FilmDrunk

Your Mid-Week Guide To DVD And Streaming: Journey To John Carter's Safe House

Even the most jaded of film fans will find something to like with this week’s new DVDs. We’ve got one of the biggest box office flops of the year so far. We’ve got real Navy SEALs for the men and Ryan Reynolds for the ladies.  We’ve got Muslims and Jews and Bears. Oh my, we’ve got Christian Slater and Tom Arnold. We’ve got some big feet, and most importantly, we’ve got -after a nine week absence- the triumphant return of our favorite bad ass, Danny Trejo.

The DVDs:
John Carter
Safe House
Act Of Valor
Machine Gun Preacher
Journey 2: The Mysterious Island
Act Of Vengeance
American Animal
Bad Ass
Hatfields & McCoys: Bad Blood
Hit So Hard
The Yankles
Knockdown
Bear Nation
Rogue River
The Collapsed
Normandy
Champion Road: Arena
Lost Woods
Dear God No!
The Tale Of The Voodoo Prostitute

There really are some unbelievable movies this week. Keep reading on the next page and we’ll go through them, one by one. If you’re in a rush and need to watch a movie right now, click here for the Netflix suggestions.
John Carter

Disney’s massively expensive flop was this year’s go-to example for the gap between studios’ expectations and actual audience interest.  At least it was until Battleship came out, much to the relief of everyone involved with this flick (except for Taylor Kitsch, who stars in both films).  The real question, though, is whether or not Hollywood will learn the correct lessons from this.  Unlike Battleship (which just looked simply awful from initial idea all the way to final execution), this film doesn’t look bad.  In fact, most people I know who’ve seen it say that it’s actually pretty good. So the problem wasn’t necessarily with the film, but with the marketing.  This movie used to be called John Carter of Mars, but Disney dropped the ‘of Mars’ when Mars Needs Moms flopped.  Never mind that that film was a creepy looking mo-cap debacle that would turn off kids as much as adults, its failure had to be that Mars turns off audiences. So instead of a title that at least references sci-fi, they go with one that evokes nothing whatsoever.  ‘John Carter’ isn’t even an unusual name; it was a doctor on ER, for f*ck’s sake. So what have they learned about selling this movie?  Nothing so far; just look at that box cover.  The font might as well be called ‘default’ and I can’t be sure, but is that John Carter fighting those creatures in the background…while also standing in the foreground? This is a bigger Disney box art f*ck up than that cock on the Little Mermaid VHS cover.


Safe House

Denzel Washington is in ‘bad-guy-or-is-he-?’ mode and Ryan Reynolds is in ‘I’m-not-just-a-pretty-face-really-I-can-act’ mode.  I’m in ‘I’d-totally-watch-this-and-then-forget-everything-about-it-the-second-it’s-over-mode”. I like spy/action flicks, I like Denzel’s bad guy over-acting, and I’m so impossibly handsome and charming (just ask my mom) that Reynold’s good looks and quasi-charm don’t threaten me, but somehow this movie just seems forgettable and average-looking. I imagine it’s the type of movie that relies on a complete lack of logic and obvious twists that the audience sees coming a mile away, but ends up being good enough for a DVD rental.  Plus, if you can’t get this one, you could probably get Traitor with Don Cheadle; I’m fairly certain that it’s the exact same movie.


Act Of Valor

Remember this one, where real, active-duty Navy SEALs were the stars?  They sure advertised the ever-living shit out of this, didn’t they?  Did you go see it?  Yeah, neither did I. I just can’t imagine how this movie could be good.  For one thing, there’s a reason we like to have actors in movies; imagine Pretty Woman with a real hooker, The Godfather with real mobsters, or Lethal Weapon with real cops.  How awkward would it be if they couldn’t get Martin Lawrence for Precious, and had to use a real fat chick?  My point is, just because actual Navy SEALs may know the correct way to hold a weapon or storm a compound or something, it doesn’t mean it’s entertaining to watch them doing it.  Just so, who are these Navy SEALs, and why are they spending their time making movies?  They can’t be very good SEALs, can they?  If they were, they’d be too busy doing something awesome and top-secret. These guys must be like the special-education division of the Navy SEALs, which, actually when I begin to think about it, sounds like a pretty great movie after all.


