There’s a problem in trying to review “Saw II,” and it is this: Much like the first “Saw,” the film is a nasty little puzzle/trap of plot twists and character revelations, so one cannot go very deep into the “story” without giving away things that would impair a potential audience members enjoyment of the full film. Likewise, while one is just itching to sing the praises of the elaborate, gory ways in which various characters meet their demise… part of the fun of the traps in these movies is the “no way!” shock at their unveiling, and I wouldn’t think to deprive you of that. Let me just say that the film features one “trap” which tested my resolve to not flee the theater upon it’s unveiling alone.

So I’ll keep this as broad as possible: “Saw” was based around the mysterious “Jigsaw,” a master-planner serial killer who’d never actually killed anyone. Rather, he prefered to kidnap people of (in his eyes) dubious character and place them in horrifying torture-traps where they would only die if they failed to have the will to live through creatively gut-wrenching escape solutions. In this sequel, Jigsaw is up to his tricks once again; this time having locked a handful of (possibly) random people in a booby-trapped house with time-activated doors, cryptic “game” instructions, poisoned air and antidotes accesible only through grisly tests of will.

There’s more to it than that, but this is the kind of movie where a spoiler will literally kill many reasons to see it. So I’ll just skip to the point: It’s another solid mystery/horror entry in whats shaping into a promising franchise, with maddeningly intricate twists and gloriously twisted gore scenes. If that sort of thing lights your fire, then this is your movie. In other words, Happy Halloween.


REVIEW: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

This one’s a keeper. A crime-movie about crime-movies obviously written for movie fans that manages without much visible straining to be honest and character driven even while it’s being profoundly cynical and veering into self-parody. See this immediately.

The writer/director is Shane Black, whom a good deal of critics and “serious” film buffs considered something close to the antichrist not long ago but has, in retrospect, been much missed. Black’s “crime” in the eyes of the PBS totebag set (oh calm down, my mother has one too) was that he wrote potently commercial, unappologetically male-slanted genre scripts (“Lethal Weapon” and “The Last Boy Scout” among them) and was paid handsomely for them. At the time, he was grouped frequently with Joe Esterhaz (“Basic Instinct” and “Showgirls”,) who’s work now seems as dated as Black’s now does clever.

According to Black, this negativity was enough to drive him into self-imposed exile. But now he’s back, making a strong directing debut using what is probably his strongest script to date. Yes, we’ve all begun to have our fill of cynical, self-aware crime comedies set in the movie business, but rarely are they ever this genuinely clever and flat-out hillarious. Based loosely on a Brett Halliday novel, the film is set up as part-parody, part-celebration of cheesy detective paperbacks, the movies based on them and the macho-bonding buddy films Black set the standard for.

Harry Lockhart (Robert Downey Jr.) is our lead and narrator, a petty thief from New York who darted into a movie audition to escape cops, got discovered and now finds himself in Hollywood being groomed by a pair of producers (Larry Miller and Corbin Bersen) for a private-eye role. Ordered to study-up on P.I. work with LA gumshoe/party-fixture Gay Perry (Val Kilmer, and the name is literal,) Harry finds himself rapidly immersed in a very Mike Hammer-ish murder mystery somehow involving himself, Perry, several bodies and a surprise renunion with his childhood crush (an appropriately “classy dame”-looking Michelle Monaghan) now a professional-partygoer.

The plot and mystery are suitably twisty, but the real meat of the film is in supplying this “hard boiled” plot through the less-than-dramatic narration of Lockhart. Not only does he often have to “rewind” his thoughts upon realizing he neglected some crucial information earlier, his mind goes off on tangents and he even pauses to offer stage direction to the actors (and extras) or to critique the movie-ness of his situation: “gee, wonder if that will come back up later?,” he chides as an obviously expository scene concludes. At one point, when the bad guys have gained the upper hand in an inconveniently un-movie-like way, all he can think to say is “no fair.”

