Posts Tagged ‘Kurt Russell

21
May
08

Death Proof (Grindhouse: Death Proof)

 Death Proof [2007]

Death Proof is Quentin Tarantino’s 5th major movie and is also a part of the Grindhouse collaboration.

Kurt Russell plays ‘Stuntman Mike McKay’, an ex-stuntman that now, for whatever reason, roams the streets in search of young ladies to  murder.  His weapon of choice is some Detroit muscle.

But not just any car will do. Before he puts the pedal to the metal, he must “death proof” his car. This is a old stuntman tradition, done by heavily reinforcing the fame and placing an intricate web of roll bars into the car. When he is strapped into his seat harness, he is in an almost magical way, invincible. With this in place, he can now prey on helpless women around the highways with no fear of getting injured himself.

The movie can very easily be described in halves. Most people who have seen this movie know that there is the first set of girls and the second. Each set takes up a little under an hour to wrap up and tell their part of the story.

OK, this is gonna be a long one, so you want me to start with bads or goods first? Fine, lets get it out of the way.

The bads are quite a list to say the least. WOW. Where to begin. First of all, boring. Boring, boring, boring, boring. The first 45 min of the movie is hard for ANYONE to watch and be 100% engaged into the film. Why is that? Well, because the story, for the most part, follows around 4 of the most uninteresting young women you could ever hope to not meet.

These would be girls you see that work at Mervyns and are always outside on a smoke break. The girl that gave you a quick ride home last year. Remember? When you got in her car, it smelled SO bad and was completely trashed from top to bottom. She thought after High School, she would meet a doctor and run away. But he never showed up, so they continue their vain attempt to find a decent guy using booze and cheap perfume to lure him. For some odd reason, she has multiple PETCO P.A.L.S. cards in her purse. You get the picture. I already know too much about these girls based on their lifestyle and appearance. Why would I want to know more? Well too bad. You get novels of dialogue between them. Back and forth. Talking about weed, humping guys, bars, liquor, laziness, and…………………………. under ground, rare, impossible to find, old, soul music?

Wait… what?????

My main problem with the dialogue in this movie, is that it is obviously writen by a guy. These girls talk like guys. And not just any guy. They all talk like Quentin Tarantino himself. Its shown with their quirky taste in everything from t-shirts, poems, music, and yes, movies too. You ever wonder why Big Bank Hank from the Shugarhill Gang sounds like Grand Master Caz? CAUSE GMC WROTE HIS RHYMES! The same goes for this. Its TOTALLY obvious. The first 45 minutes is almost completely unbearable and I always find myself fast-forwarding through parts.

The first half also has the ‘Grindhouse’ feel with the cheap horror music, bad editing, and damaged film. This look is one of the better parts of the first half… but for some reason… its gone in the 2nd half? Totally doesn’t fit or make sense.

Another thing about this movie is that is almost a collage of references. As if it was the art project where you cut up magazines and make a big ugly poster of all the things you like. Its no secret Tarantino is a fan of the old road movies, so you may call it a “tribute”, but it borders on the line of straight unoriginal. Its everywhere. Dirty Mary Crazy Larry, Convoy, Vanishing Point, Gone in 60 Seconds, Smokey and the Bandit, Gator… the list goes on! Every time I see a road movie, I see something that Tarantio took! There are so many ‘nods’ in this movie, it may as well be a giant bobble head!

Sounds pretty abysmal doesn’t it? Well, he’s not the great “QT” for nothing. He can work wonders at times… It seems he needs a big knock out to recover from this brutal beating. Can he pull it off?

Well, there is many great things about this flick as well. The 2nd half of girls have much better lines and its way easier to care and follow whats going on. Although its still obvious a geeky film buff wrote this script, based on their very niche interests. The acting is better, the lines are better, and the pace is better.

