for him, Hades. I wanted him to wipe Argos off the face of the earth and take Zeus down off his high throne.

And that's apparently not what I should want, because it didn't happen. Maybe the film's a tragedy. Either way, this film, while epic in scope, didn't deliver. The special effects were by turns excellent and shitty. Medusa looked like something a first year college student created. The 3-D was a waste of time because the film wasn't filmed in 3-D. Word to the wise, my friends: Don't bother watching any 3-D movie that wasn't filmed in 3-D.

16.00 fucking dollars. How the fuck does this thing rate as a 16.00 dollar movie? Pretty low. Pretty low indeed.

Cost Breakdown:

0.00 on a ticket. Home Theater Hans paid and I haven't paid him back yet... sucker!
4.00 on gas

So. 4.00 dollars. I want a fucking refund.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Jack Burton Relaxes in the HOT TUB TIME MACHINE

Sometimes you make amazing films. Sometimes you make 2012.

This is Jack Burton in the Pork Chop Express, and I'm talkin' to whoever's listenin' out there.

Full disclosure: I love John Cusack. And I don't mean it in the way that I love puppies, or fat, lazy newborns, or bad Chinese food. I mean I respect him and his work. It's not easy making as many iconic 80s films as he did and coming out relatively unscathed (Neve Campbell aside). Also, I really like wearing my white tank top. It shows off my pecs and biceps particularly well.

Well, back to the topic at hand. I caught Hot Tub Time Machine with Hombre Lobo and my cousin a couple days ago. Did I go in expecting the world? Yes. Did it deliver? Yes. That's right, ladies and gentlemen. The world. And everything in it. Now, you might disagree with me. Might. But let's be real: what could this film possibly offer that would top the premise, the style, and the hijinks that the trailer offers? Nothing. Everything's laid out for you. You have to be absolutely incompetent not to figure out what this film is all about. And it hits every note.

So for the sake of the status quo: John Cusack plays John Cusack, a relatively nice guy who's fallen out of touch with his two best friends: the black dude from The Office, that bald guy that was on The Daily Show and a few episodes of the incredibly unappreciated Arrested Development. So along with Cusack's nephew, that fat kid who's boinking that super hot best friend chick (who looks exactly like porn star Jessica Jaymes) with whom he acted in Sex Drive, they revisit the ski resort paradise of their youth. Yes. It's a fucking skiing movie. I can only shake my head at the sheer brilliance of this. And I am being completely serious.

They arrive at the town to realize that it's gone through some seriously shitty times and end up in their suite's hot tub, drinking their brains out. As the trailers indicate, they end up back in time, reliving Winterfest '86, a weekend of debauchery and awesomeness. There are the must-haves for any 80s film: the douche bag ski instructors, commie hatred, a music/dance number, a concert by Poison, and legwarmers. Watching this film unfold felt like coming home to mom, only to find mom no longer there, but replaced with that hot best friend chick from Sex Drive.

So mix in some Back to the Future conflict, some Terminator logic, some seriously hilarious scenes from the bunch, and you have one of the finest comedies I've seen in years. It's irreverent, charming, and absolutely fun to sit through. Are there moments that don't hit? Of course. Every comedy has it. Does it kind of lack a heart (a la Forty Year Old Virgin)? Yes. Absolutely. But it's not here for heart. It's here to send up and pay homage to the great 80s films that we saw or were relegated to late night viewings on the USA network in the early 90s.

But what saves it then? Rob Corddry. He steals every single scene he's in, be they getting his ass kicked by douche bags or convincing John Cusack's nephew to participate in a threesome with him and a random hot chick. By the time you see the black dude from The Office curse out a nine-year old version of his wife over the phone, you're pretty much nodding to yourself and thinking, "Y'know, this is going in my collection."

Cost Breakdown:

21.50 for a ticket, a chili cheese dog, and a large soda.

Yes. Yes. And yes again. Go see this! I could have bought the blu-ray for the price. And I still have the chance. Till next time, Pork Chop Express is signing off.

Friday, April 2, 2010

She's Out of This Year's Crop of Movies' League!

This doesn't happen in real life.

This is Jack Burton in the Pork Chop Express, and I'm talkin' to whoever's listenin' out there.

Well, the year is looking a little more promising. I'm just dropping in after a horrible viewing of Clash of the Titans with a few words about the under-appreciated She's Out of My League which I caught a little while back with Hombre Lobo. Right off the bat, it's formulaic, it's obvious, it's predictable. And it's got some damn funny moments. Are any of them really original? No, not at all. From ball-shaving to premature ejaculation, you really feel like this is little more than a retread of the American Pie films. The good ones, I mean.

The story is simple enough: lovable loser, Kirk (Jay Baruchel), finds himself being wooed by the incredibly gorgeous, down-to-earth, intelligent, funny, charming Molly (Alice Eve). Along the way of their not-so-common courtship, we meet his best friends, his ex-girlfriend who has become closer to his immediate family than he, Molly's ex-boyfriend (who is, of course, awesome), and a few choice scenes with her best friend and family are thrown in. Well, we all know how this works out, right? Kirk suffers from low self esteem which (of course) sabotages their relationship at a critical moment and then they have be brought back together for the final, happy ending. Cool. We all know what we're getting, and dammit, I like these endings, so I don't really mark down for predictability.

But why watch it? Because there are some genuinely funny moments, all of which center on Kirk's friends. They're the real stars of the show. They're the characters that effect the most change, that really grab the viewers. And I don't know if that's intentional--maybe it's a side effect of the incredible charisma the underrated T.J. Miller, who plays Kirk's best friend Stainer, possesses. The story is just as much about the people surrounding a relationship and how they negatively or positively impact said relationship. So it's not really a surprise when the climax feels more about the friends "getting it" than anything to do with the main characters. And I liked that.

