Monday, March 28, 2011

The Music Never Stopped

Music is a powerful thing. The right song can make you feel happy, sad, pumped, or relaxed, but is there more to it than that?What effects can music actually have on the brain? What connections does it form to our memories? This is the question explored in Jim Kohlberg's directorial debut, “The Music Never Stopped”.

Set in the 1980's, the film opens with a phone call. To Helen (Cara Seymour: “The Notorious Bettie Page”) and Henry Sawyer (J.K. Simmons: “Oz” “Spider-Man”); their son, Gabriel (Lou Taylor Pucci), whom they have not seen in a very long time, is in the hospital. It turns out that Gabriel has a large brain tumor, and while it can be removed safely, it has caused a significant amount of permanent damage to his brain.

Gabriel's Doctor (Scott Adsit: “30 Rock”) explains to the Sawyers that Gabriel may never be himself again, and that, amongst the other damaged parts of his brain, he has lost the part that allows him to remember new information. In fact, for the most part, Gabriel is in a near vegetative state most of the time. Then one night when he shocks the hell out of all the nurses by starting to play his old trumpet after listening to a song on the radio.

Helen and Henry are excited by this, but the doctor assures them that it doesn't mean anything. Henry is still curious though, and while doing research on brain injuries he comes across an article by therapist Dianne Daley (Julia Ormond: “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”) about a connection between music and the brain.

Daley is interested in Gabriel's case, and starts playing music for him; first what he was playing on the trumpet, and then songs that Henry played for him as a child. There's a definite reaction, but it doesn't bring him back like whatever he heard on the radio did. One night, quite by accident, Daley realizes what the problem is. The music that stirs him is not the music his father exposed him to as a child, but the music he loved in his teenage years. Unfortunately it is that very music that led to the split between Gabriel and his father in the first place, or at least that's how Henry sees it.

“The Music Never Stopped” is based on the essay “The Last Hippie” by Dr. Oliver Sacks. If that name sparks any familiarity with you at all, it is possibly because his writing was also the basis of 1990's Oscar nominated “Awakenings”. The two films share a similar subject matter, a sense of bittersweet hope, and a good dose of dark humour, but are otherwise both quite different. “Awakenings” feels like it has a strong sense of forward motion throughout, as where this movie just flows in whatever direction the music happens to take it.

Ultimately it's the music that is the heart and soul of this film, from the the music Gabriel's father exposed him to as a child, like Peggy Lee and Count Basie, to the music he came to love in his teenage years, like The Beatles, Steppenwolf, and especially The Grateful Dead. Music is as much of a character in this film as any of the actors, and it is easily what moves the rather meandering tale forward. The film's soundtrack triggers flashbacks to explain how Gabriel came to love music to begin with, how he split off from his parents, and ultimately it becomes Henry's only hope of ever truly re-connecting with his injured son.

I said that the movie meanders, and it does. It's never dull, but at times it does seem aimless as it paints a picture of Gabriel's life before he left home and after he returns. It doesn't help that there are characters like Celia (Mia Masestro: “Alias”), a serving girl at the hospital cafeteria, and Tamara (Tammy Blanchard: “Guiding Light”), Gabriel's high school girlfriend, who seem like they should be really important characters, but ultimately have little or no real effect on the story. It's almost as if the screenwriters didn't know where they wanted the story to actually end until about two thirds of the way through which creates something which is not exactly a shaggy dog story, but has subplots which could easily be described as such.

The cast is an interesting choice. For me, this is the first time seeing J.K. Simmons in a real leading role, and he carries it off well; maybe after this I will be able to look at him and not immediately think of him as Vern Schillinger (probably not though). Ormond and Seymour bring their characters to life well, and it was very interesting to see Scott Adsit in a serious role, but it's the choice Lou Taylor Pucci as Gabriel that is most interesting.

Pucci plays Gabriel as both a teenager and an adult, and while he easily looks the part of a high school senior, making him look like someone who should be in the latter half of their thirties is a little more difficult (Pucci himself is still in his mid-twenties). In order to try and create a big difference in appearance between his teen self and his adult self, they have him in this rather ridiculous looking beard; I don't know if it was fake or not, but it sure looked fake. Between his youthful physical appearance, and the fact that due to his injury he still acts like a teenager, I had to repeatedly remind myself how old he is supposed to be. His performance as Gabriel feels spot on, but perhaps they could have put the beginnings of some gray into his hair to make him look like someone within spitting distance of their 40's.

