Walton Goggins

Predators

Year: 2010
Directed By: Nimrod Antal
Written By: Robert Rodriguez, Alex Litvak, and Michael Finch

RYAN’S REVIEW

I remember when it was first announced that there would be a new Predator movie penned by Robert Rodriguez. As a Rodriguez fan I was instantly stoked at the idea of what he might do with it. Somewhere along the line I lost track of it and the movie seemed to fly under the radar during development. A year or two came and went seemingly before Predators was finally made and I don’t remember reading much about it before it was suddenly ready to hit the screens. I could have just forgotten but I remember nothing about the development of this movie beyond my initial excitement at its announcement. I consider that odd because when I’m interested in something I follow its development fervently. Despite my interest in the film I didn’t make it out to the theater to see it on the big screen, such luxuries perish with parenthood, but I bought it as soon as it was available. Trusting, that without having seen it, I was making a sound investment in a movie I would undoubtedly love.

I can say that I made a good investment. I consider this to be a perfect sequel to the original film, if you were to just forget about all the others. The original sequel and the offspring of the franchise are all hit or miss but this movie mirrors the original with an interesting idea that makes too much sense. In the first movie the Predator comes to Earth to hunt, in this one he simply grabs his prey up and drops them, literally, on to the hunting grounds. Perfect idea, and they obviously had a lot of fun with the story. The group chosen by the Predators is as interesting as the men who played the parts. You have military badasses from America, Russia, Israel, and Africa, but you also have criminals. There is the Yakuza enforcer, the Mexican cartel lieutenant, and the prisoner about to be executed on Death Row. Then there is a doctor thrown in the mix for good measure, a medic that can make the hunt more interesting, or so it seems at first. Like the first movie, they took a group of badasses, gave them really cool weapons, and dropped them in the jungle. Although in this one they kick it up a knotch by actually dropping them into that jungle.

I wasn’t sold on the idea of Adrien Brody being the hero in this film. I specifically remember seeing this in the beginning and thnking “really?” However, I think Brody pulled off badass soldier fairly well and I was quite surprised. Adrien Brody often surprises me in this way, aside from that awful thing he did in Splice, I am usually impressed with him. Not only did I like what Brody brought to the film but I felt the cast as a whole was terrific. I am a big fan of Walton Goggins and though he plays the character easiest to despise in this movie he plays the character well. It wouldn’t be a Rodriguez movie without an appearance by Danny Trejo, and who better to play the part of the Cartel man? Laurence Fishburne has a nice part as the survivor that has outlived his sanity. Fishburne can never be Morpheus again, but I still think he brings a great presence to the movies he is in today. I have never been a fan of Topher Grace, and frankly I find his continuing career so perplexing. There’s nothing wrong with him in this movie though. His whinny voice actually enhances his performance as the weakest yet secretive character of the out of place doctor.

This movie really brings it with an exciting and action packed story but more importantly it adds depth to the Predator lore. Through Laurence Fishburne’s unbalanced survivor we learn things about the Predators that have never been revealed before. The Predators use the planet as a hunting ground to enhance and utilize new hunting tactics. They only come to the planet in groups of three and there are two different types of the Predators. He explains that there is a blood feud between the larger and smaller Predators which explains the captive Predator the group comes upon earlier. Later Brody uses this knowledge to his advantage. Freeing the captive Predator to battle the only remaining hunter of the three while he tries to escape on the Predator spacecraft. Sensing a trap he doesn’t board and shows up just in time to help his last comrade after Topher Grace reveals himself to actually be a murderer who wasn’t simply a doctor thrown in for good measure. Adrien Brody’s battle with the Predator can never match up to the original ass whooping Schwarzenegger took but he holds his own well with interesting tactics that make for a great climax.

I started this review weeks ago and had to do a little research in order to finish it. Found out some interesting things though. This movie was actually written way back in 1995 when Rodriguez was working on DesperadoIt was considered too expensive at the time and laid dormant for almost 25 years before the studio decided it might have potential to relaunch the franchise. The movie was re-written to specifically distance itself from some of the other installments such as the AVP films. It doesn’t discount the underwhelming Predator 2 but doesn’t acknowledge it either. This movie was meant to serve specifically as a sequel to the first one and in that it was tremendously successful as far as I am concerned. As an effort to relaunch the franchise I at least hope it succeeds. There has been talk of another Predators film but talk means nothing until something is in production and that hasn’t happened yet.

