Tuesday, May 30, 2017

DOUBLE REVIEW: 'Alien: Covenant' / 'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2'

Are you ready for a double shot of totally needless, painfully formulaic sci-fi summer cashgrabs? WELL YOU BETTER BE.

By: Jimbo X

I'd like to say a couple of things about the "death" of Obamacare, if 'ya don't mind. 

From the get-go, we all kinda-sorta knew it wasn't going to work. I mean, they couldn't even get the fuckin' website up and running until three months after the first enrollment period, and things have only gotten worse from there. Even all them dimmicrats, I reckon, figgered the numbers just weren't going to work out in the end. From the get-go, the whole Obamacare program was marred by two totally incompatible goals: 

1. Make insurers accept everybody, even those really sick motherfuckers who will take out literally millions in health care services but only pay in about $19.25; and...

2. To help cover those costs of giving the formally uninsurable medical coverage, we'll just force all them young whippersnappers who are spry and healthy to BUY insurance they really don't need and prolly won't ever use under threat of imprisonment and all that extra money circulatin' around in the insurance pools will SURELY cover the costs of caring for all them old, poor and sick fuckos mentioned above. 

Now, in hindsight, it seems like somebody up there in D.C. woulda' gotten off Obama's nuts and asked the following question: "Pardon, me, senor Obama, but do we know for a fact that the amount of insurance money generated by all them young folks legislatively forced to buy health coverage plans will be enough to pay for all the health care those formally uninsurable sick fuckos are going to be takin' outta' the system?"

Now maybe I'm checking the wrong websites, but I've yet to see one C.B.O. spreadsheet saying the "make the young invincibles make up the difference" strategy was - or would ever - be enough to fully cover the costs of the sickest people in America getting what is tantamount to free medical care (and don't give me any of that bullshit about co-pays, neither; even if you do pay about $3,000 a year in health care costs, that don't mean shit when you're receiving $300,000 a year in health care services you, yourself, aren't personally responsible for paying back.) 

And with that in mind, I wonder if anybody in the Obama camp asked this prickly li'l follow up question: "hey, B.O., just a quick 'un - let's say all them young whippersnappers do sign up for health coverage, but instead of not usin' it, they actually bilk it for all its worth on doctors visits and medications and even surgeries none of them really need just because they're able to get 'em at super-duper-reduced costs now?" 

And with that little brain tickler on the docket, I wonder if anybody dared asked this little head scratcher during the formative phase of Obamacare: "does it really make that much sense to force employers, especially the smaller ones, to offer SOME kind of health coverage for employees, even to people who don't want it or don't need it? And if we're forcing employers to offer insurance, what are the odds they'll just pick the shittiest, low-cost coverage they can get that really won't do diddly for the few young whippersnappers who actually might legitimately need to use it?"

Well, apparently those obvious questions never got asked, and as a result, all the big name insurers wound up cutting their loses and just up and LEFT Obamacare before the bottom really fell out. Shit, even the states that opted to expand Medicaid ended up getting burned like mothefuckers, with 24 out of the 29 expanded states reporting doubled budget expenditure increases under the program.

There's a real simple lesson to be learned here, kids. If you're going to go all-in on a massive entitlement program that'll tally up trillions of dollars over the course of a decade, you best damn have a fool-proof plan to keep the necessary operating revenue a' flowin'. That's the fundamental - and ultimately, fatal - problem with the A.C.A. From the very beginning, Obama and pals thought they had a mathematically viable, two-pronged plan to make everything work. Unfortunately, their "let's make all the 18-34-years-olds shoulder the costs" scheme didn't exactly pan out the way they had hoped. 

Now here's the big philosophical mistake the dimmicrats made with Obamacare. They simply figgered making healthy young folks buy health care to avoid a $695 tax penalty would be enough to pay off the exorbitant medical bills of people who plan on being out of work and dependent on the government dole for the next 30 or 40 years of their lives. Nowhere in the implementation process did any of those assholes in Washington contemplate the numerous blind spots in their plans. They NEVER wondered if young people forced to buy health care insurance would wind up using it on non-emergency services simply because they now had the option. They NEVER wondered if young people forced to buy health care would simply take the $700 hit on the chin instead of paying an extra $2,400 a year for something totally and completely pointless. They NEVER wondered if old, fat, sick, formerly uninsured assholes would bilk Obamacare for all its worth without returning even a fraction of a percent of the money they took out of the coffers. They NEVER wondered if the idea to build the entire funding mechanism of the program around a subset of the population for whom unemployment and underemployment is rampant was really that dandy of an idea in the long haul. They NEVER wondered if the whole fucking thing was going to inordinately benefit older (and still working) baby boomers and reduce their overall share of the Obamacare pie even though THEY were the ones using up the lion's share of he funding while simultaneously increasing costs and decreasing quality of care for younger, lower-income employees and blue-collar and working-class families. They NEVER wondered if, instead of continuing to pay ballooning private health care insurance costs, people would a.) get rid of their plans altogether, b.) pick a lower-priced, crappier plan that put more of a burden on fellow taxpayers or c.) have to resort to other entitlement programs - like Medicaid, food stamps, etc. - to shoulder the sticker shock of premium increases. They NEVER wondered if the rapidly increasing insurance costs would force employers to lay off employees, in turn, eliminating revenue pools for companies, insurance providers and the federal government itself. And, of course, they NEVER wondered if investing billions (bordering on trillions) of dollars into the health care of terminally ill/disabled/unemployable beneficiaries without any kind of financial return on investment MIGHT not be the most sustainable financial strategy.

Or, to boil it down to a single sentence, this is why Obamacare crashed and burned: them folks up on Capitol Hill wanted to spend a whole hell of a lot of money on something that would never recoup the losses of getting off the ground to begin with

We've all read Bitter Pill and know all about the collusion between the O. Administration and the heavy hitters of health care insurance. What the tried-and-true blues still haven't grasped is that by putting the fundraising onus on the private market, the dimmicrats more or less set the whole Obamacare structure up to fail and fail miserably. When it comes to making moolah, all Barry O. and his brethren know how to do is tax the fuck out of everything and everyone. Not only did the legislation take away the dems' best financing source, it took away pretty much the only financing source they know anything about

If you're gonna' burn money, you best have one hell of a plan to earn money along the way. And - a shocker, I know - Obama and the rest of them lib-uh-rals just don't (and perhaps never will) understand how to pay for something without using somebody else's wallet. And - unfortunately for fans of the A.C.A. - it looks like the dems picked them a pocket with nothing but dryer lint and expired coupons inside it.

