Chris Pratt’s got to kill a bunch of aliens in the future.
I actually had no plans to see this film for a while because the advertisements had made me think it was going to be forgettably generic. However, I was fortunately told that it was better than I expected so I checked it out and was pleasantly surprised. While the premise is a bit ridiculous, the film plays it straight enough and adds enough believability to many of the characters that it actually ends up working. Also, the action sequences are pretty solid and the creature designs, while not groundbreaking, are actually shown in full lighting as opposed to partially shadowed or obscured like many of these films, making the effort put into them much more obvious.
The film starts with former Green Beret and current teacher Dan Forrester (Pratt) witnessing a group of time travelers from the future interrupt the World Cup. The travelers reveal they are soldiers from the future where humanity has been driven to near extinction by aliens called “whitespikes.” The aliens are difficult to kill and reproduce extremely quickly. Thanks to a timegate that allows travel between 2022 and 2051, the future can gain reinforcements from people in the present, provided that they are people who would be dead before the time they travel to in order to avoid paradoxes. People are quickly drafted from around the world to fight for seven day stints, but the mortality rate is high. Forrester is eventually drafted, much to his wife Emmy’s (Betty Gilpin) and daughter Muri’s (Ryan Kiera Armstrong) chagrin. He travels to the future along with kill-lover Dorian (Edwin Hodge) and scientist Charlie (Sam Richardson) and finds himself involved in a plan by one of the future colonels (Yvonne Strahovski) to save the human race.
Admittedly, the premise of people from the past being drafted to the future is kind of cool, although they never explain why, even if the people drafted might die before 2051, it doesn’t create a paradox to kill them earlier. Fortunately, the movie kind of just glosses over that with the fact that the “jumplink” doesn’t really allow for traditional time travel, instead connecting two timelines (as to why that doesn’t resolve the paradox of meeting yourself, I don’t know). But enough about that, the movie’s main strengths are blowing aliens the hell up. The action sequences are pretty solid and they have just enough humor mixed in to keep the apocalypse from being too overwhelming.
The other surprising strength of the film is in how it portrays humanity reacting to certain doom in the future: Most of the world stops caring quickly. Less than a year in and almost everyone is just using the eventual death of humanity as an excuse to be dicks rather than, say, trying to prevent said doom. It’s horribly accurate and accurately horrible.
I’ve spoken before about my love of old-school science fiction, including about some of the great modern day takes on the genre by Christopher R. Mihm in his films Weresquito: Nazi Hunter and The Monster of Phantom Lake. There’s something so pure about the cheap sets and terrible acting that always amuse me. It’s also true that it’s a little hard to do a really good parody of those old films, not because it can’t be done, but because the nature of the source material is bordering on self-parody already. This movie manages to do a great parody by starting out playing the genre fairly straight, then slowly giving the paper-thin characters more depth and letting that become the parody.
The film starts with a title crawl introducing us to the characters (but also mentioning that we’re joining the series in medias res): Space captain and hero of heroes Rocky Lazer (Matthew Wise), his companion, the president’s daughter, and the first female professor on Earth Jean Jarvis (Alicia Barnatchez), Rocky’s sidekick Chip Skipper (Jeremy Mather), and the engineer that designed Rocky’s ship the X-1, the annoying Doctor Horst Karlock (Jared Warner). They have been sent to stop the evil King Xayno (Writer Jeff Sproul) from using his gravity ray to crash the moon into the Earth.
At first, this plays out pretty straight, albeit with a few hints that things aren’t quite right. Xayno’s cues aren’t timed right and, most notably, Jean doesn’t seem to be too sure about Rocky’s statements about the two being in love. From there, the film slowly shows more and more hints that perhaps things aren’t as perfect as they appear. As the story progresses, Rocky starts to explore his feelings, a thing that “manly” men aren’t allowed to do and starts to question why he does many of the stereotypical hero things he does. The same happens with many of the characters, with seeming stock characters actually stopping to consider their inner desires and showing more than you’d expect. At the same time, the movie is filled with funny jokes and running gags, including the absolutely amazing gag that Chip Skipper just keeps dying. In almost every scene he’s in, he dies, only to mysteriously reappear later just in time to die again.
