Monday, June 30, 2014

A Ghoul Versus The Bling Ring

Harry Potter: Where Are They Now? Part Three / Dueling Movies: The Bling Ring Vs. Spring Breakers!”

Today I'm going to be doing something a little unique, reviewing a movie that's going to be part of two different series: “Harry Potter: Where Are They Now?” and “Dueling Movies”. 2013's The Bling Ring stars the massively talented Emma Watson, who of course played Hermione Jean Granger in all eight Harry Potter movies as well as inspiring some of the most HORRIFYING fanfiction in the history of the Internet.

The Bling Ring was released June 14, 2013, three months after a film called Spring Breakers. In yet another case of Dueling Movies (2013 had a lot of them), both films looked to be about a group of over-privileged white girls committing crime sprees and looking as fashionable as possible while doing so.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

A Ghoul Versus The Woman In Black

"Harry Potter: Where Are They Now? Part Two!"

Click here for Part One: The Apparition featuring Tom Felton!

The Woman In Black is a film based off a novella (a very short one, clocking in at not even 200 pages) written by Susan Hill in 1983. And what shouldn't be a surprise at all the film is actually a remake, although of a 1989 made for TV film and not a theatrical release. I briefly considered trying to track it down to do another Original Vs. Remake, but the DVD is WAY out of print and eBay prices are quite outrageous, so... no.

In something of a subversion for most films I review, I expect this one to be quite good as it was directed by James Watkins, a British filmmaker who EXCELS in psychological and realistic horror. He was responsible for 2008's Eden Lake, which I'll put up against any non-supernatural horror movie of the last decade.  Our next Harry Potter star is the man himself, Daniel Radcliffe. It appears he's going to go on to become one of the rare childhood stars that successfully transitions to adulthood without going ballistic, not to mention keeping his film career going by breaking out of being typecast.

Does he get off to a good start with his first non-Harry Potter movie? Or is this just Harry Potter grown up and battling ghosts? Time to hit the play button and find out, with A Ghoul Versus The Woman In Black!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

A Ghoul Versus The Apparition

Harry Potter: Where Are They Now? Part One!”

One of my favourite things to do is go through the Rotten Tomatoes annual “Worst Movies” list and find the ones with the lowest ratings. To the surprise of absolutely NO ONE the list is always dominated by comedies because of how insanely difficult comedy is to pull off, especially with the talent level of "actors" available these days.

Horror is the next genre that is always well represented on the “worst of” lists, as it is also very hard to make one that isn't pure stupidity. Which brings us to worst non-comedy of 2012 as rated by Rotten Tomatoes: The Apparition, which only earned a FOUR PERCENT fresh rating. Damn!  More importantly though, this is the first movie in a series I'm going to be doing called “Harry Potter: Where Are They Now?” where we're going to examine they films of Harry Potter actors as they all desperately try to keep their careers alive in a post-Harry Potter world.

Taking the stage today is Mr. Tom Felton, famous for playing Draco Malfoy in all eight Harry Potter films. I know this isn't his first post-Harry Potter film, but it'll be a cold day in Hell before I EVER watch Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes again. A/k/a THE single most pointless reboot franchise in film history.

Let's find out why this movie is rated lower than The Devil Inside, the Red Dawn remake, and That's My Boy with A Ghoul Versus The Apparition! Hmm... that sounds like a SyFy Channel Original movie...

A Ghoul Versus Walk Of Shame (Part 2)

Click here for Part 1!

Hulk immediately ruins the joke by explaining it so I IMMEDIATELY rescind the compliment I just gave this abomination. The only numbers Meghan can think of are her parents, her own number, and her ex-fiance's. She's refuses to call her mom even though that is completely stupid because she could just lie about what's going on and get help that way.  She sends herself a text hoping James will see it on her phone and send help... even though she doesn't text an address so that's totally pointless. She calls Kyle, but when she realizes he's in bed with another woman forgets all about her predicament and starts yelling at him because PRIORITIES!

Hulk and Scrilla take the phone from her, yelling at Kyle to come and get her or else they're going to do some very bad things to him. However Meghan doesn't get a chance to tell Kyle where she is because a rival gang bursts into the hideout and a gun fight breaks out. I'd point out the rival gang is a bunch of stereotypical Mexicans, but who gives a shit at this point?  Scrilla tells Meghan how to get out so she doesn't get shot, Pookie following her. He gives her directions to the impound lot, along with a vial of crack so she can sell it for money. She tells him she can't take it, but he responds with this golden nugget of wisdom that'll go down in cinematic history:

“When a crackhead gives you his crack, you have his heart.”

After pretty much every line in this movie I just imagine uncomfortable silences broken by someone coughing, cricket chirps, and/or a tumbleweed blowing by. Steven Brill is 52 years old, I don't think he exactly has his finger on the pulse of what's hip and funny anymore. Not that he ever did, now that I think about it.

A Ghoul Versus Walk Of Shame (Part 1)

Incoherent, unfunny, and borderline misogynist, Walk of Shame lives up to its title for filmgoers entering and leaving the theater.” -

With a review like that, how could I possibly resist this one? I'd never heard of this, but judging by its box office I'm guessing no one else did either. It was released in theaters on May 2, 2014 and enjoyed an epic run of several weeks where it grossed a whopping $60,000 against its budget of $15 million dollars, then quietly came out on home video a month later. This thing bombed harder than a Heidi Montag album.

Steven Brill wrote and directed today's box office darling. He is the man behind such cinematic titans as Mr. Deeds, Drillbit Taylor, Without A Paddle (but not its sequel because I guess even hacks have standards), and my personal favourite LITTLE NICKY, a film which actually featured a character looking directly into the camera and saying “Popeye's Chicken is the shiz-nit!”.  With a man this talented behind the camera and the script, this movie HAS to be quality right? Let's find out with A Ghoul Versus Walk Of Shame!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

A Ghoul Versus Total Recall (2012) Part 2

Click here for Part 1!

