I always respected how Sylvester Stallone tries to make a lot of his big screen action heroes something of blue collared, under appreciated men who are just working to get by. There was “Rocky” that helped boost how interesting boxing can be, and while arm wrestling never took off in the eighties, “Over the Top” is a decent action film about an estranged father and son making amends. “Over the Top” is admittedly a childhood favorite, and a movie I watched over a thousand times as a kid. Stallone is great, Robert Loggia is great, and director Menahem Globan charismatically films every single instance of arm wrestling as an epic moment of pride, and manhood.
The populace is obsessed with sports that thrive on violence and uniformity. The rich are generally oblivious to the outside world. Sports are corporate funded obsession based around putting its competitors to their limit. Civilization finds the obsession with celebrities more interesting than actual world issues, and the media manipulates the public through culture of competition. That is the stunningly familiar dystopian future presented in “Rollerball,” the future of 2018. Director Norman Jewison’s science fiction action film has a lot to say about the wide gap of social and class structures. As well it presents a grim glimpse at a corporate empire that results in a world much like today, where the media and culture is dominated by a single entity.
Beneath Paul Michael Glaser’s action film where Arnold Schwarzenegger takes on gimmicky athletes and ends every bout with a silly catchphrase, beats a movie that is quick as a whip and horrifyingly prophetic. Based on the Stephen King novel, “The Running Man” is simultaneously a vehicle for Schwarzenegger that also sneaks in a lot of commentary about society that would oddly enough come to completely fruiting by the mid to late aughts. “The Running Man” is based around a very popular and deadly reality show, steeped in a world where people risk their lives for cash and vacations for entertainment, and it’s all run by a mad man running a corporation. You can pretty much point that arrow to any one of the men running the world today.
I really like where James Cappadoro and writer Frank De Rosa’s heads are with “We Just Want to Play.” There is always someone who is trying to hand us a new kind of college classic like “Animal House” or “Revenge of the Nerds,” and director Cappadoro’s short film has an infectious energy that made it a blast to sit through. The one downfall behind it all is that the movie is only about sixteen minutes in length. Chalk it up to budget or whatnot, but “We Just Want to Play” looks like it has material for at least a ninety minute movie. That said, the current short is fine as it is and works as a very entertaining and fun tribute to classic college comedies about underdogs fighting the alpha males and corrupt deans.
Yes, believe it or not, the “XXX” movies now have a mythology. And a back story. And supporting characters. Now that America has officially found the “Jason Bourne” series a bit worn, Vin Diesel makes his return with his clunky and ridiculous “XXX” movie series, reprising his role as the rebellious, bald, smart ass anti-hero Xander Cage. This is a break from playing the rebellious, bald, smart ass anti-hero Dominic Torreto, and the rebellious, bald, smart ass anti-hero Riddick, and–the rebellious, bald, smart ass anti-hero in “Babylon A.D.” After the unwatchable dumpster fire that was “XXX: State of the Union” the studio brings Diesel back to prop up a light reboot and sequel of “XXX” that also opens up a world for more movies of this ilk.
Most horror fans agree by now that most creative minds have pretty much tapped the zombie well dry, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a lot of filmmakers still trying to reinvent the wheel. “Attack of the Lederhosen Zombies” does not re-invent the wheel and probably won’t change anyone’s mind on zombie movies, but for devotees of the sub-genre, there’s a lot of fun to be had. There’s some good music, a brisk pace, and a different setting beyond the typical country farm house or city back drop. Two snowboarders head out to the Swiss Alps with their manager Branka to film a publicity video for their corporate sponsor. When snowboarder and slacker Steve botch’s the filming altogether, the trio are left on the mountain, stranded.
Your enjoyment of “Space Jam” may depend on your nostalgia factor and your love for Michael Jordan. Ultimately, “Space Jam” is a serviceable kids and family animation hybrid that teams up one of the most iconic sports heroes of the nineties with one of the most iconic animated characters of all time. Michael Jordan’s popularity was somewhat waning in 1996 thanks to his stint playing baseball, and “Space Jam” is something of an image boost that also happened to be a pretty huge marketing success during the mid-nineties. With toys, music, VHS tapes, and everything else, “Space Jam” was a pretty big pop culture storm that built a larger and loyal audience.
IN SELECT THEATERS — If you haven’t had a massive amount of nostalgia to frame the memories for “Space Jam,” then odds are you won’t really enjoy the mix of Michael Jordan, The Looney Tunes, and Bill Murray, for some reason. Without the nostalgia, “Space Jam” is just a mediocre animated comedy that is made by a committee, and used to boast the waning popularity of Michael Jordan and the Looney Tunes. There’s also Bill Murray for some reason. Back in the mid nineties, Michael Jordan was sports royalty and was playing baseball professionally; someone had the bright idea to give him a movie co-starring timeless cartoon characters because that’s how stuff works. For all its faults (and there are a lot of them) “Space Jam” is a perfect storm of urban appeal, and family appeal that managed to make it a veritable marketing juggernaut in 1996.