Tuesday, September 6, 2011

If you were unaware...

Fear of a Ghost Planet has officially launched. Please, please, please check it out: The site looks great, has a bunch of new posts and contains all the old stuff from here you could ever want.

Update your RSS feeds, point your browser on over, drop a few comments. I want to hear from you, the good people of the internet.

FEAR OF A GHOST PLANET

That's probably it for this blog. Thank you very much for your support.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Enough is enough (and it's time for a change)...

It's been a slow, slow year at Careful With That Blog, Eugene; slower than any year but possibly the first, wherein I whined and moaned about my personal life and was netstalked and had something like two readers. For those of you who've waited with baited breath for any upcoming movie reviews, album reviews, Netflix Roulettes, Awful Character Database entries, Coming Attractions, and umpteen other features I or somebody else on this blog started, promised, abandoned, etc.; thank you, from the bottom of my heart. I started this blog on a whim and started reviewing movies because some dude decided to comment on a dumb post I made in 2007. I didn't know how to review a film properly then and, judging by my recent review of Big Mommas: Like Father Like Son, I still don't, but I think I've steadily improved over the past four years. Life has gotten hectic in the last six months between graduating, going to grad school, moving four times and losing my great aunt to a stroke. There's a lot I want to do here, but everytime I look and see that grinning robot in the background, the cramped text of my reviews, the links to other blogs that stretch out forever, it all seems like too much to fix.

So I'm starting over. In a week or so, I will officially be closing Careful With That Blog, Eugene to make way for Fear of a Ghost Planet, which will have its own domain (fearofaghostplanet.com) and everything. Why the change of name? First, because www.carefulwiththatblogeugene.com is a mouthful. Second, because my name isn't Eugene, and you wouldn't believe how many e-mails start off asking for him. Third, because why have one reference to Pink Floyd when you can have one reference to Public Enemy and one reference to Space Ghost: Coast to Coast.

I sincerely hope that those of you who read/follow/comment/care will migrate to Fear of a Ghost Planet. Since my money's on the line, it'll be updated a lot more frequently than this ol' hunk of junk, it'll look nicer, and I'll stop getting search engine hits for "Eugene porn," whatever that is. If not, I'll see you in another life.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Movie Review: Season of the Witch (2011)

Season of the Witch (2011)

Directed By:
Dominic Sena

Starring:
Nic Cage: Behmen
Ron Pearlman: Felson
Stephen Campbell Moore: Debelzaq
Christopher Lee: Cardinal D'Ambroise
Claire Foy: The Girl

Rating:

Shut the Fuck Up, Donny

Season of the Witch, the latest in a series of Nic Cage projects that were, I assume, born from Cage's inherent need to be in front of a camera (I guess technically Drive Angry was the latest, but I enjoyed that) is a film about nothing, even if it'd present itself to you as a film about Templars, plague, guilt and (and!) witches. That's heavy stuff for what was clearly once a summer blockbuster hopeful, but fear not: Season of the Witch's aspirations as serious business are cast aside the minute Nic Cage and Ron Pearlman, standing on a hill of sand before a sherbet-colored sky, begin cracking wise about going out for a few drinks after dispatching a few hundred Moors.

"I'm working up a powerful thirst," Pearlman says, bear-hugging a man roughly his size to death.

Later, having deserted the Templars after being forced to kill one (1) woman, ex-Templars Behmen (Cage) and Felson (Pearlman) discover that, while they were out, bubonic plague has ravaged the land. Felson seems disturbed by the boil-ridden dead bodies and, while riding with Behmen to Parts Unknown, opines on the fate of those pour souls, thusly:

"We've seen much death, you and I. But what does one do to deserve a death like that?"

"Nothing," observes Behmen, stoically.

Then the camera swoops out from them, showing a town off in the distance.

"Finally," Behmen says, as if finishing his taxes. "A town."

That sort of exchange happens quite often in Season of the Witch, a movie that knows all the old adventure movie clichés (rope bridges, spooky forests, steep mountain passes), but doesn't have the slightest clue about what made those tropes reliable stand-bys. When the crew of men tasked with taking a supposed witch (Claire Foy)--which eventually includes a priest, a knight, a swindler and a sword-able alter boy--overlook their route, marking the spooky forest ("Wormwood forrest. Not a place to be trifled with.") and mountain pass, Felson and Behmen react like they've read this particular script hundreds of times, more "Not this again" than "Let's be off, then!" Considering how old the ex-Templars are, that makes a certain bit of sense, but, really, what the hell else were they going to do with their time, sit in a dungeon and make comments about the smell?