Cost Breakdown:

10.50 on a ticket.

4.00 on gas

14.50? Not bad. I'll probably buy it on blu-ray. Until next time, Pork Chop Express is signing off!

I'll be posting reviews of Hot Tub Time Machine and Clash of the Titans soon!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Comparison to the Book: The Lightning Thief

Better than the movie.

Rick Riordan's 2005 book, The Lightning Thief, is at times uneven, fun, hip, and a ripoff of Harry Potter. What irks me the most, when compared to the movie, is that the movie version of The Lightning Thief absolutely skips the best parts and changes the film to little more than a road trip movie. Now, if you remember, I enjoyed the movie, declaring it a triumph of the human spirit. That's paraphrased from the direct quote: "easy-to-digest." Anyway.

So we miss out on the entire introduction of Kronos, the "true" villain that never gets introduced AT ALL in the movie. Uh. What? Christopher Columbus, the director of the film, and company boiled down the plot to... a kid that's pissed off at daddy? Really? And then we miss out on the entire introduction of Ares in the movie. What? These are major issues in the book.

It seems that while Columbus arguably paid too close attention to making the Harry Potter films (Sorcerer's Stone and Chamber of Secrets)accurate to the source material, he didn't feel as inclined with The Lightning Thief. And that's a pity because the book is, at times, a real joy to read. The pacing is incredibly fast, the characters are fun, and the portrayal of the Greek mythological characters fantastic. It really boggles my mind as to why they cut out so much from the book. In fact, they added things to the movie that, really, didn't need to be there, such as a fight with a hydra (which happens in the second book), and Persephone and Hades are completely changed. While I loved the latter two's portrayal in the movie, it just kind of worries me that they film makers are building a series of movies on a series of books, and changing so much right from the start.

If you have any inclination to read the book, I suggest you do so--after watching the movie. Otherwise, you might get your hopes up and be disappointed. As it is, I can't help but wonder what if.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Edge of Darkness keeps you on the edge of your seat--to leave.

What Women Want.

This is Jack Burton in the Pork Chop Express, and I'm talkin' to whoever's listenin' out there.

Caught Edge of Darkness a couple weeks ago with Hombre Lobo. Thanks to a car accident and the subsequent rubbernecking on the highway, I missed the first fifteen minutes or so. I don’t think those vital minutes would have saved this movie, but maybe I’m wrong.

Anyway, Mel Gibson is Thomas Craven, a Boston police detective whose daughter, Emma, is killed in a drive-by shooting at Craven’s house. The initial suspicion is that someone was targeting Thomas, and his daughter was collateral damage. As the movie unfolds, we learn that Emma as working for Northmoor, a company who makes weapons for the government, so it becomes clear that Emma was the target all along because she found out too much.

Not interested in that plot? Yeah, neither was I. Gibson’s career really seems to have fallen off the map with this forgettable piece of crap. I really don’t know what else to say about it. The fact that the film is titled Edge of Darkness implies that there are themes of, well, darkness, right? That perhaps there's a conflict or confrontation of humanity and its dark side? Nope. The themes come across as merely silly political intrigue and Gibson just doesn't seem to want to show his darker inner workings that we all know exist. I mean give the guy a shot of whiskey and start talking Judaism or something. Cuz Gibson hasn't had a particularly clear "good guy" image for years now. And don't get me wrong--while I'm not clamoring for antisemitism, I am looking for the darkness that the film is supposed to express.

The twists and turns are awfully simple, and the head of Northmoor, Jack Bennett (Danny Huston) is remarkably blasé (though he has a great name). He shifts from sleazy to cowardly to maniacally stupid with ease. The only shining point is “consultant/hitman/cleaner” Jedburgh, played by Ray Winstone (of the Departed and Sexy Beast fame. He’s by turns sympathetic, brutal, cold hearted, and pretty nice. He does a remarkable job with understating a character whose very nature is anything but.

Other than that, burn this piece of crap.

Cost Breakdown:

11.25 on a ticket
5.00 on gas

16.25. Just shoot me now. Till next time, Pork Chop Express is signing off!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

2007's Dead Silence? Dead Stupid.

I'd hit it.

This is Jack Burton in the Pork Chop Express, and I'm talkin' to whoever's listenin' out there.

Rewound to a few years and caught the 2007 film, Dead Silence after rave reviews from several friends. Now, I’m a horror fan. I enjoy getting scared. I enjoy creepy. I like the jumps, the goosebumps, whatever. And best of all, it doesn’t take much to scare me. Maybe Dead Silence is one of those films you’ve gotta watch with others, or in the theater. I don’t know. All’s I know is that this is one bad film. And I don’t mean Michael Jackson in the 80s bad, I mean Michael Jackson in a daycare bad.

I’ll keep this short since the film’s been out for several years. In short: what the fuck? Dead Silence is an amalgam of stupid plot holes, silly goings-on, and just head-scratching developments. Ever watch a film and the people around you are screaming at the screen, wondering why the fuck the protagonist is doing certain things? Yeah that was me when I watched Dead Silence. I don’t suppose this should be a surprise, considering the film comes from the minds of the idiots that brought you the Saw franchise, another unbelievable, plot hole-ridden waste of film.

