Monday, July 14, 2008
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
By Peter John Gardner
While making the rounds in the press junkets for the release of Rocky Balboa, the sixth and final (yeah, right) installment in the franchise, Stallone insisted that he was never happy with the way Rocky V ended the series, and he wanted to give the character a proper sendoff. After enduring every damn movie this guy has ever made, I'm inclined to think that it was more of a cash grabbing venture after the atrocities that Stallone's been making the past few years. Either way, I feel that this is the best Rocky since the first one.
Sixteen years after Rocky V, we're brought back into the world of the Italian Stallion. Right from the get-go, we learn that Adrian's been dead for several years (sad face "yo"), and Rocky's been living quietly in Philadelphia where he runs a small Italian restaurant. Pauly's still around being the same piss-prick he's been for the past five films, and Rocky's son is trying to live outside his father's shadow by quietly climbing the corporate ladder.
Side note: The guy that plays Rocky's son is the same guy that plays Peter Petrelli on "Heroes", which I feel is an inspired choice because they both have the same "Is he or isn't he retarded?" vibe to them.
One night, ESPN does a computer generated "virtual match" between the current champ (Mason "The Line" Dixon....yes, that's the villain's name) and ol' Rocko. CGI Rock prevails and the match inspires the real Rocky to get back into the ring. Rock's a fighter, always has been, always will be. That's what he does.
To its credit, the film does take Stallone's age into account and works it into the plot. Everyone keeps telling Balboa that he's too old and that his body is no condition to fight anymore...and what's a Rocky film without a montage about overcoming the odds? I hate to admit this publicly, but when I saw this in theaters, a huge smile appeared on my face when the training montage kicked in and the Rocky theme started playing. It provided a cheap thrill for my inner child the same way the trailers for the Star Wars prequels did until I saw the actual movies.
After watching all of these movies, it's easy to see the Balboa/Stallone parallel throughout the course of his career. Likeable underdog hits the big time, makes some outlandish movies/fights, and then kinda fades away when the public loses interest. This is the only role of Stallone's that he does a really good job of acting in which is fine considering Rocky might simply be a metaphor for himself.
Training montage, big fight at the end, blah, blah, blah. It's a Rocky movie. You know how it ends.
This movie is about setting things right in order to find piece of mind. Rocky's past haunts him throughout the film, and fighting one last time is the only way to successfully clear the skeletons out of his closet. Stallone himself was unhappy with the way five ended, so sixteen years later he rectified it. From the outset of the project, my mission was always to find some sort of enlightenment or piece of mind from these terrible movies, and to my surprise I did. My father, being the smart Googler that he is, found me through Project Stallone and contacted me. After twelve years of not talking, I felt that now was the right time to set things straight and tie up loose ends. As bizarre as it sounds, Project Stallone was a catalyst for me to start taking baby steps to establish a relationship with my father again, and you know what? It's been going great. When I stopped talking to him, I was still a kid, and now I'm (arguably) a man, and it's been like meeting a whole new person. We're both adults now and we treat each other as such. Like I said, baby steps, so I'm taking things very slow, but it's a start, and I don't know if this would've happened without this silly little project of mine.
At the twilight of this project with only one more film to go, I can honestly say that I've gained some piece of mind from this thing. It's been a weird journey that I wasn't expecting from an idea that was initially meant to just make my friends laugh. I'm beginning to clear out issues that have been bugging me for years, and I feel like a better person for it.
I can't think of a better way to end this piece than with a simple, "Yo".
Friday, March 28, 2008
Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over
By Peter John Gardner
If you were to ask me ten years ago whether or not I would like to have children someday, my answer would have been a stern "No".
My stance softened as I've grown older. There's that biological clock thingee in me that starts ticking whenever I see friends of mine with their kids, and I start thinking to myself, "Aww....I want one!" No one is carrying on the Gardner name at the moment, and I thought maybe it was time to give Mom some grandkids.
Then I watched Spy Kids 3-D, and now I never want to have kids. Parents that read this, you have the hardest jobs in the world and you all do great, but I can't even begin to imagine having to sit through hours upon hours of shitty kids movies.
Maybe it's nostalgia or perspective, but the kids movies that I grew up on beat the living shit out of what passes for children's movies these days. We had Star Wars, Indiana Jones, The Goonies, Ghostbusters, ET, Transformers, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. These days, kids have poor remakes of old franchises like Alvin and the Chipmunks and a seemingly endless stream of CGI flicks. I applaud Rodriguez for at least trying to keep the live action adventure movie for kids genre alive.
