Category Archives: American Cinema

Coup de Cinema (2011)

coup 1

Coup de Cinema is about a group of filmmakers at a production company hijacking the film they’re all working on because “man, does it ever suck and we’re tired of making crappy films, so let’s heist it to make it not of the suck”. Sounded fun – film within a film, deliberately bad acting because the film they’re originally working on is so god awful – good stuff! It ended up being pretty cute too – totes adorbs as I like to say. There were a few less cute moments, however, that weighed it down a bit.

A film crew hijacks their company’s current production and improves it behind the director’s back.

coup2

How dare you suggest we would heist your movie? We call shenanigans!

Let’s start with the good:

  • Buster Owens is the BEST. He’s the guy in the red jacket vest thing up above and he is my favorite character here. The actor is wonderful and his character is…honest, for a lack of a better way to put it. He rings true. Totes love him.
  • I love how this film conveys the sense of fun & passion involved in film-making. You need both to make a film and this has it in spades. I also enjoyed the involvement of the pretentious assholes because, man, do you run across those in the film/theatre community. The representation of film-making is pretty spot on is what I’m saying.
  • The film within a film is HILARIOUS. Like, I’m not entirely sure what the plot is but it involves some Indiana Jones-ish character, a damsel in distress, ninjas (I think?), a jungle, and terrible dialogue. I would SO watch that movie.
  • The director of the original terrible movie is so delightfully clueless and arrogant. He has some great one-liners – “maybe it’s not working because they’re in an evergreen forest in winter and they’re supposed to be in a jungle?”…Director: “no. no, that’s not it”.
coup 4

I am the best character in this movie. K, thx, bai

Now, for the not necessarily bad, but things I liked less:

  • One character starts out sounding distinctly NOT Scottish, but by the end is very Scottish?? Am unsure if my hearing has gone to shit or if that was a thing. While confusing, I definitely enjoyed his later accent.
  • At one point, the heisting crews’ video files all get deleted from the computer. They go to great lengths to recover it (stalking & a foot chase around town), but I couldn’t help thinking “Why don’t they just recover it from the computer itself? Nothing is ever truly gone, even if you delete it. That would’ve been way less work.”
  • There are definitely some silly elements happening in this film, none more so than the ending. The melodrama is laid on thick and it was a little much. As much of a dick as the clueless director was, what he does at the end seems a bit over the top and not entirely in character? And then everything is resolved fairly quickly which is a bit unrealistic. “Aww, you just tried to commit violence at me? It’s cool, man. Totes.” is basically what happened.
  • I hate the main character, Miles. I legitimately and adamantly did not like him. He’s an asshole. What made me dislike him most though was the running theme of him liking a friend of his. I have no idea if this was his best friend or a former girlfriend or a new friend – that wasn’t clear. What was clear was that he dug her, heisted the movie to impress her, and was a total jerk to her. Not only did he throw a tantrum when he found out she had a boyfriend and didn’t like him (seriously grow tf up dude) but he was kind of a jerk to her the whole time. He insulted her livelihood, ffs. I wouldn’t go out with him either.
  • The whole “Miles likes his friend” plotline felt entirely unnecessary. It didn’t add anything to the film; it was kind of distracting tbh. We kept getting scenes every once in awhile of them talking awkwardly on the phone and it took away from the actual heist story. I don’t know if it was just used so she could be the catalyst for Miles wanting to heist the film in the first place, but I think there could have easily been another catalyst that fit into the overarching themes much more smoothly. I think Miles being “what the actual bloody hell kind of films is this production company making? Oh god, oh god, my eyes.” was really reason enough to heist a film to make it better.
coup 3

Not interested, dude. You’re kinda a jerk.

So. Overall, Coup de Cinema is a fun film. It had a lot going on for it, but there were definitely elements that needed some work. The majority of the characters were a blast, Buster Owens is a doll, and I’m glad I watched it. Just, maybe next time make the main character a bit more likeable.

The film is currently on Amazon Prime Video, so you can watch it for FREE! Go on, hop on over and check it out. (Just be sure to yell at Miles a lot like I did. ;))

Advertisements

Death House (2017)

Death_House_Poster

I’m not sure what I just watched but I do know that this movie has, like, almost every horror movie icon ever in it. And really, that’s its only redeeming feature.

