4 posts categorized "0-1/2 jalapeños"


'Airbender' has a rough Night

If "The Last Airbender" isn't the worst film of the year, the hokey compilation of cheesy kung-fu moves attached to special effects enhancements will certainly be one of the prominent artistic bottom-feeders.

Writer-director-producer M. Night Shyamalan began his career with a flourish.  "The Sixth Sense," especially, dazzled in 1999.  More recent efforts,  "The Village," "Lady in the Water" and "The Happening," pretty much fizzled.

"The Last Airbender," a would-be epic with the interest quotient of a slug taking a tongue bath, just baffles.

The hook in this fantasy yarn about a Fire Nation able to bully nations of air, water and Earth is that the prophesied Avatar (Dallas native Noah Ringer as Aang), an airbender who can control all the elements, has been absent for 100 years.

Boy wonder Aang arrives in an ice ball along with a gigantic furry creature and is quickly befriended by Katara (Nicola Peltz), a young waterbender, and her protective brother Sokka (Jackson Rathbone, also on screen as the vampire Jasper Hale in "Twilight:  Eclipse").

According to Shyamalan's adaptation of the Nickelodeon animated TV series "Avatar:  The Last Airbender," Aang ran away from Avatar training before he could fully master water, fire and earth bending.  The challenge here is to fend off the evil Fire Nation flame-throwers and avoid capture by Prince Zuko of the Fire Nation, who's not exactly feeling his daddy's love at the moment.

Aang may be a little behind on his element altering courses, but thanks to a laughable plot by Shyamalan, someone here is fully capable of halting time.  I've never seen just over an hour and a half feel like an eternity before.  Nothing much works here.  The special effects, while accomplished enough, only manage to perpetuate the silliness.

At least this film is being released in 3-D.  So if your child drags you to it, you might be able to nap behind the glasses without anyone noticing.

Ringer, the Dallas-based American taekwondo martial arts state champ, convinces as the young Avatar (no relation to James Cameron's epic wonder of the same name).  I just feel sorry for "Slumdog Millionaire" star Dev Patel, who made a poor follow-up film choice to play Prince Zuko.

Of course Shyamalan is the one who'll suffer most if this turkey bombs, which it should.

Unless something much more accomplished happens in the near future for the "Sixth Sense" filmmaker, I see a dead career.


Mugging to the animals

If you're 6 or younger, you might enjoy the loony goons live-action cartoon "Furry Vengeance" for the first 30 minutes or so.

By that time it's likely that everyone from toddler age up with have had enough of Brendan Fraser making goofy faces, forest animals sending huge boulders down a steep hill to vent revenge on encroaching humans and a "go green" message that lands with about the same dulling thud as the rocks, or Fraser's so-called acting.

From this aisle seat, I can't fathom why all this "Furry Vengeance" is being taken out on the audience in the form of a "family comedy" that, for the most part, is excruciating to the point of falling just below water boarding on the torture scale to watch.

Some of us, including your humble scribe, actually love wild animals enough to feed squirrels and birds their breakfast before we've even had ours.

Directed by Roger Kumble, who occupied the director's chair for "College Road Trip" a couple years back, "Furry Vengeance" is a waste of everyone's time.

That includes the trained animals (raccoons, skunks, etc.) that, through the "magic" of modern technology, never had to share a scene with an embarrassingly overacting Fraser ("The Mummy" franchise) or Brooke Shields, who looks like she'd rather be shopping most of the time.

This is an animal vs. human plot that's so cartoon-like I'm shocked a road runner doesn't drop an Acme steel anvil on Fraser's head at some point.

Contractor Dan Sanders (Fraser) is paying the price for invading a peaceful Oregon forest in the name of a new "green friendly" housing community.  Wife Tammy (Shields) and rebellious teen son (Matt Prokop) never wanted to leave Chicago.  They're trying to cope, though, at least until Dad begins to come home covered in skunk spray or portable toilet, uh, toilet stuff.

