Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

A new review from The Movie Snob.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2  (D).  The first Guardians movie was a surprisingly fun, comic space opera.  The second, unfortunately, is neither fun nor funny.  The relentless special effects and earsplitting soundtrack add up to, as another critic put it, a “visual and aural assault”—and one that lasts over two hours, for good measure.  There’s a lot going on here, but the main plot involves the encounter between affable space scoundrel Peter Quill (Chris Pratt, The Five-Year Engagement) and his long-lost father Ego (Kurt Russell, Big Trouble in Little China).  It’s always great to see Russell doing his amiable big-lug routine, but even he can’t save this bloated trainwreck.  Almost lost in the clutter are nice supporting performances by Michael Rooker (Tombstone) as the blue outlaw who raised Peter and Elizabeth Debicki (The Great Gatsby) as a beautiful gold alien whose genetically perfect species is remarkably inept at tracking down and blowing up the Guardians.  Skip it.

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Big Trouble in Little China

The Movie Snob revisits a blast from the past.

Big Trouble in Little China (B). I recently revisited this excellent (relatively speaking) B movie from the 80s. Kurt Russell (Escape From New York) delivers a great performance as Jack Burton, a clueless but hugely self-impressed truck driver who accidentally gets drawn into a buddy’s quest to rescue his fiancée from a 2,000-year-old evil Chinese sorcerer named Lo Pan (James Hong, Blade Runner). It’s full of ridiculous fight scenes, great-for-the-time special effects, and a breathy performance by a young Kim Cattrall (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. Oh, and also Sex and the City.) I loved it when it was released back in 1986, and I still get a kick out of it today. The DVD also contains a commentary track by Kurt Russell and director John Carpenter (Halloween), and although it’s mostly them just reminiscing about old times and people they knew, it was still kind of entertaining.

Overboard

DVD review from The Movie Snob

Overboard (D). Some young friends of mine insisted that I needed to watch this 1987 Kurt Russell-Goldie Hawn flick. In fact, one of said friends actually loaned me the DVD. Oh, my. This is one of the worst movies I have seen in a while–maybe since the execrable Hello Again, starring Shelley Long. I know this movie came out 22 years ago, but surely the use of amnesia as a key plot device was worn out even back then. Anyhoo, Goldie Hawn (Housesitter) plays a ridiculously wealthy witch of a woman who cheats Kurt Russell (Big Trouble in Little China), a blue-collar carpenter, out of a weekend’s wages. When she falls overboard from her yacht and gets amnesia, Russell gets revenge by claiming to be her husband and dragging her back to his hovel to clean, cook, and take care of his four monstrous boys. Crude sexual humor is sprinkled throughout, and we are treated (?) to a lengthy inspection of Hawn’s white behind in the early going. I was also offended by the lame cover-band version of the ZZ Top classic “Legs” at the opening of Russell’s dream business–a miniature golf course. Wretched, wretched stuff. Avoid at all costs.

Escape from New York

DVD review from The Movie Snob

Escape from New York (D+). I had never seen this 1981 John Carpenter classic, and all I can say is, wow. It is a low-budget cheeseball spectacular. It grabbed me from the first seconds, with the zero-frills opening credits and the soundtrack composed on somebody’s Casio keyboard. In the near future (1997, I think it said), Manhattan is a completely walled-off maximum-security prison in which the prisoners are dumped and left to fend for themselves. Air Force One is hijacked, and the president (Donald Pleasence, Halloween) unluckily bails out right into the middle of the prison. The government brass decide to enlist Manhattan’s newest prisoner, Snake Plisskin (Kurt Russell, Big Trouble in Little China), to try to rescue the prez in time for some big summit with Russia and China. Snake has lots of absurd adventures in the prison, whose inhabitants include Ernest Borgnine (From Here to Eternity), Harry Dean Stanton (Alien), Adrienne Barbeau (The Cannonball Run), and Isaac Hayes (I’m Gonna Git You Sucka). It’s kind of fun in a cheesy way, but I’m not going to hurry out and find Escape from L.A.

Poseidon

A new review from Nick at Nite

Poseidon. If you have seen the original, stay at home. If you have not seen the original, then buy a ticket for this movie. It is just as good as the original, but does not really add anything new. It is honestly less of a remake and more a modernization. The Carpenters have been replaced with Fergie. Gene Hackman is now Kurt Russell. The older couple is now Richard Dreyfuss (he such a great actor he can play the role of two people). The boat is newer and fancier. The special effects are crisper. Well some of them are. I give it an “A” if you have not seen the original. I give it a “C” if you have seen the original. No new ground here.

Sky High

From the desk of The Movie Snob:

Sky High (B). After the creeps and shocks of The Skeleton Key and Grizzly Man, I was more than ready for some light-hearted family fare. I figured good old Kurt Russell would deliver, and I was right. In the vein of The Incredibles, this movie is about a family in which the mom and dad (Kelly Preston, Russell) just happen to be superheroes. And not just any superheroes: Jetstream (who can fly) and The Commander (who has super strength) are two of the most famous superheroes around. This would probably be tough on any kid, but for their 14-year-old son Will, it’s a particularly heavy burden to bear—because he doesn’t seem to have any superpowers of his own. Nevertheless, he gets sent off to Sky High, a high school for children of superheroes, where he promptly gets placed in the “sidekick” track instead of the “hero” track. The observations about the cliqueishness of high school are both smart and amusing, and the messages (don’t let newfound popularity go to your head, never forget who your real friends are) are no less wholesome for being a little timeworn. A soundtrack full of remade 80’s tunes doesn’t hurt either. Good clean fun for the whole family.

The Thing; Taking Lives

New reviews from Nick at Nite:

The Thing

Has John Carpenter ever made a bad movie? Hello. They are all glorious. The Fog, Escape From New York, Escape From LA, VAMPIRES, and Ghosts on Mars – is there a better group of work? Hell, he even composes the soundtracks for these movies. Got caught watching The Thing again last night and felt it deserved a quick review. Basically, evil martian is awakened in icy grave by crazy Norwegian, not Swedish, scientists. Evil martian eats dogs, scientists, etc … Turns out when evil martian eats things it can take their form. As such, he hides among the American scientists living in the arctic wasteland and takes his time killing them. This is a great short science fiction story, was originally made into a movie in the 50s, and was carefully updated by Carpenter in this adaption. It has a high gore factor, for 80s type movies, no nudity, some gun play, and a very cool flame thrower. This is also probably Kurt Russell’s greatest movie. I give this movie an “A.”

Taking Lives

This movie sucked. It has Angelina Jolie in it and it still sucked. Not much plot, hard to follow, not much to look at. Ordinarily, I like violence, nudity, loud music, and gore, but in this movie it did not work. My favorite moment: in this very serious movie, Angelina Jolie gets in her car to chase the bad guy on an overcast day and apparently stops to put on her sunglasses because in one frame she does not have them on and then in the next frame she does. Please. There is also a very misplaced sex scene, not sure what it added to the plot, it might have been only added to the director’s cut. There is also an equally odd, disturbing twist at the end. I won’t give away, but when I saw it at first … I thought what kind of sick b*stard would write such a thing. Angelina Jolie needs to make another Tomb Raider to restore my faith in her. Ethan Hawke, well what can I say, he obviously doesn’t have good judgment – he left Uma Thurman. I give this movie an “F.”