While this is not necessarily one of those movies you should rush out and see right away, it is certainly one that you should see at some point in your life. It's well acted, has a really strong soundtrack, and manages to be funny and uplifting at the same time as being sad. It will try to make you cry, but it will try to make you laugh a lot more. So why not go see something with a little actual value? At the very least when someone asks what movies you've seen lately, you'll be able to come up with a better answer than “Hall Pass”.

“The Music Never Stopped” is in limited release now.

Friday, March 18, 2011


You've heard it said before that the average human only uses about twenty percent of his brain's total potential. If you believe this, then that means even the smartest amongst us could be so much more if only we could figure out how to access the rest of our brainpower. Now what if someone offered you a pill that could make you the best you that you could possibly be? What if you could exceed the current boundaries of your mental capacity? What if you could become “Limitless”?

“Limitless” is the new film from director Neil Burger (“The Illusionist”) starring Bradley Cooper (“The Hangover”) as Eddie Morra, a writer struggling with a combination of writer's block and his natural tendency for self-sabotage. Eddie is not having a good time of things, his girlfriend, Lindy (Abbie Cornish: “Sucker Punch”), has finally grown tired of his crap and dumped him, he's behind on the rent, and he has a deadline rushing towards him without a single word written.

In the depths of his despair he meets up with his ex-wife's brother, Vernon (Johnny Whitworth: “CSI: Miami”), who at first mistakes him for a homeless man. After listening to a brief, but frank, description of Eddie's situation, Vernon offers him a small, transparent pill that he promises will turn things around for him. Deciding that things could hardly get worse, Eddie takes the pill.

Within moments, Eddie realizes that he can access the memories of anything he's ever seen; he can learn languages in hours, he can motivate himself to stop being a complete slob, he can even get past his writer's block and finish his novel with speed that would make Stephen King jealous (it certainly makes me jealous). It basically turns him into a combination of Chuck Bartowski and Shawn Spencer, but without the silliness that you might expect from either. Eddie is amazed at what he can do when he doesn't get in his way.

As with all drugs, there are drawbacks. The drug wears off in less than a day, returning Eddie to his slobby, stupid self. It turns out that intelligence is addictive, and he wants more. Unfortunately the side effects can be much worse than just becoming stupid again. Before he knows it, Eddie is trying to juggle finding a steady supply of the drug, dealing with a Russian loan shark (Andrew Howard: “Revolver”), working with a business mogul (Robert De Niro), and figuring out what to do about the creepy guy who is suddenly following him everywhere he goes.

The visual style of “Limitless” is fantastic. The movie uses some interesting visual effects when Eddie gets into his writing groove, and when he starts to experience some of the drug's side effects, but the best effects for me were simply what happened whenever Eddie would take the pill. As the pill kicks in the world around him visibly brightens and the colour grown warm to help the audience see the clarity with which he now sees the world.

De Niro's role in the film, though smaller than the trailers would have you believe (not that you should ever trust trailers anyway), is still a good example of him playing exactly the sort of pompous character he is good at; even when he is smiling and laughing, it's obvious that you are never more than one stupid move away from being on his excrement list. Cooper and De Niro have a great on-screen chemistry as they play back and forth with Carl Van Loon's thin veneer of joviality over ruthless greed and Morra's slick, but naive, self-confidence. It is a lot of fun to see them on the screen together.

This is an easy movie to enjoy, but there are some pretty big issues with it. First of all, for someone who maybe the smartest man on Earth, Morra misjudges or overlooks a lot of things that I, with my normal dumb brain, saw almost immediately. Now maybe he's just not very genre savvy, but some of the things he screws up on seem more like plot-hole issues than something his character would really not think of. The other thing, and this may not really be an issue, is that many, but not all, of the film's twists are easy to predict if you are paying attention. While the movie is a lot more subtle about foreshadowing than, say, “Red Riding Hood” was, it still was a little annoying to me to be able to spot these things before the super-genius did. That said, the overall movie is more than enjoyable enough for me to forgive it its flaws.

“Limitless” is a fun, stylish, well done film with a strong cast, a decent soundtrack, and what is probably the best use of a small child as a weapon that you will ever see. It's not likely to go down as a modern classic, but it is a very enjoyable drama with a strong sense of humour, and an interesting science fiction concept. If you're heading out to the theaters this weekend and you want to see something that will appeal to your higher brain functions, then I strongly suggest you check out this film.

