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Saturday, June 26, 2021

Where was the tournament? Mortal Kombat review.

Mortal Kombat was a game-changer in the 90s. It showed the world just how violent videos could be. It made congress lose their minds, and they created the ESRB because of it. The first film in the 90s was a hit as well. The sequel, well …… at least the theme song, was a club hit. As the games pushed on over the years and had their hit and miss, the film series was DOA. There was talk of a revival back in 2010 that had an awesome trailer. It's called Mortal Kombat: Rebirth, and it starred Michael Jai White. We didn't get a film from it. We had a web series that was pretty good for what it's worth. But when James Wan, the man behind the Saw and Insidious franchise, announced he would produce a Mortal Kombat movie with an R rating, I was Hype. When they announced it would be available on HBO, I was elated. Then it came out. I was like

There are good things and bad things in this movie, and I will try to break them down.

One good thing about it is the characters look great. These characters have been seen in soo many iterations that picking the right look for them was integral. I thought that Sub-Zero and Scorpion had too much armor, but I still like the look.

The moment you see these characters, you know exactly who they are. On the other hand, you have the main character, Cole Young. Cole Young is a new character made for this movie, and to be honest, I'm not feeling him. A video game series that has 97 characters. I feel like making up one for the movie is just lazy. There was a story mode in some of the older games when you would play as some character on a journey, and he kinda sucks, so you never play as him in your free time. That's who he is; he's


The acting is par. Most of the cast doesn't have a lot of experience. The ones that do are more knowing for their fighting or dying in campy horror or comedies. But there are a few shining lights. Sub Zero is played by Joe Taslim, who some of you might remember from The Raid. His performance was cold (no pun intended) and menacing at times. He appeared like Jason from Friday the 13th. The surprise for me was Kano, played by Josh Lawson. He chewed up the scene every time, and as a viewer, I liked him. He was the best one in the film.

Let's talk about the fight scenes. It's based on a fighting game, so the fights should be good, right? Well, they are okay at best. I love a good fight scene. Some of the best tell a story. I didn't see much of that here. I saw some great moments. But overall, the fights were a slightly gritty power rangers show. I mean, over the last few years, there have been some awesome fights in the media. Daredevil, The Raid franchise, Creed 2, and Ip Man franchise have set standards that I don't think this movie met. I looked at the IMDB for the film and didn't see a choreographer's name. Perhaps they didn't want credit for the film. They're not awful there, just not where they should be.


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The story of the movie was odd. There is a tournament between two dimensions, and if outworld wins ten times, they take over the earth. The film also shows the rivalry between scorpion and subzero. Here's where things get weird, the whole movie takes place before the tournament.  Right!! The tournament never happened in the movie. This fight with Goro that he lost wasn't even in the tournament!! How do you make a prequel before you make the franchise?!  

Simon McQuaid makes his directorial debut here. He has mostly done commercials until now. I think this was a massive misstep on both sides. The movie needed a more experienced director, especially in this genre. Don't get it twisted !! The writers are guilty too! Greg Russo is not related to the Russo Brothers, Only has 2 credits on his IMDB, one of them being this movie, the other is Death Note 2.

Yes, that Death Note. Netflix whatever you think you're doing.  STOP!! The other is David Calliham. He's actually been part of some divisive but successful films WW84, Godzilla 2014, Zombieland double-tap. His fingerprints seem to be all over this one. What literally pisses me off the most is Oren Uziel. That Mortal Kombat rebirth video I mentioned earlier and the Web series he wrote and directed rebirth and wrote on the web series. Outside of Sub-zero and Scorpions scenes in the film, I feel like he had no impact on the process overall. I'm sure people are gonna say they love the movie. I'm sure some will say it's the worst video game movie yet. I will say this. Mortal Kombat Legends or Scorpion's Revenge tell the story a lot better. Yes, they're animated, but it's still just as violent, and you don't have to wait for the sequel to see Johnny Cage.


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Now the worst game movie? Not by a long shot.