The best parts of this movie are when it stops being a parody or even a sci-fi film and just plays some of the scenes straight, sometimes even putting real-world physics into scenes that were previously dominated by essentially fantasy logic. There are a lot of great uses of intentionally cheap sets and props. At several points, “reels” go missing and the film moves forward, often with a fun wink to the audience that somehow works.
Overall, a great film and I very much recommend it.
A man’s childhood toy doesn’t like competition in this dark comedy.
I was told about this movie last year, but apparently it got delayed due to the world shutting down. It was pitched as “what if Elmo from Sesame Street was a psychotic ex-boyfriend” and I cannot help but laugh at that dark image and how accurate it is to the plot of this movie. This film actually comes off as a bit of a Muppet movie not so much because of the living puppet, but because the human characters are all weird and exaggerated in the same ways that films like The Muppet Movie or Follow that Bird! It gives the film a surreal quality that’s only enhanced by many of the ridiculous visuals, like the fact that Benny’s movements are clearly puppeteered (his feet don’t even touch the ground much of the time).
The premise of the film is that there is a kind of magical force that enables toys that are thrown away to come back to life, but almost exclusively for the purpose of enacting horrible revenge upon those who wronged them or the ones their former owners now love. The targets can range from children to adults, provided that the adult only just threw out their toy. The main character, Jack (Writer/Director Karl Holt), is turning 35 at the beginning of the film and is revealed to almost completely still be living in his childhood. He stays with his parents (Catriona McDonald and Greg Page), his toys and posters from the 90s are still on display, and he shows no desire to do anything other than try to design toys for a living. Unfortunately, at work he is constantly thwarted by his nemesis Richard (George Collie) and tormented by his a-hole boss Ron (James “Not Jim” Parsons). Things take a turn for the worse when both of his parents die and Jack is forced to “grow up,” which means throwing out his toys… including a stuffed dog named Benny.
Benny quickly comes back to haunt him and starts to violently kill all of the people in Jack’s life that annoy him, but then starts murdering anyone, or anything, that Jack shows even the slightest affection towards. This becomes much more complicated when Jack manages to turn Benny’s creepy nature into a toy line and exploit the toy to his own gain, only for him to realize that Benny is going to make it impossible for him to explore his feelings for co-worker Dawn (Claire Cartwright), who might have some inner demons of her own. Oh, and he’s being investigated for an increasing number of missing persons cases by two local cops (Anthony Styles and Darren Benedict).
The key to this movie is that it really is well-crafted in terms of dialogue and visual humor. Despite how over-the-top grotesque and bloody most of Benny’s murders are, they’re still treated with a certain slapstick humor that borders on the cartoonish. The dialogue, character interactions, and even soundtrack often serve to subvert the horror tropes that the movie invokes. Throughout it, though, the film does a good job of exploring the main character and his perpetual refusal to abandon childish things. I have repeated ad nauseam that horror is at its best when the horror serves to act as a metaphor for something else and this film manages to do that with the extended adolescence that the modern world allows. Jack has, until the beginning of the movie, never been forced to grow up and, once he tries, Benny is determined to sabotage all of his adult relationships. It works pretty well.
I will give one caveat: Through part of this movie, a microphone was busted and apparently it did not get removed in post. If you have a problem with high-pitched static, there are a few scenes that may drive you nuts. They are few and far between, but man, that really did take me out of parts. Probably caused by the low budget.
