2012 Friday B-Movie Picks

My Friday B-Movie picks from the Blog for 2012

Wesley Snipes plays 'the Day Walker', a sorta half Vampire who can withstand daylight, and really, really hates Vampires. They killed his mother you see. Fun flick, got Kung Fu, sword fu, machine pisol fu, and for extra added bonus B-Movie credit, Traci Lords!

Colossus - The Forbin Project
HT to my friend John for reminding me of this Cold War era classic. A 1969 spin on the classic Frankenstein story, except this time it's with highly "intelligent" super computers running the nuclear arsenals of both the United States and the Soviet Union.

Jonah Hex
I caught most of this turkey on cable and oh, it was sooooo bad. Bad acting, bad scrip and Megan Fox. Even a dial in performance by John Malkovich (and a Malkovich dial in is still pretty good) couldn't help this truely bad film. OK, decent special effects, but a bad film none the less.

A modern spy thriller with a nice Cold War feel to it. Good cast, great action and visually pleasing. Fire up the popcorn and enjoy.

Digital Assassin
Way back when, I was working on some of the first commercial grade digital movie servers. One of our customers was a large pay for view service, so as part of the testing process, I had to watch a lot of B-Movies. This turkey was one of them. It has since be released under a new name, probably in an attempt to get anybody to watch it who wasn't required to, like I was. So if you run across Cyberjack, same movie. Makes your typical B-Movie look like a snooty art film. Quick summary, Michael Dudikoff plays an alcoholic ex-cop haunted by the criminal who killed his partner. He is currently working as the alcoholic janitor of a high tech research facility that produces sophisticated computer viruses. The facility is taken over by a criminal gang lead by, yup, you guessed it, the same criminal who haunts the janitor's cheap booze soaked nightmares. The drunken janitor must face his fears and remember all the training in close quarters urban combat with assault rifles that he learned as a rookie street cop and save the day. Brion James plays the criminal in question and delivers the best acting in the movie. The only other notable part of the movie was Suki Kaiser, providing good eye candy as the beautiful and brilliant Dr. Alex Royce.
If there were still Drive-In movie theaters in numbers enough to matter, this would be the second feature that you ignore in order to have cramped car sex with your date.

Navy SEALs
This movie was made in 1990, back when Hollywood wasn't afraid to have Muslim terrorists be the bad guys. Charlie Sheen pulled off what was a badly written character as well as it could be expected. It was Michael Biehn who really shined in this film though. This was the first of at least three times he play a Navy SEAL. A good action flick where the bad guys get shot, stabbed, drown and blown up. Think of it as low budget way to get ready for Act of Valor, which is current playing in theaters and has real Navy SEALs playing the Navy SEALs. It also has Muslim terrorists as bad guy, which bucks the trend Hollywood has been following. A trend that has resulted in movies that suck and don't make much money.

The Warrior Way
Cowboys and Ninjas. Hell ya! Good cast, lots of action, including much, much sword fu, knife fu and gun fu. Plus a seriously bad bad guy. Worth the popcorn.

Woody Allen's latest movie. I was a bit hestitant about watching this after the horribly bad Curse of the Jade Scorpion, but I figured at worst, Scarlett Johansson might provide some decent eye candy, which she does BTW. I was pleasantly surprised that this flick was much better than the last effort I saw by the Woodman, but then that bar wasn't set very high. At least he didn't cast himself as the romantic lead in this one, instead taking the role of the helpful elder, sort like your goofy uncle who alway avoided those 'respectible' jobs. Hugh Jackman supplies the eye candy for those who aren't into curvy blonde females. You won't be studying this one in film school, unless you are doing a theis on Woody Allen, but this one was worth the rental and home made popcorn.

The Three Musketeers
I saw the 2011 version of this classic tale last weekend, and I have a love/hate relationship with this movie. In some ways it was great Three Musketeers movie. The locations, the costumes, and the sword work was top notch. There was some brillant casting this movie as well. Notably Ray Stevenson as Porthos and Christoph Waltz as the Cardinal. James Corden as the servant Planchet was also a fine bit of casting. He really did well as the comic relief in the film.

