Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Less Than Zero: Robert Downey Jr. and His Demons

Less Than Zero: Bret Easton Ellis tells a tale of the disaffected Beverly Hills youth | A Constantly Racing MindLess Than Zero, A Most Depressing Movie

I t has been a while, but I was in the mood for watching a depressing movie.  Why would I want to review a film where the storyline leaves the viewer with no hope and in a state of despair?  Because, every now and then a reality-check is in order when faced with issues with the economy and other problems in the news, it helps to see someone’s life in worst shape than yours.  I decided on "Less Than Zero" for the both the story and acting, and for other reasons that I will explain later.  "Less Than Zero" is an adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis's book of the same name.  The film, "Less Than Zero" stars Andrew McCarthy ("St. Elmo's Fire" & "Weekend at Bernie's"), Jami Gertz ("The Lost Boys" - 1987), and Robert Downey Jr. ("Iron Man" 1 & 2 & "Sherlock Holmes").  This dramatic film follows three Beverly Hills teenagers after they graduated from high school in 1987, and the decisions they made that will haunt them for the rest of their lives.

Three years before "Beverly Hills 90210" debuted on television; there was Clay, Blair, and Julian, as three rich, disaffected teens whose lives are as empty as their parents are rich.  Upon graduation, the three teens discuss their post high school plans; Clay (McCarthy) plans for college, Blair (Gertz) is a model, and Julian (Downey) whose grades are not strong enough for college, plans on going into the music business.  Clay discovers that his girlfriend, after six months, Blair is now sleeping with Julian.  A year later, Blair calls Clays while he is away at college asking, almost pleading for him to come home for the Christmas holidays.  Clay, returns believing that Blair wants him back, only to find her concern is for Julian, whose life is spiraling downward in drug addiction.  Meeting up with Blair at a music-layered coke sniffing glamorous rich-kid party, Clay runs into Rip, a drug-dealer that the three of them knew in high school.  The drug-dealer Rip, played with a slickness that reminds one of a snake is James Spader ("Crash" - 1996), the star of another depressing movie.  Rip owns Julian for 50 thousand dollars, and Julian, not able to pay, works out a deal with Rip to have Julian work off his debt.

Less Than Zero explores the themes of drug addiction, cheating, love, sex, and friendship.  Director Marek Kanievska balances the film's heavy plot with a soundtrack that keeps the story moving to a hip retro-groove.  Memorable songs from the film are the Bangles' cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s "Hazy Shade of Winter," Poison's version of the Kiss song "Rock and Roll All Nite," LL Cool J's "Going Back to Cali" and Slayer's version of "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida."  For a depressing movie, the film is not boring, the music and the films, action scenes, of Julian almost falling out of Clays convertible Corvette, the party dance scenes, Julian's drug addiction, and Clay and Blair's sex scenes, contrast with moving scenes between McCarthy and Downey's characters.

Less than Zero: Jami Gertz Robert Downey Jr Andrew MacCarthy | A Constantly Racing Mind

Each segment of "Less Than Zero" portrays the characters through several phases of development.  While McCarthy plays the cool aloof friend, whose character Clay, moves toward a caring, understanding individual who at a point in the film, declares that he will do "whatever it takes," to save his friend, Julian.  At the time, this was McCarthy’s eighth film in four years.  Less Than Zero is also McCarthy's fifth successful film in that period.  Part of the 1980's brat pack, McCarthy starred in St. Elmo's fire, a similar story of 80's university graduates trying to find themselves in the adult world.  Andrew McCarthy also starred with James Spader (Rip), a year prior to Less Than Zero, in writer John Hughes', "Pretty in Pink" and 1987's "Mannequin."  In "Less Than Zero," they play old friends, and the fact that they worked together seems to come across on the screen, as just that, friends.

Jamie Gertz's character Blair is the beautiful girl torn between Clay's love for her, and Julian's need for her and his addiction to drugs.  Gertz, the former "Square Pegs" star, continued to take on TV roles during the first half of the decade, while the latter half of the 80s, Gertz plays a beautiful vixen in both "Less Than Zero," and "The Lost Boys."  In 2002 through 2006, Gertz's popularity reestablished itself while she played Judy Miler along side Britain’s Mark Addy.  "In Still Standing," Gertz is a streetwise mother of two teenagers and wife to Bill (Addy) as they raise their kids with the tough love of parents who survived the 80s.  Still looking fabulous at 45, Gertz is scheduled to appearing the forth "Pirates of the Caribbean" film, and the next "Mission Impossible" sequel.  Her pivotal moment in the film comes after having her loft apartment trashed by one of Rip's thugs, and after nursing the overdosed Julian back to health.  At another glitzy glamour party, Blair realizes that the path of drug addiction is as corrupt as Julian's.  In the bathroom, after watching one of her high school girlfriend's nose bleeds after snorting too much cocaine, decides to throw her stash down the drain.

Less than Zero: Robert Downey Jr.  | A Constantly Racing Mind

Robert Downey Jr. first appeared in a film written and directed by his father, Robert Downey Sr. in 1970.  The film was "Pound," and Downey plays a puppy.  Starting a serious acting career in the early 80s, Robert Downey Jr.’s career parallels his "Less Than Zero" film character with his drug problems.  A member of the Weird Science cast in 1985, Back to School in 1986, and 1987's "Pick Up Artist," Downey's career seemed to be leaning toward comedies.  However, in "Less Than Zero," Downey takes a turn for the dramatic.  Throughout the 90s, Downey performed in both comedic and dramatic films giving uneven performances, ranging outstanding and memorable to flat and disappointing.  "Air America," and "Chaplin," is notable for his eclectic performances, while having smaller less memorable roles in "Natural Born Killers," and "Danger Zone" in 1986.  Like his drug addiction problem, Downey would appear in the news for either the critical praise for one of his films, or for one of his several drug arrests and his ins and outs of drug rehabilitation.  Watching "Less Than Zero" with as a 21st century retrospective look at Downey's career, audiences will be amazed at Downey's drug addicted characters; Julian Wells and Sherlock Holmes have in common.  Downey's performance as the Rip's bitch in "Less Than Zero" makes this depressing film less than dull and truly compelling.

