Friday Fisticuffs: Ghost Rider Spirit Of Vengeance (2011)

Guys, this should come as no surprise considering I love Mark Neveldine/Brian Taylor-directed flicks (Crank, Crank 2 and Gamer), but I really dug their first comic movie effort Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. They brought their trademark super-kinetic, down-and-dirty directing style to a character who rides around on a flaming motorcycle and fries bad guys with his eyes. I love that Marvel allowed one of their weirder characters to be treated how he should have been on film. Ghost Rider is essentially a pretty goofy idea (remember, flaming face and motorcycle)  so creators really need to just embrace that and run with it. That’s what Jason Aaron did on his wonderful run of GR a few years back (I read the omnibus of his stuff last year, but didn’t get around to reviewing).

I remember very little of the first Ghost Rider movie, almost nothing in fact. This time around, Idris Elba finds Nic Cage (Ghost Rider) and makes him a deal: help his religious order find this mystically important kid  and get severed from the Rider. So, Cage unleashes the beast (both the Ghost Rider and the maniac that lives inside that man in the real world) and all kinds of fun unravels. The kid starts off with this one hood who winds up turning into the villain I believe is based on Blackout. I’m not sure familiar with Ghost Rider’s world, but I do have one of those GIT DVDs, so I kind of want to catch up.

If you can’t get behind the idea of the devil having a kid with a woman just so he can then take over that half human/half demon body and a man who turns into a fiery demon and pees like a flamethrower, do not apply, this movie is not for you. If you dig that kind of stuff and Cage’s wackiness, this movie is pretty fantastic. Neveldine and Taylor were the prefect guys for this project and really brought a realness to it, which is difficult when you’re dealing with so much inherent CGI. The chase scenes look great as do the fights, even when moving between the real world and Blackout’s weird dark-inducing one. That expert use of effects combined with some of the lowest tech ways of filming (holding onto the back of a motorcycle wearing rollerblades and holding a camera) make for something that feels real most of the time (Blackout’s disintegration powers didn’t always look great on our TV).

At the end of the day, I had a ton of fun with this movie. It was exactly what I wanted from both the directing duo and Cage. I have a feeling I’ll have a better time remember SOV than the original flick too. I have no idea what Neveldine and Taylor are working on next, but I will definitely see it…probably on DVD well after it comes out, as is my lot in life.

Gamer Is Awesome

I was pretty excited about Gamer from the get go. Gerard Bulter playing an 80s-style bad ass running around shooting people and being controlled by some kid? SOLD! I didn’t realize until I got it from Netflix that the movie was actually written and directed by my favorite co-writing and -directing team of Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, that’s right, the brains behind Crank and Crank: High Voltage, two of the raddest movies to come out in…ever. And, damn, Gamer holds up to the same level as those two flicks.

Like I said, Butler plays a soldier being controlled by a kid in a giant real-life video game where real human are being controlled. The bad guy, played by Dexter’s Michael C. Hall, has developed some science that allows people to be controlled. He invented the tech around a game called Society where people get paid to play as human avatars for gamers sitting in their houses. It’s like Sims, but with real people. Then, he created Slayers, which allows people to control death row inmates in a Halo-like game but without aliens, just other people. If you win a certain number of battles, you get set free. Whew, okay, that’s just the set up. There’s also this group called Humanz led by Ludacris who wants to reveal the truth behind Hall’s evil master plan (to control everyone in the world). They set it up so the kid playing Butler can actually talk to him and Butler breaks out, finds his wife and sets out to take Hall down (he also has Butler’s kid).

Butler’s as awesome as you would expect him to be. He’s got all the heft and badassery of an 80s action hero, but he’s also got a charisma and real acting chops the peek through the blood and grime. And boy, is this movie bloody. There are several big huge battles with Butler but one of 50 or so dudes running around, blasting holes in each other. People get blown up and tossed around and shot in the head. They really did a good job of capturing the weirdness of first person shooter games in the first few moments with all the craziness hitting you right away. Eventually, you get the jist of what’s going on and it goes on from there.

I also liked how the future in this game (it’s called “many years from this moment” or something like that) is portrayed. None of it really seems too far off, though I think people actually watching other people kill each other on television is much further away than writers seem to. I really liked the technology of the future. The kid controlling Butler goes to a small-ish circular room that’s covered in video screens displaying everything from his games to music to communications with other people, but when it’s game time, all that goes away and he’s miming the actions of his avatar in the game. It was all very cool.

