8.31.2012

V/H/S.

So, I'm considering this a theatrical release since it's a VOD release for now. Anyway, I had heard mixed reactions on this. Some thought it was a fantastic use of the found footage genre. Others felt the whole film was lacking. But where do I fall? I can't really tell you about the plot or the actors since all the actors are unknowns and it's an anthology, so there are multiple plots. What I'm going to do instead is talk about the different stories individually and then give my final thoughts on the film as a whole.

Tape 56

This is the main story, the one that ties the anthology together. The idea is that a group of thugs are hired to go to an old man's house and steal a VHS tape. But when they get there, they find that not only is the old man dead, but there are tons of tapes. So while part of the group looks around the house for all the tapes, one of the guys stays behind to watch a few of the tapes the old man was watching when he died.

Nothing is really explained in this story. What tape were they sent to find? By who? Why did the old man have all these insane tapes? And how did he even get them? What's going on? There's basically no real story here except for filler in between the tapes. There's an interesting ending to it, which I won't spoil, but--you guessed it--not explained and out of nowhere. All of the guys in this aren't developed, either. And they're all horny douchebags, so you wouldn't like them even if you knew anything about them. To me, this was nothing but a plot device, and they could have done it much better.

Amateur Night

A group of horny, douchebag assholes put a hidden webcam in one of the guy's glasses so that he can basically record him having sex or whatever other kind of debauchery they're planning. They go to a club/bar and pick up a couple girls and bring them back to their motel room. One of the girls is Lily, who is a bit... strange. And all she keeps saying is that she likes the guy in the glasses.

Yet again, this story is full of undeveloped characters who you can't root for because they're all so incredibly unlikeable. You can pretty much figure out what's gonna happen and/or who is gonna turn out to be a "bad guy" in this story pretty quickly. And I'll be honest... I had no idea what I was watching happen here until I read the description on Wikipedia. So, yeah, it wasn't very clear. This was an annoyingly bad story... so it's no wonder they put it first to get it out of the way. And unfortunately, this takes the movie up through the first 30-40 minutes.

Second Honeymoon

This is the Ti West segment, so at least you know there's some talent going into it. This follows a couple named Sam and Stephanie as they're going on their (wait for it...) second honeymoon. They decide to go out west and do stuff like visit a fake old west town and visit what I'm assuming is the Grand Canyon. However, weird things begin to happen when a girl visits their motel and, even unbeknownst to the couple, hasn't exactly gone away.

Ti West definitely has a formula to his movies. They're usually really slow with basically nothing scary happening... and then a crazy, almost out-of-nowhere ending that is pretty cool. And I'd say... that's still kinda the case here. There's maybe one creepy moment about halfway in, but otherwise it's just a very slow, character-building story. And this is pretty much the only story in the entire film that attempts to have any kind of character development. I will say I didn't see the ending coming, and I liked it... even if by the end I wanted it to continue going. It's like... just when it started getting interesting, it stops. And that's my only real complaint here. It's not scary at all, but the ending is pretty good.

Tuesday the 17th

You can imagine what this one is about, I'm sure. A bunch of friends are going to one of the girl's hometowns to visit this lake that she always camped at when she was younger. Of course, 2 of the guys are douchebags, one is a dorky guy, one of the girls is annoying, and the other girl is freaky/psychotic. It turns out there had been some crazy murders in these woods/lake area a few years back... and you can figure out what happens next.

Yeah, this is totally a Friday the 13th rip-off... but with a twist. I like the idea behind the killer in this movie. It was a really fun idea. But everything about this segment is so unbelievably underdeveloped and cliche that it's just not fun. The characters are unlikeable and undeveloped (are you seeing a pattern here?), and the twist is so blatantly obvious they might as well have had a flashing neon sign pointing down and stating "Do Not Trust." This segment almost feels like it's over before it begins. Imagine having one of the Jason movies compacted into 10 minutes. That's what this feels like. Again, good concept for the killer, but so unbelievably undeveloped that I couldn't get into it.

