The Cynical Optimist: 03/27/10


Recent Blu Ray Purchases:

Predator (1987) – John McTiernan’s classic film involves an elite team of commandos on a mission in a Central American jungle who find themselves hunted by an extra-terrestrial warrior. Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers and Jesse Ventura, Predator is one of my all-time favorite films without question.

Predator 2 (1990) – Amidst a territorial gang-war, a sophisticated alien hunter stalks the citizens of Los Angeles and the only man between him and his prey is veteran LAPD officer, Lieutenant Mike Harrigan.

Directed by Stephen Hopkins (The Ghost and the Darkness) and starring Danny Glover, Gary Busey and Bill Paxton, Predator 2 is a rather underwhelming and unexpected sequel to McTiernan’s film.

Unlike James Cameron’s Aliens, which took the Alien franchise to an entirely different level, Predator 2 seems to rehash the first Predator in an different setting with unsuspecting would-be warriors.

Crank (2006) – Professional assassin Chev Chelios (Jason Statham) learns his rival has injected him with The Beijing Cocktail, a poison that will kill him if his heart rate drops. I typically make it a point to avoid films starring Jason Statham, but after numerous recommendations from friends, I decided to give Crank a shot.

I was pleasantly surprised. Sure, it’s absurdly over-the-top action flick but it’s absolutely oozing with style. It’s a non-stop thrill ride filled with eye candy in the form of sex, drugs, shoot-outs and car chases. The film looks great on Blu Ray, and I can’t wait to check out Crank 2: High Voltage, which I purchased along with Crank. Did I mention Dwight Yoakam is in this film? I think that automatically deserves high marks in my book.

Monster House (2006) – Produced by Robert Zemeckis and Steven Spielberg, Monster House spins a tale of three teens who discover that their neighbor’s house is really a living, breathing, monstrosity. Take equal parts of The Burbs, Stand By Me and The Sandlot and you’ve got a fun trip through ’80s nostalgia with plenty of atmosphere and character. This film looks astounding on Blu Ray – the animation is superb and, dare I say, far superior to even Pixar’s latest efforts.

Hell Ride (2008) – Larry Bishop stars as biker Pistolero, (named after the original title for Robert Rodriguez’s Desperado) who along with The Gent (Michael Madsen) and Comanche (Eric Balfour), are the leaders of the Victors, a motorcycle gang. In 1976, Pistolero’s old lady Cherokee Kisum (Julia Jones) is murdered by The Deuce (David Carradine) and Billy Wings (Vinnie Jones), leaders of the Six-Six-Sixers (a rival gang), as a message to the Victors.

The result is a stylistic, exploitative celebration of the Three B’s: Bikes, Bitches and Beer. In the spirit of Tarantino and Rodriguez’s Grindhouse films, Hell Ride is a balls-to-the-wall biker flick starring Dennis Hopper and David Carradine with plenty of hot bitches and bad-ass bikers.

Donnie Darko (2001) – In Richard Kelly’s film, a troubled teenager (Jake Gyllenhaal) is plagued by visions of a large bunny rabbit that manipulates him to commit a series of crimes, after narrowly escaping a bizarre accident. The film is compelling, eerie, intense, and completely haunting in every aspect.

Starring Maggie Gyllenhaal, Patrick Swayze, Drew Barrymore, and Jena Malone, Donnie Darko is a thought-provoking take on time travel that never ceases to entertain me – while also thoroughly creeping me out in the process.

Currently Reading:

Showgirls, Teen Wolves and Astro Zombies: A Film Critic’s Year-Long Quest to Find the Worst Movie Ever Made by Michael Adams

George Lucas’s Blockbusting: A Decade-by-Decade Survey of Timeless Movies Including Untold Secrets of Their Financial and Cultural Success by George Lucas with Alex Ben Block and Lucy Autrey Wilson

Currently Listening To:

Who We Are by We Are The Union

My Dinosaur Life by Motion City Soundtrack

Sci-Fi Crimes by Chevelle

Ain’t No Grave by Johnny Cash

This Addiction by Alkaline Trio

The Fame Monster by Lady GaGa

Currently Watching:

JCVD (Blu Ray)

Lost: The Final Season (TV)

Ninja Assassin (Blu Ray)

Crank 2: High Voltage (Blu Ray)

The Whackness (Blu Ray)