Super Cops II (Bad Boys II, 2003)

Bad_Boys_II_POsterThe Boys are back. The bickering couple stuff returns.  The hot babes as props returns.  The Gay subtext of the relationship of Lowrey and Burnett is here again. The fast and confusing visuals are back.

Honestly, I found the second Bad Boys film painfully tedious. There are few bright spots. I mean, Gabrielle Union is good. Peter Stormare is always fun. But this film tired me out quick.

Rules of Survival (The Lost World: Jurassic Park, 1997)

Jurassic_Park_Lost_World_posterThe Success of Jurassic Park made a sequel pretty inevitable, but Spielberg took time to craft a new adventure, rather than rush out something that just met the obligatory requirements of a sequel.

This film focuses on a second island…the real labs of InGen. When the park went out of business, so did site B.  And the dinosaurs thrived. Hammond fought to leave the island alone and let the dinosaurs live in piece. To help his agenda, he has sent a team to simply observe and report about life on the island.

He requests the help of Ian Malcolm, who refuses, until he finds out his girlfriend Sarah is already on the island. His hope is to bring her right back. In the meantime, his daughter Kelly is upset by Ian dumping her off with a family friend. She stows away to follow her dad to the island.

Team Ian soon discover they are not the only ones on the island. The company wants to push Hammond out and capitalize on the dinosaurs. They bring a crew to capture dinosaurs to be returned to the States for a small scale version of the Park in San Diego.

The general idea of there being no park is a somewhat interesting change. Goldblum is highly entertaining here. Pete Postlethwaite plays a variation on the first film’s Muldoon. He is a big Game hunter who is there for very mercenary reasons, but is providing professional guidance. The effects are excellent, with some exciting new dinosaurs not seen in the prior film. The primary villain is more in the vein of the original book. A Corporate raider looking to exploit, Peter Ludlow is the example of corporate hubris believing it can control what others could not.

The film’s big finish is a T-Rex chase through San Diego. It is a bit of a shame that they squander such a great notion as “dinosaurs loose in a city” in a brief twenty minute sequence. I also really found the whole “daughter” subplot more annoying. The inclusion of kids in the first film actually made sense, here it seems forced and unneeded.

But when you get down to it, Spielberg can make most anything work, and the Lost World is a lot of fun.

Loss of Identity (Bruiser, 2000)

Bruiser_PosterRomero wrote and directed this exploration of identity and what a person is willing to do if they lose any sense of it. Henry Creedlow is a pushover.  His wife is cheating on him, his boss treats him like garbage.  At a work party, his boss’s wife has created blank masks from Henry’s face that people are then to decorate, representing their identity.  Henry leaves his untouched.

What follows is a discovery that the mask no longer comes off…it is his face.  Progressively, Henry becomes aggressive and violent, taking out those who have wronged him.  Only then does he start adding splashes of color to his mask.

As the police close in, Henry plans an elaborate revenge on his boss.  Throughout this, his boss’s wife tries to bring Henry back to reality.

The cast is pretty good, though the standouts are Peter Stormare and Tom Atkins.  Stormare seems to be having a real blast as the over the top sleazebag boss.

The visual motif of the mask is handled quite nicely here.  The changes he makes as he becomes more lost in his killer identity is quite effective.

However, I will say, the final scene of the film is the most “Hollywood horror” ending of Romero’s films.  It feels like it is tacked on.

In the big party finale, the Misfits perform…which seems so weird for this film…but hey, I like the Misfits.

 

Go Ahead and Jump (22 Jump Street, 2014)

22_Jump_Street_PosterAfter the success of the first film, a second was pretty much inevitable.  And so Jenko and Schmidt are on a new mission that goes hilariously awry.  This leads into the running gag of the film.

Sequels are soulless cash grabs, which admittedly, they often are.  Here, they are told they screwed up the mission and it was just to different.  They are sent to the new Jumpstreet.  22 Jump Street to be exact.  It has a bigger budget, is in a new location and so on.  Same boss, Captain Dickson (Ice Cube) with the same attitude.

They send the boys on a new undercover job at a college to bust a drug ring…you know…like the first movie.

The end result is a movie that manages to live up to it’s successor.  What really works, yet again, is the chemistry of Tatum and Hill’s characters.  As college relationships seem to pull them apart, they start to fail at their mission.  It is only their realization that it is their differences that make them a great team that they can solve the mysteries of the drug ring.

Schmidt meets a girl, Jenko meets a boy and friendships drift apart.  There is a gay subtext to the relationship of Schmidt and Jenko, but surprisingly, it is not of the “Eeee!” kind of attitude so frequent in “bro-comedies”.    There is even a brief scene were Jenko expresses remorse upon realizing how many gay slurs he used to use in high school.

I was skeptical when they announced the first film…by the end of the second one, I was more than willing for another round.

The end credits are must watch.  I was in tears with the running gag of the endless sequels and merchandising.  Though, the fact that there is a 21 Jump Street/Men in Black crossover makes the gag a bit ironic.

Clowning Around (Clown,2014)

clown_posterThere have been many horror films that mine the scariness of clowns.  Jon Watts (Cop Car, Spider-Man: Homecoming) tries to find new ground.  And in some respects, he does.  Let me begin by saying, if your greatest fear is that a clown will devour your kids?  You may want to stay away from Clown.

The film begins with devoted father Kent trying to locate a clown costume when the clown hired for his son’s birthday cancels.  He stumbles on one hidden in a house he is helping renovate.

Donning the outfit, he appears at the birthday party and is a hit.  He falls asleep on the couch.  When he awakens the next morning, he cannot get the suit off.  he tries, including using a box cutter and a small hacksaw.  None of this works, and the costume remains.

His wife tries to help and successfully removes the nose, but it is is as if she removed part of his actual nose. She questions if he has died his hair, and they discover the wig is now more like actual hair.  As things progress, Kent finds himself changing, and the more he changes, the more he desires a special new food source.  He tracks down a man who appeared to have owned the suit previously.  This old man proceeds to explain that the clown is inspired my a mythical monster that would lure children from the village and eat them.  He would eat five children, one for each month of the year.  The man promises to help Kent…by beheading him.

Kent flees his family and hides in a motel.  Despondent, he attempts suicide.  This sequence is a bit amusing because when he shoots himself in the head, the blood spatter is rainbow colored.  The demon inside starts to gain greater and greater control.  His wife is desperate to help him…and she finds herself in a terrible situation of temptation…can she make sure he gets his last child?  Can she sacrifice a child to get Kent back?

The movie is somewhat light-hearted at the beginning, and Andy Powers is both sympathetic and funny.  But when we lose Kent and he is the beast, the film’s tone gets brutally dark.  There is no way for a happy ending where Kent is redeemed, as he eats four kids in the film, and there is not really coming back from that.

The make-up is quite good and the design of the clown as Kent changes is creepy.  Overall, I found the film to be entertaining, and the good stuff is better than the problematic stuff.  Clown was made in 2014, and while it has opened throughout the world, it was just released this past September in the U.S.  I am not sure why it sat on the shelf for a couple years, as much worse films have gotten released in a timely fashion.

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