Thursday, December 27, 2007
So, here it is-- A few days late, but still a great movie. And what I've posted is the entire film (about 25 minutes) so If you haven't ever seen it you can watch it in entirety right here. Just make sure you watch it before Disney sends a letter threatening the lives of my family if I don't remove it from my site. Merry Christmas!
Monday, December 17, 2007
The story follows Henry Oldfield (Nathan Meister) as he returns to his family farm after being away for many years. He soon discovers that not only is his older brother now running the farm, but he has secretly begun genetically mutating his sheep. His experiments have transformed the animals from mild mannered grazers, into blood thirsty monsters. Now it's up to him and a pseudo-Peta protester that he found trespassing on the farm to stop the sheep before they overtake the country. Did I mention that Nathan suffers from severe Ovinophobia, or fear of sheep?
Director Jonathan King took full advantage of the beautiful landscapes of the New Zealand farm on which the film is set, which gives it a tremendous setting, and a truly big-budget feel. The film makes no attempt to be taken seriously, nor should it; It's a horror/comedy from the start. However, I feel American audiences are sort of left out of the main joke of the film-- the fact that New Zealand is a land where the sheep outnumber the people 10 to 1, which makes the premise of the film all the more humorous.
There are plenty of bad one liners, ridiculous jokes and gross out set-pieces to keep fans of the genre happy. Though, the scenes dealing with the film's main monster were suspiciously dark, prompting me to wonder whether that was a conscious decision on the part of the director to hide special effects that weren't exactly impressive.
Originally released as a double-bill, playing alongside UK horror film "Severance", this one will no doubt find a long life on the shelves of video store "cult classic" sections far and wide. Though not quite as over-the-top as the films that seem to have inspired it, "Black Sheep" is well worth the viewing, especially for fans of the horror/comedy genre.
Score: 3 out of 5
Monday, December 10, 2007
1.) I hope that my wife finds my blog at least interesting enough to give a look once in a while, so maybe she'll get the hint.
2.) It's fun to talk about what I want for Christmas.
So, the first thing that came to my mind this year is this 5 disc Collector's Edition "Blade Runner" HD-DVD.
Read the complete details about the set here. But believe me when I say, it is going to be awesome.
And at $27.99, I don't feel bad asking for it (unlike the super deluxe edition, which costs a whopping $40 more! That's right, $70 just for that steel case!)
The film is about college Professor Katherine Winter (Hilary Swank), a lapsed Christian whose area of expertise is debunking supposedly divine occurrences, or miracles. She's contacted by a man from a close knit, bible belt town who believes that their river, which has turned red, has actually turned into human blood. Believing this to be the beginning of the biblical ten plagues, he hires her to come investigate and hopefully find a satisfactory explanation of this phenomenon that will calm the people of his town.
As is the case with many original horror movies, the setup for this film is very interesting. The first act was great, with Swank's back story being revealed through some quite interesting flashbacks and subtle exposition. The second act was also decent, introducing the young girl whom the town believes to be the source of their troubles. However, it seems the burden of proof for a horror film is the third act, which is to say, how well it can wrap up the ending. What usually occurs, and has certainly happened here, is that the filmmakers throw in everything that they can, visually and story-wise, often causing it to become awfully convoluted and hard to follow.
Tonally the film started off in the same vein as a film like "The Wicker Man." There was clearly something going on behind the facade of the quaint, peaceful town. However, the amount of borderline cliche elements that pull the storyline in several directions at once stretched the film a bit thin by the end. The story would have benefited from choosing one direction and sticking with it, rather than borrowing elements from other films that led to it's becoming a mash-up of hackneyed horror conventions. The film had a solid concept, but ultimately it falls short in providing a satisfactory conclusion to the story, leaving the viewer feeling slightly cheated, and slightly more confused.
Score: 2 out of 5
Thursday, December 6, 2007
After seeing these pictures from the work-in-progress film, I can see that my doubts were justified. These pictures look like psychadelic, uber-digital, retro garbage. Now, there wasn't much of a chance that I'd see this and/or like it, but now that is a definite. Decide for yourself.
Click the pictures to enlarge.
You'll find my writing under the "Reviews-->Films " section, and you'll also find some info and a snazzy pic of me listed under the "About Us" section. And hey, if you can stretch your alligator arms over to your wallet, maybe you could buy the next issue at you local Barnes & Noble. C'mon, help a brother out. Just kidding.
For me, the unsung hero of the second film has always been Fred Krause, or as he was known in the film-- Officer Cliff. In his one and only credited screen performance, Krause delivers his lines with such emotion and desperation, I just can't help but crack up when I see it.
(Pictured: Krause, snubbed for a Best Supporting Actor nod in 1992.)
The scene may be completely unbelieveable, and a recycled joke from the first film, but to me it's like a fine wine-- it's only gotten better with age.
This one's for you, Cliff. If you say you weren't smooching the Hotel Concierge, then damn it, I believe you.
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
"I'm here to chew bubblegum and kick ass-- and I'm all out of bubblegum."
