Archive for January, 2011

Sabbath Reviews: Salt (2010)

Posted in Uncategorized on January 25, 2011 by Sabbath


Directed by: Phillip Noyce
Written by: Kurt Wimmer

Disclaimer: There are 3 versions of Salt. The Theatrical Cut, The Director’s Cut, and The Extended Cut … each have several differences. For this review, I watched The Director’s Cut … ’cause it seemed like the thing to do at the time.

Angelina Jolie has never exactly wow-ed me with any of her performances. I know, she’s beautiful. And she’s really not a bad actress. She’s just not exactly a fantastic one given her star power. Therefore, a Jolie-vehicle like Salt shouldn’t really appeal to me, but it did because of one word.

Spies.

There’s something inherently interesting about the clandestine world that spies live in, wrapping themselves in layers upon layers of lies. I’ve run the gambit from James Bond to Xander Cage to Austin Powers and back again to Jason Bourne, and I’ve enjoyed each trip unrepentantly. As I said, I don’t dislike Jolie at all. Her presence just doesn’t automatically draw me in like other actresses would. Regardless, I was very curious to watch Salt and see how the genre treated a spy of the fairer sex.

Evelyn Salt (Angelina Jolie) works for the CIA, is highly trained, and when we find her she is being tortured by the North Koreans under suspicion of being an American spy. Well, they’re right, but she doesn’t tell them that. That’d be dumb. She takes her abuse until one day, as part of a prisoner exchange program, she’s released. This is in little part due to the CIA, but mostly due to her husband Krause (August Diehl), one of the world’s top arachnologists. Now, I know what you’re asking … how does a German national/arachnologist have enough political sway to release a suspected American spy from a North Korean military facility?

Salt (the movie, not the person) tells you to go eat a dick for asking that question. Like it’s main character, it’ll never talk.

So, Salt continues her work for the CIA until one day a Russian named Orlov (Daniel Olbrychski … do you know any of these names besides Jolie? No? Didn’t think so) shows up and says he has information about “Day X”, a Russian plan to awake sleeper agents in the United States. Salt ‘interrogates’ him, gets the intel, and is about to make her leave because it’s her and her husband’s anniversary and international security is less important than the snuggles, so, fuck it, right? Well, Orlov flings feces at her plans by outing her as one of the sleeper agents.

Her boss and friend, Ted Winter (Liev Shrieber … oh, hey, I know him) isn’t so easily convinced, but some guy named Peabody (Chiwetel Ejiofor) wants to hold her. Caress her. Sniff her underwear. Well, I’m sure he wants to do that too, but actually he just wants to detain her. I’m not sure who Peabody is. I’m guessing he’s head of security or something. I’m not sure if he’s Winter’s boss, or Winter’s his boss … the chain of command isn’t made solidly clear.

In either case, Orlov is taken into custody but starts fucking people up and escapes. Salt manages to escape from her holding room by outwitting the guards (she snaps her fingers, says she has to go to the bathroom, and leaves … your tax dollars at work, people). She seems to want to go after Orlov … I think. Either that or she decided to take the longest possible to the route to the bathroom because it involved her holding herself up in a room on a security buffer level of the building while Peabody and his gang of men try to breach the door.

Salt literally MacGuyver’s a rocket launcher out of a table leg, some cleaning chemicals, and I think a lock of Brad Pitt’s pubic hair. I’m a little confused on the last ingredient. When they open the door, she blasts them. Luckily for them, it’s not explosive … it just somehow has enough concussive force to knock everyone the hell out without killing a single one. She escapes, heads back to her apartment because, oh, she’s worried for her husband’s life and finds the place empty.

Considering this was the dumbest move she could possibly make, they obviously follow her there where once again she narrowly escapes by climbing out of the building and shimmying along the window ledges. She asks a little girl whose home alone to let her in, forever setting a precedent for this child to know it’s okay to let strangers in if they’re outside your apartment window several stories up and ask nicely.

Well, here’s where shit gets tricky. Orlov mentioned there was a plot to kill the Russian President who would be visiting NYC to attend the funeral of the American Vice President who he considered a dear friend. Salt dyes her hair and decides “It’s Game On, Bitches” … which means spending the entirety of the rest of the movie trying to confuse the audience over whose side is she on.

SPOILERS. MASSIVE FUCKING SPOILERS IN THE REST OF THIS REVIEW.

Salt manages to crash the funeral, “kill” the Russian President but refuse to shoot Peabody when he shows up. She escapes police custody, meets up with Orlov and the rest of the sleeper agents that she knew from her childhood, sees her husband and watches him die to prove that she’s loyal to Orlov’s cause … then kill him and all of the others. She then continues on with the plans of Day X, which seems to be a plan to kill the American President. Next stop, White House.

