April 13, 2012, - 12:00 pm

Wknd Box Office: Lockout, Cabin in the Woods

By Debbie Schlussel

Not exactly a great weekend in new releases at movie theaters.  But I liked one a lot.  I did not see “The Three Stooges” or “Bully,” as they were screened at the same time as “Lockout,” which I chose to see instead.

*  “Lockout“: I’m a big fan of Guy Pearce, the star of this movie, so I would have enjoyed this even if it were not a good movie (but it is).  No matter what he’s in, he’s always good, and his American accent is perfect, never belying his real-life Australian brogue.  In this movie, he’s also funny and gets to play the action hero.  And I liked the storyline in this, which is complete with the mockery of the liberal do-gooder daughter of a Democratic President.  If you like science fiction and action movies, as I do, this is for you.  It’s written by the usually excellent Luc Besson, of whom I’m also a fan. Some of the stunts weren’t believable, but they’re far more believable than what you’ll see in a James Bond movie.


Pearce plays a man framed for the murder of his friend.  He insists he didn’t commit the crime, claiming he was set up.  It involves national security secrets and the apparent theft of them, and he’s convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage.  Te President’s top advisers are heavily involved in questioning him.

It’s the future, and, sadly, the President is a Democrat.  His bleeding-heart liberal, social activist daughter makes a trip to an outer space prison for violent criminals.  Set on a space station, the prison contains hundreds of prisoners who are frozen for their entire sentence.  The President’s daughter insists that this is inhumane treatment because allegedly the prisoners experience dementia and other severe illnesses as a result of being frozen for so long.  While on her visit, she meets with a prisoner, who then takes her hostage.  Pearce is sent to the outer space prison to rescue her.  But he has another plan, too:  he wants to rescue a friend of his who is imprisoned there and has the briefcase taken from the scene of the murder, which allegedly contains the national security secrets the President wants.

The movie is fast-paced, full of action, and while at first, you don’t really know what’s going on, it acquits itself nicely.  Yes, the ending is predictable, but I enjoyed the ride.  And Pearce makes it even more fun with his wisecracking.

TWO-AND-A-HALF REAGANS
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Watch the trailer . . .

*  “Cabin in the Woods“:  I have mixed feelings about this atypical horror flick, which is supposed to be campy and sort of a parody of others like it.  It’s a mix of “The Hunger Games” (read my review),  “Creature” (read my review), and maybe even a little “The Truman Show,” which is probably why one of the characters is named Truman.  But it’s extremely violent, bloody, there’s a gratuitous topless scene and a disgusting scene of a woman making out with a stuffed wolf, and lot’s of dumb, groanworthy sexual innuendo and dialogue.

The story:  Four college students take a motor home to a cabin in the woods.  On their way there they stop at a gas station with a creepy owner.  And interspersed with those scenes, we see several men who appear to be scientists but are actually something else.  It appears they know what’s going on at the cabin and have set the whole thing up.  Back at the creepy cabin, the college students discover a cellar and begin reading from a diary they found in the cellar, which awakens a family of dead people from the grave, who come after them.

I wouldn’t spend $10 on this.  I felt like it was a time bandit that robbed me of 1.5 hours of life.  But then I’m not the target demographic for this.  It’s aimed at 20-somethings and teens.  But if you’re a parent, here’s a tip:  It’s rated “R” for a reason . . . many of them.  Susan “Sigourney” Weaver–who compared American men to Islamic terrorists–makes a cameo appearance.

HALF A MARX

Watch the trailer . . .

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28 Responses

Luc Besson — gotta love the guy. Often working with Pierre Morel, he’s given us “Taken,” “From Paris with Love” and the three “Transporter” movies starring Jason Statham. Their violent crime noir style, parts Hollywood and Hong Kong, is always highly entertaining. Anytime I hear fellow conservatives engage in their usual French-bashing, these flicks are my first retort. “Lockout” is definitely on my “to do” list.