HOWEVER, there exists a kill code that'll take out all of the robocops and prevent this. Hauser saw it while he was on UFB, which means the resistance can retrieve it from his head and use it to stop Cohaagan. There we have it finally, our plot. Cohaagan is after SPACE and is going about getting it in the most ridiculous way possible: by killing off everyone in the Colony so the UFB can take it over. That's actually a very sweet insane super villain plan, BUUUUUUT it feels so out of place here because it sounds like a comic book plot. It would have fit in perfectly in the original, as that Cohaagen was just on a generic “power and money” trip and could have used some spicing up.

PG-13 Version: the hologram is of him, revealing his real name is Carl Hauser. The hologram still has “limited interactive capabilities” and says pretty much the same stuff Ethan did.

Doug argues with Jessica over the validity of this recording and its revelations, but she's able to convince him by showing the scar on her hand which matches him from the bullet that pierced them. They're about to kiss when they see the bad guys arriving outside. They run down to the lobby to escape, only to find themselves facing the entire police force and the most lens flares you've ever seen in your life.

A Ghoul Versus Total Recall (2012) Part 1

"Original Vs. Remake Part 2: Total Recall (1990) Vs. Total Recall (2012)!"

Click here for the first half of Original Vs. Remake: Total Recall (1990)!

I honestly try to keep an open mind when I watch a movie, no matter how much bad I might have heard about it or what my preconceived notions of the people making it are, because time after time I get proved violently wrong.

“The crappy actor from that stupid Knight's Tale movie is going to play the JOKER?!? FRANCHISE. RUINED.”

That being said, Total Recall (2012) sure did start off in the proverbial hole with me. Not only is it a completely pointless remake (which I suppose adding the phrase “completely pointless” is redundant when talking about remakes), but it was brought to us by the brain children behind the abominable Underworld series AND Live Free Or Die Hard. But I'm sure they at least got some good actors to star in- oh Jessica Biel and Kate Beckinsale, eh? Yikes.

If you don't know, Kate's husband, Len Wiseman, directed this! Don't worry though, I'm sure she got a part in this movie based off her versatile, NOT AT ALL one dimensional acting and no other reason. You know, just like her AMAZING acting range got her the starring role in the Underworld movies... a couple of which her husband also directed. Hmmm.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A Ghoul Versus Total Recall (1990) Part 2

Click here for Part 1!

One of the guards activates security doors that seal off the windows, Doug running underneath one to get away from Ironside yet again. He boards a train and we get some SWEET views of Mars via some extremely detailed miniature sets. That's right, I said miniature sets! Hollywood actually used to TRY back in the day instead of relying on computers to create fake ass looking scenery.

Next we get the worst scene of the movie that I wish they'd have cut. Cohaagen and Ironside (who is finally named as Richter, but this late in he's staying Ironside) meet as we learn Kuato is a psychic who can access the information in Doug's head, but he has a plan to prevent this. That's it, that's the entire scene. Why do I hate this so bad? We'll find out in a bit.

Doug goes to a Hilton Hotel, as Hauser instructed. There he has a suite and a safety deposit box waiting for him, finding a flier for a club called the Last Resort inside. On the fact of the flier he finds a message in his own handwriting telling him to ask for Melina. He takes a cab to the club, getting to know its driver, the charismatic Benny who is definitely a scene stealer. Benny gives Doug a brief history lesson about Mars, as we learn it's full of mutants because they can't afford to buy Cohaagen's clean air and end up mutated by dirty air which doesn't filter out radiation... or something. This film isn't big on the whole science thing, but that's totally okay.

A Ghoul Versus Total Recall (1990) Part 1

"Original Vs. Remake Part 1: Total Recall (1990) vs. Total Recall (2012)!"

Why does Hollywood hate Paul Verhoeven so much? Oh, right... Showgirls.  Well... why can't they remake THAT instead of his great movies that SO don't need remaking? Is it really THAT hard for Hollywood to think of original ideas for a movie where a guy shoots other guys? Rhargh!

Anyway, Total Recall. It's not an all time great film like Verhoeven's Robocop, but it's still definitely a much beloved sci-fi classic that was doing JUST FINE ON ITS OWN! It's one of those films that had an incredibly troubled production on its journey to the big screen, which is usually the kiss of death for many a film.

After several debacles from its original studio, the film fell into the hands of Arnold Schwarzenegger and legendary studio Carolco. Arnold was given almost complete control of the movie, getting COMPLETE say over the filmmakers and actors involved. This was highly out of the ordinary, but it was the late 80s and this is ARNOLD we're talking about here.  His first act was to bring Dutch director Paul Verhoeven onboard, as he was a huge fan of Robocop and really wanted to work with him.

Verhoeven was considering going dark with the film as it had a pretty dark script, as it was written by the guys who wrote Alien and that's their trademark. But then he took one look at Arnold and was all “fuck that!” and gave up the monstrously fun and insanely over the top film we were blessed with. Yes, Arnold is the only actor whose LACK of range and acting chops actually made a movie BETTER.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

A Ghoul Versus Robocop (2014) Part 3

Click here for Part 2!
Murphy goes to see the Idiots, accompanied by Lewis who is still in this movie surprisingly enough. One of the Idiots asks if they're here to play Good Cop, Bad Cop and Lewis responds with a line that pretty much sums up the intelligence of this entire movie.
“Nah, Bad Cop, Robocop”.
UGH. Murphy reveals he has their fingerprints on the weapons, but because that's not good enough he pulls up the footage of them talking to Vallon from earlier. HOW STUPID IS CRIME IN THIS MOVIE?!? How does crime even exist in Detroit? One of the Idiots tries to shoot Murphy but gets a bullet in his head for trying. The other Idiot surrenders, giving up the POLICE CHIEF as being the mastermind behind this whole thing.

