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Tag Archive: Assault on Precinct 13


Review by C.J. Bunce

Jon Bernthal returned to Netflix this weekend for Season 2 of Marvel’s The Punisher, continuing in the role of Frank Castle, the comic book vigilante that makes all of the Clint Eastwood, Sylvester Stallone, Chuck Norris, and Keanu Reeves movie action heroes look wimpy by comparison.  Bernthal’s performance as a 21st century hero offers more than the beatings he dishes out (which will make viewers wince, flinch, and duck throughout 13 episodes), it has that subtlety and nuance that shows again Bernthal has the acting chops to be the next Robert De Niro.  And he’s probably the most believable actor as a Marvel comic book tough guy on the big or small screen.

The Punisher fits the superhero bill in his strength, cunning, and skill, and writers Steve Lightfoot, Ken Kristensen, Angela LaManna, Dario Scardapane, Christine Boylan, Felicia D. Henderson, Bruce Marshall Romans, and Laura Jean Leal outperformed the stellar first season with more elaborate set-ups for Castle & Co.  In 2017 the series’ first season made our borg.com best comic book adaptation and best villain with Ben Barnes‘ Billy Russo, and Barnes does it again, creating a worthy foil very different from last time, a character similar in many ways to the complex and somewhat sympathetic Killmonger in Black Panther.  In many ways it’s more of the same, with Amber Rose Revah (Emerald City) as Dinah Madani and Jason R. Moore (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice) as Curtis back supporting Castle, this time balancing two big threats.  The cast plays exceptionally well off each other, and it’s a shame this is the final season for the series.

Castle steps in as good Samaritan to protect a teenager played by Giorgia Whigham (The Orville) who becomes the season’s co-lead, a key part of a strange, Manchurian Candidate-inspired political scheme.  Meanwhile Madani pursues Billy Russo, now under the care of a psychiatrist played by series newcomer Floriana Lima.  The beating by Castle in Season One left Russo with memory loss, forgetting Castle nearly killed him only because he killed Castle’s family in the first season of the show.  The key theme again is PTSD and the results of coming home from war as a trained killer with little community support.  In many ways The Punisher is a modern-day read of the post-war classic The Best Years of Our Lives.  Loyalty is a key theme again, too, as is doing what is necessary to protect your own.

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An all-star cast from the past and present heads up the new action-thriller Hotel Artemis.  The first trailer is out and it looks like a new take on John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13, maybe colliding with Atomic Blonde.  It stars Academy Award winner Jodie Foster as The Nurse–the head of a members-only, exclusive, secret hospital for criminals, built on two concepts: Trust and Rules.  And it all goes spy vs. spy as the bad guys must face even badder bad guys.  Foster looks and sounds great as a tried and true, battle-worn healthcare worker who has clearly encountered any and all kinds of patients and circumstances over the years.  Hotel Artemis–oddly enough–seems to fit right into her catalog of films like Flightplan, Panic Room, Inside Man, and Elysium.

You couldn’t ask for a more exciting cast of Hollywood’s current big names.  Joining Foster, Black Panther and Marshall actor Sterling K. Brown stars as Waikiki, a thief whose team gets wounded in a robbery.  That team includes his brother Honolulu, played by Brian Tyree Henry (Atlanta, Spider-man: Into the Spider-verse).  The real badass of the film is one of our favorites, Atomic Blonde co-star Sofia Boutella as a jet-fueled, Bruce Lee-skilled assassin.  Boutella has conquered the genre with roles in Kingsman: The Secret Service, Star Trek Beyond, and The Mummy.  Who else would you want in your corner but an orderly played by Dave Bautista Chuck, DC and Marvel, Blade Runner, and James Bond–Bautista has played some great parts in cool worlds.  And it doesn’t stop there.  These characters must confront another bad guy group, led by a cocky villain played by Jeff Goldblum.  Hotel Artemis also hosts Jenny Slate (Venom, Zootopia, Parks and Recreation, The LEGO Batman Movie), Zachary Quinto (Star Trek, Heroes), and Charlie Day (Pacific Rim, Pacific Rim: Uprising, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia). 

Hotel Artemis is coming from the mind of writer/director Drew Pearce, known for writing big films like Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation and Iron Man 3, plus he’s also writing the next Ghostbusters and Sherlock Holmes movie.  Get ready for a trailer done just right:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

It’s the largest direct to television film yet made, the $90 million new Christmas weekend Netflix-only release Bright.  And it’s a welcome addition to the world of mash-ups.  It’s a fantasy, action, police procedural.  It’s a Will Smith movie and a high-octane Assault on Precinct 13 and Training Day-inspired shoot-’em-up.  It’s The Lord of the Rings meets Adam-12.  And it’s also like a new film in the Alien Nation series or an episode of the short-lived Syfy series Defiance.  The biggest downfall is that the opportunities for new stories within its massive world building merits more than just a one-shot story.

