50/50 Review #20: Jason Lives: Friday The 13th - Part VI.

What a better way to end Jason's Month than to review a movie from his namesake series? Now, I've seen the original (and the crappy remake), Jason X, and Freddy vs. Jason. Otherwise, I think I've just seen bits and pieces of the others. However, I don't believe I had seen any of this one. For this installment, we follow an old survivor, Tommy Jarvis (Thom Mathews), who needs to be sure Jason is actually dead. But in digging up his grave and impaling him with a metal rod, which of course gets struck by lightning, he unwittingly brings the killer back to life. Jason continues his usual rampage, but this time the Sheriff (David Kagen) believes it's the crazed Tommy that's doing the killing. So Tommy must team up with the sheriff's daughter, Megan (Jennifer Cooke), to bring down Jason once and for all (yeah right).

I'll start off with the negative first and get that out of the way. The three things you can always count on in slasher flicks are body counts, blood, and boobs. And with Friday the 13th being a staple of the genre, and arguably the reason people expect those three things, it's kind of surprising that this film lacks two of them. Sure there's a body count, but you see very few of the actual deaths. I can think of maybe 3 kills you actually see in this movie--the rest being off-screen--and they're the most bloodless of the bunch. In fact, the only times you do see blood are after the fact. You might see a detached arm with a bloody stump or a slash of blood hit a window. In fact, the most blood you see is a cabin with the walls covered in it, but that's about 2 shots, each about 1 second long each, and you don't see how it came to be that way. So in the blood and violence department, I was rather let down. And then there's the sex and nudity... of which this movie has none. Well, there is one sex scene, but the two people are practically fully clothed and there's nothing special about it besides a 'too early' joke.

But that's all the negative I have. On the whole, the film actually has a decent story that's more than just "Jason comes to life and kills more nameless people." There's actually some investment here. Are there still idiotic moves? Yeah. But you can't take away all the charm! What really makes this movie fun is the first half of the movie (not saying the second half is bad--I'll get to that in a minute). You have Jason just being Jason. There's a group of businessmen (and a woman) just out playing paintball for no reason, and they're goofy and fun and totally random ("she should stay in the kitchen!"). There's the drunken graveyard groundskeeper who is just wacky. There's an elementary-age girl reading Jean-Paul Sartre for no reason (a bit of light reading, I'm sure). The woman who says "I've seen enough horror movies to know a weirdo in a mask is never friendly." A policeman with a new laser sight that's bigger than the freakin' gun... Among other ridiculous things. The second half of the movie isn't as random or wacky, but it's still fun. The final battle at the end is good and intense.

Overall, what makes this movie work is the writing (I know... shocking for a Friday the 13th flick, huh?). The movie knows what it is and runs with it. I wish it would have run with it a little more and actually been more in touch with the rest of the genre (blood and boobs), but for what it gives you, it's good enough. And there are some visuals and camera work which aren't too shabby. I definitely understand why it's considered one of the best of the sequels (despite not having seen the majority of them... at least in their entirety).

I Am McLovin!

(P.S. That'll about do it for Jason's Month! It sure was an interesting ride. Oh, and if you haven't seen it, at the very beginning of the month, Jason posted a predictions post on his blog about how he felt I would react to these movies, and I couldn't look at said predictions until after I saw the movie. I went a step further and didn't look at them until after I wrote the review (promise!). And I'll be honest... some of his predictions are so dead-on it's scary. That man knows me well. Anyway, now that that's done, I must prepare myself for next month. I'm transitioning from Jason... to Rachel... who has given me nothing but Shakespeare. I hope that by the end, I'm not biting my thumb at her.)


V.G. Movies #20: Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children.

[Welcome back to the Evolution of Video Game Movies series. Every week, I will be moving forward through time, starting with the earliest and ending with the most recent of video game movies. I will be detailing the histories of the games and how the films came about, and both my and fan reaction to the adaptations. Practically all of my background information is either common knowledge or from Wikipedia. So without further ado, let's move on to the next film on the list.]


Around mid-April, I discussed the most important video game series of my life and its first film, Final Fantasy. In that article, I briefly mentioned a handful of times the most popular game of the series, Final Fantasy VII. So popular, in fact, that almost half of The Spirits Within stole from it. The game series itself has never actually had a direct sequel, at least up until 2003 when Final Fantasy X-2 was released.

Eventually, rumors of a Final Fantasy 7 remake ran rampant, updating the graphics and whatnot to enhance the experience of the original game. While that still has yet to happen, Square-Enix decided to create the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII, which is a series of games and other media expanding on the world of FF7. Each title would focus on a different aspect or set of characters to help on the expansion.

The first to come out for this was a phone/mobile game called Final Fantasy: Crisis Core that acted as a prequel to the original game and focused on the Turks. However, it wasn't the first to be announced. That honor went to a movie sequel the game--Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. The film was conceptualized to follow the story of Cloud and Tifa, along with the children they helped to take care of. And while there were other game titles to follow, it's the film we're focusing on for now.

The film takes place 2 years after the end of the game, and this brings with it some positives and negatives. First and foremost, the film caters to the fans of the game, giving you characters, events, music, and overall visuals that are an FF7 fan's wet dream. On the downside... the film caters to the fans of the game. If you have not played Final Fantasy 7, this movie will make absolutely no sense to you, and this has been the primary complaint of reviewers and critics everywhere. But is that the only problem with the movie? Let's see...


Of course I own this on DVD, but it's been a while since I last watched it. Even having played the game more than once... I found it a lot more confusing than I remember it being. The film, as I said, picks up 2 years after the end of the game, and everyone is just trying to pick up the pieces and rebuild what's left of their lives. But a deadly illness called Geostigma has spread around the world, mostly infecting children and young adults. Cloud and Tifa have begun a delivery service (on top of taking care of orphans), but Cloud has run off to be alone, leaving Tifa to take care of Marlene and other kids. However, the remnants of Shinra Corp have contacted Cloud, wanting his help taking care of a certain matter. Three guys who look suspiciously similar to Sephiroth--the previous big bad--have appeared, and they're looking for the head of Jenova (an alien being that wanted to destroy the planet and that was used in experimentation by Shinra, thus helping to create both Cloud and Sephiroth). With it, they can resurrect Sephiroth and continue the plan to destroy the world.

