Friday, March 17, 2017

Happy St. Patty's!

We at Rotten Reelz Reviews hope you drink responsibly, have a designated driver or taxi handy and everyone gets home safely!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

A Week of Gilliam: The Adventures of Baron Munchausen

A hardy welcome to all for Day 3 of A Week of Gilliam. I will explain that I am glossing over or simply skipping Brazil. I found it pretentious at best. I know many a Gilliam fan will state I didn't get it and that is fine. Moving on to today's film brings us tall tales, absurd notions and odd happenings so we are guaranteed to be entertained. Our story tells the tale of an 18th century aristocrat, his collective henchmen and a little girl attempt to thwart the Turks. This is The Adventures of Baron Munchausen.

Surely a men among men.

With a small town under siege from the Turks shelling them day after day, food shortage and next to no arms to defend themselves, the good people retreat to the theater. Yes that does sound a bit daft but come on, these people are depressed, drained and possibly dying. They could use the distraction. The town is war torn thanks to "The Age of Reason" as the Turkish army is merely outside the city gates poised to overthrow the governing body, the mayor, The Right Ordinary Horatio Jackson (Jonathan Pryce of Roger Doesn't Live Here Anymore, Something Wicked This Way Comes, Brazil, Jumpin' Jack Flash, Selling Hitler, Glengarry Glen Ross, Tomorrow Never Dies and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl), a man who is such a tit, he orders the death of a soldier performing feats of heroism worthy of legend and song so not to undermine the rest of morale amongst the troops. What!?! WHAT!?!! FYI, our brave soldier was played by Sting. Moving on, the performance continues until it is interrupted by an elderly man claiming to be the true Baron Munchausen (John Neville of A Study in Terror, The Company of Five, The First Churchills, The Adventures of Gerard, Grand, By Way of the Stars, Little Women, Silver Surfer, The X-Files and Crime and Punishment) and he establishes that the Sultan and he were very close at one time where only his incredible luck is what saved his life time and time again.

Uh-oh Eric Idle has poop face.

Among his own abilities he has some astounding assistants such as: Berthold (Eric Idle of Monty Python's Flying Circus, The Odd Job, Life of Brian, Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl, The Meaning of Life, Yellowbeard, The Transformers: The Movie, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Nearly Departed, Discworld, Discworld II: Mortality Bytes!, Hercules, Suddenly Susan and Ella Enchanted) the fastest man alive, Adolphus (Charles McKeown of Brazil, Erik the Viking, Life of Brian, American Friends, The Young Indiana Chronicles and The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus) a rifleman with extrordinary eyesight, Gustavus (Jack Purvis of Star Wars, Empire Strikes Back, The Dark Crystal, Return of the Jedi, Brazil, Labyrinth, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Oingo Boingo: Skeletons in the Closet and The Silver Chair) a dwarf with super hearing and enough lung power to drop an army on its back with one deep exhalation and the superhuman strength of Albrecht (Winston Dennis of Wolcott, Time Bandits, Brazil, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Nuns on the Run and The Commitments).


Gunfire disrupts the Baron's story and Jackson has the contract for the acting troupe canceled due to the Baron. The Baron is about to end it all when the troupe and theater company's daughter Sally Salt (Sarah Polley of Blue Monkey, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Ramona, Exotica, Avonlea, eXistenZ, Go, The Life Before This, Dawn of the Dead, Slings and Arrows and Splice) pleads for him to end this war and bring down the Turks. With a rogue cannonball flight later, it is off to make a hot air balloon out of ladies' knickers. Thankfully loads of bloomers rather than some silk or satin thongs or you would be sewing for months.