The Sick Thing That Happened To Emily When She Was Younger

Now here's an interesting one. Emily is video chatting with her boyfriend, James, who is apparently out of state getting his doctorate. She pretty quickly begins feeling that her new apartment is haunted. And then she gets a strange bump under her arm. She tries to investigate these mysteries, and that's when things get interesting.

The Skype-esque format of this was really fun and unique... but it begs the questions "how did it get onto a VHS tape?" And James declares at least 2-3 times that he wasn't recording certain sessions. I mean, he could have been lying I suppose, but even if he were... the "how did it get on VHS" question still remains. Besides that, this is a story that starts quickly and just goes right into the freaky stuff. And the twist to this one is pretty cool. The characters here aren't exactly undeveloped like a lot of the others, but you weren't exactly connected to them. In fact, Emily comes off as kind of an idiot most of the time. Still, despite its flaws, this is definitely one of the stronger stories of the film, and I really liked its overall concept.

10/31/98

The film story of the film. Of course it has to take place on Halloween. Four friends who (*gasp*) are not douchebags or assholes or (at least here) horny are invited to a Halloween party. One of them dresses up like a Nanny Cam, which gives us the video tape perspective in this story. They go to a house where they think the party is, but it seems deserted. And kinda haunted. They travel through the house thinking it's just a big, funhouse game kinda thing... not realizing they're stumbling into something much worse.

I liked this story, too, despite the fact the guys are a bit dim. Still, this is the first story where not only do none of the males prohibit any moments of douchebaggery, but they're even all decent human beings. Even if you knew nothing about these guys--and you don't--you still like them and hope they all make it out OK. I also liked the idea of them thinking they're in a haunted funhouse and stumbling into something they didn't expect. If there are any downsides to this one, it's that the "twist" is again a bit unclear. I actually thought one thing when it turned out--according to Wikipedia--to be something totally different. And I like the version I read much better than what I thought it was. It's much more original. It's just unfortunate that it's not clear in the story. Still, a solid effort and a decent way to end the movie.

Final Thoughts

The moral I kind of took from this film was that almost all guys are horny douchebags and almost all girls are psychotic in one way or another. That just seemed to be the common thread throughout most of the stories (not all of them, mind you. But most). The film suffers from being 2 hours of underdeveloped stories, characters, and concepts. With the exception of maybe one or two, almost none of these segments feel like they're complete. It's like they're lacking entire chunks of important or interesting story, whether it comes prior to or following the events of said segments. I don't necessarily always need things explained to me, but a lot of these situations felt like they needed to be fleshed out a bit. I think they could have even cut out Amateur Night completely and used that time to flesh out the other stories. Not to mention very few of the characters in any of the stories were likable, so it was hard to get behind a lot of them or care about anything that was going on. In the end, the film is alright. Some of its stories are worth watching. If anything, the whole of it kept a nice, creepy atmosphere. But narrative-wise, the film is just kind of... OK.


Stop Saying OK! OK.

8.29.2012

50/50 Review #33: Peeping Tom.

I've mentioned in the past, but generally my recommended Netflix rating is pretty spot on with how I'll feel about a movie. I very rarely end up giving it a full star below or above the original rating. But it's even more rare for it to be two full stars above or below--in fact, I can't recall the last time that happened. But it happened here. Mark (Carl Boehm), a cinematographer, is addicted to voyeurism. He carries around a video camera everywhere he goes, but only uses it in extreme circumstance... particularly when he's killing someone with it or filming reactions to his kills. But one day he befriends the downstairs neighbor, Helen (Anna Massey) and vows never to harm her. But his kills begin getting investigated, and he must find a way to keep from getting caught while finishing his "documentary."

I wasn't sure what to expect going into this, especially since it only had a 3.3 rating for me--pretty average. But as it started, and the longer it went on... I couldn't help but love everything this movie does. It's such an intensely philosophical film. It explores fetishism, particularly voyeurism and the fascination with fear. The dichotomy of characters and theme is fascinating, especially the idea that the film's antihero is addicted to watching people and his biggest adversary is blind. But I think why this film is so famous and "dangerous" is actually its meta quality. It's a horror film about a guy who gets excited watching people get scared and then die... as you're getting excited watching people get scared and then die (while simultaneously possibly being scared yourself). It's absolutely brilliant.

