REVIEW: ANGER MANAGEMENT – SEASON 2

 

Starring

Charlie Sheen (Two and a Half Men)

Selma Blair (Hellboy)

Shawnee Smith (Saw 3D)

Daniela Bobadilla (Justice League vs The Fatal Five)

Noureen DeWulf (Pulse 2 & 3)

Michael Arden (Bride Wars)

Derek Richardson (Hostel: Part II)

Barry Corbin (The Ranch)

Laura Bell Bundy (How I Met Your Mother)

Brian Austin Green (Terminator: TSCC)

Charlie Sheen and Selma Blair in Anger Management (2012)

Recurring / Notable Guest Stars

Meredith Salenger (Race To Witch Mountain)

Brett Butler (The Walking Dead)

Michael Boatman (The Good Fight)

Martin Sheen (The West Wing)

Carolyn Hennesy (Click)

Mimi Kennedy (Mom)

Kristen Renton (Marriage Killer)

Kate Reinders (Work It)

James Black (The Starter Wife)

Aldo Gonzalez (Sons of Anarchy)

Darius McCrary (Transformers)

Toby Huss (Dickinson)

Steve Valentine (Mike & Molly)

Stacy Keach (Prison Break)

Danielle Bisutti (Curse of Chucky)

CeeLo Green (Hotel Transylvania)

Ken Lerner (The Running Man)

Denise Richards (Valentine)

Bryce Johnson (Popular)

Lindsay Lohan (Mean Girls)

Eddie Shin (Westworld)

Ashley Fink (Glee)

Don Stark (That 70s Show)

Slash (Private Parts)

Marion Ross (Happy Days)

Brian Posehn (The Big Bang Theory)

Steven Krueger (The Originals)

Nicole Travolta (The Middle)

Carol Kane (Scrooged)

Mircea Monroe (The Change-Up)

Brian Gross (Red Tails)

Rizwan Manji (THe Dictator)

Richard Moll (Scary Movie 2)

Adam Wylie (Child’s Play 2)

Robert Gant (13 Reasons Why)

LeAnn Rimes (Logan Lucky)

Greg Cipes (Teen Titans)

Kristina Anapau (Cursed)

Michaela Watkins (Wanderlust)

Patrick Cox (2 Broke Girls)

Brea Grant (Heroes)

Anna Hutchison (The Cabin In The Woods)

Bob Clendenin (That 70s Show)

Andy Mientus (The Flash)

Ajay Mehta (Life of Pi)

Meera Simhan (New Girl)

Gina Gershon (Red Heat)

Odette Annable (Supergirl)

Ron West (3rd Rock From The Sun)

Schuyler Helford (Indoorsy)

Cheech Marin (Machete)

Ana de la Reguera (Cowboys & Aliens)

Carla Gallo (Bones)

Julia Duffy (Newhart)

Brooke Lyons (Izombie)
Dominic Rains (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)

Fred Stoller (Fred & Vinnie)

Chasty Ballesteros (The Ranch)

Barry Livingston (Argo)

Isaiah Mustafa (IT: Chapter 2)

Ginger Gonzaga (Ted)

Shannon Welles (Inception)

Aly Michalka (Izombie)

Tiffany Dupont (9-1-1)

Kelly Frye (Criminal Minds)

Michael Gross (Tremors)

Elaine Hendrix (Dynasty)

Ethan Erickson (Jawbreaker)

Jacqueline MacInnes Wood (Final Destination 5)

Ivar Brogger (Andromeda)

Eric Steinberg (Terminator: TSCC)

Will Sasso (Mom)

Arden Myrin (Insatiable)

Mercedes Mason (The Finder)

Gilbert Gottfried (Problem Child)

Ciara Hanna (Power Rangers Megaforce)

Robin Riker (Alligator)

Jeff Doucette (Doctor Dolittle)

E.J. Callahan (Bubble Boy)

Cheryl Ladd (Poison Ivy)

Izabella Miko (The Cape)

Corbin Bernsen (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang)

 

