Outcast & Bloody Disgusting Selects

I love horror movies that are different. I loved the first entries from the After Dark line but then they went downhill. The Ghost House imprint from Sam Raimi then picked up the ball but didn’t go far. Netflix just got a batch of films from the latest horror imprint, Bloody Disgusting Selects. Outcast is currently available on instant Netflix.

Outcast (2010) – Rated R

“Mary and her son, Fergal, are Irish nomads in a shadowy world of magic, where a deadly hunter stalks their every move. When Fergal falls in love with Petronella, a beautiful girl in their new village, it makes mother and son easy targets.”

I love fresh takes in the horror genre. Outcast is a very interesting update of Irish mythology set in the gloomy world of British subsidized housing. This by itself sets it apart from all other horror movies. The story is generally good, pretty literate and fairly fascinating.

The acting is good but not great. James Nesbitt is a wonderful actor. His performance as the titular Jekyll (and Hyde as well of course) is a blast and honestly I’d recommend watching that instead. Here he is the antagonist but he just doesn’t shine as much as he should. Kate Dickie (Lysa Arryn on Game of Thrones) does a good job as the protective mother, Mary. The young people are acceptable but not much more than that. Our protagonist Fergal is played by newcomer Niall Bruton.

Unfortunately while the background story is good, unique and interesting, the plotting, especially the third act is beyond lazy. Every little step of everything that occurs leading up to, during, and after the climax is telegraphed and predictable.

While definitely a missed opportunity, Outcast is still fascinating and different.

Note: While this is a foreign film, no reading of subtitles is necessary. Accents are, at times, thick but understandable.

People Watch: Character actor James Cosmo plays Laird here. He has also played in everything from Battle of Britain (1969) up through Highlander and Braveheart and lately Jeor Mormont in Game of Thrones.

Avengers Assemble! – Netflix Edition – Hulk and The Avengers

Epix may have stolen Netflix’s thunder (by showing Thor naturally as well as Captain America). Netflix is definitely no slouch in the Marvel line. They only have one of the five films leading up to The Avengers (Iron Man 2) but they have a ton of animation featuring Hulk and The Avengers.

Planet Hulk (2009)

“When Earth’s superheroes exile the volatile Incredible Hulk to a distant planet called Sakaar, the muscle-bound green monster is sold into slavery and forced to compete in gladiatorial games for the planet’s despotic Red King. But soon, the Hulk joins forces with his fellow slaves to fight for freedom — and a chance to get revenge on his earthly foes. This animated film is based on the “Planet Hulk” storylines originally featured in Marvel comics.”

Hulk Vs. (Hulk vs. Wolverine, Hulk vs. Thor, 2009)

“Who would win in a battle between Hulk and Wolverine? How about Hulk vs. Thor? Find out in this action-packed animated double feature, which pits the unruly green superhero against two of the Marvel Universe’s most powerful characters.”

The Incredible Hulk (1996-7)

“When research scientist Bruce Banner is blasted with a gamma ray bomb during an experiment gone wrong, he develops a dangerous alter ego — a mean, green monster known as the Incredible Hulk — who emerges when he gets angry.”

The Incredible Hulk (1978-80)

“Adapted from a popular comic book, this story centers on mild-mannered research scientist Dr. David Bruce Banner, who, after being exposed to an overdose of gamma radiation, morphs into a ferocious, gigantic green man when he becomes agitated. As Banner looks for ways to reverse his condition, he travels from town to town helping those in need — even as persistent reporter Jack McGee stalks him.”

This one is not animated – this is the old Bill Bixby/Lou Ferrigno series.

The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes (2010)

“The Avengers, earth’s mightiest heroes, work to bust up nefarious plots set forth by villains such as Loki, HYDRA and the Red Skull. Thor, Hulk, Ant-Man, Iron Man and the Wasp are ready to save the day.”

Ultimate Avengers: The Movie (2006)

“With an alien force threatening Earth, the military thaws Captain America out of the ice he’s been frozen in for 60 years, whereupon he assembles a dream team of superheroes — Iron Man, the Hulk, Thor, Wasp and Giant Man — to save the world.”