It also has some brilliant pacing and tension building. There are really only three deaths in the entire movie--one at the opening, one in the middle, and one at the end. But you still feel the suspense throughout. Every scene builds so much tension as you never know what's going to happen next. This film has been compared to Psycho, but I'll be honest... as much as I like and appreciate Hitchcock, I vastly preferred this over Psycho. The twist in Psycho is fantastic, but to me... the twist in this film is more "twisted" and frightening. The shower scene is classic, but I like how this film builds the tension better. I won't begin to compare Mark to Norman, though.

But I will talk about the characters of this film. Mark is a Dexter-type character. He might be a psychotic serial killer, but you root for him. You want him to have a happy ending. You want him to get over his sickness and get the girl. Despite his awkwardness, you really feel for the guy, and Carl Boehm acted the part very well. And Helen's mother was chilling in her role, and you were never quite sure what was going to happen between her and Mark. But if the film has a downside, though, it's with the character of Helen. She's just too unrealistic. After such a bizarre first meeting, there's no way she'd be even more smitten with the guy. And then there's the ending, which I have trouble believing for a second.

But besides that, the only other issue I had was minor. The little corner store confused me. I couldn't figure out if he worked there or what. I assumed he did, but he also worked on a movie set? It was just never made clear, and the corner store is never really there except for the only two scenes that the plot and/or theme needs it for (the beginning and the end). I think either that could have been explained a little better or something else should have been done with it. But it's a minor quibble.

Anyway, I was in heavy 'like' with this film for the majority of it. But as it went on, gave us some brilliant scene and some gorgeous camera shots, and came closer to the end, that like turned to love. It's just so fantastically made all around. And believe it or not, I didn't even think about the whole meta quality to it until the very, very end (maybe the last 3-5 minutes). And that just solidified it for me. This is a rather fine philosophical thriller, and I think everyone should see it at least once.

Rating System.
Royale With Cheese

(P.S. That'll wrap up James' Month! I'll say... this was a really interesting month. A very diverse set of films. Two of them I outright loved (this and Sherlock Jr... both having meta qualities, too. Imagine that). One I liked quite a bit, despite not generally caring for the genre (Once Upon a Time in the West). One I actually didn't care for all that much except for the cinematography and soundtrack (Suspiria). And one that I ended up liking a whole lot more than I thought I would, especially an brilliant car chase sequence (We Own The Night). In fact, I could say that about the majority of this month: I was pleasantly surprised with just about all of it. I ended up liking almost everything a lot more than anticipated; ironically, the one I was anticipating the most was the only one I didn't care that much for. Anyway, now it's time to move on to the next month... provided by my very own podcasting partner, Steve Honeywell.)

8.27.2012

V.G. Movies #33: Max Payne.

[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.]

THE HISTORY

The game was first released in 2001 as a third-person shooter. The game is known for its noir and comic book elements, Norse mythology connections, and its heavy use of bullet-time action and Hong Kong cinema style. Max Payne is a former detective and fugitive DEA agent whose family were recently killed. They were connected to a case involving a drug called Valkyr, so he goes undercover in the mob to find out who was responsible and will kill anyone who gets in his way. (And why go into more details because, honestly, do any of you actually read this?)

I've never played the games, so I can't say how close the film came to them. From what I heard, it strays pretty drastically, despite being similar on the surface. So I know something went wrong somewhere... so let's see, exactly, where that was.

THE FILM

I actually saw this one in theater originally, though I hadn't seen it since. However, I didn't hate it by any means then. I thought it was a bit average, but had its moments. Does it live up to those memories, though? Max Payne (Mark Wahlberg) is a Cold Case detective who has been secretly hunting his wife's killer for 3 years. His newest lead gets him caught up in an underground street drug called Valkyr that causes dangerous hallucinations for most. Teaming up with a woman named Mona (Mila Kunis)--whose sister was also recently killed due to her connection to the drug--Max gets mixed up in this dangerous underworld while hunting for the man who killed his wife.

