Happy Hanukkah, my hebrews and shebrews!
Happy Hanukkah, my hebrews and shebrews!
Featuring: Peter “Shaun of the Dead” Serafinowicz , Griffin “Vinyl” Newman , Jackie Earle “Watchmen” Haley
Director: Wally “Transcendence” Pfister
Writer: Ben “The Tick (1994 & 2001)” Edlund
Did everyone hear about Ford’s announcement that they’ll have self-driving cars in mass production by 2021? Some people are excited for these mechanical miracles, others feel they’re bound to be the biggest techno turd since Google Glass. The only difference being that this time the asshats won’t be walking blindly into traffic, the traffic will be coming after them. Speaking of, am I the only one who hears a story about fleets of self-propelled vehicles being introducing to America’s highways and wonders, “Does no one remember MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE?!”. Then I remember that no, no one remembers Maximum Overdrive. And I weep.
Anyway, afraid I may have been showing the early signs of Stockholm Syndrome with my last review (Damn you, Asylum!), I'm cutting their brand of imitation cheese out of my digital diet for a while. In search of something new, I came across the news that Amazon's 8th Pilot Season was underway. For those who don't know what that is, Pilot Season is where Amazon releases a number of preview episodes (the eponymous pilots) for potential shows that they may turn into full serieses dependent upon varying factors, including (but not contingent to) viewer feedback. Such successes include “Transparent” and “The Man in the High Tower”, while a reboot of the Krofft brothers’ “Sigmund and the Sea Monster” and the proposed “Zombieland” show count among its dead. While this season’s standouts for many seem to be the JCVD starring “Jean-Claude Van Johnson” and the awkwardly titled Kevin Bacon showcase “I Love Dick” (yes, Mr. Bacon, we all know that you love dick), the only pilot I care to watch is the adaptation of Ben Edlund’s lovable comic book galoot, The Tick.
Sitting at an impressive 4.5 star rating as of this review, “The Tick” is the third attempt at bringing the hero to television. He’s now the Spider-Man of the small screen! Movie Spider-Man, not TV Spider-Man. That webhead’s had more cartoons than I can keep count of. The Tickster’s network origins started with 3 seasons of Fox’s Saturday morning animated series (featuring former Monkee Mickey Dolenz as the original voice of Arthur!) from ’94 – ’96 and petering out with the all-too-short lived 2001 live-action series (starring Patrick Warburton) that Fox canceled after only 8 of its 9 episodes were aired. A lot of people were saddened by the treatment of this “Seinfeld” for superheroes, but I never really got into it. I was more heartbroken by the demise of the cartoon, myself, and saw it as a high mark that a sitcom (especially one where the always masked face of the titular blue vigilante was no longer masked!) probably wouldn’t have lived up to anyway. BUT (I like big buts and I cannot lie), with Edlund making this effort more true to its illustrated roots, let’s see if his pilot can sever the Grey Poupon.
Oh, and as a side note, this episode is directed by Wally Pfister – a guy whose last name simultaneously makes me think of boner pills (Pfizer) and severe rectal trauma (fister). Just thought I’d point that out.
Our tale begins in 1908, the “dawn of the age of superheroes”. An alien structure descended into our atmosphere and EXPLODED, setting fire to many an innocent flora and fauna while bringing forth yet another dollar store knock-off of the Son of Krypton. This spandex clad, cape wearing, just-another-Übermensch from the stars calls himself Superian (Brendan Hines), pronounced “Soup-ear-e-uhn” and not “Super Ian”… a nom de vigilantism that now has me distracted by thoughts of Scott Ian dressed red and blue long underwear with the familiar ‘S’ shield on his chest… which would probably piss him off, because he’d rather be Judge Dredd…
With such a pillar of justice and super punchery in their midst, you can't blame the people of the world for wanting to become superheroes (and super-villains) in their own right, and such is the axis upon which our story turns. One of these wanna be do-gooders is Arthur Everest (Griffin Newman), who has a bit of an unhealthy obsession with Superian's nemesis The Terror (Jackie Earle Haley). Despite the Big S' assurance that the fiend is deader than Mel Gibson's career post “Jews, niggers, and Sugar Tits, oh my!”, Arthur's not convinced, and has been Hardy Boy-ing around in his spare time to uncover the truth. It's during one of these amateur gumshoe outings that Art meets a large, gibberish spewing weirdo in a blue costume who sees the familiar spirit of heroism in the young man's eyes. What brought on such a haunting? I'll save that for you to discover, because it's a story too good to spoil.
The sharer of said justice-centric possession is, as you probably presumed, The Tick (Peter Serafinowicz). He’s bulletproof, bomb proof, surgical 2×4 proof, super strong (like, “crowded bus stop full of men” strong), plenty agile, and driven. Like a living bulldozer. So, like Killdozer. But a good Killdozer. A good Killdozer that spouts nonsensical lines about serving destiny and punching evil. Right in its immoral codpiece.
I was sad to see that the pilot only runs 30 minutes. Just as I was getting into it it was over, ended on a cliffhanger. Sure, that’s a good way to end a season finale, but a pilot? No. Now, if the rest of the show doesn’t make it to a full order, those of us whose eyes it caught are now fucked. Hard. Painfully so. Sans lube. If I had to compare it to a sexual encounter, I’d say it’s paramount to a one-night stand going down on you, then stopping before climax and saying “My jaw hurts. My turn now!”. Yeah, that’s a metaphor we can all endure.
With that said, based on its merits beyond the teasery and disappointing length (an issue I’ve yet to hear a complaint about), it’s got the girthy makings of a not bad show. I’m a big fan of Arthur’s new backstory. It’s dark, but in the comedy way more so than the gritty. He’s not the Punisher, so you can laugh at his tragedy without laying awake in bed later on wondering if you’re a horrible person deserving of a place in humanity or not. There are also hints at a possible split-personality disorder going on too, but that’s just my FCP (Fight Club Paranoia) acting up. Other elements discredit these so-called hints as just red herrings to mess with us. Although, it does bring up an interesting hypothesis that I’m going to keep in my utility belt for now, just in case “The Tick” goes full series. My favorite fantasy tales are the ones anchored in a reality similar to ours. Feels more relatable. As such, I enjoy Endlund’s take on what kind of mental instability it would take for every day schlubs to want to put on a costume and stop/commit atrocities.
Speaking of costumes (SEGWAY!) I’m also okay with the duo’s new crime fighting duds, which take a cue from modern comic book movie culture by detouring the spandex clad elephant in the room and embracing something that looks more like a combination of leather and/or body armor. Tick’s getup includes his mask (one of my sticking points with Patrick Warburton’s incarnation), but the shade of blue is… odd. Rather than go with a darker section of the color wheel, we get something more in line with the cartoon version. See the screenshots below.
Superian looks like you’d expect a Superman simulacrum to look like, while The Terror’s got a great new design that makes him look like a sinister cult leader, complete with oddly cut hood that brings to mind Magneto’s helmet more than a little. There are some computer effects that could use a little more polish, but for a low budget kinda thing, they do the job. The design of The Terror’s ship is also great, but for those hoping it would be the giant mechanical spider he originally piloted, know now that it’s not that, so adjust your expectations appropriately.
In closing, “The Tick” is more faithful to the tone of the original comics, much like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: the Movie skewed more in tune with its own original source material. That’s a good thing! Sadly, this may hurt its chances for a full series order in the long run, as a lot of the complaints I’ve seen about it so far have been that it’s not the goofy sitcom its predecessor program was previously. That’s a bad thing. I suggest clicking the link below, giving it a view (as my dad always says, “If it’s free, it’s for me!”), and rating it yourself. And if you can’t be true to yourself or spend half an hour watching it, give it a blind 5 stars so I can hopefully see what the fuck happens in the next episode!
Now, if you'll pardon my departure (or even if you won't), I have a viewing to go to. Not the movie type, but the corpse type. Don't worry, you didn't know him. Hell, I barely knew him. But it’s gonna be a lot of standing around in polyester mourning finery, hard boiling my man juevos, so I need to stop at Big Mike’s Food ‘n Fuel on the way for a few bottles of Crystal Pepsi to keep in my pockets and refrigerate my pudding pop.
Don’t get mad ’cause I’m beguilin’. I’m off the hook so don’t bother dialin’.
Once Nanook discovered how to harness the power of the atom, his place as leader of all the local tribes was all but guaranteed.
So, this world’s version of Superman looks like Matt Besser as a cape wearing date rapist? Gotcha.
If you’re going to just reach down your pants to check and see if you’ve started your period, two things – (1) Don’t do it at work. (2) Don’t wipe it on your uniform. Especially if it’s white. Seriously.
“By learning all of the new Magic: The Gathering expansion’s secrets before its release, I’ll be able to perfect by deck ahead of time and pwn newbs on release day!”
The Tick just discovered that The Cleveland Steamer, Rusty Trombone, and Blumpkin are not the names of fellow superheroes… Also, did you know that a Lemon Party isn’t a political association?
If Justin Timberlake and Johnny Galecki had a kid, and their kid fell into a Brundle Pod™ with Pat from It’s Pat, this guy would come out of the other end.
“No! I don’t wanna support the high school band by paying you $2 each for your stupid off-brand chocolate bars! Now fuck off before I throw you into my particle accelerator!”
See, stuff like this is why I stopped drinking tequila in public.
Looks like somebody got a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle for Christmas!
There’s nothing quite like that first morning piss off of the side of your apartment building to start your day. I miss living in the city. I have to settle for pissing off of our balcony these days. It’s just not the same.
Anubis will return next time in
“Would You Offer Your Throat to the Vampire with the Camera?”
Featuring: Ryan “Green Lantern” Reynolds , Ed “The Transporter Refueled” Skrein , Morena “Serenity” Baccarin
Director: Tim Miller
Writers: Rhett “Zombieland” Reese & Paul “Zombieland” Wernick
Followed By: Deadpool 2
Hey kids. Didn’t see you come in. Welcome. Ignore all the broken glass. I was just working on the latest treatment for my body horror movie script, Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Ed. It’s something of a passion project of mine. A modernized re-imagining of the Robert Louis Stevenson classic by way of Hot to Trot with a little twist of Beautician and the Beast thrown in for flavor. It’s magic in the making. If I can’t sell it as a feature, I’m thinking of taking it to NetFlix as a throwaway joke for the next season of “Bojack Horseman”. Get your wallets ready, NF, cuz this is a Cash4Gold scenario – I give you gold, you give me cash. Shpadoinkle!
You know who would fund Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Ed? Wade Wilson. Who’s Wade Wilson? Deadpool. Who’s Deadpool? Clearly you haven’t read a comic book or gone into a mall specific chain store in the last 10 years. On some days, I would envy you for that. But not today, because now you’ll have to read my yawn inspiring ramblings to find out. Oh well. You must not think these reviews are too terrible if you’re coming here to read them, right? Right. Okay ham pressers, let’s press ham!
While I was on hiatus (let’s say scouring every corner of the world to find Tilda Swinton in the hopes that she could repair my hands [mangled by too much “summoning the white worm”] so I’d be able to type reviews again) the long-awaited Deadpool movie finally brought peace and joy to the hearts of fanboys and fangirls the world over. For those not in the know, Deadpool is a Marvel Comics mutant mercenary-sometimes-hero(ish?) whose shades-of-gray morality, morbid sense of humor, taste for excessive violence, Spider-Manian wit and self-awareness of his status as a comic book character have charmed him many a fan in recent years.