Now, of course everyone believes her to be working with the Russians and I think the Director and the Screenwriter both hoped to keep people guessing all along. Here’s the thing? It’s B.S.

Salt never once kills one of the “good guys”, always opting to stun them or knock them out. Clear give away. Yeah, she “killed” the Russian President but before that scene we see her extracting spider venom and I’ve seen this done so many times before that I saw it coming a mile away. I knew he wasn’t dead (spoiler: he isn’t dead, by the way). In fact, the worst thing Salt does is stand there and watch her husband die, which while probably a more realistic situation for a spy to be put in (having to choose national security over personal interests), it makes her look incredibly weak and incompetent.

James Bond wouldn’t have stood for that shit. I know he’s had his share of women offed, but never while he watched.*

*Editor’s Note: I’ve been informed that he, in fact, did watch his wife die in one of the few Bond films I have yet to see. Well, I’ll eat a bit of humble pie here, but I still doubt he would have watched her die slowly. Pretty sure if he had the chance to prevent it, he would have.

Another problem is that Jolie often looks bored. She starts off looking like a Librarian then dyes her hair and we’re supposed to buy her as this bad ass … but she’s too often making poor decisions. She’s a spy, I guess. I think what we’ve come to expect from our spy movies aren’t just ordinary spies though. We want Super Spies. Is that unfair of me? Perhaps, but it’s what I wanted and Salt didn’t deliver.

Now, let me explain that I wasn’t expecting a stroke of genius. I figured this would be a popcorn action flick — but even in bad popcorn action flicks, I genuinely like the hero. I find the hero to be flawed, but competent usually and if everyone would just shut up and do as they say, they’d live to fight another day. Salt was often silly in the suspensions of disbelief it asked you to make and the twists were just so boringly obvious, I don’t know what to say.

Sadly, the Blu Ray will probably make its way into my collection but only because I’m a collector. Otherwise, aside from the last kill of the movie, Salt was wholly disappointing. Angelina Jolie was better as a spy in Mr. and Mrs. Smith, and I really didn’t like that movie. Some people might get enjoyment out of it and accept the huge gaps in logic and try to pretend they don’t see the twists coming, but most of you will go in looking for a dumb popcorn flick and find that you’ll have to turn your brains off a lot more than you thought to really enjoy this movie.

— Sabbath

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Chainsaw Cheerleader Reviews: A Reader Request: Surrogates (2009)

Posted in Uncategorized on January 22, 2011 by chainsawcheerleader

Directed by: Jonathan Mostow

Written by: John Brancato, Michael Ferris, Robert Venditti

Cast: Bruce Willis, Radha Mitchell, Rosamund Pike, Boris Kodjoe, Jack Noseworthy, James Cromwell, Ving Rhames

Genre: sci-fi, thriller, action, comic book adaption

 

Older Canter: Surrogacy is a perversion. It’s an addiction. And you have to kill the addict to kill the addiction.

 

One of the most interesting premises of the sci-fi movie genre is the film that looks into our future and slightly alters it while still connecting with the present.  The film that slowly introduces certain sci-fi aspects while set against a modern backdrop gives the viewer the ability to understand the progress of that change and makes that change seem more plausible. The film that is able to produce this while not feeling like a thinly veiled variation of other films of this level is often destined to become a favorite amongst many fans of the sci-fi genre. It is for this reason that when this type of premise is squandered that the film that has done so is harshly received. The film, Surrogates is guiltily of doing just this. While built around an enthralling concept, Surrogates is weighed down by a boring generic conspiracy therapy plot that wastes the talents of its actors.

Surrogates takes place in the no-so distant future where the use of remotely-controlled androids called “surrogates” allows the public to live their lives according to their desires and in their quintessential forms. While living life through the use of robots, people remain safe in their homes. The world has become a utopia due to the fact that the surrogates have freed people of their fears, pain, and consequences. This idealized existence is shattered when the first murder in nearly a lifetime occurs. With the death of two surrogate users, FBI agent Greer (Bruce Willis) and his partner Agent Peters (Radha Mitchell) are assigned to investigate the deaths and uncover why one of the victims was Jarod Canter, the son of Dr. Lionel Canter (James Cromwell), the inventor of the surrogate robot. It is quickly determined that the deaths are part of a larger conspiracy that will force Agent Greer to leave the safety of his surrogate and face the dangers of reality in his human form.

