Paul W. S. Anderson

Kiefer Pompeii

What if I told you that the people of Pompeii had it coming? That the whole city was a moral cesspool and the eruption of Vesuvius was a final judgment on a corrupt society? You would probably object on grounds of basic human decency, and you’d be right. But I’m not the one that thinks so. That would be Hollywood. There aren’t very many movies about the destruction of Pompeii, but the handful that exist share something quite objectively strange. Paul W.S. Anderson‘s fiery dud is only the newest example of this genre, a disaster movie in which the audience is invited to find moral satisfaction in the flames. With Pompeii it isn’t quite so obvious, but I’d argue that’s just because the script is terrible and doesn’t know exactly how to express what it’s going for. You have to look at it in the context of the earlier, more explicitly judgmental Vesuvius flicks to get at the heart of Anderson’s shabby muddle.

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For the dozens of people out there who love the Starz series, Spartacus, but just wish it had none of that graphic sex and violence nonsense… have I got a movie for you. Milo is just a boy when he witnesses Roman soldiers slaughter his family and his people in 62 A.D., and seventeen years later the now man-sized Milo (Kit Harington) is a slave turned gladiator known only as The Celt who entertains the empire in backwater arena brawls. The latest stop on his bloody tour is the waterside city of Pompeii, and on the way into town he shares a meet cute over a dying horse with Cassia (Emily Browning), the daughter of some high-ranking Pompeians. Unfortunately for them both, someone else has his eye on Cassia too, and to make matters worse, he’s the same man who led the slaughter of Milo’s people. Oh, and they’re also all living in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius in the days leading up to its devastating eruption. Pompeii wants to be Gladiator meets Volcano with a love story crammed in for good measure, and it succeeds to the degree that it blatantly rips off Gladiator, sets its action around an erupting volcano, and features paper-thin characters who fall in love in their first few minutes together. Director Paul W. S. Anderson‘s latest isn’t a good movie, but it’s also not so bad that it’s ironically good. So that’s unfortunate.

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Pompeii

In the list of things Jon Snow knows nothing about, we can add “how volcanoes work” to the mix. In the story of the doomed city at the foot of the mountain, Kit Harington is the dashing hero who must swoop in to save his love (Emily Browning) and his gladiator friend trapped in the coliseum when Mount Vesuvius starts spewing. Because nothing says “a romance for the ages” like a ferocious natural disaster that claimed the lives of approximately 16,000 people in a scorching, merciless death (seriously, the eruption caused Pompeii’s citizens to “flash-heat” in an instant when a volcanic surge caused temperatures to reach 570°F), Paul W.S. Anderson‘s Pompeii will hopefully focus less on the kissin’ and more on the fleeing.

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Resident+Evil+Afterlife

I’m not entirely certain, but I think I’m late to the conversation about “vulgar auteurism.” While I’m sure I’ve heard the hundred-dollar phrase at some point before, it wasn’t until this weekend that my Twitter feed became overloaded with musings about it (and the inevitable punnery – i.e., “vulgar aneurism”). As far as I can see, more has been written in an attempt to either define or dismiss the phrase (or both) than actually practice it. After reading some pro and con pieces about attempts to assess supposedly “disreputable” films by the likes of Justin Lin, Paul W.S. Anderson, and Neveldine/Taylor, I found myself at a crossroads. I’m not convinced that the term has much (if anything) valuable to offer serious criticism, or constitutes a significant intervention within good ol’ auteurist readings. At the same time, I can’t align myself with its critics, notably their implicit or explicit dismissals of the possibility that Hollywood’s postmodern modes of address have anything to offer serious assessments of film as an art form. Thus, in lieu of taking a side in the admittedly insular “debate” about “vulgar auteurism” (think of it as the revenge of “cultural vegetables”), that this debate is happening at all evidences several important points about both the state of mainstream cinema and the role of the discerning critic within it.

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Resident Evil: Retribution represents Paul W.S. Anderson‘s worst tendencies as a filmmaker. Empty, clunky, and ugly, this is Anderson’s most dull picture yet and the weakest installment in an already weak series. Retribution begins shortly after the events of the previous film, Resident Evil: Afterlife. Alice (Milla Jovovich) is shooting quarters off a shipping boat, standing still while simultaneously dodging countless amounts of bullets, and is finally knocked unconscious. When she wakes up — or when her “clone” awakens — she’s been captured and sits isolated in, of course, a very white room in an underground Umbrella Corporation lair. Once she escapes that white room, thanks to a traitor from the inside, Alice has to fight off hordes of the same zombies and beasts we’ve seen her battle far too many times before. However, this time all the battles are done within a virtual dome, which makes no difference whatsoever. She wanders through “New York City” to “Moscow,” and despite the changing environments, all the set pieces stay the same.

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Drinking Games

There have literally been dozens of adaptations of Alexandre Dumas’ classic novel The Three Musketeers… even more if you count sequels, adaptations of other Dumas books (like The Man in the Iron Mask) and even Peter Hyams’ whackety-schmackety The Musketeer with martial arts fight choreography. Forget Charlie Sheen and the Disney version. This new film features 3D, impossible sci-fi action elements and Orlando Bloom acting as a proper dandy. If that’s not an incentive to drink, I don’t know what is. Being a film about famous Frenchmen, I’d suggest a nice French wine for this movie. Of course, considering it has the flavor of a big, dumb American action film, you’d also do fine with a case of Schlitz.

