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Archive for March 23rd, 2008

Oh my god, this movie is a thousand kinds of bad.   There’s nothing good-bad about it, either.

point-of-no-return-dvd.jpg

Okay, first of all, I want to ask Gabriel Byrne one question and one question only:  “Why were you in this remarkable piece of crap?”     Oh, Gabriel.   You and those pretty blue eyes are capable of so much better.

Point of No Return is a remake of a much finer French film, La Femme Nikita.   The basic plot is that Bridget Fonda plays a Nina-Simone obsessed junkie who is in a robbery gone wrong and she manages to receive the death penalty for her role in it.   The execution is faked and instead the government trains her up as an assassin.   Needless to say, Bridget Fonda’s character is not entirely thrilled about this whole turn of events.

This film feature one of the most hilarious execution scenes ever put to film.  Not only is the execution chamber highly stylized, Bridget Fonda’s face is classic.  It’s like she’s having a lobotomy instead of lethal injection and afterwards promptly pees all over herself.

Bridget Fonda’s  acting is atrocious in this.  Not only is it hard to believe she’s a junkie, it’s hard to believe anything other than the fact that she’s a whiny little snot at every turn of the movie.    She rages with almost pre-teen angst through all of her training, where it’s pretty obvious Gabriel Byrne isn’t trying to down Jameson’s in between sessions and backhanding her alternately.    Watching her efforts at being “frustrated” is like watching a child try and paint Rembrandt.   It’s hard to conceive that her boyfriend, played by a very scruffy, hobo looking Dermot Mulroney, wants anything to do with her, but somehow, he does.

After she completes her training, Bridget Fonda’s character, who is now known as Claudia, is sent to Venice, California as a home base.   We know this because we get some cracktastic montages of people rollerblading and lifting weights in the most hideous spandex day-glo outfits imaginable.

Needless to say,  Hobo Dermot Mulroney begins to get very suspicious.   She doesn’t seem to work a lot for someone in “sales” and she gets all these whacked out phone calls where she has to just up and leave.   For someone who’s a super-stealthy assassin, Claudia’s not very convincing at making excuses to leave to go kill some people.

Claudia now has to juggle her “regular” life with her “assassin” life and figure out a way to make the two balance.   I could imagine how shooting people in the head with sniper rifles as your day job would conflict with being a nine-to-five sorta person and having a wretched looking hobo for a boyfriend.   So there’s lots of drama.

I won’t spoil the ending, but needless to say, I don’t think you should want to throw something large and heavy at a main character that is supposed to be sympathetic.   Or wonder why Gabriel Byrne took this role in the first place.   Or wondering if Mr. Byrne saw the final product and promptly drank himself into a years long stupor.

Yeah, it’s that bad.

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The remake is kinda sorta the bane of my existence.

By kinda sorta, I mean that I don’t really like them, but I pay them no mind, really, until someone decides to remake a favorite film of mine. I’m not sure what’s inspiring all the remakes.

There’s an appropriate little anecdote about my feeling on remakes. As I’ve undoubtedly mentioned before, I worked for a Blockbuster for almost two years as a manager. A gaggle of teenage girls wandered in, looking for scary movies to watch with their boyfriends on a weekend night and approached the counter with some questions.

Teen Girl #1: Do you have House of Wax?

Me: Which version? You want the one with Elisha Cuthbert, right?

Teen Girl #2: …Yeah, that one. There’s more than one?

Me: Uh huh.

Teen Girl #1: What about The Texas Chainsaw Massacre?

Me: The one with Jessica Biel?

Teen Girl #2: Yup…is there more than one?

Me: Oh, yeah. Made in the late ’70’s.

Teen Girls: Ewwww.

The teenage girls sauntered off and reapproached their counter with their movies in hand. They talked animatedly about how excited they were, and one struck up a conversation with me about the “other” movies.

Teen Girl #1: So, have you seen the other movies of these?

Me: Yeah, I liked them a lot, especially the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Teen Girl #1: But it was made so long ago. This one has to be scarier, right?