Unfortunately, his status as a “mutant” means that his film and live-action television rights have been under the not-always-competent thumb of Fox Studios, hence why Marvel themselves never made a movie for him and why it took so long for one to finally come out now. Sure, he appeared in 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine (also played then by Ryan Reynolds), but his character was so unrecognizable by the finale, fans feared their black and red clad friend was doomed to never see the light of day in a proper presentation. BUT, Ryan Reynolds loved the character so much that he spent whatever free time he had between shooting romantic comedies, forgettable action flicks, and other comic book movies he’d rather forget (which I’ll save for another day… unless my blackmail demands are met, Ryan) lobbying Fox execs to let him make the Deadpool solo movie he wanted and the fans deserved. After much poking, prodding, and “Can I make Deadpool now? Can I make Deadpool now? Can I make Deadpool NOW?!”, the merc with a mouth (don’t most mercenaries have mouths?) was finally birthed straight into the public eye (embryonic fluids, afterbirth and all) on Valentine’s Day 2016. Trivia time – This was exactly 25 years after the characters first comic book appearance in February 1991’s New Mutants #87. Remember that in case you’re ever on “Jeopardy” someday… or they bring back “Beat the Geeks”.
From the very outset of the flick we know we’re in for a show and that Reynolds very much got away with making things his way, as the Red and Black Attack and some unfortunate nameless goon fodder tumble through a slow-mo car wreck to the tune of Juice Newton’s “Angel of the Morning” for our opening credits. Said credits don’t include any actual names though, instead replacing the actors’ monikers with brief descriptions of the characters themselves, like “God’s Perfect Idiot”, “A British Villain”, and “A CGI Character” all featured in “Some Douchebag’s Film”, “Produced by Asshats”, “Directed by An Overpaid Tool” and “Written by The Real Heroes Here”. Wait a mo. The “Real Heroes”? You mean those eyeball blisteringly bad promotional comics that Pizza Hut gave out in ’94?! Blartus Maximus!
I’m pretty sure no one told the SAG about this little credits gag, because knowing how much butthole napalm they sprayed over Frank Miller getting a co-director credit in Sin City, these credentials would’ve set their collective nose hairs ablaze. Yikes. Imagine that for a moment – beyond the stench of singed hairs and burnt boogers you’d be privy to, you’d have to suffer through the odor of your own scorched inner nostrils for probably weeks on end. Provided it didn’t sear your sinuses shut. Shit. Almost makes me not hungry for potted mystery meat. Almost.
Anyway, if you’re the type of audience member who likes their movies done in the traditional “Point A to Point B” style, don’t expect to put too much on your feedback card. Deadpool‘s tale is almost as random and disjointed as our protagonist’s train of thought. It jumps back and forth between ‘Pool’s modern day hunting down of an ass boil from his past named Ajax (Ed Skrein) and important moments of our heroish hired killer’s sordid origins. We meet Pool’s longtime pal/sidekick Weasel (TJ Miller), his off-brand Golden Girl roommate Blind Al (Leslie Uggams), and the complicated love-of-his-life Vanessa (Morena Baccarin), who teaches us the right way to celebrate International Womens’ Day. We learn how assassins in the four-color realm deal with fatal diseases (spoiler: it’s all superpower inducing science experiments) and show the world that, yes, men also suffer from the unreasonable physical expectations established by mainstream culture (fuck you both, Hollywood and Hornywood). We also witness (“WITNESS ME!”) Stan Lee’s greatest and most gratuitous cameo yet, we ride along for the romantic odyssey of Dopinder (Karan Soni – go watch “Other Space” if you haven’t already!) the cab driver, watch Wade try to shake the good intentions of a persistent Colossus (courtesy of computer generated effects and the voice of Stefan Kapicic, possibly stolen from him by a BBTW [Big Beautiful Tentacled Woman]) and his X-Person-in-training Negasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand), until the whole thing comes together in the massive rain of bullets, brawling, ‘splosions, spectacle, thrills and spills that you expect from any good superhero blockbuster finale.
Oh, and DP gets his own theme song.
Given that Deadpool hasn’t even grown into the 6 month old size “Ask me about A Serbian Film!” onesie I bought for it on its release day, what you’ve read so far is as much as I’ll offer up in the way of plot and spoils. It wraps up with a credits stinger that pays homage to the original Ferris Bueller “robed Matthew Broderick tells everyone to go home” bit. As with any good stinger, we get a tease that the next movie will feature longtime ‘Pool associate Cable, whom our hero tells us will either be played by Mel Gibson, Dolph Lundgren, or Keira Knightly. PLEASE, oh holy deities of the pictorial pantheon, let this mark the return of the original Frank Castle to Marvel’s movie scene, even if it has to be the b-league Fox universe.
If you couldn’t tell by the big golden feather at the top of this page, I love this movie. The comedy, the action (and extremely graphic violence), the romance (and extremely graphic-but-keeping-it-‘R’ sex). Seriously, if you’re not looking for a woman like Vanessa or a man like Wade, you’re looking for the wrong person and you’ll only have yourself to blame when you’re on your deathbed realizing that you wasted your life on someone/someones who suuuuuuucked. Find someone who not only won’t discount your special brand of bullshit, but who will mark up its value so high that the market will take notice, wonder what kind of insider-trading fuckery is going on, and go into utter chaos as the effects ripple through the global economy. Why do you think the Evil Dead Bride and I are on our way to the “half of our lives together” mile marker like we’re misfits frolicking down the Yellow Brick? Oh, and on the topic of the picture’s pairings, Ajax and Angel are my new favorite supervillain couple. She for her bad-ass bruiser lady “can kick the titanium shits out of Colossus’ ass” look and gimmick and he for, well, his ability to dual-wield a pair of fucking fire-axes! It’s far from being the most powerful of mutant powers, but damn does it look cool!
Given that Deadpool and Shoot ‘Em Up are my only two gold-feather standard flicks as of this episode, it looks like I have a definite type. I just fantasized about a Deadpool v. Mr. Smith team-up and am now sporting a raging semi (automatic). Anyway, not all of the jokes stick the landing, but like Kerri Strug with a broken ankle, they try their little hearts out. Not unexpected from the writers of Zombieland, but fairly unexpected from the writers of GI Joe: Retaliation. Freaking G.I. Joe. Frankenstein on a gas-powered pogo stick do I look forward to exorcising my thoughts on that two-backed beast of a double
Packing a quick wit, frequent pop culture references, explicit vulgarity, and not afraid to go homoerotic when the scenario calls for it, you’d almost expect Deadpool to be a Kevin Smith script. It’s offensive. Not “Michael Jackson’s private porn stash” offensive, but definitely not for those of a delicate constitution. I saw a woman leaving the theater with her two youngish daughters after the lights came up, and was moderately shocked to see that they’d stayed through the entire experience, but parents are weird these days. Sure, my aunt let my cousins and I watch shit like Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 and Pieces when we were young, but…well…the absorbency levels of my point are brought immediately into question now that I see that typed out. Well fuck. I watched some messed up movies as a pup. Never mind. Due to decades of wearing tiny Italian stereotype underwear and injecting Jolt Cola directly into my testicles, I’m sterile anyway, so my opinions on child rearing are irrelevant!
I never liked that term, “child rearing”. Especially with it finishing out a paragraph that references MJ’s recently uncovered disturbing fetish material. Too soon.
As much as I laud the writing, I gotta slip an appreciative hand to director Tim Miller too. Though he has an Oscar nom for Best Animated Short Film prior to this, and was behind the credit intros for Girl with the Dragon Tatoo and Thor: the Dark World, Deadpool is the man’s first feature. And not only did it turn out to be a proverbial barn burner as far as super happy party funtime flicks go, but also a bona fide Tetris (my new term for a “blockbuster”) in ticket sales. It made more than double its budgetary costs in the first weekend alone, and was still making money in small venues weeks after Batman Vs. Superman farted itself right out of theater-goers’ line-of-sight. If IMDB is to believed, final box office receipts say that the little merc made around $364 million domestically and has just opened in Japan at #1. Fox is predicting that the Yen made on Monster Island will bump the flick’s global take to over $800 million, making it, yes, THE HIGHEST GROSSING R-RATED MOVIE OF ALL TIME! Well, highest grossing worldwide. Here in the land of malk and vegan honey substitute it’s second highest after that theological snuff film The Passion of the Christ, which Drunken Hitler has announced will also be getting a sequel in the near future, so the race to the top of red band box office history should be getting very interesting over the course of the next few calendars!
Until the careless whisper that will be Deadpool II: Deadpooler, I’m your dirty old Uncle Anubis vowing that I’m never gonna dance again. Before I go, though, I recommend checking out the Highlander of Golden Girls herself, Betty White, as she gives her thoughts on the tactical spandex wearing masked mass murderer’s big screen adventure! Check it out at this link. See ya next time, Hoober-Bloobs!
I’ve yet to have a prostate exam in my life, but I’m pretty sure that’s not part of it…
Does Colossus live in fear that Gambit may have weaponized his Grape Nuts? I’m asking because it’s the only reason I could come up with for him being FULLY ARMORED WHILE EATING HIS BREAKFAST!
Speaking of Grape Nuts, looks like Deadpool needs to cut down on his fiber intake. When your first movement of the day comes out like birdshot, there’s a problem. On a sidenote, our hero should also avoid Tokyo until he gets that taken care of. Damn Kancho players would have a field day with him.
Trivia: Ryan Reynolds was so dedicated to being faithful to doing Deadpool right, that he literally paid $10,000 of his own money to Bea Arthur’s family to use her image on that shirt, because DP has a long standing love for the deceased “Maude” star.
“If you ever leave your disgusting fingerprint smudges on one of my ‘Gilmore Girls‘ DVDs again, I will carve up your face so bad that Kakihara will look like a GQ cover model in comparison!”
I think Morena Baccarin just gave me an ugly Christmas sweater fetish…
Back to the “heavy-handed insider jokes” scale, this one definitely rates a Fisto’s Right Hand. Maybe even two.
If Agent Smith and the backwards talking midget from the Black Lodge jerked off into a blender together and made a test tube baby with the resultant mixture, you’d get this guy.
I’d make a joke here, but in all honesty, nothing I could come up with would top what Reynolds and Miller rattle off in the scene’s exchange. Magic.
“Donald Trump? Is that you?”
If Darlene Connor were re-imagined as a modern mutant (and worked at Hot Topic), she would be her. Her power would be the ability to shift tectonic plates with her mind and her codename? Sarchasm.
“Are you ready to give up, X-Man?”
“Give up?! I usually have to pay extra for this at the massage parlor!”
Who doesn’t love a good “axes vs. swords” fight? It’s no “dueling chainsaws”, but it’s still plenty of fun to watch!
I know it’s a good time to be thrifty, but trust me when I tell you not to go to a dentist whose office is an old refrigerator box in an alley behind Starbucks. Well, at least his is wearing gloves.
Anubis will return next time in
“Not Just Another Zombie Movie (Yes It Is)”
Featuring: Randy “12 Rounds 2” Orton , Eric “The Pope of Greenwich Village” Roberts , Steven Michael “Breaking Bad” Quezada
Director: Roel “The Man with the Iron Fists 2” Reiné
Writer: Alan “Halloween 4: the Return of Michael Myers” McElroy
Sequel to: The Condemned
Surprise! You thought you were going to get some more international flavor this week with a new “World Tour de Farce” review, but instead you’re getting yet another “professional wrestler thinks he’s an action movie leading man” flick in The Condemned 2! Again, we see there is nothing you possess that I cannot take away. Especially when I’m the one giving you said thing, and the actual transferal of possession has not yet been enacted! Mwa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha *cough*cough*cough* HAAAA! *cough*
World Wrestling Entertainment gave us the original Condemned in 2007. It was like a grown-up, paramilitary, pirate internet version of Battle Royale. Or, a Running Man minus all the neon lights, gimmicked killers, and Richard Dawson. Being a WWE Films production, they cast one of their own as its star – former wrestling icon “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, not to be confused with “The Six-Million Dollar Man” Steve Austin (who, in turn, isn’t to be mistaken for “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase). Though it was a massive financial boondoggle to the company (their biggest cinematic money pit to date), most wrestling fans consider it to be one of, if not the best of the company’s movie offerings, so it makes sense that they’d eventually sequelize it.
