Friday, April 20, 2018

Super Troopers 2 review

By Nico Beland
Movie Review: ** out of 4
The mustache rides again in Super Troopers 2

            You ever seen a comedy at a young age that you thought was hilarious at the time but as you get older it doesn’t quite make you laugh as much as it used to? That’s pretty much the 2001 cult comedy film, Super Troopers for me, which wasn’t well-received by critics nor was it a hit at the box-office but later gained a following on DVD.
            When I first saw it when I was like 14 or 15, I thought Super Troopers was hilarious and definitely fed into the raunchy, gross-out humor filled teenage mind I had. Nowadays when I re-watch it, I will admit it doesn’t quite offer the same comedic experience it once did and while a good chunk of the jokes still gets a laugh out of me, the rest fall flat or it’s a gag I’ve seen done better in other cop comedies like The Heat or 21 Jump Street.
            Even though it’s shown its age, I’d say Super Troopers is a decent comedy to put on for low-brow laughs and silliness. Can’t quite say the same for its sequel, Super Troopers 2 which sadly falls victim to the comedy-sequel trope formula and aside from a few legitimately funny moments, it’s much of the same with little variety.
            What does a comedy-sequel usually do? Try to recapture the success of the first movie with constant nods to the original such as saying, “It happened again” or “Last time”, repeat jokes that were funny the first time and running them into the ground, add more dark humor that gets funny confused with sick and cruel (Blame Hangover: Part III), and slightly rewrite the script of the first movie with slight changes with a clichéd plot about the Troopers “Getting back in the game”. That’s pretty Super Troopers 2 in a nutshell and I’ll give it credit that it advertised exactly what kind of movie I was getting into.
            Years after the events of the first film, the state troopers have been fired from their jobs as police officers (Yeah, slight spoiler from the last movie), and are now working in construction with the loud, obnoxious, and overweight, Rodney “Rod” Farva (Kevin Heffernan-Sky High, Beerfest, How I Met Your Mother) as their manager. But an international border dispute between the United States and Canada arises and the guys, Thorny (The film’s director, Jay Chandrasekhar-Arrested Development, Jackass: Number Two, Beerfest), Jeff (Paul Soter-Club Dread, The Dukes of Hazzard, Beerfest), Mac (Steven Lemme-Beerfest, The Slammin’ Salmon, The Babymakers), Rabbit (Erik Stolhanske-Club Dread, Beerfest, Freeloaders), and Captain John O’Hagen (Brian Cox-Adaptation, The Bourne Identity/Supremacy, X2: X-Men United) are given a second chance to be state troopers again and set up a new highway patrol station in the disputed areas of Canada.
            The film also stars Damon Wayans Jr. (New Girl, Happy Endings, Let’s Be Cops) as Trooper Wagner, Seann William Scott (American Pie franchise, Road Trip, Evolution) as Trooper Callaghan, Marissa Coughlan (Wasteland, The Twilight Zone, Boston Legal) as Chief Ursula Hanson, Lynda Carter (Wonder Woman, Hawkeye, Supergirl) as Vermont Gov. Jessman, Rob Lowe (The West Wing, Brothers & Sisters, Parks and Recreation) as Guy Le Franc, Emmanuelle Chriqui (Entourage, National Lampoon’s Adam & Eve, You Don’t Mess with the Zohan) as Genevieve Aubois, Tyler Labine (Breaker High, Flyboys, Reaper) as Mountie Bellefuille, Will Sasso (Beverly Hills Ninja, Southland Tales, Army of One) as Mountie Archambault, Hayes MacArthur (Perfect Couples, Go On, Angie Tribeca) as Mountie Podien, Paul Walter Hauser (Betas, Kingdom, I, Tonya) as Lonnie Laloush, Jim Gaffigan (Welcome to New York, My Boys, The Jim Gaffigan Show) as Larry Johnson (No relation), and Jimmy Tatro (22 Jump Street, American Vandal, Smallfoot) as Lance Stonebreaker.
            Overall, Super Troopers 2 should satisfy its fanbase and has its moments of laughs, however those looking for something new and witty may want to look elsewhere. The plot is every boring cop comedy movie cliché with rehashed jokes (Because it was funny the first time, clearly, we need to do them again), confused dark humor that tries to be funny but comes off as disturbing and cruel, and it’s predictable.
            I’m not saying the first movie “Got it right”, absolutely not, it’s a dumb movie but from a nostalgic perspective and as cheap laughs go, it was harmless and at the time the jokes were very funny. This one tires out the jokes that were funny in the first film and doesn’t really do much new with its story or writing, it’s kind of like when Dumb and Dumber To came out, remember the first movie? Here it is again just with some slight changes.
            But with all that said, there are some moments where I laughed, mostly involving Rod who in my opinion is the funniest character in both movies. Yes, he’s obnoxious and vulgar but Kevin Heffernan’s facial expressions, actions, and delivery of these low-brow jokes are hilarious, he’s kind of like the Super Troopers equivalent of a character like Uncle Ruckus from The Boondocks or Eric Cartman from South Park where you know what they’re saying and doing is completely wrong and inappropriate, but you just can’t help but laugh at them.