If you are a fan of Predator then this is a must see. A sequel that does everything right. A cool group of characters in a fun and exciting scenario with plenty of action to keep our attention. According to Rodriguez the studio does want to do a sequel and this film was made smaller in scale simply to be built upon in the future. Five years have passed with no activity though so it’s hard to say what might happen. It took ten years for him to give us the long awaited follow up to Sin City. Yet only a year or so before we saw another Machete. That makes it hard to say what will happen but in the event we don’t get more at least this movie gave us something to enjoy. This movie is worth your time and it’s a must see for fans of the franchise.

NEXT MOVIE: The Prestige (2006)

Venus Van Dam Again?

As much as I love the talent of Walton Goggins I can’t help but be surprised to see him reprise his role of Venus Van Dam for a third time in the final season of Sons of Anarchy.

Not that there is anything wrong with the role, in fact I think it shows impressive depth from him as an actor. Still, seeing him do it again and taking it a step farther at that by doing a kissing scene really makes me wonder what Kurt Sutter has on Walton Goggins as leverage.

I thought it was a really funny joke the first time he appeared on the show as a cross dressing prostitute. Fans of Sutter’s last show, The Shield, will remember Walton Goggins in the role of Shane Vendrell whose alias was Cleetus Van Dam. Many actors who had roles on The Shield have appeared in Sons of Anarchy but none in quite the same fashion as Goggins. When I saw it the first time I laughed till I was blue in the face and loved it. The second time I felt like it was a bit of overkill and done just for the sake of being progressive and politically correct.

Last night seemed a bit much but I still enjoyed it. This is the last season of Sons and I think Sutter just couldn’t pass up another opportunity to make Goggins dress up in drag again. Regardless the reason I think Goggins continues to shine in the unlikely role and he deserves some credit for it.

This final season of Sons has been incredible thus far and I cannot wait to see how it all ends. Things have been happening really fast and there are still nine episodes left! It looks like things will come to a head with the Chinese next week so it will be interesting to see where it goes from there.

I sincerely hold out hope that we will see one more Shield cameo before it is all said and done. Obviously we won’t see Julien Lowe in a role as Michael Jace disgraced himself and is currently sitting in jail somewhere. We also haven’t seen Catherine Dent or Cathy Cahlin Ryan either but I am not interested in seeing them and I doubt we will. Of course the one I am talking about is the big dog Michael Chiklis himself. Sutter has said that he hasn’t brought him in because he doesn’t want to take anything away from the character of Vic Mackey, or something like that, but I still hold out hope. This show featuring such a heavy crossover of actors wouldn’t be right without Chiklis making an appearance at least so I continue to hope we see him in some capacity before it’s all over.

Chiklis can be seen in the upcoming season of American Horror Story in a key role but that shouldn’t conflict as Goggins also has a key role on another FX show JustifiedIn a perfectly written world it would be really cool to not only see Chiklis but to actually see Vic Mackey himself. The way The Shield ended was never good enough for me because Vic Mackey is not a man who can simply be contained to a desk job. One way or another he would manipulate his situation to get back out on the street and I think it would be really cool for him to come into conflict with the Sons in his new position as some sort of ICE agent. The season seems like it will come to a head with a Sons vs. Mayans all out conflict so my wishful thinking would have Vic Mackey getting involved with illegal aliens within the Mayan ranks. Who knows what will happen, but that would be awesome.

Sons of Anarchy

I just can’t say enough about how continually blown away I am by this show.  It maintains such an incredible pace storytelling by weaving together so many different story lines.  Kurt Sutter has really built a world in TV that never fails to impress and keep us interested.  Last night was another great episode to another great season.  Tara turning to Jax and simply saying in rage “look at what you’ve done to me!” was a great line.  It’s right up there with Walt telling Hank that if he doesn’t know who he is talking to maybe he should tread lightly on Breaking Bad.  It was just an original phrase that really drove the point home.  It’s not about him cheating, it’s not about the things he has done, or the danger he has put her in.  It’s about the person he has turned her into and she can’t live with who she has become.  That makes their rift so much deeper because she isn’t angry about something that can simply be fixed, and it’s obviously way too late for that anyway if she is willing to go back to the DA.  I love that when she tries to flip on Jax and turn him over to the law that she can’t even accomplish that because he is three steps ahead.  It reminds me of Vic Mackey and I think this show has finally reached a point where it’s just as good if not arguably better than The Shield.  

