Tuesday, November 22, 2016


I’m surprised at the career of Jason Statham. When he began it appeared that he would be on a meteoric rise to stardom comparable to the likes of Stallone and Willis. And yet while he continues to make movies at a steady pace the results are not near the level they should be. It puzzles me because each movie he makes has been excellent when it comes to action fare and more so when you watch things like REVOLVER, a personal favorite of mine.

When Statham took on the challenge or recreating the role of Arthur Bishop made famous by Charles Bronson I thought it was a perfect match. Both men had a rough good looks and handled themselves well in action films. The film did well and seemed to raise Statham but who would have thought a sequel would be in the works, even more so when *SPOILER* the character dies at the end of the film. So color me surprised when this film came out.

MERCHANIC: RESURRECTION returns Bishop to the world of the living, taking it easy on a cabin cruiser in Rio only to find himself set upon by an old friend turned adversary. The film opens with an operative working for Crain, the ex-friend, telling Bishop he needs his set of skills for three killings. If you didn’t know already, Bishop was the perfect anti-hero, a hit man with a conscience who could make any murder seem natural. Refusing to take the job, Bishop takes on the operative and her henchmen, escaping and heading off to a secluded island in the South Pacific.

Under the protection of Mei (Michelle Yeoh), Bishop leads a simple life. Then one day a woman names Gina (Jessica Alba) shows up on the island, bruised by the brute of a man she’s sailed there with. When it appears the man is about to kill her, Mei asks Bishop to step in. He does so ending in the death of the man and Gina taking up residence on the island. It isn’t long before she tells him her back story and reveals to him that she was sent by Crain to bring him back. Not by choice though as Crain is using the school of young girls in Cambodia where she was working as hostages. When Crain’s men show, Bishop obliges him.

Crain tells Bishop he wants him to use his unique abilities to take out three targets. Only giving him enough information to handle one at a time, he first sets Bishop to a Southeast Asian island prison, an impassable location with little hope of getting in and out of let alone killing someone inside the prison. Let’s be serious, if this assassination failed then we’d be watching a very short film. With each target assigned to Bishop he moves closer to freedom for Gina, but only if he trusts Crain. He does not.

The movie works on a number of levels. To begin with Statham does a great job of portraying the calm, cool collected character of Bishop to the max. Bishop is all business on the surface but there is more than that cool exterior to the man. He is a knight errant, a man with a soul who tries to steer clear of battles that are not his but who will step forward when he sees a damsel in distress. He can’t help himself. It adds levels that many action starts find difficult to pull off but that Statham does with ease.

The character of Bishop is a fascinating one in the way he works as well. Not only is he a cold killer when the need arises he is meticulous when it comes to how he carries out his tasks. Bishop makes plans and then goes over them again and again, looking for the cracks in the wall that his targets all have somewhere. He uses those faults to drive a wedge in that results in their demise. While some use just a gun in hand, Bishop uses a pictures, calipers and high tech gadgets he can purchase anywhere in pure form and then adapt for his needs. While Bishop has the hand to hand skills and weapons that he uses to take out a target, it is his mind that is the deadliest weapon he possesses.

The supporting cast here does a fine job as well but in truth the word supporting describes them quite well. Statham takes center stage from start to finish here. Alba does a great job in her role, showing that she’s not a one note actress or just a pretty face. She carries off the role of Gina quite well making her a sympathetic character caught in the middle of thigs who falls for a man who once made a living killing people. Now his skills come into play to help her.

The movie is rated R for language and violence. Had they dropped out a few words my guess is it would have rated a PG-13 but action films feel the need to have that R rating there in order to draw more viewers or so they think. It doesn’t matter in the long run. What does matter is that Statham has turned in another great action film that entertains from beginning to end.

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I’ve always said that I’m a sucker for a good animated Disney film. Not so much the social commentary films but the out and out kid friendly movies. When FINDING NEMO came out I didn’t see it in the theater thinking it wasn’t my kind of movie. I’ve grown more accepting of the computer animated films from Disney and Pixar. When I finally did see it I was stunned at the clarity of picture, the vast array of colors and how involved I became in the story. I’m happy to say that the sequel, FINDING DORY, lives up to that first films high standards.

If you forgot who Dory was she was a blue fish with a problem of short term memory loss. She bumped into Marlin (Albert Brooks), Nemo’s father, and ended up helping him rescue his son Nemo. The movie opens with us learning Dory’s story, how she was a little girl and had a mother and father who loved her but who got lost from them. After searching for some time her path intersects with Marlin as we saw in the first film. It’s now a year later and Dory lives with Marlin and Nemo and yes, still suffers from that short term memory loss. But something is happening.

Dory begins to have flashes of her life before Marlin and Nemo, memories of her parents. She wants to find them and longs to see them but they’re miles away. With a little help from Nemo she finally convinces Marlin, the ever worrisome homebody, to help her get to California where she thinks they live.

Of course the usual happens with Marlin and Nemo getting separated from Dory once they arrive. Their stories run different paths with them nearly finding one another several times. The location that Dory recalls is a marine life park with various area to explore. Dory is caught up in the plastic loops of a six pack tossed in the sea and then rescued by workers from the park. She gets tagged to be shipped to Cleveland to their aquarium there and it seems all is lost.

But then she gets help from a grouchy octopus named Hank (Ed O’Neill). He wants to leave the park and go on the truck to Cleveland and tells her to give him the tag she now has on her fin. She agrees if he will help her find her parents. Off the duo goes trying to find the right spot and Dory’s folks. And it is the antics of not just Dory but of Hank who uses his ability to camouflage himself in some hilarious moments.