There are times in your life when you see something so majestic, so beautiful, and so mysterious that you just can’t help but stare with your mouth agape. This movie’s title was that for me. I mean, I remember the period in the 90s when they churned out a bunch of fairy tale-themed horror movies like Pinocchio’s Revenge and Snow White: A Tale of Terror or the video game American McGee’s Alice, but I definitely didn’t think we’d reached the point of doing a folk hero horror film. It’s kind of brilliant, because Paul Bunyan is exactly what this film’s title promises: A giant with an axe. He’s basically a villain from a D&D campaign but wearing the clothing of a Midwestern dad. My biggest question is whether or not this is going to be the start of a folk hero horror shared universe. Will we soon be talking about an undead Pecos Bill gunning down teens and cyborg John Henry taking revenge on humanity? Will this lead to the horror version of that movie Tall Tale in which all of them battle to the death? As this movie is now eight years old, I’m guessing not, but hope springs eternal.
The movie starts off with a flashback of a group of loggers whose outfits definitely don’t match the time period eating a massive wall of meat. If you can’t guess where this is going, don’t worry, the movie only gives you about 90 seconds before a giant man (Chris Hahn) murders all of the loggers. It then jumps to the modern day where a bunch of kids in a reform program for first-time offenders are being sent into the woods under the supervision of Sergeant Hoke (Tom Downey) and guidance counselor Mrs. K (Kristina Kopf). The five kids are Marty, Trish, Zack, Rosa, and CB (Clifton Williams, Jill Evyn, Jesse Kove, Victoria Ramos, Amber Connor). Their personalities range from bad boy to bad girl to generic horror protagonist (CB). If you’re looking for depth, good news, other movies exist. These characters are here to die in interesting ways involving a giant man and they don’t need to be believable for that.
While in the woods, the group encounters local crazy hermit Meeks (Joe Estevez), but after he earns his cameo money as the only name in the film, he is driven away. While hiking the next day, two of the teens find a skull from a giant ox and steal a horn. Naturally, this was Babe the Blue Ox’s resting place and they’ve just pissed off Paul Bunyan. He follows them and kills Trish by bisecting her vertically, which is admittedly the kind of stuff that makes these movies worthwhile. When Hoke tries to fight back, Bunyan kills him by splitting him in half horizontally, because he’s not an axe giant if he doesn’t use that axe. The survivors escape to a cabin, but Bunyan destroys their van. They’re joined by Meeks who tells them that Bunyan was born with a condition that makes him gigantic and also long-lived. He was imprisoned for murder when he killed the loggers for eating Babe. He got bigger since then.
They try to return the horn, but Bunyan just uses it to kill one of the teens, because he does NOT care anymore. Bunyan smashes up the cabin and kills yet another of the teens, so now we’re just down to CB, Marty, and Mrs. K. They’re joined by CB’s dad, who is the sheriff of the town, and he incapacitates Bunyan with tranquilizers. Meeks takes Bunyan’s side and shoots Marty, but Bunyan continues not to care and murders Meeks. The giant chases all of the remaining cast over a bridge in time to be shot to death by a militia. Turns out that a big human still doesn’t do well with hundreds of bullet holes. And now he’s dead, since, again, sequel unlikely. Also, since the writer/director, Gary Jones, hasn’t done anything since, I’m guessing he’s not building his own cinematic universe.
This isn’t the worst B-movie I’ve seen by a long shot, but it definitely was trying a bunch of stuff that it did NOT have the budget for. Some of the scenes of Bunyan holding people or interacting with them look super fake. I will say that Bunyan himself actually looks pretty good for the money. The design looks like a person who is both deformed and also has been suffering from living outdoors for a century. The characters are mediocre, but at least the kills are kind of fun.
Overall, it’s not a top-tier B movie, but it’s fun.
This movie put a lot of talent onscreen and couldn’t use it properly.