Ultimate Avengers 2 (2006)

“Unable to protect his isolated kingdom from alien invaders, the Black Panther turns to the legendary heroes known as the Avengers to help save his mysterious jungle homeland in this action-packed animated adventure.”

Next Avengers: Heroes of Tomorrow (2008)

“Years after the Avengers made the ultimate sacrifice while battling invincible robo-villain Ultron, the teenage children of Captain America, Black Widow, Thor, Black Panther, Wasp and Hawkeye must band together to locate the missing Hulk.”

Avengers Assemble! Netflix Edition – Iron Man & Thor

Epix may have stolen Netflix’s thunder (by showing Thor naturally as well as Captain America). Netflix is definitely no slouch in the Marvel line. They only have one of the five films leading up to The Avengers (Iron Man 2) but they have a ton of animation featuring Iron Man & Thor.

Iron Man 2 (2010) – Rated PG-13

“Wealthy inventor Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) — aka Iron Man — resists calls by the American government to hand over his technology. Meanwhile, Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) has constructed his own miniaturized arc reactor, causing all kinds of problems for our superhero. Sam Rockwell, Gwyneth Paltrow, Scarlett Johansson, Don Cheadle and Samuel L. Jackson co-star in director Jon Favreau’s sequel based on Marvel comic book characters.”

Iron Man Armored Adventures (2009)

“In this action-driven animated series, teen phenom Tony Stark takes to the skies with help from an ingeniously engineered suit of armor, taking down villains to learn the truth about his late father’s mysterious passing.”

Iron Man: Extremis (2010)

“The famed Marvel Comics superhero continues his epic animated adventures in the 21st century by taking on his old foe Mallen, who’s gotten his hands on a nanotechnology serum called Extremis that transforms humans into deadly super-soldiers.”

Iron Man (1994)

“Iron Man is back in this animated series that aired from 1994 to 1996 as part of the “Marvel Action Hour.” There’s action right out of the gate when Iron Man goes up against the Mandarin and a deadly zombie army.”

The Invincible Iron Man (2007)

“In this animated adventure, inventor Tony Stark digs up more than he bargained for when he unearths an evil entity buried for centuries in an ancient Chinese ruin. To protect himself from the destructive force, Tony designs a high-tech suit of armor.”

Thor: Tales of Asgard (2011)

“Marvel comic book character Thor springs to life in this animated feature that explores his earlier adventures with his brother, Loki. That was before Thor discovered his power-wielding hammer and the only weapon he had was his sword.”

Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers (2011)

“With his powerful brother Thor defeated and in chains, resentful Loki takes over the kingdom of Asgard. Focused on his own pain rather than the needs of his subjects, Loki plans to kill his brother to secure his position — unless Thor can prevail.”

 

Avengers Assemble! Epix edition

Okay I was going to do this post closer to next Friday when The Avengers opens but Epix has a special deal right now. This weekend they will be showing three (Thor, Captain America, and Iron Man 2 but not The Incredible Hulk or the first Iron Man) of the five canon films leading up to the Avengers.

April 27-29 is Marvel Heroes Weekend on Epix. If you have a Roku box then Marvel Heroes Weekend is FREE (even if you have used up the FREE trial). Epix can also be viewed on the Xbox 360 or your home computer. If you have never signed up for Epix, a two-week FREE trial is available at www.epixhd.com

Thor (2011) – PG-13

“When the god of thunder angers his father, he is cast out of the fantastical realm of Asgard and banished to a life among the lowly humans on Earth. (Wait, should we be offended?) But Thor soon discovers the 21st century is pretty fantastical, too, from first loves to Facebook. As his newfound home is threatened by Asgard’s most ominous villain, Thor must use his courage – and his mighty hammer – to become the noble warrior he’s destined to be.”

Thor is a lot of fun. Chris Hemsworth is fantastically cut as the title character and is ably supported by Natalie Portman, Stellan Skargard, and especially Kat Dennings on Earth and by Anthony Hopkins, Idris Elba, Com Feore, Rene Russo, Jaimie Alexander and Ray Stevenson in Asgard. The Asgard segments are more serious than the Earth segments but I enjoyed the self-deprecating humor of the Earth segments more.