Charlie Sheen and Daniela Bobadilla in Anger Management (2012)Charlie Sheen is in heaven. ‘Anger Management’ was the perfect show for him. He gets to walk around a set, cracking badly written jokes while a laugh-track validates them. The entire show is laden with attractive women who were probably in grade school when Sheen was doing ‘Major League.’ He gets to pretend to have a sex-filled no-strings-attached relationship with Selma Blair. And, to top it all off, the man who once pronounced “I’m different. I have a different constitution. I have a different brain, I have a different heart. I got tiger blood, man,” is playing a psychologist. One of the world’s greatest ironies I guess.Charlie Sheen and Ken Lerner in Anger Management (2012)The problem – well the show has a ton of problems, but the biggest – is the fact that ‘Anger Management’ doesn’t play on the Charlie Sheen is batshit insane. It tries to make him a level-headed psychologist who happens to simply be way too addicted to females. At least one thing carried over from Charlie’s real-life shenanigans. Whenever one of his patients professes something crazy, or over-the-top, Charlie rolls his eyes, the laugh-track guffaws, and then he tries to set them straight. How much funnier would a show be about a therapist who happens to be just as crazy as Sheen is in real-life?Lindsay Lohan in Anger Management (2012)The show’s formula hasn’t changed from the first season. Sheen begins almost every episode gathered in his living room with his group of patients. Season two features maybe one or two semi-interesting storylines. In one episode Charlie’s father (played by his real-life father Martin Sheen) comes to visit. The gimmick is light-hearted fun for the first 10 minutes. There are a couple other episodes that focus more on the patients, which is a nice respite from chronicling Charlie’s endless female conquests. Yet again, most of the season revolves around Charlie trying to get into the pants of (extremely) younger women. Yes, it’s just as sleazy as it sounds even if there is a laugh-track trying to lighten the mood.Charlie Sheen in Anger Management (2012)Anger Management is neither a bad show, nor a great one. Though there are some fairly talented people involved, the show is mediocre at best, happy to recycle the same gags repeatedly. This third volume picks things up partway through the series’ second season, but you could pick up this series at any point and not miss much. The show continues to try and find comic gold in the interactions between therapist Charlie Goodson (Sheen) and his ‘interesting’ array of patients including cantankerous old codger Ed (Barry Corbin); sexpot Lacey (Noureen DeWulf); passive Nolan (Derek Richardson), who has an unreciprocated crush on Lacey; and gay, disingenuous Patrick (Michael Arden).Since the characters haven’t been developed much beyond a surface level, generating any genuine, lasting laughs is near impossible.Charlie Sheen, Martin Sheen, and Noureen DeWulf in Anger Management (2012)To be fair, even a mindless show like Anger Management can muster a laugh or two on occasion, and I always enjoy Martin Sheen’s appearances as Charlie’s father. By and large though, Anger Management has the feel of a show that’s put together on the fly, so as to not interfere with Charlie Sheen’s busy social schedule. A Nice addition to the series was Anna Hutchison who played a reformed hooker who Charlie falls in love, this kept my interest for the remainder of the show as she is one of my all time favorite actresses.

HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: TWO GUYS AND A GIRL – THE HALLOWEEN EPISODES

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MAIN CAST

Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool)
Richard Ruccolo (Rita Rocks)
Traylor Howard (Son of The Mask)
Suzanne Cryer (10 Cloverfield Lane)
Nathan Fillion (Firefly)
Jillian Bach (Julie & Julia)
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GUEST CAST

Kathy Kinney (Lois & Clark)
Maury Ginsberg (Vinyl)
Ken Lerner (The Running Man)
Robert Joy (Land of The Dead)

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Two Guys, a Girl and a Psycho Halloween

It’s Halloween in this surreal episode and Berg is working late in the hospital when Psycho Berg appears, ties him up and goes on a murderous rampage. Pete and Sharon are throwing a costume party, unaware that it is Psycho Berg with them. When they find the real Berg, they try to protect themselves from the killer by locking themselves into the pizza place. After a mix up, they must decide which one is the real Berg and which one is the killer.

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Halloween 2: Mind over Body

A mad scientist switches Pete’s brain with Ashley’s brain and Berg’s brain with Sharon’s brain and the only who can help them is Johnny.

