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Atlantic Rim (2013)



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Atlantic Rim (2013)Starring David Chokachi, Anthony “Treach” Criss, Graham Greene, Jackie Moore

Directed by Jared Cohn

Go! Go! Mighty Drunken Broski Rangers!

Atlantic Rim (AKA Attack from Beneath – the less lawsuit-y US release title) is as you have probably already guessed The Asylum’s mockbuster of Pacific Rim. At the very least, it’s a mockbuster of Pacific Rim’s first trailer. I was left with the impression when it was over that the film was initially scripted based around working in imagery seen in the first Pacific Rim trailer from late last year, and from there a good portion of it was then improvised on the set, and the rest was constructed in the editing bay. Neither completely incoherent nor entirely lucid nor an outright rip-off of Pacific Rim, The Asylum have crafted their own enthusiastically goofball cinematic beast: the ultimate monster movie about booze-hounding broskis in battle bots saving New York City from a crazy-eyed giant sea beast that frequently appears to be merely a lost animal, confused and irritated that these metal men won’t stop hitting it.

Gigantic sea monsters have hatched from eggs beneath the ocean and waste no time wrecking an oil rig. Good thing the US military just happens to have on standby three deep sea submersible giant robots that look like designs leftover from a never-made Asylum mockbuster of Real Steel.

The fate of the world rests in the robot-piloting hands of “Red” (David Chokachi of “Baywatch” fame), the ultimate frat boy in the greatest frat of all: the United States military. He never follows orders, is constantly either drunk or looking for an excuse to get drunk, and – I’m theorizing here – must suffer from a strange form of Tourette’s syndrome that instead of profanity makes him randomly “woo” and unleash Stallone-esque yells that range from primal to celebratory. Red isn’t his actual name. Like any good Power Ranger, the robots and their pilots are color-coordinated: jumpsuits, robots, even the lighting in the cockpit. But only Red is so cool even his lover, drinking buddy, female broski, and fellow robot pilot, Tracy (the lovely Jackie Moore), calls him by his color more than his actual name.

Chokachi’s Red has to be seen to be believed here. The traits of the villainous fraternity jock from every Eighties college sex comedy mixed with the virtue of the maverick action hero who succeeds by playing by his own set of rules, and he’s more than likely an alcoholic. I’ve never quite seen a movie hero like this.

The commanding officer describes Red as the best they have. This will be the same commanding officer who wastes no time having him arrested for blatantly disregarding a direct order that likely got innocent people killed in the process. Then he gives him a medal. Then he has him locked up for insubordination, again. Then he excitedly cheers him on during the final battle. Then they fist bump, and the General is named an honorary Mighty Drunken Broski Ranger and invited to get hammered with them.

The tagline for this film really should have been “Go Drunk or Go Extinct”. Defeat a giant monster and rescue some citizens from a burning building – go to the bar and get drunk. Escape from a stockade as the military base is being attacked by a giant monster, doing nothing to actually save anyone, countless bodies all over the ground as they make a hasty retreat to a safe distance – go to the bar and get drunk. Given our heroes propensity for alcohol and that the robots in Pacific Rim are called “Jaegers” I must express my tremendous disappointment that nobody involved with Atlantic Rim thought to name their robots “Meisters”.

Rounding out the trio is Red’s broski-for-life Jim, played by Treach of “Naughty by Nature”. Wouldn’t you know it; he’s still down with OPP. But that’s okay because Red has such a bros before hos policy that he’s okay with you banging his ho as long as you’re his bro.

Whereas Red exists in a perpetual cycle of getting drunk and looking for any reason to get drunk, which, in turn, forces Tracy to spend as much time playing chaperone as she does love interest, Jim chooses instead to be a real Debbie downer at times, filled with so much remorse I kept waiting for him to recite Samuel L. Jackson’s speech from the conclusion of “Pulp Fiction” before heading out to walk the earth.

Red’s commanding officer is Dances with Wolves Best Supporting Actor nominee Graham Green. It is amazing to watch him underperform and overact all at the same time. Nearly every line of his dialogue is delivered in precisely the same bombastic tone as a military colonel in an old Saturday morning cartoon. Fitting actually, considering that the movie functions under that very sort of cartoon logic.

A very straightforward movie, and by that I mean director Jared Cohn keeps things moving straightforward at such a brisk pace you don’t have much time to dwell upon how completely nonsensical something you just heard or saw was.

