- Previously in awesome B-movies about things that are taken, and the people who take them, or take them back.
Takers: When T.I. and Chris Brown want to produce themselves into the kind of slick gangster movie idolized by rappers everywhere, they don’t mess around: they get no less than Matt Dillon and Darth Motherfucking Vader to co-star, plus the guy from Fast and the Furiouses who says “bro” in all seriousness. For actual credibility, there’s Idris Elba, rocking his badass English accent as one of many expert takers of big scores. Considering how many elements of this movie feel like a vanity project—Chris Brown gets to basically do parkour and pretend he’s the sensitive kind of scumbag; T.I. plays a scheming criminal just, uh, out of prison, who, different kind of uh, used to date Zoe Saldana—Takers works reasonably well as a B-team version of Heat (side discussion: aren’t most of the non-Pacino-and-DeNiro actors from Heat on the B-team themselves, including, perhaps especially, at-the-time third-billed Val Kilmer?). You can read my review for more about that, including details on how T.I. is a lousy actor and why it doesn’t really hurt the movie too much. On the last weekend in August, you could do a lot worse—but then, the dregs of summer is often when prime low-down genre work winds up. In retrospect, that Predators movie probably would’ve made more money at this time of year than in high-stakes July. Also: man, that Predators movie was pretty awesome.
The Last Exorcism: This is the latest mock-doc-formatted horror movie, a faux-verite exorcism that I bet would seem way scarier if it didn’t follow a faux-verite witch, faux-verite zombies, and faux-verite demons. Next on the checklist: a handheld faux-verite movie about mummies, and a mock-documentary-gone-wrong about a carnivorous bigfoot. In the meantime, this new, actually existing movie looks like a better shot at actual scares than anything since, I guess, the Crazies remake from earlier this year? Splice was freaky, but not really scary. If this one doesn’t pay off, just hold out until October when we get on the regular five-horror-movies-in-four-weeks schedule.
Centurion: Speaking of genre wallows, writer-director Neil Marshall certainly aims for the pulp-cult cheap seats with his energetic mish-mashes like The Descent and Doomsday, but that has yet to translate into much of an actual cult beyond, I assume, some enthusiastic nerds. Case in point: his 300ish knockoff rates distribution from the arthouse-sized Magnolia Pictures and not, say, Screen Gems (who are busy finally releasing Takers). Good for Magnolia for indulging in a little Eurotrash, but too bad Centurion is Marshall’s weakest movie yet, an intermittently entertaining but centerless tale of Roman warriors fighting their way back home through enemy territory (which they were previously trying to maraud). Marshall isn’t a bad action director, but Centurion feels, even more than the bonkers Doomsday, like the work of someone who likes crazy gore more than people. Also, Doomsday made good use of the poor man’s Kate Beckinsale, while Centurion makes middling use of not only the poor man’s Milla Jovovich, but the excellent Michael Fassbender. [The rich man's Tom Hardy? -Ed.] [Also as an aside can we talk for like a splitsecond about how the Olga Kurylenko character is basically Magua from probable greatest film of all time The Last of The Mohicans? -Ed. again]
Avatar: Special Edition: I’m not even the biggest-ever fan of Avatar compared to, say, Star Wars, but I would kinda love it if on every lackluster mainstream movie weekend going forward, Cameron would just re-release a new version of Avatar, because even a Cameron movie that avoids the upper echelon of his achievements schools most of the action-adventure stuff we see week to week. Especially if we’re not going to get Predators: Special Edition.