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The Satanic Curses

When Pete, Berg and Sharon won’t let Irene watch scary movies with them she puts a curse on them. The next day Pete has Ashley’s head grow out of his shoulder, Berg becomes ugly and Sharon wakes up with a penis.

This was one of the funniest sit-coms ever, and it’s a shame that it had low ratings. Both the writing and acting were top rate. I usually hate TV sit coms. The actors tend to over do it, and most stories are trite, ie, been there, done that. But Two Guys, A Girl and a Pizza Place was always inventively funny, and, I think, very genuine for the age group it was portraying. The Halloween episodes were some of the best they ever made. I highly recommend it.

REVIEW: TWO AND A HALF MEN – SEASON 6

Starring

Charlie Sheen (Hot Shots)
Jon Cryer (Supergirl)
Angus T. Jones (Bringing Down The House)
Marin Hinkle (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle)
Conchata Ferrell (Krampus)
Holland Taylor (D.E.B.S.)

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Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Martin Mull (Sabrina: TTW)
Rena Sofer (Heroes)
Ryan Stiles (Hot Shots)
Helena Mattsson (Iron Man 2)
Bridget Flanery (Sabrina: TTW)
Kelly Stables (The Ring Two)
Alicia Witt (Two Weeks Notice)
Brittney Powell (Airborne)
Jennifer Taylor (Shameless)
Michael Clarke Duncan (The Finder)
Jon Polito (The Crow)
Melanie Lynskey (Heavenly Creatures)
Emilio Estevez (Bobby)
James Earl Jones (Star Wars)
Carol Kane (Gotham)
Diora Baird (Wedding Crashers)
J.D. Walsh (The Amazing Spider-Man 2)
Meagen Fay (That’s My Boy)
Emmanuelle Vaugier (Human Target)
Joel Murray (Mad Men)
Ken Lerner (The Running Man)

TWO AND A HALF MENSeason six is a busy season for Charlie, Alan, and Jake. There are several new developments, which include Charlie trying out a monogamous relationship again, Alan getting too involved with Judith and Herb, Jake and Evelyn bonding, and more. Along the way, there are plenty of laughs, as the cast continues to work very well together. The show also has excellent writing and plot lines that keep the content fresh.MV5BMjM5NjMwMTE3OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMDkwOTc3MjE@._V1_The season begins with the episode “Taterhead Is Our Love Child”, which marks a new era for Charlie — he starts to think about people other than himself. In this episode, he runs into an old girlfriend. She has a kid named Chuck who is the spitting image of Charlie. Charlie contemplates the effectiveness of condoms, as well as having his own child. It is a fun way to start the season with lots of goofiness coming from the main characters. “A Jock Strap In Hell” is another episode that highlights Charlie’s growth and maturity as a human being. Back in season two, Charlie dated Jake’s 5th grade teacher Miss Pasternak. Unfortunately, after he dumped her, she went a little crazy. In a very awkward, yet comical moment, Charlie, Alan, and Jake run into her at the local drug store. Her life is a mess and she has gone from teacher to stripper. Charlie feels guilt and helps her regain part of her life back. Of course, the situation blows up on everyone. The end result is a riot!MV5BNzMwNDA4NDA1MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTYwOTc3MjE@._V1_Despite Charlie’s attempts to become a better person, he still hits a few kinks in the journey. One of them is Alan’s receptionist Melissa (Kelly Stables) in “The Flavin’ and the Mavin’”. He wins her over, but ends their relationship after a passionate weekend. Of course, it does not turn out well for Alan. Melissa comes back later in “Thank God for Scoliosis” as Alan’s love interest. They hit it off, but her weed smoking mother complicates things. Going back to Charlie, he makes a huge breakthrough in the romance department. “Pinocchio’s Mouth” introduces Chelsea (Jennifer Taylor), who has an on and off relationship with Charlie. They fight over trivial issues that only would bother Charlie. As the season progresses, Chelsea becomes more permanent and she slowly tames the wild beast.MV5BMjAxMzI5NDg4MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjAxOTc3MjE@._V1_Another big season development for the Harpers involves Judith and Herb. The married couple has a rocky patch in “It’s Always Nazi Week” and they patch things up in “Best H.O. Money Can Buy”. In the first episode, she kicks him out of the house when he takes some bad advice from Charlie. It is a fun development, as Herb tries to become like Charlie. Meanwhile, Judith fears being alone the rest of her life and puts the moves on Alan. Out of this situation, a sticky mess is made involving Judith, Alan, and Herb. It will be interesting to see what comes of it in season six.MV5BMjIyMjM0MzczN15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMDMxOTc3MjE@._V1_As for the rest of the season, there are a lot of fun things happening for the cast. Some highlights include “Smelled The Ham, He Got Excited”, Evelyn makes a generous offer and the Harper boys pound their heads to find out why, “The Mooch At The Boo”, Alan is caught in his mom’s shoes (and dress) and Jake falls for the neighbor girl whose overprotective father Jerome (Michael Clarke Duncan) is a former NFL player, “The Devil’s Lube”, Charlie contemplates death after his friend dies and almost makes a dramatic life changing decision, “David Copperfield Slipped Me a Roofie”, Alan turns forty and no one really seems to care, “The Two Finger Rule”, Charlie, Alan, Herb, and Jerome hang out at the house–it is a real funfest, and “Above Exalted Cyclops”, Chelsea introduces Rose to the Harper boys. Overall, Two and a Half Men’s sixth season is an absolute riot. The series continues to dazzle and amaze with nonstop comedy.

