2013 Film Review: April
We know turn our eyes, hearts and minds to the month of April. This month always reminds me of the journalist from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, April O’Neil.
Man, animators were so fucking lazy in the 80’s. Can you believe they dressed April O’Neil in a gaudy yellow jumpsuit and white boots – and then didn’t change the outfit for a decade? Do you think nobody watching her TV reports wouldn’t notice she never changed? And if you were going to Groundhog Day your wardrobe for eternity, would you choose to dress like a Prostitute from Chernobyl?
Too many questions, let’s look at a few films and will return to the Ninja Turtles in due course.
What’s it About:
The true story of Danny Lugo, a Personal Trainer who decides he wants to be rich – so enlists two muscle head buddies to aid him in a kidnapping and extortion mission. The plan ends up messier than a Porn Star’s toothbrush.
The only thing better than a story of people reaching the American Dream through honest hard work, is the story of people reaching the American Dream through lieing and cheating – coz fuck honest hard work.
This trio of ripped fuckwits takes us on a wild ride through the twists and turns of what starts of as an idiotic plan, and then degrades into hysterical nonsense.
I don’t mind Wahlberg, and quite like Mackie – but have all the love in the world for the Rock. And here, he destroys every scene he appears in as a coke addict Jesus freak.
Entertaining as they are, two hours is a little long to spending with these cats – the film could have done with about 15 minutes shaved off.
Rebel “The poor man’s Melissa McCarthy” Wilson rolls in as a horny nurse that loves black willy. Included for a bit more comic relief, but the humour is weak and her jokes fall flat.
Michael Bay wanted to direct this back in 2000, but took us on a Transformers odyssey instead. I only ever saw the first of those films, the robot fights were an incomprehensible cluster fuck of CGI machine parts that gave me a migraine. It was like watching cutlery in a blender.
Of course, Michael Bay’s next film is Transformers 4. But like I said, those films give me tendinitis in my eyeballs – so fuck that noise. Of relevance to our article opening though, Bay is also producing a new Ninja Turtles film. Megan Fox will star as April O’Neil. David Lynch’s sperm star as the Ninja Turtles:
Seriously, why can’t they get this shit right? They took the classic Transformers and turned them into demonic can openers, and now we have these ungodly monstrosities for the Ninja Turtles. They keep going for hyper-realism and failing. These bastards look like new born babies, if Mickey Rourke’s Plastic Surgeon got drunk and decided to operate on them.
The Final Word:
Michael Bay has created a totem pile of shit films over the years. But for reasons known only to him, likes to sandwich a few great films in amongst all the filth. Bad Boys is one of those films, and now Pain and Gain can be added to that list.
What’s it About:
Tony Stark returns to his regular life after the chaos in New York city during the events of the Avengers, only to fall afoul of the villainous Mandarin. He should have this in the bag, problem is that he’s suffering a bad case of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder caused by his run ins with Gods, Aliens and alternate dimensions in the aforementioned film. Man up Stark you pussy – you should have seen me at work last year the day after Saint Patrick’s Day. I spent 90% of the shift hugging the bowl in the handicap toilet, sobbing uncontrollably. Now that’s a bad day at the office.
One of my favourite writer/director’s Shane Black turns up to take a swing at the Iron Man plate, and knocks this bitch straight out of the park. His fingerprints are all over this – from the witty dialogue (this film is actually funnier than most of the year’s “comedies”), to the bit part thugs who all have memorable personalities. Tony Stark spends some time with a lonely boy in need of a father figure, and in anybody else’s hands this would have been bile inducing. But in Black’s hands it’s one of the most amusing storylines of the film.
The mandarin is an entertaining villain, Ben Kingsley killing it in the role.
The action scenes are some of the best I’ve seen in a Super Hero film – the “Money Barrel” sky dive and the final multiple Iron Man suit show down being highlights.
I love my Super Heroes to go nuts – but I always find it jarring when regular Joes suddenly go all CGI acrobatic. Don Cheadle suddenly turning into some kind of CGI Tarzan in the final battle gave me the shits.
Heath Ledger taught us that a Super Villain doesn’t have to be a corny dickhead, in fact his performance can be nothing short of award winning – and so we judge our Comic Book Bad Guys a little tougher these days. While the Mandarin is a decent antagonist, I found Guy Pearce’s Lillian to be a bit lacking – both in character and arc. Also, Killian’s army of regenerating soldiers were kinda annoying – as it’s unclear what exactly it takes to dispel them. Impossible to kill…until it’s piss easy to kill them, and so the film is guilty of having “dumbreakable” foes.
Marvel are the king of stingers, usually providing one mid credits, then a second one post credits. Mid credits ties into the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy. Post credits has an amusing sequence involving another Avenger. Great little bit of character building, but not exactly vital to the story.
The Final Word:
The best of the Marvel Super Hero films so far, high praise considering the general quality of the output from the studio.
What’s it About:
Eagles and Vultures attack Hollywood. Also, it rains blood and zombies appear. All because of Global Warming, apparently. Welcome to the wonderful world of Birdemic 2.
