19 April 2008

Lethal Weapon

Finally, the best of the best in the series was watched today.

Can I just say that Shane Black (author of The Last Boy Scout, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and all the other bad LW films) created an incredible staple of the cop buddy genre with this movie.

[Although, I think To Live and Die L.A. might be my favorite of the 80s.]

Yes. 48 Hours invented the genre, but Shane Black made them really crunchy and gritty. If you look past some the bad directing, you'll see very grim characters, with no real agendas and foibles.

The only writer who does this better is Andrew Kevin Miller (writer of Se7en, 8MM, and the Ambush). Say what you want about 8MM, the writing was top-notch.
Sidenote, I got to do the graphic design for the 8MM and 8MM 2 Double Feature amray. Talk about your tangents.
Shane Black also wrote The Long Kiss Goodnight, which would have been great if Renny Harlin hadn't been involved.

Lethal Weapon is really really good. In my opinion, it's Gibson and Glover's best work (ignoring for a moment, that it's not Glover that makes To Sleep with Anger such a good movie). In fact, Glover is more important to this movie, than Gibson. Certainly Mel's "get beat-up" routine is prevalent and gritty. In fact, the final fight is fantastic. But. Glover knows how to read his lines. Donner's not a good enough director to get that kind of material out of people. It's Glover who mutters and talks under his breath. It's Glover who brings so many signature stylings to the series. And it's Glover who stays in Character through all four movies, no matter how ridiculous the dialog gets.

The question remains, does Lethal Weapon stand up to the test of time. The others don't, but I don't have an answer to this question at the moment.

Street Fight

If you ever want to watch a film that explores the inner workings of Newark city's 2002 mayorial conflict and the corruption that city enjoys as part of its charm and backwater nature... and we all know you do... this is the documentary for you.

If you're looking for fiction, check out New Jersey Drive.

If you're looking for reality, you cannot top the walking, talking, hypocrisy of Sharpe James. Sadly, the filmmaker (Marshall Curry), doesn't get to film Sharpe because his goon squad of cops do not understand the law.

Which is convenient, because they do whatever they like everywhere they go.

The film is very revealing about the various level of dis-education of inner city blacks... it's not as cut and dry as it seems.

Sharpe James is the carnival equivalent of Karl Rove and this is certainly just another in a long line of power breeds corruption seminars that everyone should see.

Lethal Weapon 2

Now.

See.

This is much closer to the original. Still not as strong as the original screenplay. Some of the dialog is bad and Mel can't seem to find that place where he has all this angst. But. Still.

The only good sequel in the series.
  • Joe Pesci is the least annoying in this film (of 2-4)
  • The opening car chase has highs and lows... the lows start early
  • The sexual chemistry with Riga (sp?) makes no sense. She's hot. But. Feh. Whatever.
  • Murtaugh's family members couldn't act in 1 and they still can't
  • Condom trees are funny. "She made me want to buy rubbers."
  • Straightjackets are great for foreshadowing
  • The surfboard stunt does not stand up well to the test of time
  • How did they see Riggs drop his gun in that chase scene anyway?
Enjoy.

14 April 2008

Street Kings

I often enjoy going into movies without knowing anything about the film. In this instance, all I knew was that Keanu and Forest would be in a cop movie. And of course I could have predicted that it would be about dirty cops.

Is there any other story anymore?

Okay. Let's get the good out of the way, very quickly.

I'm glad the title was Street Kings and not Kings of the Street. That would have been awful. The opening dialog between Keanu and the two Korean gangsters was great. The shoot-outs and action were fantastic.

Everything else... well...
  • Every scene between Forest Whitaker and Keanu Reeves felt as though it had been written that morning and neither had been given time to prep.
  • The director had absolutely no pulse. This was "just a movie." There was no style. No verve. No nothing.
  • David Ayer (the director) has one thorn in his crown -- Training Day (writer) and otherwise has produced some of the most forgettable films ever.
  • This movie really really really wanted to be better.
  • But it wasn't.
  • How did so much talent get wasted?
  • What the hell was Jay Mohr doing in this movie?
  • Why did Reeves once again have a Sandra Bullock-looking token female at his side?
I really wanted to like this film, but I just couldn't. There's just so much mediocrity going on. And when you use kidnapped kids as the scape-goat heart-string puller in the opening 15 minutes and then lose me, wow... you've definitely done something wrong. That scene AFTER he rescues the girl could have been where the movie REALLY defined its voice; truly showing Reeves' character as conflicted about what it is that he does. Instead he was just a paper cut-out leading character that could have been replaced with just about anyone or anything... even CGI. Because at the end of the day, the story needs to matter or the glitz is just bad varnish.

Which makes this movie Pledge (not the movie, but the spray for... oh never mind).

All that aside, there was a crying baby in the theatre, a ringing phone, a lady who was shocked by EVERYTHING that happened, and a phone conversation two rows back, encapsulating just how annoying the average movie-goer has become.