Now, having made The Marine 4, Behind Enemy Lines 3, 12 Rounds 3, and See No Evil 2, The Condemned was the last guy in the power plant not to receive “Employee of the Month”. As WWE doesn’t employ inanimate carbon rods (they’re very careful about their hiring practices these days, since you never know when Linda McMahon might run for Senate again), it’s The Condemned‘s time to shine!…with Randy Orton as the lead. By the racist fucking skullet of Hulk Hogan, what did I do to deserve this?!
Randy Orton. Randy “STUPID!” Orton. Randy “Just do enough to get by” Orton. Randy “Shitbag who shits in bags” Orton. As he’s known in our household, Blandy Bore-ton. As the chaps at Old School Wrestling Review once described him, “oozing with banality”. In the wrestling world, he is the alpha and omega of douchebags. He’s a legacy (his grandpa and dad were both wrestlers), he’s a crony (he’s best friends with Paul “Triple H” Levesque, one of the heads of the company), he has a history of drug abuse (cocaine [Randy Snortin’], steroids and painkillers), had a dishonorable discharge from the US Marines for going AWOL (a fact that came up when veterans protested his casting as the title hero in The Marine 3) and he’s an outright asshole (including defecating in female wrestlers’ luggage and breaking character just to berate other wrestlers during matches). He also goes by the nickname of “The Viper” (hence this episode’s alternate title) and has a stupid tribal tattoo on his arm that he tried to cover up with another of a pile of skulls, but is fooling no one as the original is still prominent. What a fuckin’ knob. Enough of the miserable reality, let’s get to the miserable fantasy.
Will Tanner (Orton) is a bounty hunter. He leads a posse of similarly minded individuals in the pursuit of wayward criminals for fun and profit. The latest target of these roughneck rednecks is one sinister son of a cunt named Cyrus (Wes Studi – a.k.a. Sagat in the Street Fighter live-action movie!) who runs an underground gambling operation where sick fucks bet on disturbing shit like which homeless guy hooked up to a Kevorkian Express will shed their unwashed mortal coil first. In a fit of movie irony, Will tells his boys to keep it non-lethal (this a “Wanted: Dead or Alive minus the ‘Dead’ part” contract), only to manslaughter the crap outta Cyrus when the villain is impaled on one of his own death machines. Hmmmm, a double scoop of irony? I really shouldn’t. I’m on a diet.
This fight shows us right off the bat that our protagonist probably only won the leadership role because he picked the longest straw, as it clearly wasn’t for his intelligence or tactical wits. When he has Cy dead-to-rights and lined up in his sights, Willie makes the incredibly stupid move of getting within the bad man’s reach. From there it’s elementary for Cyrus to disarm the doofus and prompt the ensuing struggle. Guns are made to kill and/or maim from a distance. From. A. DISTANCE. Why in the names of Horace Fucking Smith and Daniel Fucking Wesson (weird how they both had the middle name “Fucking”) would you flush the entire advantage of having a firearm down the metaphorical shitter by getting so close to your still very upright target that you can smell whether or not he had onions on his Whopper for lunch?! And Tanner’s supposed to be a trained bounty hunter!? If anyone reading this happens to know Alan McElroy or Roel Reiné, would you please punch them in the dick for me? Hell, even if you know neither but still know someone else cursed with either of those names, kindly do the same. But don’t mention my name. I’ve got enough “conspiracy to commit bodily harm” charges pending as it is.
Due to his epic botch, six months later Tanner ends up on trial for manslaughter. Though the judge presiding over the case makes her disdain for bounty hunters known (if ya wanna chase bad guys, become a cop), she gives him a suspended sentence and probation. Remorseful for his actions (though you wouldn’t know it by Orton’s expressionless “acting”), Billy goes home to his dad Frank (Eric Roberts) to tell him that he’s quitting the family business. Ah, so Will only got the manager position for the posse through nepotism. That makes sense. Having spent the last 30 years building the Tanner brand as the number one name in independent ne’er-do-well nabbing contractors in ALL of lower mid-western New Mexico, Frank’s not happy about the fruit of his loin turning his back on the bond jumper biz over one little unintentional murder.
Their resulting argument is almost like that scene in Varsity Blues where James Van Der Beek shouts “I DON’T WANT YOUR LIFE!” at his dad, except the actors are twice as old and all of the passion and defiance is instead replaced with lazy, even toned sarcasm while a mood of “When do we get our paychecks, again?” hangs heavy in the atmosphere. Riveting stuff to watch…in that I’d rather have rivets fired directly into the sides of my skull than have to wade through another minute of this cinematic landfill.
By the way, for anyone wondering why I’d use such a classy arrangement of letters as “cinematic” in this review, it’s in no way because I find anything professional or artistic about The Condemned 2. I’m using it in the “having qualities characteristic of motion pictures” manner. Inasmuch as this movie has moving images and is thus, technically, a “motion picture”. Carry on.
Without the big bucks of the manhunting industry to keep him in Wrangler jeans and Ford trucks, Billy Bob takes on a new job as a tow truck driver to make ends meet. One of his first calls is a pair of young women in Daisy Dukes and crop tops (likely local models, friends of the cast/crew, or just hopefuls fresh off the casting couch) who giggle and whisper things to each other while he changes their tire. There’s no real implication of what it is they’re saying to each other, but I entertain myself on the possibility that they’re talking about how the guy changing their tire looks like he doesn’t have two brain cells to rub together, and they’re formulating a plan where in he’ll give them all of his money before he leaves or straight up Knock Knock him. Oh but to dream my dreamy dreams, with their creamy dreamy filling. Mmmmm, filling.
Our hero’s next service call changes his life forever, as it’s from his old bounty hunting pal…uhm… honestly, I didn’t bother to write down any of their names. They’re mas macho types who call each other by their last names (being on a first name basis is apparently too intimate for tough guys), and as such I remember the sniper’s (Dylan Kenin) name is Travis [like singer Randy] and another (Morse Bicknell) goes by “Michaels” [like Shawn]…uhm, the retired pro-wrestler, not the one-man Mandingo party porn actor. That’s Sean Michaels. In case you were wondering. Okay then.
Anyway, when Willie fixes said former co-hunter’s car (his battery connector just came undone…hint hint), the guy awkwardly invites him out for a beer in thanks. Unless this was just this dude’s way of trying to get Will out on a man-date with him to lube his inhibitions up with a few brews before confessing his long held secret romantic intentions for our leading man (only if he’s “leading” us straight to Nap Town), his nervous demeanor betrays that there’s some ulterior motive to this social exchange. Given that there’s also a camera equipped drone following the pair around, this is clearly our entry point (front door or back?) into the figurative Thunderdome that is to be The Condemned 2: the Search for Randy’s Personality.
Each member of the Tanner bounty party has been assigned to assassinate their erstwhile chieftain Will, lest their failure to comply be taken out in the form of ultra-violence against them and/or their loved ones. Meanwhile, a speakeasy of high rollers have gathered to watch the spectacle as they gamble on which of the contestants will be the one to finally finish off their deadpan prey. The troublemaker organizing this Laff-A-Lympics of death is Cyrus’s surviving sidekick-turned-avenger Raul (Steven Michael Quezada), who’s vowed a blood vendetta against his ex-boss’s bored looking butcher-by-circumstance. The rest of the movie is pretty much what you’d expect: Tanner runs around shooting guns at people, trying to save his neck while getting to the bottom of Raul’s game and doing his best to keep collateral fatalities to a minimum, as a good guy does. That’s pretty much it. Now you don’t need to see it for yourself, unless your medicine cabinet is pulling a “Mother Hubbard’s cupboard” and is barren of the sleep aid of your choice, in which case 20 minutes of The Condemned 2 will put you out in a pinch!
That wasn’t a joke. I’m serious. This movie put me to sleep during my first attempted viewthrough. Granted, that may have been my fault for starting it at 1AM after a long day of soul reaping and Underworld political crap (we had to fight management hard to get that break room back!) without any type of artificial ambition boosting my brain, but even sitting through the last twenty minutes the next morning were like going 5 rounds of bare-knuckle with Morpheus! For fuck’s sake, just writing this review right now is tantamount to drinking a tall glass of warm milk prepared by Bill Cosby. I have to keep deleting the *yawns* I’m unconsciously typing out in every paragraph!
Randy Orton speaks with such an eyelid burdening monotone. Terminators have more emotional resonance than this guy! As a former drug addict, maybe he’s on mood stabilizers or something and his complete charisma coma is medically induced? Wherever the true blame lies, the reality is still right there, dropping steaming dumplings in our figurative luggage: this man should NOT be starring in even the directest of direct-to-video action flicks. He’d be more relatable as the leading role in his own autopsy video than what he’s giving us here, and I’m not exaggerating. Was he contractually obligated to be in this movie by WWE and just did his best impression of a cardboard cutout so they’d never bother him about being in any more movies!? Z’Dar’s CHIN (my version of “Zeus’s BEARD!”), the man is the Typhoid Mary of digitally transmitted Narcolepsy! I have never, EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEVER (thank you, Chris Jericho) watched a movie with Eric Roberts in a supporting role and thought, “Wow, if he were the star, this movie would be so much better!”. If nothing else, The Condemned 2 has proven to me that anything is possible.
I’ve never seen any of Orton’s other movies, so I have no clue if this is how he tackles all of his roles. I do know that Quezada was never one to chew the scenery in “Breaking Bad” though, so maybe all of the blame should go on Mr. Reiné’s back? It could be another The Dark Knight situation where Chris Nolan made Chris Bale do the gravelly voice until all of Batman’s scenes were just a big joke and almost completely unwatchable. Either way, Orton should stay away from all future movie sets and just keep his shtick in the squared circle. Be happy with your athletic prowess and leave the acting to the actors. Or Eric Roberts.
The rest of the movie is just as sterile as its star’s performance. The camera work is fumbly (I think it’s supposed to be shaky cam, but as directed by a 10 year old), the overall direction feels like a slog through plain oatmeal from Point A to Point B with zero spices or fruit thrown in. The rest of the cast’s acting ranges from “good enough” to “please just shut up already”, the fight choreography is slow and sloppy (great for a blowjob, not for a fight scene) despite the attempts to cover it up by jostling the camera around while they’re happening. The music has to be some of the most generic background crap I’ve ever heard. This entire feature was just a poorly planned shit show from opening credits to end credits. It’s not even bad from a fun-to-mock standpoint. The moderate production values keep it from being a full blown skid mark, but that’s as good as it gets. Forgettable and regrettable.
There’s one unintentional running joke I’d like to end this on though, to make the writing of this review and your reading of it at least somewhat worthwhile. As mentioned prior, like any copy-and-paste paramilitary group, Tanner’s team-turned-tormentors has one member who’s a skilled sniper. In case you forgot already (and I don’t blame you), his name is Travis. Well, Travis is supposed to be a skilled sniper, but he’s not. The credo of the sniper is “one shot, one kill”, denoting that their job is to kill with surgical precision, needing only one bullet to put down their intended target. Throughout his time stalking Tanner, Travis fires 30+ rounds from his rifle (not including the 60 or more fired from his uzi) and manages to kill…well, let’s just say the spoiler free version of his murder math is something far far FAR (like “a galaxy far far away” far!) less accurate than the gold standard. If I gave my 80 year old grandmother a single-shot rifle with 30 rounds of ammunition, put her inside Dorothy Gale’s house while it was caught in the twister that carried it to Oz, took away her glasses and tasked her with shooting half a dozen Munchkins also thrown into the cyclone, I guarantee you her fatalities-to-rounds fired ratio would put this Travis guy into a shame spiral so deep that he’d need a grappling hook and half a mile of rope to pull himself out of it!
Whew! I’m winded just reading that last sentence. I need to lay down and catch my breath after this. By the beers of Billy Carter, I’m too Murtaugh for this shit.