The story’s simple, the twist even stupider. Jamie receives a ventriloquist doll in the mail, his wife is brutally killed, and the investigation focuses on Jamie (naturally). Okay, I’m on board. He searches the box in which the doll arrived, finds out that it came from his hometown. Then, inexplicably, he thinks his estranged father has some information for him. He doesn’t. Well, with the help of Henry, the local undertaker, Jamie discovers that the spirit of Mary Shaw has cursed his family and is hunting each member and their spouses down and killing them, ripping out their tongues in the process. And the only way to not die is to not scream when she’s about to not kill you.

As the story progressed, I found myself wondering when the fuck it would just end. The twist ending was simple and pretty much any idiot can figure it out if they think about it for a second. Why would the film introduce such useless characters as Jamie’s father and the new, young step-mother if they weren’t going to play a larger role by the end? Duh.

Visually, Mary Shaw is a scary looking babe. (See photo above). I don’t think I’d be too pleased to have my tongue ripped out by her. But is she iconic? No. The filmmakers make stupid films that actually seem to talk down to their audience. They don’t seem to make any sense. For instance, the theater where Mary Shaw lived in life is now flooded and surrounded by a moat and abandoned. Cool. But who the fuck thought to put rowboats in there? And to leave them there? And once inside, it seems like nobody’s been there to vandalize, screw around, live, squat, or whatever. Yeah, right. A potentially haunted, creepy-ass building, and nobody’s been in there, even though it’s easily accessed with conveniently-placed rowboats. And it’s apparently so remote that none of Mary Shaw’s things have been touched since her death decades ago.

Cue eye rolls. Skip film. That is all. Till next time, Pork Chop Express is signing off.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Chris Evans is... CAPTAIN AMERICA? (if he wants to be)

Someone who perhaps exemplifies America better than Chris Evans.

Hollywood Reporter is reporting that Chris Evans has been offered the role of Captain America.

HR writes:

Sources tell us the actor, who once donned superhero garb in two "Fantastic Four" movies, has been offered the role of Captain America.

Marvel has not confirmed the development and CAA, which reps the actor, declined to comment.

While I really like Chris Evans, I'm not sure I agree with this possible casting choice. One, he has an air of youthfulness that really doesn't strike me as being mature enough for such a role. Two, he was already in the train wreck that was Fantastic Four. True, he was the best part--but still. There has to be someone else out there with a more mature screen presence.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Brooklyn's Finest? Not Hardly.

Who DIDN'T think this was well deserved?

This is Jack Burton in the Pork Chop Express, and I'm talkin' to whoever's listenin' out there.

I caught Brooklyn’s Finest last weekend in what turned out to be a huge waste of time. Antoine Fuqua, the director of the highly overrated Denzel-a-thon piece of crap, Training Day, has come back with what is supposed to be the spiritual sequel to the aforementioned film. Now, forgive me all you Denzel lovers and Training Day fanatics, but that movie was boring as hell, and this one isn’t any better.

Fuqua takes a page from the Mexican film Amores Perros and tells multiple stories that (ahem) converge at one violent point. And it’s terrible to watch. Just awful. I’d rather watch my lungs blacken from smoking in fast forward. We have Sal (Ethan Hawke), who is a crooked cop with a heart of gold who only steals from drug dealers because he needs a down payment for a house because his residence now is so mold-infested that his wife’s and their unborn twins’ health is at risk. He’s desperate, he’s overwritten, he’s overacted, and he’s a snooze. Hawke, that black hole of talent that I watched in Daybreakers really needs to stop acting. He’s better when he’s understated, but everything and he does is just so brooding and martyred that I really need to start boycotting the fucker.

Don Cheadle’s turn as undercover cop Tango, a top lieutenant for Casanova (Wesley Snipes), a man who saved Tango’s life while locked up, is slightly more interesting, as should be expected by a Cheadle performance. He found himself torn between earning a desk job and a promotion to protecting Casanova. Who I really liked, to my surprise, was Snipes. I found myself rooting for him. He displayed a wide range of emotions and was more than relatable to the audience. Maybe tax evasion did him good.

Then there’s Eddie Dugan (Richard Gere). Eddie’s awesome. You know him. Everyone and their mother know him. He’s the fuckup that doesn’t care, and is just grinding his way through the day. He’s on the verge of retirement and hasn’t done dick to help his life or help the people. He just doesn’t care. He’s an alcoholic with suicidal ideations and frankly, I didn’t want to see him change. While he may be better built for a minor character, Brooklyn’s Finest has him taking a major role and really shines as the emotional character arc. A whole movie about him would have been more interesting.

So they all converge in some violent point and blah blah blah. Eddie makes his epiphany a little too quickly, Sal doesn’t really change at all, and Tango’s development is obvious. Overall the film drags on and on and I couldn’t wait to get the hell outta there.

Cost Breakdown:

22.00 on tickets for me and my cousin

4.00 on gas

26.00? Fuck no. Get the hell outta here with this forgettable crap. Till next time, Pork Chop Express is signing off.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Jack Burton Takes Off His Own Head After Watching ALICE IN WONDERLAND

What I should'a watched instead.

This is Jack Burton in the Pork Chop Express, and I'm talkin' to whoever's listenin' out there.

I’ve never seen any, and I mean any iteration of Alice in Wonderland. I don’t know how I’ve gotten so far without having somewhere, somehow stumbled upon a viewing. But it’s true. I have no idea what this is supposed to be about, other than little details of a woman screaming, “Off with her head!” or a rabbit that’s late for an appointment, or the Mad Hatter, who, to be honest, I know because he’s also a character in the Batman universe.

Also, along the lines of “never having seen,” I’ve never seen Tim Burton direct a very focused or cogent story. He usually seems to be more concerned with visuals than he does with plot and story. While films are undoubtedly a visual medium, when broken down, they’re simply stories. And Burton hasn’t ever impressed me with his storytelling abilities. He focuses so much on concepts and images that the overarching story gets lost in the shuffle. It’s as if he stares too closely at a detail and never steps back to see if the entire picture is shaping up correctly. The odds and ends look nice, but nothing connects.

