Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Double Doody! Ha ha ha, I said doody.

So we were watching 'Resident Evil' the other day, which, as video game movies go, is not bad (aside from some laughably dated effects, which are only laughable because we're so fucking arrogantly advanced that we forget that 10 years ago, mid-budget effects were...10 years younger than they are now). It reminded me that 99% of video game movies are reeeeeeeal shitbombs, as Austin would say.

Falling squarely in this category is 'Double Dragon,' a movie which also fits the 'Seriously? This movie was made in XXXX?' category (much like our previous outing, 'Timeline.'). This movie came out in 1994. You might be deluded into thinking it came out in 19SEVENTY4, due to the overall shittiness of its execution, but that would be offensive to movies made in 1974.

I never played this game, although I remember it from going to the arcade/mini golf place we would go to on the weekends. This shit is OLD SKOOL, friends. And yet it took almost 10 years from the inception of the game to make this movie. What happened in the interim, you ask? Well, certainly not story or visual development, that's for sure! What's this movie about, you ask? It's about a video game, people! Whaddaya want, Schopenhauer?

In the beginning a bunch of monks are getting beaten up by a gang led by a shadowy figure wearing a rad ninja outfit covered in Chiclets. Turns out the shadowy figure is a blonde girl BENT ON EVIL!?!1!?! Then we go to super-futuristic LA 2007, where everything is falling apart because of the giant earthquakes we used to be afraid of in the 80s but now don't really care about anymore because hurricanes are way scarier, and we discover that the dude who played the T-1000 is actually the mastermind BENT ON EVIL. Wearing a dashing ensemble reminiscent of Hollywood's outfits in 'Mannequin,' the T-1000 twirls his mustache and tells us he's looking for the other half of a bargain-basement plastic gold Double Dragon medallion that will allow him to control the universe, or whatever.

Uh-huh. Hang on a sec, let's look at the badass T-1000, just so you get a picture in your mind of what Robert Patrick was doing three years BEFORE this movie.

Riiiiight, OK.

We find out the owner of the missing plastic necklace is a lady at a guerrilla kickboxing tournament, where the bad guy from 'Karate Kid' (I WISH) beats the 2 Double Dragon brothers from the video game (thanks, Wikipedia). One brother is clearly a professional martial artist; the other brother is Scott Wolf from 'Party of Five.' THIS SHIT IS WATCHABLE!

You're thanking me already, aren't you. Hang on, it gets better. A wacky newscast run by Vanna White, George Hamilton and Andy Dick (THE FUTURE IS AMAZING) informs us that future LA is basically just as dangerous and crappy as current LA, the only difference being that Jerry Brown is the Vice President OH WAIT HA HA ha. The brothers and the lady (their mom, or aunt, or something) drive around giving zero fucks about how dangerous and crappy it is, because they are driving a goddamn woody station wagon outfitted to look like a petroleum refinery. I mean, it shoots flame and everything.

After a super intense chase scene where thugs use 1994's version of Googlemaps to chase the station wagon, our heroes are saved by the awesomest thing ever: a ragtag spray-painted gang of clowns called 'The Power Corps,' led by:

EXQUISITE! (BTW, I am making fun here out of sheer jealousy. Milano is my age but looks a good 15 years younger. Whatever Faustian deal she made, it's working for her. Slow claps for Alyssa Milano!)

Back at the ranch, the Dragon Twins are attacked by the T-1000, 'coz he really wants that medallion. While the legit martial artist does legit martial arts, Scott Wolf says witty quips and does a shit job of trying to do martial arts. They should have just cut away from him, man. We don't wanna see that. What we DO wanna see is the cool olde-tymey animation that happens when the T-1000 uses the plastic medallion to turn into one of those terrifying demon things from 'Ghost.' The Dragon Twins run away before their place blows up with their aunt (or whoever she was) still inside. Holy shitsnacks - you in danger, girl!

