We Want Action: The Losers (2010)

Man, I had a great time watching The Losers tonight. As I said a while back, I was really looking forward to this movie along with The A-Team and The Expendables, one of which I haven’t seen yet and the other I loved. All three movies are action movies with tough badasses up against a tough mission, with Losers and A-Team both being about a team that was set up and attempting to clean up their good names. The Losers is a military team consisting of dudes with cool nicknames like Clay (Henry Dean Morgan), Roque (Idris Elba), Cougar (Oscar Jaenada), Jensen (Chris Evans) and Pooch (Columbus Short) who get burned by a guy named Max and set out to get revenge on him, later adding bad ass chicj Aisha (Zoe Saldana) to their little gang. First off, this cast is pretty rad. I haven’t seen Elba in The Wire but did enjoy him on The Office, plus the movie stars the Comedian from Watchmen, the blue chick from Avatar, one of my favorite characters from Studio 60 and the Human Torch. Fun stuff.

More fun, of course, is the flick, which doesn’t seem to go more than 10 minutes before getting into another rad action scene. The movie’s pretty easy to follow, though it does get a little wild with a weapon that seems to disintegrate islands, though I was glad they didn’t go with the regular old MacGuffin and actually showed the weapon of mass destruction in action. Other than that you’ve got the usual amount of ass kicking and plot twisting. I guess it’s a little by the numbers as far as the plot goes, but there’s enough other stuff going on that I didn’t really notice until looking back on it now.

The action scenes are top notch. There’s one earlier in the film with Aisha facing off against Clay that involves trashing a hotel room that catches on fire. It was such a visual fight without getting too wrapped up in the jerky fight scenes we’ve been assaulted with lately. Sure there’s speed-up then slow-down moments, but they seemed to serve the fight to my eyes. In fact, I was doing some writing while the movie was playing, but every time an action scene kicked off, I was drawn away from the computer and couldn’t take my eyes off the TV. The movie’s bright color palette in general helped with this as well, especially with scenes like the one with Cougar and Jensen working in a doll factory.

I also really dug the characters who all felt well acted and well rounded without having too much bogging them down. You get a good enough sense of who each one is thanks to the role they fill on the team and what we see here and there throughout the movie. Evans and Morgan really shined for me with the former’s humor and the latter’s general bad assness. Evans as the torch was one of the few bright spots in the otherwise boring Fantastic Four movies and I had only seen Morgan in the shark jumping episodes of Grey’s Anatomy and his role as the Comedian, so it was nice to see him get some more screentime and flex those cool muscles instead of getting murdered either by his girlfriend or Ozymandias.

My only real problem with the movie was the character of Max (Jason Patric) who was just a bit over the top for my tastes. He makes lots of lame jokes and changes his mind about huge plans all the time. I get wanting to add a layer to the character, but I started questioning how a man this flighty could run an organization big enough to mess with the Losers, which kind of breaks up the foundation of the movie a little. Not a good move. There’s also a bit at the end that will be considered a SPOILER. In a rad moment, Max throws a pressure switch off a high point where he and Clay are having a standoff. Clay dives into the water, grabbing the device in just enough time, but when he gets out of the water, the rest of the gang roll up in a yellow stretch Hummer limo. But I don’t understand why Cougar, the sharp shooter of the bunch, wasn’t still at his post to take Max out. Or any of the other guys on the team. It’s a little weird, but not a bad enough moment to completely kill the movie for me.

All in all, I had a great time with this movie, which is good because I really didn’t like one of the other two flicks I watched today. It can’t be ignored that The Losers is based on a comic book of the same name by Andy Diggle and Jock. The only reason I hadn’t mentioned it before is because I haven’t read them, though after watching the movie, I want to now and will probably start tracking them down on Sequential Swap.

Yeah, There’s Actually A Movie Called Solarbabies

And it’s not that bad actually. Solarbabies (1986) is a mix of Logan’s Run, Mad Max and Goonies with a made-up sport called Skateball in it. I had never heard about this flick until sometime last year when someone recommended it for ToyFare’s craziest fictional sports feature. Well, I found my way to checking the movie out finally and it was a lot of fun. But also annoying. I’ll explain.

