Monthly Archives: June 2013

  • 0

DVD Review – Mold!

Category : DVD Review

Director: Neil Meschino
Starring: Lawrence George, Ardis Campbell, Edward X. Young
Year: 2012

I think the above picture says it all.  This film is about mold, and yes, sometimes it and bodily fluids will come shooting out of pipes and orifices.  The great thing about a movie like this is that it makes no excuses and doesn’t try to impress anyone.  It is what it is, and that’s a horribly disgusting and often ridiculous b-movie romp.  One thing you’ve got to love about b-movies is that nothing is off limits, no extreme too extreme, and that’s of course what makes some of them great.  Now, not all of them are great and some are downright unwatchable.  You’ve got to be able to laugh at the film while cringing at the grotesque, or at least pick up on something entertaining that makes watching bad acting worthwhile.  Some movies can do that: Re-Animator, Bath Salt Zombies.  And some can’t: Surf Nazis Must Die, Oasis of the Zombies.  But regardless, you’re in for an interesting evening when you turn on a movie of this type.  So just sit back and soak in the mold.

The Movie

The story takes place in the 80s, when the American “war on drugs” was in full swing.  Add that to heightened tensions with various banana republics and you’ve got the recipe for a high level of military involvement.  At a scientific research center, the workers there are about to find out how involvement can quickly become a takeover.  Doctors Bolton, Hardy, and Young have been hard at work developing a new strain of mold, under the direction of Dr. Kane.  Their work has created something potentially deadly; a fast-acting species that can quickly take over and destroy any crop into which it is introduced, be it coca plants or the agriculture of an entire country.  This is good news for both the Congressman and the Colonel, who have both been asked to the facility to check on the progress of the mold.  Time for champagne and crackers, as both scientists and officials celebrate the impending victory of American interests.
Well, things are about to take a turn for the worse.  In a manner that no one can fathom, the mold has escaped containment.  It is out, it is dangerous, and it could be anywhere.  The first reaction of the scientific staff is lock down, as procedure demands that no trace of the strain leave the laboratory.  So for the time being, the outside world is safe, but the same can not be said for those remaining inside.  The mold can attach itself to any moisture, and its growth is rapid.  The group must stay in one room in order to remain clean, but as infection becomes more and more likely the situation becomes desperate.  The Congressman becomes sick, one of the military staff reverts back to his basic instincts, and the scientists try their best just to survive.  As the Colonel steps up into a leadership role, there remains a shred of hope, as an antidote might be effective and available.  But in order to get to it, the group must separate, face their fears, survive each other, and defeat the mold!

First, let’s focus on the b-movie aspect.  There is a very small window between bad and awesomely bad, and Mold! barely slipped in.  It was pretty awful, as you could probably guess.  I mean, moldy slime was continually spewing out of people, infecting people, causing people to explode.  Basically, any gross thing that you could put in a movie was put in, but in a moldy fashion.  And the scientists would often “scan” their surroundings, revealing mold spores floating through the air, but somehow not entering their mouths.  Really, there wasn’t much that could be called believable.  And the shaky details weren’t the only things that were hard to buy into.  The acting was, for the most part, pitiful, the plot was full of holes, and the effects were what you would expect from a movie that probably cost about a thousand bucks to make.  And there wasn’t any nudity or much action to give us even a small thrill; just a lot of mold.
The movie’s saving grace was its humor.  Not for an instant did it try to be a poignant story, a thought-provoking film, or even remotely well made.  There was never a feeling that anyone involved in this project was trying to impress me.  It just seemed like someone had a fun idea, ran with it, and somehow created a really odd film about mold who’s sole purpose was to entertain.  And they did that, in many ways.  Through gruesome images and swollen corpses, sure, but through humor as well.  It was very often funny and almost always tongue in cheek, with a goofy quality that was enjoyable to watch and easy to poke fun at.  Homely scientists, cold-hearted suits, rapidly progressing mold spores; every piece seemed designed to be a little silly.  It’s always nice when filmmakers don’t take themselves too seriously, and these certainly didn’t.
There was one actor who embodied the entertainment-minded mentality, allowing such an awful movie to become awfully funny, and that was Edward X. Young as the Colonel.  He definitely stole the show, somehow coming off as the lead actor when he didn’t start that way at all.  His humor and his character set the tone for what otherwise would have been a throw-away plot, badly acted.  He and his damned cigar, blowing smoke in the faces of the other actors, audiences, and the mold that can’t quite kill him.  I’m not sure what the movie would have become without Mr. E.X.Y., but I doubt that it would have slipped into that narrow space between crap and something watchable.  And that’s what Mold! ended up being; an entertaining film that was a step up from bad and was just horrible enough to be worth seeing.