Machine Gun Preacher

If you’re gonna make a movie called Machine Gun Preacher, I want it to be like Hobo With A Shotgun, not a true story about a born-again former drug dealing biker trying to save Sudanese children from becoming soldiers. While this could make for a fun movie, the trailer makes it absolutely clear that you, as a viewer, are not to enjoy this movie.  This is serious cinema, about a serious issue, not some crass entertainment.  And that’s why nobody saw it. Gerard Butler is the guy who yelled ‘THIS. IS. SPARTA!” in 300.  Gerard Butler is in rom-coms with the likes of Katherine Heigl and Jennifer Aniston; he has no business starring in a movie from the director of Monster’s Ball and The Kite Runner. He’d be better off working with the director of Quantum of Solace and World War Z.  What’s that, it’s the same director?  He also did Finding Neverland and Stranger Than Fiction?  Wow, dude’s versatile. He should work with Baby Goose, they’d do well with each other. Oh, he did already? Okay then.


Journey 2: The Mysterious Island

Disney may have screwed up the marketing for John Carter, but New Line did at least a few things right with this awful-looking sequel.  My son saw an ad for this in Target the other day and asked me if it was ‘The Mysterious Island’.  I told him it was.  He then asked if we could buy it.  Now, I have no idea where he learned about this movie, as I sure haven’t told him about it and I don’t think my wife even knows it exists, but somehow, some way, New Line effectively marketed this to a four-year-old…without his parents’ knowledge.  Granted, he didn’t ask to see it four months ago when it hit theaters, but here we are.  As any parent will tell you, the most effective marketing tool is a child’s whine, and it’s pretty clear that New Line knows it. So I will probably be seeing this, a sequel to a movie I’ve never seen in the first place.  A sequel that not even Brendan Frasier wanted to be a part of.  Not even Brendan Frasier. F*ck you, New Line.  F*ck you, and yes, I’ll take the 3-D blu-ray, please.


Act Of Vengeance

If you were wondering if this release date and title were chosen to coincide with Act Of Valor’s release date and title, the answer is yes, of course.  This 2010 movie used to be called Five Minarets In New York. Danny Glover, Robert Patrick and Gina Gershon star in this flick about Turkish anti-terrorist agents working with the FBI and the NYPD to capture a terrorist known as ‘Dejjal’ (which allegedly is Arabic for ‘Anti-Christ’). I won’t say that the trailer for this implies that all Muslims are inherently evil, but I will say somebody’s making the Statue of Liberty cry (21 seconds in, check it out). If Act of Valor hopes to show America’s best, this film might show America’s worst.  Except that it isn’t an American movie at all; it’s Turkish, not that you’d know it from the trailer.  I expect this type of morally-questionable cash-grabbing from Danny Glover and Robert Patrick, but not Gina Gershon.  She was in Showgirls, for Christ’s sake.


American Animal

Back in April, Vince praised this film’s poster, saying he was intrigued despite being underwhelmed by the trailer.  Unfortunately, they didn’t use that poster for the box art, but I for one am still intrigued. The trailer only hints at it, but the obnoxious bearded dude is terminally ill, and that makes all the difference in making the movie watchable.  If he’s just an obnoxious asshole to his friends, well, he’s just an obnoxious asshole and you wonder why anyone puts up with it.  With him being terminal, the premise at least makes sense, and maybe the movie ends up being worthwhile.  It certainly holds more promise than the scores of dramedies in which a terminally ill character embraces life, love, etc.  It’s probably more realistic, too.  When I was in high school, there was this one kid with terminal cancer and he was a total asshole to everybody.  He was an asshole before he had cancer and he was a bigger asshole after he was diagnosed.  That being said, they still dedicated the yearbook to his memory, planted a tree near the parking lot in his honor, and made the glee club sing at his funeral.  He was a total asshole his whole life with zero consequences, and he got heaps of praise, to boot.  Lucky bastard.