For example, if the robots are connected to their minds so that they mimic every movement the pilots make and the pilots are sitting down, shouldn’t the robots also be in a constant seated position?

A smashed city is still smoldering and dead bodies are still being peeled off the pavement. Would city, state, and government officials throw a formal ball celebrating the defeat of the giant monster that caused all this death and destruction that very evening, and, hypothetically speaking, if such an event were to occur in such a timely manner, would bringing this scene to life using stock footage of a Mardi Gras ball complete with a giant skull & crossbones banner and a band performing in festive costumes be appropriate?

Also weirdly inappropriate, Red and Tracy’s romantic dance intercut with actual real-life footage of destruction representing monster wreckage.

Where exactly did those Wii-operated robotic melee weapons they whip out of thin air come from?

Am I really seeing insulation tubing and string lights from Spencer’s Gifts adorning the cockpits of these state-of-the-art billion dollar government robots?

Speaking of seeing, that guy with the eye patch driving the car, shouldn’t he try keeping his one good eye on the road rather than constantly having his head cocked in the direction of the General in the passenger seat he’s talking to. This guy driving never looks at the road even once during this entire scene that goes on for well over a minute, and nobody else in the car seems the least bit concerned. Either that car should have wrecked or he should have been mowing down pedestrians like it’s Death Race 2000.

That guy with the eye patch, another military man also performing to Saturday morning cartoon levels of teeth-gnashing nogoodnik-ness, represents the film’s human villain. In a subplot lifted straight out of The Avengers, he wants to nuke the inhuman threat attacking the Pensacola, Florida borough of New York City. By his logic, sacrificing millions to save millions makes perfect sense, and launching a nuclear missile should always be the first response. If you disagree, he’ll shoot you. No, really, he’ll pull out his gun and threaten to kill you. That’s how the chain of command works, you know?

Atlantic Rim is definitely no Sharknado, not even in the same league. I could highly recommend that film even to people who normally would never give such a movie a second thought. This one I can really only recommend to hardcore monster movie fans and b-movie fans, MST3K riffers, and, as weird as this might sound, it truly is the perfect giant monster movie for people that consider “Franklin & Bash” the best show on television. To anyone questioning how I can grade this movie on such a curve as to give it a positive score, allow me to respond with a brief little video I assembled of the many broski battle cries of Atlantic Rim’s David Chokachi. I rest my case.

3 out of 5

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Desolation Review – The Joy of Being Rescued and All the Surprises That Come With It



Starring Raymond J. Barry, Brock Kelly, Dominik Garcia-Lorido

Directed by David Moscow

It’s those random, once-in-a-lifetime encounters that only a select few get the chance to experience: when we as regular participants in this wonderful thing known as The Rat Race, stumble across a soul that we’ve only witnessed on the big screen. I’m talking about a celebrity encounter, and while some of the masses will chalk the experience up as nothing more than a passing moment, others hold it to a much larger interior scale…then you REALLY get to know the person, and that’s when things get interesting.

Director David Moscow’s thriller, Desolation follows shy hotel employee Katie (Lorido) and her “fortuitous” brush with Hollywood pretty-boy Jay (Kelly) during one of his stops – the two hit it off, and together they begin a sort of whirlwind-romance that takes her away from her job and drops her in the heart of Los Angeles at the apartment building he resides in. You can clearly see that she has been a woman who’s suffered some emotional trauma in her past, and this golden boy just happens to gallop in on his steed and sweep her off of her feet, essentially rescuing her from a life of mundane activity. She gets the full-blown treatment: a revamped wardrobe, plenty of lovin’, and generally the life she’s wanted for some time.

Things return to a bit of normalcy when Jay has to return to work, leaving Katie to spread out at his place, but something clearly isn’t kosher with this joint. With its odd inhabitants (a very creepy priest played by Raymond J. Barry), even more bizarre occurrences, and when one scared young woman cannot even rely on the protection from the local police, it all adds up to a series of red flags that would have even the strongest of psyches crying for their mothers. What Moscow does with this movie is give it just enough swerves so that it keeps your skull churning, but doesn’t overdo its potential to conclusively surprise you, and that’s what makes the film an entertaining watch.

