We mustn’t dwell. No, not today. We can’t. Not on Rex Manning day!

It’s April 8th so it’s once again time to celebrate the “voice of a Generation!” Rex Manning and his smash hit “Say No More!” Word is he’ll be stopping by the local Empire Records to sign autographs for his loving fans!

Hope nothing else goes wrong today!

Arrival (2016)

Louise Banks (Amy Adams) and Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) team up to translate coded messages that are received when 12 mysterious “crescent moon” ships arrive at different locations across the world. Are the new visitors friendly, or do they have a more dastardly plan for Earth?

Based off the story “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang, this was a movie similar in some ways to “Contact” where aliens and humans attempt to communicate to find out if the aliens are here to help or destroy us. Though the story is science fiction it does a very good job of being believable, and firmly grounded in the reality of current technology as well as the growing human fear of extinction from an invading force (human or not).

Overall I really liked this movie, the way the storyline was nonlinear, but not too confusing as it jumped around to different parts of the story. I really enjoyed the performance of both Adams and Renner while they try their hardest to communicate with the new visitors as well as the 11 other countries around the world to crack the code.

The visuals in this movie definitely made it more entertaining to watch and the plot was captivating, though it was a little frightening how close to reality some plot points were, with people doing or saying things out of fear which could make a tense situation much worse. The story was pretty believable as far as how different people on different sides of the fence would have wanted to handle the situation of a new visitor to earth, as far as the contrasting opinions of handling the new information with “kid gloves” or a more aggressive approach.

This was a movie that I actually wanted to see more of by the time the credits rolled, because it was engaging enough that you really wanted to see the story to the very end, even if not all of the pieces of the puzzle fit nicely and you left still a little confused about what you just saw.

The Running Man (1987)

The opening narration appears in big block letters on the screen: “By 2017 the world economy has collapsed. Food, natural resources and oil are in short supply. A police state, divided into paramilitary zones, rules with an iron hand.”

Then the movie opens as Arnold is in command of an attack helicopter of the city of Bakersfield, with a riot over the lack of food takes place in a crowded intersection below.

Arnold is issued an order to open fire on the unarmed citizens, and when he disobeys, finds himself in deep trouble, eventually leading to him being on the world’s most popular game show “The Running Man” where prisoners compete for their lives against deadly stalkers and traps. Through a series of fights and cheesy quips from our hero, he aims to escape the deadly game and come back to exact his revenge on a host that wrongfully put him there.

The Running Man was based off of a Stephen King novel that was turned into an action movie with Arnold at the starring role, presumably to carry on his persona as a beastly action hero. It’s going to be more of Arnold beating down the baddies in the far off future date of 2017, something that can both be laughable in actual year 2017 because of how technology really advanced, as well as a little scary given the current fear of ACTUALLY running low on natural resources.

This movie is full on 80’s style, from the big teased out hair, the tight ADIDAS spandex bodysuits that both the contestants in “The Running Man” game show as well as the Dance Squad (that performs choreography by Paula Abdul) wear throughout the movie, the music, the effects and even the props. This movie just screams “cheesy 80 action flick” but it is still an enjoyable watch the entire time. Arnold doesn’t disappoint when he makes bad puns after putting down another villain who’s name is appropriate to their killing device.

My only problem with the movie is that the opening narration card makes it seem like this is going to be an “Arnold takes on the corrupt government” type movie, but really all he does is take on a game show. Now granted, the game show does seem to play around with human lives the way you’d expect in a semi-futuristic movie where the world leaders “rule with an iron fist,” but once The Running Man (Hosted by Richard Dawson) is bested, then what? Never mind that we’re still oppressed and starving while living in filth, we fixed the evil game show… and now don’t have ANY entertainment.

It’s very obvious from watching this movie that it inspired a lot of media that came after to do the “deadly game of wits and survival” trope, and I can’t say for sure, but I’m pretty sure this movie didn’t start that trope anyway, since Predator (June 1987) came out before this one (November 1987).

This movie did end up being the basis for the real life game show “American Gladiator,” which is not surprising since this movie does have some things in common with the actual show, though to my knowledge American Gladiator 1: didn’t ever kill any of the contestants, and 2: didn’t have a home game. Overall I had a good time with this movie, and if you enjoy 80’s action movies that can get a little silly (don’t they all?) I believe you will too.

Red State

The movie starts off with three friends, who like most High School boys, are preoccupied with one thing: Scoring. But unlike American Pie, or other teen dramas/comedies that we’ve seen so far, they don’t do it by making a pact, or buying hookers, no! This is the 21st Century we’re talking about! So of course, they use an online dating site to try and find a person with loose morals to help them with their dirty little needs.

