With a Jolt, My Mind Awakens…Chapter Fifty: Ringside at the Kilmer-Jackson “Got Ya By the Eyeballs” Tournament of LTR/D2DVD Champions…

I found my ticket at the bottom of a box of Super Golden Crisp. I am Team Super Golden Crisp: FTF (Fry That Frog!)…

I am dedicated to Killing Time. Call me Sisyphus, but I consider the endeavor to be My Highest Calling. The Age of Current Existence beckons the mission. I’m not certain what time has on the agenda for me, but I know I’ll enter the Twilight Zone wearing my “The Outer Limits” t-shirt just so the Unfathomable Forces have a chuckle before beatdown/deification/inviting me to Infinite Brunch.

Last night, I dreamt a swarm of locusts would explode from my right eye whenever it opened. Peculiar? Not so much when you consider yesterday’s viewership of Samuel L. Jackson’s “Meeting Evil”, a flick I might subtitle “The Luke Wilson Tour Goes Kamikaze”. Sam knocks on the door, Luke answers, Superfly headlock on the Unfunniest Man from “Old School”, and adventures on the open road await!

Samuel L. Jackson is the Martian Manhunter of modern cinema, shapeshifting into any role with regal flair (minus the aversion to fire)…However, there is a challenger to this throne who has purloined the crown and demands combat via organized tournament format: the inimitable Val Kilmer.


*Note: all selections chosen randomly and watched in the order selected — re-arrangements would alter the course of the action and irrefutably the outcome — I invite criticisms/”What If”s/werewolf squid tossings, but the ideal response would be an alternate tournament of the critic’s architecture — I AM NOT ACCOUNTABLE FOR FATE; HE DOES NOT KEEP ACCURATE RECORDS (insert Mitch Hedberg joke here)*

Round One:
“The Traveler” (2010) vs. “Mother and Child” (2010): Long-maned Kilmer bothers the local constabulary for a payment of justice – Jackson is a lawyer wooing colleague Naomi Watts. Jackson’s movie has the stink of doom from opening credit to “No animals were harmed…”, and Kilmer enunciates riddles around the Ubiquitous Lawmen of Feeble Intellect (one of whom is Familiar Face ID# 71845-R, John Cassini, who endured the Andes and Ethan Hawke’s ego in “Alive”), dispensing death with every Sphinxian syllable. “Mother and Child” was predictable, Predictably, the kind of movie in which Samuel finds himself but could otherwise be replaced by Morris Chestnut or Blair Underwood. Kilmer strolls through Round One, Fight One, being so arrogant as to leave Samuel on the linoleum with a bloody lip and NOT going for the kill because, well, he’s Kilmer and that’s the Pez he Dispenses. Winner: “The Traveler”

“The Chaos Experiment” (2009) vs. “Cleaner” (2007): Kilmer wants to save the world, but he has to entrap Eric Roberts & Friends in a sauna to prove his mettle – Jackson mops up spilled blood and discovers a conspiracy in the pool of O-Negative. I liked seeing Jackson play relatively cool, and (pun intended AND inflected) Kilmer is outlandish yet plausible as he tries to suck every drop of Relatively Cool from his prisoners. The movies aren’t gold stars on either player’s resume, but they remain fun without being tedious. We need to turn to the supporting cast: Eric Roberts vs. Ed Harris. Sadly, Ed Harris wasn’t up to the fight, unable to channel a molecule of fist-clenched Brigadier General Francis X. Hummel, whereas Eric Roberts always smiles in the spotlight, grateful to remain on the radar, and seems to shine (HA!) in the steamroom. “Best of the Best”? No, but it’s better than “It’s My Party”. Winner: The Chaos Experiment