Kilmer steals most of his scenes as Gay Perry, who at first seems to be a one-note joke (super-macho P.I. is gay) but turns out to be a sharply-written character of interesting depth. Black excells at investing tough-guy characters with unique forms of self-confident cool, and Perry approaches existance with what I would call a “devoted indifference” that makes him subtly different from the hundreds of other super-slick detective heroes of film or otherwise.

The mystery is good. The jokes are funny. The characters are a delight. The script is witty as hell and Black’s direction is more than solid. I love this movie.


REVIEW: Elizabethtown (short)

Finally did get a chance to see this recently. Just about everyone who’s written about this, one way or another, has said all I have to say much better than I probably could, so this’ll be a brief one:

It’s not good. I like Cameron Crowe and all his little recurring tics and hangups, but this just doesn’t work. In relating the story of a big-city failure who returns to his quirky small-town family roots for a funeral and is spiritually renewed by said quirkiness and a budding romance with a free-spirited girl, it reads a little too similar to “Garden State,” which was substantially superior.

The much-publicized “trimdown” from it’s original length supposedly has helped the film in the eyes of those who saw it in it’s “long” form, but for me it leaves the film a series of overly short would-be vignettes. Orlando Bloom, at least, proves he has the chops to work outside his so-far exclusive engagement in the realm of period fantasy, but Kirsten Dunst is eventually grating as a kind of full-throttle embodiment of Crowe’s idealized female form: A supernaturally-perky blonde Tinkerbell of limitless resources who throws herself joyfully into the job of forcing a hero to find himself and fall in love with her.

A MAJOR flaw, cut down but still held over from the “problem” cut, is that the film contains a kind of instant-sequel to itself framed as a clumsy 4th act: Following the resolution to the main story, Bloom’s character sets out on a road trip using a detour-laden map compiled by Dunst’s character… complete with narration, instructions on where to eat and who to meet and, naturally, a Cameron Crowe-issue pop soundtrack. It’s a cute idea, but it needs a movie of it’s own.

Bottom line: Continue to ignore the existance of this one until it hits DVD.


Moralists, Censors and Enemies of Freedom vs. "Doom"

Lost so far in the shuffle of a geekdom relieved that ONE video game inspired film doesn’t completely suck, action fans glad for something new to watch and elitist old-guard critics itching to kill the game-to-movie genre in the womb thats surrounded the release of “Doom” is the fact of why this franchise was so infamous in the first place.

Contrary to the hazy memories of many writing about the film, “Doom’s” initial fame did NOT come from being the original “first-person shooter” (that was “Wolfenstein 3D,” no?) or for being the first ultraviolent game (everything from “Chiller” to “Mortal Kombat” beat it to that punch.) Rather, “Doom’s” big infamy came first from being it’s generation’s designated punching-bag for censors, moralists and other enemies of freedom to assault in the name of restricting content and speech in entertainment.

Normally this kind of labeling by the censor hordes slips away once the public comes to their senses (no rational person can take these people seriously for very long,) but “Doom’s” branding stuck around much longer thanks to added pressure from the other side of the anti-freedom movement: The misguided child psychology profession of the 1990s, which took time out of it’s busy work turning the next generation of creative thinkers into Ritalin Zombies to manufacture data claiming to “prove” that the game’s immersive FPS play setup was responsible for making kids “aggressive.” (because when you think dangerous, overstimulating behavior, sitting in front of a keyboard is the first image that jumps to mind.)

Thus, the lable stuck so profoundly that “Doom” was even blamed as having inspired the Columbine massacre despite the fact that it took place almost a decade after the game itself had slipped into memory for most fans. So, then, it was only a matter of time before the pro-censor lobby decided to use the occasion of the movie to drum up their forces once again.

From Dr. Ted Baer over at “”

“Obsession with such murderous imagery is the kind of thing that helped instigate some of the school murders a few years ago.”