A quick trek to the moon to find Berthold as we find he has angered the King of the Moon (the late, great Robin Williams of Mork & Mindy, Moscow on the Hudson, The Fisher King, Hook, Aladdin, The Birdcage, Good Will Hunting, Happy Feet, Night at the Museum and The Big Wedding) giving Berthold got a wee bit frisky the Queen of the Moon, the unlikely trio land safely on Earth after a few issues in time to attend a party where the Roman God Vulcan (the late Sir Oliver Reed of Oliver!, The Three Musketeers, The Four Musketeers, Tommy, Condorman, Funny Bones, The Bruce and Gladiator) and he and his lovely wife Venus (Uma Thurman of Pulp Fiction, Gattaca, Batman & Robin, Beautiful Girls, The Truth About Cats & Dogs, Tape, Kill Bill: Vol. 1, Paycheck, Kill Bill: Vol. 2, Be Cool, The Producers, Motherhood, Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lighting Thief and Kill Bill: The Whole Bloody Affair) finding Albrecht and off they go again due to Vulcan's insane jealousy towards any man dare give a second glance to Venus. Dropped in the South Seas and swallowed by a massive creature of the sea, our heroes find Gustavus, Adolphus and even the Baron's horse Bucephalus. A bit of snuff later as the lot are sneezed free of the leviathan, the crew tells the Baron they are far too old and tired for such adventuring nonsense and he gives them an earful about diligence and duty to no avail. There is nothing more he can do but surrender directly to the Sultan. Can the amazing associates save the Baron??? Will the Angel of Death visit the Baron for the final time???

With a budget of $23 million bumped to $35 for final costs and post-production this odd film of an older man reminiscing about adventures long since past out for one more journey to death and glory. Sadly with special camera effects, explosive pyrotechnics, scale modeling and trick photography it only managed $8 million in the US box office due to Columbia Pictures very limited print release. They apparently were fed up with the complaints of Gilliam, the budget jumping back and forth, his negligence to Sarah Polley who was nine at the time stuck in ice cold water for prolong periods of time for better footage and working his people through the wringer to establish that one perfect performance or shot. Pythoner Eric Idle's thoughts were very simple. Go see the Gilliam movie for its brilliance, DON'T be in them because it is f**king madness!!!

Seem to be lacking a bit of plumage, sir.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

A Week of Gilliam: Time Bandits

Welcome back for more of the Week of Gilliam and we continue down the filmography of an insane madman/genius as we move into a cult classic beloved by many as a brilliant yet abtruse as pint-sized plunders and pillagers of the space-time continum. The first of the Trilogy of Imagination followed by Brazil and ending with The Adventures of Baron Manchausen. That being said we delve into our main movie. This is Time Bandits.

The Minotaur farted!!

Our story revolves around Kevin (Craig Warnock of Time Bandits and To the Lighthouse) a young boy with an resplendent imagination and an obsession with ancient Greece. His parents are completely unaware of his interests and they attend activities including acquiring nifty gadgets to keep up with the Joneses. One night Kevin is asleep when an armored clad knight on horseback crashes out his wardrobe so one can only assume Narnia has begun its invasion. The knight bolts deep into the forest where his bedroom wall was. After coming out of hiding he sees the wall has returned and his bedroom is perfectly fine except there is a photo on the wall depicting an identical forest.

Well beats ending up with Ian Holm.

Kevin fears not this strange and off the wall antics as he preps a knapsack of food, water and of course his Polaroid camera. Cause a compass, decent combat knife and a couple of canteens is just crazy talk. Just then six dwarves fall out of the wardrobe carrying an ancient and worn map as they are off to find an exit out of there. They invite Kevin to join them and he is reluctant until a giant disembodied head called the Supreme Being chases after them demanding the map back. Kevin and the dwarves leap to a void of space-time and into Italy during the Napoleonic Wars. Hey, don't give me that expression. Still more coherent than most latter Doctor Who episodes.

Kevin takes a breath from all the crazy and finds out his traveling companions' names. Randall the leader (David Rappaport of Mysteries, Time Bandits, The Bride, The Wizard, Peter Gunn, L.A. Law, and Captain Planet and the Planeteers) followed by Fidgit (Kenny Baker of Circus of Horrors, Star Wars, The Star Wars Holiday Special, The Empire Strikes Back, Flash Gordon, Return of the Jedi, Ivanhoe, Amadeus, Prince Caspian and the Voyage of the Dawn Treader, The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith), Strutter (Malcolm Dixon of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, Black Jack, Flash Gordon, Time Bandits, The Goodies, The Dark Crystal, Return of the Jedi, Arena and Willow), Og (Mike Edmonds of Black Jack, The Empire Strikes Back, Clash of the Titans, The Goodies, The Dark Crystal, Men Without Hats: Safety Dance and Maid Marian and Her Merry Men) Wally (Star Wars, Empire Strikes Back, The Dark Crystal, Return of the Jedi, Brazil, Labyrinth, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Oingo Boingo: Skeletons in the Closet and The Silver Chair) and Vermin (Tiny Ross of Black Jack, Flash Gordon and Time Bandits).