Alright, guys, we need some fresh ideas for the movie. How about, this time, we have the aliens jump out of their backs instead?

Speaking of totally pointless cash-grabs, not only is Alien: Covenant the worst movie in the entire Alien franchise - yep, it's even worse than those stanky-ass Alien vs. Predator movies - it's EASILY the worst movie Ridley Scott has ever directed. Don't let those dick-ridin' four star reviews over at the fat, bloated corpse of Roger Ebert's website fool you, this thing is just utter rubbish, ironically as bad (if not worse) than Alien Uno ripoffs like Xtro and Leviathan.

While Prometheus was a pretty disappointing movie, it at least felt like it had a little bit of life in it. Covenant is so by-the-numbers bland that by the time the xenomorph finally shows up - at the hour and thirty minute mark of a two-hour movie - you just couldn't give any less of a damn. Next to Power Rangers, it's the most inconceivably, unforgivably bad movie I've seen all year. Not only is it an insult to the once venerable Alien franchise, it's an insult to anybody unlucky enough to shell out actual money to see this drivel in a brick and mortar cineplex.

The movie starts off with Michael Fassbender sittting in a chair, wearing a skintight track suit critiquing baroque art. Then he starts playing classical piano and talks with his designer about the meaning of life and where humans came from. Then he pours some tea before we learn it's the year 2104 and there's this spaceship hurtling through space with like 2,000 people on it and a fire breaks out so the crew is freed from their sleep pods but the captain of the ship dies when he's thawed out and holy shit, one of the survivors is Kenny Powers.

This time around, we don't got no Sigourney Weaver or Noomi Rapace, but we do have this one no-name broad who has a haircut like a 12-year-old Austrian boy crying over her dead husband while watching him climb mountains on an iPad. Then the new captain says a bunch of techno-speak gobbledygook about "core code reviews" and "recharge cycles" and has a tough time winning over his suspiciously multicultural crew. 

Everybody drinks liquor out of Styrofoam cups and tinkers with equipment lifted from Metroid Prime as the dead body of the former captain gets shot out into the blackness of space. And good lord, is the CGI in this one remarkably bad - if you thought the computer generated effects in Resurrection were dog-shit, you will be amazed at just how little progress has been achieved 20 years later.

Anyhoo, they stumble upon a planet (apparently, it's the one from Prometheus) out of nowhere and decide to visit it, because why not? The captain and boy-haircut-girl complain and argue about what to do for a couple of minutes then Kenny Powers calls some woman "sugar tits" and they run around with GoPro cameras on their backpacks checking out the shrubbery (the slow-talking, semi-Native-American guy is amazed the place has wheat, of all things) and then one guy stomps on some black Prometheus goop behind some shrubs and smokes a joint and a bunch of alien gnats fly in his ear and borrow underneath his cochlea. So, 100 years from now, one of the world's most abundant and ubiquitous grains will be extinct, but marijuana will remain plentiful? 

The monotone-voiced Indian fellow finds a giant alien-headed temple in the woods and thinks it's "some kind of vehicle." Of course, they all venture into the dark, vagina-shaped cave and start poking ancient alien turds and more microbes start flying through their nasal passages. Then the weed smoker starts puking black tar all over the place so they have to take him back to the ship and he starts convulsing and then a giant boil starts pulsating on his back before a ravioli monster jumps out of his skin and a mulatto woman slips on his blood and tries to fight off the mini-albino xenomorph monkey with a knife like she was doing battle with the possessed Zulu doll from Trilogy of Terror. After they accidentally blow up their escape pod with pulse rifle fire, another dude starts puking blood and another of them mayonnaise turd monkeys jumps outta his back and starts running around screaming like E.T. trying to claw everybody's eyes out. And before I forget, one thing I should add: 

In this movie, the alien neomorphs know kung-fu

Think I'm yanking your chain? No siree, Bob, there's actually a part in the movie where one of them little buggers literally does a flying spin kick outta Double Dragon. That one got me so bad, I had to rewind the streaming video ... I mean, politely ask the projectionist to kindly unspool the film THAT I PAID MONEY TO WATCH so I could rewatch the scene and make sure it wasn't some sort of meth-tainted Diet Dr. Pepper-spawned hallucination.

So naturally, even though all the space colonists have laser guns, they can't hit the fucking thing and it winds up biting off two peoples' faces. Then Michael Fassbender shows up out of nowhere (albeit in a druid robe with a haircut like Christopher Lambert's in Mortal Kombat) and leads the survivors to a temple with thousands of Vesuvius-like ash-mummified corpses of those giant, nose-less Albino guys from Prometheus. Of course, the scene is so dark you really can't tell what you're looking at, so it's not that it matters or anything like that.

So we get some exposition on what happened after the ending of Prometheus (long story short, everybody got attacked by space lice and died horrible deaths, even Noomi Rapace) and the Fass-bot tells them they're probably infected and he pulls out a pair of scissors and cuts his bangs off because I guess that was as good a time as any for a new 'do.

After the Fass-bot looks at diagrams of butterflies and performs a flute solo for five minutes (no, for real, I counted the seconds), there's some meandering campfire dialogue about the captain and boy-haircut-woman about his insecurities about being a leader and then we get a flashback of all the bald albino giants getting attacked by a microbe swarm and the Fass-boy gives us another monologue about love and duty and a woman gets her head bitten off by a bigger albino space monkey monster, but all the gore shows up in quick-cut, edited-by-somebody-with-ADD form so you can't even enjoy watching bitches get their faces chewed off in this damn thing.

Then the alien morphs into squash-headed Gollum form and the space captain shoots it while the Fass-bot is trying to give it a lecture on Dianetics and then the robot shows off a vial of alien juice and all the facehuggers he took to the taxidermist and it's revealed he's the one who crossbred the xenomorph into existence (which completely contradicts the ending of Prometheus, but really, who expects "continuity" anymore?) So at the movie's 90-minute mark, the iconic alien egg finally shows up and, of course, the captain gets face huggered and a chestburster leaps out of his ribcage and Fassbender says some shit about creation mythology which I guess is supposed to be ironic because he admonished one of the crewmembers earlier for having faith in religion. Then majestic music plays while the the alien grows from fun-size Snickers bar to full gown space mutant like some sort of acid-spewing Shrinky Dink. Then the Fass-bot kills the space pilot (in a scene more or less copied from Ridley's own Blade Runner) and then the full-sized xenomorph shows up and it's all CGI and it literally looks like a wet trash bag. 

