This week is a pretty crappy week in terms of home video releases. We have the awful romantic/action comedy Killers, the SNL spawned spoof MacGruber, and the Michael Douglas flick Solitary Man.

Killers
I’m not sure who is more annoying, Katherine Heigl or Ashton Kutcher, but if you buy this flick they each get 93 minutes to pledge their case. It is the ageless story of girl meets boy, girl marries boy and girl finds out boy is a hitman (but don’t worry kids, he is a good hitman). At least not everything is bad about the film, I mean Tom Selleck is part of the cast. That has to count for something.

MacGruber
Jumping from the small scene to theaters and now to your small screen is… MacGruber! The action/comedy was directed by Jorma Taccone, who helmed the awful 2009 Will Farrell update of Land of the Lost, so going in you should have low expectations. Will Forte reprises the role from SNL and goes head to head with a villain portrayed by the scene stealing Val Kilmer (when did he get so awesome?). The flick co-stars Kristen Wiig, Ryan Phillippe, Powers Boothe, and Maya Rudolph.

Solitary Man
Co-starring with Douglas is an all-star cast including Susan Sarandon, Danny DeVito, Mary-Louise Parker, Jenna Fischer, Jesse Eisenberg, and Imogen Poots. Douglas is an ethically challenged New York Business man whose life completely falls apart by a series of mistakes and bad decisions. If you are looking for a dialogue heavy flick, than this might be for you.

What will you be getting? Or would you rather pick up a DVD that came out last week?

MacheteI went into Machete with low expectations. I had heard bad things. People say Robert Rodriguez has lost his touch. And really? A movie based on a fake trailer from another movie. Maybe going in with such low expectations is what saved the film for me, because I had a lot of fun.

This is by no means a classic film. I had never heard the term “Mexploitation” before today and thought I was being really clever and coining the phrase. Turns out there’s already a Wikipedia stub, but enough about that. Danny Trejo, in his first starring role, plays a Mexican version of Shaft. He begins the film as a Mexican federale on the hunt for a notorious drug lord, but he’s betrayed by the corruption in the system and left for dead.

Jump forward three years. The man known as Machete is now an illegal immigrant day laborer in Texas. By luck, or movie magic, he’s picked as an assassin for an anti-immigrant independent senator. Of course, it’s all a set-up and, of course, it all ties back to the same drug lord Machete has a score to settle with. But mostly it’s an excuse for violence while taking some not too subtle pokes at the immigration issue at a time when it’s at the forefront of the news.

And violence there is, in spades. In the first big fight scene Machete hacks off a gunman’s hand then picks up the gun, severed hand and all, and uses it to blow away several other baddies. With a name like machete you expect a lot of sharp objects to be in play and boy are there. There are some truly squickworthy scenes of gore here but there are also plenty of moments so over-the-top you can’t help but laugh. The plot isn’t worthy of Mamet but it gets the job done.

Machete

And, somehow, we buy the 66-year old Danny Trejo, who would probably not be offended if I called him a uglyass mofo, not only as an action hero but as someone all the women want to jump in bed with. And what women they are, Jessica Alba, Michelle Rodriguez and somehow Lindsay Lohan stayed out of jail long enough to portray someone not that dissimilar from her own public persona. The male cast are no slouches either. No less than Robert DeNiro plays the senator. Jeff Fahey, of Lost, does a wonderful job as his scheming underling while the big bad is played by Stephen Segal. Time hasn’t been all that kind to Mr. Segal, but he still has an air of menace that keeps him feeling threatening rather than laughable. A few of the name villains go down a little easily but most of their endings are poetic. And Cheech Marin’s small role as Machete’s priest brother almost steals the whole film. There’s an image in one his last scenes that I’m surprised hasn’t stirred up more controversy. Maybe films like this fly under the radar of advocates of a nanny state simply because it would be too odious for them to bring themselves to watch it in the first place.