See? Even in the opening plot summary I had to go into background game information just to get through it. To be fair, the movie doesn't intend to alienate its audience. There's an opening narrative that gives a brief (very brief) summary of the game. But it leaves out some information that can leave the unaware viewer a bit lost, particularly anything dealing with Aerith or Zack (or any of the other side characters that show up in the film later, at least anything outside a quick visual of them all fighting Sephiroth). Regardless, the biggest thing a viewer unacquainted with the game is missing is the character development and connections. Gamers would have spent anywhere from 60-100+ hours with these characters prior to getting to this film. They would know their background, their connections to each other, and everything they had to go through to get to this point. In other words, a non-gamer would have no emotional connection to any of these people or their situation going into this... and, unfortunately, the film tends to rely on the fact you already know them.

Don't get me started on the Geostigma stuff--it's a new thing to the film, and it's kinda poorly explained so that even I have a hard time following it. In fact, for the most part, the new stuff (geostigma, the Sephiroth remnants, etc.) could have been fleshed out a wee bit better. It's like they had a cool idea, but ran out of time in the writing department to figure out and explain exactly what these things are or how they came about. Geostigma is at least mostly explained, but the baddies are just... there. No idea how they came to be, they just are. I suppose if you don't think about it too much, it's fine.

All of that being said, practically everything else about this film is outstanding--particularly the visuals, the action, and the music. Let's start with the pretty, pretty pictures. This is basically the best looking animated film you're going to see for years. Even just watching it again, I have to say I'm having a hard time thinking of an animated film that is more gorgeous than this one. The animation is purely brilliant and ahead of its time. Matching this are the awe-inspiring action sequences. They actually tried to do as much motion capture as they could for the action, but then had to go back to pure animation when it came to things that were physically impossible to pull off in the real world. The way the "camera" is used and the set-pieces and the choreography... everything just comes together perfectly to give a lot of style and some of the best damn action scenes you'll see in an animated film (not to mention better than some live action films). And then, of course, the music. Composer Nobuo Uematsu returns with a score taken and updated almost entirely from the game, giving a fun, beautiful, nostalgic feel.

So whereas Spirits Within was considered a failure (though it really isn't) based on how it's absolutely nothing like the source material, Advent Children can be considered a failure (though it really isn't) by those who haven't played the game, since it relies too much on the source material. Regardless, the action and animation are so brilliantly done that you'll sometimes forget you have no idea what's going on. So if I'm saying the story is the issue, but the visual aspect makes up for it--it's a style over substance film? Completely. If you're going into this movie, you're going to take out those two things as the biggest positive (well, those and the music). Honestly, I don't think I could recommend it to anybody who hasn't played the game, unless you just want to see it for the cool factor. It ain't perfect, even for a gamer, but it's a fun enough time.

A Keanu 'Whoa'


50/50 Review #19: Escape From New York.

I've been waiting to watch this movie for a while. My excitement couldn't have grown more after my love of the last Carpenter/Russell collab I saw, Big Trouble in Little China. With such high expectations, though, could it possibly live up? This film follows the idea that Manhattan has been taken over as a high security prison run by Hauk (Lee Van Cleef). The only rule... if you go in, you don't come out. But when the President (Donald Pleasance) crash lands inside, and the government can't get to him, they have to hire an inside man to grab him. This man is the infamous Snake Plisskin (Kurt Russell), who is offered his freedom if he saves the president in 22 hours--and death if he fails. In order to save the president from The Duke (Isaac Hayes), he teams up with Brain (Harry Dean Stanton), Maggie (Adrienne Barbeau), and Cabbie (Ernest Borgnine) so he can get him as quickly as possible to meet his deadline.

While I wasn't as wholeheartedly enamored with it as Little China, I have to say... I still thoroughly enjoyed the hell out of this movie. It's just so... cool. It's really hard to explain why, though. The atmosphere of it all, for starters. It's really not a dystopian or post-apocalyptic film, but his has the feeling of both. The outside world is normal for all we know. But in the world of this prison, it's dark, gritty, and every-man-for-himself.

Any how can you not love that cast? It's insane. I think that has a big part to do with why this movie works so much. These characters and how they're portrayed is a lot of fun. Of course you gotta give it up to Lee Van Cleef, Ernest Borgnine, and Isaac Hayes. But this movie, hands down, belongs to Kurt Russell playing one of the most badass characters ever. I'm a sucker for antiheroes, and he hit all the right notes. To make it even better, he's totally cheesy with how over-the-top he presents his character. The voice, the way he carries himself... everything. But it's a good cheese, because it mixes with the badassery of the character to form this... amalgamation of awesome.

To be completely honest, I have very little else to say about this movie. It's just... fun. In large part due to how cool Snake Plisskin is as a character. I think I would need to see it a couple more times to really get into the other characters and the overall setting and feel of the flick (I unfortunately had to watch it over a 2 day period, and during an annoying medical situation, which kind of took me out of it). But on the first watch, it was pretty dang awesome.

A Keanu 'Whoa'

(P.S. I was so tempted to give it the top rating, but I just couldn't, at least not on this first viewing. Nothing wrong with the film itself, just personal feelings and probably too much self-hype mixed in. But I suppose consider it a very strong version of this rating.)

(P.P.S. As far as Russell/Carpenter goes... I forgot about The Thing, too, which I've also seen. Just wanted to throw that out there before somebody else had to point it out.)


V.G. Movies #19: Alone In The Dark.

[Welcome back to the Evolution of Video Game Movies series. Every week, I will be moving forward through time, starting with the earliest and ending with the most recent of video game movies. I will be detailing the histories of the games and how the films came about, and both my and fan reaction to the adaptations. Practically all of my background information is either common knowledge or from Wikipedia. So without further ado, let's move on to the next film on the list.]