I want to take an opportunity to simply mention how much I think Jimmy Smits has brought to the show.  When he was first cast I didn’t think it was a great idea and I stayed on the fence about him for some time.  Even after he had proved to be a great character I stayed on the fence but at this point I don’t even know why I ever had doubts.  He has been an incredible addition and I have really come to like the character a lot and how he fits in with Jax’s power structure.

There is something else I would like to say in regards to Walton Goggins playing Venus Van Dam.  I wrote a bit critically about the episode that centered completely around the character because I thought it was a bit much.  Not because of the cross dressing aspect at all but simply because I didn’t think it fit into the story all that well.  I don’t see the men of this club being the type of people open minded enough to be so willing in helping a transgender person and I had doubts that this was going to be something widely accepted by the target audience for the show.  So for the record, I don’t think there was anything wrong with a transgender being on the show, or Walton Goggins playing the part.  I wanted to say that just because I see SO many negative things being searched when people come to our blog to read what I wrote.  I understand people who are uncomfortable with it, but I don’t think such an enormous amount of hate is necessary.  I think Walton Goggins was great in the part, and I think that he is such a badass he can play this type of part and not be criticized for it.  I thought it showed his diversity as an actor and his character as a person because I think it was originally intended as a joke on him.  He took that and made it something serious and compelling. I think it might have gone on a bit more than necessary but I think it was awesome despite that.  As a fan of Kurt Sutter, Walton Goggins, and the shows they have done together I think it was really smart and I appreciate what they did.

Too Far…..Sons of Anarchy…Too Far

OK I was with you when Walton Goggins made a second appearance as Venus Van Damne but an entire episode dedicated to the character is a bit too much. This was a filler episode while the season works its way to a close and that is all it was. I appreciate any opportunity to see Walton Goggins talent but seeing the MC going so far to look out for his/her interests is a bit much.  I get it, the show is progressive…that’s great, but let’s get back to the point shall we? Nothing against the movement it supports, as my wife dictates, we are very pro…whatever and I am all for that, but they went farther with it than I felt was necessary on the show.

The number one thing that concerns me about this episode is did I miss something? Did Bobby rejoin the club last week and I not notice? I thought Bobby was forming his own club and all of a sudden he is back in the fold. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy about it. In the first few minutes they not only brought Bobby back into the fold but then increased the club size by something like 80%, and that’s probably a low figure because Bobby included it’s more like 100%. That’s great but I thought Bobby talked to Jax about forming his own charter last week and Jax was all for it. However, it is really cool to hear Jax refer to Bobby as his Consigliere, which is the role Tom Hagan filled for the family in The Godfather.

I don’t think Nero will turn on Jax and give up the club.  I think Jax should be more concerned with Robocop and what he knows.  Nero is an OG, he will do time before he turns, but the character Peter Weller plays has a lot to lose and nothing beholding him to the club. That potential threat coupled with the lengths Tara is willing to go through to get away equal bad news for Jax.  I’m not sure where they are going to go with all this but I can’t wait to see.

Venus Van DAMN!

In the last post I wrote about SOA I went over the characters from The Shield who had played parts in this show.  I specifically mentioned Walton Goggins role on the show as Venus Van Damne.  I thought it was hilarious and awesome the first time he made the appearance and was shocked to see him reprise the role on this week’s episode.  I was out of town earlier this week and didn’t see the most recent episode until today, so excuse me for coming in late on this topic. 

I read once that the studio didn’t want to cast Walton Goggins in a large role on The Shield.  That the producers of the show had to work in scenes to specifically show Goggins’ talent before he was able to get a larger part.  Obviously it worked because the Shane character became one of the most important on the show.  I have always been a fan of Goggins because of his portrayal as Shane Vendrell.  I sincerely miss The Shield but find solace in the success of other FX shows like SOA or Justified. I am no longer up to date on Justified but watched diligently for the first three seasons.  Goggins is incredible on that show and I don’t think there is another actor out there that could play the part.  Goggins was great as Shane, but he was born to play Boyd Crowder. 

When he appeared for a second time on SOA as Nero’s cross dressing girl Venus Van Damne I thought it was hilarious.  What floored me was the direction the scene took and the talent it took for Goggins to effectively play the part to get the right emotional response from it. I think it is a testament to the ability I have already seen from Walton Goggins but others may still not know about it.  Many people probably don’t know him as anybody else but the guy that got his crotch blown off in Django UnchainedI think it’s obvious that he has much more to offer as an actor than simply the role he is typecast into.  I have generally only seen him play the part of the country guy whether it is The Shield, Justified, Django, Predators, or his small part in House of 1,000 Corpses. He is great in that type of part but it is never cool to see a good actor get typecast. All I want to say in the aftermath of his second performance on Sons is DAMN Walton Goggins can act.  It really makes me happy to see an actor I like doing well and I am happy to see Goggins in this funny and oddly interesting part on SOA.

