Thursday, June 12, 2014

River City Rumble: Part One

I was a pretty big fan of Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World in all its forms.  Personally, I think the comics were superior to the movie, but then it had more time to flesh out characters, dig deeper into backgrounds and histories, and I think it also did a better job portraying just how self-focused Scott Pilgrim is for most of the story.  In the movie, Michael Cera would give weak explanations without any real strength to back up his lies, where in the comic we only saw things through Scott's eyes through most of the story, so his (unreliable) narration was all we had.

I also felt disappointed that Ramona just became a "damsel in distress" in the movie, when she's a stronger, more independent woman in the books.

But, when I heard about River City Rumble, a fan movie made by the guys at X-Strike Studios (which, sadly, it appears will be closing its doors in 2015), I knew I had to see it.  So, I did the only logical thing.

I pre-ordered a DVD to a movie I had never seen, and it just recently arrived.

So let's give this a shot and see where it goes, okay?

Now, there is one thing I want to get out of the way.  Inside the case is a letter from Tim Ekkebus, the "writer/director/actor/etc" in the film, where he addresses the sudden resurgence in popularity as well as provides an apology for some of the humor contained in the DVD.  As he says, "...there are some jokes and words spoken on this DVD that 21 year old Tim found to be profoundly amusing and totally okay to throw around that my 32 year old self is totally not okay with."

I respect someone who's willing to look back and say "okay, we made some mistakes when it came to language we used, and we're sorry."  It's something I wish more movie producers, actors, or directors would be willing to do (if you want to hear me rant, ask my opinion on Napoleon Dynamite).

We're first introduced to three characters:  Ryan, Alex, and Ashton Kutcher.

Sorry, I meant Ryan, Alex, and- ...hold on, I don't think I heard the third guy's name yet.  Not even after the three split up after Ryan gets a call from his girlfriend and abandons the two to go join her, and Alex and No-Name just head their separate ways.

Anyway, apparently in River City there are more gangs than there are cars on the road, and the three friends discuss how fortunate they are that the gangs aren't organized so they can't do anything like hold the city, you know, hostage.  Or for "ransom."  Their joke, not mine, but I'll admit I sniggered.

...yeah, if you don't get that, don't worry, it just means I'm a bigger nerd than you.

Alex mentions something about a guy named "Slick" possibly commanding all of the gangs in the city, but I'm sure nothing will come of it.

At the park where Ryan is going to meet his girlfriend, two strangers in red shirts (surely just a coincidence) attack her and carry her off.  Ryan, arriving in time to see the whole event go down but apparently not paying any attention until it's too late, attempts to rescue her but gets his butt kicked by one of the two guys.

The guy stuffs a note into Ryan's mouth know, I'm not really sure why, honestly.  Anyway, Ryan calls up Alex to get his help, and asks where S- oh, hey, his name is Simon.  Good to know.  Anyway, Simon's "unreachable" at the moment, so it's up to these two best friends to save the girl and, I guess, the city?  So what's in that note, anyway?

That is an oddly specific note.

First off...the city is held captive?  I haven't heard anything about the cops not being able to go out and just taser all the teenage punks running around punching women in the stomach.  Second, "meet my demands?"  What demands?  He threatens Alex and Ryan (again, oddly specific) but doesn't really ask for anything.

Something tells me this guy didn't really plan out his evil plan.  "Step one, have goon punch woman.  Step two, have gangs wander around to look like I control the city.  Step three, leave note for guy who I've already proven that one of my guys can kick the butt of.  Step four...oh man, I should probably write that note."

There's a pretty cute quote that happens after that text scrolls by:  "How weird, we were just talking about that very thing this morning."  "Yes, the irony is amazing."  Alex and Ryan both realize the same thing I did, however, and comment not just on the lack of any demands, but on how little sense it makes to leave a huge clue for two people to follow when you're trying to stay below everybody's radar.

So Ryan and Alex's plan seems to be gather information from sources but aren't really sure of how to go about it, when suddenly they're surprised by (I kid you not) "Gary and the Generic Dudes."

Truly, the face of fear.

Obviously, a fight breaks out...and huh.  I just realized that we're only now getting the title sequence and the opening credits.