Then there were parts that were not anywhere near the original story, not that Dumas probably would have like them. Namely the wetsuit, used for stealthy approaches under the water of Venician canals, and the airships. Not Zeppelins, but period warships with big cigar shaped hot air ballons that allowed them to fly in a way that physics would not let them do. Oh, did I mention the really good special effects and green screen work? In case you missed this flick in the three weeks it was on the big screen, it was shot in 3D, by the director of the 3D Resident Evil movie. Said director is married to Milla Jovovich, who was in this movie as well, playing the villainess, Milady De Winter. She was actually really good as the devious Lady of mystery, intrigue and all around femme fatale spy. The Resident Evil style stunts and fight scenes were a bit over the top though. Ya, it was cool watching her take out a half dozen Palace guards in full period dress, giant skirt and all. It just might have been cooler for Jovovich to have done the role without the stunts she is famous for. The rest of her performance in the film certainly gave the impression that she could have pulled it off quite nicely.
In all, a fine bit of B-Movie for an evening home with flatscreen and popcorn.

2009 Lost Memories
Good South Korean SciFi action flick. An alternate history story where a small group of Japanese change history so Japan was on the winning side of WWII. A side effect of that was Korea being part of the greater Japanese empire, and not an independent country. A "Korean" investigator working for the Japanese National Police Force stumbles on this secret and goes down that rabbit hole! Good action flick well worth the rental.

Cowboys and Aliens
The title pretty much sums the plot. OK, more like Cowboys vs. Aliens. Daniel Crag and Harrison Ford lead the Cowboy (and Indian) forces against the aliens. Both play hard, tough men who have a softer side, that few ever see. Plenty of action, including good special effects. This is a fun action flick that should have done better in the theaters.

High Road to China
From 1983 comes this action romance tale set in the 1920s. Tom Selleck plays a former WWI fighter pilot hired to take a rich heiress, played by Bess Armstrong, to fly her to China in order to find her father and save her fortune. Of course, you have her father's evil business partner who doesn't want her to succeed so he can have all the money. A classic from the age of the VCR, recently released in DVD and Blu-ray

X-Men: First Class
If you knew nothing about the X-Men and just wanted to see an action comic book superhero movie, this would have been a decent movie. Of course, they did the standard tossing to the wind of decades of history generated by the X-Men comics. Given that, it was almost painful to watch. Some of the things they did to the Marvel Universe was on par with the fictional soap opera, The Sun Also Sets, making Montana Moorehead the daugther of Maggie.

Our Man Flint and In Like Flint
Double feature today! Both Derek Flint movies staring James Coburn. Coburn was an icon of cool back in the mid 60s (these movies came out in 1966 & 1967). He was also a personal student of Bruce Lee. Watch his fight scenes carefully in these films. These were the Austin Powers movies of their day. They were the best of the spy spoof genre spawned by the popular James Bond films.

The Wrath of Khan
Let us set the Way Back Machine to 1982. Yup, 30 years ago, the best Star Trek movie ever was released. This one had the original TOS cast, with Leonard Nimoy directing, a fine looking Kirstie Alley as the Vulcan Lt. Saavik, and Ricardo Montalban as Khan. One of the reasons this movie was so cool was that they took it away from Roddenberry and put in more military style uniforms, and modeled the space battles after Age of Sail naval battles instead of cold war submarine battles. If you grew up on TNG, DS9, or Lord have mercy, Voyager, do yourself a favor and check The Wrath of Khan out.

This 1997 film is best known for where Uma Thurman meets the man who would become her ex-husband. Other than the ex-Mr. Thurman, it really has a pretty good cast. Uma Thurman, who went on to fame in the Kill Bill movies, Ernest Borgnine, Tony Shalhoub, Jude Law and Alan Arkin give the movie some serious acting chops. SNL's Maya Rudolph had a brief scene as well, one of her early "serious" acting jobs. The movie focuses on an old SciFi concept, when science allows parents to start editing their children's genes to create "perfect" humans, what happens to those who didn't have their genes tweaked? A good film, but not a great one.

