Open Road Films via Everett Collection
David Ayer's Sabotage is just the latest stop in Arnold Schwarzenegger's comeback tour, though it probably won't do the actor too many favors. Schwarzenegger plays John "Breacher" Wharton, the leader of an elite DEA task force that specializes in taking down drug cartels. Each member of the team is a blunt instrument drunk off of their alpha male (and female) machismo, but to be fair, they are damn good at what they do. They're masters at going in hard, killing whoever needs killing, and heading to the strip club and drinking themselves into a stupor before the next round of street sweeping. Unfortunately, it turns out years of busting cartel bosses and being deeply unpleasant to everyone you come into contact with eventually catches up to you, and members of the squad start dying in ghastly and elaborate ways. And just like that, we have what basically amounts to an Agatha Christie novel with a gym membership and a pile of meth.
Unfortunately, and as expected, giving Agatha Christie a couple of reps at the gym and a pile of drugs turns her into a blithering idiot, because Sabotage is incredibly stupid. The central mystery somehow manages to be both preposterous and predictable at the same time. The film's one saving grace is its action. The action scenes are adrenal and exciting and unbelievably gory. Bloated corpses are poked and prodded, viscera hangs like ropes from a rafter. This film takes immense pleasure in being completely disgusting. It’s downright gleeful about it. Here's a full shot of a soiled toilet, just because. Here's a piece of skin hanging on some metal, why not. Isn't that cool?
While Sabotage does manage to thrill in spurts and stutters, there's absolutely nothing beating at the heart of the film. All of the main characters are completely and utterly repugnant, and you'll pity anyone who has to endure their company throughout the film. When characters do start to die, you won't feel all that broken up about it. In fact, you may even feel a twinge of joy, like the earth was suddenly unburdened from a pure source of rampant douchebaggery. Just imagine the most disgusting, and off-putting person you can, and then give them a gun, a badge, and a fierce sense of entitlement, and you have every single member of the film's DEA squad. They're all terrible.
And if that weren't bad enough, the acting ranges from mediocre to terrible. The usually wonderful Olivia Williams and the capable Sam Worthington continually forget which continent they're on, their accents dropping in an out like a bad radio connection; Schwarzenneger has a complete inability to emote anything apropos of the situation at hand. When looking upon a pile of ooze that was formerly in the shape of one of his best friends, his disappointment is more akin to seeing a temporarily occupied gym bench on chest day. All of the charm the actor showcased in something like the recent Escape Plan is washed out by Breacher's moping about his dark past, and when Schwarzenneger isn't allowed to be fun, then he's completely boring.
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Really, I should hate Sabotage. It’s a completely stupid and mean spirited film, but there’s a strange charm to the depravity of it all. There's an audaciousness to it. The film goes as far as it can to push limits, and succeeds at being appaling. It’s a film that knows how stupid and ugly it is and champions that fact. It’s playing in its own filth, and as gross as that is, at least it’s having fun. This is the kind of film that will be in heavy rotation at the local frat house. That’s doesn’t mean the film is good or even okay, but if you like watching horrific violence, awful mysteries, and awful people being awful, then boy do I have a film for you.
Michael Jackson's former pianist has reportedly threatened to take legal action against the doctor convicted of causing the King of Pop's death. The Thriller hitmaker died of a drug overdose just weeks before he was due to kick off a series of lucrative comeback concerts in London in 2009.
Now the musician who was due to play piano at the singer's This Is It shows has fired off a legal letter to Conrad Murray, who served almost two years behind bars on an involuntary manslaughter charge stemming from Jackson's death.
Pianist Morris Pleasure claims Murray's actions robbed him of his lucrative job as part of Jackson's band, and editors at TMZ.com report he is now set to pursue a lawsuit against Murray after the medic failed to respond to his initial legal letter.
Pleasure has previously performed with stars including Christina Aguilera and Michael Jackson's superstar sister Janet.
Actress Sanaa Lathan was subjected to playful punches on the set of new film The Best Man Holiday as her co-stars jokingly attacked her fake pregnant belly. The Alien vs. Predator star was not happy when writer/director Malcolm D. Lee revealed her character, Robin Stewart, was going to be heavily pregnant onscreen, and she admits the padded prosthetic made filming an uncomfortable experience.