While Dory is off with Hank, Marlin and Nemo get help from a pair of sunbathing sea lions on a rock outside of the park. Their adventure sets off with a whacked out bird picking them up in a bucket of water and trying to get them to the quarantine area where Dory would have been taken, of course unaware that she is in the midst of leaving there. Will they ever find one another? And more importantly will they find Dory’s parents?

Once again the movie offers us some amazing rich visuals to look at. All of the underwater scenes in the ocean are breathtaking, even if computer generated. The flow of images is so flawless that you’ll forget it’s animated at times. It is a glowing sea of color and movement that makes you wonder where to look next. Computer animation has grown leaps and bounds over the past few decades.

But none of that would matter if there wasn’t a story that was worth being interested in as well. The answer is yes, it does offer just such a story. The sense of loss, the fear of the unknown, the hope that Dory will find her parents still waiting for her has you cheering her on and rooting for her to overcome her short term memory loss enough to reach her home. Along the way you also begin to realize that while Dory may have her problems and a slight attention issue, she actually remembers more than she gives herself credit for.

If you were ever lost as a child in a department store or grocery store then you can relate to the emotions of Dory as she tries to find her parents. It is a story that all children can relate to and the child within each of us can relate to as well. This movie entertains, captures your imagination and delights the eye from start to finish. You can’t ask much more of a movie with the name Disney attached to it.

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From the looks of things when I first saw the trailer for SAUSAGE PARTY I thought it could end up being a funny movie. Sure I knew it was from Seth Rogen and that it could end up being off the wall and a bit crude but I’d seen enough of his films to expect that. Most of his films are like that and some were funny, but as he’s gotten older and as the films become more frequent that small bit of humor got stale. While this movie isn’t quite stale it is something altogether different. And I don’t mean that in a good way.

If you haven’t seen the trailer I suggest you do so before watching the movie. You’ll see some of the best gags that way. And then you won’t have to bother with the movie itself. If you do decide to go ahead, be prepared for one of the most offensive movies you’ll ever see. My guess would be that of Rogen and his friends ever read that sentence they would consider it a badge of honor. They shouldn’t.

The movie is an animated film about the lives of food in a grocery store. Each morning they wake and sing a song about how wonderful it is to be there and with any luck be chosen by the Gods to be taken out of the store. The song has that cheery Disneyesque feel to it but when listening to the lyrics not quite so since about every 4th word is an F bomb or variation of that word.

Our story focuses on two food members. Frank is a hot dogs in a package of the same and Brenda is a curvaceous bun in a package located right next to Frank and his group. The two are star crossed loves who have never met but who have “touched tips” meaning reached across from their various packages to touch fingertips. Their dream is to one day be picked up at the same time and finally united in the great beyond.

Circumstances result in their falling out of a shopping cart and left stranded in the store. Along the way to finding their home they get separated. While Frank’s journey results in his learning what actually happens when you reach the great beyond, Brenda is pursued by a bottle of douche with a broken stem intent on wreaking havoc and destroying Frank. High humor, right?

The two reunite and Frank tries to tell Brenda that it is all a lie, that there are no beneficent Gods out there and that the great beyond is nothing more than a death sentence for all who leave the store. The two part ways and Frank is now more determined than ever to find proof to show the rest of the store that his discovery is true.

Up to this point the off color humor has been fairly tame with a few exceptions going what some would consider too far. And a few of the jokes found here are actually well thought out and funny, in particular the food puns. But the movie isn’t over. It gets much much worse.

To begin with there is the none too subtle concept on display here involving the Gods and the great beyond. Depending on your beliefs this will either make you laugh or offend you greatly. In essence the story is that God doesn’t really exist, Heaven is a myth and you should live your life as you want to now doing whatever you want to do. And I do mean whatever. Of course all of this is done in good fun. Sorry but as someone who does believe I found no fun in the ridicule of those who have faith.

If that wasn’t enough there are a ton of off color sexual jokes found in here, everything from A to Z. If you think one inanimate object performing oral sex on another is hilarious then this movie is right up yor alley. And if the periodic jokes weren’t enough as the film gets to the final segment every food or item in the store joins into an orgy the likes of which are not seen outside of the most extreme pornographic films made. If there is a sexual act known to man you will see it performed by food items during this segment.

I have little doubt in my mind that pre-adolescent boys will find a way to get hold of this movie to watch together, giggle and then laugh out loud at what they see. They have no idea what it is that goes on between two people so this is their dirty joke, the kind that you laughed at until you were an adult and then realized wasn’t funny. Those who are stuck in that age bracket mentally will enjoy it as well or will try and tell you that you aren’t “enlightened” enough to appreciate the humor on display here. They won’t care who it offends and won’t care that it is bottom of the barrel humor.

The most disturbing thing about this film is that there will be some parents out there who won’t pay attention to the rating or consider looking at what the film is about who will rent it for their children simply because all they will see is that it’s an animated film. I can’t imagine what the affects seeing this would have on those children.

I’ve seen adult animated films before from FRITZ THE CAT to SHAME OF THE JUNGLE. As an adult I could appreciate the things they were trying to say, the standards that they were trying to poke fun at and understand where they were coming from in their method of talking about the topics. This film has no motivation other than to talk dirty, be nasty and slam anyone who believes in God. The level of humor is Beavis and Butthead on steroids, where simply saying a dirty word makes those involved laugh (watch the extras and you’ll see that actually happen). The sad reality is that they are laughing all the way to the bank.  

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