What I like about the above quote is that Baer, who often gives low marks to films dealing with the supernatural because of “unholy” scenes of communication with the dead, here essentially is claiming to be able to know the thoughts of the DEAD Columbine killers. Mr. Baer, a legion of professionals and law enforcement personel, the dumbest of them more intellectually honest than most of the reviews on your site, went over this case for years and are STILL unsure as to what actually “instigated” Harris and Klebold. If you’re going to place the blame on ANYTHING you’d better have proof… and we both know you do not.

Then there’s the Childcare Action Project, (,) which can be consistently counted on to out-crazy even the craziest of the pro-censor armies: (select “Doom” from the list)

“If this film is a true representation of the video game, it is no wonder why so many have such low value for life and contempt for noble behavior and wholesome language”

“Maybe video games are even more corruptive than films or music. Music just lets you hear about killing. Films let you hear and see killing. Video games let you hear the killing, see the killing and DO the killing though it be fantasy. A bad influence does not have to be real to influence badly. God knew what He was talking about when He old us about bad influences.”

“God knew what He was talking about…” Read that part again. Here’s my question for you readers: Who’s super-power is more impressive? Movieguide’s ability to speak to the dead, or CAP having direct communicating with God?

Yes, once again “Doom” is newsworthy and, once again, people are lining up to blame it for whatever their pet cause to be against is. All of them hoping against hope that YOU won’t notice that they have an agenda beyond “looking out for the kids,” and certainly that you’ll never realize that that agenda is not only pro-censorship… but also anti-democracy, anti-American and, yes, anti-FREEDOM.

The battle continues.

REVIEW: North Country

I want you to go get a stopwatch. Or look at your regular watch. Or the clock on your toolbar. I want you to begin timing yourself as you read the following paragraph in boldface.

Begin timing… now. Sexual harrasment is a BAD thing. Submissive gender-roles set for women in prior generations were restrictive, hypocritical and harmful. Modern sexual harassment policies are a GOOD thing that helped working women greatly, even if it may sometimes be misused or overapplied today. End timing.

My time: 13 seconds. What’s your’s?

Now, consider the following: Whatever time you got is how long it took you to recieve and absorb every bit of meaning, message, moral, weight, worldview and overall worth as a film that “North Country” has to offer in 2 hours and 6 minutes.

The first question that needs to be answered about any piece of “issue” filmmaking is, put succintly: What is the purpose of this film? What does it set out to accomplish, in other words, in terms of “tackling” it’s issue? In regards to “North Country,” this must be asked especially sternly, as it seeks our attention for dramatizing a struggle that anyone who has held any kind of job anywhere in the last decade can tell you has been won rather decisively. Why, when all is said and done, do we need to be told this story now, in an age where the only group that has any regular fear of sexual harassment are men walking about the office on eggshells hoping to never be accused of it?

I’m aware, of course, that my question probably answers itself: That the filmmakers are aware that sexual harassment has gone from being a major issue to a punchline (“innocent guy accused of harassment via misunderstanding with workplace PC-police” is a common sitcom storyline these days) and “North Country” is meant to remind us that those endless forms we’re all required to read and fill out at work are, overall, a good thing that righted a longstanding wrong for working women.

The proper way to do this, in my view, would be to tell a story concentrating on characters and relationships and trust the audience to know that making lewd attacks on female coworkers, smearing vulgarities on walls in feces and sexual assaulting a whistleblowing woman are wrong on their own. I’d add that, at all costs, it would be wise to play to the basic rights and wrongs of such issues, rather than alienating a chunk of the audience by seeming to view the central conflict as a clash of political good guys and bad guys.

So guess what they don’t do?

I’ll concede that the film is trying it’s hardest to be more than it is, especially in the area of casting. Charlize Theron is once more called upon to immolate her near-supernatural beauty on the altar of working class grit as Josey Aimes, (the film is only loosely based on a real life case,) mother two out-of-wedlock moppets who flees an abusive husband for the home of her parents (Sissy Spacek and Richard Jenkins) and a job in the (begrudgingly) newly-integrated mines.