Even when he’s pulling a “spray and pray” with his uzi, Travis still manages to miss his targets! He has no problem perfectly strafing his shots in an almost impossibly narrow line along the top of a fruit and veggie stand (sending fragments of splattered produce into the air), but hitting the trio of full grown adults scuttling in an orderly fashion directly behind said stand is just impossible for this fucking career marksman to hit. My rage over this, combined with my need to count the amount of ammo this guy burned through to such minimal effect, are pretty much all I had to keep me from giving out on my second viewing. When you’re on the Titanic, the best you can do is grab whatever flotation device you can and hope you get back to shore before the bitter death grip of Mother Nature can drag you down into her frigid black oblivion. I think my metaphor got a little out of hand there, but the initial message is still in there somewhere. I’ll leave it up to you to exhume it.
Okay, that’s enough of that. Bottom line: the truly condemned in The Condemned 2 are the people who pay for this movie. As for me? I’m going to see if I can discover a way to distill its essence and market it as a cure for insomnia! Provided I can withstand extended exposure to its background radiation….long enough…to……….stay…awake………… *zzzzzzzzzzzzzz*
Elderly people hooked up to suicide machines against their will while non-white criminals gamble on which dies first? I’m not sure if this was taken from the movie or a 2013 Faux News report about ObamaCare.
This profile leaves out the “Zach Galifianakis impersonator available for private parties on weekends” part of Mr. Cooper’s resume.
This photo was taken of Mr. Merrick after the sandwich shop regretfully informed him that they were all out of jalapeno cream cheese for his cheddar bagel. Sorry Cyrus, early bird gets the jalapenos!
“I have you, a man armed with a knife, at a great disadvantage due to my possession of a firearm! Though I should be forcing you to the ground so one of my partners can restrain you, allow me to approach you until I’m well within range of your knife, giving you ample opportunity to disarm me and put my life in immediate danger!”
Don’t get your hopes up, like I did. This isn’t the moment where the whole movie turns into a surprise sequel to Maximum Overdrive and we see Randy Orton run over by a pissed off truck. “When you wish upon a star” my hairy ebon ass!
“You just sit back and watch how a real actor carries a low budget action movie, Junior.”
“You think if we flirt with the tow truck driver he won’t charge us?”
“Duh! Why else would we dress like this!?”
This is what happens when people don’t respect the “my quarter on the table means I get next game” rule!
“I was a supporting character in one of the most critically acclaimed television shows of all time! Don’t you dare mock me for chewing scenery in one crappy movie! I’ve earned a pass on this one!”
Ever since “Breaking Bad”, wanna-be meth cooks have caused staggering rate increases in the “mobile home explosion” insurance industry over the last few years.
Awww, it’s so cute when rednecks watch car movies and try to emulate them. I see somebody finally rented Fury Road from the Red Box kiosk at their nearest WalMart!
Hanukkah casino parties are becoming a popular trend for the kids at the synagogues these days. Let that gelt ride, bubbale!
Anubis will return next time in
“Life of Pi(e)”
Featuring: Iko “Merantau” Uwais , Arifin “Macabre” Putra , Alex “Rokkap” Abbad
Writer & Director: Gareth “The Raid” Evans
Also Known As: The Raid: Retaliation , The Raid 2: Berandal
Sequel to: The Raid: Redemption
Yep, I decided to stick around Indonesia for an extra week and knock out The Raid 2 while I’m here. I will neither confirm nor deny the rumors that I’m still here because a giant shark leapt from the ocean and ate my private helicopter, as that’s a matter for my insurance company to decide. Instead, let’s talk about Raid Harder and get this undercover boogaloo underway!
Oh. Uhm, before we get started, despite my best efforts to keep the twists and results of the first movie unspoiled, the simple act of reviewing this sequel is going to require that I undo my own efforts. So, if you don’t want me to pull the thread and unravel the poorly stitched monstrosity that was my Raid: Redemption episode, I suggest you take Lord Humungus’ advice and “Just walk away.” At least until you get a chance to watch the first one.
Are they gone? Cool. Now, everyone reading beyond this point has either seen the first flick or doesn’t give a dry hump about seeing a cheat sheet for it, right? Cuz even though I’m still restricted from typing word one about anything that could prematurely hasten the sequel’s “Sell By” date, I will be turning some MAJOR events of the original into a mold maligned mess in a matter of moments, starting……..now: – Jakartan SWAT team rookie Rama (played by real life Silat martial arts champion Iko Uwais) survived the eponymous raid upon the apartment complex from Hell. Crimelord-turned-slumlord Tama’s fortress of operations made him seemingly untouchable, but Rama’s Jenga™ game (and the help of his brother Andi) was just too legendary to withstand, and Tama’s Tower was toppled.
Well, supercop Ramadan is back. Picking up almost immediately where the previous film left off, our hero has uncovered the terminal cancer of corruption in the Jakartan justice system that allowed Tama to operate unabated. Upon Andi’s advice, he gets in touch with a man named Bunawar (Cok Simbara), who is one of the last corruption-free cops left on the police force. With a few of his trusted men, BunWarmer has the injured Bowo (yeah, he survived too) taken to a safe hospital, feng shuis captured traitor Lieutenant Wahyu’s brains outside of his skull, and recruits Rammy into their small operation of on-the-level officers. He promises to protect Rama’s wife and son-to-be but wants to send the Raid-er of the last arc (har har) undercover. The plan is to get him deep enough into cahoots with the syndicate that he can get the names of all the pigs on the bad guys’ payroll and flush ’em out fiercer than the trans-dimensional warp toilet that took Mario and Luigi to the Mushroom Kingdom in “The Super Mario Bros. Super Show” intro.
While Ram considers whether he wants to get this dedicated to his work or not, brother Andi (Donny Alamsyah) gets wasted by underworld figure Bejo (Alex Abbad), who plans on overtaking Jakarta as its new kingpin once current head bad guy Bangun (Tio Pakusodewo) is removed from power…or gets his face blown off. Whichever happens first. According to Bejo, Andi apparently pulled an Icarus and let his ambitions carry his ass too close to the sun when he succeeded his previous employer Tama, following his death in the prior flick. Unlike Tama, Andi didn’t know well enough to know his role, shut his mouth, and smell what The Rock was cookin’. He dipped his finger in the brownie batter and ends up on the receiving end of a Nicky Santoro Special as a result. Don’t get it? No, it’s not a sandwich. Or a sex act. Go watch Casino. Joe Bob Briggs has a cameo! I’ll wait.
Before we get back to progressing with our protagonist, here’s the quick-and-dirty on the Jakartan underbelly. As mentioned, Bangun (which is presumably more powerful than a ban hammer) runs half of the city, while the other 50%’s governing faction is a family of ne’er-do-well Yakuza from Japan known as the Goto. If you need bad things done and laws broken, you might say they’re your “go to guys”… After which you’ll likely be stabbed in the stomach for making the same gut groaningly bad pun they’ve no doubt heard more times than Connor MacLeod’s katana was folded. The two sides have been at peace for the last decade, staying out of each other’s business. Crime and let crime. They each have their own bribery deals with the police, headed by the evil Commisioner Reza (Roy Martin), who’s the big fish BunBun is hoping to land with Rama’s help, provided that he agrees. Which I’ll bet he does, otherwise we wouldn’t have much of a movie.
And what is Bun’s means to his end? Ram Man’s going to prison under the alias of Yuda: a nobody from nowhere that nobody knows about. Yep, our big man’s going to the big house. Once there, it’s his job to get in good with ‘Gun’s sole son, Uco (Arifin Putra), which may or may not be short for “Yucko”. It’s never really addressed. To make sure Rammstein catches the bad guy’s eye right out of the gate, the crime he gets arrested for is beating the shit out of the son of the politician who got Ucky put there in the first place. Like any good actor, what’s Rama’s motivation for beating said offspring’s ass? He works with Bejo. Yeah, after seeing what this guy did to all those machete assholes a la Redemption, I wouldn’t want to be in the British Knights© of anybody under the employ of the guy who shotgunned Andi’s face straight into a shallow grave.
Ramrod goes through with the plan, kicking the shit out of the senator’s son (not such a “fortunate one” now, eh?) and getting himself incarcerated. When trying to get the attention of the major players in the clink, it doesn’t hurt to single-handedly take on fifteen guys in a toilet at once (in a fight, not a gangbang, ya perverts), which Rama does to moderate success. Punching out the biggest guy in the place? Not good enough when you’re doing time in the Eastern Hemisphere! You don’t cripple at least 5 guys in the first hour, you may as well get “fuck hole” tattooed around your mouth. Peacocking his titanium beach balls makes our hero the number one draft on wanna-be-Greaser haired Uco’s recruiting drive, especially given that he needs all the protection he can get what with his high profile status.
The two hit it off (kinda), and before you know it we FF>> a pair of calendars to Rama finishing out his sentence. The since freed Uco greets him at the prison gates and ushers him back into the fresh air of freedom, immediately taking his new BFF to meet dear old dad. After some awkward introductions and a getting a new set of threads, Rams is tasked by Bangun (seriously, his name sounds like an Ultraman villain!) to babysit Uco, making sure his brash, youthful aspirations don’t make the lad too big for his britches and put him on the wrong side of the wrong people. Speaking of the wrong people, Bejo’s consolidated his power enough to get some attention by the bosses, and may be eyeing his own ill-fitting pair of Dockers.
Our main man falls by the wayside for the middle piece of the movie, as the focus shifts to all of the basic crime movie political stuff: factions pitting factions against one another, struggles for power, illicit activities, peace treaties, backroom scheming, assassinations and so on. Rama’s really just there to keep Uco from killing karaoke call girls for this section. He comes back adamantium hard for the final act though, breaking limbs, splitting lips, and cracking skulls like ass kicking is his business and he’s having a clearance sale! There’s even a cool (albeit it oddly music deprived) car chase sequence that’s pretty damn spiffy, along with some righteous fisticuffs between Big Hero Ram and the movie’s trio of gimmick antagonists (credited as “Hammer Girl”, “Baseball Bat Man”, and “The Assassin”). It’s some of the best action I’ve seen since Set gave that classroom full of 1st graders PCP and duct taped razorblades to their fists! Every one of them got an A+ that day, I tell you. Except little Duncan. Poor kid never learned to guard his left…
Speaking of psychotic violence for personal enjoyment, for anyone (like myself) who was a big fan of Yayan Ruhian’s “homeless man murder machine” Mad Dog from Redemption, Ruhian returns for the sequel as Prakoso: the homeless man murder machine who works as the personal assassin for Bangun and family, and has done so for so long that Uco calls him uncle. ‘Oso is far more humanized than Mad Dog was (no surprise, since his name was Mad Dog, after all. Duh.), doesn’t share his antecedent’s predilection for unassisted conflict, and manages to look even more like an unwashed hobo. I can’t wait to see him pop up in The Raid 3 dressed like Jed Clampett and wielding a bindle like some crazy-ass Boxcar Willie Chan! That’s a joke that completely shits the bed since Willie Chan was Jackie Chan’s talent agent-slash-co-producer and not a performer. Fuck. Moving on!
This was originally intended to be Evans’ sophomore feature following his debut picture, Merantau, but as a barely proven writer-director at the time, the Welshman had to put it on the backburner and come up with the much more thrifty Redemption first to prove that he was indeed worthy of his original dream’s asking price. It became an international hit and Indonesia’s highest grossing movie of all time (a statistic I just pulled out of my ass, so I wouldn’t quote it if I were you), and as such, Raid 2 was born. The only problem here is that this is only tangentially a sequel. Not a shock, as it was written first and not intended to be a follow-up, but the idea of a rookie SWAT officer thrown directly into an undercover operation grates my cheese. I guess NetFlix training by sitting through half-a-dozen similar movies is enough to get by in the Jakartan crime world.
