I think Nickelodeon has things bassackwards when it comes to “Monster Trucks.” In the nineties and perhaps even eighties, a normal company would have released a “Monster Trucks” toy line followed by its very own movie. Instead we have a long gestating kids movie about glowing monsters that hide in trucks that transform in to… monster trucks—or something. And there’s not a toy line to be had. I say that because “Monster Trucks” watches more like a pitch movie for a franchise than it does an actual movie. “Monster Trucks” was created by a four year old (no seriously, look it up), and intended to be aimed at younger kids (Honest) as a sort of pseudo-Transformers. Which in and of itself is pointless when young kids are still very much all about Transformers.
I think there was even some doubt by Joel Hodgson and company on whether or not fans wanted a reboot of MST3K. Sure, the merchandise sells well, but most reboots of nineties properties have either stunk or just failed to deliver, period. Plus it’s not like the show was around for a short time like “Firefly” or “Freaks and Geeks.” It was on ten years and even earned a movie of its own. Surprisingly enough fans proved that the show is just as special to them as it is to Joel Hodgson and his crew of brilliant creators that gave us the original series. Like all the other fans, “MST3K” has a very special place in my heart and I have such a deep bond with its characters and love for its formula. So naturally I was frightened the reboot would be stale.
America never did John Woo any favors, did it? The man who gave us “The Killer” and “Hard Boiled” now offers us a movie where American stars John Travolta and Nicolas Cage seem to be competing to see who is a worse actor. I guess when you’re working alongside Cage, though, you either have to be as awful as he is, or else risk causing some kind of black hole. Either way, for a man who has such a skill for delivering breakneck action films, “Face/Off” is that movie so moronic, you can’t even excuse it as science fiction. It’s kind of that movie you just accepted in 1997 mainly because Cage and Travolta joining forces was a little better than when Travolta met Christian Slater in “Broken Arrow.”
Would you rather have two bad monster movies or nothing at all? I agree: two bad monster movies. Shout! Factory offers up two bad monster movies for the price of one for movie buffs that appreciate the schlock and awe of giant badly designed monsters wreaking havoc within budget limitations. First up there’s 1977’s “Tentacles” directed by Ovidio G. Assoninitis and is one of the many Jaws-sploitation movies to come out of the decade. This time around there’s an all star cast of John Huston, Bo Hopkins and Henry Fonda, all of whom reside in a seaside resort town.
As we all saw with Tarantino a few years ago, the idea of Will Smith in a Western isn’t a bad one. Smith has a modern look that’s not accessible for every film, but with the right director Smith could shine. It’s just too bad he straddled himself to Barry Sonnenfeld who casts Will in one of the most poorly conceived TV to movie adaptations of all time. “Wild Wild West” is worse than “Beverly Hillbillies” and “Charlie’s Angels” combined. What’s worse is that director Sonnenfeld has absolutely no idea how to utilize Smith in a Western setting. So by the time the movie has started, rather than rely on the pulpy martial arts theme from the original series, the movie just becomes a showcase for Will Smith to be Will Smith. Even in the old West, Smith is the wise cracking, shade wearing, cowboy who is a hit with the ladies.
“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 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.
This time around “V” embraces its science fiction roots more, allowing for a lot more looks in to the rebellion, and the inclusion of new corners of the visitors’ world and the rebels. Most of all, there’s the introduction of a Visitor/Human hybrid that becomes one of the larger symbols of the war, and is pushed back and forth between the resistance and people that think the visitors can stop the invasion and work with Earth. Months after the humans sent out the beacon for other alien species to help them take down the Visitors, nothing has happened and the humans are still trying to stop the Visitors and their plans. Now the Visitors are building new tactics, which includes armor that can deflect bullets, and a form of torture leader Diana has concocted that allows her to convert humans to the side of Visitors for programming.