VIDEO: MOVIE: REVIEW: Death Machine (1994)

4/5 stars, 8/10 from both of us, though the general public only rated it 2.7/5 stars (Netflix guessed 2.6 for us!) and 5.5/10.

This is the closest film I’ve ever seen to the movie Hardware (1990).

There are a few scenes that seem to be in DIRECT homage to Hardware. It lacks some of the comedy and psychedelia in Hardware, as well as the amazing cameos…

But in terms of cinematography, subject matter, style, and even character appearance (including the “villain”), this is simply a Poor Man’s Hardware. It even has William Hootkins (“we all sing, the wibbery-wobberly..walk!”), though he’s playing a suit instead of a perv.

Despite this being a poor man’s Hardware, it’s still better than 95% of scifi horror movies from the 1990s. So it gets 4/5 stars and 8/10, instead of the 5/5 stars and 9/10 rating that Hardware received.

Brad Dourif is pretty fricking crazy in this, and a lot of people are saying Heath Ledger must have watched this film at some point as inspiration for his insane portrayal of The Joker in The Dark Knight.

We watched the 111-minute (PAL/Europe) cut, though I would have preferred to get the 128 or 120-minute cut. Stay away from the 99-minute Netflix cut. You’ll be sorry. Get the PAL (europe) DVD if at all possible.

This movie also gets a very special LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD for having THE STRANGEST MARIJUANA JOINTS TO BE FEATURED IN ALL OF FILMDOM.

LINK URL: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0109575

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VIDEO: MOVIES: CARTOONS: REVIEW: The Smurfs 2 (2013) [watched in 3-D]

Clint: 3/5 stars (3/5 for Smurfs 1), 7/10 (6.4/10 for Smurfs 1).
Carolyn: 3.6/5 stars (3/5 for Smurfs 1), 7/10 (6.6/10 for Smurfs 1).
Native ratings: 3.7/5 stars Netflix (3/5 for Smurfs 1), 5.2/10 IMDB (5.4 for Smurfs 1).
For curiosity’s sake: The original 1981 series gets 7.4/10 on IMDB. (I gave it 7/10.)
So anyway–Carolyn, Clint, and Netflix folk all liked the 2nd movie slightly more. The notorious haters at IMDB liked it slightly less.

This had some good smurf action and the 3-D was the best 3-D we’ve seen on our 3-D television since we bought it. I don’t know if it was the way they produced the movie, or the fact that they did HOU 3-D (over-under) instead of SBS 3-D (side-by-side), or if it was a good encode of the movie, but either way — Best 3-D we’ve seen, with the least ghosting (which you always get with active 3-D these days; we are in the infancy of 3-D at home — think VHS.)

That alone made it worth watching for us, but then there’s the fact that Hank Azaria (Moe Szyslak/Chief Wiggum/Apu Nahasapeemapetilon/Superintendent Chalmers/Comic Book Guy/Carl & Lenny/Professor Frink/Cletus) is great as Gargamel. Such a completely unrealistic character to exist in the real, live-action planet earth, and a great casting choice to pick someone with such nuance for funny voices, and such a long career with very little time actually on the screen. He deserves this.

For a kid movie, it didn’t focus on the kid very much. The kid “Blue” (the baby from Smurfs 1) is now at talking/walking age, but was barely in the movie. So that was good for adults like us who aren’t interested in watching kids. Just kids’ shows. ;)

Instead of taking place in New York, this one takes place in Paris, France. Other than that, it is very similar to Smurfs 1, except that they introduce 2 new Gargamel-created smurfs. Apparently they are the babies that showed up later in the 1980s series, but I think I had stopped watching right around when the babies showed up. Carolyn is 2 years younger than me, so she watched it a bit longer and recognized that when they called Vexxy “a sassy lassy” at the end, it was a nod to Sassette Smurf, a baby/younger female who showed up for 2 episodes near the 1990 end run of the original series. Incendentally, I totally forgot about Johan and Peewit/Peewee, and don’t really understand how they factor into the series. I also forgot/never knew that there were alternate Gargamels in the 9th season of the original cartoon. That was 1990. I took a break from cartoons approximately from adolescence until young adulthood (i.e. 13-20) so I might have missed the alternate Gargamels. Damn. I also didn’t know there was a 1965 Smurfs movie!

One bad thing was they seem to have forgotten that when choked, a Smurf is supposed to turn yellow. NOT more blue.

But other than that, it was a generic family adventure. Stupid things that doesn’t make sense sometimes happen, because it is a generic family adventure. It is very clearly something released to make money, and I’m okay with that. The money made gave me a chance to revisit part of my childhood without having to *ACTUALLY WATCH* 1980s quality animation/writing. And while generic-family-blockbuster writing isn’t that much better than 1980’s-children’s-cartoon writing… The movie LOOKED pretty awesome, and LOOKS DO MATTER for movies. Also Jayma Mays (Hero’s waitress girlfriend from Heroes) might just be one of the most adorable females alive. Her and Emma Stone need to have a baby together.

So anwyay…. We were pleasnatly surprised. Not every sequel is better, but if you free your mind and allow yourself to enjoy things… Sometimes it actually works out.

So yeah, we’ll watch The Smurfs 3 in 2016, probably. It’s a prequel.

Directed by Raja Gosnell (Smurfs 1, Home Alone 3).
Written by J. David Stem (Smurfs 1, Shrek 2, 3 eps of Rugrats and the Rugrats movie, 2 eps of Mission Hill), David N. Weiss (Shrek 2, 3 eps of Rugrats and the Rugrats movie, 2 eps of Mission Hill, All Dogs Go To Heaven), Jay Scherick (1 ep of Caroline In The City), David Ronn, and Karey Kirkpatrick (The Spiderwick Chronicles, Charlotte’s Web (2006), The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy).