Joel Edgerton is fantastic as an Orc LAPD officer named Nick Jakoby who’s partnered with a human cop named Daryl Ward, played by Will Smith.  It’s a parallel world where the past 2,000 years of Earth history have been blended with the trope world of classic high fantasy stories.  Evil little fairies annoy and harass and cause mischief.  Elves are refined and tend to run everything.  Dragons fly unassuming across the night sky.  Orcs are the dregs of society and humans are stuck somewhere in the middle.  A Bright can be of any race, and federal agents responsible for magic are attempting to make certain a certain evil Bright is not reunited with a magic wand–an event that could return a dark power to annihilate the planet.

When Daryl and Nick pick up a Bright carrying a magic wand, gangs of humans and Orcs will stop at nothing to possess the wand–a rare object that can grant its owner any and every wish.  But only a Bright can handle a wand, and like the One Ring from The Hobbit series, the temptation to take the wand is great–too great for some poor saps without self-control.  The movie moves into a full-length action chase scene, with Daryl and Nick mirroring the cops in a very similar situation from Alien Nation.  And also like Alien Nation, the subtext is a reflection of all of the ills of society.

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magnificent-seven-banner-2016

Review by C.J. Bunce

It’s almost more useful to critique the critics than the new movie The Magnificent Seven, released in theaters this weekend.  You’ll find the whole lot so predictable.  The Magnificent Seven is a reboot or a remake (call it what you want) and so the best that critics are willing to do is provide the phoned-in, knee-jerk dismissal of it being something less than the original and therefore not worth the time it takes them to write a thoughtful review.  Or they will compare it to the best Westerns of all time, and tell you why it falls short.  The better reviews will point out that it’s a remake of the 1960 classic Western starring Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen.  The smarter ones will remind you that even that version was based on the original Japanese version, Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai.  Paycheck earned.  Existence justified.  But that’s all too easy.

Yes, the original 1960 John Sturges version is both a great Western and quite fun (it’s on my top ten list).  The darker original Japanese film is more dramatic, brilliant in its simplicity, and not so much a rousing popcorn movie.  Is the 2016 remake among the best Westerns of all time?  Maybe not.  But is it a good Western?  Absolutely.  Do we always want to see the best picture nominee when we go to the theater?  I don’t.  I want to have fun.  And The Magnificent Seven is a blast.  In fact, critics are looking at it wrong.  It’s actually the year’s best superhero movie.

I understand the modern film critic’s dilemma, especially when Hollywood seems to have lost its imagination, churning out remake after remake.  It’s the same old song:  If you were a fan of–or better yet–love the original, you’re more likely than not to brush off the remake altogether, or at least not give it the attention it deserves.  Those who never saw the original or those who can view a remake as its own incarnation–those who can tell themselves their feelings for the remake will not “ruin” their feelings about the original–probably enjoyed the Star Trek reboot from 2009, or Always, or Assault on Precinct 13, or The Flight of the Phoenix, The Fog, The Jackal, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Money Pit, Ocean’s Eleven, RoboCop, The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, or Walking Tall.  Each of these, viewed on their own merits is a great film.  They may even be good remakes.  Those who avoid The Magnificent Seven are missing out on a fun outing.  And a good remake.

sensmeier-magnificent-seven-scene

Today’s ensemble movie is mostly found in the superhero genre.  Stack up The Magnificent Seven against The Avengers, The Avengers 2, or Captain America: Civil War, or any DC Comics superhero film of the past 20 years, and it leaves them all in its dust in its success in introducing a team, getting them to work together, and MacGyver the situation into some giant climactic battles.  Each of the titular seven stars of the movie have their own extraordinary abilities, they just don’t wear capes.  It’s an ensemble piece.  A superhero team-up.  So why don’t we have a casting Oscar?  The three casting directors knew what they were doing–they created the teams for Suicide Squad, Batman v. Superman, No Country for Old Men, True Grit, Sin City, and Star Wars Episode VIII.

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Bone Tomahawk

Review by C.J. Bunce

Writer/director S. Craig Zahler’s 2015 film release Bone Tomahawk starts as a classic Western about life on the frontier–living at home, visiting the local saloon, working in the local Sheriff’s office.  It quickly becomes a genre-bending damsel in distress/ “a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do” picture and much more.  Several other genre elements are woven together to create a solid, serious drama that is equal parts suspense thriller and gritty, meaty Western that rises above most efforts to make a classic Western in the past 45 years, if you forgive it for one scene that dips into gruesome, in-your-face horror.  Put Bone Tomahawk up there with Silverado.  It’s a far better Western than even the much celebrated Unforgiven.