During an exclusive tour, a power breakdown inside a secret prison known as the Death House sends two agents fighting through a labyrinth of horrors while being pursued by a ruthless army of roaming inmates. As they fight to escape, the agents push toward the lowest depths of the facility, where they learn a supernatural group of evil beings may be their only chance for survival.

Written by Gunnar Hansen, and apparently based on Dante’s Inferno, Death Houseinvolves a really weird-ass evil prison with 9 levels, immortal super-evil beings, skinless people, a helluva lot of cannibalism, plus Dee Wallace, Kane Hodder, Barbara Crampton, Bill Moseley, Richard Speight Jr., Felissa Rose, Sid Haig, and more. If it wasn’t for the fact that it makes not a lick of sense till you read the Wikipedia explanation of it, it’d actually be pretty awesome.

DeathHouseLeather

Not one of the Five Evils, just evil at its finest.

We start with 2 FBI agents (I think?) visiting the super-secret, evil prison to…uh…well…okay, so the prison uses virtual reality to…uh…help the prisoners re-live their crimes? Not very clear on that part, but they do kidnap homeless people off the streets and dress them up as prisoners’ former victims so they can kill them again. So, anyway, back to the 2 agents. They seem to be there to tour the prison but they also get to do virtual reality simulations in order to slay their demons (as it were). After they’re done fake-killing (I think?) their past, they go throughout the prison and see prisoners being experimented on and the aforementioned homeless people dosed outta their minds so they’re complacent enough to be slaughtered.

But, at the same time, there’s some random guy running around outside eviscerating a guard and planting a device in him. Then while Lloyd Kaufman (bless him) is operating on said guard, the device causes a power outage that shuts down the prison so the prisoners can escape? (Because, obvs, super-secret, evil prisons are really just that simple to take over. Apparently.)

This leads to the agents & Dee Wallace being trapped in an elevator and Dee’s all “We’re dead” and the agents are all “Nah, really?” and then there’s a bunch of skinless people who are also cannibals (this is in addition to the other cannibals elsewhere). The skinless people are apparently very sad (and are super gross).

DeathHouseDee

We’re gonna die, aren’t we?…Nah, it’s totes good.

There’s a group of prisoners headed to the basement to meet the Five Evils – when they became a thing, I have no idea, they were just suddenly there – who are supernatural, super-evil, super-villain baddies? Maybe? I don’t know. I just do not know. And then there’s an Indiana Jones and The Temple Of Doom moment. And…uh…a whole bunch of people end up dying and the agents aren’t who they think they are and maybe super-evil is released into the world??

DeathHouse5

Meet the Five Evils, the baddest of the baddies

It’s so chaotic. Like, lawless chaotic, not good chaotic. Parts of it were too dark to see (although considering those skinless peeps, that’s maybe a good thing) and the dialogue was all over the place and, just, what the fuck? Y’all, I had to write a paper in college comparing the architecture of a Gothic cathedral to the architecture of Dante’s Inferno and it made hella more sense than this.

This one is okay for the nostalgia factor but, otherwise, I suggest just visiting Hell itself – it’s bound to be more fun.

2050 Kicking Ass in L.A.

2050

Opened on March 1st, 2050, which stars an ensemble cast that includes Dean Cain (Supergirl, Lois & Clark), has been playing on just one single screen (AMC Atlantic Times Square 14) in Los Angeles. By Sunday, the film’s ticket sales were rivaling studio releases and Oscar-nominated films including Tyler Perry’s Madea, Greta, and How to Train Your Dragon, and on Sunday, outside of the latter film, 2050 had outperformed them all. AMC wasted no time and immediately held the film over until at least the 14th of March. The film will open in Baltimore at AMC’s Owings Mills 17 on March 15th.

Said executive producer Henry Hewes, “By Sunday we beat all of the big guys. At one point, the theater told us we were neck and neck with How to Train Your Dragon on Sunday night. That’s just crazy.”

2050, is about a family man struggling to hold it all together who discovers a warehouse that may hold the solution…sexbots. Premiering at sci-fi film festivals around the world including Berlin, Austin, and Boston, the film has taken home over 11 awards.

2050, distributed theatrically by ANERKE, will expand into other major markets over the spring via theater chains that include AMC and others.