Todd Chipowski (Tyler Labine) is planning a romantic weekend at his family’s cabin to propose to his longtime girlfriend Cammie (Malin Åkerman). While everything seems to be going well at first, his slacker brother Salinger (Dan Petronijevic) and Salinger’s girlfriend Masha (Lucy Punch) show up unexpectedly. The next day, while the girls are off picking mushrooms, the pair of brothers get into an argument as Todd tries to tell Salinger to leave. Salinger tries to make it physical and Todd accidentally kills him with an axe. He covers it up, then tells Cammie everything. Cammie, determined to keep the incident secret, helps Todd plan to kill Masha. While Cammie distracts Masha, Todd tries to hit her with a cleaver, only to find himself unable to do it. Cammie then kills Masha with a frying pan. The pair chop up the bodies and drop them in the lake, at which point Todd proposes.
When the couple return, they unfortunately find out Salinger invited a ton of people to the cabin, including a very suspicious Rabbinical student named Dov (Benjamin Ayres). Dov becomes very concerned about Salinger while Todd begins to hallucinate the dead bodies of Salinger and Masha talking to him. Todd and Cammie try to keep their story straight, but end up having Dov suspect them of killing Salinger, so they kill and bury him. The police arrive based on a tip from Dov and search the premises, finding evidence of the murders but not the bodies. Eventually, Todd’s parents arrive and Todd’s mom begins to suspect them, particularly after Cammie sleepwalks while having a nightmare about murdering Salinger. A convenient drifter is arrested breaking into cabins nearby, giving Todd and Cammie an out, but Todd decides to confess and break up with Cammie. He drives to the station, pursued by Cammie, who kills a police officer before being shot repeatedly. Todd cements their breakup and she shoots him in the head before dying. The film ends with Todd now having anterograde amnesia, being cared for by his dad.
This film’s principle cast is basically a list of people who deserve better careers than they had at the time of filming. Tyler Labine is a great comic actor who starred in the show Reaper and the excellent comedy-horror film Tucker & Dale vs. Evil. If you have no idea who Dan Petronijevic is, he plays the character of “McMurray” on Letterkenny and is an absolute f*cking comedy beast in that role. Lucy Punch is one of my favorite farcical actresses and in this film she nails it as Masha as well as she nailed Esme Squalor in A Series of Unfortunate Events. You can also watch her in the BBC show Motherland. Malin Åkerman has actually been pretty successful, but she only got the lead roles in Trophy Wife and, of course, Rampage after this movie. I mean, she was technically a lead in Rampage, although she kind of got stuck between the Rock and a large ape.
The beginning of this movie, particularly watching the interactions between the two couples, is damned funny. Labine and Petronijevic have great chemistry as brothers and you can believe that one of them is the more “serious” brother while the other one picked an “artistic” path (that is almost certainly just pornography). You also get the feeling that, on some level, Todd really does want to get rid of his brother, something that really makes him feel all the more guilty later. Todd and Cammie’s relationship is not great, despite all of their pet names and seemingly shared dreams of domesticity. Basically, both of them admit that they’re too old to start over and do better. It makes it more believable that Cammie is onboard with murder because she’s not really into Todd as much as she just needs him to reach “married” status.
Unfortunately, once Salinger and Masha are corpses, the movie kind of stalls. The idea that Salinger called a ton of people in order to have a party makes some sense, but even Salinger not telling Todd and Cammie or making any effort towards “throwing” the party seems like a stretch. Also, they didn’t do a great job of working the dead couple back in as hallucinations. While the makeup looks pretty good and the performances are solid, they don’t quite fit well into the plot. I will admit that Labine and Åkerman talking about honoring Dov’s Jewish heritage is hilariously dark.
The end of the movie really kind of spirals. The introduction of Todd’s parents is supposed to add another dysfunctional relationship that kind of highlights how messed up Todd and Cammie are, but it just isn’t that amusing. It’s just two people who apparently really don’t like each other. Even the culmination of the film, where Todd and Cammie chase each other, which should be very amusing, just doesn’t end up being quite funny enough.
Overall, it’s an okay movie, just feels like they wasted a bit of potential.
Amazon Prime brings us a Pandemic show that has its ups and downs.
