Monday, September 8, 2014

Monday Madness Review - Hard Rain (1998)

Back to the reviewing!  Gearing up for 31 days of horror in October, and that's...  Holy spacemonkeys, that's next month!  :-o  I would apologize for the lack of posts the past few weeks, but frankly, I went out of town of vacation, and when I got back, there's been a lot of work going on in my house, so things are a little crazy here.  If it's any consolation to you, my vacation sucked, and whatever you do, don't hang around Rollins Pond in the Adirondack region of New York State at night.  Lots of spiders.  Like, swarms of spiders.  Like, Syfy movie of the week swarms of spiders.  I hate spiders.

Luckily, these were mostly Harvestman spiders, otherwise known as Daddy-Long-Legs.  Harmless to humans, they hunt other spiders with a venom so toxic that drop for drop, it's one of the deadliest spider venoms in the world.  However, their fangs are too damn short to get through human skin, so I was completely safe.  I only killed the ones that crawled on me, so less than a dozen or so.  They infested everything.  We found a few of them as we were unpacking the car, after we got home.  They were everywhere.  I had one on my neck in the car, riding home in the dark.  I almost flipped out!   Blech! (shudders in horror)

Anyway, I was going to review The Hobbit, the desolation of Smaug last night, but I hit CTRL-A again and accidentally deleted everything.  Suffice it to say, the movie wasn't that good.  The second part of Peter Jackson's dragged-out epic retelling of the Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien, the movie focused on the company of Dwarves, including the "burglar" Bilbo Baggins, making their way through the Elven forest of Mirkwood, then the human town of Dale, to the Lonely Mountain, Erebor.  There they disturbed the sleep of one Smaug the Golden, as I've heard him referred to, one of the last remaining Dragons of Middle-Earth.  Or perhaps the only remaining dragon in Middle earth.  An interesting thing to note, was that Smaug (I've always pronounced it simply 'Smog' but the characters in this movie pronounce it Sma-oog for some reason) referred to the men of Dale as 'Englishmen with their Long Bows.'  I am sure J. R. R. Tolkien had referred to them as such in his novels, but I found it odd to use that exact phrase in the movie, since 'England' as a country does not exist on the map of middle earth, as far as I know.  Also, they made Smaug out to look like an idiot.  I mean, he slaughtered an entire mountain full of dwarves, and yet he's having issues killing even one in a company of 13?  I can see him letting Bilbo live, just to spread the tales of Smaug the terrible, but Smaug hates dwarves.  He certainly wouldn't have let even one of them live, and yet, all survive.  Makes the poor dragon seem like just another stupid troll, and Gandalf wasn't even there to help, this time.  Oh well.  Maybe the third installment will be better.  I like the Goblins this time around.  Their characters aren't exactly fleshed out, but they make fine villains.

On to the real review!  Hard Rain (1998) is a story about, well, rain.  It's an 'atmospheric' thriller (heh, see what I did there?) that has a lot of character to it.  There's a lot of things that make up a good movie, and the setting has to be one of the most important ones.  This particular setting is a town that's getting a lot of rain.  So much rain, that the town is being evacuated.  Not wanting to lose the money in the local banks, a security company sends a truck through the town to gather up the loose cash at the banks for temporary transport to a more secure, and probably dryer, facility.  Along with just about every disaster, there comes the looters, and wouldn't you know it, this armored car truck is targeted for hijacking.  Well, that just doesn't sit well with Tom, the newly-hired young security guard who is riding shotgun in this particular armored car.  They just don't know who they are messing with, do they?

Hard Rain probably didn't get very good reviews when it came out.  I mean, the male lead is Christian Slater, and he's not exactly A-list material.  However, I will say that this is probably one of the best, if not the best, movie of his entire career.  Christian Slater plays Tom, the security guard.  Ed Asner plays his partner and uncle.  Morgan Freeman takes a rare turn as a bad guy in this movie, and there's Randy Quaid, yes, you heard that right, Randy "Crazy Cousin Eddie" Quaid, playing the sheriff who's just been voted out of office, trying to maintain order in a flooded town with two weeks left til he's out of a job.  Betty White even has a small role in this film, and Minnie Driver plays the constantly-soaking-wet love interest.