If you’re a video game fan or even remotely like action movies, definitely check this one out, you won’t be sorry.

Live Blogging: Crank High Voltage (2009)

Continuing the Crank fun from the other day and to show my support for tonight’s Manly Movie Night I’ll be missing, here’s my live blog of Crank’s sequel Crank: High Voltage. I was super jealous of Sean when he got to see this flick in theaters and blogged about it. Sean had this to say earlier this year: “Like an unholy cross between Chuck Norris’s Invasion U.S.A., Troma, and Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, the movie was wildly and needlessly experimental, and was offensive even to me at times, and had no redeeming social value whatsoever except to punch you in the face repeatedly with a fist made of entertainment. I’d be amazed all over again if I see a movie I enjoy more than this one for the rest of the year.” I would honestly count this as one of the best action movies of all time and it’s ability to top its predecessor, which was already an impressively over the top movie is, well, just plain amazing.

The plot of this one is that Chev Chelios fell out of the helicopter, but they grabbed his body right away and kept him alive for 3 months before opening him up to harvest his organs. They get his heart and replace it with a robot one, but it isn’t until he overhears them talking about cutting of his penis that he freaks out and kicks ass. Amy Smart and Dwight Yoakam return in their same roles and Efren Ramirez plays his character from the first movie’s brother Venus. Now, instead of needing adrenaline to stay alive, Chev has to shock his robot heart to keep it charged. As you can imagine, it’s amazing.

Again spoilers follow and I highly encourage you to see this movie as soon as possible. It just came out on DVD last week or the week before. It’s simply amazing. Well, here we go.

*Love that 8-bit credits.

*This is like watching Star Wars or Lord of the Rings back to back, but way cooler.

*News guy calls events of the first movie “implausible” – no kidding.

*Oh man, that dude puts ashes in Chev’s open chest cavity. That’s cold.

*He’s awake during the surgery!!!

*”The famous Chelios heart” – subtitle, dude’s so rad his HEART is famous.

*Where did she shove that pencil? Not cool.

*He dips the shotgun in tar and sticks it up the dude’s ass–that’s what you get bad guy!

*I like that he basically figures out the catch to survival on his own in both movies.

*”Jesus H. Chelios” – needs to be on a T-shirt.

*Nice film strip-like fake heart explanation from Yoakam.

*Oh man, his battery is already messed up after skidding.

*I don’t think any movie star runs more than Statham.

*I love seeing the Social Club get emptied from the outside, that’s a great touch. One man goes in (Chev) and everyone else flies out!

*There’s Corey Haim…in a strip club, did he even know this was a movie? He’s wearing a Nice Jugs t-shirt with pictures of milk jugs. Classy.

*Strippers with guns, it’s like Sin City with implant jokes.

*Haha, the cops tazed him, not good for them.

*They finally explained that he’s been gone for three months, love the phone message explanation.

*”Is Doc Miles gonna have to choke a bitch?” – nice one Dwight!

*Nice porn star cameos in the porn strike scene.

*Free style walking ball smash!

*Dog shock collar and the dog bits the cops junk, heh, nice.

*Kaylo’s brother Venus has tourettes, that should be interesting.

*He’s dry humping an old lady and she’s loving it!

*The soundtrack is brilliant, Tarantin-esque.

*People love watching people have sex in various positions on a race track.

*Smart’s way too turned on by seeing horse penis.

*”Well, you ain’t no Ralph Macchio yourself Chev” – Venus.

*Gotta love a good man vs. car chase.

*They just made the heart transplant nonsense make sense. Impressive.

*Best in-car shootout ever.

*Dude just cut off his own nipples, squirm-o-ramma.

*Love seeing Haim get the hammer dropped on him by Smart after sucking.

*The shrink totally wants to bang the orderly from the first one…heh, sucks to be him.

*What the? It’s like Godzilla under the power lines!!!

*Interesting talk show-style flashback to Chev as a kid with his mom complete with “he’s a bad kid” clips. His mom looks an awful lot like Amy Smart.

*That’s a lot of balls, but nicely followed by lots of boobs and butts.

*Floating robot head villain from the first movie AND his brother is The Ferret AND Ferret’s beating Chev with a cat-o-nine-tails.

*Venus FINALLY kicks ass and with nun-chucks no less.

*Crazy awesome multi-group shoot out and fight scene!!!

*Chev’s literally on fire and kicking ass, damn, even his face. GET SOME WATER!

*Watch through the credits as they actually end the story there and then do some fun out takes and whatnot.