The Last Ten Minutes vol. 11: Jason Statham Edition

Back to Netflix for a roundup of recent dumb action movies, most of which seem to star Jason Statham.

Skyfall (2012, Sam Mendes)

Whole world is orange. Hooray, a dyed-blonde Javier Bardem is shooting at Danny Craig (the non-Hulk lead in Munich). Bond dives into a frozen lake to escape, so Bardem menaces Judi Dench until he reappears. The hammy one-liners don’t work as well with the dark tone and grim-looking actors. Bardem and Dench are dead, and Bond stands over the city like Batman in the epilogue. Naomie Harris of 28 Days Later joins him, and Ralph Fiennes is the new Judi Dench, and I’m getting the feeling that this was a prequel. I guess the studio saw Away We Go and decided Sam Mendes should make their next Bond movie? From the writers of Johnny English and Bats.

Jack Reacher (2012, Christopher McQuarrie)

Tom Reacher decides not to shoot a dude, but to fist-fight and head-stomp him in the rain instead, as Rosamund Pike (The World’s End) is held hostage nearby by David Oyelowo (Rage), while none other than WERNER HERZOG sits there uselessly wearing a foggy contact lens. Tom is an unreasonably good shot, and Werner starts speechifying (this is what I was hoping for – not the action scenes but Herzog as sneering villain) when the Roku crashes, argh. The Wii was so much easier, though regrettably standard-def. Rosamund gets upset when Tom shoots defenseless Werner in the face, then Robert Duvall gives them a ride away from the depleted baddie den. Epilogue: hospitalized baddie Joseph Sikora tells of the Batman-like legend of Tom Reacher while Richard Jenkins stands quietly by. From the oscar-winning writer of The Tourist and Jack the Giant Slayer.

Olympus Has Fallen (2013, Antoine Fuqua)

Gerry Butler (of the upcoming London Has Fallen, haha) is being told that the president died on an exploded helicopter – but it’s not true! Baddie Rick Yune (X-Blade in Man With The Iron Fists) has president Aaron Eckhart captive, is threatening to detonate all of American’s nukes. Elsewhere, Morgan Freeman and Angela Bassett look concerned. White House bunker fight ends with the president shot and Gerry stabbing Yune in the head. From the guy who made Training Day and the writers of Expendables 3 (which features Jason Statham).

Redemption (2013, Steven Knight)

Jason Statham has a large head, stalks the ballet then tosses a fellow off a tall building and later apologizes about it to an accented woman (Polish Agata Buzek of Nightwatching) while flashing back to his Afghan war experience. Later, the accented woman is graduating from nun academy, reads mail from Statham. This is notably less action-packed than the last few. Knight wrote/directed the highly-rated Locke the same year.

Parker (2013, Taylor Hackford)

Bad Cop from The Shield and The Bunk from The Wire are menacing Jennifer Lopez, then Jason Statham knives a couple guys and Lopez shoots the hell out of The Bunk. Then whatever dude is still alive, he’s shot too. Then later a guy in an office is shot. Based on a series of Parker novels previously adapted under different names, so Lee Marvin (in Point Blank), Jim Brown, Robert Duvall, and Mel Gibson (in Payback) have all played Parker. Writer worked on Black Swan and director made The Devil’s Advocate.

Safe (2012, Boaz Yakin)

Limo driver Anson Exposition talks to Jason Statham on the phone, then shoots some Chinese gangsters. Statham nabs a secret disk (people are still killing guys for secret disks in movies) then rescues a kidnapped girl from Anson. Unwisely, instead of ending with all the shooting and killing, it wraps up plot threads with some groaner dialogue. Boaz previously wrote From Dusk Till Dawn 2, Dirty Dancing 2 and Prince of Persia 2.

Homefront (2013, Gary Fleder)

It’s Jason Statham and another kidnapped girl! Mean James Franco screams at Winona Ryder, and Kate “Superman Returns” Bosworth is disappointed in him, so accidentally explodes his house then gets shot. This is the star-studdedest Jason Statham revenge/kidnapping movie of the night. Car chase ends on a bridge, the girl was Statham’s daughter, and Franco gets reeeeeal punched for kidnapping her. Seems a bit better than the last two, but not any killing or enough Winona. Fleder previously made Runaway Jury, and writer Sylvester Stallone is best known as the original Judge Dredd.

Dredd (2012, Pete Travis)

Karl Urban (of Doom and Ghost Ship) wears an opaque black helmet, rescues a weird kid from underground redneck lair alongside his mindreading rookie partner Olivia Thirlby (Juno‘s best friend). Either the movie has framerate problems or Netflix is freaking out. Dredd finds “Mama” (Lena Headey of The Brothers Grimm), shoves her out a window, and now the funny framerate is intentional as she plummets and splats on the ground below in loving slow-motion. I don’t see why Jason Statham couldn’t have played Dredd – he’d look good in the helmet, and has experience shoving people off tall buildings. Travis went from historical royalty dramas to apartheid political dramas to this. Written by Alex “The Beach” Garland.

G.I. Joe Retaliation (2013, Jon Chu)

Bruuuce Willis shoots a dude and rescues Jonathan Pryce, and oh boy there’s gonna be a lot to keep track of. Maskless Storm Shadow (?) kills a shapeshifter. The usual terror-plot business where some missiles are gonna be launched unless some computer program is disabled. The Rock is shooting at Firefly – which one was he? The hovercraft driver? I never got the toy of that one. How exactly did they trade out Dennis Quaid for Bruce Willis, and where’s Joey Gordo-Levitt? Rock has a fist/gun/fight that is considerably less exciting than any Jason Statham fights then saves the world. Jinx and S.S. and Snake Eyes are all friends? I guess Tater Channing and Joey Levitt are dead. Anyway, ends with a boring award ceremony, then a credits sequence showing all the good parts I missed. Director Chu is best known for Justin Bieber documentaries and the writers worked on Zombieland and Disney’s Tarzan 2.

