Escape Plan: a security expert that escapes from prisons for a living is betrayed and put in an ‘INESCAPABLE’ prison – which he has to team up with Arnie to escape from. Inescapable FAIL. Even as a huge fan of ‘supercheese’, I’ve had enough of these Stallone vanity projects in which he portrays himself as a super-human, super-intelligent (has he heard himself speak?) super-cool guy that women just want to bang 24/7. You’re past you’re prime, and an average actor at best – so please stop these dude! For a no-brainer action flick about a prison-break starring two action legends it’s at least 30 minutes too long, (far too much backstory) and feels around 3 hours long. The only time it comes to life is when Arnie is on the screen – peaking in “Arnie firing a massive gun at dozens of guards and exploding shit”, and “Arnie losing his shit, in German” scenes. The director’s vision of a futuristic jail was cool (touch of Face/Off); the guards sufficiently evil-looking (touch of 300); and the main villain was suitably theatrical (touch of ridiculousness). It feels like Stallone insisted on having far too many ego-massaging, but wholly unnecessary, boring scenes into what should have been a 90-minute brain-free, action-laden, danger-zone, and Arnie’s left save this cliffhanger from falling into the pits of terribility.
The Midnight Meat Train (Spoilers): A struggling photographer finds more than just inspiration in late-night New York, as he stumbles across the reason why so many of the city’s people go missing. So, the average human body contains over four liters of blood – unless you’re unlucky enough to be on the Midnight Meat Train, where people have infinite blood. The film is everything that you think a movie called “Midnight Meat Train” would be. It’s a shady story that gets weirder and sillier as the film progresses, finishing with something so ridiculous and over-the-top. The acting’s alright for this type of film (gore, schlock, pure B-movie), but the characters are ridiculous. The lead goes from normal to psychotically obsessed within 2 scenes. My favourite thing about this film is that five years ago, Bradley Cooper was the leading man in a movie where an ogre-king pulls his fiance’s heart out, forces Cooper to eat it, before getting his own tongue ripped out! I don’t know if this could ever have been a good movie, but it’s the kind of film that would have worked a lot better if it was all done in Japan and in Japanese, and not just a J-horror director working in Hollywood, with an American cast.
The Condemned: ten of the toughest death-row prisoners from around the world are dumped on a remote island for 30 hours – the last person standing wins their freedom. Sound familiar? The plot is essentially Battle Royale, right down to the explosive jewelry. Leading man “Stone Cold” Steve Austinis pretty stale, but as an ex-wrestler, expectations weren’t massive – I can’t believe there’s not a single stone cold stunner, fan-appeasement FAIL! Vinnie Jones (and most other people) are laughably typecast and/or wooden, 2D, flat characters. A few other things to mention: lots of bad RAWK / Nu Metal songs; a piss-weak attempt to add a morality angle to the story; and some forced lines about kewl stuff like the internetz, bloggerz, and gamerz!!! The only real positive is that because it’s a WWE and Lionsgate film, the bad taste / violence etc is more than you’d expect. As a brain off, mindless, plotless, characterless, action film, The Condemned is alright – but there’s absolutely nothing that stays with you after the fireworks.
Vinnie Jones: Former crazy footballer turned silver-screen ‘ard man is probably one of the most recognisable Brits in the movie business right now. Whether it’s because of his reputation and image, or genuine lack of range, Mr Jones always ends up playing hooligans, hitmen, mutants, gangsters and serial killers. Despite this he’s appeared over 30 films including Lock Stock, Snatch, Hell Ride, X-Men, Survive Style 5+, The Condemned… erm… Midnight Meat Train and… uhhh… Not Another Not Another Movie! Aside from acting he’s also written books, appeared in a WWF PPV, starred in music videos, a ton of commercials, numerous TV appearances and sang on a couple of albums. More recently he took some time out to guest star as “A Massive Knob” in the UK’s Celebrity Big Brother, but to be fair, he was the only household name in a room full of idiots. All-in, given his age and background he’s done quite well but where are all the good roles?
Verdict: Unlimited respect to a football player that ends up being one of the most famous British people in the world, unfortunately he hasn’t done anything good enough to deserve ‘Genius’ status. Arse by default.
Blue Toothed Genius or JuggerArse – you decide!
Hell Ride: Biker ‘Pistolero’ is out for revenge after a rival gang had his lady killed years back. Scene one: guy lying on the ground with an arrow in his stomach. Scene two: some chick being beaten, tied, throat slit and burned. Rest of film: bodies dropping right, left and centre. This my friends, is ‘Bikesploitation’ – bikes, babes, beards and beer tediously linked by a wafer-thin plot. The casting is just as poor, especially Michael Madsen, who is 100% Budd from Kill Bill, Vinnie Jones as another badass, and remember cyber nerd Milo from 24, just pretend he’s really mean. The dead men walking supporting cast were so indistinguishable (hairy, shades and stupid names) that it was pretty hard to follow who was who, although they all got killed, so meh! It’s good to see Dennis Hopper and Dave Carradine on screen again. It had so much potential and although I wasn’t expecting much it still disappointed; it really is one of those films that is so bad it’s… bad. Note to Tarrantino: please stop presenting shite films!
Survive Style 5+ : I wish I was in the meeting when this was pitched! The fun & upbeat DVD menu / opening credits do their best to prepare, although I don’t think anything could. It’s so amazingly colourful, the music’s beat-tastic and the pace is nothing short of rapid – this is totally fresh and original. The only way I can remotely describe this is an enjoyable ‘Punk Film’ if that makes sense!? Above the style, the characters are also memorable and unique: an outrageously hot wife that keeps getting reincarnated, a hip-thrusting tiger-obsessed hypnotist, a hitman who kills anyone who’s ‘function in life’ is unnecessary, a man that thinks he’s a bird and 3 gay burglars (‘Come baby, come come baby’ is ingrained in my brain). Despite the crazy ideas and characters all five stories are connected and, although it’s fragmented, the narrative makes sense. It grinds to a halt in the last 20 minutes, other than the last scene, which is the only fault I have on this. The most fun I’ve had watching a film in ages. Modern Japanese cinema at it’s very best!