For my second (current) venture into the land of Boll, we must now discuss the game franchise known as Alone in the Dark. Inspired by stories from H.P. Lovecraft, this series was released by gaming company Infogrames in 1992. The first game in the series was a PC survival horror game, and one of the first two games ever to use polygonal characters over pre-rendered backgrounds. The story of the first game followed a private eye named Edward Carnby in 1924 as he solves a mystery in an old mansion while being attacked by monsters and such.

In 1993, a sequel was released, also for the PC, that took the game from a survival horror to more of an action/shooter. The story involved yet another haunted mansion, but this time also included the disappearance of a little girl and some ghost pirates. The original trilogy was rounded out in 1994 with the third game on the PC. This game, however, attempted to return to the original style of gameplay as the first game. The story yet again follows Edward Carnby as he goes to a literal ghost town and fights against evil zombie cowboys and dangerous curses and spirits.

And then it moved to consoles. In 2001, Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare was released. The story has been updated, too, now set in 2001 instead of the 1920s. Yet we're still following Edward Carnby... and here's how that is explained: Carnby belongs to a line of Shadow Hunters, all orphan boys who are born on February 29 every 40 years, all raised at St. George's Orphanage, all named Edward Carnby. This game's story follows this Carnby as his best friend is murdered. There are some magic tablets involved, which lead him to teaming up with a young, pretty, and intelligent college professor named Aline Cedrac. Together, they have to figure out the mystery behind the tablets and the murder. And yes, monsters and whatnot are abundant, but this time they're reptilian shadow creatures who are hurt by light.

Of course, it's the red-headed stepchild of the series. The game that followed in 2008 essentially retconned and pretended as if that game never happened, tying itself back in with the original trilogy. So, of course, when the series goes to have a film version... it has to be based around that fourth game which, canonically, has practically nothing to do with the rest of the series. But not only is it not an adaptation of the game, it considers itself somewhat of a sequel to it (meaning you'd need to play the game to understand stuff). But that's not all--apparently, it (shocker) gets things wrong and contradicts its source, so it's not canonical with the game that's not canonical with the rest of the series anyway.

But apparently it wasn't always that way. The original draft was supposedly more atmospheric and Lovecraftian. But then they hired Uwe Boll to direct. And the result was what is considered one of the worst films ever made. Now, apparently there is a director's cut, and it's supposedly actually decent (or at least watchable)--partly in thanks to the fact Boll himself cut out nearly all of Tara Reid's scenes from the film.

The film was a bomb, though, in all forms. I, personally, tried watching it years ago and was so bored I actually fell asleep. This is one of the few video game Boll movies I haven't seen the entirety of prior to this project, so it'll be an interesting experience. Let's get to it, shall we?


Yeah, it sucks. A lot. But it's certainly not my least favorite Uwe Boll film (that would be Seed). This one follows Edward Carnby (Christian Slater... at the low point in his career), who has amnesia about parts of his childhood at an orphanage. He's a paranormal detective and looking into some... thing or another... that involves an ancient race or something. And he gets involved with an old flame, an archeologist named Aline Cedrac (Tara Reid... at... just a point in her career). He also must contend with an old rival, Richard Burke (Stephen Dorff). And... stuff happens. And stuff.

I don't know why it's so difficult to talk about what this movie is about. The majority of it is exposition, after all. Hell, literally the first minute and a half is a scroll-text of information narrated to you--since we can't read, and all. In fact, this movie feels that its audience is so stupid that there's also a voice-over narration from Slater that tells you either exactly what's going on at the moment or recounts exactly what just occurred moments before... for practically every other scene. This movie isn't even all that difficult to comprehend. You can figure out the "big twist" in the first 5 minutes of the movie. They practically spoon feed it to you. And almost any scene with Tara Reid is pure exposition. It's some of the clunkiest dialogue I've ever heard... and then it's delivered by Tara Reid, who can't act anyway.

I'll talk about the casting in this briefly, because it pretty much speaks for itself. Christian Slater is crap in this, but mainly only because Boll mishandled him. Reid was so bad and unnecessary that Boll himself basically surgically removed her from the film in his director's cut. Stephen Dorff is alright, but his character is completely unoriginal. Just the acting in general in this film is poor, but most of that can be attributed to a lousy script and a piss-poor director.

Boll also continues to show he does not know how to transition into an action scene (or film one, much less). Just like with his previous House of the Dead, the scene just stops, basically, and then starts up again while every character is posing and shooting straight ahead of them. They never move any parts of their bodies except maybe their legs. Everything is like an automaton. And the backgrounds during these scenes might as well just be painted on. It's not like you can see them, anyway, what with everything else being pitch black. There's only one fight scene that isn't like this, and it's near the beginning against this bald-headed dude. But that one is still clunky and derivative of other films.

I honestly don't need to drone on about this one. It has a reputation of being one of the worst films ever made. Eh... I've seen worse. Much worse. This one is very poorly made from the ground up with bad decisions made all around, but its worst crime is that it's boring. Like I said earlier, even Boll himself has worse films out there. This is a train wreck, and not even an interesting train wreck. I'm kind of interested in seeing the director's cut some day just to see what he did with it. But until then, I'll probably never feel the need to watch this one again.

The Zed Word

(P.S. Even the last seconds make no sense. You spend the entire movie building up the fact that these things can be killed by light, especially sunlight... and your last shot is a "monster cam" attack on the two leads in broad daylight? Yeah... no.)


The Demented Podcast #39 - Film Snobs Can Suck It!

I know. This is super late. I'm sorry, OK?! It's totally my fault. But it's here now, and now you can hear Man, I Love Films' own Kai, who joins us to discuss monster movies The Host and Cloverfield. After some discussions, Kai yet again climbs The Tower. And since it's Kai, you know what that means, right? That's right... the episode after this will be the next Battle Royale! (Hopefully.) Listen to find out who the next "lucky" contestants will be... and if Kai will join their ranks.

