Review by Simon Drake
Directed by John Carpenter.
Starring Kurt Russell, Steve Buscemi and Bruce Campbell.
The year is 2013. LA has broken off and formed an island where undesirables are put. When the Presidents Daughter steals a doomsday device and is hiding in LA with her Che Guevara alike boyfriend and threatening to destroy the world, the government get Snake Plisskin to go in there and reclaim the device.Whats wrong with it?
LA is just a bigger budget re-hash of the sci-fi semi classic
original. The plot, premise and many characters are just throw in with little or no
thought. The effects are poor, the action dull and tension is kept to a dull pulse.
Considering this was 7 years in the making and a pet project for John
Carpenter and Kurt Russell (both, when desired, can be amazing at what they do) its
a major letdown.
If the first film had not existed this might have been acceptable. But it just smacks of lazy filmmaking.
And Harry Dean Stanton isnt even in it.
There are some nice ideas going on, satirical social commentaries on
freedom of speech (if you dont follow rules like No Smoking, No red meat, No Muslims
in South Dakota you are sent to prison).
Kurt Russell as Snake Plisskin is clearly having a whale of a time. Its such a great anti-hero character it is no wonder he wanted to don the eyepatch again. Snake skulks around the film going from one set piece to the other, whispering threats and generally being unpleasant as everyone else in the film.
Bruce Campbell playing a demented plastic surgeon as tweaked as never before is great, if sorely underused. As can be said about Steve Buscemi (its said he took the role to fund his directorial debut Trees Lounge) as triple crosser map-to-the-stars-Eddie.
The ending is quite surprising too.
Watchable Guff in a Saturday night with beer and curry kinda way. It prides itself on its cheesiness and corn.Best bit?
Snake in a face/off with two gun toting mooks.
Snake "How about we play a little Bangkok Rules. No one draws until this can hits the ground."
Snake throws the can in the air Shoots the two mooks. The can hits the ground.
Why exactly do the fascist Christian regime who hire Snake inject
him with the Flu as a threat to succeed the mission? Surely having the Flu is less likely
to increase your chances of running about fighting and such. Could they have not pretended
he had the Plutoxin 7 Virus by injecting him secretly with something that
wouldnt interfere with your ability to be physically active?
Have you ever tried to shoot a basketball with one eye closed? Yeah right Snake!
Production Values The effects veer largely between cool room morphs, sub standard computer game graphics and poor back projection. The sets and costumes are pretty good. The hang-gliders finale is okay too. 17
Dialogue and performances Kurt excels as his alter ego Snake. But decent
actors like Buscemi, Peter Fonda, Pam Grier and Stacy Keach are given little to do other
than standing in the dark, trading insults with Snake as he whizzes away on a motorbike,
Sub or Surfboard.
The dialogue is pretty uninspired, or blagged from the first film. Kurt whispers one liners almost to the point of incomprehension. 10
Plot and execution Less of a plot than an excuse for a series of set pieces to make the lead actor/producer look cool (See Mission Impossible 2 for more examples). John Carpenter, despite his skills (that seems to have been left in the back of a taxi somewhere) cant direct action sequences. The stunts and action are as dull as a DTV movie. Considering this is from the man who directed Halloween, The Thing, The Fog and Dark Star Where is the suspense? The pacing? The driving synth soundtrack? 8
Randomness The entire film is like pressing random on your stereo. All the scenes feel as if they could belong in any order. The bit players spend on average 10 minutes screen time before they are killed by (or because of) Snake so character development is out. Hell they are lucky if they even get a name! 19
Waste of Potential I was really looking forward to this film when it first came out. The talent behind it, it could have been great But its a big disappointment. You might as well watch Escape from New York again. Which just goes to show a huge budget and effects can be a hindrance when remaking something (See Phantom Menace. On second thoughts Dont) 20
Review by Simon Drake
Directed by Savage Steve Holland.
Starring John Cusack, David Ogden Stiers and Curtis Armstrong.
High school loser Lane Meyer (played by John Cusack) is dumped by his girlfriend dumped for the school ski team and generally dumped upon. So he sets out to commit suicide, each attempt failing more miserably than the next Until he meets a French girl and tries to turn his life around by challenging the school Bully Roy Stalin (who Lane was dumped for) to ski the deadly K-12 mountain.Whats wrong with it?
Better Off Dead is an extremely silly film, with a multitude of dumb jokes, crass stereotypes and a terrible 80s Synth rock soundtrack.Whats right with it?
Despite being extremely silly
Its actually rather fun.
John Cusack holding together the flimsy premise with his superb comic timing and appealing
ganglyness. Many of the jokes miss the mark, but the few that hit, hit well.
There are several moments of genuine originality and comic perfection in this movie.
The film also benefits from a plethora of supporting characters, including the Drag race wannabe Japanese brother "One speaks no English. The other learnt to speak from the Wide World of Sports. Whats worse? Not speaking English, or thinking youre Howard Cosell?" And Johnny the psycho paperboy who keeps turning up throughout the film threatening Lane for his owed "2 Dollars!"
Plus it is always nice to see nerd turns hip by driving a Mustang, playing saxophone and listening to Howard Jones movies.