The strongest aspect of the movie is definitely its visuals. This film is pretty damn gorgeous. The overall aesthetic is fantastic. Even the CGI is great. But... unfortunately, that's about where it all ends.

First you have the really strange choice of actors. Mark Wahlberg can be good in certain films, particularly if he has to act over-the-top or comical, but here--as he's playing it straight and serious--he's just bland. And then there's the casting of Mila Kunis as the film's femme fatale... which is just bizarre. I can't for one second believe her as this character, and it's just so beyond a bad and strange casting decision. Chris "Ludacris" Bridges is also in the film, though I always end up liking him and thought he did well.

The worst thing is that the film breaks the cardinal rule of cinema... and it's just plain boring. There's zero action for basically the entire first hour of the movie, so we're left with Wahlberg and Kunis to carry the film on their charisma (which, of course, neither have here). It's also slightly confusing as not much is explained and characters just show up for no reason as plot devices. And just what exactly Mila Kunis is isn't explained, either (though she's apparently an assassin... a fact I seemingly had to look up the first time I watched this, as well). And there's no suspense or emotion anywhere as you can't connect with any character. Actually, there's a brief 1-2 minute scene where they talk to this tattoo parlor guy, and he was cool just knowing random shit about Norse Mythology (even had a book lying around). I would rather have seen a whole movie following him.

And then the action itself wasn't all that exciting. The games apparently are very much inspired by the likes of the Wachowskis and John Woo and put an emphasis on bullet time and slo-mo. There's definitely some of that here, but it's done so... awkwardly. I read somewhere else where someone said that it was almost more of a parody of bullet time, and that's definitely true. There's a sequence (one that I even remembered from the theatrical viewing) where Max bends over backwards to shoot a guy behind a railing behind him. Just to fire one bullet and shoot this guy takes roughly 45-50 seconds. It's freakin' ridiculous and almost comical in its execution. Otherwise, there's really not much action in this film based on a stylized action game, and when there is... it's pretty dull. Actually, the closing credits almost have more action than the rest of the film as it's just CGI guns shooting for a minute or two.

Speaking of the credits, the movie just kinda ends. There's no real denouement. It's just over. So you sit through what is a very pretty movie, but for no real good reason besides that. The story is dull. The action is dull (and sometimes so stupid it's funny). The casting is way off. I haven't played the game, like I said, but I can imagine why fans were disappointed. I thought it was entertaining when I saw it in theater (with the exception of that ridiculous 1-minute slo-mo gunshot). But on this second viewing, I have no idea what I was thinking. I actually went back and looked at my original review, and it's interesting that I basically felt the exact same way this time, but with stronger emotions that led me to disliking it much more. Anyway, I think "pretty/boring" sums it up well.


Feed Me, Seymour!

8.26.2012

The Vlog: Season 5, Episode 2 (A Silent Start - Part 2).

We've got the setup out of the way... now let's dive in. Enjoy! Let me know what you think in the comments.

8.25.2012

THE EXPENDABLES 2.

The first film was a pretty big disappointment. There was a lacking story, but the characters and action didn't make up for it--mainly because of an over-reliance on CGI and the fact every action sequence was edited to hell. It was incredibly mediocre to say the least. So a lot of people had dropped expectations for this one... but did they need to? Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone) owes Church (Bruce Willis) big time, and Church is making sure he pays up. There's was a plane that crashed carrying some very top secret information, and he wants Barney's team to retrieve it, taking along the skilled Maggie (Nan Yu) to help. Of course, he gets caught up in a bomb-plot headed by Jean-Claude Van Damme and has to defeat him. So with the help of Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, Liam Hemsworth, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Chuck Norris... they go on this mission. (Jet Li is also briefly in the movie.)

I'll start right off by saying what pretty much everybody else has said: This is what the first movie should have been, and what everybody pretty much expected the first movie to be. You know that awesome moment in the first film where it's Stallone, Arnold, and Willis in the church for 5 minutes just talking? This is that, but taken into action and expanded. It's all of the action stars you love, kicking ass side-by-side, dropping one liners, and making meta jokes about each other's careers.