Surrogates adds an appealing twist to the android as human concept. This twist centers around the fact of how the surrogate assumes and consumes the user’s life and identify. While the goal of the surrogate was to allow the user the ability to pursue deeper and higher levels of interest, the reality of the matter is that the user fell into a spiritual lull. Often resorting to the use and abuse of drugs or alcohol to pass the time, the user has become emotionally devoid of true human interaction. While the surrogates are the physically perfect mechanical representations of the user, their faces are mannequin like thus lacking expression. This makes it difficult to care about or feel for something that is human-like but still very non-human. There is very little reason to embrace the danger of the situation when the viewer cannot connect to  the living being behind the machinery. This lack of living ultimately hurts the film as almost every action performed by the surrogates is bland. The surrogates actions or lack thereof drains the energy of the film. Coupled with high energy action scenes, the film suffers from extreme highs followed by extreme lows in concerns to the movies liveliness.

The high point of Surrogates is the idea of the robots themselves. To have the ability to go out into the world without the possibility of harm would change the very existence of life. From the safety of one’s home, an individual has the possibility to help end violence, war, and a majority of the world’s problems that plague us. The film does try to include this into its story. For example, Surrogates shows that wars are now fought through the robots and not by living soldiers. While androids rush a field with machine guns in hand, the solider controlling it is safe from harm. When the surrogate is disabled by a bullet, the controller simply logs into a new robot and continues the fight.

The low point of Surrogates is the films sub-plot. The movie is a mere eighty-eight minutes long and to insert a sub-plot takes away the needed time to help flesh out the main-plot. The sub-plot is ultimately unnecessary and adds neither depth or emotion to the film or the main character. The sub-plot centers around the strained relationship of Agent Greer and his wife, Maggie. After the death of their son, Greer never sees his wife outside of her surrogate and is often criticized by his wife about his need to interact with their human forms. The only resolution for the sub-plot is for the physical interaction between the two characters to occur. The issue with this is that it does not add to why Greer must stop the killer, how he feels about the situation or even the use of surrogates. The sub-plot may have seemed more appropriate had the film not been troubled by a lack of character development.

While this did take away from the film, having Bruce Willis play the main character added to it. Willis’ most enjoyable roles have always been the flawed hero. Sadly, Surrogates may not be the best example of this. Thankfully, Willis’ surrogate is destroyed near the beginning of the film. Dressed in a blonde wig and wearing a thick coating of pancake makeup, Willis’ surrogate is more frightening to look at than any other moment in the film. The fright of his character is only enhanced when the viewer realizes that a traditional cop cliché accompanies it. This cliché is the only real development that the Greer character is faced with. Being haunted by a dead child, a distant spouse, and being teamed with an upbeat female partner is a cliché that hurts and not helps the storyline for Greer.

Had Surrogates been written by a different team and directed by another director this comic book adaption may have fared better. The team who wrote the script is also the same team who wrote 2004’s Catwoman and the last two Terminator movies. Naming these three films should be all the information the viewer needs to know in order to understand what they are about to watch. The movie’s director, Jonathan Mostow, easily entertains in a number of fight scenes but when he tries to depict the everyday lives of the machines he relies too heavily on mainly showing them walk about in the background. Had Mostow lacked the ability to use special effects to the degree that he did it is likely that this would have hurt the film further. It is difficult to imagine if Mostow could have done as well as he did without a computers aid. While the special effects are enjoyable to watch, they lack the ability to make the viewer care or to allow them to immerse themselves into it.

While Surrogates is not a great film or a film that demands the devotion of the serious sci-fi fan, it is a wonderful movie to be used as an introduction of the sci-fi genre to a mainstream audience.  The inability to present a promising premise has prevented the film from moving beyond its B-movie feel. Relying too heavily on senseless action does not conceal the fact of a poorly written script. With an underwhelming end result, Surrogates seems as it appears, mindless but still entertaining. Setting aside the fact that Surrogates squanders wonderful ideas and turns toward a generic formula too soon, it is amusing. To watch a large truck plow through a crowd of robots and to see a number of them bounce off of or pile onto the truck is somewhat hilarious. Surrogates is purely escapist fun.

Surrogates receives a 6 out of 10

Dub Cee Reviews: The Quiet Man (1952)

Posted in Uncategorized on January 17, 2011 by Dub Cee

 

Director: John Ford

Writer(s): Frank S. Nugent (Screenplay), Maurice Walsh (Story)

Unlike most of my fellow ramblers here, I am a huge fan of Marion Morrison otherwise known as John Wayne. I have seen dozens of his films and will defend several of them as being classics. Others (Ghangis Khan) I will yield. That said, there were two John Wayne films that are considered among his best that I have yet to see. True Grit being one the other being The Quiet Man. Thanks to my good friend Mr. Net Flix, I can now scratch Quiet Man off that list.