...I don't want to see the film that tops this as the worst movie of 2014. I don't want to think about how many crimes against story telling and logic a film would have to break to top this freaking movie. Why wouldn't the chief assign Murphy elsewhere after the restaurant shootout? Why would she give OmniCorp full access to the archives knowing there'd HAVE to be evidence against her in them? Or, as I asked you to remember, why would she let him take over any case he wanted?!? I... it's like the movie realized how totally anticlimactic Vallon was as a villain so they had to manufacture a bigger one but didn't cover their ass because EVERY action she takes is counterproductive to her scheme.

So Murphy marches into her office and puts a gun in her face, demanding she confess. Before she can, Mattox pulls the plug on him and he collapses. Wait, what? Mattox is going to be the bad guy now? What was the point of even making the chief- AHHHHHHH!!! This movie is curb stomping me while I'm down!
Mattox calls Sellars and tells him he shut down Murphy because... he wanted to be a dick and deprive Murphy of her confession? I don't know, he tells Sellars it was so he wouldn't shoot her but what would he care? She was crooked! Sellars says they can use this to their advantage though, as he spins a story there was an attempt on Murphy's life and he's in critical condition.
Novak backs this up on his show, thanking Murphy for his service and asking how many times can he give his life in the line of duty? He implores the Senate to make the right call on the vote tomorrow to repeal the Dreyfus Act. The next day the Act is repealed, despite a public statement from Clara bashing OmniCorp for not letting them see her husband. All I can do is laugh at her acting at this point, otherwise I think I'd break down over the fact someone gets paid millions to be THIS bad.
Yes Woman tells Sellars that Murphy has to be killed because they can't have him figuring out how OmniCorp has been using him. She also ties it into him exposing the corrupt chief, as the politicians they support wouldn't want him investigating THEM and oh my God, OmniCorp is evil now. Which checks the next point off our list, WHY HAVE THEM BE GOOD THE ENTIRE MOVIE?!
Good is exaggerating, but really they were totally operating within the letter of the law for the most part. Sellars's only motivation was more money, and yeah he started bending the rules more and more but never did murder come onto the table. Hell, Norton was the one being truly immoral here, Sellars probably didn't understand a word of what he was doing to Murphy. I don't think this script was even finished, they just used a second draft and filmed it before anyone noticed. And by the time they did, the budget was used up. OmniCorp suddenly turning to murder is just too left field and is yet another complete wallbanger in this film. All the wheels are going to fall off very soon.
Sellars summons Norton, telling him they're going to kill Murphy under the guise of “what kind of life can he ever have?” or some nonsense. Norton agrees, but secretly goes to revive Murphy before Mattox's men can kill him.  In another of the film's more IMMENSELY stupid moments, we find out the thing that was giving Mattox control over Murphy was a little fridge magnet stuck to the top of his head. I no longer care anymore, there's like fifteen minutes left and we're in the home stretch now. Norton removes this and frees Murphy.
I'm cutting out about 300 more Clara scenes here, as I think she just might have had more screentime than Robocop in this point. This movie is horrible, but she has absolutely sunk it into LEGENDARY status. I think I officially owe January Jones an apology. Well no, but it's CLOSE.  Sellars, with Clara and David in tow, takes off to the roof of OmniCorp to get a ride from a helicopter so he can escape the rampaging Murphy. I love how one of the few things they kept from the original movie is the bad guy trying to make an escape via helicopter, which was already beyond cliché in 1987.
Norton goes to get help from Lewis, who is STILL in this movie despite its best attempts to forget him, while Murphy stands outside the OmniCorp building. There are about a dozen heavily armed men guarding the well lit entrance, this should actually be a pretty cool shootout... or not. Murphy just shoots one with his taser so the rest run away terrified for their lives they're going to get... tased? 
Huh. This movie's trying to get to the credits faster than I am at this point. Perhaps doing its best to apologize for how fucking stupid that scene was, the movie cuts away to the video game Titanfall for some awesome man vs. mech action.  My mistake, it's just Robocop vs. some EDs in the most cartoony and bad CGI-y manner as possible. Soooo remember when they didn't fire on Murphy in China because he's OmniCorp property? Well, here they have no problem blasting away at him. Sure, it's highly likely Mattox reprogrammed them to kill Murphy, but you know... would have been nice to see otherwise this comes off rather contradictory.
Oh hey, and speaking of contradictory, what are the Eds shooting Murphy with? Why, I do believe those are .50 caliber bullets. And as we learned from Mattox earlier, several hits from those will put Murphy back into the “recycle bin”. Guess he was just kidding, as Murphy gets shot about five hundred times and is just fine.  Things do start getting pretty serious as he's pinned to the ground getting his backside filled with lead, but DUN DUN DUUUUUUN it's SOME GUY to the rescue! Ah, it was Lewis. Almost forgot his name.
Lewis jumps in front of Murphy, and since he's not armed the Eds stop firing and Murphy is able to escape. Further down the hallway Murphy runs into Mattox, whom he can't shoot due to some programming Mattox snuck in.  Mattox is about to kill him when suddenly DUN DUN DUUUUUUN it's Lawson- sorry, Lewis to the rescue! For the second time in as many minutes! Robocop sucks!  Lewis shoots Mattox and kills him, but Mattox gets off a shot that injures Lewis. He's fine though, so on Murphy goes to confront Sellars.
Naturally though he can't arrest him either due to programming, echoing the first film where Robocop couldn't arrest Dick. But Sellars is the CEO of OmniCorp so no one can fire him! How in the world is Murphy going to get out of this one?  If you said Clara takes a gun and shoots Sellars to save her family I'd applaud you for common sense thinking, but we're watching the Robocop remake, remember? This movie HATES women. No, let's finish our list and go back WAY to the beginning where Norton was talking about how strong emotions cause robotics to fail.
Murphy's nonexistent and horribly acted LOVE for his family allowing him to overcome his programming and shoot Sellars. Yep. That's it. That's our epic conclusion. Once again, Love Conquers All.  Novak shows up to close us out. Murphy, back in the silver outfit, is back at work at the police station. Who paid to rebuild him since Sellars is dead? Why am I prolonging this torture by asking questions? The Dreyfus Act was upheld by the President, thanks to the testimony of whistle blower Norton.
Suddenly though, Jackson has a revelation about who he is and starts screaming about motherfuckers and bullshit, which is all beeped out because he's on television. Too little, too late movie. I'd almost drifted off at this point and his loud outburst woke me the hell up. He closes us out with this speech:
“Now I know some of you may think this kind of thinking is dangerous and these machines violate your civil liberties. Some of you even believe that the use of these drones overseas makes us the same kind of bullying imperialists that our forefathers were trying to escape.  To you I say stop whining! America is now and always will be the greatest country on the face of the Earth. I'm Pat Novak, good night.”
Cue the credits, which are set to the Clash's “I Fought The Law”. Fuck you Robocop, fuck you so much for trying to ruin that song for me.
And now a quick sneak peek of the 35th Golden Raspberry Awards!
Worst Picture – Robocop (Columbia Pictures)
Worst Actor – Joel Kinnaman in Robocop as Alex Murphy
Worst Supporting Actress – Abbie Cornish in Robocop as Clara Murphy
Worst Screen Combo – Joel Kinnaman and Abbie Cornish in Robocop
Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-off, or Sequel – Robocop (Columbia Pictures)
Worst Director – Jose Padilha (Robocop)
Worst Screenplay – Robocop (written by Joshua Zetumer)
This was the worst. In my aforementioned piece on the history of World War Z, I asked the question why does Hollywood pay millions for the right to a property and then use NOTHING from that property? I suggested this Robocop remake be called Cyborg Avenger instead, as the filmmakers could have used all the money they paid on licensing to be better spent on other things.  Like hiring a better writer.  Or hiring a better director.  Or hiring better actors.
But you know, even if this HAD been called Cyborg Avenger and released as a completely new franchise without the burden of being a remake of one of the most beloved movies ever, it still would have been HORRIBLE.  From topical political commentary more heavy handed than Wreck-It Ralph to a million subplots going on at once to some of the worst acting I've ever seen, this movie did everything it possibly could have wrong. I feel like they just took about ten different cliched movie plots, threw them in a blender, and started filming what came out.
You know one thing though, that REALLY bothered me about this movie besides everything else I've spent the last few hours ranting about? The overarching plot is Alex loves his family and wants to be with them, despite never actually trying to be with them. Okay, so what if he DID spend more time with them? What could have happened?
He can't really hold his wife, or sleep with her, or even sleep in the same bed as her. He can't be there for his son, he could never to go school with him without causing a scene or play with him outside without hurting him. Or hey, the most famous cop in the world has a family that's been WELL publicized on TV. If I'm a criminal on Robocop's radar, I know the first place I'm going to strike.
THAT'S the movie I want to see. The original Robocop, surprise surprise, dealt with this brilliantly by having Murphy's family think he was dead and moving on with their lives. Murphy never tried to track them down because he knew that part of his life was gone forever.
But 2014 Murphy is in denial about this, as is Clara. She spends the entire movie sobbing over him and wanting to be with him with no one addressing the fact she really can't. And you can't even tell me that's not suitable for mindless summer blockbuster fare, this movie came out in freaking February when you can tell whatever damn story you want and people will show up cause there's no other competition that week.  Do I recommend this? No. I don't care what side of the fence you're on about Robocop, this is a TRULY WRETCHED movie that better win at least four Razzies.