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013, Tommy Wirkola)

Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton are battling evil Famke Janssen and her witch gang in a blur of semi-decent effects. The movie thinks we’ll forgive its cheesy fairy-tale blandness and fight-scene formula if it throws in some sweary one-liners. Norwegian writer/director made this between Dead Snow and Dead Snow 2.

Odd Thomas (2013, Stephen Sommers)

Anton Yelchin (Ian in Only Lovers Left Alive) fights a body-jumping ghost that looks like a giant insect with plastic wrap for skin, blows it the hell up. Then comes a very long narrated epilogue montage in which Odd dreams his girlfriend is still alive, and hey, Willem Dafoe and the star of Belle are here. Odd Yelchin stands above the city Batman-like, bringing us full circle. Based on a Dean Koontz book and, based on what little I watched, the best movie ever made by schlockmeister Sommers.

The Last Ten Minutes vol. 11

The Last Ten Minutes vol. 11: SHOCKtober Sequels and Remakes edition

The first – and possibly last, since the advertisements are pissing me off, Hulu Plus edition of The Last Ten Minutes.

Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984, Charles Sellier)

I’ve watched Silent Night, Deadly Night 4: Initiation, the bonkers slimy Brian Yuzna movie, more than once, and you see Silent Night, Deadly Night III: Better Watch Out! mentioned on auteurist film sites for being directed by Monte Hellman, but what of the first two? Who cares about them?

Cops are shooting priests dressed as Santa! Are priests supposed to dress as Santa? A lone Mustache Cop has a long, dull, keyboard-scored stalk around the grounds of an orphanage until he’s killed by an axe-swinging santa yelling “punish!” The surprisingly fresh-faced young Santa is finally shot down by a new cop whilst threatening the head nun, then the movie immediately sets up dead Santa’s younger brother as a possible sequel-villain. Head nun went on to play Jean-Claude Van Damme’s mom in Universal Soldier.

Silent Night, Deadly Night 2 (1987, Lee Harry)

More cops and orphanages, and another young insane fella in a Santa suit (as the last movie plainly predicted, it’s the other Santa’s little brother) is stalking the same elder nun (now featuring bad facial-burn makeup) before getting shot down by cops – the only difference between the two movies being that this time the head nun gets beheaded. Perhaps the killer’s tendency to raise his eyebrows with each word delivery, bringing to mind an axe-wielding Groucho Marx, is why he didn’t get any more starring roles. Of the six credited writers, one is also a sound mixer who worked on Million Dollar Hotel. That’s the most distinguished IMDB-linked career move I can come up with.

Check out the nun’s apartment number:

Maniac Cop 2 (1990, William Lustig)

Maniac Cop breaks into prison, presumably for revenge of some sort, and Michael Lerner (Barton Fink’s boss the following year) gets on a loudspeaker to talk him down. There is a fight scene with a bunch of different guys who are all on fire, which I think automatically makes this better than the first movie, culminating with Clarence Williams (Prince’s dad in Purple Rain) getting thrown through a thick prison wall like it was made of cardboard. Robert Davi (a Goonies baddie) gives the movie’s eulogy before the token sequel-setup-scare. I never saw Bruce Campbell. Lustig, writer Larry Cohen and MC Robert Z’Dar stuck around for the whole trilogy. Hulu needs to pay up for part three.

Scanners 2: The New Order (1991, Christian Duguay)

A guy gets scanners’d down a hallway, then a sneering long-dark-haired scanner scans a dude who is blonde and wearing a jean jacket, so is presumably our hero. Psychic battles are great for cheap movies since you just need actors to lurch their heads at each other and tremble a bit. Buncha bald scanners in a Minority Report chamber form a scanner-circle around the dark-haired guy and he ends up all melty, then the boss of the whole operation has his head scanned into Elephant Man shapes right in front of the media. Duguay later made Screamers, which I rather liked, and lead scanner David Hewlett starred in Cube.

Scanners 3: The Takeover (1991, Christian Duguay)

Oooh, now you can scan through television signals, and a pink-lipstick woman is trying to conquer civilization. Our hero Alex scans his way into the TV studio, killing one dude via revolving door, but stylish supervillain Helena has an anti-scanner flashlight. The two of them gamely twitch heads at each other until the villainess electrocutes herself, apocalyptically transmitting her consciousness into the TV camera Lawnmower-Man-style.

April Fool’s Day (2008, Altieri & Flores)

Scout T-C (star of Rob Zombie’s Halloween movies) has a gun, is mad, shoots a dude and extracts confession from Desiree, then a buncha talky backstory reveals that it was all a hoax and the dude is alive, but then Des gets her head blown off by a “prop” gun. So far nobody who’s died in this movie has stayed dead, so what’s next? Oh, nothing.

Hulu sent me to something called Crackle for this one, renewing my sequel-watching possibilities, and now without commercials! Why do I pay for the service that has ads, while this one appears to be free?

Hostel Part 3 (2011, Scott Spiegel)

A cleaver cuts a guy’s head clean in half in one blow, but takes six chops and some sawing to get through an arm – inconsistent? An unconscious man is killed via severe-tire-damage spikes. Tire guy cooly escapes the compound while cleaver guy gets blown up behind him, but cleaver guy lives to take bloody revenge. The writer also did The Butterfly Effect 2 and I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer, while Spiegel cowrote Evil Dead 2 and directed From Dusk Till Dawn 2.

Clive Barker’s The Plague (2006, Hal Masonberg)

Not a sequel or remake but I’m a sucker for Clive Barker’s the anything, and saw this on the list. Slow-walking sad-eyed children approach an attractive young couple, so he tells her to sit down thinking happy thoughts while he vanishes with the zombie kids. Final shot reveals the head spooky zombie kid has a paperback of The Grapes of Wrath?? Are we sure this was a horror movie? The director also worked on Demonic Toys.

Return of the Living Dead 4: Necropolis (2005, Ellory Elkayem)

Hmm, the zombies are talking and there’s a cenobite with a circular-saw arm. Swat team with a tank and unarmed hospital-patient zombie squad arrive at the same time – guess who wins? Media coverup follows.