That memorable line of dialogue pretty much sums up the attitude behind John Carpenter's 1988 film "They Live." Following in the long tradition of horror film-as-social commentary, this film is Carpenter's indictment of Reaganomics, the yuppie movement and conspicuous consumption of the upper class in the 1980's. Though the film's message is delivered with all the subtlety of a slap in the face, it's still a fun and entertaining watch from beginning to end.
Freelance construction worker Nada (Roddy Piper) arrives in New York City as a stowaway on a cross country train. He is able to find work on a construction site, and even finds housing in a camp of other poor/homeless/vagrant types. Before long he realizes that this camp is the base of a movement that is out to bring down the government, who they've discovered are working in conjunction with alien beings to control the minds of the masses via subliminal messages.
The basic plot is genuinely creepy, reminiscent of the best of television shows like "The Twilight Zone" or "The Outer Limits." And the aliens of the film, who show their true form only when viewed through inexplicably powerful sunglasses, are actually really creepy looking. Though I was impressed with the make-up and effects of the film, I was somewhat disappointed with the overall treatment of the story.
Pretty creepy looking aliens, right?
This could have been a true classic, on par with other great "Aliens among us" stories such as "Invasion of the Body Snatchers". Instead it's a classic of a different kind-- a cult classic. The film is chock full of great one-liners and enough hammy acting to keep even veteran B-movie fans satisfied. Also, there is a fight scene in the film that can only be matched in length and ridiculousness by Peter Griffin fighting a giant chicken on "Family Guy."
If you're a fan of John Carpenter, Alien movies, B-movies or any combination of the three, you'll enjoy this film. While it's not exactly Hitchcock, don't forget who's on the cover-- Rowdy Roddy Piper. What you're going to get is an ass kicking good time with lots of laughs thrown in for good measure.
Score: 3 out of 5
Sunday, December 2, 2007
NOTE: I've included the subtitles for this one so you can fully appreciate the dialogue in this scene.
Friday, November 30, 2007
I try my best not to let my blog be just a dumping ground for all of my personal rants that nobody would want to hear in real life. However, once in a while something irks me to the point that I feel compelled to write about it. Today, that something is the film "Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium."
This film bothered me from the moment I heard it's title. Magorium is not a name-- anywhere. Nowhere on this planet is there anybody with the name Magorium, which means that the character's name was just a rhyming device necessary to create a supposedly clever title. If we're making up names, why not call it "Mr. Shmarehouse's Wonderful Warehouse" or "Mr. Tralabishment's Incredible Establishment?"
Secondly, this is yet another in Dustin Hofman's growing line of awful selections of film projects. What is happening to the brains of his generation of actors. Most of the main stars of the 1970's (Pacino, DeNiro, Hoffman) are now choosing absolute nonsense films, effectively ruining their legacy. I have not seen this film, and never will, because to view even one frame of Hoffman's asinine appearance makes me want to either punch him, or myself in the face.
What has happened to children's entertainment these days. I don't mean overall-- that is just too big a topic for this blog. I mean in terms of decent children's feature films. Between this one, "Nanny McPhee" and "High School Musical" I can see why kids are growing up so fast these days-- it's no fun to be a kid anymore. Give them something on par with "The Goonies" or "The Monster Squad"-- something that actually engages them-- and maybe they'll stay around in the basement watching them over and over like I did when I was a kid.
Okay, rant over.
This one kind of snuck up on me. I hadn't heard anything about it and it actually looks quite good. If done well, it has the potential to be a modern take on the great film "Straw Dogs." Maybe that's setting the bar high, but with the caliber of this cast, I'd say the odds are in the film's favor.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
First thing's first, and I may be a jerk for saying it, but Caliendo is a stocky guy at best. Sure, that fits the persona of some of his characters, for instance, Doctor Phil. However, when you're trying to sell Caliendo as an Al Pacino or as the entire cast of Seinfeld, it does nothing to help his act that he is about 100 pounds heavier than the people he is impersonating.
Having said that, some of his voice impressions are quite good. His George W. Bush is probably the best I have ever heard. And of course his John Madden is good, if only as a complete and utter caricature. But he obviously relies heavily on these two impressions, and they are wearing thin quickly.
After having watched two full episodes of the show, I cannot see how TBS possibly expects this show to sustain any amount of freshness given Caliendo's rather limited stable of good impressions. His particular type of comedy seems better suited to skits on Sunday football telecasts and Fox's poorly rated "Mad TV."
In the word's of Caliendo's "John Madden":
Monday, November 26, 2007
One of the traditions of a couple who are getting married is to exchange "wedding gifts" on the morning of your wedding day. Until I was actually about to get married I had never heard of such a thing. It's a good thing I did, though, because my lovely new bride saw fit to present me with an HD-DVD player on the morning of our nuptials. In my shock it didn't even occur to me that my choice in the next-gen high def movie formats had just been made for me. Like a sandwich that was made by your Mom, everything is better when someone else does it for you.
I know how I am, and I would have bellyached about "which format should I buy" forever, instead of just getting the sack to just dive in and make a choice. Well, that choice has been made and I am having a ball with the new format. As of yet I only have Peter Jackson's "King Kong" to tinker with, but the difference in picture and sound is clearly evident. I also have several freebie HD-DVD's from a mail in rebate coming to me, and believe me when I say I am anxiously awaiting them.
