Django Unchained (2012)

Django Unchained (2012)

Original Theatrical Release: December 25, 2012
Director: Quentin Tarantino

Django (Jamie Foxx) is a slave. When a German man named Dr. King Shultz (Christopher Waltz) shows up and sets him free, he does it on one condition: Django must become his deputy in the bounty-hunting biz. Django just wants to find his wife, the lovely Broomhilda Von Schaft (Kerry Washington) but she is being held as a house slave on a plantation owned by the ruthless cotton king, Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio). Django must match wits and guns with Candie in order to come out alive, much less rescue his wife.

I’d been waiting for this movie for a long time. I kept seeing trailer after trailer and then it was finally in theaters. Right now, It’s my current favorite movie that Quentin Tarantino has ever done. (Replacing Death Proof)

There was a lot of controversy over this film. Spike Lee and Kat Williams and others said it was racist, but the problem is that 1.) They never watched the film and 2.) It was NOT racist, aside from the fact that the 1800’s were racist. Tarantino is not a history scholar, he is a filmmaker, and what he did was create a very badass historical revenge fantasy.

Django is far from being helpless and stereotypical. All the white characters in the film are evil and/or stupid and/or dirty, and they all eventually get what’s coming to them. The only white character who helps Django is Schultz, but he is European and not American. (A very good choice for the purposes of this film…brilliant). The use of the “N-Word” IS gratuitous, but is probably used less than in real life in the 1800’s. I don’t think Tarantino uses it casually, or for humor, but needed to give a sense of how low people thought you were if you were African American.

The performances were all top-notch. Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio, Samuel L. Jackson, Christopher Waltz and Kerry Washington went all out. I particularly enjoyed Christopher Waltz and Leonardo DiCaprio’s performances, and I sometimes don’t even like Leo. I think he’s getting better with age. The music is great also (I want the soundtrack) and the story is very intriguing.

The violence is so exaggerated that during one of the gunfight scenes, I was clapping loudly and laughing as buckets worth of blood was splashed against the walls and floors, small pistols firing with the force of mini cannons and just destroying man and construct in great shows of gunplay.

It was great. Go see it.

JOE Rating: ★★★★★

Movie Trailer For Django Unchained

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Deathstalker (1983)

Deathstalker (1983)

Original Theatrical Release: February 1984
Director: James Sbardellati (As John Watson)

The warrior known as Deathstalker (Richard Hill) is tasked by an old witch to gather three powerful items; a sword, an amulet and a chalice, before the evil magician Munkar (Bernard Erhard) collects them first and becomes unstoppable. After getting his hands on the sword and angering Munkar, Deathstalker enters The Big Tournament where he hopes to wrestle the kidnapped princess from Munkar’s control, while Munkar has plans of his own to kill Deathstalker.

First off, this movie is from 1983. I was only two years old, then. The special effects are TERRIBLE and are pretty consistent with the visual effects limits of the time, utilizing even puppetry to supplement the fantastical needs of the film. That being said, the puppetry is part of what made this movie so laughably bad.

Bernard Erhard is pretty much the only actor who can actually act in this film, but his performance is so over the top that it’s awkward to watch next to the wooden and stoic Richard Hill and his portrayal of Deathstalker.

As far as Deathstalker movies are concerned, I actually thought Deathstalker II was the best out of the bunch. (Even though Deathstalker II rips a scene right off the reel from this movie and just re-uses it, no questions asked)

Most lovers of fantasy have to give a nod to cheesy, 80’s Fantasy films like this, filled with topless barbarian women, oiled and dumbed-down Conan the Barbarian clones and ridiculous makeup, and this is no exception. It’s worth a watch if you’re in the mood to laugh at a terribad film, or for nostalgic reasons…that’s it.

This is definitely not Lord of the Rings caliber material.

JOE Rating: ★★

Movie Trailer For Deathstalker

Updates

AS you can see if you’ve been following my fledgling blog, I’ve added a ton of new stuff.

I still plan on giving some reviews for newer stuff I see in the theaters, when that happens, but I’m never sure when that’ll be. (I might even go today!)

I am constantly trying to make things easier to find on my blog so I went through all of the categories and am fixing some of them today as well.

Thank you for all the likes and the views. You people rock. 🙂

Jennifer’s Body (2009)

Jennifer's Body (2009)

Original Theatrical Release: September 18, 2009
Director: Karyn Kusama

Jennifer (Megan Fox) and Needy (Amanda Seyfried) are BFF’s. Needy is kind of a bookish nerd while Jennifer is a cheerleader, very popular and all the guys want her. When the two of them go to see a band, who are actually satanic rock stars, Jennifer is abducted by them. When she finally returns to Needy, she is changed and then boys in the school start getting killed off one by one and Needy has to figure out what happened to Jennifer before her own boyfriend, Chip (Johnny Simmons), is claimed.

I will admit that my main draw to this movie, besides Diablo Cody’s script (she writes for Entertainment Weekly, a magazine I used to read all the time) was Megan Fox. Her acting chops are dubious, but I figured she might be able to nail this part due to her seeming detachment from humanity and her abundant sexuality. Amanda Seyfried was a great choice for her role, and I hadn’t seen her in anything before this movie.