Look for a cameo by Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye (setting up his role in The Avengers) and don’t forget the after-credit sequence (again setting up The Avengers).

Iron Man 2 (2010) – Rated PG-13

“If 2008’s Iron Man rocked your socks off, get ready – because the sequel just might melt your fillings. Robert Downey Jr. returns as Tony Stark, a billionaire weapons mogul now committed to maintaining world peace as his own mechanically enhanced alter ego. But our hero is definitely up against it this time around: not only does the U.S. government want control of his super suit, but he’ll also go toe to toe with Scarlett Johansson and (gulp) Mickey Rourke. This is rock’em sock’em popcorn fare at its finest.”

Iron Man 2 is not as much fun and nowhere near as tight the first Iron Man but it is still a blast. Black Widow/Natalie/Natasha (Scarlett Johansson) gets a fair amount of screen time to set up her role in The Avengers.

Robert Downey Jr. swaggers his way through this one – he makes a great Tony Stark. Gwyneth Paltrow and Jon Favreau return as Pepper Potts and Happy Hogan but Terence Howard is replaced by Don Cheadle as James ‘Rhodey’ Rhodes. It’s a shame but both are fine actors.

Don’t forget the after credits scene that sets up Thor.

Captain America (2011) – Rated PG-13

“Patriotic but frail young man Steve Rogers wants nothing more than to serve his country, so he volunteers for a top-secret experimental military program. One hearty dose of Super Soldier Serum later, and Captain America is born. With his indestructible red-white-and-blue shield and rippling man muscles (wowsa!), Marvel Comics’ first Avenger springs into action to take on the deadly terrorist organization HYDRA, led by evil mastermind Red Skull.”

Captain America is NOT available until Sunday (8 pm I believe) but is a part of Marvel Heroes Weekend. Captain America is a bit slower paced than the other two movies but is still quite enjoyable. Strangely while the thing I most looked forward to in Captain America was Hugo Weaving as The Red Skull, he turned out to be not very impressive. Hugo Weaving was fantastic in The Matrix series, The Lord of the Rings series, and V for Vendetta but his German accent here is very jarring and undercuts his normally powerful delivery. On the other hand, Chris Evans was a lot better than I expected and Captain America’s earnestness is not played tongue-in-cheek.

With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story (2012)

“With Great Power explores the life of Stan Lee from the early days of his Depression era upbringing through the Marvel age of comics! The film uncovers original transcripts, illustrations, photographs and stories of Lee’s journey from his early years at Timely Comics, his military service, the comic book industry’s censorship battle of the 1950’s, the dawn of Marvel Comics and the legendary characters Stan co-created, to his current company POW! Entertainment.”

I have not seen this but look forward to catching it sometime this weekend.

FREE Movies at Carolina Cinemas in May

It’s time for my monthly plug for the wonderful FREE programs at Carolina Cinemas. The Asheville Film Society meets every Tuesday night at 8 (get there early for a good seat) for a classic film. Admission is FREE (you do not have to be a member to attend).

5/1 Hannah and Her Sisters (1986, Woody Allen) – starring Woody Allen, Michael Caine, and Mia Farrow.

5/8 Ed Wood (1994, Tim Burton) – starring Johnny Depp and a fabulous Martin Landau (timed for the release of Dark Shadows)

5/15 Sullivan’s Travels (1941, Preston Sturges) – starring Veronica Lake and Joel McCrea.

5/22 O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000, The Coen Brothers) – starring George Clooney and John Turturro.

5/29 Mississippi (1935, A. Edward Sutherland) – starring Bing Crosby and W.C. Fields.

Every Thursday night at 7:30 is the Thursday Horror Picture Show. It is also FREE and starts with a chapter of a serial. Currently we are working our way through The Drums of Fu Manchu.

4/26 Double Feature (my favorite!) – Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932, Robert Florey) and The Raven (1935, Louis Friedlander) – a double dose of Poe (and Lugosi!) in honor of the release of The Raven with John Cusack.