Hmmm…color me intrigued. Also, hello, Dean Cain – fancy meeting you here! 

Tremors: A Cold Day in Hell

Tremors6

Let me preface this by saying that the only reason I watched this (the ONLY reason) was because of the title. 😂 I haven’t watched a Tremors movie since I saw the original with my parents way the hell back in 1990 (my mother loving Reba McEntire was the only reason we watched THAT one). I hated the original – the worms totally freaked me out as a kid, lol – but this title was just too great to resist. And, oh, it did not disappoint. So much badness, so much hilarity. *sighs*

tremors-cdh-feature

Ass blaster!!!

There was so much going on – and having missed the majority of the series, so much I was confused about – that I took notes. Enjoy the stream of consciousness that is Tremors: A Cold Day in Hell.

  • Oh, hey, Michael Gross! Watcha yelling at that IRS guy for? Oh, you are going to lose your country store for some reason. No worries, I’m sure that won’t be an issue in 10 minutes or so.
  • Well, hello there, Jamie Kennedy! Where the hell have you been?
  • Yikes. Worm thingies in the Arctic.
  • Wait? Flying tremors thingies?? Called “ass blasters” -WTF?
  • Pretty sure I would’ve had a reaction to going down in a plane with an alcoholic pilot, but sure, okay. Not an issue for Gross or Kennedy. They’re hardcore.
  • “Arctic heatwave” – seems to be an oxymoron…
  • Calls meeting an ass blaster whilst in the plane “a dogfight” when really they just let the thing run into them, lmao. Nice save. 
  • DARPA has trained dolphins to carry bombs & has created cyborg insects?? Jfc.
  • Ass blasters breathe fire?? Why are there dragons? (Are these things SERIOUSLY called “ass blasters”??)
  • Awwww, look at Jamie Kennedy macking on the Elizabeth Olson lookalike
  • “trying to get sweet with me” are words I have never said nor will I ever say.
  • “I have balls of steel. My balls are stainless steel. My balls are in the Guinness book of balls.”
  • The ass blasters have sonic voices now too? The fuck happened to this series, lololol?
  • Dude, they explode into fire when they die. Pretty. And kickass.
  • And their sonic voice thing lasts after they die and causes visions? So confused.
  • Gross has a tapeworm that’s causing the sonic voice headache/visions?
  • Every woman working in the field of science/geology/wtf-scienceology is really pretty, but all the men in these fields are very much NOT.
  • Aw, they did a JAWS tribute! Graboid in the water!
  • Wait, he ALSO has a parasitic organism on top of the tapeworm they removed? And he’s infected with a toxin from a graboid? 
  • Graboid PTSD sucks
  • Have to extract antibodies from a live graboid to save Gross. Because, of course.
  • These people are so dumb. They’re not even carrying swords or knives to cut off the graboid tentacle thingies. Just guns. They could’ve saved that girl if they’d just had a freaking sword, for fucks’ sake. Or an ax. A sharp object is my point.
  • Obviously, this truck will outrun the graboid/ass blasters!
  • Did they just leave that guy out there on the water tower thingie by himself? Nice.
  • Time to go on a worm hunt!
  • Oh good, the guy they ditched on the tower is still alive. You go, guy!
  • No, I’d rather die than go pantsless because I’m not wearing underwear!
  • How is a guy pissing such a huge distraction for the worms?
  • Wait, Gross is Kennedy’s father?? When did this happen?
  • He named the worm “sally soul-smasher” after his ex. *giggles*
  • Who’s gonna pay for all this damage?
  • Oh, they’re making bombs now! Okay.
  • Guys, now is not the time for family drama…
  • Uh-oh, looks like tower guy is gonna get eaten.
  • Ew, graboid goo.
  • What does DARPA have to do with the IRS?
  • How dare you try to save my life, you bastard!!
  • So lost on what their great plan is.
  • Huh, okay. I guess that plan to catch it didn’t suck.
  • Thank fucking god someone used a freaking sharp object.
  • Could’ve lived without old man butt…
  • Aw, all that work to save that old cranky jerkface and he’s gonna die anyway?
  • Wait, no, now he’s living? 
  • “How do you not die? You never die!”
  • EW. Why are you kissing the guy covered in graboid goo? Save it for when he’s clean!
michael gross tremors main

Name a more iconic father/son duo. Go on, I’ll wait.