Do I know whether or not HD-DVD will win the format war in the end? No. But now that I actually have one of the formats that are at war, I look at it this way-- If HD wins in the end that's great, I'll be ahead of the game. If HD loses out to Blu-Ray, that's fine too. I'll get myself a Blu-Ray player and stock up on all of the HD-DVD's that everyone will be unloading on the cheap. Now that's what call a win-win, buddy.
(Pictured above is the actual player I have. It's the XBOX 360 HD-DVD Drive. )
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
So, apparently we'll be getting some new "Lost" snippets over the next few weeks. I wasn't even aware that these weekly interstitials were coming out. After watching this one I have to say, I'm not impressed. First off, the production value is pretty damn low. It looks like it was shot on the fly with a digital camera. And the music was definitely just pulled from the generic "Lost" soundtrack, which smacks of fan film. I spent the whole 3 minutes waiting for a punchline, because it looks like an SNL digital short that would be making fun of Lost. Hopefully this isn't what they are all going to be like, because if so that would be a letdown.
Here is where I would normally tell you to check it out for yourself below, but Disney pulled all of the YouTube versions of the clip so I can't host the actual video here. What a pain in the ass. However, you can go here to see it at the official site.
The film follows a group of office workers who embark on a team building retreat in the mountains of Eastern Europe. However, these people don't work in just any old office, they're employees of Palisade Defence, one of the biggest weapons manufacturers in the world (think Halliburton). Without giving away any major plot points, the idea behind the story is that someone or something wants these employees to pay for the sins of their company, and they must try to survive on their own in the middle of nowhere, with no means of calling for help.
Marketing "Severance" by likening it to other films/TV shows does it a disservice, especially in terms of it's originality. The script is intelligent and funny, yet the levity never undermines the elements of horror and suspense that make this a pretty thrilling film. My suggestion is to watch this film with no preconceived notions and you'll find it's a quality horror film that got somewhat lost in a market flooded with mediocre films.
Score: 4.5 out of 5
Here is the trailer--
Sunday, November 11, 2007
"White men refuse to believe negroes have come to this hallowed spot to engage in the luxury of police brutality" *
What's the matter? That doesn't sound like something Dr. King would have said? Hmm. Well he did, in fact, say every one of those words in that speech-- he just didn't say them in exactly that order. But, according to the Michael Moore logic of picking and choosing contexts, this is fair. So should I set off to make a documentary claiming that Martin Luther King viewed police brutality as a luxury? The answer is no. The same is true for Moore's making a documentary about the American healthcare system.
Moore has always been very selective in choosing only statistics and "evidence" that support his claims. With no regard for presenting truth, he bends and shapes whatever research makes it look as if his point is valid. Problem with that is, the film that results from such discriminatory practices is tantamount to a propaganda film. Propaganda or not, at least his other films were somewhat entertaining to watch. The same cannot be said for this one.
"Sicko" is yet another in Moore's ever growing oeuvre of films that are a patchwork of cheap, sensationalistic, and often patronizing editing tricks. At this point I feel like I don't I need to highlight the hypocritical aspect of Moore's films and persona. Instead I'll use a visual aid to illustrate one of his editing tricks that may slip by someone who doesn't know what to look for.
In this scene, notice how whenever Moore has the bullhorn to his mouth, the scene is cut away. He is never shown on camera talking into it, and the voice that is supposed to be coming out of it is obviously dubbed from a studio recording. Just one of the many tricks he uses.
Score: 1 out of 5
*(I pulled the text of Dr. King's speech from this page.)
Friday, November 9, 2007
As of today my movie reviews are being published on the website of the literary magazine Withersin. The magazine is described as "a fresh and intelligent change of pace. A new genre in literature; exploring an unconventional side of the human condition." They have a lot of fiction, non-fiction and reviews--most leaning toward the horror genre. Check out the site, it's pretty cool. And while you're there don't forget to checkout my reviews here.
Monday, November 5, 2007
As of Monday November 5th I will be entering into a one week long fast of mostly every kind of media I am accustomed to. That's right-- no movies, no television and no internet. I will, however, access the internet for Grad school purposes only. I'm doing for several reasons, not the least of which is that I need to devote more time to my own career-related writing. Also, I do have a Wedding coming up, I think... I'll have to check on that.
Anyway, starting today, I will be out of commission from popular media for exactly one week. I'm not saying it will be easy, I'm not saying I'll come out alive... I'm not saying you care, but I'm going to try. See you in a week.
Thursday, November 1, 2007
Don't get me wrong, I love these films, but everyone knows that the genres come in waves that ebb and flow. Just look at horror-- not too long ago nobody was making horror films; Now they are the hot ticket. Regardless, it looks pretty fun, and James McAvoy was great in "The Last King of Scotland", though this isn't exactly the role I saw him in following that film.
Anyway, I'll have 2 tickets to "Wanted", a large popcorn and a soda, and that's all I'll expect to get out of this one, which is fine by me.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
1.) Halloween - Well, I mean c'mon, its "Halloween". Seriously though, this is one of, if not the best horror movie ever. I love it-- however, do yourself a favor and steer clear of any version with the name Rob Zombie on it.