5/3 Friday the 13th Part VI (1986, Tom McLoughlin) – I have no idea why Ken & Justin are skipping the first five but slashers are unusual for our Thursday night showings.

5/10 Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007, Tim Burton) – starring Johnny Depp – showing in honor of Dark Shadows.

5/17 The Orphanage (2007, J.A. Bayona) – Yay! My favorite Spanish horror movie – slow-moving but what a payoff.

5/24 The Man and the Monster (1959, Rafael Baledon) – I love when they come up with one I’ve never seen.

5/31 Yay! Another Double Feature – Mad Love (1935, Karl Freund) – starring Peter Lorre and The Black Cat (1934, Edward G Ullmer) – starring Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff.

As if that weren’t enough Carolina Cinemas often has FREE films in the lounge on Fridays. Choice of films is usually based on what is opening that day.

On 4/27 they are having an Edgar Allan Poe marathon. I am unsure whether this will be the Lugosi films or the later Price ones but I’m sorry to be missing it. On 5/11 and 5/12 they will be showing a marathon of Tim Burton films.

Celebrate The Raven with a Poe-a-Thon!

Sadly events beyond my control will prevent my seeing the FREE Edgar Allan Poe marathon at Carolina Cinemas this Friday (4/27). Still there are many Poe films available on instant Netflix. I apologize though as the latter part of this list looks just like my celebrate Roger Corman’s birthday post – unfortunately the Karloff/Lugosi Poe movies are not available at this time.

Murders in the Rue Morgue (1971) – Rated PG-13

“In the midst of preparing his theater troupe for their upcoming production, Cesar (Jason Robards) struggles to soothe his wife, Madeleine (Christine Kaufmann), who’s been suffering dreadful nightmares, and races to figure out who is brutally murdering his lead actors one by one. A loose adaptation of an Edgar Allan Poe story, this chilling horror tale effectively weaves back and forth between disturbing dreams and reality.”

The Murders in the Rue Morgue (1986) – Rated PG

“This adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s classic 1941 tale of the same name stars the legendary George C. Scott as gumshoe C. Auguste Dupin, who comes out of retirement to take on one last case. Two murders have been committed in Paris, and the clues left behind are so sparse — comprising only a razor and batches of hair — that everyone involved in solving the crime is stumped. Val Kilmer and Rebecca de Mornay co-star.”

Tales of Terror (1962) – Not rated

“It’s a triple threat of terror from the master of the genre: Edgar Allan Poe. This collection of three films — The Black Cat, Morella and The Case of M. Valdemar — offers everything horror fans can’t get enough of, from murder and dementia to live burials, open tombs, resurrection and zombies. And with three of horrordom’s greatest villains (Vincent Price, Peter Lorre and Basil Rathbone) in the lead roles, the chills are guaranteed.”

Masters of Horror: Stuart Gordon – The Black Cat (2006) – Not rated

“In this stylish thriller, famous American author and master of the macabre Edgar Allan Poe (Jeffrey Combs) is suffering from a severe case of writer’s block. To make matters worse, he’s tormented by an evil black cat that’s slowly driving him insane. Stuart Gordon’s chilling film, part of Showtime’s “Masters of Horror” series, looks at what may have inspired Poe to dream up such fantastic stories and poems full of suspense.”

The Pit and the Pendulum (1961) – Not rated

“Francis (John Kerr) visits the gloomy Spanish castle of his late sister Elizabeth’s husband, Nicholas (Vincent Price), to learn the reason for her death. Nicholas fears his wife isn’t really dead and that her spirit wanders the halls at night. Seems Nicholas’s father was a feared leader of the Spanish Inquisition; as a child, Nicholas saw his father torture his mother and bury her alive, and he’s convinced Elizabeth has suffered a similar fate.”

The Tomb of Ligeia (1964) – Not rated

“From director Roger Corman comes this supernatural tale of undying love set in the early 19th century. After the death of his wife, Ligeia, eccentric Verdon Fell (Vincent Price) will do anything to replace her, even if he must sacrifice his new wife, Rowena (Elizabeth Shepherd). Plagued by eerie events in her new home, the terrified Rowena seeks help from former suitor Christopher (John Westbrook), but can he thwart Fell’s plan to revive Ligeia?”