Not bad But 80s. Cheesy. And very, very dopeyBest Bit?
Lane laying in a dumptruck (after a failed suicide attempt) as two
black tree surgeons look down on him.
"Now it's a real shame when folks be throwing away a perfectly good white boy like that."
Barney Rubble on the TV asking John Cusack is he could ask out his girlfriend. Then chuckling wildly
Lanes 12 year old brother Badger (?) who buys a book called How to pick up trashy women. Then has a group of semi naked women in his room when Lane arrives home from a disastrous blind date.Whats up with ?
Production Value Nothing special. There are some nice snowy mountains, and some decent stunts involving people (usually Cusack) falling down The K-12 14
Dialogue and performances There are quite a few witty lines, in-jokes and
parodies that works well in the context of the film. Cusack holds the thing together with
aplomb, showing early promise for Stardom. The rest of the actors are just there as
joke fodder for Cusack really. Former MASH actor David Ogden Stiers is good as
the comedy Dad trying to relate to his Sons increasing Paranoia and
depression by saying stuff like "Mellow off Man
Youre really bringing me
The French girlfriend clearly played by an American is pretty ghastly to watch Although she went on to play a British Princess in Bill and Teds Excellent Adventure, so I think we get off lightly for this film. 5
Plot and execution The entire plot is just a loose pretext for Cusacks mugging anyway. The director keeps it going fairly well, using animated sections, surrealist humour and musical numbers. There is a well handled car chase (with the psycho paper boy clinging to the roof) involving lots of swerving out of the way of Nuns and jumping red lights. The K-12 climax chase is done quite slick too (if you ignore the 80s prog rock) with Cusack's stunt double ski on one leg (whilst again being pursued by the Paperboy on a ski BMX). 8
Randomness Oh God yes! None of it makes the slightest bit of sense. Loads of subplots and surreal bits. Many of the characters show up for one scene then vanish. But the writer/director seems to know this, as he has a non English speaking French exchange student so Cusack can explain to her (and the viewer) what the hell is going on Like we care. 16
Waste of potential Entertaining fluff that hasnt got any pretensions. It fires off enough gags to keep you watching to the end. Some decent characterisation and a modicum of thought make it a cut above other mid 80s lame comedies. 2
Review by Simon Drake
Directed by Savage Steve Holland.
Starring John Cusack, Demi Moore and Curtis Armstrong.
"They're out of school. Out on Nantucket. And out of their minds. With this crowd, anything can happen."
Hoops Mcann (played by John Cusack) goes to Nantucket Island to look
for love one (crazy) summer.
With his bunch of wacky friends he meets Cassandra (a pre breast implant Demi Moore) and helps her raise money to prevent some rich developers take her Grandmother's home.
Made one year after Better Off Dead (of which most of the cast and crew returned) this sadly is a duff quasi sequel. It doesnt have the pace or spark of its predecessor, nor (although it does try) the ingenuity of its surreal gags and bizarre supporting characters. Im not sure how big Better Off Dead was when it first came out, but this feels like a by the numbers cash in on its success. Plus it started Demi Moores career And that is unforgivable.Whats right with it?
There are a couple of funny lines that clearly escaped the comedy police. The soundtrack is actually pretty good, featuring the Rolling Stones, Annie Lennox, Credence Clearwater Revival, Beach Boys and ZZ Top. John Cusack in another self-deprecating role is appealingly hapless. Its also amusing to see half of the supporting actors from Grosse Point blank to show up with one line roles in this (Cusack obviously made a lot of friends on the movie). And annoying American DJ/TV presenter Rich Little gets blown up in the final scene Which has to count for something.How bad is it really?
It is just about watchable But has little to really recommend it. Most of it is a little irritating (Bobcat Goldthwaite Im looking in your direction!). And the 80s Mullets, coifed haircuts and luminous towelling socks do little to help its crapness either.Best Bit?
Mark Metcalfe (who plays The Master in Buffy and Angel) shooting Lobsters with a crossbow is a surreal treat.Whats up with ?
Production Values Fairly good. Sunny locations and elaborate set pieces. There is an alarming amount of pointless stunts and explosions (always a tell tale sign of having too much budget). Even if the giant shark looks rubber and crap (probably an in joke on Jaws ) 10
Dialogue and Performance The script is scrappy and predictable, with added cheese nearing the end. Most of the performances vary from pantomime slimy villains, eccentric old grannies and goofy Cusack sidekicks. Everyone seems to be partially involved; maybe they were too busy enjoying themselves in the sun to care too much. 15
Plot and execution Fairly standard stand up to the bullies story which itself is an excuse for hilarious highjinks. Which is an excuse for Cusack to flap around, which is an excuse for Oh I give up. 17
Randomness Not really. Most of the subplots are wrapped up, or totally ignored. There isnt enough going on for randomness. 6
Waste of potential Considering this was made by the same guy who made the superior Better off Dead its a shame that within a year he seems to have lost his ability to tell a story or a joke. With the same cast and general underdog becomes a success premise this could have been a nice little comedy. But instead it is just a bit dull and forgettable. 12