Posts by maginnis

Enter at Your Own Risk

24-Mar-08 11:58 AM by
Filed under Reviews; Comments Off on Enter at Your Own Risk

How do I begin to describe the awful mess that is Neil Marhsall's Doomsday, the new movie from Crystal Sky Pictures, starring British beauty Rhona Mitra (late of the absurd F/X late-night drama "Nip/Tuck")?

We start out watching a mish-mash of the plots from 28 Days Later and Resident Evil, as a beautiful government agent (Mitra) is sent to Scotland to seek the cure to the deadly Reaper virus. Scotland is now a walled-off wasteland of decaying urban set pieces and cast-offs from The Road Warrior. Pursued by ruthless punks replete with 80's-era leather and mohawks, Mitra and her team of commandos must reach Dr. Kane (Malcolm McDowell), the man believed to have developed a cure. How he managed to do so in a ransacked hospital in the midst of a collapsing society is never questioned. Of course, the doctor is nowhere to be found, and the commandos quickly get themselves captured. After a brief interlude including a scene featuring graphic cannibalism, Mitra escapes, and the chase is on.

At about the 80-minute mark, the movie violently and inexplicably changes gears into a medieval period piece: as our intrepid heroes flee from generic post-apocalyptic B-movie extras, they find themselves surrounded by… fifteenth century knights. If this turn of events doesn't make any sense here in this review, don't worry. Those of us in the theater were just as confused.

An hour and a half into the 105-minute "film", my fellow movie-goers revolted against Marshall's writing and direction. Smatterings of sarcastic laughter and snide comments began to break up the monotony, and I wondered if I wasn't witnessing the birth of a new cult phenomenon along the lines of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Would young goths and punks queue up at midnight to throw toast and yell out witty responses to McDowell's contrived dialogue twenty years from now?

I won't spoil the "surprise" ending for those you foolish enough not to heed my words and avoid this pap. Suffice it to say that the conclusion fits right in with what I'd come to expect from an hour and a half of baffling story and logic-free character development.

A mishmash of more movies and genres than I could name in such a short review as this, Doomsday tries to be many things at once and fails at almost all of them. The remaining stew of cliches and laughable "plot" points is unpalatable at any level.

A Fistful of Quarters

29-Sep-07 1:39 PM by
Filed under Reviews; 13 comments.

The King of Kong wallpaperIn 1982, Billy Mitchell set the Donkey Kong world record high score of 874,300. He quickly found fame and fortune when LIFE magazine splashed his face alongside those of other elite gamers considered the greatest of their generation, in a photo-spread in their January, 1983, "Year in Pictures" issue. Many felt his amazing score would never be bested. Then, in 2003, an unassuming science teacher from Redmond, Washington, shattered the long-standing record. In a video-taped performance, Steve Wiebe posted a staggering 1,006,600 points. But there was a problem: the score only counts if it's certified by Twin Galaxies, the self-appointed official keeper of classic video game records. And TG founder and "World's Video Game Referee" Walter Day puts it succinctly: "Twin Galaxies does a lot to promote Billy, because it's to Twin Galaxies' advantage — and very much to the whole gaming hobby's advantage — for Billy to become a star."

Mitchell, a larger-than-life character with a world-class mullet, is a hot sauce mogul and successful restaurateur from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. He's also the self-proclaimed "World's Best Video Game Player". Unfortunately, in The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, the new movie from director Seth Gordon (now in limited release), Mitchell comes off as something of a very big fish in a very small pond: in fact, the only thing big enough to match Billy's legend is his ego. Mitchell's opening line in the movie not only sets the tone for the upcoming competition between Billy and his challenger, lovable loser Steve Wiebe, but also gives us a fascinating glimpse into the psyche of an egomaniac. King of Kong is littered with priceless Mitchell one liners: "He is the person that he is today because he came under the wrath of Bill Mitchell"; "Since I so-called debuted on the scene at LIFE magazine in 1982… there hasn't been anybody who's played even close"; and "Maybe they'd like it if I lose. I gotta try losing some time." With a gaggle of video gamer disciples at his beck and call, including one who considers Billy "the champion" and himself "the prodigy", it's clear that Billy Mitchell is very invested in maintaining the mystique of his image. "Everything about him is perfect; Billy is just that person," proclaims one. Even Walter Day seems entranced by Mitchell's charisma: "There's no reason why Bill Mitchell couldn't end up on a Wheaties box someday."