Movies & TV / Columns

Stew’s December Movie Thoughts: Resident Evil: Welcome To Raccoon City, Face/Off, More

January 1, 2022 | Posted by Rob Stewart
Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City

I did it.

Two-hundred movies across the year 2021. Individually, 215 movies and about 220 total viewings when you factor in the flicks I saw twice, one of which was Jason X because EVERYONE should watch Jason X twice a year. He just wanted his machete back.

I should have a better goal for 2022, but…I really like movies, man. Like I should… write 12,000 words for fiction properties. Get an episode of the podcast to break 300 listens. Or just… quit fucking playing Fallout 4 for, like, two god damn minutes.

I started… I started another playthrough, guys. To see how tedious the game would be without using any mods.

Turns out, not as tedious as I’d though! And it gives me TROPHIES for dumb bullshit! Wow!

I seriously have owned this game for 3-4 years and never touched it, but now I can’t… stop… playing it. I will BRIEFLY stop actually, but then I’ll watch a video about something in it on YouTube, and it makes me miss it. That can’t be healthy.

ANYWAY!

I’m open to 2022 resolutions. Historically, it turns out I can only keep resolutions that have to do with movie-watching. That’s strange.

I should embrace that!

Let’s see…

I saw 36 new releases in 2021 (hint hint for another article soon). I could shoot for 50 in 2022. That’s a… that’s a thing.

I have a few days left to figure this out. Throw some ideas at me!

Until then, let’s see how 2021 rounded out on my journey to 200.


MOVIES THROUGH 12/13

An innocuous, if nice and even, ten flicks to start out December.Definitely not the absurd pace I had set for myself in October and November, but actually still ahead of what I was doing, say, back in the summer. You have to ween yourself off of movies, I guess.

Imagine, if you will, the quality level you EXPECT from a movie called Pro Wrestlers Vs Zombies. Now believe me when I tell you it is so, so much worse than that. It’s barely a movie; it’s more like a string of heavy metal music videos with a loosely connected plot. It looks like it’s shot on a camcorder. I’m pretty sure Shane Douglas produced this just to get Rowdy Roddy Piper to have to call him his best friend on film.

In a movie that should have had fantastically cheesy bit after bit, all we had here were two passably fun lines. The first is when Shane Douglas’ nephew calls him Uncle Shane, to which Douglas spits back, “That’s The Franchise to you!”, which I could totally see from Shane. And then when Kurt Angle has a cameo and starts attacking zombies, he says “Pittsburghers know how to handle the living dead”.

Everything else here sucked. And was terribly made.

Honeydew was my 200th movie on the year, and boy, I really wish it wasn’t. It was a random spin of the Shudder wheel I call “Will It Be 4 Stars Or 1 Star?!”. It’s about a couple whose car breaks down, so they take refuge in an old lady’s home. It also has the most singularly bizarre score to a movie I’ve ever heard. Occasionally the score is just… scatting? And other times it is throat singing? And when it isn’t those things, it’s just weird nonsense noises. It felt like the movie was actively trying to take me out of the experience.

It got… maybe somewhat a little bit kind of better in the back half? But by then, I’d long since checked out mentally.

I will cover Dredd in depth in a future episode of the Stew World Order podcast, so stay subscribed to that for my review!

Our other 2-star entry was the original Prom Night which, as far as slasher movies go, wasn’t a terrible teen dramedy. Leslie Nielsen is in it, and I’m sorry: the Naked Gun movies have ensured that I can never take him seriously in a movie. Every time he was on screen, I just said “It’s Enrico Palazzo!” or “Like a midget at a urinal, I was going to have to stay on my toes” or “This is our hill! And these are our beans!”.

All I’m saying is it would have been loads better if Frank Drebin had been involved in catching the killer.

Two and a half stars to cinematic release Resident Evil: Welcome To Raccoon City, which was a frightfully frustrating movie. It’s not… “good”. But the movie would go stretches of minutes a a time, where I’d get REALLY INVESTED! I liked the dual locations and sets of characters! The horror setting was good and this felt less like a music video than the original RE movie! But then… it would do something insipid and just ruin everything for a while.

The dialogue was straight up terrible; among the worse in ANY of the 200+ movies I’ve seen this year. It’s like the studio stood over the screenwriter’s shoulder and said “HAVE THEM REFER TO THEIR NAMES AGAIN SO THE AUDIENCE REMEMBERS WHICH CHARACTERS THEY ARE FROM THE GAME! Oh! Have them ask Leon S. Kennedy what the S stands for! Have someone say ‘Jill Valentine’ again! Now have them do it again!”.

Whoof. And yet… like I said… it would suddenly get quite compelling for a bit at times.

Closer is a movie that might not actually merit a 3.5, but I did enjoy it, and the Clive Owens goes from sympathetic to detestable like he is shot out of a fucking cannon. He turns so hard in that movie, and you can tell Owens is just reveling in it. The scene with him and Jude Law in Owens’ character’s office? HOLY SHIT. He was Lex Luthor-ing it up there. And I loved it.

I always thought all four main characters were assholes here, but upon a rewatch, Natalie Portman spends the entire movie being sweet but getting shit upon. But then there is the weird twist ending… so I don’t know what was going on.

Shoot 'Em Up | Second time Clive Owen has killed someone wit… | Flickr

More Clive Owens goodness in the form of Shoot ‘Em Up, which I’ve seen a ton and always love. Owens’ Smith character shares DNA from Bugs Bunny, Ash Williams, and Rambo. Combime that with Paul Giammati just going HAM as the antagonist? I’ll never not love this flick.