            Sadly, he’s not enough to save Super Troopers 2 from a mostly unfunny script and lazily rehashed story. It certainly isn’t one of the worst comedies or movies I’ve ever seen but unless you’re either part of the teenage demographic or an enthusiast of dumb, low-brow humor, I wouldn’t recommend going on patrol with this one.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Rampage review

By Nico Beland
Movie Review: ** ½ out of 4
Dwayne Johnson and George in Rampage

            That’s twice in a row this year Warner Bros. gave us a film based on a video game that was flawed but entertaining. First, we had Tomb Raider that stayed faithful to its source material while still being a fun adventure movie on its own, now we got Rampage, based on the popular arcade game.
            Honestly, I should probably hate this movie because I played a lot of the Rampage games, specifically its sequel, Rampage: World Tour, growing up, and the film captures the spirit of the game (For the most part) except for the monsters’ designs. That should be a major turn-off point for me, but I ended up having a stupid, fun time with Rampage and could be a potential follower of dumb blockbusters like Twister and Independence Day as a new guilty pleasure classic.
            The film is directed by Brad Peyton (Journey 2 the Mysterious Island, San Andreas, Frontier) and stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (The Scorpion King, Fast & Furious franchise, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle) in their third collaboration together following 2012’s Journey 2 the Mysterious Island and 2015’s San Andreas. This is also the next installment of the unofficial “Rock in the Jungle” franchise consisting of The Rundown, Journey 2 the Mysterious Island, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, and now this.
            Let me reiterate, no this is NOT a “Good” movie, it’s relentless and chaotic, the plot is unoriginal, the acting ranges from passable to completely over-the-top, off the rocker, crazy, bad. But it’s fun in how bad and stupid it is, and when the actual Rampage stuff gets going, it’s a blast and a huge improvement over Peyton’s last movie, San Andreas where all he did was make another disaster movie.
            The film follows primatologist, Davis Okoye (Johnson), who shares an inseparable bond with his friend, George, an extraordinarily intelligent silverback gorilla, that has been in his care since birth. But a rogue genetic experiment goes awry and mutates George into a ferocious creature of enormous size.
            To figure out what’s going on with George, Davis joins up with a discredited genetic engineer named Dr. Kate Caldwell (Naomie Harris-28 Days Later, Skyfall, Moonlight), who worked for the organization that mutated George, to save his best friend along with the world. However, it’s not going to be easy as there exists two more similarly altered animals, a wolf named Ralph and a lizard named Lizzie that only exist to destroy.
            The film also stars Malin Akerman (Watchmen, Wanderlust, Rock of Ages) as Claire Wyden, Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Watchmen, The Losers, The Walking Dead) as Harvey Russell, Jake Lacy (The Office, Carol, Miss Sloane) as Brett Wyden, Joe Manganiello (Magic Mike, True Blood, Justice League) as Burke, Marley Shelton (The Sandlot, Sin City, Grindhouse) as Dr. Kerry Atkins, P.J. Byrne (Final Destination 5, The Wolf of Wall Street, The Gift) as Nelson, Demetrius Grosse (Straight Outta Compton, Banshee, Justified) as Colonel Blake, Jack Quaid (The Hunger Games, Vinyl, Logan Lucky) as Connor, Matt Gerald (Avatar, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Marvel’s Daredevil) as Zammit, Will Yun Lee (Die Another Day, The Wolverine, San Andreas) as Agent Park, and Urijah Faber (Leverage, Cagefighter, Reach Me) as Garrick.
            Overall, Rampage is enjoyable trash and it really doesn’t take itself seriously aside from a couple backstories. If you’ve seen a Godzilla or King Kong movie, Jurassic Park, or even something like Pacific Rim, you pretty much know what you’re getting into, and the film delivers what it promises, giant monsters destroying a city and The Rock being a badass.
            The CG on the monsters, especially George is surprisingly quite good, and the visual effects artists do a solid job giving an animated ape emotion. It’s no Caesar from the Planet of the Apes reboot trilogy, but still pretty impressive.
            The action sequences are exciting and filled with disaster/monster movie cheese, how can you not be urged to stand up in the theater and applaud when you see giant gorillas, lizards, and wolves leveling the city, throwing cars and other objects at helicopters, and causing all sorts of mayhem, relentless destruction but you don’t care. None of the action is boring and everything is to the point, so you’re not stuck in a lousy climax that goes on forever like those DAMN TRANSFORMERS MOVIES!
            There is so much to make fun of in this movie, which is the first thing I look for in a film that’s “So Bad it’s Good”. The recycled story and character stereotypes, disaster/monster movie clichés, the destruction of a Dave and Buster’s restaurant (Which should have been called Greasy’s in my opinion), Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s performance, and references to the original game, one in particular had me laughing my ass off because a similar video game reference was used in the infamous Double Dragon movie.
            Even with the characters not looking like their interactive counterparts, Rampage managed to be closer in spirit to its source material and a lot more fun as a movie than any of Uwe Boll’s films (Who coincidentally also directed a movie called Rampage, THANKFULLY NOT RELATED TO THIS!). George is a silverback gorilla in the movie whereas the George from the game looks more like a monster version of Donkey Kong, and yet I’m not complaining.