“Limitless” is in theaters now.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Battle Los Angeles

Why are Americans so fascinated by the idea of our nation being invaded? Whether it's by our on-world enemy du jour or by aliens from another planet we seem to enjoy seeing our home getting destroyed by foreign aggressors. We seem to enjoy it so much that even if the rest of the world is attacked as well, all we focus the movie on is what is happening in the U.S.. That is the case in the new science fiction war movie “Battle Los Angeles”.

Staff Sergeant Michael Nance (Aaron Eckhart: “The Dark Night”, “Thank You for Smoking”) has served his time in the Marines and is ready to get out. Unfortunately for him, the universe has other plans. Meteorites are falling to Earth off the coast of major cities all over the planet, and when the military is mobilized to help in evacuating the Southern California coastline, he finds himself attached to a squad headed up by a young lieutenant who is fresh out of officer school.

Before the Marines even hit the streets, the situation changes drastically. As suspected, the meteorites were not natural at all; this is confirmed when the television news shows footage of vaguely humanoid figures marching up out of the surf and, by way of greeting humanity for the first time, open fire on the crowd. There's no warning, no deception, no attempts at diplomacy or requests for surrender, they just start attacking.

Where most alien invasion movies (“Independence Day” and “Mars Attacks” come to mind) generally start out showing you different characters in different places dealing with the attacks, “Battle Los Angeles” keeps its scope much smaller. The camera stays firmly on Nance and his squad as they are sent to rescue civilians caught in the combat area. Your knowledge of what is happening in the rest of the world is limited to that of the characters, which is to say whatever they happen to see on televisions as they make their way through the war-torn city.

This sense of isolation works really well for the film, managing to give it a sense of reality that most alien invasion flicks could never achieve. In fact, this movie felt more to me like “Blackhawk Down” or and the last half of “Full Metal Jacket” than it did “Independence Day”, which is to say it feels like a straight war movie where the enemies just happen to be space aliens instead of humans. The film takes the subject matter just as seriously and respectfully as if it were “Saving Private Ryan”.

There are no one-liner spewing ubermen in this film; no Wil Smiths dragging an alien around without any cover from enemy fire while commenting wittily about the invader's odor. This isn't to say that there are no humourous lines to be found here, just that they are only used where they seem natural for combat banter. No one runs around like they are bulletproof, or at least no one runs around that way for long. The characters are well aware of their mortality and the disadvantage they are at with their enemies, and in one of the few instances of Hollywood heroics that the character actually survives, he comes away not saying something witty, but shaking in absolute terror.

In order to help create the sense of urgency and isolation, the entire film appears to have been shot in a pseudo-documentary style using handheld cameras. This is the only problem I had with the film, and the camera jerks around so much that it made me nauseous (I am not exaggerating, I actually felt sick to my stomach), and I am not one to suffer from motion sickness. If you are someone who has problems with this, then try to sit as far back as possible, and perhaps see if one of the theaters near you is playing it on one of their smaller screens (I saw it on a nearly floor to ceiling screen, and sat far too close to it). This doesn't make me dislike the film, but it can be a major issue for some viewers.

With fantastic alien designs, a gritty realistic style, believable characters, and almost non-stop action, it is not at all difficult for me to tell you to go see this film. This is not your average invader-from-the stars type movie, this is a hardcore war movie... with aliens. Just remember to take your Dramamine.

“Battle Los Angeles” is in theaters now.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Red Riding Hood

It seems that Hollywood is no longer content with just crapping on my generation's childhood with new takes on “The Smurfs”, “Transformers”, and “G.I. Joe”, and have now moved on to going after the childhoods of many generations with films like “Beastly”, “Snow White”, and this movie, “Red Riding Hood”. These are not your normal sugar-coated, Disneyfied re-tellings though; these are dark, gritty, sexy, but still only PG-13 takes aimed squarely at the Twilighters out there.

Catherine Hardwicke (“Twilight”), directs this version of the classic tale of the little girl who finds herself running afoul of the big, bad wolf on her way to grandmother's house, only this girl isn't so little, it's living anime character, Amanda Seyfried (“Jennifer's Body”). Seyfried plays Valerie, daughter of a woodcutter, Cesaire (Billy Burke: “Twilight”, “Drive Angry 3D”) and Suzette (Virginia Madsen: “The Haunting in Conneticut”). Valerie lives an angsty medieval life; she is in love with Peter (Shiloh Fernandez), a young woodcutter who has been her friend since childhood, but she has been promised the Henry (Max Irons), a kind and talented young blacksmith who would much more easily give her the lifestyle her mother wants her to have. Oh whatever is she to do?

