Movie Review: DADDY’S HOME

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daddy's homeParamount Pictures
2015
PG-13

“Here’s a question for you. What do kids need more, a father or a dad? What’s the difference? The way I see it, darn near anyone can be a father, but not everyone has the patience or the devotion to be a dad. As for me, I’ve always wanted to be a dad. Let me tell you, I love it! Yeah! And I love my Ford Flex. It treats me to a smooth ride, and you know what? It didn’t break the bank. Room enough for the whole family.”

Brad, who always dreamed of having the perfect family, is determined to become the best step-dad to his new wife’s children. But when their biological father Dusty shows up unexpectedly, Brad’s idyllic family life is turned upside down and he must go toe-to-toe with Dusty in this hilarious family comedy…

I have to say, I am rather amused at how the description above from the back of the DVD cover describes this movie as “hilarious”. Perhaps the writer was being sarcastic? Or, maybe he did find this movie hilarious, and I’m just being cynical?

I’m sure there would be some people out there that would consider this collaboration between Will Ferrell and Mark “Don’t Call Me Marky Mark” Wahlberg to be the height of comedic perfection. Or at least comes close to that pinnacle. Me, I found Daddy’s Home to be amusing at best, but certainly not a laugh-out-loud exercise in hilariousness.

Anyway, Daddy’s Home has Ferrell playing a stepfather who is rather enjoying his role in his family life, until one day the children’s biological father shows up and begins to wedge himself into the situation. This, of course, leads to a constant stream of one-upmanship, with the standard wackiness ensuing, which ultimately culminates in the two coming to terms and becoming besties. The end.

I have to admit that Daddy’s Home does have a certain old-timey charm, rather like those family-friendly comedies from the 1950s, only with a bit more mild crudeness. As a matter of fact, if I didn’t know any better, I would have thought that the premise for this movie might have been a rejected concept for a TGIF sitcom from the 1990s. And admittedly, both Wahlberg and Ferrell do have a pretty good chemistry going, this being the second movie they’ve been teamed up together on. But as far as favorite characters go, this goes to the peripheral characters of the out-of-work guy who crashes at the house, and Ferrell’s character’s boss, both acting as kind of a Greek Chorus to the story. The very best part of the movie comes at the end, though, when John Cena shows up to the tune of Metallica’s “For Whom The Bell Tolls”. Awesomeness achieved.

Overall, I found Daddy’s Home to be a mildly amusing and…what’s that emotion…opposite of hate-filled…um…”heart warming”, I’m told, and mostly inoffensive way to kill 90 minutes. Really, I only watched this because I kind of want to see the upcoming sequel, due to wanting to see Mel Gibson and John Lithgow play off each other. Otherwise, not bad for a rental.

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Article: POKIN’ THE SHEEP + KILLING JESUS

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NecRoSarX Chronicles Header

skull spiderI do admit to being what others would refer to as provocative. Blame it on my tendency to not being satisfied with mere pat answers, or just taking things at face value. It’s not that I set out to play Devil’s Advocate with everything and everyone; part of my wrestling with my faith involves examining things from multiple angles and perspectives and not settling into a comfortable pathos.

For instance, I once made a shirt that said What Would Satan Do? Aside from being a response to the popularity of the What Would Jesus Do? merchandise that was everywhere at the time, I think that’s a good question for Christians to consider. Wise as serpents and innocent as doves, and all that.

One particular shirt, however, seemed to really get under everyone’s skin when it really shouldn’t have. I was at Cornerstone 2002, and was perusing the merch tents one hot and sultry afternoon. One table set up sold an array of shirts, one of which had I KILLED JESUS in big letters on it. This shirt called to me. It perfectly communicated, in shirt form, that because of my sins Jesus died on the cross. I was found guilty, but Jesus died in my place to atone for my sins. Also, the cotton blend was lightweight yet durable, and most importantly, it concealed my upper torso. So, I bought it, and immediately changed into it outside behind the merch tent.

To put a context to the reaction to the shirt–earlier in the fest, I was wearing the previously mentioned What Would Satan Do? shirt. Nobody bats an eye. As a matter of fact, I had a couple of people ask where they could buy one for themselves. I change into the I KILLED JESUS shirt, and suddenly I find myself unable to go ten minutes without someone stopping me to ask what my problem was. What was I thinking, wearing a shirt that said I KILLED JESUS at a festival that catered to Christian music and arts? You would have thought I was wearing the Cradle Of Filth shirt that said JESUS IS A [derogatory misogynist slur] on the back. Several times, I had to explain the meaning behind it, that not only did I kill Jesus, but they did too, for the same reason. It finally got to the point where I began answering with, “He got better,” and left it at that.