Return of the Living Dead 5: Rave to the Grave (2005, Ellory Elkayem)

From a gun-toting viking to strobe-lit clown-wigged zombies, I like the halloween-costume zombie warfare montages. Then everyone is killed by army helicopters. The director of both of these also made horror/comedy Eight Legged Freaks and the writers did Gingerdead Man 2.

The Last Ten Minutes vol. 10

Hellraiser: Revelations (2011, Victor Garcia)
This is not a real Hellraiser movie, so I don’t feel bad about not watching it properly. Jay Gillespie (of 2001 Maniacs) is intimidating his family, poorly. Same old box and chains, but two pinheads, one of them puffy-cheeked with a crap monster-voice. Man, the script and this fake-ass pinhead are so terrible. Victor Garcia’s suffering will be legendary – though honestly, it’s still better than the fan-made Hellraiser Prophecy.

Sleeping Beauty (2011, Julia Leigh)
Well-dressed woman Clara (Rachael Blake of The Prisoner remake) looks concerned about carsick Beauty (Emily Browning of that shame of a Lemony Snicket movie). Whoa, full nudity. Now beauty is in a room with white-haired man, who drinks special tea, goes to bed with her, and possibly wakes up dead. Claudia has a hard time waking Beauty, who screams a bunch, then another shot of her sleeping next to that guy. WTF? It’s a shame when movies don’t work in Last Ten Minute doses, yet also don’t look good enough to watch all the way through.

The Conspirator (2010, Robert Redford)
James McAvoy, forgetting that he’s in a period piece, is being told by evil Kevin Kline that justice matters less than restoring order. Wicked guards take innocent, bonnetted Robin Wright off to be hanged, to the screaming protests of Evan Rachel Wood. Civil War is over, “peace at last” says somebody or other. Is Robert Redford for or against the death penalty? I can’t tell (haha, just kidding). I’m sorry I didn’t see Stephen Root.

The Skulls (2000, Rob Cohen)
Coach proposes a toast, but chubby-cheeked Joshua Jackson (formerly a Mighty Duck) barges into the secret society with a rule book in his hands and reads them rule 119b, line 15. Busted! Now Paul “2 Furious” Walker has to duel with him, but shoots Coach instead. Hmm, Jackson says that he and Walker are soulmates. Which one was supposed to be GW Bush? The studio made two sequels to this, but its director moved on to bigger things (The Mummy 3, a Rammstein video) and the writer to possibly worse things (Ghost Ship, Quarantine 2).

Quarantine 2 (2011, John Pogue)
Jenny is beat up by a CG-ass zombie before her little brother wastes it. Fire! No need for night-vision goggles anymore. I thought this movie took place on an airplane. Anyway she turns into a zombie and the kid escapes.

Paranormal Activity 2 (2010, Tod Williams)
More fake-footage fun. The maid says that a cross and olive oil might help. Are these flashbacks? The bad jumpcut editing can’t be explained by the found-footage conceit. Some woman in bed is really a monster. A ghost hurled a dead guy into the camera, startling Mike.

The Passion of the Christ (2004, Mel Gibson)
Damn, poor Jim Caviezel, who had a promising career with Thin Red Line and Frequency, but hasn’t been in anything good since, is in a sorry state, and is speaking some damn language I’ve never heard. Crazy CG raindrop unleashes a horse-startling, stairway-splitting earthquake. Guard pokes an unreasonably bloody hole into the dead Caviezel. A vampire shrieks in the desert? Did Netflix screw me like they did with Body Snatchers and stitch in a clip from a different movie? Some woman (Monica Bellucci?) stares accusingly at us. But holy shit, Jesus has risen with revenge in his eyes.

The Last Ten Minutes vol. 9: Shocktober

The Haunting In Connecticut (2009, Peter Cornwell)
Unhappy teen tears his walls apart with an axe, finds plentiful dead bodies and flashback shock cuts. Is formaldehyde flammable? Apparently so, and unhappy teen lights the place aflame, pausing to transform into a green ghoul for a few seconds. I hope Martin Donovan is still alive. Oh nice, here he is along with Elias Koteas. Mom rushes in as the house, which seems to have literally been built out of dead bodies with writing on their skin, burns around them, blowing away ghosts with her mighty prayers. Nothing dumber than a true-story ghost movie, but I liked the poster art for this one. The director made cool stop-motion horror short Ward 13, one writer did The Typewriter, the Rifle and the Movie Camera and the other created Revenge of the Nerds.

.com For Murder (2002, Nico Mastorakis)
Haven’t seen a thriller with VR glasses since The Lawnmower Man – or maybe these are the Silence of the Lambs night-goggles that this Tarantino-chinned quip-happy stalker is wearing. First she tries the Rear Window flash-photo trick, but he says “I’ve seen Rear Window too,” then gets blinded by lightning and falls down the stairs. Coda: Huey Lewis plays a cop! I don’t get where the dot-com part comes in. Mastorakis did other video nonsense like Ninja Academy and Death Street USA.

The Forgotten (2004, Joseph Ruben)
I really wanted to see this (and the similar-sounding Flightplan) when it came out but the bad, bad reviews finally led it here instead – shame. Julianne Moore just wants her son back, and Gary Sinise won’t help, but some boring guy admits that the son was kidnapped as an experiment to see if parents can forget their missing kids. Oh but the boring guy is an ineffective memory-erasing alien special-effect, and after she defeats him by endlessly repeating that she has a son, he’s sucked into the sky. Julianne gets her son back, and as a bonus, Dominic West. Director Ruben made Return to Paradise, which I liked, and writer Gerald Di Pego did Burt Reynolds flick Sharky’s Machine.

The Crazies Remake (2010, Breck Eisner)
Ah, the ol’ knife-scrape-against-the-wall tactic. Trying to steal a truck, Timothy “Dreamcatcher” Olyphant and Radha “Surrogates” Mitchell are laid low by gun-toting crazies. Movie has a good look to it, and not as schizophrenic as The Haunting In Connecticut. As the couple escapes, the town behind them is nuked (shout out to Return of the Living Dead, the original town-nuking Romero ripoff), but they survive inside the fridge, err truck, and aren’t blinded at all from looking directly into the blast. From the writers of Pulse Remake and Amityville Horror Remake.

