Friday, August 10, 2007

Skinwalkers, AKA Yet Another Unneeded Werewolf Retread

We're too sexy for our skin, too sexy for our skin, too sexy for our...

There are certain cycles that are unavoidable in the movie world, reappearing trends that are constantly revived and rehashed in order to capture the new, younger audience that has not yet learned to treat these time-honored standards with the contempt and scorn they deserve. Buddy-Cop films, Teen Cross-Dressing Comedies, Body Swap Comedies, and pointless Parody franchises are among the top offenders, coming back to haunt each new generation like a hereditary case of syphilitic dementia.

Hereditary genes seem to play a major part in the latest of these reoccurring film genres, this one being the Reinvention of an Old Movie Monster #3: Modernize the classic film monstrous curse as a medical or genetic affliction, and create two factions of the monsters; one group who wants to be cure, and the other who is quite happy being creatures that prey on humans, thus giving a suitable excuse for excessively boring melodramatic dialogue about the origins of evil and morality whenever there is a pause in the action.

Ever since films like Tarantino’s schizophrenic gangster/vampire film Dusk to Dawn, and Len Wiseman’s pseudo-Anne-Rice-meets-Matrix melodramatically-masturbatory two-hour rock video Underworld (and apparently the critical failure of the horrendous sequel means nothing to Wiseman or his keepers, as the bastard’s working on a prequel now), and *shudder* the Blade franchise, it seems that the classic horror monsters of the old days have become today’s action stars. Creatures that used to hide in the shadows and off-camera are now dressing in skimpy skin-tight costumes and performing dazzling stunts and fight sequences in between soft-core pornographic bestial-sex scenes.

So where does this trend leave us? This weekend, it leaves us with a movie poster featuring a sexy werewolf beast-woman, so we can already expect enough furry people doing it Lon Chaney Junior Style to put the shape shifter orgy of The Howling 3 to shame. Add a bunch of bad biker werewolves doing their best to rip off Near Dark, who are at odds with the gentle werewolf played by film veteran Elias Koteas, who despite his stature and experience has still managed to lose top billing to professional Television Pretty Boy Jason Behr. To spice up this mess, just add a young child that supposedly holds the genetic key to curing the werewolves, plenty of over-the-top action sequences, a few tough women with guns (including the mother, of course), and a apocalyptic Red Moon for a handy excuse to film the last half hour in red so we can show more blood without risking an NC17. All you need now is a new generation of unsuspecting movie goers to inflict this modern retelling of cinematic clich├ęs, which, unfortunately, there is an endless supply of.

The only way this film redeems itself is if it ends with the bad boy werewolves tearing apart the boy like fresh bread and feasting on his steaming innards, only to pause and turn the blood-soaked slack-jawed expressions to a giggling Koteas, who explains between fits of laughter that consuming the child was the only way of utilizing the cure, and his constant attempts to protect the child from them were merely part of an elaborate April Fools joke.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Rush Hour 3, Audience Nothing

Comic hijinx that make you root for the bad guys in...
Rush Hour 3

Summer sequels tend to dredge up all sorts of negative feelings for me. The screeching freak show known to captive audiences far and wide as Chris Tucker also taps a plentiful well of disgust and contempt deep within me. So, needless to say, Brett Ratner summer sequels that keep Chris Tucker gainfully employed inspire dizzying levels of spite and malice. There is simply too much hate here to focus properly.

What’s there not to hate about this end of the summer suck fest? Martial arts has-been Jackie Chan and comedy never-was Chris Tucker take the tired buddy-cop routine overseas yet again, this time traveling to France to battle the Chinese Triads, which of course makes perfect sense. It should really be a warning sign when a franchise’s sequels visit more foreign locations than 80’s sitcom families during one-hour season finale episodes. The whole tired ordeal would be bad enough on its own. But now, add Brett Ratner and Chris Tucker.

Brett Ratner and Chris Tucker are a destructive pair of hellish minions to say the least, two highly paid professionals who are given piles of money for talent that has yet to be fully demonstrated. It’s actually a bit difficult to decide which one is the bigger hack.

Apart from a couple of Urban Comedies and Dramas, Tarantino’s disappointing Jackie Brown, and a supporting role in Luc Besson’s stunningly obnoxious and atrocious Fifth Element, Chris Tucker has mainly been Ratner’s demonic little imp, mugging for the camera and pretending to be funny while hundreds of stunt coordinators and special effects artists do their best to entertain the audience and distract them from the excruciating pain inflicted by his high-pitched screeches meant to pass as humorous dialogue.

Ratner’s may have racked up a bit more than Tucker’s six movies in ten years, but this is partly because he takes time out between his own series installments to completely fuck up other respectable franchises. Not just content on poisoning the entertainment pool with his own stream of action/comedy urine, he went out of his way to take a huge dump on Brian Singer’s X-Men movies and completely bastardize the classic Red Dragon adaptation Manhunter, proving that any franchise he touches becomes corrupted and vile. He even tried to start up another one by producing a Money Talks 2, so we could have an even bigger annual exposure to Chris Tucker.

The one I feel bad for through all of this is Jackie Chan. Granted, America’s love fest with Jackie died out around quite awhile ago, even if it didn’t end in time to stop Around the World in 80 Days from happening. But love him or hate him, the man is a veteran of the action film industry both in front of and behind the camera, with over a hundred films to his name and a fan base so fanatical that it makes the Elvis crowd seem unmotivated. (If you disagree with the Elvis statement, just tell me how many women set themselves on fire because they’d never be Mrs. Presley. I didn’t think so). Meanwhile, good old Brett manages to negotiate a $20,000,000 paycheck for Tucker’s Rush Hour 3 performance, undoubtedly so high because Chris Tucker is such an amazingly popular actor that he’s appeared in no other films except Ratner’s since 1997.

There really isn’t an ending to this film that would inspire me to watch it, but I do dream of a specific ending to the franchise. My little fantasy involves stunt rehearsals for Rush Hour 4: New Zealand Triads, with Jackie Chan walking Chris Tucker through a fight sequence the two will be performing together. Jackie decides that the time is right, and when the two of them go into a dive roll together, he slips his arm around Tuckers neck and snaps it like a stale pretzel rod. The sound of cartilage ripping and vertebrae separating stuns the onlookers into frozen silence, and they all watch what they will later describe as Jackie’s fruitless attempts at CPR, but which are actually powerful blows delivered to Chris Tucker’s sternum to ensure that his heart beats no more. They will easily mistake his tears of joy for agonized bereavement, and while they will later swear that he called out for someone to call for an ambulance, the sentence muttered under his breath in his native tongue is a solemn vow, “The nightmare ends here.”