The men don’t like the presence of the women workers and let them know through violent, vulgar and cruel campaigns of bullying. Most of the women have learned to “live with it,” even the otherwise hard-nosed union rep Glory (Frances McDormand,) but Josey has put up with too much abuse to take any more. She complains, is accused of troublemaking, is eventually fired and then brings a historic class-action suit against the company. Cue scenes of anguished shouting, eeeeevil businessmen wring their eeeevil hands about how this “could change everything!!!!” and, yes, big Oscar Clip courtroom scenes with no semblance whatsoever to an actual legal proceeding. Be sure to leave room for a Shocking Twist that most of us will see coming waaaaay to early for it to matter.

I’ll give it an A for effort, at least. Niki Caro’s direction is fine, though the chosen cinematography is just a bit TOO reminiscient of every other post-“Fargo” invocation of northwestern sprawl. And the cast works it’s ass off to be earnest and truthful, often to varying degrees of success. Theron, for example, nails a flawless Minnesottan accent and a believable working-girl poise, but her efforts are undercut by a puzzling decision to have her looking distinctly more “made-up” than anyone else in the cast. It’s as though the film is hedging it’s bets that the pairing of Theron’s natural porceline-pixie glow with the violence visited on her is necessary to further sell the audience, which if true is another example of heavy-handedness.

And heavy-handedness is the film’s biggest flaw. It just won’t trust us to already know that this is all wrong, it has to stack the deck. Josey isn’t JUST a victim of workplace harassment, she’s ALSO a battered wife AND her own father treats her with callous disregard, having essentially disowned her for getting pregnant in High School… AND theres a too-easy-to-guess Dark Secret about THAT which doesn’t exactly reflect well on the male of species either. Thusly, before we even GET to the sexual harrassment storyline the film is already putting poor Josey through the Jim Caveziel gauntlet and beating the “men are pigs” drum. It’s too much too soon, and the film suffers.

A more disasterous flaw is it’s laughably blunt political posturing outside of it’s own story, as the film actually features a reccurring theme of Josey watching the Anita Hill testimony on TV and drawing some sort of strength from it. Movie… seriously… are you kidding me??

Despite being done no favors by the script, the film’s most real-feeling performance (I’m talking Best Supporting Actor calibre here) is by Jenkins as Josey’s father Hank. We can see Hank’s arc coming for miles; he must be bitter and cold for two acts only to see the light, abandon his puritanical hangups about Josey’s prior indescretion and rise to her defense for the third. But Jenkins is a seasoned character professional, and he turns in a subtle, understated and 100% real-feeling turnaround that feels organic and human in a way that puts the rest of the film’s “GIVE ME AN OSCAR!!!!!!!!!!!” hysterics to shame. The gradual succession of scenes visualizing Hank’s change in perspective, especially when they eventually place him onscreen with Josey, are the best stuff in the film, and was this relationship the central focus we’d be looking at a major awards contender here.

I don’t like having to give this film a negative review. It’s earnest, and it very much wants to be important and well-liked. And I’m DEFINATELY not looking to shoot down the cause it’s in support of… far from it. But the fact is, one of the reasons WHY sexual harassment has become such a punchline of an issue these last few years is that it’s so often defended only by heavy-handed Lifetime-esque pieces like this. These issues deserved a better movie back when they were fresh and more relevant, and these actors and filmmakers deserve a better movie now.


REVIEW: Good Night And Good Luck

THIS is how you do one of these.

The story of Edward R. Murrow’s confrontation with Senator Joseph McCarthy at the height of the HUAC hearings is, whatever your opinion of the events or your personal politics overall, unquestionably the central Creation Story of the modern media. Being as it is a story which, when told as it generally has been this past half-century, is overall damaging to “conservative” politicians and empowering to “liberal” journalists; one can be forgiven for expecting politically-outspoken actor/director George Clooney to deliver a hagiographical bit of mythmaking in crafting a film about it. All he would need to do is follow the standard, simplified version of the events as they are often recounted: That Murrow and his news team were benighted, wholly-unbiased “simple newsmen” who were merely “doing they’re job” when they set in motion the events that would bring down McCarthy. And he may even have made a decent film in doing so.