The DVD

Video – With an aspect ration of 16:9 widescreen, the film was shot using a Sony EX1, which is a high definition camcorder often used by independent filmmakers.  You’re not going to get much out of the video quality of this one, so don’t get your hopes up.
Audio – There are zero sound options on the DVD.  No language selections, no subtitles for the hearing impaired, no audio options of any kind.  You won’t get high quality sound here.
Extras – There are a few extras on the disc.  You can play the movie with the director’s commentary or check out some behind the scenes footage.  There are also seven trailers: Mold!, Disco Exorcist, Dropping Dead, Exhumed, Tight, The Story of Rock N Roll Comics, and Night of the Living Dead: Reanimated.

Final Thoughts

Rent ItMold! was just good enough to be an entertaining b-movie, but just barely.  Its humor saved it and masked its flaws, but without that and Edward X. Young it would have been pretty bad.  The video was poor, the audio was worse, and the extras were just OK.  If you love this type of movie than you could do much worse, but just don’t expect magic. 

✰ ✰ ✰ – Content
✰ ✰ – Video
– Audio
✰ ✰ – Extras
✰ ✰ – Replay


  • 0

Movie Trailer – Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Thor Freudenthal
Starring: Logan Lerman, Alexandra Daddario, Stanley Tucci
Release: August 7th, 2013

Do the books steal from Harry Potter as much as this movie seems to?  I have never read them, not did I see the first movie, nor will I see this one.  I mean, I like & know Greek mythology more than the average person and I like to see it on screen.  But not like this.  It just looks too silly to be good, and that usually means it is.


  • 2

Movie Review – Man of Steel

Category : Movie Review

Director: Zach Snyder
Starring: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon
Year: 2013

We’ve all seen our fair share of awful comic book movies.  But it seems like we can’t agree on which ones those were.  I think, by now, everyone understands the genre and goes into the theatre knowing what to expect; action, heroics, one-liners, nonsensical dialogue.  And we flock to see them, no matter how often they’re put out.  But it’s as if we’re watching different films.  Some people come out having seen everything they expected from a comic book story and loving it; the explosions, the classic references, the hot hero.  And some people come out having got what they payed for but hating every minute of it; the cheesy love story, the random punching, the over-acting villain.  I can understand having differing opinions, but no other genre creates such dissidence.  If we accept these movies for what they are and judge them only against themselves, how can we be in such disagreement over which one captured the comic book essence perfectly and which one stunk the place up?  I doubt I’ll ever figure out why I hated Hellboy but thought that Man of Steel was one of the best action hero flicks I’ve ever seen.

 

The story of Superman is nothing new.  The character was first created in 1933, and has seen many changes and takes, both bad and good.  Some of the most notable are the television series of the 50s called the Adventures of Superman, the movie franchise of the 70s and 80s starring Christopher Reeve, the shows Lois & Clark and Smallville, and the 2006 movie Superman ReturnsMan of Steel is the latest spin on this classic story.  In this film, we learn about Superman’s origins and his emergence as a hero.  It all begins on the planet Krypton, where population management and a lack of resources has led to the endangerment of all life.  A coup occurs, led my General Zod, the leader of Krypton’s military.  Standing in his way is science leader Jor-El, who manages to jettison his own son Kal into the safety of space before the planet of Krypton meets its grim fate.  Kal travels to Earth as an infant, where he is found and raised by a Kansas farming family.  Now called Clark Kent, this special child begins to understand that he is different, and that the world may some day need his power.  When Earth is threatened by the tyrannical Zod, a now grown-up Clark must come to terms with his responsibility, attempt to understand his past, and protect his new people as only Superman can.