The Masque of the Red Death (1964) – Not rated

“At a 12th-century masked ball from hell, dissolute satanist Prince Prospero (Vincent Price) torments his guests, forcing them to participate in a variety of gruesome lethal games in this Roger Corman-directed horror flick based on two stories by Edgar Allen Poe. While most of the games end in someone’s death, those who survive Prospero’s amusements must endure the nightmare of torture and unthinkable depravity.”

 

Devil’s Playground – Zombie-A-Go-Go

I love a good British horror movie as you can typically count on good acting. I also love zombie films. Devil’s Playground is currently available on instant Netflix.

Devil’s Playground (2010) – Not rated

“When an experimental drug turns 30,000 test subjects into zombies, ex-mercenary Cole seeks the one unaffected woman, hoping she’s the key to a cure. As the contagion expands, Cole becomes infected himself, and the hunt becomes personal.”

First off Devil’s Playground is a terrible name for a zombie film. There is a small reason why it’s named this but it conjures up the wrong image.

Director Mark McQueen assembles a wonderful cast of British character actors. Sadly two of my favorites, Colin Salmon and Sean Pertwee are only in it briefly. Just as she did in Dexter, Jaime Murray plays a character you can’t wait to see die. The main stars are MyAnna Buring (The Descent), Danny Dyer, and Craig Fairbrass. Everyone acquits themselves nicely and no one upstages anyone else to any real degree. Craig Fairbrass comes across the best as a tough guy on a mission.

If you end up liking this cast then you should probably also watch Dead Cert, a vampire film starring Craig Fairbrass, Danny Dyer, Lisa McAllister, and Mo Idriss – all from this film as well as Jason Flemyng. I’ll probably get around to watching it myself in the next few days.

The virus setup, while overused as much as the zombie genre itself, is fairly effective. There are some leaps in logic that have to be overcome but in general I liked the plot.

The part I didn’t care for was the parkour zombies on steroids. Eschewing traditional zombie makeup, they went for a bulging vein drug addict look. It doesn’t look scary and in some scenes comes across as unintentionally funny. I presume the parkour zombies were a way to one up the running raging zombies of 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later but again there is some unintentional humor here.

So in an oddity I enjoyed everything BUT the zombies in this zombie movie. If you love zombies, then you should check this out as it is a decent movie. It just isn’t as good as it could have been.

People Watch: The cast is certainly no stranger to the restless dead. Colin Salmon appeared in Resident Evil, Sean Pertwee in Event Horizon, Danny Dyer in Doghouse, Craig Fairbrass in White Noise 2, Jaime Murray in The Deaths of Ian Stone, MyAnna Buring in Vampire Killers and Lisa McAllister in Pumpkinhead: Ashes to Ashes.

Assassination Games – Half the Van Dammage

 

Assassination Games (2011) – Rated R

“The indestructible Jean-Claude Van Damme returns to big-screen mayhem in this light-’em-up action thriller, with rival assassins joining forces to dismantle a global drug cartel operating in league with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.”

I could just say Van Damme and leave it at that but there is actually quite a range of quality in Van Damme’s films. I always loved the tagline for Double Impact – “Twice the Van Dammage!”. Timecop is a blast as is the goofy Hard Target (currently available on instant Netflix) but then you have Knock Off.

My best friend Pat wanted to see Knock Off for Van Damme and I liked director Tsui Hark so off we went. It was so bad that I wanted to walk out about 15 minutes in. I didn’t want to ruin Pat’s good time so I just sat through it. When it was over, Pat turns to me and says, “that was so bad I wanted to walk out but I thought you were enjoying it.” Augh! An hour and a half of my life that I’ll never get back.

Assassination Games falls smack in the middle. Jean Claude Van Damme seems much more relaxed on screen lately. He has been doing a lot of movies with other actors. Here he shares the action spotlight with Scott Adkins. Adkins is a very physical actor who can really sell the martial arts scenes. He was a lot of fun as Yuri Boyka in the Undisputed series.