Seek on April 13, 2012 at 6:59 pm

    I like Guy Pearce too! I loved him in Traitor with Don Cheadle. His ability to lose the Aussie accent (see him in The Count of Monte Cristo) is astonishing.

    gary on April 17, 2012 at 12:15 pm

An Action/Sci-Fi movie with a **1/2 rating from
Debbie? …pinch me, I must be dreaming!
I haven’t been to the movies in years, but this time I’m tempted. Nothing like a great action flick on The BIG Screen.

theShadow on April 13, 2012 at 7:06 pm

Luc Besson is the main reason for me to see “Lockout”. Guy Pearce is an extra bonus!

Pats on April 13, 2012 at 9:15 pm

I am very excited about the new Guy Pearce film. I’m such a fan and DS is spot on about him.

Australia gives us so many talented and good-looking blokes!

(I LOLed at DS pointing out that Sigourney’s REAL first name is indeed Susan!)

Skunky on April 13, 2012 at 9:45 pm

I didn’t know who Pearce was until I DDGed (duckduckgo) him and was surprised that I remembered him from his role as the flaming gay from “Priscilla: Queen of the Desert.” Amazing arc his career has taken.

“Lockout” sounds good from Debbie’s review and will definitely see this one after I see “The Three Stooges.”

DS_ROCKS! on April 14, 2012 at 12:05 am

I love Luc Besson movies, mainly the ones he writes, produces and directs (the Professional, The 5th Element). He does a lot of writing and producing while using other directors (Taken, Lockout)and those can be good too.

The first teaser trailer for “Lockout” had me intrigued. Then the whole trailer came out and it disappointed me. It appears to be “Escape From NY in Space” with a little “Demolition Man”(frozen inmates escaping) thrown in.

The hero is a “loose cannon” named Snake er no it is Snow, does he have a snowman tattoo? He is arrested and given a deal to save the presidents daughter (Escape From LA) (awful). It even has a “Romancing the Stone” stunt gag. It just seems to be what we have seen already so many times before mixed together in space.

So like Besson’s (writer/producer) last movie “Columbiana” I will wait for Netflix.

E: You are correct that it’s a lot like “Escape From New York,” but I liked it anyway. DS

ender on April 14, 2012 at 1:59 am

    “You’re the Duke! You’re A number 1! Rat-a-tat-a-tat!” One of my favorite Donald Pleasance pieces of garbage ever. However, Debbie and Ender, Pleasance was at his all time MST-3K worthy best in the horrible film “Puma-Man.”

    If you’re a Pleasance fan, (and who doesn’t like really Baaaad cheesy movies), this one’s for you.

    Occam's Tool on April 16, 2012 at 3:06 pm

I saw “Cabin in the Woods” and had mixed feelings like Debbie. The French kissing of the wolf was truly disgusting and represents, I think, a corrupting trend in films and “mature” cartoons (like “Family Guy”). Bestiality is the next taboo waiting to be broken, and I’m guessing we’ll see more of it as we as a culture become increasingly desperate for new varieties of titillation.

The high concept, the meta-concept, of the film, I think was taken from a fairly recent but obscure cult Norwegian film titled “Troll.”

I would have been bored stiff by the film if it had continued in the way it seemed to be headed the first half hour with its many derivative cliches from teen and zombie films. But luckily the filmmakers had something more interesting in mind and I liked the end in particular which I did not predict. Also, Richard Jenkins and Sigourney Weaver were inspired casting choices.

I had two main problems with the film. First, like teen films in general, the world presented was the provincial and narcissistic teen world, full of shallow teen values and perspectives. Adults in the film were all marginalized and made to look foolish and corrupt. The second problem I had relates to the first, and that is that the hero of the film was a bong-smoking, “hip,” slacker, supposedly a “wise fool,” but really an irritating jerk.