However, Lathan reveals the movie's leading men, including Morris Chestnut, Terrence Howard and Taye Diggs, managed to have a little fun with the big bump at her expense.
She explains, "I had to wear this huge prosthetic belly, which was like my own personal sauna, and it was heavy and it was a drag to go to the ladies' room, and every day my lovely, loving castmates got a sick pleasure out of punching me in the belly. They knew I couldn't feel it."
The romantic comedy-drama is a sequel to 1999's The Best Man.
Ever notice how television is just too good lately? Once upon a time though, the TV landscape was littered with lots of bad programming, like Saved by the Bell. Remember that show? If you grew up in the '90s, it would be damn hard not to. Let's hit the rewind button for a minute and revisit one of the guiltiest pleasure TV shows of the boom boom Clinton-era (no pun intended).
Zack Morris Was the Epitome of CoolHe got all the ladies, occasionally broke the fourth wall, and wore more product in his hair than an '80s rock star. For fans of the series, Zack Morris (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) was the quintessential cool dude slacker. He also dated Kelly Kapowski (Tiffani-Amber Thiessen), the G-rated fantasy of every teenage boy in America.
Sometimes You Learned an Important Life LessonThere was the occasional episode where the writers would pack heavy themes into the show, like when Jesse Spano (Elizabeth Berkley, later of Showgirls career-ending infamy) got hooked on caffeine pills and nearly had a breakdown. Zack eventually came to her rescue, however, and by the end of the episode we learned that drugs were dangerous and bad, and that apparently, caffeine pills were a thing that existed. (Who knew?)
The College Years SuckedWhen the show ended in 1993, Zack, Kelly, and the rest of the crew all signed on for a spin-off series called Saved By The Bell: The College Years. The show was doomed from the start. For one, it aired in primetime on Tuesday nights, the original having gained popularity on Saturday mornings, and the only promising attribute new cast member, and former NFL player, Bob Golic brought to the new show (aside from bad acting) was an impeccably maintained mullet. Bless him for that! The network eventually wised up and cancelled The College Years after its disappointing first season.
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Time out! Mark-Paul Gosselaar said what about Saved by the Bell?! During an interview with Yahoo! TV, the Franklin and Bash actor discussed the beloved 90s show that made him a star in the first place and Zack Morris would most certainly not abide.
"It's not a great show," the 38-year-old says, adding, "The writing is kind of hokey... it's very much a piece of that time." (This writing is hokey? The lady doth protest!) But Gosselaar, who has been more than willing to participate in Saved by the Bell nostalgia, didn't entirely bite the hand the fed him at The Max.
The actor acknowledges that the surprisingly successful series ("We just thought we were doing a small little Saturday morning show and no one was watching") both humbled him and served as an important lesson about working in the industry. "It taught me to have a strong work ethic and to take it very seriously," he tells Yahoo!, "Even though we had fun, the one thing the producers instilled in us that this is a business. You can still have all your fun, but you have to do your job, and then you can reap all the benefits at the end." Still, for a generation of fans who grew up with Saved by the Bell, the show was, and still is, great in their eyes. Need proof? Look at these five things from Saved by the Bell and try to use word other than "great" to describe them. It's impossible. (Please note: We will accept "tubular." "rad," "outrageous," "bodacious," "killer," and "cowabunga" as acceptable substitutions.) 1.We're so excited, we're so excited, we're so...scared at how much pleasure we still get out of this clip: 2. In case Jessie Spano's caffeine pill wasn't incentive enough to stay away from drugs this PSA would do the trick. (Or, had the adverse reaction and you desperately wanted to watch this while high.)
3. Hello? Awesome, is that you? Why yes, yes it is. 4. Zack Morris wore Christmas sweaters sans irony. Take that, hipsters.
5. You guys, Tori Spelling as Violet. Sorry, Mark, but this is still pretty great. [Photo credit: DailyCeleb.com] More: Mark-Paul Gosselaar Returns to Franklin and Bash
Mark-Paul Gosselaar is Engaged!
