Everything Is Nice

Beating the nice nice nice thing to death (with fluffy pillows)

Posts Tagged ‘films

Zombie Strippers (2008)

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The film opens with a news bulletin informing that us that George W Bush has just been elected for a fourth term and that due to the lack of soldiers caused by the dozens of wars the US is fighting across the world scientists are experimenting with re-animating dead tissue. We then immediately cut to a research centre where said experiment has gone very wrong, zombies are loose and an army unit has been sent in to wipe them out. In the course of this one of the unit is bitten and, not wanting to be executed by his colleagues, escapes out of a window. Into a strip club.

This club is called the Rhinocerous which – extraordinarily, bafflingly, pointlessly – is a nod to the play of the same name by Eugène Ionesco. You expect reference to this classic of the Theatre Of The Absurd in a work like The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera, you are less likely to expect it in a work called Zombie Strippers. There is precious like evidence of a deep engagement with the text though, it mostly just does what it says on the tin: there are zombies, there are strippers and there are zombie strippers. After the cheap, crude but mercifully brief introduction we are treated to half an hour of pole-dancing before stripper-in-chief Jenna Jameson gets bitten. As luck would have it, zombies make excellent strippers and soon the dancers want in on the act.

That is about all there is to the film. There are some attempts at humour and some pretence of social commentary but both pitifully weak. I hoped this would be an intelligent exploitation flick like Planet Terror, instead it is unreconstructed exploitation trash with an incredibly thin veneer of postmodern justification over the top. Basically it only exists to allow you will see four pairs of exposed breasts. Once again I’m remind how hard it is to make a good B-movie.

Written by Martin

18 January 2009 at 15:19

Posted in films, sf

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Klaatu Barada Nikto!

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I mentioned Todd Alcott when I wrote about the diabolical Steven Spielberg version of War Of The Worlds. He has now completed his analysis: part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4. As I suggested, he is unfazed by implausibility and stupidity.

Elsewhere Peter Bradshaw reviews the remake of The Day The Earth Stood Still:

The alien is called Klaatu, and Keanu Reeves (whose first name doesn’t sound that much different) is perhaps the only plausible casting, given that David Bowie is now too advanced in years to fall to earth again without breaking something… As ever, Keanu’s speech patterns really only suit a non-Earthling role. There’s something in that halting, quizzical delivery – which for a second promises droll comedy, and in the next second delivers only a baffling blankness – which indicates that carbon-based life forms are not entirely his thing.

Written by Martin

12 December 2008 at 11:57

Me And My Stupid Blog

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I saw WALL-E yesterday. It was good. But this isn’t a post about Wall-E, no, this is a post about my internet nemesis!

Last year I gently mocked Gary Westfahl’s not very good review of Sunshine on Locus Online:

The definitive case of writing about the film you wished you’d seen rather than the film you did see? It even has shooting directions!

I’m impressed that this is the only review of the film I’ve read that doesn’t mention Event Horizon. Instead he seems to believe the audience will be concerned that it rips off Conquest of Space and Riders to the Stars.

At the beginning of June (a year later) Westfahl wrote a review of Dreams with Sharp Teeth for Locus. It includes the following passage:

I must proceed carefully now, since I have been accused of reviewing the films I wished to see and not the films I saw (yes, I bothered to read your stupid blog, just as I bother to read anything that mentions my name, though unlike Ellison I prefer to ignore criticism, which keeps my phone bills manageable).

At the end of June Westfahl wrote a review of WALL-E which I only read today. It includes the following passage:

To discuss this point, I must distress a few readers by not only failing to connect this film to such obvious predecessors as Short Circuit (1986) and Robots (2005) but also by mentioning a film that was made almost sixty years ago and suggesting (gasp!) that such an antique might actually have some relevance to a film made in 2008, but a few scenes in Wall·E represent, almost inarguably, a homage to Destination Moon (1950).

That’s right, Westfahl prefers to ignore criticism so much that he has shoehorned references to my four sentence blog post into not one but two reviews. Water off a duck’s back!