Steven Soderbergh directed this film built around Muy Thai and MMA fighter Gina Carano. So ya, the fight scenes kick ass. Otherwise this a pretty boiler plate spy thriller with some suprising A List actors: Michael Fassbender, Ewan MacGregor, Antonio Banderas and Michael Douglas. While I did call this a boiler plate spy thriller, it's a Steven Soderbergh film, so the level of boiler plate was set pretty damn high. Even with all of star power, it is Carano kicking ass and not bothering to take names that really make this film.

Total Recall
Let us set the WayBack Machine to 1990, when Arnold Schwarzenegger ruled the action movie kingdom. Total Recall draws its SciFi roots from the Phillip K. Dick short story, "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale." From there, it jams the action meter up to 11. The special effects were ground breaking and Oscar winning for the time. This was probably the last big budget Hollywood film made before CGI special effects became the rule rather than the rare exception. With the remake coming out this summer, take the time to check out the original film. Oh, and take the time to read some Phillip K. Dick as well.

We're keeping the Schwarzenegger action movie theme rolling with the 1996 flick, Eraser. The plot is about...OK, let us be honest here, the plot isn't the cornerstone of this movie. It's an Arnold Schwarzenegger action movie for crying out loud. It's about the action. That isn't to say this movie doesn't have a great cast, and I'm just not talking about Vanessa Villiams role as 'damsel in distress'/eye candy. Nope, serious acting chops in this one, with James Caan and James Coburn topping the list. James Cromwell and Robert Pastorelli are also raising the acting bar on this film. Hands down, James Caan has the best line in the movie, "I can't believe you nailed me with this cheap piece of mail-order shit!", which he delivers after Arnold's character stabs him with a belt buckle knife.

Executive Summary: Lt. Uhura kills a lot of Columbian drug gang members, and a lot of other people as well. Ok, it's Zoe Saldana, who played Lt. Uhura in the Star Trek reboot movie. She plays the daughter of a 'wet work' specialist for a Columbian drug lord. There is a falling out and the drug lord has her parents killed. Of course they are killed by getting shot to doll rags right in front of her. She escapes, and makes her way from Columbia to Chicago. There she finds her maternal uncle, who takes a break from beating a man tied to a chair for touching reunion with niece. Now flash foward and the kid is now an adult and an experienced assassin. She gets herself arrested, so she will be in the same jail as her next target. She changes into a catsuit, slips out of her cell, kills the target, slips back into her cell and is released before the feds lock the jail down. Yes, she is that bad ass. The final fight scene is the best part of the movie through. Really nicely done and down and dirty.

The Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption
This turkey could fly about as well as the ones the WKRP staff had shoved out of helicopter. The "name" actors in this were Ron Perlman and Billy Zane. I can only hope they did this because they needed the money for their kids' braces. Bad script, bad acting, low budget, all the elements of a hack B-Movie are here. The one plus is that they shot in Thailand, so they got the elephants cheap. Just how a the main character and his Germananic barbarian sidekick made from the desert to Thailand is kinda glossed over. Don't ask how the Roman soldiers, with the overly long swords, made it there either. Really, that is easier to buy into than the Forest Ninja. Yes, I said Forest Ninja. Really, by this point in the film, you've given up on any hope of good movie and are along for the ride. They don't explain why the Book of the Dead was in Thailand either. There are worse movies you could watch, like Cyberjack, but really, do yourself a favor and rewatch old epiodes of UFO, Firefly or Babylon 5. I'm not kidding here, Leonard Pinth-Garnell could do a special on this flick.

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance
This second outing in the Ghost Rider francise is B-Movie making at it's B grade average, down to the required Wilhelm scream. Shot in Eastern Europe, primarily to keep the costs down, but it also gave some great location shots. Nicholas Cage turned the crazy up a few notches in his deliverance of the cursed and soul tortured Johnny Blaze. The level of bad guy was turned up a few notches as well. Ciaran Hinds can play the bad guy quite well. An OK movie for a rental at home with popcorn and bourbon.