In a post-Harry Potter Avatar and Lord of the Rings world the descriptors "sci-fi" and "fantasy" conjure up particular imagery and ideas. The Hunger Games abolishes those expectations rooting its alternate universe in a familiar reality filled with human characters tangible environments and terrifying consequences. Computer graphics are a rarity in writer/director Gary Ross' slow-burn thriller wisely setting aside effects and big action to focus on star Jennifer Lawrence's character's emotional struggle as she embarks on the unthinkable: a 24-person death match on display for the entire nation's viewing pleasure. The final product is a gut-wrenching mature young adult fiction adaptation diffused by occasional meandering but with enough unexpected choices to keep audiences on their toes.
Panem a reconfigured post-apocalyptic America is sectioned off into 12 unique districts and ruled under an iron thumb by the oppressive leaders of The Capitol. To keep the districts producing their specific resources and prevent them from rebelling The Capitol created The Hunger Games an annual competition pitting two 18-or-under "tributes" from each district in a battle to the death. During the ritual tribute "Reaping " teenage Katniss (Lawrence) watches as her 12-year-old sister Primrose is chosen for battle—and quickly jumps to her aid becoming the first District 12 citizen to volunteer for the games. Joined by Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) a meek baker's son and the second tribute Effie the resident designer and Haymitch a former Hunger Games winner-turned-alcoholic-turned-mentor Katniss rides off to The Capitol to train and compete in the 74th Annual Hunger Games.
The greatest triumph of The Hunger Games is Ross' rich realization of the book's many worlds: District 12 is painted as a reminiscent Southern mining town haunting and vibrant; The Capitol is a utopian metropolis obsessed with design and flair; and The Hunger Games battleground is a sprawling forest peppered with Truman Show-esque additions that remind you it's all being controlled by overseers. The small-scale production value adds to the character-first approach and even when the story segues to larger arenas like a tickertape parade in The Capitol's grand Avenue of Tributes hall it's all about Katniss.
For fans the script hits every beat a nearly note-for-note interpretation of author Suzanne Collins' original novel—but those unfamiliar shouldn't worry about missing anything. Ross knows his way around a sharp screenplay (he's the writer of Big Pleasantville and Seabiscuit) and he's comfortable dropping us right into the action. His characters are equally as colorful as Panem Harrelson sticking out as the former tribute enlivened by the chance to coach winners. He's funny he's discreet he's shaded—a quality all the cast members share. As a director Ross employs a distinct often-grating perspective. His shaky cam style emphasizes the reality of the story but in fight scenarios—and even simple establishing shots of District 12's goings-on—the details are lost in motion blur.
But the dread of the scenario is enough to make Hunger Games an engrossing blockbuster. The lead-up to the actual competition is an uncomfortable and biting satire of reality television sports and everything that commands an audience in modern society. Katniss' brooding friend Gale tells her before she departs "What if nobody watched?" speculating that carnage might end if people could turn away. Unfortunately they can't—forcing Katniss and Peeta to become "stars" of the Hunger Games. The duo are pushed to gussy themselves up put on a show and play up their romance for better ratings. Lawrence channels her reserved Academy Award-nominated Winter's Bone character to inhabit Katniss' frustration with the system. She's great at hunting but she doesn't want to kill. She's compassionate and considerate but has no interest in bowing down to the system. She's a leader but she knows full well she's playing The Capitol's game. Even with 23 other contestants vying for the top spot—like American Idol with machetes complete with Ryan Seacrest stand-in Caesar Flickerman (the dazzling Stanley Tucci)—Katniss' greatest hurdle is internal. A brave move for a movie aimed at a young audience.
By the time the actual Games roll around (the movie clocks in at two and a half hours) there's a need to amp up the pace that never comes and The Hunger Games loses footing. Katniss' goal is to avoid the action hiding in trees and caves waiting patiently for the other tributes to off themselves—but the tactic isn't all that thrilling for those watching. Luckily Lawrence Hutcherson and the ensemble of young actors still deliver when they cross paths and particular beats pack all the punch an all-out deathwatch should. PG-13 be damned the film doesn't skimp on the bloodshed even when it comes to killing off children. The Hunger Games bites off a lot for the first film of a franchise and does so bravely and boldly. It may not make it to the end alive but it doesn't go down without a fight.