You are here and your travelers cheques are in Alpha Centauri.

Randall explains to Kevin that long ago the Supreme Being contracted out to they six for making repairs to the space-time fabric buUuUuUuuut Randall decided that the map would lead them to the greatest riches in the known world in all of time. Our hexad of hustlers lead Kevin throughout the halls of time including meeting Napoleon Bonaparte (Ian Holm of Alien, The Borrowers, The Return of the Borrowers, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, The Madness of King George, The Fifth Element, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings, Ratatouille and Alien: Isolation) Robin Hood ( John Cleese of Life of Brian, Fawlty Towers, Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl, The Meaning of Life, A Fish Called Wanda, Erik the Viking, Fierce Creatures, The World Is Not Enough, Mini Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and Trolls) and King Agamemnon (Sean Connery of An Age of Kings, Marnie, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, Shalako, The Anderson Tapes and Highlander) as Kevin documents their trips with his Polaroid camera. Too bad he didn't have a digital cam, he could have gotten footage too.

Unbeknownst to our adventurers, Evil (David Warner of The Wars of the Roses, Straw Dogs, The Omen, Time Bandits, Tron, The Company of Wolves, Waxwork, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country and In the Mouth of Madness) lurks from his dark domain, interested in the map of all space-time and will get it by any means necessary, using it to manipulate reality itself and shape it to his own idea and design. Apparently 40 species of parrots is most upsetting. Can Kevin and the bandits avoid Evil??? Will the Supreme Being dish out a wide sequence of slaps for the bandits???
Have I gone completely around the bend???

This being a “Cult Classic” that on a 5 million dollar budget that Time Bandits brought home $40 million in spite of being a fall movie and not a summer blockbuster nor a Christmas seasoned film. Co-written with fellow Python (allumnus...Allumni...Damn Latin co-respondence course) performer and writer Michael Palin. The film was backed by none other than the late Beatle George Harrison placing his song in the closing credits “Dream Away” along with American lawyer and business manager of George Harrison, Denis O' Brien. Both men founded HandMade Films production and backed this project as well as Monty Python's Life of Brian.

Yikes, the Wizard of Oz is pissed.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

A Week of Gilliam: Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Hey folks welcome back to the week. So this week I was thinking of humor, pretensous behavior and clever writing so of course I immediately thought of Terry Gilliam (And Now for Something Completely Different, Monty Python's Flying Circus, Jabberwocky, Life of Brian, Time Bandits, The Meaning of Life, Brazil, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen and 12 Monkeys), writer/director/animator/actor/Monty Python alumni. Between the hiatus between the 3rd and 4th season of Monty Python's Flying Circus, the Pythons decide to poke fun at the Arthurian legends of Camelot. This is Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Second unit loathes them all. You can just tell.

Before we get into this, yes I love this flick. It was a staple of junior and senior high and yes, my friends and I all quoted from it on a regular basis much to my parents' substantial patience. Where else are you going to see the foley ( ADR and sound effect) effect being used as horses cantering on the ground by Gilliam as Patsy clunking a couple coconut halves? The place. England. The year. 932 A.D. King Arthur (Graham Chapman of At Last the 1948 Show, The Magic Christian, Monty Python's Flying Circus, The Odd Job, Life of Brian, Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl, The Meaning of Life, Yellowbeard, Still Crazy Like a Fox and Stage Fright) and Patsy attempt to recruit men that will take up arms to defend of Britain. After being mocked profusely of his lack of knowledge based in coconuts and swallows, Arthur moves on to find able bodied men for his quest to Camelot. Encountering an awesome swordmaster simply known as the Black Knight does not bear fruit to the likes Arthur would appreciate. For one, the Black Knight is a complete loony. 

Gods, I just sneezed!