I was impressed with numerous bits of foreshadowing. Some of it is obvious. A lingering shot of a corkscrew on a counter tells you that’s going into someone’s body. But others, like an offhanded comment about how long the human intestines are, come back in brilliant ways. The hero’s one-liners fall a little flat. Machete doesn’t really have a great catchphrase. The villains tend to have better dialogue than the terse Machete.

The end credits promise two sequels. Will they happen? Will they be straight to DVD? Placed in one of the worst box office weekends of the year Machete has not impressed at the box office so far. But this film could become a cult hit that thrives on home video. Violent, sexy and not unable to provoke some actual thought, Machete is not a classic movie, but it is a damn fine B-movie and those can be a lot of fun.

***

What do you think about when you see this pretty stylish poster…?

burlesque

To me it reads like a period musical, something along the lines of Chicago or All That Jazz, but it isn’t. The flick is a modern day musical that stars Christina Aguilera as Ali Rose, a small town girl that moves to Los Angeles where she finds herself working at a neo-burlesque club that is run by a former dancing legend portrayed by Cher. The film has a great cast with the likes of Stanley Tucci, Alan Cumming, Peter GAllagher, Cam Gigandet, and the lovable Kristen Bell. There is a pretty cool picture of Bell in the film over at MTV. The film hits theaters at the end of November.

new films coming out on 9.3.10

This weekend we have a surprisingly good weekend of new movie releases regardless of the end of the crazy summer season of blockbusters. The four new big movies couldn’t be more different, and while I still have films from the last few weeks that I want to see (Scott Pilgrim, The Expendables), I also sorta want to see some of these. We’ll start with the film that is most likely to get an Oscar nomination…

The American
Directed by Anton Corbijn, this action thriller that stars George Clooney as an American assassin that is being hunted in Italy while on his last assignment.  It is a story that has been told many times, but I trust George Clooney. He usually has a great eye for characters and has been on a great streak with his acting (Michael Clayton, Up in the Air, Fantastic Mr. Fox). I’m not familar with Corbijn, and from the look of his IMDB he has more experience in directing concerts and music related projects. The flick co-stars Irina Björklund.

Machete
Robert Rodriguez’s spoof trailer turned movie is the one I’m most excited about this weekend! It is an over the top b-action/horror/crime/thriller that stars one of film’s biggest badasses, Danny Trejo, as Machete.  Machete is an ex-Federale who launches a brutal rampage of violence after being betrayed by an organization that hired him. The flick co-stars Robert DeNiro, Jessica Alba, Steven Seagal, Michelle Rodriguez, Jeff Fahey, Don Johnson, Cheech Marin, and Lindsay Lohan.

Going the Distance
Next up is the long distance romantic comedy Going the Distance. The movie stars the on again/off again real life couple of Justin Long and Drew Barrymore, along with Christina Applegate, and Always Sunny‘s Charlie Day (who needs to be in more films!). The trailer was cute, and while it didn’t fully pull me it, it pulled in my wife who wants to check it out. A perfect dinner and a movie date movie. The flick is about two lovebirds that try to keep their romance alive regardless of living across the country from each other.

The Tillman Story
Last up is a documentary by Amir Bar-Lev that focuses on Pat Tillman, a pro football player who left a multimillion-dollar contract to join the military in a time of war and how the government manipulated his death into a tool for propaganda.

Will you be going to the movies this weekend?

This guest post from Edgardo Rosa.

I like to take my children to our local movie theater, Waterford Lakes, once every other Saturday. My daughter is eight and my son is ten. They democratically pick a movie at the beginning of the month and I get to pick the movie that we see at the end of the month. My wife has three votes while the kids each have one. No one messes with my week, unless my wife really wants to see something else. This usually leads to a combination of Toy Story 3 followed shortly by the Expendables.

