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Reefer Madness (2005)

Reefer Madness (2005)

The Musical.

It's amazing what you can get when you add a little music! And a little modern flare. It both looks and sounds good, and they handled the musical bit of it all really well too.

It does the original justice, some times, and other times parodies it excessively, and in the end I'm not sure if it was a parody entirely or if it was more of a half-assed attempt at bringing the old message into the new age, with a more Christian undertone to it...

Well, it's more like an overtone sometimes. But I did like it. It has flare. It has crazy. It has Amy Spanger and Christian Campbell, among others. And God, the Devil; lots of others. The main duo were just perfect too, and so truthful to the originals, as was John Kassir. Some of the others... well, they're not perfect, but all in all it's all well-worth watching.

As long as you like music.

And as long as you don't mind a little over the top, and you don't have any preconceptions as to the message it's here to present.

It wasn't perfect, and I did have my doubts when it started out, but in the end I'm satisfied. Musical bits and madness make up for dubious message, and whatever else it might be lacking to reach that more solid, undeniable:

 rated 4/5: fo shizzle

Surf Ninjas (1993)

Surf Ninjas (1993)

Now this was just a genuinely fun movie! Funny? Not always. Lots of surfing? Lots of ninjas? Hmmmm not really. It's the nineties after all, and it's America, so don't expect too much. But some flashy fights, some good music, a grand adventure... you do get those! It's not bad after all.

The main character isn't the best worded one, and it's surprisingly easy to convince the main trio that they're royalty, but apart from small details that might've bugged you wasn't it just that type of movie where those things don't so much matter: I have no complaints. It was a blast from start to finish, and refreshingly spontaneous compared to the movies of modern time. In terms of props and stages you have to say they put up a decent set, too. Maybe not worth a four, but props for doing what they're doing! Bonus points for different and just plain simple fun. And Leslie Nielsen as a Cybernetic Samurai Commander with a weakness for water! What more can you possible ask for? Quality and continuity, you say? Pfff...

Also props Ernie Reyes Jr. and Rob Schneider on, although they might not be the best, at least always entertaining.

 rated 4/5: fo shizzle

The Green Inferno (2013)

The Green Inferno (2013)

Can't say this movie didn't have any redeeming qualities after all! It may not have been the most realistic, the CGI might have been trash, and the whole SJW movement (not to mention Alejandro) might have been more disturbing than the natives, but the blood looked real and the creepiness... you can't take away that creepiness. You really can't.

It's a movie about a group of student activists [who] travel to the Amazon to save the rain forest [yet] soon discover that they are not alone, and that no good deed goes unpunished.

A good buddy recommended I didn't watch this... but although I definitely won't be watching it again I am glad I did. It had its moments, shock and visual appeal, and it went out with a good message, not just regarding the saving-the-world thing but also that it's not all black and white, and you'd better be wary of what you choose to risk your life for. There are different ways to make a difference. And there are different differences you can make. Something like that? Good message but... could have been better.

 rated 2/5: decent

Reefer Madness (1936)

Reefer Madness (1936)

The motion picture you are about to witness may startle you. It would not have been possible, otherwise, to sufficiently emphasize the frightful toll of the new drug menace which is destroying the youth of America in alarmingly increasing numbers. Marihuana is that drug - a violent narcotic - an unspeakable scourge - The Real Public Enemy Number One! Its first effect is sudden violent, uncontrollable laughter, then come dangerous hallucinations - space expands - time slows down, almost stands still... fixed ideas come next, conjuring up monstrous extravagances - followed by emotional disturbances, the total inability to direct thoughts, the loss of all power to resist physical emotions... leading finally to acts of shocking violence... ending often in incurable insanity. In picturing its soul- destroying effects no attempt was made to equivocate. The scenes and incidents, while fictionized for the purposes of this story, are based upon actual research into the results of Marihuana addiction. If their stark reality will make you think, will make you aware that something must be done to wipe out this ghastly menace, then the picture will not have failed in its purpose... Because the dread Marihuana may be reaching forth next for your son or daughter... or yours... or YOURS!

At its time, Reefer Madness was probably one of (if not the) most controversial movie ever to be released. The movie follows the events that unfold in one apartment, where a group of people gather together to smoke reefer, and how with time it all gets out of control... it's about marijuana, the menace to society, the public enemy #1, but fast forward to modern time and these threat levels will probably seem drastically exaggerated, and dopily portrayed, too.