Once the boys learn of potential group sex with a woman he met online that happens to live nearby, they steal a car and head on their way.

Unfortunately, after that THINGS TURN VERY ADULT, and they find themselves right in the middle of a Fundamentalist cult religion lead by Reverend Abin Cooper and his small flock of sheep in a very rural area.

There are some laughs, though as Smith uses his characters to poke fun at the sign waving, funeral protesting members of the real-life Westboro Baptist Church. In the fictional world of Red State, Westboro is more of a satirical spin on the far-end of the spectrum (basing the church on the real-life churches of Westboro, as well as borrowing from the Waco Texas tragedies from the 90’s), with a “God Hates Fags” attitude that makes the movie more of a non-slasher horror flick that seems to defy genres and give a few of the brainwashed members more of a human side (as though they haven’t quite decided if they want to “drink the Kool-Aid” but would rather run for the hills when the proverbial shit hits the fan).

The film does jump genres as it will have parts that will make you laugh, as well as some action, and an unsettling bit of horror as you realize that this group doesn’t settle for just picketing and demonstrating, but will actually carry out what they consider God’s will in cleansing the world of the unrighteous.

There is a heavy bit of preaching thrown in to show just how convinced the members are that they are right in their beliefs and that the rest of the world needs to join them or face the consequences.

While most of the cast are actors that have not been in too many other films, Kevin Smith was able to pull in Michael Parks (Kill Bill, From Dusk To Dawn), Stephen Root (who played Milton in Office Space), John Goodman (from The Big Lebowski, Monster’s Inc., and Roseanne) as well as Kevin Pollack (Whole Nine Yards, The Usual Suspects). There are not going to be many familiar actors from the Askew-niverse in this flick, though you may recognize Jennifer Schwalbach Smith (Kevin’s Wife) and Ralph Garman (Sharktopus, Hollywood Babble-On, KROQ DJ) both playing members of the Cooper church.

While the tagline of the film is “Fear God,” Smith eloquently summed up the film in a different light during the Q&A after the screening: “Don’t fear God, fear His followers.”

This film was able to scare me more than most horror movies have that I’ve seen for the fact that it wasn’t an edge of the seat thriller, but it was more like an up and down rollercoaster ride, where you think the film is going one way right before it switches gears and goes another. I was able to get into this one more because you see that there isn’t a clearly-defined “monster” in the film, and it actually changes from one character to another once you see the other side of the curtain. There isn’t a high body count, unneeded explosions or extremely graphic depictions that you will see in an action movie, but there is a shootout and a chase. You also see the actors portraying different attitudes that seem to shift throughout the film, going one way and then the next, depending on the scene. There isn’t a clearly marked theme saying “this is the bad guy, this is the good guy,” at one part the church members are just following orders, and then a few of them will show they have a human side that isn’t completely insane and that they may have some second thoughts about the third-generation religion they belong to. There are even parts where you will feel bad for both the people inside and out of the group because of difficult decisions they have to make.

This film is highly recommended because it does discuss some theology like Smith’s earlier Dogma (while not going into comedic depth and analyzing parts of the Christian religion), this one seems to focus more on the religious nuts that are in the extreme ends of a widely practiced religion, and showing it in perhaps a different light. As Kevin said during the Q&A, the Westboro Baptist Church is a small group and don’t share the same values as most other branches of Christianity, but because they happen to be more vocal about their views than other churches, other parts of the world may assume that all Christians are that way, unfortunately the same thing happened with the Muslims during the terrorist attacks from the last few decades. Not every Muslim is a terrorist, but because most people only connect that faith with a group that is more vocal and extreme, that’s what people think all Muslims are like.

For those that aren’t able to catch the flick during its tour (or more specifically were not in attendance at tonight’s showing, Kevin himself has offered up a live bootleg snippet of the film, which shows the sermon that Cooper gives to his followers, late at night in their small church in Cooper’s Dell.

Iron Man 2

Iron Man 2 starts up right where the first movie ended, with the press conference where Tony Stark (Robert Downy Jr.) declares that he is Iron Man. Though we are watching it through the eyes of Ivan Vanko, while his father lays on his death bed. Once his father breathes his last, Ivan swears vengeance on Tony (for reasons that are revealed later in the movie).

