Tag Archives: Tink

Into the Grizzly Maze (2014, David Hackl)

Should Into the Grizzly Maze be any good? It’s the story of two bickering brothers who have to hunt a giant killer bear. In Alaska. With the deaf wife of one brother–the cop–and the ex-girlfriend of the other brother. And the other brother is an ex-con. Their father’s former bear hunting protege also figures into the mix.

It sounds like a really lame soap opera, not a movie about a giant monster bear. And when you consider the actors–Thomas Jane as the cop, James Marsden as the ex-con, Piper Perabo as the deaf wife, Billy Bob Thornton as the protege (and, yes, TV supporting player Michaela McManus as the ex-girlfriend). These actors used to be movie stars. If they’re going to be in a movie about a killer grizzly bear, shouldn’t it be somehow awesome?

Yes, it should. But director Hackl’s atrocious. He can’t make Maze scary, can’t do the gore–and he wastes a few really good gore possibilities because the whole thing has awful CG in awful day for night digital shooting. Occasionally, it seems like James Liston’s photography is good, but then it’s obvious he just knows how to give that impression. It’s still better than anything Hackl does.

The whole reason Perabo is deaf is so she can be hunted and the audience can know what’s coming (and maybe to pay her less) and Hackl can’t even sell that moment.

Bad acting. Bad movie. Except Scott Glenn, of course.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by David Hackl; screenplay by Guy Moshe and J.R. Reher, based on a story by Reher; director of photography, James Liston; edited by Andrew Coutts, Michael N. Knue and Sara Mineo; music by Marcus Trumpp; production designer, Tink; produced by Paul Schiff, Tai Duncan and Hadeel Reda; released by Vertical Entertainment.

Starring James Marsden (Rowan), Thomas Jane (Beckett), Piper Perabo (Michelle), Billy Bob Thornton (Douglass), Scott Glenn (Sully), Michaela McManus (Kaley), Kelly Curran (Amber) and Adam Beach (Johnny Cadillac).

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Concrete Blondes (2012, Nicholas Kalikow)

A more appropriate title for Concrete Blondes might be Bad Lesbian Hip Crime Thriller Written by Three Men. The sexuality of the protagonists sadly has a lot to do with it because writers Kalikow, Rob Warren Thomas and Chris Wyatt create a love triangle between Carly Pope and Samaire Armstrong and their Valley Girl roommate Diora Baird.

Pope’s the straightedge lead, Armstrong’s her devil may care girlfriend (who she supports financially) and Baird’s the third wheel. On the other hand, Baird’s got the boyfriend–Brian Smith in a Will Ferrell impression of sorts; he’s the best performance in the movie. Second best goes to John Rhys-Davies, just because he knows how to chew scenery and not look embarrassed.

Pope and Baird are terrible. Pope’s unlikable in the lead, though given her character’s living situation it’s hard to imagine wanting to spend any time around her. Baird would probably be okay playing the mean girl idiot, but the script’s terrible. Even with a good script, Pope would still be bad.

Armstrong is appealing, but her character’s too poorly written for her to be anything more.

Kalikow’s direction is a little better than his writing, but the production values are weak. It’s obviously DV and Mark Irwin doesn’t do anything with the photography to make it look better than a camcorder. He’s still leagues ahead–maybe because of the camera’s default settings–than editor James Renfroe, who’s atrocious.

Except for Sallah completists, Blondes should be avoided at all costs. It’s hideous.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Nicholas Kalikow; written by Kalikow, Rob Warren Thomas and Chris Wyatt; director of photography, Mark Irwin; edited by James Renfroe; music by Wayne Kramer; production designer, Tink; produced by Sean Covel.

Starring Carly Pope (Kris Connifer), Samaire Armstrong (Tara Petrie), Diora Baird (Sammi Lovett), Brian Smith (Karl), Jerry Rector (Felipe), Zak Santiago (Lars) and John Rhys-Davies (Kostas Jakobatos).


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Postal (2007, Uwe Boll)

I went into Postal expecting Boll to be like Ed Wood. He’s not. He doesn’t have any artful composition, but it’s fine. When he’s mocking American action films of the 1980s, he’s showing just as much skill as any of those directors do… it might have helped if he’d shot Panavision.

Boll doesn’t seem to be going for much with Postal in the way of artful film though. All of it, from the first or second scene, is to shock the viewer. Boll’s got some great ideas in the movie–from the racially sensitive black cop to George W. Bush’s specialized (so he can understand it) computer, not to mention the German theme park, complete with Nazis–but he can’t turn any of them into good jokes. None of the jokes work. After a while, it gets kind of incredible. There’s a shootout at the welfare office where protagonist Zack Ward goes from body to body trying to find a lower number for waiting in line. Ought to work. Really doesn’t.

The problem’s a combination of casting and writing. The script’s got real problems, some from being an adaptation of a video game, some from Boll getting more excited about what he’s saying than how he’s saying it. Osama bin Laden being disinterested in terrorist activities–unless the U.S. government is paying him to commit them–is interesting. It’s one hell of a thing to see in a film released in this country (even if Postal only did come out in a hundred theaters). Boll’s got a big gun fight where no one dies but the little kids. Because Postal‘s so distant, so obviously a commentary about media, it’s impossible not to wonder if the kids had fun with the squibs. Not for a moment is it horrific, because it isn’t believable–Boll doing it is singular… but the action of putting a scene in a film because one can doesn’t mean one should. Or, if one should do it better than Boll does it.

The scene at the Starbucks… great commentary on American culture, but not good humor.

Boll’s approach to Postal is actually somewhat solid, it simply lacks a worthwhile script. The movie’s relatively painless to watch and occasionally, dispassionately interesting. As I said before, Boll’s nowhere near as bad as his Internet detractors make him out. He’s a perfectly competent craftsman who could easily make shampoo commercials, which puts him far ahead of most of the directors Jerry Bruckheimer works with.

The acting runs lukewarm and freezing. Zack Ward isn’t very good. He’s somewhat likable, but he isn’t good. Dave Foley’s funny. Chris Coppola’s bad. J.K. Simmons has a great cameo–his presence is a little peculiar, given Postal‘s caliber, but nowhere near as much as David Huddleston and Seymour Cassel. They must have been really bored. Chris Spencer’s terrible–his first appearance kills the initial good vibe Boll’s got going.

I certainly wouldn’t recommend Postal to anyone, but I don’t regret sitting through it either.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Uwe Boll; screenplay by Boll and Bryan C. Knight; director of photography, Mathias Neumann; edited by Julian Clarke; music by Jessica de Rooij; production designer, Tink; produced by Boll, Dan Clarke and Shawn Williamson; released by Kinostar.

Starring Zack Ward (Postal Dude), Dave Foley (Uncle Dave), Chris Coppola (Richard), Jackie Tohn (Faith), J.K. Simmons (Candidate Wells), Ralf Moeller (Officer John), Verne Troyer (Himself), Chris Spencer (Officer Greg), Larry Thomas (Osama bin Laden) and Michael Paré (Panhandler).


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