Written by Martin

11 November 2008 at 00:08

Excursions In The Narrative Arts

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I went to see Sweet Cider, the new production from Tamasha, at the Arcola last night. It is a fairly familar bunch of elements – interracial, interreligious relationships, honour, family, gender – but it is a good balance of weight, simmering frustration and humour, only slightly shading off into melodrama at the end. A very good young cast too.

Afterwards I re-watched Lilo And Stitch. God, that film is awesome. Okay, it slightly tails off when it focuses on ohana but it is simultaneously more adventurous and more grounded than most disney films and the individual scenes involving Lilo and Stitch are wonderful. The only real misfire is Bubbles, a social worker who happens to be an ex-CIA agent and looks like Ving Rhames. It is one weirdness too far.

Earlier in the week I watched Cloverfield and Iron Man. Both suffer from having feeble, idiotic plots but whilst Cloverfield is every bit as bad as I expected, Iron Man is as good as I’d hoped. Much of this is down to Robert Downey Jr, who, like Johnny Deep, he has the personal presence to inject life into what could otherwise be a typically soulless Hollywood commercial property. The film wisely focuses on him and (much more than I was expecting) the creation of the suit, including lots of nice incidental detail. It is interesting to see a depiction of an engineer hero rather than an action hero in a blockbuster. The plot is still stupid though.

Written by Martin

30 October 2008 at 16:43

Lights Out

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The fluorescent light bulbs used in the Japanese module of the International Space Station are burning out much faster than expected. BLDGBLOG comment:

At the very least it would make a great film: ten minutes into what you think is a science fiction adventure story, all the lights on the ship go out. There is no way to replace the bulbs. The next hour and a half you listen – after all, you can’t watch – as a group of orbiting athletes and scientists slowly comes to grips with their situation. They are drifting out past the rings of Saturn inside a strange constellation of unlit rooms – and they will never have light in the station again. Five years from now one of them will still be alive, half-insane, speaking into a dead transmitter. The price of seeing stars is darkness, he whispers to himself over and over again, as his failing eyes gaze out upon nebulas and planets he’ll never reach.

For certain values of “a great film” obviously.

Written by Martin

9 October 2008 at 11:44

Posted in films, sf

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I Am Legend

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I don’t buy hardback books because I find paperbacks vastly more useful; when I am God Emperor all novels will be paperback originals. This has given me a patience with publication dates that I have now extended to DVDs where the problem is not the format but the ridiculous mark up slapped on them upon release. So I’m a bit behind the curve but I get there in the end and this weekend was when I Am Legend finally dropped below the ten quid barrier.

If you watch a lot of SF films you are used to disappointment but it is actually a lot better than I was expecting. It is still poor though. There are warning signs early on with Emma Thompson’s evil scientist being called Dr Krippin and the appearance of an incredibly poorly done CGI lion. This dodgy CGI is a constant throughout the film – all the vampires look like grey, shrunken versions of the Incredible Hulk – and undercuts the focus on Robert Neville (Will Smith), the last man in New York. Smith is clearly right at the edge of his limits as an actor playing a man under extreme psychological conditions but he manages well enough. There are two particularly good scenes – where he follows his dog into a dark building and later when he is ensnared in a own trap – where the stress, fear and isolation of his life are perfectly conveyed. Both scenes are artistically disembowelled by the appearance of the cartoon monsters though.

I Am Legend went through quite a long Production Hell and it shows in the Frankenstein’s monster nature of the finished article. You have got three competing films here: a CGI popcorn action flick which is all the more intrusive for being mostly kept at bay; a gruelling post-apocalyptic drama; and, finally, a godawful spiritual melodrama. This is expressed in emotionally manipulative flash backs and, most of all, in the ending that quickly unspools from the appearance of another survivor.

The ending that appeared in the theatrical release is not actually the original ending though. My version of the DVD doesn’t contain the original ending (because I am a skinflint) but it is widely available on the internet:

There was a lot of praise for it when it first surfaced but although it is better than the theatrical ending that is not to say it is any good. Too much has gone before.

Written by Martin

22 September 2008 at 19:19

Posted in films, sf

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