Sunday, June 24, 2012


Exit Humanity
Director: John Geddes
Year 2011

Thursday, June 21, 2012

REVIEW: Barbarella

Director: Roger Vadim
Year 1968
Barbarella is a trippy and sexy sci-fi adventure that begins with an anti-gravity striptease and ends with a bang. Set in a futuristic universe that is anything but normal, the narrative follows one lone astronaut woman as she embarks on a journey across the cosmos, encountering one strange thing after another. With a heavy sense of retro style and an abundance of groovy visuals, Barbarella is one science fiction film that truly sets itself apart from the rest of the pack.
The film follows a 41st century astronaut named Barbarella as she is assigned to the task of investigating and stopping an evil man by the name of Durand Durand. This insatiable torturer lives on the planet Lythion in the city of Sogo, where he delights in the fabrication of new sins and the mad construction of his various devices that inflict pain through pleasure. The mission seems simple, but Barbarella soon finds out that anything is possible on this strange new planet. Only after befriending the locals, namely a winged man named Pygar and a peculiar underground resistance, does Barbarella truly have a chance in taking down this vile man and his equally overbearing and sexy leader named The Great Tyrant. Welcome to the sexy and saturated world of Barbarella.

Jane Fonda plays the titular role of Barbarella and boy does she fill the role perfectly. Unabashed in an aura of sensuality, Fonda owns the character for everything its worth, making a role that is rather risky and turning it into something that is quite accessible. The endless wardrobe for Fonda’s character is astounding, partaking in every retro styled futuristic cliché the filmmakers can come up with but without making it feel familiar and tackled territory. The different variations of her garbs and the skillful way the filmmakers clothed her body, yet still left so much to not have to be imagined, was quite an achievement among the young male community at the time. It’s safe to say that Fonda’s portrayal of Barbarella, was without a doubt the sexiest astronaut to ever grace the screen from that point on and into the far flung future.
What’s great about Barbarella is that she is actually a strong and intelligent woman, and still there is this fun and bubbly side to her that makes you wish you knew someone as quirky as her. Fonda does a perfect job in projecting this odd balance and in this execution she allows her character to pop from the screen and be highly relatable even though she is so unique. The introduction of Barbarella must have been a reasonable shock to the masses, because you get an empowered female figure yet at the same time she is scantily clad throughout the entire picture. The conundrum is uncanny and to me it is part of the fun of this wacky and wild character. In respect to Fonda as an actress, she nails this part to perfection as she has the looks to pull off this sexy astronaut role, but also has the acting chops to tackle the surreal nature of the film and just have fun with it. The role of Barbarella might be a silly one in retrospect, but it is one that will go down in history as being the most enjoyable portrayal in the entire science fiction genre. Did I mention it’s sexy!

Now as wonderful as Jane Fonda looks and acts in this film, there are quite a few other characters that do an equally good job in bringing this obscure world to life. John Phillip Law plays the role of Pygar, the angelic winged man with a soft spot for scantily clad astronaut women. The character of Pygar is blind, so this enabled Law to really step up his game and replicate that same physical presentation of a man without sight. Law does a fabulous job in this most unusual role, and the sympathy that he is able to garner within the runtime of the film is astounding. In all aspects, Pygar is innocent and angelic and once introduced to the harsh environment seen within the city of Solo, we feel pity for this poor creature whose only crime was helping Barbarella on her perilous journey to find Durand Durand. Speaking of Durand Durand, he’s played by Milo O’Shea, a creepy bastard who seems to relish in the sadistic role of the sexual deviant. I enjoyed his goofy take as a sex torturer and thought that he made the character more enjoyable than it had any right to be. Another great character, but sorely under-used, was the role of The Great Tyrant played by the stunning Anita Pallenberg. Her wardrobe rivaled Barbarella’s in its audacity and overall strangeness, and that’s a feat on itself.
Much like the characters of this film, the world is equally expressive and diverse. As Barbarella lands on the planet of Lythion we are introduced to our first bit of strangeness in the form of an ice covered surface world housing odd demented children with equally obscure little toys that look born from nightmares. Oh yeah, did I also mention that they use floating stingrays to pull them around on the ice as a form of transportation. Anyway, after that rude awakening Barbarella delves deeper into the weirdness that is planet Lythion, ending up in a peculiar underground cavern that is home to the bird-man Pygar and an endless labyrinth filled with wretched creatures that could give the nightmarish monsters of Jim Henson’s Labyrinth a run for their money. After that we are given our first glimpses of the sinful city of Sogo, where Durand Durand and his aptly named sex device Exessive Machine dwell. It is also here where we first come face to face with The Great Tyrant in all her one horned glory. With each and every one of these locations, we are lambasted with a set design aesthetic that is simply out of this world. From The Great Tyrant’s dream chamber to the sin-infested corridors of the city of Sogo, the filmmakers spared no expense in creating a fully realized world with all of the decadent trimmings. It’s a pretty safe bet that once you jump into this wild film, you’ll never truly be the same. As for me, I’m perfectly fine with that notion, because Barbarella is one sexy cinematic production that you can’t help getting lost in.