There’s obviously more story here, so the action isn’t as nonstop as before. But, as I said in the last review, Evans’ strong point isn’t writing, so adding more story and script to the formula does him few favors. Sadly, barring a few exceptions, if you’ve seen one undercover-pig flick you’ve pretty much seen them all. As well-versed in fighting chops as the cast is, they’re not a shade on Donnie Brasco when it comes to acting chops, nor is the tale half as intriguing and well twisted as Infernal Affairs (or its ‘Merican-izing, The Departed). I’m far from being a crime fiction fanboy, but I could smell the (french) twists on this one coming like Nozone can smell Junkyard taking his morning shit in the backyard 5 minutes before he even squats.
That reference is probably gonna require a Google or two, so don’t feel bad if it sounds like I was speaking Aramaic for a minute there.
Not wanting to sacrifice what got him this far to begin with, Evans still puts plenty of bang-pow into his movie. As a result though, the runtime on R the Deuce hits a harder to swallow 2.5 hours. Blame my underdeveloped gag reflex if you like, but 150 minutes for something like this is a bit much. The original cut came in at something short of 4 hours though, which is probably the stuff they’re going to Frankenstein Raid 3 out of. As much as Mr. Evans knows how to shoot a fight scene too, there are needless bits of shaky cam during non-action scenes, as if he’s got some kinda hyperactive disorder and can’t let the camera stand still for more than a few minutes at a time. It kinda kills the drama of the moment when you’re too busy getting dizzy to stay engaged. Oh well. Still not as amateurish and off-putting as Michael Bay’s bowel movie-ments.
As a guy who cites Jackie Chan, John Woo, and Sam Peckinpah as his action objects of idolatry, it’s nice to see Evans make movies that would do them proud. He also does the classic “director who’s also a fanboy” thing and puts in a few nods to other movies while he’s at it, including a *wink*wink* to Oldboy and a *nudge*nudge* to Versus. Shit, he even drops a reference to his freshman feature Merantau, since Rama’s alias Yuda was also Uwais’ character’s name. Pretty sneaky, Sis.
On a whole, The Raid 2 is a groovy slab of movie. Though he won’t win any writing awards, Gareth Evans is still a stellar action guy. He may be one of the best fight choreographers in the world! I probably won’t watch this again without doing the Fast Forward Fandango to soak in the beautiful brutality and glorious goriness, but my complaints are limited. Bring on the finale to the trilogy!
Before I go, I’d like to give every moviemaker ever a bit of solid advice: do something incredibly memorable and parody worthy with your movie’s subtitle. Don’t do something so generic as “The Revenge” or “The Final Chapter”, but do something that will make people remember your movie years after everyone has forgotten what the fuck it was or who starred in it or even if it was good or not. Truly unforgettable subtitles like “The Legend of Curly’s Gold” or “The Destruction of Jared-Syn” or, the inspiration for today’s alternate title, “Electric Boogaloo”. Trust me, I’ve never even seen Breakin’ 2, but I’d have to be subjected to some fucking Manchurian Candidate level brain rape before I ever forget something like “Electric Boogaloo”. Hell, it’ll probably be my activation code when I become a sleeper cell agent!
“Uggh! Was that you?! Have you been eating brussel sprouts lately, or did something just crawl up your ass and die?!”
“You may not have noticed, but my hair is beginning to thin slightly. Where do you stand on the ‘keep it natural’ vs. ‘shave it’ debate?”
“You’ve failed this city.”
Looks like the Taco Bell men’s room after Fifty Cent Burrito Happy Hour.
“Can I interest you in some of my homemade ‘Jailhouse Rockin’ hair gel? I mix it in my cell toilet. Just 7 cigarettes for an all-day hold you can depend on!”
Woodstock ’99: the Morning After
Indonesian Bruce Campbell!
“Pfttt! I pay an extra dollar for the Premium Alpo© and it tastes the same as the regular stuff! Waste of money.”
“If you EVER eat the last S’Mores Pop Tart again, I will make it so you spend the rest of your life sitting down to pee. Do you hear me!?”
“No! Please! I had to save up 6 months pay to FINALLY buy this Incredible Hulk #181! It’s the last book I needed to complete my Wolverine collection! DON’T TAKE THIS AWAY FROM ME!”
They’re practicing the new men-only partner yoga – Broga.
“I’m telling you, man, if you bend your fingers up like this when you’re doing it, you’ll hit the g-spot every time! It drives the women CRAZY!”
Anubis will return next time in
“What’s Eating Gilbert Chan?”
Featuring: Iko “Merantau” Uwais , Joe “Fast & Furious 6” Taslim, Doni “Hearts of Freedom” Alamsyah
Writer & Director: Gareth “The Raid 2” Evans
Also Known As: The Raid
Sequel: The Raid 2
Hey kids, it’s me again! Your jackal-in-chief, your podunk punk, your Death God with dad bod, and the founder of the no-pants-on pantheon – Anubis Von Mojo! I wanted to have a heavenly chorus singing “Return of the Mack” here while pyro shoots out of a big top hat on my head, but there wasn’t any room in the World Tour de Farce travel budget for any of it. Speaking of, after that extensive layover in Spain I’m back on the proverbial road a-gain! I’m backtracking just a smidge, having realized that my last telemetry jump overshot Indonesia and put my ass in Malaysia instead. Remind me to kill that Stargate operator when I get back. Making the best (or moderately better than worst) of the situation, well, you saw my Apokalips X review. And if you didn’t, rewind 6 or 7 episodes and treat it like halitosis: Scope it! Where was I? That’s right, Indonesia. Here’s some quick trivia on the island nation. We’re still applying for some of Uncle Sam’s sweet educational stipend money, so there will be a quiz at the end of the review. As such, eyes front and mouths shut!
For sharters, errrr starters, Indonesia is the FOURTH most visited country in the world, and the LARGEST congregation of islands, consisting of 17,800 individual isles! Yes, that’s a comma and NOT a decimal. Indonesians laugh when you present them a bottle of Thousand Island dressing. Like Ron Jeremy’s dick laughing at whatever Andy Dick’s dick looks like. It’s no surprise that half the islands haven’t even been named yet. Shit, someone put me in touch with Indonesia’s Department of Naming and for the reasonable price of just $1 per island, I’ll have 9,000 names for ya by the end of the month! Speaking of geographical milestones, Indonesia has more active volcanoes than any other country in the world with 400! Actually, given that they’ve got almost 18,000 islands in their domain, 400 active volcanoes isn’t nearly as impressive a statistic. I mean, sure, 400 is a LOT of volcanoes, but on a per-island basis that’s barely more than 2%, so mentioning the volcano statistic after the island number statistic is kinda like Extreme going on after a 2 hour AC/DC set. Meh.
Indonesia is not only the largest supplier worldwide of liquid natural gas, cloves, nutmeg, and plywood (80% of all plywood, in fact!), but is also home to the largest number of shark species at right around 150 different breeds! You know which shark you can’t find in their waters? The titular man-eater of Raiders of the Lost Shark. Yep, that’s a thing that I just discovered exists and I’m so happy to spread the disease that I had to namedrop it on your collective chests as soon as possible. Continuing on the native fauna kick, Indo also lays claim to the world’s smallest primate (Tarsier Pygmy), the world’s smallest fish (Paedocypris progenetica – “Paedo” to his pals), the world’s longest snake (Python Reticulates), and the world’s only living “dragon” (Komodo, named for the island they’re native to). Yes, I have a full collection of “Zoobooks“. The anatomical illustrations are fucking metal as Hel and if you don’t know what I’m talking about, you’re living a life unfulfilled. Make like Kool & the Gang and get down on it!
Heyyyyyy! I’m reviewing Theee Raaaaid! (sung to the tune of 2 Live Crew’s “We Want Some Pussy”) Yes! After a grueling 4 year wait, I’m finally allowing myself to watch The Raid! I spent a long time looking forward to this, which is never a good thing as despite my best efforts this practice inevitably builds some form of expectation due to overheard tidbits like “amazing action scenes that’ll make your eyes shed tears of joy before they bleed streaks of awesome from the brain explosion that watching them can cause”. Not a direct quote, but you get the idea. In my experience, met expectations are the rarest of the rare. Not just “bloody” rare, but “still grazing” rare. Sorry, we jackals are opportunistic predatory omnivores – we scavenge puns whenever the window opens. If any of you are homophonephobics, I’m going to have to ask you to leave. There’s no place for your ignorance and bigotry here. *rimshot*
In case you’ve never heard of today’s movie, its original title is simply The Raid. For some reason, “Redemption” was tacked on for international distribution, which is really odd since there isn’t exactly much in the way of redemption happening. Maybe Sony wanted to avoid any possible lawsuits by S.C. Johnson & Son over confusion with their insecticidal product Raid©. Ask me (and even if you don’t), it seems like the perfect chance for a cross promotion! “Raid: when you don’t just want to kill bugs dead, you want to beat ’em violently first and make ’em question the choices they made that brought them to this level of agony!” A bit long-winded, sure, but I imagine one of those big city fancy-pants marketing firm types could shrink my Andre the Giant into a perfectly viable Hervé Villechaize.
Sorry if the last few paragraphs feel like filler, but I seriously don’t know what I’m supposed to talk about once I actually start reviewing the movie itself! Redemption‘s only 4 years old, so it’s protected under The Tomb Accords Anti-Spoilers Law! Unable to discuss the two or three plot developments that mean anything, I’m left with very little to write about! So, yes, I apologize for stuffing a cucumber down my jockeys, but now that I’ve confessed to the true size of my schnitzel, won’t you give me a chance to attempt to get you off? I mean, we’ve already gone this far, and we’re miles from where anyone can hear you. What do you say? 🙂
Oh, and before we really put knife and fork to the entree, let it be noted that I’m reviewing the English dub of the movie (technical problems with the subtitles on the original language version), so if I quote anything that doesn’t gel with the version you’ve seen, don’t crucify me. I don’t have the “Savior Sixer” abs for something like that.
Meet Rama (Iko Uwais). He’s a rookie member of the Jakarta police force about to embark on the biggest “make or break” day of his career. More “make or die”, but who’s counting? Being from Indonesia, he’s also Muslim. Not surprising, as it’s the dominate theological faith in that neck of the woods. If you have a problem with a flick’s protagonist being Muslim, DO NOT WATCH THIS MOVIE. As such, may I offer another option for tonight’s entertainment? First, swallow a whole roll of Mentos©. Make it two if you’re macho enough. Then, wrap your head in duct tape until your mouth is securely closed. Next, insert a tube up your nose and have a friend or family member beer bong you with a bottle of Coke, making sure the tube is in far enough that the Coke empties down your throat. After that? Well, I wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise. Just make sure your friend sends me a link to the video on YouTube! Also, you might wanna make sure your will is up-to-date before trying this. No reason, it’s just a good thing to do every so often.
Before taking part in the biggest mission of his budding career, Rama says his prayers, does his pull-ups, beats the unholy tar out of his punching bag, then kisses his pregnant wife and her big ol’ baby beer gut goodbye. He also says “I’ll bring him back.” to an older gent, who I’m presuming to be his father. From the onset, writer-director Gareth Evans is setting this up to be a tale of major triumph or crippling tragedy. Smart money’s on Rama making it to the end of the day with a still functioning circulatory system, but this could be one of those artsier flicks where the hero dies at the end. Whether that idea makes your eyes water, or you’re a psychopath who gets murder boners from watching protagonists getting popped, keep the Kleenex© handy just in case, pals and gals.