REVIEW: UNLAWFUL ENTRY

 

CAST

Kurt Russell (Big Trouble In Little China)
Madeleine Stowe (12 Monkeys)
Ray Liotta (Killing Them Softly)
Roger E. Mosley (Stay Hungry)
Ken Lerner (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Deborah Offner (Love Field)
Carmen Argenziano (Stargate SG.1)
Dick Miller (Gremlins)
Djimon Hounsou (Shazam)

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Steve Makaj (Arrow)Michael and Karen Carr (Kurt Russell and Madeleine Stowe) are a couple living in an upscale part of Los Angeles, and their peace of mind is upset by an intruder coming in through their skylight one night. The intruder briefly takes Karen as a hostage, before dumping her in the swimming pool and making his escape. The Carrs call in the police, one of whom, Pete Davis (Ray Liotta), takes extra interest in the couple’s case. He cuts through department red tape and expedites speedy installation of a security system in the Carrs’ house.  When Michael expresses an interest in getting revenge on the intruder, Pete invites him on a “ride-along” with his partner, Roy Cole (Roger E. Mosley). After dropping Cole off, Pete takes Michael out to arrest the man who broke into the Carrs’ house, offering Michael a chance to take some revenge using Pete’s nightstick. Michael declines, but Pete administers a vicious beating to the intruder, leaving Michael deeply suspicious of Pete’s mental stability. He suggests that Pete get some professional help and, especially, stay far away from him and Karen in the future.
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Pete takes neither suggestion. Instead, he begins to stalk the couple, particularly Karen, with whom he’s obsessed. Pete even appears in the couple’s bedroom one night while they are making love, just to “check that everything’s okay”. When Michael files a complaint against Pete’s unwanted attentions, Pete uses his police connections to destroy Michael’s business reputation. Encountering bemused apathy from Pete’s superiors in the LAPD, Michael turns to Cole, who orders his partner to cease his obsessing, see a shrink or face suspension. Pete then murders Cole, blaming it on a known criminal. Pete then frames Michael on drug charges by planting a supply of cocaine in the Carrs’ house, leaving the way clear for him to move in on Karen. Putting his attorney’s finances on the line, Michael gets out on bail and takes matters into his own hands. Back at the Carr house, after finding that Pete has brutally murdered her friend, Karen rejects a now distraught Pete, who, on branding her a tease for leading him on and kissing him, goes berserk and tries to rape her. Michael returns home which leads to a confrontation between the two men and ends in Michael shooting Pete dead with his own side arm in self-defense.919NuAZvl-L._SL1500_Unlawful Entry is a suspenseful thriller with a brilliant cast of Ray Liotta, Kurt Russell and Madeleine Stowe. I should point out that Liotta’s performance as a physchotic police officer is one of the best of his roles. What makes the film outstanding is the sense of struggle, intensity and emotion found in both Liottas and Russells characters.