Mortal Kombat Final Grade: C -


Friday, June 25, 2021

Thursday, June 24, 2021


Zack Snyder has been busy as of late. After using the internet to release the Snyder cut of Justice League, he is back in the good graces of Critical movie watchers worldwide, including myself. While we were hoping for another Snyder DC film that looks like that's not going to happen, he decided to go a different route, a zombie heist movie. Army of the Dead is his second undead outing 2004 Dawn of the Dead being first. This film was supposed to come out a few years after dawn but found itself in development hell, but do good things come to those who wait? Let's talk about the Army of the Dead, a Netflix original.
The movie is a modern Grindhouse film like Planet Terror. The military was transporting something mysterious across the desert, and they got into a crash--releasing a zombie, a super-strong, bullet-dodging zombie. The opening credits scroll as a montage of footage of their dark fate in some memorable and funny ways, with slow motion and good music in classic Snyder fashion. Each of our main characters handled the undead in their own way. The main star is Dave Bautista. We all know him as Drax from the MCU. He plays Scott Ward, ex-military pulled in by a wealthy benefactor offering him a chance at 50 million dollars. When he bites his victims, the change is almost instant, and right over the hill, the budding horde sees Las Vegas. The problem is it's inside a vault, inside a casino, in a zombie-ridden city that the government plans on nuking in a few days. So he gets together a team of ragtag ex-military friends, a safecracker, and a zombie-killing youtube star, and the heist is on.
This was an overall fun movie to watch. Not going to lie; there is a lot of the numbers plot and characters in this movie. In other movies, this would be a bad thing, but here you kind of expect it. Don't expect The Walking Dead to aim more for Zombieland. It is great everyone has their own moment to shine. But I do have to give credit to Tig Notaro. The movie was done shooting when Chris D'elia was exposed for his sexual misconduct, among other things. Netflix demanded reshoots, and the character was recast.   
Tig and Zack worked together to make her part of the team by digitally removing Chris from every scene he was in. Overall, it was done seamlessly, plus she looked badass. The zombies are beautifully disgusting. The combination of practical and digital effects works together so well. I have a friend who actually did some great stunt work in the film. He will be joining us on the Amerime Junkies Podcast. (shameless plug) here's what he looked like.
The film itself was beautifully shot. You have to give it to Zack Snyder. He handled cinematography as well. He captures beautiful scenes as well as random out-of-focus scenes that are a grindhouse cliche. Some of the writing is very hacky, but I have to assume it is intentional due to the genre. Netflix is leaning into this, and there already talks of a sequel and animated spinoff. There are a few moments in the film where you notice things that definitely need to be addressed ( zombie robots cough cough). I can't wait to see more of this world. 

Zack Snyder's Army of the Dead B+

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Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Robocop wants you to defund the police

Back in the 80's Paul Verhoeven made a sci-fi movie that was so absurd it shouldn't have worked. But with great writers, actors, and effect people 13 million dollars and probably some cocaine ( it was 1987 after all), Robocop was a successful hit. So naturally, a franchise was born, another R-rated bloody franchise that somehow still made kids toys and video games.

Jokes aside, years down the road, I rewatched the first three films and realized that despite it being satire. The films hit a lot of nails on the head for issues going on in our current society. Especially when it comes to policing, corporations and Gentrification, so let me go down this rabbit hole and show a movie series from 1987-1993 that showed us everything wrong with what's happening now.

In the first film, we meet Alex Murphy, a cop that has been transferred to a rougher precinct in Detroit. The police force has recently been purchased by a private corporation Omni Consumer Products. This same company has a plan to get rid of the tougher part of the neighborhood and rebuild the city in its own image. But how?

Meet DIck Jones; he's a vice president at OCP and is the number 2 guy there. He has his hand deep inside Detroit's crime, destroying the neighborhood with drugs and violence. But, on the other hand, he's the one responsible for making money for the company by owning the police, making profits for prisons, selling arms to the military, and his cohorts in crime. 

Speaking of Cohorts.

This guy is a gangster whose real name's Clarence (8-mile reference). Clarence is Dick Jones's partner in crime. While Jones is in the boardroom, Clarence is committing more crimes than the understaffed police force can handle.

The police being so outmanned and outgunned when they're not being killed in the line of duty, the duty they are talking about going on strike. On top of that, OCP has implanted their own officers who directly take orders despite the law. 

Remember Dick Jones? He's not worried about the cops going on strike cause he plans to replace them.

The ED 209, which is built to go to war on foreign soil, Jones wants to put in the streets. Except for one small problem. It can't register if someone is not holding a weapon or not.

Innocent unarmed man getting killed. Luck has it; another guy has an idea for a plan B called the robocop program. They can have one up and running in 90 days. They need a candidate since they own the police now; all they have to do is wait. Clarence is out on the streets running wild, and not enough cops to taking him down, only a matter of time until a cop drops. With a fresh-faced cop in the rougher streets, it was inevitable that Alex and Clarence cross paths. Murphy didn't have a chance.

His first day in the rough streets and he didn't make it out alive. OCP sees it as a new guinea pig. After three months, millions of dollars, and a memory wipe. There was no Alex Murphy; there was only robocop.

Armed with a huge gun and a list of prime directives, he hits the streets

. Look out cause the fourth one is a killer.