Rama’s part of a twenty man SWAT operation to take down a notorious Jakartan crime lord known as Tama (Ray Sahetapy). Tama is treated like the God of Crime in this city, and is flanked by his top henches Mad Dog (Yayan Ruhian) and the not-at-all-intimidatingly monikered Andi (Doni Alamsyah). Not to be confused with the short-lived Marvel character of the same name (born from Bob Newhart’s even shorter-lived sitcom “Bob“), Mad Dog is a fitting recipient of the Dolemite “Human Tornado” Award. He’s referred to by SWAT leader Jaka (Joe Taslim) as “a maniac of feet and fists that would tear down walls for his boss” and prefers to kill his enemies with his bare hands rather than with a weapon. As you can imagine, this is gonna lead to a whole shit show of trouble for our law enforcers…unless, you know, one of these cops saw Raiders of the Lost Ark (not to be confused with Raiders of the Lost Shark) and just shoots Doggie in the fucking face from across a room. Not that real life logic finds its way into movies very often, but you never know.
And Andi? Jaka describes him as “the brains of Tama’s business” who “keeps Mad Dog in check” and “given the opportunity, he will put bullets into you”. Though I have to bite the metaphorical bullet here to avoid a spoiler, I’ve gotta say that it’s a miracle Tama’s managed to keep his operation running as successfully as he has if Andi’s really the brains behind it. Later in the film, Andi makes a glaring error in his decision making that deservedly fucks him over big time. A screw up that any remotely intelligent person would’ve considered ahead of time, let alone someone who’s supposed to be the smart one in this Three Stooges empire of the Indonesia underworld.
Now for the movie’s hook: Tama’s crime kingdom operates out of an old apartment complex. He’s got his own in-house narcotics lab, a Sliver style peeping tom closed circuit camera network, and he rents the apartments out to any thieves, pushers, killers, or jaywalkers looking for police protection at an affordable rate with all utilities included and a flexible lease. Sure, the place is a rundown shithole and the Super is almost impossible to get a hold of on the weekends, but it’s still a better deal than most of the places you’ll find in any of the major cities in this country!
Prior to the raid (we have a title!), Rama asks why this group of newbs is being tasked with taking over the Towering Dante’s Inferno of the Jakartan realty market. One of his team members, goofy-ass tough guy stereotype Bowo (Tegar Satrya) throws out the typical good-little-soldier testosterone juiced answer of “WHY THE FUCK NOT!?” and tries to alpha male our protagonist in the pooper by calling him “boy”. Hopefully his death will be hilarious, and let’s hope it includes him screaming like a little kid and pissing himself. Jaka puts Bow in a corner (he doesn’t get Baby privileges) and responds to Ramen’s query, telling him that Tama’s been challenged by rival gangs for years, none of whom was able to topple his felonious tower. None of which addresses the questions of “Why us?” and Why today?”. And why not? Because it’s an incredibly transparent plot point that I’m cursed not to address! Damn gypsies and their hexes!
The busload of blue boys reach their destination, and meet up with their head muckity-muck, Lieutenant Wahyu (Pierre Gruno, looking like modern day Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat). Wahyu isn’t happy about all of the wet-noses in their group, but given this is probably not a sanctioned operation to begin with, he’ll take all of the bullet sponges he can get. They luck out on getting past the front gate to the complex, when they nab a returning tenant and use his keys to gain entry. The mission goes well at first, with the team going ninja on the first five floors, incapacitating any and all miscreants with the precision of surgeons and the silence of little cat feet. Given that Tama’s Tower only has 15 levels, they should be done cleaning house by lunch! Or at least they would have, if Jaka didn’t have this whole morality problem about not killing kids…
Yep, a young boy gets his big red exclamation point (not literally) when he spots the aspiring Solid Snakes and sends out the warning signal to the adults. Did ‘Nam teach the world nothing? Women and children in a warzone are NOT to be trusted! If they’re not wearing C4 Underoos, they’re always within reach of a damn alarm! Anyway, shit goes south faster than a Yankee slave owner after the signing of The Emancipation Proclamation. Before you can say “pig hunt!”, everyone in the building is on high alert and out for blood, with Tama promising free room and board to anyone who brings him a fresh slice of bacon. Can a SWAT team of well-armed amateurs survive this deadly edition of ghetto “Fun House“? This obstacle course of mayhem and murder? Will Ram Jam, or anyone for that matter, be walking away from Satan’s apartment complex by the end of Act 3? Given that they’re unable to call in reinforcements, Tama’s got the whole place wired with security cameras, and they’re outnumbered something like 25-to-1, it’s gonna take a miracle for the good guys to win this one! Or maybe they’ll just escape through some conveniently placed plot holes.
The break down for the rest of the movie consists of scenes of people shooting at each other, cops running away from gangs of bloodthirsty thugs wielding machetes, Ramesses showing himself to be the deadly version of Jackie Chan as he beats his way through waves of enemies using everything at hand, Mad Dog beating ass like a spanking machine set to “Adrian Petersen”, a really tense scene involving a machete and a crawlspace, a bout of Home Ec amateur surgery, extreme fire ax remodeling, a DIY kitchen bomb straight out of the Anarchist’s Cookbook (or Die Hard 3), and… and…… STUFF I CAN’T TALK ABOUT! ARGH! DAMN MY MYSTICAL KEYBOARD AND ITS CURSED “SPOIL-LOCK” KEY!
As wrapped in anti-spoiler tape as my fingers may be, I can tell you this much: Evans telegraphs his tale like a Street Fighter character shouting the name of their special move before they actually do said move. If you watch Redemption and don’t see the twists in the road from a mile off, you’ll want to consult you physician, because you may have a crayon lodged in your forebrain. In fact, this sounds like the setup to one of those Jeff Foxworthy “You might be a redneck!” jokes. Don’t be a redneck. Buckle your safety belt. Sorry, crossed some reference wires there. I LEARNED IT BY WATCHING YOU!
Though his storytelling is very basic and his characters are generic archetypes, the Wales born Gareth Evans (“Doesn’t he run like a Welshman?”) knows how to make an action scene. Given that that’s the kind of thing you’d expect from an action movie, it’s good enough to see The Raid to its finish. Funny enough, GE has said that if you took out all of the fighting, his movie would come off more like survival horror, not unlike [REC]. I can see it. Protagonist gradually works their way up an apartment complex they can’t escape while trying to avoid their would-be killers? Absolutely. Maybe if Evans collaborated with a better writer and focused more of his efforts on the director duties, we could get something amazing out of him. Shit, I’d love to see what he could do with a Moon Knight or Daredevil movie! You never know. If Marvel can take a chance on giving the writer-director of Tromeo & Juliet $170 million to make a movie starring a monosyllabic Treebeard and Ranger Rick’s foul-mouthed cousin, I wouldn’t rule it out…
As is, Redemption still works great as a 90 minute testosterone trip. It’s brain candy. It’s a popcorn flick. A thing of beauty in its own right, and a nice accomplishment for the mere million-or-so dollars spent to make it. A budget that was made back 4 times over by its US box office alone! The fight choreography itself is worth the price of admission and Rama’s mandatory one-vs-many “tonfa and combat knife” battle ballet would give both Jean-Claude Van Damme and Mikhail Baryshnikov the green-eyed monster. Give me a movie where Iko Uwais and Tony Jaa hit each other with sticks and knees for two hours and you’ve just leased my eyeballs.
Before I wrap this up, I have a 32oz. slab of nitpicker beef to serve to the Sony advertising department. The Redemption poster promises us “1 Ruthless Crime Lord. 20 Elite Cops. 30 Floors of Hell” as the tagline, but I have two problems with that statement. #1 – It’s well established that most of the officers partaking in the mission are rookies. Skilled as they may be, I don’t think I’d ever refer to a greenhorn in any position as “elite”. Not that I have any doubt any one of them wouldn’t be able to beat the tits off of an American SWAT team member, but still. This pales in comparison to my next bit of under-the-belt irritation though: #2 – The apartment building is only 15 stories high. I get trying to oversell it for crowd hype purposes, but fuck you Sony marketing twats for straight up lying to us. Shit, even the apartment complex portrayed on the poster itself only has 20 floors! Let me upgrade that “fuck you” to a “fuck you with a Roman Candle”. I’m gonna stick my Krakatoa just east of your Java. Indonesian movie joke. It’s okay if you didn’t laugh.
And so goes the deadliest realtor walk-through since The Grudge open house. Blood and adrenaline flowed in equal measure and my four year anticipation was almost completely satisfied, if not for the poor plot development. Be on the lookout for our next less-than-epic episode, coming sooner than you think…unless you think it’ll be anytime in the next 3 days, in which case it sounds like someone needs to temper their expectations. Right now, I have preparations to make for my Evil Dead Bride’s birthday, and the custom shadow box I had made for Her signed copy of The Necronomicon has been sitting in a Daytona Beach FedEx facility for the last week. When can we finally send Florida off into the Atlantic and castrate the US’s flaccid geographical dong?
Oh, and no quiz. I was too high on blowfish toxin brownies last night. Everything I typed came out in tongues (by which I mean you’d have to have your tongue yanked out to pronounce any of it) and that’s all I remember before I lost consciousness. No diggity, I woke up in a bathtub full of V8 and cocktail shrimp this morning, with my laptop on the toilet and an open Word file that was harder to read than an Irvine Welsh novel translated into R’lyehian. Ktulu luv a duck.
Until next time, Mungkin hatimu tidak berlari lebih cepat otak Anda!
“You know I love you no matter what, baby, but I think you should seriously consider switching to Lite beers.”
“Okay, if whoever (Whomever?) it is that has the methane leak comes forward now, I promise you immunity from a Defcon 4 soap beating in the locker room after this. This is your last chance: cork it or pay the price!”
These Indonesian knock-off Three Stooges are kinda depressing… and scary. No like.
“Uggh! That stink is trapped in my nose hairs now! When I find out who it is with the IBS, they’re gonna be DOA!”
“I don’t mean to tell you how to do your job, officer, but your continued rubbing of my nipple is making me very uncomfortable!”
This is why you never go cheap and ask your friend to pierce your ear for you.
And here I thought I was the last person on Earth under the age of 70 that still had a LAN line!
“Hello! Machete man! I was wondering if you had any sugar cane or bamboo or coconuts that need macheting? I’m trying to work my way through night school… Hello? Well, I’ll just leave my business card on the table and if you or your friends need my services, please call. Thank you!”
Norelco© tries to appeal to the hipster market with their new Amish Shaver™. It’s disturbingly popular for something that left permanent scarring after 93% of test shaves… well, on the ones that survived, that is.
“You can’t talk to me like that! I defeated “Macho Man” Randy Savage at Wrestlemania III in what many have called the greatest Wrestelmania match of ALL TIME! Sure, my whole run as “The Dragon” was embarrassing, what with that stupid hat and those weird arm fins, but I know Mickey Rourke, damn it!”
This is why you never give a stranger unsolicited advice on why he should get hair plugs.
Anubis will return next time in
Featuring: Alex “The Descent” Reid , Chris “’Kung-Fu: the Legend Continues‘” Potter , Neus “Torrente” Asensi
Director: Jack “A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge” Sholder
Writer: Mark “Sci-fighters” Sevi
TheTombOfAnubis.com – Promoting literacy through good ol’ fashioned read-only bad movie pontifications! Video reviews be damned! (Maybe now we can qualify for one of those big-ass educational grants from the government!)
For our final furlong (not Edward) of this field trip to the Fantastic Factory, I’ll be pulling the limbs off of the eight-legged freak known as Arachnid. And as you may have guessed by the rating, said furlong is a fucking death march. I could’ve saved myself a lot of misery had I done the rerun re-view review of Stuart Gordon’s Dagon, which originally left me with the unfulfilled hope that Gordon would be more involved with Yuzna’s company beyond the singular feature he helmed. You know, kinda like how people who hope that House of Re-Animator will ever happen are living in a fool’s paradise, eating the deceptive fruits of the delusion tree. Anyway, Dagon has already been earmarked for another reviews thing, so worry not, I’ll get to it sooner or later! For now? Shit, let’s get this over with…
Arachnid wastes no time dumping our books and pushing us into an impossibly deep mud puddle, establishing itself as our bullying tormentor from the opening scene. An eye blistering sequence of the most amateurish of computer-borne special effects plays out, as a devil-may-care test pilot codenamed Lightfoot (Jesus Cabrero) flies a stealth bomber and rocks us like the proverbial hurricane. He’s blasting ass all over the Pacific Ocean, minus the dulcet tones of Kenny Loggins telling us about his scenic drive to the titular Danger Zone. Speaking of, today’s episode is brought to you by The Danger Zone™!