But instead, Clooney has chosen to go a more honest, less self-flattering and MUCH less “useful” (in the political-propaganda sense) route; and in doing so he has not made a decent film… he’s made a great one.

A small, enclosed film, “Good Night and Good Luck” exists as a series of brilliant choices. David Strathairn is a note-perfect Murrow, and Clooney makes a fine foil as his producer/ally Fred Friendly. Ray Winstone, Frank Langella and others shine in supporting roles. The choice to shoot in black and white is a winner as well, so too the (aparent) decision to stage the story in the manner of a television production of the era. And then there’s the masterstroke of essentially having McCarthy play himself, by limiting the “villain’s” role to archival footage.

But the real note of greatness here is in what the film chooses NOT to do, namely to use the “mythic” version of the tale as a way to answer the current accusations of “liberal media bias.” In fact, it rather brazenly takes the position that Murrow and his crew WERE “biased” against McCarthy, or at least his tactics, and that they DID conspire to damage the Senator and his mission. The film does, naturally, approach this truism as also be an entirely heroic act in it’s own right.

This SHOULD play as more incendiary (“damn right they were biased, and good for them!”) but somehow it doesn’t. This is largely thanks to Strathairn’s measured but commanding performance, which helps us understand the kind of trust that Murrow was able to inspire in his viewers, and also to a crackerjack screenplay which eventually leaves the questions of politics on the back-burner in favor of another purpose entirely: To hold up Murrow vs. McCarthy as an example of the power of journalism to accomplish great good or, at least, great importance; and to use this as a message from the past about the sorry state of news reporting today.

Let me be blunt about this: In my current opinion, this may well be the best film of the year. It’s honest where it could’ve been preachy, cutting where it could’ve been congratulatory. It’s a political film that manages not to politicize it’s audience, and it deserves your attention (along with a round of Oscars come that time.)



While video game devotees, myself included, continue to wait around for a legitimately great film to be made out of a video game, for now at least we have “Doom.” While it’s nowhere in the realm of great, it is at least decent, and leagues better than “Mortal Kombat,” “Resident Evil,” and the rest. Baby steps, folks.

The main reason why we’ve yet to see the great video game movie is that, for the most part, film producers have been picking the wrong games to adapt. “Resident Evil,” “House of The Dead,” etc., were already in themselves cheap knockoffs of various movies made interesting by their interactivity, so as film adaptations they were predestined to knockoff-hood. Such is the case with “Doom,” which was already borrowing heavily from “Aliens” as a game and now borrows even MORE heavily as a movie. But, then, everything has ripped off “Aliens” by now.

The film takes place at a research facility on Mars, where the discovery of an alien “24th Chromosome” has unleashed a swarm of big, burly monsters. Chromosome 24, we’re eventually told, differs in it’s effects depending on one’s status of the yet-unmapped 10% of the human genome which “some believe is the genetic code for the soul.” Long story short: It turns bad people into monsters and good people into superheroes. God, how I love movie-science.

Anyway, a team of “Aliens”-issue Marines (handles: Duke, Destroyer, The Kid, Goat, Portman, Mack and Johnathan “Reaper” Grimm) under the command of The Rock as “Sarge” is sent to the station to contain the situation, only to find that hell has already broken loose. For about 45 minutes, the film meanders and loses it’s way, getting bogged down in too much nobody-gives-a-damn business attempting to “characterize” the cannon-fodder and not enough time establishing any sense of geography to the facility tunnels where most of the action takes place.

Then, around the halfway mark, “Doom” finds it’s sense of self and really starts to cook. The action scenes get better, the tone turns darker and there’s a surprising and genuinely grisly revelation involving the true moral (or amoral) nature of a character who many will be expecting to be the hero of the piece. It doesn’t morph into high art, but it’s a marked improvement over a somewhat clunky first half.