Well, I will say that this has changed, for the most part, in his latest film, Alice in Wonderland. It’s a focused story that connects all its scenes and progresses as it should. Structurally, it’s fine. But what in the hell is this mishmash of bullshit? Hombre Lobo said it best when he described the visuals as Burton simply (and I’m paraphrasing here) throwing colors at the screen for the sake of making it colorful. And he’s right. Burton’s “visuals” have become formulaic. In a world that includes beautiful visuals and strong stories (Guillermo del Torro, come the fuck on down, bro), Burton has become passé. He’s not daring, nor is he particularly interesting. He doesn’t push the boundaries or is creative any longer. He’s stagnated.

So who was once a colorful, creative director, has become run-of-the-mill in the face of stronger storytelling. How strange. Anyway, so back to my point of never having seen any of the Alicesbefore. While I was watching this film, I got the distinct impression that this was some kind of sequel. It wasn’t until much later that I read that this film is supposedly a “continuation” (I can’t remember where I got that description) of the franchise, though not necessarily a sequel. Apparently there are scenes in this film that have absolutely no connection with the stories by Lewis Carroll. I have a sneaking suspicion that those of us who have seen Alice in Wonderland will probably enjoy it more than me, as Burton revisits the magical world of Underland and builds on the foundation of the stories. The movie seemed to branch out and rely on the viewers’ having seen the movie beforehand.

As for the characters, I loved Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum. They light up the screen with their ineptitude and demeanor. Cheshire Cat, played by Stephen Fry, is delightfully witty and a nice break from the oddly uninteresting Johnny Depp as Mad Hatter. Depp, it seems, has taken to overacting and overplaying every one of his roles in a vain attempt to recapture his Captain Jack Sparrow magic. In fact, I couldn’t even decipher half of the things he was saying, his accents became so jumbled. Alan Rickman is always a joy, even when he is underused as he has become in the Harry Potter-verse and here as the caterpillar-cum-oracle, Absolem.

So my biggest gripe of the film is the development of Alice (Mia Wasikowska). She goes from a head-in-the-clouds Victorian bachelorette dodging the advances of a respectable Lord, to a badass with a sword and shield a little too easily. There’s no gradual shift in character, no epiphany, nothing. She just becomes, and it’s unearned and uninteresting. Alice has no chemistry with Depp’s Mad Hatter, and as such it’s kind of eye-rolling to see her go through the motions of wanting to rescue him in the middle act. I suspect Wasikowska has enough charisma and presence to carry a film, but here, her performance is almost forgetful.

Helena Bonham Carter as the Red Queen was more annoying than menacing or iconic. And—this is perhaps the strangest bit—Crispin Glover as the Red Queen’s general is horrible. Horrible. How in the hell can this be? He’s CRISPIN FUCKING GLOVER. He’s Marty McFly’s old man. He commanded an army of rats. My god, how the fuck do you turn Crispin Glover’s turn as a creepy general of an army of playing cards into such a blasé character?

Oh, and don’t bother with the 3-D. It’s definitely not worth it. In a post-Avatar world, it just seems trivial.

Cost Breakdown:

15.00 on a ticket
4.00 on gas

19.00 on a boring midnight show. With wasteful spending like this, how are we still in a recession? Until next time, Pork Chop Express is signing off.

Monday, March 8, 2010

This almost makes up for Titanic!

Take that, James Cameron!

You should've taken another 10 years and maybe found some of that talent you've lost!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Predictions for the Oscars?

Honestly I don't think I've even seen most of these films...

But for Best Picture: ANYTHING but Avatar!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

It Must Be Said

Hombre Lobo and I agree: this year has been such a let down in terms of film quality. How on earth can we keep our morale up in the face of the roughly $1500+ we have committed to this year's crop of films?

We did 100+ films in what, 2006? 2005? I can't remember unfortunately... But we didn't seem to have as shitty a time then as we are now. We are sorely behind and none of the movies we've seen, save a couple, were worth their weight in ticket stubs. Maybe it's harder because we are keeping better track with reviews on this here blog... I don't know but something needs to change, fast!

I have three more reviews to write, and none of them are what you'd call "glowing."

ah, well... Onward and upward, I suppose. Here's to waiting for the summer blockbuster season.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


I feel like crying, I'm so happy.

Head over to Winter is Coming to see a cool promo image from the opening scene of the pilot episode!

Congrats, Mr. George R.R. Martin... well deserved!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Possible Upcoming HBO Series: A Game of Thrones

Based on the bestselling fantasy books by George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones is an intensely intricate series set in an imaginary, swords-and-dungeons-type of world and encompasses everything from politics to mysticism. I've been a huge fan of the series for years and highly suggest the books to everyone, even if you dislike the genre.

Word came out yesterday on the fan blog, Winter is Coming, that it looks as though HBO has green-lit the series after having watched the pilot, though official word has not been announced yet. The massive ensemble cast includes Peter Dinklage, Sean Bean, and Lena Headey in pivotal roles with several other notable British actors. The intent is to film seven seasons, with each season encompassing one book.

Here's hoping 2011 will force me to order HBO service!

You can also follow George R.R. Martin's blog (and intermittent progress of the next book in the series) here.

Jack Burton's Status of the First Two Months of 2010!

It's all in the reflexes.