You can probably guess what happens along the way. There are a few action scenes, a couple of people die, the girl in the cage that's being wheeled across the countryside may or may not be a witch, etc. This movie's cardinal sin, in my estimation, is that it blows nearly every opportunity it has to be entertaining. The Church's position here is that the bubonic plague is being caused by this witch. The movie's position is that the bubonic plague is not unlike whatever Hollywood-fashioned disease causes dead bodies to rise up and hunger for human flesh. It's got a bunch of Templars, who were a pretty corrupt, devious bunch. Nic Cage, Ron Pearlman and Christopher Lee (in a bubonic plague make-up) are along for the ride, and the early scenes where Cage and Pearlman sack and pillage Muslim stronghold after Muslim stronghold are shot against backdrops that are, at best, completely unreal. This could have been a movie about paranoia and fear and psychological stress and whatever illicit drugs Templars were doing--a Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas for the medieval set--but instead the movie settles into its stilted dialog and eventually accepts shadow, fog and dirt as its color palate and, despite the best efforts of some low-budget CGI, decides to be a shallow, boring husk of a film.

I can't say that I've exactly enjoyed director Dominic Sena's previous movies, but at least in other genre schlock films he's done, like Gone in 60 Seconds or Swordfish, he's gotten his actors to perform with some degree of immediacy. The three men traveling with the Templars are here because the movie both needs to kill people who aren't Cage and Pearlman, and because it needs survivors who aren't them, either. They act as you might expect from cannon fodder. Ron Pearlman is as authentic as a wax figurine, Christopher Lee is criminally squandered, and Nic Cage seems like he's always just woken up from the world's worst nap. Not worthy of even so-bad-it's-good aficionados, Season of the Witch is a 90-minute shrug of the shoulders. It's bad, but at least it wasn't Your Highness.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Movie Review: Big Mommas: Like Father Like Son (2011)

Big Mommas: Like Father Like Son (2011)

Directed By:
John Whitesell

Starring:
Martin Lawrence: Big Momma
Brandon T. Jackson: Trent Pierce
Faizon Love: Kurtis Kool

Rating:

The Goddamn Plane Has Crashed Into the Mountain

You know that part of Raiders of the Lost Ark where the Nazis have Indiana Jones and Marion tied up and are going to force them to watch as the contents of the Ark of the Covenant are unveiled, presumably resulting in the Nazis winning World War II? How Indy was all like “Don’t look!” and he and Marianne didn’t look while the Nazis did and had their faces promptly melted off by the awesome power of God? Big Mommas: Like Father Like Son is a lot like that scene, only it goes on considerably longer and is likely to convince you that God is either dead or a Hollywood executive who only greenlights the worst film sequels possible.

Officially the worst movie featuring Martin Lawrence in a fat suit, Big Mommas is a movie about a father/son undercover operation at an all-girls school, so you can probably guess that the son is girl crazy and the father wishes he’d keep his libido under the dress. But there wouldn’t be any comedy if Trent (Brandon T. Jackson) were able to keep it under his plus-sized dress. Early on, the movie establishes that Trent got into Duke University, but he’s an aspiring rapper with a mixtape, and school kids don’t get paid like rappers. Judging from the two songs he performs as Prodi-G and how smart he is in a gunfight/hostage situation/stock sitcom plot, he’s not long for either career, but you can guess which one he chooses.

So, without any dramatic or comedic tension, Martin Lawrence and Brandon T. Jackson plod their way through 90 minutes of awkward dialog, old fat jokes, and worse ones about crossdressing. Along the way, Faizon Love appears as a chubby-chasing security guard, but, oh-ho, he’s unaware that he’s actually chasing a different kind of chubby. The movie really needed Love, if only because it would have been wholly unrealistic for Lawrence and Jackson to apprehend even the biggest bumbler in criminal history. The big mommas are stupid, stupid people, and it’s hard to imagine anybody laughing at their cliché, stereotypical antics.

