G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra

This film is not so much a movie as it's a series of vaguely related action set pieces with characters spewing catch-phrased references to the old cartoon and half remembered bits from the magazine article the writer snorted cocaine off of before the pitch meeting.

After a stupid flashback related to the main villain, but not related to rest of the film in terms of  tone, Duke (Channing Tatum) and Ripcord (Marlon Wayans) are in Kyrgyzstan, try to transport a dangerous nanotech weapon made by James McCullen (Christopher Eccleston).  The bad guys try to steal it and get thwarted by Duke with assistance of Snake Eyes (Ray Park, blissfully silent) and several other super troopers.

The "Joes" ask Duke for the nanite super weapon, to which he says, and I quote: "I'm signed for them!" but Dennis Quaid insists they give up the weapon. They eventually do on the condition they get to join this wacky international club house of do-gooders.

Meanwhile, the villains are plotting to take over the world with nanotech, specifically the NanomitesTM and replacing the American president (played by a British guy, Jonathan Price ) with professional impostor Zartan (Arnold Vosloo). Nanotechnology, as we've said, is fast becoming to modern movie plots what ACME was to Wile E. Coyote. They even use it to enhance their shock troops, who all dress like the psychos from the god-awful video game Army of Two .

G.I. Joe, a top secret organization was assembled from the best military members in the world.  They train in a massive top secret facility in the Sahara Desert and you can't have a facility like that without a stupid training montage.

In addition to a ton of errors in continuity the dialogue is mostly just buzz word laden gobbledygook. At one point the bad guys go on a mission to "weaponize" a war head.

Let that sink in.

The final battle of this movie takes place deep beneath the North Pole, and after a special guest appearance from the Coke-A-Cola polar bear, the Joes lay the C.G.I. smack down on Cobra in what could be one of the dullest final battle sequences since the Gungans won the Battle of Naboo . Speaking of Cobra, you know who plays Cobra Commander in this movie? Joseph Gorden Levitt. Yes. The indie film super-star. I assume he approached it the same way a lot of us would have: "Hell yeah I'll do a G.I. Joe movie! I loved that show when I was a kid!" signed paperwork sight-unseen, and now here we are.

Unlike previous G.I. Joe features, this one has a body count. A big one. I like how the movie is terribly silly with it's Scottish stereotyping ("You tossed the caber out of the park!"), it's bad makeup on the females-especially Scarlet (Ladies pinch, whores use rouge.) But almost 400 people die during the course of this picture, and there is no gravitas what so ever. This movie deserves all the mockery you can throw it, and along side the Transformers movies you'd have a great cavalcade on your hands.  You could call it "Pillaging Our Childhood," if that didn't sound all kinds of wrong.

28 Days Later

When a movie opens with a montage of violent revolts playing on monitors and pans over to a chimpanzee strapped to a table with electrodes and wires stuck on its head in a laboratory, you know it's not going to end well.

Nothing good ever comes from chimpanzees strapped to a table.

By the time the PETA hugging eco-terrorists are mauled by the very animals they're there to rescue (much to the amusement of the meat-eaters in the audience), before turning on each other in a blood-soaked rage, you know we're in infected human zombie territory.

In 2002 Danny Boyle , the director of Trainspotting and the under-appreciated Shallow Grave , decided to tackle the end of the world in 28 Days Later. The resultant movie is a film that both pays homage to Romero's original Dead Trilogy (and movies like The Omega Man ) and updates the whole spiel with a nifty twist here and there.

The first change from the classic Zombie formila is the fact that they aren't "Zombies" at all, in the traditional sense. Here there is an outbreak of a "Psychological Virus" that turns those infected into rampaging flesh-mongering homicidal maniacs who vomit gore and scream alot. Being as how they aren't reanimated corpses, the infected here can run, jump, play hop-scotch, and tear you to shreds in a matter of moments. The flip side is that, while they are stronger and faster than the non-infected humans, they are every bit as mortal, so there's no special considerations to killing them... other than making sure you don't get any of their infected blood in yours, which leads us to the other change in the formula.

Another cliche in zombie cinema is the human that gets bitten and slowly dies from the infection, only to turned into a zombie at a dramatic moment. The change here is that a single drop of blood is enough to transform anyone into an infected in a matter of seconds, which leads to a few intense moments in the picture where allies become enemies in the course of a few moments.

Being a Danny Boyle picture, this movie is filled to the brim with slick visuals and great music. The ten-minute sequence where the main character (played by a then-relatively-unknown Cillian Murphy of Batman Begins and Boyle's own Sunshine fame) walks shell-shocked through a desolate and deserted London is incredible. The infected attacks are equally well shot, filled with intensity and energy.

As a matter of fact, with great dramatic turns by Christopher Eccleston, Brendan Gleeson, and Naomie Harris, one could be legitimate in the concern that 28 Days Later might not be suited for a gathering dedicated to Schlocky pictures. But I will argue that the energy, intensity, and the sheer rocking quality of the infected attacks stacked with the sheer creepy atmosphere throughout the rest of the picture make this a good addition to any marathon.  However, if you're going for more carnage, and want to stick in the 28 XX Later universe, 28 Weeks Later had more appearances of the howling masses, and was a solid pic that, for the most part, lived up to the original's quality.

But if you're simply looking for a fantastically stimulating flick that hits all the high points of the zombie genre, while still stimulating reinventing it, you can't go wrong with 28 Days Later.

You know, it isn't often we actually get a "good film" in the Cavalcade, and I'm still not entirely sure whether that's good or bad.