Tag Archives: dennis hopper

Flatland – Review

25 Jun

To my complete surprise, before I started watching Flatland, I learned that this was actually a pilot for a television show that seemed to have disappeared off the face of the earth. When I found that out, I was tempted to not even watch it since I was much more interested in watching a movie at the time, but I figured, “What the hell? I’ll give it a watch.” It was packaged and sold as a movie after all, plus the case was boasting about the $40 million budget and how it will please both science fiction and martial arts fans alike. Well, I’m both of them and I have to say that this might be one of the worst things I’ve ever had the displeasure to watch in my entire life.

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In the year 2010, a mysterious man named Smith (Dennis Hopper) recruits a group of people for reasons that he isn’t really willing to explain. These people include two previous enemies Quentin (Phillip Rhys) and JT (Bumper Robinson), but also the martial arts master Amy (Françoise Yip). These people soon learn that Smith is a fourth dimensional being who lives in a dimension called Flatland, where the past and the present collide with possibly deadly outcomes. Smith’s mission is to find and eliminate his longtime mortal enemy named Khan (Steven Grieves, David Hayward) who has been reincarnated, much like, Smith time and again throughout the centuries. At first, this team of warrior aren’t willing to join in Smith’s outer dimensional crusade, but soon learn to look at their past lives in order to defeat the dangers that are facing them in the present.

Doesn’t all that shit sound awesome? It really does. Martial arts, Dennis Hopper, and fourth dimensional warfare? Well, My first question is what happened to that $40 million budget that they were raving about because I never saw any evidence of anything over $50. The action sequences and the stunt work were so unbelievably underwhelming and terribly choreographed that it was laughable. I found myself laughing many times during Flatland at the most inopportune times during the plot. I understand what they were trying to do with the often seen high flying action choreography, but it just didn’t work. It seems like a great idea mixing science fiction and martial arts. Just look at The Matrix. The problem is that there is horrible production quality, and the writing. The writing…

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It’s rare that I see something that has writing that actually makes me cringe with disgust. The entire screenplay is filled with poetic tough talk that couldn’t be delivered well even if they found Marlon Brando back from the dead. Dennis Hopper’s character has these long tirades that is filled with lines that must have made the writers feel so smart and clever as they were writing them. Unfortunately, they only sound like pretentious pseudo intellectuals who think they are writing philosophical tough talk. The only thing that is just as bad as the writing is the sound design, or often lack there of. Some action scenes seem strangely quiet, and other times way too cluttered. I also need to point out the ridiculously stupid soundtrack of traditional asian music with an electronic flair. It’s the cherry on top of the shit sundae.

To sum it up, it’s probably a good thing that Flatland has been forgotten, judging from this pilot or movie or whatever you want to call it. The idea sounds really cool, but unfortunately the writers had no idea what they were doing with plot or dialogue, the action sequences are stale, and the production design as a whole is total garbage. The only cool thing is seeing Dennis Hopper say his ridiculous dialogue with a straight face. I can categorize Flatland as being so bad it’s good, but it was a total waste of my time.

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Romero’s “Dead” Series – Land of the Dead

14 Aug

I’ve seen many reviews and discussions on Romero’s “Dead” series that refer to it as a trilogy. This is most certainly not the case as we can see with Romero’s Land of the Dead and the two movies that follow it. I’m going to be honest in saying for awhile I thought it was only a trilogy, but in 2005, Romero released Land of the Dead after over a decade of zombie less films.

Years after the events of the first film, humanity has been almost completely over run by the undead, and even worse, they’re evolving. A large outpost of survivors has been set up in Pittsburgh with the city’s ruler Paul Kaufman (Dennis Hopper) set up a high class refuge called “Fiddler’s Green” where the upper class get to live and the lower class has to rot on the streets. All classes dissolve and become zombie bait when thousands of evolved undead storm the gates of the city with a small group of supply gatherers to help defend the city.

At first, I was very unimpressed by this movie. It just didn’t feel like a Romero zombie movie. It was how it was filmed and the famous actors like Dennis Hopper and John Leguizamo instead of B actors and unknowns were kind of distracting. As the movie went on, however, I started getting more and more into the classic Romero satire, awesome gore effects, and the constant barrage of the undead made me smile ear to eat, and next thing I knew,  I was having a blast.

 

This is the best acted of the entire “Dead” series, and for good reason. There is major talent at work here. The legendary Dennis Hopper steals the show as a slimy capitalist businessman who is all about the upper class. John Leguizamo also is good and is definitely the most interesting character of the entire movie, and arguably the entire series. Simon Baker is a good leading man, although there is nothing impressive to speak of. Robert Joy also gives a fine performance as the deformed dim wit with great aim, Charlie.

Romero really just pushes everything to the next level with this movie, without  losing any of the satire. When this film was released, it was the most expensive “Dead” movie in the series. You can expect to see lots of explosions, bigger guns, and lots of gore. This works well, but at the same time I kind of liked the simple look of the other films with the spurts of blood and gore. There’s carnage at every turn in this movie.

 

The satire in this movie is timeless and is on par with the consumerism jabbing in Dawn of the Dead. This time, Land of the Dead focuses on the separation of the upper and lower class and the devastating effects. The rich are the villains in this film and the poor are the victims of their power. While the upper class gets to live in the comfort of Fiddler’s Green, the poor are left to die on the streets. This isn’t at all an exaggeration. The poor are dying on the streets while the rich sit idly by.

Land of the Dead is certainly a step up from Day of the Dead. It is gorier, has better characters, and is more sure of itself in terms of its satire. I was pretty nervous when it first started, but after the first 20 minutes it really picked up and became a pleasant surprise. While it doesn’t quite stand up to Dawn of the Dead, it certainly is a step up from the relatively weak chris installment. Check out Land of the Dead.

We’re not done yet, folks. Stay tuned for my next blog for Romero’s “Dead” series, Diary of the Dead.