There are really only a handful of action sequences in the film, but when you do have the, they are fantastic. The entire third act in the airport is probably one of the greatest throwback, nerdgasm sequences ever. The interactions between Arnold, Willis, and Norris alone are golden. And speaking of Norris, he's not here much, but he definitely has a badass presence. They even joke about Chuck Norris Facts at one point (well, prior to the third act, but whatever). This film really played up to fanboys, and of course its most meta moments were my favorite.

But the film isn't perfect. The film meanders at times, particularly in the middle and a subplot with villagers being forced to labor for the bad guys. It goes pretty much nowhere. There's a story bit with Statham's girlfriend (played again briefly by Charisma Carpenter) that also goes absolutely nowhere. Randy Couture is basically non-existant. I mean, he's always in the background... but he serves zero purpose in the story. They barely even give him lines. He's just there to be there. And, of course, there's yet again an incredibly over-reliance on CGI. Even on things that have NO NEED to be CGI. There's CGI blood, CGI helicopters/planes, CGI trams, CGI water... it just goes on and on. And that bugged me almost more than anything else.

(Well, almost everything. I had a young woman sitting behind me that was ungodly annoying. It was like having an over-excitable football superfan sitting next to you. She thought everything was 10 times funnier, sadder, more exciting and/or awesome, etc., than anybody else in the theater. And she made sure everyone knew it. It's like "Really, lady? Jason Statham putting on bronze knuckles is that fucking funny/awesome?" Anyway...)

Basically, if you were disappointed by the first one, definitely check out this one. It's everything you wanted the original to be. And there's really no need to see the original first. There's a couple references to it, but really... there's no need. I barely remembered anything about it and I did just fine. The action is awesome. The gleeful 80s-action nerd moments are splendid. There are a lot of meta references, which is great. It's just pure, action-y fun.


A Keanu 'Whoa'

8.22.2012

50/50 Review #32: We Own The Night.

I always felt this was kind of the odd duck in James' Month.  In a month of what is essentially classics of various genres, we have a 2007 crime drama with Mark Wahlberg. But I rolled with it. The film follows a night club owner named Bobby (Joaquin Phoenix), who tries to keep his personal and professional lives separate. The illegal drug deeds going on at his club, for instance, wouldn't go over too well with his police chief father, Burt (Robert Duvall), or his rising star police officer brother, Joseph (Mark Wahlberg). In fact, the only person that knows his police ties is his girlfriend, Amada (Eva Mendes). But when his two lives start to collide and his family is threatened, Bobby has to make some tough decisions that will impact his life forever.

I can safely say I was pleasantly surprised with this movie. I honestly knew almost nothing about it going in except the cast, and the story really captivated me. The idea that Bobby would have to infiltrate what is essentially his second family all while simultaneously conflicting with his blood family was great. The lengths Bobby has to go and the toil it puts on him and weighs him down was fascinating to watch. And I don't say this often, but... at just shy of 2 hours, I honestly think it could have used another 15-20 minutes at least.

You're going to think I'm strange for saying this, but honestly... the film's biggest problem was that it needed more Mark Wahlberg. It's not because he was so fantastic in the film... it's more like he was barely in it. Honestly, the only characters that were built were the ones played by Joaquin Phoenix and maybe Robert Duvall. You get maybe a couple scenes before Wahlberg leaves the film for probably an hour or more, and then only a couple more scenes until the big climax after that. I would have liked to see more of the brotherly conflict between the two and how this case was really messing with both their heads and their relationship with each other. And then by the end, you're supposed to feel for the guy when a shootout happens, but there hasn't been much build-up for the psychology of the the character for me to care or grasp it. And then there's Eva Mendes, who they try to build up a little, but she's mainly just background fodder to give Joaquin something else to worry about. By the time the big emotional scene between them happens, I don't have much of an emotional connection with her, either.