While Lorido more than holds her ground with her portrayal of a woman who has been hurt in the past, and is attempting to place her faith in a new relationship, it’s Barry that comes out on top here. His performance as Father Bill is the kind of stuff that wouldn’t exactly chill you to the bone, but he’s definitely not a man of the cloth that you’d want to be stuck behind closed doors with – generally unsettling. As I mentioned earlier, the plot twists are well-placed, and keep things fresh just when you think you’ve got your junior private investigator badge all shined up. Desolation is well-worth a look, and really has kicked off 2018 in a promising fashion – let’s see what the other 11 months will feed us beasts.

  • Film


Got your eye on that shining movie star or starlet? Better make sure it’s what you really want in life – you know what they say about curiosity.

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Wolf Guy Blu-ray Review – Sonny Chiba As A Werewolf Cop In ’70s Japan



Wolf Guy UK SleeveStarring Sonny Chiba, Etsuko Nami, Kyosuke Machida

Directed by Kazuhiko Yamaguchi

Distributed by Arrow Video

As virtually every American adaptation has proven, translating manga to the big screen is a job best left to Japanese filmmakers. There is an inherent weirdness – for lack of a better term – to their cultural media that should be kept “in house” if there is to be any hope for success. Ironically, the stories are often so fantastical and wildly creative that a big American studio budget would be necessary to fully realize such a live-action vision. But I digress. Back in 1975, Toei Studios (home of Gamera) adapted the 1970 manga series Wolf Guy into a feature of the same name. Starring the legendary Shin’ichi Chiba (a.k.a. Sonny Chiba), who at that time was in his prime, the film combines elements of crime and psychedelic cinema, delivering less of a werewolf film (despite the title suggesting otherwise) and more of a boilerplate crime caper with a cop who has a few tricks up his hairy sleeve. I should stress it is the story that plays fairly straightforward, while the film itself is a wild kaleidoscope of strange characters and confounding situations… mostly.

An unseen killer, known only as “The Tiger”, prowls the streets at night slashing victims to death and leaving behind no trace. Beat cop Akira Inugami (Sonny Chiba) is on the case, and he has an advantage over his fellow brothers in blue: being a werewolf. As the opening credits flashback shows, Akira is the sole survivor of the Inugami clan of werewolves after a slaughter wiped out the rest of his kind. Now, as the last of his brethren, he uses his acute lycanthropic skills, under the auspices of the moon, to track down underworld thugs and solve cases uniquely tailored to his abilities. As the lunar cycle of the moon sees it growing fuller Akira’s powers, too, increase to superhuman levels.

Searching for this mysterious “Tiger”, Akira is led into a subterranean world of clandestine government organizations, nightclub antics, and corrupt politicians. One night, Akira is attacked and taken prisoner by a government research lab that wants to use his blood to create werewolves they can control. Only problem is – which they don’t realize – Akira’s blood cannot be mixed with that of a human; the only end result is death. Miki (Etsuko Nami), a drug user with syphilis, comes to Akira’s aid and proves to be quite useful. She holds a secret that has the potential to vastly change Akira’s world but, first, a showdown with the criminal underbelly looms on the horizon… as does the fifteenth day of the Lunar Cycle, when Akira will be made nearly invincible.

First, some bad news: Sonny Chiba never attains full werewolf status. This is not that movie. Sure, he growls and snarls and sneers and possesses many of the traits of a werewolf but in terms of physical characteristics he more or less remains “human” the entire time. Yes, even during “Lunar Cycle Day 15”, a.k.a. the moment every viewer is waiting for, to see him turn into a wolf. Instead, he just winds up kicking a lot of ass and taking very little damage. To be fair, a grizzled Sonny Chiba is still enough of a formidable presence, but, man, to see him decked out as a full-on kung-fu fighting werewolf would’ve been badass. The film could have done better at tempering expectations because it builds up “Day 15” like viewers are going to see an explosion of fur and flesh, instead it’s just plenty of the latter. Aw, well.

Lack of werewolf-ing aside, the film plays out a bit uneven. The opening offers up a strong start, with The Tiger attack, wily underworld characters being introduced, and a tripped-out acid garage rock soundtrack (which I’d kill for a copy of). But Second Act Lag is a real thing here and many of the elements that may have piqued viewer curiosity in the first act are scuttled, and although the third act and climax bring forth fresh action and a solution to the mystery it also feels a bit restrained. Then again, this is Toei, often seen as a cheaper Toho. Wolf Guy serves as a good introduction to Akira Inugami and his way of life, which makes it a greater shame no sequels were produced.