It's an old movie yes, which is definitely reflected in the lack of motion between scenes, the strange way the people talked (get with the times right?), the tenser style of acting and cliche way to portray certain events, not to mention the take on the topic itself, but at the same time it does feature some pretty creative angles to capture darker scenes, and hallucinations, falls out windows, etc... it bugs me a bit that the characters portrayed all showcase an unjustified form of insanity as soon as they smoke just a little bit of that reefer, but I watched this more to have watched the classic it is, not so much to experience something authentic by modern standard, and as such I took the time to appreciate the filmography, and choreography, that made it what it was: an unconventional and for it's time highly creative film.

Keep in mind that this movie is eighty years old at this point! That's old. Filming capabilities were limited then, so if you do give this one a shot you'd better appreciate it for what it was: a work of art. Or for a laugh.

If you have a hard time doing either maybe best watch something a bit more modern, like the musical 2005 incarnation with the same name that seems to parody the elements of old rather than try to portray the threat in as serious a way as they do here. It doesn't work as well now, but I'm trying to imagine what it must've been like to watch this back when it was all new.

Maybe a documentary would've stood the test of time better, since the introductory scene where they show what types of devices drugs have been smuggled in was maybe the most interesting part. They show the drugs too. It's a small but interesting glimpse into how they handled the poisons of their time, though claiming this to be a bigger threat than all of the highly addictive synthetic variants of the time, like heroine... well, I'm glad this propaganda didn't work as well as it was meant to. I'm glad we've grown to new heights of cultural integrity and know-how since the thirties.

Yet maybe reefer was a whole different kind of drug back in the old days too. Stronger? More potent? Maybe people reacted to it differently then, than they do today? It'd be interesting to know if the research of old is entirely disapproved at this point, or if some change actually occurred somewhere along the line.

I watched both the colorized and the original version of this btw, and they're both interesting in their own way. I'd say go for color if you can, as they have an interesting way of coloring the smoke, and work on the hallucinations a bit more than the original. A different shade of a classic; a little bit closer to reality, I reckon. Curious how they do that in the next one.

Overall a good watch.

 rated 3/5: not bad

Never Back Down 2 - The Beatdown (2011)

Never Back Down 2 - The Beatdown (2011)

Michael Jai White! Both directed by and in a large role representing. Anything with that guy's great, though compared to the first... for a while I was thinking it'd pretty much just be the same thing again but with an updated cast.

It proved me wrong. They took the fights to the next level here. It's sped up a bit noticeably sometimes, but the choreography overall is off the charts, with pop punk rock music blasting while they bash each other down.

The cast btw: Dean Geyer, Alex Meraz, Todd Duffee and Scottie Epstein make up the most of them, and one of them is actually a real MMA fighter in this one! Guess who? The guy who only ever (so far) starred in just this one movie. Evan Peters from the last one is back too, and Jillian Murray is the main girl now. I miss some of the old cast though.

It's an uplifting fight movie just like the last, with a bit more serious tone, and they're out of school this time too. Whole new world. Wonder where they'll bring it after this.

With a little less messy character introductions, cliche beginnings and reusing the Beatdown title I'd probably go high five here. But it's a heavy, solid:

 rated 4/5: fo shizzle

...turns out I'd already seen and reviewed the final bit of the trilogy, but I'll give it another shot was well and give it a new write-up here.

Never Back Down (2008)

Never Back Down (2008)

A frustrated and conflicted teenager arrives at a new high school to discover an underground fight club and meet a classmate who begins to coerce him into fighting.

It's a typical story. Teenage boy has a troubled youth, moves to a new town, starts at a new school, meets a girl, runs in on an arranged fight, gets set up by the girl and looses to her violent boyfriend.

The girl feels bad and says sorry, but he can't forgive her so he and Max start training at a gym run by Jean Roqua (Djimon Hounsou). Add in some uplifting pop music, intense training sessions, contemplations, complicated relations and one big showdown aaand there you have it.

And it's good! It has both pace and punch, not to mention personality. It's the first and foremost of the franchise, and most certainly why they made the rest of them.

Sean Faris and Cam Gigandet are good adversaries, Evan Peters a good sidekick, and there's Amber Heard again - the girl I'm starting to rec... no wait, that's a different girl. Was thinking of Maika Monroe.

I've seen the movie before, I realized when it started, and I thought that'd make me want to skim but... this just isn't one of those movies. It keeps the pace. You don't want to miss a second, not the action nor the relation stuff. And it all works out! The story may be basic but it's a solid movie by all measures. Good fights and... well, it's not just the fights. Good watch.

 rated 4/5: fo shizzle

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