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Notes from the Back Row

Movies with a vengeance



Movie trivia time. In what film, did ’90s hit rapper Vanilla Ice make his debut?

Did I say hit rapper, I meant shit rapper, but still, the answer is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 . Yeah yeah, it sucked compared to the original but weren’t the ninja turtles just the coolest? I think so, and apparently so do enough other people that a brand new turtle flick will hit screens this Friday at the Village 8. Cowabunga dude.

Seriously though, the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was totally killer — rubber suits, developed characters, dry humour and a good story. This animated sequel comes 17 years later and seems to pick up where the original films left off, only without the humour, story, or good parts. The turtles, no longer teenagers, have lost some of their punch and while the animation is decent (good on backgrounds, bad guys and turtles; terrible on humans) the action could have been better and the story — forget it.

An unpolished attempt to cash in on an ’80s cultural phenomenon TMNT is pretty much worthless. Maybe I’m getting old, but I expect more from a film with ninjas and mutants.

Thankfully there are plenty more mutants in The Hills Have Eyes II , and cannibalistic mutants at that. The film starts with a gruesomely graphic mutant birth that leaves very little to the imagination and from there it gets ultra violent, super sadistic, incredibly gory and most likely will contribute to the downfall of society in some sick, perverse way. It rules.

Shot in Morocco but set in New Mexico, this Hills focuses on hillbilly mutants battling with soldiers of the U.S. National Guard who happen to be there on a routine mission. The script, written by original Hills master Wes Craven and his son Jonathon, takes place shortly after last year’s Alexandre Aja-made remake ended (but it stands alone too) and somehow the ante is upped even more. As Wes Craven says, “Moms have always been fun to kill.”

We the viewers seem to have an uncanny lust for more violence, death and sadism these days don’t we? Yes we do, now let’s move on to another movie staring an early ’90s rapper, just to lighten the mood.

Shooter , also opening Friday at the Village 8, stars Marky Mark Wahlberg as a retired sniper-turned-hermit (living somewhere near Pemby by the looks of it) who gets duped into being framed for a presidential assassination attempt and must suddenly go on the run. Luckily enough he has his dead partner’s girlfriend to help him along the way. Doubly lucky, no one in the FBI, CIA or any other three-letter organization can find said girlfriend because she changed her last name (tricky). Shooter is a plot-and-action driven thriller in the one man vs. the system mold and, with Wahlberg leading the way, it makes for a good two hours in the theatre. Plus it’s directed by Antoine Fuqua, who’s cool because he directed Training Day .

Also opening is Reign Over Me , a post 9/11 drama that is actually pretty decent, no room to get into it this week though.

And don’t miss this. Friday, March 23 rd and Saturday, March 24 th at Millennium Place is the Sierra Club Energy Film Fest. Put on in association with Hilltrip’s Step It Up series, this fest screens 15 films from all over the world about global energy problems and solutions. On Saturday the flicks start at 1:30 p.m. and you can pay once ($10) and come and go as you like. has the film listings. Check this out. Make a difference. Fuqua!

AT VILLAGE 8 March 23-29: Teenage Mutant Turtles; Shooter; Hills Have Eyes 2; Last Mimzy; Reign Over Me; 300; Wild Hogs; Premonition.

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