If God is a cynical Hollywood exec, He’s been rather busy lately. In the past four or five years, we’ve been given unnecessary sequels to Cats and Dogs, Baby Geniuses, The Mask, and now Big Momma’s House. None of these films have made money, and I can’t imagine they were greenlit for any other reason than to claim the losses as a rather massive tax write-off, with whatever money the film makes from DVD or syndication rights as gravy. Here’s the thing, though: The movie was going to lose money, and they made it anyhow. As 3D and sequels like this continue to lose traction and serious filmgoers retreat to the arthouses and, increasingly, their Netflix queues, I’ve got to wonder why you wouldn’t leave a movie like Big Mommas in development hell and greenlight two or three movies like Meek’s Cutoff. Admittedly, those films aren’t going to rake in the cash, but they'll at least have the distinction of being worth the time and effort that goes into production. Hell, you could even take the money you’d save by making those other films and give it to Martin Lawrence to not make movies like Big Mommas. Just a suggestion, God.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Movie Review: X-Men: First Class (2011)

X-Men: First Class (2011)

Directed By:
Matthew Vaughn

Starring:
James McAvoy: Charles Xavier
Michael Fassbender: Erik/Magneto
Rose Byrne: Moira McTaggart
Jennifer Lawrence: Raven/Mystique
Kevin Bacon: Sebastian Shaw
January Jones: Emma Frost
Nicholas Hoult: Hank McCoy/Beast

Rating:

Far Fucking Out

Something that’s been missing for me since comic book movies became Hollywood’s predominant summer revenue generator was the inherent sense of silliness found in most comic books. Sure, Batman and Superman and the X-Men and Spiderman and all the other superheroes have potential as characters of significant gravitas, but the fact of the matter is that, for much of the history of the medium, they weren’t. So I was surprised when Sebastian Shaw, the villain of X-Men: First Class made his getaway from an angry Magneto and a curious United States Coast Guard in a nuclear submarine that just happened to be hidden by a yacht, and I was pretty much giddy when he asked Emma Frost to get some ice for his drink, which meant surfacing the sub so she could break some off of an iceberg.

I’ve always appreciated that goofiness in comic books, as a sense of humor made superpowers and the constant threat of global destruction go down a little easier. Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon), for example, believes that mutants are, as Stan Lee used to proclaim, the Children of the Atom, and as such stand to inherit the Earth. He and his group of rogue mutants, the Hellfire Club, aim to ensure this happens sooner rather than later, as he orchestrates the Cuban Missile Crisis, hoping to plunge the United States and Russia into thermonuclear war.

The world at large isn’t aware of the existence of mutants, who, by and large, are unaware of each other. Shaw’s club, for example, has four members at any given time, and most of the mutants in this film who have some sort of physical defect can hide them with a pair of shoes or, in the case of Angel, by spinning some story about drinking so much that a giant tattoo of a housefly’s wings suddenly seemed a good idea. But it’s 1960, and the world is changing about as fast as the human genome. If Shaw’s going to put together a team of mutants, so will the CIA. They turn to young Charles Xavier (James McAvoy), a recent Oxford graduate whose thesis was on genetic mutation to ask if it’s possible that the mutants he discusses in his thesis may already exist. They do. He is a telepath, and his best friend, Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) is a shapeshifter whose natural skin color is blue.

In trying to apprehend Shaw on his yacht, Xavier meets Erik Lehnsherr (Michael Fassbender), a Holocaust survivor with the power to magnetically manipulate metallic objects. Lehnsherr unwittingly sets the story in motion, as Shaw was once a Nazi officer (though it doesn’t seem that he’s German or that he particularly cares about the Nazi agenda) and, from his office, he saw young Erik bending the gates of the concentration camp as he was separated from his family. Shaw, also a mutant, wants to experiment on Erik in an effort to maximize mutant potential and, in the process, has Erik’s mother killed. After World War II, Lehnsherr makes killing Shaw his reason for being, and Xavier, rather brilliantly, observes that if Shaw can be part of a team, so can Lehnsherr. And so the X-Men are born.

Beyond Charles, Erik, and Raven, the First Class includes: Hank “Beast” McCoy (Nicholas Hoult), who is super smart, super agile and, eventually, is covered in a thick coat of blue fur; Angel Salvadore (Zoe Kravitz), who flies like a housefly and spits what appear to be small meteorites, because bulimia isn’t a good mutant ability; Sean “Banshee” Cassidy (Caleb Landry Jones), who can scream really loud; Armando “Darwin” Nuñoz (Edi Gathegi), who has the bizarre mutant ability of “adapting to survive;” and Alex “Havok” Summers (Lucas Till), who hurls hula hoops of brightly colored kinetic energy. Beyond their abilities and nicknames, not much is known about the team, who don’t get a lot of time to evolve (haw haw) as characters. It’s just as well. The film trusts that you’ve either read the comic books and know who these people are, or that you just came to see stuff get blown up good and don’t particularly care who the mutants are as long as they get the job done. They, and Shaw’s less impressive Hellfire Club, get the job done just fine.