Burke on April 14, 2012 at 8:00 am

    Burke, I always enjoy your take on the films. I haven’t seen “Cabin In The Woods” but I guess I am confounded by that wolf scene and your point was a very good one. These Hollywood perverts don’t want ANY taboos left standing. I can’t imagine what perverts they are in their everyday life. Ew.

    I must wonder though WHY an actress would allow herself to embarrass herself and degrade herself so low? Even Jennifer Aniston doesn’t do that! Dignity is just about EVERYTHING to me and I would never allow myself to degrade myself like that and I reckon in 2012 these air-headed actresses will still try to blame the men behind the films. Such BS.

    Those movies ARE beyond derivative too. I recently saw the “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” with that actress who dates that fop Timberlake and other than R. Lee Ermy it was NOT worth seeing since I am a fan of the original. Nor was the prequel that I also saw. Stick with the original. (However, I do love the very strange and creepy Part 2 that starred Dennis Hopper…but that was made years ago).

    I love “The Three Stooges” and had no idea they were doing a movie on them. I heard some audio yesterday and it sounded very good! I know girls usually are not fans of TTS but I have always laughed and enjoyed ‘em!

    Skunky on April 14, 2012 at 9:37 am

      Skunky, I always like your comments, too. What’s funny and seemingly ironic is to read you, Debbie and I act like three scolds and berate Hollywood films for their newest perversions–such as the wolf scene in “Cabin in the Woods.” This might seem contradictory to someone who read Debbie’s review of “Team America” which film she lavishly praised, since that film featured scenes that were so extraordinarily crude. Or your own comments about actresses losing all self-respect might seem odd to someone who knows you’re a fan of Lynch and that not too long ago you wrote you thought John Waters’ “Dirty Shame” was underrated.

      It’s all context and subtext. A run-of-the-mill teen film like this one which includes lewdly suggestive scenes of sex with wolves isn’t satiric (as with Trey Parker) or iconoclastic (as with Waters and Lynch). It’s simply expanding teen consciousness of what is permissible. It’s part of the cultural sludge.

      Burke on April 16, 2012 at 10:25 am

        LOL, that is correct Burke! I am far from a prude when it comes to films but some scenes I just can’t stand because of lack of dignity. It’s like that definition of Pornography…I know it when I see it.

        Oh yes, I am a HUGE fan of John Water’s “A Dirty Shame” the UNRATED version. It is crazy funny. It was the first JW film I enjoyed since “Polyester”. I didn’t like “Crybaby”, “Serial Mom” or “Hairspray” but love his earlier stuff.

        I guess some scenes are more wacky/zany and are funny while a scene like the wolf one would seem undignified.

        I finally saw “Bridesmaids” and enjoyed it. I didn’t like “American Pie” or “There Is Something About Mary” so I guess it’s all in good measure!

        Skunky on April 16, 2012 at 10:58 am

          Skunky, you think Jennifer Aniston doesn’t degrade herself? Aren’t you forgetting “Horrible Bosses” where she plays a nude dental worker nymphomaniac? I think that was the film from last year that made my skin crawl the most–and Aniston was definitely part of the problem.

          Here’s my own list of Waters films preferences. The differences in your and my personal rating are pretty stark, it seems, since I love his later films.

          1) Serial Mom
          2) A Dirty Shame
          3) Polyester
          4) Pink Flamingos
          5) Cecil B. DeMented
          6) Female Trouble
          7) Desperate Living
          8) Seed of Chucky (some wouldn’t call this a Waters film, since he didn’t write or direct, but I would disagree)
          9) Hairspray
          10) Cry-Baby (It seems Depp was already wrecking films he starred in even back then)

          However, even if you may be wrong about Waters and his later films, I will say you have good taste in political and cultural analysts, since Debbie–along with Roger Hedgecock whom you also at one point mentioned that you liked–are my two favorites also.

