I haven't really done any movie reviews in a while, except in passing. So here are some quickies on the latest off my Netflix queue.
Snakes on a Plane
I remember when they tried to make this movie go viral. I guess they were hoping that Samuel L. Jackson saying "Mother fucking snakes on a mother fucking plane!" was enough to turn this piece of shit into a cult classic.
Spoiler: It's not.
So, if you're a big Samuel L. Jackson fan, let you spare you the time and the torture: the fourteen seconds below are the only mother fucking thing in this mother fucking movie that are worth watching.
I expected this to be a dumb action movie with a thin premise. (Spoiler: There are snakes on the plane.) But Samuel L. Jackson, right? Has to be at least a little bit watchable.
No. No, it is not. This movie is a caricature of awfulness. It's not so bad it's good, it's so bad that everyone involved in making it, including Samuel L. Jackson, should be shot in the head. It's like the scriptwriter and the director decided that they didn't even need to try because they have Samuel L. Jackson, and then they told Jackson, "All you have to do is say 'Mother fucking snakes on a mother fucking plane!'" And Jackson was like, "Okay, you're gonna pay me a few million dollars for that? Sure, no probs. I love being a mother fucking A-lister!"
If you want to know the plot: Jackson is an FBI agent tasked with protecting a witness who is being flown from Hawaii to California to testify. The gangster he's testifying against tries to kill him by infiltrating a bunch of snakes onto the plane.
Yes, that's the plot.
And even that could have been entertaining, or at least in the so bad it's good category, but it's not. It's just brainless sexist, racist stereotypes and offensive stupidity from start to finish. And it probably says something about me that the part that annoyed me most and had me shouting at the screen was the complete biology failure: "Snakebites don't work like that! Snakes don't act like that! Snakes can't do that! AAAAGHH!"
I rarely give movies 1 star. Even really bad ones usually have something that was entertaining enough that I can say it wasn't a total and complete waste of time.
Snakes on a Plane hurt my brain and shriveled a little bit of my soul. I will never forgive Samuel L. Jackson for this. I don't care how fucking cool you are as Nick Fury.
Battle Royale II
I really liked the novel Battle Royale, and the movie was entertaining too, in the same schlocky low-budget way that the book was. Let it not be said that Hollywood is alone in being willing to ruin anything good by making crappy sequels. They made a sequel to the movie, not based on anything Koushun Takami wrote.
Three years after the Battle Royale slaughter, survivor Shuya Nanahara (Tatsuya Fujiwara) heads a terrorist group dubbed the "Wild Seven." Determined to destroy the Japanese regime that tried to kill them, the guerrillas stage a crushing attack on Tokyo. The government, up to its usual tricks, conscripts 42 junior high students to penetrate the terrorists' refuge and terminate Nanahara -- and failure isn't an option in this blood-soaked sequel.
So that's pretty much the plot: the government decides that the best way to get rid of a terrorist network is to recruit another class full of junior high school students, put explosive collars on them, and make them go after the "bad guys." There is an incoherent rant in the beginning about how many countries the United States has bombed which has absolutely nothing to do with the plot (the U.S. is never mentioned again, nor are there any non-Japanese characters at all), and then they add a few extra "rules" to Battle Royale II: everyone has a "buddy" and if your partner dies, your collar blows your head off too. Because this will make them much more effective fighting terrorists.
Unlike the original Battle Royale, they don't bother letting us get to know any of these expendables. About half the class dies before the end of the first action sequence. I mean, they all make a Normandy-style beach landing and a third of them die instantly in one boat explosion. That's just laziness, guys.
That said, it actually wasn't quite as schlocky and low-budget as I was expecting, so if you are entertained by lots of explosions and gunfire and teenagers dying messily, you could do worse. Like, you could watch Snakes on a Plane. There was something resembling a plot here, as the survivors all end up fighting the government, so more comparisons to be made with The Hunger Games, I guess. But while it wasn't a complete waste of time, I certainly wouldn't say it's anything that fans of the original movie should feel compelled to see.
Cowboys and Aliens
This movie was exactly what it promised, and if you expect no more, it's reasonably entertaining and completely forgettable. Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford are kind of wasted, but it's basically a Western + aliens. It uses every single Western trope + every single alien invasion trope. The CGI aliens are naturally the kind that spider around dripping slime and extending gooey appendages from within slimy body cavities, and their motive ("They want our gold!") is no more stupid than in a lot of alien invasion movies. Olivia Wilde, in her ongoing efforts to convince Hollywood that she can be an A-lister, wears a body-hugging dress with a gunbelt slung over her hips, except for the scene where she struts naked in front of a hundred cowboys, outlaws, and Indians. And that's pretty much the movie. Fun, dumb, and a waste of what could have been a much better movie if they'd either been willing to go all-in on the camp or else turn it into something in the neighborhood of an intelligent sci-fi/Western. But they did neither: it's just aliens and six-shooters.