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Transformers (2007)

Once again Hollywood is quick to prove that if any television show emits some level of nostalgia, or merchandising potential, it is only a matter of time before it finds itself reconfigured as a big screen blockbuster movie. In all honesty, I was never a huge Transformers fan; I was more into Ghostbusters and then transitioned into Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It may be sacrilegious, but I thought the knockoff cartoon/action figures, The Go Bots, were just as good. Steven Spielberg and critically derided director Michael Bay (Bad Boys II, Armageddon) have teamed up to bring the world a lengthy and noisy Transformers feature film. I can’t wait for the Go Bots to get their own equally pricey close-up.

Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) is your typical teenager obsessed with getting his own car. He can only afford an old Camaro at a used car lot, and his dreams of impressing the hot girl in school (Megan Fox). But Sam’s car isn’t just any old busted jalopy, no sir, it is really a robot in disguise from another planet. Sam’s car, codenamed Bumblebee, is apart of a robotic race known as the Autobots, led by their leader Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen returning to voice with gravitas). They can transform into vehicles that they scan with their optical sights. The Autobots are trying to save the planet from their evil counterparts, the Decepticons, who have already infiltrated our world in search of their fallen leader, Megatron. It seems Sam holds the key to the survival of Earth. His great grandfather was an Arctic explorer and happened upon the frozen sight of Megatron. He left behind an artifact that reveals the location of the chilled robot as well as a source of unparalleled power known as the Allspark. Needless to say, the military and the Secretary of Defense (John Voight) are a little aghast at how their weapons stack up to big bad robots.

Michael Bay was born to direct a live-action, ultra expensive Transformers movie. The testosterone is through the roof and the film worships everything shiny, fast, and automotive. This is the kind of movie that fits exactly into the artistic parameters of Bay. The film is one gorgeous product placement orgy that is all about the eye candy; the cars are hot and desirable, the car chases are cool, the explosions are a lovely shade of orange, and Megan Fox is quite hot and desirable too (engaged to a 90210 actor? Why oh why, Megan?). The special effects are downright flawless and the action sequences are enormous. The scale of destruction is, like most aspects of Transformers, cranked to such a high degree that summer satisfaction can only ensue. Everything is bigger in Michael Bay world. Transformers is Bay’s best movie so far and it delivers the goods when it comes to hyper-kinetic action and plenty of thrills.

While the movie runs on silliness it also keeps its wits about it and delivers solid and exciting action with a breathless pace. What really surprised me about Transformers is how much humor they squeezed into 143 minutes of loud and hyper bombast. Screenwriters Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci (The Island, Mission: Impossible 3) have a great economy to their storytelling. They also have created a wacky teen comedy that just so happens to also be inhabited by giant robots. Much of the first hour is spent with Sam and his attempts to look cool with his new ride and impress the pretty girl. Sam is hocking his family wares on eBay and the Decepticons are on the hunt for… LadiesMan217. There’s a lengthy sequence where five Autobots have to duck and hide outside Sam’s house so he doesn’t get in trouble with his parents. Ma and Pa Witwicky look out the windows, and the robots dodge getting caught, and it’s like a classic bumbling slapstick comedy. A good action movie can become a great one when aided by well-timed humor, and Transformers has so many quips, sight gags, and goofy sidesteps (“Mountain Dew machine must destroy all humans!”) that is could be considered the most expensive comedy of all time (take a seat, Evan Almighty).

There is, however, a price to be paid for all this comedy and that is that no one acts with any true sense of awe. They are witness to large walking and talking monsters of metal that are out to enslave the planet – there has got to be some wonder there, but the film doesn’t treat anything seriously. Its jokey nature keeps the film from being anything more than disposable, throwaway entertainment. I mean, I find it difficult to take any movie seriously that features a robot “relieve” itself on John Turturro.

Shia LaBeouf (Disturbia) carries the film on his sturdy shoulders. The shape of Transformers has more to do with his horny, smart allecky character than the robots that fight. Normally the only thing required in an effects-heavy action flick are some fast legs and a healthy set of lungs, but LeBeouf has charisma to spare. He has a young Tom Hanks everyman feel to him. The greatest compliment I can give him is that he is the most memorable figure in a movie with big brawling robots. Fox is pretty easy on the eyes. Voight is adept at playing government figures in times of national peril. If you need a guy to stare at something massive, or formative, or formatively massive, and utter, “My God,” then Voight is your man. Kevin Dunn and Julie White provide nice comic additions as Sam’s mother and father.

