Play Pause

Monday, 19 March 2018

Retro Review: $5 A Day (2008)

$5 A Day
Cast: Christopher Walken, Sharon Stone, Alessandro Nivola, Amanda Peet, Peter Coyote, Dean Cain
Genre: Comedy Drama 

Plot: The son of a thrifty conman begrugedly joins his father on the road

'Film Feels More Like Less Than $1 Dollar'

A waste of a cast and potential of a premise, $5 A Day is a confusing movie with a incohesive narrative that wanders all over the place, thus squandering the talents of Christopher Walken & Sharon Stone and which doesn't manage to reach a forgone conclusion. There is just not enough here that makes it virtually redeemable as not only is it formulaic, it takes what at first sounds like a interesting idea, but the execution of it is just utterly tepid and bland. 

Richie is a successful man, who just broke up with his girlfriend and of whom is fired from his job as a health inspector. He learns his father, Nat has a brain tumour and he wants to see his son. When the con man father, Nat is let out of jail, he and his son, Richie heads off to Atlantic City to find him. With Nat surviving on $5 a day, Richie get to reacquaint and bond with his dad by going on a roadtrip together on their way to New Mexico to find a cure. Along the way, they bump into Richie's former babysitter, Dolores.

Despite the best moments with a skimpy-looking Sharon Stone and the food fight in the kitchen, the rest of the movie was just absent of wit & characterisation that needed livening up. It is so void of emotional thought, though it plays it straight with scarce moments of light scenes courtesy of Sharon Stone - who really should have deserved more than a bit-part role lasting for what, about 20 mins or so. I liked her part here, but it was just far too brief and in Nivola, I could see her as someone who should have been a vital part of the story. & yet writers Neal F and Tippi Dobrosky put it to waste. $5 A Day barely delves deep into and examines the relationships of the characters and doesn't get right to the heart of them, thoroughly.

The direction is sadly lacklustre, yet given it is from the same man who gave us Calendar Girls & A Lot Like Love, which rarely surprised and captured audience's imaginations, this comes as no surprise. As simple and straightforward as he goes about it, it lacks any sort of momentum to keep it going. Christopher Walken and Sharon Stone do their utmost best to provide some quality, and in some instances they do well; their interplay as Nivola and Nat, as well as Nivola's moments with the son, Flynn, were the only moments that kept me peeled. But other than that, the story just didn't hold my attention and interest as it should have done. 

Final Verdict:

Being an indie drama, one wouldn't expect much, but still this was largely underwhelming. 

A road trip film, which I expected a lot more out of to keep me enthused, this came up woefully short. This is a film that should have been a lot better, but $5 A Day is yet another case where even independent movies can get just as much wrong as the big- budget Hollywood A-list blockbusters themselves.


Sunday, 18 March 2018

FernGully: The Last Rainforest Movie Screenshots (1992) Part 3

FernGully: The Last Rainforest






Animated Movie Characters Spotlight: FernGully's Batty Koda & The Ant Bully's Hova

In this post, I take a look at 2 animated characters from 2 notable box- office animated bombs in 1992's FernGully: The Last Rainforest & 2006's The Ant Bully.

FernGully: The Last Rainforest's Batty Koda is voiced by Robin Williams and later Matt Miller in the direct-to-DVD sequel, whereas Julia Roberts lends her vocals to Hova from The Ant Bully

Batty Koda                                    Hova                                   

Batty Koda is the deuteragonist of the duology. He is a fruitbat, who was used as part of a scientific experiment and according to him, he was abused, which is most likely to be the cause of his insanity. He seems to be a bit unhinged, showing extreme distrust in humans. He has a electrode in his head and possible wires in his head and possible wires under his skin. When he hallucinates, he picks up TV or radio signals, and in doing so, Batty quotes from various TV shows and movies, much like a TV antenna. He is caring towards his animal friends and the inhabitants of FernGully, yet he is extremely distrusting towards humans, due to his abuse & mistreatment by them. However, once they gain his trust, he cares about them too. Batty can also be very sarcastic at times.

The film marked Robin Williams's first major animation-based role, and the third after Mork in The Mork & Mindy animated series spin-off in 1982 and A Wish For Wings That Work, but Batty Koda is credited as Williams's first animated movie character, before he struck gold with Genie in Disney's Aladdin. Batty was created specifically for him. He provided 14 hours of improvised lines for what was supposed to be a 8- minute role. But director Bill Kroyer was so impressed with Robin's efforts, he extended it and thus, Batty ended up being one of the major characters of the movie. Robin accepted the role in FernGully because he agreed with the film's message.

Hova is a nurse ant, who is also the girlfriend of Zoc, an accentric wizard. I couldn't dig up much information on this character, - although to be fair, The Ant Bully didn't do a good job at developing the characters. It didn't make an effort in doing so, which is more of a disappointment. But based on what I have seen of this film, she seems sweet, kind-hearted and her heart is always in the right place. Hova is very trusting of humans, as well. Her boyfriend, Zoc is a jerk however, especially to humans. Whilst with Batty, he can be brave in the face of adversity, Hova is a strong ally and she builds a strong rapport with characters in Lucas in The Ant Bully, of whom she sees the good in. In the film, her goal is to stick up for and support the likes of and communicate with Lucas and learn to get along with him. I can picture Hova complimenting Batty Koda together, in some ways they are similar in their traits: caring, sensitive, good-hearted. Hova was the first/second animated voice-over stint for Julia Roberts, with the other being Charlotte the spider in the live-action Charlotte's Web film of the same year in 2006. 


