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.

Legion

Every few years, Hollywood resurrects a theme or story, slaps on a fresh coat of paint, and calls it a new movie. In the 90's it was sequels, in the early 2000's-remakes. I suppose we should all be happy that Legion is neither, even if it does borrow some elements from The Prophecy.

The Prophecy was an awesome morsel of a movie, and this movie is familiar with that dish, but has a  recipe all its own: 100% more guns, a tablespoon of Charles S. Dutton, half a cup of Paul Bettany, and a quarter-pound diced religion. Cook at 350 degrees for 100 minutes.

It's two days before Christmas when Michael (Bettany), God's Five Star General, falls to earth and cuts off his wings. A few moments after that, he breaks into an Asian toy importer, which just happens to be a front for a large cache of weapons.

Are you picking up what I'm putting down? The Patron Saint of Kicking Ass, The goddamned (ok, maybe not damnedDragonslayer, just came down to earth and picked up two of every assault rifle and sub-machine gun he could find, like Noah crossed with Rambo.

Meanwhile, at a diner in the middle of nowhere, where shit is known to go down in these sorts of movies, a young woman named Charlie (Adrianne Palicki) is pregnant and Jeep, (Lucas Black, the creepy kid from American Gothic) has appointed himself her sworn, but mostly inept, guardian.

Also at the diner is a dysfunctional family of three one of whom is the cougar-tacular Kate Walsh.Dennis Quaid phones it in as the diner owner and Jeep's father, and of course Mr. Dutton giving it his all, like always he does.  In fact, Quaid is the only who appears to not care in this movie. Everyone else is putting their best into their performance, and Bettany is pretty stunning as Michael.

I'm not spoiling anything when I tell you that The Apocalypse comes, because that's really the first ten minutes or so.  The Department of Homeland Security even calls it the Apocalypse while encouraging people to pray and to kill the angels. What's the security color code for that? ("Be Advised: Today's National Threat level is code ONYX for Impending Doom").

Overall, the movie plays it very straight, and its apocalypse feels so earnest that the six characters trying to sort out their personal issues while the world is ending feels a little silly. The Dysfunctional Mom actually tries to blame the whole Apocalypse on her daughter. I guess it makes sense that while you're waiting for an army of Angel-powered zombies to kill you, you'll discuss whatever to keep your mind off it, but did no one in this movie read a goddamned John Grisham novel? Small talk, people!

You shouldn't watch this movie along with The Prophecy, but the second one had Glen Danzig. Sounds like a Calvacade to me!

EXTRA BONUS: Like most religion based movies, this movie tries to have message beyond "Good should triumph over evil." It also has to tell you how. In this case, there's an implied anti-aborition message that can be summed up as, "Don't get an abortion, it might be The Messiah."

Pandorum

We've invited our friend John P. Higgins to share with us his thoughts about, well.. pretty much whatever he feels like. Schlock Games, Movies, TV-nothing is sacred. John's columns will be a bit more in-depth than our usual reviews, and may feature significant spoilers. You've been warned, but you'll like it.-The Management

Pandorum opens on an intense and intriguing note, with fledgling character actor Ben Foster not playing a crazy person for the first time since X-men 3. He wakes up in a chamber hooked into wires and covered in rubber.

If this sounds like your Sunday mornings, please let me know what the hell kind of club you go to for fun.

Foster gets his uniform on and soon runs in into Dennis Quaid, who's sporting a beard and beady eyes. Quaid informs foster that something has gone wrong (duh). There's some talk of what shift of skeleton crew is supposed to minding the ship on it's journey to the salvation of humanity, and neither of them really knows.

They decide is high time they explored a space ship that was designed by Trent Reznor. It's full of tubes and weird lights and creepy music, Foster crawls around in chamber that's comically full of rubber tubing for a little to long until he stumbles into the locker room. Then he's assaulted by Milla Jovovich 2.0, Bigger Cup Edition, who asks him for his boots.

Then the Space Orcs show up.

The ship is carrying thousands of people to salvation.  However, some of them got out early and contracted a nanovirus that is supposed to adapt them to live in whatever environment they are in. They're trapped on space ship, so they turned into space orcs.

Makes sense.

That whole previous paragraph is recounted in rhyme by Scatman Caruthers' great-great-great-great-great-grandson as he prepares to skin and eat Foster. MJ 2.0 and a Thai farmer they found along the way of such prodigious martial arts skill he apparently worked the Ninja Tree Orchards for many years.

Meanwhile, Dennis Quaid has been arguing this whole time-with a hallucination that really looks like he belongs on Gossip Girl-apparently has the Pandorum, a disease you get from space that makes you crazy. Quaid puts his hallucination in an air lock only to have it get out again. And since it's a hallucination, it wins by shooting Quaid up with Clarity Juice...or something. They merge, and now Quaid is evil.

Foster and his band of ne'er do wells attempt to reboot the ships reactor, which I think works; and then Caruthers XXI is killed by a space orc, and then the Ninja Tree Farmer. Caruthers, okay. But the ninja tree farmer is killed by a baby space orc. What the hell?

The final confrontation takes place on the bridge, where all space-ship based movies have their final conflict, come to think of it.

Foster wants to know where the ship is, and Quaid says Foster has the Pandorum. Foster and MJ 2.0 say that is bullshit, Foster hallucinates, and maybe the space orcs don't even exist! Quaid finally opens the skylights of the bridge to reveal that yes, they are in fact, deep in the ocean of their new planet and have been there for about a hundred years. Which is better than the ship going to hell and bringing back Sam Neil, I suppose.

Foster beats Quaid, he and MJ 2.0 hop in the escape pod, and the ship explodes after discharging all the other escape pods. Humanity then washes up on the continent of a brand new planet that looks suspiciously like Scotland, and Quaid presumably drowns-taking the secret of Pandorum with him.

This movie paired off with another claustrophobic space movie could work either as a horror Space Cavalcade (Event Horizon), or just Space Schlock (Wing Commander).