Django Unchained

RYAN’S REVIEW

We finally made it out to see this film yesterday.  I had been anticipating the film for some time and went in with really high hopes.  I can thankfully report that I walked away more than satisfied and if I had the opportunity to do so would have turned around and went right back in to see it again.  This movie was so satisfyingly violent and savage throughout and I couldn’t have loved that more about it.  I think the script was clever and well written, probably one of the best Tarantino has written but that is hard to say.  What surprised me the most is how funny it all was. His movies have always had an element of wit to them that could make you laugh but this one was all out funny.  The humor seemed to balance out all of the obscenity and ferocity of the situation in my opinion.

I have heard much said about the controversial nature of the film both with how slavery is so brutally covered and how the “N-word” is so pervasive in the film.  Why though? What so many have seen as offensive I have only seen as necessary to the film he was trying to make.  I despise all racial slurs, and the people that make them but this was a movie set in 1858.  That word was used then with a frequency that not even modern rappers could keep up with today.  I don’t see a problem with how Tarantino used it, or how he didn’t make any effort to sugarcoat slavery.  Slavery was awful and brutal in this country and there is no way to truly make a film about it without getting your hands dirty. I studied history in college and my senior seminar class was specifically about slavery.  Slavery happened all over the world and every race was enslaved at one point or another.  The difference here is that it developed in this new country as the rest of the world was giving up on an outdated practice.  Not only that but the most significant difference in this country is how it became a specifically racial issue with one specific race being subjugated into the role of slave.  It was awful and unfair but it was done and what is done is done and can’t be changed.  All we can do now is to learn from it, prevent it from being that way now or in the future but that has never happened.  There are too many conflicting feelings from people in regards to the topic.  The memory of slavery invokes anger, disappointment, shame, rage, pity, and unfortunately there are always going to be those awful people out there that get satisfaction out of it. Most of the feelings invoked by that memory are understandable but still lead to deepening the divide among us all. As for the movie I will admit I don’t think it is entirely appropriate for a white man to be the one behind camera doing all of this, but I don’t think he did anything disrespectful or outlandish.

I think the cast of this film did an excellent job.  I think Christoph Waltz may have been a bit better in Inglourious Basterds but only because his performance as Colonel Hans Landa was so good I don’t think it can be topped.  I think he was great in this movie and I think he has so much to offer us in the future, he is an outstanding actor.  I think Jamie Foxx was great in the lead role.  Leonardo DiCaprio was awesome as the vile and violently unpredictable Calvin Candie. Samuel L. Jackson was really good, as always, but I really didn’t like the role that he played despite how well he did it.  Walton Goggins fits these kinds of roles a bit too well but I am a big fan of his work on The Shield and Justified.  There are great cameos from Jonah Hill, Don Johnson, Tom Savini, and probably a few others I am forgetting.  The one awful decision Tarantino made in this film was inserting himself into it.  I think he is a great filmmaker but leaves far too much to be desired as an actor.  I liked his part in Reservoir Dogs but it should have ended there.  I don’t know why he is still doing this but he shouldn’t. This time around he reaches far too much and goes for an Australian accent; I shook my head at that point.  He had a perfect movie in the works progressing right before my eyes and he stumbled there for a moment.

I thought this movie was absolutely incredible and I can’t wait to buy it and watch it again down the road. I’ll say the only thing that I didn’t like about the movie was the experience we had watching it in the theater.  The movie has been out for a while now but there was still a good crowd for the first showing on a Saturday afternoon.  However the audience was so unique.  It was practically a split between African-Americans and full blown rednecks garbed in overalls, hunting camo, and aggressive beards.  That kind of division really gave off an awkward vibe that we may have felt more because we somehow ended up literally sitting on a row with differing groups sitting in the opposite rows before and after us.  The Rednecks made me uncomfortable, specifically because I assume they took very different things from this movie than I did.  Wrong to assume I know, but those people were more like the white people in the movie and that’s unfortunate.  It will better to watch the movie in the privacy of my own home or with whoever I choose to watch it with.

If you are on the fence about this one I obviously strongly recommend it. However if you aren’t cool with violence in movies or profanity this is not the movie for you. To say the very least it is about ten steps past extremely graphic and it is not for the tender-hearted.  The violence is part of what make this movie great though, and in so many ways it is practically Tarantino’s calling card.  This movie is long as hell with a running time of 2 hours and 45 minutes but I can say with certainty that it is well worth that time.