Cabin Fever 2 (2009, Ti West)
Two heavy bleeders flee the school dance (I think) – the boy is detained and the girl is picked up by Mark Borchardt. Elsewhere a stripper spreads the Fever in various real gross ways. Now a poor cartoon with too much fake film-weathering effect shows the disease spreading throughout the world. No main characters, then? I continue to not share the internet’s love for Ti West.

Skyline (2010, Bros. Strause)
A sweet grey sparkly alien demon is threatening two tenacious teens (Eric Balfour of Texas Chainsaw Massacre Remake and Scottie Thompson), but fighter jets intervene. Nice 360 pan of the aliens winning, then the two kiss while being tractor-beam abducted. It’s all Matrix inside the ship, the muddy humans having their brains sucked out one by one. It’s gooey and neat looking, but the alien made from the apparently-pregnant girl’s dismembered boyfriend’s brain saves her. Seems super dark, with the end of humanity and all, despite the final teen-love-conquers-all message. The Strauses are renowned effects artists but unfortunately, so are the writers.

Frankenstein (2004, Marcus Nispel)
Michael Madsen as “Harker” (wrong novel) aims to kill a woman with a melon baller but shotgun-toting detective Parker Posey scares him off. Flashlight chase scene in an abandoned factory, booo-ring. Hulking hooded guy (Frankenstein? Vincent Perez of Time Regained) dispatches Madsen, later turns up at Posey’s house to set up a sequel that never came. From the director of Texas Chainsaw Massacre Remake, Friday The 13th Remake and Conan The Barbarian Remake.

The Last Ten Minutes vol. 007

Oh look, netflix streaming has a whole bunch of James Bond movies. I never watched them consistently, saw a couple all the way through and a bunch more in fragments on cable. So this is an attempt to figure out which Bond is which, and which movies were halfway decent.

Thunderball (1965)
Sean Connery is not-so-excitingly rescued by a helicopter, yells some exposition that I didn’t quite catch. Underwater harpoon battle! Black team vs. orange team, heavy casualties. Everyone except Bond is wearing pants. The movie harpoons a shark, booo. I hope the movie ate that shark. Bond catches up with grey-haired eyepatched Largo (Adolfo Celi of Diabolik and The Phantom of Liberty) aboard the Disco Volante – aha – slaps him around while the boat accelerates to Benny Hill speed. He escapes with a girl named Domino (Claudine Auger of A Bay of Blood), who also has no pants. They ditch the Peter Lorre-like fellow who helped rescue her, and escape into a bluescreen sky. Director Terence Young’s third Bond movie – he’d later make Wait Until Dark.

You Only Live Twice (1967)
Connery fails to escape Donald “Dr. Evil” Pleasence by shooting a guy with his cigarette. Lots of men (ninjas, according to IMDB) fight in different-colored outfits. Bond knocks an unpunchable tough guy into a pirahna pool and pushes the button that makes a spacecraft on TV blow up. Pleasence blows the whole base, but every single person escapes anyway, and the same planes drop the same lifeboats as in the last movie. Bond ends up in one with a girl named Kissy (Mie Hama of What’s Up Tiger Lily).

Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
Jill St. John (of Tashlin & Lewis flick Who’s Minding The Store?) is making a mockery of clothing in her purple/red flag swimsuit. Connery does acrobatics in a suit, while helicopters explode into optical stills. Baddy Blofeld (Charles Gray of the Rocky Horror movies) enters a toy submarine held by a Bond-controlled crane. Connery gleefully wrecking-balls the toy into the control tower until the whole derrick explodes. Nice finale featuring one waiter on fire and another exploding mid-air.

Live and Let Die (1973)
Heroin dealer Yaphet Kotto (of Bone, Alien and the show Homicide) has stolen Roger Moore’s inflation gun, shows off all his silly bad-guy toys (a monorail, waterproof heroin canisters) then threatens Bond and Jane “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman” Seymour with death by shark. Every movie so far has featured watery deaths. In the most WTF moment of any movie so far, Bond shoves a compressed-air pellet into Yaphet’s head, turning him into a balloon. The last-minute assassination-attempt is back, and Moore tosses a metal-claw-handed Julius Harris (of Black Caesar) out his train window.

The Man With The Golden Gun (1974)
The great Christopher Lee (year after The Wicker Man) is TMWTGG, but Moore shoots him dead before he’s got any lines – shame. Nice scene, all rotating mirrors and neon triangles. Criminals used to put such style into their lairs. Britt Ekland (also of Wicker Man) tosses a guy into subzero liquid (another watery death), then triggers self-destruct with her ass, the least competent of any bond girl so far. He and the girl sail away in an ancient Chinese ship, pausing to dispose of an angry Hervé Villechaize (soon after Greaser’s Palace). These last three were directed by Guy Hamilton, who’d go on to make Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins.

The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
A boat is blowing up – more water, and oh look, more sharks. Moore is aboard the evil aquatic base, shoots boring Curd Jurgens (star of both a Blue Angel remake and a Threepenny Opera remake), sics Jaws on a shark (a funny joke in the mid-1970’s) and escapes with lovely enemy spy Barbara Bach – codename Triple X, another joke. It all seems rather inert, the least-exciting Bond finale I’ve seen despite Jaws and explosions.

Moonraker (1979)
Oh god, laser gun battles. Moore ejects Michael Lonsdale (!) into space then watches some Star Wars models out the window. Jaws is in love with a girl with pigtails and it’s sweet. He even gets dialogue, helps Bond and Lois Chiles (of Broadcast News) into a shuttle where they play high-stakes space invaders then celebrate with zero-G sex. These last two and You Only Live Twice were directed by Lewis Gilbert, who helmed some thrillers in the 50’s and more recently an Aidan Quinn ghost story.

