Archive for April 1st, 2008


Movie Review: Battle Zone: The Movie

BattleZoen poster

They’re cashing in on my childhood. Again.


Starring Nicolas Cage, Elizabeth Banks, William Sadler, and Wilford Brimley. Directed by Dominic Sena.


Where do I start?


The story goes like this: retired Colonel Jonathan Radner (Cage) is having nightmares. He remembers something, but what for certain he doesn’t know. After an incident at Fort Bragg he’s sent to a base in the MidWest; the kind of place that makes Omaha look like NYC. There he lives and gives tours on military history at their museum.


Enter Amanda Thorn (Banks). She’s a teacher and a military wife. Her husband (Sam Rockwell) is on a conference in D.C. Having been a “military brat” she knows the drill. Her father (Brimley) lives on the base as well.


When “aliens” land in D.C., Chicago, L.A., NYC, Houston, and Seattle, we know something is up. Within moments of a proposed “treaty” (how long has the government denied their existence?) we realize all too late that they are no relatives to “E.T.” or “Mac” (“Mac and Me” anyone?) And apparently they’ve picked up a thing or two since “Independence Day,” and have immunized themselves from computer viruses by shutting down all PCs and Macs. In fact they kill the power across the entire globe. Who can save us now?


Colonel Radner and his lean, mean Sherman machine. Breaking into the Museum he takes their prized possession and grabbing all the ammo he can (why would you keep ammunition for a museum piece?) he rolls the tank out. After successfully obliterating a UFO he’s now our last, best hope.


This seems to upset the aliens who until now were simply happy to eradicate us like ants under a magnifying glass. They change their strategy and begin “turning” us against ourselves using William Sadler to commandeer a force of tanks to take out Cage.


Wow. I dunno what else to say. If you’re a fan of Nic Cage, this is your best bet. No globe-trotting search for artifacts here; just shit blowin’ up. Sure, there’s the mutual protection/ love interest between Banks and Cage. And yes, it’s great to see Wilford Brimley talking about his old “war days” and how much he really knew about Roswell (“Why do you think I was sent to this base?”) instead of hocking Quaker Oats, Metamucil, or life insurance. It kinda reminded me of him in “The Thing.”


And Dominic Sena is on the radar again, teaming up with Bruckheimer for this ditty. I had wondered what became of him (checking the IMDB now). I did like how he brought back (in certain POV scenes) the old Atari game. When Cage goes to look through his viewfinder, I swore that I was in a hyper-reality version of it (with the exception of 8-bit mountains or yellow “bullets” destroying the UFOs)


All-in-all, your standard “plug ‘n play” fare; check your brain at the door. Watch for the cameos of Kevin Smith and Alec Baldwin. Those are worth it.


My grade: C+


April 2008 Movie Releases

Movie poster

“Leatherheads” – George Clooney directs and stars in a film about the olden days of football. Hopefully, no “Super Bowl Shuffle.” Also stars Renee Zellweger. Opens April 4, 2008

“My Blueberry Nights” – Norah Jones goes cross-country to find herself. Along the way she deals with David Strathairn, Jude Law, Rachel Weisz, Tim Roth, Ed Harris, and Natalie Portman. Directed by Wong Kar Wai. Opens April 4, 2008

“Nim’s Island” – Abigail Breslin is Nim, a girl living on a secret island with her father. When he father disappears, she reaches out to best-selling adventure writer Alex Rover (Jodie Foster) to help save her. Trouble is, Rover has never left her house in years and confides to her imaginary hero (played by Gerard Butler). Opens April 4, 2008

“Sex and Death 101” – An executive receives an e-mail that has a list of every woman he’s ever had sex with –and all those he will. Stars Simon Baker and Winona Ryder. Opens April 4, 2008

“Shine A Light” – Marty Scorsese takes on the “World’s Greatest Rock ‘n Roll Band,” the Rolling Stones. The trailer looks fun and the movie should be great, especially for those people like me who can only afford to part with the left toe for a concert ticket in the nosebleed section. Opens April 4, 2008

“Wild Child” – Bratty princess (Emma Roberts) is shipped from her cushy L.A. life to a boarding school in England. I wonder if someone’s trying to say something… Opens April 4, 2008

“Young@Heart” – A documentary on the Young@Heart chorus, a group of Senior Citizens that travel the country singing. Hey, sing some Skynyrd! Opens April 9, 2008

“Dark Matter” – Meryl Streep is a teacher who discovers a Chinese student who has incredible potential in science. Trouble is, he’s up against Aidan Quinn and U.S. politics. Isn’t that how it always happens? Opens April 11, 2008

“Prom Night” – A remake of the 1980 Prom Night. Opens April 11, 2008

“The Ruins” – College kids + ancient Mexican ruins + something evil lurking that will kill them = horror movie I’ll pass up, thanks. Opens April 11, 2008

“Smart People” – Indie comedy about intellectuals who have problems dealing with… common sense problems. Sounds like they made my movie. Stars Dennis Quaid, Ellen Page, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Thomas Hayden Church. Opens April 11, 2008

“Street Kings” – A story of cops dealing out their own brand of justice on the street of L.A. Next! Stars Keanu Reeves, Forest Whitaker, Hugh Laurie, Chris Evans, Common, and The Game. Opens April 11, 2008