Mind you, I’m far from naive, thinking that everyone who attended Cornerstone was a professing Christian and were familiar with the core doctrines of the faith. But, I did find the nature of the questions and statements interesting. Could it be that, in this day and age, that the reason for Christ coming in the first place is becoming taboo in Christian circles? I admitting to any kind of sinful nature, and thus necessitating a perfect sacrifice for atonement, just not in keeping with living a victorious life? Or are some just simply unaware of Jesus’ death and resurrection to begin with? Like, they read the Gospel accounts and just stop reading when things get to the Last Supper, like shutting off Old Yeller before the dog gets rabies, unaware of the ending?

Or, perhaps they are aware of Jesus’ death and resurrection, but are still squicky to admitting it was our sins and separation from God that lead to His death on the cross? We’re quick to place the blame on the Jews, or the Romans, or whatever. I know all too well, however, it was I who nailed Him to the cross. As well as you. And everyone else who has ever lived. And I will continue to admit it openly: I killed Jesus. But fortunately, it didn’t end there.

I am a great sinner. But I serve a great Saviour. Cheers, my wonderful freaks…

::END TRANSMISSION::

Movie Review: CHOPPING MALL

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Movie Review CHOPPING MALLLionsgate Home Entertainment
1986
R

“I’m just not used to being chased around a mall in the middle of the night by killer robots.”

Some people will kill for a bargain…and at the Park Plaza Mall they do! Here, you can shop til you drop…dead! High tech robots equipped with state of the art security devices have been recruited as the new mechanical “night watchmen” for the Park Plaza Mall. When a jolting bolt of lightning short circuits the main computer control, the robots turn into “killbots”…on the loose after unsuspecting shoppers! Four couples are trying to make it after-hours in a mattress store. They make it all right…in the morgue! At Park Plaza, you can save on everything but your life!

Look at that DVD back-cover blurb up there. Just…gaze upon it. That, my fellow cinema fiends, is rampant abuse of the exclamation point right there. And to use them pared off with attempts to sound like Tales From The Crypt bon mots…they make me cringe. Also, this may be the first time I used “bon mot” in a sentence of any kind. But I digress.

Chopping Mall is a movie from the mid-1980s that poses the question: What if Short Circuit was a slasher horror flick, instead of a whimsical sci-fi family adventure? I mean, sure, you could argue that Chopping Mall came out a mere two months before Short Circuit and thus this would be a moot point, but let’s get real here. Chopping Mall is for those wishing Short Circuit had a body count and even goofier main characters. As a matter of fact, Chopping Mall was originally released under the title Killbots, which would have been far more on point with the plot of the movie, but was changed to the current name when it was re-released.

So, after a brief scene at a demonstration of the high-tech security bots, we’re introduced to the horny 20-somethings that work at various shops at the local mall. One of them is the son of the guy who owns the mattress store, and he and his buddies decide to bring in their respective girlfriends and have a product testing party after hours. This just also happens to be the same night that the fancy-schmancy security bots at the mall got shocked by a power surge due to an electrical storm outside, and they all surpass the Three Laws and begin killing all humans. So now, long after all the other smarter humans have left the mall and the kill bots have been deployed, the only live bodies left are those horny 20-somethings, and now it’s a matter of survival trying to get out of a mall that’s been put in lockdown, while being stalked by the three security robots. Things don’t go well.

First thing I really need to point out here, is that, for a movie titled Chopping Mall, there is absolutely zero actual chopping. Oh, there’s plenty of electrocuting, stabbing, choking and being shot at by lazer blasts (seriously), but absolutely no chopping whatsoever. I have to say, I am very disappointed, movie. You promise chopping, and then fail to deliver said chopping. I don’t care if it was the alternate title choice, the video cover promised chopping, I expect chopping. That said, Chopping Mall was a nice bit of cheesy 80s-tastic fun. The script itself oozed dated 80s pop culture, right down to the use of the words “bodacious” and “to the max”. The effects were delightfully low-budget, and things get so over-the-top you have to really check your brain in at the door and just sit back and enjoy the wackiness.

Misnomer title aside, Chopping Mall was a lot of unintentional fun to sit through. Easily making my list of So Bad It’s Good movies you need to watch and rip on with friends one night.