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The inevitable has finally happened – I’ve confused Resident Evil with Underworld and somehow completely forgotten that there is yet another Resident Evil film on the way. My confusion might just be a mask for basic ennui, but it’s unclear at this point. In any case, look, there’s another Resident Evil film. According to its first teaser trailer, it appears to borrow (pretty loosely) from equal parts The Thing, its own mythology, Dawn of the Dead, and Independence Day, with a dash of The Fast and the Furious hat-tipping (you’ll know it when you see it). I can’t make heads or tails of it, and that’s likely due to two things: one, I haven’t watched an R.E. film all the way through since the first one, and two, this teaser trailer is essentially a Sony ad. No, not like, “oh, there’s a lot of product placement in this trailer!” more like “oh, there’s about 30 seconds of a film trailer in the middle of this Sony ad.” It’s a weird enough move already, and one that will likely be mocked for quite a bit, but what’s even weirder is that, if the trailer is taken literally, it means that the rest of the world in Resident Evil is having a super-fun, technology-connected good time while America smolders into monster-laced ash. So, you know, fun. Check out the first trailer (sort of?) for Resident Evil: Retribution after the break.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr dresses up in a frilly lace cravat and some leather boots, grabs his sword and takes a trip to France to become a Musketeer. Unfortunately, he seems to be almost 400 years too late for those kinds of shenanigans. So he hops the English Channel to become a spy with MI-7. Of course, no one told him that MI-7 was actually nothing more than propaganda. So he heads back home for a good night’s sleep, and to make sure that happens, he videotapes himself throughout the house. While he doesn’t witness any paranormal activity, there are many unspeakable things that can be seen on them.

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When I first heard that a new version of The Three Musketeers was being made by Paul W.S. Anderson I initially thought that he was a bad choice for the material, that he would just end up making something ridiculous. Now that I’ve actually seen the movie, I’m certain that he was a bad choice for the material, because he did in fact make something ridiculous. You know this story by now, it’s been around for like 175 years or something, so too much plot summary probably isn’t necessary. There are three famous Musketeers, the king’s personal soldiers, Athos (Matthew MacFayden), Porthos (Ray Stevenson), and Aramis (Luke Evans). They used to be big time, but now they’re out of a job because a corrupt Cardinal (Christoph Waltz) is taking control of France and instituting his personal guard as the new power in the nation. Also there’s a young chap name D’Artagnan (Logan Lerman) who has traveled to Paris to become a Musketeer, but he finds the place in disarray. Backstabbings and power plays commence. But let’s get back to how bad most everything in this movie is. The most egregious of all the offenses this new Three Musketeers commits is the punishment it doles out to its characters in the form of horrible dialogue. Never have you come across a script with more hackneyed, generic movie clichés than this. Everything that comes out of the characters’ mouths is clunky and unnatural. It feels like the movie went through absolutely zero […]

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Ambitious. Bold. Serious. Groundbreaking. None of these words can be sanely used to describe the vibe emanating from the trailer for Paul W.S. Anderson’s “adaptation” of The Three Musketeers. This a W.S. Anderson picture through and through. This trailer does a fantastic job at selling a future camp classic in the making, and I don’t even mean that in an ironic way, either.

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It’s possible that Paul W.S. Anderson’s The Three Musketeers will be the smartest adaptation of the novel yet. This trailer doesn’t help the odds of that possibility. What it does show is plenty of fighting, some beautiful explosions, and Milla Jovovich awkwardly spinning with Shirley Temple curls in her hair. Hand-cranked flame thrower? Flying war ship? Buckled swash? These are all great things, and this trailer has them in spades and fleur de lis. Check it out:

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When the calendar page turns to October, we Rejects have only one thought: horror. To celebrate this grandest and darkest of months, we’ll cover one excellent horror film a day for the entirety of the month. That’s 31 Days of Horror and 31 Films perfect for viewing on a dark, chilly, October night. If you, like us, love horror and Halloween, give us a Hell Yeah and keep coming every day this month for a new dose of adrenaline. Synopsis: Before the bulk of the interwebs started a lynch mob for Paul W.S. Anderson, he directed this sci-fi horror flick about a space ship that goes to hell and back. In the year 2047, Earth receives a signal from the Event Horizon, a ship that uses an artificial black hole to travel to the farthest reaches of the universe. The veteran crew of the Lewis & Clark is sent on a rescue mission, with a new mystery member on board: Doctor William Weir (Sam Neill), the designer of the Event Horizon. When the crew of the Lewis & Clark find the Event Horizon and board it, they discover that it has brought something back. The crew starts to experience visions of their past horrors while evil forces within the ship literally turn them against each other.

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr announces that he is quitting his career as a film critic and plans to start a new career crooning to the tunes of Zamphir and his pan flute. Frank Stallone, the less-famous brother of an A-list actor, will be shooting a documentary of the entire thing. However, as one last hurrah, Kevin cracks some knuckles with his ruler and grades the new films this week, Resident Evil: Afterlife 3D and I’m Still Here. (Yes, he is aware that it’s Bella Swan’s birthday this weekend, but haven’t we had enough Twilight for a while?)

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Judging by the list of names released today, Paul W.S. Anderson has never read The Three Musketeers.

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For a second, you had to think about which Paul Anderson is the good one. Feel free to read this news and wonder what a PTA Buck Rogers would look like drinking your milkshake.

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Death Race on DVD and Blu-Ray

We had a chance to talk to the director and co-star of Death Race to give them a shot at selling us on more explosions.

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