“88 Minutes” – Al Pacino is a forensics expert that receives a phone call saying he’s got only 88 minutes to live. There are worse things… Opens April 18, 2008

“Baby Mama” – Tina Fey is a successful businesswoman who wants a kid but is infertile. Her next best option: surrogate mother Amy Poehler. Doesn’t this sound like an SNL skit? Opens April 18, 2008

“Forbidden Kingdom” – Michael Angarano is a kid who, obsessed with martial arts movies, gets sucked into his favorite one. Y’know, the one with Jackie Chan and Jet Li together? Opens April 18, 2008

“Forgetting Sarah Marshall” – Guy breaks up with his TV-star girlfriend and goes to Hawaii to forget about it. He ends up in a room next to his ex-girlfriend, and she has a new boyfriend. Opens April 18, 2008

“The Life Before Her Eyes” – Uma Thurma is married to a professor and on the upcoming 15th anniversary of a tragic high school shooting, begins questioning what lead up to it as well as what’s going on currently in her life. Shouldn’t this be on Lifetime? Opens April 18, 2008

“Pathology” – A group of med students create the perfect crime. Hey, wasn’t that similar to the plot of “Mindhunters?” Stars Alyssa Milano. Opening April 18, 2008

“Where In the World is Osama Bin Laden?” – Morgan Spurlock, the guy who ate McDonald’s for 30 days breakfast, lunch, and dinner, is back in the documentary game again. This time, he’s on the search for Public Enemy 1: Osama Bin Laden. Opens April 18, 2008

“Big Stan” – Rob Schneider is a geeky con-man who gets sent to prison. Before he leaves, he’s trained in the art of fighting by David Carradine. If only Pai Mei had taught him… By the way, the film has been on the shelf for the last 2 years. Seriously. Opens April 25, 2008

“Deal” – Brett Harrison is hot at cards, and Burt Reynolds is a retired gambler who takes him under his wing. Oh yeah, and Harrison gets to make out with Shannon Elizabeth. Opening April 25, 2008

“Deception” – Formerly “The Tourist,” (what’s up with these name changes?) this movie follows young exec Ewan McGregor as he joins a sex club called The List. When a woman disappears and a $20 million theft occurs, things get complicated. Also stars Hugh Jackman. Opening April 25, 2008

“Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay” – The pot-smoking duo are back. While on a flight to Amsterdam they’re mistaken for “terrorists,” and sent to Gitmo. They’re only hope of escape: Neil Patrick Harris. Opens April 25, 2008

“Then She Found Me” – Helen Hunt’s directorial debut about a woman abandoned by her husband (Matthew Broderick) and entering a midlife crisis. When her long-lost birth mother (Bette Midler) reappears trying to reconcile… you get the drift. Opening April 25, 2008


Movies on DVD Review: The Mist

The Mist poster

Best. Horror. Movie. Ever.

Starring Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden, Laurie Holden, Andre Braugher, Toby Jones, and William Sadler. Directed by Frank Darabont. Based on the story by Stephen King.

This Darabont likes people being held captive, doesn’t he?

“The Mist” is about a small New England town (where King’s stuff always happens) that is taken over by a mist that comes from the lake. The setting for much of the story is the Food House supermarket where artist David Drayton (Jane) and his son, along with lawyer/neighbor Brent Norton (Braugher), new teacher Amanda Dunfrey (Holden), mechanic Jim Grondin (Sadler), and others are holed-up while the mist surrounds them. After a tentacled “something” drags Norm (Chris Owens) into the mist (“lunchtime”), sides are chosen and the pressure builds. Will the mist clear? Will they make it out alive?

What I really enjoyed about this movie was that it was about the true nature of horror: the psychology of personalities in conflict. Drayton doesn’t want to lead, but he’s the only one who is seemingly “sane.” Ollie (Jones) goes from being a “nobody” to answering the “heroic call-to-action.” But, there is the other side of the coin as well: Brent doesn’t believe in the “creatures” that Drayton talks about, and decides to lead a group of people in the mist. And there’s Mrs. Carmody (Harden), a god-fearing religious fear-monger who begins converting others in the store, one after another, to the “fact” that she is a “vessel”; a psychic tuned into God’s Wrath.

I will also give credit to Greg Nicotero, who helped create the monsters for “The Mist.” One looks like a dragonfly mated with a scorpion that can “shoot” a string from its tail that will burn through anything. There’s also a spider that looks like it was mated with a porcupine that has the same type of “string.”

And yes, Frank Darabont did a great job. This is easily one of the best horror movies of the past decade. While “Shawshank” and “Green Mile” may get more press and interest, that doesn’t make this any less of a movie. I really wish that I had seen this in theaters…

Of note I watched this film 3 times this past weekend; once for myself, and twice with friends. I do recommend seeing it if you’re into the “terror” part of horror movies. Yes, there is some gore, blood, and violence, but this is horror done correctly. Also, I watched it in black and white, with the introduction where Darabont goes on about offering the initial color version, and the same in b&w. I like both.

Either way, you’ll be on the edge of your seat for a good hour.

My grade: A.