Set six months after the events of Megazone 23: Part One — which ends on a cliffhanger — Part Two feels like it’s from a different franchise altogether. Much of that’s due to Yasuomi Umetsu taking over as character designer; as a result, Shogo Yahagi and the other characters are nigh-unrecognizable from their Part One versions. And though the same studios were involved in the production of both parts, Part Two’s animation and artwork are just so different, not to mention wildly inconsistent. Sometimes Part Two looks fantastic, particularly the mecha and vehicle designs, but much of the time, it’s a mess filled with some glaring continuity errors. (I did enjoy the SilverHawks reference, though.) As for the actual storyline, it’s tacitly connected to the events of Part One even as it feels completely separate and chaotic, as well as far more graphic, sex and violence-wise. (It’s also hard to take Yahagi seriously as a hero given that he has a mullet and wears a “Sex Wax” jacket for much of the movie.) There does happen to be a Megazone 23: Part Three, but based on what I’ve seen and read about it, I have little desire to actually watch it.
The first Equalizer movie only worked as well as it did because of Denzel Washington. In the case of The Equalizer 2, though, not even he’s enough to save it. Washington is still the same ol’ former government agent/assassin who now helps people in need, mainly by inflicting grievous bodily harm on thugs and abusers. But this time, after a close friend is killed in an apparent robbery, it’s personal. But there are also storylines about a Holocaust survivor and a young kid who needs saving from gangs, so it gets a bit muddled and directionless before culminating in an over-long showdown in the middle of a hurricane. But because you know that Washington’s character isn’t really in any danger of getting killed or even seriously injured — which, by the way, was actually a plus in the previous film — and the bad guys will make stupid mistakes despite supposedly being highly trained government operatives, it just grows increasingly tedious by the minute as you wait for the foregone conclusion of an ending.
As you might’ve guessed by now, I’m a bit of a sucker for cheesy Japanese sci-fi movies from the late ’80s and early ’90s (e.g., Mechanical Violator Hakaider, Zeiram). Gunhed is one such movie that I’ve been wanting to see for almost thirty years now, ever since I stumbled across the manga back in high school. (It’s funny how such things can remain lodged in your subconscious for decades.) Of course, I wasn’t expecting it to be good when I finally did see it. I mainly wanted to see Gunhed for its visual effects, model work, and cyberpunk designs — which are pretty dated but also possess a certain charm when compared to today’s CGI fests. But Gunhed also possesses an overly convoluted plot about bandits trying to scavenge technology on a forbidden industrial island that cribs an awful lot from James Cameron. What’s more, the editing is often to the point of incoherence (which sadly, obscures the giant mecha combat that’s a main selling point for a film like this) and it has an annoying kid character (one of my biggest movie pet peeves).
I went into this film anticipating a paranoid thriller along the same lines as The Parallax View or Three Days of the Condor. What I got was a muddled mess made all the more disappointing by the fact that it was directed by Sam Peckinpah (his final film, in fact), stars Rutger Hauer and John Hurt, and has a Lalo Schifrin score. The Osterman Weekend works really hard to make you think that it’s smarter than it actually is, but its tangle of storylines (which include Russian secret agents, government corruption, and fears about surveillance and media manipulation) combined with jumbled editing and unlikable characters will just leave you scratching your head the entire time. A director’s cut was released in 2022 — the 1983 theatrical release was edited by the producers themselves after they fired Peckinpah — but the film is so random and slapdash that I have a hard believing that a director’s cut would be any more enjoyable or insightful.
This was our go-to Indian restaurant for quite awhile, but it had been a few years since our last visit. Unfortunately, we weren’t terribly impressed this time around. I’m no masochist but I do like my chicken tikka korma to have some heat. My dish, however, had almost no flavor. I also found it odd that they were out of tandoori chicken. How can you be out of tandoori chicken when your restaurant’s name is literally The Tandoor?
Iria: Zeiram the Animation is one of my favorite anime OVAs of all time, so I was excited to finally see the live-action film that inspired it. Unfortunately, Zeiram didn’t meet expectations. It has all the makings of a cool sci-fi monster movie, from the creature and gadget designs to some icky body horror. The visual effects were cleverly done and there was even some martial arts action thrown in for good measure. But for whatever reason, a significant portion of the movie is spent following the bumbling exploits of two side characters. I assume they were intended as comedic relief, but they’re just annoying and end up overshadowing Yūko Moriyama’s capable heroine.
Remember 2013’s 47 Ronin, starring Keanu Reeves? No? Well apparently, somebody thought it deserved a sequel, so here we are. Now, I think we can all agree that Mark Dacascos as a 21st century samurai warlord leading his clan against evil ninjas in, of all places, Budapest, is a fantastic premise for a film. Blade of the 47 Ronin, unfortunately, does not deliver on said premise. Dacascos is great, as expected, and I love that, in the film’s world, nobody bats an eye at the sight of fully-armed samurai walking around in modern-day Hungary. But the tone, herky-jerky storytelling, cheap effects, CGI blood, and uneven acting make this feel like a direct-to-Syfy title or worse, a rejected CW pilot. Which is a shame, because it had elements that could’ve made for a cool cult classic. A third 47 Ronin film is currently in development, which seems unnecessary. But maybe the third time will be the charm.
The final book in David Zindell’s trilogy is supremely underwhelming. His striking prose is unable to redeem the meandering plot or make up for the total lack of resolution in some key storylines. But even said prose starts to feel tedious after awhile, especially when the protagonist — who is practically perfect in every way — experiences a mind-blowing epiphany seemingly every other chapter, epiphanies that Zindell describes in great detail. Perhaps most annoying of all, the novel’s climax is basically a riff on classic utilitarianism, which (A) requires the protagonist to abandon the lofty idealism he’s spouted throughout the trilogy and (B) undermines Zindell’s passionately written ruminations on life’s purpose and humanity’s potential.
This “family” superhero comedy has a few laughs courtesy of Owen Wilson and Michael Peña, but overall, it’s pretty forgettable.
While reading this psychological thriller about a mother who’s concerned about her daughter’s bizarre behavior, I kept waiting for it all to come together. But after I finished reading it and described it to my wife, the more preposterous and nonsensical it seemed, including the twist in the final pages. You know how some things are greater than the sum of their parts? This is the opposite of that.
This movie clearly wants to be suave and sophisticated, and maybe it was back in 1999. But now, it’s just… not. Also, it’s hard to believe that John McTiernan — of Predator, Die Hard, and The Hunt for Red October fame — directed this. Those films are so lean and efficient in their storytelling, and The Thomas Crown Affair is… not.
You’d think that a joint named “Cheeseburgers” would, y’know, make a good cheeseburger. We would’ve been better off just going to Runza.
An absolute train wreck. A fascinating train wreck. But a train wreck, nevertheless.