The movie stars Michael from Lost Boys (Jason Patric), the mom from Still Standing (Jami Gertz who was also in Lost Boys), Dom DeLuise’s son (Peter), the older brother from Heroes (Adrian Pasdar) and the kid who played Ryan White in the TV movie (Lukas Haas) plus a few other kids as a group of kids who live in a post-apocalyptic, post-Eco War desert orphanage where they’ve taken to playing Skateball. Skateball’s a a combination of hockey (but with roller skates), lacrosse and roller derby with a goal in the middle of the rink. Like in Logan’s Run or The Island, the kids are told that there’s nothing out in the real world and that this is all there is. Of course, that doesn’t last after the youngest of the group, Lukas, finds a glowing ball called Bohdi (not Patrick Swayze’s character from Point Break, but wouldn’t that be awesome?). Anyway, after a spirited game of Skateball with Bodhi, Pasdar’s character swoops in, grabs him and heads off into the desert and soon enough the kids (the Solarbabies) head out to find him and make sure the eco cops don’t destroy him/it.

Alright, enough with the summary, there are a few things I want to specifically mention. First off, Lukas is super, SUPER annoying in this movie, like Edward Furlong in T2 annoying but times 100. He’s oddly effeminate and not just in the way that all little kids are. His wardrobe doesn’t help as he’s either wearing a pink helmet, off-the-shoulder sweatshirt (think Flashdance) or, at one point, a suit of old lady clothes made out of old tires. His voice and delivery are also grating. He goes from being a normal kid with a high pitched voice to this ultra annoying kid who sounds like he’s in LOVE with everything. He gets all wispy and it freaks me out. Wow, now I’ve resorted to picking on a 10 year old kid in 1986, that’s not quite fair.

What is fair is making fun of the douchey bully kid from the orphanage who somehow gets upgraded from regular orphan to eco cop at the exact same time as the Solarbabies escape. The funny thing is that he walks around like he’s big shit even before joining the eco pigs. Yeah, being the coolest kid in a desert orphanage where you get water rations is like being the strongest guy at computer camp, sure you’re bigger than everyone else but you’re still all locked in the same shitty life. After coming up with that analogy, he got to leave the orphanage, so what do I know?

One other complaint I have is the title of this movie. Solarbabies? Really? This is what you decided to call what looks like a slightly big budget flick? Bad choice folks. Heck, they don’t even play Skateball during the day, so it doesn’t really make sense. The general-or-whatever of the eco police comes to the guy who runs the orphanage and comments on it being soft name and all the warden has to say is that they don’t need to be intimidating because they always win. Yeah, and? I don’t even think the kids call themselves Solarbabies at any time.

Okay, aside from all that stuff, I would still recommend Solarbabies (maybe just call it Skateball or something, because those scenes are pretty rad). Kind of like The Island, you get a mix of other movies that all work together really well and tell a story you haven’t seen quite in this way. It’s not highly original, but it’s definitely fun. I especially like in their travels when they come to Tire Town a place where everything is made out of either discarded tires or cars. They play with that in the sets and props really well to excellent results. Plus, it’s always fun to watch actors when they were younger. I’ll be honest I didn’t recognize Pasdar at all and Gertz looked really familiar to me but I couldn’t nail her down and I recognized her more from Still Standing that Lost Boys.

One funny thing about the movie is that they skate everywhere in the desert wasteland. Have you ever tried skating on anything other than a rink or blacktop? It’s not easy. Luckily for them, there seem to be paths from one place to another that are smooth enough for skating 🙂

Halloween Scene: Manly Movie Night 10-17-08

2008-10-19
4:26:11 pm

About three years ago my friends and colleagues at Wizard decided to get together and watch three “manly” movies hooting, hollering, drinking and making jokes the entire time. For a more complete history check out Sean T. Collins’ blog post about what we’ve dubbed Manly Movie Mamajama.

About a month ago we started exchanging E-mails about a Halloween-themed MMM and finally decided on a line up consisting of The Lost Boys, Slumber Party Massacre II (which I take full responsibility for adding to the line-up) and Dead Alive. So, Friday night we gathered together in manly fashion eating pizza and chili (some of us simultaneously) and drinking beer and Red Bull. I’d actually seen all three movies before, but it’s always a new experience watching them with these guys.

