Category: Z-View

Z-View: “Savages”

The Pitch: “Let’s get a name director, a first-rate cast and film an adaptation of Don Winslow’s Savages.”

The Overview: Ben (a pacifist) and Chon (ex-military) are best friends who share a thriving marijuana business and a woman named Ophelia.  The relationship works as well as their multi-million dollar pot business.  All is paradise until a brutal Mexican cartel (is that redundant?) decides to move in on their pot trade.  When Ben and Chon refuse their offer, the cartel kidnaps Ophelia.  Nothing will stop Ben and Chon from getting her back.

The Good: The novel by Don Winslow provides a solid foundation.  The screenplay by Shane Salerno, Don Winslow and Olver Stone isn’t afraid to make changes to the great source material.  The cast: Taylor Kitsch, Aaron Johnson, Blake Lively, and Salma Hayek are excellent in their roles.  Benicio Del Toro and John Travolta are as well, and own almost every scene they’re in.  Oliver Stone delivers.

The Bad: The things that happen to folks that mess with a Mexican cartel.  Don’t mess with a Mexican cartel.  (Sounds like a commericial for direct tv, doesn’t it?)

The Ugly: Keep an eye out for what happens when “traitors” are bull-whipped.  Don’t say I didn’t warn ya.

Rating:

Z-View – Marlow: Soul of Darkness

 

The Pitch: A hardcase with a secret leads a small group of mercenaries onto an island full of zombies in order to rescue a scientist.The Good: The concept. The Marlow character and his associates. The art by Mathew Reynolds shows a lot of promise with inspired panels/poses. Running some of the original proposal pages [by a different artist] was cool.

The Bad: The lack of backgrounds — at times it works, but as the story progressed I missed them and wanted more than just gray-scale figures, etc. The fact that Marlow almost always has a cigar in his mouth became a bit much.

The Ugly: The logo needs to be reworked. The shop owner where I bought Marlow said he had no idea what the title was when he first looked at the cover. The price tag of $4.95 felt a bit high.

The Summary: Marlow was created by Aaron Thomas Nelson and Dario Carrassco Jr. The first issue is 46 black and white pages with a color cover, written by Aaron Thomas Nelson art by Mathew Reynolds. I enjoyed the first issue and feel like Nelson and Reynolds could have a hit on their hands if they stick with it.

Rating:

"28 weeks later" Rates…

I loved “28 days later.” So when “28 weeks later” was announced, along with the fact that the original writer [Alex Garland], the original director [Danny Boyle] and the original cast were not returning, I felt we might be in for a letdown.

“28 weeks later” has an ambitious screenplay by Rowan Joffe, Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, Jesus Olmo and Enrique Lopez Lavigne. Juan Carlos Fresnadillo takes the director’s chair and does an admirable job of retaining the feel and style of the original. Robert Carlyle [who is always good] is the biggest name actor in the new cast although many will recognize Harold Perrineau, from “Lost” in a small but important role.

Spoilers will follow…

The movie opens with perhaps the best scenes in the film. A band of survivors [including a husband and wife who hope that their children are still alive] have barricaded themselves in a remote farm house. As they settle down for dinner, it is obvious that their situation is wearing them down. When a child is heard yelling to be let in the house, the theme of the movie comes into play… who/how many will you sacrifice to save yourself? There’s hesitation, but they let the boy in and soon enough all of the “infected” that were chasing the boy, are breaking into the house. They succeed and the survivors run and fight for their lives. A horrible moment occurs when the husband makes it to the window and his wife hesitates so that she can bring along the boy. A group of infected get between them and the husband is faced with a choice: try to save his wife and the boy or himself. He chooses to save himself. The last image that he sees as he runs from the farm house is of his wife being pulled from the window.

The husband makes his way to safety and is part of a group brought in to repopulate London. The virus is gone, and the military are everywhere insuring a quick end should it return. And return return it does…

The Good: “28 weeks” retains much of the feel of “28 days.” Robert Carlyle. Jeremy Renner who almost steals the show in his role as Doyle. The way that the virus is brought back into play. The infection spreading through the crowded underground safe haven. No one is safe… no one! The potential for “28 months later!”

The Bad: The way that Robert Carlyle is always able to find the survivors who are on the run. The killing of Jeremy Renner’s character.

The Ugly: The helicopter taking out “the infected” with it’s blades and not crashing.

“28 weeks later”

Rating:

300: The Art of the Film / Z-View

I received my Art of 300 book today and it’s a beaut!With 300: The Art of the Film you get to go behind the scenes and see how director Zack Snyder (Dawn of the Dead) translates Frank Miller’s award-winning graphic novel to the big screen. The book includes more than 100 pages of production photos, concept art, and much, much more. What makes the deal even sweeter is that if you order using the link provided you can save over 33%!Now if the movie’s release date would only get here!