Transformers may be a perfect slice of summer thrills, but unlike its titular gigantic robots, it’s little more than meets the eye. The movie loses steam whenever it deters from its main story involving Sam. I understand that the filmmakers were trying to widen their story scope, but nothing is gained by the inclusion of such useless characters like the overweight super computer hacker who lives at home with his mom. There’s an elite team of national security analysts and they all happen to be scruffy multi-cultural hippies. We have a blond Aussie (with a nose ring, oh so rebellious) who discovers the Decepticon signal and then, well, she sits in a room for a long while and then mostly sits on her hands during the climax. The opening follows a band of soldiers in the Middle East (which the film reminds us is where Qatar is, because apparently it does not feel that your core Transformers fan has a basic grip on geography) who also must reach the bigwigs in Washington with important info on these killer robots. These dangling storylines could be lost and little momentum would be lost. None of these extra characters are given a lot of attention. Most of them will vanish for long stretches so that when they do reappear you’re reminded how much you did not miss their absence. You’re going to need stock roles, like military men and tech geeks, but Transformers has cast its lot with the simple story of a boy’s first car and his unyielding teenage hormones. Transformers could use a good pruning for balance.

The robust action sequences are somewhat hampered by the typical Michael Bay ADD edits, but what really hurts the action sequences are the robots themselves. The original Transformers were designed smoothly, because in all reality they were animated toys and needed to function for kids. These 21st century Transformers have parts all over the place. There are gears and wheels and who knows what sticking out everywhere. They look far too cluttered, like a little kid’s art project where he keeps slathering on more junk. As a result of this robo design, when it comes to action you may not have a clue what’s actually happening. When the big robots wrestle you’ll be left trying to piece together in your mind which part is the robot mouth, the robot head, the robot fists/claws/drill/whatever. I suppose in a way this kind of demanding user activity is similar to watching scrambled porn; both involve trying to dissect the image into something workable and, thusly, satisfying to the senses. That’s right, I compared Transformers to scrambled porn, which is also quite more than meets the eye.

Obviously, with a film about powerful robots from space, there is going to be a stopgap of logic. If you can accept interstellar robots that arrived from a robotic planet, oh and by the way, they learned English from the Internet (it’s a wonder they speak in full sentences), then you should be able to shrug off any other shortfalls in logic. Transformers was never too deep a subject to being with; every episode of the cartoon revolved around the Autobots and the Decepticons battling over new energon cubes, and that was all the plot needed for a show about robots that fight.

There could be 20 minutes sliced out. Lots of ancillary characters are just dropped. There may be too much humor. The climax is way too long. The dialogue is corny. And yet with all its flaws considered, Transformers is an exhilarating entry into the world of summer smashups and blown eardrums. Michael Bay may never stretch his creative wings with a Victorian costume drama, but the man does what he does well. Transformers is a perfect match for Bay’s noisy and boisterous sense of action and his love of things fast and expensive. There isn’t much below the surface when it comes to Transformers, but it’s such a fun and exciting popcorn movie that it’s hard to argue with the results.

Nate’s Grade: B

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The Departed (2006)

“I don’t want to be a product of my environment,” growls Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson) in the opening seconds of The Departed. “I want my environment to be a product of me.” Without question, the filmmaker that has shaped the environment of movies more than any other in the last 30 years is Martin Scorsese. No one does the cops-and-robbers territory better than Scorsese, and it’s great to have him back on familiar turf. It’s not that Gangs of New York and The Aviator were lacking in directorial skill, it’s just that they felt so labored and reeking of classy awards envy. With The Departed, it all feels so artistically effortless, like Scorsese settled in a zone of brilliant filmmaking. I just hope Marty bangs out more of these excellent gangster flicks before trying again to woo Oscar. In fact, his return to his violent stomping grounds might finally be his long-overdue ticket to the winner’s circle.