He then sets out to build his own version of the Iron Man suit, making some modifications, which he will use to attack Tony while he races through the streets of Monaco in an F1 car… Will Tony Stark be able to take down those who want to challenge him while the US Government tries to take the Iron Man suit away from Tony (since he is actually doing vigilante justice)? Will the saucy new help in Legal (played by Scarlett Johansson) throw a wrench in the gears of the already unorthodox relationship between Tony and Pepper Potts? And will Ivan successfully seek his revenge?

Iron Man 2 was a fantastic movie, with amazing action sequences, great jokes (“Give me a dope beat that I can kick my friend’s ass to”) and a bit of the drama thrown in for good measure. All in all I felt that this was a satisfying second helping in the story arc of Iron Man and Tony Stark.

Unfortunately the shrapnel that is in his body is making the toxicity levels in his bloodstream grow at an alarming rate, and while all of the other problems seem to keep stacking up, Tony has to also deal with letting his previous condition get the better of him.

Honestly, my only complaint with the movie (besides the massive amount of collateral damage that was caused to nearby objects like cars, buildings, etc.) was that the final showdown fight seemed rather rushed. I felt like all the buildup between Tony and Ivan would’ve lead to a longer fight sequence but I left disappointed that the victor was able to win so “easily.”

The Box

(Editor’s Note: This is another one of those “edgy” reviews… TL;DR “No sir I don’t like it.”)

What starts out as a simple question turns into a “thriller,” if you can call it that.

The Box is a simple movie really, the concept is this: Give a person a plain-looking box with a button that when pushed will lead to someone’s death. This person is someone that the pusher “does not know” who will die, while the person who pushed said button gets $1,000,000.

This test is presented to a couple, played by Cameron Diaz and James Marsden. They are not a poor family by any means, but are still struggling somewhat financially. They have an average house, a normal son, and an all-around average looking life (though he works for NASA and she teaches Sartre).

Then a man named Arlington Steward (Frank Langella) appears on their front doorstep with the plain box, and tells them that if they push it they will be given $1,000,000 and someone they do not know will die.

Then a bunch of other things happen and the movie ends.

Seriously, this is one of those movies that can be summed up as “TL;DR,” because most of the things that happen after everything you just read (which is everything you know about the movie from the frickin trailer) seems pointless and only in the movie to make it last longer than ten minutes and add some sort of “Thriller” aspect to the movie.

It simply boils down to this: The Big Red Button Theory…


It is a theory that was actually presented to myself and my fellow classmates years ago in GRADE SCHOOL, which says this: Whenever a person sees a Big Red Button that says “DON’T TOUCH,” they will ALMOST ALWAYS end up pushing the button, even if it leads to catastrophe.

I of course am paraphrasing, but simply put: this movie is a dramatization of that theory, somewhat. The couple are given an option of TAKING A HUMAN LIFE by simply pressing a button. Now, I don’t know about you, but I would assume that most human beings would find a problem with a person dying while they profit (even if all they have to do is push a button, and the person dying isn’t someone they know). They know that they aren’t supposed to do it (no clear markings on the box saying “DON’T PUSH THIS, but your inner voice SHOULD tell you it’s ethically wrong), but SPOILER ALERT: They do anyway.

It is interesting to note that the comment earlier about Cameron Diaz’s character teaching Sartre is that they were talking about “No Exit.”

Seriously, it wouldn’t have been so bad if it didn’t seem like a really long episode of a Sci-Fi TV show. Plus there was a whole trip in the middle that seemed unnecessary and boring, as if to throw in some extra story elements to confuse the viewer, which it did.

It would’ve made a great episode of The Twilight Zone, because you wouldn’t have had time for all that extra crap in the middle. Oh wait, it WAS an episode: Button Button

Save yourself the money of this rental (it’s $1 at Redbox if you absolutely have to watch it), and just read that. It’s more entertaining, sums up the story better and is much, much shorter.

Re-runs: Transporter 2

(Editor’s Note: this is a review for a movie that came out in 2005, which was during myfreakinworld version 1.X. My writing style was supposed to be a little “edgier” which I now see as… well kind of cringe. So keep that in mind…

Transporter 2 came out on DVD on Tuesday, and having seen and thoroughly enjoying the first, Davarish and I were rather excited to hear about the sequel. Before I go on any further, I would like to make mention that sequels in the past are usually a letdown for people who were huge fans of the first. This is usually because of box office sales grossing large sums of money for the movie company, so they have a larger budget to play with for the next in the series. This means that the explosions are bigger, the car chases are more frequent and the special effects are more noticeable. Transporter 2 follows along with these guidelines closely.