Valerie's boy troubles are only slightly overshadowed by the fact that her village (located somewhere in the kingdom of Southern California if the accents are any indication) is terrorized every full moon by a werewolf. For many years this has not been a problem; the townspeople merely leave some livestock out as a sacrifice and hide themselves away. This changes when the wolf claims the life of one of the townspeople.

Suddenly the town is in a panic, and while Father Auguste (Lukas Haas: “Inception”) sends for a famous witch-hunter and wolf-slayer, many of the town's men go out to hunt the werewolf, and kill it once and for all. They think their efforts are successful, but when the witch-smeller, Father Solomon (Gary Oldman: “The Book of Eli”) arrives, he warns them that what they killed was not the werewolf at all. Fear not,though, because he and his multicultural private army will sniff out the true wolf and slay it.

If you get a “Twilight”-y kind of feel from this movie's trailers, there's a good reason for it. Not only did Hardwicke direct the first film in that series, and Billy Burke act in it, but many other characters feel directly lifted from it too. Valerie is very much an expy for Bella Swan, but without the fear of aging. Peter is a combination of Edward and Jacob, but without all the creepy stalker behaviour and glitter, and Henry feels an awful lot like Mike Newton. In some ways this movie almost feels like a sort of “Twilight” fan-fic.

I mentioned before that the medieval townsfolk all talk like they are from Los Angeles, and while this may have been a wise directorial decision (All of them trying to fake any type of European accent would likely have been a mess), it makes the one character who does have a strong accent stand out even more. Gary Oldman's portrayal of Solomon is a perfect example of why sometimes not trying is better than trying too hard. At first he sounds like he is supposed to be German, but from there it just goes to crap as his accent wanders all over the place. This is not a slight on his portrayal, as his character was one of the best in the film, but an entire film of people doing this would have been incredibly annoying.

The film was pretty much what I expected it to be for about the first two thirds. Crazed overacting and lip-biting angst broken up by some fairly decent action sequences (featuring fairly dodgy special effects) while Valerie tries to not only choose which man she should go with, but tries to figure out who the wolf is. The film tries to keep you guessing about these two things as well.

There is no attempt to subtly hint at who you should suspect for wolfhood either. The movie bludgeons you over the head with red herring after red herring trying to make you suspect different people. Is it Grandma? Peter? Prudence? Henry? I will say, and this is one of the major things that keeps this movie from being completely awful, I did not correctly guess who the wolf was. My wife says she suspected the correct person, so I may just be dense, but it is the thing I found most satisfying about the film.

I'm sure you're wondering how one goes about stretching a story that most people tell in fifteen minutes into a one hundred minute movie? The answer is to spend the first hour completely ignoring that story. The first hour of the film is all about Valerie and her two suitors with some wolf attacks and the occasional steamy, but still PG-13, kissing scene thrown in for flavour. It's only in about the last twenty minutes of the film that they manage to cram in something like the traditional story of “Little Red Riding Hood”, complete with the “What big eyes you have” scene (and Amanda Seyfried commenting on the largeness of anyone's eyes was enough to make me laugh). It feels a little rushed after the slow pace of the first three quarters of the movie, but the ending is more satisfying than I was expecting.

I know it sounds like I liked parts of this movie, and I did in a so-bad-it's-good kind of way, but that doesn't mean I would recommend it to anyone. This is a movie for hardcore Twilighters only, and even then only for the ones that liked the movies. The acting ranges from wooden to narmy, and while the action sequences are well choreographed (even if the effects look a little dated) there simply are not enough of them to save the movie from itself. The only possible reason to see this in a theater, assuming you're not one of the aforementioned hardcore Twilighters, is for the fun of trying to guess who the wolf is, but you know what? You can do that for a lot less at home when it comes out on DVD.

“Red Riding Hood” wanders out of the forest and into theaters March 11th.

Friday, March 4, 2011


Recently, Author J.C. Hutchins posted the following:

Douchey and supercool, all at the same time. Perfect for the hipster in your life. The USB Typewriter:

Check it out; they're pretty cool. Part of me would really like one, but the rational bits of me know that I would NEVER make productive use off it. As Mr. Hutchins pointed out when I said it was cool that, “I think that, after likely more that a decade of you using a computer keyboard, you'd find this quite uncool to use :),” and of course he's right, but maybe....