The premise is appealingly simple. The Boston State Police Department is desperate to nail local crime lord Costello. They pluck a young recruit, William Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio), who has a shady family history of small-time crooks. He agrees to infiltrate Costello’s mob and report back to the Boston PD. To make is situation credible, Costigan is expelled from the force and sent to prison to earn a rep. Only two other people know Cosigan’s real identity, the police chief (Martin Sheen) and the head of undercover work (Mark Wahlberg). On the other side of the law, Costello has a mole all his own working inside the Boston State police force. Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) has quickly risen through the ranks and has a prime position working with the state?s FBI crack force. He’s also an acolyte of Costello’s ever since he was a young Southie kid seeing the draw of power. Now full grown, Sullivan tips Costello and tries to redirect the ongoing investigation to bring the man to justice.

The real sparks come when both moles try to discover the identity of the other, without compromising their own precarious identities.

The Departed is a bruising, bristling return to form for Martin Scorsese and his most entertaining film since his last Great Movie, 1990’s gangster-rific Goodfellas. This is a movie that crams multiple characters, storylines, and histories into one tight, focused setting, but then the flick glides smoothly on electric storytelling and intense performances. The movie’s twists and turns are, at times, of a knockout variety, and there’s a stretch of late surprises that each feels like a shot to the gut. I was possibly winded from gasping so hard. This is a film so fantastically alive with feeling and vigor that you cannot help but get ensnared. It sets up all the players and back-story before we even get the opening titles set to the blaring wails of the Dropkick Murphies. The thrills are real because we feel the danger, and the onslaught of brutal violence is another rhythmic piece in Scorsese’s masterful conduction. Adding to the feeling is the sure-handed, quick-fire editing of longtime Scorsese collaborator Thelma Schoonmaker and the ominous cinematography of Michael Ballhaus. Even though this film is based on a 2002 Hong Kong film, Scorsese has firmly made The Departed a movie all its own in spirit and personality. No one so easily brings us into the sordid lives of criminals better than this man, who, when in that creative zone of his, brings such palpable energy to his melding of image, song, and consequence, that the results are simply intoxicating. The Departed reminds you why Scorsese is still our greatest living director, no matter what Oscar thinks.

What elevates The Departed from the clutter of other macho men-with-guns crime capers is its studious attention to character. This is a film that works beyond a concept. The movie’s central moral theme is the price of identity. Frank opens the film asking what does it matter who’s holding the gun to your head, cop or crook. Costigan is tormented from wearing too many faces. He’s having trouble justifying his deeds and actions and is scared he may lose his own soul at the price of his lost identity. Sullivan, on the other hand, has gladly sold his own soul for a pittance. He’s a class conscience yuppie that craves power and will cut any throat if it gets him ahead. The movie steamrolls ahead with intrigue but it’s our connections to these characters that elevate the life-and-death stakes. You have a real emotional investment in this story, therefore when things get murky you really feel the danger. My heart was racing with excitement and dread. There may still be impressions from where I was squeezing the movie chair.

Complimenting these complex characters are brilliant performances. DiCaprio may have been nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for his second Scorsese collaboration, The Aviator, but he turns in his strongest work here. DiCaprio expertly bares a gnawing moral conflict with equal parts desperation and the hunger to do good. He’s trying to finally do right and step out of his family’s criminal past, and DiCaprio brings sharp intensity to this plight. You really feel every stomach churn this guy goes through to do what he does and stay alive. I knocked the boy for being too boyish a gangster in Gangs of New York, and let me say I take back my words. On the flip side, Damon utilizes his angelic, choirboy good looks and masterfully downplays his character’s pragmatic villainy. The character has to hide so much from the outside world, be it the police, his true bosses, his girlfriend, and even himself. Damon goes about his deceitful business with slickly sick ease, tapping a killer’s instinct for self-preservation. You may shudder from how methodically cold and manipulative he comes across. He’s a mesmerizing rat bastard of a human being and yet Damon presents an almost seductive portrait of evil.

Nicholson is equally good though at times can be a distraction to the storytelling. There are a handful of moments where Nicholson seems to go too far off the page, indulging his crazier tendencies. Costello is supposed to be a scary, unpredictable, potentially unhinged man, and Scorsese has plenty of moments that bring home this point. It just feels inappropriate then for Nicholson to, in a few small moments, transform into a goofy cartoon. With that said, it’s great to see Nicholson cracking some heads for Scorsese. He has devilish fun and is insanely watchable while definitely going for broke. After some nice guy roles it’s nice to have back an unrestrained Nicholson to play the film’s abyss of evil.