I wanted to see a depressing film that has a future, where the actors are easy on the eyes and the storyline is utterly depressing, but the filming and directing are captivating.  The other criteria for a depressing film, is that the characters, as James Spader says in the film, everyone is accountable.  The film is an existential study of responsibility and accountability.  The choices that Blair and Julian make, lead them to the positions that they find themselves in during the film.  Watching this film with my wife, we came away both depressed and empty.  Author Bret Easton Ellis, released his seventh novel on June 15 2010 and it is called "Imperial Bedrooms."  The book reunites the surviving characters from "Less Than Zero" 20 years later and examines the characters, and how they have taken different directions in their lives and not necessarily the direction, they were heading for in "Less Than Zero."

There is no rating for "Less Than Zero," available, but the film contains sex, violence, and drug use throughout the film.  I would advise an R rating for being real-life.

Movie Data
Genre: Crime, Drama, Romance
Year:  1987
Staring:  Andrew McCarthy, Jami Gertz, Robert Downey Jr.,James Spader 
Director: Marek Kanievska
Producer(s): Jon Avnet, Jordan Kerner
Writer: Bret Easton Ellis, Harley Peyton
Rating: R
Running Time: 98 minutes
Release Date: 11/6/1987

Monday, June 28, 2010

Jaws 35th Anniversary: A Retrospective

I was a happy kid once, living by the ocean in beautiful Santa Barbara, spending my summers at the beach, playing in the waves and the sand.  Those days are over now.  I don't go near the ocean anymore; in fact, I live in the Arizona desert, as far away from the ocean as possible.  My fear of the ocean started in the summer of 1972, when my friends and I would sneak into the Fox Theater, or the Granada Theater during the summer and watch the summer blockbusters.  That summer I snuck into Steven Spielberg's Jaws, and my summer beach life changed forever.  A bit melodramatic, it is of course; however, the effect Jaws had on the movie going audience and myself should not be understated.  Roy Schieder (The French Connection) is always stuck in mind as Police Chief Brody and Richard Dreyfuss (American Graffiti) as Matt Hooper, the know-it-all shark expert and the relationship that these two characters form with Quint, played by the phenomenal Robert Shaw, fixing themselves forever in the minds of filmgoers everywhere.  Shaw dies three years later; Jaws and the character of Quint is the film that people remember him the best.

An Idea Comes to Fruition

The 25 Year Anniversary Edition of Jaws is the last distribution of Jaws available to consumers today.  In the DVD is a set of bonus material that covers the creation of the film including interviews with the author, the producers, the director, the actors, and crew.  As time slips away, and as our favorite actors, and directors, get older and leave us -- the DVD serves as a reminder of the care and attention that the cast and crew put into making this film.  However, before the film, there was a novel, and based on the interview with the novel's author Peter Benchley, he says that he was, offered a few dollars by his editor Tom Congdon to write a story about a 1964 shark attack but modernize the story and setting.  Completing the book but without a name for his work, and with the book just about to go into production, the one-word title that they could all agree on, was simply Jaws.  During the writing of the novel, Benchley wrote an extremely detailed account of the shark attacks.  During the adaptation to film, writers removed several subplots, and tightened the story line to fit in an hour and a half, with the actors polishing the lines themselves.  The interview with Benchley discusses his involvement with the film.  When watching the DVD, take note of the reporter on the Amity beach during the Fourth of July weekend.  He walks up the beach toward the camera giving a play by play of how the island town of Amity has a shark problem.  That newscaster is the Jaws author and screenwriter, Peter Benchley.

Moving Into Development

Steven Spielberg had finished his first film, The Sugarland Express, and prior to that directed the psycho terror film, Duel.  Starring Dennis Weaver as the hapless traveler believes the driver of a tractor-trailer is pursuing him, and his journey home from a business trip becomes a "duel.”  Even in Duel, you do not know the driver, as you never see his face.  In Spielberg’s mind, after reading over the treatment for the film, he felt that he was doing a sequel to Duel noticing that both Duel and Jaws have the same amount of letters and the themes were similar.  Taking on the project was like an omen from above, however, Spielberg ran into enormous problems immediately.  The producers felt that they already had their star, the shark, and they just needed solid actors, not big-name actors - mind you, just solid players to augment the shark.  What they got instead was a memorable cast.  The shark was another problem the young director had to face, not revealing the immensity of the great-white shark in Jaws until past the halfway point enhancing the tensions, and like Houdini, Spielberg taunts the audience with the reveal until the exact right moment.  The reason why he did not show the shark wasn’t for the dramatic effect that it caused and set as the standard of horror films to come.  The reason Steven Spielberg did not show us this creator the size of a large U-Haul trailer, simply was because the mechanical shark did not work most of the time.  Quoted in the Making of Jaws featurettes, As much as Spielberg maligned the mechanical effects department, he praises them for making his career.  Having three different semi-functional versions of the shark, this limited the crew to the depth of water that they could film the shark.  The track that the shark road on required no more than thirty feet in depth, so the fish could shim underwater, then rise to the proper height.  Standing in the crows-nest, Quint, orders Brody to "chum," throw bait into the water, and for Hooper to slow down the boat.  Brody with his back turned to the ocean, does not see the shark rising out of the water, and when he does, the response is not only a movie classic but the line Schieder utters takes its place with Apollo 13's “Huston, we've got a problem” line.  What Brody says as he backs into the cabin where Quint is standing, is "We're gonna need a bigger boat."  Quint's reaction in nonplussed and natural, he orders the two into an attack plan.

Chrissie's last swim

Jaws starts off strong with a classic horror film opener.  After some drunken partying on the beach, a couple leaves the safety of the crowd.  Chrissie, the girl teasing  a boy on the beach, into following her into the dark, the boy barely able to stand he is so drunk, The girl strips off her clothes, silhouetted in the moonlight, runs for and dives into the ocean swimming away from the boy, who is now down and out for the count.  The girl, a strong swimmer is about halfway to the first buoy, when she pauses, looks around, thinking her friend is there with her, but he is not.  Too drunk to swim, he collapses on the beach.  The opening of Jaws is a classic; Composer John William's tension-building score, the tuba slowly pumping out notes, first slowly, as the director starts moving the camera towards the girl faster.  The scenes become shorter, the editing cutting faster, then William's tuba scores speed up until the cellos take over for the climax.  From below, we can see the young girl’s perfect figure, her body dark, cast in the shadow, the large shape of the shark darkening our view.  She feels a tug at first, then suddenly the shark pulls her down below the surface of the ocean, still dazed she screams, arms flailing in the air, the water around her turns dark with her blood.