Presented with a 2.35:1 1080p image, Wolf Guy hits Blu-ray with a master supplied by Toei, meaning Arrow did no restorative work of their own on the picture – and it shows. Japanese film elements, especially those of older films, are often notorious for being poorly housed and feebly restored. This transfer is emblematic of those issues, with hazy black levels, average-to-poor definition, minimal shadow detail, and film grain that gets awfully noisy at times. The best compliment I can give is daylight close-up scenes exhibit a pleasing level of fine detail, though nothing too eye-popping. This is a decidedly mediocre transfer across the board.

The score fares a bit better, not because the Japanese LPCM 1.0 mono mix is a beast but because the soundtrack is so wildly kinetic, exploding with wild garage rock and fuzzy riffs right from the get-go. Dialogue has a slight hiss on the letter “s” but is otherwise nicely balanced within the mix. Subtitles are available in English.

“Kazuhiko Yamaguchi: Movies with Guts” is a September 2016 sit-down with the film’s director, who reflects on his career and working with an icon like Sonny Chiba.

“Toru Yoshida: B-Movie Master” is an interview with Yoshida, a former producer at Toei who oversaw this film and many others.

“Sonny Chiba: A Life in Action, Vol. 1” covers the man’s career up to a point, with the remainder finished on Arrow’s other 2017 Chiba release, Doberman Cop.

A theatrical trailer is also included, as is a DVD copy of the feature.

Special Features:

  • Kazuhiko Yamaguchi: Movies with Guts
  • Toru Yoshida: B-Movie Master
  • Sonny Chiba: A Life in Action, Vol. 1
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Wolf Guy
  • Special Features


While the film might be a bit of a letdown given what is suggested, fans of bizarre Japanese ’70s cinema – and certainly fans of Chiba’s work – should, at the least, have fun with this title.

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Inside (Remake) Review – Is It as Brutal as the Original?



Starring Rachel Nichols Laura Harring

Directed by Miguel Ángel Vivas

While the directing duo of the cringe-inducing and original 2007 French grand guignol thriller Inside have gone on to refurbishments of their own—Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo recently helmed a retread of Leatherface’s origin story—their flick now has an American stamp on it with the release of the remake, also titled Inside.

A cheerless Christmas eve sets the stage for heavily-pregnant widow Sarah’s (Rachel Nichols) oncoming ordeal. It’s a frigid and snowy night. She’s got a huge house to herself, following the accidental and violent death of her husband. She wants to sell the home that was meant to hold a family, to forget the nascent memories it once held. But she’s got to ride it out until the baby is born. While Sarah is lonesome, she won’t be alone. She’s got her genial gay neighbor nearby, and her mum is going to come and stay with her for a few days. Oh, and there will be an unexpected visitor too.

When a shadowy, seemingly stranded stranger (Laura Harring) knocks on the door pleading to be let inside, Sarah instinctively balks. She even calls the cops. But the woman leaves and all seems well. Crisis averted. Sarah puts the housekeys in the mailbox outside for Mom, and goes to bed. Big mistake.

Mystery Lady shows up at Sarah’s bedside armed with chloroform, an IV bag, and a case full of sharp-and-pointies (sorry, ’07 fans… those implements do not include a pair of scissors). The horror unfolds and the expected yet lively game of gory cat-and-mouse ensues. Then the tete-a-tete becomes a body-count chiller featuring one shocking moment after another.

Nichols is fantastic in the role, giving it her all. When the original Inside came out eleven years ago, she was starring in another French-helmed horror, P2—also set on Christmas eve—and she stole the show. She does the same here but with a less-intense adversary. Harring’s killer character, unlike her European counterpart, has a lot to say—which takes away from her initially mysterious manner as the minutes tick off. Still, the girl-on-girl action is a welcome change from the usual gender dynamic one sees in these things. Both deserve kudos for their performances.

While Inside isn’t a died-in-the-wool “Hollywood” remake (Miguel Ángel Vivas directs, while [REC] co-creator Jaume Balagueró wrote it) it feels like one. For those who’ve seen the original, there will be mild disappointment (which turns to major letdown at the very end). However, Inside is still a serviceable thriller that’s well-acted, beautifully shot, and effectively scored. Folks coming in fresh, and casual horror fans, will more than likely enjoy it.

  • Inside (Remake)


Inside is a serviceable thriller that’s well-acted, beautifully shot, and effectively scored. Folks coming in fresh, and casual horror fans, will more than likely enjoy it. For those who’ve seen the original, there will be mild disappointment (which turns to major letdown at the very end).

User Rating 1.67 (3 votes)
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