Friday, September 21, 2012


Plot synopsis: In some futuristic mega city, the violence is slowly starting to strangle the lifeblood out of it. Enter Dredd, a cop with authority to act as judge, jury and executioner. Teaming up with a unproven rookie, he gets trapped in a highrise. The only way out? By dispensing justice - his way.

Whenever you get wind of a remake, you immediately harken back to your memories of the original version. Revising it in your mind, so you have a refreshed idea of what to expect when the remake arrives. Anticipation then fuels your expectations, sometimes for better, sometimes for worse. Will it live up to my expectations? Or, will it be something else altogether? This creates a weight, which then (more often than not?) becomes a burden.

Happily, this reincarnation of the 1995 version is completely different. In fact, its a hell of an improvement. Gone is the ever so slightly campy tone from the original, in its place, a far more brutal beast. This tone is refreshingly savage, a million more shades of dark. Bleak, blunt, and ultra-violent, this DREDD doesn't pussyfoot around with any pretense of character development. There's  not even a scantest hint of romance. Which is great news, it means you can concentrate on the main task at hand. Dispensing justice DREDD style!

Karl Urban rocks hard in this remake, he is well suited (In every sense) to the task at hand. He purveys a sense of authority with ease, and most crucially - DOESN'T TAKE HIS HELMET OFF! This small (But extremely important) detail goes a long way to eradicating the sight of 'ol Sly's ugly mug in the first version. Fans of the comic source material should be overjoyed at this prospect. Indeed, by not removing the helmet, DREDD becomes far more mysterious - we can't see his eyes, therefore we can't 'see' what he's thinking at any given time. You don't need to either! His forceful actions speak volumes about where he's at. The other standout is Lena Headey as Ma-Ma, the viscious leader of the drug gang enslaving the occupants of the tower. Ma-Ma is evil personified, absolutely ruthless in her determination to ensure that the building is hers - and hers alone. She will stop at nothing to achieve this, eliminating with extreme prejudice any mortal foolish enough to cross her path. Headey revels in this role, playing Ma-Ma with a steely conviction that is enthralling to watch. Also, if your not aware, she is in the superb HBO series "Game of Thrones" as the scheming Cersei Lanister - definitely an actress to keep an eye on for future roles.

The 3D is cool, emphasizing certain scenes - particularly the 'slo-mo' drug scenes - very effectively. Everything else? It all just works in the context of this movie. The pacing, the tone, the direction, the intensity, are just a few parts to highlight. So, you can kinda guess what conclusion I've already come to!

DREDD is more than worthy of both your hard earned money - and your precious time. You can't get a better recommendation than this, can you?

J for... Joy

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Expendables 2

Plot Summary: (It is kinda superfluous, but, I digress anyways... )

Bruce Willis reunites the old team for what should be a 'walk in the park' sorta job, but when one of the boys is murdered, their quest for revenge places them deep in - yep, you guessed it - very bad guy territory. Sly, Arnie, Bruce, Chuck, Dolph and others return for another paycheck, shooting, yelling, blowing up, wounding, well practically annihilating everything before them. This is a good thing. 

As you can read from the accompanying picture with this review, when you have so much mega-wattage star-power in your films lineup, you can be assured of a certain amount of interest before you actually see it. Sometimes, a stellar cast is all you need. Any semblance of a plot would obscure this films true intent - to provide as much onscreen carnage for the running time!

Within the first 15 minutes of this movie, my friends & I were giggling like very naughty school boys, completely & utterly amused at how ridiculously entertaining this sequel was. To say Expendables 2 is over the top is an understatement - and a half. Totally absurd from whoa to go, this is a train you just want to keen on riding. We gave up on counting bullets and the body count after 5 minutes! My one wish for part three (Trust me, at this time of writing, its already made nearly 240 Million. It has made its money back. Probably already written into a few key players contracts about coming back for a 3rd time around) is that they bring back one of the key guys who was instrumental in Arnold Schwarzenegger's success in the eighties, Steven E De Souza. This guy wrote many of the iconic lines from the hit movies of that period. I'm thinking of gems like "Let off some steam Bennett!" "Yippee Ki-Aye, MuthaF@%$#r!" "You bastard! Drop dead! I don't do requests" "What happened to Buzzsaw?" [after Richards cut Buzzsaw in half with a chain saw] "He had to split" etc etc. 

With Movies like this, really there is no point to a critical evaluation of its relative merit - or lack thereof. All depends on how you view these kind of specific types of films. Its not intended to be a genre defining classic is it? Expendables 2 aims squarely in one direction. Let me entertain you!

In the words of my good friend Johnny Jags... "S*%H GOES BOOM!" 

Sometimes, that's all you want from a film :)

J for... Job

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

ON THE ROAD: 3 Verses but... NO CHORUS!

 On the Road is a novel by American writer Jack Kerouac, written in April 1951, but published in 1957. It is a largely autobiographical work based on the spontaneous cross-country adventures of Kerouac and his friends during the middle of the 20th century. It is often considered a defining work of the postwar 'Beat Generation' that was inspired by jazz, poetry, and drug experiences. It has finally been made into a movie in 2011 by Walter Salles, starring Sam Riley, Garrett Hedlund, Kristen Stewart, Kirsten Dunst & Viggo Mortensen.