Amity not Amityville

Set in a small Martha's Vineyard type island setting of Amity, big-city cop looking to ease into retirement, Martin Brody (Roy Scheider) finds himself in the midst of the July 4th holidays, and in trouble with the mother of all sharks.  Brody fights with his new bosses, the town mayor, played very officiously by character actor Murray Hamilton (The Drowning Pool), and town leaders who want to keep those summer tourist dollars flowing.  In several scenes, the mayor refuses to allow the Chief of Police to close the beach, explaining the dead girl as a boating accident, or a fisherman's busted up boat as being alarmist.  Vaughn tells Brody, "You yell 'Barracuda,' everybody says 'Huh?  What?'  You yell 'Shark,' we've got a panic on our hands on the Fourth of July.”  During a beach scene when the shark swallows the Kintner kid, and threatens the chief's children.  We see the mayor as Hamilton plays him, the true bastard that he is, only thinking politically about himself.  This motif will arise again in horror films such as Alien and Aliens.  Bringing in experts to help the Chief of Police with the shark problem, is biologist Matt Hooper (Dreyfuss), at a town meeting, and Quint the town's shark killer, offers his services as a bounty hunter, and the shark is his prey.  The mother of the first boy victim offers $3000 for the capture and killing of the shark that killed her son.  Quint, however, wants $10,000 for the fish plus $200 dollars a day whether he catches the fish or not.  Forced by Brody, Vaughn, the town's mayor signs an order agreeing to pay Quint his price to catch the shark.

A film about characters

Ultimately, Brody and Hooper end up working together on the colorful Mr. Quint's boat the "Orca," as they set sail against the beast.  The film takes place in three acts, with the first being on the island of Amity (amity means friendship), the second The beach scenes and Hooper and Brody's attempt to determine if the shark caught is the right shark, it isn't of course.  This event and the last shark attack on the beach, leads to the third and final act on board Quint's small ship, the Orca.  Although the film revolves around Roy Scheider's character, the man out of his element, in the third act he serves as the anchor that holds two potential adversaries together to form a bond between the three of them.  Brody takes a subservient role in act three, which in itself can also be broken down into three segments.  First, the characters embark on their journey and the setting of Quint as the dominant character for the third act.  Secondly, Quint assigns Hooper as second seaman despite Quint's inspection of Hooper's hands, determining him to be a "city boy who counts money."  Finally, Brody, who fears the water, Quint assigns him to the lowest level of seaman aboard the Orca, as Brody cannot even tie a proper knot.  The first day out depicts the three working together on the boat, despite the tension Shaw's character forces on the two by giving orders and demanding they carry them out swiftly.  Quint derides Hooper for equipment he needs to catch the shark, where as Quint relies on intuition and experience.  Later as Matt Hooper proves himself to Quint as able, Quint gives him more responsibility, as driving the boat.  The end of the first segment of the third act comes when we see the shark for the first time.

Call me Quint

Robert Shaw, I should note, was an excellent actor and his characterization of Quint as an alcoholic pirate of a man perhaps creating one of the most notable characters of his career.  During the filming of Jaws, Shaw was in his late 40s, however, giving off the impression of a man older, wiser, and quite worldly.  Shaw would die of a heart attack three years later.  During an interview with Spielberg on the bonus features of the 25th Anniversary Edition of Jaws, Spielberg mentions that they  rewrote the "Indianapolis" speech  several times starting with a short paragraph and evolving into the haunting speech Shaw gives in the film.  Shaw was the final writer of that speech and most of what he says in it, according to Spielberg is pure Robert Shaw.  The speech for those who do not know is the turning point for the audience in their attitude toward Quint's character.  While Hooper and Quint are showing off their scars, Brody notices a scar on Quint's left arm.  The look on Richard Dreyfuss’s face is classic as the look conveys horror and sadness.  Quint starts the speech with the line "1100 men went into the water.  The vessel went down in 12 minutes, and we didn't see the first shark till about a half a hour...”  Telling the tale of the true story of the USS Indianapolis which sank on July 29, 1945 after delivering the first Atomic Bomb dubbed, "Little Boy" to the Tinian Island.  The Japanese torpedoed the cruiser, and it sank into the Pacific Ocean.  The mission was top secret, and no distress call went out from the ship before it sunk.  Spielberg at 29 years-old knew that taking breaks in action to give characters time to develop would in effect move the story along.  As a director, Spielberg gives Robert Shaw the ability to shine not only as Quint but also as Shaw, the actor.

Three Men and the Sea

Quint's speech ends the second segment of the third act, giving way for the Brody character to develop.  Spielberg’s mechanical shark barely worked and live footage filmed by an Australian couple hired by to show the shark attacking Hooper's cage.  .  The couple compensated for smaller size of the real shark by reducing the size of the cage and using smaller actors filmed at a distance.  Unfortunately, Hooper's smaller sized double, wasn't in the cage when the best footage of the shark attack occurred.  Instead, the scriptwriters reworked the scene to allow Hooper to escape the cage and hide below in the rocks, allowing Spielberg to use live-shark footage.  Brody and Quint, left in the boat after loosing the cage turns into a desperate fight for survival with Quint loosing the battle.  In the end, we see Quint as a metaphor like Captain Ahab, from Moby Dick, consumed by his lust for vengeance and perish in obtaining it.  With the ship sinking, Brody takes on the shark single-handed, already seeing Quint swallowed by the shark and presumably Hooper suffered the same fate, Brody climbs to the highest point on the sinking ship as it lists to its side.  Using intelligence to overcome the monster, rather than brute force, Police Chief Brody fires his revolver at the shark, not to injure it, but to puncture a hole in the oxygen tank in its mouth.  In 1975, filmmakers did not have CGI and the computer technology we have now.  Instead, directors who cared about the movies they made, who cared about the composition of the shot, the lighting, and cared about dialog and actors showing genuine emotion, took the time to get the shot right.

Jaws, A New Direction In Horror

Using Jaws as a framework, horror filmmakers have taken elements of the mindless shark as the perfect killer concept that fuel the horror genre of the 80's and 90's.  In 1978, John Carpenter’s Halloween the mindless killer is Michael Myers.  Myers brutal tactic of killing off teenagers as they separate themselves from the group is similar in fashion to Chrissie at the beginning of Jaws.  Jason from Friday the 13th also follows the mindless killer motif, killing camp counselors as they break off for some teenaged hanky-panky.  Not until recent re-makes of these classic 80's horror films, do directors work to give Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees a quality that humanizes these characters.  In many ways, adding the back-story creating an understanding of why the killer kills weakens the horror aspect of the story.  Taking a cue from Jaws, Dan O'Bannon and Ridley Scott in 1979’s film Alien, give their creature similar qualities, "Perfect organism.  Its structural perfection is matched only by its hostility."