And there you have the gist of TREMORS: A COLD DAY IN HELL, a delightfully terrible film about giant worm thingies that not only jump out of the ground but now also apparently fly and spit fire (because, of course, they do). There’s family drama and stupid situations and idiot people doing idiot things – pretty funny stuff! No clue how this one holds up to the rest of the TREMORS series, so feel free to fill me in, because I’m honestly kind of curious. Now excuse me while I go watch something good. 😉

The Charnel House

So. I thought I was getting a ghost story with this one, but, uh, no…not quite. What I DID get was a super hot mess that was boring AF. When did Netflix become the home of terrible horror? On the one hand, I’m “yay!” because I’m pretty much always down for terrible horror. On the other, I’ve yet to find the GOOD kind of terrible horror so I am very sad about Netflix’s life choices. 😦 Anyway, back to the terrible terribleness of this.

This one involves an old slaughterhouse turned into lofts, a creepy kid, lots of former murders, and secrets (that aren’t exactly secrets, but the people in the movie seem to think so, so whatever). Welcome to the slaughterhouse, where the owner killed a bunch of employees or something? They weren’t super clear on this, but I think he just kidnapped and killed employees for 80 billion years before someone finally caught on. Then he threw himself out a window at the top of the building, trying to take his son with him. Fun stuff!

Shoulda jumped kid…

Years later, a couple with a kindergarten-age daughter turns the slaughterhouse into fancy-schmancy, state-of-the-art, high-tech lofts. It’s all very happy-making. Approximately 4 people move into these lofts – people who appear to have no jobs and spend most of their time either working out in the gym, making eyes at each other or researching old murders. Lucky bastards. The couple’s daughter is kind of a brat and gets kicked out of kindergarten (who knew that was a thing?), so ends up being at the lofts 24/7. She starts running around with an “imaginary” friend who likes to hang out in the TVs and destroy her artwork. What a jerk. Her father – one of the designers – has crazy migraines all the time and starts acting weird. Her mom is just, “WTF’ing?” all over the place. And then there’s a tenant whose father worked at the slaughterhouse back in the day; his father died when he was a kid, but the tenant doesn’t know if he was murdered there (I guess b/c the police really sucked at their jobs??).

No, really, I swear – the kid in the TV did it!

It’s all very, very boring and very, very slow. Then comes the “twist”, which isn’t really a twist because they kinda told you in the first 5 minutes what happened – they just “explain” it – and it makes NO sense whatsoever, and frankly, I wanted to jump out the damn window myself by the end. Seriously. Murder & mayhem & imaginary asshole kids should be FUN. WTF, CHARNEL HOUSE? I am giving you my disappointed face.

If you like torture, you’ll love THE CHARNEL HOUSE. If you like fun & happiness, you’ll hate it (as you should). 0/10, do not recommend.

Lost + Found

48405647_2219942774998360_8993236646774177792_n

I grew up in a Southern evangelical household which means I’m not religious at all as an adult (trust me, if you’d had an attempted exorcism performed on you as a teen, you’d be wary of religion too). I DO love reading & learning about religions though; probably because I’ve always had a fascination with mythology and to me these are just more mythical tales. I’m quite familiar with the story of the angels’ Fall from heaven (am actually studying the Book of Enoch at the moment for something that I’m writing) and all that came after. There are different versions of the tale but John Milton’s Paradise Lost might be one of the more popular ones.

48408815_1249587435195998_5869479801084968960_n

It’s Satan, bitch.

LOST + FOUND, directed by Jeremiah Kipp, is a short shot entirely in black & white that retells Paradise Lost in a modern, elegant way. Jenn Plotzke is a delight as Satan – all holy fire (or unholy as the case may be) and sensuality, ready to destroy God’s favored creatures in revenge. Ari Rossen as Beelzebub makes a good sideman, silent but ready to do whatever his master asks of him (and looking oddly like the angel from SUPERNATURAL…). I felt like Carl Hendrick Louis as Adam wasn’t in this enough at all. There was only a glimpse or two of him; he was an afterthought. (Sorry, Adam. Not your story.) And our Eve, Pia Haddad, seemed less innocent and surer of herself than one might perhaps consider her as and very, very willing to go chill in the garden with a lovely lady. (Sorry again, Adam!)