The Good/The Bad:
After a set of lengthy establishing shots accompanied by piss poor music, Birdemic 2’s story kicks in with aspiring film director Bill as he struts down a Los Angeles street. Strut being the operable word – it was obvious the Director had asked the actor to put on his best confident Hollywood strut, which the hack actor interpreted as “walk like a massive head wound victim who relearnt to walk from watching Travolta films form the 70s”. It’s hideously awkward, made the more jarring by the fact that half of the shop signs and billboards have been pixelated out, allowing you to get a grip on the painful budgetary constraints. They couldn’t afford to do multiple takes, and at one point he jay walks across a red light while an angry motorist honks him.
Bill wanders into a Restaurant called The Happy Ending, where he finds a waitress standing awkwardly in the middle of the building doing absolutely nothing. The audio track indicates a diner full of customers…and yet the place is completely empty. Bill starts a conversation with the waitress about how she would be perfect for his new film “Sunset Dreams“. The ensuing banter is so jilted I shuffled uncomfortably in my seat the entire time.
It’s at this point any normal human being would eject the Birdemic 2 DVD from their player, put it in the bin, and then smash their TV screen with a hammer just in case. It is absolute bile. The scenes I described consist of only the first scene of the film, and yet they manage to break pretty much every golden rule of decent cinema in those first five minutes.
And yes it is a big “BUT”, as far as trash cinema goes, Birdemic 2 is a goddamn masterpiece. Please let me explain, and why every bad point is also it’s good.
You see, the real beauty of “So Bad it’s Good” cinema is the sincerity. Artists pouring their hearts and souls into a film, but lacking the money, skillset or common sense to produce anything even remotely passable. Birdemic 2 is that kind of film. This isn’t “faux bad cinema“, like the recent onslaught of self aware films such as Sharknado where the actors stop just short of turning to the camera and winking. No, Birdemic 2 is “genuine bad cinema”. All thanks to Writer/Director James Nguyen, who I’m pretty sure got dropped on his head as a child.
Nguyen promoted the first Birdemic by driving a van decorated with stuffed birds around town, handing out hand created flyers to promote “Bidemic” – and yes, in his haste to create the flyers misspelled the title of his own fucking film. He has stated on record that he grew up on the films of Alfred Hitchcock, but I personally think he grew up eating paint chips. I fucking love the fact that he learnt no discernible lessons in the three years between Birdemic and Birdemic 2. Here are some of the gems in the latter outing:
It’s a world ending apocalypse of raining blood and attacking birds, yet like the first Birdemic somebody forgot to tell the locals – in almost every outdoor scene you can spot regular Californians going about their day to day business in the background. Look closely during the bridge scene, when a group of tourists actually turn and wave to the camera.
It’s a film about birds attacking, yet a large portion of the middle is devoted to a girl in a bikini getting attacked by a giant jellyfish. To be precise, a girl dangling her legs in front of a green screen showing the most unconvincing computer animated Jellyfish since Super Mario Bros 3. You know your production is broke when you can’t even afford a real Ambulance to drive away the victim, and have to resort to a poorly cropped image superimposed on screen. They try to give the illusion of the Ambulance driving away by shrinking the image on screen.
I’ve seen many shots interrupted by Boom Mics in my time, but this is the first occasion I’ve spotted the Boom…attached to the camera (also in shot) held by the cameraman (his whole body is in the shot), all of this reflected in the full length wardrobe mirror during the most awkward sex scene I’ve seen in a long time.
The incredible dialogue, that goes a little something like this:
Main Girl: I can’t believe the birds are attacking all of the humans.
Main Boy: Yeah, it must be because of global warming.
(Global warming is mentioned at least a dozen times throughout the film, like that annoying friend who fills your facebook feed with status updates on the environment).
And of course the titular Birdemic itself, which has not changed one iota in quality since the first film. It’s still just Eagles and Vultures, even though they represent every bird on Earth. They still die in only two ways – by splitting perfectly in half, or exploding(!) They still flap their wings at a glacial speed that has both Physicists and Ornithologists alike in a lip biting rage.
I could go on and on about scenes like this, the film is littered with them. Each scene had me grinning like an idiot, although the two bottles of red that got me through the film might be the culprits.
Director James Nguyen describes the film as having a similar core to the first Birdemic – it’s basically a Romantic Thriller addressing the problems of Global Warming.
God bless you James, you Fucking Idiot.
His work reminds me of those YouTube clips of kids being driven home from the Dentist, trying to converse but still goofy off nitrous. Like Nguyen they are trying so hard to succeed, yet failing miserably. And like Nguyen, they don’t realise we are laughing at them, not with them – this is where the appeal lies.
The third film will be set in New York, and will be titled Birdemic 3: Sea Eagles.
The Final Word:
No sane person could recommend this film, if the shocking production values don’t turn you off, the tedium will – It’s almost an hour before the fucking birds actually turn up. Rumour has it that this film is on repeat in the cells in Guantonomo Bay. Zero Dead Squirrels.
Yet at the same time I would be remiss not to address how much fun I had with the film. It’s up there with Troll 2 and The Room in the “So Bad It’s Good” pantheon. So I will give it it’s own special ranking of five exploding vultures, scratch this one down to the guiltiest of pleasures. Mark my words, the Birdemic films will be playing at College Keggers long after the other films of 2013 are long forgotten.
In conclusion: Like an autistic kid that thinks he is giving you breakfast in bed by smashing eggs into your sleeping face. An experience equally parts earnest and fucking awful.