I ended up being kind of let down on all fronts for this film. It was a horror movie at its core, but it wasn’t scary. At all. The one scary part of it was the Satanic band which was actually a really cool idea. A band who has to sacrifice young girls in order to stay famous? Awesome. At best, the movie could have been cheesy-good, like Evil Dead II or Army of Darkness, but the laughs weren’t consistent. Even the sexuality was underwritten so there wasn’t much in the way of tittilation to be found. I think overall, as good as I thought Cody’s teen-hip-snappy dialogue was, the movie itself wasn’t sure what it wanted to be. It ended up being sort of  a lesser version of Mean Girls meets Heathers (The link to my review for Heathers).

It’s really not the worst thing out there. The film is worth watching at least once or twice, but you might find yourself hungry for better films out there after you’re done.

JOE Review: ★★★

Movie Trailer For Jennifer’s Body

 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Smash-Up (2009 – Wii)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Smash-Up (2009)

Release Date: September 22, 2009
Developer: Game Arts
Publisher: Ubisoft

In this game, you can take control of any of the TMNT foursome (Leonardo, Donatello, Michaelangelo or Raphael) or some of their allies (April or Casey Jones). In story mode, Splinter decides to have a tournament with the winner being able to pick something from his private treasure stash. As you move ahead in the tournament, however, Shredder (as usual) shows up to put a damper on things.

This game essentially ends up being a Smash Brothers knock-off. While it’s fun to play it, you begin to just start wishing you were playing Smash Brothers instead.

There isn’t a ton of variety in the move sets and when I used different characters, I didn’t really get a feel that any of them were terribly different other than aesthetics.

The cut scenes aren’t even animated, which they could have definitely done more with. It was a perfect opportunity to tie it in to the TMNT movie with the same artwork style. (I have the review for that movie here if you want to read it)

The levels don’t seem to have a lot of punch other than the interactive environments that hurt your characters, and that was a neat addition.

Overall, the game was okay but it wasn’t good enough to be better than Smash Brothers or different enough to make me want to play it instead.

JOE Rating: ★★★

Game Trailer For Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Smash-Up

 

Aristotle’s Poetics For Screenwriters, by Michael Tierno (2002)

Aristotle's Poetics For Screenwriters, by Michael Tierno (2002)

Original Release Date: August 21, 2002
Publisher: Hyperion
Author: Michael Tierno

Michael Tierno takes Aristotle’s Poetics and breaks them down, utilizing Aristotle’s ideas about how storytelling should be done on the stage and applies it to story structure for the big screen and writing in general. Citing examples of other films to successfully use (intentionally or not) Aristotle’s formulas for success, Tierno makes a good case for why you should follow suit and also doles out advice on how to get your script seen by the bigwigs, having been a story analyst for Miramax Films himself.

The book is set up with small chapters that cover various things in high detail but with minimal confusion and the page count is relatively low for a reference book dealing with a subject that has so many facets to it. Aristotle was amazing when it came to story structure and the rules for writing comedies, tragedies and drama in general and this all still holds up today.

The price wasn’t bad. I bought mine on Amazon.com for only about $10, but you can find it brand new for only a bit more than that.

This is very informative for a screenwriter like myself who wants to improve their work, and you will find yourself going back to it for reference again and again.

JOE Rating: ★★★★★

Check Out A FREE Preview Of Aristotle’s Poetics For Screenwriters HERE

Date Movie (2006)

Date Movie (2006)

Original Theatrical Release: February 17, 2006
Director: Aaron Seltzer, Jason Friedberg

Julia Jones (Alyson Hannigan) is feeling like she will never find someone. Her multi-ethnic parents (Eddie Griffin and Meera Simhan) want her to marry Nicky (Judah Friedlander) but Julia doesn’t want to resort to being with someone she doesn’t love. In comes the dashing Grant Funkyerdoder (Adam Campbell) and she feels like she has met the man of her dreams, but first she has to overcome the schemes of his gorgeous best friend and former lover, Andy (Sophie Monk), who has never quite let him go.

These types of movies generally have been overdone. The first Scary Movie or two were great, but some others (Dance Movie) were just terrible. This is somewhere in between.

Next to Not Another Teen Movie, which I think is a lot better, the jokes in Date Movie generally work but most are considered too lowbrow to have any real staying power. There are some genuine laughs to be had, especially if you “get” this kind of humor (or maybe are a terrible person like I am). There’s a scene where Julia and Grant are out on a date and they “romantically” beat up a bum together and take what meager possessions he has. That’s the kind of stuff you’re going to find in this flick. However, some of the gags fall flat and don’t even live up to the original source material, much less surpass it.

They riff on films like Hitch, Napoleon Dynamite, Kill Bill and more…and that’s kind of where this movie fails. Not because they didn’t do a good job riffing on those films, but because it would have been more successful if they had just stuck to riffing on actual date movies like Hitch and Sleepless In Seattle. That’s why Not Another Teen Movie is so much better. They stuck with their premise.

Hate it. Love it. I think it’s okay, and not the worst thing I’ve ever seen. It’s worth watching just to see Judah Friedlander and Alyson Hannigan, for sure.

JOE Rating: ★★★

Movie Trailer For Date Movie