Much discussed will be the “first person” sequence, a lengthy action setpiece toward the end that essentially replicates in live action the barrel’s-eye-view run-and-gun style of the original game. For the record: It’s excessively cool looking and well executed, but it goes on for a touch too long all at once. (Though the surreal lengths it goes to to recreate a particular aspect of video game existence I found admirably daffy.)

Here’s the important stuff: It’s better than average. The gore is copious, if obviously trimmed to avoid the NC-17 in places (bring on the Unrated DVD!) The monsters are pretty cool-looking. There’s a standout not-like-anything-you’ve-seen-lately sequence. The action is fun. There’s a good character twist in there and a solidly kick-ass final fight scene. It ain’t “Aliens,” but it’s working it’s butt off anyway.

So, here it is. A mostly solid action movie based on a video game. Well done, fellas. Now, can someone please get their ass moving on a “Zelda” adaptation so this doesn’t have to stay the best game movie ever for too long?


REVIEW: Dreamer

“Inspired by a true story” and filtered through a formula thats as old as family films themselves, “Dreamer” fulfills what one can extrapolate were the ultimate goals of it’s creation: It’s innocuous, inoffensive and establishes a nice, understated and genuine-feeling father/daughter connection between the lead characters of a skilled but embittered horse trainer (Kurt Russell) and his young daughter (Dakota Fanning.) It’s not especially grand and certainly could stand to play it less “safe,” but there’s nothing “wrong” with it and it’s eventually pretty difficult to dislike.

Russell’s character is a horseman who, according to his codgerly father (Kris Kristofferson,) is “the best,” but he’s down on his luck. Some bitter falling out between he and said father has led to barns empty of horses and a farm being sold off bit by bit, while he toils under a heartless creep (David Morse) as the head trainer for racehorses owned by a wealthy Arab prince.

Daughter Cale, who wants to be just like dad… or, rather, she wants to be just like the man she’s certain dad could be if he just start training his own horses again… tags along with him to a race, where a filly named Sonador breaks it’s leg. It should be put down, but Cale’s presence makes doing so impossible for dad. Fired for insurrection, he leaves and takes the “broken” horse with him, betting that her pedigree will make her at least valuable for breeding. Cale is, of course, instantly smitten with Sonador, and begins to think she may have more race left in her…

Yeah. It’s one of these. It goes without saying, for adults, that the way this plays out is pure formula. Yes, the horse gets better. Yes, the process of caring for a wounded animal brings the strained family back together. And yes, the psychologically troubled spanish jockey who pitches in will probably get his moxie back in time for the Big Race. The audience that “Dreamer” is aiming for, though, is likely not to have seen this play out so many times before, so they’ll be more forgiving of such.

It’s nowhere near perfect. The horse itself doesn’t end up carrying the kind of character weight that “Seabiscuit” did, at least in relation to the rest of the players. And while it’s understandable that the filmmakers are tilting the focus in favor of the young, certain bits of the grownup storyline could stand to be clearer (the full reason for the bitterness between Russell and Kristofferson, for example.) But, as I said, it’s eventually hard to dislike or even find much fault with something that’s trying so earnestly.


REVIEW: Domino

Note: Contains spoilers.

In last year’s “Man on Fire,” Tony Scott annoyed the ever-living hell out of me with the use of an insanely-disjointed visual style. Here, in “Domino,” he not only uses the same style but actually makes it more insanely-disjointed… but somehow, this time, it works. Maybe it’s because “Man on Fire‘s” simple redemption/revenge narrative was so basic and straightforward that the visual trickery came off looking forced an innapropriate. “Domino,” on the other hand, is many things but basic and straightforward it ain’t.

This much is known (as far as the film is concerned, anyway) about the recently-deceased (drug overdose) Domino Harvey: She was actor Lawrence Harvey’s daughter, she gave up a modeling career for life as a bounty hunter, and apparently she excelled at it. After establishing all that within the first ten minutes or so, the film is finished with the “true story” part of it’s opening title crawl and gets down to the “…sort of” for the remainder; and settles into the groove of a ridiculously complicated robbery/action flick with Domino (Keira Knightley) in the Van Damme role.

