Review by Derrick Carter

Running Time: 1 hour 28 minutes

MPAA Rating: R for Strong Bloody Violence throughout, Language including Sexual References, and some Drug Use

Directed by: Greg McLean

Written by: James Gunn

Starring: John Gallagher Jr., Tony Goldwyn, Adria Arjona, John C. McGinley, Melonie Diaz, Josh Brener, Michael Rooker & Gregg Henry

Work sucks. You probably deal with stupid people on a daily basis and suffer small indignities that pile on unnecessary stress, but things could be a hell of a lot worse. How, you might ask? Well, have you ever had to dodge bullets in your office while using a paper trimmer as an improvised weapon? No? Things don’t seem quite as bad now, do they? THE BELKO EXPERIMENT has this exact scenario play out and turns an office building into a bloody battleground. Directed by Greg McLean (WOLF CREEK) and penned by James Gunn (SLITHER), this film is BATTLE ROYALE in an office building. Though it has flaws, THE BELKO EXPERIMENT is a lot of fun…if office drones slaughtering each other sounds like fun to you. To me, it certainly does and I enjoyed watching this flick.

Belko Industries is a large business that’s located in the middle of nowhere. It seems like a pretty nice place to work (big money, cushy jobs, company cars and paid-for apartments), but all of that changes in an instant. Without warning, a voice comes over the intercom and informs employees that they are now part of a twisted experiment. They must kill two people or face dire consequences. The workers laugh this announcement off as a bad joke, but unexpected metal security doors proceed block off all exits and windows. Still, they refuse to murder and then a few heads explode. The Belko employees will participate in this kill-or-be-killed exercise or their brains will be blown to kingdom come. Things begin to breakdown into thick tensions and bloody carnage as the voice on the intercom demands more bodies…

THE BELKO EXPERIMENT wears its influences on its sleeve. The biggest of these being, of course, BATTLE ROYALE. The script liberally borrows a few plot devices from that film to ensure that things get as bloody as they possibly can, which is a very good thing in a story like this. There’s also a quirky sense of humor as employees attempt to salvage normalcy and remain somewhat civilized in the face of this unthinkable scenario. The office setting, creative killing tools, and little mannerisms all naturally lend a goofy vibe to the proceedings, making a few disturbing scenarios into something downright comical. One of my favorite bits involves a particularly gruesome demise while the company’s promotional video plays in the background.

Despite having 80 employees in the building, Gunn’s script does a solid job of giving many of Belko’s workers time to shine in individual moments. There’s a sense that we’ve all met these people in one setting or another, which makes it even more interesting to watch as they start offing each other. The characters you’d expect to be psychos do become psychos, which could be seen as a problem in the plot’s predictability. Still, the ways that they become unhinged remain entertaining. The film isn’t constant carnage from the minute the killing starts, but begins with small bits of bloodshed and allows for a pressure-cooker of “what would you do?” suspense to build before bursting into an action-packed orgy of chaos. The slower bits and murdery moments deliver equal levels of intensity for entirely different reasons.

John Gallagher Jr. (who recently played a survivor in 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE and a psycho-killer in HUSH) plays pacifist protagonist Mike. His constant rationalization of trying to save everybody makes a hero that the audience can root for, while some folks around him seem a little too eager to slaughter their coworkers. Adria Arjona is solid as Mike’s girlfriend and delivers two of the film’s best scenes. Meanwhile, Tony Goldwyn shines as the murder-happy boss and John C. McGinley is great as the office creep (coming off like a psycho version of Milton from OFFICE SPACE). Other cast highlights include: Sean Gunn as a Shaggy-like stoner, Michael Rooker as the scruffy head of Maintenance, Melonie Diaz as an innocent new hire, and Rusty Schwimmer as a security guard. Most of the background characters are colorful enough to stick out too, making their murders and deaths seem like more than just a generic body count.

THE BELKO EXPERIMENT was definitely influenced by other (better) films and is predictable to an extent, but neither of these things really damage the film’s fun. The entertainment factor is through the roof as we watch colorful office drones turn on each other and bite it in various ways. There’s also a sinister sense of humor, even though this isn’t exactly a laugh riot. The film lets its extreme situation naturally build, with effective pacing that puts the viewer in the shoes of these characters. There was a specific scene where I was rooting for one character to brutally kill another character. The film then allowed for a small breath of hesitation to let the audience realize that they had just been put into the same mindset of that character. There’s something special about a film that can accomplish that. If you’re a horror fan, then THE BELKO EXPERIMENT is a gory good time!