I was a child of the eighties and I thought that the Expendables was totally awesome. The only thing it was missing was Chuck Norris. Maybe Sylvester Stallone will put him in the sequel. Jean-Claude Van Damme and Steven Segal would have been nice, but I don’t think that they have it in them anymore. Van Damme has lost his action credibility and Segal is just out of shape.

On our bimonthly outings, we usually set the ADT hempstead security alarm and leave the house about an hour before the film starts. That leaves us plenty of time to get to the theater, grab the kids some popcorn and a drink, send everyone in for a last minute potty break, and find a decent row of seats in the middle of the theater.

Posted on September 1st, 2010 by admin | Leave a Comment (1)
Filed Under Entertainment

the pit 2 logo

As you can see, our short vacation has ended and we are fully back into the swing of things.  Big thanks to Lucian for continuing his Wrestling Recaps while I have been gone.  I have not been able to check out Scott Pilgrim vs. the World yet, but I’ve wanted to see it for a while and Lucian’s review only makes me want to see it more. Anyhow, I’m happy to be back with a new Pit and this week’s edition will have a slight superhero slant (sorry, but sooooo much has been going on while I’ve been out).

  • Okay, first up is the confirmation that X-Men: First Class will feature the Hellfire Club. That’s right, it is confirmed that Kevin Bacon will be the villainous Sebastian Shaw with Mad Men‘s January Jones will be Emma Frost, aka the White Queen. How does this fit into the past films with Emma being featured by Tahyna Tozzi in X-Men Origins: Wolverine? The film will start in the 1960s with James McAvoy’s Charles Xavier and Michael Fassbender’s Magneto working together for the future of mutant kind.  I hate that they’ve cast a younger Mystique… she’s a shape shifter, she can look as young as she wants forever. They should have kept Rebecca Romijn if we ever see an of age Mystique. At least it would feel a little connected to the other films. We shall see…
  • Okay, lets move off one X-Men prequel and onto another one: X-Men Origins: Wolverine 2 (god, I hope that isn’t going to be the official title).  It has been rumored for a while that the film would take Wolverine to Japan where he’d train to be a samurai warrior and fight the likes of Silver Samurai.  Yeah, so the Wolverine we met in the first X-Men film was no samurai, I guess that means he’ll be getting shot with another memory wiping bullet? Ugh.  Prequels are stupid, just make a good damn sequel.
  • Yesterday I checked out DC Comic’s animated Superman/Batman: Public Enemies and I gotta say, I dug it. DC has really been on a roll with its animated features, Superman Doomsday and Justice League:  The New Frontier were both very well done. I wasn’t before, but now I’m really interested in the Man of Steel and the Dark Knight’s next animated team up in Superman/Batman: Apocalypse. The film once again features Tim Daly as Superman and Kevin Conroy as Batman, and they are joined by genre fan favorite Summer Glau as Supergirl.
  • Okay, so this isn’t movie related, but it is both comic adaptation related and Batman related. It has been a long time, but Batman and Scooby-Doo will meet again!  An upcoming episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold will feature the cartoon dog and Batman teaming up to solve a case. While I don’t regularly watch the series, I will be checking out this episode.
  • According to Mark Millar, Kick-Ass 2 has been officially greenlighted and we be based on his upcoming graphic novel follow up to the first series. Matthew Vaughn did an awesome job adapting Kick-Ass for the big screen. He knew just what to cut and what to keep to make the film as good as it can be. I hope Millar learns from what Vaughn did with the film to craft the sequel series.
  • AICN has been reporting that Fox has narrowed the possible directors list for its Fantastic Four reboot to James McTeigue, Joe Carnahan, and David Yates. None of them get me excited about the film.  McTeigue could make it visually impressive, Carnahan would be just as bad as Tim Story, and Yates is a passable director, but is he suited for the first family of superheroes? There is also a rumor that the studio wants a CGI Thing voiced by Bruce Willis. Um… okay.
  • Disney and Marvel Comics are moving forward with an Iron Fist movie! The karate expert with literal fists of fury could make a decent film. In the past, Ray Parks was rumored to be in the running for the role and I still think he’d make a great fit. I’m assuming that Disney will want to make the film be a kid friendly action flick. Hopefully we’ll see Luke Cage in it.
  • No MJ in the Spider-Man reboot? That’s the rumor from THR. If it is true, I can understand the need to want to distance the movie from the Raimi trilogy, but this is just plain stupid. Have MJ, have Gwen, and just concentrate on making the best Spider-Man movie possible. If this is true, it’d bring my interest for this re-do to zero.

