Escape Plan (2013)

escapeplan_1Escape Plan (2013)
AKA The Tomb

Starring Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jim Caviezel, Faran Tahir, Amy Ryan, Sam Neill, Vincent D’Onofrio, Vinnie Jones, Matt Gerald, 50 Cent, Caitriona Balfe

Directed by Mikael Håfström

Expectations: Moderate.

threehalfstar


Any time a new film starring Sylvester Stallone or Arnold Schwarzenegger pops up, I’m sure to see it and probably like it more than the average Joe based on my lifelong love of their work. Even considering this, I’ve headed into each one of their modern films with hesitation and tempered expectations. I’ve enjoyed every one so far, but I actively recognize that my unabashed love for the leads plays a large role in the film’s success. In the case of Escape Plan, though, I can honestly say that this is a fantastic prison break movie which also happens to star a couple of my favorite actors. The combination proved to be absolute GOLD; I loved Escape Plan from start to finish.

To tip the film’s hand too much would spoil the fun of the movie and its slow, metered build (which is paced perfectly), so I’m going to forgo my usual plot description. Just know that Stallone and Arnold are in prison together and they hatch an escape plan. But they aren’t in just any ol’ prison. No, they’re in a strange, almost futuristic prison, so breaking out isn’t going to be one of those “tunnel out and scale the wall” sort of gigs.

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Thor: The Dark World (2013)

thor2_1Starring Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Christopher Eccleston, Jaimie Alexander, Zachary Levi, Ray Stevenson, Tadanobu Asano, Idris Elba, Rene Russo, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Kat Dennings, Stellan Skarsgård

Directed by Alan Taylor

Expectations: Moderate, but these Marvel movies are pure fun for me.

threestar


Well, they’ve done it again. These Marvel movies continue to impress, and while Thor: The Dark World is definitely not a great film, it’s a rip-roaring good fantasy film filled to the brim with excitement, thrills and all kinds of cosmic shit. I’m surprised how hard they went into the fantasy realm for this film; the intro felt like a sort of sci-fi influenced version of the Lord of the Rings films. Consequently, Thor: The Dark World is chock full of stuff to excite every nerd in the audience. That’s probably what surprises me the most about these Marvel films. They’re relentlessly nerdy, yet they are also some of the most popular mainstream movies of the last few years. The nerd paradigm is truly upon us; the weak have inherited the Earth!

Thor: The Dark World centers around the Convergence, a celestial event that only happens every few thousand years. It aligns the Nine Realms, and makes the borders between these realms thin, allowing people to pass through them. The last time this happened the Dark Elves tried to plunge the Nine Realms into a neverending darkness but Odin’s father Bor was able to defeat them. The elves’ ultimate weapon was the Aethor, a powerful, shape-changing fluid, but instead of destroying it, Isildur Bor decides to lock it away in some dark recess of the Nine Realms. See… Thor: The Dark World is in full-on nerd mode.

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Return to Nuke ‘Em High Vol. 1 (2013)

nukeemhighvol1_1Starring Asta Paredes, Catherine Corcoran, Clay von Carlowitz, Zac Amico, Stefan Dezil, Gabriela Fuhr, Vito Trigo, Mark Quinnette, Mike Baez, Reiki Tsuno, Tara E. Miller, Jim Sheppard, Debbie Rochon, Babette Bombshell, William Dreyer, Ron Mackay, Adam P. Murphy, Brenda Rickert, Lloyd Kaufman, Lemmy, Stan Lee

Directed by Lloyd Kaufman

Expectations: Super high! It’s the new Troma film!

threehalfstar


Lloyd Kaufman’s films are all about excess in the name of fun, with moments of grossout gore, nudity and juvenile humor all amped up to levels that would make a nun’s black habit turn white. Return to Nuke ‘Em High is no different, so Troma fans can rest assured that this new film from Uncle Lloyd is the real deal. I absolutely loved it, and while I did have a couple of issues with it overall, it’s a great film that showcases everything you either love or hate about Troma. There’s never a middle ground with a Troma film, and this commitment to a truly independent vision of cinema is what keeps the fans loyal and hungry for more tromatic thrills.

Return to Nuke ‘Em High is kind of a remake of the original Class of Nuke ‘Em High (one of my favorite Troma films), but it’s also kind of a sequel too. It also goes the Citizen Toxie route and kind of brushes off whatever happened in the previous sequels to make things easier for the writing team. This is all lovingly and wonderfully rendered during the opening sequence of the film, which recaps the first film and introduces us to the current circumstances afflicting good ol’ Tromaville High School. I should also mention that calling Return to Nuke ‘Em High a remake of Class of Nuke ‘Em High doesn’t do justice to what Troma has created here. Return to Nuke ‘Em High is very much its own thing with a wealth of fresh, hilarious creativity, while also incorporating and re-inventing elements that existed in the original film.

