With the eighties came a lot of frustration about the Vietnam War and the hell that many people had to endure to fulfill the political goals of the US government. Walter Hill’s “Southern Comfort” isn’t precisely about the Vietnam war but it is a allegory for the Vietnam war right down to the very final scene. “Southern Comfort” is a startling and often surreal survival thriller, set amidst a seemingly serene Louisiana Outback during the Vietnam War. With the Louisiana National Guard stationed in the bayou, they’re set to take part in mandatory maneuvers.
Ultimately I am a big fan of the revenge picture, but “The Twisted Doll” is the victim of too much story and not enough run time. “The Twisted Doll” by director Andrew de Burgh feels like he had an initially larger scope story in hand and kind of reduced it for a nine minute movie. I wouldn’t say “The Twisted Doll” is a bad movie, as it’s a solidly written picture with some good performances, I just wished I knew more about the characters to understand their motivations.
Despite what Disney and Lucasfilm have been doing lately with the “Star Wars” cinematic universe and promising “Star Wars” films until the foreseeable future, that doesn’t stop fans from contributing their own stories. “The Force and the Fury” is a great and simple short fan film that is beautifully directed and works on the fundamentals of “Star Wars”: The narrative is simple, straight to the point, and about family and how the Sith and Jedi affect those within its realm.
Much like a classic mix tape, “Vol. 2” of “Guardians of the Galaxy” is a movie that’s similar in theme to its predecessor but feels fresh and original. Director James Gunn delivered a truly remarkable adaptation in 2014, and now he offers up a sequel that’s just as good, with a hefty narrative that thankfully has so much going on, but never loses sight of its central themes of family, love, and how music is the soundtrack of our lives. With “Guardians” the group of Starlord, Gamorra, Groot, Rocket, and Drax are back committing to a difficult job for a race of aliens called the Sovereign. They’re tasked with killing a vicious monster called the Abilisk and protecting priceless batteries. In exchange, they give Gamorra her sister Nebula back, who has been held prisoner.
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’m old enough to remember that, despite being a goofy vehicle for the Brat Pack, that “Young Guns” was pretty popular and warranted its own follow up. Now shedding the whole gimmick aside, Geoff Murphy spends his movie following Billy the Kid, as he attempts to hide from the law and make a deal with a new Marshall who swears to release him and let him off without being hanged. Of course he turns his back on the deal, prompting Billy to flee with his gang and his two old friends Chavez and Doc, both of whom are re-introduced as having been caught and imprisoned. “Young Guns II” avoids the goofy opening sequence in favor of a campy shot of a very old Billy the Kid (Emilio Estevez in old man make up) who calls a lawyer to meet him in a neutral zone.
This is the story of The Regulators. No wait, this is the story of Billy the Kid. No this is the story of how Billy the Kid met Pat Garrett. Oh hell, it’s all of that and essentially a remake of “The Cowboys.” Rather than a small group of boys who avenge their mentor in a dramatic finale, this group of young men avenges their caretaker in the beginning and we’re stuck with them for the duration. And they do so in a very long and cheesy Western that jumps in and out of so many sub-plots that it becomes exhausting. Christopher Cain’s “Young Guns” is really only a film you’ll likely love if you were between 13 and 19 in 1988. It’s another attempt to tack the brat pack on to a movie genre, and it pretty much fails from the moment we’re introduced to various characters in a goofy opening credits sequence. Every character is essentially some kind of gimmicky contributor to the narrative, only delivering broad Western cliches.
“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.