It’s an anthology of sci-fi stories with each episode being composed (mostly) of a single character. They range from a time-traveler talking to herself, an older woman venturing alone into the edges of space, a man meeting his double, a woman who doesn’t remember why she’s in a waiting room, to a woman who hasn’t left her home in twenty years because of a pandemic. The themes often involve death, time, or, weirdly, farting. The stars are: Anne Hathaway, Anthony Mackie, Helen Mirren, Uzo Aduba, Constance Wu, Nicole Beharie, Dan Stevens, and Morgan Freeman.
So, when this show started, I really liked the first episode. After all, it’s Anne Hathaway talking to herself and Anne Hathaway is just so darn fun and charming that adding more of her is still a great time. The jokes can be a bit hackneyed, but, again, when Anne Hathaway is being hackneyed, she does it with such sincerity that you really believe it and you’ll laugh even at jokes about 2019 pop culture. The second episode, though, blew me away. Not only is Anthony Mackie hilarious when talking to himself, when it comes time to do the dramatic moments, he makes you feel it. He feels like a man genuinely trying to convey how much he values his family and how much he regrets not doing it sooner. He’s trying to tell himself about what made his life great and that it wasn’t what he expected. It broke me a bit, to be honest.
Unfortunately, while the rest of the episodes continue to bring great performers out, it seems like the scripts started running dry after that. A lot of jokes are kind of repeated (So. Many. Fart. Jokes.), a lot of the themes get run into the ground, and, honestly, the show starts relying too much on the settings rather than just using them to explore human emotions. Uzo Aduba’s episode, which focuses on a woman who has been living in her house since a global pandemic mandated isolation, might have been funny but it really hit too close to home right now.
Overall, the show itself isn’t the best thing out there, but you really should watch the first two episodes. The second one for sure.
One of the most epic exploitation films ever. A must-watch.
SUMMARY (Written drunk, but… I don’t think anyone could write this sober)
Two law enforcement agents are killed on a private resort island called Molokai in Hawaii. At the same time, due to a shipping mix-up, a giant, ultra-toxic, mutant snake is sent to the island. The pilots of the cargo plane are also two operatives for a covert agency, Donna and Taryn (Dona Speir and Hope Marie Carlton, both of whom were playboy playmates). The two girls go for a few topless conversations after Donna bangs her fellow agent and man-piece Rowdy (Ronn Moss). Also, Taryn is a former mob witness in witness protection with the agency. They end up intercepting a shipment of diamonds being smuggled by the new drug kingpin Seth Romero (Rodrigo Obregon), the head of the cartel that killed the two law enforcement agents. Romero sends goons to attack the girls, resulting in the snake being released, which saves the girls and results in Romero being shot. The snake then escapes into the sewers not to be seen for a while aside from killing random people.
Taryn and Donna report to Rowdy and another operative named Jade (Harold “Nature Boy” Diamond), but a spy named Michelle (who turns out to be Michael (Michael A. Andrews)) intercepts the call. Taryn then sleeps with a sportscaster who’s on the island named J.J. Jackson (Wolf Larson), but despite having a night of passionate sex on a beach, they’re both perfectly clean in the morning. Jade and Rowdy survive an assassination attempt by using their trusty bazooka, but Romero’s goons intercept their undercover agent Edy (Cynthia Brimhall) and capture her. While researching Romero’s hideout, the pair realize that the front guard plays frisbee, a thing that somehow becomes relevant. Donna and Rowdy have a pre-rescue bang while Edy is tortured (yes, they intercut those). The next day they attack the cartel compound by… You know what, I’m just gonna f*cking put it here. You wouldn’t believe me if you didn’t watch it.
For those of you who can’t watch it, yes, he puts some shaving razors on a frisbee and uses it to not only cut through a man’s hand, but then also slit his throat open. Donna then flies a glider over the area and bombs it while the other three drive in with a bazooka and a jeep. It’s like a crazy G.I. Joe episode with titties. Eventually, they manage to overrun the compound, kill a ton of mooks and rescue Edy, only to be attacked by Romero when they get home. Donna hides in the bathroom only for the snake to erupt from the toilet and kill Romero. Rowdy then Bazookas the snake to death. They kill Romero’s partner Mr. Chang (Peter Bromilow) in another action sequence, then we sail off into the sunset… with titties.