This got me thinking about my old middle school days when I would use the school's typewriters to write some of my earliest stories on. We're talking decades before Mallville and Dax, before NaNoWriMo, and even before the series of novellas I wrote in high school and college titled “Lyfe and Deth”. These stories were written when the first Bush was president, and they were written by what would now be called a “tween”.

This isn't to say that the stories were about ponies and butterflies or anything; even at that age I was already reading Stephen King novels (and learned the hard way that “It” was not a good place to start with him), and watching horror movies on a regular basis. This showed in my stories, which generally featured the middle-school aged characters running from some monster and getting picked off like the cast of a slasher movie until only one or two remained.

The thing that seems funny to me now is that the characters were always based on real people in my classes. If a middle-schooler wrote stories in which their classmates were shot/stabbed/dismembered/burnt/crushed/electrocuted/etc today they would be expelled from school and labeled by the media as a potential school shooter. Things were different back then though; the early 90's were a different creature.

Far from having to write these stories in secret for fear of being punished if the contents were discovered, my teachers knew exactly what was in them, and so did my classmates, and you know what? Those stories probably made me as close to popular as I would ever get. Classmates actually wanted to be in my stories, even if their character died horribly. It amazes me to know that if I had been born just ten years later, I would likely have been expelled and treated as a criminal for writing the exact same stories. It's a funny ol' world, innit?

Unfortunately I do not have any of those stories anymore, but I do know that they were quite dreadful little things that make my current prose look like Douglas Adams by comparison. I can remember details of some of the stories though.

  • One story dealt with a PG&E worker who was turned into an electricity-spewing monster after being electrocuted.
  • Another dealt with the characters being trapped in a shopping mall and running from the evil that had the ability to, among other things I'm sure, bring toys to life (I would like to point out that this was well before I saw “Puppetmaster” for the first time), a very short car chase that ended with a van flipping upside down into the mall fountain, and bit about finding a barrel of artificial butter flavouring in the movie theater that had labels on it declaring it corrosive.

Of course these aren't the only horrible stories I wrote in middle school, just the two that I specifically remember doing in school.

After that I got an electric typewriter of my own, which was when the “Lyfe And Deth” characters were first put on paper (I mention them in particular as they lived on to appear again as minor characters in another story) in what was a blatant rip-off of “Terminator 2”. I don't recall writing too much on the electric typewriter actually, but I remember that one story (I also remember seeing “Casablanca” for the first time while working on it; my mind is a random scrapheap).

In high school I got my first computer, and I wrote a number of stories on that, include five or six “Lyfe and Deth” novellas, and a maybe novel length sci-fi comedy called “Spaced Out” which mocked such timely subjects as Barney and the Power Rangers, and had homages in it to “The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy” and “The Dark Tower”.

Obviously I am still writing today on computers, but it all really started with those old, ugly, clunky, nearly indestructible typewriters with a bottle of white-out close at hand to correct typos. I think there was a certain magic about them even though I did not have the skill to use it properly. I still believe there is magic in typewriters.

In my office is a “portable” typewriter (portable because it comes in its very own suitcase), but since obtaining it a long time ago it has just sat there in its case, waiting. I haven't even opened the case since after I first brought it home. I haven't checked to make sure it still works, or if it has a ribbon in it that can be re-inked, but it has not been relegated to the closet or garage either. It's right there next to my desk waiting for the day I am ready to try and wield its magic again.

Maybe, just maybe, I'll have to open it up this weekend, check it out, see what I need to do to make it usable. I've been dealing with a bout of writer's block lately (at least as far as writing new stuff goes), and have only been working on re-writes, but maybe flashing back to the days of the NES and cassette tapes will unlock something.


Early Morning Amusement:: Michael (Jump In)

It's Friday, and I managed to not oversleep by two hours today, so that seems like a good reason for an Early Morning Amusement.

I originally discovered "No More Kings" while I was working on the first draft of "Mallville - A Journal of the Zombie Apocalypse". I was listening to Pandora and a fairly catchy tune came on. A short ways into the song I realized it was about zombies; it was "Zombie Me" by "No More Kings". As I continued to listen, more of their songs played andd I ended up going out and buying the album.