Bad Ass

Danny Trejo stars in this action/revenge flick inspired by the Epic Beard Man. I’m guessing you don’t need to know any more.  While I’m sure many of you can’t wait to see this, I can’t help but feel like we’re being pandered to.  Yes, as internet dwellers, we love Danny Trejo and yes, the Epic Beard Man went viral, inspired memes, etc. But that’s just it; it feels too calculated, too deliberate. It feels like with just those two ingredients, we are ‘supposed’ to like the movie. As if that’s the whole joke.  “It’s Danny Trejo!  As Epic Beard Man! That dude totally said ‘amber lamps’ in the trailer! Awesome, bro!”  After all, this same writer/director gave us Breaking Wind (a Twilight parody) and The 41-Year-Old Virgin Who Knocked Up Sarah Marshall and Felt Superbad About It.  If you aspire to be like Seltzer & Frieberg, I don’t think I want to watch your movie.


Hatfields & McCoys: Bad Blood

Hey, you know that History Channel miniseries that aired a few weeks ago, the one that set some sort of cable-ratings record?  Well, this ain’t it. If you were curious who the lower-rent equivalent to Bill Paxton and Kevin Costner were, it’s Jeff Fahey and Christian Slater. I wish I could say that this might be the better version of the tale, especially since it is a quarter of the length of the History Channel miniseries, but I can’t.  I haven’t seen the miniseries, and I haven’t heard anything good about it, but this trailer is pathetic.  It looks like it’s on par with Laser Cats from SNL. When I’m surprised that Christian Slater agreed to do a film, you know things are grim.


Hit So Hard

Here’s another one that should be familiar; Vince featured this documentary about Hole drummer Patty Schemel in his poster and stills column back in March.  He says he’s a sucker for music docs, so I’m including it as a courtesy to him.  Here it is Vince, enjoy it.  I’m certainly not opposed to music documentaries; I’m just not that interested in this one.  By all accounts, Schemel kicked her heroin addiction and is living a healthy, stable life.  Booooriiing. It looks like the filmmakers think so, too.  The trailer’s almost all about Courtney Love and Kurt Cobain, and that story’s been told enough. Until Love admits she killed him, there’s nothing left to say. She will say it, too; it’s all she’s got left to possibly make herself relevant again.  She has only that grim, untold news.  Anyhow, see this if you want, and if you thought I’ve made it this far without making a ‘shotgun’ reference, check out the first letter of each word in the previous sentence.


The Yankles

I know what you’re thinking, and yes, this is basically a re-make of The Mighty Ducks, which wasn’t exactly an original film in the first place.  Hockey’s out and baseball’s in, but more importantly they’ve replaced the rag-tag misfit kids with rag-tag misfit orthodox yeshiva Jewish rabbis. This story was screaming to be told.  It’s not even supposed to be a joke; it’s not a spoof on a tired sports trope.  In any other context, the trailer would be a joke:  there’s Jewish music, there’s a corny title, there’s black Jews (1:15 in), they say ‘schmucking’ instead of ‘f*cking’. They even high-five after the fat rabbi declares something kosher.  As I said, the trailer would be a joke, but they made a real movie about it. A feature length film. This isn’t in Tropic Thunder, this is real.  Plus, it’s three years old, so why release it now?  Is it because Don Most (Ralph Malph on Happy Days) is so hot right now? He was the voice of Stiles in the late-‘80s Teen Wolf cartoon show, and I know that there’s an MTV Teen Wolf show now.  Is this an attempt to tie in to that?  It makes as much sense as anything else related to this movie.


Knockdown

A disgraced boxer flees the U.S., ending up in Bangkok where he gets involved in underground fight clubs.  Obviously, nothing about this looks good, but Tom Arnold’s easily got to be the best part of this film. That might be the saddest sentence I’ve ever written, and I used to write puppy obituaries for the local shop-and-save newspaper. This movie used to be called The Bad Penny, because the boxer’s past follows him around ‘like a bad penny’.  Although Google assures me that that is a well-known phrase, I’ve never heard it before.  As for the prospects of this movie being entertaining, I spent this paragraph writing about an obscure (to me, at least) phrase that is no longer the title of the movie.  I’m guessing you could skip this movie like a constipated dairy cow skips the evening meal.


