Wednesday, March 20, 2013

"Evil Bong 3: The Wrath of Bong" - - This bong has issues, dude.

"Evil Bong 3: The Wrath of Bong" is the follow-up to "Evil Bong 2: King Bong." And when I say follow-up I mean it's a direct sequel which means if you didn't see Part 2, you're going to be lost for a good half hour of this movie.

But let's back up for a moment. Let's chill. Relax a little. Let's just kick back and listen to the awesome ending credits song for this movie.

I love that song. Never heard it before watching this movie. It's always nice to find gems like that.

OK, back to the review. When you see a movie titled "Evil Bong 3: The Wrath of Bong" you just have to watch it. Just like "The Gingerdead Man 2: The Passion of the Crust" or (ugh) "The Gingerdead Man 3: Saturday Night Cleaver," it's almost a gut reaction to pick it up. With a title that bad/clever it has to be at least worth watching for a few laughs. This movie was actually the reason I bought a 20 pack of movies (don't worry folks, only cost me $5). I thought "Even if this movie sucks the title rocks!"

And the movie is actually pretty good.

"EB3" follows the trials and tribulations of 3 stoners who, from the dialogue I have to assume have been in all three films. In this movie, they fight an Evil Bong who travels to Earth in a giant weed cocoon . . .

"I got 5 . . .million light years on it."

which crashes to the Earth. The result is creating a field of mind-controlling weed. Also anyone who touches the weed becomes covered in weed, and anyone who smokes from the Evil Bong gets transported to the Evil Bongs home dimension where alien women drain all their sperm to make a hybrid race. It's like Little Shop of Horrors meets the Blob meets my 20s.

Despite the fact the above plot sounds extremely stupid, well it is, but it's funny stupid. The acting is great, these guys really do seem like friends who care about each other's fate. That's the beauty of these low budget films: people do it for the love of making movies. Sure, they want to get paid, but they also want it to be fun.

I enjoyed watching this film. That's always the baseline I have for a movie. The movie did have a few big drawbacks though:

1)The sound mixing was a little dodgy and that's always a minus for me. You'll see me bring that up a lot in future reviews because it's always irritating to have to turn the volume up and down from scene to scene. This movie didn't have the worst (I'm looking at you, Ultimate Killing Machine!) but it did have issues

2) The movie relied heavily on the viewer seeing at least the second Evil Bong movie if not all three. By the time the second act rolls around the characters are spending too much time talking about past events that I started to tune out. Guys, think of your audience: half of them haven't seen the second movie and the other half did but don't remember it. Stoners aren't known for their recall abilities.

3) And this is  might seem like nitpicking but for me this was a huge issue:

That nurse. That damned nurse. She drains the life out of every scene she's in to the point where it's hard to listen to what the hell everyone else is saying. The nurse in this movie was beyond distracting. I don't know if she was cast for her looks but it definitely wasn't because of her screen presence or acting ability. She mimes her way through the remainder of the movie and every time she popped up on screen so did a migraine in my head. What is up with the whole mute thing? It's not funny. And then they cut to a close ups of her! She's like finding nothing but seeds and stems in your stash.

The movie was originally in 3-D so expect to see lots of people poking you in the face or oddly framed shots, but at this point it just adds to the goofy charm. Check out Evil Bong 3, but you might want to check out the first two beforehand.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

"Starship Troopers: Invasion" - - A Movie Made For Me

If nothing in that fan-made trailer looked interesting to you, then this movie is not for you. I know some fans of the movie may say that none of the quiet moments are shown and those are some of the best parts, but here's the thing: you're either into these CGI movies or you're not.

Here's the funny thing though. I generally don't like them.

It's not that I have a thing against CGI it's just they are not entertaining or they are entertaining but age really, really badly.

I am a huge Starship Troopers fan, which is what got me to watch it in the first place. But I've had this movie sitting on my shelf since it came out last year and just decided to watch it today so that should show how uninterested I was in watching it. In comparison, I saw the original movie the day it came out at theaters and the DVDs of the sequels within a week of them being released.

So as a huge Starship Troopers fan, including the animated series which was also CGI, I loved this movie. Loved it. It was everything you wanted in a fourth film: action, sex, bugs, intrigue . . .the only thing missing was the social commentary the last three had. That's regrettable because I've always thought that was a strong part of the franchise. That aside, I would recommend this movie if you are either a ST fan or a fan of CGI films.

If you're not, well . . .

This movie does have some great ideas: In the beginning they introduce a cast of about 20, and then maybe another 20 of background grunts. A good 20 minutes of the film is getting to know these characters. By the end there's six people left. You assume the grunts are always going to die but when the people who you really like die in an instant with no hero's death? That's war.