 

 

I just don’t see how Man of Steel isn’t everything you could want a comic book movie to be.  Obviously you can’t judge it against Pulp Fiction or The Godfather, but when you compare it to the other movies in its genre it delivers all the aspects that audiences expect while rising above the normal graphic novel slop.  I’ve seen some bad comic book movies: Hellboy, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Fantastic Four, Watchmen.  And what they all have in common is that they lack appeal.  They might stick to the prescripts of the genre; action, villains, cool effects.  But they don’t offer anything to grab onto, any reason to stay in your seat, any passion to suck you in.  Man of Steel delivers all of that, while remaining perfectly true to others of its style.  It’s still a comic book movie, with some cheesy zingers, extreme action, unbelievable premises, so you had better know what to expect going in.  But if you know that and you want to see that, then for my money it blows Iron Man out of the water.

 

And the reason it does that, the reason it can be both a silly comic book movie and an awesome film is that the individual pieces are so well made they give the entire movie a sense of reality.  That’s what keeps audiences attention, after all.  It’s not the missiles, it’s not the flying, it’s not the six-packs.  Those things are necessary, but it’s passion, believability, and attention to detail that really capture us.  Now, you can’t give the movie credit for the story, that was already there.  And you shouldn’t judge it too harshly for its flaws (over-punching, over-acting, over-exploding), because otherwise it wouldn’t be true to its genre.  What you should judge are the characters, and those were well done.  Cavill as Clark Kent was good, not amazing.  He did a great job inhabiting the confusion Superman must feel, and he even did a little throwback Christopher Reeve voice.  Adams as Lois Lane was spot on.  She was spunky and beautiful, without being stupid or annoying.  But the top prize and the main reason I so enjoyed this movie was Shannon as General Zod.  He was the perfect villain; deep anger, a touch of sadness, and he never came across as cheap.  You could say that about the whole film; it was never cheap.  It took a classic story, gave audiences what they wanted from the genre, but honed the details until the whole movie shone.  Don’t go see it expecting Casablanca, but if you understand what you’re getting into you can leave the theatre having seen a comic book movie on par with Batman Begins, if not better.

My rating: ✰ ✰ ✰ ✰


  • 0

Movie Trailer – Sweet Vengeance

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Logan Miller
Starring: Ed Harris, Jason Isaacs, January Jones
Release: 2013

I was excited when I heard about this movie because I enjoyed Ed Harris in Appaloosa, another gritty western.  But after watching the trailer I’m not as excited.  Logan Miller is an amateur director, which is always chancy, and, I don’t know, it just doesn’t that look that great.


  • 0

Movie Trailer – The Wolf of Wall Street

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Martin Scorsese
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Matthew McConaughey, Jonah Hill
Release: November 15th, 2013

Now, I heart Leo.  And I like Scorsese.  I thought The Departed was a five-star film.  But I’m just not that into Wall Street movies.  I don’t know what it is, I just don’t care.  I know it’s relevant and that the stories are often based on true events, but I just have a hard time getting excited about them.  Maybe I need to see this with someone who is really into it, because it’ll probably turn out to be a strong movie, regardless of the subject matter.


  • 10

Thought – Grass

Category : Thought

Why are we so obsessed with our grass?  What is so important about A) having a lawn of grass around our house and 2) keeping it well manicured?  Why did I just spend two hours mowing and trimming my yard?  And why does it feel so good when I look outside and see it?
It just doesn’t make any sense.  Green is just a color.  Grass is just a plant.  But we like to see stretches of close-cropped lawn laid out before us.  There must be some hard-wiring inside humans, at least modern Americans, that makes us desire this aesthetic.  There are a couple reasons I can think of, perhaps none of which are true.
  1. We want to feel one with nature.  In our increasingly urban lives, we see less and less nature.  Perhaps that’s why we enjoy going to parks, watching on nature trails, going camping, and even looking at our yards.  Maybe the grass makes us feel that much closer to nature, which we miss when we’re inside out houses and office buildings.
  2. It’s a status symbol.  Rich people can afford big yards.  They have trees, nice lawns, even ponds, lakes, ocean views.  And perhaps we desire that, we want to be like the wealthy people with the money to make even the outside of their houses look spotless.
  3. No one likes to be judged.  I know I mow sometimes because I know it’s getting high and I’m afraid someone will comment on my yard.  It’s embarrassing when your grass is really high and people come over.  I don’t know why, but it is, and perhaps we’re all competing with each other to see who can mold the nicest backyard.
So, whatever the reason, when I stop to think about it I feel a little silly putting that much time and effort into keeping my grass looking nice.  I mean, so what if it was a yard of dirt, or blacktop, or sand?  If everyone started paving their backyards, would that start to feel normal?  Or would we desire trees and water and greenery and nature even more than we already do?