The collected supporting players all leave some mark. Baldwin and Wahlerg are perfectly profane hardass characters that you warm up to. Sheen, free from the Oval Office, displays nice touches of weariness and, in one moment, practically breaks my heart with his brave resignation. Breaking up this boy’s club is Vera Farmiga (Running Scared) as a somewhat contrived plot point to connect Costigan and Sullivan as the police shrink to one and the girlfriend to the other. There’s a perceived sadness to her willowy eyes and slender face that she plays to great effect. She?s a captivating new face and gives an extra ladling of emotion to the tale.

It’s been over a week since I’ve seen the movie and I still can’t get it out of my head. There are only a handful of flaws that separates The Departed from Scorsese’s rich pantheon of mythically Great Movies. This is a complex, gritty, amazing crime thriller stuffed to the gills with entertainment. Making the bloody body count resonate are the incredibly intense performances, particularly Damon and DiCaprio. This is a gripping gangster thriller pumping with the blood of a sterling character piece. The unexpected twists and turns will shake you, and the movie goes well beyond a snappy premise. The Departed is a moviegoing experience that will thrill you, stir you, sadden you, exhilarate you, and firmly plant itself in your memory banks. Welcome back Marty.

Nate’s Grade: A

Scary Movie 4 (2006)

David Zucker was apart of the team that gave the world Airplane!, The Kentucky Fried Movie, Top Secret, the Naked Gun flicks, Ruthless People, and even Ghost. When the Wayans brothers left the Scary Movie franchise for greener pastures (greener meaning richer), it was Zucker and his stable of writers that came in and gave Scary Movie 3 a fresh kick. Now less than three years later we have Scary Movie 4 poking at the same material, and once again this franchise is starting to feel like a bore.

Cindy Campbell (Anna Farris) is in the home health care business looking after a supposedly haunted house. Inside the house resides those pale, wide-eyed, meowing ghosts from The Grudge. Next door resides Tom Ryan (Craig Bierko), a crappy father watching after his two crappy kids for the weekend. Things get a tad hectic when giant Tr-ipod robots rise from the ground and start zapping everyone. A war of some worlds looks to be in progress. Cindy and Tom go their separate ways, each trying to stay alive and return to each other. Cindy meets her old pal Brenda (Regina Hall) and they journey into the heart of a secluded village, one surrounded by monsters. Somehow they’ll find a way to stop the aliens from destroying the planet. Meanwhile, President Harris (Leslie Nielson), briefed that the country is under attack, is very interested to know what happens to a duck in a children’s story. The only thing missing is a Passion of the Christ parody (talk about a horror movie).

This is a franchise of diminished returns. Zucker and company feel like they’re badly grasping for something. Scary Movie 4 relies far too heavily on juvenile scatological behavior (a urine sponge bath is simply gross, not a gross-out) and very repetitious slapstick. Your level of enjoyment with Scary Movie 4 will rest solely on the question of how many times you can laugh at someone getting hit in the junk. Zucker’s gone practically overboard on the physical comedy, making this the filmic equivalent of “Football in the Groin.” The sad thing about this franchise is how safe it all feels now. It seems to have its demo sights set squarely on teen males, less discerning folk who will pee their pants with groin kick #86 and roll in the aisles uncontrollably with groin kick #113. I’m no prude when it comes to slapstick mind you; a well-timed kick to the groin can be downright Shakespearean, but when an entire film is stuffed with people knocking the stuffing out of themselves, then the joke loses its original flavor. No one wants to keep chewing on something once its flavor has long vanished.

I seriously think there should be a one-term limit when it comes to the comedy teams working with the Scary Movie films. Scary Movie 2 felt like a bad Xerox copy of Scary Movie, heavily smudged and lacking definition. Seriously, how many times can you go back to the giant semen geyser well? So too does Scary Movie 4, Zucker’s second in the series, resonate with the same hackneyed feeling. Zucker’s first movie dialed down the raunch and upped the PG-13 slapstick, and now his second film feels like a less executed duplicate. In Scary Movie 3, the joke was that the creepy psychic kid could never foresee his own clobbering. Therefore, there was an extra comedic layer to watching a kid accurately predict when a woman would start her period but not when a car back into him. In Scary Movie 4, it’s simply been reduced to watched a kid get beaten a lot. Jokes rarely connect when you rob them of context or set-up or just repeat them ad nasuem. Scary Movie 4 feels a bit overly content just to be a copy of a copy. That?s simply depressing.