Bingo. If you’re looking for an answer as to why people make remakes, it’s that right there. The remake, I realized, is made for people my age who have never seen the original film who don’t care to see it — they view the remake as being more “modern” and therefore, better. I personally have never viewed it that way. If I want to watch The Texas Chainsaw Massacre again, I’ll watch the original TCM again, not a remake.

I don’t loathe remakes; in fact, I’ve liked some better than the originals, believe it or not. But I can’t help and cry foul on a Will Smith produced Karate Kid remake featuring his own son. Why is it necessary to mess with the original?

Stepping outside the horror genre, why was it necessary to remake The Poseidon Adventure? We already had a made for TV crap version and the original version with Gene Hackman and Ernest Borgnine. The original is not cinematic perfection by any means, but it is a fantastic piece of fried cinema cheese, complete with a wailing, OMG devastated Shelley Winters, people falling into Christmas trees and totally and unintentionally hilarious Gene Hackman. Did we really need to make it a “serious” piece of action movie?

I don’t think so. The problem with all these is that they rarely improve upon the original, because there’s nothing to mess with the original on. (Seriously, makers of Poseidon. I knew it was a losing fight when you couldn’t zombie-like resurrect Shelley Winters and put her in this movie.)

Isn’t there anything, ANYTHING else that we can spend better time and money on? Apparently…not.

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#1423: Hitman

Because nothing says a Saturday night for me like, “Whee, let’s blow some shit up and shoot some people!”

hitman_the_movie.jpg

Okay, so I have to admit, I am a little biased. I’ve been waiting to see Hitman for quite literally over a year.

Hitman is based on a series of very popular video games of the same title. I was never a huge fan of the games as I found them extraordinarily tedious at times, but the basic premise is this: The hitman in question is a genetically engineered man by the name of Agent 47 – he has no “real” name. He works for an entity called The Agency (known as The Organization” in the film) which is essentially a professional mercenary/assassin service.

I must admit that I wasn’t expecting anything from Hitman. Some good explosions, perhaps, and some nice gun battles. I’m relatively easy to please and once I realized that no, they were not going to cast Vin Diesel in this movie, I was pretty excited to see what they could do with it. Yes, I first heard about this movie way back yonder and then for quite a while Vin Diesel was attached to the project. If you’re wondering if Hollywood’s got some undeniable creativity issues, it’s that when they started casting Hitman, they probably thought of the most well-known already bald actor they could find. Never you mind, moviegoer, that Vin Diesel looks absolutely nothing like Agent 47.

I actually have quite a fondness for brainless action movies and I’m not quite sure why.

Here’s what I like about Hitman: Timothy Olyphant nailed Agent 47. Not that it’s difficult to play this guy, but he even got down the guy’s walk from the video game. He has the right face on for it too and Olyphant hits his mark every single time. The cinematography and lighting is fantastic and all of the special effects have been remarkably well done.

Of course, it will never win any Oscars, but it was entertaining, to say the least.

I will say that you have to suspend a lot of disbelief in order to enjoy it. Remarkably, Agent 47 robotically makes his way through the film with not a single person noticing he’s got this enormous barcode tattooed on his head. Even worse, it’s tattooed off-center. I spent half the film horrified that not once does anyone think there’s anything odd about some tall bald guy in an impeccably tailored suit wandering around with an off-center barcode tattooed on the back of his head, which probably means I have some sort of obsessive-compulsive disorder. (And I wonder what his head scans as at the self-checkout at Wal-Mart. I’m simple-minded, folks.)

Also, very little is explained about this fancy-schmancy organization, which is not necessary, but it does leave you wondering — who are these people who can finance such a thing? And genetically engineering bald-headed dudes and tattooing them with barcodes? Doesn’t that make your assassins a bit obvious?

For once, however, it’s nice to see a main character in an action film turn out to be exactly what he’s billed as — a cold assassin — and the lack of witty quips helps, too. Bruce Willis cornered the market on that in Die Hard and I’m so sick of hearing stupid jokes that Hollywood writers think is funny after Action Hero Du Jour blows some shit up and manages to stay alive.

So if action flicks are your thing, I”d recommend this one; if not, approach with caution. (I bought the special edition and don’t regret it in the slightest, which is saying something.)

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