We started with Lost Boys (1987) directed by Joel Schumacher and starring Jason Patric, Corey Haim, Corey Feldman and Kiefer Sutherland. There’s a lot going on in this movie and I’m not sure how much of it was actually intended. As Rickey pointed out, it really seems like brothers Jason Patric and Corey Haim are in a budding romance. There’s also the hilarity of the clothing throughout the flick. Between Haim’s crazy jackets/robes and Sutherland’s gang of mulleted biker vampires. Did this ever look tough? Ah, it was a different, simpler time.

Anyway, for those of you who haven’t seen it Lost Boys is about a pair of brothers and their mom who move in with their grandpa in the town of Santa Carla, CA which looks like Coney Island on crazy pills (but sadly lacking The Warriors). Well, it turns out that Santa Carla has a bit of a vampire problem and may or may not be the murder capital of the world, depending on how much stock you put into billboard graffiti. As Jason Patric gets wrapped up in Sutherland’s vampire gnag (which also includes Bill from the Bill and Ted movies), Haim meets the Frog Brothers, one of which is Feldman with seems to be doing his best Stallone impression throughout the movie. Their parents own a comic book store (probably the most disorganized store of all time). One of my favorite not-funny-on-purpose lines comes when Haim explains why two Superman comics shouldn’t be right next to each other (Lori Lemaris hasn’t even been introduced yet). How about because they’re no less than 100 issues apart from each other. Oh, also their parents look dead. Just saying. Anyway, the Frog Bros. are vampire hunters.

Anyway, you can imagine where things go from there. Sean Collins made the point that, in the 80s kids progressed from Goonies to Monster Squad to Lost Boys. Now, I had never actually heard of Monster Squad as a kid and I didn’t see Lost Boys until Rickey and I lived together, but these three films definitely share a spirit that you can’t find in movies aimed at kids anymore. Heck half the stars of this R-rated movie probably couldn’t legally see it when it premiered. Awesome!

But, really, you should check it out. There’s some pretty good effects and the last battle in the mom’s house is pretty great. Plus it’s good for a lot of laughs, both intentional and unintentional.

So, after Lost Boys we popped the VHS copy of Slumber Party Massacre II (1987) that I bought off of Amazon for just this occasion for about $6. It’s one of, if not THE most ridiculous movies (horror or otherwise) I’ve seen ever. As I explained to the group before we started, the first SPM movie had a random mental patient killing high school kids at a slumber party with a drill. This movie stars Crystal Bernard (the cute, blonde girl from Wings) as the sister of the survivor from the first flick. She’s in a band with three of her friends. One of the girls’ parents’ decided it would be a good idea to allow the girls to head up to their new condo (which are treated with the same sense of “newness” that malls were treated with in Dawn of the Dead) for the weekend.

Crystal keeps having crazy visions about a rockabilly dude with an Elvis haircut dressed in leather and rocking what looks like a BC Rich designed drill-tar. Well, as you can imagine, she keeps getting freaked out by various visions (the zit one is my favorite, worth the $6 I paid for this junk) but her friends just think she’s crazy until the dude comes to real life and starts killing her friends and their visiting boyfriends. What?!

From there it’s your average kids running away from a slasher movie, but with a lot more dancing as the Driller Killer busts some moves at random intervals and sings crazy songs. Seriously, if you love bad slasher movies, check this one out. Though I’m not sure if any of my MMM colleagues would agree with that sentiment. General consensus was that it was in the least liked films in MMM history down there with Steel Dawn and King Kong Lives (which I also found hilarious).

Unfortunately, I started coming down with a pretty bad cold that I’m still dealing with today, so I bounced out before the end of Dead Alive, though I’m not sure how much longer anyone else watched it. I would recommend skipping to the last 30 minutes, but make sure to view the zombie sex scene. It’s hilarious. Anyway, for my full Dead Alive/Braindead review, click here. As always, I had a great time at the MMM (even with getting sick) and I highly recommend starting up your own.