For Your Eyes Only (1981)
Moore is in a decidedly low-tech mountain hideout, with a full team for once. Punch-out in a church, people thrown through stained glass windows, and another one of those tough guys who just smiles when Bond punches him in the gut. It’s all for some Texas Instruments-looking device which Bond hurls off a cliff so the Russians won’t get it. Not nearly as exciting as the others, with an unsexy PG version of the gag ending from the last few, then a dubbed macaw to close it out. John Glen, editor of the last couple Bond films, is promoted to director and takes the series through License to Kill.

Octopussy (1983)
Hooray for gypsies, acrobats, dancers and sad clowns. This makes up for the drab brownness of the last movie. The title character (Maud Adams, returning from Golden Gun) has a gun and Bond is nowhere to be found. Oh here he is, in a hot air balloon of course. Some Goldeneye-(the video game)-style first-person machine-gunning. Bond on horseback chases down the Afghani/Indian villains’ plane and just rides around on top of it. Louis Jordan (star of Letter from an Unknown Woman) flies his plane into a cliff after Bond and the girl jump to safety. They’ve toned down the sexy ending even further – this is getting out of hand.

Never Say Never Again (1983)
Weird, a non-canonical Bond film from a rival studio, a remake of Thunderball from the director of The Empire Strikes Back featuring the return of Sean Connery. Never having cared about the 007 series, this is not something I ever suspected existed. Connery has a jetpack! He and partner Bernie Casey (of Cleopatra Jones and The Man Who Fell To Earth) scuba into a paper-mache fortress where Max von Sydow reigns, a less-iconic Largo. Bond, as in the original, can be easily recognized as the one without pants. An underwater battle ensues, with worse lighting, much less harpooning, and slightly more Kim Basinger than before. In the would-be sexy postscript scene, Bond dumps Rowan Atkinson into a swimming pool – so, less Benny Hill, more Mr. Bean.

A View to a Kill (1985)
Opens with a disclaimer about baddie Chris Walken’s character name “Zorin” – I wonder what prompted that. Anyway, very excited to see Grace Jones with new wave hair helping out Roger Moore. She explodes while a slick blonde Walken watches from above, as does the proper blonde love interest (Tanya Roberts of The Beastmaster and Sheena, Queen of the Jungle. Bond dangles from a zeppelin line as Walken tries to shake him loose in the city, accompanied by corny dialogue. Punch-out atop the Golden Gate bridge features lots of bluescreen backdrops, Chris Walken with an axe, and an angry old man with a cartoon stick of dynamite. Postscript involves a camera-equipped robot, chuckling Russians and somehow an even less sexy finale than the Rowan Atkinson one. Come on now, 1980’s.

The Living Daylights (1987)
Roger has been retired to a closet at MGM, and was never heard from again. Tim Dalton is flying a plane around with Maryam d’Abo (of Shootfighter), blowing up a bridge while Arabs wage war below. Hmm, they drive out of a crashing plane in a jeep. Warfare afficionado MITCHELL is blasting away at Bond – thought I remembered him as a good guy in the later ones. Mitchell is dead, so never mind. Ash liked all the whistling in this one.

The Last Ten Minutes vol. 8

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (2010, Jon Turteltaub)
Our brash teen hero is driving around anxiously. But elsewhere – Alfred Molina/Nicholas Cage wizard battle! That’s what I came here for. The CGI flies as dark sorceress Monica Bellucci unleashes ancient evils. Cage inhales her face, Mummy Returns-style, but gets possessed by dark powers. Then our teen hero discovers the power was within him all along. From the director of the National Treasure series and the first 3 Ninjas.

Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002, Jay Roach)
Instead of the last ten minutes, I enjoyed the Tom Cruise / Gwynyth Paltrow / Kevin Spacey / Danny Devito / Steven Spielberg open and the Britney Spears / Quincy Jones credits sequence. If I hadn’t read the reviews when this came out, I’d gladly sit through the rest of this. While Myers has kept busy voicing cartoons lately, Roach made a Ben Stiller and a Steve Carell comedy, neither of which looks good.

Mercury Rising (1998, Harold Becker)
One of those generic-looking action thrillers from the late 90’s with a forgettable nonsense title. Alec Baldin is the government baddie, and after watching four seasons of 30 Rock I cannot deal with him in a straight role anymore. I thought Bruce Willis was doing pretty well in the 90’s – what would make him agree to something like this? The two stars are fighting on a greenscreen roof until Bruce saves the autistic kid who cracked some kinda government code according to the plot description, sending Alec to a gruesome death plummet. Becker also made other action thrillers with generic names like Sea of Love, Malice, City Hall and Domestic Disturbance.

Starship Troopers 3 (2008, Edward Neumeier)
Two women are praying, and a giant beastie made of dodgy CGI is arising from a volcano, until Casper Van Dien’s dodgy-CGI power suit comes and rescues them. Looks like the worst movie ever, and practically a cartoon with all the poorly-rendered graphics. Neumeier wrote the original Starship Troopers and Robocop, so he can’t be all bad, but he also wrote all their shameful sequels, so maybe he is.

The Funhouse (1981, Tobe Hooper)
Looks like our heroine (who played Mozart’s wife in Amadeus) has finally reached the breaking point into psychosis when presented with the dead body of her (husband? brother? best friend?) by a robot clown. After a long suspenseful chase sequence, a dude in a drooling latex mask catches up with her, but gets electrocuted and chewed up in some gears while she screams uselessly. Some heroine. A forgotten feature made by Tobe between Salem’s Lot and Poltergeist, from the writer of that gag 1990 Captain America movie.

Blood Creek (2009, Joel Schumacher)
The man once in charge of the Batman franchise is now making direct-to-video nazi zombie flicks? Apparently his career was destroyed not by his derided comic movies or his despicable follow-up 8MM, but by the 2004 Phantom of the Opera. Some people are running from the nazi, and some from the zombie, who has a wormie in his forehead just like Jeffrey Combs in From Beyond. Anyway, this looks no good, but at least the effects are better than the above three movies combined. From the “writer” of a whole bunch of remakes.

