Preparing to shoot a few segments of Big Jon in 5 for BEER2WHISKEY in our upstairs studio at Barley's Taproom in downtown Greenville. That's owner Josh Beebe preparing for his closeup.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Redbox Movie Night: Two Turkeys and Some Spaghetti

Bad night for Redbox movies.

As I usually do on Saturday nights, last night I rented a couple of Redbox movies and whipped up some spaghetti. There really wasn't much I wanted to see; but for a buck a pop, I'll take a chance or two.

I rolled the dice and they came up snake eyes.

The first movie was a little turkey called "Red Tails." I had high hopes for it because George Lucas produced it and Cuba Gooding, Jr is listed in the credits. Obviously Lucas no longer cares what his name is associated with, and I didn't watch long enough to see Gooding.

The opening aerial dog fight was so cheesy, if it had been in black and white, I might have mistaken it for footage from the 1959 crapathon "Plan 9 From Outer Space." I fully expected to see a cardboard cutout of a fighter plane glued to a stick go floating through the frame.

I'd tell you what the movie is about, but I didn't watch enough of it to find out.

I watched as much as five minutes of this sorry waste of celluloid because I was riveted to my recliner, mesmerized by just how bad the computer-generated effects were. I am not kidding when I say that they were doing better stuff in the 1960s.

It's not often I feel totally cheated out of my Redbox buck, but this one earned that status.

The second feature in last night's crudfest was "The Grey."

Having seen the trailer for this lame-o drama, I can only blame myself. It didn't hold much promise from the get-go.

I'm not necessarily a big Liam Neeson fan, but I have liked a few things he has been in, such as "Taken," which I own on DVD.

But I didn't much care for him or his character in "The Grey." In fact, I didn't much care for any of the characters in "The Grey." There wasn't really anyone to like or root for, well, other than the wolves. I didn't care if they made it home or not. What's a few less jerks in the world?

Here's the plot in a nutshell: Neeson's character makes his living shooting wolves somewhere in the frozen wilderness -- Alaska, maybe? -- to protect oil-company workers. I have my doubts that such a job even exists, but hey, it's Hollywood. He gets on a plane with 20 or so other workers flying to where, we don't know. Plane crashes, Neeson's character and six others miraculously survive the crash that has pieces of the plane strewn across the tundra. There is knee-deep snow on the ground, but none of these guys appear particularly chilly. Neeson spends a lot of the movie in a sweater and without gloves.

They decide to try to walk out, but a pack of savage, oversized wolves has a different idea. They begin picking off the survivors one by one as they straggle behind the rest of the group. It never occurs to Neeson's character, or anyone else in the group, to help the current straggler to keep up. Nope, they just let him continue falling farther and farther behind until he's attacked. Finally it's down to just Neeson's character, who, stumbling into its den, squares off with a wolf; fade to black.

Yep, they couldn't even figure out how to end the damn thing, so they just faded out before it was over.

Most unbelievable moment: At one point what's left of the survivors come to a very wide, very deep chasm. They make a rope by tying several pieces of clothing together. Where all this spare clothing came from, we don't know. I guess it was like the Howells on "Gilligan's Island:" For reasons unknown they took a steamer trunk of clothing on a 3-hour harbor tour.

In any event, they make this rope, tie it around the waist of one of the guys, and he takes a running leap into the pine trees on the chasm's other side. Everyone else then shinnies across the rope. Here's the thing: Somehow the wolf pack follows them over the chasm. Not sure how they managed that, but they did. I almost laughed out loud.

I didn't feel completely robbed by this movie; I guess it was worth a buck to see. Just barely...


  1. I stopped reading this when I got to the part about Red Tails and the opening sequence because coming in my mail today from Netflix was, of course, Red Tails. The opening sequence was strange, for sure. The planes were so close you could have across the wings of one, taken a little hop and been on the next one. And they didn't get any better. But special effects I can stand if the movie is good. This one has a plot that is all over the place. It attempts to tell several stories and ends up short-changing us on every one. The subplots overwhelm you, and there is no context for any of them. The movie simply starts off as if you already know what this bunch of airmen were facing in the war. Even if you did know, it needed some introduction to set up the story other than the line that they were in Italy. There was an HBO version of the story of the Tuskegee Airmen back in the 1990s that was much, much better.

  2. The idea was much better than the execution.