Quiet Man is the story of Sean Thornton (Wayne) returning to his boyhood home in a small village in Ireland after growing up in Pittsburgh. Upon his return he his dumbstruck at the sight of Mary Kate Danaher (Maureen O’Hara) as she tends to sheep in the field. Thornton runs into a small problem though as the village is still very traditional and he must get the permission of Mary Kate’s brother before he can court her. Problem is her brother and Thornton have a bit of feud as Thornton was able to buy his boyhood home which Danaher had been trying to buy for years. A group of Thornton’s friends including the Priest and the town drunk, conspire to trick the brother into giving his blessing. Eventually he yields but refuses to give over the dowry of his sister, 350 silver coins. Thornton is content to let it be but his wife insist on actually having things of her own, not things already owned by Thornton. Sean has his reasons for avoiding a fight but he must choose between those reasons and his marriage.

The acting is surprisingly good across the board. As I previously stated, I am a John Wayne fan but he is the epitome of a one note actor. Quiet Man is a departure for him in that he is usually the Billy BadAss gunslinger and in this movie he is viewed as a coward. Maureen O’Hara is great as always and is the only leading lady I have seen seem to go toe to toe with the Duke. (Go see McLintock to get an idea what I mean.) John Ford, makes use of the Irish landscape as much as possible as most of the movie is filmed outdoors.

I really enjoyed this movie but I have to say, if you have not seen a John Wayne movie you probably will not appreciate his acting job as much. If you are a Wayne fan and have yet to see this one, check it out, it may not be your favorite but I promise you will enjoy it.

Grade: B-

Sabbath Reviews: The Wild Bunch (1969)

Posted in Uncategorized on January 17, 2011 by Sabbath


Directed by: Sam Peckinpah
Written by: Walon Green & Sam Peckinpah (Screenplay), Walon Green & Roy N. Sickner (Story)

The Western is America’s genre contribution to the world. Where everything else has its roots elsewhere, the Western is an American made creation. While Italy might have produced a ton of spaghetti Westerns, the genre itself is homegrown in the United States of America. I think that plays a part in my desire to like Westerns. I think part of my would really like to, but it’s been a hard, tough road. I haven’t amassed a great collection of Westerns, but that’s because I’ve been so thoroughly un-thrilled by the ones I have seen that it takes up a certain amount of courage for me to want to go back to that well.

I might have started my experimentation into the genre on the wrong foot. I didn’t start with — and still haven’t seen — The Man With No Name Trilogy. The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly might be the most popular Western out there, but damned if I’d seen it or a single Clint Eastwood Western at the time. No, I started with the lesser known Navajo Joe (1966) and Il Grande Silenzio (1968) — both spaghetti Westerns. While they weren’t without their redeeming qualities and certain charm, they were what I expected a Western to be … mostly boring with little bits and pieces of good ideas.

From there I decided that I should try ones that were most recent and popular. So, I tried Unforgiven (1992) starring the legendary Clint Eastwood and one of my favorite actors, Morgan Freeman. Not only that, but Unforgiven is an Oscar winner … I figured … surely I’m going to be hit with a great movie.

I was wholly disappointed. It didn’t captivate me. The climax was somewhat redeeming and there were several beautiful shots. The acting was fine … but something didn’t click. It was at this point I gave up on Westerns until about two years ago when I decided to give The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007) a go. It was getting a lot of good reviews and it starred Brad Pitt, who I don’t think can be dismissed as just a good looking actor. He’s proven himself time and time again to me, so I figure, what the Hell.

Bored out of my fucking mind. I don’t know what to say. It just didn’t do it. It just didn’t do a damn thing for me.

I was growing frustrated. At some point I watched the Japanese culture mish-mash Western homage Sukiyaki Western Django (2007) by Takashi Miike, fresh after watching and loving his Ichi The Killer. Garbage. I thought it was complete garbage. I gave up on Westerns. It wasn’t going to work. The genre just wasn’t for me.

Cut to a couple of weeks ago when for some reason or another I decided it was time to get back on the saddle, pun intended. I knew The Magnificent Seven (1960) was a remake of the legendary Seven Samurai (1954), so I figured it couldn’t be all that bad. I could do an entire review on The Magnificent Seven, but I hear another reviewer is doing a take on both the Japanese Samurai film and its American counterpart, so I’ll leave it for them. I’ll just say that I loved it. Steve McQueen, Yul Brynner, and the entire cast were just fantastic and the story, while more than just a love letter to the original, was still amazing.

Bolstered by my love for The Magnificent Seven, I thought it was time to go after another one of the more popular movies on the genre. Netflix provided the means and a few days ago The Wild Bunch (1969) arrived. It was the original Director’s cut and clocked in at almost 2 1/2 hours.