Watching Dredd after so recently having seen Shoot Em Up really handicapped poor Dredd, man.

Better Watch Out was something I was informed of by friends while doing a horror trivia livestream. The phrase “pleasantly surprised” was tossed about in regards to it, and yeah… I can agree to that. It’s about a babysitter and who young charge who has a crush on her fending off a home invasion at Christmas time.

It’s very Die Hard… does the movie HAVE to take place at Christmas? I can’t recall any reason why they made that choice. But you know what? It’s plenty enjoyable that I never dwelled on that during the movie.

If you have Shudder (there it is again!) check that one out.

But not Honeydew.

Or, whatever! Watch Honeydew. You are your own boss!

22 Jump St, the sequel to 21 Jump Street obviously, is probably just about as good as its predecessor. Lord and Miller handle meta humor really well, to the point where it gets you almost every time, but it doesn’t feel forced or like it’s interrupting the flow of the movie. “The captain’s new office is like a Cube of Ice”; I laughed at that. Good job, flick.

If you liked the original, you should if that one as well.

Does that just leave me with Parasite? Which I FINALLY watched for a second time just to confirm it deserved the bump up from 4.5 to 5.0? It does. It’s probably my favorite Best Picture Winner ever at this point. I remain enthralled by Bong Joon-ho’s ability to blend moods and genres, and while he definitely seems to be making movies about classism OVER AND OVER AND OVER, he is doing so impeccably, so I don’t even care.


MOVIES THROUGH 12/28

What did December 2021 give me? It gave me both the BEST and WORST new release of 2021 that I saw (again: spoilers for that other article)! Starting off with the worst new release of 2021: V/H/S 94. This was heavily disappointing in that it started strong and then just got weaker with each new story. The first short tale had a terrific ending. The second was actually creepy and well made. Everything after that was the absolute pits. And the through-story was abominable. I feel like one star may be a bit low for the flick that gave me “Hail Raatma”, which I will quote until I die, but boy… it’s been a while since I so just wanted a movie to end with 30 minutes left.

The 2006 remake of Black Christmas, man. Who needed that? I know that the mid-to-late 2000’s were Remake City for classic horror movies and franchises (Friday the 13th, My Bloody Valentine, The Crazies, Nightmare on Elm Street… among SO MANY OTHERS), but Black Christmas has to be one of the very worst. It has convoluted plot points that go nowhere, introduces characters that don’t need to be there, and makes teasing promises that it immediately bails on. It’s ROUGH. Even for a murderer’s row of gorgeous actresses (Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Michelle Trachtenberg, Lacey Chabert), there is no joy in this Mudville.

For SOME REASON, after being broken by VHS 94, I went back to the well and saw the original V/H/S. I had it on my movie playlist and just wanted to get rid of it at that point. It is… better than the newest entry, but it faced the same issues of knocking the good stories out of the way first and getting progressively worse. I may have even just turned this one off with fifteen minutes or so left. Not even a Raatma in sight.

I had never seen Road House before, and it seems I was missing frighteningly little. That flick is a MESS for the first 90 minutes–the story is nonsense and it just kind of jumps from scene to scene with little care for developing anything–but the last half hour of abject lunacy raises the rating a great deal. The cartoonish (even by 80’s standards!) villain throws a spear at Patrick Swayze! I should not have loved that as much as I did.

Question, though: how did a movie that stars Patrick Swayze and Sam Elliott get a mass release and leave ANY purely heterosexual men left on the planet?

Road House | The Fan Carpet
Both these guys could GET IT.

RED I watched for a future episode of the Stew World Order podcast (more on that in a bit), and it is forgettably adequate. Considering I have a whole thirty-plus minute show coming out on it in a few months, I won’t go too far into depth (though a solid ten minutes of that was my guest Kalvin and I talking about the drive-thru at Chik-Fil-A), but I will say this: Watching Mary Louise Parker and Bruce Willis act in the same scenes is a master class of seeing someone trying her damnedest to get literally anything out of a costar who couldn’t care less.

I don’t know how much I’m supposed to hold the fact that My Neighbor Totoro is a pure kid’s movie against it. There’s no depth to it, and even less plot, but it IS kind of adorable. And it made me chuckle a few times at the cutesiness of it all. I need to go on a Studio Ghibli tear, but so far I’ve only seen this and Spirited Away. And this was no Spirited Away. But for what it tries to be, it succeeds. I just wish it had, you know, A STORY.

I had never seen Face/Off before! I know, right? Here is a movie that has aged just… perfectly. It now feels like an incredibly well-made parody of itself. I’m not sure this movie ever meant to take itself seriously–I’m pretty sure it didn’t–but nowadays in the post-meta era of filmmaking we live in, it feels like an almost Hot Fuzz level send-up of, you know, ITSELF. I’m not… I feel like I’m presenting that I liked this movie ironically. I didn’t. I genuinely enjoyed it. I just wonder if the movie is smarter and more ahead of its time than I think it is, or if it is just SO WELL MADE that it holds up even in an era where you can’t take it seriously.

I shouldn’t be thinking this hard about Face/Off.

Or maybe I AM supposed to!

Whatever, I dug the heck out of it.

And that leaves us with Spider-Man: No Way Home, which I obviously saw twice in less than a week. You could say I liked it. I even recorded a short (twenty minutes) special edition review of it for the show, and you can check that out here. Or you could download it on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Goodpods, etc etc etc and help boost those numbers!


Whelp, I did not come up with a pop culture related new year’s resolutions in the last However Long it took me to write that article. So I’m still open to suggestions!

Until next time… which will be 2022!… take care!