This movie is absolutely magnificent, but not in any way by which we normally measure films. In the Discworld series, there’s a character called B.S. Johnson whose creations of art, engineering, and architecture are often baffling, but nevertheless are incredibly impressive. He’s described as “as far from incompetent as a genius, but in the opposite direction.” Andy Sidaris, the writer and director of this film, is basically the same. Everything about this movie should be technically wrong, except that somehow it’s all perfect. The dialogue is strange and yet almost all the lines are striking, the cinematography is beautiful at some points and bizarre at others, the performances range from too intense to too wooden, and the violence ranges from bloodless to over-the-top insane. At one point, a skateboarding assassin carrying a sex doll is it with a car, sending him flying into the air before he is shot with a bazooka. This is one of the more understandable scenes in the film. To be clear, this isn’t a “so bad it’s good” movie. This is a “so crazy it’s amazing” movie.
This film is one of the entries in Sidaris’ “Triple-B” films, which stand for “Bullets, Bombs, and Boobs.” It’s the second one after Malibu Express, which I will also review at some point. All of the films are notable for having, as the Bs would suggest, a lot of explosions and tits. The cast were usually Playboy Playmates or Penthouse models, as is the case here, specifically because they were more likely to agree to nude scenes. The first nude scene in this film is 1:47 in and it probably never goes more than 5 minutes without showing someone else’s breasts. The same is probably true of gunfights and explosions. This film is appealing to people on a very basic level and that level is “we love tits and ‘splosions.” You are never bored even for a second.
That’s not to say there isn’t a plot or dialogue. In fact, there is, arguably, way too much plot. There’s a giant mutant snake, a covert group operating as cargo pilots, a sportscaster on an island who almost loses his career due to an interview where his subjects are drunk, and a number of insane subplots. It’s almost like there are four movies in this film. As for dialogue, the conversations in this movie are composed mostly of either strange, borderline insane insertions that don’t get followed up on (including a woman accusing a casting director of rape, guys calling milkshakes “soul food,” and a weird conversation about vitamins) or the dialogue is basically action-movie lines cross-bred with porn dialogue from the 1970s. They’re weird, but they’re memorable. If this movie was supposed to be a parody, it does it perfectly.
Overall, I just genuinely can’t do this movie justice in a review. This is a must-see for people who like B-movies.
This movie advertises CougarLife.com. No, literally.
Sam (Kyle Gallner) is an unruly student dumped at a prestigious boarding school for his senior year. He quickly starts to connect with the dean of the school, Dan (Jim Belushi), and makes friends with a few other students, including Jimmy (Ryan Pinkston). While he starts to do better in school, he finds out that his playmate mother is no longer covering his tuition. He tries to make a date with his crush Courtney (Sarah Hyland), but it doesn’t happen. Depressed, he goes to a bar and ends up connecting with an older woman named Alison (Kathryn Morris). Hearing his troubles, Alison gives Sam a check. He then pitches her an idea for her to get some of her friends (including Denise Richards) to pay him in order to sleep with his friends. Soon, Sam is caught up in dating Courtney, sleeping with Alison, and trying to manage an escort company. Eventually, he tries to shut the company down, only for him to find out that Denise Richards and Jim Belushi are his girlfriend’s parents and to find out that all of his friends are now pissed at him. He drops out of the school, only to find out that Courtney is headed to the same place and they reconnect with no one being charged with anything and Dan being happy with Sam anyway.
Did any of you have a classmate in your freshman year who insisted that he got laid, it’s just that he sleeps with older, more mature, hot women? It’s the same guy who had a girlfriend in Canada in high school. Well, good news, he wrote a movie. This film’s basic premise is that older women, who are only in their early forties and are clearly all models, would be willing to spend a lot of money in order to sleep with 18 year old men who are nowhere near as aesthetically pleasing. There are so many problems with that, I’m not even sure where to begin.