Fraser has managed some real acting recently in "Extraordinary Measures" and a dozen years back opposite  Ian McKellen in the outstanding drama "Gods and Monsters."

"Furry Vengeance," on the other hand, presents Fraser at his mugging worst.  Let's put it this way.  Fraser's "George of the Jungle" (1997) was several grunts better and of higher intelligence than the Neanderthal in a business suit on display here.


Rounding down the usual suspects

Well, at least they got the title right.

"Cop Out" is just that, a lazy, clichéd excuse for a buddy cop action comic-drama.

Bruce Willis and TV comedian Tracy Morgan are the unfortunate actors out front.

I was the unfortunate film critic sitting in the dark wondering why time was standing still.

The only thing that kept my mind occupied (a little) was wondering how much longer director Kevin Smith can ride his "Clerks" success.

Willis (the "Die Hard" franchise), a talented big-screen vet who should know better, and Morgan play -- sort of -- Brooklyn cops with pressing agendas not necessarily related to police work.

Paul (Morgan) is convinced that his wife Debbie (Rashida Jones of "Parks and Recreation" on TV) is cheating on him.  Jimmy (Willis) needs to somehow come up with almost 50,000 bucks to pay for his daughter's wedding.

In between, screenwriting brothers Robb and Mark Cullen (TV writer-producers trying the big screen) send the 21st century Keystone Kops on a quest to reclaim a rare 1952 baseball card.  Ho-hum.

Along the way they'll rescue the ingénue, befriend a likable cat burglar (talented Seann William Scott) and, if you're like me, make you ponder why you're in the theater for this piece of buddy-cop toxic topic waste.

Smith has made a couple of interesting films since "Clerks," his only real knockout, of 1994.  The fact that Hollywood continues to green-light projects with the creative free spirit in the director's chair shows faith, if not dogma.

"Cop Out" has no chance to become anything more than a cliché of successful buddy-cop comedies like the "Lethal Weapon" franchise featuring Mel Gibson and Danny Glover.

Willis and Morgan are no Gibson and Glover, although they aren't given much of a chance to really give it a comic-action go.

The film's opening scene, an embarrassingly lame affair where Morgan chants movie cop lines while overplaying the interrogation of a suspect, arrests any real forward comic movement before "Cop Out" gets out of the opening blocks.

If I've seen a less entertaining buddy cop comedy, I've buried it so deep in my subconscious I can no longer retrieve it.

Sorry, "Cop Out."  Looks like you're it.


Mos daft

"Next Day Air" is today's crash and burn cinematic disaster.

Director Benny Boom and screenwriter (and I use the term loosely) Blair "Butta" Cobbs should be ashamed of themselves for this incredibly weak Quentin Tarantino rip-off.

Anyone who pays hard-earned dollars for this loud, pointless string of profanity -- much of it beginning with "mo" -- bullets and laziness deserves the empty pile of entertainment they'll get.

Ripping off Tarantino's early crime thrillers laced with dark comedy (especially "Reservoir Dogs" of 1992) is one thing.  Not doing anything even remotely approaching something interesting after raping the structure and tone of the pulp fiction master is unforgivable. 

Boom, a music video director who should have stayed put, and first-time screenwriter Cobbs, who's still one real script shy of a debut screenplay, borrow (to put it mildly) parts of the Tarantino sleaze-crime-drama-comedy vehicle.  But when they put the parts together, they come up slightly south of a broken-down Edsel on blocks.

In other words, there's no chance for this bullet-riddled mess to gain any momentum.

Donald Faison, who's funny on the TV sitcom "Scrubs," and hip-hop singer/actor Mos Def ( Chuck Berry in "Cadillac Records"), who can act, head a large ensemble cast.  No one has a chance to do much of anything except mug into the camera or snort movie coke (I think) in this tale of cocaine delivered  to the wrong address.

Ten lives are changed because of it.  

Nope, make that 11.  I lost an hour and a half of my life I'll never get back watching this crap.