          Burke on April 17, 2012 at 8:18 am

Like Debbie, I enjoyed “Lockout.” First, Guy Pearce was a good casting choice, better in delivering wry wisecracks than, for example, Jason Statham would have been. Second, Maggie Grace from “Taken” made a fine female lead, confident, smart and attractive with good lines. I also liked the two Irish villains; they were somewhat caricatures but mostly convinced me that the one was a genius while the other was very psychotic and deranged. Good villains are very important in action films. Finally, the story didn’t drag; it just kept hopping and popping.

Sometimes Pearce’s wisecracks didn’t work, as when he’s asked, “What’s going on?” in the middle of various catastrophes and he stops to answer, “Oh, global warming” and etc, etc. But mostly he was bright and snappy.

I had a minor problem with the subplot involving manipulative corporations and the evil Secret Service, but there’s probably not much that can be done about these two meme-driven fixtures in all our psyches.

Burke on April 14, 2012 at 8:27 am

Wow. I was not going to see “Lockout,” but now maybe I will. too bad “Think Like a Man” is not a good movie..some of the women in the advertisement are rather hot looking.

And Deb, please see the Three Stooges movie. The reviews have not been good, but maybe the critics don’t appreciate the Three Stooges. You are one of the few woman who I imagine has an appreciation for what were three nice Jewish boys.

Jonathan E. Grant on April 14, 2012 at 8:31 am

I also saw three other movies just released this week and liked them all. First there was the Chinese film “The Raid,” and that was fantastic, pure action and character with no distracting subplots or ironic overlay. This was old fashioned good vs. evil, with the bad guys all drug lords and the good guy in this case a single cop who can think on his feet and has good fighting skills. Then I also saw “Woman Thou Art Loosed,” by T.D. Jakes who does Tyler Perry-type black films with strong middle class morality and Christian themes. I like Perry’s films because they generally have good morals, and I enjoyed this film, too. Compare this black film to the disgusting just-released black film “Budz House” and you can see why there’s a lot to be grateful for in what Perry and Jakes do in promoting responsibility and decent family values. Finally I saw the new Farrelly brothers film “The Three Stooges” and liked that. It was goofy, but “pure” and sweet (this is the Farrelly style, sweetness mixed with grossness as in “Something About Mary” or political incorrectness as in “Shallow Hal”). The previews looked bad, but the film was much superior. I’m generally not a fan of slapstick and don’t much care for the original Three Stooges schtick, but I could change my point of view after this movie.

Burke on April 14, 2012 at 8:59 am

Where’s the sense of “locking” up a prisioner and putting them to sleep in suspended animation? They will not learn the hardship of living in a jail cell from day to day. Actully, they would wake up 20 or 50 years later with the same body and mindset . When returned, they will possibly enjoy the pleasures of “new” inventions, etc., without having to age.
Heck, I might even want to commit a crime if I knew I would wake up 50 years later in the same body… lol

Dan on April 14, 2012 at 12:46 pm

The Raid is an Indonesian movie. Violent action start to finish.

Too bad Sony is not advertising this movie for its full potential. They bought it to do a remake and sequel. Part of the deal was they had to release it. There were 5 people in the theater Friday night when I saw it. Sony did this to “Moon” too. A good movie they bought cheap and are betting on DVD sales to turn the profit so they don’t spend any advertising money on it.

So just like other foreign films that have been remade because movie companies think film goers can’t read, we will be seeing a remake in english with american or british actors.

ender on April 14, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    Ender, many of the Indonesian remakes have not turned out very well (I’m thinking of “The Eye” and “Bankcock Dangerous”). And I’m not being snobby–they just weren’t good. Perhaps if Nicolas Cage weren’t available, that might help.

    “Moon” was one of my favorites of the year, and in fact it’s one of my favorites in that genre of all time. I was happy that Debbie gave it a positive review. It was, I think, poorly interpreted by too many critics as a “failed twilight zone episode.”

    I had to drive quite a ways extra to see “The Raid” since it didn’t open in my region. The theater was pretty full–mostly of Asians. I think the many enthusiastic film reviews helped even though, as you say, there was virtually no promotion.