The director does make good use of the industrial settings in eastern Europe. I’m not sure I would praise the cinematography but I did like the bleak cement look to everything in the film.

There are a fair number of adequate action sequences, none are stunning but all are competent. The best is actually a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment where Adkins and Van Damme simultaneously attempt an assassination. Most of the violence is gun related but there is just enough hand-to-hand to please the martial arts crowd.

Those points would add up to a pretty good movie but the final action sequence is telegraphed and not very good, the script needs a lot of work, none of the villains are compelling, and everyone besides Van Damme and Adkins is basically an extra.

If you’re a Van Damme or Adkins fan then by all means watch it. If you’re a martial arts fan who has run out of other movies then watch it, otherwise skip it. By the way Van Damme and Adkins will both be joining everyone else in the action genre (Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Willis, Norris, Statham, Li, Lundgren, Crews, Couture, and newcomer Liam Hemsworth) in The Expendables 2. That just leaves Steven Seagal for the inevitable The Expendables 3.

Tons of FREE Summer Movie Tickets

First a note: For most of these offers, there is a sticker on the package. The number you need for redemption is on the back of the sticker. If yours is missing a sticker then you won’t get a FREE ticket. Also not all stores participate in these promos and the later summer promotions are not in stores yet.

* Wal-Mart currently has movie cash available for The Lucky One and The Three Stooges available on various DVDs.

* Wal-Mart and Best Buy have movie cash available for American Reunion on Parenthood, The Blues Brothers, American Pie, American Pie 2, American Wedding, and many other Universal titles.

* Best Buy has FREE movie cash for Safe on the following Blu-rays: The Expendables, Crank, Crank 2, Transporter 3, and The Bank Job and, at the moment, the blu-rays are only $7.99.

* The Avengers: Strangely the movie cash for this blockbuster is not on the tie-in films but is instead on animated releases: The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes v1-4, X-Men v1-5, Iron Man Complete Animated Series, Fantastic Four Complete Animated Series, Spider-Man: The Venom Saga, Spider-Man: Return of the Green Goblin, Spider-Man vs. Doc Ock, Daredevil vs. Spider-Man, and Spider-Man: The Ultimate Villain Showdown

* Universal Summer of Action Movie Cash can be used for any of three movies: Snow White and the Huntsman, Battleship, and The Bourne Legacy. Slips can be found on Backdraft, Pitch Black, the Kingdom, Sanctum, The Last Starfighter, Green Zone, Jarhead, Public Enemies, Serenity, The Scorpion King, U-571, Children of Men, Conan the Barbarian, Conan the Destroyer, Legend, The Eagle, The Scorpion King 2, The Jackal, and all of The Fast & The Furious movies.

* On May 1st, the first two Men in Black films will be released on Blu-Ray and are supposed to have movie money on them for Men in Black III.

* On June 12th, Sony is re-issuing Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy on Blu-Ray. There will be FREE movie cash on them for The Amazing Spider-Man movie. The Amazing Spider-Man opens July 3rd.

* You will be able to get movie money for The Dark Knight Rises on specially marked packages of The Dark Knight, Batman Begins, Inception, Sherlock Holmes, Clash of the Titans (2010), Sucker Punch, The Matrix, The Matrix Reloaded, Insomnia, Constantine, Superman: The Movie, Superman II, V for Vendetta, Watchmen, Terminator: Salvation, Blade, & Blade:Trinity.

ActionFest 2012 – The Rest of the Movies

Solomon Kane (2009)

“Once a mercenary of Queen Elizabeth I fighting Spaniards in Africa, Solomon met the Devil’s Reaper and discovered he was bound for hell. Barely escaping, he soon renounced violence to atone for his past sins, seeking out redemption in a life of peace. That is until the followers of sorcerer Malachi kidnap a Puritan girl, Meredith Crowthorn, and brutally slaughter her family before his very eyes, forcing Solomon to take up arms and return to his violent ways once more to rescue her. “

I was really looking forward to Solomon Kane. It is directed by Michael J. Bassett, whose previous film Wilderness I had thoroughly enjoyed (check it out on instant Netflix) and stars James Purefoy, who headlined last year’s opening film, Ironclad. It was filmed in 2009 and released in the UK but not here in the US, presumably because of subject matter (a dark sword & sorcery film set during puritan times doesn’t scream blockbuster). It’s been available on Amazon UK for a while and I almost bought it (I have a region free DVD player).