Movie Review: RADICAL JACK

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radical jackEdgewood Entertainment
2000
R

Back in the early 1990s, I don’t think anyone could anticipate the kind of career trajectory Billy Ray Cyrus would take. After hitting One Hit Wonder gold with the infernal Country earworm “Achy Breaky Heart”, he seemed to have parlayed his lukewarm music career into various acting endeavors, as well as spawning more successful musical progeny. You have to admire his tenacity and work ethic, if not his talent.

In 2000, the Mulleted One starred in a low-budget “action” flick named Radical Jack. This movie’s premise seems to smoosh together two better movies: Road House and Stone Cold, only with hardly any of the charm and cheesy goodness of those. Radical Jack is an action movie so vanilla, so devoid of actual action or substance, you can’t help but continue watching out of pity, really.

Radical Jack tells the tale of ex-CIA operative “Radical” Jack (“Radical” was his code name, presumably chosen by a 10-year-old son of a Colonel) who is recruited begrudgingly to scope out illegal weapons trade happening in a small po-dunk Southern town of nondescript. Since “Radical” Jack rides a motorcycle and rocks a sweet, sweet mullet, of course the moment he hits the town he immediately gets a job at the local bar, but not until after he does his laundry and have sepia-toned flashbacks. He runs into the gang of ruffians lead by the son of the…gangster? Illegal gun fencer? Whatever you call him…all I know is he likes to sit outside on the porch of his nice home in the finest of polo shirts and have brunch and coffee a lot. Anyway, that guy’s kid and his slack-jawed yokel friends like to drive around in a Hummer and generally be assbutts to everyone in the town, including the waitresses at the bar that “Radical” Jack now works at. You can probably see where this is going. So, several confrontations happen, a bunch of tough-guy posturing and badly choreographed fight scenes ensue, and eventually the biggest non-surprising non-twist happens and the movie is over. Finally.

I have no idea who came up with the bright idea to try and make Billy Ray Cyrus an action star. Trying to take a guy who is closely associated with all-American wholesomeness and turning them into a grizzled antihero type just fell flatter than Garth Brooks’ attempt at his Chris Gaines persona. And I just now realized that I seem to know way more about 90s era country music than I’m comfortable to admit. That crap was everywhere, man. Anyway, the dialogue spouted was beyond horrible, the “action” scenes laughable, and if it wasn’t for some face palm-worthy bits of swearing that Billy Ray doesn’t seem to be able to pull off and some surprise nudity, I would swear this was a Family Channel attempt at edgy action television. The only redeeming quality of this movie happens to be that it’s one of those movies so bad that you can’t seem to stop watching, like a train wreck.

Fortunately, there was no further attempt to make Billy Ray into an action hero star. Unfortunately, Radical Jack still exists. And if you come across it…grab your friends, and rip this one to shreds. You’ll have a jolly good time.

Movie Review: ELOISE

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Movie Review ELOISEVertical Entertainment
2017
R

Four friends break into Eloise, an abandoned insane asylum, in search of a death certificate which will grant one of them a large inheritance. Unbeknownst to these four trespassers, what begins as an in-and-out adventure will evolve into their darkest nightmare in a place haunted by evil doctors, tortured spirits and unspeakable memories.

Here we are with yet another Abandoned Haunted Medical Facility type movie, this one featuring the likes of Elza Dushku and Robert Patrick as actors. My track record with movies like this one is rather dismal, and I only end up watching them more out of morbid curiosity, almost daring the movie to do something different–some kind of creative twist to a tired movie trope–to make me like it even a little bit. Does Eloise manage to do this? In a word…nope.

So, the movie involves a young, 20-something blue collar man who just learns of the death of his father. While at the insurance office following up, he’s then made aware of a long-forgotten aunt who was interred at the Eloise insane asylum decades prior, and has bequeathed a large sum of money to him. Though she’s been presumed long dead, the kid (sorry, I’m in my 40s, so 20-somethings are looking like kids to me) needs to get the official death certificate to prove her to be dead-dead, so he can get the money awaiting him. And the certificate is located in one of the abandoned buildings of Eloise, naturally. So, he enlists the help of an old friend of his, a bartender he met the night prior, and the bartender’s brother, who happens to be a fount of information on Eloise, to break into the abandoned facility and try and find the death certificate. The inside of this place is creepy enough as it is, especially in the dead of night; but soon the standard set of supernatural shenanigans begin happening, progressing predictably to what you would expect in something labeled as a “horror movie”.