Grade: B+


Review by Derrick Carter

Running Time: 1 hour 29 minutes

MPAA Rating: R for Language and brief Sexuality


Directed by: Mike Judge

Written by: Mike Judge

Starring: Ron Livingston, Jennifer Aniston, Stephen Root, Gary Cole, David Herman, Ajay Naidu, John C. McGinley & Paul Willson

Have you ever been stuck in slow-moving traffic on your way to work? Have you ever endured the insufferable ramblings of a dickhead boss or had to put up with inane antics from annoying coworkers? Are you sick of wasting away your precious time on filling out menial paperwork? If you answered “yes” to any of those questions and are feeling fed up with life in general, then you might just be overdue for a viewing of Mike Judge’s OFFICE SPACE. In his first live-action feature film, Judge weaves everyday annoyances into a hilarious, relatable workplace comedy.


Peter Gibbons (Ron Livingston) is a bored programmer stuck in his cubicle job at Initech. On a daily basis, Peter finds himself beset by constant criticism from eight different bosses, loaded with frustrating paperwork, and depressed by sheer boredom. In an effort to combat his depression, Peter visits a hypnotherapist and is put into a deep state of relaxation…only to have the therapist drop dead before he can bring Peter back to the real world. Now invigorated with a new lease on life, Peter decides that he’ll do whatever he wants with little regard to the consequences at work and soon finds himself flourishing with upper management. When the company decides to fire Peter’s hard-working friends Michael Bolton (David Herman) and Samir Nagheenanajar (Ajay Naidu), Peter decides that the best course of action is to rebel against Initech…much to the dismay of his waitress girlfriend Joanna (Jennifer Aniston).


OFFICE SPACE was hardly a financial success at the box office, earning back two million over its 10 million dollar budget. However, the film soon found a cult following after its disappointing stint in theaters. Though details of the cubicle environment are exaggerated for comedic effect, OFFICE SPACE holds a lot of truth in its perfectly paced 89-minute running time. Judge based the script off a series of animated shorts which in turn came from experiences at his first job. Ties to real-world office politics and stupidity raise this film above simply being a comedy, making the story far more relatable and the laughs even bigger as a result. The grounded sense of humor lends itself to running gags about TPS reports, Michael Bolton’s music, a malfunctioning printer and a red stapler. Though those topics might not sound especially funny, Judge transforms them into something truly special.


Another great narrative technique that Judge employs is a careful use of subplots. There are a handful of smaller storylines in OFFICE SPACE that wouldn’t make features by themselves, but blend naturally into the movie’s main plot. Joanna’s flair feud with her smug restaurant manager will likely cherished by anyone who’s worked in food service. Peter and Joanna’s blooming relationship comes off as a believable love story and doesn’t distract from the workplace comedy angle. The film’s best subplot easily belongs to company vice president Bill Lumbergh’s (Gary Cole) constant harassment of bespectacled weirdo Milton Waddams (Stephen Root). This was ripped straight out of Judge’s early animated shorts. Cole’s passive-aggressive boss and Root’s ginger-haired oddball serve as the film’s two biggest highlights.


Ron Livingston has never struck me as an acting talent to be reckoned with, but he perfectly embodies everyman Peter. This protagonist’s earlier moments keep the viewer in an appropriately frustrated mindset and then we feel elated with him as he begins to enjoy his day-to-day life more. For my money, Peter Gibbons will likely be the best performance we ever see from Livingston. Jennifer Aniston, who was in her fifth season of FRIENDS at this point, is great as Peter’s not-so-ambitious love interest. Joanna is a kung-fu loving girl who just wants to live her life to the best of her ability. She also gives some very simple, but true life advice during her final scene.


Other colorful supporting characters include the Bobs, a pair of corporate “housecleaners” played by Paul Willson and an especially hilarious John C. McGinley. These two lay-off managers don’t take up a ton of screen time and make the most of their scenes. Ajay Naidu hasn’t starred in too many noteworthy movie roles, but he steals a number of moments as good-natured Samir. He also pulls off a brief breakdance move that cracks me up every time I see it. Finally, David Herman has befallen a similar fate to Naidu in that he’s mainly a supporting role and hasn’t received a ton of big screen time (aside from the first three seasons of MAD TV). That’s truly a shame, because he has plenty of great moments as profanity-filled, self-loathing Michael Bolton. It’s also worth noting that this movie’s rap soundtrack makes scenes of these white-collar rebels even funnier with its obvious contrast.


There are many reasons why OFFICE SPACE has spawned such a notable reputation and cult following since it’s so-so theatrical reception. This film resonates with plenty of pissed off employees and comedy lovers simply for its honest, unblinking nature at stupid office politics, crappy workplaces and everyday annoyances. Judge’s script feels genuine and hilarious, never going too far over-the-top to be completely unbelievable or non-relatable. The many subplots ensure that there’s never a laugh-free scene on the screen, while the main storyline is likely to leave the viewer with an upbeat attitude afterwards. OFFICE SPACE is not only one of the best comedies to come out of the 90’s, it’s one of my all-time favorite comedies! If nothing else, this film is sure to cure a case of the Mondays.