The escape ship (which, fortuitously enough, has a giant deck on it) arrives and the final girl climbs outside the ship and fights it. The crew throws the alien off (bitch, you thought) and lick their wounds and make breakfast and then their Alexa device lets them know there's some kind of unidentified creature on the ship so they grab their space lasers and find this one woman mangled like a piece of bloody beef jerky while the xenomorph kills a dude while he's trying to bone a woman in the showers. Eventually, they manage to push the alien out of an airlock, but LOL, the robot kills everybody in cryogenic sleep and makes Alexa play Wagner while he pukes out amber embryos for his intergalactic bug collection. And that, folks, is how this turd casserole finally ends. 

We've got 12 dead bodies. Two dead aliens. One dead android. About ten thousand dead albino Roman giants without noses. Two breasts. Acid to the face. Attempted robot rape. Face stapling. Security camera biting. One autopsy. Evil Dead ripoff Alien-vision cam. Gratuitous spacewalks. Gratuitous John Denver. Gratuitous references to the work of Percy Shelly. Gratuitous H.R. Giger sketches. Kung fu. Cyborg fu. Giant mechanical claw game fu. Airlock fu. And the thing that more or less makes the entire movie possible, some serious animal husbandry fu.

Starring Michael Fassbender in a dual role as both the space colony android Walter and David, the robot with a God delusion who says lines like "breath on the nostrils of Oz" like he honestly means it; Katherine Waterston as Danny, the extremely, extremely poor-woman's Ripley; Billy Crudup as space captain Chris Oram, who tells an android "I'm totally going to fuck up your perfect composure" with a straight face; Danny McBride as Tennessee, the redneck spaceship pilot whose protruding gut doesn't prevent him from running away from the face-raping grasshopper monster; and a whole bunch of character actors who wind up getting killed, either by nasty chest parasites or having their heads used as space creature toothpicks. 

Directed by Ridley Scott, who's trying so hard to get that Alien/Blade Runner crossover green lit that he forget to make an actual movie this time around, with a script by John Logan and Dante Harper, and really don't even have that for an excuse as to why the film turned out so shitty.

I give it one and a half stars out of four and that's me being generous. It's a predictable, overlong, over-pontificating, pseudo-intellectual, soulless cash-crab so bad it makes Alien 3 look like Aliens and makes Alien: Resurrection look like ... well, a less terrible version of Alien: Resurrection, I suppose.

Adam Warlock, Pac-Man and Uatu the Watcher all have cameos in the new Guardians of the Galaxy flick. Sadly, Master Order, the Chef from BurgerTime and The Beyonder remain M.I.A. in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Speaking of things nobody really needed, the second half of this week's big budget sci-fi double feature is Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, a flick I'd consider mildly better than the original - but then again, seeing as how I didn't think numero uno was really all that great to begin with, that ain't exactly the loftiest of praise. 

So the movie begins in Missouri in the 1970s, with a young Kurt Russell driving through the countryside and taking his date to Dairy Queen (hooray for shameless product placement!) before showing her this glowing flower out in the woods. After that, we skip 34 years into the future to watch the Guardians bicker and banter about Drax's nipples while Baby Groot dances around during a team battle against this ginormous barracuda-faced squid monster. After that, some people wearing gold makeup get angry at them for stealing some batteries and then that green chick (who looks just like The Mask with boobies) gets into an argument with her blue robot sister (yeah, I'm not sure how that's supposed to work, either) and then there's a whole bunch of rapid-fire, PG-13 dick jokes for the next few minutes, then the gang crash lands on some weird alien world. Then a decidedly older-looking Kurt Russel shows up and there's a Howard the Duck cameo and SLY Stallone tells an alien with a giant frosted Christmas ornament for a head to buzz off at a space bar. At this point, we're introduced to this praying mantis chick who is apparently every bit as autistic as Drax, except she's an "empath," which is sorta' like being a telepath only instead of being able to read people's thoughts, she can read people's feelings. Yep, that's what we've gotten to, folks - superheros whose superpower is emotional bonding

Then Star-Lord goes on this long diatribe about how he used to tell everybody David Hasselhoff was his dad in middle school and Rocket Racoon, Groot and the blue dude who was Star-Lord's adopted daddy in the first movie (oddly enough, played by the dude from Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer) get captured and Kurt Russell reveals his name is Ego and that he's Star-Lord's real papa and he's got the same celestial ability to manipulate molecules as his pop. 

Because the story isn't hard enough to follow, we then have a a whole bunch of Klingon-GWAR monsters show up, then Star-Lord and Ego argue about Star-Lord's mother and we have this long spaceship mutiny subplot that drags on for about 15 minutes. Then Star-Lord makes a whole bunch of references to Cheers and the green girl and her robo-sister get into an underground karate fight and they find a whole bunch of skeletons all over the place and then the emotional telepath mantis-woman explains that Ego has been running around impregnating alien life forms and eating his offspring for billions of years and then the movie devolves into FORTY MINUTES of been-there, done-that CGI apocalypse porn nonsense, complete with all of the pink and blue flashy things and creeping electro fog and everything crumbling and exploding while the camera spins 'round and 'round and the cast pirouetting in the air in slow-motion exchanging witty one-liners that we've seen in the last act of literally every big budget wannabe summer blockbuster since 2010. Then Star-Lord kills Ego by turning into Pac-Man (no, for real) and his daddy melts into the sand and the blue dude sacrifices himself to save everybody and then some random space man gives Star-Lord a Zune and "Surrender" by Cheap Trick plays and there's about four or five teasers for the sequel and that is that, kids.