Even the jokes feel out of touch, smacking of a minimal effort. The Scary Movie franchise was never a place for biting satire, but everything seems so curiously outdated. Viagra jokes in 2006? I guess so. When the film does reference modern items (Myspace, Yahoo maps, Michael Jackson) it still feels awkward. The Brokeback Mountain parody, while shocking in how comparatively restrained it is, comes across dead in the water because our market is over-saturated with gay cowboy jokes. It’s like in 1999 when even your invalid grandmother was doing a Blair Witch Project parody (turns out the witch was just the nurse trying to get her to take her pills). I do realize that the plot parodies are mostly a jumble, bits blended together to house the film’s rapid-fire gags. The Million Dollar Baby parody is probably the best sequence in the film and even that spoofs a cultural event 10 years old. If Scary Movie 4 is targeting teens, to the detriment of the film’s funny, then why even bother referencing pop-culture outside their cognizance? I wonder if the inevitable Scary Movie 5 will have a pointed satire on the Iran-Contra scandal.

Zucker just feels too pleased with himself. His movie parodies are spot-on when it comes to technical execution, replicating even the camera angles from his source material. It’s a pity he has little to add with his tweaking. Any form of comedy gets old with repetition, but slapstick especially. I would think a man like Zucker would know this.

Farris is the best thing that Scary Movie could have ever hoped for. She’s one of the most gifted comedic actresses working today. She’s at home whether it’s the physical, whether it’s delivering a silly line with pitch-perfect dumb blonde finesse, or whether it’s just making exaggerated facial contortions. There’s a music montage of Farris making funny faces that works so well because of how much Farris throws herself entirely into the joke. Too bad the movie lets her down.

Nate’s Grade: C-

Scary Movie 3 (2003)

Spoofs can be done well (Airplane, The Naked Gun films) or they can be embarrassing and wretched to sit through (Not Another Teen Movie). Where does Scary Movie 3 fit in, especially when the creators of the first two installments of the series are absent this time around?

Scary Movie 3 starts off with a preacher (Charlie Sheen) finding mysterious crop circles in his fields of wheat. Elsewhere, Cindy (Anna Farris, once again the Scary Movie ingénue), a bubbling reporter, is investigating a mysterious tape that kills whoever watches it. The plots for Signs and The Ring are thrown into a blender, and the ensuing mush is the shaky plot for Scary Movie 3 to stage its jokes within.

But instead of swinging for the stars, Scary Movie 3 often settles for countless swings to the head or crotch. I swear, I saw more people getting hit in the crotch in Scary Movie 3 than if I had spent a weekend strapped to a chair, Clockwork Orange-style, and been forced to watch an endless loop of America’’s Funniest Home Videos. It’’s almost like sixth graders wrote the script, and their creative process revolved around the question, “”Will someone getting hit in a sensitive body area ever not be funny?”” And of course, the answer was, “”Never, dude. Let’’s go look at your dad’’s nudie magazines now.””

Despite the scattershot nature of spoofs, Scary Movie 3 is a noticeable step up from its predecessor. Scary Movie 2 was comedy lost in the woods as if it were in search of a Blair Witch of comedic sensibility , unsure of any direction and falling back on lame gross-out gags and scatological humor. When you have to go to the “giant geyser of semen” more than once, you’’ve got some dire script problems. Credit new director David Zucker (Airplane, Naked Gun) with classing up the place after the absence of the Wayans’ brothers, who wrote and directed the previous Scary Movie films.

Scary Movie 3 has more of a steady footing for its comedy, but its parodies can seem flat. A Matrix: Reloaded parody with George Carlin as the uppity Architect only serves to make you remember that Will Ferrell did it better for the 2003 MTV Movie Awards. The lengthy subplot supposedly spoofing 8 Mile is dead on arrival. He’s white, get it? No, really, get it? Hey, didn’’t Eminem actually rap about this at the end of 8 Mile? So then Scary Movie 3 isn’t even parodying 8 Mile so much as repeating it in inferiority. There are several times that Scary Movie 3 seems like it’s struggling to lampoon anything popular at the time, no matter if it has anything funny to say about it.

What redeems Scary Movie 3 is what made the original Scary Movie so enjoyable: several scenes of laugh-out-loud, tears-in-you-eyes comedy. Some personal favorites of mine are scenes that go bizarrely over-the-top, like the funeral of Regina Hall, or the more clever jabs at pop culture, like the origin of the evil videotape having something to do with Pootie Tang. Faris is also a very talented comedic actress that proves game for whatever is thrown at her (usually at her head).