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Magazine Review: Full Moon Presents Delirium #1 (Feb/Mar 2014)

delirium-issue01-cover-emailThe last couple of years have been a great time to be a Full Moon fan. There have been many new films, and a lot of them have been great bursts of genre fun. There was also the debut of Full Moon Streaming, a Netflix-like venture that I was initially skeptical of, but after subscribing I can attest to its excellence and wealth of great content that extends throughout the entire Full Moon universe and beyond. And now Full Moon brings its fans yet another great new addition to its arsenal: Delirium magazine, edited by current Fangoria editor Chris Alexander.

Simply put, if you’re a Full Moon fan that likes a good horror mag (and who doesn’t), Delirium is a great magazine. But if you’re still on the fence about purchasing an issue or subscribing, you probably want more concrete details as to why it’s so great. First off, the printing itself is superb. This is a high-quality, full-color magazine printed on excellent quality paper with a thick card stock cover. If you were so inclined, these luscious pictures would be worthy of cutting out and placing on your bedroom wall or other such place of honor.

This reminds me of a time back when I was a young, budding horror fan. My friend used to bring his Fangorias to school and we’d cut out the best photos from them and tape them to our desks. Who knows why our 6th grade teacher allowed us to do this with gruesome images from various ’80s & ’90s horror films, but whatever, she let it slide and it will always be a treasured memory. Looking through Delirium brought back that surge of flipping through a horror mag, reminding me of the power that a simple printed picture used to contain. The availability of information and photos through the Internet has largely killed this periodical medium, but in my opinion it’s still worth saving and Delirium does a great job at that.

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Gravity (2013)

gravity_5Starring Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, Orto Ignatiussen, Phaldut Sharma, Ed Harris, Amy Warren, Basher Savage

Directed by Alfonso Cuarón

Expectations: High. Everyone loved this, right?

threestar


On the technical side of things, Gravity is an absolutely amazing motion picture. It made me want to love the movie, but unfortunately movies do not succeed on their technical prowess alone. The emotional side of Gravity is a weak link, trading on stereotypical clichés and crafting moments too obviously designed to get a “deep” emotional reaction. This is not just Gravity‘s fault, though, as it’s more of a systemic disease afflicting a good majority of Hollywood mainstream films. But because of the technical mastery on display (especially the film’s 13-minute opening tracking shot), it felt right to hold Gravity to a different standard. Clearly, that didn’t entirely work out.

Sandra Bullock and George Clooney play American astronauts performing system upgrades on the Hubble telescope. For some reason, the Russians blast a satellite with a rocket, starting a chain reaction of space debris that not only jeopardizes the American mission, but their lives. Sounds like the plot of an ’80s movie looking to reinforce Cold War ideals, but I assure you it just came out last year!

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Pitch Perfect (2012)

pitchperfect_7Starring Anna Kendrick, Skylar Astin, Ben Platt, Brittany Snow, Anna Camp, Rebel Wilson, Alexis Knapp, Ester Dean, Hana Mae Lee, Kelley Jakle, Wanetah Walmsley, Shelley Regner, Caroline Fourmy, Nicole Lovince, Adam DeVine, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Elizabeth Banks, John Michael Higgins, John Benjamin Hickey

Directed by Jason Moore

Expectations: Low.

threestar


Pitch Perfect is a film that I have a hard time knowing if I actually liked it or not. I definitely didn’t think it was ultra-awful, and to be honest I don’t even know if I thought it was kinda bad. It is kinda bad, but I enjoyed it for what it was: a piece of dumb, mainstream fluff with a lot of singing. To say that I liked it would technically be right, but it also feels so wrong.

This would be a good time for someone to tell me that I felt guilty about liking it, and all that nonsense above is really just smoke and mirrors around the fact that I liked it, but I don’t want to come right out and say it because I’m embarrassed. I assure you that this is not the case, I actively liked and disliked it at the same time. It’s like a B-Movie in that way; I liked it despite the numerous reasons and negative aspects that should have made me dislike it.

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Video Game Review: Rambo: The Video Game (2014)

rambo-the-video-game-coverDeveloped by Teyon
Published by Reef Entertainment Ltd.

Directed by Piotr Latocha

Platform played on: PC via Steam

Expectations: I haven’t been this pumped to play a game in years.

On the general scale (considering all the “flaws”):
twohalfstar

But in terms of pure enjoyment and the amount of raw action and testosterone per minute:
fourstar


As soon as Rambo: The Video Game was announced, I was ecstatic. The trailer made the game seem like nothing but balls-to-the-walls action recreating all the kick-ass Rambo shit that Rambo did in the Rambo movies. It was seemingly going to be everything I had ever wanted a Rambo game to be, going all the way back to 1988 when I spied the cover of the Rambo NES game and imagined what treasures the game might hold. That game did not live up to my internal hype, but Teyon’s Rambo: The Video Game didn’t just live up to my huge, unrealistic expectations, it shot an explosive arrow directly into their heart and machine-gunned them as they begged for mercy.

I’ve never written a video game review before, but while playing Rambo: The Video Game I felt compelled to. The game has received negative Internet buzz and press since the first trailer dropped, with people deriding the game for its animation, character models, use of quick-time events (QTEs), and even its choice to be an on-rails shooter instead of the more traditional first-person shooter. After the game’s release, this fire only seemed to grow more intense, as did my frustration with the public’s inability to see this game’s greatness.

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