We've got 63 dead bodies. Two dead beasts. Rat alien rodeo. Monster carving. Spider-eating. Darts to the face.  One guy kicked out of an air locker and frozen solid by the coldness of space. Gratuitous 1970s AOR soundtrack. Gratuitious Pac-Man references. One outer space funeral, with multiple references to David Hasselhoff. Landmine fu. Electroshock fu. Laser cannon fu. Laser arrow fu. Energy projection fu. Cavernous kung fu. Giant machine gun turret fu. Enemy bonding fu. And of course, the thing responsible for this movie existing in the first place, some serious sequel hook fu

Starring Chris Pratt as Star-Lord, the ringleader of the Guardians who drops lines like "did you make a penis?" and "you're just jealous because I'm half-god" like anyone over the age of 12 would find it witty; Zoe Seldano as the green chick who spends most of the movie rebuffing Chris Pratt's romantic advances and feuding and fussing with her android sibling; Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer, who is basically an autistic version of Kratos from God of War; Bradley Cooper as the voice of Rocket Raccoon, who has to suffer such humiliating put-downs as being called "a trash panda" and a "a triangle-faced monkey"; Kurt Russell as Ego the Living Planet, whose human form bares an uncanny resemblance to Dan Haggerty; Michael Rooker as the blue guy who gets blown up at the end; and Vin Diesel, who gets paid millions of dollars to literally say three words over and over again.

Written and directed by James Gunn, who takes no chances on the follow-through and is being promptly rewarded with millions upon millions of dollars to draw up Volume 3 as we speak. 

I give it two stars. Jimbo says check it out, or just watch any of the other Marvel movies because they're all pretty much the same thing at this point anyway.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Mighties Kiwis Are Fucking Terrifying

The same people who brought you Cuties oranges thought they had created they next adorable fruit mascot. What they created instead was the ultimate experience in supermarket horror.

By: Jimbo X

You may ask yourself what inspires a man to write an entire article about the mascot for a plastic tub of kiwis. The answer - as often the case in life - starts off innocuously, then transmogrifies into bone-chilling terror.

It was a rather routine weekday afternoon. I was just ambling aimlessly down the aisles at Kroger, trying to determine who I wanted to fuck more: Joanna Gaines from Fixer Upper or Jedediah Bila from The View. With no apparent solution in sight, I mindlessly waltzed out of the off-brand soda aisle and into the fresh produce section.

And it was there I stumbled upon it ... one of the most horrifying discoveries of my adult life.

Now, odds are, you don't think about kiwis that much - if it all, for that matter. In fact, I'm guessing 98 percent of the people reading this have never eaten one in their lives. No matter how hard Big Agriculture tries to convince us otherwise, they're always destined to be a "C-fruit," like kumquats or a starfruit. Their appeal will be niche at best, and any efforts to take the things "mainstream" are destined to falter.

But that didn't stop Sun Pacific from making a - well, woefully misguided - attempt to do precisely that. If you've never heard of the company before, they're a Pasadena-based fruit producer/distributor that handles all the usual stuff - grapes, lemons, tomatoes (and yes, tomatoes are fruits because they have seeds in 'em, you unlearned motherfuckers.) Their big seller is a brand of Clementine oranges called Cuties, which has a double-fisted marketing hook; the products themselves are super-duper easy to open (apparently, getting through traditional orange rinds was a bigger consumer deterrent than I would have assumed) and, of course, their brand image is downright adorable. You've got this super cherubic anthropomorphic orange zipping itself out of its rind - it's simple, it's clean, it's cute and it does a great job highlighting the product's primary branding hook (you know, that they're easy to open and shit.) It looks very smooth on stickers and as four-foot tall cutout displays and is so easy on the eyes you really could imagine it doubling as a Florida minor league baseball team logo. In short, it's a marvelous way to market a product that, quite frankly, has otherwise limited appeal to the fat-ass utopia that is modern America.

So Sun Pacific decided to go the same route with its brand of kiwis. You know how they call their oranges Cuties? Well, they decided to call their kiwis Mighties, with the sub-marketing moniker "the amazing furry fruit."

Alright, everything sounds pretty good in theory, right? Well, all that shit goes out the window when you see what the official Mightis Kiwis mascot looks like ...

Holy goddamn shit, is that thing spooky or what? It's like something out of Five Nights at Freddy's, or the cartoon sequence in Twilight Zone: The Movie - a highly unsettling mixture of the absurdly adorable and the absurdly threatening. An anthropomorphic orange doesn't really look like anything other than an orange with eyeballs and a smile, but this anthropomorphic kiwi looks like some sort of long extinct megafauna. 

Three things immediately jump out at me here. First, the furry texture on the mascot makes it look WAY too much like its a living creature. It looks less like a fruit than it does a really, really spherical bear or beaver, and that just feels all kind of icky. Secondly, who in the hell thought it was a good idea to replace the cartoon character's teeth with a slice of exposed kiwi meat? Depending on which angle you choose, it either looks like the mascot has an emerald-colored whale baleen plate - perfect for devouring krill and other creatures without even having to bother chewing them - or it looks like the monster has extreme gingivitis, lost all its teeth and now has to make do with its gross, mushy green gums. And I don't know about you, but the idea of being gummed to death by a monster seems even more ghoulish than being torn asunder by razor sharp incisors. And then there's that spoon. Look carefully, folks - the mascot is standing atop a pile of freshly scooped kiwis. Since he's holding a feasible murder instrument in his/her/its hand, what kind of conclusion would you naturally leap to? Hell, maybe it's even weirder and the cartoon character used the spoon to scoop its own face off, like that one dude did in Hannibal. Regardless, you really can't draw anything but bad vibes from the packaging, but I assure you, that's just the beginning of the horror. 

I suppose we might as well try to give the Mighties kiwis a fair trial in the grocery store court of law. IF you can overlook the unbridled horror of the wide-eyed, mush-mouthed monster mascot, I guess you could consider the fruits themselves pretty enjoyable. We'll get to the taste of the things in just a bit, but first, how about we let the producers of Mighties give us their best elevator pitch as to why we should all shove these hairy green testicle looking motherfuckers down our respective gullets? 

Well, the marketing language is pretty straightforward. Per whoever signed off the packaging lingo, these here kiwis have more potassium than bananas, more vitamin C than oranges (jeez, way to cannibalize your market share, dinguses!) more vitamin E and K than avocados (I guess that explains the aesthetic resemblance) and more fiber than, and I quote, "the leading cereal brand," which the eye test would lead you to assume is Corn Flakes. Granted, that's a 1:1 serving-to-serving comparison, which is a little misleading, since these guys consider two kiwis a full serving and most cereal brands consider three spoonfuls of their stuff a full serving, but you know what? Nobody reads this site for my musings on the inconsistencies of nutritional labeling data, so onward we go with the obscure references and curse words.