So while some of the topical parodies may not work, Scary Movie 3 seems to hit its stride when touching on others. Characters get battered, bruised, flattened, smacked, and thrown all around like the film was a living cartoon. Many of the film’s jokes are juvenile, but not the puerile juvenile demeanor the Wayans dealt in. Scary Movie 3 is the first film of the franchise to be rated PG-13, and in some lights it liberates the comedy. Instead of trying to out-do sex gags, the filmmakers turn toward the more universal art of slapstick and a slyer pop culture commentary. The comedy may only be there in spurts but it is there.

With any comedy there are hits and misses, and Scary Movie 3 has plenty of misses (a kid being beaten repeatedly does not get funnier as it goes), but when it hits its targets it strikes hard. And when it doesn’t? Well, I do so hope you like people getting hit in the crotch. Scary Movie 3 is worth a rental price and best enjoyed with large quantities of popcorn, friends, and alcoholic beverages. Fans of slapstick will be tickled pink, people who left the franchise after Scary Movie 2 may rejoin the flock.

Nate’s Grade: B-

Cradle 2 the Grave (2003)

Once again with Cradle 2 the Grave, Hollywood has reminded us of the magic of the buddy film with the incorrigible rapscallion rapper DMX teamed up with stoic kung fu master Jet Li. Oh wait, did I saw buddy comedy, because what I meant to say was, “pretty bad movie.”

DMX plays master jewel thief Tony Fait. He and his covert team (which includes one of the stars of Kangaroo Jack, take that for what you will) have been hired to steal priceless black diamonds. It appears others are also after these lucrative diamonds including a Su (Li), Taiwanese cop, and some international arms dealers that steal Fait’s daughter. Only really bad guys steal kids. Fait and Su form an unlikely team to recover his daughter and the black diamonds, which are revealed as powerful high-grade plutonium. And you better believe that their investigation has them stop by a strip club at least once.

Let’s just say that acting is not the strong suit of Li or DMX. The rapper (whose real name is the non-threatening “Earl”) scowls a lot, as if he’s thinking some extra muscle will do the acting for him. Li seems sleepy or drugged, but he’s best when the fists are flying and his conversation is kept to a minimum.

The plot to Cradle 2 the Grave is black hole of logic. The movie tries to make DMX seem like the good kind of jewel thief, you know, the one you’d like living next door. He won’t allow guns, he steals Robin Hood-style from drug dealers, and he loves his little tyke. He even reforms a prostitute (Gabrielle Union). But if DMX is such the master jewel thief then wouldn’t he know that black diamonds aren’t real?

Li is a furious fighter, and his previous film Kiss of the Dragon proved to me that he could utilize chopsticks and pool balls as lethal kung fu weaponry. But with Cradle 2 the Grave he goes one step further, and one step closer to the bizarre world of make believe, by using, of all things, dwarves and lobsters as deadly weapons. What’s next Jet Li? Throwing AIDS patients and school children?

Hack director Andrzej Bartkowiak has previously directed bombs Romeo Must Die and Exit Wounds, another DMX-teams-with-martial-artist vehicle. After Cradle 2 the Grave I say, three strikes and you’re out as a director. Yes, acting and story are not as important in an action film as most genres, however, Bartkowiak directs the action scenes like he’s caught in them. The camera will sway around like its ducking a punch and too often focus tightly on people and make rapid-fire cuts. You can’t enjoy the action because Bartkowiak won’t let you see what’s going on. The film’s climax is like a gigantic end stage in a video game.

Cradle 2 the Grave is so incredibly bad that the best thing about is Tom Arnold. Did you ever think you’d hear that? What more can you say about a movie where one of its actor’s real name is “Drag-On.” I am not making any of this up.

Cradle 2 the Grave is so awful because it wastes just about every reason for its own existence. This is the kind of movie someone who hates humanity would make. This is the kind of movie a zombie Hitler would have made. And I hear some of you saying, “But wait, there’s no way xenophobic Hitler would cast an African-American rapper and a Chinese martial artist in his movie.” Oh, that’s exactly what zombie Hitler would want you to think. Do you see how subversive it is now, do you?

Nate’s Grade: C-

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