            Don’t come into this movie looking to nitpick it, trust me you will have a miserable time, instead turn your brain off, munch on your popcorn, and enjoy some special-effects driven chaos, if you can’t get past the stupidity then go see Ready Player One again. It’s probably not as rewatchable as other guilty pleasure blockbusters like Twister or Independence Day, but if you’re a fan of dumb popcorn films, Rampage is a free-for-all of fun.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Blockers review

By Nico Beland
Movie Review: *** out of 4
John Cena, Leslie Mann, and Ike Barinholtz “Blocking” their daughters’ sex pact in Blockers

            What do you get when you unintentionally make an all-female reboot of American Pie or Superbad with more focus on the parents than the teens? Blockers, the latest teen sex comedy film that reverses the gender roles commonly found in most teen comedies with outrageous results and a surprising amount of heart.
            Funny how I reviewed a movie focusing on parenting a few days ago with the horror movie, A Quiet Place and yet, here we are again, immediately following it with Blockers. At first glance it looks like the typical low-brow raunchy comedy with clichéd jokes and character stereotypes, but this movie cleverly adds a new spin to the teen sex comedy genre where instead of boys looking to have sex at prom night, it’s a group of girls trying to get laid and it doesn’t quite go the way you would expect.
            The film follows three parents, single mother, Lisa (Leslie Mann-17 Again, Funny People, This is 40), divorced father, Hunter (Ike Barinholtz-Neighbors, Sisters, Suicide Squad), and overprotective father, Mitchell (John Cena-The Marine, Trainwreck, Ferdinand) who became friends through their daughters as children. Now teenagers, Julie (Kathryn Newton-Paranormal Activity 4, Lady Bird, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri), Kayla (Newcomer, Geraldine Viswanathan), and Sam (Gideon Adlon-Louie) decide they want to lose their virginity at prom night, which is indeed a night to remember, so they form a sex pact to make it happen.
            Upon hearing about their daughters’ plans to have sex with their prom dates (One of which has a despicable smirk), Lisa, Hunter, and Mitchell launch a covert one-night operation to stop them, or “Block” them if you will before they seal the deal. What follows is a chaotic chase filled with drinking, drugs, exploding cars, and some really odd sexual activities all under the name of “Good Parenting”.
            The film also stars Graham Phillips (Ben 10: Race Against Time, The Good Wife, Riverdale) as Austin, newcomers, Miles Robbins and Jimmy Bellinger as Connor and Chad, June Diane Raphael (NTSF:SD:SUV, Grace and Frankie, Ass Backwards) as Brenda, Jake Picking (The Way, Way Back, Patriots Day, Only the Brave) as Kyler, Hannibal Buress (Neighbors, The Nice Guys, Spider-Man: Homecoming) as Frank, Sarayu Rao (Leela, Lions for Lambs, Dealin’ with Idiots) as Marcie, Gary Cole (The Brady Bunch Movie, Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law, Kim Possible) as Ron, Colton Dunn (madTV, Parks and Recreation, Superstore) as Rudy, Gina Gershon (Bound, Face/Off, Killer Joe) as Cathy, and Newcomer, Ramona Young as Angelica.
            Overall, Blockers is a refreshing take on the teen sex comedy genre that blends its raunchy humor with a sweet message about parenting and letting go of your child. Granted I personally didn’t think the comedy is where the movie shines, it’s the heartfelt moments that really did it for me, I’ve laughed a lot harder at other comedies, but I appreciate the moral.
            Not to say I didn’t laugh at all during the film, but it’s one of those instances where a lot of the funniest bits are shown in the trailers which kind of spoils the fun. With that said, it’s a well-written script and the three leads have good chemistry together and it’s enjoyable to watch them work off each other.
            There are some nitpicks I have regarding the movie, obviously the trailers giving away the best jokes is one. While I loved the gender-reversal concept, I felt most of the teen jokes were generic and filler, vomiting from too much drinking, the naughty tomboyish girl in the group being jacked up on drugs (Seen it), gross-out gags, and high school stereotypes and tropes, it isn’t bad or anything, but it makes you wish the movie went back to the parents.
            A narrative nitpick I had was the tomboy girl, apparently, she’s a virgin which I found really strange. She looks like the kind of girl who boys would probably be going nuts for, I guess it’s Emma Stone in Easy A logic where you can be a total knockout and have difficulties finding a boyfriend.

            Fortunately, the flaws I have don’t ruin the movie, and it is a legitimately good time with laughs and heart. I don’t think it’s as outrageous as Superbad or American Pie, but Blockers adds a new take to an old genre and a heartwarming side on top of it.