48363247_531682520641207_655850353731829760_n

Sorry, Adam. Today is just not your day.

The costumes were simple (angels as accountants – why is that the universal standard? Who started this thing? I demand to know.) and the dialogue is sparing (the first couple of minutes consist of Satan explaining her whole “let’s corrupt the world’ idea, then the rest is a voice over from Ari – also, excellent job, Ari). The acting and direction are really what made this film; and the use of black & white instead of color. You’d think that with the Garden of Eden, you’d need lots of bright colors to portray the “magicalness” of it all. Instead, Adam & Eve each have a shimmer of glitter over one of their cheekbones – between that and the b&w you get a dream-like quality that draws you in more than any vivid colors or magical realism could. It was an excellent choice to make.

48385851_508310592911149_798928702342692864_n

Something wicked this way comes.

Essentially, this is a cool retelling of Paradise Lost. Dreamy, sensual, and elegant, it’s a sight to behold. 10/10, would recommend. (I don’t really have a rating system. Just go watch it.)

Mystic (Pilot)

Mystic

The only thing I know for sure after watching the pilot to “Mystic” is that some woman died on a boat (Bridget Ashling, if that cool picture above is any indication). I have a sneaking suspicion that the entire town of Mystic has solemnly sworn that they are up to no good though and am guessing that the series will end with the town of Mystic mysteriously disappearing due to a catastrophic disaster. Or because Satan.

Really things could go any which way, it’s hard to tell because the pilot doesn’t give us very much to go on. Instead, the pilot focuses on introducing us to a shit ton of people, none of which I could keep up with – okay, I could keep up with the daughter of the woman who died on the boat and her holy-fucking-incestual aunt but that was it. There’s an Irish priest who says the word “aunt” two different ways in the same sentence. An artist who gets upset with his nude model then paints a picture of a burning boat. A cop who gets a blowjob from…some chick that may or may not have any importance? A grumpy police captain type. A (possible) brother and sister, one of whom runs a bar, who seem to have done something not good. And a mayor who seems to be corrupt. I don’t know what any of them have to do with the other or the woman who died on the boat. I only know that one or two seemed vaguely upset that the woman died.

 

Mystic Aunt

Want to see me naked? 

 

The dead woman’s daughter’s aunt is weirdly happy that her niece sees her nude and the somewhat Irish priest is randomly creepy near the end but I honestly am not sure what is going to happen with this series. I would have preferred fewer people in the pilot and more actual story to get an idea of whether I wanted to keep watching because I honestly don’t know what the deal is with boat lady or why she’s important (or if she even is). “Mystic” is supposed to be a murder mystery, so I assume the series will focus on figuring out why boat lady died and who killed her (and considering most of the people in the pilot were pretty creepy and/or douchey, they’ll have a lot of mystery-ing to get through!). I’m just not sure that I really care to find out the who, what, when, and why’s of it all.

 

Mystic Priest

Never fear, your priest is here!

 

If the rest of the series focuses more on plot and less on introducing characters at breakneck speed (because it’s okay to space out character introductions when a cast is this big), then maybe I could be intrigued. With some back story, I could be intrigued. But for the moment, I’m happy with my theory that wicked auntie is really a demon in disguise who’s working with the creepy, somewhat Irish priest to take down the town.

Middle Man

Middle Man Poster

mid·dle·man: /ˈmidlˌman/ – a person who arranges business or political deals between other people.

Also known as the go-between, or the manipulator, or the “wait, what did I just really agree to, asshole??” guy. And in Lenny Freeman’s case, it refers to a hitchhiker named Hitch (yes, I know), who may or may not have roped him into a deal with the devil himself. Oops.

Middle Man 5

Take me back to the start…

Lenny Freeman’s dream of being a famous comedian is about to become a nightmare. Not only is he stuck in a dead end accounting job, Lenny has a bigger problem — Lenny is not funny. When his mother suddenly dies, he quits his job and heads to Vegas in search of fame. But along the way, a mysterious hitchhiker lures him into a desert-town killing spree with a dark and twisted result – as the bodies pile up, Lenny actually becomes funnier and funnier.