“The Thaw” (2009) vs. “Arena” (2011): I smirked like cocaine-snorting Harry Ellis (Hart Bochner in “Die Hard”) when this draw was born. Here we meet two familiar yet exhausted storylines: The Parasite that Wants to Eat Humanity vs. Gladiatorial Combat for the Bloodlust of the Digital Denizens. Kilmer seems to tackle roles in which his character wants to impart a significant lesson, so his portrayal of Dr. David Kruipen is but a photocopy of the Steamroom Sinestro, James Pettis. Jackson has admitted he feeds his need for “fun” roles rather gluttonously (“Snakes on a Plane”, “Deep Blue Sea”, “The Man”, “Farce of the Penguins”); he succeeds as the manipulator of the death games because he knows he must carry this movie to its terminus. Kellan Lutz and the supporting players are mundane as mummies, with Jackson keeping lit the fire. I was surprised that “The Thaw” was inferior to “Arena” because the arithmetic seemed to favor it; “The Thaw” is reasonably reminiscent of “The Thing” to be enjoyed, and “Arena” is “The Running Man” minus the smarm of Richard Dawson. Hence, “The Thing” beats “The Running Man”, no dispute. Kilmer’s villain seems breathless and bored, as if HE was in the steamroom, evaporating into delirium that “Real Genius II: Hathaway’s Revenge” turbocharged civilized standards five feet from Kilimanjaro’s pinnacle. Meanwhile, Jackson reminded me of Von Sydow’s Ming the Merciless in more than a handful of scenes. Winner: Arena

“Blood Out” (2011) vs. “The Samaritan” (2012): A felicitous episode of pugilism, as both movies feature our combatants at the middle rung of the oily, asp-entwined ladder to the Top of The Game…Kilmer is a human trafficker vs. a Cop Who is Putting Down his Badge for a While, and Jackson is Out of Prison and Up to His Old Tricks. The ballet of the performances between the two warriors is sublime – Both gentlemen know the limitations of the roles they’ve accepted and still manage to configure their atoms into flammivomous serpents of terror. Again, we meet movies that won’t register as word-of-mouth recommendations and won’t be mentioned in the eulogies, but the actors cannot be faulted for playing the game wisely, altho’ unilaterally. Remember: not every script presents a slingshot to the stars. <—Not wisdom, just spontaneous folly…just like these movies! A tough, long battle right to the end of the ten round limit, but…Winner: The Samaritan

Round Two:
“The Traveler” vs. “The Chaos Experiment”: No contest, referee stoppage in 19.5 seconds…Kilmer’s cop-haunting Mr. Nobody doesn’t sweat. Winner: The Traveler

“Arena” vs. “The Samaritan”: Hold the phone, hold the phone, shouldn’t “Arena” thrive in this environment? Wasn’t the movie tailor-made for this manner of belligerent symphony? I applaud the vim and vigor of “Arena”, but when you place the movie against Jackson’s “Coming Home Again” criminal mischief, the gladiator vibe gets swallowed whole without mastication, unceremoniously, noiselessly, a dignified dab of linen napkin to the corners of the mouth. Jackson is firmly immersed in his mid-60s, and “The Samaritan” seems to prove he does not require superfluous vocalization to exercise his right to survive, hit the red button, and launch. Winner: The Samaritan

Before we proceed to the final round, we cleanse the eyeballs with this randomly inserted animated sequence:


Final Round:
“The Traveler” vs. “The Samaritan”: Hey, man, I was Jim Morrison… When you are sitting ringside at a fight of this magnitude, you must remember to bring a tarp. Jackson broke Kilmer’s jaw, and the acid splashed onto my dungarees, sizzling a hole in my jeans. Heartbreaking! Kilmer spewed green mist into Jackson’s eyes, blinding him temporarily. Kilmer does not change his breathing patterns, regardless of the gig. He raises Jackson to his feet, and the two embrace. Jackson wanted a fight, but Kilmer wanted a Bad Joke Ending. “Bad Joke Ending?” exclaims Jackson? Kilmer raises his eyebrows and nods. They laugh like hyenas as Kilmer concedes the victory to Jackson. I won’t play spoiler, but “The Traveler”…yeah, we know where it’s going. Val is Cock-of-the-Walk, but he’s riding the stallion to a simple conclusion, one that tastes like Corn Flakes. “F*ck, man,” says Jackson, “I’m eternally Frosted Flakes”. Kilmer agrees. Hey, man, he was Jim Morrison…but he’ll never be Frosted Flakes. Winner: The Samaritan

Oh, right! The Bad Joke Ending! Well, kids, do you know what happens when Kilmer and Jackson embrace?