Besides, this isn’t really a movie about the X-Men, the Cold War, or Kevin Bacon’s fabulous attire. That’s all background noise in establishing the main rivalry of the franchise, between Magneto and his Brotherhood of Evil Mutants (a name I’ve always felt was a poor P.R. move) and Professor X’s X-Men (a name that’s nothing if not slightly egotistical). Yes, there’s the Cuban missile crisis, and yes, both Beast and Mystique debate whether they want to go through life with blue skin and gigantic feet, but that’s all a matter of filling the time between Xavier and Lehnshherr’s meeting and separation, not over the plot of the film, but over their ideology.

The movie also trusts that you know the moral differences between Professor X and Magneto, which is more fair than expecting you to know who “Riptide” and “Azarel” are, which means that the movie spends a lot of time on recruiting, training, and, ultimately, fighting. Disappointing, since literally every other superhero movie has that stuff down to a science. But when there’s not a war going on, McAvoy and Fassbender do most of the film’s heavy lifting. McAvoy brings the right blend of compassion and cockiness to Xavier, and Fassbender should do one movie a year where he finds himself in a bar full of Nazis. Lawrence, who was so good in Winter’s Bone, doesn’t have much to do as Mystique, which is unfortunate, but seemingly the nature of being the woman in a superhero movie.

The charming retro effervescence of X-Men: First Class is the product of Matthew Vaughn, whose adaptation of Kick Ass was a flavorless, ultraviolent take on dark, “realistic” superheroics, and his shifting of the X-Men franchise from a loud, noisy, bland present day to a blissfully stereotyped 1960s represents not only a good lateral move for him, but for the Marvel’s mutant crew, who’ve spent their last two outings assaulting Alcatraz and battling atop nuclear reactors, but haven’t been particularly interesting since 2004. By shedding a lot of dead weight and daring to embrace some decidedly old-school cheese, X-Men: First Class takes a slight detour from well-established comic book movie tropes, and is much better for doing so.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Movie Review: Meek's Cutoff (2011)

Meek's Cutoff (2011)

Directed By:
Kelly Reichardt

Starring:
Michelle Williams: Emily Tetherow
Bruce Greenwood: Stephen Meek
Will Patton: Solomon Tetherow
Zoe Kazan: Millie Gately
Paul Dano: Thomas Gately
Shirley Henderson: Glory White
Neal Huff: William White
Rod Rondeaux: The Indian

Rating:

The Dude Abides

If you're around my age and went to a school with a computer lab, odds are you had a go at The Oregon Trail, an "educational" game where you set off for Oregon with your oxen, your shotgun, your family, your wagon, your family hope chest, your clothes and a few barrels of salted pork. The game doesn't really teach you all that much, other than that leaving for Oregon a month before winter is disastrous and that the family hope chest is a thing best left behind, but I suspect that, for my generation, hunting and fording rivers and random deaths from dysentery are the enduring images of life on the Oregon Trail, much like our enduring images of the Old West come from movies where the hero can take on a pack of twenty desperadoes without a scratch, and an Indian ambush was waiting for the wagon train come sundown. All of this is to say that Meek's Cutoff is neither a stereotypical portrayal of the Oregon Trail, nor a stereotypical western. Folks clamoring for an old-style shootout on horseback, a circling of wagons or a barroom brawl are set to be disappointed, as Meek's Cutoff is a film with plenty of time on it's hands, but no time for any of that old nonsense. It's got issues, and continuing old, ingrained myths isn't one of them.

Meek's Cutoff does its best to be an accurate representation of what life was like on a wagon train headed to Oregon. At the center of this particular train is Stephen Meek (Bruce Greenwood), a shady-looking frontiersman who was hired by the group because he said he could get them to Oregon in two weeks time. Mr. Meek knows a hell of a lot about a hell of a lot--for instance, the market for fur in Oregon is all but saturated, but there are still riches galore just waiting to be plucked from the ground--but he doesn't seem to know where the hell he's going. He promises a two week journey. Considering the space of a typical wagon and the need to travel light in order to move quickly, the group might be forgiven for only taking enough water for a two week journey. But it's week five, and out in the Oregon High Desert, there's not much water to be found. So the group is torn between two paths: Trusting Meek and carrying on, or beginning a desperate search for water.