Barbarella is a wild ride of epic proportions that blasts you with one crazy thing after another, all the while doing it in stunning style. The retro futuristic feel of the film is top notch, allowing for the plethora of sexually charged elements of the movie to blend in seamlessly with the visually potent look of the world. Jane Fonda as Barbarella is as delightfully breathtaking as she is intriguing, and you really can’t deny the magnetic pull that she has in this film.
As with Fonda’s portrayal of the sexiest astronaut in the universe, the rest of the characters bring their A game to the table in delivering an array of interesting beings to populate this cinematic realm. John Phillip Law as Pygar, Milo O’Shea as Durand Durand, and Anita Pallenberg as The Great Tyrant are all expertly performed and sizzle in their mysteriousness and ambiguous nature. As for the overall look of the film, you really can’t dismiss the absolute absurdity and awe-inspiring wonder that some of these sets project and the visceral feel of many of these fabricated locations seem plucked from a painting or lovingly replicated from some far away galaxy where such oddities like these actually do exist. In summary, the film is just a whole hell of a lot of fun and there is so much to like about this film that you really should just sit back and enjoy the ride. Did I mention that it is sexy as all hell? Oh, I did…. Good! Barbarella is a science fiction movie that is…..

Now where did I park that stingray?

This is what nightmares are made of.

Sexy... Sexy!

What are you looking at you blind freak?

This screenshot makes me want to, "Dance Magic Dance!"

This chick really likes feathers.

Send me a Pygar... Send me a Pygar... Right Now!

You see that machine over there. I'm gonna sex the hell out of you with it.

Lose the horn honey! That went out two years ago.

I'm not wearing pants again... am I?

High fives are awesome in the future!

My word that's some good shit!

So this is what it's like to live in a snowglobe.

This creepy dude knows what he likes.

Damn you evil parakeets! Damn you to HELL!

Kind of a weird sofa, but I'm not complaining.

Well you look pleased with yourself Pygar.


Who Am I?
Director: Benny Chan & Jackie Chan
Year 1998

Who Am I is a high octane thriller that features enough action-packed moments and spectacular stunts to satisfy any fan of Jackie Chan’s cinematic stylings. Directed by both Benny and Jackie Chan, this intense entry is overwhelmingly ambitious, telling an intriguing story about one man’s loss of memory and the journey he must take to find out who he really is. With its mysterious plot and espionage-filled moments of grandeur, Who Am I sets the stakes high on what Jackie Chan can accomplish and the epic battle at the end of this film is one for the books. If you’re in need of a Jackie fix, than this film should do the trick.

The film follows a Special Forces agent by the name of Jackie, who after finishing up his latest mission is double-crossed and left for dead after a helicopter crash. When he comes to, he has no recollection of how he got there or even what his name is, but after being taken in by a local South African tribe, he is then named Whoami by the tribesmen. Determined to find out who he is, Jackie sets off on a wild adventure that has him traversing jungles, deserts, bustling metropolises, and towering skyscrapers. The only catch is that the closer he comes to remembering who he is, the closer he comes to being assassinated by the ones who double-crossed him. Can Jackie overcome the odds and remember who he is? Do I even have to ask? Hold on to your butts as Jackie Chan figures out his true identity in….. WHO AM I?!?!?!

Jackie Chan plays the role of, who else, but Jackie, the amnesia suffering badass who’s a regular James Bond. Chan cranks up the formula that won him over so many fans in the past, and makes for a splendidly super secret agent, but in a style that is truly his own. The man may be 44 years old in this movie, but you’d never guess it in the way he moves across the screen or still puts his body in harms way. In this role, Jackie performs some extremely impressive stunts including a death-defying rooftop fight scene, a dizzying fall that makes Jackie look like a human version of a yo-yo, and a breathtaking slide that boasts Jackie gliding down a side of a glass building hundreds of feet above the air. These are all exceptionally done and intricately planned out stunts that look like they were performed in the most spontaneous of ways. As for the personality of Jackie’s agent, I’d say that he leans more towards the serious, but often at times can be a little goofy when a few of the comedic moments of the film make their presence known. All in all, this is one hell of an entry in Jackie’s expansive career and his performance is one that I love visiting over and over again.