Excited about all of the upcoming comic book flicks? Sound off in our comments!

scott-pilgrim

Not that long ago Hollywood realized that the young film-goers they desperately wanted to draw to their movies had grown up playing video games. The aesthetic and pace of video games began to influence film, much to the annoyance of older moviegoers who simply were not used to the pace. Now, some years later, we’ve reached the point where the movie makers themselves have grown up playing video games. And, with that, we now see movies that are designed to actually look like video games themselves.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World launched with midnight screenings last night. I attended a showing in downtown Toronto. The film itself is unabashedly set in Toronto so the affect was something like going to the Superbowl with the home team playing. Based on a seven part series of graphic novels by Bryan Lee O’Malley this film is a masterpiece of style but isn’t lacking in content as a result.

Michael Cera plays the title character. He’s a 22-year old slacker with no job who shares an apartment, and bed, with a gay roommate. He’s between jobs and trying to make it work as a bass player in a struggling band. Still reeling from a bad break-up his current girlfriend is a seventeen-year-old high school student, a point that draws him no end of ridicule from friends, his sister and his own bandmates. But all that changes when he meets Ramona Flowers, who may literally be the girl of his dreams. Pilgrim begins dating Ramona, without first breaking up with his girlfriend, only to learn that Ramona’s love life is governed by the League of Evil Exes, Ramona’s seven former romantic partners who engage any potential suitor in a series of duels to the death to prevent anyone from having her.

scottpilgrimMichael Cera is not exactly what you would expect from an action hero but there’s no realism to be expected in this movie. The fights, and there are plenty, are over-the-top style pieces where literally anything can happen. The League includes mystics, a movie star, a vegan musician (who happens to also be dating the ex that tore Pilgrim’s heart out), a kickboxing lesbian and a smarmy record executive. Cera fights with not just his body but also his brain. But, as each ex is dispatched and turns into a pile of coins, Ramona and Scott’s growing relationship is placed under ever growing stress. Can Scott overcome his own insecurities as well as the evil exes and have a hope of a happy ending? If you’ve read the comics you already know. If not, you’re in for a nice surprise.

And that describes the whole film, a nice surprise. With sound effects appearing as words like in the 60s Batman TV-series, and other video game touches like the “pee bar” this could have easily dissolved into the stinkiest cheese in the world. But director Edgar Wright maintains a laser precise vision for the entire 1h 53m of the film’s runtime. Completely internally consistent, but backed by an actually touching romance and a generous dose of laughs this is a film that is going to satisfy its target audience. For those who haven’t played a video game since Pong it will probably all seem silly and far too bust to appreciate.

Casting was perfect. Scott Pilgrim is firmly in Michael Cera’s comfort zone and he steps into the role like a skin-tight pair of jeans. Mary Elizabeth Winestead as Ramona manages to make her seem like a real character while maintaining an air of unobtainable mystery. Jason Swartztman, Chris Evans and Brandon Routh all take turns as exes and deliver solid performances in what could have been one-note characters.

So is this movie for you? The opening seconds of the film are the Universal logo rendered as an 8-bit video game image complete with low quality music. If you find this idea hilarious then you need to see Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. If that image confuses you, or you consider it silly, then the multiplex is playing The Expendables and Eat, Pray, Love this week too. You might want to check them out instead. For myself, this was just as epic as advertised.

****

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