Out for one last score, aging outlaw Pike (William Holden) and his men (“The Wild Bunch”, aforementioned, I presumed) hits up a railroad office. Pike’s plans turn to Hell when his former partner Deke Thornton (Robert Ryan) and a bunch of mercs open fire on them. Pike manages to escape the ambush with a few of his men, only to find out the silver they had just robbed were actually valueless metal washers. Meanwhile, Deke and the mercs (a group of greedy pinheads) are put on their tail. Thornton is told to bring Pike in, or he’ll be the one that gets sent back to prison.

The Wild Bunch cross over into Mexico and it’s there that they get wrapped up in a Mexican civil war, making a deal with the devil, General Mapache. Mapache hires Pike and his gang to rob an American military train on its way to deliver a shipment of guns in return for gold. Still needing that one last score, they oblige. Deke knows his former partner all too well though and makes plans to intercept that only go halfway according to plan. After the robbery, bad blood begins to emerge between The Wild Bunch and Mapache after one of their men is taken and tortured for the crime of stealing from the General. The result is something that should not be spoiled.

While the plot might sound simple enough, and its very obviously something the creators of Red Dead Redemption drew from heavily, it’s actually even better than it sounds. The relationship between Deke and Pike is excellent. Both men respect eachother a great deal, and it would seem that even though Deke has reason to resent Pike (Deke was shot and arrested while Pike escaped), he admires him and one easily assumes is only chasing him because his hand is being forced. Pike on the other hand doesn’t seem to begrudge Deke. As he put it, Deke is hunting him because “he gave his word [to the railroad]”, and that’s good enough for him.

While Pike is the robber, he is not necessarily the villain. In fact, the mercs Deke brings with him are so much worthier of scorn and loathing than any of Pike’s men, something Deke himself is very aware of. Pike himself is a brilliant tactician and incredibly charismatic, not to mention surprisingly moralistic in his own way. William Holden and Robert Ryan were both fantastic in their roles, but Holden just had something extra special about him and his character.

While I’m sure many of you have at watched, or at least heard things about this movie, I will try not to spoil too much of the ending for those of you who don’t know. What I will say is it’s a bloodbath very worthy of Tick’s Top 5 Deaths list. In my mind, I would have given the award to a single person out of the bunch for their death.

I will say that the first half hour or so despite opening with a robbery and a gun battle was sort of slow and indicative of the Westerns I have been so bored by in the past. I thought for sure that I was up for another disappointment. I’ll gladly take it all back though. Once the movie crosses the Mexican border, The Wild Bunch went from just a Western, to a God damn good piece of cinema history.

While still second in my mind to The Magnificent Seven, The Wild Bunch is one of just two Westerns I’ve watched so far worthy of their accolades. I know there’s a ton more out there that I have yet to see that have been praised by critics and movie-goers alike, and while I’m not sure The Wild Bunch has given me the confidence to check out 3:10 To Yuma or even the most recent remake, True Grit, I at least know I will be up to revisiting the genre again. Sometime.

So for those of you like me who have been bored by Westerns, The Wild Bunch is something to check out. For those of you that love some of the Westerns I was let down by, maybe you can explain to me what I’m missing … if I’m missing something. Also curious to hear what others you’d think I’d actually like.

— Sabbath

Dub Cee Reviews: Harry Brown (2009)

Posted in Uncategorized on January 16, 2011 by Dub Cee

Director: Daniel Barber

Writer(s): Gary Young

Stars: Michael Caine, Emily Mortimer, David Bradley

Michael Caine is without doubt one of the more underappreciated actors of our lifetime. I have yet to see a performance from him where I thought he was “off”. Harry Brown is no exception.

Ok, now, I suppose I should start with the story and then give Mr. Caine the verbal hand job he so richly deserves. Basically, Caine lives in what was a nice little neighborhood in London. However, in recent years the youth have become violent and there are places, that even in the light of day, one just does not go to. Caine plays Harry Brown, a retired man living alone and just trying to keep to himself and avoid trouble. He is able to so without much difficultly until the one person he has left in the world, his best friend, Leonard Attwell (Harry Potter’s David Bradley) is bullied and eventually killed by a group of the hoodlums. This pushes Brown over the edge. He has nothing left to lose and the only reason he has to continue is revenge for his friend. He literally has nothing left. He has military training but the man is a retiree so he must be thoughtful and plan out what he does. Even still his physical abilities betray him a few times. It is his ability to out think the punks that gives him the advantage.

The overall cast is very solid. Brown is being investigated by Alice Frampton (Emily Mortimer of Formula 51). She seems to be the only one able to see the connection between all the murders and wants to get the proof more to protect Harry from himself than to punish him for what he has done.