2.) The Shining - This one may not appeal to the younger, more desensitized, "torture porn" horror fan, but it's a terrific film nonetheless. While not an "in your face scares" type of film, it maintains a truly spooky atmosphere throughout.
3.) The Nightmare before Christmas - This one works for both Halloween and Christmas, but since there are so many quality Christmas films out there, I usually watch it in October. Also, if you get the chance-- this film is now in Imax 3D theaters. Check it out.
4.) In the Mouth of Madness - Being a huge John Carpenter fan, this is one of my favorite films, period. However, it's also one of the films that scared the shit out of me as a kid. It's a great film that usually gets overlooked as a quality horror film.
5.) A Nightmare on Elm Street - I would say that all of the Nightmare films are fun, but only the first one is worthy of a Halloween night viewing. It's the birth of one of the all time great villains in horror cinema. And it has an absolutely classic last shot!
There you have it. If you want a creepy, spooky film for tonight look no further. All of the titles are linked to their respective IMDB pages, so click away if you want more info on any of them. Otherwise, enjoy the Holiday and if you're giving out candy this year, make sure it's something good-- don't be the guy giving out Mary Janes and Necco Wafers! Happy Halloween, Bitches!
Monday, October 29, 2007
With the release of Roth's sequel, "Hostel II", I was expecting a slightly deeper exploration into the minds of the kind of men who choose to take part in the Elite Hunting Club, the company that provides the films victims. Instead, what I got was a sort of retelling of the first film, in which the guys from the first film were replaced by girls in this one. And the men who have paid for the chance to murder these girls? They are given a slightly larger roles this time around, though with nowhere near the amount of character depth that would truly flesh them out.
This film is yet another example of unnecessary horror film sequels. It joins "28 Weeks Later" and Rob Zombie's "Halloween"** as films that not only do nothing to further the story of their predecessors, but also lessen the impact of the films on which they are based. Would I recommend "Hostel II"? No. I say, if this film looks like something you're interested in, watch the original. I'll even go one further and say to only watch the original with Roth's commentary on. His excitement and detail over the film and it's production outweigh the performances of the actors anyway.
Score: 2 out of 5
** I know that Rob Zombie's Halloween is not actually a sequel, but you get the point.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
To state it simply, David Arquette is not a subtle man. In this, his directorial debut, a group of college-age hippies attend an outdoor music festival in the California Redwoods. Little do they know, a maniac who is obsessed with former President Ronald Reagan is stalking and killing them one by one. The concept is sound and, if put in the hands of a good director, could have been a very cool film-- especially if the antagonist was treated with any degree of seriousness. Unfortunately, this film was laid in the heavy hand of Arquette, who chose to take it more toward the horror/comedy genre. Trouble is, it wasn't very funny, failing to even taking advantage of numerous chances for great one-liners. And it certainly isn't scary. Creating a tense, scary movie takes skill-- a skill Arquette doesn't seem to possess.
What we end up with is a kinda funny, sorta scary debacle that would have never graced the silver screen of even one theater if not for Arquette's name being on it. I always feel that when a low budget horror film decides to go the route of "horror/comedy", it's usually a cop out. 9 times out of 10, the script is just not very scary and it seems like pushing the story to the absurdly funny makes up for it. Well, at least in this case, it certainly did not. To quote the man who inspired this film, "Facts are stubborn things", and the fact is: This movie stinks.
Score: 1 out of 5
View the trailer here.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
This pseudo-documentary tells the story of Zak Penn (Screenwriter of "X Men 2" and "Behind Enemy Lines") attempting to produce the next great film by Werner Herzog. As they construct a production team, there seems to be conflicting ideas about exactly what type of film they will be making. Herzog is interested in the nature of myths, like the Loch Ness Monster, and why as a civilization we need to believe in them. Penn, on the other hand, has a decidedly more "Hollywood" type of film in mind.
It was quite obvious early on that this was not a real documentary. The story is told through the cameras of a film crew who is making a film about Herzog's life. They intend on accompanying him throughout the filming of this new film "The Enigma of Loch Ness." Problem is-- any sharp viewer will notice that the "candid" footage being captured during the shoot often slips into standard filmmaking techniques, such as shot-reverse shot in dialogue scenes. If there was only one camera, and this was shot on the fly, a shot-reverse shot could not happen. However, this didn't take anything away from the film as a whole, mainly because of Herzog himself. Whether it is his hypnotic accent, or the way he seemed to be the only one who truly wasn't acting, whenever he was on screen I was interested.
The film is certainly tongue in cheek. Director Zak Penn's character seems to be poking fun at the idea of a typical Hollywood producer, going as far as trying to hire a Playboy model as Herzog's official sonar operator. He also designed matching "Expedition Suits" for everyone on the crew to wear, bringing the feel of the film dangerously close to that of "The Life Aquatic." The film was funny, a little surrealistic and ultimately compelling. Even though I was in on the joke from the get-go, I was never bored. If you are a fan of Herzog, this is a must see-- even if just to see Zak Penn point a gun at him and exclaim, "Shoot this scene, or I'll shoot you." Good stuff.