REVIEW: THE EXORCIST III

CAST

George C. Scott (Dr. Strangelove)
Ed Flanders (Salem’s lot)
Jason Miller (Toy Soldiers)
Scott Wilson (Juenbug)
Brad Dourif (Child’s Play)
Gerard L. Bush (Die Hard)
George DiCenzo (The Choirboys)
Ken Lerner (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Viveca Lindfors (Stargate)
Samuel L. Jackson (Avengers Assemble)
Kevin Corrigan (True Romance)


The film begins with the point of view of someone wandering through the streets of Georgetown, a voice informing us “I have dreams… of a rose… and of falling down a long flight of stairs.” The point of view shows a warning of evil about to arrive later that night at a church. Demonic growls are heard. Leaves and other street trash suddenly come flying into the church as a crucifix comes to life. It then cuts to Lieutenant William F. Kinderman (George C. Scott) at a crime scene, where a 12-year-old boy named Thomas Kintry has been murdered.
Kinderman takes his friend, a priest named Father Dyer (Ed Flanders), out to see their mutually favorite film It’s a Wonderful Life. Kinderman later relates the gruesome details of the murder of the young boy he was investigating that morning, including his crucifixion. Another murder soon takes place — a priest is found decapitated in a church. Dyer is shortly hospitalized–and found murdered the next day–with the words “IT’S A WONDERFULL LIFE” written on a wall in Dyer’s blood.The fingerprints at the crime scenes do not match, indicating a different person was responsible for each. Kinderman tells hospital staff the reason for his unease: fifteen years ago the vicious serial killer James “The Gemini” Venamun (Brad Dourif), was executed; with every victim he cut off the right index finger and carved the Zodiac sign of Gemini into the palm of their left hand. Kinderman noticed the hands of the three new victims and verified that the Gemini’s sign has been there. The Gemini Killer also always used an extra “L” in his notes sent to the media, such as “usefull” or “carefull”. Furthermore, to filter out false confessions, the original Gemini Killer’s true mutilations were kept a secret by the Richmond police’s homicide department; the newspapers were made to wrongfully report that the left middle finger was severed and that the Gemini sign was carved on the back of the victim.Kinderman visits the head of the psychiatric ward, Dr. Temple (Scott Wilson), who relates the history of a man in Cell 11, that he was found wandering aimlessly fifteen years ago with amnesia. The man was locked up, catatonic until recently when he became violent and claimed to be the Gemini Killer. Kinderman sees that the patient resembles his dead friend Father Damien Karras (Jason Miller). The patient expresses ignorance of Father Karras, but boasts of killing Father Dyer.
The next morning, a nurse and Dr. Temple are found dead. Kinderman returns to see the patient in Cell 11, who claims that after his execution his soul entered Karras’s dying body. The Gemini’s spiritual “master”, who had possessed the girl Regan MacNeil, was furious at being pushed out of the child’s body and is exacting its revenge by putting the soul of the Gemini Killer into the body of Father Karras. Each evening, the soul of the Gemini leaves the body of Karras and possesses the elderly people with senile dementia elsewhere in the hospital and uses them to commit the murders. The Gemini Killer forced Dr. Temple to bring Kinderman to him or he would suffer in unspeakable ways — Temple couldn’t take the pressure, and he committed suicide.
The Gemini possesses an old woman, who makes a failed attempt to murder Kinderman’s daughter. The possessed patient attacks Kinderman, but the attack abruptly ends when a priest, Father Paul Morning (Nicol Williamson), enters the corridor leading to cell 11 and attempts an exorcism on the patient. The Gemini’s “patron” intervenes, taking over the patient’s body, and the priest is all but slain. Kinderman arrives in time and attempts to euthanise Karras after finding the body of the priest but is hurled into the wall by the possessed Karras. Father Morning manages to briefly regain consciousness and tells Karras, “Damien, fight him.” Karras regains his free will briefly and cries to Kinderman, “Bill, now! Shoot now! Kill me now!” Kinderman fires his revolver several times, hitting Karras in the chest, fatally wounding him. The Gemini is now gone…and Karras is finally free. With weak breaths, he says “We won, Bill. Now free me.” Kinderman puts his revolver against Karras’ head — and fires. The film ends with Kinderman standing over Karras’ grave.