Apparently, "kiwi" is one of those weird words that represents both its own singular and plural form. But I'm going to keep calling them kiwis, because I can, gahdammit. Interestingly, I noticed the brand has really gone above and beyond to abstain from referring to their product as basic-ass kiwis, which I guess is a pretty decent advertising ploy. No, we don't sell kiwis, any old motherfucker can do that, we sell MIGHTIES, you no-count son-of-a-bitch, it's a fuckin' SUPER FRUIT and if you don't like it to hell with 'ya. Which, uh, I guess would be a pretty ineffective marketing campaign literally, but INDIRECTLY, we know that's PRECISELY what this hyper-confrontational packaging WANTS to tell us. Anyhoo, the nutritional info speaks for itself, I guess: each kiwi is only about 45 calories, which makes it a great snack for dieters, anorexics, and dieters who don't know they're anorexics. Also, just one of these fuckers has 115 percent of your daily recommended allowance of vitamin C, which makes me wonder if its possible to O.D. on it. Which, according to the Mayo Clinic, actually IS possible, only instead of killing you by shutting down your liver functions, it just makes you shit a lot. Well, nobody loses there, I reckon.

And now, we come to the fruits themselves. They say sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words, and I reckon this one says at least 1,001. There's really no genteel way to put it; the things look just like giant beaver testicles. They're brown, they're furry and at first glance, I would assume these things to be about a million and a half different things before "an edible fruit with a lot of vitamins and shit in it." If you saw these things in bunches just growing out in the wild, I'm guessing most folks would think they were sleeping hedgehogs or something. Regardless, these things are pretty much the LEAST edible looking things ever, and to say that slightly works against the product is kinda' like saying 9/11 was bad publicity for the Muslim folks. 

But hey, at least they DID manage to slap a couple of collectible, tradable stickers on them! In addition to the soccer playing beaver testicle on the left and the cannibalistic gingivitis monster on the right eating his own skin for breakfast, I found a couple of other ones in my two pound plastic tub of kiwis. There's a baseball themed one, and another of an anthro-kiwi holding a green flag in one hand and what appears to be a pickax in the other. Yeah, your guess is as good as mine as to what the hell that one's supposed to be about

Surprisingly, just slapping a mini-sticker on the things does very little to negate the intrinsically unappealing aesthetic qualities of the kiwis. I mean, even with a happy cartoon character's beaming face on it, that really doesn't do anything to make it look any less like a hairy brown monkey testicle. Yeah, I get the basic idea that the fruit itself is kinda' like a miniature coconut crossbred with a lime, but nobody's ever mistaken a coconut or a lime for a balled up sleeping otter or the severed sex organs of miscellaneous mammals. Jeez, what I wouldn't have given to have been in the boardroom meeting when these guys discussed ways to work around the fact the products they've been paid to advertise look like orangutan testes... 

I swear, the more you stare at the thing, the more horrifying it gets. Just look at the formless, faceless abyss. You know, you really don't have to have too much of an imagination to envision these things as the little tumbleweed space rats from the Critters movies, or maybe even one of those intergalactic space eggs from Alien that has the vagina-faced scorpion mouth-rapist in 'em. And let's don't pretend that wide-eyed, wide-mouthed cartoon monster in the background doesn't make the whole thing a million times more terrifying, because it totally fuckin' does

But the thing that unnerves me most about Mighties, I suppose, is what they look like on the inside. For starters, kiwis take a lot of fucking effort to eat. You can't just bite into 'em like an apple or rip 'em open like a Cutie. You need at least two eating utensils, plus a space that's safe to drip all of that fruit juice everywhere. So basically, you're supposed to cut the things in half, then you scoop 'em out and eat them with a spoon. Sure, all this sounds nice and dandy in theory, but in practice? Hoo boy, the process is a LOT more demanding than any of us prolly expected...

I hope you can see all that glistening fruit jizz, because these kiwis are just soaking in it. Seriously, as soon as you halve the things, a good three or four ounces of extremely acidic juice starts dripping out of it, just like the blood of them insect monsters in Aliens. Even better, the goop is a bright green hue, pretty much the same color as the Ah-nold chasing monster's in Predator. Additionally, I can't be the only person just mildly concerned that there's so many fucking seeds in this thing, am I? Most oranges have what, one or two? Well, this one has about two to three dozen per kiwi, and of course they all look like sentient black parasites just champing at the bit to take up residence in your lower intestines like in The Thing. Go ahead, take a good, long look and just TELL me you can't envision some sort of flesh-eating alien chimera living inside one of these things. Because you can't, and we all know it.

Shit, just take a look at the remnants of this discarded kiwi rind. As soon as you spoon out all of the fruit, all you're left with is a hairy outer shell with a super waxy interior that looks just like a gigantic booger cocoon. I've got a pretty strong stomach, but the more I look at that thing the sicker I get. It just looks so unnatural and artificial, like some sort of lab-made womb for half-vegetable people; sorry, but there's no way I can be anything OTHER than suspicious when chowing down on something that voluntarily chooses to live in something that looks like that. Sheesh

Now, as an objective food reviewer, I did think the Mighties tasted pretty good. They're not too tart and they're not really sugary, so basically, it's what happens when you cross-pollinate a lemon with an avocado. It's mushy but not too bland and spicy without being too acidic, which is a real boon to people like me with penchants for really, really flavorless things. So, yes, as a routine munchie or quick snack, these things are quite decent. But as aesthetic commercial goods, though? Folks, you may never agree to put anything in your mouth as terrifying as these motherfuckers ever again ... 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Double Review: 'Aftermath' / 'The Hatton Garden Job' 2017 Movie Reviews

Are you ready for a two-fisted double shot of two of 2017's manliest fuckin' movies? Well, you better be, because these two movies exude so much testosterone, women will be walking out of the theater with full mountain man beards.

By: Jimbo X

You know, there's this great verse in the Book of James where Jesus' brother (boy, talk about a hard act to follow!) says something along the lines of "a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways." Over the years people have sorta' distorted that to mean that no man can serve two masters, but I think the original King James prose is much more interesting - and relevant - considering the state of affairs in the U.S. these days.