    Burke on April 15, 2012 at 9:09 am

Kudos Ms. Schlussel:

I am grabbing a box of popcorn and headed for the movie rental place.

Right on Ms. Schlussel – WRITE ON

Respectfully Yoda http://www.magnifiedview.com

P.S. I am daring to add that you are drop dead, smashing, show-stopping gorgeous.

Yoda on April 15, 2012 at 2:00 pm

La Deb, “It’s written by the usually excellent Luc Besson, of whom I’m also a fan.”

That’s it, Debbie. We ARE getting married!!! I can’t believe I am a huge fan of a Frenchie, but if Luc Besson is attached to a movie I’ll be there. Even his “bad” movies are fun and good. Besson just has a certain flair in everything he touches that I love.

We’ll spend our days of wedded bliss watching District B13, Taxi (not the remake), Wasabi, and Kiss of the Dragon among many others.

I told you when you were choosing that Lockout would be the one to see and review.

Bonus, Besson is one of the few who is taking on Hollywood pet causes by making Muslims the bad guys in his films and one of the few who spoke out against Polanski.

Vandy baseball and Predators playoff games took up the weekend so hopefully I’ll catch Lockout next week. I’ll probably sneak over to Cabin in the Woods if I have a chance.

Deb, maybe one day you can review An Inconvenient Truth by our local conservative radio host Phil Valentine. It was an excellent expose’ on Al Gore’s climate change ruse. It was on at our local theatre for a long time, not sure if it got a wide release.

Jeff_W on April 15, 2012 at 6:58 pm

Avoid the Stooges. It is an insult to their memory and the Jewish community that they made these very quintessential, Jewy Jews Catholic goyim. When rhea spoke Yiddish , what did the Farraleys rhink it was Latin Rite? who wrote the screenplay Mel Gibson?

Avi on April 15, 2012 at 9:26 pm

As always, I love your reviews. Part of me wishes you had a chance to see Bully – I’ve heard mixed things about it and would have found your take on it to be either very telling or very entertaining.

Mike on April 16, 2012 at 3:33 am

Deb….I know you will not be pleased with this…but I found this review of ‘Cabin’ to be spot-on:

http://redlettermedia.com/half-in-the-bag-cabin-in-the-woods-and-the-three-stooges/

Nick Fury on April 17, 2012 at 1:33 am

Nick Fury, not to be too contrary, I’m not sure why Debbie wouldn’t be pleased with that review you linked to, unless it’s that these two drunken clowns were long-winded, took a long time to get to the point, weren’t as sharp as Debbie and didn’t have anything to say about the film’s subtext on which Debbie excels. The one guy had mixed feelings (“sort of liked it”) which is exactly how Debbie reacted; the other guy enthused about the film’s originality, so obviously he hadn’t seen the recently made Norwegian cult film “Troll” which was based on the same premise.

On the other hand, even though Debbie’s review of this movie was superior, it was kind of interesting hearing what these two had to say, so thanks for sharing it.

Burke on April 17, 2012 at 11:52 am

Gosh golly.

I thought the future would be without prisoners or huge space station colonies of frozen felons. It must be George Bush’s fault or at least the Republicans, or the result of some tax cut scheme.

Oh, and the real surprise is that all the future is run by democrats.

Seriously, it looks like a good one.

Thanks for your reviews of the movies. It is a feature of your website that sets it apart from others.

I have yet to see “My Week with Marilyn” and “The Artist”. I guess I will catch them on DVD rental.

Panhandle on April 19, 2012 at 5:20 pm

Typical knee jerk reaction, wolf “makeout” scene is meant to show effects of the behavioral alteration drugs the scientists are using to make the kids conform to slasher movie stereotypes for the amusement of the old gods demanding sacrifice, not a tacit approval of beastiality…same with the “”gratuitous” nudity, the point is…use mind altering drugs to make the sacrifices behave how they are expected by the audience. i.e. old gods/audience…pay attention.

Aaron Williams on March 6, 2013 at 3:43 am

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