300: The Art of the Film rates an “A”

“A History of Violence” / Z-View

I finally got around to seeing “A History of Violence” and it totally lived up to my high expectations. If you haven’t seen it yet, and plan to, then by all means avoid the rest of today’s post since it will contain spoilers.I was impressed with all aspects of the film. In fact, “A History of Violence” now ties “The Dead Zone” as my all time favorite David Cronenberg film. The cast was equally impressive [Viggo Mortensen, Maria Bella and the always excellent Ed Harris].

I’d also like to give special mention to William Hurt. Hurt is not one of my favorite actors, and since “Body Heat” I can’t think of any of his roles that I’ve really liked… that is until now. He was perfect as Richie Cusack. Absolutely perfect! [And if you happened to catch Hurt‘s role as the hitman in TNT‘s recent adaptation of Stephen King’s Nightmares and Dreamscapes, he was just as good, if not better!]

The thing that kept staying on my mind after watching “A History of Violence” was the dual nature in all of us. All of the major characters in the film displayed a duality that was interesting, but it was Viggo’s character that set everything in motion. So… was Viggo really Tom Stall or Joey Cusak? The things that Joey did made him a crazy killer, but the same actions made Tom Stall a hero.

Tom’s wife thought he was the greatest man in the world until she saw what he was capable of. Then she was repulsed and attracted to him. How does that work? And why?

“A History of Violence” works on so many levels. I guess even movies have a dual nature.

If you saw the movie, I’d love to hear your thoughts. “A History of Violence” rates an A+

“Strange Days” / Z-View

 

 

 

 

If you were to ask me, right now, to name my top ten favorite murder mystery movies, sci-fi movies, and love stories, one movie would make all of these lists.

Don’t believe me? OK, then ask me… Really… Ask me.  Would one of you please ask me?

Ok. Thanks.

The movie that makes all three lists is Strange DaysBet that surprised you.

 

 

 

Strange Days was made in 1995 from a story by James Cameron, a screenplay by Cameron and Jay Cocks and directed by Kathryn Bigelow.

 It stars Ralph Fiennes, Angela Bassett, Juliette Lewis, Tom Sizemore, Michael Wincott, Vincent D’Onofrio, and Glenn Plummer.

I watched Strange Days again last night and re-remembered just how much I love it and how cool it is that it works in all of the genres that I mentioned at the start of this post. I’d really like to discuss it here, but my guess is that many, if most of you haven’t seen it.

 

 

 

You see it really didn’t do gangbusters at the box office. Heck, I didn’t even see it until it came out on video.

Maybe some of you have seen it and want to talk about why you like or don’t like it.

 Maybe some of you who haven’t seen it want to learn more about it. If so, you can click HERE to see the teaser trailer, or even HERE if you want to purchase a copy for your collection.

“Strange Days” rates an A

New Dawn is a Winner

Dawn of the Dead  has one of the best opening sequences that you could ask for. It stays true to the original, even giving a nod to one of it’s most talked about scenes, and yet clearly shows us, this ain’t your dad’s zombie movie.

Remaking Dawn of the Dead  was a risk. Romero is considered the Zombie God for his trilogy and all three movies have a core following. When Night of the Living Dead was remade, it wasn’t greeted with open arms despite being a very good film. I’m happy to say that the remake is not only being critically praised [Entertainment Weekly‘s critic gave it an “A”], but kicking butt at the box office [coming in at #1]. And rightly so, since the new Dawn of the Dead is a very good film all the way around. Acting, screenplay and directing all hold up well.

Is it as good as the original Dawn of the Dead? Yeah. Maybe even better.

And make sure you sit through the credits…

Rating:

Kill Bill Disappoints

I’m a huge fan of Quentin Tarintino’s work. Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction are two of my favorite movies. From Dusk till Dawn is as well. [And yes, I know that Robert Rodriguez directed it!] I loved everything about the original trailer for “Kill Bill.” The look. The music. The stars. How could it miss?
Let me tell you how. [Minor spoilers ahead.]
“Kill Bill” starts off well enough. It begins with a scratchy, cheesy “Now For Our Feature Presentation” intro straight out of the drive-ins that I loved as a kid. There’s also the retro “Presented in Shaw-Scope” title card, the “Revenge is a dish best served cold” Klingon quote, and the Sonny Bono song, “Bang, Bang” playing over the credits. Yeah baby, Quentin was tapping in to everything that we loved about this genre from our childhood.
Then the movie starts with a bang. Literally. Uma Thurman is shot in the head and left for dead. But she’s not really dead… just in a coma for four years. And when she wakes up she must have her revenge. Great set-up.

The action is over-the-top and brutal. The first payback that we see is really well done. It has the right mix of Tarantino heightened reality, humor and action. Then we have a flashback to the hospital and this is where the movie starts to loose me. There are a couple of scenes with a red neck and Buck the orderly that just really push the envelope. And for some reason everything after that seemed truly excessive and redundant.
How many arterial sprays do we need to see? How many limbs chopped off? But before we get to that gore we have to sit through an anime cartoon [which is pretty well done but again, very gory], a boring dialogue about tea, and discussion about why Uma needs a specific man to make her sword.
When I left the theater, I was disappointed. I had been hoping to see a really fun, really exciting revenge film. To make matters even worse, we don’t get to see how everything turns out, since “Kill Bill, Volume 2” doesn’t come out until February. The funny thing is, I didn’t hate the movie. I’m not sure I even disliked it. I was disappointed… but disappointed enough not to see the rest?

