Trailer Time: Once Upon A Time In Vietnam, Getaway & Pompeii

Once Upon A Time In Vietnam (formerly Monk On Fire) has obvious ties to Spaghetti Westerns considering it’s themes and title, but it also looks to mix action, fantasy and history in a way that we can get behind. Dustin Nguyen directed and stars in this flick that will see Vietnamese theaters on August 22nd. Here’s hoping for a quick, but good dubbed version to makes its way to the States without too much delay. [via Asian Movie Pulse]

If you watch network TV on a regular basis, you’ve probably seen a good deal of commercials for Courtney Solomon’s Getaway starring Ethan Hawke, Selena Gomez and Jon Voight. Hawke and Gomez seem to spend a good deal of time in a super fast car driving around and committing crimes for Voight in order to get Hawke’s wife back from the criminal. It opens on August 30th.

And finally, here’s the teaser for Paul W.S. Anderson’s Pompeii starring Kit Harington (Game Of Thrones) and Emily Browning (Sucker Punch) as two star crossed lovers trying to stay alive as Mt. Vesuvius rains down ash around them. The film bows on February 21, 2014.

Rad Review: Alien Vs. Predator (2004)

alien vs predator landscapeCrossover movies can be tricky beasts. By definition you’re serving at least two masters from two different fan bases. When combining two properties like Aliens and Predators — ones that had already faced off in the worlds of comics, video games and pretty much everything aside from movies — there’s a lot to live up to. When we first saw AVP back in 2004, we were admittedly disappointed. Frankly, we would have been happy if the movie was simply our two favorite aliens smashing each other to bits at every chance without so many pesky humans getting in the way.

Well, we revisited alien vs predator POSTERthe movie recently and it’s a wonder what lowered expectations combined with a better working knowledge of a story can do for enjoyment of a film. Going blind into any franchise flick or remake, you’ve got a certain set of expectations and the new film either meets them or doesn’t. If they’re not met, then you leave disappointed at best, which can sour you. That’s how we were with AVP. But, never let it be said that the Explosions Are Rad crew doesn’t go back and re-evaluate.

alien vs predator dvdAVP finds a group of scientists, archaeologists, industrialists, diggers and mercenaries traveling to Antarctica to investigate a strange heat signature that’s more than it seems. Lead by Charles Bishop Weyland (Lance Henriksen) — who plays the inspiration for his character in the Alien flicks — the trip soon proves to be more than meets the eye as the crew discovers an ancient underground temple that just so happens to  house an Alien queen. As we learn, millennia ago, the Predators came to Earth, built these temples to test their skills against the murderous xenomorphs and returned to test their warriors. The crew stumbles upon this deathtrap and must do their best to survive as the Aliens and Predators try to kill them and each other.

The problem with this movie mainly comes in the first 20-30 minutes, which could and should be significantly trimmed down. Sure, it makes sense that they want you to care about these characters, but at the same time it also feels like they’re trying too hard to get you to care about the bait they throw in the water during Shark Week. Hit those plot points a little quicker and get to the action. The biggest and most pointless part of the film that could have been excised completely is this extended interaction where Antarctic guide Alexa Woods (Sanaa Lathan) goes back and forth about leading the team as they’re untrained and the mission timeframe is too tight. Of course, she winds up staying on because she doesn’t think her replacement is good enough so this conflict that feels tacked on winds up doing absolutely nothing but show the audience that Alexa is a good, moral person, something that comes across pretty naturally.

But, aside from a bit of a length problem, the rest of the movie’s actually a pretty fun ride. The crew gets split up inside the temple as the various hunters go about their business, thanks to some Cube-like shifts in the building’s structure. It’s a pretty well thought out movie, directed and co-written by Paul W.S. Anderson along with screen story credits going to Alien writers Dan O’Bannon and Ronald Shusett. They probably didn’t need to go to all of the trouble to set the flick on Earth, but what they did seemed to fit well with the existing worlds set up in the previous film.

Of course, the real test of a crossover movie’s success or failure lies in how cool the scenes look when the two different groups finally come together on screen. This film neither lacks those kinds of scenes in the latter half, nor do they disappoint. You not only get to see three different Predators doing their things, but also a pretty impressive cast of Aliens including a Queen running ripshot through this place leading up to the ultimate battle.

While expectations might have been incredibly high for Aliens Vs. Predator the first time around, we think it’s worth checking out further down the line with a better understanding of what’s actually happening in the film as opposed to what we want to.

Quick Movie Review: Mortal Kombat (1995)

I don’t think anything exemplifies the awesomeness of what it was like to be a kid in the 90s more than Mortal Kombat. In a pre-internet era, this game’s legend grew to a crazy-huge stature just by word of mouth. Very few kids had actually played it, but everyone knew someone who had, usually an older brother or cousin, and it sounded like the coolest, more violent thing in the world. Ah, those were the days.  I specifically remember talking to someone in the hallway of Christ The King grade school in Toledo, Ohio in the fifth, maybe fourth, grade about how you could punch through a dude’s chest and RIP HIS HEART OUT!!! That’s something you didn’t see every day back when Mario and Sonic were the stalwart video game characters of the day. I would go on to play a few of the Mortal Kombat games, but only through rentals and I was never very good at them. I remember the flurry of controversy stemming from these games and thinking the rating system the came as a result was bullshit because now my parents would know which games were violent and which ones weren’t (as a kid you’ve got a natural sixth sense about these things). It’s funny how tame these games seem now. Being a button masher, I’ve always been pretty terrible at fighting games. My brain just doesn’t have the ability to store all kinds of button combos and my thumbs aren’t articulate enough to pull them off even if I could. But, that doesn’t mean I don’t still have a soft spot in my heart for Mortal Kombat.

That’s a longwinded way of getting into something that’s supposed to be a quick review of a movie, but it comes from a place of nostalgia, which is probably why I liked this movie based on the game. I figured I’d be getting a pretty crazy action film when I moved Mortal Kombat to the top of my digital Netflix cue and I was not disappointed. Adding to the fun-ness is the fact that this bad boy was directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, a guy known for making over the top action movies like Alien vs. Predator and the new Death Race movie. Not being a huge student of the MK mythology, it was fun watching this movie and seeing how the different characters from the first two games came into play. Johnny Cage is a movie star, Sonia Blade is a cop who jumps on board the ship that takes everyone to the tournament and Goro’s just Goro. No, the movie’s not a masterpiece and much of the dialogue is delivered hamfistedly, but the action scenes were fun, the sets pretty crazy and the story, overall was fun and easy to follow. Had this not been based on a vague memory from childhood, I don’t think I would have cared as much or had as much fun and I’m sure if I was steeped in the mythos I might be a bit peeved at the changes, so I think this was the perfect movie for someone with my level expertise (ie very little). Plus, I liked tournament movies where the best of the best are brought together to face off, so it’s a good fit. I’d like to see an action/comedy look at this oft-used story frame actually. So, if you’re looking for a fun movie to check out with plenty of punching, air bicycle kicks and the guy from Highlander playing Raiden–and not very well, I might add–give this one a whirl.