This Is Spinal Tap
Set the Wayback Machine to 1984 for this classic Rock mockumenary. Rob "Meathead" Reiner was the actual director as well as the fictional director in this film about the back stage antics of the Heavy Metal Hair band, Spinal Tap. A cult comedy classic complete with a string of drummers that die of various means, including re-accuring spontainous combustion. My favorite was the one who choked to death on vomit, but not his own. Who produced the vomit remains shrouded in mystery.

The fellows who played Spinal Tap will appear again, and again, in other mockumenaries, Best in Show and A Mighty Wind, for example.

Terminator 2: Judegment Day
Arnold Schwarzenegger came back. This was a well done sequel that expands on the original. This 1991 (yes, it is old enough to order its own booze) movie had ground breaking special effects. It was also a good vehicle for Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor. She went through extensive training, including advanced weapons handling, to prepare for the role. Robert Patrick became a SciFi icon as the T-1000 Terminator. The movie is also noted for its use of identical twins to portray both the character and the T-1000 imitating the character. One of the pairs of identical twins was Linda Hamilton and her sister. Her sister is a nurse, and this was her one acting gig.

Sharpe's Challenge
After a long break from the Sharpe series of movies, Sean Bean returns to the role of Richard Sharpe. This time he has to travel to India to save his ex-NCO, played by Daragh O'Malley. They had the budget to actually film this in India, so ya, really nice location shots, and a beautiful Indian actress to play the femme fatale. A good solid action flick set in the hayday of the British Empire. It stands alone well, but you may want to watch the entire series before watching this. I did, and it was time well spent. After watching these, you will know how to fire three rounds a minute from a musket!

Terminal Invasion
Bruce Campbell in all his B-Movie glory! Filmed in Canada back in 2002, this low budget beauty co-stars the former ST:DS9 Dabo girl, Chase Masterson, as the plucky pilot. All the action takes place in a small airport terminal, were a group of hostile aliens are trying to kill everyone. Yes, cue the drum snare for the double meaning in the title.

Next Wednesday is Halloween, so we're going with the classics:

Young Frankenstein
The Mummy
An American Werewolf in London
Innocent Blood

The Expendables
Arnold Schwarzenegger is back again. OK, not a big role, but he is in this flick, along with most of the big action movie stars from the 80s, 90s, and a couple of kids who were doing action flicks in the early 00s. Don't expect Oscar performances here, just a lot of action and explosions. The actors had a good time making this film and it shows. Fire up the popcorn and enjoy.

The Commitments
The story of a group of young Dubliners who form a Soul group. Why, because the Irish are the Blacks of Europe, and Dubliners are the Blacks of Ireland. A fun film with really good music and good characters.

Casino Royale
Not the recent Bond franchise reboot, but the 1967 comedy version. A great cast including David Niven as the original James Bond, Woody Allen as his nephew Jimmy Bond, Peter Sellers, Ursula Andress, Orsen Wells, and a few other cameo shots by actors you should recognize. I'm a fan of the Austin Powers movies, but Casino Royale proves that you could squeeze every last drop of Mojo out of Austin, and the whole batch would not be as cool as David Niven's mustache alone!

Doctor Who: Genesis of the Daleks
Reaching back to 1975, we find this classic from the Tom Baker, the 4th Doctor, era. The Time Lords send the Doctor, Sarah and Harry back to the creation of the Doctor's greatest enemy, the Daleks! It has that low budget mid 70s BBC look, but carries it off well. If you only know the new Doctor series (Numbers 9, 10 and 11), check this out.

Total Recall
Not the Schwarzenegger classic, but the remake that left out Mars entirely. An OK flick if you judge it on its own, but it pales to the original. Not that it didn't try and it did have some real hat tips to the original. They also roped in the Bladerunner look and feel for the streets of "the colony", as they were calling Austrilia in the film. There was even a Mr and Mrs Smith reference thrown in. Fun to watch for the fight and chase scenes, as well as the leading lady eye candy factor (Kate Becinsale and Jessica Biel for the double w00t!). Ok for a rental, but not worth the added cost for the less than useless Ultraviolet crap you are forced to pay for in order to get a DVD/BluRay version.

2008 Friday B Movie Picks.
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