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Grim
If the protagonist of Next were to use his ability to peer two minutes into the future before watching Next, he'd probably have enough to go on to skip it altogether. That's how long it takes to tell the movie will be high on concept and low on content. To find out just how bad it gets, though, he'd have to watch the whole film.

Nicolas Cage plays Cris Johnson, a Las Vegas entertainer disguising his true abilities with a cheesy stage show. FBI Agent Callie Ferris (Julianne Moore) has decided that the best way to stop a smuggled nuclear bomb from detonating somewhere in the U.S. is to use Johnson's talent for prognostication. Never mind the fact that he can only see two minutes into the future, giving her a very brief window in which to act if he were to see the bomb. That's about the level of logic at which this film operates.

Continue reading: Next Review

RoboCop Review


Extraordinary
RoboCop was released in 1987, and it's the sort of film that looks like it was made by somebody who knew America only from what he read in newspapers. Which may be close to the truth; Dutch director Paul Verhoeven had been living in the U.S. for less than a decade when he made this, his first big-budget Hollywood film. The script gleefully takes on every myth told about the U.S. during the Reagan '80s: Cities are dens of evil and full of constant gunplay, authority has been brought to heel by capitalism, technology has crushed our humanity to atoms, the media destroys the morals of children. RoboCop plays all of this out as a bloody farce - it's both funny and violent as hell -- but it also knows that there are kernels of truth in all those statements. Great science fiction sheds light on the real world by recreating it radically, and RoboCop is great science fiction - it's one of the best dystopian fantasies about America put to film.

The place is Detroit, the time sometime in the near future. The part of the city known as "Old Detroit" is a cesspool of grime, slums, and toxic sludge; "New Detroit" is an empty promise of a shining new city that we see only on billboards. The police force is privatized, and one of its officers, Alex J. Murphy (Peter Weller) is grotesquely wounded during a fight with a gang. OCP, the company running the force, has had back luck creating a purely mechanical cop. So it claims Murphy's nearly-dead body and transforms it into a man-machine hybrid that's programmed to perform police work ethically. On his first night on the beat, he stops a rape in progress, shooting the rapist in the crotch and telling the woman in a chill monotone: "You have suffered an emotional shock. I will notify a rape crisis center."

Continue reading: RoboCop Review

RoboCop Review


Extraordinary
RoboCop was released in 1987, and it's the sort of film that looks like it was made by somebody who knew America only from what he read in newspapers. Which may be close to the truth; Dutch director Paul Verhoeven had been living in the U.S. for less than a decade when he made this, his first big-budget Hollywood film. The script gleefully takes on every myth told about the U.S. during the Reagan '80s: Cities are dens of evil and full of constant gunplay, authority has been brought to heel by capitalism, technology has crushed our humanity to atoms, the media destroys the morals of children. RoboCop plays all of this out as a bloody farce - it's both funny and violent as hell -- but it also knows that there are kernels of truth in all those statements. Great science fiction sheds light on the real world by recreating it radically, and RoboCop is great science fiction - it's one of the best dystopian fantasies about America put to film.

The place is Detroit, the time sometime in the near future. The part of the city known as "Old Detroit" is a cesspool of grime, slums, and toxic sludge; "New Detroit" is an empty promise of a shining new city that we see only on billboards. The police force is privatized, and one of its officers, Alex J. Murphy (Peter Weller) is grotesquely wounded during a fight with a gang. OCP, the company running the force, has had back luck creating a purely mechanical cop. So it claims Murphy's nearly-dead body and transforms it into a man-machine hybrid that's programmed to perform police work ethically. On his first night on the beat, he stops a rape in progress, shooting the rapist in the crotch and telling the woman in a chill monotone: "You have suffered an emotional shock. I will notify a rape crisis center."

Continue reading: RoboCop Review

XXX: State of the Union Review


Grim
Who says sequels are never better than their predecessors? Megabudget producers have hammered away at proving this maxim wrong, primarily through sequelizing as many crummy movies as good ones. Sure, a movie like The Matrix sets a gratifyingly high bar for its successors, but it's quite the opposite for films like XXX, Tomb Raider, and Resident Evil; hardly any effort at all is needed to surpass the original.

And hardly any effort is often what they get, which brings us to XXX: State of the Union. This follow-up to XXX, the 2002 extreme-sports-and-videogames-themed James Bond knockoff, is markedly superior. Which is to say it is slightly less tedious, slightly less blatant in its idiocy, and still miles away from working as a competent action movie.

Continue reading: XXX: State of the Union Review

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