Thursday, December 15, 2011

Mantiple Choice Free DVD Giveaway

Hello folks,

In the spirit of the holidays, we are going to be giving away a free DVD as a gift.   And also in the spirit of the holidays, we'll only give something out if we get something in return.

Here's how to play:

You will win: An as-yet unnamed Man Movie DVD (brand new, in case you feel like re-gifting) and a personalized note to go with it

What we want:  You can enter in one of three ways

A) Comment on this post with a new feature or kind of post you would like to see from us in the future

B) Comment on this post with a Man Movie that you feel we ought to be reviewing that you would love to read what we have to say on

C) Follow us on Twitter ( @ManMovieGuide ) and also tweet a mention about us

How long you have:   We will be accepting submissions from now until Wednesday the 21st of December

How often we give away DVDs and other prizes really depends on the amount of participation we get.  If it's just our moms commenting or tweeting about us, well.... we can always just buy our moms a DVD.  And really, where's the fun in that?

Bon chance!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


      When we were polling folks for Man Movies that absolutely had to be reviewed, one of the movies that kept coming up again and again was Predator. It seems to occupy a similar hallowed ground for nearly everyone we spoke to. So when it came time to review it (yes, we'd all seen it before), it came as quite a shock to this reviewer. You see, dear reader, you probably haven't seen it in quite a while (beginning to end). It is not as good as you remember it. Don't mistake that inflammatory statement for dislike. The movie is good, and very deserving of a review on the Man Movie Guide. It is just a very flawed film that is airbrushed into classic status by nostalgia and a distance from actually having seen it.
      Predator is a roll call movie that is partially derailed by the sheer star power of a mid-80s Arnold Schwarzenegger. Arnold plays "Dutch" (likely a way of haphazardly writing off the fact that a US Military officer sports an accent more Colonel Klink than Sanders). His team of special ops falls flat due to a lack of screen time for each of them, but most of them get at least one chance to shine and show off their machismo before being offed as fodder. Sonny Landham plays stoic Native American tracker "Billy", who is so hardcore that he mutilates himself before standing up to the titular alien hunter. Jesse Ventura (yes, that makes two future governors in the movie) isn't a very good character, but he does have one of cinema's all-time coolest guns in the movie: a mini-gun with an overhand joystick-esque trigger fed by a metal backpack full of bullets. And Apollo Creed himself, Carl Weathers, plays a one-time operative turned pencil pusher who gets it in the coolest/funniest scene in the movie [Note: This movie is about an alien hunter that picks off people one by one. Not many people survive. That doesn't count as a spoiler so get over it.]
     So the pacing of the movie is off due to bad editing. So the music by Alan Silvestri sounds as if it was written for an entirely different movie. So the continuity of much of the action is uneven and subject to interpretation. Predator will not soon be mistaken for high art. But let's talk about what it does have going for it. This is vintage Arnold, where he is kick ass and spitting one-liners like only he can. It is a 7 foot alien with dreadlocks blowing the shit out of people with lasers in a jungle and taking pieces of them as trophies. It is explosions and machine guns and a dense and verdant jungle belonging to some anonymous South American country. It is a popcorn movie at heart, and will never allow you to treat it as anything else. The movie is damn fun; and that's probably why you remember it more for what it is than what it isn't.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Tango & Cash

by TheDavidMo

At first blush, Tango & Cash seems just like another paint-by-numbers buddy cop movie from the 80s.  More than that, it almost seems as though the makers of the movie were adhering to some sort of guy movie checklist  when coming up with it: gratuitous tits shot?  Check.  Pointless series of explosions?  Check.  After-punch quips aplenty?  Check.  So what does this movie offer that others of the same genre don't?

The answer is-- aside from Sylvester Stallone's ridiculous wearing of smart-guy glasses-- not much.  But this is just it: within T&C's rigid formula is a kind of purity that sets us free-- inviting us to have some beers, relax with some friends and hurl insults and wise cracks at the alternatively absurd, illegal, implausible, gay, and downright suicidal antics of Stallone's Tango and Kurt Russell's Cash.  Many a conversation will there be about "what would really happen" if a human being tried to do the things that Tango and Cash attempt throughout the course of the movie; from sliding down a high-tension power line with a belt to being lowered into a drum of electrified water (the dangers of electricity is, inexplicably, a recurrent theme).  And it is guaranteed that the room will puzzle over the various plot holes and absurdities encountered along the way... such as why the LAPD has a lavishly funded research and development arm whose only purpose seems to be the attaching of guns to things, or why Teri Hatcher drums during her stripper act, or why the newspapers in LA seem to have some kind of ranking system in place for cops (as in, Tango is the number one cop in LA, and Cash-- whose bust is featured below the fold-- is the number two cop).
Most of the actual elements are incidental: the by-the-book cop wears glasses, the loose cannon wears Hawaiian shirts.  The bad guy is Jack Palance, and the whole story revolves around a frame-up or a drug cartel or something.  And that's all you need to know, really.  The rest is taken care of by the steady drumbeat of one-liners supplied by Tango, Cash-- and you and your buddies.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Cliffhanger Video Game