Oh Boy. How the hell am I supposed to hit 150? I'm not even on pace to hit 100! At least I just got a full time job, so I shouldn't really have any money problems with these tickets... and boy, let me tell you, reading over the cost breakdown is painful shit. I've really gotta buckle down and keep plugging away. I'm not doing as bad as Hombre Lobo's sub-ten total though...


Black Dynamite: $23.00
Sherlock Holmes: $18.25
Daybreakers: $0.00
Youth in Revolt: $16.25
The Lovely Bones: $16.25
Legion: $13.00
To Save a Life: $15.50


Tooth Fairy: $10.00
Wolfman: $22.00
From Paris With Love: $10.00
Shutter Island: $16.00
Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief: $4.00
The Crazies: $15.00
Cop Out: $21.00

What a fucked up year. About 8.5 weeks in, I should have seen around 24.5 movies to be on pace, but I'm at 14. I've spent about $200.25.

Best Movie: Shutter Island
Honorable Mention: Youth In Revolt

Cop Out: or, How to Not Make Good Cop Movies

A scene that's not as funny as you'd think.

This is Jack Burton in the Pork Chop Express, and I'm talkin' to whoever's listenin' out there.

Ok. I enjoyed Cop Out, all right? I did. At least that’s what I keep telling myself, in the same way that women tell men that size doesn’t matter. Repeat the mantra, and keep repeating it. Okay, fine, I didn’t like it. But I didn’t hate it either. I’m kind of ambivalent to the movie. I haven’t really been a Kevin Smith fan since he made his masterpiece, Dogma. His movies have kind of gone downhill (Jersey Girl, anyone? Anyone?), though Zack & Miri Make a Porno was decent and the trailers for Cop Out seemed to at least hit some of Smith’s high notes. But then, he didn’t write this, he directed it.

There’s definitely a stamp of Kevin Smith charm in the comedic timing between Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan, and it works well. They have a lot of chemistry, though believing that they’re actually partners is a bit of a large undertaking. They just don’t come off as authentic, but that may very well be the point. This isn’t a realistic cop film in a world of The Wire, CSI, and lord knows what else. This is (supposedly) a fun, comedic attempt at nostalgic, 80s, buddy-buddy cop movies. An homage, if you will. But the filmmakers rely too much on that gimmick and not enough on making a good movie. And there really are enough ingredients to make this a good movie.

First, Tracy Morgan and Bruce Willis are fine in their roles as Paul and Jimmy respectively, though I think a stronger director could have gotten better performances from both. They’re funny, and as I mentioned earlier, they have plenty of chemistry. The rest of the film is about the pair, newly suspended (of course), trying to take down a Mexican drug kingpin in Brooklyn with a penchant for baseball memorabilia. This obsession with baseball leads to his acquiring a valuable baseball card which was stolen from Jimmy, who needs to sell it in order to pay for his daughter’s wedding. It’s a simple, generic plot, but with enough moving parts that could have really launched this one to greatness, like the incredibly underrated film, The Rundown, starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

Seann Williams Scott has a great guest appearance, as the trailers indicate. Jason Lee has an awesome cameo. The villain, Po’ Boy, played by Guillermo Diaz, has the makings of a timeless badass, but more often than not comes off as a joke. The background stories for Paul and Jimmy are both interesting and the types of themes that Smith really has a nice handle on. When the film focuses on those stories, everything seems to really work, but when it focuses on the cop stuff, it kind of stumbles along as though Smith doesn’t know what to do next. It’s patchwork at times. It almost seems like Smith was too busy staring at the details and not enough at the larger picture as he was putting this together. I will say that there are nice touches, such as the uber-80s-style music that appear at points in the movie. Very nice.

So in the end, Cop Out is a mediocre film that will probably be known more for its missed opportunities than its actual content. In our recession, I'll have to say skip it, don’t even rent it. It has no replay value, though there are some genuine laughs in it. Catch it on TV if you have nothing else to do. If you have money to burn, go ahead. I don't know; as I said, I enjoyed it. But I couldn't watch this again.

Cost breakdown:

21.00 for two tickets for me and my cousin, who drove.

I wish I had some kind of time machine shaped as a hot tub to tell myself not to bother. Till next time, Pork Chop Express is signing off!

Ol' Jack Burton Goes Crazy with Boredom from Watching THE CRAZIES

Olga Kurylenko has nothing to do with this movie, but she's really hot in Hitman with Timothy Olyphant.

This is Jack Burton in the Pork Chop Express, and I'm talkin' to whoever's listenin' out there.

Well, I’ll just get right to the point. Skip The Crazies. I don’t know why anyone would watch it, to be honest. Nothing in this waste of time is surprising, scary, or interesting. How it’s gotten such good reviews I’ll never know (71% on Rotten Tomatoes at the time of this writing). I caught this travesty of a zombie/government conspiracy/ human devolution film on Thursday night at midnight with Hombre Lobo and Home Theater Hans. This was HTH’s pick of the night (over Cop Out), and he promptly fell into a post-happy hour slumber while watching it, though Hombre Lobo and I both agreed that this was his type of movie.

While the original 1973 film may have some redeeming qualities simply based on its social/historic context—I have no idea, I’ve never seen it—the remake really doesn’t explore anything new to modern audiences. The main protagonist, Sheriff David Dutton, played by Timothy Olyphant of Hitman and The Girl Next Door fame, confronts the threat of an unknown toxin turning his small town into an ultra-violent group of crazies. Along the way, the government goes overboard in their containment response and the Sheriff, his wife Judy (Radha Mitchell), his deputy Russell (Joe Anderson), and his wife’s assistant Becca (Danielle Panabaker, the hot best friend from Sky High) must find their way to safety while avoiding the infected townspeople and the military who kill with extreme prejudice. That’s it. No plot twists, no intimate portraits of human madness or heroics in the face of chaos as in The Mist, or even hokey b-movie-type developments that would at least make this thing entertaining. Nothing new, nothing interesting. Snore.