How did this fare against the 1987 version?  Let's find out in the Original Vs. Remake Final Rundown:

1.  What Were The Movies About?
-In the 1987 version we watch as Alex Murphy, a hardened but still charismatic police officer, is brutally murdered by a sadistic crime lord and reborn as Robocop, a cybernetic force of justice controlled by the OCP Corporation.  Used as a pawn in the battle of wills between two twisted corporate executives, Murphy battles to regain his humanity while trying to avenge his murder.

-In the 2014 version we watch as Alex Murphy, a hardened and cynical undercover detective, is severely injured by a bomb set on his car by a kind of mean-spirited arms dealer and is reborn as Robocop, a cybernetic force of justice with his humanity fully intact except when he's in combat.  Soon he is put under OmniCorp control but breaks free almost instantly so I'm not sure why that subplot even existed.  He accidentally avenges his murder way too early so OmniCorp turns evil because they need him dead to win public sympathy so they can overturn a government bill banning the use of drones on American soil even though this has NOTHING to do with Robocop because he is still a human and... sigh.  Forget it, I don't think movie was actually about anything.

2.  Which Movie Had The Better Protagonist?
1987 Alex Murphy.  Even when he was a mindless robot he STILL had more humanity and personality than 2014 Alex Murphy did as a human.

3.  Which Movie Had The Better Love Interest?
1987 Murphy's wife, Ellen, wasn't even a love interest as she only existed in flashback form and had barely sixty seconds of screen time. HOWEVER, her several lines of dialogue were infinitely more endearing than Clara Murphy wasting at least half an hour of our time whining and crying and doing HER best imitation of a soulless robot.  "I. Miss. My. Husband. Let. Me. See. Him. Now. Beep. Beep. Bloop!"