Jaws After 35 Years

35 years after its release, Jaws still holds up as a classic film for many reasons.  Robert Shaw, Roy Schieder, and Richard Dreyfuss are the first three.  John William's musical score not only gives the audience a musical cue when the shark is looming on the horizon, but also creates tension that at times becomes unbearable.  Verna Fields’ editing of the film, is flawless, giving us tight action sequences and long, almost long, loving dialog sequences giving the characters time to develop.  The sixth reason is the shark itself, and its timing, only revealing itself near the end when we as an audience, are dying to see this creature.  Finally, for Steven Spielberg’s ability to pull this project together, despite technical difficulties, a lack of a complete script, and an impending actors strike.  Ultimately, when deciding to read the book or watch the film, pick the film.  In this case the film Jaws, is better than Peter Benchley’s book.

Movie Data
Genre: Adventure, Thriller
Year:  1979
Staring:  Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss, Lorraine Gary, Murray Hamilton
Director: Steven Spielberg
Producer(s): David Brown, Richard D. Zanuck
Writer: Peter Benchley, Carl Gottlieb
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 124 minutes
Release Date: 6/20/1975
Originally published by Robert Barbere on Associated Content on June 28, 2010

Best Worst Movie: It's So Bad -- It's Bad

Best Worst Movie: Poster | A Constantly Racing Mind
E very now and then, I’ll watch a film that I find is really awful.  Not so much that the ideas in the film are bad, but the acting is terrible, or the film lacks in production values.
Such is the case with the film Troll 2, released in 1990.  However, after 20 years the film has made an impression on audiences that is laughable.  This review is not about the film Troll 2, but on a documentary film directed by the child-star of that awful film, Michael Paul Stephenson.  Four years ago, after getting over the shame of being in one of the worst films of all time, Stephenson started finding that people across the country, not only enjoy the film, but also have turned it into a cult classic.  Embracing his childhood claim to fame, Stephenson put a crew together and filmed what today he calls the Best Worst Move.

It's A Documentary Not A Film

Instead of detailing the making of Troll 2, Stephenson takes a fun look at the journey that the film  has made in the last 20 years along with the people involved in the making of the film.  At the age of 12, Stephenson realized that the film he starred in was horrible, what is remarkable, is that the fans of Troll 2, do also.  Focusing his film on George Hardy, the man that played Stephenson's father in the film, Stephenson shows not only George’s acceptance as a bad actor in a terrible film, but also how George takes his appearance in the film in stride and turns it into a positive.  Stephenson also devotes a good portion of the Best Worst Movie to Troll 2’s director Claudio Fragasso.  Immediately the viewers understand is that the Best Worst Movie is not a self-serving attempt to self-promote Stephenson, but to illustrate two characters looking at the same picture but seeing remarkably different points of view.  

George Hardy was a practicing dentist in Utah in 1989, and on a whim, he tried out for the part of Michael Waits with an Italian production company that was filming in rural Utah.  Upon seeing the final film on VHS 20 years ago, George realized immediately that his career as an actor was over and returned to fulltime dentistry.  Recently, Troll 2’s status as a cult classic renewed George’s interest in the film.  George starred as the father who took his wife and two kids on a vacation to the rural town of Nilbog (goblin backwards) where vegetarian goblins plague his family.  Hardy now embraces his cult status.  Still a practicing dentist in Alabama, four years ago, George, and director Stephenson traveled around the country interviewing members of the cast and getting their feelings on how the movie Troll 2 affected their lives.

The Celluloid Cult Classic

Meeting with fans that host their own Troll 2 parties annually, Stephenson's documentary shows how fans "get into" the film by the way they reenact their favorite scenes.  Audiences frequently interact with the actors on the screen, and come to the parties dressed up in burlap sacks and homemade-goblin masks.  Did I mention there are no Trolls in the film?  At the viewing of the Best Worst Movie, in Tucson, fans wore green NILBOG T-shirts and held paper goblin masks.  The Troll 2 phenomenon has grown in small towns across the United States to larger cities like Los Angeles and New York.  Director Stephenson and dentist/actor George Hardy traveled to these venues, documenting the fans and the growth in popularity of this immensely bad film.  Finally welcomed on stage after 20 years of hiding the fact that he was in this terrible film, Hardy’s fans cheer him on as the movie star he once hoped to become. As part of a ritualistic performance, George acts out, probably one of the funniest and cheesiest scenes in the Troll 2 movie, the, “You can’ piss on hospitality” scene. 

Best Worst Movie: George Hardy| A Constantly Racing Mind

The Actors

While you don’t get to see the whole film Troll 2, you do get to see scenes of the actors repeating bad dialog and terrible acting from twenty years ago.  A short interview near the beginning of the film with Hardy's parents clues the audience in that the Best Worst Movie is going to be a fun 90-minute joyride.  In the interview with Connie Young, the girl who played Holly Waits, Stephenson's older sister in the original film, she told how she argued with Italian director Fragasso, concerning the dialog, insisting that American kids don't talk that way.  Fragasso, who could barely speak English at the time, was incredulous that an American girl would tell him, the experienced Italian filmmaker, how to write dialog for Americans.  After the Troll 2 experience, Connie would attend auditions, not mentioning her work in the film, and casting directors would recognize her as that girl from that, "awful movie.”  Connie read the comments on IMDB, shocked to find that the reviewers wanted to do her bodily harm for her poor performance in the film.  To this day Connie, who still acts and lives in Utah refuses to list Troll 2 on her resume.

Insanity Calling

Don Packard, the weird old guy who played the disturbed drugstore owner in the rural town of Nilbog, is, in fact, one-step away from insanity.  The wild and rambling interview with Packard, who, in 1990 was on leave from a mental institution, claims to have no idea what was going on at the time when he was making the film.  Telling the now 31-year-old Stephenson, "there was this 11 year old kid on the set that I just wanted to kill.”  The boy, of course, is Stephenson, and in a Skype interview with the director after the documentary, Best Worst Movie, Stephenson admits that Packard scared him 20 years ago, and still scares him today.  Stephenson interviews the man who played Grandpa Seth in the film, stage actor Robert Ormsby's, which was probably the only time in the film that the audience stopped laughing and cast their eyes down in sadness.  Like the lead actors, Ormsby thought that Troll 2 was a step into stardom and full time work as a film actor, but instead as he says in the documentary, "I've wasted my life."