Another Portland Film Fest selection, MIDDLE MAN definitely shows us that the devil is in the details (sometimes literally) and you should, perhaps, be careful what you wish for. Personally, I don’t know what the big deal is to Lenny – couple of dead people vs. guaranteed stardom…?? (Kidding, kidding! #totes) And to think it all starts with one jerkface heckler (don’t be jerkfaces, people. It leads nowhere good!). And everyone, just don’t pick up hitchhikers, especially ones named Hitch, because C’MON! And if a person you just met starts trying to convince you that they can absolutely be your manager and help make you famous, etc. etc., just NO. And for fucks’ sake, if you wake up after a night of drinking with a new friend and there’s a dead person in front of you that you don’t remember killing but your new friends says, yep, you must’ve – RUN. AWAY.

Middle Man

Oh shit!

I guess it’s not entirely Lenny’s fault. He was stuck living somewhere in the 50s and didn’t seem entirely aware of the dangers of now. (And by that I mean, kind of how my parents like to pretend that we all live in an episode of THE ANDY GRIFFITH show). No, Lenny seemed to be a very kind, but VERY oblivious to anything not related to him, sorta guy. Hence why his stand-up act wasn’t very good. He grew up listening to comedians from the Ed Asner/Milton Berle era(s) and never moved past their comedy into his own style (a style which should’ve apparently included a lot of misogynistic sex “jokes” according to his competition at the club). BUT when people started dying, Lenny kept getting funnier and funnier.(Maybe he got their funny as it left their bodies?)

I liked the style of this film – where it was set in contemporary times but with Lenny’s car, attitude and certain styles of clothing, etc. seemed to be a throw-back to the 50s. The nostalgia was definitely strong with this one! And the desert landscapes were absolutely GORGEOUS. (Desert = scary because desert has sunshine, but desert is also so so pretty.)

Middle Man 4

And at the beginning…

Jim O’Heir could NOT have been anymore perfect as “Lenny”. Oblivious, slightly charming, freaked the fuck out, happy, panicked, slightly crazy…his portrayal of Lenny’s rise to “stardom” and subsequent downfall before the fact was A+. Andrew J. West as “Hitch” was an endearing ball of sunshine…no, wait. I meant to say, one crazy motherfucker. We, the audience, know something’s off with him early on, but he manages to keep his homicidal tendencies on the down low from Lenny for at least…I dunno, like 15 hours? West plays “Hitch” as constantly on edge, walking a fine line between “will I fuck you up?” and “oops, that was totes an accident! Kinda…”, a line that another actor well might have stepped over early on in the film. West kept it all tightly reined in till needed though and was magnificent. He was definitely my favorite thing about MIDDLE MAN.

Unfortunately, overall, despite it’s dark comedic overtones and West’s fabulous performance, I wasn’t a huge fan of MIDDLE MAN. While I understood the point of all the death, I also got bored watching essentially the exact same thing happen 3 or 4 times. The ending – the very last scene – was so fucking kickass that I’m still thinking about it, but otherwise, I found the film kind of “meh”. It was in no way bad and was actually quite well done, so I think it was just the length and repetition that soured me on it. Still, I definitely think it’s worth watching, especially if dark comedy is your thing, so check out the trailer and then tell me your thoughts!

Neil Stryker & The Tyrant of Time

Copy of Neil Stryker and the Tyrant of Time - P16024-N - prod - 09

What madcap, steampunk, nonsensical adventure was this?? NEIL STRYKER & THE TYRANT OF TIME is like DOCTOR WHO on crack (and we all know that DOCTOR WHO is already on something, so hot damn!) and the result is absolutely GLORIOUS. Like, hi, move over Indiana Jones, a new action hero has stolen my heart – and he’s ridiculously emotionless, gravelly voiced and entirely capable of handling himself around robots (because YES, THERE ARE ROBOTS IN THIS MOVIE!!!). (And yes, I WILL apparently be using my caps lock key a lot.)