If I had to compare this movie to another, or reference another movie where I could say if you like it, you may enjoy Harry Brown, it would be the first Death Wish movie with Charles Bronson. Yes, it is a little slow in places. And yes, the ending isn’t quite what you were hoping for but it fit’s the story better than what you wanted but overall is just a damn good movie.

Back to Michael Caine. I cannot say enough about his performance. One scene in particular when he describes a war story to a man he just shot in the stomach. Hands down some of the greatest acting you will ever see. I love the way he ends the speech with, “You should have called an ambulance for that girl.”

Final grade: B, the movie is slow in places but overall the realism is terrific and Michael Caine is a master!

Be Sure to check out Sabbath’s review of this one too at the link…

https://thereservoirblogs.wordpress.com/2010/10/20/sabbath-reviews-harry-brown-2009/

Chainsaw Cheerleader Reviews: Tromeo & Juliet (1996)

Posted in Uncategorized on January 15, 2011 by chainsawcheerleader

Directed by: Lloyd Kaufman

Written by: Lloyd Kaufman, James Gunn

Narrated by: Lemmy

Cast: Jane Jensen, Will Keenan, Valentine Miele, Debbie Rochon, Tiffany Shepis, Stephen Blackehart, Patrick Connor, Steve Gibbons, Sean Gunn, Joe Fleishaker, William Beckwith, Earl McKoy

Genre: comedy, satire, drama, cult classic

 

Juliet Capulet: Parting is such sweet sorrow.

Tromeo Que: Yeah, it totally sucks.

 

Troma Entertainment is a low-budget independent film production and distribution company, which is known for their shock exploitation films that often encompass graphic violence, extreme gore, gratuitous nudity, and sexuality. Formed in 1974 by Lloyd Kaufman (The Toxic Avenger) and Michael Herz, Troma films specialize in B-movies that are surrealistic in nature and often contain social commentary that is a play on 1950s horror, often done so in a mocking manner. In 1996, Troma Entertainment went on to continue their legacy of magnificent trash with release of the studio’s most popular in-house production, Tromeo & Juliet.

Tromeo & Juliet is a mordern punk adaptation of William Shakespeare’s most famous work, Romeo and Juliet. While a rather faithful adaptation, Tromeo & Juliet follows the basic storyline and keeps the character partly true to the original source material. The dialogue of the film often draws from the literary legend himself but served with a twist. It is certain that Shakespeare never used the word cunt or cocksucker in any of his plays but if he had, it is apparent that many students forced to read his work would have paid more attention in high school English class. Tromeo & Juliet is the mutant child of Romeo and Juliet but only with the addition of tremendous amounts of violence and sexuality. Though the ending has been revised and the film is sprinkled with liberal interpretations of events, such as lesbian sex scenes and a continuous theme of incest.

The film, Tromeo & Juliet focuses on the ongoing feud between two warring families (the Ques and the Capulets) and the tale of two star-crossed lovers. The feud began after Cappy Capulet (William Beckwith) stole from his dear friend, Monty Que (Earl McKoy). Taking his adult entertainment company and his wife, Cappy forced Monty into a life of poverty and alcoholism. Left to care for his only son, Monty raised Tromeo (Will Keenan) to hate the Capulets. Twenty years after the falling out and taking place in modern-day Manhattan, the hatred between the families still boils. This hatred only deepens when Tromeo meets Cappy’s daughter, Juliet (Jane Jensen) at a consume party. It is love at first sight when the two meet but their love is met with violence as old hatred dies hard. With the help of his cousin Benny (Stephen Blackehart) and friend Murray (Valentine Miele), Tromeo is able to fight for his Juliet, while her abusive father and the man she is arranged to marry stand in his way.

For Troma Entertainment, Tromeo & Juliet was the answer to the bombardment of contemporary adaptations of the plays of Shakespeare that came about in the 1990’s. Films such as Romeo + Juliet by Baz Luhrmann, My Own Private Idaho (a retelling of Henry IV), and Ten Things I Hate About You (a retelling of The Taming of the Shrew) were seen as fresh and new with cast members that were often the latest teen-idols. As these films began winning accolades, Kaufman teamed up with James Gunn (of Slither and Dawn of the Dead fame) to construct a script for modern day film extremists. This union penned and produced a film true to Troma standards of entertainment. These principles employ the “kitchen sink” approach. Kaufman often assembles his films with a message that is carried throughout the movie with a loud and in your face tactic that frequently uses violence for laughs but inserts a few brief moments of serious banter.  Troma Entertainment has never been known for trying to push a message subtly and Tromeo & Juliet is no exception. As no topic is off-limits when used as a plot device, Tromeo & Juliet show cases an eyeball being plucked out, a squirrel hung from a noose, an extreme close-up of an actual nipple-piercing, bondage between father and daughter, a three foot penis, a monster penis, cunnilingus, two men kissing, incest between siblings, self mutilation, lesbian sex, and a Catholic priest frolicking with a young boy (all of which is narrated by Lemmy of Motörhead). While these actions and knowing that this is a B-movie, may present the idea that the film is poorly shot and poorly acted, the viewer will be surprised to learn that Tromeo & Juliet is rather polished when compared to Kaufman’s earlier work and that the acting is quite good for a film of this caliber. Aside from Troma Entertainments latest release, Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead, Tromeo & Juliet is one of Kaufman’s better acted films.