Delusions of Grandeur

Some parts of the Best Worst Movie are awkward and strange.  When contacting the woman that played Stephenson's mother, the audience is wondering if the surreal lifestyle of the secluded Margo Prey was staged or real.  After driving around Salt Lake City, Hardy and Stephenson found the house where Prey lived.  A sign outside the door with an ominous warning that she would call the police on anyone other than US Postal workers intimidated and frightened both Stephenson and Hardy.  However, the two went to the door to talk to their former cast mate.  After some coaxing, she granted the two the interview.  Margo, unmarried, and taking care of her elderly mother is a caricature of the deluded, faded movie star living in fantasy world where she still has an acting career.  Talking fondly about how wonderful the experience of filming Troll 2 and how beautiful a film it was, both Stephenson and Hardy were shocked at her recollection of the making of the film as theirs differed from Margo’s significantly.  Every scene in the Worst Best Movie is hilarious and well done.  On one hand, you wonder if director Michael Paul Stephenson is mocking the woman, but ultimately you see the sadness in both his and George's eyes and realize that their friend, Margo is in a complicatedly deluded place in her life.

In contrast to Margo's delusions of stardom, director Claudio Fragasso’s issues run deeper.  The veteran director of 23 films, most of them in Italian, believes that Troll 2 is a brilliant film.  He just wonders why it took the American audience so long to figure that out.  Fragasso and his wife Rossella Drudi, who wrote the story about evil vegetarian goblins, received an invitation from Michael to come to the United States and celebrate revivals of Troll 2.  Stephenson took Fragasso and his wife to several screenings to sold out theaters, and although Fragasso was happy that the audiences laughed at the funny parts, he was disturbed that they laughed at the unfunny parts as well.  Arguing with the reunited cast inside the crowded theater, the 51-year-old director had a few choice words about the cast and audiences understanding of his masterpiece.

Playing At Your Local Independent Cinema

Troll 2 is neither a sequel to Troll nor a part of the Troll series whatsoever.  Originally, titled Goblins, the distributors of the film changed the name; seemingly, to take advantage of the popularity of a then recently released film named Troll.  Distributors never released Troll 2 to the American filmgoers; instead, they released it on VHS format in 1990/91.  For a long time, Troll 2 has held a one-star rating on IMDB, but has now gained an additional star.  However, Michael Paul Stephenson's Best Worst Movie is by far a better film than many blockbusters out today. 

Director Stephenson shows off his skill as a documentary director with his excellent camera-work, intelligent editing, and focusing of his attentions on the one member of the cast that is the most likable and friendliest dentists around, George Hardy.  Having completed his four years of therapy by creating the Best Worst Movie, Stephenson celebrated the birth of his child last week and was unable to attend the Tucson screening of the Best Worst Movie.  Determined to connect with his fans, Stephenson and the Tucson's The Loft Cinema held a Skype interview that displayed the young director from his home in Los Angeles on The Loft's 50-foot screen.  Stephenson answered audiences' questions and his biggest wish was to be able to see the audience that showed up for his film.  The Loft Cinema's Program Director, Jeff Yanc, turned the laptop's camera towards the audience, and Michael's face lit up with happiness.  I found the Best Worst Movie extremely funny, and I found myself smitten with the film.

Movie Data
Genre: Documentary
Year:  2010
Staring:  George Hardy, Lily Hardy, Pita Ray, Claudio Fragasso, Connie Young 
Director: Michael Stephenson
Producer(s): Brad Klopman, Jim Klopman
Writer: Michael Stephenson
Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 93 minutes
Release Date: 10/10/2014

Friday, June 25, 2010

Jonah Hex, a Review of a Comic Book Trying to Change History

Jonah Hex: Poster | A Constantly Racing Mind
"War and Me Took Together Real Well" -- Jonah Hex

I probably will be joining the ranks of movie reviewers not praising the film Jonah Hex. I watched Jonah Hex over its opening weekend with a decent crowd of folks. However, what I found did not live up to the DC comic, as I know it, nor the trailers as portrayed the film. Jonah Hex stars Josh Brolin (No Country for Old Men) and Megan Fox (Jennifer's Body) as Lilah, two losers in the post-Civil War era.
Told in comic book recreations inter cut with action footage, Jonah is a soldier in the Confederate Army. The film depicts the raids on civilians that Hex's commander, Col. Quentin Turnbull (Malkovich) ordered and carried out by his son Jeb and Hex. The battle scenes ensue to the soundtrack of Steven Foster's Civil War ditties in the background. Not wanting to continue the slaughter, Jonah Hex turns traitor and betrays his best friend Jeb, shooting him. In retaliation, Turnbull captures Hex and forces Jonah to watch his family burn to death as his Irish henchmen sets the family's cabin on fire. Left to die suspended on the cross, The Crow Indians (his wife's tribe), nurse Jonah back to health and although he is mortal, he can to talk to the dead. In the meantime, his arch-nemesis, Quentin Turnbull has apparently died in a fire and about 10 years go by. There you go.... Back-story done.

The time is 1876, and Grant (Aidan Quinn) is in his last year of office. News of Turnbull being alive and Grant, the President, with perhaps the most corrupt administrators around, tells his Army staff officer that the only man for the job is Jonah Hex. Hex who is now a bounty hunter, and who shifts from one side of the law to the other. Most popular lawmen of the time had criminal records. President Grant has a lot to fear from Turnbull; as it was under Grant's orders that the Union Army turned to the tactic of total war. Total war is a concept of eliminating your enemies, including civilians and civilian's homes. General Grant ordered General Sherman to march to the sea and he burned a trail all the way to Atlanta. So, if Turnbull has a grudge, it is a sizeable grudge. Like the Will Smith film The Wild Wild West, also set in the same era of Grant's presidency, a Jules Verne-ish weapon of mass destruction is about to let loose on Washington D.C. Jonah and his prostitute friend Lilah, a nickname for Tallulah and Hex must stop Turnbull and his men. Jonah gets his ass kicked throughout this film, which makes him human and not a superhero-playing cowboy. However, due to being between the living and the dead, like the Crow (pun intended) Jonah can talk to the dead, if he can extract enough information before he microwaves them.