So Neil Stryker is a dude, on suspension from his job as…okay, I never really understood exactly what he did but kind of like the military + secret government operation + spies thing? Unfortunately for the world, Neil’s ex-mentor, the MAD scientist – complete with white lab coat, crazy sticky-uppy hair and crazy goggle glasses – has finally set in motion his dastardly plan to go back in time through the time portal he created to…steal a bunch of toys on Christmas Eve and have THE SEX (as E. would say) with Mrs. Claus! NOOOOO!!! Along the way, the mad scientist also kidnaps Neil’s son, so there’s that. Also the mad scientist is MAAADDDDD, which just leads to all sorts of shenanigans and tom-foolery. Oh, and he has a sidekick (of course) named Darrel who’s robotically challenged, musically inclined, and sneaky planning his own…uh, sneaky plan. 😉 Darrel is actually my favorite character of the whole piece (sorry, Neil! I love you but I love Darrel more because he sings!), which makes sense, because his vibe is the epitome of “bad boy”, which media and society has conditioned women to view as totally normal and moreso, absolutely romantic (“omg, he got so mad he punched a wall? That’s soooo romantic – look how passionate he is about you! *sighs*” *rolls eyes so hard they fall out of head*). Anyway, despite his bad boy vibe, Darrel is more cartoon villain than romantic villain (think Dr. Horrible), so whatever, I dig him.

Copy of Neil Stryker and the Tyrant of Time - P16024-N - film - 02.jpg

In fact, the whole movie is a cartoon come to life, with over-the-top…well, EVERYTHING. It’s a complete and total farce, and it’s AMAZING. Guys, there’s cars that fly! Robots! Goblins!! (I honestly have no idea WHY there were goblins, got totally lost there, but dudes – goblins!!- and they were adorable and evil and so cute, and then there was the Russian guy and the vodka…like The Fireys in LABYRINTH! Kinda…). There’s time travel! Souvenirs! Explosions! HEADS exploding! This movie has it ALL. It’s an 80s throwback that hits its mark perfectly.

In fact, those super kickawesome, evil, adorable goblins? Looked like they were right out of the Henson labs. They were brilliant. This film was shot entirely in Oregon and parts of Washington over the course of 9 years, and every single set, effect, every puppet was created by a Portland artist. Now THAT is what I like to see in homegrown cinema. Especially when the result is something as laugh out loud funny and enjoyable as this.

Copy of Neil Stryker and the Tyrant of Time - P16024-N - film - 07

See how cute this little guy is?!?

The sets were kick ass. The small amount of CGI was almost perfect (the explosions were a little off and fake looking, but they also might have been that way on purpose to fit the 80s theme, I’m not sure). The costumes were fabulous. The actors – ugh, I don’t think there was anyone in this films that I DIDN’T like and that rarely happens. Nic Costa (Darrel) captures the “sidekick craving more” trope perfectly. Rob Taylor as Neil Stryker is hilariously apathetic as the hero (anti-hero?) of the piece. And Rob Taylor as the Mad Scientist is ridiculously funny at being woefully inept. Oh yes, you did read that correctly – Neil and MS were played by the same guy – and I had NO freaking clue till the end of the movie when the credits came around! Not one inkling. Holy fuck, I loved this movie.

Currently playing at the Portland Film FestNEIL STRYKER & THE TYRANT OF TIME is a side-splittingly funny piece of comedy that had me alternately shaking my head at the melodrama, then giggling uncontrollably. With a bit of everything, it’s a madcap adventure of the very best kind – and there damn well better be a sequel in the making. I’m willing to follow Neil Stryker through the universe and time, so c’mon guys, let’s get to more adventuring!

1511

Oh yeah, and watch the trailer below to get a taste of the wacky wildness that is Neil Stryker!

Neil Stryker and the Tyrant of Time TRAILER 2016 from Rob Taylor on Vimeo.

Predictions: 5 Worst Sequels/Remakes Coming In 2016

We’ve already seen some clunkers at the theaters in 2016. From “London Has Fallen” to “Batman v. Superman: Dawn Of Justice,” it’s basically been an onslaught of soulless action sequels designed to fill the gap between the winter awards season and the spring and summer blockbusters. But beginning in April we’ll really start to get into the coming year in film – and there are sure to be more disasters on the way.

Keeping that in mind, here are my predictions for the five worst movies still to come in 2016.

Alice Through The Looking Glass

ThroughTheLookingGlass_1

It’s amazing how infrequently Through The Looking Glass is mentioned, given the fame of Alice In Wonderland. Lewis Carroll’s sequel was as quirky and wondrous as the original, and probably deserves a similarly high place in the literary canon. That said, it probably doesn’t really need a film sequel, does it?