If you are unfamiliar with "No More Kings", their albums are basically my childhood set to music. The songs are cheerful, upbeat, and frequently more than a little silly, and I find it to be very uplifting. They have songs about "Peanuts", "Short Circuit", "Gulliver's Travels", "The Karate Kid", and of course the subject of this song, "Knight Rider"

You may be wondering why I am highlighting the video for "Michael (Jump In)" when it was "Zombie Me" that first got my attention, and even became a bit of an un-official theme for "Mallville" (I'd be happy for it to be the official theme if I could get permission). Well, there's not a video for that song, but this one is a lot of fun too, and it's a great way to start off the day.

If you like this video, I suggest going to their website and checking out more of their music, and buying their albums.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Drive Angry 3D

Do you want a movie with fast cars? Do you want a movie with big guns? Do you want nudity and lots and lots of violence? Do you want a movie where the laws of physics are discarded for the rules of awesome? Do you want it all in 3D? If you answered yes to all of those (and if you didn't, you may want to stop reading now) then Patrick Lussier (“My Bloody Valentine”) has a movie for you: “Drive Angry 3D”

Milton (Nicolas Cage: “Bangkok Dangerous”) is a man on a mission; a cult led by Jonah King (Billy Burke: “Twilight”) has kidnapped his newborn granddaughter, and he has two days to rescue her. After wrecking his car, he comes across Piper (Amber Heard: “Zombieland”), a waitress who doesn't seem to own an article of clothing that doesn't have holes in it. Piper is at a crossroads in her life and Milton intervenes, not just because it's the right thing to do, but because Piper drives a really cool car.

Together, the pair set off after King and his cult, only to find that the gun-toting cultists are not the only thing they have to look out for; Milton is not just the hunter, but the hunted. A man who only calls himself The Accountant (William Fichtner: “Entourage”) is after Milton. He may only be armed with a silver coin and sharp wit, but woe be unto the poor slob who stands between this sharply dressed man and his target.

I loved this movie, and kind of want to see it again already. It's not that the story is anything unique, it's just a roaring-rampage-of-revenge type of story, but it's done so well. The effects, the music, the humour, the gore, it all blends into a nearly perfect testosterone milkshake. Pretty much the only thing this movie could have done to make me like if more would have been to include Jason Statham and Bruce Campbell in the cast. Alas, nothing is perfect.

As far as the acting goes, Nicolas Cage does what he usually does, which is to say that he says his lines like he needs to run to the bathroom as soon as the scene is done. I dislike his acting in some movies, but it works really well in this film as Milton does not seem like a person who should be portrayed with too much depth or emotion. Amber Heard plays Piper as being full of piss and vinegar; she's opinionated, snarky, afraid of little, and is quite happy to bite off a lot more than she can chew when appropriate. She's more than a tag-along, and even when imperiled she is still no damsel in distress.

Of course the true standout character in this film is The Accountant. Imagine Christopher Walken when he was younger, now get rid of his unique way of speaking, and you have William Fichtner's portrayal of this pivotal character. Like Milton, the Accountant does not show much range as a character, but where Milton is a dark little ball of bad-ass, The Accountant has a cheerful sense of inevitability about him. He knows that he will get his way eventually, and is in no real rush to make it happen, so if you want to screw with him he will quite happily screw with you. I am almost more interested in seeing more of this character in the future than of seeing more of Milton or Piper.

This film is exactly what it looks like; a testosterone-filled joyride of blood, violence, sex, and dark humour. It never tries to be anything more than it is, and this is to its overall benefit; in fact, the only criticisms that I came out of the movie with were a continuity error early on, the way that Hollywood way Cage wiggles the steering wheel when “driving” (this is something that always bugs me when I see it though), and one scene (I'm not telling you what it was) that would have been original if the movie “Shoot 'Em Up” hadn't done it a few years ago.

“Drive Angry 3D” is everything I look for in an action film; it's violent, funny, and leaves me wanting to see it all over again. The characters come in black and gray (there are no true white hats here), and while the “heroes” may be questionable, the villains are truly villainous. If you want a fun, adult-oriented action film, then this is the movie to see (yes, I would even recommend this over “The Mechanic”).

This does leave one last question though: should you pay extra for the 3D? While the movie was filmed with 3D in mind, it really does not add that much to it. There are not a lot of things being jabbed at your face (unlike in the “Pirates of the Caribbean 4” trailer, where it happens three or four times), but there are a few explosions that hurl some shrapnel at you. The sense of depth the 3D adds is nice, but I think this movie will be just as awesome in 2D as it is in 3D. If you don't object to paying a few extra bucks though, I can't of any real reason not to.

“Drive Angry 3D” is in theaters now.