4.  Which Movie Had The Better Antagonist?
This one doesn't qualify as the 2014 version didn't even HAVE an antagonist, rather it was just a bunch of guys with ill defined motivations to do somewhat bad things.

5.  Which Movie Had The Better Story?  Which Movie Wins?
Yeah, I think you know the answer to both of these already. Utter disaster with this one, but hey, I'm sure the sequel will learn from all these mistakes at least. Right? Right? Hello?

A Ghoul Versus Robocop (2014) Part 2

Click here for Part 1!

Obviously horrified by this disturbing scene, God intervenes and makes Murphy's car alarm start going off. He can't turn it off via his remote start, so he goes outside to check it out. As he opens the door his car blows up and takes him out. So... it was a bomb? Why did it take so long to go off? Was it on a timer? If so, what would have happened if he didn't open the door? Or was Vallon controlling it, and just waiting for the best possible moment to screw with Murphy? If THAT'S the case, then why- RHARGHH, screw this. I don't think they could have found a dumber way to make him Robocop.

We cut to later where OmniCorp is meeting with Clara to get her to sign off on making Murphy into a machine. She's not very smart, so of course she does. This is SO bad in comparison to the original which I know is like saying water is wet, but it just makes no sense. In the original OCP faked Murphy's death to the world so they could do whatever they wanted to him, because they were completely immoral and only cared about their means. Here, they go about the whole thing legally which completely undercuts the entire evil corporation aspect that drove the whole damn 1987 version. Like so many other things already, I'll bring this up later.

Three months later Norton awakens Murphy in a metal harness and reveals he is now a cyborg. Wait, Murphy still has his mind? The hell?! Why wouldn't they robo-lobotimize him so he doesn't freak out... like he goes on to do. He swats down Norton and starts running, leaving the complex as it's revealed the operating lab is in the middle of a Chinese rice paddy... for some reason. It looked like Norton had a fully functional lab back in Detroit, why go ALL the way out to China for this?

That's an easy answer. As I've mentioned before more and more of today's movies are being made with China in mind, so setting part of this film there would only help it's chances of getting shown there. Mission accomplished! As he runs outside the complex we see it's being patrolled by EDs, who do not fire on him because their Heads Up Displays tell them not to fire on OmniCorp property. I know I've already overloaded the note-taking section of your brain, but keep this in mind for later on.

Norton, who's been trying to talk him down via radio the entire time, finally says “screw this!” and shuts him down. Murphy wakes up back in the harness, telling Norton to “show him”. Norton holds up a giant mirror to show him what he now looks like, but I guess decides this isn't a big enough shock so he has all of his cybernetics removed so he can see all the organics he has left which is basically his head, lungs, and one of his hands.

Are we watching a Hellraiser movie now? I'm thinking they wanted to have a more horrific visual than the Toxic Waste Mutant from the first movie, and boy did they accomplish that! Murphy rightfully tells Norton that he wants to die, but Norton talks him out of it by playing the “what about your family?” card. It's worth noting here Oldman does a better job of infusing emotion into Murphy and Clara's relationship just by TALKING about it than the actors themselves did SHOWING it.

After the pep talk from Norton, Murphy is ready to make this an action movie. We go to him getting weapons training from Mattox, who gives him the signature Auto-9 pistol. Ha ha, just kidding, it's a TSR-66 TASER pistol because when you think Robocop you think of him tasing bros dammit! Murphy also gets a modified M2 battle rifle which does shoot actual bullets, but guess which gun gets the starring role in the movie?

Mattox warns him his body armour is powerful but is weak against .50 caliber bullets. Don't worry about that, I'm sure it was a just a throwaway line that won't be brought up later on when Robocop inevitably turns against OmniCorp. It's pure coincidence they earlier mentioned the ED-209s fire .50 caliber shells, HONEST.

It's time for his first battle test against an EM-208, the goal to rescue hostages in record time. Mattox is established as HATING Murphy for no real good reason other than the fact that “organics in machines are a huge step backwards”. It... does not really work for a guy that's ostensibly one of the bigger villains of the movie. Scratch that, villain is way too strong of a word to use for this movie, let's go with “antagonist”.  Mattox condescendingly calls Murphy “Tin Man” and plays the song “If I Only Had A Brain” during the training exercise. The entire damn song. Murphy and a 208 shooting virtual people is set to “If I Only Had A Brain”.

The 208 easily wins, as Murphy is hesitant to shoot at the kidnappers because one is holding a kid hostage. Mattox says “I wouldn't buy that for a dollar!” at Murphy's performance as I throw my remote through the TV. THIS is the moment the movie elevated itself into Man Of Steel-bad and we're barely 45 minutes in.

It's like they wrote that just to piss off the old fans, I can think of no other reason for that line's existence. I can already tell this is going to be a multipart review, so let's just press on ahead. Norton flies ALL THE WAY back to Detroit just to tell Sellars about Murphy's performance. A bit earlier Murphy called his wife via video phone for a scene that did nothing so I didn't even bother with it, Norton couldn't have called Sellars to tell him this? A straight shot from Detroit to China is like 14 hours, he flew all that way for this nonvital information?

Sellars tells him to improve Murphy's performance, no matter what, so Norton flies all the way back to China to implant some kind of microchip in Murphy's brain that lets him feel human emotions. No wait, that's Data from Star Trek. This chip PREVENTS him from learning human emotions. Nope, that's the Terminator. This chip will let him process data faster or something.