Despite the ghastly ending, “The Exorcist III: Legion” is a vastly underrated little horror movie — beautifully directed and acted, with a darkly theological undercurrent. Too bad Blatty hasn’t directed much else.

REVIEW: MANIAC COP

CAST

Bruce Campbell (Ash vs Evil Dead)
Tom Atkins (Halloween III)
Laurene Landon (Wicked Stepmother)
Richard Roundtree (Shaft)
William Smith (Fever Pitch)
Robert Z’Dar (Tango & Cash)
Dan Hicks (Evil Dead 2)
George Flower (They Live)
Ken Lerner (The Running Man)

suburban-mayhemIn New York City, a waitress on her way home is assaulted by two muggers and seeks aid from a police officer, who breaks her neck. Over the next two nights, this “Maniac Cop” commits more murders, prompting Lieutenant McCrae (Tom Atkins), who was told by his superiors to suppress eyewitness accounts that the killer was wearing a police uniform, to pass on information to a journalist, in an attempt to protect civilians. Unfortunately, this causes panic and dissent among the city and results in innocent patrolmen being shot to death by paranoid people.
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Ellen Forrest (Victoria Catlin), who suspects that her husband Jack (Bruce Campbell) may be the Maniac Cop, follows him to a motel, where she catches him in bed with a fellow officer, Theresa Mallory (Laurene Landon). Distraught, Ellen runs out of the room, and is slain by the murderer. Jack is arrested under suspicion of murder, but McCrae believes Jack has been framed. McCrae gets Jack to tell him about his relationship with Mallory, who is attacked by the Maniac Cop while working undercover as a prostitute. Mallory and McCrae fight off the killer, who is deathly cold even through his gloves and does not appear to breathe; though they shoot him several times, the killer appears unfazed.
maniac-cop-1200-1200-675-675-crop-000000Mallory hides out in McCrae’s apartment while he investigates Sally Noland (Sheree North), the only person Mallory told about her affair. McCrae follows Noland to a warehouse, where she meets with the maniac cop and refers to him as “Matt”. Returning to police headquarters, McCrae discovers files on Matthew Cordell, a fellow officer who was imprisoned in Sing Sing for police brutality and closing in on corruption in city hall. While McCrae is looking into his past, Cordell flashes back to being mutilated and killed in a shower room in Sing Sing.
Image result for maniac cop 1988When McCrae and Mallory visit Jack, they tell him that they think Cordell is the real killer and plan to visit the chief medical examiner at Sing Sing. McCrae leaves to go to the clerical room, and he is attacked by Sally, who is in hysterics, convinced that Cordell is going to turn on her. After finding a policeman hanging in a noose, Sally is grabbed by Cordell and beaten to death. Hearing the commotion, Jack and Mallory break out of the interrogation room and find the corpses of numerous officers strewn about the halls of the building. Jack tells Mallory to go to McCrae’s car while he searches for Cordell, who disappears after throwing McCrae out a window, killing him. Jack, who looks like the one responsible for the carnage to responding officers, flees with Mallory.
Image result for maniac cop 1988The two go to see Sing Sing’s medical examiner, who admits that while he was preparing to autopsy Cordell, the officer showed faint signs of life. The examiner secretly released Cordell into Sally’s care, convinced he was completely brain dead. During the 50th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Jack waits outside as Mallory warns Commissioner Pike (Richard Roundtree) and Captain Ripley (William Smith) about Cordell, but the two refuse to believe her and have her arrested. Cordell stabs Pike and Ripley to death, then targets Mallory, knifing the policeman left to guard her. Mallory escapes through a window, while Jack is arrested and placed in a van, which Cordell hijacks.
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Mallory and another officer chase the van, which Cordell takes to his warehouse hideout, running over the watchman on the way in. Cordell attacks Mallory and Jack, kills the other officer, and tries to escape in the van when backup arrives. Jacks clings to the side of the van and fights for control of it, distracting Cordell and causing him to drive into a suspended pipe, which impales him. Cordell loses control of the vehicle, which crashes into the river, and sinks. The van is fished out, and, as it is searched, Cordell’s hand shoots out of the water. Everyone then realizes that Jack Forrest didn’t comitt the murders. In the extended cut, corrupt mayor Jerry Killium relaxes in his office, content Cordell is gone. After Killium’s assistant leaves, Cordell, who was hiding behind a curtain, murders the mayor offscreen as the credits roll.Image result for maniac cop 1988Maniac Cop is an enjoyable amalgam of the action, horror and mystery genres with great set pieces and a interesting plot.