Due to Podomatic bandwidth issues, I will no longer be placing the podcast player on the site. But you can easily listen and subscribe through iTunes!

Current Leaderboard
1) Rachel - 169 Points 
2) Stevee - 108 Points
3) Jandy - 107 Points

4) Jason - 103 Points
5) Nikhat - 96 Points
6) Lindsay - 91 Points
7) Joanna - 83 Points
8) Jessica - FAIL

Current/Previous Battle Royale Champions
(BR3) Dan Heaton - 176 Points
(BR2) Dylan Fields - 114 Points
(BR1) Rachel Thuro - 171 Points

That being said, enjoy! Thanks goes out to Kevin MacLeod's Incompetech website for great, royalty-free music. And thanks to Google for helping  me find a website that will give me free video game audio samples.


50/50 Review #18: The Monster Squad.

Along with The Goonies, which I reviewed on last year's 60/60, this was one of those 80s kids' flick classics that I was kind of ashamed I hadn't seen. Well... now I have. The film follows a handful of young friends (not gonna bother with the actor names since they're all no-names) who are really into monster movies and trivia. But one day, Dracula starts gathering together all the classic monsters, including the Creature from the Black Lagoon, the wolfman, the mummy, and Frankenstein's Monster (Tom Noonan), in order to find Van Helsing's diary and an ancient amulet that will give them the power to rule the world. So it's up to the Monster Squad to stop them before it's too late.

This film a little "darker" than anticipated. Then again, Goonies caught me off guard with the same thing. What surprised me most about this was the fact, you know... people died. And not only did some people die, some completely random, innocent characters were given some pretty terrible demises. How would you like to be a totally random person sucked into an everlasting void of limbo and suffering? Others also got their heads crushed, necks broken, etc. Craziness. Another aspect that caught me off guard was the father in the movie. It seems in so many 80s or early 90s kids flicks, the dad is either non-existant, a doofus, or an a-hole. Here, he's a pretty cool guy, and I really liked that about this movie.

Yeah, there were some little things (inconsistencies and logic issues) that bugged me, but I tried to just let them go considering this is an 80s kids movie--you could tell due to all the Pepsi, by the way. I tried to just take it for what it was, and it was OK with me in the end. Well, maybe not the very end. The last couple minutes really bothered me, and I can't get over the extreme cheesiness of it all (from Dracula's final demise onward). I mean, there's cheese (which the movie has quite a bit of), and then there's too much cheese. The ending was too much for me.

Still, you can't hate a movie this cool. It has fun characters, to start. And Rudy, the "badass teenager" character, is pretty cool as he should be. And bringing together all the classic monsters is just fun in a way Van Helsing couldn't pull off. I particularly loved the third act, when the writing gets especially 80s awesome. There are a lot of fun, quotable lines thrown in, including some killer one-liners around some death scenes. Then again, the movie was co-written by Shane Black, so you knew that had to show up eventually. I think on the whole I would have benefited most from having seen this as a kid to have the nostalgic factor, but I still enjoyed myself. It's definitely not perfect, especially without nostalgia goggles, but it's still too hard not to like.

I Am McLovin!

(P.S. Rather coincidental that I review this the day after Dark Shadows, a film that also has almost every type of supernatural monster in it.)



My expectations for this weren't all that high going into it. Keep that in mind during this review. The film follows Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp), a young man who is turned into a vampire by a young witch named Angelique (Eva Green) with whom he had an affair. He ends up trapped in a coffin for a couple hundred years only to wake up in the 1970s. His descendants--Elizabeth (Michelle Pfeiffer), Roger (Johnny Lee Miller), David (Gulliver McGrath), and Carolyn (Chloe Moretz), as well as their psychiatrist (Helena Bonham Carter) and caretaker (Jackie Earle Haley)--are now residing in his home. He falls for a new resident, as well, a young woman named Victoria (Bella Heathcote), who looks just like his previous love, who Angelique once killed. But Angelique is still alive and taking over the towns businesses and driving the Collins business out of... well... business. And it's up to Barnabas to help.

This is going to be a pretty short review. I have one main negative and one main positive about the film. The negative... is that the film is incredibly unfocused. Damn near The Room-level unfocused. It starts off with about a 10-minute summary that gets Barnabas in the ground. Then we follow Victoria for a big chunk of the beginning of the movie. So for pretty much the first 30 minutes or so, it's got a more creepy atmosphere, what I'm assuming to be closer to the show. But then Barnabas shows back up and Victoria all but disappears. The film gets incredibly cheesy from this point on (not necessarily a bad thing), and I can't tell what the story is supposed to be. Is it a revenge tale? Is it Barnabas saving the family business? Is it a ghost story? I could continue on and on here. There are just so many damn subplots it was hard to keep anything focused. The worst part is that a big one is the fact Barnabas basically falls in love with Victoria, but once he shows up, Victoria is barely in the movie. There is hardly any interaction between the two characters so it's hard to build up any caring about this relationship. Not to mention there are so many horror subgenres going on here. There's vampires, ghosts, witches, werewolves, etc. (I actually almost lost it when the werewolf twist showed its face, which is rather late in the movie.)

On the upside, despite all of its flaws, I was still really entertained by it. I thought it was rather humorous and charming in its own right. The comedy was solid. The cheesiness was plentiful but not overwhelming. The acting was also good all around, with Depp and Moretz shining through the most. So yeah, I can definitely see why people wouldn't like this flick and would give it a low score. I just happened to be entertained by it. And I don't even think it's in a so-bad-its-good kind of way. It's just a good film with a lot of flaws. For what it was, it was really entertaining, and that was enough for me.

I Am McLovin!

(P.S. My positive feelings were actually stronger right after seeing it, but I've come down just slightly. Still, it's entertaining and harmless, and I don't think anyone should act viscerally toward it.)


V.G. Movies #18: Resident Evil: Apocalypse.

[Welcome back to the Evolution of Video Game Movies series. Every week, I will be moving forward through time, starting with the earliest and ending with the most recent of video game movies. I will be detailing the histories of the games and how the films came about, and both my and fan reaction to the adaptations. Practically all of my background information is either common knowledge or from Wikipedia. So without further ado, let's move on to the next film on the list.]