We go back to Detroit again as Sellars and Yes Man discuss the latest test polls for Robocop. Sellars isn't happy with the numbers, he wants Robocop to look more tactical so tells Yes Man to make his armour black.  Back to China again, as we follow a parade of SUVs driving up to the OmniCorp testing facility as BATMAN gets out of one of them! Holy crap, this movie just got totally awe- oh. It's just the new Robocop suit.

I actually had almost no issues with the redesigned suit, the only exception being how small his visor was. I thought it was a very nice update, modernized without straying too far from the original, very pleasing all around. But this freaking thing, it's just Batman without his cape. They didn't even TRY. Hmm, I think I just found the tagline for this movie!

The final test is Murphy vs. Mattox and a room full of 208s, which he easily wins thanks to hypercut editing that makes it impossible to tell who is firing from where. Norton reveals when his visor is down, the microchip implanted in Murphy's brain takes over and runs the OmniCorp drone software. The... same software the 208s have so why are they losing so badly right now? Huh, really thought that one through didn't they?

Norton says the beauty of this is Murphy THINKS he's in control when his visor is down, even though he actually isn't. Yes Woman says this is illegal, but Sellars is all “yeah whatever, we're never going to mention this again in the movie so let it ride”. Norton's character pretty much just lost any sympathy here, as he's gone way deep into mad scientist territory now. 

One last thing, this battle is set to possibly the WORST recorded song in the history of the world. It's this horrible rock instrumental that wouldn't be out of place in a biker bar circa 1983 and then breaks into a guy yodeling. You know a movie is bad when I'm forced to even criticize the score.  Alex is sent home, where he finally gets reunited with his family in a scene that is totally emotionless AND pointless. This is where Kinnaman and Cornish REALLY earn that upcoming Worst Screen Combo nomination they have coming, they don't even TRY to project any kind of emotion into this. 

 We cut to our umpteenth cut of the movie as we go to the outside of the police HQ for Robocop's unveiling to the world. This is also probably the stupidest scene in an entire movie of stupid, as just minutes before Murphy's unveiling, Norton tells him they're going to upload the ENTIRE FUCKING POLICE DATABASE directly into his brain. Like 800 kajillion terabytes of data, all into his head at once. You'll NEVER guess what happens next. What's that? Oh, you say he gets completely overwhelmed by this much data and starts having seizures? Wow, you must have a brain, something no one in the creation of the film clearly had.

I'm not even going to bring up why they'd have to download it into his brain when this VERY second I'm STREAMING this movie on Flixster via the almighty Cloud, but instead just ask the most obvious question in the world: why would they do this RIGHT before his press conference? When he starts spazzing out they're all “Fix it! Fix it!” and Norton is all “I have no fucking idea what to do, we've never done anything like this before!”.

God, this freaking movie. So Norton comes up with the idea of pumping drugs into Murphy that “lower his dopamine levels” that even him out and turn him into a brain dead emotionless husk. On his way to his podium he totally ignores his family, but it could be they have such a non-presence he didn't even notice them. As he takes the podium he starts scanning the crowd, his database able to instantly tell if they're wanted for crimes or not.

He finds a man standing almost dead center that has outstanding warrants for rape, murder, arson, and WHY THE FUCK WOULD HE COME TO A POLICE STATION?! Why isn't he in Mexico right now with a hilariously oversized hat on?!? At this point I almost have to respect this movie for the level of “We Don't Care”-ness that's going on here. Robocop jumps into the crowd and starts firing at the guy, tasing his ass into custody.

OmniCorp is watching the Novak Element, where Novak applauds Murphy and dubs him “Robocop” in the first actual usage of the name in the movie. Norton wants Murphy taken off the streets because he's worried about him being a drug-addled loose cannon now, but Sellars is like “aww hell no dawg!”. Kim says something at the press conference caused his poor reaction to the data download that was “beyond chemistry or physics”, which Yes Woman mockingly replies “Like what? His SOUL?”.  Alrighty then. That's how it's going to be, huh movie? Fine. Paul Verhoeven himself has called Robocop an American Jesus story, with his ultraviolent death to his resurrection to saving the people from evil. There's even a subtle “walking on water” scene towards the end that a lot of people missed.

It's done perfectly in the movie, you might not even think about it until your 37th repeat viewing of the movie when you're like “ohhhh yeah”. It doesn't hit you over the head with it, and it's so non-intrusive you don't even have to acknowledge it if you don't want to. But no, let's throw all of that out the window and just outright bring up stuff like souls here. The only thing missing from this scene as a freeze frame and a caption saying “THIS IS DEEP.”.

I truly believe the writer of this movie HATED the original Robocop and wrote this whole movie as a mocking parody of it, I can't think of any other reason at this point why lines like that exist. Skipping over more boring family stuff about Clara trying to see Murphy and being denied by Sellars, we see the chief of police has given Murphy free reign on all open cases in the precinct. He can take over anyone's case at anytime, which is yet ANOTHER thing I want you to remember. Are you able to keep track of all this stuff? Because I'm not! Let's recap:

-PG-13 killing the movie
-Norton telling Robohands that emotions will upset his robotics
-OmniCorp operating within the letter of the law
-ED-209's not firing on Murphy in China
-Murphy getting full control of all open cases in Detroit

Whew! That's a lot!  What a tightly scripted movie this is. Hey, remember in the first movie when they showed Robocop driving around Detroit stopping crimes and saving people? Well, even THIS movie realized that was probably a good idea so they try it here. Robocop is in pursuit of a drug lord, so he shakes down one of his cronies for his location. And once again, all tone goes out the freaking window for more comedy. We get to see Murphy's Heads Up Display while he interrogates the creep and it says he's “totally stoned”.

