At this point you know what you’re getting with the “Fast and the Furious” movie series, but they also seem to be thinking of new ways to get ridiculous. While you can’t really expect realism with these movies (seriously, gravity does not exist in this world), “Fate of the Furious” reaches new heights of absurdity that it becomes comical; and not the good kind of comical, either. Where James Bond had “Die Another Day” where he surfed a tsunami on a plane door and parachute, “The Fate of the Furious” has its own “jump the shark” moment. But this one involves a missile chasing a car, and Dwayne Johnson merely leaning out of a high speed car and pushing the missile away with his hand, allowing it to divert in to the car of a bad guy. It’s that point where I realized that it’s about time for the series to come to an end.
I would have loved to be there at the pitch meeting for “Con Air.” Take “Die Hard,” make the villain John Malkovich and make its two heroes once popular eighties stars, and you have yourself what is a tonally uneven but pretty solid action movie all around. Star Nicolas Cage does double duty camp as hero Cameron Poe, an army ranger who accidentally murders a man while attempting to defend his wife one night at a bar. For some reason this qualifies him to travel on a transport flight to a new prison alongside some of the worst criminals in the world (?). This includes rapists, cannibals, child molesters, and vicious serial killer Cyrus “The Virus” Grissom, as played by John Malkovich.
“Teen Titans: The Judas Contract” is a sequel to “Justice League vs. Teen Titans” which was a sequel to “Batman: Bad Blood” so don’t worry, it all ties to Batman. Like pretty much everything DC Comics these days, it’s all about Batman, and “The Judas Contract” compensates for the lack of Batman by including both Robins. Not only do we get a look at Dick Grayson as Robin when he led the Titans, but we also go to modern times where Grayson is now Nightwing. Damian Wayne is Robin now, and is a member of the Teen Titans. So that Batman flavor DC banks on is still there, even if Batman never shows up. “The Judas Contract” is an adaptation of one of the most iconic comic book storylines of all time, as the Teen Titans confront a traitor in their midst. Sam Liu’s animated adaptation is weak and limp, and often times bereft of entertainment value. And I say that as someone who genuinely loves the character Nightwing.
I will never understand the reasoning behind Frank Miller ever wanting to direct his own superhero movie. It’s not that he’s directing a movie, either, it’s that he’s directing a movie in the style of Robert Rodriguez’s fast and cheap process where he merely places his cast in front of a green screen for ninety percent of his film. And we must endure a hundred minute crime thriller with people that stumble around a CGI world. Frank Miller has no idea how to grasp at anything other than dark, violent, and gritty thus he takes Will Eisner’s groundbreaking comics and tacks it on to his “Sin City” neo-noir universe. Miller doesn’t outright say it to us, but Miller wants us to very much believe that “The Spirit” is a shared universe with “Sin City.”
Simon Wincer’s “The Phantom” just doesn’t get any respect, damn it, and I think it deserves a lot more than it receives from movie fans. Not only does director Wincer embrace the source material of the Phantom, but he casts someone like Billy Zane, who fits so well in to the mold of the Phantom, it’s eerie. I just wish more audiences appreciated the boldness of the pulp hero sub-genre for “The Phantom” to have caught on and perhaps spawn a movie series. The best we got in the nineties was a pretty awesome animated series that provided a futuristic spin on Lee Falk’s comic strip superhero. “The Phantom” is a sleek and breezy action film in the vein of “Indiana Jones” that finds Zane as Kit Walker.
I like the premise behind “Superargo,” and while he’s not the most competent superhero, I think in the serial world he could have thrived. The Spanish Italian superhero is a wrestler who once accidentally killed one of his opponents. Seeking redemption he spends his time as a superhero known as Superargo. Superargo is a man who has a ton of superpowers, none of which are ever too effective against his enemies in “The Faceless Giants.” He knows martial arts, and has the power to persuade people to do his bidding. He can also hover in mid-air as a means of meditation, can bend matter to his will, and is apparently bullet proof when it’s convenient to the narrative.
The first time I ever saw “Mortal Kombat” was in 1992 when I stopped by a grocery store on the way to school and saw a pair of guys battling one another on the arcade cabinet. Though “Street Fighter 2” was huge, “Mortal Kombat” made its own waves by realistic character models and some of the most vicious video game violence ever conceived in its era. So came the 1995 movie where not even then was there this much babbling about supernatural forces, and tournaments. “The Journey Begins” works overtime to build a mythology from this simple video game, and fails big time. It feels like someone at Threshold Studios were alerted about the upcoming movie and only had about two weeks to build a respectable animated tie-in.
Where else but an Andy Sidaris film can you watch a movie involving drug smuggling gangster, a busty pair of Blonde mercenaries running around in short shorts, and a sub-plot involving a sneaky venomous snake prone to popping up in oddest places? And what’s more is that “Hard Ticket to Hawaii” is played with the utmost sincerity, as director Sidaris unfolds a movie that’s as deliciously bad as its theme song. If there’s any film that should act as an entry point for Andy Sidaris’ repertoire, “Hard Ticket to Hawaii” is a great summary of what Sidaris is capable of. “Hard Ticket…” is often silly and so utterly awful from acting to sound mixing, but it embraces its trappings by injecting as much softcore sex and nudity as humanly possible. Did I mention the sub-plot involving the killer snake (read: obvious hand puppet) that spends its time sneering through crevices and murdering random characters?