While discussing the first Resident Evil film, I mentioned that, although the first film has almost nothing to do with the games, the sequels attempted to tie themselves a bit more into them. And none of them tried to do this harder than the first sequel, Resident Evil: Apocalypse. But before I can discuss that, you should first hear about the stories for some of the other games.

The second RE game follows two of the series' most popular characters, Leon S. Kennedy and Claire Redfield. Raccoon City has been overrun by the T-Virus, turning the majority of its population into zombies. The game is split into two halves, depending on who you want to play the game as (meaning you'd have to play the game twice, once as each character, to get the full story--but you're doing different things, so that makes it more entertaining... though there is the ability to affect the other character's playthrough depending on how you do things, giving you up to four different scenarios and multiple variables... but I'm getting off topic). Leon's section of the story isn't currently relevant (as neither he nor Ada Wong, a woman he meets up with, are in this particular film--I'll be getting to them later this year). Claire is also not in this film, and I'll talk about her next time, but she runs into a little girl named Sherry, the daughter of scientist William Birkin--the man who invented the G-Virus (a new strain). Both teams find and protect Sherry and different times, and also discover she herself is kind of infected herself (by her father).

The third RE game, entitled Resident Evil: Nemesis, reintroduces us to former S.T.A.R.S. member Jill Valentine as she attempts to escape the infested Raccoon City. She ends up stumbling across some special forces guys who work for Umbrella named Carlos Oliveira, Mikhail Victor, and Nicholai Ginovaef. And all of them end up occasionally battling against an "organic bio-weapon" called Nemesis, who is programmed to go around killing off all S.T.A.R.S. members. After a bunch of stuff happens (including Nicholai revealing himself to be a bad guy), they discover that the US government is going to nuke Raccoon City to stop the infestation and cover it all up.

While technically the fourth game in the series, Resident Evil: Code Veronica is not considered the fourth (as there is a completely separated RE4, which coincidentally won tons of awards the year it came out). It's a bit of a sequel to the second game, following Claire's storyline from that game. But all you need to know here is a family that is introduced known as the Ashfords who experiment with a different form of the T-virus.

Now that we have that out of the way, I can discuss the actual movie. As I said in the last article, each sequel actually ended up making more money than the last. But does that mean this film is any better, especially since it's tying itself into the games? Well...


I've seen all the RE films in theater, but I only own the first two. So that will at least give you some inclination of how I feel about this particular installment. However, I haven't watched it in years, so my thoughts might have changed. So what do I think now? Well, the story this time is basically picking up right where the first film left off. Alice (Milla Jovovich) has woken up in a Raccoon City facility, and the city itself has been overrun by the T-virus. And while there is supposedly an evacuation going on, a young girl named Angela Ashford (Sophie Vavasseur), daughter of Umbrella scientist and T-virus creator Dr. Charles Ashford (Jared Harris), has become lost in the city. He ends up contacting some of the only survivors to help him find his daughter before she (and the rest of them) is killed. The rest include Raccoon City police officer Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory) and news reporter Terri Morales (Sandrine Holt); Umbrella soldiers Carlos Olivera (Oded Fehr) and Nicholai Ginovaeff (Zack Ward); and Alice and small-time crook L.J. (Mike Epps). Unfortunately, zombies and a soon-to-hit nuke aren't the only things they have to worry about. Alice's acquaintance from the previous film, Matt, has completely transformed into a monstrous weapon called Nemesis, which has been programmed to destroy all the remaining S.T.A.R.S. members before wiping out all evidence with aforementioned nuke.

Granted that I haven't played any of the games, none of the adaptation stuff bothered me. Of course, I know enough to know that the movie missed the atmosphere of the source material completely. The film is not suspenseful, not even horror. It's an action movie, pure and simple. In fact, you could easily argue that all the movie is is a sequence of action set-pieces... and that's about it. Now, some of those set-pieces are cool, others are decent, and some are just silly. But for the most part, the action generally works.

What doesn't work are the characters (for the most part). For one, there are way too many primary characters, too many for there to be any good focus or character development. You come to know or care nothing about any of these people. Alice you only know because of the first film, but she's a totally different entity here due to the experimentation on her. Jill is just... there for fan service. She looks like the character in the games, and that's it. There is no depth to her whatsoever. Carlos is likable, but just like the others, you know nothing about him. L.J., too, is likable as the comic relief. You know the least about him, but at least he serves a purpose (one liners and laughs). He has the best lines in the movie.

And then there are the plot holes. I guess I never picked up on these before (except one--how the hell did they build that gate perimeter around Raccoon City in like... a few hours? In fact, almost every five minutes you're left with another "How did...?" question. The characters do things they shouldn't, either because the actions themselves are stupid or because there should be absolutely no way the characters would have the prior knowledge to begin this action in the first place. I don't think I've ever seen so many plot holes or logic gaps in a movie before.

On the plus side, the movie did have some good ideas. Turning Matt from the first film into Nemesis was nice, giving a good emotional connection with Alice for this film. Also, the film gives us an origin to the T-virus itself with the Ashfords (which are a kind of mix between the Ashfords and the Birkins of the games).

But there were just too many things that didn't make sense. Too many plot/logic holes. The characters were pointless, as essentially Alice could have done the entire mission on her own. There didn't need to be 3 completely different groups brought in just to find one little girl, especially when they knew exactly where she was at to begin with. I would have accepted Carlos, too, since he's at least useful. The visuals are decent, and the Nemesis doesn't look too bad. If you're going to watch this, do it for some intriguing action set-pieces and a few fun one-liners from L.J., but that's it. If you think about anything in this movie, it'll be lost to you.

Feed Me, Seymour!


Update: The Demented Podcast.