Yeah, ha hah. “Totally stoned” becomes official medical terminology in the future? The guy gives up his boss, so Robocop heads to his building for a remake of the drug lab shootout from the original. And to the surprise of no one, it's as nonviolent as possible as well as being COMPLETELY POINTLESS because none of these have criminals have anything to do with Vallon. He's still our bad guy, right? I forgot, I haven't seen him in hours.

Meanwhile, Sellars meets with Mattox, whom he secretly gives control of Murphy because he doesn't trust Norton. THANK GOD ANOTHER SUBPLOT! Lord knows this movie needed more of those. Next Sellars goes on The Novak Effect for a scene that accidentally points out one of the movie's absolute biggest flaws.  Novak starts his show off with this line:

“He brought peace to this country's most violent city...”

Did he? When? No, better question, WHERE? Did Robocop take a trip to Baltimore or Washington DC during one of the multiple times I fell asleep during this movie? Detroit in the 1987 movie looked like a total urban hell, with tons of destroyed building and flaming barrels as far as the eye could see.

Detroit looks like a PARADISE in this freaking movie. Hell, it's probably the nicest looking city I've seen in a movie in years. We NEVER see crime running rampant in the streets, which was one of the most crucial elements of the first movie. Boddicker ruled the streets with a bloody fist, Vallon sits at nice little cafes and has tea. It really undercuts the film's plot of “we NEED drones in America to give us a fighting chance against crime” when we don't see any of the damn crime! 

The Novak Element is another Dreyfus vs. Sellars debate, only this time Sellars has the upper hand. Dreyfus starts to make a point but Novak cuts him off ala Bill O'Reilly, as he looks straight at the camera and wonders if the United States Senate has become pro-crime. Like all of his scenes this would have been hilariously subversive if they weren't playing them so damn straight! A much less serious actor would have helped here.

Clara, sick and tired of OmniCorp brushing her off, just straight up confronts Murphy on the street. She implores him to come home because their family is falling apart, their son needs him, she needs him, blah blah blah, these Clara scenes are cinematic DEATH. Not that this film is surging with energy, but everytime she's on screen she sucks ALL of it out with her stonefaced “acting”. Murphy ignores her and drives away on his bike, but again it could be he didn't even see her because of her total lack of screen presence

Or maybe not. As he drives, he looks up footage of his family being hounded by the media. OmniCorp is able to see him doing this, as they are constantly monitoring his Heads Up Display. Kim says he's overriding his system priorities to watch his family instead of crime. Say what? He has priorities? What are they? Ohhhhh that's right, THEY NEVER TELL US.  Murphy goes home, reviewing camera footage of his crime scene because again, Detroit has cameras ever 2.3 feet. How a crime EVER happens in this city is beyond my knowledge. Norton's displays shows he's overriding the drugs in his system and getting his dopamine levels back to normal... somehow.

Murphy shakes down the arms dealer Jerry from the very beginning for Vallon's whereabouts. Vallon gets a call from his anonymous tipster that Robocop is on the way, as he readies his base for an assault. Vallon turns off all the lights in the building, and here's the part where I wanted you to remember the PG-13 nonsense. THE ENTIRE SHOOTOUT is filmed in either pure dark illuminated by muzzles flashes or night vision, so it can be as bloodless as possible. This is so idiotic and poorly conceived I wasn't even aware Vallon died until a helpful on screen pop up told me.

Not quite the death of Boddicker, is it? This movie was doomed from the start, but making it PG-13 destroyed any chance it had at being remotely captivating. I'm not saying a movie needs endless blood and guts to be good, but when you're dealing with ROBOCOP it might not be a bad idea yeah? ESPECIALLY when we're dealing with the Big Bad dying via video game shit.  That gun battle wouldn't have even got an “M” rating. Also, did you find that satisfying at all? Did it bring ANY kind of closure to this mess of a story at all? I think even the movie realized this, as Robocop scans one of the thug's guns and findings the fingerprints of the Idiots on it. Because police officers would totally leave their prints on stolen guns.

Click here for Part 3!

A Ghoul Versus Robocop (2014) Part 1

Original Vs. Remake Part 2: Robocop (1987) vs. Robocop (2014)!”

 Click here for the first half of Original Vs. Remake: Robocop (1987)!

I was PISSED when I first heard Hollywood was attempting a Robocop remake. And I do mean pissed, we're talking Internet Fanboy levels of rage here. This was a few years ago, I was totally used to Hollywood remaking stuff because they were literally out of ideas for mainstream films at that point.

But THIS was different. Up to that point they'd only remade stuff that wasn't worth getting upset over because it was all so “blah”, like the Footloose remake for instance.  Robocop is literally a cinematic classic. It was a critical success in 1987, and its legacy has only grown since then with people WAY smarter than me writing big, fancy words about WHY it's one of the greatest movies ever made.

This remake is the harbinger of something very dark to me, as I consider it Hollywood “testing the waters” to see what they can get away with. If this worked, then it's OPEN SEASON on all the classics. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, the Godfather, To Kill a Mockingbird, the Princess Bride, the Silence of the Lambs, nothing is safe anymore.

Monday, June 9, 2014

A Ghoul Versus Robocop (1987)

Original Vs. Remake Part 1: Robocop (1987) vs. Robocop (2014)!”

1987's Robocop does NOT need to be reviewed. It's perfect, absolutely perfect. Hell, one could make a case it's the best movie ever.

Cue the credits.

But like everything good and pure in this world Hollywood just couldn't let its memory rest in peace, so they had to remake it like they have with everything else.  And since the 2014 remake just hit home video last week I've been dying to review it since I was 110% opposed to its existence and want to see what they did to my beloved cybernetic police officer. However, I haven't seen the original movie in easily two decades so I thought a refresher was in order.  Strap squibs to every square inch of your body and get ready for A Ghoul Versus Robocop (1987)!