House of 1,000 Corpses

Year: 2003
Directed By: Rob Zombie
Written By: Rob Zombie

RYAN’S REVIEW

When this movie came out I remember hearing really bad things about it and never giving it a chance. I can’t remember who I heard those things from or why I listened to them but if I knew I would find them today to tell them they are crazy.  When I saw this movie for the first time years later it instantly became one of my favorite horror movies of all time. It has an awesome cast made up of people I had never heard of, it has one of the coolest intros I have ever seen in anything, and it was made by a man who has a thing for horror movies. The story may be a typical one on the surface, as far as movies in this genre go.  It scares me though; it gives me the thrills I look for in a horror movie and at the end of the day that is all that matters.  As Halloween is approaching there isn’t a movie I would have rather reached in this collection.  I love this time of year, and this is one of my favorite movies to watch when the holiday approaches.

I had never heard of Sid Haig before seeing this movie but I have never forgotten him afterwards. As Captain Spaulding he makes an awesome and memorable character.  I think the opening scene in which he stands tall and belligerent against his would be robbers is one of the coolest I have ever seen. When it comes to clowns there is fine line between being funny and creepy.  As a clown Captain Spaulding is right up there with Pennywise when it comes to clowns from horror stories.  Spaulding himself doesn’t really bring the element of horror to this film but he brings plenty to the film in small doses.  If the horror element was brought by any one person it was from Bill Moseley.  That man has a voice that strikes fear into my soul and his appearance in the movie is enough to make anyone turn and walk the other way.  The whiteness of his skin, the unkempt nature of his hair, and the blood spattered on his clothes make him look scary enough.  It’s when he starts talking that really brings the fear full circle.  Not only does he have a menacing voice but his character in the movie is so utterly insane and in control.  When he starts talking you might have no idea what is coming next but you know that it will be bad.

I think Sheri Moon is incredibly sexy, but like the guy playing her brother she scares the shit out of me in this one.  It’s that laugh she has, it’s disturbing. She looks so seductive and sweet until something sets her off and then before you know it you see the psychotic side of her.  In the sequel to this movie we find out that her father is actually Captain Spaulding but I thought that was a bit of a stretch.  I would have preferred a more creative connection between the clown and the crazy family.  Karen Black played the part of the crazy family’s mother and I thought she was great.  Her character was obviously once a prostitute and her wide variety of children reflect that.  She was replaced for the sequel and I have never known why but I didn’t like the change. In the role of Tiny some might recognize Matthew McGrory who played the giant in Big FishMcGrory is also known for a role he played in Deliverance as a child, he was the kid playing the banjo in one of the movies most memorable scenes.  In smaller roles you can see notable TV stars of today like Walton Goggins and Rainn Wilson.

This was the first movie made by long time rocker Rob Zombie and I think he did an incredible job.  I remember seeing his house on the MTV show Cribs years and years ago when I still watched MTV and distinctly remember him having an entire closet top to bottom full of horror movies.  Clearly the man has put his work in understanding the genre.  Everything he did from set design to camera angles to the dialogue he wrote was on the spot as far as I am concerned.  I haven’t really been a fan of most of what he has done since this movie.  I did not like his remakes of the Halloween movies.  Yet I like this movie so much that I will always give anything he makes a chance.  He has a lot of potential as a filmmaker.  The story he wrote was pretty basic as far as horror films go but he did many things that make this film stand apart from others with similar themes.

This is a movie I strongly suggest as we enter into the spooky time of the year.  Movies are a great medium to get us into the spirit and movies such as this one are always popular this time of the year.  This is probably one of my favorite horror films but the original Dawn of the Dead is a very close second. For most people anything featuring zombies, vampires, or ghosts will serve their purposes during this season but if you want something that packs more of a punch check this one out. It’s not one I often recommend because it is such a rough movie but this time of the year it is just right.  This movie is more than worth your time during Halloween season and may you have a fun and frightening holiday.

AMBER’S REVIEW

This movie is beyond creepy. It’s not even in the horror genre; it’s a genre all in its own. Family is crazy as shit genre. I really like watching this movie and that worries me sometimes because this film is completely crazy and demented.

This is such an interesting poster. I like the typography; you have a gross looking head looking at you. It’s pretty cut and dry, but I like it and I think it’s a great poster.

NEXT MOVIE: How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (2003)