Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Cyborg 2

I guess I’ve always known about this movie.  When I used to work at a video store, this was on the new release wall.  They had a policy of not taking anything out of new releases until the tapes had paid for themselves (new releases used to cost about a hundred bucks & then drop down to twenty bucks a year later if there was a demand for them by the public) which took about thirty rentals.  It had Jack Palance on the cover of it right around the time his claim to fame was being Curly in City Slickers, so despite my affection for the first film (see the review on Nostalgia Equals Distortion) I never felt any need to check this out.

So I watched this after watching the original Cyborg.  This is odd right from the start because for whatever reason they call assassin androids cyborgs (I guess the Terminator franchise set the precedent with that) & it has some clips from the first film for no apparent reason (this really has next to no relation to the original).  Jack Palance is doing some sort of Max Headroom impression most of the movie appearing only as a mouth on a television screen trying to help an assassin android & her trainer that have fallen in love escape.  In general it’s okay as direct to video sci-fi.  It doesn’t try to be more than it is & the acting isn’t terrific & the characters act a little inconsistently at times (android assassin or damsel in distress?  Flip a coin to decide for this scene.), but it’s fine.  I guess I need to go ahead & mention this movie’s claim to fame – this is an early Angelina Jolie movie & she has no problem showing her boobs in the couple of sex scenes in it & probably that’s a big sale for a lot of people.

I’m interested in the questions of discrimination & slavery & the rise of artificial intelligence & when does something indistinguishable from human become human & when does a human that’s more machine than man stop being a human that this movie & other sci-fi brings up.  So I’ll go ahead & say you could do a lot worse than having this one play while you are doing some paperwork or whatever.

Cyborg III: The Recycler

To be honest, I had no idea there was a third movie in this series.  The backstory of this is interesting enough I guess – most of humanity died off in a plague & so a slave class of androids (called cyborgs, whatever that’s about) was developed & they eventually rebel so human society collapses & humans start to hunt the androids to use their parts as prosthetics & jewelry.  This movie actually more or less picks up where Cyborg 2 ends with the character of Cash (now played by a different actress who doesn’t really even look similar to Angelina Jolie) sad because she just spent 60 years hanging out with her boyfriend & he grew old & died.  So she thinks that her body is acting funny because she’s sad, but then she finds out she’s pregnant because what android designed as an infiltration assassin doesn’t have an artificial womb built in that kicks on for an immaculate conception after their 90 year old lover dies?  Anyway, this movie isn’t good.  It seems pretty lazy as far as not caring about continuity within the film.  I mean, maybe somewhere there’s a decent B movie trying to get out, but it doesn’t happen here.  I don’t have any idea what makes somebody make a bad movie instead of a good one, but I would guess this movie had some money behind it as it has plenty of explosions & some crappy special effects & even a bit part by name actor Malcolm McDowell.  Is bad acting the fault of the writers or the actors or the casting director or the director?  Why am I still thinking about, much less writing about, this movie?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Captain America (1979)

I remember trying to watch this when I was 4 & what I remember is my parents needing to wake me up when Cap actually got on screen.  So I went with FCIO instead of N=D for this one.

So I guess CBS had a hit on their hands with The Incredible Hulk & were trying to get another hit with Captain America.  It’s interesting because it’s about an hour in before Steve Rogers becomes Captain America & he doesn’t put on the classic uniform until the last minute or so.  It’s a new origin for Cap & I actually kinda dig it a bit.  It’s the 1970s & it’s not your daddy’s Captain America (oh, wait I guess maybe it is?), it’s his son & he’s a struggling artist, ex-marine, & former dirtbike racer living in a van!  He’s in an accident & they have to inject him with super serum (here called F.L.A.G.) to keep him alive.  He ends up a bit stronger than the typical Captain America able to do some mildly Hulk-ish things with breaking a big pipe with his bare hands & what not.  To be honest I kind of like the idea of a hippy Captain America living in a van traveling the country randomly helping people & occasionally doing a government mission like he’s the Six Million Dollar Man or whatever.  But this is just a derivative version of SMDM that is a little goofier because of the superhero outfit & the motorcycle, so I can’t fault CBS for not picking it up as a show.  For me this is way better (though surely way less canonical) than the 1990 Cap movie.

Captain America (1990)

So I’ve always known about this movie.  I was still going to the comic shop weekly around the time it came out even though I wasn’t getting any superhero books anymore.  So I heard about it & there was a lot of speculation that it might actually be good after Tim Burton’s Batman (& to me personally the Dolph Lundgren version of The Punisher) had been fairly well received.  But it ended up direct to video (never a good sign) & even my brother who likes movies gave it a pretty negative review.  Not to mention the fact that I always thought of Captain America as a goody two shoes hero anyway.  A few years later while working at a video store I walked by the box every day & never even bothered to pick it up & look at it.

In 2006 I saw the Ultimate Avengers cartoon movie & I was blown away by the opening sequence with Captain America crashing a plane on the beach at Normandy & flying out of the windshield to start beating the crap out of people & I gained a new found respect for the character.  Then I got a collection of the first 25 issues of the Avengers & gained even more respect for the character where he’s a quasi-suicidal hero without any super powers needing to get bailed out by actual superheroes each issue.  In 2011 with the new Captain America movie coming out (which I still haven’t seen) there was a lot of buzz & nostalgia for this in geek culture.  So I finally checked it out.  The opening fifteen minutes isn’t good, but better than I expected.  Everything seems about at the level of the stuff that direct to video studios like Full Moon were putting out at the time.  Then it starts to get worse.  I feel like half the cast is from A Christmas Story & that nothing after Captain America emerges in modern times is connected to Captain America more than a generic spy character & he is semi-incompetent as a superhero.  I don’t even know what I want in a Captain America movie to be honest & I guess all I know about the character is what he was up to in the 1960s & the 1980s so I’m not a scholar on the whole thing, but I know what I don’t want is this.  Even multi-tasking by drawing a comic while watching it felt like a waste of my time.
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