  • 0

Movie Trailer – 300: Rise of an Empire

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Noam Murro
Starring: Lena Headley, Eva Green, Rodrigo Santoro
Release: March 7th, 2014

We’ve got a ways to wait for this one, not sure why the trailer is already out.  And I know a lot of people will skip it anyway.  But, you know, I liked 300.  It was historic, it was bloody, and it was something that I really hadn’t ever seen.  So I’m willing to give the sequel a chance, even though I guess it can’t possibly be as good, and it could potentially be much worse.


  • 0

Book Review – Lonesome Dove

Category : Book Review

Author: Larry McMurtry
Year: 1985

When I was young my dad & I loved the Lonesome Down miniseries.  It ran in four parts, and was a total of over three hours long.  Of course, now you can get the movie on DVD and watch it all at once, and in that way it’s fairly similar to other historic epics.  But the difference between Lonesome Dove and movies like Braveheart or Gettysburg is that it’s not based on true events.  It was adapted from a fiction novel written four years earlier by Larry McMurtry under the same name.  So twenty-some-odd years later, I finally got my hands on the book that inspired the film that I love so much.  It’s always tricky reading the book after having seen the film, especially when that film is one of your all-time favorites.  I was worried that the book just couldn’t live up to the story and the characters that I love so much.  But apparently the miniseries was even more excellent that I knew, as they stuck to the novel almost exactly and brought to live what was already written so well.
Lonesome Dove is a tale of the wild west.  Living in Texas on the Rio Grande in the 1870s, two former Rangers are living out the rest of their days as cattlemen.  Their names are Augustus McCrea and Woodrow Call, and in their younger days they were fearsome Indian fighters, protectors of the settlers, and basically the law of the land.  Now they have nothing to do other than to raid into Mexico and steal cattle.  But when their old companero Jake Spoon arrives in the small town of Lonesome Dove, he excites their old spirit of adventure with stories of Montana; a land so beautiful, wild, and free for the taking.  The crew decide to start a cattle drive, with hopes of becoming the very first ranchers ever to settle in Montana, a feat that will make them all rich men.  Along for the ride come Deets (the trusty scout), Pea Eye (the stolid worker), Newt (the unclaimed boy), Dish (the top hand), Lorena (the former whore), and a whole group of other cowboys.  The entirety of the mid-west lays before them, but so does danger, as they must survive in order to enjoy the wonderful northern country that has become something more than simply a goal.
Well, I loved the movie, so perhaps I’m biased, but this novel was one of the greatest I’ve ever read.  It was just so simple; a cattle drive, a few lowly cowboys, the open prairie, some bandits.  But that’s what made it great.  So often today’s stories are so forced, so contrived.  This one wasn’t.  It  was honest, harsh, dry, but somehow beautiful.  Perhaps it was the description of the country the characters crossed, an American that was wild and murderous and fresh.  Or perhaps it was the characters themselves, written so well that you could almost predict what they were going to say next.  By the end I felt like I had traveled every mile with the boys, had crossed every river with them, had borne every heartbreak.  I just couldn’t get enough of this sad and lonely tale.  It might not be for everyone, because I know some people don’t like Westerns, but if you’re willing to give it a chance Lonesome Dove has the power to sweep you away and show you a fascinating time that has never been depicted better.

My rating: ✰ ✰ ✰ ✰ ✰


  • 0

Movie Trailer – Prisoners

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Denis Villeneuve
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Paul Dano
Release: September 20th, 2013

Whoa.  Talk about heavy.  It looks terrifying and too realistic.  But if the actors can hold up their end this could be a really great film.  As long as it doesn’t just turn into two hours of depression I’d be willing to take a chance on it.


  • 0

Thought – Father’s Day

Category : Thought

If you read my Mother’s Day post, you know how I feel about Father’s Day too, so I won’t repeat myself.  Let me just say Happy Father’s Day to all those fathers who love and are present for their children.  I was lucky enough to have a great dad, one who played with me, included me, and never made me feel small; I’m very thankful for that.  I also have the best father-in-law a guy could ask for, as well as friends who show every day how much they care about their kids.  So, have a great day all you wonderful fathers out there.