Stop or My Now Playing Will Shoot

By: Jeff Ford
By: Jeff Ford

Previewing the Good, Bad and Ugly of Bullet to the Head, Stand Up Guys, Warm Bodies and Rust and Bone

 Another January is finally in the books.  While the films being released in February are not usually of quality, at least they avoided the dumping grounds of January.  This week, 4 films are unleashed onto the local market. Three are new and one was released earlier on a limited basis.  The first film that I shall gaze my cynical eyes upon is…




After watching their respective partners die, a New Orleans hitman and a Washington D.C. detective form an alliance in order to bring down their common enemy.


The Good – Arnold had his shot two weeks ago with The Last Stand to make a return to box office relevancy.  That film largely failed.  Now it’s Sly’s turn to reignite his dormant action career.  Sure, he’s had a few hits these past few years (The Expendables, The Expendables 2, Rocky) but this film represents a straight Stallone action film without the use of a gimmick (a film filled with old action stars) or a return to an established character (Rocky, Rambo).  To help him along is another established figure in the action film genre.  Walter Hill has not directed a feature film since 2002’s Undisputed.  Instead, he has been keeping himself busy doing a few TV series here and there or staying strictly in the producer’s chair (he co-produced last year’s Prometheus).  That’s not to diminish his previous accomplishments.  His director filmography includes such classics as The Warriors, 48 Hours and Red Heat.  He knows his way around a camera and his return is a welcome sight.


The Bad – I have always been more of a Schwarzenegger fan as opposed to Stallone.  While Stallone can boast that he is a twice Oscar nominee (Best Actor and Best Original Screenplay for Rocky), I’ve still never taken as strong of a liking to his shtick.  That doesn’t mean I haven’t been able to enjoy his films, I’d just prefer good old Arnold.  With Schwarzenegger’s failure a few weeks ago, I can’t imagine this return to an 80’s action film will be as well received.  I have a feeling this may take the Dredd approach.  It will not do well in the theaters, but will pick up a strong cult following once it hits Blu-Ray.


The Ugly – Was that Christian Slater I saw in the trailer?  Could someone tell him that I’m still waiting for the sequel to Kuffs?


Bullet to the Head is rated R for strong violence, bloody images, language, some nudity and brief drug use.




A pair of aging con men try to get the old gang back together for one last hurrah before one of the guys takes his last assignment -- to kill his comrade. *


The Good – Al Pacino has been in a rut of late.  It seems he takes any script that may wander his way (one has to only look at last year’s Adam Sandler’s stinker Jack & Jill to find evidence of this).  On the surface, this film seems to buck that trend.  Maybe it’s the inclusion of Christopher Walken (who also suffers from accepting too many scripts that come his way.  The only difference is Walken is universally the best part of many of those abominations) but this film entices me.  There’s a joy to these two old veteran actors simply riffing off of each other.  I’d admit, the trailer left me with a melancholy smile. 


The Bad – The good may just be an effective trailer.  The critics, on the other hand, are leaving the film with mixed reactions.  Of the few reviews already released, most of them reflect how much the filmmakers have mismanaged this.  Kyle Smith of the New York Post says that “it’s an enlarged prostate of a film.”  The consensus being this low leaves me depressed.


The Ugly – The director is Fischer Stevens.  For those of you who don’t know, he was Ben Jabituya, best friend to Steve Guttenberg in the 80’s classic Short Circuit.  Maybe that’s why this film feels so “disassembled” to many.


Stand Up Guys is rated R for language, sexual content, violence and brief drug use.




After R (a highly unusual zombie) saves Julie from an attack, the two form a relationship that sets in motion a sequence of events that might transform the entire lifeless world. *


The Good – When I first heard of the premise behind this movie, my reaction was of slight disgust.  In my view, it was another in a long line of Twilight rip-offs (Red Riding Hood is an example).  I held this belief until I finally saw the trailer.  Needless to say, the trailer won me over.  This remake of Romeo & Juliet with zombies actually had me laughing along.  It helps matters that John Malkovich and Rob Corddry lend their talents.  My excitement actually quadrupled when I saw who the writer/director was.  Jonathan Levine’s previous film was one that I thought was the best film of 2011, the cancer dramedy 50/50.  It took great skill to weave the drama of Joseph Gordon-Levitt being diagnosed with cancer and find the humor in the situation.  I see bright things for him in the future, especially if this film does well.


The Bad – As much as I am looking forward to this, I take a look at the rating and I sigh.  A zombie film should not be a PG-13, just by the nature of the subject matter.  I felt the same thing about last year’s ParaNorman.  It seems to me the film will be holding back to try and bring in the tween crowds.  I don’t need my films filled with gore, but when it comes to zombies, the two go hand in hand (or hand in mouth if you are a member of the formally living).


The Ugly – I guess there’s now at least two films in the Rom-Zom-Com category, the first being the brilliant Shawn of the Dead.


Warm Bodies is rated PG-13 for zombie violence and some language.




Put in charge of his young son, Ali leaves Belgium for Antibes to live with his sister and her husband as a family. Ali's bond with Stephanie, a killer whale trainer, grows deeper after Stephanie suffers a horrible accident. *


The Good – Marion Cotillard is the main draw in this movie that was nominated for Best Foreign Language film at this year’s Golden Globes (it lost to Amour, which has been nominated for Best Picture at this year’s Academy Awards).  She is a favorite of Christopher Nolan, having appeared in his Inception and The Dark Knight Rises.  From what I’ve read about this film, she is fantastic as the whale trainer who must cope when an accident prevents her from doing what she loves.


The Bad – And yet, I have no desire to go see it.  This is one of those movies that I’m sure is excellent but, for some reason or another, I just couldn’t care to catch it in theaters.  When it hits Netflix, I may queue it up, but as a theatrical viewing, I will have to pass.


The Ugly – Will Michael Jackson’s song “Will You Be There?” play at all during this film?  If it does, the whale will have to be jumping over somebody on his way to freedom.


Rust and Bone is rated R for strong sexual content, brief graphic nudity, some violence and language.


That will do for this week.  Tune in next time when a bridesmaid tries to become a Bluth.  Until then, I’m your worst nightmare.

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