So you might be wondering to yourself... "Where the hell is the latest episode of The Demented Podcast? Shouldn't it have been up like... a week ago?" Well, yes. I apologize. I had a busy weekend last weekend and never had the chance to edit the episode and get it put up. Unfortunately, the same thing is going to happen this weekend, it seems. I shall try my hardest to get it put up as soon as humanly possible... hopefully before next weekend, even.

"But Nick," you say, "won't that mess with the schedule for the Battle Royale that should be coming out?" I'm glad you asked. You see, due to an insane amount of scheduling conflicts from all the contestants, we won't be able to get the next Battle Royale recorded until early June.

"What does that mean for the next regular episode?" The current plan is actually to go ahead and record Episode 41 immediately prior to the Battle Royale, and then do the BR. The scheduling will be a bit wonky, but I'll somehow make it work.

"So..." you begin, slightly befuddled. "When can I expect new episodes again?" Like I said, I'll hopefully get you this last episode (#39) sometime early next week. However, after that, you probably won't get a new episode until early-to-mid June, most likely. So I guess consider this an unplanned hiatus-type thing. Again, I apologize. It's completely my fault. Just keep an eye out for the next episode soon, and thank you for sticking with us!

P.S. Is this a bad time to ask for a nomination for the LAMMY awards? Right... thought so. (Though it sure would be swell!)


50/50 Review #17: Lone Wolf McQuade.

So I'm from Texas. We all know that. But I might as well not be Texan. I hate country music. I don't like the whole cowboy style. I don't care for westerns. I'm definitely not Republican. And this is my first actual feature with Chuck Norris (No, I never watched Walker, Texas Ranger, either). The movie basically follows Texas Ranger J.J. McQuade (Chuck Norris) who gets a new partner, Kayo (Robert Beltran), just in time to face off against some Mexican gun runners. One of said baddies is Rawley Wilkes (David Carradine). Of course, family and love interests get involved.

First and foremost... what the hell did I just watch? None of this damn movie makes a lick of sense. The character actions are absurd. The villains are ridiculous. And then there are certain scenes here and there that are just laughably cheesy. For instance, there's one scene where Love Interest chases Norris around his yard with a garden hose until they fall to the ground and start making out, only for her to hold the hose upward so that they're making out with water coming down on them in slow motion. Right around this scene, Norris visits the main bad guy, who also happens to be a "little person" in a mechanical wheelchair. He talks WAY over-the-top and even has a wall that spins around to hide him in a secret room. I think even Bond villains would go "...really?" at this. And I will say... it's scenes like those that made the movie for me. I really liked when it went silly and cheesy like that.

What disappointed me was... everything else. To be perfectly honest, after all the build up of Chuck Norris over the years (I mean, the dude is essentially greater than God, if you believe the jokes)... the action was kind of a let down. I never thought the action scenes were all that exciting. Outside of the climax (humvee versus bulldozer?) there was nothing special it. Most of it was just people shooting guns at each other in just... regular kind of ways. It's not very exciting. Again, outside of the climax, the action wasn't all that great to me. Not to mention even when people got shot or hurt, they obviously and clearly never got shot or hurt (almost no blood). Norris, on the other hand, still exhibited a kind of cool factor regardless.

The story wasn't anything special, either. Nothing that hasn't been done a billion times (aloof badass cop gets a rookie partner, stumbles into conspiracy, goes too far, gets his badge taken away at some point, has to go prove himself and save the day after a female family member and/or love interest is kidnapped, etc.). The execution of it, on the other hand, was unique. It was very soap opera-ish. The acting was incredibly over-the-top. The music was ridiculously big and overdramatic. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't.

In the end, the movie was... well, it was alright. It wasn't all that exciting to me. Sorry, Jason. I think it needed to be a little more absurd for me to really love it. I mean, there's a lot I didn't mention that was weird or fun, but it wasn't enough to win me over completely. To be honest, I didn't dislike this movie in any real regard. In the line between so bad it's good and just bad, I don't think it ever crosses into 'just bad'. It always stays in the 'so bad it's good' territory, just not enough for my personal liking.

Stop Saying OK! OK.

(P.S. SPOILERS... Not the dog/wolf! That part made me sad.)



It started with Iron Man in 2008, and then The Incredible Hulk soon after. From there we received Iron Man 2, Thor, and Captain America, with the characters of Nick Fury, Agent Coulson, Black Widow, and Hawkeye sprinkled throughout. For 5 years, Hollywood has been building to the moment when these characters would assemble together to form The Avengers. There's been skepticism and excitement leading to this moment, a lot of it centered around director Joss Whedon. With so much build up, so much hype, so much anticipation... could it possibly have been any good?

This time, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) wants revenge for his banishment by his brother Thor (Chris Hemsworth) by taking over the Earth realm. With the help of an alien race, Loki goes after the Tesseract, a dangerous energy cube that could destroy the entire planet alone. So now Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) must once again attempt to assemble the Avengers to help stop him. They go for the wisecracking genius with a suit of armor, Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.); the super-human soldier from the past, Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans); the gamma-radiated scientist who might be the only one who could find the stolen tesseract, Bruce Banner/Hulk (Mark Ruffalo); and then include his own agents, the Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders), and Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner).

The biggest question of everyone's minds was... how can Joss Whedon pull off such an ensemble cast battling for screen time? Surely some were going to be left out more or left underdeveloped; he couldn't possibly give equal time to all of these characters and still have a good and/or cohesive film. But I guess these people don't watch a lot of Whedon, because thats basically one of the things he does best. While I was watching, I kept wanting to say "Oh, RDJ is stealing this movie." But then 10 seconds later, it'd be like "Oh, The Hulk is stealing this movie" and then "Oh, Scarlett Johansson is awesome in this," etc. Of course, Whedon's not a moron. He played up fan favorite Tony Stark, giving him some of the best lines. Everybody has their highlights in this movie, though. Jeremy Renner comes closest to being left behind, but the reason is pretty obvious--he's the least known of the bunch. He builds him up just enough to keep an interest in him and make him cool, but Whedon doesn't put a ton of focus on him; he keeps that on the characters the mainstream audience actually already know and want to see. The biggest surprise, though? The Hulk. After two incarnations on the big screen (one terrible, the other decent), I think Whedon finally hit the nail on the head. Ruffalo's Banner is solid, and the Hulk itself looks good and has some fantastic moments in the third act (actually, he probably has the two of the best moments in the entire movie).