But when this flick does things right, it really does them right. In fact, I'd say this movie has some strokes of genius scattered throughout. James mentioned there's a brief shot of Eva Mendes in this movie that's one of his favorite shots of the last 10 years. And without telling me which one, I can safely assume I know which he's talking about. And then there's my favorite scene in the movie. There's a car chase in the rain about halfway in. There's no music, and in fact, most of the sound is slightly muted. The majority of the scene happens from the perspective of inside one of the cars (only occasionally showing the outside). It's a hard scene to explain, but it's so masterfully shot and edited that I think it easily belongs in any Top 10 Car Chase list.

It's not a perfect movie, but it's a really good one. The acting is really good, particularly from Joaquin Phoenix and Robert Duvall. The fact that this film seems to have flown under so many radars is kind of surprising to me. The idea is a great one, and despite the need for a little more character development on certain characters, it was pulled off pretty well. But if the story doesn't sound interesting to you, you should at least see it for the car chase scene, as it's worth watching just for that.


A Keanu 'Whoa'

8.20.2012

V.G. Movies #32: Far Cry.

[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.]

THE HISTORY

Ubisoft released this game in 2004 to positive reviews. The basic idea of the first game is that there's an ex-US Special Forces dude named Jack Carver who is hired by a reporter to take her to a military research island. But his boat ends up blown up after they get there and he has to find the reporter and escape, as the island is filled with genetically altered beasts.

From what I can tell without having played the game, the film actually adapts the story relatively close, despite making Jack Carver German. Regardless, this is an Uwe Boll film, so 9.9 times out of 10 it's going to be terrible anyway. In fact, I watched and reviewed this a couple years ago and really didn't want to bother re-watching this POS. The old review was pretty good, I think, so I'm just reposting that instead. Here you go!

THE FILM

Wow. What can I say about Far Cry? I guess we'll just start with the plot. On a military-run island (I think), a man named Dr. Krieger (Udo Kier) is doing experiments on soldiers, trying to create the ultimate super soldier that can be controlled by said military. One of the men working there, though he doesn't really want to, is a man named Max (Ralf Moeller), who is the uncle of a reporter named Valerie (Emmanuelle Vaugier). He sets up a covert meeting for them on the island, so Valerie needs to find a way to get there. She hires a boat driver named Jack Carver (Til Schweiger), who also happens to be ex-Special Forces... and also happens to have fought in said special forces with Max... to take her to the island. But they're found out at soon as they get there and are nearly killed. Jack wants to just find a boat and get off the island, but Valerie refuses to leave without Max. Completely illogical stuff ensues.

First and foremost, I want to start off with the acting. It's atrocious. Like, really, really bad. I'm not even gonna go into detail. I'll just post this video that happens at the very beginning of the movie:



And it doesn't get any better from there. In fact, you don't hear much of Jack in this video, but he's just... ugh. I've never played the video game, so I don't know if Jack has a German accent in the game (or if there's even a voice over), but they could have--at the very least--gone with somebody who didn't struggle with English and then have them do a German accent.

It could have very well been my TV, but the action scenes in the first half of the movie were so dark you couldn't see what the hell was going on. Fortunately, I do have to admit that the action in the last 30 minute or so of the film is much better, particularly once all the super soldiers are released. But this is also a prime example of how ridiculous and illogical this movie was. The super soldiers had super skin that acted essentially like Kevlar. If they were shot, the bullets basically bounced off them. So tell me if this makes sense: The super soldiers were given Kevlar vests to wear, while the regular, non-super soldiers did not get Kevlar vests. And the greatest part? Everybody continually shot directly at the Kevlar vests on the super soldiers. Not their clearly open arms or heads. And you'd think they'd just go for the head shot. They couldn't possibly be afraid of missing. After all, seconds after they learn they need to aim for the EYE or MOUTH, everybody becomes an incredible marksman and can shoot a super fast super soldier in the EYE without even aiming. Hell, there's one moment where a woman just spins around and shoots one in the eye in about a second. And don't get me started on the romance and sex to be had within hours of meeting each other and previously being unable to stand each other. Or the elongated deaths, where there can be reactions and further actions to advance the plot right before death, despite being shot IN THE FACE (and boy did those eye shots just look stupid and unrealistic).

