" It’s amazing. If, by amazing, you mean more painful than having a colonoscopy administered with a barbed telephone pole. "
Title: The Arena by New Concorde
Format: DVD Gladiator Exploitation Flick
Reviewing Monkey: Dungapult
The Hype: Last year, Hollywood made a high budget action/drama about gladiators that grossed millions of dollars and garnered critical acclaim. So, naturally, it was only a matter of time before a ton of small witless production companies said, "Me too!" The Arena is New Concorde’s volley into the fray…but they have their own angle! Forget acting, forget action, and forget plot- you’ll watch because The Arena stars two former Playmates. So, is that enough to save this unoriginal production? Read on, my Monkeys. Read on.
What This Monkey Thought...
Story: Okay. I’m going to write
this really simply because I don’t want any of you to get lost while I poor
over this complex and engaging story. There’s this General, see. And, apparently,
he’s Caesar’s good friend. So, since they’re such good friends, Caesar banishes
him to ruling this obscure and sucky little province that Rome has conquered
in the north. But, unfortunately, the general is six kinds of crazy and so the
only thing he builds in this province is a gladiator arena and the only thing
he does is have the locals slaughter each other in it. But, it turns out; the
locals aren’t very good- so he asks Rome to send some expert gladiators up.
But, when they do, this general…now eight kinds of crazy…Decides to train slave
girls and put them in instead. But these aren’t any ordinary slave girls…they
are Playmates…and so they revolt, kill everyone, and escape.
Pretty intense, huh? Now imagine that whole incredible story told with no build up, no explanations, no leads, and in less than twelve lines of dialogue spread out over two hours. It’s amazing. If, by amazing, you mean more painful than having a colonoscopy administered with a barbed telephone pole. This drivel was, hands down, the most pointless and least compelling narrative I’ve ever experienced. And, to make matters even worse, the film makers thought they’d be clever and include a bit of historical reference- so the head slave girl actually turns out to be a very famous character from Celtic history named Bodicia, who lead the Celts against the Romans way back in the day. But, of course, that’s never actually explained. I only know it because they mention her name, in passing, once in the movie and I’ve done a lot of research on the Celts. 0 out of 5
Acting: Okay, here are a few little trivia
questions for you. Q: How many Playmates want to be movie actresses? A: Pretty
much all of them. Q: How many have made it? A: Not including those who went
into either the hard B genre or porn, not bloody many. Q: Why is that? A: BECAUSE
THEY CAN’T ACT! And Arena is a cold, hard testament to that.
Karen McDougal, once famed as the next break out Playmate, shows all the panache and range of an elementary school kid playing a carrot in the local community play. She jiggles to, she jiggles fro, and pretty much all that time she looks confused and frightened…Problem is, you will quickly come to wonder exactly how much of it is acting. When she finally does speak, she delivers lines like a drop out of the William Shatner School of Acting ("What…Will…You…Do…?") and puts inflections and emotions in exactly all the wrong places. Hell, even during her so called fight scenes it seems she’s much more concerned with striking a pose from her Playboy pictorial than she is in actually paying attention to what she’s doing.
So, as if to balance Karen’s incredible under-acting, Lisa Durgan- the other "star" of the show, jumps to the opposite extreme. Her acting can only be described, and I mean no offense to our female readers when I say this, as permanently PMSed. Even in the vague flash back scenes where she’s recalling her life before becoming a slave, she seems like some one has not only pissed in her Cheerios, but also rubbed them on the dog’s butt and then fed them to her with a spoon made of solid poop. It’s fantastic. She scowls, she scoffs, she grimaces, and occasionally…Just for variety, she even snarls. It reminds me of the look on my mom’s face when she caught me on top of the baby sitter with a smuggled Cuban cigar in one hand and the dregs of her nine hundred dollar bottle of brandy in the other. It’s completely ridiculous.
"But Dungapult," you ask, "what about the supporting cast? Surely they all can’t be that bad, can they?" And, with a sigh, I explain that, "You see, my Monkeys…That’s why Uncle Dungapult’s around. So that I can endure this unspeakable evil and save you the torment." Because, yes…it can all be that bad. And it is. The supporting crew portrays that wonderful combination of "I don’t want to be here" and "I have no idea what to do now that I’m stuck here." But, in their defense, I’m not entirely sure it’s there fault. I’m willing to bet that the directing in Arena was so bad they just didn’t have a choice but to suck. 0 out of 5
Action: The Arena, at its core, is a fight movie. After all, it is all about gladiators and their fight to survive. So then, can someone please explain to me how the frickin’ action can possibly suck as bad as it does? First off, I don’t know if they had a stunt coordinator or fight choreographer- but if they did he should send a personal, hand written apology to anyone unfortunate enough to have seen this crap and then he should drown himself somewhere deep within a third world countries septic system. But then, on the other hand, it wouldn’t matter even if the fighting was good because with the combination of extreme close ups and crowd pans with which the scenes are shot you’d never get to see it anyway. And, finally, it has some of the worst effects ever seen on film, but not just because the blood and gore is out of place and shabby, but also because wounds occur in a half assed and sort of improvised fashion. One minute, two characters are valiantly slugging it out and then, all of a sudden; they stop so that one can cut the other’s arm off. But then, two minutes later, the now one-armed guy magically has his arm back and is fighting like nothing ever happened. Absolutely, completely, and totally without merit. 0 out of 5
Visuals and Directing: Well, as I’ve said- the directing is atrocious, camera work is horrible, and the visual ambiance is non-existent. What does exist, though, is nudity. And lots of it. Nudity when it’s called for, nudity when it’s not, nudity when you can see it, and nudity when you really can’t. But, while you may be tempted to think that’s either a good or bad thing- you should feel neither…Because, in truth, it all happens at such inopportune moments and amongst such shitty camera work that you’ll never be sure you’re seeing it anyway. Still, I guess I’ve must give them credit for including it. 1 out of 5
Sound Track: What might be the only shining point in this movie is the semi-chanting Enya rip off background music. Problem is, it’s so out of place and intrusive it only further detracts from the movie…Or rather…Adds to an appalling film experience. 1 out of 5
DVD Extras: This movie may have been salvage able with a combination of out takes and apologies. Instead, you get a big fat load of nothing. Which really makes me wonder…where did the money they raised to make this go to? It didn’t go to acting lessons, a stunt crew, a decent director, or a functional cameraman…so couldn’t it at least have gone into some extras? 0 out of 5
Value vs. Price: Value? What frickin’ value!?! There is none here, son. Absolutely serious- we rented it with a coupon that actually meant the video store gave us a penny to take it home and we still felt over charged. 0 out of 5
|Ye gods how do they make this crap? No, really…how does it happen!?! Do you really sit around the set and say, "Oh yeah…that looked great." And if so, how do you sleep at night?|
The Good: I’ve never said this before in a review…but absolutely nothing. Not a damned thing.
The Bad: From the time you press "play" until the time you finish scraping the projectile vomit out of your own hair.
The Overall Ugly: We often joke that "we want those two hours back," but I’ve never actually felt that I’d rather have spent the time having ticks removed from my genitals. It is, without question, the worst movie I have ever seen.
What it's Worth: Punching anyone in the throat who brings it near you…that’s what it’s worth.