 Making their way to a village under going a witch trial they meet with Sir Bedevere, Arthur and Patsy find the first knight to join them. With a bit of fast forward others join in their mission to defend the realm...only to find tis a silly place. Sir Lancelot the Brave (John Cleese of Life of Brian, Fawlty Towers, Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl, The Meaning of Life, A Fish Called Wanda, Erik the Viking, Fierce Creatures, The World Is Not Enough, Mini Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and Trolls) Sir Gallhad the Pure (Michael Palin of Twice a Fortnight, Broaden Your Mind, Complete and Utter History of Britain, Monty Python's Flying Circus, Jabberwocky, Time Bandits, The Missionary, Brazil, A Fish Called Wanda, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, The Meaning of Life, The Wipers Times and Clangers) and Sir Robin the Not-Quite-So-Brave-As-Sir-Lancelot (Eric Idle of Monty Python's Flying Circus, The Odd Job, Life of Brian, Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl, The Meaning of Life, Yellowbeard, The Transformers: The Movie, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Nearly Departed, Discworld, Discworld II: Mortality Bytes!, Hercules, Suddenly Susan and Ella Enchanted)

So were we clear whether or not coconuts could migrate?

What a better time that be greeted by God voiced by Graham Chapman charging the Knights of the Round Table with acquiring the Holy Grail at the request of God. So of course you best hop to it. I mean, I for one would not relish the idea of being turned into a pillar of salt. With barriers such as snooty French soldiers, a three-headed giant and the Dreaded Knights who say Ni, our heroes know that this very well could be the story of the ages.

Will our brave knights find their way?? Can the Grail be all its cracked up to be?? Are the Psalms really that depressing??

The brilliance of having equally screwy for your cast means you can use them as you have in the troupe for the show so they are basically performing skits throughout the film. The wisdom to drag poor Connie Booth (Dickens of London, Fawlty Towers, Little Lord Fauntleroy, The Story of Ruth, The Hound of the Baskervilles, Every Breath You Take, The Return of Sherlock Holmes, Floodtide, The Tomorrow People, Faith and The Bucccaneers) and Carol Cleveland (Now Look Here, Old Dracula, Monty Python's Flying Circus, The Brute, Life of Brian, Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl, The Meaning of Life, Too Much Too Young and The Search for Simon) brings in additional love from the Python fans.

With a budget of $400,000 The Holy Grail racked in more than $5 million in 1975, as far as I know has been on of the most sought after rentals since it was on Betamax, VHS and Laserdisc. The comedy is mostly in the background. Peasants flogging cats against poles, monks thumping their own foreheads with wooden idols, farmers collecting dirt as if it was something rare, there is a scarce level of intelligence just creating this absurd world and no one batting an eye on that sure oddity?

Michael Palin played the most characters tallying to twelve different roles. Sir-Not-Appearing-In-This-Film is Michael Palin's son William as a wee baby. Fans of Monty Python include in our ranks are the bands Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Genesis. They also ponied up some production funds for the Pythons as well.

Careful. That vixen probably has a comfy chair.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Sequel in Name Only: Universal Soldier: The Return

Back again for the week.   Today's film gets many a sneer, scoffing and wondering how it ever got a direct to theater release.   With its previous incarnations became nothing more than straight-to-VHS in the day.  Two sequels that followed the release from disaster director Roland Emmerich (Joey, Ghost Chase, Moon 44, Stargate, Independence Day, Godzilla, The Patriot, The Day After Tommorow, 2012 and White House Down) in 1992 bringing not one but two action hero gurus together making for a violent and interesting premise.  And then...we have today's movie following in retcon glory with a disheveled, nipped and garbled concept.  This is Universal Soldier: The Return.

So I get no love scenes with this girl? Not sure I am staying.

From Second Unit Director and Stunt coordinator Mic Rodgers (Chasers, Maverick, Village of the Damned, Braveheart, Virtuosity, Twister, The Rock, Batman & Robin and Titanic) takes the director's reins with Emmerich's preceding works with the return of GR44 the dead man that was Private Luc Deveraux (Jean-Claude Van Damme of Bloodsport, Kickboxer, Double Impact, Universal Soldier, Hard Target, Timecop, Street Fighter, Double Team and The Expendables 2) continuing to work in the field with the next generation of Unisols.   Along his side Maggie (fitness expert/former Raider Cheerleader Kiana Tom of BodyShaping, X-treme Energy, Cyberbandits, The Drew Carey Show, Universal Soldier: The Return and Family Law) they rate and evaluate the Unisols' performance, durability and responses to command.

Damn, Lord Vader is shredded!