Now, it's not secret that I ain't exactly too fond of liberals. This is pretty funny, seeing as how most of my life, I was a dyed-in-the-wool blue "free abortions for all illegal immigrant gays who need universal healthcare" democrat. I suppose I still have some classical liberal leanings - I'm mostly in favor of gun controlI think big businesses are mostly evil devil worshiping conglomerates and pretty much everything libertarians believe, I reject out of pure principle - but as I've gotten older, the more and more I realize that the great big liberal Tao is just one enormous golly-whopper of a contradiction.

That's not to say that Republicans and anarcho-capitalists and whatever flavors of conservatism that are in between AREN'T free of hypocrisy and logical shortcomings. They are. But in most cases, that stuff is circumstantial, and usually, there's some sort of "you've got to crack a few eggs to make an omelette" reasoning that can justify the cognitive dissonance. Liberals - the transgender-lovin', white people-hatin', free healthcare, education and rent-wantin' identity politicians they are - however, subscribe to a much greater logical fallacy. In fact, the entire contemporary liberal progressivist ideology is a humongous, waddling, reason-resistant contradiction of terms. There's no way that the modern liberal ideology can work, because it absolutely defeats itself at every pillar and plank of the platform.

Think I'm yankin' yer chain? Just take a look at these six nailed-down tenets of contemporary liberal ideology and try and tell me all these dimmicrats ain't full of grade-A bull hockey...

Contradiction One:
America is a capitalist, corporatist nightmare...

Well, this one might as well be the First Commandment of modern liberalism. Did you know that the top 1 percent of income earners in America possess 99 percent of the nation's wealth? Well, that would be a damning indictment of capitalism, if only it were true. In reality - you know, that thing Democrats spend most of their free time avoiding -  the top 1 percent of income earners in the U.S. actually posses just 20 percent of the nation's wealth, and at the same time pay a whopping 46 percent of all federal taxes. One look at the actual mathematical data shows the exact opposite of what the Democrats claim; the top 1 percent actually PAY more into taxes than the bottom 90 percent of incomers in the country combined. Now, seeing as how almost 70 percent of the $3.9 trillion federal budget goes towards Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare and welfare - you know, all those programs liberals just LOOOVE - you would think Democrats would be besotted by all those huge assed corporations, since without their massive income streams, there's no way in mathematical hell they could finance their humongous, bloated entitlement programs (especially since nearly half of Americans pay NO federal income tax whatsoever.) But no, democrats continue to criticize, condemn and actively lobby to destroy multi-billion dollar companies out of some petty, make-believe Marxist class struggle nonsense, completely oblivious to the fact that without those same turbines of commerce, absolutely NONE of their most beloved liberal policies and programs could exist. Hell, they don't even comprehend the basic tenets of their own anti-corporate ethos half the time: after all, weren't these the same kids that protested big business during Occupy Wall Street by having a candlelight vigil for a man who commandeered a one trillion dollar a year company

Contradiction Two:
Americans are, by and large, victims of the system...

Well, this one is just plain stupid. If the system seeks to victimize its own people, how come the feds spend more than $2 trillion EACH AND EVERY YEAR subsidizing its citizens? The mere fact that 40 percent of the federal budget goes EXCLUSIVELY towards medical and welfare services for people over the age of 62 demonstrates Americans are unquestionably beneficiaries of one of the most generous social entitlement states in the history of humanity. And say, where does the U.S. rank in terms of economic opportunity, democratic freedom and quality of life again? Hey, what do you know, our oppressive capitalist dictatorship somehow managed to outscore China, North Korea, Venezuela, Cuba and all those other socialist regimes out there. Who'd thunk it?

Contradiction Three:
The system just plain doesn't work for average Americans...

Oh, you mean our representative democracy? You know, that thing you vote in every two years? If the system "doesn't work," if anything, it's your fault for voting in shitty politicians who don't know what they're doing. Those assholes in Washington don't elect themselves, and if you don't like how things are going, get this - you can vote them out of office. Hell, you can even rally to amend the Constitution to change how people are elected or even who can run for public office, if you actually got up off your fat ass and did something other than complain on the Internet all day. Perhaps the bigger question is if you've been voting for Democrats your whole life and you still think the system is still all shades of fucked, how come you're still voting for Democrats? Which, naturally, brings us to this little sticking point...

Contradiction Four:
Only the Democratic ideals can get Americans out of poverty...

This is a nice thought, until you look at real entitlement spending statistics. If welfare programs like food stamps and the Earned Income Tax Credit were meant to be one-shot cure-alls for poverty, then how come the programs still exist decades down the road? Democrats said the food stamp program would once and for all stamp out poverty way back in the seventies, but holy shit, today one in six Americans is on SNAP. Furthermore, EITC and other income-based government assistance program spending has monumentally increased  year over year. The logic here is inescapable; all of these beloved Democrat entitlement programs aren't doing a goddamn, motherfucking thing to stop poverty in America, and in all sincerity, are actually making it worse. Instead of eliminating poverty by making people economically independent and self-sustaining, Democrats have more or less invented a permanent welfare state in which millions of poor people (many of them locked in what are tantamount to inner city war zones or literally toxic, rural no-man's-lands out in the sticks) have no choice but to subsist on whatever meager payouts the feds give them because there ARE no jobs or opportunities to earn substantial money legally anymore. Why? Because those same Democrats rallied like motherfuckers to bring domestic job destroyers like NAFTA to fruition, and they're continuing to dilute the job market by prioritizing foreign and illegal immigrant workers over the native born. We've had huge, overarching, social entitlement programs rooted in Democratic policies for more than 50 years, yet somehow, poverty has increased substantially across the board, ESPECIALLY in regions where democratic elected officials practically run unopposed at the ballot. The evidence here, really, is indisputable; not only has half a century of "democratic ideals" done NOTHING to alleviate poverty in America, it's actually made wealth inequality even worse - especially (and ironically) for poor Democrat voters themselves!

Contradiction Five:
Poverty is destroying America...