Tromeo & Juliet stars Troma Entertainment scream queens,  Tiffany Shepis (plays Peter, the Capulet Servent) and Debbie Rochon (plays Ness, the Capulet nurse and Juliet’s lesbian lover). The duo excel at their typically over-the-top sexual performances. Another Troma favorite is Joe Fleishaker. Known for his large size and his large appetite, Fleishaker has become a staple of Troma films.

Will Keenan (Tromeo) and Jane Jensen (Juliet) share a compatible chemistry as the main characters. Despite the fact that a Troma film will never win an Oscar, the pair look more natural and comfortable reciting Shakespeare than Leonardo DiCaprio did in 1996’s Romeo + Juliet. One great example of this occurs when Juliet seeks the help of a Rastafarian priest to halt her arranged marriage with a meat tycoon named London Arbuckle (Steve Gibbons). After ingesting a potion given to her by the priest, Juliet transforms into a half-human/half-cow hermaphrodite monster with a three foot penis. Upon seeing the beast that is to be his bride, Arbuckle crashes through the window of Juliet’s bedroom, committing suicide out of seer fright. It is obvious that Shakespeare never intended such a scene for any of his works but the language he used is still applied to even the most outrageous of scenes in Tromeo & Juliet. While Jensen seems perfectly natural while reciting Shakespeare, even while having a three foot penis dangling between her legs, one must wonder why for an actor of DiCaprio’s stature it seemed as if every word he spoke was daunting. Yes, DiCaprio was twenty-two at the time he starred in Romeo + Juliet but with films such as This Boy’s Life, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, and The Basketball Diaries shot before the release of this film he had already proven to be an actor that was far wiser then his years.

Each cast member of Tromeo & Juliet acts well beyond the stereotypical abilities of a B-movie. The one cast member that shines above all is William Beckwith, who plays Cappy Capulet. Beckwith’s portrayal of Juliet’s abusive father has fashioned one of the more disturbing father roles in film that is more akin to Ed Wilson in Natural Born Killers than Jacob Fuller in From Dusk till Dawn. It is not the physical violence toward his daughter that is most disturbing but his incestuous behavior. The best example of this occurs when Juliet awakes from a nightmare screaming to be greeted with her father laying beside her in her bed. While holding her curling iron, Capulet laments that about his daughters libido and states that she used the curling iron to masturbate. Grabbing her, Capulet then drags his daughter into a dark room, dresses her in pink bondage, and cages her in a Plexiglas box. At no point is Capulet actually seen touching his daughter in a sexual manner and Juliet proclaims that she has not known the pleasures of a man but during the bondage scenes he is seen sweating profusely which leads one to believe that he may be masturbating as the viewer is presented with no other reason for him to be sweating. While Capulet’s behavior is disturbing, the viewer must remember that like every Shakespearian play, the villain always meets a justifiable end.

A staple of any play penned by Shakespeare is filled with not only internal conflict but physical conflict as well. Tromeo & Juliet has a number of well choreographed fight scenes that are used as a vehicle for gore and laughs. With each new fight the level of the intensity of the violence deepens and helps to move the story toward its climax. One such fight that best displays this acceleration in violence occurs after Juliet’s cousin Tyrone (Patrick Conner) learns that she is involved with his mortal enemy, Tromeo. After finding Tromeo at his cousin’s tattoo parlor, Tyrone tries to force Tromeo to fight him. Tromeo refuses but his challenge is agreed to by his friend Murray. As the two fight others in the shop soon join in. Murray soon finds himself out matched after accidently stabbing a tattoo gun into the wrong man’s eye. Tyrone bashes a club into Murray’s skull and upon his death takes flight. Enraged by his friend’s death, Tromeo chases after Tyrone. As the two fight a ladder hanging out of a car window slams into his chest. The force of the connection causes Tromeo to rip off Tyrone’s arm as the car drives away with him attached to the ladder. It is through a series of car crashes that Tyrone is finally dismembered.