Let me try to put this another way. Remember yesterday when I discussed how Chris Coppola could have single-handedly destroyed Postal for me? Yeah, he was the best part of this movie. His character was actually pretty funny, though he's not really introduced until the last third of the movie. Udo Kier (who you'll instantly recognize, despite probably never having seen the majority of his movies) is a pretty decent villain. His acting is probably the least annoying (after Chris Coppola). The worst thing about the whole thing? (SPOILER ALERT) They never show his demise. That's right. You don't even get the satisfaction of seeing the villain defeated. You see the super soldiers coming toward him as he stands with his back to a cliff, but that's it. Then it goes to the escape boat with our heroes, and that's the end of the conflict. (END SPOILERS)

Yeah. This movie is pretty bad. There are a couple redeeming factors (like Chris Coppola's character), but that's about it. It's dull. It's inept. It's stupidly illogical. And up until Rampage, people apparently considered this Uwe Boll's best movie. And as I'm going in descending order based on rank, I can't wait to see what I have to look forward to next. As for Far Cry, I can totally see this as a movie to riff on with friends. I'm sure that'd be a good time. Just try to avoid watching it alone. Not as fun.

Photobucket
The Zed Word

(P.S. Geeooorrggee, what are you doing driiivvvinngg? But Geooorggee, what about the whaaallleesss?)

8.19.2012

The Vlog: Season 5, Episode 1 (A Silent Start - Part 1).

It has finally returned! It's time to begin the final season of The Vlog. And I must say, in my opinion... this is easily the best season. And I'm not just saying that. I guess because it's the final season, we had to go all-out. It's also probably the most straightforward since the first season. Also, unlike other seasons, I don't think this season has a single weak episode. To me, each episode is almost better than the last. And that unfortunately means the first episode, in theory, would be the weakest. But that's probably due to it just being a "setup" episode. The real fun starts Episode 2.

What's different about this season from other seasons is a slightly changed format. The past couple seasons have had the Vlog format/Story Time format alternation. This season works in 2-part arcs, building the story from various perspectives through genres. And yes, this is a more story- and character-focused season, though some randomness is still mixed in (but in plot-related ways).

Anyway, I've held you back long enough. Let's just get into it, shall we? I hope you enjoy! Let me know what you think in the comments.

8.17.2012

Top 25 Favorite Films Of All Time.

After yesterday's massive Liebster Award post, I got to thinking about my personal favorite movies of all time. I mean, when it really comes down to it, how would I rank them? It was a tough job, but I put together my Top 25 Favorite Films Of All Time. My only restriction was that it couldn't be from this current year (despite the fact Cabin in the Woods might some day end up here).

Keep in mind, these are my FAVORITE movies, not the movies I consider to be BEST (that would be a completely different list full of many more classics, I reckon). These are the movies I love the most, will always go back to or quote constantly or make references to, the films that inspire my imagination the most, etc. There's a couple movies I was saddened didn't make the cut (such as Tremors 2 or Surf Ninjas), but... oh well. Anyway, here you go:

25.












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8.16.2012

My Liebster Responses.

OK, so over the last month or two, a variety of people have awarded me the coveted "Liebster Award" that's been going around lately. In no particular order, these people are from the blogs The Great Movie Project, 1001plus, Green People Soup, and Screen Insight. (If you awarded me and I forgot, I apologize. Four was difficult enough to keep track of.) Now that I'm not busy and/or lazy, I figured it was a good enough time to respond to these.

If you're unaware of what this entails, here are the rules:

1. Each person must post 11 things about themselves.
2. Answer the 11 questions the person giving the award has set for you.
3. Create 11 questions for the people you will be giving the award to.
4. Choose 11 people to award and send them a link in your post.
5. Go to their page and tell them.
6. NO TAG BACKS

However, I'm going to break some of these rules. Everybody I could possibly link to has already been awarded this at this point, so it's useless to make them do it all over again. So I'm only gonna bother doing the first two rules here. And hopefully that should work, considering I now have to say 11 things about myself PLUS the 11 questions from EACH of these blogs that awarded me.