On to what's important, i.e. Alyssa Milano's costume. She spends the bulk of the movie wearing this:

...which is not her fault, because she probably thought it was dope at the time (as is evidenced from this proudly posed promotional pic). Unfortunately for her, this has become legend. And, because the demographic for this movie was ignorant fifth graders, the poor woman also had to do this:

I'm going to cut her slack on this one, since the misogyny is so fucking overt I can't even. Anyhow, all the guys wear baggy sweatshirts with fake logos on them tucked into pleated pants, so, glass houses.

After a bunch of who-cares-wasn't-paying-attention the Dragon Twins seek out help from the Clown Factory, or whatever it's called. Their hideaway is made of win: mini golf, giant spinning fans, graffiti and Crystal Waters blasting. Fuck, YES! They bust into the T-1000's Hitler-esque aerie where they have to fight a bunch of zombies, including a basketball player zombie who asks them if they missed him. From when? When he played with the Lakers? When he was away at zombie school? I don't understand. All I know is the zombies might be the exact same characters from 'Weird Science,' when Lisa summons a biker gang from hell to help Anthony Michael Hall and the other guy who's now an English teacher get girlfriends. Come to think of it, there are a lot of parallels to 'Weird Science' with this movie. There's even a mutated dude who reminds me of Chet.

The biker zombies, in retaliation, bust into the clown college, and there's a big fight with a lot of quips, which I assume is how the video game goes? Lots of quips? Yes? No? Speaking of 'Weird Science,' I'm also reminded a bit of the scene in 'Some Kind of Wonderful' where the same bikers bust into the rich boy's party to teach everyone a lesson. Only these guys are WAY scarier because their leader is Elias Koteas, and that guy doesn't have to be a zombie to muthafucking bring it.

Yikes! During all of this the T-1000 turns into the legit martial artist brother and fights Scott Wolf for the medallion thing. I mean...he could just put him in a hold and take the medallion off his neck. Or he could just reach over and grab it. It's just hanging there. But I keep forgetting this is a video game from the 80s, and therefore the normal conventions of anything remotely resembling a sensible plot have been chucked out with the bathwater!

There's more fighting - again, I keep forgetting this is a game, so no matter how bunk the fighting is, it has to be in there - and the T-1000 gets the opportunity to do this again:

...followed by this:

...and this:

...which pretty much sums up what the end of this movie is like, until we get to the closing credits. Then, the name Neal Shusterman punches me in the face. Shusterman, author of awesome children's books, responsible for this?! Well...I guess everybody's gotta make a dollar and a cent in this business.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Let the Medieval Times begin!

'Timeline.' A movie about a bunch of nerds going back in time to a battle. If that premise doesn't set your loins on fire, don't bother reading further.

I had to look this one up to get proof it came out in 2003. Everything about it - and I mean EVERYTHING - smacks of 1998. It feels like 'Sphere' and "Armageddon' got drunk, fucked, got pregnant, went through with it and birthed out this mess.

IF ONLY Janeane Garofalo had shown up in this! I remember getting a copy of this book for like 50 cents at a used bookstore back east for some summer reading, back in the day when I would enjoy a solid Michael Crichton or Stephen King on the crapper. As with all pleasurably preposterous Crichton stories, this one had some SCIENCE in it that somehow he made you believe was possible, because, who doesn't want to believe that you can go into a time machine and go back to Ye Oldene Daze of France, where everyone smelt of elderberries? Like, duh.

The SCIENCE in this story has to do with a wormhole that takes you to rural France in 1357 (which I personally think is a waste of an Einstein-Rosen Bridge. You have a wormhole and it takes you there? Why couldn't it take you to the early 1930s so you could stop Hitler? Or to a million years in the future on Kepler, so you could party with aliens?). I can't really remember how it all went in the book, so I'll just stick to the movie here, wherein Bill Gates, sporting a sweater vest, runs a covert facility where they spend a jillion dollars to go back and forth to rural France by using a time machine built out of mirrors. In 1357. Because, again, that is DEFINITELY where you want your wormhole to go.