Score: 3.5 out of 5
Click here to see the trailer.
Monday, October 22, 2007
When this film was released, it wasn't expected to do much more than rent well on DVD. It had a meager budget ($1.2 Million) and no marquee star power. Much to the surprise of the studio, this film screened well. Here we are, 5 years and 3 sequels later and I still think they had it right the first time. In this case, the low budget worked for the picture. The emphasis had to be on the story, the acting, and of course the twist. In the sequels there seems to be a need to up the ante in terms of gross out traps for Jigsaw to subject his victims to. In the first film, there was no ante to buck up to-- no prior example for this to be compared to. I suppose that gave this film an edge, but the fact remains that it is still the best film in the series. The acting is kind of hammy and the story is derivative, but this is a horror film. All great horror films are influenced (read steal) from others. That's the name of the game. The major requirement is that you put enough of your own spin on it to make it different. This film succeeds there. It may be hard to see that now, in the age of the splat pack, but this film was something new when it came out.
If money wasn't as big a factor as it is in getting sequels greenlit, this may have been a one off picture. If that were the case I do believe "Saw" would be considered a classic in horrordom. As it stands, the status of this one is somewhat dependant on the amount and quality of the sequels. In my opinion, unfortunately, that does not bode well for the original. As long as the films are cheap to produce and make the audiences cringe, we'll be seeing annual iterations of "Saw" for a long time. Like they say, if it's Halloween, It must be "Saw."
Score: 3.5 out of 5
(View the trailer for Saw IV here)
The film has a typical B movie premise. A Scentist (Lost's Naveen Andrews) has developed a chemical that turns people into mindless, brain-craving zombies. A group of deranged Military men, led by Bruce Willis, are after the scientist because they've been exposed, and the only cure after exposure to the chemical is a slow, constant supply of the chemical in concentrate. Needless to say, all does not go as planned and the store of chemical is released on the unwitting inhabitants of a small town. The story weaves several characters stories as they fend off zombies through the night in an effort to meet up and try to flee the country.
This is schlock on a grand scale, from the gratuitous gore to the stylized violence-- even a 5 year old kid is fair game in this one. If you're a fan of Zombie films, B films, or even just want to push the limits of suspension of disbelief and chomp on some popcorn, you should see this film. Whether or not the popcorn will stay down during the gory parts is another question entirely.
Score: 4 out of 5
Sunday, October 21, 2007
The film was originally envisioned as the epic finale to what was then supposed to be Romero's trilogy of Dead films. Unfortunately, due to budget constraints and several other problems, this one didn't exactly have the epic feel he was going for. I think it was due in large part to the acting. I understand that zombie films aren't exactly scooping the cream of the acting crop, but these actors were distractingly over the top. I also found that too much time was devoted to the human characters and their struggle for dominance over one another. I was watching the film for the zombies, not the politics of who is in charge when everyone else is dead.
I will say that the film delivered in one major aspect: the effects. Special FX guru Tom Savini outdid himself on some of the more extravagant deaths in the film. Unfortunately the bright spots were just too few and far between. Overall, I would say that this film fits right in with my theory of Romero's films losing more and more steam as they go along. Hopefully his 2008 picture "Diary of the Dead" will be the boost he needs to get out of this two decade long rut.
Score: 1.5 out of 5
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
The film leaves something to be desired in terms of exposition and a thorough explanation of the so-called "BR Act"-- namely, what are they hoping to accomplish with the BR Act? However, the concept and delivery of the film's action make up for most of its rough spots.
Fukasaku's film seemed to have a strong socio-political message, however it was hard to decipher exactly what he was trying to say. The fact that there isn't an official U.S. DVD release didn't help, as I do believe the subtitles on my disc were sometimes incorrect. The music cues in the film were also a little strange. Some of the most dramatic scenes were made incredibly melodramatic by the overly emotional score. The strong point of the film was the "Lord of the Flies" inspired elements-- forcing friends to kill one another for survival is just a really hard idea to handle.
"Battle Royale" was very compelling and, though it left me with a few questions, the story was an interesting take on an established theme. If you can bear with the flawed subtitles and cheesy score, this one is definitely worth checking out.
Score: 4 out of 5
** This film has been tapped for an American remake, though given the the main theme of the film, and American audiences notoriously prudish sensibilities, I don't think it will happen anytime soon.**
Monday, October 15, 2007
The film follows Leslie Vernon, an affable, delusional subject for a documentary being made by 3 local graduate students. Vernon plans on returning to his hometown to claim vengeance on the townsfolk who believe that his mother had murdered him as a child. Part mockumentary, part black comedy-- the film eventually devolves into a somewhat traditional horror film when the graduate students come to the realization that not only is Leslie serious about being a mass murderer, but they have been a part of his plan all along.
While this one may have a hard time finding a larger audience, first time director Scott Glosserman made sure that at least horror fans would have a ball with the film. Horror veteran Robert Englund (Freddy Kreuger from A Nightmare on Elm Street) plays a supporting role, and if you look closely, Kane Hodder (Friday the 13th's Jason Voorhees) even has a cameo. Never funny enough to be an outright comedy, never scary enough to be a true horror, the value of this films is in it's novel treatment of the horror film antagonist. I recommend it for anyone who enjoys comedy or horror and is looking for something different.