The performances are mostly as generic as they come, though Joe Anderson’s portrayal of Deputy Russell needs to be applauded. He’s given the meat of the character arc here. In every story, be it written or cinematic or whatever, the point is that a character changes, right? We need to see something interesting happen to them, some kind of revelation or epiphany or evolution/devolution. Something! But the Sheriff and his wife are static. They don’t particularly engage the audience and they’re not really pushed as far as they could be. Russell, however, does. He goes from aw-shucks Barney Fife, to a full-blown, shoot-first badass, to a man confronting his own mortality seamlessly. It feels natural and whenever he’s on the screen, it’s all about him—but not in a fancy, splashy way, his character is more subtle, and completely believable.

So that was the one shining point in the movie. The rest of the movie looks like stock, recycled footage, the scares are lame and elementary (and this is coming from a guy that scares incredibly easy), and frankly, I felt bad that George Romero’s name was anywhere on this piece. The military and government intervention parts didn’t resonate, nor were the crazies themselves particularly horrifying. They were, however, incredibly inconsistent in their portrayal. Some are full-blown nutsos who were completely brain-gone, some were sharp enough to sew peoples’ eyes and mouths closed. What the fuck?

So the cost breakdown:

11.00 on a ticket
4.00 on gas

15.00 wasted on an uneven, completely forgettable film. Till next time, Pork Chop Express is signing off.

Friday, February 26, 2010


As if there weren't enough phallic references with Harry Potter and his broom...

This is Jack Burton in the Pork Chop Express, and I'm talkin' to whoever's listenin' out there.

Sometimes, I sit back in my chair and listen to the stars blink and twitter away in the night sky and I wonder to myself: what would it be like to be Chris Columbus? You don’t need talent. You can kind of just sit around and think up cheesy ways to make films that appeal to kids. It doesn’t seem that difficult. He’s probably best known for directing the first two Harry Potter films, which, incidentally, I love. They’re not masterfully done, or particularly well acted, or even that good. But I really, really enjoy them. So here comes his latest film, Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief. That’s a hell of name. I shall heretofore refer to it as PJ&TO:TLT to make things easier for everyone.

PJ&TO:TLT is based on the book The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan, the first book in the seven-book series, Percy Jackson & The Olympians. Upon its publication, it was automatically compared to Harry Potter. But really, what fantasy children’s novel (or series) nowadays won’t, on some level, be compared to that leviathan of publishing gold? It’s really not that difficult to write children/young adult tales, it seems. Add one part protagonist who has special abilities that make him a freak in the “real” world but someone “special” in the fantasy world; one part plucky companions; one part romance or threat thereof; one part conspiracy or evil plot. Stir well before publishing. Serves millions.

PJ&TO:TLT centers on Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman), the teenage son of Poseidon, which makes him a demigod. As is the norm with these kinds of books, he doesn’t know he has his powers; instead he thinks he suffers from ADHD and dyslexia. He thinks he’s some kind of outcast, except for his best friend Grover Underwood (Brandon T. Jackson). Anyway, Zeus’ (Sean Bean) main lightning bolt has been stolen, and he suspects that Percy is behind it. He charges the boy with returning the bolt by the summer solstice, fourteen days away. So as it turns out, Grover has been living as Percy’s guardian since they were little, and fills him in about some of his background. Together, they join a camp of demigods called Camp Half-Blood, where they meet the daughter of Athena, Annabeth Chase (played by the uber-cute Alexandra Daddario) and learn how to be leaders and heroes in the real world. Before long, however, Hades kidnaps Percy’s mother in an attempt to force the boy to give him the bolt. Percy, Grover, and Annabeth take flight across the country to find a way to Hades to convince the god that Percy doesn’t have the bolt and retrieve his mother, all while imminent war is looming between Poseidon, Hades, and Zeus because of said missing bolt.

I didn’t understand that part of it. THE WORLD IS ABOUT TO END. GET THE BOLT BACK. Right? Anyone? I realize your mother is important, but c’mon. Wrap it together a little better, at least. The three teens don’t even seem to care that the world is about to come to a screeching halt. PJ&TO:TLT ultimately boils down to a road trip-type movie. That’s not bad, I just found it hard to swallow that they seem to ignore the need to find the bolt. The three are surrounded by an excellent ensemble cast, including a great Steve Coogan as Hades, an incredibly creepy, memorable Uma Thurman as Medusa, and a sexed-up version of Persephone by Rosario Dawson. It’s really quite remarkable how the older, veteran actors play up their parts perfectly.

The youngsters are, well, young. But they hold their own well enough, despite having very little to work with. This is the main problem with the film. They aren’t particularly interesting. Percy pretty much flips a switch and becomes the alpha-male leader right away. It’s not believable, and it’s not earned. Annabeth, who is introduced as a badass warrior, regresses into, well, kind of filler. I don’t know what she was doing there except to look pretty and be a love interest for Percy. Grover’s not bad as the sidekick with jokes. He honestly seems to care about his best friend, and that’s as much as I can really say about him.

After reading this review, you might think I disliked PJ&TO:TLT. I really didn’t. I enjoyed it, as I do many children’s and family films. It’s fun, it’s silly, and the modern-day versions of the Greek gods are awesome. I don’t know if I’ll buy it on Blu Ray, but I think I’m leaning toward it. It’s easy-to-digest, but to more “serious” moviegoers, I’d suggest skipping this one. I’ll probably wait till I see the sequel to really decide on purchasing it or not.