Neil Patrick Harris as Patrick.
Hank Azaria (The Simpsons, Herman’s Head, Eric in Stressed Eric, The Birdcage, Eddie Brock in the 1990’s Spider-Man, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, Year One, Mystery Men, Run Fatboy Run, Grosse Point Blank, 2 eps of Family Guy) as Gargamel.
Brendan Gleeson (Alastor ‘Mad-Eye’ Moody in the Harry Potter movies, The Secret Of Kells, In Bruges, Beowulf, The Village, Troy, 28 Days Later, Mission Impossible 2) as Victor.
Jayma Mays (Heroes, Epic Movie, Smiley Face, 1 ep of NTSF:SD:SUV, 1 ep of Six Feet Under) as Grace.
Nancy O’Dell (Scream 2-4, 1 ep of The Simpsons) as Herself.
Mr. Krinkle as Azrael.

And the voice actors:
Katy Perry as Smurfette.
Christina Ricci as Vexy.
Jonathan Winters as Papa Smurf. Did you know he was Grandpa Smurf in the original? There was an R.I.P. in the credits; this was his last film.
J.B. Smoove (Curb Your Enthusiasm, Clear History, Movie 43, The Dictator, Date Night, Mr. Deeds, 12 eps of Saturday Night Live, 4 eps of American Dad, 1 ep of The Simpsons, 1 ep of Robot Chicken) as Hackus.
George Lopez (118 eps of George Lopez, 1 ep of Curb Your Enthusiasm) as Grouchy Smurf.
Anton Yelchin (Chekov in the Star Trek reboot movies, Terminator Salvation, Odd Thomas in Odd Thomas, 1 ep of Curb Your Enthusiasm, 1 ep of The Life & Times Of Tim) as Clumsy Smurf.
John Oliver (2 eps of Gravity Falls) as Vanity Smurf.
Fred Armisen (Portlandia, Terry in Out There, Eurotrip, Saturday Night Live, he’s also a small part in The Dictator) as Brainy Smurf.
Jeff Foxworthy (Bounty Hunters, The Jeff Foxworthy Show) as Handy Smurf.
Alan Cumming (The Devil in God, The Devil And Bob, John Castaway in Gargoyles: The Goliath Chronicles, Rick & Steve The Happiest Gay Couple In All The World, Nightcrawler in X-Men 2, Garfield, 6 eps of The L Word, 3 eps of Robot Chicken) as Gutsy Smurf.
Gary Basaraba (Fried Green Tomatoes, Charlotte’ Web (2006), 1 ep of Nip/Tuck) as Hefty Smurf.
Adam Wylie (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Jimmy Olsen in Superman/Doomsday, Brainiac in Legion of Super Heroes, American Pie Presents Band Camp, 1 ep of Mad) as Panicky Smurf.
Kenan Thompson (Sit Down Shut Up, Saturday Night Live, All That, Stan Helsing) as Greedy Smurf.
Shaquille O’Neal as Smooth Smurf.
B.J. Novak (The Office, The Internship, Knocked Up, Inglourious Basterds, The Amazing Spider-Man 2) as Baker Smurf.
Paul Reubens (aka Pee-Wee Herman) as Jokey Smurf.
Jimmy Kimmel as Passive-Aggressive Smurf.
John Kassir (Mittens in Eek The Cat, Jack The Giant Slayer, The Grim Adventures Of Billy & Mandy, Cryptkeeper in Tales From The Cryptkeeper and Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight, Buster Bunny in Animaniacs and Tiny Toon Adventures, 2 eps of Adventure Time) as Crazy Smurf.
Tom Kane (Professor Utonium in The Powerpuff Girls, Narrator and Yoda in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, also Yoda in Star Wars: Clone Wars, Wolverine And The X-Men, 10 eps of The Eric Andre Show, The Angry Beavers, 1995 Iron Man-TAS, 6 eps of The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, 5 eps of Robot Chicken, 1 ep of The Legend Of Korra) as Narrator Smurf.
And of course, Frank Welker (Freddy in Scooby Doo, and many many many animal voices in many many many of our favorite cartoons) as Azrael.

LINK URL: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2017020/combined

VIDEO: MOVIE: REVIEW: The Smurfs (2011)

Clint & Carolyn: 3/5 stars (Netflix avg=3.6, guess for us=3.3).
Clint: 6.4/10 (high 6)
Carolyn: 6.6/10 (low 7)
IMDB: 5.3/10.

There is so much wrong with this, but could I really refuse to watch a Smurfs movie because I think it MIGHT be lame? No, I could not. Especially with Hank Azaria, Neil Patrick Harris, Jayma Mays (Hiro’s perfect match from Heroes), and Sofia Vergara.

And was it lame? Yes, in some ways.

Of course, the original 80’s cartoon is pretty goddamn lame if you sit down and watch an episode of it in 2012, so one could argue that this movie was actually an improvement. The problem is peoples’ rose-tinted nostalgia that causes them to reject everything made on an old idea. But The Smurfs WERE ALREADY AN OLD IDEA when they came to American television. The Smurfs as a franchise are 50 years old; the cartoon is only 30 years old. It was already an adaptation before it was adapted for this movie. So get over it. The movie was fun.

They went into the real world, which is a cheesy plot device used in so many cartoon movies, as well as an excuse to cheap out on the animation budget by using live-action people.

But there was also a real charm in seeing Gargamel as a ridiculous live-action person caught in a world he doesn’t belong to. He assumes homeless people are other wizards. It’s funny, in a 3rd Rock From the Sun Season 1 kind of way, to see someone try to figure out a world they don’t belong in.
And the CGI on Azrael was really cute.

When all is said and done, we have to admit to liking this movie, even if it wasn’t great.

LINK URL: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0472181

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