Parents, do you need somewhere to drop off your little ones while you and the spouse test drive the new gimp suits down at Paco’s Pleasure Palace™? Leave ’em at The Danger Zone™ – It’s like Chuck E. Cheese’s, but with more exposed wiring, broken bottles, and used hypodermic needles in the ball pit to help your brat grow some balls instead of encouraging them to be a weak little sissy like those other family fun centers do! We don’t accidentally hire known sex offenders anymore (or any less)! Just take Exit 37 off the highway to The Danger Zone™!
No sooner does Lightfoot go full stealth (and “mean and extreme”), than he catches sight of an alien spacecraft, camouflaged with some of that Predator brand “wavy air” cloaking tech…because they were too cheap to dedicate any of this already middling computer effects budgets toward designing an actual ship. The craft appears to have been harvesting sea life via a self-generated water spout when ‘Footsie interrupted. When he decides he can’t leave well enough alone and pursues the ship, his plane’s systems fail and he’s forced to bail…I’m sorry, I mean he’s forced to extreme bail in the meanest of totally gnarly fashions, bro! The bomber rear-ends the alien ship (looks like the Pentagon’s gonna be raising taxes to cover the bump in their insurance premium from this one!), resulting in a hilarious explosion that looks like it was lifted out of a ’90s PC game. The first rule of making a low budget movie? If you can’t afford to make something look even remotely realistic, DON’T SHOOT IT! And if you do, and it’s so stank-awful it makes your nose hairs curl and your eyes squirt like Flower Tucci’s twat? LEAVE IT ON THE CUTTING ROOM FLOOR! Fuck. And this is the movie’s opening! I told you we were in for some pain and shame, kids.
‘Foot parachutes down to a nearby island (that was NOWHERE to be seen in any of the wide open ocean footage we just saw), and within its luscious green canopy he finds a smoking crater that’s WAY too small for the size of the alien ship he just jackknifed. Also, despite crashing, the craft’s remnants are nowhere to be seen as the alien cloaking system was apparently unaffected by the mid-air collision nor the face plant into terra firma, because fuck the audience. An e.t. (that resembles what I imagine years of inbreeding between the mutants of This Island Earth would produce) appears, but its personal cloaking device must be failing as it distorts in and out of view like the picture on an old TV when someone turns on the Hoover. As Lightfoot watches in horror, gun drawn on the visitor, some giant spidery legs sprawl out from behind it, restrain it, then impale it on what I’m guessing to be a big spider dick. The murderous arachnid then leaps into the trees, with ‘Foot firing after it to no avail while the alien begins to sizzle (at least that’s what the closed captioning “subtitles” call it) before fizzling into nothingness. Goodbye, shitty digital alien puppet thing. You won’t be missed.
Some Silly String looking shit then sprays over our hero (looks like the same stuff the Mothra larva and Kumongas used to jizz out in the old Toho Godzilla movies) before he turns away, coming eye-to-eyes with what I’m guessing is the eponymous subject of the movie. Cue his screams and likely pants filling before we cut to the title card.
As our opening credits fade in and out of reality (not unlike the alien), we’re taken to a small airstrip in Guam, where we meet who’s sure to be the movie’s real hero(ine), Loren Mercer (Alex Reid). Merc’s been hired by one of the local physicians, Dr. Leon (Jose Sancho), to fly a small group out to a nearby island where the natives have been dying of an unknown illness transmitted by mysterious spider-like bites. The fatal sickness looks to me to show the symptoms of onset Brundlefly-itis, but damn it Jim, I’m a Death God, not a doctor! Also along for the trip are Dr. L’s assistant Susana (Neus Asensi), hired gun/field leader Lev Valentine (Chris Potter), Lev’s heavies Bear (Rocqueford Alan) and Reyes (Luis Lorenzo), published entomologist Dr. Henry Capri (Ravil Isyanov, stealing work from Ted Raimi) and native guide Toe Boy (Robert Vincencio, stealing work from that guy who played Pedro in Napoleon Dynamite). No idea if “Toe Boy” is his tribe given name or just a joke name he was stuck with by the missionaries who brought him there in the first place, but Toe Boy’s his name, so Toe Boy’s what we’re calling him! You know, if he grew up to become an orthopedic surgeon he could graduate from Toe Boy to Toe Cutter…
Obviously, Henry’s going because Dr. L suspects some new breed of spider to be the cause of the sickness, but what else is he preparing for if he’s hired a trio of heavily armed military types to escort them?! Turns out Lev’s just one of those “overcompensating” types, as he declares to Lore that his sense of personal security directly correlates with the amount of armaments he carries with him. Or, to use his exact words: “The more guns I have, the safer I feel!”. I’ll let Matt Parker and Trey Stone posit my reaction on that statement:
On the ride over, Lev and Lore chat it up a bit and establish some character background for us. He and Bear are both former Marines, while Loren is a recently retired Air Force fighter pilot. She resigned her commission with Uncle Sam to become a small time charter pilot on a two-bit island to “look for something”, of which I’m sure we’ll learn later. Mistaking Lev’s interest in getting to know her better as smooth talk, Lore makes sure to put it out there that she’s not interested in “companionship, a relationship, or even a hump buddy”… hump buddy?! What ex-military personnel calls it “humping”?! The term is FUCK buddy! Humping is what dogs to your leg. Believe me, as a human-jackal hybrid deity, I know.
Loren’s electronics randomly die out on her, so she’s forced to crash land on the island’s beach. It’s a groaner of a scene, worthy of an episode of “Perfect Strangers” as the passengers throw themselves about in a panic and the camera’s shaken violently. The crash initiates an irritating back-and-forth bickerfest between Ms. Mercer and Doc Leon that carries on until one of them dies later (guess which one), and also divides the others as loyal attendant Susana and inevitable love interest Lev take obvious sides. The only silver lining about putting the group at odds is a scene where Loren makes a comment to Lev alluding to the idea that Susana sucked her doctorate out of the doctor’s dick, only to have Suze lock her smarmy holier-than-thou ass in “Oh Snap!” Jail when she runs down all of the bad ass work she had to do to earn her position! Even when Lore tries to salvage a sliver of pride with “Impressive. I just fly planes.”, Suze straight napalms her with “Apparently not very well”, then puts a black cherry on top of her shit-talk sundae by offering to help Loren with the scads of gnarly blackheads on her nose!
It’s a good thing there are two such experienced medical practitioners in her party, because I doubt this backwoods jungle had a burn center equipped to treat the degree of posterior immolation our heroine just experienced. Her backside’s figuratively looking like some redneck’s after launching a bottle rocket from his butthole: scorched earth. Ouch!
Mercer plans to stay on the beach with the plane and try to hail a cab ride home, but when she notices that Toe Boy’s wearing a scarf made out of a familiar material not native to the natives, she reconsiders and goes into the ominous overgrowth with the others. Could it have anything to do with the mysterious “something” that she mentioned she was looking for earlier? If you said, “Of course it does!” then you get a cookie! If you said “Huh? Why would you think that? I don’t think it does.”, then slap your parents for me. They know what they did…
From here on it’s your basic slasher formula, as everybody gets picked off one-by-one by the killer. In this case, the jungle is the knife-wielding murderer in the situation appropriate mask. Macho macho man Reyes is the first to ride the bus, errr bite the dust, and he’s not even done in by the movie’s title terror! Instead, he ends up infested by some unholy tropical monstrosity breed of super ticks that plant themselves under his skin, crawl around to gross out the audience, mate, then force their way out of the nearest orifices. In this case, that would be his left eye socket and mouth. Somehow, as soon Henry told us the little buggers would extract themselves once they were done filling their gore sacs with Meathead’s life juice, I knew he wasn’t going to get out of this with both oculars intact. As decent an ipecac as this may have been for amateurs, I just re-watched Ticks a few weeks ago, so what happens here is Baby Town Frolics compared to watching a steroid engorged ultra-tick wearing Carlton Banks as a skin suit.
Reyes is no big loss, as all he really contributed to the movie was being the resident douche-knocker who spent his time failing attempts at promoting himself to Susana as desirable breeding stock. That and doing bong hits off of a canister of liquid nitrogen for laughs. The latter serves to prove himself a dumbass while also establishing that liquid nitrogen will no doubt be used again later on, given Doc Leon’s graphic description of what it would do to the human body if swallowed. It’s nothing nearly as cool, but at least when it is brought back later, no one’s left throwing empty beer cans at the screen and shouting, “WHERE’D THE HELL THAT COME FROM?!”. Once the oversized parasites jump their lumpy ship (and are burst via bullets), Bear puts his partner out of his misery with a pity round planted in his coconut, turning the galoot’s ideas that Vitamin B was a pliable alternative to bug repellant into so much red mist. Two things you never turn down when offered? Bug spray and sunscreen. Don’t question me, make like Nike and JUST DO IT!
Upon finding Toe’s village, it turns out that the place is empty. Either we’ve got a Roanoake Colony situation here, or everybody’s already been digested by the abominations of the surrounding terrain. I’d hazard a guess and say they’re all spider poops by now. Lore also discovers more of the aforementioned mystery material amidst the remnants of the tribe, which Lev confirms to be parachute cloth. Remember Lightfoot? Turns out he’s Loren’s brother. Well, more likely was her brother. Seems that after he went missing, the Navy searched two months for him before giving up. Hence, she left the Air Force to continue her own search via part-time chartering. 2-to-1 says he’s NOT living like Robinson Crusoe nearby, while 200-to-1 says he’s become the King of the Spider-People! Just the way Horror of Spider Island should have ended.
Meanwhile, Henry’s study of the specimens he collects reveals that there are species of spiders on the island that have heretofore unseen evolutionary traits, like internal skeletons in addition to their exoskeletons. This Darwinian wet dream continues on as another overdeveloped freak combining serpentine and arachnid traits (but resembling a giant centipede with most of its legs removed), drags off one of Toe Boy’s peers (let’s call him Toe Rag) and pumps him full of what I can only imagine to be some manner of mega-venom. After emptying a few dozen clips of ammo trying to shoot the hellspawn, it hyper-slithers off into the night like a Chestburster on Four Loko.
After the attack, Lev decides it’s time to scrap this death march and get the fuck outta Spiderville, to the chagrin of Doctors Leon and Capri. Lore insists on staying to look for her brother, but agrees to go too when Lev offers to come back with her and continue the search once the civvies have been returned home. Except for Bear, who gets the shit task of going into the hills with no one but another of Toe Boy’s victim-fodder buddies to try and snag an emergency radio signal! You’ve just discovered that the place is littered with super-evolved killing machines and you send the only black dude in the cast out into the woods with an extra who doesn’t get any lines in the script other that screaming “AH! AHHH!” when he gets a bio-acid bukkake 2 minutes later?! Fuck you, Cracker Jack!
Henry wanders off on his own against Lev’s orders to do some more entomological exploring and ends up confronted by the giant alpha arachnid. By the time the others catch up to him, he’s been turned into an incubator for the next generation of mutants and bound up tighter than my colon after that time I ate an entire wheel of cheese by myself. He’s also transformed from a poor man’s Ted Raimi into a slightly less-poor man’s Dominique Pinon (the guy who played all of the clones in City of Lost Children, which is sadly disqualified from being reviewed here) as he babbles about how the spider is trying to evolve-fuck with everything on the island (including him, presumably), and how its structure is far too large to have developed in Earth’s gravity, thus it must be alien in origin. Well, at least that semi-verifies that it came here on the crashed alien ship, thanks to Loren’s dumbass brother. Oh, speaking of which, they found Lightfoot’s remains webbed to a tree nearby, hollowed out and heavily decomposed. Likely what Dr. Capri is gonna look like after his intestinal spider-babies hatch. No mother’s ever the same after she gives birth. Trust me, I’ve seen my share of scrotummies in my eons.