The cyborgs respond, anticipate and react to a direct link to a super computer AI known as SETH. With a chip interface directly linked to motor functions and hypothalamus allows for tactical analysis and adaptation...all except what the Pentagon will do.   Dr. Dylan Cotner's (character actor Xander Berkeley of Straight to Hell, Sid and Nancy, Tapeheads, The Fabulous Baker Boys, The Last of the Finest, Terminator 2: Judgement Day, Apollo 13, Heat, Shanghai Noon, 24 and Deepwater)life work to save American soldiers by implementing the Unisol cyborgs for major conflicts has been brought into question.   Three star General Radford (character actor, the late Daniel von Bargen of Basic Instinct, Robocop 3, Seinfeld, The Postman, Lord of Illusions, Broken Arrow, Shaft, Super Troopers and Malcolm in the Middle) tells Cotner and Deveraux to pull the plug on all the cyborgs and AI because Congress is not going to pay another dime on this program...that would save soldiers and preserve lives.  SETH gets wind of this and views all but the Unisols as allies.   Sensing a story our Veronica replacement/love interest Erin (Heidi Schanz of Se7en, Kiss the Girls, The Truman Show, Universal Soldier: The Return, When Billie Beat Bobby and Sol Goode) has snuck on the base to film the Unisols gunning down soldiers left and right.   Armed with SMGs and assault rifles, next gen body armor and a regeneration over small arms fire, Cotner and Deveraux have the codes to keep SETH from expanding beyond his own programming.

Van Damme is imagining all the ex-wives and the alimony payments.

Radford is trying to get additional support to handle the Unisols, Deveraux and Maggie volunteer to attack SETH on two fronts, SETH decides his programming, while impressive he needs a physical body to lead his men and transfers his consciousness into a super soldier tweaked with nanobots and steroids (Michael Jai White of Ballistic, 2 Days in the Valley, Spawn, Exit Wounds, The Dark Knight, Black Dynamite, Blood and Bone, Why Did I Get Married and Mortal Kombat: Rebirth) to be the ultimate warrior.  Can Deveraux stop SETH in time??  How much collateral damage is on the way??

Retconning away II and III which had a decent story line on how Deveraux and Veronica Roberts try to bring his cybernetic story to the press...and that story line went belly up so we are here.  With no ability to get back actress Ally Walker or Chandra West from the Straight-to-VHS sequels, our brilliant scribes decide to kill Veronica off but they had a child together.  Dead man revived enough to produce viable sperm???  Yup one of those you smile, nod and move on.   The role of Romero was originally slated for WWE Stone Cold Steve Austin but went to WCW/WWE Bill Goldberg instead. Megadeth's "Crush 'Em" which was Bill Goldberg's entrance theme in the day got added to the soundtrack along with Static-X's "Bled for Days" and Dope's Die Motherf**ker Die. The strip club used for the jiggly girl/bar fight scene is The Clubhouse in Dallas, owned by Vinnie Abbott and the late Dimebag Darrell of Pantera.

So what did I think of the film?  The hand-to-hand was fair, the gunfights were decent and the levels of explosions are what you expect from an action film. The plot was weak, the shoehorned romance angle was less than believable because Van Damme and Schanz had absolutely no chemistry together and it feels like it was edited and re-edited too much to meet the run-time allotted.   The bright side? Loved Goldberg's screen presence, attitude and overall awesome wrestling moves added to the scenes.  Michael Jae White's imposing voice, build and delivery of his character gives him excellent villain standing and I feel Van Damme came up short as the hero this time. White's basso voice and standing gives great mood to a story that was really lacking and shows he has acting chops.  With 40 million for production in 1999, this grossed domestically 10 with another grand total of 19 million with the better response in the rental and purchase area.

This felt more like a twelve year old taking your favorite action figures, crafting a story that has no depth or length and playing with them all wrong.  A testosterone driven flick is fine, guys but have a fricking plot to match the action scenes.  The female characters could have been replaced with cardboard stand-ins because there was no meat and potatoes to the roles.   Loosely translated, "Does she look hot? Can she hold a weapon? Okay, sold."   All in all, a solid action morsel but ill-conceived dialogue, decrepit conclusions and an unsubstantial third act.  No I have not really looked over the retcon over this retcon the 2008 Universal Soldier: Regeneration nor have I even glanced at the 2012 Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning.  It apparently has clone armies and well Lucas cured me of wanting to watch anything of that standing.