Bone Tomahawk follows four men as they pursue the mysterious captors of a local frontier doctor–a woman (played by Lili Simmons)–and the criminal she was operating on (played by David Arquette) and the on-hand sheriff’s deputy (played by Evan Jonigkeit).  It’s a simple story, yet it couldn’t be more unique in its execution.  In possibly Kurt Russell’s finest bit of reserved, serious acting ever on film, he plays Sheriff Hunt.  Made of the same mettle as Gary Cooper in High Noon and John Wayne in The Searchers, he is relentless in his pursuit.  Patrick Wilson is equally relentless as the husband of the missing doctor.  His leg has been wounded from a fall and so he must forge ahead limping along throughout the film as he sleuths out what is really going on.  Think of him as a mix of Gary Cooper in Sergeant York and Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window Lost’s Matthew Fox is the slick but honorable, impeccably dressed gentleman barfly, who once had a thing for the doctor, and volunteers to help find her.  The posse is rounded out by the now crotchety character actor from film and TV, Richard Jenkins.  He’s droll and provides a different flavor of humor along the way.

Bone Tomahawk movie poster

Zahler isn’t afraid to let the movie flow at its own pace, and allow the viewer to soak up the scenery, the Western tropes, the camaraderie of the team as they eat and sleep and take their horses forward through the long desert way.  It’s an 1890s Assault on Precinct 13, only like High Plains Drifter the nature of the mystery is hidden from us for so long that the anticipation warrants calling this out as a top-notch suspense thriller.  Who stole the townsfolk and are they still alive?  And what is that strange music we hear in the wind before bodies start falling?  Like The Ghost and the Darkness, you want to run away from what is out there waiting for you–this feels like a ghost story, maybe even every frontier family’s personal nightmare come to life.

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Corridor from Gattaca

In honor of Ethan Hawke’s nomination for a best supporting actor Academy Award today for his film Boyhood, we have previews for two coming films from Hawke, a Shakespeare retelling called Anarchy, and a cyber-war thriller, Good Kill.  And why we’re at it we have three trailers for some of his best past films–in case you haven’t seen these yet: the stunning sci-fi masterpiece Gattaca, the true-life adventure story Alive, and the action-packed remake of John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13.

Hawke is one of those under-rated actors who seems to put plenty of intensity and passion into his roles, whether for big movies like Dead Poet’s Society or Training Day (which earned him his first Academy Award nomination), for remakes of classic works like Hamlet and Great Expectations, or the lesser known films that follow.

Assault on Precinct 13 Ethan Hawke

First up, a trailer for the strangest choice of a Shakespeare play we’ve yet seen, Anarchy:

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Ethan Hawke in Getaway

This year is turning out to be a busy one for Ethan Hawke.  This past weekend his new sci-fi horror thriller Purge opened in theaters at the #1 spot at the box office.  Not bad considering the blockbuster films like Star Trek and Iron Man 3 still in the theaters that it is facing off against.  Co-starring Lena Headey (300, Sarah Connor Chronicles, Game of Thrones), Purge follows a family in a future society where for 12-hours all hell breaks loose as crimes are legalized to “get it all out of society’s system”.  Next weekend he co-stars with An American Werewolf in Paris’s Julie Delpy in the romance drama Before Midnight.  Late this summer, Hawke stars in the crime-action flick Getaway, about a man trying to save his kidnapped wife in a film that shares a lot with Colin Farrell’s Phone Booth and Chris Evans’ Cellular.

Ethan hawke in White Fang

Ethan Hawke is an actor, who, especially in his genre films, seems to show great improvement in each subsequent film.  He first got noticed by the masses in Explorers (1985), a pure kid flick in which he co-starred with River Phoenix as a boy encountering a spacecraft that he takes to find an alien being on another world.  He stepped up his game in his major break, Dead Poets Society (1989), playing a fumbling young man in prep school, where he co-starred with Robin Williams and Robert Sean Leonard (House, Much Ado About Nothing).  Hawke became a protagonist that you might not have liked, but his lack of confidence made his characters accessible.  Hawke took on two adventure roles, saving a part dog/part wolf in White Fang (1991), and surviving a plane crash in Alive (1993).

Ethan Hawke in Gattaca

Hawke’s best film was Gattaca (1997), playing opposite Jude Law and Uma Thurman in a sci-fi film that revealed the problems of eugenics in a futuristic society.  It’s a great film that holds up to this day.  Arguably his other big film was 2001’s critically acclaimed drama Training Day.

Ethan Hawke in Assault on Precinct 13

In 2005 Hawke played against type playing a cop in an L.A. police precinct in John Carpenter’s remake of Assault on Precinct 13.  It’s another great Hawke role in a solid action film.