Stone (2010, John Curran)
Robert De Niro’s house is on fire! He rescues his wife, who gripes some religion at him. Flash forward, Rob is retiring, and is an asshole. Then he finds, and does not kill Ed Norton, who steps back into the shadows. Some stuff about redemption and god’s will, oh and here’s Milla Jehovavich finally, in a bar. The sound mixer thinks he’s all that. Was a time I wouldn’t have missed a De Niro/Norton movie, but that time was about a year before The Score came out. From director of The Painted Veil and writer of Junebug – weird combination.

War of the Worlds (2005, David Latt)
Another one of those quickie direct-to-video titles designed to confuse Blockbuster patrons looking for the Tom Cruise version. C. Thomas Howell plays substitute Tom Cruise here (he’s also sub-Jennifer Connelly in The Day The Earth Stopped and sub-Will Ferrell in The Land That Time Forgot). Some guy informs us D.C. is gone (budget filmmaker’s motto: tell, don’t show) and the rebellion is hiding out in the Blue Ridge mountains, and oh here’s Jake Busey as an authoritarian dick army man, cool. But Howell makes it to D.C. gazes at some CG backgrounds, crosses a bridge that crumbled in a totally believable way (destroyed but for a convenient walking path down the center), chats with a dying alien tripod (err, 4 or 5-pod) and is reunited with his family in the last minute. Just like the Spielberg version, except not any good. From the writer of The Da Vinci Treasure, AVH: Alien vs. Hunter and Allan Quatermain and the Temple of Skulls.

The Last Ten Minutes vol. 6

Netflix Streaming has got a bunch more movies I would never pay to rent, but which I might watch for free if I was sick or something. I’m sick today, so here goes.

Prince of Persia (2010, Mike Newell)
I see ropes and swords and Lord of the Rings fire-sculptures, and holy crap is that Ben Kingsley?? Donnie Darko has a fake british accent, and he just let his girlfriend fall into the pit of hell before unleashing a crazy amount of ‘splosions and triggering a muted montage of flashback snippets. Then Donnie, who long ago became less cool than his big sister Maggie Darko, discovers that the movie was just a dream he saw in the handle of his magic dagger. All I remember from the video game is that your little man had a more human-like gait than was usual for video games, and it was incredibly hard to avoid falling into pits. As I type this, Donnie is telling a beardy fellow to “listen to your heart.” So it’s safe to say the movie isn’t much like the game, except when the girl fell into that pit.

The Men Who Stare At Goats (2009, Grant Heslov)
“Larry’s dead,” are the first words I hear… guess I won’t be seeing Kevin Spacey. Still holding out hope for Stephen Root, though. Oh wait, there’s Spacey now, wtf. Directed by an actor who played “guy in big suit” in Bug. There’s an LSD prank then all the army base’s goats and prisoners are set free. I’m not detecting much comedy in this comedy, so I guess it got dark and turned into a drama halfway through. Jeff Bridges and George Clooney escape in a chopper, Ewan provides poignant, anti-corporate-media voiceover, and it ends on a dud of a joke. Glad I didn’t sit through the rest of this.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2009, Niels Oplev)
A pierced punk rock girl (a “rebellious computer hacker” according to the Netflix description) talking with her mama seems sad. Later, some blond woman is talking about being raped by her dad, cue spazzy flashback with bland music. Punk girl visits hospitalized boyfriend, drops off secret financial records, he writes an article causing a mogul to commit suicide, and punk girl steals a lot of money and escapes to a tropical paradise. Whole thing seems anticlimactic and unengaging. But I guess if The Da Vinci Code can be a huge success, so can this. Still, at least Da Vinci had a big ending (the codex is shattered! Amelie is Jesus’s daughter!) to justify all the dreary exposition. This one wasn’t even exciting enough for me to check out the last ten minutes of the sequels.

Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl (2009, Nishimura & Tomomatsu)
Dubbing!! The fakest CGI ever. Oh, this is one of those direct-to-video Japanese teen movies full of awful music where everyone wears school uniforms. It’s not even as good as Tokyo Gore Police (they share a director). “When you gave me that chocolate, I had no idea how you really felt about me” should not be one of the final lines of a movie with this title. Oh, and Vampire Girl decisively wins.

Factotum (2005, Bent Hamer)
Hooray, Lili Taylor! Long takes + poorly furnished rooms = gritty realism. Poor Charlie Bukowski is having money issues and lady issues. Matt Dillon gets life advice from “Old Black Man” (according to the credits) in the unemployment office, finally gets one of his stories published. I don’t find Dillon’s poetic voiceover very compelling. From the dude who made Kitchen Stories.

Ondine (2009, Neil Jordan)
She is telling fisherman Colin Farrell that she’s not a magical water creature, but just a girl who almost drowned while escaping from something or other. Uh oh, some fellows with pistols and strong accents. What is happening? Colin and the girl live, are getting married at the end. Jordan made a bunch of movies that always look somewhat intriguing but not quite essential.

The Day The Earth Stopped (2008, C. Thomas Howell)
If you start watching a movie ten minutes before the closing credits, the hero and villain are always in the middle of some revelatory exposition scene. All movies are the same. Should you really entrust the remake rights of The Day The Earth Stood Still to one of the teen actors from Red Dawn? Earth starts shaking (I’d hardly say it is standing still) and sepia-toned CGI versions of major world monuments (and a ferris wheel) are falling rapidly towards the camera. I was excited that Judd Nelson is in this, but I’d gotten him confused with Judge Reinhold – who is Judd Nelson? There is yelling and guns and terrible camerawork, then something really stupid happens and I guess the aliens don’t destroy Earth. Shame.

2012 (2009, Roland Emmerich)
Here’s a movie that isn’t afraid to let the world end, or to cast Oliver Platt! I don’t see world monuments crumbling, just a big Titanicky iceberg adventure (Roland must’ve had some ice left over from The Day After Tomorrow) with people yelling and swimming through tunnels to close or open portals and machinery. Oh, surviving mankind lives on arks now, and Africa turns out to be the future, or the home of the our civilization or something.