Should have gone for the X-3 Juggernaut deal.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Sequel in Name Only: Highlander: The Final Dimension

And we are back! Yeah hold the applause because I haven't even described the movie. As many of you know, I am a huge Highlander fan. I have endured the movies, TV series and hell even the Amanda spin-off. I vaguely recall the cartoon and managed to skip the horrific video game for the Jaguar console but I own both Connor and Duncan's blades so yeah I am pretty nerdy for this franchise. When I was almost 15, The Quickening my brother and I begged our mom to go to it. No sooner the line, "Yes, yes I remember. The beginning, 500 years ago, on the planet Zeist. We planned rebellion, we met in secret, always careful to avoid our deadly enemy, General Katana." It was this point my bro and I looked at each other, looked at our tickets, looked up at the screen and realized we were in for some hurt. Retcon! SoOoOo... imagine a universe where Highlander II didn't happen but apparently the Kurgan wasn't the last immortal to do battle with Connor. Confused? Good, you are clearly on the right path. This is Highlander: The Final Dimension.

So I am not really an alien.  Sorry about that.

Miramax going through its transitions of alternate titles like they did with the nip and tuck or outright neutering of Halloween 6, Highlander III alternative titles on the board, posters and TV ads were thus: Highlander III: The Sorcerer, Highlander III: The Magician, Highlander 3: The Final Conflict, Highlander 3, Highlander: The Magician and Highlander: The Sorcerer. Hell I have more enough comic books to point out the alternative titles via posters. Moving on, NO MORE ZEIST! Yup that storyline just completely ignored with no explanation. I would like to think Ramirez and MacLeod were in Brazil licking toads and tripping balls but that is just my theory. Instead Connor (Christopher Lambert of Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes, To Kill a Priest, Fortress, Gunmen, The Hunted and Beowulf) has journeyed to Japan after the death of Heather, his first wife in search of a mentor, the ancient Nakano (Mako of M*A*S*H*, The Incredible Hulk, Romance Theatre, Hawaiian Heat, Conan the Barbarian, Kung Fu: The Movie, Conan the Destroyer, Taking Care of Business, Robocop 3, Red Sun Rising, Dexter's Laboratory and Samurai Jack), a sage to some, a wizard to others.

Anyone curious what we ate or where we pooped for 400 year in a cave?

In no time at all (wipes and 360 pans) they become friends and Nakano teaches MacLeod the art of illusion when...dun dun dun!!! The nearby village is be sacked, pillaged and plundered by Kane (Mario Van Peebles of Jaws: The Revenge, New Jack City, Posse, Gunmen, Solo, Ali, The Hebrew Hammer and A Letter to Dad) and two immortal henchmen at his side as Kane plans on taking the sorcerer's head for all his knowledge and experience...y'know bad guy immortal m.o. Nakano knows he will not survive against Kane and offers his head to Connor who cannot kill his friend so YOU GETS NO MAGIC!!! Doofus. A big confrontation between Nakano and Kane causes an earthquake during the quickening (the transference of life energy, chi and so on) sealing Kane and his men up in the cave...for 400 years. Dude you cats are immortal and none of you had the idea of start digging!?!

Men in those days trusted their shaving partner.

Connor is off in the deserts of the Sudan when he feels a disturbance in the Force or Immortal Spidey senses kick in, whatever. So he heads home to his adopted son, a young boy John (Gabriel Kakon of Great Performances and Highlander: The Final Dimension) but catches a news plot point on a dig in Japan about an ancient cave yet somehow they missed the three cats alive and still in feudal 1500 Japanese armor.

Kane swears vengeance against MacLeod and swings into full-on gravely Kurgan voice and even plows a hooker, drives a car against the flow of traffic and camps it up something fierce. The lovely lady archeologist Alex Johnson (Deborah Kara Unger of Whispers in the Dark, Till There Was You, Highlander: The Final Dimension, The Game, The Hurricane, Payback, Silent Hill and Silent Hill: Revelation 3D) bears an uncanny resemblance to a noblewoman MacLeod once loved long ago. She seeks out that the legends of Nakano are based in fact and the proof is in that cave.

With Kane misbehaving and having the ability to cast illusions that fool the human eye, he plans on using John as bait to get MacLeod to come out and plaAaaaay!!!

Can Connor defeat Kane? Will Alex be hopelessly attracted to Connor?