Speaking of the third act... has that not been the bane of the pre-Avenger movies' existences? It seemed every time, we were all left underwhelmed by the "final boss battles." There was all the build up and then... short and not very exciting. But not this time. The third act is fantastic. The city-wide battle is outstanding, and Whedon makes sure every character has at least two or three moments to really shine. And yes, the final fight against Loki himself might be incredibly short, but it's easily one of the greatest moments in the entire film. I don't think there was a single person in the audience who wasn't laughing and cheering at that moment. Simply fantastic.

Outside the wonderful action sequences (mostly in the second half of the film), there's a good mix of comedy and drama. And just like with the action, everyone gets a turn. There's the rivalry between Tony Stark and Steve Rogers; the bond between Black Widow and Hawkeye; the isolation and worry of Bruce Banner; the trusting of Thor amongst the Avengers themselves, as well as the relationship between Thor and Loki; and, of course, Agent Coulson just being the scene stealer that he is. Of course, at the same time, the scenes in between the action can be a bit slow at times, but the ones that drag never linger too long before something strikes your fancy.

So in the end, I think it really worked. I saw it with a few other people, one of which hadn't seen any of the Pre-Avengers flicks, and he still really liked the movie. So I guess prior viewing doesn't necessarily matter, but I'm sure it definitely helps some of the deeper understandings of the characters and their past relationships with others. If you want to see a great comic book movie with awesome action and some nice comedy, check this out (if you haven't already). As a side note, I also saw this in 3D. It didn't hinder the movie whatsoever, but it's not totally necessary, either. It's, again, one of the more atmospheric types. So if you're wondering whether to see it in 2D or 3D, it doesn't matter one way or the other. The 3D won't hurt your experience, but it's not gonna blow you away, either. Anyway, I had a really great time with this, and I'm definitely going to check it out again.

Rating System.

Royale With Cheese

(P.S. Make sure you stay after the credits! There's a scene about halfway through and another at the very end. The one halfway through is a sequel hint, and the one at the end is just comedic.)


V.G. Movies #17: Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle Of Life.

[Welcome back to the Evolution of Video Game Movies series. Every week, I will be moving forward through time, starting with the earliest and ending with the most recent of video game movies. I will be detailing the histories of the games and how the films came about, and both my and fan reaction to the adaptations. Practically all of my background information is either common knowledge or from Wikipedia. So without further ado, let's move on to the next film on the list.]


Last time, we talked just a little about the origins of Lara Croft and the games. However, I stopped discussing the games at the sixth, wherein I mentioned how it bombed and brought in a new production company with a note I'd continue that story later. It's now "later."

As I stated before, Lara Croft the character was actually killed off in the fourth installment. The fifth game was mainly done in flashback. But then game into production a sixth game entitled Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness that was to revive the character and begin a brand new trilogy of games. This didn't happen, however. Why? Core Design, the production company behind the game series, wanted to put the game out early in correspondence with the second feature film. But it wasn't a finished game; it wasn't ready to be released. It was still full of bugs, but they wanted to rush it to onto the shelves just a month or so prior to the release of the new film.

The game, of course, was met with negative reviews and shone a poor light on the franchise. A senior executive of the production company, who also acted as an executive producer on the film, actually resigned days after the game was released. And all of this negative attention is at least used partially to blame for the failure of the film. Is the movie actually bad, or did it just receive negative attention because it was a bad year for the franchise? I have a sinking suspicion it's the former... (but let's find out!)...


I remember seeing this in theater... and I don't remember a damn thing about it. But it does have Gerard Butler, and it's not called 300... so I know the quality is already peaking at mediocre before even getting into it. Oh joy. This time we follow Lara Croft (Angelina Jolie) as she gets caught up in a scheme to stop a man named Jonathan Reiss (Ciaran Hinds) from finding Pandora's Box and releasing a deadly plague upon the world. To help her, she calls upon an old cohort named Terry (Gerard Butler). Together, they travel the globe trying to stop Reiss and get to the box first.

It's amazing how this movie took all the action, characterization, and CGI and made it all infinitely better. Oh wait, you mean this isn't opposite day? In that case... what the hell, man? Let's start with the action. I read a snippet of a review that said the first movie was "dumb fun" but this one was "just dumb." I can see where they're coming from that. Sure the first movie had some rough CGI monsters here and there, but on the whole, at least the action was entertaining and at least somewhat plausible in design. Here you have a scene where Croft cuts her arm to summon a horribly CGI'd shark, punches it in the face to show it who's boss, then grabs its fin so that it can swim her up to the surface before she drowns, allowing it to swim away without coming after her again. And that's in the first 15 minutes. The movie is just silly. Whereas the first movie had cool scenes like the bungie ballet fight, this one has... base jumping... and jumping a motorcycle off the Great Wall of China. And did I mention punching a shark in the face so it'll give you a ride to the surface?

While on the subject, the CGI didn't get any better. Hell, I could make an argument it actually got worse. At least the first film used it sparingly. I mean, the shark... the acid goo pool at the end (and the burning body)... the monsters around the third act... etc. I could forgive it if the action was good enough to take my mind off it, but as I said... it wasn't. And I could take my mind off the poor action if I give a crap about the characters. But I don't. Yet again, the best character is Croft's underused butler, who has even less to do in this film, sadly. I couldn't care less about anyone else.

To be fair, it's not terrible. Its worst crime is that it's just so... boring. It's no wonder I couldn't remember anything about it from when I first saw it. I just finished watching it a few minutes ago and I already forgot almost the entire movie. It isn't fun or clever. It just... exists. And as I've said before, that's pretty much the worst crime a movie can make. Either make it good or bad. Dull is just... unforgivable.

Feed Me, Seymour!


MonthWatch - April 2012.