Jonah Hex: Josh Brolin & Megan Fox| A Constantly Racing Mind

The unfortunate situation for Brolin in his characterization of Jonah Hex is the makeup effects on the right side of his face. Turnbull branded him there, however, in trying to remove the QT brand, Hex made it worse by opening a hole in the side of his mouth. A whole, which also limits Brolin's ability to speak, enunciate, and emote effectively, leaving his character somewhat flat and stiff. Megan Fox, on the other hand, just oozes sex appeal. That's it, just oozes sex appeal. Without the charm Jodie Foster had in 1994's Maverick with Mel Gibson, Fox plays it totally for the sex. John Malkovich does well as the evil Colonel Turnbull; however, I had seen Malkovich, turn up the evilness before, and wish he had done here. The Neveldine & Taylor (Gamer & Crank) story and the screenplay are straightforward and to be honest, considering the material; I would have liked to see Neveldine & Taylor direct this film. My apologies to director Jimmy Hayward of Toy Story 2 fame, however, I hear Buzz, Woody, and Horton calling you home. What I did like about Jonah Hex was the music. Composer Marco Beltrami did a fantastic job interweaving Stephan Foster scores with the hard and driving guitars of Mastodon. Mastodon and Beltrami provided just the right touch to move the film along. The film is not boring as the pacing keeps the story moving, quickly toward the end. At the end, you say to yourself, "Gee, I should have just waited and rented the DVD."

Movie Data
Genre: Action, Drama, Fantasy, Thriller, Western
Year:  2010
Staring: Josh Brolin, John Malkovich, Megan Fox, Michael Fassbender, Will Arnett
Director: Jimmy Hayward
Producer(s): Akiva Goldsman, Andrew Lazar
Writer: Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor, William Farmer
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 81 minutes
Release Date: 6/18/2010

Originally published on 6/25/2010 with Yahoo Voices

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Knight and Day: Everything Happens For a Reason

I usually take pages of notes during a movie to assist in writing the review; in the case of "Knight and Day," it wasn't necessary.  "Knight and Day" is an action adventure film with a little romance and stars Tom Cruise ("Mission Impossible") as Roy Miller, a super spy who supposedly went rogue, and Cameron Diaz ("Charlie’s Angels") as June Havens, a classic car restorer.  The two bump into each other at the airport, and that’s where the fun begins.  I didn't write a lot during the movie for two reasons; first a lot happens so fast (it’s hard to write in the dark); and most of what happens is classic "Mission Impossible" and or "Charlie’s Angels" plot and action adventure.  Most folks, who come to see this picture, will either come to see Cruise; or they come for Diaz and if you go for either; you won't be disappointed.

"Knight and Day" is more complicated than the "Killers," released earlier this year, with more plot twists and turns in the first half of the movie than the "Killers" had throughout the whole film.  June Havens (Diaz) is on her way to her sister’s wedding and for some reason is carrying spare parts for a vintage car she is restoring.  Before going through security, she runs into to Roy Miller (Cruise).  The audience is given a third-person point of view of the run-in via some FBI operatives watching on the security cameras.  After going through security and having all her car parts inspected by airport workers the two bumps into each other again.  FBI agent Fitzgerald played by the ever-so-charming bad guy Peter Sarsgaard (Flight Plan) decides that the airplane flight booked exclusively for Cruises character in an attempt to kill or capture him, to allow Diaz's character June to come aboard.  During the flight, the spies take action while June is in the bathroom and Miller kills all aboard including the pilots.  Cruise and Diaz are tied together for the rest of the movie like, well, night and day.  The actual plot revolves around a battery hidden in a tiny medieval knight statue. Designed by a genius kid out of high school by the name of Simon Feck played by Paul Dano ("There Will Be Blood"), the battery can light up a small city, and, therefore, is of significant value to the wrong side, whoever that may be.

It’s been along time Tom Cruise has starred in a comedy ("Tropic Thunder" doesn't count), and now that he is back, I think he should hang out a while before going back to action drama.  The thing I noticed about Cruise is his maturity, in the way he played the over the top spy character Roy Miller.  Cameron Diaz is not a superspy in this film, and although her romantic comedy days are not quite finished yet, she also seemed confident in her acting abilities rather than just eye candy.  Cruise and Diaz seemed together seemed to have more chemistry than Kutcher and Heigl in the "Killers."  The chemistry works because of the relationship built since Diaz and Cruise's last movie together, Vanilla Sky.  Not coming off as cocky at all in this film, it is difficult to see how Cruise's character develops throughout the film.  Usually Cruise's characters start as arrogant smart-asses with a chip on his shoulder; then Tom is taught some lessons in life; then his characters have an epiphany of some sort, and Tom Cruise's characters go from being a jerk to being likeable.  For example, check out any films from the 80's like "Top Gun," "Days of Thunder," "The Color of Money," and "Rain Man," as they all have the formulaic Tom Cruise character development.  We even get a glimpse of Tom as he adjusts his sunglasses directly into the camera a-la "Risky Business."

Director James Mangold's last action film includes 2007's "3:10 to Yuma," which was a fast-paced western remake.  In "Knight and Day," Mangold seems to partially remaking "Mission Impossible's" action scenes while trying to recreate the character development that he got while making "Walk the Line."  This may partially be because of the script delivered by the film’s writer of credit, Patrick O'Neill, which although contains many more twists and comic one-liners, and seems to be more in line with an Indiana Jones film than anything Mangold has directed to date.  In some ways, O'Neill's script seems to mock both Cruise and Diaz in subtle ways, like the "Risky Business" scene I mentioned earlier.  In some scenes, Diaz has that "Charlie's Angels" look about her just under the surface of her "Sweetest Thing" persona.  Giving the characters a break in the action scenes to develop both their characters and eventually a relationship made this film easier to swallow in the story development department.  I liked "Knight and Day: mostly because the light-hearted story moves quickly, making the two hours I spent at the movies left me excited and hopeful that the film’s two stars still have long careers ahead of them.

Movie Data
Genre: Action, Comedy, Romance
Year:  2010
Staring:  Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, Peter Sarsgaard, Jordi Mollà, Viola Davis, Paul Dano 
Director: James Mangold
Producer(s): Todd Garner, Cathy Konrad, Steve Pink
Writer: Patrick O'Neill
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 109 minutes
Release Date: 6/23/20110
Originally published on Associated Content on 6/24/2010 by Robert Barbere

Monday, June 21, 2010

The World of 3-D Movies

I remember when I was a kid; for Christmas one year, my dad had given me a View-Master.  I would spend hours looking through the thing watching the stereoscopic pictures.  I also spent a lot of my hard-earned allowance to buy more of the picture disks.  My family found it to be annoying in that I practically had the viewer glued to my head as I watched those pictures.  However, as fads come and go, the View-Master craze faded, as well.  Now in 2010 we live in an age where we expect the best from the films we see, we even demand our films to jump out at us; we want our film experience in 3D.  I must admit that I am no longer a fan of 3D motion pictures.  I have seen too many terrible films shown via the 3D medium, and it has left a sour taste.