A Ghoul Versus Source Code

Dueling Movies: The Adjustment Bureau Vs. Source Code!”

Since 2004 every year Hollywood publishes “the Black List”, which lists the top unproduced screenplays as voted on by studio and production executives. In 2007, a script written by Ben Ripley about a time traveling Army pilot made the list but collected dust for years until finally three years later it was green lit.

Duncan Jones, the son of MR. DAVID BOWIE, was hired to direct the film. Riding a wave of success off his indie smash Moon, he was the personal choice of Ripley to bring his story to life. The movie was another smash, made for $30 million dollars and making almost five times that back. Even more impressive is it succeeded despite coming out a month after the Adjustment Bureau, as it was able to overcome the “dueling movie fatigue” that often happens to the film that comes out second.

Will this turn out to be as good as the Adjustment Bureau was? Or will it end up being a movie that looks like it was written by the guy who wrote the third and fourth Species movies?  Good God I hope not!  Grab some Dunkin' Donuts, take a seat on the train, and get ready for A Ghoul Versus Source Code!

Friday, June 6, 2014

A Ghoul Versus The Adjustment Bureau (Part 2)

Click here for Part One!

David invites Elise to come along because he doesn't want to let her out of his sight, but she tells him she has to go rehearse for her big show later that night. Then immediately after that she says “Actually, I just heard they're moving my rehearsal to Pier 17, right next to the bridge.” Huh? What is going on? SLOW DOWN MOVIE!

We see the angels are able to send fake texts to people's phones, so it's safe to assume this is how they got Charlie to the cafe and Elise to learn her practice session was being moved. It would have maybe been nice to SHOW them getting the texts, as this comes off so abrupt in the movie. The pace of this scene is so fast I had to rewind it a couple of times to make sure I didn't miss anything. Repeat: I had to rewind a talky scene! This scene had more action than the entire the film Max Payne.

Before he's sprinted off by Charlie to the bridge, David tells Elisa he won't let anything come between them again. This is supposed to be all touching and romantic, but again, THEY HAVE NOTHING BETWEEN THEM to inspire this kind of dialogue. I suppose you could make the case for “love at first sight” but come on... this movie is way smarter than that.

A Ghoul Versus The Adjustment Bureau (Part 1)

Dueling Movies: The Adjustment Bureau Vs. Source Code!”

One of my favourite phenomenona in Hollywood is when studios release two identical looking movies at around the same time. It's been going on for years for numerous reasons, despite the fact it almost always ends up hurting both movies because it only serves to confuse most people which is which. For instance, take the recently released films White House Down and Olympus Has Fallen. I CANNOT tell these two movies apart. I honestly think they just released the same movie twice and changed the titles to make some extra money.

In some cases one movie is so vastly superior, while the other is lost to the vague memories of time. See Babe vs. Gordy. In rare cases both movies become very popular and each spawn their legions of fans. See A Bug's Life vs. Antz. A lot of the time despite looking the same they're actually radically different stories. See The Prestige vs. The Illusionist or Observe And Report vs. Paul Blart: Mall Cop. And sometimes they're both just miserable flops that make you wonder why they even bothered going through with it. See First Daughter vs. Chasing Liberty or Mission To Mars vs. Red Planet.

Today we're going to look at the first of two films that released within a month of each other in 2011, The Adjustment Bureau (March 4) and Source Code (April 1).  These fall into the “different despite looking the same” category as I believe they have completely different premises but damn the trailers made them look similar: a handsome young man battles fate to save the woman he loves.  Grab Emily Blunt by the hand and try not to look down her dress and get ready for A Ghoul Versus The Adjustment Bureau!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

A Ghoul Versus Alex Cross (Part 2)

Click here for Part One!

Alex and Tommy meet up, but they must have taken a wrong turn as they're suddenly in a Mission Impossible movie as they break into the police station THEY WORK AT by climbing onto the roof and knocking out its security system. Tommy uses a blowtorch to cut through a barred window so they can gain access, and then viciously knocks out a cop that spots them. GOOD GOD THE STUPID. They're cops that WORK AT THE POLICE STATION, there is absolutely no reason they had to break their way in and probably give one of their fellow coworkers brain damage besides the fact it gave us a scene that looked mildly cool. Rob Cohen!

So what are they doing at the place they work at anyway? They're raiding an evidence room, which they could have TOTALLY gained easy access to seeing as how they're homicide detectives, but WHATEVER. I didn't puzzle over this too much, as I was distracted by the presence of a Lightning McQueen toy sitting on one of the evidence shelves and started making up my own story as to what kind of crime was committed with it.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

A Ghoul Versus Alex Cross (Part 1)

Don't Cross Alex Cross... or he'll make you watch this movie!”

You may not know this, I certainly didn't, but Alex Cross is the latest in the Hollywood craze of rebooting older franchises with a hip and younger cast. The franchise in question is the Alex Cross series, consisting of the movies Kiss The Girls and Along Came A Spider, which starred Morgan Freeman as the eponymous police detective/psychologist. Despite my love for Freeman, I've never seen either because Ashley Judd was in one of them and A GHOUL CAN'T STAND ASHLEY JUDD.

I've never read any of the books the series is based on either, so I have no idea how loyal they are but I'm going to go out on a crazy limb and guess “not very”. I know this movie is loosely based on the twelfth book of the series, because if there's one thing Hollywood is awesome at it's adapting books out of order.

Announced in 2010, Alex Cross was originally going to be a VERY different movie. It was going to star the ridiculously awesome Idris Elba, who took the role based off the “phenomenal” script it had. It was going to be directed by David Twohy, who is pretty hit (Pitch Black) or miss (everything else Riddick) but is at the least a competent director.