My cousin paid for my ticket so I only drove.

4.00 for gas.

Sign me up if we’re doing this again! Until next time, Pork Chop Express is signing off!


This is Jack Burton in the Pork Chop Express, and I'm talkin' to whoever's listenin' out there.

I was never a big fan of Martin Scorsese until I saw The Departed. Yes, I know, he did Goodfellas, Casino, Cape Fear, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, and so on and so forth. I don’t know. I’ve always considered him an in-your-face director that would benefit from just stepping back and letting his work be a little more subtle. Then I saw The Departed and (grudgingly) loved it, despite its lack of subtlety. But even that enjoyment was tainted since it was a remake of the excellent Chinese film, Infernal Affairs. Regardless, I loved The Departed, and was somewhat disappointed with the early trailers for his latest film, Shutter Island. But I felt much the same about The Departed’s trailers. So I tried to go into this film with an open mind, but somewhere underneath it all, I was waiting for the other foot to drop, for me to absolutely hate this film. And I’m glad to say that this is absolutely not the case.

Shutter Island is an intense, suspenseful, and masterfully woven film about U.S. Marshall Teddy Daniels’ (Leonardo DiCaprio) investigation into the disappearance of an inmate/patient on Shutter Island in a classic ‘locked room’ scenario. Accompanied by his new sidekick/partner, Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo), they question the inmates and staff of the island, headed by Dr. John Cawley (Ben Kingsley), and find that there’s much more to the island than they thought. The performances across the board are excellent, including an unforgettable, blink-and-you’ll-miss-him cameo by Jackie Earle Haley of Watchmen fame. He’s quickly putting together an impressive résumé of iconic performances, and I can’t wait to catch him as Freddie Kruger in the upcoming remake of Nightmare on Elm Street. DiCaprio handles his character’s emotional baggage exceptionally well, though I can’t help but wonder if he’ll ever put away that Boston accent. The weakest link is probably Mark Ruffalo, the always-likable chap, who really doesn’t have much to do here except play, well, a likable chap. The characters have a heft to them that is normally missing in these types of suspense films; they each have their own secrets and their own baggage and are incredibly multi-faceted, which I loved. Nobody’s really a stock, archetypal character.

The film is based on the novel of the same name by Dennis Lehane, the writer of such books as Gone, Baby, Gone, and Mystic River. He also did a stint on the much-loved HBO series, The Wire. I didn’t realize that Shutter Island was created by a man with such an interesting and remarkable pedigree. The storytelling was so vivid and strong behind Shutter Island that it really wouldn’t surprise me if more of his works got turned into film. The plot is multi-layered and grounded in the investigation; as the investigation continues, Daniels confronts his past. In the hands of a lesser filmmaker, this would have been a jumbled mess. But Scorsese is, truly, a master. There, I said it. He juggles the back story pitch-perfect, and the flashbacks (done in haunting dream sequences) are never distracting. Instead, while on a completely different subject from the actual investigation, they add to the tension and raise the stakes of the film. From the start, the soundtrack and the acting nail you to your seat and rip you through the events, slowing down just enough to involve you on an emotional level that leaves you guessing and hoping against hope that things work out. Everything is connected, and by the end, the climactic scenes are satisfying and ultimately well-deserved from such a great film.

I caught the morning show last week for 6.00 and paid for my cousin as well.

12.00 on tickets
4.00 on gas

16.00? What a steal of a deal. Best film of 2010 so far. My next two reviews should be up shortly.

Sunday, February 21, 2010



Hombre Lobo and I have discussed many times the amazing era of Disney films from the 80s through the 90s; The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Lion King... the list from that time period is as impressive as modern-day Pixar's run of films. Disney, it seems, has decided to release this pretty awesome looking documentary on that era and their journey back from the brink of irrelevance. I'm certainly looking forward to this one.

Friday, February 19, 2010

I thought they stopped making these movies in the early 90s


Really? It actually looks like a cross between the recent Dragonball movie and the original Street Fighter movie with JCVD. 2010 is looking brighter every day.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Jack Burton Hates France Even More After Watching FROM PARIS WITH LOVE

Ah, l'amour.

This is Jack Burton in the Pork Chop Express, and I'm talkin' to whoever's listenin' out there.

Is anyone in this world not a Luc Besson fan? Isn’t he one of the greats, really? He’s been in pivotal roles in such films as Léon the Professional, the Fifth Element, Banlieue 13 (English title: District B-13), the Transporter series, the Taxi series, Nikita (English title: La Femme Nikita), and so on and so forth. He’s got that certain style and pizzazz that we all immediately recognize. And while there are several of his movies that I can’t stand, for the most part when his name is attached to a project, you know what you’re getting when you buy your ticket and you are usually in for a good time. I don’t know if he’s part of the upper echelon of movie makers such as Spielberg, Scorcese, Kubrick , and the like, but he can certainly be lumped in with Guillermo del Torro, John Carpenter (in his prime), the Coen brothers, and others.

That said, his latest producing and co-writing gig, From Paris with Love, is an uneven, silly, and at-times annoying film that is both immediately forgetful for its generic storyline, and memorable for its stupidity. The film’s director, Pierre Morel, directed the Transporter, Taken, and Banlieue 13—all highly enjoyable film, so imagine my shock when I watched From Paris with Love.