Salt (2010, Phillip Noyce)
Another movie with a third-billed Chiwetel Ejiofor, and more awful camerawork – only this time it’s awful in a big-budget extreme-cutting sense, not the give-an-idiot-a-camera awfulness of The Day The Earth Stopped. Ooh, the president is down. A. Jolie, handcuffed in FBI custody, still manages to kill Liev Schreiber, whoever he is. The backstory exposition comes a couple minutes late in this movie, then noble Chiwetel lets Jolie escape to kill again. From the writer of Equilibrium (and Ultraviolet, yuck) and director of Rabbit Proof Fence (and Sliver).

Red Dragon (2002, Brett Ratner)
Emily Watson is in a super intense burning-house scene, then a big fake explosion knocks down Ed Norton. This movie marked the end of my needing to see everything Norton was in (Keeping the Faith and The Score had already lowered expectations). Ed’s in the William Petersen role (WP’s on a cop show now). After he and Raiff Fiennes shoot each other to death, we see ol’ Hopkins (in the Brian Cox role) writing letters, and oh Ed isn’t dead actually, and it ends with a cheese-headed transition into an early scene from Silence of the Lambs. Doesn’t look bad, really, but as with all Ratner movies it is not to be taken seriously.

The Last Ten Minutes vol. 5

On one hand, I really want to see the G.I. Joe movie (since I used to watch all the cartoons) and Supernova (since it’s a legendarily troubled sci-fi with F.F. Coppola involvement) and many other, even worse movies. On the other hand, time is precious and I take my movie watching seriously. So I find The Last Ten Minutes to be a happy compromise – in one guilty-pleasure hour, I kill six potentially trashy time-wasting movies, at an average savings of 89%, or over 13 hours per ten movies! What a deal.

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009, Stephen Sommers)
Ah, what’s happening?! General Hawk (Dennis Quaid) looks concerned. A stealth bomber was shot with green smokey special effects and Ripcord (Marlon Wayans) escaped alive. People are referring to “joes” and their “hoo-rah” when they get excited is of course “yo joe!”. Maybe they should’ve gotten rid of those parts. Cobra Commander and Destro (I never thought of him as Scottish) are off doing creepy villain stuff and saying lines like “you and what army?” The visuals look slick as shit, though. Why is Duke (Channing Tatum of Public Enemies) so young? Mild sequel set-up, Jonathan Pryce-as-president coda, and it looks like I missed all the Storm Shadow scenes. Movie looks totally bearable overall. In a few years I look forward to G.I. Joe: The Wrath of Golobulus then G.I. Joe: Beyond Thunderdrome.

Horsemen (2009, Jonas Akerlund)
Why is General Hawk (Dennis Quaid) putting Zhang Ziyi in prison, and what does it have to do with the apocalypse? Oh of course baddies are after his family and are luring him to an abandoned building… that is way more boring than the apocalypse. Quaid’s son (Lou “Thumbsucker” Pucci) is hanging Ichi The Killer/Hellraiser style over a stage saying some boringness about neglectful parenting while Quaid is chained up watching. And every Saw sequel said the same thing. Why don’t our parents worry about us? Why don’t our parents worry about us? From the director of nothing and the writer of Doom.

Supernova (2000, Walter Hill)
James Spader in a Leviathan diving suit fought a badass white guy who I don’t recognize until rescued by Angela Bassett. The ship’s computer warns us about “ninth-dimensional matter.
Karl gets extremely blown up, but I wouldn’t call it a supernova. I don’t think Angela Basset has a shirt on. Ah there’s the supernova – neato. After going warp-speed while nude and hugging, Basset-Spader have gone all The Fly and swapped eye colors and now she’s pregnant – that never happens when people beam up together on Star Trek. Interesting pedigree, this movie – from pseudonymed director Walter “The Warriors” Hill with uncredited help by Francis Ford Coppola.

John Q (2002, Nick Cassavetes)
Denzel… shoots himself in the head! But the safety was on. Transplant heart for Denzel’s insurance-less dying child is arriving. The police arrest a False Denzel while the real one sneaks around in hospital scrubs, but Robert Duvall is on to the plot. Is this really what heart transplants look like? So simple and clean, like the Operation game. Montage of people telling us America may have a national health-care problem. A blatant message movie, then. Look, James Woods! I thought it didn’t seem terrible overall until a cringey final shot.

Hollow Man 2 (2006, Claudio Fäh)
Was Hollow Man even successful? Invisible Christian Slater (the poor man’s Invisible Kevin Bacon) indirectly kills a suited guy who’s tracking him via infrared scanner. Oh wait, dialogue tells me that was actually Invisible Peter Facinelli of the Twilight series… Slater is now trying to murder Laura Regan until Facinelli shows up. Invisible Man fight in the rain ends with a shovel stuck into Slater. From the writer of all sorts of unnecessary sequels, from Hellraiser: Hellworld to Dracula 2000, from Pulse 3 to Prophecy 5.

Surrogates (2009, Jonathan Mostow)
Short movie. Evil James Cromwell, inventor of the surrogate system, surprises Bruce Willis with a gun. Ooh, in the future we have light-up staircases. Crom “uploaded a virus into the system” to kill all the surrogates, but a fat guy excitedly shouts some key commands at a blonde chick, then shots are fired and all the robot surrogates in the world fall down. So whoever she was (Bruce’s wife?) she saved all of humanity from a life of surrogate slavery, waking them from, one might say, the Matrix in which they lived. From the director of sad sequel Terminator 3.

The Last Ten Minutes vol. 4: Shocktober

Welcome to a special SHOCKtober edition of The Last Ten Minutes, in which I find horror movies on Netflix streaming which I may have actually been tempted to watch (because I am stupid and will watch any trash some days), and remove that temptation by seeing how they end.