Score: 3 out of 5
Sunday, October 14, 2007
Thanks to anyone who was able to make it out to my bachelor party. I had an awesome time, and I actually remember it, or at least most of it. For anyone who couldn't make it, please refer to the photo at the top of this post for my opinion. Just kidding. Hope to see you all at the wedding on 11/17/2007!
Friday, October 12, 2007
Juan Carlos Fresnadillo's sequel "28 Weeks Later" deals with the rebuilding effort of London in the wake of the first film's events. Essentially they had evacuated all of London, leaving the infected people to starve to death. After six months, they begin to repopulate the area, with the help of U.S. Armed Forces. What they don't realize is that some people who were attacked were not fully infected, and have become carriers of the virus. It's a decent setup, but I couldn't help but think that the use of U.S. Armed Forces as the occupying force in London wouldn't turn out to be more than a pseudo-political potshot at the American Military. After all, some of the most notable zombie movies are known to have socio-political commentary at their root-- just look at Romero's "Dawn of the Dead." Turns out I gave this film too much credit, because this one had no discernible subtext to it at all.
The pace of this film is not nearly as frenetic as the original. Being that it is about a group of survivors, led by a US sniper, eluding both the zombies and the Military who believe them to be infected, all of their movements are much more deliberate and tactical. There were a few decent scenes, most notably one which involves a helicopter mowing down a field of hapless zombies, "Dead Alive" style. But for the most part this was just a rehashing of everything we've already seen in the first film.
I'm not convinced that this sequel was necessary. It did nothing to further or enhance the story of the original. This is a sub-par entry in the zombie genre, offering nothing in the way of a new take or a diffrerent aspect of the genre. If the themes of this film grab your fancy, pick up the first film, "28 Days Later", as this one is better left on the shelf. And in case you are wondering: yes, it was left open to a sequel, one that will further sully the original's chances at being considered a classic. Pity.
Score: 2 out of 5
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Currently I am up to episode 15, and honestly. I'm in no hurry to finish watching. I attribute my lack of interest in large part to three characters in particular.
1.) Micah (Noah Gray-Cabey)-- This is one of the worst child actors I have seen since Jake Lloyd in "Star Wars: Episode I". He's another example of producers giving adult mannerisms to a child actor (ahem... Dakota Fanning) It doesn't work. This kid's nasal, whiny voice is topped only by his Jheri curl hairdo as his character's worst aspect.
2.)Niki (Ali Larter)-- Micah's Mom is one of the least compelling, worst acted characters in the show. Her story is contrived and is the one that I would be most eager to have cut from the show. And that whole "two different personalities in the mirror" effect has lost it's novelty. In fact it lost it's novelty when it was first developed sometime in the early eighties.
3.)Hiro (Masi Oka)-- I suspect that I may be in the minority here, but I find his character's high-pitch voice and innocent portrayal incredibly annoying. His is another story that is dragging on and getting very boring. I get it, this is your destiny-- so get to it already.
Basically, the only storyline I care about is that of Claire and Peter Petrelli. All of the other heroes just seem to detract from the interesting parts of the story. Maybe I am just spoiled from holding this show up to the bar set by "Lost." But I feel like I have been forcing myself to watch this show and like it. I have come to the realization that it is just okay. However, take what I say with a grain of salt-- I still watch "Saved by the Bell."
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
This film deserves billing somewhere between the trailers for Eli Roth's "Thanksgiving" and Edgar Wright's "Don't". That's right, I'm bringing up "Grindhouse" again. After all "Dr. Giggles" is absolutely, without doubt a grindhouse horror/comedy, complete with mounds of doctor-related one liners.
The antagonist, Dr. Giggles ("Darkman's" Larry Drake) is an escaped mental patient who believes that he followed in his Father's footsteps and became a surgeon. There isn't much more in terms of backstory offered, nor is it necessary. What this movie is all about are the one-liners the giggling doctor dipenses before he "operates" on his victims. The main character, Jennifer (Holly Marie Combs) has just enough high school pals for the Doctor to practice on before he gets to her and brings her home to his "office" for a special operation. If you're thinking this sounds similar in structure to the original "Halloween", you're not alone.
Overall, this is a fun slasher film. It's not very gory by today's standards, most of the more disgusting deaths take place just off camera; That's fine by me. Today's horror market seems more interested in the intricate details of what the innards of a murder victim would look like and less involved with creating what everyone really wants-- a great villain. Think about it, Freddy Kreuger, Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers-- they were all more important than the gore displayed in their respective films. While I won't go as far as to put Dr. Giggles in the pantheon of great horror villains, I will say he's enough of a character to make the movie fun. Grab a few friends, some beers and enjoy the cheesiness. Hell, I'm positive someone could make a drinking game out of this one.
Score: 2.5 out of 5
P.S.-- The DVD release of this film is very lackluster. It defines the term "bare-bones" having no special features, no trailers, no commentary and it doesn't even have chapter selection! That is very frustrating.