Where the film really takes off from the traditional western is in the attention it pays to women, who, while usually the recipient of a cursory hat tip and “Ma’am,” are the ones who do the real work of the wagon train--not just cooking and cleaning, but leading the oxen and, when the men have gone off to look for food and water, protecting camp. Meek’s Cutoff centers on Emily Tetherow (Michelle Williams) in particular, who does most of the philosophical heavy lifting while the husbands of the group—Solomon Tetherow (Will Patton), Thomas Gately (Paul Dano) and William White (Neal Huff)—squabble over hanging Meek for his transgressions.

A typical western would be tempted to follow the men riding away from the camp on horseback or having their discussions on Meek's fate, but Emily's really the only member of the group with a level head. She's also the only person in the caravan at least half aware of the group’s predicament—they’re alone in a desert with dwindling supplies of food and water, they’ve been led there by a man claiming to know a shortcut, and that man has gotten them lost. When they capture an Indian (Rod Rondeaux) and squabble about killing him, she puts all that aside and tasks the Indian with finding them water. This is an unpopular decision with Meek and a few others in the group, and it serves to alienate her from the wagon train--but they're all alienated to begin with, and that's a problem, she seems to realize, that won't go away by slaughtering one Indian.

Ultimately, the film is unconcerned with the group’s arguments, the search for water, or Meek’s shortcut. Things of real consequence happen in this movie, but less in service of a plot and more to demonstrate the hopeless reality of their situation. These people are strangers in a strange land—the conditions are unlivable and the only person they encounter they tie up like a dog and can’t understand. Eventually Meek finds himself reduced from the group’s pathfinder to a pathetic tagalong, spewing proverbs and nonsense about Indians and water and pathfinding, and that’s the fate of most of the characters here—to be reduced by their circumstance, to know that their future plans in Oregon have, perhaps permanently, been derailed, and to know that survival, while still a remote possibility, is uncertain at best. Under those circumstances, what’s left to cling to? Emily chooses the Indian, and the group chooses her.

Meek’s Cutoff is a somber film, but man is it beautiful. The film is shot like an old, pre-1950s western, and in many shots, the landscape seems like it’s about to swallow the wagon train whole. Deserts sweep out in every direction, hills seem impossible to lead a wagon down, and mountains jut out from the horizon. At one point, Meek says something to the effect that Hell is for the mountains. It’s just as well that they’re off in the distance—these men and women are on the outskirts of existence.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Movie Review: Hobo with a Shotgun (2011)

Hobo with a Shotgun (2011)

Directed By:
Jason Eisener

Starring:
Rutger Hauer: Hobo
Brian Downey: The Drake
Molly Dunsworth: Abby
Slick: Gregory Smith
Ivan: Nick Bateman

Rating:

Shut the Fuck Up, Donny

I know before I even write the bulk of this review that critiquing Hobo with a Shotgun is a pointless exercise, that the movie is knowingly one-note and that its 74% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes is indicative of a critical base that accepted and liked the movie on that basis—a film called Hobo with a Shotgun delivers a hobo with a shotgun; take it or leave it. I also know going into this that my expectations for Hobo with a Shotgun were too high. In 2007, when Grindhouse flopped and was split into two movies for the foreign market and eventual DVD release, the overarching concept of the Tarrantino/Rodriguez collaboration was dropped in hopes of salvaging what money there was left to be made. The small number of people who went to see Grindhouse in its original form, myself included, came out of the experience talking less about the two real movies—Death Proof and Planet Terror—that made up the bulk of the experience, but the fake trailers that served as a garnish for the main course. The only way of sharing these fake trailers was to look for bootleg versions on YouTube, and doing so turned up the incredibly amateurish, lo-fi trailer that became this film. Originally shot for a Robert Rodriguez-judged SXSW contest with the winning trailer getting added to some cuts of Grindhouse, Hobo with a Shotgun’s lack of pedigree and star power, combined with its incredible title and endless pluck made it seem both the most genuine effort of Grindhouse’s five fake trailers and the one least likely to get blown up to feature length. But Hobo with a Shotgun got made, and with the unexpected addition of Rutger Hauer as the titular shotgun-wielding hobo. This, coupled with another fantastic trailer, pushed my expectations through the roof. As is obvious from the “Shut the Fuck Up, Donny” rating I’m giving it, I was more than a little let down by the end product.