Tarantino is not of big fan of CGI (nor am I for that matter!). And this is clear as he set out to make a car movie with no computer animated driving or stunts. THANK YOU QT! Because of this film, he put plenty of old stuntmen to work. Hollywood now a days doesn’t want real action. It costs too much and takes too much time. They would rather pay some gord in his parents basement to computer animate a sequence because its faster and cheaper. The chase scenes are some of THE BEST in history in my opinion. Gets me excited every time. Hats off to QT and the stuntmen who worked very hard on this film!

Also, Kurt Russell does a great job of the “Cowardly Lion” like killer. He plays a washed up has-been stuntman that thinks hes still slick. Even though no one has heard of the TV shows or movies he as worked on. He really thinks he is impressing these girls with his credentials and his John Wayne impression! That may work on girls in the 70’s, but not now! What a great out of touch creep he plays. It was said by Kurt that the character was actually based on a stuntman he grew up around.

Every car is hand picked to be a killer! You get a Nova, a Charger, a Mustang, and a Challenger. Great picks and nice variety. The abrupt ending is fantastic, and very ‘Grindhouse’ / B-movie feel. I couldn’t have ended it better!

Well, when its all said and done, this movie drains the life out of you, then pumps it back in. It would easily gain a 5 star rating if they had just been more careful what they put in. But instead you get a 0 star that works its way back up to 3 star.

So, if I confused you, 3 star. You will love and appreciate the best stunt driving in history. The story may make you laugh in the end. And Kurt Russells performance is perfect. But the first half of the movie will drain and drag you down, leaving you to fast forward the first parts over and over.

03
May
08

Escape from New York

Escape from New York [1981]

In 1981, John Carpenter gave us Snake Plisskin in the form of Escape from New York.

A look into the future takes us to 1997. New York, over time, has been turned into a giant prison to house the nations criminals. A wall of stone and water has been built, and there is no way out. Within New York, you still have your freedom, however it does not mean much when surrounded by dangerous criminals and no laws to protect you. When Air Force One is hijacked, they crash the plane in New York, leaving the president of the United States left to fend for himself amongst lawless criminals.

Soon, the president is captured for ransom. The head police commissioner known as Bob Hauk (Lee Van Cleef) decides to give new inmate Snake Plisskin (Kurt Russell) a shot at wiping the slate clean….. if he can rescue the president in 24 hours. Snake is ex-special forces and knows his way in and out of tight spots. After fitting him with some gear and a virus that will kill him if he fails or tries to flee, he begins his run through this terrible city.

Well, what can I say? Many people look up to this movie as a classic cult film. Many have been raised on Snake Plisskin, and its easy to see that he was the inspiration for ‘Snake’ in the video game series ‘Metal Gear’. Anytime you take in a ‘cult’ movie, or ‘B’ movie, you have to be prepared for it to suck. Because sometimes, the reason it is popular is because people like to sit back and laugh at its ridiculousness. Like the 80s classics ‘Voyage of the Rock Aliens’ or ‘Ice Pirates’. Other times, they are ‘cult’ or ‘B’ because you were expecting so little, and it actually paid off larger than you thought.

For me, I came in with an open mind (this was my first time viewing this movie). I was ready for the movie to suck so I can laugh, or for it to surprise me with good things. It did neither. Nothing stood out in this movie. There was no part where I said “Wow! That’s cool!”. I never laughed out loud. It was simply just a ho-hum story. No action stood out. Acting was reminiscent of a TV movie on the W.B. And on the flip side, nothing was spun off as over the top for me to laugh at.

It wasn’t a worthless piece of garbage. It has screen legends Lee Van Cleef and Ernest Borgnine. They are always welcome. The whole 80s visuals and sound effects were super high-tech. There are quite a few twists at the end as well. It was appreciated. Not to mention the clout that comes with viewing a ‘classic’ you can now talk about with friends, coworkers, associates, etc.

Man, I know I’m gonna get in trouble for this with most my friends. Maybe you will give me hell in the comments, but I gotta be honest. 2 stars. You can watch it once. I’m not gonna give it 1 star and say avoid it like the plague. But its just not something I see wanting to own. I’m gonna trade in my copy on my days off as a matter of fact.




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