Let me back up. Spy Kids 3-D isn't completely bad. Let me start off by saying that I watched this movie in 2-D because that's only version Netflix carries, so I'm sure the 3-D version of this film is infinitely cooler in the "gee-whiz" SFX department. It was also directed by Robert Rodriguez, who you may know as the guy that made the Desperado series, Sin City, and Planet Terror. I can understand his ventures into family films because the guy's got kids. Why not have daddy make a movie for them?
I've never seen the first two Spy Kids, but it didn't matter. I picked up on the who's who and what's what during the first few minutes of the film. So the government employs kids as special agents/detectives and occasionally sends them out for special missions. This time, a bad guy called the Toymaker (Stallone) has created a virtual reality game that sucks away the attention span of kids. The main Spy Kid, whatever his name is, has to go in and rescue his fellow Spy Kid that's trapped on the fourth level, and who also happens to be his sister.
And this is another movie that shows me roads I never knew I could take when playing Six Degrees of Separation because there are cameos up, around, and out the ass in this movie. We've got Antonio Banderas, George Clooney, Salma Hayek, Cheech Marin, Mike Judge (creator of Office Space and Beavis & Butthead), Elijah Wood, Steve Buscemi, Bill Paxton, and Ricardo Montalban (KHAAAAN!!) all appearing in this movie.
All the stars in the world can't save this movie though. It's excruciating. I know it's meant for kids, but how come I can watch Star Wars or most Disney movies and love them? The main Spy Kid is boring to follow as a protagonist, and with the exception of Stallone, KHAAAAAN!!!, and Salma Hayek, none of them appear onscreen for more than a few minutes which means we're stuck with this little twat for the entire movie. I still can't remember his name.
But it's a kids movie, and I shouldn't overanalyze this kind of stuff. Still, a bad kids movie is harder for me to watch than a poor entry in just about any other genre of film. Once again, I applaud all parents out there. Sitting through hours of Hannah Montana must hurt your souls, but it is a true testament of your love for your child to be able to endure that.
I wasn't being serious about not wanting to have kids just because I didn't want to watch shitty kids movies. If you asked me today if I wanted to have kids within the next few years, my answer would be no, but with a "never-say-never" attached to the end. If I do end up inflicting my offspring upon the world, I'd let them watch whatever crappy kids movie they want to. Being a parent is a Project Stallone in its own right.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
By Peter John Gardner
People that regularly play poker and blackjack hate me. Despise me. Why? Because I’m one of those people that rarely every gambles, has to be dragged kicking and screaming into a poker game, and when I finally play, I clean house. I have no idea why.
Shade is a poker movie much in the same vein as Rounders. Had they not been made so closely in conjunction with each other, this film might have seen a wider release because not only does it feature a great cast, but the movie is pretty damn good. If you’ve seen any poker or heist movies, then you know the drill with the plot. A group of hustlers, played by Gabriel Byrne, Jamie Foxx, and Stuart Townsend make their money in the seedy world of guys that play card games in dusty warehouses all day. They hatch a plan to take down the seemingly undefeatable card player known as "The Dean", played by Stallone in a role that actually requires him to act. A little bit, at least. Anyway, double crosses abound, things don’t go as well as planned, yet everything is tied up in a satisfying ending that didn’t leave me confused as to how the actual heist went down. I love me some heist movies, but there have been a few where when the whole plan is finally revealed, I’m left confused. Can anyone explain to me exactly how they pulled off their heist in Ocean’s 12?
I don’t hate poker or any other card game, I just avoid it because I’m scared of losing. All of my life, I’ve been terrible at math and my memory is like a static filled channel on television that never quite comes in clear. Math and memory are the two main skills to have in order to be a successful poker player, both of which I don’t have. Yet, as I mentioned earlier, I do great at poker, and there’s nothing more enraging to a seasoned poker vet than losing to the guy that obviously has no idea what he’s doing, yet he still ends up with a straight.
A big element to gambling is risk, and perhaps that’s why I avoid it. I’m too much of a pussy to put anything of value (literally and figuratively) up at stake when the outcome depends on a test of my skill.
Maybe I’ve grown smart enough to not trust my ego. Sure, I may slay the few times that I do decide to play, but if I played more often, I’d definitely lose more than I’d win, so don’t consider this to be a brag fest about my poker "skills". That being said, if any of you out there are planning a heist of some sort, please include me. I could be the secret weapon, the newbie that the regulars can’t read easily. Or just let me drive the getaway car.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
By Peter John Gardner
Until I watched this movie, I never knew that a corpse could fart. Thanks to Project Stallone, I now know that a corpse can fart and rudely interrupt conversations.
I thought that this might have been a goof done on the part of the scriptwriter for a cheap laugh, so I decided to use this opportunity to do some research. I came across the following webpage, Facts on Farts (http://www.heptune.com/farts.html). Along with other useful facts like how men can fart through their urethra (Ladies, look out), I learned that people can, in fact, fart post-mortem.
