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Category: Film and TV

Hollywood Hard Bastards: Volume 6

Gary Jive

Watching berserk action movies every day really makes you notice things – like the dire necessity for an evil henchman training school. Without fail, these useless dunderheads are horrible shots, though they do provide excellent cannon fodder for hard heroes like Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1996’s Eraser. In Chuck Russell’s carnage-tastic thriller, Arnie is villain-smiting witness protection agent John Kruger who specialises in ‘erasing’ endangered witnesses, helping them ‘disappear’ to start new lives.

Hollywood Hard Bastards: Volume 5

Gary Jive

Though any Hard Bastard worth his salt usually battles for truth and justice, these chiselled champions do occasionally get fed up with saving our butts and take a vacation over to the dark side. So, breaking us in this week, we have Bruce Willis’ engaging turn as an ice-cold, callous assassin in Michael Caton-Jones’ The Jackal (1997). It’s a neat change for Willis, reining in his usual wisecracking excesses in favour of a restrained, chilling performance as the straight-faced ultimate assassin plotting a high-profile kill, while giving Richard Gere’s ex-IRA sniper the runaround.

The Greatest Super-Hero Cartoons


The comic book is the natural medium for the super-hero. This is an indisputable fact – it’s the medium that birthed them, that’s most featured them and has evolved around them. But it’s not the only medium that the super-hero thrives in. There’s another that’s had a long and fevered history with the super-hero, brought it to new audiences and brought out new sides of it. No, it’s not the cinema (where the super-hero has only really worked successfully en masse in the past decade or so). It’s radio.

Just kidding, it’s cartoons.

Yes, what other than animation can replicate the bright characters, crazy locations, mad props and insane action of a super-hero comic? Some pretty wicked shadow puppets maybe, but let’s stick with cartoons for now. To celebrate this joyous affair of moving pictures and lycra-clad super-men, here’s a non-definitive run down of some of the best super-hero cartoons ever made.

Hollywood Hard Bastards: Volume Four

Gary Jive

 rocky II

 If there’s one thing that allows a Hard Bastard to stand head and shoulders above mere mortals, it’s their rousing tenacity. One spartan who exemplifies this trait is this week’s first contender Sylvester Stallone in 1979’s rousing Rocky II. This time, unremitting underdog Balboa struggles with celebrity life after going the distance with champ Apollo Creed (Carl Weathers). Losing respect after starring in gaudy commercials and with wife Adrien in a coma, the stuttering stallion decides to reclaim his mojo by arranging a rematch and reducing Creed’s face to mush.

Red Dawn (2012) – Review

Gary Jive

Each time a Chris Hemsworth movie is released, you’d be forgiven for thinking the Antipodean heartthrob has had a curious case of the Benjamin Buttons, seemingly growing younger and less experienced with each role. After the Thor star’s turn in last year’s long-delayed high concept fright-fest The Cabin in the Woods, this week finally sees the release of the similarly long-deferred big budget remake of John Milius’ kids-vs-foreign-invaders flick Red Dawn. Filmed in 2009 but shelved due to MGM’s financial troubles, Director Dan Bradley’s big screen debut has, disappointingly, not been worth the wait.

Hollywood Hard Bastards: Volume Three

Gary Jive

From Kindergarten Cop to Cop and a Half, the nineties were a time when Hard Bastards wanted to show there was more to their repertoire than snapping spines and giving henchmen lead poisoning. No, they wanted to do funny, which is why this week a thoroughly ruffled-looking Sylvester Stallone gurns in the shadow of Golden Girl Estelle Getty in 1992’s Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot. Roger Spottiswoode (Tomorrow Never Dies) helms this whimsical tale of cocky, streetsmart cop Joe Banowski, whose style is severely cramped by his elderly meddling mother’s unexpected visit.

Side Effects (2013) – Review

Gary Jive

After over twenty years of thrills, chills, sex, lies and videotape, Oscar-winning virtuoso director Steven Soderbergh is finally calling it a day, at least as far as the big screen is concerned. Though his eagerly-anticipated Michael Douglas-starring Liberace HBO TV movie is still to see the light of day, the Traffic director, jaded with the Hollywood studio system, stands firm that psychological thriller Side Effects will be his last ever cinematic release. Thankfully, this beguiling, unpredictable neo-noir proves to be one of his finest works since Ocean’s Eleven and is a more than fitting swansong.

Hollywood Hard Bastards: Volume Two

Gary Jive


Welcome, combat fans, to part two of my epic, foolhardy crusade! This week, Chuck Norris is icy-cool in Lone Wolf McQuade director Steve Carver’s stylish revenge thriller An Eye For An Eye (1981). Chuck is Sean Kane, kicked off the police force for karate kicking a guy out of a window, instead of reading him his rights, following the murder of his partner. Out for revenge, Kane cruises about in a kickass speedboat, dispensing vigilante justice and inviting tidy female reporters back to his lakeside gaff.