Tromeo & Juliet, as well as all Troma Entertainment films, are pure enjoyment for a select portion of the movie going audience. It is not that, Kaufman tries to appeal to a certain group, it is the fact that art is subjective While some may find Tromeo & Juliet revolting, there are those who would disagree and proclaim that a love story without violence is truly the film that is disgusting. In all its B-movie greatness, Tromeo & Juliet is the one Shakespearian film that will never bore its audience.

Tromeo & Juliet receives an 8 out of 10

Tigris Rose’s Indiana Jones Movie Marathon Part II: Temple of Doom

Posted in Uncategorized on January 9, 2011 by tigrisrose

Tigris Rose’s Indiana Jones Movie Marathon

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)

Welcome back Jones fans for the second installment of Indiana Jones Movie Marathon review. It’s time to talk about I.J. and The Temple of Doom. Which is funny, yet confusing because this sequel is actually a prequel to “Raiders.” No one really notices because there is only a year difference and the story lines fit either way. “Raiders” as I shared earlier, took place in 1936. Temple of Doom takes place in 1935.

From the get go, “Temple” is action packed and big! We start in a night club in the heart of Shanghai. Cue in Willie Scott a blonde gold-digger. (How a blonde haired American girl found his way to Shanghai to sing for a gangster, I’m not sure I want to know.) Of course Indy has to meet the Gangster Lao Che to get a jade statue, which he exchange for a really big diamond. But in the event of the trade off Indy’s poisoned. While trying to get the antidote, the jade statue, and the diamond comes the great fight scene in the club. Complete with Tommy guns and half naked dancing girls. Course Indy gets the antidote, I mean seriously, you can’t kill the main character in the first 10 minutes of the movie. Of course in the event of escaping he takes Willie with him because she has his diamond. They jump through the roof of a cab driven by a 10 year old cabbie. Short Round is probably one of the greatest sidekicks ever. His relationship with Indy which is like a big/little brother relationship through this movie. They have these little tiffs through the movie. My favorite is when they are playing cards accusing the other of cheating.

So the premise of the story takes place in India. After Indy, Short Round, and Willie take a jump from a crashing plane on a life raft. (I want to see this trick on Mythbusters to see if this is plausible, because this shouldn’t be possible. AH movie magic.)

So India is dark and depressing. Because this village is dying because a sacred Sivalinga stone is missing. The stone give the village harmony and prosperity. Their crops are dying and there is a drought, plus the children have been abducted.

It’s a very sad and supernatural story. The rest of the story takes place at the palace ruled by a child prince who is being controlled by Mola ram who is the leader of a cult to the goddess Kali.

Now I like “Temple better than “Raiders” and equal in my eyes to “Crusades.” Its got that supernatural story that I like with Action; but also nice one liners especially between Indy and Short Round.

“Temple” is the movie that starts the running gag of Indy losing his hat and gun. Iconicaly Indy losing his hat in this movie has been well known through parodies. But the scene puts you on your toes because Indy and Short round are about to be turned into Indy-K-Bobs. but at the same time makes you chuckle because Indy is yelling at Willie to help them, though she doesn’t want to touch the bugs.

There is a great fight scene towards the end of the movie that I love. Indy’s fighting a semi-giant and Short Round is fighting the prince. That leads to the legendary cart scene that follows our heroes though the mines racing to escape but there is a little watery problem at the end.

((Sorry I am trying my best not to spoil anything. You need to watch it yourself.))

I like “Temple” better than “Raiders.” Mostly because “Raiders” has a little more down time and doesn’t have scenes hit every time like “Temple.” The secondary cast especially the love interest is a lot better in this movie than “Raiders” as well. Everyone loves Short Round.

Visually “Temple” is more diverse between the good and evil spectrum. In “Temple” it starts with lots of action and color very visually appealing that leads to a dumpy plane, to beautiful snowy mountains, to a dismal and dieing India village. Then to a beautiful palace. In the scenes for the dinner and the bedrooms are very beautiful. Very colorful, on the good spectrum. You would hardly think that it holds a very dark secret. Under the palace is a dark, depressing sacrificial alter to the goddess Kali. Off the bat you see a human sacrifice which is so messed up. After our protagonist party have been captured by the zombie like followers of Kali, we find out another dark secret. All the messing children had been put into slavery in the minds. Indy becomes brain washed, Short Round into slavery, and Willie is about to be the next human sacrifice.

After Indy takes the stone back and frees the kids to the village. The palace goes dark and deserted as though it died itself. But as our heroes make there way to the village that started their quest. There was happiness, lots of color and life back into the village that was nearly dead at the beginning of the movies.

I give “Temple” a solid A. it has great cinematography. Always kept you either on your seat or laughing. And has a great cast and directing and some nice one liners.

Stay tuned Indy fans next blog we will have a double dose of Dr. Jones!!!

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