Monday, October 8, 2007
"Escape from L.A." is the sequel to Carpenter's aforementioned 1981 flick, this time with Plissken (Kurt Russell) being given the job of entering Los Angeles, which has now been turned into a prison-island, to retrieve a world controlling remote control MacGuffin. Along the way he must battle the L.A. underworld crime boss Cuervo Jones, who bears a striking resemblance to one Che Guevara. Helping him in this quest is a then up-and-comer Steve Buscemi, a "surfer dude" Peter Fonda and Pam Grier giving a turn as a transexual criminal Hershe Las Palmas.
This film is camp action at it's best. Make no mistake, Plissken is certainly written with tongue planted at least somewhat in cheek. Any writer who would write scenes where Snake both surfs on a tidal wave down Wilshire Boulevard and hang glides into a bombed out Disneyland and not cop to seeing the humor in it is lying. But the point is, it's fun. That's what it was meant to be and that's what it is. It's a popcorn flick and it's a damn good one. I had fun watching it, and if you were in the minority that enjoyed "Grindhouse", you'll most likely get your money's worth out of this movie. After all, it was only 5 bucks.
Camp Score- 5 out of 5
True Score- 3.5 out of 5
Friday, October 5, 2007
1.) Jim and Pam are now officially a couple. The whole romantic, dramatic pull of the show was based upon the Jim/Pam unspoken attraction. Now that they are together, they are just Jim and Pam, a couple. It's much more boring and leaves a hole in the show where the taboo of Pam and Jim 's true feelings used to provide brief moments of emotion in an otherwise silly show.
2.) Michael is now apparently semi retarded. It's the Homer Simpson syndrome. People think it's funny that he is stupid, so they say "Let's push that to the Nth degree!" For God's sake, he drove his car into a clearly visible lake because the OnStar told him to. Into a lake, fully submerging his car. It just wasn't funny, and they need to bring it down a notch. Over-the-top comedy is great when it is used sparingly. Subtlety and classic in-office comedy are the bread and butter of this show.
3.) Not every episode needs to be an "event" episode. The first episode was the "fun run" and took place mostly out of the titular office. The second episode, while set mostly in the office, dealt largely with Michael visiting the offices of seven accounts Dunder Mifflin had lost in order to try to win them back with gift baskets. I'll save you the suspense- him and Dwight make asses of themselves and win back no accounts. I long for a self-contained office episode where not much happens except for the awkward, non-sequitur type scenes that had been the staple of the show.
All in all, I feel like the writers of this show have fallen victim to the trap many good shows do- they think anything they write now is gold. Well, let me be the first to say, it's not. Too much concept, not enough delivery for my taste. I am seeing more and more each day just why Ricky Gervais only let the original office go on for two years. He had said and done all there was to say, and knew when it was time to end it. That is an admirable feat. Hear that Steve Carell?
Thursday, October 4, 2007
So, I wonder when Burton is going to break down and just sexually assault Johnny depp in his trailer. Word to the wise, Mr. Depp, don't lay your drink down around Timmy. I'm just saying...
Anyway, the movie looks really cool and from what I understand every Hot Topic in the US is clearing shelf space for all of the pseudo-goth merchandise this one will spawn. Anyway, December 21st.... I'll be there. At the theater, not Hot Topic.
Watch the trailer for yourself here.
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
It isn't often that a film will get to me enough to cause a physical reaction to sitting through it. For example, 1998's "Very Bad Things" was a black-comedy scream fest that absolutely gives me indigestion every time I see it. All that yelling and lack of a moving plot- who wants to subject themselves to that? I felt much the same way about "Bug". Everybody can remember a time when they have been cornered by a crazy person. Maybe you were at the grocery store or the mall, and you were approached and subsequently drawn into a conversation with this delusional person. I think I speak for most people when I say, in that situation, all that you really want to do is walk away from the person as fast as possible. Well, plunk down the 4 bucks to rent "Bug" and you've just given 2 such delusional people a captive audience for 2 hours.
The performances were over the top (and not in a good way) and the way in which Judd's character simply buys into the story about the "bugs" in her room is a little weak. Defenders of the film can play the "Was it all in her mind or was it real" card, because she is after all a depressed, delusional drug addict. But my response is, regardless of what was in her mind and what was real, the execution of the film did nothing for me but make me want to slap Judd across the face and tell her to snap out of it. Maybe that was Friedkin's point, who knows. What I do know is this film was equal parts frustrating and boring. And if you're looking for a scary movie, or even an entertaining one, keep moving because there's nothing to see here.
Score: 1 out of 5
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Hotel Chevalier is a 13 minute short film that serves
as a precursor to the new film. It looks as though Anderson has returned to the powerful, if melancholy tone that is always present in the undercurrent of his films. While he may look silly, Jason Schwartzman does a good job of not making his whole character a visual joke. And Natalie Portman is unbelieveably appealing, moreso than she has ever been on film. In reality, not much happens in the film, yet I found it completely engrossing. Reminiscent of something out of the French New Wave (then again, it is Wes Anderson), the time spent in room 403 was certainly not time wasted. It was just enough to whet the appetite of a teetering Wes Anderson fan and push me into the group who will be there for Darjeeling on opening weekend.
