The Last Stand (2013)

thelaststand_5Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Forest Whitaker, Eduardo Noriega, Jaimie Alexander, Luis Guzmán, Rodrigo Santoro, Johnny Knoxville, Peter Stormare, Zach Gilford, Génesis Rodríguez, Daniel Henney, Tait Fletcher, John Patrick Amedori, Harry Dean Stanton

Directed by Kim Jee-Woon

Expectations: Extremely high.

threestar


It’s Sheriff Ray Owens’ day off, and he’s hoping for a quiet one. Y’know the kind, you hit the town diner for a quick bite and then just sorta mosey around doing whatever it is that feels right at the time. What he doesn’t know is that Gabriel Cortez, a reckless drug lord, has just broken free from FBI custody and is now speeding down the highway directly towards Ray’s town. But what Cortez doesn’t know is that Arnold is a bad motherfucker.

Check your logical mind at the door and get ready for an old school throwback featuring the king of ’80s action movies himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Last Stand is not a perfect film, but if you dig real cars exploding and doing stunts (not necessarily at the same time) then this will entertain. The film also features a healthy amount of gun violence and even some interesting hand-to-hand. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it “a movie with it all” but as an ’80s action throwback/western/comedy it definitely throws a lot at you. Believability never mattered in the ’80s and it also doesn’t matter in The Last Stand. Whatever it takes to get a bazooka and a mini-gun on-screen, I’m completely fine with in this type of movie.

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Quick Takes: Fast Food Nation, Spy Kids, Cannibal!: The Musical

Fast Food Nation (2006)

Starring Greg Kinnear, Wilmer Valderrama, Ashley Johnson, Bobby Cannavale, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Bruce Willis, Kris Kristofferson, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, Paul Dano, Luis Guzmán, Avril Lavigne
Directed by Richard Linklater

Visually appealing, Fast Food Nation does its best to adapt a non-fiction bestseller to a fictional film. It doesn’t necessarily work, as character dialogue is filled with lines from the book or scenes are specifically built around a piece of factual information instead of a traditional narrative conflict. It’s a very strange and unique film in this way, and one that ends up being pretty boring for someone like me that has read both Fast Food Nation and Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle. It served more to remind me of key moments in both, instead of actively engaging me.

Spy Kids (2001)

Starring Alexa Vega, Daryl Sabara, Carla Gugino, Antonio Banderas, Danny Trejo, Cheech Marin, Teri Hatcher, Alan Cumming, Tony Shalhoub, Robert Patrick
Directed by Robert Rodriguez

Initially I saw Spy Kids close to its original DVD release and thought it wasn’t that great. A few months ago I watched Rodriguez’s most recent kid’s movie, Shorts, and loved it to pieces, making me re-evaluate his offerings for younger viewers. Upon a re-watch, Spy Kids is excellent over-the-top fun, packing in more gadgets and spy intrigue than the last few Bond films combined. The first half is nearly perfect, but it all sort of unravels as it goes. Despite this adult problem I had, the film succeeds in funneling espionage action into a fun romp of a kid’s film. Recommended, especially if you have kids.

Cannibal!: The Musical (1993)

Starring Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Dian Bachar, Toddy Walters, Jason McHugh, John Hegel, Ian Hardin, Stan Brakhage, Robert Muratore, Edward Henwood, Andrew Kemler, Maseo Maki
Directed by Trey Parker

Made while attending college, Cannibal!: The Musical is an astoundingly professional production. Attempting to tell the story of real-life accused cannibalist Alferd Packer, Trey Parker and Matt Stone craft a funny and enjoyable black comedy with well-written songs and a great sense of the absurd. I expected quite the gorefest as this was picked up and released by Troma, but instead it’s mostly a comedic musical with touches of graphic violence thrown in for good measure.  When it does get violent, the low-budget FX are incredibly effective, especially the tongue-ripping and the axe to the face! Recommended to fans of Parker/Stone comedies fo sho.

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