One great small scene in that section is of a young trooper who had his arm bit off in the first battle. He asks the doctor to not report the injury but the doctor, who is also the same age if not younger, says that he has to. The trooper then asks if he could at least minimize the report so his parents wouldn't know how bad it was. That small bit of dialogue sets up these men and women as real people. They have families who worry about them and who they worry about. Very good stuff for a cartoon movie.

We get elements of horror as the Mobile Infantry troops investigate an abandoned starship. Without gravity control, the lifeless bodies of the crew float down the darkened halls. Body parts, both human and bug, move silently as the only sound is the clicking of magnetized boots.

We get action scenes right out of blockbuster video games with troopers shooting down wave after wave of vicious bugs, a boss battle with an evolved Queen, and starship on starship combat.

But again, if the above video is as exciting to you as watching someone else play a video game, this movie is not for you. To me, scenes like that are made for people like me and they get my blood pumping just as much as a live action fight scene. Some people don't find it exciting. To each their own.

As for me, I am glad to welcome this film into my library and to the Starship Troopers franchise. Now I just have to spend the next few years worrying about the reboot . . .

Saturday, March 9, 2013

"The Never Ending Story Part 3" - - When Bad Meets Ugly

Update: When I first wrote this review I was so puzzled by it I forgot to actually "review" the film. It's boring even for a kid's movie and the acting and directing are subpar. Jack Black as the leader of the Nasties gang is the highlight of the film and even if you didn't know how his career would turn out you could tell his level of talent was far above the material of the film. Skip this flick unless you want to use it as a test to see how dumb your kids are.

The Neverending Story was a classic. I don't like to throw that term around, just like I don't like to keep declaring a movie being the "worst movie ever," but the original Neverending Story was a classic. To me at least. It had the epic journey, the highs and lows, the hero growing as well as affecting the world around him . . .classic stuff.

A lot of people will point out two scenes in particular from the first one that sticks out in their minds: The Swamps of Sadness scene and the Rock Biter scene.

Even if you don't watch the video, just look at that screen shot. The Nothing storms behind him, devouring reality. The Rock Biter's eyes are filled with sorrow. He is powerless to stop what cannot be stopped.

His monologue begins: "They look like big, good, strong hands." Here was a creature that towered over the landscape. He was a walking mountain and never in his life did he ever face something stronger than himself. The Nothing was Death, a force stronger than time. Later in the movie the wolf Gmork describes The Nothing as "despair" created by humans who have forgotten how to hope. That's some heavy shit for a kid's movie. And make no mistake, this movie was marketed towards kids.

Now let's watch the Rock Biter from "The Neverending Story 3: Escape from Fanstsia"

THAT is a kid's movie. That is a dumbed down version of a classic film in every possible way. Why is the Rock Biter singing classic rock? Why, in a franchise about the power of reading, is one of the main characters watching television? And less important but just curious; how do rock people have babies? Why would a woman made of rock have curlers in her rock hair, and wear a rock apron? Wouldn't that be like a human wearing an apron made of human flesh?

The plot of the movie is serviceable albeit basic. The Nasties, a mystical force of meanness and a group of bullies (led by a young Jack Black) in the real world, are causing havoc. A few of Fantasia's creatures get sucked into the real world. We get to see Falco the flying luck dragon sweet-talk a 747, the Rock Biter baby ham it up on a mountain (I think he goes to Mount Rushmore but I could just be remembering that from a fever dream). Some big tree who oddly is a stereotypical Jew stumbles around the forest, and two elves who keep complaining they are about to shit their pants (no joke) hang out in a box carried by Bastion, the hero from the first two movies. This annoying group of freaks try to get the Auryn back from the Nasties . . .never mind, the plot isn't even serviceable.

Looking back on the movie now, it's just a hodge-podge of lame jokes and even worse special effects. There's a point in the movie where it becomes less about following the plot when out of the blue things like this happen:

Why is that scene in the movie? If it's because the daughter, Bastion's step-sister, is mindlessly watching TV then was do we see the Rock Biter baby doing the same thing early? I guess if it's rock and roll it's OK, since that's what the Rock Biter baby (I'm so sick of even writing his name) was watching. But the mom turns and see this:

she visibly shudders! They're not packing guns, or rapping about hos. Those guys are literally just entering through a fence somewhere and this is the mom's facial expression:

Why is this scene in the movie? That is basically what you are asking yourself the whole time you are watching it. Why is the tree a Jewish stereotype? Why does the ending show a chick with a Auryn tattoo? Is that Moonchild? Then why is she with the Nasties? When the Nasties find the Neverending story and realize it can warp reality, their only plan is to beat up Bastion. Why? In the first movie, the Nothing was created by humanity. In this one the Nasties makes people mean. Shouldn't it be the other way around? Wouldn't that be more profound; the world grows colder as Bastion grows up so his imagination is taking a beating. That's a story worth telling. That would be a fitting end to the trilogy. Keep in the garbage special effects. You can even keep in the rock baby wearing a rock diaper.

Just tell me a good story.