Bear Nation

Kevin Smith’s pal Malcolm Ingram directs this documentary about big, hairy gay dudes. As one might expect, Smith executive produced it.  Also as one might expect, Smith can’t resist adding his witty and unique perspective in the trailer, and by extension, the film. If you’re wondering what Smith could possibly say that is worthwhile on this topic, the answer is nothing.  He’s Kevin Smith, there was a camera, it’s all on his dime anyway, so he’s gonna talk. If he helped a friend make a documentary about surrogate mothers, he’d talk.  If he helped a friend make a documentary about running marathons, he’d talk.  It’s what he does. I wasn’t even going to include this movie (I don’t have anything to say about bears, obviously), but when I saw Smith in the trailer I knew I must include it. Smith-hating comments are among the most entertaining of comments.  And shit.


Rogue River

With so many horror flicks coming out each week, it takes a little something extra to make a film stand out. For my money, this flick stands out because they got Bill Moseley to be the psycho. From Chop-Top in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 to Otis in House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects and countless other roles, his participation doesn’t mean the whole movie will be good, but at least his parts of it will be entertaining. The makers of this film know it, too.  He’s all over this mother*cker, and it looks pretty good. Of course, what’s the sweet without the sour? The trailer wisely doesn’t mention it, but this movie also has Art Alexakis.  Yeah, that dude from Everclear.  I’m sorry.


The Collapsed

First of all, I want to sincerely commend the makers of this film.  For a low-budget flick about post-apocalyptic survival, the production values look pretty impressive. If I were going to make a post-apocalypse movie, I would set the whole thing in a single room.  I’d board up the windows, take the shade off the lamp and call it camera-ready set dressing.  These guys actually go outside and there’s smoking buildings and all sorts of stuff.  Good job, guys!  That all being said, it’s a low-budget post-apocalypse flick, so the plot looks to be just what you’d expect.  The characters have to survive. At. All.  Costs.  So, whatever, it’s a draw. If you need a tie-breaker, their goal is to reach a place called Dover’s Bend. There’s no way that isn’t a ‘bend over’ joke.  The mayor’s probably named Harold Ballz, and the law firm is Dewey, Cheatem, & Howe.  Either way, when they get to Dover’s Bend, I bet the town is deserted or overrun with zombies and they’re futt bucked.


Normandy

You see the title, you look at the DVD cover, and you think this is just another war film, exploiting a well-known battle in order to churn out a cheap product and make an easy buck.  But this isn’t that.  Oh not at all.  This is a love story. A wounded soldier finds out that his girlfriend is also his field nurse.  Reunited amidst the horrors of war, they realize that protecting their love is more important than fighting in any battle. Oh yeah, one more thing: The two lovebirds are German.  GERMAN! This is a movie about the trials and heroism of GERMANS in World War II.  GERMANS! THEIR NAMES ARE KLAUS AND KLAUDIA.  THIS MOVIE IS AMERICAN! THEY FILMED IT IN ALABAMA!  KLAUS SERVES UNDER ROMMEL! The official synopsis includes phrases like, “Surrounded by overwhelming numbers of Russian tanks and planes, he and his men are doomed until famed German tank ace, Michael Wittmann, shows up in his Tiger Tank and saves the day.” I can’t believe this movie exists. This is from the same writer/director/star as Chained: Code 207.  When I wrote about that film a few weeks ago, I pondered what ‘Code 207’ might mean.  I have a few ideas on that, now. Mostly things about master races and such.  Watch this in a double feature with The Yankles, just to keep your karma balanced.


Champion Road: Arena

This is the long-awaited sequel to the straight-to-video flick, Champion Road. I’ve got very little to say about this movie.  The description attached to the trailer says the film has ‘the look and feel of an action fighting video game’.  Well, they’re right about that.  The image quality looks like SNES-era Mortal Kombat and the fighting looks suitably unrealistic.  What’s really got me laughing though, is the ‘special device’ that they talk about in the trailer.  The fighters are notified who their next target is by being sent a message on this ‘special device’. The device is an iPhone.  They don’t even try to dress it up or change it in any way.  I would watch this, except I haven’t seen the first one, and I’m guessing it’s kind of essential to following the plot.