He hits the streets and does such a good job he pisses off Dick Jones and the OCP cops. It reaches ahead when he has the inventor killed. Meanwhile, Robocops' memory wasn't completely deleted. He ends up remembering everything he lost and remembers who killed him. Finding Clarence makes him talk; he gives up on Jones. When he goes to arrest him, his body begins to shut down. 

. Dick Jones added directive four to his programming so that if he tried to arrest him, he would shut down. Think about all the times that police officers have gotten away with murder cause the justice system is so insulated.

Rodney King was beaten on camera by police officers. The cops were found not guilty.


Jones activates ED 209 to take out Robocop. He escapes only to be attacked by the cops and the OCP cops. The Detroit cops are apprehensive because it doesn't feel right. They see Robocop do nothing but good. They choose not to engage and leave while the OCP officers try to kill him. His old partner helps him escape; he realizes he's still a man and kills the bad guys at the end of the day.

The biggest lesson I got from this: the dirtiest criminal on the street is just as bad as the worst CEO.

The sequel takes place a few months later. Murphy has new armor and a tech team that recognizes him as a person and not a product, unlike his corporate overlords, who have halted and docked the police pay. Yes, the strike that happened in the last movie is still happening now, but because they are the police, they still have some out there working while others are on the picket line.

Meanwhile, the streets have gotten worse; there's a new crime lord in town named Kane.

He created his own drug that has swept the nation called NUKE. His reach is so far that he even has cops on his payroll. I usually would despise a corrupt cop. But in this case, I'm willing to give some leeway due to the cut pay that OCP has put on the force. But there's one cop who you can't buy.

Robocop does what he does best; he goes after the bad guy. He's just a guy, right? Maybe he has a few goons. It should be easy. 

It didn't go well.

Meanwhile, at OCP, they are still planning to build Delta Cita over the ghettos of Detroit, But first, they want another cyborg on the street cause it makes the company look good. After showing what they worked on, which was riddled with failure, their newest team member suggested who to choose for the program. 

This is Dr. Fairfax says we need to expand our search to find candidates because some cops' brains cannot handle the transition. Meanwhile, she has a few ideas on the current robocop. 

They put him back together but want to add things to his prime directives. Those four rules were learned about in the first one. So she takes it to a focus group. This is a pretty messed-up moment. These folks wanted to add all this arbitrary stuff to his programming; he literally can't function. 

They added all these things to his programming that has nothing to do with his original purpose. Now I give police a lot of harsh criticism as a black man in America. How can I not? But when this one policeman at a press conference pointed out that they get called on to handle things that are not in their job description, let alone something they haven't been trained for. Police have been called on to handle the mentally ill. In some cases, the situation was handled properly, and in some cases, people have been shot and killed. Some precincts are beginning to have a separate department just to handle those calls. In Robocop's case, they gave him so many rules which he could not properly function; he had to electrocute himself just to get back on track.

His own personal sacrifice swayed the picketing officers to work for the greater good and take Kane down. They took Kane into custody but he's in such bad shape he may not make it to trial. 

Meanwhile, Dr. Fairfax cannot find a good candidate for robocop 2. After looking at all the police candidates, she decided to alternate route: criminals and Guess who she thinks will make a great cop. They scoop out his brain and put him into a monster of a machine. Kane is fully aware of what's going on and welcomes the power, but his addiction to his own drug consumes, and Fairfax promises to give him all the drugs he wants as long as he does what he's told. A lot of officers have been involved in the harassment, assault, and murder of everyday citizens. Some officers have been proven and time and time again, that they were not even qualified to be out in the field with a gun in the first place. The officer who shot 12-year-old Tamir Rice should have never been on the force in his personal file during weapons training. He had a "loss of composure" that his supervisor said there no amount of training that can fix this. There are officers who literally have been caught drinking or taking drugs on duty, and when they get caught, they just resign and become a cop in the next county or city. They are often referred to as Gypsy Cops. Even as this is being written, the nation has two polarising incidents where one officer "accidentally" shot someone with their gun. The other has police escalating the situation where an enlisted soldier is told he should be afraid while weapons are drawn on him as he sits in his car at a gas station, afraid to get out. The fantasy and reality get a little hazy. Sure we're not equipping officers with military styles weapons. 

Well, at least we're not putting their brains into robots, right? 

I think it would be best if I end it here. I think I got my points across. There shouldn't be corporations trying to make money off prisons. They shouldn't have so much financial reach that they can surpass the government and make their own rules. The police need to be overhauled and reformed across the board. The fact that you can't even find accurate data on how many people the police kill every year is disturbing. Police Accountability needs to stop being a cool concept and become a reality. The job of a cop is a very serious job and should be handled by people who can respect the responsibility. It's not "a few bad apples"; it's the whole farm if you ask me.  It's not impossible, and we can do it; we're human, after all. 

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