The Michael Bay Ninja Turtles Casting Game!


Despite fervent wishes to the contrary and what the general silence about the project over the past few months suggested, it seems that Michael Bay’s cinematic adaptation of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is still going ahead. He’s even made up with pouty breast-owner Megan Fox long enough to cast her in the new film.

I’m not a huge Ninja Turtles fan – I loved the original series as a kid, but I wouldn’t watch it now (the 2005 reboot is very good though and you should check it out). However, I am a massive Transformers fan, a love that will forever be tarnished by three cinematic travesties (and counting), so Turtles fans everywhere have my sympathy. Not enough sympathy, however, that I won’t indulge in playing…

The Bay (2013) – Review

Gary Jive

Yawn! Here comes the latest entry to the tired ‘found footage’ horror canon. Another low budget, purportedly homemade, schlocky fright-fest canon, this one is directed by…hang on…Barry Levinson!?!?

You’d be forgiven for not seeing this one coming but, with The Bay, the Oscar-winning director of Rain Man and Sleepers takes an unexpected, leftfield turn into grisly horror territory. This chronicle of the terrifying chaos that breaks out in a small Maryland seaside town following a gut-churning ecological disaster on Fourth of July Weekend, bears little similarity to anything Levinson has done before. Yet, satisfyingly, it manages to stand head and shoulders above the majority of the dime-a-dozen shockumentaries it looks to emulate. This may, in no small part, be due to the involvement of Paranormal Activity creator Oren Peli, who oversees as producer on an ingenious little picture that cracks the formula to truly make the flesh crawl.

Animatronics In Movies


CGI is okay – I’m no hater (I’m just a he-man woman-hater).  But it can be obvious, no matter how good the effects are.  The Tin-Tin movie had brief moments of, ‘wow, that looks really real!’, mainly down to lighting, but I wasn’t completely immersed.  Animatronics, however – well I’ve always loved them, largely because I know the thing I’m looking at is tangible.  Even if  it is dated, there’s a creative charm to watching a little girl’s head spin 360 degrees, and knowing that creepy model is collecting dust in a back room in Hollywood.  So here’s some weird stuff from the 80s and 90s.

Hollywood Hard Bastards: Volume One

Gary Jive

New Year’s Day, 2013. I’m tired, grumpy and up way, way too early. Pleasingly, the first film out of the Tub of Death instantly blasts away the cobwebs and gets the year off to a flyer. My descent into action movie insanity begins with Joseph Zito’s insane 1985 explosion-fest Invasion USA, the barmy tale of one-man-army Chuck Norris’ attempts to rescue America from a full-on terrorist invasion.

When Franchises Go Bad


Biologist Randy Thornhill and anthropologist Craig T. Palmer popularised the idea that “rape evolved under some circumstances as a genetically advantageous behavioral adaptation” (to quote good ol’ Wikipedia).  While this is almost certainly true (to the rapist’s lawyer), here’s an article on another form of rape: the kind which – in my eyes – is far worse.  The rape of franchises in film.

Mama (2013) – Review

Gary Jive

Scarlet-haired darling of Hollywood Jessica Chastain (she who is in everything) has clearly tired of impressing us with worthy, dramatic Oscar-baiting fare, so here she is, all grunged-up, tattooed and slumming it in a grimy black pageboy wig for first-time director Andy Muschietti’s immensely silly, atmospheric fright-fest. Expanded from Muschietti’s own three minute short, and ‘presented’ by Guillermo Del Toro, Mama is the moderately suspenseful tale of two little girls (the impressive Megan Charpentier and Isabelle Nelisse) who disappear in the woods on the day their parents were killed. When they are found five years later, mentally scarred and disturbingly feral, they are taken in by their unwitting uncle Lucas (Headhunters’ Nicolaj Coster-Waldau) and his free-spirited, rock chick missus Annabel (Chastain), who quickly twig that there could be something sinister or even supernatural behind their disappearance. When creepy dark damp patches begin to manifest all over their new home, and the girls start conversing with the walls, it’s brown trousers time for this dysfunctional family unit, as they discover that a mysterious, malignant entity known only as ‘Mama’ still wants to tuck the girls in at night…

Hollywood Hard Bastards: A Year-Long Movie Mission

Gary Jive

They’re unkillable, unstoppable, unflappable and irresistible. They’re the masters of the outrageous, racking up unfeasibly high body counts, smirking in the face of danger, always ready with a sly quip right before they blow the shit out of absolutely everything. Charismatic, stoic and determined, these Spartans never give up, overcoming unbelievable odds and despicable villains to save the day. They’re cinema’s greatest warriors, titans who walk among us, proving time and time again that there’s no problem, however big or small, that can’t be solved with a hearty fistful of dynamic, pulse-quickening, edge-of-your-seat violence.