The film is currently available as a free download on iTunes, and is something I actually would have paid for. Here's to high hopes for The Darjeeling Limited.
Score: 5 out of 5
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
One of my main gripes with sequels to really good video games is that they tend to want to fix what isn't broken. The basic gameplay is where the Halo franchise has always been strongest, and I'm glad to say, the core gameplay stays intact in the third game. The only changes made to the game are beneficial ones, like better weapons and more varied enemies. Also, the environment is much larger and more interactive in this next-gen iteration of the Halo series. Things like crates and objects that were stationery tableau in the first two games are now able to be moved and utilized to your advantage.
I have to mention that this game, especially in some of the enemy character models and one new weapon in particular, looks to have been inspired in some way by another uber-successful game. *cough-Gears-cough* But hey, that is fine. All great artists steal from other art, and video games are no different, I suppose.
All in all, this is exactly what I wanted Halo 3 to be. It stays great where it has always been great, and improves only upon things that deserved an upgrade. Kudos, Bungie.
Score: 5 out of 5
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
2.) Mr. Woodcock- So in the title alone, there are two euphamisms for penises. And on top of that, Billy Bob is holding two basketballs over his crotch to signify, I suppose, his grossly oversized, swollen testicles? I mean just when you think you've seen the worst Hollywood has to offer, they out-do themselves. I guess they just assume dimwitted movie patrons will chuckle like Peter Griffin at the title and mindlessly fork over money to see this piece of shit. You know, there is a reason this film was held up by the studio from being released for over a year- because it was so awful. That 15 million total gross was well worth the 20+ million it took to make this one, huh?
3.) Balls of Fury- So, here we have another penis-laden title. And yet another testicular mock-up using sporting equipment. Hollywood is just rife with originality. This one looks like the one sports-related spoof that Will Ferrell turned down. On top of that, it's further proof that Christopher Walken will say yes to any piece of shit script that falls in his lap. This one isn't even worth it. If you pay to see it, I hope you choke on your goobers.
In conclusion, I hope I'm not coming across as a prude, becuse I'm really not. I simply find this type of childish marketing offensive. Honestly, what must these advertising agencies think of the movie-going public? Apparently their consensus is that the penis is the pinnacle of American comedy and we just can't get enough of it.
Saturday, September 8, 2007
Rob Zombie's previous 2 films were very polarizing. They are dirty, gory, in your face terror films revolving around a family of lunatic mass murderers. That may sound like the kind of director who would do "Halloween" justice, but Zombie's particular brand of filmmaking doesn't do much to distinguish his films from one another. In short: all of his movie are kind of the same schtick. Here is the formula...
White trash + Lots of cursing - subtlety - a good script = A Rob Zombie Film
Now I freely admit that his first two films have grown on me, though only after a few viewing of each. This third one, though, has tread upon hallowed ground. We are talking Michael Myers, here. I simply cannot go along with his vison for this film. Michael Myers is not 7 foot 5... he just isn't. The acting was especially bad (Young Micheal Myers, played by Daeg Farch, was unforgivable.) I think that this one should have been left alone as the greatest horror film of all time for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that Zombie's movie holds not one single scary moment.
Will I see another Rob Zombie film? Yes. Do I have expectations that he will ever make a truly great film? No. His reputation and Rock Star frame of mind taints his filmmaking to such a degree that by it's very nature his work is tantamount to a rock video. Given his inclination toward fucked up families and gore, a more fitting remake for Zombie would have been Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It's also worth mentioning that his constant use of horror icons in cameo roles has grown tired and distracting. Maybe if he would focus on getting better actors and not paying so much homage to older films, the quality of his own films will go up. Here's hoping.
Rating: 2 out of 5
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
First off, it was confusing to me what decade the movie took place in. By the title, soundtrack and even some of the wardrobe it seems like the 70's- So much so, that I am willing to bet that at least one iteration of the script was based in the 70's, before the studio decided it would reach a broader audience if it were contemporary. The only real giveaway that it was set today is the use of cell phones.
Secondly, there were a few elements of the story that either didn't add up or had no payoff. Case in point: In the beginning of the film, there is a sort of bully set up for Seth (Jonah Hill), but as quickly as he is introduced, he's gone. The only slight payoff to the character comes late in the third act, most defnitely as an afterthought.
There are a few parts of the movie that seem to be set-pieces (think the "period" scene) that really didn't end up being as funny as I had hoped. Also, neither of the film's protagonist are portrayed as being stupid, so when Seth empties beer into laundry detergent bottles to bring them to a party, I couldn't help but lean to my buddy and wonder, "Now why would he do something so dumb?." Petty as they may be, these are the things that crept into my head on the ride home after the movie.
Having said all that, the movie was damn funny. More than that, it had a really nice character arc for the two main characters. For anyone who has ever awkwardly broached the topic of going to different colleges with your best friend, you'll immediately identify with the emotional heart of the film.
Overall, I did like the movie. Much like "The 40 Year Old Virgin", I think this one will get better with each subsequent viewing. While the term "Instant Classic" seems to be bandied about a little too loosely these days, this film may have potential- but I believe any movie should be out for at least 5 years before the word "classic" is ever applied to it.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5