Henry too gets a mercy death, only instead of a slug through the dome he gets pumped full of morphine as he vomits blood and fades out, asking that the group take his spider samples back with them so the species can be cataloged and named after him. Ruining the moment, Big Momma Octo-Legs shows herself in all of her giant puppet glory, and the heroes unload a few dozen rounds into her to little avail. The design’s actually not bad looking, and the numerous active bits around her mouth are pretty impressive! Kinda reminds me of a Graboid mouth minus the cluster of snake monster tongues. After the opening scene instilled the horror in me that we’d be getting some piss-poor CG beast a la Ice Spiders, I’ll gladly endorse a big angry animatronic! Sure, it’s a bit stiff and barely mobile (not unlike Pumpkinhead) in the wide shots, but at least it’s not the furry VW Bug from Giant Spider Invasion! Then again, this movie is actually making me pine for that sweat stained ’70s hillbilly monster matinee, so maybe a furry VW doesn’t seem all that bad right now.
In their escape from Jeff Daniels’ worst nightmare, Susana gets wrapped up in a massive web (look where the fuck you’re going, Miss Brown Belt!) and while the others try to free her (told you that liquid nitrogen was going to come back into play later), dipshit Dr. Leon just casually stands around doing nothing in particular. While everyone else is trying to save his assistant, the geezer looks like he’s nonchalantly waiting for the fucking crosstown bus or wondering if he remembered to cancel his mail service before he left!
With no apparent fucks to give, the old man is naturally the next to die, pumped full of paralyzing toxin and barfed on with alien Alka-Seltzer. Suze, Lev, and Loren escape to an abandoned WW2 Japanese military shed nearby, and Toe Boy has managed to disappear. No doubt he’ll be back later, likely to play cavalry with a machine gun toting Bear in tow, provided the trio can hole up long enough to be saved. Speaking of, when the beast tries to get in through a boarded up window, Lev manages to get himself bitten, which is bound to happen when you’re stupid enough to attack something like that head-on He-Man style with nothing but a machete! While he lays on the floor going into shock, Shelob’s great-great-great-great-great-granddaughter manages to creepy-crawl into the hanger without notifying the girls (maybe because they couldn’t hear anything over the blaring background music), forcing them to escape into a backroom to continue hiding. “Lady Tarzan” Suze, revealing that’s she’s claustrophobic, takes the first chance she gets to bolt from the enclosed space, budging her way to the head of the “who dies next” line. As the last interesting character in the cast goes, so does my already impotent interest. Actually, we’ve still got Bear, so maybe there’s hope yet!
Lev and Lore manage to find some old tunnels underneath the building that lead them to safety. Well, not safety so much, as they’re still in the living death trap ecosystem that is the jungle, but elsewhere none-the-less. They rest, and Loren has a nightmare about her brother becoming a more realistic version of what you’d think Spider-Man would’ve looked like if his movie had been directed by David Cronenberg. Though a nicely gruesome sequence on paper, big brother’s cheap rubber mask face kills the mood faster than the cries of a dumpster baby on prom night.
As expected, she wakes up to find Bear and Toe standing over her, so they load up and go spider hunting while Mr. Valentine continues to cling to life. Tracking the creature feature to its underground lair, they catch it sleeping/molting and find hundreds of eggs just waiting to crack open and unleash new rubbery horrors on the world. What a time to lose your flamethrower at the baggage check! Of course the Bride of Tarantula wakes up and takes out the movie’s real hero, jamming a head spike into Bear’s eye and killing him as Loren spends the whole time just shouting “No! Bear! Oh my God, Bear! Bear, get out of there! Bear! Look out, Bear!”, saying his name repeatedly as a less creative version of the Meow Game in Super Troopers. Just as she too is about to succumb to the monster’s appetite, Lev uses the last of his strength to come to the guns blazing rescue, alongside Toe Boy. TB fulfills several sequences of foreshadowing from earlier and uses blowdarts dipped in Black Widow venom to wound Big Momma further. Loren, connected to the creature via a tow line of webbing, finishes the beast off by pulling it down from the cave ceiling and impaling it on a waiting stalagmite as it shrieks its death rattle, bringing to mind the hilarious finale of Jaws: the Revenge. Fucking roaring shark. Thinking about it puts me in the mood to make love to an angry welder. Or get a hoagie.
So, I guess this means Loren and Lev are off to get married and raise Toe Boy as their own, now? Or, since he’s the last of his tribe, will they just sell him to a museum? Or, will the Amazing Man-Spider watching them from the shadows (likely Loren’s niece/nephew) just kill all three of them? I don’t know about you, but given that we’ll never get a squeakquel on this one (thank Isis for small miracles), I’m going with that last one as the canonical epilogue to this tale. With that behind us, let’s make like a responsible dick owner on a one-night stand and wrap it up!
Son of a Sniglet. What a way to end a reviews thing. Four weeks of episodes dedicated to a dumb theme and this is how it goes – not with a bang, but with a fart. The uptick of Beneath Still Waters was immediately followed with a massive kidney stone. I haven’t seen all of the Fantastic Factory offerings, but Arachnid has to be their lowest of low notes. Their own personal Brown Note, if you will. Now all I can hear in my brain is Depeche Mode singing “Their own. Personal. Brown note”.
Mark Sevi’s first EIGHT writing credits were all forgettable sequels to action and sci-fi movies in the ’90s, most of which were direct-to-video. The biggest titles on his resume that stick out to me are the reprehensible Ghoulies IV and the Corey Haim starring Fast Getaway II. Sevi’s “talent” really shines through in Arachnid too, most notably in one scene straight out of a waaaaaaacky comedy. As Lev interrupts Loren while she’s taking a shit, he makes a comment about being careful because of ticks. She makes her best “Goldie Hawn in Overboard” snooty face in response, then gets stuck in a giant spider-hole full of arachnid spooge. Lev and Bear pull her free before she can be eaten by whatever’s down there, and she falls on top of her boyfriend-in-waiting, only to have their shirts glued together by said spider-goo, causing them both to go topless (don’t get excited folks, she’s wearing a bra), leading to the “hilarious” misunderstanding of everyone back at the group thinking they were off bumping the proverbial uglies in the bushes. There’s even a half-baked jump scare moment, as Lev reaches back into the hole to retrieve Loren’s boot, ignorant that he narrowly evaded an attack by the monster. It’s 5 minutes of movie that not only didn’t tickle my funny bone, but shattered it with a hammer while I had to type the whole scenario out just now. And you know that’s never going to heal right. Blart.
Thematically, I’m down with the concept of a super spider mating with other species to create the apex of predation, but it just brings up the same problem I have every time I’m presented with an alien that mates with Earthlings: how the fuck are their reproductive systems compatible?! I get that a big component of science fiction is the “fiction”, but the other big component is the “SCIENCE”! If you’re gonna have intergalactic baby makin’, show me you put the effort into explaining how it’s possible! Or at least have someone bring up the question! Fuck! We’ve got two scientists in the party and neither one of them says, “Wait, so a spider’s been fucking snakes and ticks and people and everything else it can jam it’s furry spider-dong into, but how the hell are the Earth creatures reproductively compatible?!”. It’s the gods-damned “Saiyan frustration” all over again and it’s gonna make me lose my shit! GRARRGH!
Okay, settle down Anubis. Tranquilizers are your friend. Calm blue ocean. Calm blue ocean. Calm blue ocean. Serenity….now. Okay. Anyway, to be fair, the acting’s not terrible and some of the characters are likable. I would’ve preferred Susana and Bear making it to the end with Toe or Dr. Capri, but you knew they were all destined for the spider’s dinner plate…or breeding dungeon. The gore’s okay too, but those CG effects in the beginning? After already having to sit through them twice, I’d rather wear contact lenses bathed in ghost pepper sauce than do it again. And though the big evil spider puppet looks good when stationary, it’s painfully ugly when in motion (aside from those cool mouth tendrils) and even uglier when reduced to more of that nauseating, no-budget, computer-made rubbish as it jumps around its den.
Overall, I’m glad we were never “blessed” by the sequel we’re threatened with at the end. I never advocate for arachnicide. Hell, my Evil Dead Bride and I welcome all eight-legged guests in our tomb and encourage them to stay a while, so long as they don’t get stepped on or eaten by our cats. I had spiders wind up in my hair, beard, and behind my ear on three separate occasions in one week, so they’re not a source of scares in our home. But Arachnid? Kill it with fire, flush the ashes, and salt the earth it was filmed on so nothing like it can ever grow again.
And with that, we say goodbye to the Fantastic Factory. Probably the best thing to come about from that shit awful Fant4stic box office poison. I hope you had as much fun reading these reviews as I had writing them. The overall quality of the movies wasn’t great, but at least the concepts behind them lived up to the company moniker! They’re a decent atypical alternative to the endless generic slashers, zombie-fests, and found-footage hauntings that overrun the horror show market. There are a few more titles in their cache, so you can bet your Re-Animator 10th Anniversary LaserDisc that I’ll be coming back to finish what I began, not unlike Beatrix Kiddo in her titular revenge quest. Only, you know, less about vengeance stuff and more about being a completionist to whom this unfinished business will be itching powder on my medulla oblongata until it’s done.
With the “Fantastic Four” reviews thing now in the books (and said books going into the pyre as soon as government agents kick in my front door), what depths of darkness and depravity are waiting around the bend? All I can say is that the next new review will be a very special episode of
“Blossom” The Tomb of Anubis, so be sure to tune in with someone you love!
There’s a space ship in this shot. Can you spot it? This is what happens when you spend your budget hiring the guy from ‘Silk Stalkings‘ to star in your crappy giant spider movie.
My computer made the same request when I put in the Arachnid DVD.
It’s an adult version of one of those little rubber puppet demons from Rock ‘N Roll Nightmare!
“No, I’m not Ted Raimi, but yes I will star in your Skinner 2 Kickstarter project!”
They’re all laughing because they ate Taco Bell for lunch and this is going to be a LONG plane ride… and Susana knows it too.
“Do you like the X-Men? I was the voice of Gambit in the cartoon, you know. Maybe you’d like to go out sometime, chere?”
“Sure. Have you every been… spelunking?”
“I’m sorry! This has never happened to me before, I swear! Oh jeez. There’s never been so much of it, either. Oh Hell, I got some in your hair too. I have some baby wipes in my pack, just gimme a second.”
I see someone took that “eat with your butt and poop with your mouth” episode of ‘South Park‘ to heart. Uggh.
The Red Ryder BB Gun’s campaign of cycloptic terror continues!
“No, I’m not the wheelchair guy from Alien Resurrection. But, if you get me out of here, I will give you my autograph!”
Every year, 1 out of every 10 entomologists is sexually assaulted by giant spiders. Don’t let this happen to you. Never accept drinks from spiders you don’t know.
[Graboid voice:] “Something smells like Kevin Bacon! Bacon! Bacon! Bacon! Bacon! Only one thing smells like Kevin Bacon and that’s Kevin Bacon! IT’S BAAAAACOOOON!”
“Oh Garfield. If you can hate Mondays as much as you do, but still have the capacity to love lasagna like that, maybe we all have a chance at happiness.”
That guy’s putting his optometrist’s kids through college!
Looks like they’ll have to reset their “Days Since Last Giant Spider Attack” counter back now.
“Rocky Dennis is the Amazing Spider-Man!”
“What? Don’t you get it? ‘A man walks into a bar – OUCH!’? You don’t GET IT?! COME ON! It’s a pun on the word ‘bar’! How are you not laughing right now?! Clearly you’re some kind of sociopath.”
Anubis will return next time in
“Appetite for Duodenum”