It’s not the plot, which is simple and effective in way of other movies whose plots can be summed up by their titles. The film is concerned with a hobo (Hauer) who rides the rails to the end of the line and ends up in a desolate, grimy city where seedy filmmakers offer men like him $10 to fight other bums or chew broken glass, and where a town full of people simply look on as an over-the-top crime lord beheads his own brother using a manhole cover, a pickup truck, and a barbwire noose. This crimelord, known as The Drake (Brian Downey), commits his crimes as though he were the host of the Running Man, and uses his considerable cachet to ensure that his sons Slick (Gregory Smith) and Ivan (Nick Bateman) are eternally coked-up, sexed-up, and satisfied in their nightmare version of the Foot Clan’s arcade, where the most fun one is likely to have is not having your head smashed in between the fenders of two bumper cars.

The hobo begins all this as an idle spectator. He’s horrified, of course, but all he wants is enough change to buy the lawnmower in the window of the city’s pawnshop so he can go into business for himself. Eventually, the hobo is witness to Slick’s decision to kill Abby (Molly Dunsworth), a prostitute, so he knocks Slick out with a sock full of coins and turns him in to the local police. Unsurprisingly, they’re corrupt, and the corruption of the city leads the hobo to doing some degenerating things for the bumfight promoter so he can get his lawnmower and get out of town. But when the pawnshop is held up, the hobo instead grabs a shotgun off the wall and begins delivering justice…one shell at a time.

Obviously the hobo starts small and works his way up. He blows away crooks, dirty cops, pedophiles and rapists before turning his attention to Slick, Ivan and The Drake himself, and Hobo with a Shotgun makes every effort to shock and appall its audience along the way. This is Hobo with a Shotgun’s first mistake. In the 70s, Hobo with a Shotgun’s formula—crime in progress, hobo shows up with shotgun, hobo calls criminal a cocksucker, hobo pulls the trigger and paints the camera lens with criminal’s blood—might have been audacious enough to see the film through, but it’s 2011, and if you’re the kind of person who is offended by buckets of fake blood and mile after mile of fake intestine, you probably weren’t going to give Hobo with a Shotgun much of a chance to begin with. While I can’t speak for all genre aficionados, I’ve come to expect something more over the top to these films than just the level of violence. Planet Terror, for instance, put its hero on a pocket bike while he blew away zombies. Black Dynamite’s one-liners were so knowingly bad that characters stared into the camera in disbelief. Death Proof was so pretentious that calling it a grindhouse movie was a bit of a stretch. Here, when a cop screams “Welcome to Fucktown!” it may as well be because the city is called Fucktown, for all the filmmakers care.

But, on the other hand, I might be reading too much into the new grindhouse, or, hell, the old; maybe the social commentary I read into Shaft or Foxy Brown, the empowerment angle I saw in Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! or the showmanship I appreciate in a William Castle movie (or, for that matter, an old Dolemite film), or the classic gothic horror elements of a Hammer or Paul Naschy flick are flimsy excuses I hold for liking stuff that others would see as bad films about breasts, revenge and sadism. Maybe I’m really mad about Hobo with a Shotgun because it doesn’t hide its breasts, revenge or sadism behind (real or imagined) artifice.

If that’s the case, then Hobo with a Shotgun is still an incredibly bad movie with few things to recommend it on. For instance, there’s Rutger Hauer, who seems to have been cosmically displaced in this film from an alternate universe where Hobo with a Shotgun doesn’t suck. He manages to conjure up flashes of Eastwood’s Man With No Name and Bronson’s Paul Kersey, oscillating wildly between The Man’s icy reserve and Kersey’s lunatic fringe, and does so without following the film over the edge. In a movie where the characters are either a) dull b) dreadfully campy or c) both, Hauer’s restraint is admirable. He nails his part and deserves a better movie. I also dug the film’s score, which relied on fat, driving, John Carpenteresque synths that are often more dramatic, more chilling than the scenes they’re playing under. Otherwise, scenes where The Drake hits a human piñata with a baseball bat that’s got razorblades affixed to it or where The Drake’s kids roast a school bus full of children with a flamethrower do as much to advance the plot as they did for me as a viewer, which is to say nothing. Hauer aside, Hobo with a Shotgun plays like a student project that substitutes ugly, blacklight-washed scenes for style and watered down elements of better films for substance. It’s less a love letter to an old genre than an excuse to throw stage blood at a rolling camera. Hobo with a Shotgun didn’t need to be art, but I would’ve liked it to at least be a movie.