Solomon Kane was fun but, in spite of the unique setting, was rather generic. I liked the setting, James Purefoy, all the rain in the film, and Solomon’s costumes. The identity of the villain’s henchman is obvious, the chief villain isn’t seen until the last ten minutes, the flashbacks are poorly handled, the editing is pretty bad and there is enough plot for two or more movies. For everything Solomon Kane gets right, it gets something wrong.

Part of the problem is that Eastern Europe is the new Hollywood for cheap action films. Filming there allows directors with a lack of funding to get the most bang for their buck. That said action thrillers filmed there often come across as generic – shaky cam is used waaaay too often and action, instead of being showcased, is often obscured. I would love to see a Solomon Kane 2 but can’t quite bring myself to recommend Solomon Kane.

Sinners & Saints (2010) – Not to be confused with Saints & Sinners (1994)

“In the gritty New Orleans underbelly, beleaguered Detective Sean Riley is trying to cope with the death of his young son and his failed marriage. Facing a probable suspension from the department, Riley is teamed with a young homicide Detective, Will Ganz, to help solve a series of brutal murders that have plunged the city into a major gang war. The two quickly realize there is something much bigger and far more sinister going on than either could have ever imagined.”

I have to preface this with the fact that, due to The Wild Bunch running late, we did not get into this until halfway through the movie. While I can only comment on the latter half of the movie, it was fairly easy to understand as it was filled with cliche after cliche. Costas Mandylor and Jurgen Prochnow both seemed to be phoning in their performances. Much of the action is quite silly as this seems to be a throwback to the classic days of Hong Kong cinema where dozens of bad guys/targets just pop up for no reason, other than it’s too early for the heroes to face the big bad guys.

This was another mixed bag. I really liked the post-Katrina filming especially in the still distressed areas of New Orleans. Johnny Strong is likeable on screen and in person but needs a bit more work on his acting. Tom Berenger is in it (always a plus) and Method Man’s bizarre character worked for me. Unfortunately the downsides really keep me from recommending this.

Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines (2012)

“Feature documentary exploring the concept of heroic women from the birth of the superhero in the 1940s to the TV and big screen action blockbusters of today. Heroic role models are important in childhood development, yet there are a dearth of these for girls. Wonder Woman provides a rare example of a female heroine who doesn’t require rescue, determines her own missions, and possesses uniquely feminine values. Featuring Gloria Steinem, actors Lynda Carter and Lindsey Wagner, and a colorful cast of scholars, writers, and fans, the film challenges pop culture’s gender biases by looking at how Wonder Woman’s storyline changed over time while considering how women are rarely depicted as heroic, powerful, or world-changing.”

Certainly there need to be more female action heroes. I think this was addressed in part at ActionFest by the award given to Gina Carano. The award was called the Chick Norris award. The name is a cute play on words but comes across a little denigrating. I scheduled a viewing of this documentary to give my long-suffering wife a break from the testosterone.

Wonder Women! makes a few convincing arguments but unfortunately makes just as many insupportable stabs in the dark. For instance the film claims that the action movie heyday of the 80s arose as a response to feminism. This argument completely ignores the prevalence of westerns up until action movies took over, the dominance of John Wayne in the 60s, Clint Eastwood in the 70s, etc. I view the action film as more of an evolution of the western and detective stories by way of the blockbuster. Spielberg’s Jaws and Lucas’ Star Wars forever changed the way movies were made and marketed.

Anyway I digress but Wonder Women makes a number of claims that they don’t even bother to back up. It’s really a shame as the topic of the documentary is a good one. It was still enjoyable but again not something I could recommend.