I'm pretty sure no group of actors, including the guys from the Jaws movies, has ever been wetter for a longer period of time, than the people in this movie.  I bet the entire cast and crew got hazard pay just for being in the water for so long.  I KNOW they got waterlogged.  Minnie Driver is probably still soaking wet.  It rains from the opening credits until the closing ones, and that's just the stuff coming down from the sky.  The town is already flooding as the movie opens, which gives the movie a sense of urgency that few other movies have.  There's little time to relax here and 'soak' up the surroundings (heh, see what I did there?).  The minute you find out what's going, which isn't even explained, but pretty much inferred in the first 5 minutes of the movie, it's straight into the action.  I would say the action is non-stop the rest of the movie, and in a sense, it is, because there isn't a lot of talking.  Mostly, there's boat chase scenes, explosions, fires, flooding, and shootouts with the looters right up from 5 minutes in, until the end credits roll.  I've seen some reviews on Netflix (where I saw this movie) that didn't give this movie a very high rating, but I can't imagine why.  Maybe a better lead actor would have given it more star power, but in terms of rewatchability, it's way up there.  I've seen it half a dozen times already and it's still worth watching.  For best effect, watch it on a rainy day.  I watched it over a dinner of chinese food on a nice sunshine-y evening, just because I didn't want to have to wait to see it til the next time it rained.

Let's face it here, this is basically a disaster movie with good-guy vs bad-guy action tossed in.  You can't really go wrong with that kind of film, and I think the only reason it didn't do well was because Christian Slater wasn't a bigger star at the time this film was made.  I won't say his acting talent is up there with Gene Hackman or anything, but dammit, the guy tries hard.  What more can you ask for?  The all-star supporting cast is excellent, with Randy Quaid turning in a similar performance to his role in Wraith with Charlie Sheen way back in the day.  I wish Randy would just split with his wife (he wasn't psycho til he hooked up with her) and get back to acting, because the man is a very undervalued and under-appreciated talent who shouldn't be underestimated (heh, that's a lot of unders).  I don't guess that's going to happen anytime soon, because the last I heard, he was hiding out in canada somewhere.  Morgan Freeman puts in an excellent performance as always, Minnie Driver does a bang-up job, and even the guy playing the dam operator takes a turn as comedy relief.  Shit, I may go watch it again, right now, it was so 'dam' entertaining (heh, I did it again).

In other news, True Blood ended its, um, six-year run, I think, just last month.  I wasn't able to catch the last season of Dexter (it's still on Netflix if anyone wants to watch it, I plan to catch the final season at some point myself), but I still have HBO despite my horrible financial situation, at least for now.  I've been watching True Blood since the first episode, and frankly, the final season was just disappointing.  I guess they had to end it somehow, but let's recap the entire last season, shall we?

Nearly everyone in the town of Bon Temps dies.  That's just the season opener.  I guess if you want to end a series, killing everyone off is a good place to start.  A crowd of Hep-V positive rapacious vampires slaughters nearly everyone, kidnaps some folks, and Sookie and the Scooby gang go off to rescue them.  Eric nearly dies of Hep-V himself, but Pam (Eric's progeny) rescues him, and they discover that a cure exists.  Sookie and the gang rescue the last survivors of Bon Temps, kill the last of the Hep-V vamps in the area, and regroup.  Meanwhile, Alcide the werewolf (sookie's current beau) gets gunned down, and Sookie takes up with Bill once more, but accidentally infects him with Hep-V.  Sookie's fairy blood causes the infection to spread through Bill like wildfire, and he releases Jessica from his mentorship (or whatever it's called) before he gets too sickly.  Jason's friend Bubba returns from alaska, manages to save just about half the remaining townsfolk by killing a vampiric she-bitch (they never did explain how he found his way to that vampire chick's house, or how she never heard him coming), and ends up marrying Jessica.  Eric manages to track down the cure for Hep-V and cure himself, and Eric and Pam make millions (if not billions) of dollars selling the cure to other vampires, marketing the treatment as a replacement blood drink known as 'New Blood,' as in, Sarah Newman, the carrier of the cure for Hep-V.  Bill refuses the cure out of love for sookie, because, let's face it, he's an asshole, and Sookie just can't resist him.  So Bill dies at Sookie's hand (she kills him out of mercy, to save him the suffering of Hep-V), and everyone else lives happily ever after.  Which makes me think Bill really was the bad guy all along, because once he dies, everyone is happy.  Strange series.  Kind of sounds like Twilight, only with.. uh...  other supernatural critters tossed into the mix.  And more sex.  Like a vampire romance novel.  Blech.  Why the hell did I watch that crap for 6 years?  Oh right.  Anna Paquin and Deborah Ann Woll.  Stupid question.

That's all for tonight.  Only a few more reviews til the October Horrorfest begins!  I get so excited about this time of year.  Summer's either a short washout or a quick scorcher in Western New York, spring lasts about a minute, and winter last a good 8 months, but Autumn really shines here.  The weather's cool and sunny, the leaves are half the colors of the rainbow, and then comes the horror movie month of October, followed by the feasting days of thanksgiving, christmas presents, and new year's debauchery!  Most exciting time of year for me!  Followed by 5 more months of winter.  It's like Mardi Gras, at least for me, only Fat Tuesday is actually the first of January.  That means September to December is Party time!  Catch you guys next weekend.  :-D

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