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Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Zombie vs. shark, etc.
I caught three movies over the weekend. Maybe I should have seen three highly-praised films like "Good Night and Good Luck," "Capote" or "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang." I hear good things about that last one. All the cool kids are calling it the new "Big Lewbowski." Further encouragement to see it can be found here.
But why pay to watch something respectable that will add another fold to my brain when I could:
1. Watch a movie where a zombie fights a shark?
2. Watch another movie about a talking chicken in 3-D?
3. Watch a third movie where Jon Stamos saves "the city" from a dastardly plot orchestrated by Gene Simmons and an army of Mad Max extras?
Case rested? Not quite. Let me further explain myself in a series of mini-reviews.
MINI-REVIEW # 1: "Zombie"
The other 90 minutes of this film could have been anything. One continuous shot of mold growing in an Outback Steakhouse kitchen or an elderly woman knitting. But because "Zombie" contains a scene where a topless photographer is saved from a shark attack by a zombie that just so happens to wandering by in an underwater lagoon, I had to see it eventually. Last weekend's Grindhouse Film Festival at the Hollywood Theater finally presented the opportunity so, obviously, I took it.
The rest of "Zombie" is a by-the-numbers zombie film that doesn't hold a candle to anything George Romero did with the genre but it's worth a look for "zombie vs. shark" and the probably the most unintentionally hilarious final shot in cinema history. I won't say wins the fight but the big fishie does tear off his opponent's arm.
MINI-REVIEW # 2: "Chicken Little" in 3-D
Revolting confession time: for reasons even I can't explain, I've seen every single full-length animated feature put out by Disney (direct-to-video doesn't count). This list includes "Home on the Range," which is one of the worst movies I've ever sat through and "Victory Through Airpower," a little seen propaganda feature the studio put out during WW2. I was determined to put an end to this run by deliberately not seeing "Chicken Little." Not in a theater, not on DVD, not on TV, not while stuck on a plane, never. But then I read an article about the company "revolutionizing" 3-D and, with nothing better to do on a Sunday night, I took a sibling to see it.
We had to pay an extra $1.50 for two pairs of official "Chicken Little" glasses and, while the movie isn't going to knock Miyazaki off an full-length animated pedestal, it wasn't all that bad. It's passable, inoffensive, instantly forgettable cinematic sugar for tots and their parents and, unlike Dreamworks' string of computer-animated crapulence, this didn't contain a lame pop culture reference every 2.5 seconds. "Chicken Little" is roughly 1/4 as good as "Lilo and Stich" but 1000% better than "Madagascar" (saw it at the 99 West while waiting for "Batman Begins" to start. Gimme a break). As for the 3-D, they're really on to something here. When it's being pumped out of a digital projector, 3-D isn't hard on the eyes and lacked the jitter of every other movie I've seen in this format.
MINI-REVIEW #3: "Never Too Young to Die"
By now every single human being on the planet has read David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest. As you already know, the centerpiece of the novel is a movie so incredibly mesmerizing that it forces viewers into a bliss-filled catatonic state. While the author never completely reveals the subject matter of the film (some theorize it's a looped-shot of the inside of the womb), I'm convinced the author was inspired by this long forgotten slice of '80s cheese. Yes, Virginia, there is a movie where Jon Stamos defeats a supervillian (played by Gene Simmons) with the awesome power of gymnastics. This isn't to say it's the best thing ever (ok, maybe it is) but the movie is completely mesmerizing.
"Never Too Young to Die" isn't available on DVD but can be found on eBay or, if you're in the Portland area, Movie Madness. If you track down a copy and wind up in a waking coma, you can blame "Flog" for recommending it to me and "Lionel Bifida for recommending it to him. This thing is sort of like the video from 'The Ring," but without anything bad resulting (I think). Hey, if you've read this entire review, I've successfully passed this Stamos curse on to you. You've got seven days to track down a copy or...yeah, nothing at all will happen to you. On the other hand, you may wake up with an Uncle Jesse-style haircut in a week. If this happens, I apologize in advance. Sorry.
Oh, it should also be noted that Simmons plays a she-male supervillian. Really.
For a complete synopsis with photos, click here.
BONUS REVIEW: George Carlin's "Life is Worth Losing"
Carlin has been butting his head against the borders of comedy for, what, 50 years now? In each of his numerous HBO comedy specials, audiences laughed at his "7 Dirty Words" bit, his gags about finally giving up Catholicism to worship Joe Pesci, abortion, 9/11 and *gasp* even rape. But in his most recent special, the audience stuck mostly to nervous chuckles. In the last decade, Carlin's humor has come to define dark comedy but, perhaps with no other taboo subject left to conquer, he's moved on to suicide. Sheesh, maybe he shouldn't have kicked the wine and pain-killers. This new special is more de-motivational nihilism from an bitter old crank than 90 minutes of brilliant stand-up from a comedy legend. While the bit about extremely overweight people having sex is gangbusters, after watching this I'll be depressed until March. Or at least until I track down another copy of "Never Too Young to Die."