There are two things I want to point out here.  One, Gary's favored move appears to be to stick his hand in his crotch, sniff his hand, and then waggle his fingers towards somebody.  Second, I love the fact that when Alex and Ryan approach the gang, Ryan does his (worst) best British accent and goes "Wot's all this?"

I actually find the accent a lot more entertaining than the fight.

Now, again, these are not professional film-makers.  These are fans doing a fan film based on an 8-bit video game from way back in the day.  The fighting could be much worse, but you can sometimes see a good six inches between a fist or a foot and someone's face.

Needless to say, the two good guys win, and there's a cute moment where some loose change clatters to the ground as the "Generic Dudes" run away.

We cut to Slick's lair (man, those hands that he allows to be the only thing in frame look familiar), where the girlfriend whose name I can't remember is dropped off.  Slick thanks his gentlemen and, in what's actually a fun moment, sends them off saying "there's...complimentary evil buffet downstairs" and tells them to help themselves.

Meanwhile, at the Grotto Mall (which looks absolutely nothing like a mall), Alex and Ryan take on the "Home Boys," three guys in yellow shirts who really don't put up much of a fight at all.  In fact, I'm not even really sure this is a gang.  Maybe they're just an optimistic all-white hip-hop group.

Alex and Ryan decide to head to the "Rise and Shine" to see if "Jill" has heard anything.  Apparently Jill is the local gossip for the town, and is able to point the two guys towards "Moose's turf" over in...ugh.  "Sticksville."

There's one thing that puzzles me, though.  In the background of one scene, a guy comes out a door while Jill is talking.  We don't really see him, and there's no mention of him.  However, considering there's been nobody in this program so far that wasn't related directly to the plot, I'm immediately suspicious about him.  Either he's going to show up again later, or...I dunno, someone just had to come out the door and they didn't feel like shooting the scene again.

The two confront Moose and his gang ("The Frat Guys"), and I have to say, I think Moose is the best character so far in this.  He knows how goofy his speech and his actions are, and can only barely hide the grin on his face as he tries to give a pep talk.  He also completely hams it up to Alex and Ryan as he confronts them.  Sadly, Moose's squad of pink shirt-wearing guys ("Since when do high schools have frats?") don't do so well against the two fighters,

Moose also doesn't do too well, as he throws a total of two (2) punches against one of the guys before getting his butt handed to him.  The guys confront him for info, but he's only barely able to get out a "it was..." before collapsing in a heap with what can only be described as a half-hearted "bleeeearg."

Cut to the evil bad guy hide out, where Slick reveals that the whole point of this is to get revenge on "a particular douchebag."  I do smile at the fact that the girlfriend immediately goes "Ryan?  What'd he do?"  Sounds like your girlfriend doesn't have a very high opinion of you, dude.  Either that, or this happens to her all the time.

Meanwhile, back with Alex and Ryan, a dude totally gets thrown off a bridge.

I'm pretty sure one of the gang members is a girl with a mustache glued on to her face, but I can't be 100% sure.

After beating the Internationals (again, with no real trouble), the two guys meet up with "Roxy," Slick's girlfriend.  Apparently Roxy is actually on their side (for...reasons?) and cautions the guys to "power up" before they take on the guys in red again.  We also get a surprise cameo from one of the camera men!

The two heroes are confronted by two of Slick's men, and what follows...might actually be one of the funnier scenes in the whole program so far.  As the four square off, one keeps interrupting the dramatic posing to try to lay rules, such as "no punches to the face, okay?" or "not the stomach, I just ate."  The whole thing devolves into four guys crouching on the ground attempting to punch each other in the shins.

It's...actually really good.

Back at Bad Guy HQ, we get this:

Oh, did I forget to mention that Slick decided to disguise himself as a ninja because he "really wants to be a ninja?"

That red shirt sure looks familiar.  Must be a coincidence.

Alex and Ryan continue their travels, tearing through a guy named Rocco (wielding the traditional lead pipe) and wind up at a completely different cafe being helped by the exact same waitress (again, someone passes in front of the camera and I'm just left going "...huh?").  There is a cute bit where the two guys debate which of them would be "Player One" and which is "Player Two" but it doesn't really go anywhere.

The two guys decide to split up in order to take out four guys (the "Zombies") individually, leading Alex to take on an extremely tall guy named "Blade."

No, I don't get the size/kitchen utensil reference either.

But we'll come back to that next time, as we continue our watching of River City Rumble!

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