I wasn’t really sure who this movie was for, aside from people who want to see MILF pornography but don’t know that the internet exists, until about 30 minutes in when the boys are starting their business. They watch an actual ad for the website CougarLife.com, almost in its entirety, and then decide that this is the exact market that they are aiming for and thus can use it to find clients. Then it hit me: This film was clearly just supposed to be an ad for that website. It even changed its title during production to better match the name, because the film was originally called “Mothers Little Helpers.” Admittedly, the title change might be because “Mothers Little Helpers” is basically a giant ball of hot nausea in my stomach, but I think it’s clearly related to the website.
If you’re not familiar with it, CougarLife.com was, and appears to still be, a website dedicated to hooking up older women with younger men. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with that in principle, but their ads were generally pretty cheesy and made it feel dirtier than it probably needed to be. This movie suggests that all of the women on that site are A) gorgeous, B) in their early forties or lower, C) enthusiastic to have sex with 18 year olds, and D) willing to pay the young ones for the pleasure. Truly a marketing masterpiece. The idea that this was just marketing for a website also makes the complete lack of actual decent plot in the film more understandable. Entire chunks of what would normally be character development are avoided through the narrative device of answering a questionnaire. It literally skips over any of the non-forced interaction between Sam and Courtney by showing a few sketches and stating that they’re dating. Not that I don’t mind using a narrative device to avoid tedium, but when you use it just to skip back to hot women banging not-so-hot men, then you know what your film is and you’re just trying to get it in the can.
Overall, this was not a good movie. Not even a so-bad-its-good movie. I genuinely think it’s just a commercial. Although, it’ll probably work on college kids, so… maybe it’s a good commercial?
Michael B. Jordan stars in a familiar action cliche bolstered only by his presence.
A team of Navy Seals, including John Kelly (Michael B. Jordan), rescue a CIA asset in Aleppo, Syria. In the process, they discover that the operation involved Russian military assets. Three months later, all of the survivors are killed by Russian agents with the exception of Kelly, whose pregnant wife, Pam (Lauren London), is killed in the process. Kelly kills all but one of the attackers in retaliation. When the government declines to respond or even investigate the killings, Kelly is told by his friend Lt. Commander Greer (Jodie Turner-Smith) about a Russian diplomat who played a key role in the murders. Kelly interrogates the diplomat, lethally, and is sent to prison for murder. He eventually bargains his way out by revealing information he got from the diplomat and agreeing to help capture a rogue agent. Now Kelly has to find out exactly who is behind these killings and why they seem to be trying to start a new cold war.
If you’re familiar with Tom Clancy, the final stinger of this movie won’t surprise you much. Hell, if you played the Rainbow Six games enough, you probably knew what was coming. Fortunately, none of that foreknowledge will impact your viewing of this film’s events. What WILL likely impact your enjoyment is that most of the movie is pretty much the standard formula for Clancy’s movies and the many other films that copy them. Clear and Present Danger, Patriot Games, Hunt for the Red October, etc. All of these have elements that you will see play out again in this movie. John Kelly is a badass whose actions are always justified and everyone that stands against him is pretty much just an idiot. All of the soldiers are repeatedly sold out by politicians and schemers, but don’t worry, America is still going to be fine because we catch the bad guy and everyone knows that’s all you ever need. It’s the film’s refusal to try and address anything bigger that really demonstrates how unwilling they are to change the formula.
However, the upside to the movie is that Michael B. Jordan is still a hell of an actor. If you haven’t recognized that by this point, I’m not sure what to tell you. He can carry a role, even if it’s a role that you’ve essentially seen a dozen times. The action sequences benefit heavily from that same skill. This film has a lot of firefights and fireless fights and they’re all very intense. If you want ‘splosions, you will be happy. If you want Michael B. Jordan showing how much energy he can bring to even the most banal scenes, you will be happy. If you wanted a new, more modern take on this subgenre of action films, then you will not be happy.