Well, now…this was an unsurprisingly boring movie to sit through. Most independently shot horror flicks involving haunted asylums or hospitals of some sort usually are, as they all seem to go the route story-wise. You know the drill: bunch of young adults break into the abandoned structure for whatever reason, said abandoned structure turns out to be haunted for realsies, wackiness ensues. Usually off screen. Nothing new to see here, folks. Move along, move along.

Mind you, there are several things going for the movie’s favor, like being shot on location at the defunct Eloise mental institution outside of Detroit, Michigan, and capitalizing well with the eerie atmosphere of the interiors of said building. The history behind the facility also lends to the atmosphere and amps up the dread when they’re inside the place. This being director Robert Legato’s first film–a guy who is better known as a long time VFX specialist for several well-known Hollywood directors, as well as helming a few Star Trek episodes in the 90s–he did a very good job shooing and editing the movie itself. And the story does start off with a promising premise. But, once they finally get inside the titular building, it goes the route every modern haunted asylum movie has gone before, and not very memorably I should hasten to add. The actors were all adequate in their respective rolls, with Eliza Dushku being the default standout of the bunch. The worst part is about two-thirds of the way in, when the movie introduces the dimensional time-shift aspect to the plot, in an attempt to answer the mystery behind the evil of the…

Ah, forget it. I give up trying to explain things about this movie. Eloise has flashes of good ideas, but ultimately falls flat. So far, the only good abandoned asylum movie in existence is Session 9, and you would do well to watch that one again instead.

Movie Review: EDGE OF TOMORROW

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Movie Review EDGE OF TOMORROWWarner Bros. Pictures
2014
PG-13

“Now listen carefully. This is a very important rule. This is the only rule. You get injured on the field, you better make sure you die.”

When Earth falls under attack from invincible aliens, no military unit in the world is able to beat them. Major William Cage, an officer who has never seen combat, is assigned to a suicide mission. Killed within moments, Cage finds himself thrown into a time loop, in which he relives the same brutal fight–and his death–over and over again. However, Cage’s fighting skills improve with each encore, bringing him and a comrade ever closer to defeating the aliens.

Edge Of Tomorrow is a science fiction movie that I remember seeing the teaser trailer for once while waiting for another movie to begin. It consisted of Tom Cruise in a mech suit of some kind, wondering around a battlefield with things blowing up around him…and that’s about all I remember before my brain began drifting to other, much more interesting things, like wondering if there was time to go get a package of Reese’s Pieces to mix in with my popcorn (I opted not to go). I wasn’t really planning on ever watching Edge Of Tomorrow, more out of disinterest in yet another gritty science fiction war movie, let alone one that features Tom Cruise in there. But, yet again the great ogre that is boredom reared its ugly head one weekend afternoon, and spying this on the streaming decided to kill off a couple of hours. The resulting reaction was…mixed, at best.

It’s the near future of…2015, and in a totally ironic reversal, Germany has been invaded…by a horde of intergalactic aliens called the Mimics, sort of a hive-minded Lovecraftian horror that managed to kill all the humans in their way. Five years later, the world’s combined military forces have finally managed their one victory, led by a sergeant in a mech suit that was dubbed the Angel of Verdun. This provides a much-needed boost of moral for the humans, and before you know it a major offensive in France is planned, with public affairs officer Major Tom Cruise William Cage being recruited to cover the day of the assault. Major Cage has a slight disagreement with this idea, and so he’s busted down to Private, labelled a deserter, and assigned to the J Squad for the battle. Of course, the battle itself doesn’t go well, and Private Cage dies taking out a rather large Mimic, getting covered in its blood with his dying breath. The End. Oh, wait, no…Cage wakes up again, reliving the last 24 hours leading up to the battle, with the memories of the previous attempt fresh in his head. Realizing he’s stuck in his own personal Groundhog Day hell, he proceeds to spend maybe hundreds of the reiteration of the same day trying to figure out a way to stop the Mimics once and for all. And this involves hundreds of times trying to convince the Angel of Verdun that he’s not nuts and help him do so. Of course, the standard time loop wackiness ensues, leading to finding the Big Alien Brain behind all this, which might involve Cage having to make the final assault without his timey-wimey powers.