[I'm going to keep a monthly tally of the movies I've both watched for the first time and as re-watches. I think it'll be interesting to see what all I've watched at the end of the year and how many. That being said, let's do it. Here's the next month.]


The Cabin in the Woods - Brilliant!

Shaun of the Dead - One of my all-time faves.
Hot Fuzz - Felt like following up with this the next night.
The Gamers: Dorkness Rising - Brilliant unknown, low-budget comedy.
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider - For V.G. Movie Article. It's alright.
Big Trouble in Little China - Thank you, Nolahn! Man, this movie is awesome.
Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon - For DemPod. Amazingly fun.
Scream - For DemPod. Still good.
Ghostbusters - On Netflix Instant... couldn't pass it up.
Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within - For V.G. Movie Article. Could've been better.
Scream 2 - Felt like following up Scream a week or so later. Not as good, but decent.
Resident Evil - For V.G. Movie Article. Kind of underrated in the V.G. Movie 'genre'.
Taken - I have skills, too, ya know...
Cloverfield - For DemPod. Still good. Love TJ Miller.
The Host - For DemPod. Doesn't necessarily hold up, but still good.
House of the Dead - For V.G. Movie Article. Gotta love Uwe Boll, right?
Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol - Awesome stuff!

Arahan - Fantastic S. Korean action comedy. Funny and a lot of fun with some outstanding action sequences.
Spanish Judges - Great psychological crime thriller. Quite unpredictable with a great Matthew Lillard performance.
City Lights - For 50/50 I love Chaplin more and more.
We Bought A Zoo - For MILF. Not too shabby.
Carnage - I guess I'm a Polanski fan.
War Horse - Sunsets: The Movie! Decent final hour... otherwise, not that great.
His Girl Friday - For 50/50. Crazy dialogue! Pretty good movie.
The Darkest Hour - For MILF. SO much wasted potential...
The Skin I Live In - Slow to start, then OMG WTF. Gonna see this again. Soon.
The Chaser - Good S. Korean thriller.
Four Rooms - What a wacky little flick.
No Mercy - Another good S. Korean thriller with a unique story... but could have done a little more.
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance - For 50/50. Gotta love its leads, even if you don't like westerns.
The Divide - For MILF. Again, so much wasted potential.
House of the Devil - Wanted to see Ti West's claim to fame before Innkeepers. Boring 70 minutes, but INSANE third act.
Almost Love - Decent S. Korean RomCom with a third act that gets really dark and unexpected. Could have been better on the whole, though.
The Innkeepers - For MILF. Great chemistry from the leads, but I wanted a bit more.
Le Samourai - Great lead character in an interesting flick.
War of the Arrows - Acclaimed S. Korean war epic... that could have been much better (good third act, though).
Severance - Interesting British horror/comedy. Could have been a wee bit better, but still fun.
11-11-11 - Oh my God... so... boring... Darren Lynn Bousman might not be the BEST director in the world, but he's certainly better than this.


Theatrical - 4
Re-Watch - 75
First Time - 84
TOTAL -163


50/50 Review #16: Re-Animator.

I think I'd seen bits and pieces of this before, because some of it seemed distantly familiar. Based on the story by H.P. Lovecraft, Re-Animator tells the story of Dan (Bruce Abbott), a medical student currently engaged to the dean's daughter, Megan (Barbara Crampton). But when he starts to room with a transfer student, Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs), weird things start happening. He soon discovers Herbert is experimenting with a serum that allows dead tissue to come back to life. Of course they start small with animals, but soon turn to people... and that's when things get really out of hand.

This film has a slow start and is kind of dull in places, but when it starts going... it really starts going. Man is this movie crazy weird (and fun).  The third act in particular is nuts. Starting with a headless body feeling up a naked woman (and then a decapitated head licking said woman's body)... it just gets weird--and not necessarily in a bad way. The movie isn't light on its blood and gore, either.

There are other elements, however, that make this not much different from the films we make fun of (in a Troll 2 sense). A particular scene where a character turns on a flashlight and looks around a room with its light on comes to mind. Other character actions are illogical, too (like the dean's insane reaction to Dan's statement about the reanimation serum existing). Granted, they aren't as widespread as the aforementioned best worst movie, but they pop up here and there. Again, not to say that's a bad thing. Just an element I wasn't exactly expecting. Makes for a wacky time. It doesn't help that Bruce Abbott kinda looks like the dude who plays the dad in Troll 2, but scrawnier.

Speaking of the actors, I have to appreciate Jeffrey Combs. I used to be a big fan of the show The 4400... in which he played a crazy doctor with a controversial serum. I know, big stretch (if I ever make a mad scientist movie, I'd so cast this dude). But he plays the character of Herbert West here with a restrained glee. He so straight-faced the entire time, but you can still tell he's having fun with it in his line delivery. And David Gale as Dr. Carl Hill was especially creepy and fun.

The only other thing to mention is the makeup, which is pretty dang good. And I liked the different techniques they used to hide a particular actor's body when he had to act as a decapitated head. There's the Alien/Ash technique where they just had it on a table and hid the opening underneath. But then there were particularly clever moments where they held the head in front of a bulky body, so that the actor could just be on the other side of the body poking his head through. Smart, practical stuff. Today they'd just use CGI or something. This way gives it some charm.

On the whole, I'd say the bits of wacky comedy and the insanity of the second half of the movie (particularly the third act) are what make this movie worth it. I wasn't so sure coming into this, as I felt the first half was kind of slow and dull. And while it doesn't reach Dead Alive levels of crazy awesome (a film I can easily compare this to), it does get rather insane and bloody in its own right. So if you're a fan of this type of flick and haven't seen this yet, I'd say give it a shot. It's fun.

I Am McLovin!

(P.S. What's with the Psycho remix theme? I started the movie and was like "...this sounds insanely familiar." Did some research afterward that led me to realizing it was totally Psycho.) 

(P.P.S. Anybody else pick up on the fact that the doctor Herbert West is studying under at the beginning of the movie is named Hans Gruber?)