Overall, it’s not a great movie and you’ve definitely seen it before, but it’s not a bad movie to have on in the background just to see some big action sequences.
A show demonstrates the glory and horror of living in a super world.
SUMMARY (Spoilers for Season 1)
Mark Grayson (Steven Yeun) is the son of realtor Debbie Grayson (Sandra Oh) and writer Nolan Grayson (J.K. Simmons). Oh, and Nolan is actually Omni-Man, the world’s greatest superhero. Before his 18th birthday, Mark finally gets his superpowers and adopts the superhero moniker of Invincible. Now armed with flight, superstrength, superspeed, and the ability to make bad jokes mid-fight, Mark tries to live up to his father’s example. He works with the Teen Team, a group comprised of the Robot (Zachary Quinto), Atom Eve (Gillian Jacobs), Rex Splode (Jason Mantzoukas), and Dupli-Kate (Malese Jow). Shortly after this, the Guardians of the Globe, the most powerful superteam on the planet, are killed, leading the world to need the Teen Team and Invincible to start picking up the slack, as new threats seem to be constantly on the rise. These threats include superpowered mob bosses, invading aliens, reanimated corpses, and the occasional kaiju, leading Invincible to learn how tough this work can be the hard way. Unfortunately, it turns out that the one who killed the Guardians was none other than Omni-Man. Omni-Man’s true mission was to weaken Earth so that his people could take over the planet, leading to a drag-out fight between Mark and his father and ending only when Nolan realizes that he cannot kill his son and flees.
I had already reviewed this show a few episodes in, but I was asked to write another one based on the finale. I will be blunt: This was the most incredibly horrifying episode of a superhero show I’ve seen yet. It almost completely outdid its comic book counterpart and that’s damned impressive. While the comic was brutal to Mark and suggested massive damage to the population, this truly brought the scale of what’s happening to the forefront. Aside from some deliberate horror comics and an issue of Miracle Man in which a psychopath with Superman’s powers is allowed a few hours of free rein on England and kills millions of people in increasingly horrifying ways, this show is about the most accurate and intense portrayal of what it would be like to live near a superhero fight. People are basically china dolls to Invincible and Omni-Man.
I have to give it up to both the writers and animators of this episode, because even as action packed as it is, they make sure you feel all of the damage that’s being inflicted. Even when Mark is trying to save someone, Omni-Man makes it clear that he can eradicate buildings with a finger, rendering any of Mark’s efforts moot. At one point he starts shoving Mark THROUGH PEOPLE via a subway train. It’s done so viscerally that the image is still in my mind. This is what it would be like to live in a universe with superpowers: If you don’t have them, you’re basically a bug trying to avoid being squashed.
On the other hand, we also see superheroes and villains producing technological and physical wonders that would be impossible in the real world. Also, if you are one of those superpeople, or figure out sufficient technological advances, then you get to experience things no other being could relate to. The universe is so much easier to explore than in the real one and so much more reward is right at the tips of our fingers. It’s a world of wonders and opportunities. Just one where the risk of dying is very, very high for things as simple as “walking.”
I really appreciate this show subverting the superhero narrative as hard as it did. While Mark is still a good guy and the kind of person who will try to do the right thing, the show makes it clear that this comes with a massive amount of sacrifice. While Spider-Man became beloved for being a person who gets superpowers and it just makes his life worse, Invincible manages to convey this through how much Mark loses out on for so little a reward. His relationship with his girlfriend suffers, his schoolwork suffers, his relationship with his friends suffers, and even, eventually, his relationship with his family suffers. All in the name of trying to be a superhero. Full points to Steven Yeun for how great he is at conveying Mark’s emotions through voice acting, particularly when he’s trying to reconcile what his father has done before the final battle.
Overall, just a fantastic show. Cannot wait for more episodes.