Howling VII: New Moon Rising (1995, Clive Turner)
A made-for-TV inspector is clumsily explaining the entire movie to priest John with copious flashback scenes. Ted (played by the director, who was also a producer on Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace) is a longhair biker rebel suspected of killing all the townsfolk, but the inspector is saying it wasn’t Ted. Later, a girl named Cheryl is even more clumsily explaining to Ted that she’s the werewolf. Does the whole movie consist of long explanations by terrible actors? Oh no, here’s a heinous morphing effect, then the townsfolk shoot the Cheryl-wolf to bits, and a county band plays us out, first apologizing to Ted that the whole town thought he was a werewolf. The music was the best part, all extended guitar solos, doing its own thing in a way reminiscent of Rollergator. This is the last Howling movie to date, though I’m sure they’ll remake the original any day now, since they’ve already done Pirahna.

Ghost Ship (2002, Steve Beck)
Cool music. First words I heard: “Murphy’s dead.” Shit, Murphy was Gabriel Byrne, and he’s the only reason I’m watching this – not for Julianna Margulies, beach-blonde Ron “Deep Impact” Eldard or a possessed-by-evil Desmond Harrington. Yay, blondie shoots the evil guy… but evil cannot be killed with a shotgun, as proven by a dodgy computer morph. Boat explodes, Julianna escapes, but a metal song indicates the evil is still alive. Director Steve Beck (13 Ghosts remake) went on to make… nothing. Good.

Day of the Dead Remake (2008, Steve Miner)
A room full of attractive young people led by Mena Suvari (Stuck) are in a bunker. Wow, the zombies can dodge bullets in this one. “He’s smarter than the others.” Oops, Nick Cannon got eaten. Makeup budget must have been low because whenever they show zombies, the camera goes all freakity flop. A zombie shot a zombie, and the kids rig a giant flamethrower that infernoes the whole place except for their little room. Whatever, looks bad all over. From the director of House and Lake Placid and the writer of Final Destination.

Shrooms (2007, Paddy Breathnach)
Lindsey Haun, I suppose, prowls a spooky house with an axe. Now they’re in a forest. I know from the netflix description that they all took killer shrooms so maybe nothing that is happening is really happening. Ah indeed, in the hospital Haun realizes that she was the killer all along. She took shrooms and killed all her friends! Haute twist.

Machine Girl (2008, Noboru Iguchi)
Hoo, some silly-ass special effects. Serious-looking schoolgirl Ami with machine-gun arm and her friend Miki with chainsaw foot kill yakuzas in the woods. Ami is badly bloodied by ninja lady with steel drill bra, then bisects the heads of the baddies. Naturally from the writer/director of RoboGeisha.

American Psycho 2 (2002, Morgan Freeman)
Netflix say: “Patrick Bateman is dead, but his evil legacy continues with Rachael Newman, the only victim who managed to escape Bateman’s grasp. Rachael will get rid of anyone who threatens her chances of becoming teaching assistant to the infamous Dr. Daniels.” Hmm, Mila Kunis is telling William Shatner (via answering machine) that she loves him. In flashback, she steals some girl’s identity and talks to herself all the time. I think this is supposed to be a comedy. I wonder if Bret Easton Ellis got paid for this. She kills herself in a car… or does she!!… followed by a news montage, then the infamous Daniels (dude from a couple vampire TV series) giving a lecture and she shows up. Looks stupid, but it might’ve been less stupid if it hadn’t pretended to be an American Psycho sequel. Freeman is sadly not the great sad-voiced actor but some nobody with the same name, and the writers of this movie fortunately never worked again.

The Signal (2007, Bruckner/Bush/Gentry)
Bad guy is beating up good guy. IMDB calls it “A horror film told in three parts, from three perspectives,” so I guess this is the last ten minutes of the third perspective. Everyone’s face is awfully bloody. Bad guy, with a voice like Patton Oswalt’s, is having an argument with his wife-in-a-coma, then both guys have identity crises and Patton punches through one of many TVs showing “the signal,” electrocuting himself to death. Then I think there’s a fake epilogue but I don’t get it. I thought this one would actually be cool (I dig the premise) but the ending looks somewhat worse than Ghost Ship.

Subspecies (1991, Ted Nicolaou)
Two girls (the Demi Moore one and the Catatonic Blonde) break free from prison but oops, Catatonic Blonde is a vampire. The evil vampire (Radu?) is a terrible ham, and what’s with his fake plastic fingers? Ooh, a shotgun-toting vampire hunter and a quick spot of stop-motion. Your standard swordfight ensues, along with a falling chandelier and some beheadings and everyone’s a vampire in the end. I think the bad guy has been in some Lars Von Trier movies, and I’m not sure who the vampire hunter was but he looked like a wannabe-Toulon. I also checked out the first couple minutes because I ain’t watching Subspecies without seeing Angus Scrimm in a Ludwig Von wig. Looks better than most of the Puppet Master movies, if that’s saying anything.

Subspecies 2: Your Sister is a Vampire (1993, Ted Nicolaou)
Michelle “daughter of Kirk” Shatner has come to fetch another girl from the castle. An old man sloooowly tries to stab a vampire, and his lack of haste is repaid by getting stabbed by a puppet. Evil vampire Radu is alive again and hammier than ever, until he’s stabbed repeatedly by the imprisoned girl amongst some sub-Evil Dead (sub-Subspecies, for that matter) puppet creatures. The original looked grudgingly watchable, but obviously sequels yield diminishing returns. Nicolaou, who helmed the ridiculous TerrorVision, would make two more Subspecies sequels then Puppet Master vs. Demonic Toys, all for the sinister Charles Band and his Full Moon Pictures.

The Astro-Zombies (1968, Ted V. Mikels)
Ted V. Mikels is maybe the only filmmaker I’ve ever met, but the only movie of his I’d seen was on Mystery Science Theater. Yay, John Carradine! He and crony William Bagdad (The Black Sheik in Head) are working on astro-zombie (read: dudes staggering around wearing rubber skull masks) brain transplants when Tura Satana and some actor from Agent for H.A.R.M. interrupt. The sound, lighting and editing are uproariously bad. Oh, I learned that bullets cannot stop a machete-wielding astro-zombie. Some people in suits tell us the moral of the story, and all was quiet for thirty-four years until Mikels and Satana made a sequel.