The transporter, Frank Martin, has retired from his previous profession of no questions asked deliveries and is now the chauffeur for a wealthy family’s only son. Frank agrees to take the son to his regularly scheduled doctor’s appointment, and then finds himself caught in the middle of a kidnapping involving the son and a Columbian economic terrorist targeting world pharmaceutical company leaders.

Now on to our opinion: As stated earlier in the review, the transporter 2 had many scenes that left us scratching our heads and pointing out obvious flaws in the movie. A dozen 9mm bullets instantly shooting a helicopter out of the air, flipping a car to knock off a tracer/bomb using a crane, Numerous Jackie Chan style fighting, and ramping a jet-ski out of a waterway and onto a highway behind a bus to name a few. Some of the action scenes looked like they had a higher budget than the actual script, and the plot was kind of shaky for a while.

Davarish sez: ahhahahaha, bullshit. (This movie was rather sub-par if you ask me. I was certainly expecting much more from Luc Besson. Anyone want to buy a used copy of The Transporter 2?)

Jay and Silent Bob Reboot

Jay and Silent Bob lose a court case to Saban films, not only losing their rights to the movie reboot of Bluntman V Chronic, but also losing the ability to legally identify as Jay and Silent Bob. They soon learn that “Kevin Smith” is going to be finalizing the Bluntman V Chronic movie shoot at Chronic-Con in California in three days, and so begins their quest to venture to California to stop a movie shoot. 

Jay and Silent Bob Reboot feels like a return to form, and though it borrows a little bit of storyline from Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, it doesn’t feel like it’s necessarily just going through the motions. Not every character that has ever appeared in a Jay and Bob movie are going to be back for the reunion, but the characters that do resurface catch Jay and Bob (and the audience) up on what’s been going on over the years, adding more backstory and character development. 
Though the Askewniverse technically “ended” with the literal closing of the book after the credits in Dogma, Clerks (The Animated Series), Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Clerks 2, Jay and Silent Bob’s Super Groovy Cartoon Movie, the several Nights With Kevin Smith movies and Kevin’s NUMEROUS books, blogs, podcast episodes and TV appearances have added to the well which he draws from for inspiration for this movie.

While you don’t necessarily have to be a Kevin Smith superfan to enjoy this movie, it does help to have a decent knowledge of the rest of the Jay and Silent Bob movies to catch most of the references made to other characters, anecdotes and visual easter eggs sprinkled throughout Reboot.

Ma (2019)

When a new girl moves to town, she’s immediately introduced to the “cool kids” of the school. While declining their invitation to hang out at first, Maggie (Diana Silvers) finds herself alone when her mother (Juliette Lewis) bails on their music festival because she was called into work at the casino in town.

The kids are outside of a liquor store, unable to get any adults to buy them alcohol until they manage convince a lonely veterinary aid named Sue Ann (Octavia Spencer) to help them out. She ends up offering them her basement so they can drink in a “safe” location, but the kids end up getting more than they bargained for when they find out Sue-Ann (“Ma”) was herself not part of the popular group so she intends to make these kids like her… or else.

With a few surprising twists and a few predictable plot twists, Ma serves up a cautionary tale about wanting popularity no matter what the cost. It’s an interesting movie that takes the horror trope of the overly attached character and flips it on its head, showing me something I personally haven’t seen before in a horror movie.

Friday the 13th (1980)

Years after two camp counselors were murdered while sneaking off for some “alone time,” Camp Crystal Lake has been taken over by a new young group of counselors.

From the start everything looks to be going as planned, and the beautiful twenty-somethings seem to be enjoying their work, and each other with very little problems.

What they don’t know is they are being watched by a mysterious person, stalking their every move.

Terror strikes when one by one the counselors slowly get picked off by a faceless murderer. Can they survive long enough to escape and make it back to town to get help?

Will they be able to put a stop to the rampage, or are their fates sealed?

Friday the 13th has a pretty straightforward plot line. An unknown assailant stalks and picks off a group of sexy young counselors, one of which is Kevin Bacon. We never see who the mystery murderer is until very late in the movie. As far as blood and gore goes, it feels rather mild compared to some of the brutal scenes that contemporary horror will show. The hardest part about watching the movie is knowing that the kids really didn’t do anything wrong, except for maybe committing some of the “Horror Movie sins” that are outlined in the movie “Scream,” examples are the sex, drugs and rock and roll the kids in this movie unabashedly enjoy.

It is an enjoyable movie nonetheless if you like slashers. There are a few kills that are creative or clever, as they use things that are found around the camp and not just the hatchet seen on the cover and movie poster. The killer’s motivation makes some sense, and you can see the catalyst that lead to the killing spree, even if it seems like the end result may be a little over the top to the original catalyst.