Lost Woods

For all the shitty zombie movies, vampire movies, and werewolf movies that get made, you just don’t see that many bigfoot movies, do you?  Well this week we’ve got two of ‘em, and this is the first. There isn’t much to recommend this movie, but the trailer is worth your time and trouble.  There’s this one guy with a mullet wig, you see, and it’s just fascinating.  This isn’t like Evil Dead Inbred Rednecks; these filmmakers aren’t trying to be funny.  The character isn’t wearing a wig, the actor is, and it looks like they found it behind a dollar store.  The character has a mullet, and the budget just wasn’t up for it. The whole movie’s completely sincere in its desire to thrill and scare you, but it gets eclipsed by the mullet wig. You’ve got to see it; it sticks out like a bad penny.  I kind of feel sorry for the actor wearing it, honestly.


Dear God No!

Oh f*ck yes! Low-budget attempts at ‘70s-style grindhouse can go either way; they are just as often awful as they are awesome.  There’s no telling until you watch the trailer.  This trailer is glorious.  Besides the requisite boobs and swearing and violence and boobs (there are a lot of boobs), it’s the little touches that delighted me: The voiceover that sounds like Trey Parker’s voiceovers on South Park, the bloody tampon cocktail, the lines of coke laid out in a swastika.  Blood!  Blood! And more Blood!  All that and a mother*cking sasquatch.  That’s right, this is the other bigfoot movie, and is by far the better looking of the two.  In fact, this is the best looking movie this week.  “Best pussy ever!  And hairy!” Best pussy, indeed, kind sirs. Bless you.


The Tale Of The Voodoo Prostitute

I had two possible choices for this last spot, and both of them were ultra-amateur flicks with boring trailers. I went with the one that had the better title and synopsis.  (If you were curious, the other flick was Termite: The Walls Have Eyes, a ‘true’ story about a woman hearing voices and sounds in the walls.) The Tale Of The Voodoo Prostitute is about a pimp named Fleetwood Deville who comes across a woman who commits an act against him greater than any known evil: she makes him impotent. He must find a way to free himself from this curse, before it takes his life as well as his manhood.  The best part is the last sentence of the official synopsis: This film is based in the mean streets and interminglings of the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. Thank god for that clarification. I especially love the ‘interminglings’ part.

If you’re curious about Bear Nation, feel free to check it out as it’s streaming this week. If you’re not interested or just can’t stand Kevin Smith, here are a few other suggestions. This week we’ve tried to find films starring actors from this week’s new DVDs, but playing roles opposite of the type they play in the new DVDs. Get it? Don’t worry, it’ll make sense if you just keep reading.

Antichrist

Willem Dafoe may be a four-armed alien in Disney’s John Carter, but he’s usually known for more disturbing, less family-friendly fare.  Lars von Trier’s Antichrist is about as disturbing and un-family-friendly as you can get.  I don’t want to spoil anything, but I doubt anybody ejaculates blood in John Carter.

The Nines

When Safe House’s Ryan Reynolds isn’t trying to convince us he’s a comedic actor or an action star, he takes on atypical indie fare like this psychological mystery flick from John August.  August’s most well known as one of Tim Burton’s go-to writers, but don’t hold that against him. This movie’s kind of hard to describe, but it co-stars Melissa McCarthy and Octavia Spencer, so at least you get a healthy dose of this year’s Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominees.

Harry Brown

If you saw Michael Caine in the ads for Journey 2: The Mysterious Island and wondered if the old bloke had lost his edge, check out this fairly violent revenge flick about an old man who’s not putting up with any more shit.  Caine’s still a bad ass mother*cker, he’s just a bad ass mother*cker who likes an easy paycheck now and then.  Who can blame him?

Heathers

Sure it’s got awfully dated clothes and hairstyles and even more dated dialogue, but this black comedy about the dangers of high school is pretty funny and it starred a promising young man named Christian Slater.  To be perfectly honest, Slater himself would probably prefer that you watch this instead of Hatfields & McCoys: Bad Blood. I’d say that like Michael Caine, he too was in it for the paycheck, but it seems pretty clear nobody was getting paid on that turd.

×