Shitty Movie Sundays: xXx

Finally, a film for the energy drink generation.

What a putrid mess. In truth, the only reason I watched xXx at all is because I noticed that there were no films under ‘X’ in the Empty Balcony database. Every other letter in the English alphabet is represented, but in the many years I’ve been pounding out these reviews I’ve never once reviewed a film whose title began with the letter X. Now that I’ve seen xXx, I never have to watch it again. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: xXx”

The Empty Balcony: Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the GalaxyI think I may have seen too many movies. That’s the only reason I can think of to explain why I did not like Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel Studios’ 2014 money machine. It hit all the right notes when it comes to action, pacing, and story. It kept things simple, avoiding all pretension, and at no point did it strive to be something greater than it was. But...

I think the movie showed a profound disrespect for its audience. Big action movies aren’t just simple anymore. Rather, they have been simplified, stripped of any sort of nuance or individuality in the pursuit of massive box office receipts. There is nothing inherently wrong in trying to maximize profit. But what it does mean is that, in seeing a movie like this, no viewer can expect anything beyond superficial uniqueness. There are new stories out there. But new stories require an entrepreneurial spirit that Hollywood is currently anathema to. It’s hard to explain how much the studio system has changed in a generation, so I’ll just give this example: Taxi Driver was a Hollywood studio film. That’s right. Taxi Driver. A film featuring a violent psychopath, who develops a crush on an underage hooker, as a protagonist. These days, the talents of that film’s young director, Martin Scorcese, would be steered into projects that are designed from the very beginning to be sanitized versions of past successes. Continue readingThe Empty Balcony: Guardians of the Galaxy”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Riddick

RiddickI was really hoping this movie would have been appropriate for the October Horrorshow. Alas, it was not. Sure, there is some exotic, overly aggressive wildlife to be found, and they do devour a good amount of the cast, but this movie is more a straight action flick than anything else. Too bad. I was looking forward to featuring this review right after Pitch Black. Well, at least it’s shitty!

Riddick, of course, is the second sequel to Pitch Black, featuring the eponymous character played by Vin Diesel. In this flick, Riddick has abandoned the burdens of galactic leadership and returned to his animal nature, a sly acknowledgment by writer/director David Twohy that the second movie in the series, The Chronicles of Riddick, was a stupidly overwrought idea that never should have been put to film. Riddick isn’t a fucking politician. He’s a badass. No one wants to see him speechifying or fending off the knives of palace assassins. The world, this world, needs Riddick to get in gunfights with mercenaries and fight creatures with big pointy teeth. Message received. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Riddick”

October Horrorshow: Pitch Black

I’m a sucker for Alien ripoffs. Really, I am. Something about the shared stories (monsters whittling down hapless cast members) strikes something elemental in my brain. The formula for films like Alien seems so fundamentally sound to modern storytelling that I bet, had he been alive in the era of science fiction, the Bard himself would have come up with it. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Pitch Black”