After about twenty minutes into this movie, I started to feel like Alex here. Making it through actually was like living through the Hundred Years' War, which is what the nerds spent the bulk of the movie running around in. I know there was some plot involved, and finding a tunnel, and the French and the English, but really, who gives a fuck. Movies like this (see 'Stargate,' 'Deep Blue Sea,' 'The Core,' 'Deep Impact,' etc etc etc etc etc) are all about the running and the screaming, and scientists talking frantically over each other about SCIENCE, and ten minutes of blatantly expository dialogue in the beginning, including this repeated question: "Wait, are you telling me that [Insert ludicrous premise here]?!" (Except that 'Stargate' is awesome, apologies.)

In these movies, everyone accepts the SCIENCE immediately, so the movie can hustle along. Bill Gates tells the nerds he's going to fax them to 1357 and they're all, like, "OK," even though the Well-Built Female Hardcore Archaeologist wonders, "Do we look like quantum wormhole specialists?" I have an answer for that: Yes. Yes, you totally do.

Known pussy marauder Gerard Butler only gets his shirt off once in 'Timeline,' and I bet it was a clause in his contract. The rest of the time he runs around like everyone else in medieval togs that look like they came from a local church production of 'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.' Money back, please! Frankly, I wouldn't have minded if Paul Walker got his kit off too, but no joy. Looking especially postmormon, he does an excellent job of not convincing anybody that he's not from southern California, especially when he wanders into a scene clearly wearing what he had on when he came on-set that day: a skater sweatshirt, Dickies, and Chuck Taylors. It makes it all the more believable that his dad is a respected Irish archaeologist!

So if we're talking 1998 (again, I refuse to believe this movie was made in 2003), we need the usual suspects for an ensemble movie about SCIENCE:

In the 90s Gerard Butler's hair was luscious! I might even go so far as to say he's hearkening back to the glory days of the Theatre Nerd from 'Sleeping With the Enemy.' He plays the Well-Built Male Hardcore Archaeologist who's been working on this dig in France for years and yet doesn't even know how to say a single word in French. He is super-psyched to go back in time and practice chivalry, the rules of which he immediately violates when he macs on the Hot Tomboy Royal Lady he meets.

Paul Walker is a mayo sandwich with limp iceberg lettuce and Kraft Singles on stale Wonderbread, but he is also hot, and that is SCIENCE. He plays the Fish Out Of Water who goes back in time because a)he's worried about his dad and b)the Well-Built Female Hardcore Archaeologist is also going back in time, and he wants to get with that. His dudebro accent is so thick it's almost impossible to understand what he says, and yet everybody in 1357 France seems to have no problem with it.

Frances O'Connor is the Well-Built Female Hardcore Archaeologist, also sporting an unintelligible accent (why, in these movies, can't English actors just use their own accents? We won't mind, we promise.). It's lucky we see she is a rock climber, because she's going to use that skill during critical beats in the movie, which is how all of these one-dimensional character stereotypes operate in movies about SCIENCE.

Billy Connolly is the Wise Old Dude the nerds have to save from the battle. He's actually not very wise at all in this movie and just kind of meanders around being irritating. I wouldn't have included him, except there has to be an older person in the group to make the younger people look hotter.

Ethan Embry is the Hip Nerdy Scientist, who usually comes along in order to drop witty quips about SCIENCE and generally bumble along, but in this movie he stays in modern times and hangs out with Bill Gates. Plus, it's his job to ask repeatedly, "Wait, are you telling me that [Insert ludicrous premise here]?!" Boooo-riiiing. However, he gets a pass from me and should from you as well, because, 'Empire Records.'

Same goes for Anna Friel, who plays the Hot Tomboy Royal Lady. 'Pushing Daisies,' 'nuff said.

There are a few other disposable people, including the lousiest Marine ever and his boss Bill Gates, but we don't care about them. There's a lot of running and screaming, as I pointed out, and, like, battling, and it all looks boring because this movie was shot in Canadia. In the end, Gerard Butler decides to stay in 1357 with the Hot Tomboy Royal Lady, because he prefers not having indoor plumbing and antibiotics, and the three remaining stereotypes come back to modern times - but not before switching places with Bill Gates, who's trying to sabotage his own machine because of some random plot point. Bill Gates gets his comeuppance by showing up in 1357 just in time to get pwned with a broadsword. Everyone lives happily ever after, except for the people who died horribly. Ultimately, the moral question this movie poses is: WWBaTD?