The following opinions should not be read prior to seeing the films in question. (Though it is possible you have resigned to never watch them at all...)

These are not reviews upon which you should base movie watching decisions. Rather, I write with the hopeful purpose of inciting sometimes interesting, sometimes informative, sometimes humourous discussions about cinema. What may prove unfortunate for the reader is that I often express myself in a pompous and juvenile fashion...mayhap there ought to be a "warning" in recognition of my sense of humour...

Regardless, I implore film fans to always remember that all film is art, and all art is subjective. No one can tell you if you like a movie, except you. Likes and dislikes of film can only be opinion, and opinion can never be wrong; only intelligently expressed and defended. There is nothing wrong with unconditionally loving a film that isn't necessarily held in the highest regard, so long as you understand and accept why you love it.

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Monday, October 18, 2010


Director - Mark L. Lester
Starring - Taryn Manning, Eric Roberts, Hal Ozsan

Imagine yourself in this scenario: you're front row center at your favourite wuss-rock concert, awe-struck by your demigods "The Dark Knights", displaying their talents to simultaneously suck and avoid copyright infringement, holding up your sign or zippo as they belt out the chorus of their astonishingly number one hit "Firing Line", when they predictably do not close the show with an admittedly cool stunt that they've refused to do since it caused the death of an innocent teen over a year ago. Are you outraged? Do you join the crowd in their halfhearted booing? Would you tear up your sign in anger, go home, and begin constructing a new one in preparation for their next show which you've already bought tickets for, thinking to yourself "This time for sure..."? After all, a year is a long time to perfect pyro-technology. If you somehow cannot picture yourself amidst said surroundings, then sorry, kiddo, you cannot be a fan of "The Dark Knights".

Unluckily for us, some quasi-wealthy people are fans of "The Dark Knights", or at least actor/singer/songwriter/fictional front man/Jack-shit-of-all-trades Hal Ozsan, otherwise we wouldn't have been blessed with this shitty excuse for him to mope around and showcase his "skills". Apparently two of his fans are fellow co-stars Taryn Manning and Eric Roberts who offer not only their acting prowess but also associate produced. (Which makes me wonder if Roberts had any say in the band's name, attempting to remind viewers of the last decent movie he was in.)

The flick opens on what turns out to be one of many rock 'n' roll montage sequences built on cocaine, joint smoking, sexy midriffs, tour buses, and hotel rooms, repeatedly illustrating the decadence and overall awesomeness of this lifestyle. It's also a good setting/excuse to get a number of hot chicks topless. Little does the band know that their hard-rocked life is about to come to an abrupt end via vengeful former-fan, Manning, and her satchel of bronzing utensils. (Including the stubbiest pitiful knife ever wielded by an on-screen killer.) I'd almost feel bad for spoiling the mystery were there any mystery to spoil; who could have imagined that the ominously cryptic newcomer who glares directly into the camera and triggers flashbacks to the opening concert chaos was out for revenge? Big fucking shocker.

I expect more from Manning, and am pleasantly surprised on those rare occasions when I do get more from Roberts...though I no longer expect it...Given that their names are all over this mess, you'd think they would've ensured themselves a bigger budget in which to frolic around. Everything from the poor CGI fire, to the same thirty-five people at every concert, to the almost complete and utter lack of blood during the kills, reeks of loose pocket change. Try wrapping your head around the logistics behind that guitar thrown into the overhead lighting...despite the crowd's disdain, it would be a real cool stunt provided the guitar didn't just disappear in a hail of 128 bit frugality. To answer Travis' question as to who gives a shit about face masks; nobody...because face masks make for cheap, shitty kill scenes. One of but many examples of the abysmal writing...

Cheesy dialogue peppers the laughably basic story elements, attempting to make meaningful statements about artistic integrity and emotional expression, but really just allowing Ozsan some sulking time between gigs, whilst pointing giant, flashing arrows at the supposed mystery killer. Riley's "Wake up...you don't wanna miss your own death" is pretty quotable, but why'd the sound guy have to go and plant the seeds of murder by looking directly at Riley and stating about Davis: "He'd better watch out, with his bad heart and all...one shock and he's a goner..."? Fortuitously for Riley, in case she missed that subtle tidbit of information, someone went to the effort of labeling Davis' (and only Davis') guitar chord. One might be inclined to think that there's more to this sound guy than meets the eye...perhaps I underestimated the overall mystery here...Doubts are quelled come the final climax when crappy writing and generic struggling intertwine; Travis disobeys orders and neglects to tie himself up, possibly baffled by the mechanics of the demand, and opts to simply tackle Riley. It seems like a pretty sure bet, until he somehow loses a physical confrontation with this 100 lb. monster, though his pregnant wife is on top of the situation, allowing for one final sarcastic quip. Cue alterna-weep-rock and croon goodbye to one hour and fifteen minutes of your time.

Rock 'n' roll movies are supposed to be fun. This movie may be, at best, masochistic fun. I can remember the good old days, when I was 7, and could trust seeing the name Mark L. Lester on a cover box. As a rather self-comforting digression, I can't help but reminisce about the year that I watched Commando at least three times a week, and wondered to myself what the future would hold for this budding auteur. Should I limber up my hi-fiving hand in anticipation of a Class of 2084? Have I respectfully waited long enough to pitch my script for Showdown in Little Tokyo II? All of those James Remar/Coolio/lesser Baldwin brothers based thrillers through the 90's must have been practice for something. Well, the future has come. The wonder has ceased. The answer is Groupie. Allow me a moment of silence.

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