Alright, so about 15 percent of Americans - that's 45 million people - live below the Federal Poverty Line. That's a lot of people, no doubt, but it's still a smaller percentage of impoverished people than those living in poverty in other economic titan nations like Germany and Japan (and it's certainly a better lot in life than those in Mexico, where almost half the country lives in poverty.) No one is going to say America's poverty problem isn't concerning, but then again, when there are countries out there like India were literally 400 million people are poor, comparatively, we're STILL living high on the hog. The thing liberals NEVER want to address is that even if you're poor as fuckin' fuck in the U.S., you're STILL doing better than 95 percent of everybody else on the planet. Even if you are flat out broke in the States, you've still got a smart phone, air conditioning, clean drinking water, indoor plumbing and essentially free health care (remember, hospitals are forbidden by federal law from turning away people, and if they can't pay, the medical facilities usually just write it off as tax deductible charity care.) Say what you will about unemployment rates and low wage pay, even the poorest of Americans are living among the most comfortable lives of any people on the planet; rest assured, a good 5.6 billion people would GLADLY jump at the chance to live in what liberals constantly describe as our nation's "unlivable" lower-class conditions. 

Contradiction Six:
Our Democratic ideals ARE working...

Then why in the bluest of fucks are liberals hell bent on replacing American policies and programs with gigantic federal collectivist programs that have done nothing but fail and falter everywhere they've been attempted? Why are liberals so hellbent on exporting the disastrous social democratic practices of Europe and Latin America to the U.S.? Doesn't one look at the multitudes of troubles in Sweden and Germany let you know that maybe - just maybe - a laissez-faire approach to open border governance might not be the wisest decision? Considering the unmitigated disaster that was the European Union, why do Democrats think abandoning American economic independence in favor of an even larger global common market is an any way, shape or form a smart decision? Haven't all of those European nanny states - with their shitty socialized health care programs - all deteriorated into insolvency and free expression squelching lite-totalitarian systems? Sweet Jesus in a burning brick canoe, doesn't the fate of Venezuela let you know that the great liberal socialist utopia is just one big lie that can never, ever work in practicePractically EVERYWHERE communism has been implemented, the end dividend has been crushing dictatorial regimes. New wave liberalism seeks to depower the individual and give the state more authority, which in and of itself, is the exact opposite of classical democracy. Rather than empowering the people, the democratic agenda is - and has been for decades - to accumulate as much power for itself to erect its unmanagable, open-borders and open-trade social-democracy welfare state utopia: a system that even half baked commies like Bernie Sanders know can't work, which in turn, would give the federal government an oh-so convenient excuse to assert its strength on the private market and our individual lives even more.

That's the unavoidable paradox of being a liberal in this day and age. You want freedom and equality and think the government can give you both, when - as history has proven time and time again - the inevitable outcome is the state depriving you of both liberty and egalitarianism. That's what happens when you vouch for inclusivity over autonomy and promote emotional ideals over pragmatic socioeconomic realities - not only are you destined to lose self-government, that very government might just look to deprive you of self altogether.

Even as a 70-year-old, old Ah-nold still conveys a sense of unbridled machismo that limp-dicks like The Rock or Channing Tatum couldn't dream of in a million years.

Anyhoo, speaking of things that'll blow your brain outta' the back of your skull, we actually have a damned great double feature lined up this week, with two of the best - and manliest - movies I guarantee you'll see all year long on the docket. Up first, it's Aftermath, a flick starring AH-NOLD as a construction worker who can't wait to see his family flying in for the holidays from Germany or Romania or wherever the hell they're from, but whoops! The guy at the air traffic control desk was too busy pouring himself another pot of coffee to realize two 747s were hurdling headlong into each other over New York state, and well ... let's just say AH-NOLD's wife, mama and pregnant daughter ain't going to be watching Jingle All The Way with him this Christmas

So Ah-nold - who, despite being in Hollywood for 50 years and being the governor of its most populous state, STILL can't speak convincing English - walks back to the parking lot in slow-mo and he just sits there in his car stewin' all night like a Christmas sweater-wearin' Terminator. Then the flick goes all Rashomon on us, letting us see what happened the day of the crash through the air traffic controller guy's eyes. He's this scrawny beanpole looking dude with a face kinda' like Rand Paul's whose eyes literally sink into his skull when the news hits that he's pretty much responsible for the deaths of 271 people. So Ah-nold spends all of New Year's weekend drinking whiskey and Pepto-Bismol and he decides to sneak into the crash site wearing a Hazmat suit and he looks at all the charbroiled headphones and sippy cups scattered all over the forest and then finds his daughter's corpse impaled on a tree limb. Then he just lies between his dead family's body bags and cries the manliest tears anyone has ever wept.

Meanwhile, that air traffic controller guy has had his life royally fucked up by the crash, too. People have spray-painted the word "killer" all over his house and he's so out of it he eats runny eggs for breakfast every morning and tells his therapist that if he don't order him some more dope, he's going next door and robbing the pharmacist. Then Ah-nold falls asleep on his daughter's grave, and - uh-oh - some nosy female reporter shows up and lets him know the identity of the air traffic control guy.

So the air traffic control guy buys a gun and ponders blowing his brains out during a Felix the Cat cartoon, but then he gets the wise idea of legally changing his identity and starting all over again two towns over. Meanwhile, Ah-nold sues the plane company and they offer him $160,000 in damages and all he does is just shove a picture of his dead wife in front of their faces and scream "I want someone to say they're sorry for killing my family," and goddamnit, you believe him

From there, Ah-nold goes full A Beautiful Mind, posting every nook and cranny of his basement with photos of his deceased family and news articles about the crash. At one point, he even mulls jumping to his death, but visions of disintegrating airplane wings, for whatever reason, prevent him from taking his own life.

So flash forward one year later. Ah-nold is at the newly opened victims' memorial (basically, they just put a bunch of white Target balls all over the woods, which was apparently based on his daughter's pearl necklace) while the former air traffic control guy has changed his name to Pat and works as a travel agent. Interestingly enough, Ah-nold has a new job working as a handyman for a dude who looks just like the old pro 'rassler Big Van Vader, and the first thing we see him do is literally mend fences, because symbolism, that's why

But just when it looks like all has been forgiven, here comes that snoopy reporter again, who now has info on the air traffic controller's physical address. At that point, Ah-nold promptly excuses himself from the dinner table, hops in his SUV, purchases a hotel room right across the street from the air traffic controller's new apartment - whose wife and son are visiting him for the first time since the accident - and ... well, you know shit is going to get real, and in a real damn hurry.