Okay so we will get the nitpicks out. With tats, a tribal nose ring and a growling Kurgan like voice, Peebles is clearly the bad guy but come on dammit. You could have him decked out like a Moordish warrior wielding Italian steel.   I wanted a deep basso voice holding MacLeod in contempt.  Maybe sending one of John's fingers to him via bike messenger to ramp up the urgency of his arrival. Arrogance, sadistic and smug about it and not Kurgan again.  A monster that plays with his victims a bit more than we got.  Yeah I know, I'm not in charge nor have a TARDIS handy.

Now the good stuff. The fight scenes are pretty impressive, the story overall is good and the film is entertaining. Peebles looks menacing as hell and he does bring out a creepy villain.   Lambert and Unger do have chemistry together and the score by composer J. Peter Robinson (Police Story, Rumble in the Bronx, Charmed, Spawn the animated series, The Bank Job and Seeking Justice) is damn amazing still does not excuse banging out a katana in like a week. Shot primarily in Montreal (fake New York) they also went to Scotland and Morroco and Japan so the frequent flyer miles were racking up. Yeah there were New York scenes like outside the antique shop where Russell Nash (Connor) still had property to live at but most was Montreal. With a budget of 26 million in the kitty, this sadly only made a little of 13.8 million back and was considered a flop. Personally I think after the huge disappoint that was Highlander II, the fans were just not ready to be in theaters again. This fell more to the VHS/Laserdisk crowd.

While a lot of it feels like they are retelling the first film, it keeps more to the theme of magic, immortality and a hidden culture within humanity. These men and women warriors did not ask to be made immortal but the one of good feel the need to interfere or guide humanity to a better path. The problems were the releases. The same treatment as Halloween 6 is what happened to Highlander III as I have seen releases of 87 mins, 90 and finally 99 mins so trust me the full 99 minutes makes the better story.

Yes there are the passionate love making scenes and a wee bit of raunchy sex scene with Mario but it was going to happen for the "bad guy" getting down but it is over in a short span. MacLeod has flashbacks while making love to Alex of Sarah which...felt a bit off. Not that he was cheating on a long dead lover but his mind wandered with his current one?   Harsh bro.  Hope you were paying attention during the pillow talk or it's your butt.

MPAA made some of the decapitation scenes back-lit or shadow-cast so not to screw up future generations or avoid an NC-17 rating or whatever their BS reason for it. The 99 minute version has all the sex, blood and fantasy that was placed into it and gives a much more coherent story.

While many fans feel the first film and the TV series are the only thing worth paying attention to, this is not a bad addition to the ranks and you would be less of a Highlander fan to simply dismiss it.

Got my good side?  Hope so.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Sequel in Name Only: A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors

Hey folks! Welcome back for the week. I was just going over more than a handful of sequels and I have always been fascinating when the series retcons one of the sequels just completely ignores its predecessor. For the viewer, this detracts all you know up to this point, throws continuity in the trash, convolutions to the series and can turn people away. An example of this would be Halloween III: Season of the Witch. No direct correlation with the previous two but telling a new tale and for some reason, audiences thought that taboo and demanded more of the same masked man over and over. Horror gets slapped down a lot for new approaches.

Today's film is no exception to the retcon land as we move on from Jessie's story with the exceptional work of director Jack Sholder (Alone in the Dark, A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge, The Hidden and Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies) and actors Mark Patton (Come Back to the 5 & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean, Kelsey's Son, Anna to the Infinite Power, A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge, CBS Schoolbreak Special, Hotel and Family Possessions) Kim Myers (A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge, Studio 5-B, Key West, Hellraiser: Bloodline, The Pretender, The Dust Factory, The Last Sin Eater and 10,000 Days) and Robert Rusler (A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge, Weird Science, Vamp, Sometimes They Come Back, Amityville: A New Generation, Babylon 5, and Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom) and jump ahead as Freddy does a 180 and back specifically gacking the kids of the parents that burned him alive. This is A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors.

Clearly want to get a flat screen.

Now helming the franchise is director Chuck Russell (The Blob, The Mask, Eraser, Bless the Child, The Scorpion King and I Am Wrath) moving us back a stone throw from Springwood off to Westin Hospital, a juvenile asylum run by Dr. Gordon (Craig Wasson of The Outsider, Skag, Body Double, Bum Rap, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, Malcolm X and Ghost Rock), a no nonsense doc that just distributes downers to keep the loonies in line. With all the remaining kids of the parents that torched Freddy oh so many moons ago, the kiddies suffer such night terrors.