OK then, where the hell do ya start? Ya start fueled with good old fashioned nourishment that is the finest that America has offered to the world. Coke and Mcdonalds. Like love and marriage, they go together like a horse and carriage. So, with that sweet fuel in my belly, where do you start when confronted with an iconic piece of art that defied the typical literary conventions of its day - manifesting itself casually on an unsuspecting American public way back then? And now, in the modern era, it finally is deemed worthy enough to translate its idiosyncratic musings into another medium that too, can be manipulated into whatever some insignificant suit deems necessary to achieve that upmost of desired goals that begets all others, the pursuit of the almighty dollar. if it aint pitched to the middle, then how the hells it gonna make any ROI? Thats Return On Investment for all you non business folks out there.

Happy to report that the long wait has been well worthwhile, this is more than great. It's an evocative, dramatic, rambling, mysterious, heady, swirling, languid, passionate ride through a critical time in American history. Coming not long after the the second world war, the country was just starting to regroup itself, socially, morally, and possibly most crucially - artistically. From this came a group of people determined to see things differently. Determined to throw off conventional societal norms, this ultra talented bunch dreamed up new forms of expression that couldn't have come from your average Joe bound by the staid straitjacket fit of the times. Jazz, Poetry, Art, Movies, these and many other forms of artistic endeavour were being twisted, reformed, re-calibrated, re-sprung into initially uncomfortable, but strangely compelling pieces that not just intrigued, but mesmerized the public. For good.

With any great movie, the two things that make it so are a great story - and the cast to realize it. Without these, sayonnara folks. It ain't gonna be much chop. The two key cats, Sal & Dean are brought to life with just the right amount of panache by Sam Riley & Garrett Hedlund. Damn, these guys are good! Sold by their effortless cool in inhabiting Kerouac's vivid Sal Paradise & Dean Moriarty, its more than easy to go along for this glorious ride into wild abandon across the American heartland. Part of you wants to experience life the way they did: Mad for adventure, mad for craziness, mad for love, mad for sex, mad for drugs. Mad for life itself. OD'd On Life Itself?

OK then, the key question? (Of course. Do'h!) Is this cinematic journey more than worthy of 137 minutes of your most precious time. My answer -if you haven't figured out by now - is... Hell yeah! But, the caveat is this: Its not the destination that's real important, its how you gets there. Ha, that's where the fun is, my friends...

And, the following is inspired by Kerouac. It aint anything like him, but ya know, I just felt creative. Just had to go with the flow. Its cribbed blatantly from a few different sources, see if ya can guess which ones!

Lunch is on me if you can pick 'em all. You have my word on that. Seriously...

People are strange, people are strange when you're a stranger but remember this. Then I saw her face - now I'm a belieber! Its not art for arts sake, money for gods sake. Money, that's what I want! If Jim-bob, the Okie from Muskogee don't git it? Then whats it any good for? Huh! Whats it any good for? Say it again! And I can't wait to get on the road again. On the road again - Like a band of gypsies we go down the highway, We're the best of friends. Insisting that the world keep turning our way. Exit light! Enter night! Off to never never land. Like rust never sleeps, is this not paradise city? Where the grass is green? And the girls are pretty? Take me home! But, don't come around here no more, yer so bad! But you the best I ever had! Just... Beat it, beat it! Hit the road jack! Don't you come back no more no more no more! I know this much is true...

So, hello Mary-Lou, you shook me! YOU SHOOK ME ALL NIGHT LONG!!!  And she wore a pearl necklace, she wore a pearl necklace! Might as well.. JUMP! Keep on chooglin, keep on chooglin! Somewhere down that lazy river with Rosanna. Rosanna! - I didn't know you were looking for more than I could ever be? Ain't no sunshine when she's gone, It's not warm when she's away. But the waiting? The waiting is the hardest part. You take it on faith, you take it to the heart, yes-siree, the waiting is the hardest part! C'mon everybody!, everybody's got a hungry heart, lay down your money and you play your part. Honey I want the heart, I want the soul, I want control right now. So, you go back, Jack, do it again. Wheel turnin' 'round and 'round. And let it roll! Down the highway! Roll! Roll! But, like a bat out of hell, I'll be gone when the morning comes, But when the day is done - And the sun goes down - And moonlight's shining through. Then like a sinner before the gates of heaven - I'll come crawling on back to you. I know I could be happy - the rest of my life. With a cinnamon girl. 

No, I'm not losing my religion, I know everybody hurts - sometimes. But hey, don't fear the reaper - you don't have to live like a refugee, 'cause tramps like us? Baby we were born to run. Running on empty, living life in the fast lane (surely makes you lose your mind?). But hey, don't think twice, its alright! You're forever young, said the jokerman to the thief. There's too much confusion, I cant get no relief. There's no way out of here, When you come in - You're in for good. There was no promise made - The part you played, The chance you took. What we got here is a failure to communicate, Sweet child o' mine. But you break - just like a woman. STOP! In the name of love! Before you break my heart. Don't get tangled up in blue, i know things have changed, but someday baby, you gotta serve somebody. Otherwise you'll be stuck inside of mobile - with the Memphis blues again. Or maybe a hard rains gonna fall? Who cares alot? I say live and let die. It aint me babe, I'm as free as a bird now, in my sweet home Alabama, where the sky is oh so blue. Lord I'm coming back to you...

How does it feel? To be on your own? Like a complete unknown? So put me on a highway - And show me a sign. And take it. To the limit. One more time..

This one goes out to the one I love, and for the ones who had a notion - a notion deep inside - that it ain't no sin to be glad you're alive...

Keep on rockin in the free world!