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Drive Angry (R)


03/03/11



Nicolas Cage escapes from hell to save his infant granddaughter from Satanists in Drive Angry, a movie that takes muscle cars, violent deaths and a blonde girl in Daisy Dukes and throws them right at you in 3-D.

TO THE MAX.

Milton (Nicolas Cage)  is first seen driving his car out of hell and into, I think, Colorado or maybe it’s Texas, where he is fast on the trail of Jonah King (Billy Burke), the Satanist who killed his daughter and kidnapped his infant granddaughter.

(OK, two things: (1) this story isn’t told with a lot of attention to what we know when, so I’m not going to bother to spoiler alert stuff and (2) Satanists — yeah, who knows, just accept it and don’t try to puzzle this or any part of the plot out.)

King’s group plans to sacrifice the baby to bring about hell on earth and Milton is determined to stop them. To that end he hooks up with Piper (Amber Head), the short-shorts-wearing, Dodge Charger-driving gal who is herself on a road trip the heck away from her loser boyfriend. And while they’re on the trail of the cult, The Accountant (William Fichtner) is on the trail of Milton. The Accountant, near as we can ever tell, is a suit-wearing, account-settling representative of the Devil.

I can understand the thinking behind taking a B-movie cornball like this and putting it in 3-D. We’re already dealing with a movie that has thrown its weight behind pure thrills — storytelling and performances be damned — so why not amp up the visuals by throwing them out into the audience?

Because it’s annoying, that’s why.

This isn’t a movie where I want to have to sit rigidly straight-necked and not move throughout the film. This is a movie where neon orange cheese will be dripping off the screen and I might occasionally have to tilt my head so as not to get it in my hair. The 3-D puts an unnecessary constraint on the enjoyment of the film, and the half-measure effects — a moon popping out of a flat sky, a car hood poking into the foreground — are just not worth the aggravation.

Without the 3-D, I think I would have enjoyed the movie more. But the blurriness and the extra work that goes into watching the movie dampened some of my enthusiasm for funny deaths and total cheeseball nudity. I also don’t know if I need to keep seeing Nicolas Cage and only Nicolas Cage in roles like this. His spin-the-wheel style of acting (“In this scene I will be…smiling for no reason. In this scene I will be … constipated.”) helps to highlight the nonsensical nature of what you’re watching but it gets exhausting.

If Grindhouse taught you that you like grindhouse movies, Drive Angry, even with its showy and unnecessary 3-D, is a fun enough trip to the movies, provided you pay matinee fare (and maybe wait until it hits the cheapo theater).

C+
Rated R for strong brutal violence throughout, grisly images, some graphic sexual content, nudity and pervasive language. Directed by Patrick Lussier and written by Todd Farmer and Patrick Lussier, Drive Angry is an hour and 44 minutes long and distributed in wide release by Summit Entertainment.






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