Grade: A+


Review by Derrick Carter

Running Time: 1 hour 42 minutes

MPAA Rating: R for Violence, Language, some Sexuality and Drug Content

GetCarter00 poster

Directed by: Stephen Kay

Written by: David McKenna

(based on the novel JACK’S RETURN HOME by Ted Lewis)

Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Miranda Richardson, Rachael Leigh Cook, Alan Cumming, Mickey Rourke, John C. McGinley, Michael Caine & Rhona Mitra

Though it eventually went on to win critical acclaim, 1971’s GET CARTER wasn’t originally well-received upon release. Due to marketing blunders and a studio that seemingly didn’t care, the Michael Caine revenge-thriller wound up sinking into obscurity in the USA. Two decades passed and the film gained a cult following behind it, eventually re-entering the cinematic scene during the 90’s. Where there’s popularity (no matter how niche it is), there will be a studio exec waiting to cash in on that craze. I present to you the 2000 remake of GET CARTER. This was a cooler, more hip and edgier take on the material…at least, that’s what one studio exec would have you believe. Though it’s watchable and does try to tell its story in a slightly different manner, this remake of GET CARTER ultimately feels like a bit of watered-down bore.


Jack Carter is mob enforcer in Las Vegas (as opposed to London). When his brother winds up dead in an apparent drunk driving accident, Jack returns to his home in Seattle (as opposed to Newcastle). Something surrounding his brother’s death doesn’t seem right, so Jack goes sniffing around the darker corners of the city for answers. While on his quest for the truth, Jack bonds with his young niece and discovers a conspiracy involving a porn kingpin and a computer genius…that could be linked to his brother’s suspicious untimely demise.


Credit where credit is due, 2000’s GET CARTER does try to tell its story in a different way. Those new spins on the material don’t quite work out, because the movie still finds itself clinging to the original to move the plot forward. However, this inferior remake is still watchable…even if it’s poorly made. Sylvester Stallone is certainly not the actor that Michael Caine is, so he plays his usual tough guy role here. Stallone aside, every other character has been slightly shaken up. The innkeeper is now Jack’s sister-in-law. Jack’s sister has now become Jack’s niece. The shady businessman has transformed into a computer geek (played in not so intimidating fashion by Alan Cumming). Then there’s Mickey Rourke as the porn kingpin who’s pretty much the same scumbag as the original character, but with a website and CD’s. While the original GET CARTER had bad guys and worse guys, this new version has been painted with a good vs. evil brush. Jack Carter wasn’t someone who you could completely root for in the original, but he’s pretty much a generic action hero in this reboot. As you might imagine, this lessens the moral ambiguity that made the original so haunting and special.


On the technical side of things, GET CARTER feels like it’s trying way too hard to be hip and cool. For crying out loud, this new Jack Carter wears cufflinks with his initials on them. The film is over stylized to the breaking point. There are lots of useless lens flares, fast editing, quick cutting and slow motion. The movie speaks for itself in a scene where Jack makes a horrifying discovery. The original let the scene quietly play out and all the emotions break across Michael Caine’s face. This remake doesn’t give us much a glimpse of Stallone’s face in that moment that isn’t in double vision or with the camera spinning upside down. Those technical touches are supposed to portray the emotion, instead of the actor. If you’re wanted an MTV action-packed thrill-ride the first time around, then this 2000 reboot also tries to throw in lots of pointless action scenes that exist for the sake of having a chase or fight sequence. To top it all off, the stunning, depressing conclusion that so perfectly closed out the original has been replaced with a forced, uplifting Hollywoodized hodge-podge of an ending.


I had kept my hopes at a reasonable level for this remake and was still let down. I should have taken the techno-reboot of the original’s theme as a warning. Though this new version of GET CARTER may have tried to do things differently, but none of it fully works. I did somewhat enjoy one sub-plot, but it’s only purpose was to add in pointless action scenes that never amount to anything by the ending. Michael Caine shows up in a side role as if to give his approval for this remake and that’s sort of neat, but again, it all amounts to nothing. All this dumbed down remake accomplishes is showing how vastly superior the 1971 original really was. I think I’ll let Michael Caine’s final line in this remake sum everything up. He’s walking away from Sylvester Stallone and says “I’m not turning around.” You should take his advice and just walk past this remake of GET CARTER on the DVD shelf at your local store.

Grade: D+

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