Here is the trailer for Purge:

Purge is now in theaters.

Here is the trailer for Before Midnight:

Before Midnight opens in theaters this weekend.

Here is the trailer for Getaway:

Does Getaway, which features Hawke and a much younger girl driving around in a tough car, look like it could be a spinoff, such as the further adventures of Paul Le Mat and MacKenzie Phillips from American Graffiti?  Does that make Jon Voight Bob Falfa?  Getaway is scheduled for release in theaters August 30, 2013.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

Dwayne Johnson Milk Super Bowl

Although this year the Super Bowl didn’t seem to net any ads as awesome as this great Star Wars themed ad or Ferris Bueller ad from last year’s Super Bowl, we did get to see the movie studios try to find the best way to cram a two-hour movie into the time it takes to forget what show you’ve been watching.  All of the six previewed movies have already released full-length trailers.  So did the studios succeed in convincing you to see their newest release?  Did any ad get you to order advance tickets for any coming attractions?  Here are the movie trailer commercials straight from the 2013 Super Bowl.

First up, Universal Studios shelled out some big bucks for a full 60-second spot for the May 24, 2013 release of the sixth entry in the Fast & Furious franchise.  If none of the past versions of the road race series interested you then maybe a team-up of Dwayne Johnson and Vin Diesel will.

It all looks like… a lot of car chasing, but it doesn’t look like it is promising audiences to be anything else so we’re betting “what you see is what you get” with Fast & Furious 6.

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By C.J. Bunce

(Insert a spoiler alert here as a courtesy to anyone who really thinks a 50 year old film needs one!)

Sometimes you are at the right place at the right time.  Having recently heard about the new Fathom Events series, where the satellite-video entertainment company transmits a one-night only event around to movie theaters across the country, I keep going back to the Fathom website to see what is next.  And I marked my calendar when a Hitchcock film made the list.  Last week we let borg.com readers know about this past Wednesday’s screening of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, a Turner Classic Movies presentation to celebrate the 100th year of Universal Pictures, on the cusp of the 50th year since The Birds first premiered.

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One of the reasons tens of thousands of fans flock to San Diego each year is for an advance look at the best of what’s to come in the next year.  Sometimes Hollywood fulfills our expectations and sometimes it lets us down, but the advance peeks always leave you eager to see even more.  Across the street from the San Diego Convention Center this year during Comic-Con weekend, Columbia Pictures revealed a futuristic police car and future police officer from the new  remake of the movie Total Recall, to hit theaters in 2012. 

  

I think the general consensus is that it seems a little early for a Total Recall remake or re-imagining.  The original movie starring Arnold Schwartzenegger as Doug Quaid is a sci-fi classic, with standout supporting performances by Ronny Cox as Cohaagen, Michael Ironsides as Richter, and Sharon Stone as Doug’s wife Lori.  The special effects were first rate when the original premiered in 1990, including Arnold wearing a fake woman’s head as a disguise that splits apart, X-ray body scanners at the future airport–years before they would become commonplace, and that scene you can’t forget were Arnold has to pull a tracking device out through his nose.  The original is also cited by anti-violence types as having one of the highest body counts of innocent bystanders in any film.  It was–and still is–the ultimate sci-fi, action adventure.  So why remake it?  For one, the original had a box office take of $261 million.   Special effects technologies are constantly changing, so the best answer is probably “why not?”  Here is the only movie still released so far:

The new look from the San Diego display last weekend immediately resembles another Philip K. Dick story turned major motion picture: Minority Report.  And like Minority Report, the new Total Recall will feature Colin Farrell (Phone Booth, Daredevil), this time in the lead role, as Doug Quaid.  The remake also stars Kate Beckinsale (Underworld series, Much Ado About Nothing) as Doug’s wife Lori, Jessica Biel (Stealth, Blade: Trinity, Next, The A-Team) as Melina, Bill Nighy (Doctor Who, Underworld:  Rise of the Lycans, Pirates of the Caribbean series, Harry Potter series) as Kuato, John Cho (Star Trek 2009, Harold and Kumar series), Ethan Hawke (Gattaca, Assault on Precinct 13, Alive), and this time out Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad, Batman: Year One) plays the tough Cohaagen, the leader of Euromerica who, under the cover of protecting his people, is secretly readying an invasion of New Shanghai.  That’s right, this story doesn’t take place on the surface of Mars as the original and so there will be no reference this time out to sustaining oxygen for the planet’s residents.

Philip K. Dick’s original short story “We Can Remember it for You Wholesale” is a brief story as short stories go so there is definitely room to expand the story in any number of directions.  But the producers promise this version will come closer than the 1990 film to the original short story.  Total Recall is currently in production at Pinewood Toronto Studios with filming expected to wrap in September 2011.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

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