REVIEW: GODZILLA (1998)

CAST

Matthew Broderick (Election)
Jean Reno (Leon)
Maria Pitillo (True Romance)
Hank Azaria (The Simpsons)
Kevin Dunn (Transformers)
Michael Lerner (Elf)
Harry Shearer (This Is Spinal Tap)
Doug Savant (Desperate Housewives)
Nancy Cartwright (The Simpsons)
Glenn Morshower (Supergirl TV)
Derek Webster (Stargate)
Ali Afshar (Power Rangers Turbo)
James Black (Kick-Ass 2)
Clyde Kusatsu (Midway)
Frank Welker (Transformers)
George Cheung (Rush Hour)
Ken Lerner (Robocop 2)
Lance Reddick (John Wick)

MV5BYzVjY2QyZjktMWQ5NS00OTZlLTk1NGQtY2Y0YmJiMWUxNjY5XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNzc5NjM0NA@@._V1_Roland Emmerich specializes in movies that are practically critic proof. He populates his films with amazing spectacle, blockbusters packed with explosions, disasters, and well known landmarks destroyed in various ridiculous ways — exactly what people want to see when they desire entertainment that won’t spoil the taste of their movie theater popcorn with intellectually challenging issues or drama. Emmerich therefore makes sure to keep things simple with his films, which means a sacrifice of character development and depth, logic, and general believability. Emmerich’s 1998 remake of Godzilla is no exception to the rule. While there’s a definite sense of grandeur and epic destruction, it is like a paper-mache pinata. When you hit it hard enough with a bat, there is certainly some disposable candy to be found. But what’s truly there is now a broken, empty hull that never really had any substance.MV5BNDI4M2RkZjgtZDhkZS00YzczLWFhYWUtNDhiMjY0MjAwMjEwXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNzc5NjM0NA@@._V1_

The plot manages to be simple and yet garbled. The US military recruits a humble Nuclear Regulatory Commission scientist, Niko Tatopoulos (Matthew Broderick), to investigate some strange discoveries, namely a shipwreck with giant claw marks in the hull and equally giant footprints in the French Pacific. Before Niko figures out what’s really going on, a giant pregnant lizard starts attacking New York City. It lays eggs in Madison Square Garden and smashes up the skyline. There’s also some business with the French Secret Service, and Niko’s college sweetheart, but these subplots are thin and underdeveloped. The focus of the movie is really about a giant lizard destroying NYC.  What Emmerich gets right is the spectacle. While nothing on the scale of global destruction of his earlier Independance Day, he again shows that he knows how to deliver shock and awe in an entertaining way. The sequence where Godzilla chases a taxi through the streets of New York, and the taxi (defying all reason) desperately manages to evade the giant lizard is just one of many that simply work on a visual and visceral level. The action keeps a swift pace punctuated with destruction, distracting your brain with explosions and the like so you don’t have time to think about any flaws in logic that might come up. You can’t really knock the effects and the action sequences, even if the CGI of Godzilla seems a little clunky and obvious by modern standards. The reason Emmerich manages to keep getting audiences to come see his films is that he delivers pure eye candy, the kind that appeals to a mass audience.This would work just fine and dandy if Emmerich kept the pace plowing forward without pausing. Sadly, he takes the time to try and explain things. The instant the pace slows down and we return to the characters, we can’t help but notice that they’re cardboard cutouts, shambling around New York City having conversations that don’t sound anything like how real people talk. Every time we get into a slow sequence, there’s practically has a neon sign in the background flashing the word ‘Exposition’ just in case anyone was missing that fact. We are taken out of the action into these sequences that are utterly useless and draw attention to the weaknesses of Emmerich’s style. Lets face it, do any of us really care about the particulars of why Godzilla is smashing up New York? No. We just want him to carry on doing it, while we enjoy our buttery popcorn and big gulp sodas. Now, Emmerich does have a reason for this exposition. It’s a sad attempt to make us feel for this Godzilla creature. In many ways, he’s trying to set up this empathy, in that ‘the animal was just scared and doing what came natural, it didn’t want to hurt anyone’ sort of way. You see, Godzilla is rampaging New York just because he came to lay some eggs and make a nest. So it’s just Godzilla’s hermaphroditic mother bear rage, and who can’t empathize with that, right?