As I was watching this, I kept asking myself, who was it that decided that Tom Cruise, of all people, needed to be an action star? This seems to be his modus operandi with movies since the end of the 20th Century. You would expect him to maybe be in a parody of an action movie, like with Charlie Sheen (Hot Shots) and his brother Emilio Estevez (Loaded Weapon 1). I don’t watch a lot of Tom Cruise movies, but going over the filmography page on IMDB, it seems that after doing Eyes Wide Shut, there’s been a lot of action movies on his list. And okay, he was in the action movie comedy Tropic Thunder, which is an awesome movie and everyone should go see it. But still, Tom Cruise still seems…off as a choice for action hero material. But, I digress.

It probably won’t come as much of a surprise when I say that I’m unfamiliar with the Japanese novel this movie is based on, All You Need Is Kill. Which is a very Japanese sounding name, there. And from what I’ve gleaned on the interwebs, there was a lot of plot streamlining for the movie, so one could say that Edge Of Tomorrow is loosely based on the novel. That said, my impression of Edge Of Tomorrow is essentially Groundhog Day meets Starship Troopers. That’s the movie in a nutshell, minus the having to travel to distant planets to battle the alien horde. Mind you, I happen to dig the whole “stuck in a time loope” trope, when it’s done well, and here it’s done pretty good. Also, you get kickass mech suits and the late, great Bill Paxton as the Master Sergeant, with a whole lotta stuff blowing up. In other words, it’s an sci-fi action movie that tries to be smarter than what it really is, and the result is a rather enjoyable popcorn flick that you don’t have to think too hard about, as all the technical stuff is spelled out for you. You can just sit back, munch on some popcorn, and enjoy the show.

Overall, I did enjoy Edge Of Tomorrow the same way I enjoyed the original Independence Day, right down to the “hooray human endurance” happy ending. Mind you, I don’t understand why Warner Bros. decided to play up the movie’s tag line–“Live. Die. Repeat.”–upon the home video release. To many, that’s the actual title of the movie. I had a co-worker refer to it as that, asking “Have you seen Live Die Repeat?”, which took him describing the plot to make me realize he was talking about this movie. Regardless, you should check this out some time as a rental if you haven’t done so.

Music Review: LUST CONTROL – We Are Not Ashamed – Getting It Right The Second Time

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lust control getting it right the second timeLUST CONTROL
We Are Not Ashamed – Getting It Right The Second Time
Retroactive Records
2006

Lust Control – the band that Heaven’s Metal creator Doug Van Pelt started with a ski mask and a dream – released their album We Are Not Ashamed back in 1992. Apparently, Van Pelt wasn’t happy with the mix of that original release, so in 2006 Retroactive Records released a newly mastered 2-disc special edition of the album.

Since I already owned the original release, and I really don’t see why there would be any issue with that particular mix of the album, there had to be a reason beyond a better mix to get me to double-dip, even for just purchasing the MP3 download of the album off of Amazon. As it turns out, there are plenty of incentives to look into getting this edition: Besides the different artwork and a written history of the album itself written by Doug Van Pelt (which goes into detail as to why he didn’t like the original mix), included with the album (one of the songs, “You Make Me Puke”, has the spoken intro from the original removed, possibly for time constraint issues on the physical CD media, so there’s a reason to hold on to the original release at least) are some live cuts (“Sex Rant Intro”, “Finger” and “Mrs. Lowry”), a stereo mixed version of the This Is A Condom Nation release, an album release party radio spot, a couple of commentaries, and karaoke versions of the songs “Planned Parenthood” and “The Big M”. So, yeah…I would say this is chock full of incentive to get this release.

The remix of the album…yeah, it sounds good. I didn’t break out the original release to compare, mind you, but listening to it again in this mix, it’s pretty good. The first couple of live cuts have that recorded on a hand-held cassette recorder somewhere in the crowd quality. Standard punk rawk style, I would say. The third one has better quality, but is less than one minute long and is a tribute to Paul Q-Peck’s mother. Since this is the first time listening to the This Is A Condom Nation demo in any format, I’m glad they included that rarity on this. The sound quality on this version is rather good; keep in mind I have no original mix to compare it to. The “Album Release Party Radio Spot” is exactly that, a thirty-second clip promoting the album back in the day. The DJ/Gene’s Commentary is a brief but interesting commentary on the album by Doug Van Pelt. And the Karaoke versions of the two songs are just that: versions of the songs sans vocals so you can sing them at your youth group’s Karaoke Nite. That’s a think youth groups do, right?

Overall, getting this iteration of We Are Not Ashamed was pretty good idea, methinks. We get the remixed version of the album, a remixed version of one of their hard to find demos, and a nice handful of fun odds and ends. Very much worth checking out, here.

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