The story centers on James Reece (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), a wannabe CIA agent who covers as a personal aide to the US ambassador to France. He spends his time doing pointless side jobs such as swapping license plates and affixing microchips in important-people’s offices. He’s highly intelligent, methodical, and more than a little high strung. Enter Charlie Wax (John Travolta), the agency’s finest agent. He’s a loudmouthed brute who doesn’t particularly care about rules, laws, or, well, doing anything by the book. Together they somehow go from tracking down a cocaine route and beating up Asian gangsters to stopping a terrorist attack. I think. I don’t really know when I got lost in following the plot. But it’s a Luc Besson film. Who cares that much about a plot? It’s about the characters being cool, fighting badasses, and nailing hot chicks. Wow, that sounds like a Michael Bay film, but somehow Besson’s take on this formula is always much more interesting.

Anyway, so the plot was a dud. Fine. No biggie. I can live with that. But it was the characters that really killed this for me. Reece and Wax are over-the-top in their respective roles as ‘the guy who needs to loosen up’ and ‘the badass opposite of the guy who needs to loosen up.’ They were both annoying as all get-out. Wax, as a foil for Reece, had absolutely no depth as a character. He curses, he kills, he doesn’t like to think—Travolta seemed to be having a good time but my god, please tone it down a little. Rhys Meyers’ Reece was so much of a pussy that it became unbelievable. I mean who in the world stops for like two minutes at a major crime scene to wash blood off of his face and stare in the mirror? For someone who’s supposed to be smart, he’s incredibly stupid.

The action sequences are really the only thing that makes this film bearable. From the fights and gun battles to a fantastic highway chase sequence, this film keeps your adrenaline pumping and your butt glued to the seat. If you’re looking for dumb violence and fast action, catch this movie. But everything else is such a bore, including the obviously simple and predictable plot twist.

I spent:
6.00 on a ticket
4.00 on gas

I’d watch this on TV if it was on, possibly while doing some other work, but to pay for this? Nope. Maybe rent it if you want a brainless, popcorn night. Until next time, Pork Chop Express is signing off.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Jack Burton Howls in Pain at WOLFMAN

One of the few werewolves I actually acknowledge.

This is Jack Burton in the Pork Chop Express, and I'm talkin' to whoever's listenin' out there.

I caught The Wolfman yesterday, and by "caught," I mean it very much in the same vein as catching lycanthropy: a curse that damns you for the rest of your life. Am I being overly dramatic? I don't know, but I couldn't even stay awake for parts of this train wreck. I was very much looking forward to this film because Joe Johnston directed it. He's directing the upcoming The First Avenger: Captain America film, and has worked on such fanboy classics as the original Star Wars trilogy, Raiders of the Lost Ark, the Rocketeer, and a slew of other awesome films. So he has the pedigree, and someone out there seems to think he has the chops to hang with the likes of Lucas and Spielberg. So I had hoped for something interesting, something... er... passable as a film. Sadly, this was not meant to be.

I don't know what went wrong with the retelling of a man bitten by a werewolf and hunted by society. It's a simple concept, and you'd think that it'd be executed simply. It may not be timeless, but it could sure as hell be entertaining enough for the here and now. But no. The performances are lackluster at best, save for Hugo Weaving's turn as Scotland Yard Inspector Francis Aberline. He's having a great time of it. Sure, he can never truly escape the Agent Smith comparisons to his characters, but why would he want to, since Agent Smith was such a memorable and hilariously awesome character? Emily Blunt was beautiful, but not really interesting. Benicio Del Torro and Anthony Hopkins both mailed in their performances. The performers just seemed like they knew that they were wasting their time with this drivel.

Okay, so the performances were bad, the pacing was awfully slow (at 1h 46m, it actually felt longer than Avatar), the story and plot details boring, and the Wolfman costume horrible. But at least the town looked authentic enough. That's the weird thing about Joe Johnston films (such as the Rocketeer): they look good enough, but they lack any real redeeming qualities. It's quite appropriate that Danny Elfman did the score.

One last word about the costume: I have never, ever seen a serious werewolf costume that I thought was spot-on awesome. They have always looked hokey to me. I don't know why. But this monstrosity was probably the worst of the bunch. When will they just put a big ass wolf on the damn screen instead of making some weird hybrid-looking motherfucker? It's not scary, or frightening, or whatever.

So I spent:

22.00 on two tickets for me and a buddy, who drove.

If I could redo this, I would never, ever have spent money on this thing. Until next time, Pork Chop Express is signing off.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Back in 1997 a movie called Event Horizon was released and it wasn't until it came out on dvd did I get the chance to see it. I was impressed and in light of movies such as the Aliens franchise, Event Horizon used paranoia as one of it's themes to give the audience an added sense of terror. Flash forward to 2009 and here comes a movie that caught my attention from the trailers that promoted it. Could this be another Event Horizon? Goosebumps! Outerspace! Horror! Those damn spaceships always seem like a trap and with the unknown running around it makes for a helluva good time.

Pandorum opens up with a character named Bower (Ben Foster) and Payton (Dennis Quaid) waking up from suspended animation (Aliens anyone) to discover that the crew that they were relieving is nowhere to be found and the ship doesn't seem to be doing that good. The doors leading out from their room are shut and well, you guessed it, someone has to go out to open the doors. Of course young Bower is the one that goes and Payton stays behind to navigate him through the ships corridors. Bower discovers that there is something more sinister outside those sealed doors and that it is up to him to save the ship, with the aid of other ship inhabitants that he comes across.

I have read the reviews from other (paid) critics who bashed the movie and unanimously said that it would please hard core sci-fi fans, and you know what, they are right. I had a great time watching this one step up from a B-Grade movie and even with a limited budget, it taps into what sci-fi horror on a space ship is all about, the right scares at the right time with the added ingredient of paranoia that could be playing a role into the actions and decisions of the characters. Of course this is no Alien or Aliens, but does it reach the level of a Event Horizon, you betcha!
3 out of 5 speakers