The Good Old Days

In the 70s, my dad would take us to see the novelty 3-D films of the period, while the directors of these gems would milk the action to enhance every 3-D effect they could, throwing every thing directly at the audience from fists to daggers to get their 3D monies worth.  However, the stories were awful like, Jaws 3D and Friday the 13th – Part 3 is the ones I can remember.  Also, as when I was a kid, my parents collected, many antiques, and one of the antiques that we had was a wooden stereoscopic viewer from the late 1800's.  This wooden device held a card with two images of the same view taken slightly different angles that the user could view through a pair of glasses that would enhance the layered effect causing the image to appear to jump out at the viewer.  With the invention of motion pictures, a rapid series of images flashing on to a white screen, the stereoscopic aficionados jumped right in a demonstration in 1853 and in 1858 where, "In the classic method, used for monochrome stereo images, the left view in blue (or green) is superimposed on the same image with the right view in red.  This would give the viewer an anaglyph stereo image.  While a W. Rollmann in demonstrated this method in 1853 and J.C. D’Almeida displayed his method in 1858, it was Louis Ducos du Hauron, who in 1891 patented the method.  The idea behind this method was to trick your eyes into seeing the green information reflected with the red filter and vice-versa, your brain combining the information to form an image that appeared to stand out from the screen.

In the Beginning

Near the end of the 19th century, in 1897, C. Grivolas created a camera by which he could expose two reels of film at exactly the right distance apart, which is about 2.5 inches, so that he could project those images back to the viewers.  The audience who would be wearing glasses with one eye filtered for the blue information and the other filtered for the red information.  In 1922 director Harry K. Fairhall, while using the two-projector Fairhall-Elder stereoscopic (3-D) process that he and Robert F. Elder developed, released the film The Power of Love to favorable reviews.  While working to create color motion photography, William Van Doren Kelley, used his Prizmacolor to create his own 3D film titled, Movies of the Future, which was images of Time Square and areas around New York.  Based on the success of that film Kelly and in 1923, he tried another called Through the Trees which, although technically a better film, musical director Hugo Riesenfeld rejected the film because it did not have any of the "gimmicks" that we know 3D films to have today.

And Then There Was Color

In 1922, the 27 year-old inventor of the Hammond Organ, Laurens Hammond and William F. Cassidy created Televue.  Telavue is a complicated process where alternate-frame sequencing allowed the filmmaker to film with two cameras and playback with two projectors, one projector one frame behind the other.  The viewer utilizing a "televiewer" with its rotating shutter would once again trick the brain into processing an image that appeared to be popping out of the screen.  Director Roy William Neill used the process in the filming of Radio Mania aka M.A.R.S., which was a science fiction story about an absent-minded scientist, Arthur Wyman, working to invent a radio that can communicate with Mars.  However, due to the cost of the “televiewers” caused the system's immediate death.  By the 1930s, 3D moved from the anaglyph to the parallax stereogram invented by Semyon Pavlovich Ivanov which using a fine metal screen that would shield one eye from parts of the image surface and the other shielding the other eye from other parts.  Without the need for glasses, the parallax system is still used today for the novelty items like 3D baseball cards.  Transferring this technique to motion pictures, the Russians had 12 theaters outfitted for the parallax motion picture process; however, the viewer was limited in motion as turning their heads sideways, which would ruin the effect.  The 40s and 50s included many 3D films like The Creature From the Black Lagoon (my dad's favorite).  Issues arose from the cost of filming in 3D, and the rigors of projecting in 3D.  In many cases, people sometimes felt sick, complaining of headaches or sore eyes due to eyestrain.  Talking with folks who went to movies in the fifties, they often complained that the cardboard glasses irritated their ears, or if they wore prescription glasses, the movie was often not viewable.  The fad was fading.

The Here and Now

Today the processes are similar, more advanced, easier for the filmmaker, yet cumbersome for the viewer.  With the digital revolution come new breakthroughs and some old problems.  A videographer friend of mine tells me that when he shoots for 3D he uses two regular cameras, and that one does everything else in postproduction.  The advantage of this method is that afterwards one isn't tied to a specific type of 3D output.  When filming with digital cameras, he found that it is necessary to keep the width or the camera housing narrow enough so that when the cameras are put side to side so that the lenses should be exactly the same width, center-to-center, as the human eyes, roughly around 2.5 inches.  Then using postproduction trans-coding software, like Tri-Def, which analyzes the video for you, and then creates two tracks of images, which the software converts the two tracks into an anaglyph stereo video.  Still problems remain, as any motion blur in the perceived depth of field can ruin the illusion, and you still have to wear glasses, which is still a significant hassle for those with prescription glasses.  Another tactic used for mobile technologies is to use a product designed and sold by Spatial View in Germany.  The 3Dee Slide is a lens that you slide over your iPod and iPod Touch and allows one to view any digitally captured content in 3D.  Once again, quality degrades with the size of the screen and the resolution of the picture.  Another option is ColorCode, and their software-encoding package along with their proprietary 3D viewing glasses.  The best reason for using ColorCode is that viewing the encoded images without the glasses, the image is still viewable with out the funky red and green or red and blue out-of-phased images.  The software ranges from $50.00 US or up to several hundred if you buy bundled software encoding packages.

The War Begins

The battle lines are forming with big-name directors like James Cameron for 3D technology, and director Christopher Nolan who has openly admitted in a SlashFilm article, Nolan saying, “I’m not a huge fan of 3D.”  Avatar and Titanic director James Cameron in a recent CBS News interview said, "Quite simply, where they had a choice, the audience was selecting for the best possible way to see the movie."  Director Robert Zemeckis, in an interview with Movies.ie, posted on YouTube, Zemeckis indicates that he will do 3D films as long as the material lends itself to that medium.  Otherwise, he says, if a great screenplay doesn't seem right for 3D, he ill film it in traditional 2D.  Movie Critic Roger Ebert writes in Newsweek while listing his reasons notes that, "It is unsuitable for grown-up films of any seriousness."  The plastic 3D glasses themselves are issues as well, in a recent article I wrote, I quoted a Reuters news article calling in to question how sanitary are the glasses that they sell you.  Not being able to bring my own 3D glasses into the theater and avoid the extra charge for a pair that the theater was selling which according to the Reuters article may contain Staphylococcus aureus, I paid for the glasses but used my own.