The movie itself is like a fart on Stallone's resume. It was brief, it stunk, but Stallone himself probably enjoyed it. Avenging Angelo has Stallone playing a bodyguard, Frankie Delano, to Anthony Quinn's mob boss, Angelo. As you can probably infer by the title of the movie, Angelo dies early in the film. Anthony Quinn also died shortly after the making of this film. Coincidence or death by Stallone movie? I prefer the latter since it makes me giggle.
We learn that Angelo had a daughter named Jennifer and, of course, Frankie has to protect her from the bad guys that were out to kill Angelo. When she accepts the fact that her real dad is a mob boss, she seeks vengeance. Jennifer also learns that her husband has been screwing around with just about every woman he can get his hands on, so a romance develops between Frankie and Jennifer.
As I mentioned earlier, there is a farting corpse in this movie, so it's a comedy which came as a surprise to me because the dvd cover and trailer for this movie led me to believe that this was going to be a cheap thriller. Judging by the failure of every previous attempt Stallone's made at comedy, they probably figured that it would be more financially sound to market the film as a thriller. That's sad because as a comedy, it works better than any of Sly's other films. I'm not saying the movie is hilarious and you should rent it immediately, but I think this movie marks the first time that I laughed with a Stallone movie instead of at. Come on, it's got a farting corpse!
Farts are funny but the release of one at the wrong time can prove disastrous. I can't even begin to count how many times I've sat in class near a girl that I had the hots for, and the growling of my stomach would sound like a fart. No matter how many times I try to save myself by pretending I was shifting in my chair, the damage has already been done. She's not going to believe that was a stomach growl. To her, that was a fart and will always be a fart. I'll forever be known as the guy that farted in front of her.
Flatulence can be rude too. During a routine visit to the dentist for a cleaning and checkup, the dental hygienist let one rip while I was stuck on the chair with my mouth pried open. It wasn't a stomach growl because it really stunk. Badly. I could tell she was embarrassed because she immediately started making small talk with me even though I couldn't really say anything with my mouth wide open like that and her fart fumes drifting in. I was forced to inhale her poop particles against my will. A fart rape, if you will. Such is my luck.
Friday, March 7, 2008
Eye See You
By Peter John Gardner
Seriously, that's the title of this movie. I don't remember this one appearing in the theaters at all, so I think this might be Stallone finally hitting rock bottom in his career and making straight to video releases.
Why do movies like this go straight to video? For starters, read the title again. Who the hell would take that seriously when looking at a theater marquee? At least other projects with silly names (Snakes on the Motherfuckin' Plane) had self-awareness of its ridiculousness. Even Stallone's self-penned scripts had better titles.
To be fair, the "eye" part of the title refers to the only cool thing about this movie, and I'll get to that in a bit. Eye See You has Stallone playing a cop...again...who is hot on the trail of a cop killer. Now, the method in which the villain kills in this movie is knocking on the cops door and when the victim checks the peephole, which everyone in this movie conveniently has, a DRILL comes through the hole and right into their eyeball, at which point the killer kicks down the door and hilarity ensues. Problem is, that's pretty much the only way this guy kills people throughout the entire movie. Even C grade horror movie villains would at least change things up every now and again.
With Stallone in hot pursuit of this asshole, the villain ends up murdering Sly's wife which sends Sly into a grief counseling program for police officers which they strangely refer to as a "detoxing" program. When doing research for this movie, I found that the working title of this movie was D-Tox, and it was still titled as such when released internationally. While D-Tox is a hokey title as well, I really want to know who it was during the production that thought Eye See You was an exponentially better title.
Anyhoo, the program takes place in a remote area of Wyoming, and soon enough cops are turning up dead. It's really not hard to guess who the killer is in a movie like this. You just have to look for the guy that normally plays a villain and then patiently wait out the remaining 70 minutes of the film's running time.
Do you ever wonder if people that produce really shitty movies are proud of themselves after the fact? I wonder if the writers high-fived each other after coming up with the name "Eye See You".
I wonder if the director thought that he had a blockbuster in his hands when making this film.
I wonder if Sly has any regrets about his career.
I wonder what kind of people pass by this in the video store and think to themselves, "Alright! This looks like it'll be great!"
I wonder if Sly and Robert Patrick ever became friends after doing two movies together.
I wonder why there is an actor in this movie whose name is simply "Mif".
I wonder if the producers thought to themselves, "We gotta get that Mif guy in this"
I wonder if, like Stallone's choice in roles, this is getting too repetitious, and I think it is.