by Christopher D'Anna

      Snow-covered mountains. Clear blue skies. Automatic fire. Heroic climbers. Sadistic villains. A mid-air heist. A human bobsled. Swinging. Running. Jumping. Climbing. Falling.... Hang on!
     “Cliffhanger” is a shameless entry into the “Die Hard on a blank” Hollywood oeuvre, but is so spectacular and enjoyable that it earns a seat on action movie Mt Olympus next to the original “Die Hard” and not beneath it. (“Speed” has a throne too.) Sylvester Stallone plays Gabe, a rescue climber with a tragic past who happens to be in the wrong place at the... (say it with me) wrong time. An accented John Lithgow leads a group of brutes who have crash landed in the Colorado Rockies and are searching for million dollar briefcases scattered across the terrain. The gang coerces Gabe and his friends into helping them locate the money. Gabe and company have no history of violence and must outwit, outrun and out-climb the terrorists if they want to make it out alive. Sporting unmatched action sequences, the film’s breathtaking scale and Stallone’s star power all make for a great movie ride especially on a big screen.
     Most modern action is derivative of “Bullitt” or “The French Connection”; being gritty urban detective stories. And today you have the ridiculously shaky Bourne franchise, which everyone else, including Bond, is emulating. “Cliffhanger” features no car chases, and the protagonist never uses a gun... in the traditional sense. Sure, the movie is wrought with cliches. However, the actual stunts and sequences are exclusive to this story and this setting. The heist is wild, involving a zip line transfer of money and men between two planes midair; and it’s real. There is another scene where Gabe, first engaged in hand-to-hand combat with one of the baddies, ends up sliding down the slope of a snowy cliff. In the name of self preservation, Gabe slams the head of the creep into the snow and rides him like a bobsled. A pickaxe comes into play a couple of times, and a handy-dandy bolt gun gets Gabe out of a few binds. The most salient moments of uniqueness include actual climbing or repelling. Sure, those moments are shot in ways to hide the faces of the stuntmen, but acknowledging that it isn’t Stallone doesn’t take away from the audacity of the men actually performing those daring feats.
     The movie’s stunning backdrop and soaring music queues create a near-epic sense of scale reminiscent of the German mountains films of the 1930s. It’s an appropriate setting for a film starring a legendary muscleman. Those old German films featured daring feats of strength and will, the subtext being: behold the superiority of the Germanic race versus nature. There must have been some conscious effort here on the part of Stallone and the filmmakers to emulate the metaphor while avoiding the philosophy. It works. The central conflict is man versus man much more than man versus the environment (even though nature is both beautiful and a bitch). The film is truly sweeping and really odd among the action genre. “Cliffhanger” gives audiences an immersive experience which can be attributed to both the amazing location shooting, and Trevor Jones’ score. Jones goes big and orchestral with the music which create a senses of timelessness and grandeur. It’s really quite elegant at times... and seamless at others. It is a perfect score.
     Stallone was a great leading man. The Rocky series, particularly the first, is his ultimate contribution to American cinema. Unfortunately, each entry lost heart as they went on. The Rambo movies fulfilled a mindless action film obligation every Hollywood muscleman has to fill. And yet again, each was worse than the last. In the early 90s, Stallone was getting old and had to reinvent himself. He tried doing comedy and it didn’t resonate with audiences the way Arnold’s movies did. “Cliffhanger” was his big comeback. Stallone’s screen persona works best when he plays the underdog. Here is no exception. Once again, the odds are against him and that’s the majesty of Stallone. When John Lithgow orders “Take his jacket for insurance,” as an audience member you think he’ll freeze out there! Another henchman screams “FETCH” into Stallone’s ears, you think hey man, he doesn’t deserve that. Stallone has these beautiful, sad eyes that create so much empathy with audiences that you can forget, for just a moment, what kind of movie you’re watching. Schwarzenegger always wins. Stallone always wins too... although, he can make you think that maybe he won’t.
     The movie is chock full of gasps, funny quips and moments worth cheering. I’m surprised I haven’t seen “Cliffhanger” on a revival theater bill because it plays really well on a big screen and with a crowd. It does pop up on basic cable from time to time but check it out uncut if you can. It has a nice hard R-rating. And if you think this film is just Hollywood action nonsense, think of a movie formula as being the framework to a roller coaster. Just because you can see it and know what’s coming, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take the ride.