I guess we’ll know in February.

“Kill Bill”

Rating:

Underworld

I saw Underworld today [which fits right in with our monster movie theme of late].Underworld tells the story of a centuries old war between vampires and werewolves. It has tons of action and effects but feels like it could have been shortened a bit. Also, with Underworld, the more you think about it, the more you find to question. It’s fun while it’s going on, but doesn’t hold up under examination. I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone, yet if you like this sort of thing, then it’s probably the sort of thing that you’ll like. ; )

On another note, the trailer for the new Texas Chainsaw Massacre played before Underworld. I haven’t seen the orginal in years [and didn’t really care for it when I saw it], but this remake looks interesting… As does Gothica with Halle Berry [both of which also fit our continuing horro theme].
“Underworld” rates a C

HARDCASE by Dan Simmons / Z-View

HARDCASE by Dan Simmons
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: ‎ Minotaur Books

First sentence…

Late on Tuesday afternoon, Joe Kurtz rapped on Eddie Falco’s apartment door.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…
Have you heard of Dan Simmons?

Simmons’ first published story, “The River Styx Runs Upstream,” won the Rod Serling Memorial Award. His first novel, SONG OF KALI, won the World Fantasy Award. His first horror novel, CARRION COMFORT, won the Bram Stoker Award. His first science fiction novel, HYPERION, won the Hugo Award.

Even with all the awards, I was only vaguely familiar with his work. I don’t read fantasy, and very little science fiction or horror. I do love a hardboiled thriller though! You know, the kind written by Andrew Vachss, or Eugene Izzi, Stephen Hunter, or Richard Stark… or now, Dan Simmons. That’s right! With Hardcase, Simmons has jumped to the top shelf!

Joe Kurtz was a PI… before he was an ex-con. See he killed a man, a couple of men actually. They’d murdered his girl and unborn child. While it’s pretty reasonable to me that he threw one of ’em off a six story building, the jury didn’t see it that way.

Now, out of prison after eleven-and-a-half years…

…you’d think things would be looking up for Kurtz. You’d be wrong. Too many people want him dead…

Hardcase is the best novel that I’ve read this year [tied with Jack Kelly‘s Line of Sight]. For more about Hardcase, click here.

Hardcase rates 5 of 5 stars.

Rating:

Updated 5/8/23

“The Mechanic” starring Charles Bronson & Jan-Michael Vincent / Z-View

The Mechanic (1972)

Director: Michael Winner

Writers: Lewis John Carlino,Monte Hellman

Stars: Charles Bronson, Jan-Michael Vincent, Keenan Wynn, Jill Ireland andFrank DeKova.

The Plot…

Bronson is a hit man… perhaps the best in the business. If he takes a job, the target is as good as dead. Jan Michael Vincent is the son of a mafioso who becomes Bronson‘s protege… not knowing that Bronson has recently murdered his father…but he’s about to find out!

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Charles Bronson had a long career staring in a bunch of great movies. The Dirty Dozen. The Magnificent Seven. Death Wish. Hard Times. The Mechanic is one of my favorite Bronson films.

The opening scene shows Bronson setting up a hit and goes on for 16 minutes without a word of dialogue!

Be prepared for a great “surprise” ending.

The Mechanic (1972) rates 5 of 5 stars.


Updated 5/8/23

“Signs” starring Mel Gibson / Z-View

The signs were all there.

M. Night Shyamalan was back.  He had already written and directed the oh-so-cool “Sixth Sense” and the well done “Unbreakable.” Mel Gibson and Joaquin Phoenix were to co-star. The trailers were suspenseful. They left you wanting more. Yeah, the signs were all there.

But you never know.

I saw Signs yesterday and it’s been on my mind. The story involves aliens.. but not in the way I was expecting. It’s as much about family, redemption, and faith as it is aliens. And it is scary. Very scary! It will also make you laugh, move you to the verge of tears, and more than likely leave you feeling happy.

Signs rates a solid 5 of 5 stars.

I think you’ll enjoy it.  The signs are all there.

Rating:

LINE OF SIGHT by Jack Kelly / Z-View

“One of the rules… you don’t mess with married women. It’s tempting, sure. Forbidden fruit. He got, I want. But you’re only buying trouble and there’s enough trouble to be had for nothing.”

Ray Dolan finds out just how much trouble can be had, when his infatuation with a married woman turns to murder. Line of Sight by Jack Kelly is one of the best books that I’ve read in a long time. If you’re a fan of crime writers such as Andrew Vachss, James M. Cain, Jim Thompson, Frank Miller and Walter Mosely or if you love film noir… movies like “Double Indemnity,” “Body Heat,” and “Out of the Past” then you’re going to love this book. You can read more about it by clicking [Here] or on the picture above. (And ya gotta love the novel’s cover!)

Line of Sight rates an “A+”
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