…Okay, yeah, it’s totally ridiculous and feels like the plot point was plucked straight from Jurassic Park. The entire effort to make Godzilla empathetic while at the same time more beastly and unintelligent than the old Toho version simply doesn’t work. Godzilla in this movie is a completely different creature than the familiar dinosaur of the Toho incarnation. Patrick Tatopoulos’ design is much more lizard-like, and is nominally more realistic looking (if giant monstrous lizards can be realistic at all). The difficulty here is that the beast is almost too based in reality. It’s just a giant grey lizard, with little true character or feeling of intelligence. When we get flooded by a ton of raptor-like baby-zillas, it’s again feels like an attempt to cash in on the success of Jurassic Park. This Godzilla, often mockingly labelled ‘Notzilla’, is so bland and characterless that we miss the joy of watching a Godzilla movie.  Emmerich’s movie gives us a generic monster with the name Godzilla slapped on, and it really isn’t worthy of the name.The human characters fare no better than the title character. You can easily sum up all of them in a single sentence. Niko Tatopoulos is the goodnatured scientist who’s still hung-up on his college sweetheart. Victor Palotti (Hank Azaria) is a snarky Brooklyn-born camera man. They get little backstory, and in most cases none. You simply take them at their face value, stereotypes that are tired yet familiar. If you form any sort of attachment to these characters, its for reasons external to the movie. Maybe you really love Ferris Bueller, and that will help you be attached to Niko. Personally, I’m a fan of Jean Reno, so I really only cared about his character solely on that basis. This is utterly ridiculous for a film, that we form no sort of real attachment. We have no reason to actually care if Godzilla actually murders them all. In fact, given how obnoxious some of the characters are, you might actually hope Godzilla wins. The most ridiculous of the characters is actually the mayor of New York. This is not merely a cardboard-depth character. It is a wafer-thin caricature of famous film critic Roger Ebert. Emmerich’s earlier films had been rightly blasted by the man, so Emmerich takes revenge in a childish and immature way. He places Ebert into the film as an inept, sleazy, sugar-guzzling political opportunist. Mayor Ebert is constantly making decisions for his own sake, not the good of the city. He’s probably the least sympathetic character in the whole film, and it just feels like a stupid joke gone too far. It detracts from the film immensely.

I also have to make note of something that is of no fault of the filmmakers. Godzilla was released in 1998, three years before the 9/11 tragedy. Every time you see NYC skyline, you can’t help but stare at the World Trade Center. The film even has a terribly creepy line from Harry Shearer’s reporter character, talking about how the initial devastation from Godzilla is “worst since the World Trade Center bombing.” Obviously, this is in reference to the 1993 bombing, but now it serves as a terrible reminder of the more recent tragedy. When the helicopters blow up the Chrysler building, it hits the viewer in a terrible and unsettling way, and a dreadful unease takes you out of the movie.
1-godzilla-1998-1438781993Emmerich brings nothing new to the giant monster table other than a large budget, creating something that is pure edifice and no real substance. His Godzilla is full of sound and fury, signifying nothing — which is really not too much of a problem for the undiscerning movie goer. Going back to the earlier analogy, there’s nothing wrong with a pinata full of candy. You just have to ignore the sad, broken hull that remains afterward. So either you can shut off your brain and enjoy this bastard child of Emmerich’s making, or you don’t bother and watch something like Cloverfield instead.