We've got 272 dead bodies. No breasts. No car chases. One head-on double airplane collision. Knife to the jugular. Multiple nervous breakdowns. PTSD fu. Dry heaving fu. And the thing that makes the whole movie possible - forgiveness fu

Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as Roman, the construction worker whose life is turned upside down after his family gets blown to smithereens and spends the rest of the movie plotting his revenge; Scott McNairy as the bug-eyed air traffic controller Jacob, who represents the most diametrically opposite version of the male form you could ever possibly contrast against big, bad Ah-nold; Maggie Grace as the wife of the disgraced air traffic controller, who really doesn't do anything in the movie at all; and Glenn Morshower as Roman's next door neighbor, whose idea of helping a grieving man who just lost his entire family to a tragic aviation accident is to bring him two beers instead of just one. 

Directed by Elliot Lester, whose probably best known for helming the made-for-HBO movie Nightingale from 2015, and written by Javier Gullon, who based the script on the real life story of Vitaly Kaloyev, who only spent two years in jail for knifing the air traffic controller responsible for the 2002 Bashikirian Airlines Flight 2937 disaster and was treated as a a public hero in the wake of his release.

This is quite possibly the first legitimately great movie of 2017, folks. It's an old school revenge drama, through and though, devoid of all of the forced muliculturalism and needless estrogen that usually fucks up films of the like nowadays. This is the kind of movie that would've made Sam Peckinpah and Sam Fuller proud; somewhere in heaven, you just know Lee Marvin and George C. Scott are watching this one on a loop and ain't neither one of 'em haven gotten tired of it yet. 

I give it three and a half stars out of four. Jimbo says definitely check this one out, if the opportunity is afforded to you.

Just give me four crotchety veteran British character actors and a whole bunch of dialogue about committing crimes and I am sold

I don't know if the second bill of our double feature is as good as Aftermath, but it is mighty close. And it's prolly the best heist flick to come out in years - no doubt about it, The Hatton Garden Job wallops the shit out of any of them overhyped Ocean's Whatever movies and it ain't anywhere next to being close. 

Now I know what you're thinking. With a name like The Hatton Garden Job - not to mention it's an all-Brit production - you'd think it'd be some kind of pantywaist melodrama or one of them dry English comedies where you can't understand 95 percent of the dialogue because everybody in the cast sounds like they're gargling on crumpets or something. Thankfully, this flick is all-man and sort of a mini-masterpiece of crime saga minimalism. The folks who made this one prolly only had one week to film everything and about 200 Euros to get the whole thing wrapped up, but by Job, they just plain managed to do it.

Based on a true story (sorta), the flick starts off with this young up and coming criminal who doesn't even have a name going to the slammer and meeting up with this one Hungarian dude who looks The Thing from Fantastic Four and as soon as he's out of the clink he's hooking up with the GMILF-iest GMILF of all-time to coordinate a robbery of a bunch of safety deposit boxes in London's ritziest jewelry store district. The only thing is, he don't trust all of those millennial wannabe gangsters to get the job done, so he meets up with this dude in a windbreaker to assemble a crack team of career heisters - who, as fate would have it, all happen to be north of 60 and about one slipped disc away from buying the farm altogether. So naturally, they bicker and banter in an abandoned warehouse for a while going over the plans, but it's only a matter of time until the posse is intimidating 19-year-old kids in pubs, buying second-hand power tools from Arabs and dressing up like fake garbage men as a lead-in to the outstanding jewelry tomfoolery. 

Since all "heist" movies dating back to The Brinks Jobs more or less have the same plot, you do get all of the expected tropes and cliches here. We've got the gang walking down the street in slow-mo for no real reason and sudden "freeze frame" shots with Goodfellas voiceovers and a whole bunch of intrigue about whether or not anybody in the robbery or paying for the robbery is actually in cahoots with the bobbies. At times, the thing sorta plays it like a REALLY low budget version of American Hustle, and the people who made the flick certainly play that to their strengths. This isn't about building up to a suspenseful, action-packed robbery scene (indeed, the job takes place over Easter weekend, when the streets of London are practically vacant), it's about developing a strong cast of personalities en route to the big heist-a-roo. 

Of course, the real drama in any heist movie worth a hoot is in telling the after the fact part of the story. The big suspense of the subgenre isn't built around whether the heist will be successful or not, but just how long the culprits can steer clear of Johnny Law AFTER said heist. And I ain't going to spoil shit for you, kids - let's just say this one'll keep you glued to the screen literally start to finish. 

We've got no dead bodies. No breasts. No car chases. No kung fu. One joke that takes three minutes of screen-time to get to the punchline. Gratuitous British slang (so expect plenty of "tits" and "sods" in this 'un.) Gratuitous construction helmet size measuring. Gratuitous Johnny Thunder (no, not the plural one.) Security camera spray-painting. Chav informant fu. Insulin injection fu. Sledgehammer fu. Giant pneumatic drill fu. Malfunctioning compressor fu. And - of course, the anchor of any great heist movie - vault cleaning jamboree fu

Starring Matthew Goode as the nameless central character who drops such pearls of V.O. wisdom as "luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity" and spends half the heist worrying about whether or not he tripped a silent alarm; Joely Richardson as the Hungarian mob queen whose Polident-flavored tongue you definitely wouldn't mind having in your mouth; Clive Russell as the getaway driver with chronic emphysema who initially thinks they're risking six years in jails for a $100 heist instead of a $100 million one; David Calder as the massive candy bar addict who says "this is going to be the biggest bingo blag in history!" and serves as the ragtag group's "muscle" even though pure fat makes up 98 percent of his body; and Larry Lamb as the guy who tells the group "we don't want to find ourselves with nothing but our limp dicks in our hands" and conveniently keels over dead halfway through the big job. 

Written and directed by some bloke named Ronnie Thompson, who was somehow able to not only make a movie about a bunch of senior citizens spending three hours trying to drill a hole in a wall entertaining, but one of the best light-hearted crime capers to come along in years.

I give it three and a half stars out of four - Casino, it ain't, but it's definitely entertaining as hell and, perhaps most importantly, never overstays its welcome nor tries to be anything more than it has to be. An increasingly effeminate Hollywood could learn a thing or two from this one - take note,  stewards of the Avengers and Justice League franchises, THIS is how you do an "ensemble" getting the gang together" flick right.