2010’s “Alice In Wonderland” wasn’t actually bad, but it’s been another six years, and I’m just not sure the public is ready for more Tim Burton/Johnny Depp eccentricity (though Burton is only producing this time around). The trailer looks like a combination of “The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus” and a bunch of Disney ideas that were locked away in a vault (not a good combo), and the cast is a who’s who of actors who are strange for the sake of being strange: Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen, Michael Sheen, Andrew Scott, Rhys Ifans, Stephen Fry…. They’re all very capable, but thrown together in a project like this they just sound annoying.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out Of The Shadows

TMNTOutOfShadows_1

Where was I when we decided we needed a sequel to the blasphemous garbage that was Jonathan Liebesman’s 2014 “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles CGI Festival” (not the official title). The movie got 21% on Rotten Tomatoes and prompted one reviewer to make the claim that it made Transformers movies look subtle. But hey, it made almost $500 million, so full speed ahead.

I don’t feel I have to get into this one too much, so here goes. Spoiler alert: it’s going to be horrible.

Now You See Me 2

NowYouSeeMe2_1

“Now You See Me” wasn’t an awful movie… it just wasn’t very clever. Billed as a sort of “Ocean’s 11”-but-with-magic, it was expected to be a mind-blowing heist thriller complete with intelligent twists and intricate plot puzzles. Instead, it was kind of just a heist movie that used only partially explained magic tricks as explanations for thievery. There was something there, but whether via poor direction, uninventive writing, or perhaps even shoddy editing, it didn’t quite come to the surface.

Maybe round two will be better. The cast, at least, has been loaded up for a major summer blockbuster. Returners Jesse Eisenberg, Dave Franco, and Mark Ruffalo are all bigger deals now than they were when the first film came out; established pros Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, and Woody Harrelson are all back; and this time around we’ll also be treated to appearances by Daniel Radcliffe and Lizzy Caplan. The ingredients are there. But frankly, the first movie didn’t inspire much confidence, and given that sequels are usually dumber and less inventive (see: “Ocean’s 12”), it feels more likely that this movie doubles down on the shortcomings of its predecessor.

Independence Day: Resurgence

IndependenceDayResurgence_1

It might be about time for an alien invasion movie. This particular sort of fiction is always popular, but it’s actually been a while since a big budget movie tackled invasion. Aliens in general have remained popular subjects for entertainment of late. There was actually a little-known 2015 movie about our history of alien fascination, called “Area 51,” and Gala’s bingo platform even played into the same history with the introduction of an “Area 75” video game. It’s one of several themed bingo games to embrace fiction or pop culture, and brings up topics and imagery related to Area 51 and UFO sightings.

But a big budget, Hollywood thrill ride about a large-scale alien invasion? It really has been a while. But does our next foray into this popular topic really have to be a shameless cash grab? This is a 20-years-later sequel that’s lacking its biggest star, and while the trailer looks intriguing, I have my doubts. Continuing Independence Day without Will Smith is like if “The Force Awakens” had been made without any of the old timers on board. Sure, it would have made limitless money anyway, but would it have been nearly as interesting? This has flop written all over it.

Ben-Hur

Ben-Hur_1

Oh, Hollywood…. We just can’t drop the sword-and-sandals epics, can we? There really hasn’t been a good one in years, let alone anything close to the impact we saw in films like “Gladiator,” “Troy,” and “300” earlier this century. However, at least the majority of failed sword-and-sandals movies simply fade away into obscurity, or drift to Netflix to be buried beneath better movies. This one might be different.

The 1959 “Ben-Hur” starring Charlton Heston has a certain iconic place in Hollywood history, and messing with it now just seems kind of careless. Not to mention it’s being remade with a relative unknown in Heston’s shoes (Jack Huston, who most recently starred in “Pride And Prejudice And Zombies”), and written by a guy who has a single film credit since penning 1994’s “In Search Of Dr. Seuss.” This really feels like a half-assed effort trying to capitalize on a famous name.

Predicting the worst films of any summer is always a difficult exercise, because there are always a few clunkers nobody sees coming. Furthermore, it’s always possible that something that looks truly awful winds up exceeding expectations! But specifically where sequels and remakes are concerned – and really, those categories make up most of the summer blockbuster season these days – these five look like pretty safe bets to elicit groans from critics.

James Morey is a freelance writer and blog contributor.