Quick Movie Review: Holes (2003)

A few weekends back, the missus and I watched part of Holes on TV, but neither of us were very focused. We liked what we saw enough to move it to the top of the Netflix Queue. I assumed we’d just turn it on at the moment we stopped watching (probably 20-30 minutes before the end, maybe less) and just see how it ended. However, the missus wanted to watch from the beginning because she was in and out of the room the first time around. No big deal, I figured I’d read comics while it was on, but I actually found myself drawn back into the story.

The movie–based on a book I never heard of before the movie came out–stars Shia LaBeouf as a kid whose great great grandfather got cursed because of a pig and a girl way back in the day. That bad luck carries through to Shia as he gets unfairly sentenced to a work camp after a pair of stolen autographed shoes literally fall out of the sky and are found on his person by the cops. Said camp is run by the warden played by Sigourney Weaver and her underling Jon Voight. Shia and the other kids are made to dig holes five feet deep and five feet across one a day for as long as they’re there to build character. They’re continually told they’re digging for their own good, but if they find something, they’re supposed to tell one of the adults. Meanwhile, we get multiple flashbacks to Shia’s relatives getting cursed as well as the inhabitants of this area back when a lake was in the place of a desert.

I was really impressed with how well put together this movie is. You can pick up what’s going on and how the different stories relate to what Shia’s going through, but if not, they’re explained soon after. There were parts I caught on to pretty early on and others the missus explained to me right before the movie did. The whole thing plays out as a pretty interesting mystery, which makes sense considering you get the feeling there is a reason for them to be digging holes aside from, as the adults say, building character. It’s funny though, as Shia continues to dig the holes, he does wind up building character thanks to his growing friendship with the younger character Zero, a fellow “camper.” Anyway, the movie has a bit of a fantasy bent to it but more in the fairy tale sense. In fact, that’s what the story reminded me of the most a really well put together fairy tale complete with curse, witch, moral and most importantly kids throwing off the yokes of adult oppression and proving that they’re smart enough to get by.

I highly recommend the movie. I’m still thinking about it now and it inspired me to start eating sunflower seeds again (I literally saw Voight eating them on screen and ran out to buy some from the nearby gas station). It can be a nasty habit, but I love them.

Chuck Norris Double Feature: The Octagon (1980) & Code Of Silence (1985)

the octagon2008-12-29
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Hope everyone had a great Christmas, Hanukkah, etc.

I’ve got to be honest, the last thing I saw Chuck Norris in was a series Karate Kommandoes clips I was watching on YouTube a few months ago. Before that it would be Dodge Ball (great cameo), then Walker Texas Ranger episodes and before that, Sidekicks. So, I don’t really have a lot of experience with his more action-oriented flicks. I’ve got to say, I’m none too impressed with my double feature of The Octagon and Code of Silence. So, here goes

Let me start by telling you all that it took me FOUR DAYS TO WATCH THIS MOVIE. Which is to say that it’s not the most thrilling of films. It’s also close to incoherent as you’re never really sure who Chuck’s character really is. He seems to be a law enforcement agent of some kind, but, as far as I can remember, it’s never directly stated what kind. From there we get all kinds of ninja attacks (did American audiences not know what ninjas were pre-1980?) that look close to slow motion and Chuck talking to himself in this weird, annoying echoy internal monologue.

This really is a lame movie. Please don’t watch it unless you’re in a room full of your friends with a few dozen beers each. In that case, it would be a grand viewing experience, otherwise, it might take you four days to watch it. That’s about 20 minutes a night I’ll never get back, sigh…

code of silence posterLuckily, Code of Silence was much better, though not really all that good in and of itself. It’s good in the sense that it’s a crazy, 80s action movie with a remote control tank of sorts as back up! The basic idea is that Chuck’s a good cop who doesn’t like how all the other cops are covering for this old cop who shot a kid in cold blood. His friend’s kid also gets kidnapped, so Chuck’s going after her, but he can’t get any help from his fellow officers. So, he’s got to go after the bad guys on his own (with the aforementioned tank-thing). There’s a pretty cool scene where Chuck holds his own in a bar full of attackers until a dude throws a pool ball at the back of his head. There’s not much past that as far as the martial arts go, but the last scene with Chuck and the tank going after the bad guys is classic 80s action (what more would you expect from the guy who directed Above the Law, Under Siege¬†and The Fugitive). COS is way better than Octagon, though it’s nowhere near the martial arts extravaganza I was hoping for. Also, in the plus column is that Dennis Farina co-stars as a wounded cop (love that guy).

Well, there’s not much else to say about these movies. Neither is awesome, even by action movie standards. I was pretty shocked by how slow the fight scenes in Octagon felt. I mean, I didn’t expect him to be kneeing people in the face Tony Jaa-style, but even the penultimate fight between him and the masked ninja felt more like a fight from Double Dragon for the NES than one featuring Bruce Lee’s sparring partner. Well, at least I didn’t buy these movies and I can always watch Chuch fight Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon (it’s Way of the Dragon) yeah, that’s what I meant (then why did you say Enter the Dragon?).