Film-wise, The Ant Bully borrows/references the plotline from FernGully: The Last Rainforest of the lead character being a would-be aggressor, who learns to walk a mile in the victim's shoes by being shrunk down to their size. In FernGully, it was Zak & Batty and in The Ant Bully, it's Lucas & Hova and with each film, they interact with the smaller creatures. Both films are also set in the great outdoors with FernGully in an Australian rainforest and The Ant Bully on an innocent ant hill.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

FernGully: The Last Rainforest Movie Screenshots (1992) Part 2

FernGully: The Last Rainforest






Retro Review: Cradle 2 The Grave (2003)

Cradle 2 The Grave
Cast: Jet Li, DMX, Anthony Anderson, Tom Arnold, Kelly Hu, Gabrielle Union, Mark Dacascos
Genre: Action 
Worldwide Box Office Gross: over $34 million 

Plot: A Jewel thief's daughter is kidnapped after he steals a collection of prized Black diamonds, which aren't all they seem

'Too Samey Action Flick That Almost Digs Its Own Grave'

Crade 2 The Grave was the second of 2 U.S based movies starring Jet Li, the first being Romeo Must Die, which was directed by Andrzej Bartkowiak, alongside the late singer, Alliyah and was produced by Joel Silver, who has churned out notable action movie hits in Lethal Weapon, Die Hard and Arnold Schwarzenegger's Commando from the 1980s. Cradle 2 The Grave was also the third martial arts-based stint of Bartkowiak and Silver, following on from Romeo Must Die and Exit Wounds & with a premise that is all too familiar and similar to those movies. If there is one favour, it is that it doesn't star Steven Segal. 

DMX as Fait leads a gang of jewel thieves who include Gabrielle Union's, Daria and Anthony Anderson, Tommy in search of the stones when Mark Dacascos's villain kidnaps his daughter and forcing him to team up with Jet Li to get her back. 

The action and stuntwork in Crade 2 The Grave is serviceable at best, but for the chase sequence on two wheels with DMX riding a quad bike and a motorbike rider, it is nothing that grand to be amazed about and on occasions, it looks exactly like every other action scene in an action B-movie. Action choreographer Corey Yuen has delivered far better in his earlier outings such as Yes Madam! and Lethal Lady. Executed in such a way that didn't blow my mind, and mind-blowing action it wasn't, as the frenzied and overstylised editing took away from some of my enjoyment. It was for the most part deficient. I didn't like the sound effects when they launch a kick or a punch and the plot is weak and not very convincing. In fact, from the beginning, it makes little sense at first, but as the story unravels I didn't really care much for it. 

As much as I am disappointed with Jackie Chan's Western movies, at least with him he has a screen presence and personality to back up his fights; with Jet Li, the same unfortunately couldn't be said for him; he was just too serious, but I guess a moody and serious looking Jet Li is better than nothing, -and still he just wasn't able to do much to elevate this film and make it any more better than it should have been. His showdown with B-movie action star, Mark Dacascos was not bad however and the Beijing-born battler still reigns in the fight stakes. As for Anthony Anderson and Tom Arnold, Arnold appears to be less irritating and not as in-yer-face as I'd anticipated, but those two are so similar in terms of personality although with Anderson, he is more loud and brash. But for her fight with Gabrielle Union, Kelly Hu does and practically says little in this film to warrant her casting. & her character stunk also. The villains are one-note, but utterly void of personality and their reason for having the diamonds/stones is beyond absurd. Union on the other hand, is all right, but she is out of place in a film such as this. Her lap dance scene however exists as nothing more than fan service and feels shoehorned into the movie. The acting on the whole is sub-par at best.

The lacklustre, and at times, silly screenplay was penned by Channing Gibson, who also goes by the name of John Locke, who wrote for TV shows such as medical drama, St Elsewhere, as well as the disappointing Lethal Weapon 4. The storyline with the kidnapped daughter would have usually generated some emotional attachment or feelings; instead I felt nothing, nor did it evoke empathy from me.

It seems like Cradle 2 The Grave existed as the harder, darker and edgier Rush Hour with Jet Li in place of Jackie Chan and DMX as the token black guy for Chris Tucker. The thing is that with Li and DMX, there is just not much in the way of a genuine onscreen buddy chemistry that they share. 

It's only a tad enjoyable than the terrible Exit Wounds, and still, it just wasn't good enough. Disposal and meager script, lame antagonist characters and utterly undemanding plot, Cradle 2 The Grave barely hangs on, thanks to Jet Li. 

Final Verdict:

Although it did get released theatrically as a Hollywood big budget-type film, Cradle 2 The Grave is, by all accounts, a B-movie in its feel and tone and it is assaultive when it comes to the action sequences, leaving little opportunity to carve out a decent narrative, when it attempts to do so. 

An undemanding action movie, I guess with this one, one has to get by the absurdity to fully enjoy it. As mentioned, I do prefer it over Exit Wounds; however, this is a film where Bartkowiak and in particular, Joel Silver should have approached it in a slightly less extravagant and overly zealous fashion. 

It's doeable at most, and the film should count its lucky stars and Jet Li for that. 


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...