In My Perfect World

Although directing a 3D film should be like directing any other film, where the story and character development should be the first priority, the director’s choice of filming in 3D should be a secondary concern.  I know that somewhere around the corner, a technology breakthrough will happen where I can turn on my television screen and with a click of a button on my remote control; I can select 2D or 3D modes of viewing.  When I go to a theater, I can walk in to watch a 3D movie without having to don glasses.  However, until that day does arrive, I want to be able to make up my own mind which films I select to watch in 3D or not.  While doing my own unscientific polling, (asking friends what they think of 3D) I found an almost even split, with those younger than age 25 for 3D, while those over the age of 25 seem to be either ambivalent or not liking the 3D presentation.  So the next time you go to watch a film in 3D, at least take some wipes with you, and wipe off those glasses before you enjoy your popcorn, and hopefully the movie.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Rampage: Review of Uwe Boll's Terrifying Character Study

Rampage: Uwe Boll's character story of youth without hope | A Constantly Racing Mind I literally had to go through hell to get a hold of a copy of Uwe Boll's latest film, "Rampage," and I am glad I did.  I went to several video stores, where they only stocked one or two copies that were already checked out from the first day of release.  Then the DVD I finally rented, didn't play on two of my three players. Uwe Boll is the director of films such as "BloodRayne," and "Alone in the Dark," to name two of his more popular bad movies titles.  With a name like "Rampage," one would expect a mindless killer on the loose; however, I can assure that is not the case.  Although "Rampage" exhibits video game like killing, there is a story, and engaging characters to go along with the story.  Starring and co-producing Brendan Fletcher ("Freddy vs. Jason") is Bill Williamson, a 23-year-old kid with too much time on his hands.

Living at home with his mom and dad, Bill Williamson spends his time working out, listening to talk radio, and works fixing cars.  Boll works hard in the first 15 minutes of the film hammering into our heads that Bill is like a stick of dynamite waiting to explode.  Quick frenetic cuts of the carnage to come, Bill is exercising, with audio overlays of radio talk show flipping from station to station as the speakers talk of the war in Iraq, a large oil spill (too soon for the Gulf coast), global warming, pollution, garbage on the beach, and invading Iraq for the oil.  Bill's stressor comes when during a rushed morning breakfast with his dad played by Matt Frewer ("Max Headroom") and his mom by Linda Boyd ("Damage" - 2009); they tell him that his time has come to move on, and to move out.  Brendan Fletcher is excellent as the disaffected young man, with no prospects, surrounded by parents who are too busy to see what he is up to.  They book an appointment with him to talk about his moving out later at dinner as they rush out to their corporate jobs.  Fletcher is shorter than his parents and most of the cast, and Fletcher plays Bill as a cocky kid with a seemingly victim mentality.  Boll has a keen intuition showing little gestures in Bill, like the turning of a cup of latte macchiato made for him badly at a coffee house inciting a small name-calling incident.  You know Bill is coming back later.  Meeting his friend Evan Drince (Shaun Sipos), to pick up some packages Bill had delivered to Evan's address for him, they have lunch at fast-food chicken stand, and the guys have a conversation where Evan expresses Ewe Boll's ideology behind this film.  "Leavers co-exist with the environment while Takers...  Drive around in Ferrari's."  Bill and Evan discuss plans for going paint balling the next day, before the boys go their separate ways.  At this point, I have one word for Mr. Boll, tripod. Many directors adopt the   documentary film style  to give their films an edgy independent feel, in the case of "Rampage" is annoying disrupting a simple conversation.  The slightest movement by the camera operator holding the weight of the camera is disturbing.  Coming home at night to parents who are already sipping their after work wine, ask Bill where was he and why didn't he come home to discuss his moving out.  Bill promises them a surprise in the morning, telling them they will be happy with his announcement.  Planning and scheming Bill works on his Kevlar suit and images of the killings flashing heighten the tension.  The actual rampage that Bill goes on is the release.

Rampage: Brendan Fletcher as Bill Williamson | A Constantly Racing Mind

This is a good film, a good story, excellent character development with a clever ending, which was not what I was expecting from Ewe Boll.  The film only suffers in the area of shaky camera syndrome and some rough editing that creates too much of a jumpy affect.  Boll and Fletcher in now way make Bill a sympathetic character in any way; however, they do show that he is a character in control.  While going through the Bingo hall filled with elderly patrons oblivious to the carnage outside, and utterly ignoring the man in full-body armor, they continue calling numbers despite Bill's interruptions.  Bill leaves, shaking his head, "they don't need my help."  The mom and dad characters portray a family where they leave their only son to himself until he is 23 then told to leave.  Sipos plays the radical friend Evan well, while the Sheriff, played by Michael Paré is only incidental and a waste of talent.  Unfortunately, Uwe Boll has written a perfect how-to film on domestic terrorism and what areas to hit first in a town.  Bill starts his rampage by taking out the police station, and then heads out to take his vengeance on the town.  Bill stops shortly at a hair salon, holding the women hostage while he drinks some water, leaving the girls unharmed - sort of.  

The full body armored suit designed for "Rampage" is impressive and if the North Hollywood bank robbers had this suit they would probably be alive, and in prison today.  Filmed in Vancouver, doubling for Tenderville Oregon, Boll takes advantage of the green forest surroundings for part of the film surprise ending.  Uwe Boll's "Rampage" is not for the faint of heart, and one should watch this film for Brendan Fletcher's acting and for Boll's story.  While the production value of the film suffers for the lack of tracks and camera dollies, the film on a whole is a pleasant surprise for action, thriller fans.

Movie Data
Genre: Action, Crime, Thriller
Year:  2010
Staring:  Brendan Fletcher, Shaun Sipos, Michael Paré, Matt Frewer, Lynda Boyd, Robert Clarke
Director: Uwe Boll
Producer(s): Uwe Boll, Shawn Williamson
Writer: Uwe Boll
Rating: R
Running Time: 85 minutes
Release Date: 4/29/2010
Originally published by Robert Barbere on Associated Content on 6/17/2010