None of that share hopes, dreams and other such bunk. That's why he has his intern therapist Nancy (Heather Langenkamp of Passions, A Nightmare on Elm Street, CBS Schoolbreak Special, ABC Afterschool Special, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, Shocker, Just the Ten of Us, Growing Pains, New Nightmare and The Demolitionist) to handle the touchy feely crap. Also I am confused how Nancy is back, didn't she die with her friends at the end of one, a diary (WE NEVER SAW HER WRITE IN) was discovered in two claiming she went bat shit crazy and no one believed her about Krueger so...what happened?

Well that is vastly more impressive than Uber Jason of Jason X.

We meet the kids starting with artistic pre-Goth Kristen (Patricia Arquette of A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, Pretty Smart, Far North, Prayer of the Rollerboys, True Romance, Bringing Out the Dead, Little Nicky, The Badge and Medium), our young orderly Max (Laurence Fishburne of The Cotton Club, The Color Purple, Quicksilver, Cherry 2000, King of New York, Pee-Wee's Playhouse, Bad Company, The Matrix, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Predators and CSI: Crime Scene Investigations), introvert Kincaid (Ken Sagoes of A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, Project X, What's Happening Now, Death by Dialogue, A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, Rosewood and The Backlot Murders) junkie Taryn ( Jennifer Rubin of A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, Bad Dreams, The Doors, The Crush, Full Eclipse, Saints and Sinners, Screamers, Last Lives, Fatal Conflict and Amazons and Gladiators) and it is up to Nancy to decide whether or not to bring the kids into the knowing of a crispy child killer is roaming through the dreamscape (NO not the one with Dennis Quaid, although that cage match would be cool) and slowly removing them one by one if he so chooses.

Oh sorry Mr. Carradine. Didn't know you were in here.

Kristen seems to have the ability to drag others she forms a bond with into the dreamscape, a talent that was always there ever since she had nightmares as a little girl. The doctors have pow-wow sessions with the kids and COMPLETELY IGNORE the murderous man in their collective dreams telling them it is psychological scars and confusion of sexual identity. Yup, my genitals always straight up try to murder me if I am not getting enough action. Nancy pleads to Dr. Gordon to prescribe the kids a preventative drug to block their dreams but that is just too zany and would end the film far, far too quickly. After another "suicide", Nancy and Gordon hold a private session as Nancy spills the beans about a one Freddy Krueger, a scarred and burnt man wearing a Bing Crosby sweater, fedora hat and a glove with blades attached to the fingers. Gasp! How does she know?

The kids undergo some hypnotherapy to find they have dream powers such as flight, superhuman strength and just all around badassery. Will this be enough to do battle with Krueger? Can they survive the dreamscape?
And yes Freddy Krueger is played Robert England (Eaten Alive, Big Wednesday, Dead & Buried, V, V: The Final Battle, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Downtown, Freddy's Nightmares, The Mangler, Urban Legend, Python, Justice League and Wish You Were Dead) so hope you all now know that. You can't see that I am flipping off the nitpickers.

This is the third highest grossing of the Nightmare pictures after A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master and Freddy vs. Jason. The mirror sequence was actually Mylar draped and maneuvered in front of the camera. Suck it CGI! Practical will always come off better. This is also the first of the Nightmares to have nudity in it and while it is lukewarm topless girl in a thong, it felt odd with the creepy tone being established.

Remember kids, the second Nightmare is really gay and dumb... in spite of separating itself from the original, establishing Krueger's abilities to being able to manifest back into flesh from an innocent and in general scaring the hell out of folks not unlike the original but... there was that unanswered Grady/Jesse love. Aw screw it. I am still trying to figure out the 100 maniacs bad touch the nun and the death/resurrection/death of Nancy. Does this film stand up well against the original? Well its overall theme is close to it, reflecting parents and teens not being able to decipher one another worth a damn, society giving parents the out to drop off the problem child to the local wacko basket so doctors can "fix" them and gave a narrow minded view of psychological practices but a thorough view into the lore. Not bad but I still found two to be better.

Oh Lawrence Fishburne, glad you have gotten much better roles since.