Along for the ride are Michelle Ferre as Christine Stark and Mirai Yamamoto as Yuki. Ferre plays the role of the illusive reporter that seems to know a great deal more than she leads Jackie’s character to believe, while Yamamoto plays the role of the silly, but hard as nails, racecar driver who helps Jackie out of a few sticky situations. Together the two women make a great combination to aid Jackie on his mission for rediscovery and luckily both women are given ample opportunity to showcase what they are made of. On the opposing side of the fight card we have Ron Smerczak as Morgan, the snake in the grass CIA operative who will stop at nothing in order to dispose of Jackie before he regains his memory back. Ron is absolutely ruthless in this one and he treads the fine line of bad taste with some of his delivered lines, but in my opinion that’s the fun of his role. He played a perfect crooked CIA operative and the fact that the last scene of the film has him being pursued by a small army of soldiers, who are literally surrounding him from every direction; his character still keeps trying to get away even though the situation is hilariously dire and inescapable in the simplest of terms.

What’s really nice about this film is that it captures the same atmosphere and sense of adventure that you’d find in many of the popular spy films throughout the ages. Much like his genre bending in the Armour of God series, Jackie takes the aspects that are prevalent in a James Bond film and spatters them across the movie’s narrative in order to make his own hybrid of espionage-filled adventures. We’ve got intrigue with the amnesia angle, we’ve got adventure with the globe trotting aspects of the locations, we’ve got action with Jackie’s trademark stunts and tightly planned-out fight choreography, we’ve got a superb villain and his group of henchmen and minions to do his bidding, and we’ve got a pair of lovely ladies to fill in the femme fatale portions of the film and there’s your Bond sandwich. The end result is highly entertaining and perfectly pitched as a fun romp through espionage filled waters.

As mentioned above, the film has no shortage of heart stopping moments provided by a top formed Chan that really doesn’t know the meaning of the word quit. From a masterfully directed car chase that features a breakdancing and gravel-spitting racecar, to a fight on a cobblestone street that showcases Jackie taking on a group of baddies while wearing wooden clogs on his feet, to an epic rooftop battle between two seasoned fighters that has to be seen to be believed, you’ll come to find that this film really packs a punch. As for the closing battle, the rooftop fight on top of the Rotterdamm building is a thing of beauty matching Jackie up against Dutch black belt Ron Smoorenburg and Hong Kong actor and martial artist David Leung. The choreography in this fight sequence is mesmerizing and the inclusion of a few key comedic moments that showcase some of Jackie Chan’s clever sprinkles of genius, really add to the enjoyability of the fight scene. This moment of the film is without a doubt one of the greatest highlights of the movie and it’s topped off with a spectacular stunt that showcases Jackie sliding down the side of the Rotterdamm building itself, the crazy bastard. All in all, this film is a true testament to Jackie’s painstaking efforts in making a feature that pushes all the boundaries of his previous efforts, gifting another great entry in his illustrious career of wonderful gems. Who am I indeed!

Who Am I is a rip roaring roller coaster of a film that delivers a great deal of awe-inspiring moments while at the same time showing that Jackie Chan really is the man when it comes to action and stunts. With Jackie in prime form, the film boasts a performance that is highly energized and thoughtfully comedic in all the right places. Chan’s secret agent is a bit of a goof, but not so overwhelming of a prankster that it takes away from some of the more seriously charged portions of the film.

The cast for the movie is also quite inspiring as it brings in an array of actors to fill up its Bond style formula. Mirai Yamamoto and Michelle Ferre inject the film with a great deal of sassy pizzazz, while Ron Smerczak takes the role of the evil and ambitious CIA operative to new and entertaining heights. Incorporated along with this lively cast is a set of action sequences and outstanding fight choreography that really crank up the pace of the film as it sets your pulse racing. The fact that the movie concludes with an eye-opening fight scene that features Ron Smoorenburg and David Leung taking on Jackie atop of the Rotterdamm building is essentially the icing on this highly enjoyable cake. Do yourself a favor and check this Jackie starring vehicle out for yourself. It really is that damn good. Who Am I is…..

What's up weirdo.

Jackie get down from there you little monkey!

Guys, there is a time and place for thumb wrestling. Now is not it.

It was probably the most awkward dinner proposition that Jackie ever received.

Again with the climbing on shit! Don't you respect anyone's property?

Jackie finds out the hard way that the car is a stick shift. Ouch!

Jackie has a hard time with goodbyes.

You don't want to be around when Jackie starts pointing fingers.

Caught red-handed you poodle snatching bastard!

No one puts Jackie in the corner. No one!

Shhhhh.... I'm about to kick your ass.

Jackie I see you, you little sneak.

This guy just got Jackie'd.

Prepare for one epic fight scene.

Sweet mother of god! That's one hell of a nice jacket!

Quit whining you cry-baby.


This is probably the most ridiculous car in the world.