I’m fairly certain it’s set up like this: Domino and her teammates Ed and Choco (Mickey Rourke and Edgar Ramirez) are sent by their employer Claremont (Delroy Lindo) to hunt down a gang of theives who’ve stolen money from a mobster and a casino boss (Dabney Coleman.) Except that the theives are also working for Claremont as part of a larger scheme… Except they go after the wrong guys, owing to a switcheroo forced by the FBI upon Claremont’s lady-friend Lateesha (Mo’nique) who’s grandchild is dying from a rare (and expensively curable) blood disease.

All of this occurs while a TV producer (Christopher Walken) and a pair of celebrity “hosts” (Brian Austin Green and Ian Zeiring as themselves) are following the hunters around as part of a reality show. In addition, we’re to understand that some, most or all of this may be being misremembered or outright invented by Domino herself, as the story is framed via her testimony to an FBI interrogator (Lucy Lui.)

This unfolds out-of-sync, following Domino’s scattered memory and often veers off into comic tangents, (like a scene where Lateesha appears on Jerry Springer to preach her invented theories of new racial subcategories,) and every scene occurs in the jittery, ultra-kinetic manner which Scott has fallen so in love with. Visually, it’s pure overkill, but this film is ABOUT overkill. Everything is exaggerated, swollen up to an obscene proportion and presented as un-flatteringly as possible: Keira’s Domino is ridiculously strong and imposing for such a nimble frame. Lateesha and her sisters, Lashindra and Lashandra, are ridiculously caricatured “sassy black chicks.” The action scenes are ridiculously violent and epic… even Rourke and Walken are playing it further over the top than usual, which is really saying something. And don’t even get me started on the fact that Domino’s flashbacks come with both spoken and text narration.

And still Scott and writer Richard Kelly aim to push it further: The third act jumps the rails entirely after (spoiler alert) Domino and company survive a massive car crash and are saved in the desert by some sort of wandering prophet (Tom Waits) who charges them with a holy crusade involving the destiny of Lateesha’s grandkid. Really. From that point on, it’s anyone’s guess as to what’s actually going on, and even Domino refuses to tell us what was really true or what any of it meant.

We’re in crazy-for-crazy’s-sake chicks-with-guns-exploitation-flick territory here, and I for one dig it. Some may not, given that it’s so odd and eventually doesn’t make much sense. But this sort of thing is right up my alley, it’s-own-sense-of-logic and all. I say go see it.


REVIEW: The Fog (2005)

“The Fog” is a remake of John Carpenter’s early-80s horror film of the same name, and seems to contain just about every problem commonly associated with remakes of classic horror films. It adhere’s so close to the remake “don’t”-list that it would work as parody… if it weren’t serious.

Like the original, the story is set in Antonio Bay (an island this time around) and involves various characters fleeing a massive, self-aware fog bank containing a crew of angry colonial-era ghosts seeking vengeance for the sins of the town founders. This was not, to be fair, the most original premise the first time around; but Carpenter infused his film with real menace and dread, utilizing mood and suspense (and an almost-entirely unseen) enemy to full effect.

Here, infamously-average genre filmmaker Rupert Wainright can’t wait to get his special FX ghosts onscreen, which is a horrible mistake considering how lousy the effects actually look (a note to directors: see-through ghosts look ridiculous in full-bore horror films.) The titular meteorological menace looks decent enough, when “played” in brief scenes by fans and a smoke-machine, but elsewhere we get CGI-animated fog that chases the heroes through hallways and would look barely servicable in an X-Box game.

Also on hand from the “crappy modern horror movie” bad-idea toybox are: Cheezy moralism, ‘scary’ sequences shown from the perspective of a camcorder (curse you, “Blair Witch Project,”) T&A teases and, yes, a Comic Relief Black-Guy who punctuates expository scenes with unfunny one-liners.

Instantly among the worst horror films of the year, devoid of sense, suspense or even a single interest sequence or noteworthy shot, I don’t reccomend getting anywhere near this empty, useless excuse for a movie.