First, here are 11 Things About Me (that you might not know):

1. I love ketchup. I eat it with almost anything non-liquid or non-dessert-y.

2. I have a strong love of writing fiction. I've currently written 9 novels, and I have actually published some short stories and poetry. My first grade teacher helped me bind and laminate my first stories (with such titles as "Red Line The Snake" and "The Adventures of Magnet Man"). I wrote my first "novella" around 7th grade (a sci-fi/fantasy murder/thriller originally entitled "The Mime"), and I wrote my first full-length novel in 12th grade (a post-apoc horror/sci-fi novel called "Requiem for and Angel"). It sucks. (Though I suppose it has potential if I ever did a full re-write from scratch.)

3. I am currently the only member of my immediate family not in the medical field (no doctors, but all in medicine). I guess the sciences run in my family, which I suppose is why biology was always my second-best subject in school.

4. I'm phonophobic (yes, that's a real thing). In other words, I get incredibly freaked out if I have to make phone calls, to parents excluded. Generally skype doesn't bother me because other people I know are also involved.

5. I do not tan, no matter how hard I might try. I have incredibly fair skin, so I will burn a lot and then go right back to pale.

6. That might be attributed to the fact I have red hair. You might not notice it in pictures or in The Vlog, but while the top of my head is brown, my beard is red (and the roots of the "soul patch" are blonde). All naturally. And it all only gets brighter if I'm out in the sun.

7. Nothing freaks me out more than scorpions. I'm generally fine if they're on TV or whatever. But if one comes crawling across the floor, I scream like a little girl and jump to the other side of the room where it takes me 20 minutes to build up the courage to throw a book at it or something.

8. Although I do not consider myself religious (in the sense I go to church every Sunday), I do have a fascination with it. My mom's side of the family is a huge catholic bunch. My mom is a pretty strict catholic. I went to private school from kinder through 8th grade, which meant I went to church at least twice a week every week until I hit high school, and that was on top of religion classes, etc. So it's pretty engrained in me. I stopped going to church when I turned 18, and I could probably count on one hand how many times I've gone since (usually for something like a wedding or funeral). But I still love movies with religious angles to them (like Se7en), and a handful of my novels tend to have some kind of religious undercurrent to them.

9. I rarely drink caffeine or alcohol (alcohol much less often than caffeine, which I will have on occasion). I mainly drink water. I don't think I've ever been completely drunk, though I have been incredibly tipsy to the point I stumbled while walking.

10. At various points in my life, I was actually involved in gymnastics, karate, and basketball. The first two were when I was really little, and I wish I would have stuck it out with one or the other (or both!). I played basketball when I was in jr. high for a intramural team... and we actually went undefeated for the entire season. And yes, I actually made some shots.

11. Despite my relatively quiet demeanor (which some of you who have either met me or talked to me before can attest to), I have ADD (Note: Not the hyperactive variety). I am very easily distracted--something my students would always complain about, even. I usually have about 20 different things going on in my head at once, which probably explains why I just sit there quietly the majority of the time, as I easily get lost in my own mind. But it is also very easy to distract me from my mind if you hit the right topics, and I can get awfully chatty (to the point, believe it or not, people have to sometimes tell me to stop). I know... I'm an enigma. But when I get my mind set on something, it sure as hell gets done... which explains the 9 novels.

I could go on and on about other things you might not know about me, but I'm sure you want to get to the good stuff. Now the questions from others...

The Great Movie Project Questions:

1. What are your top five favorite movies of all time?

This is such a hard question... let's see what I can do: Little Shop of Horrors, Shaun of the Dead, Spaceballs, 28 Days Later..., and uh... I can only choose 5? Damn. Fine. The Princess Bride.

2. In your opinion, what is the best film translation of a book?

The Princess Bride, hands down. I actually like the movie better than the book. And it really captured the narration incredibly well by transferring it to the Grandfather character.

3. What's your favorite movie moment?

There are so many types of favorite moments. Funny? Scary? Dramatic? Etc. If I just chose one at random, I'd say possibly...

"Hello! My name is Inigo Montoya! You killed my father! Prepare to die!" *slash* "Offer me money."
"Yes!"
"Power, too, promise me that." *slash*
"All that I have and more. Please..."
"Offer me anything I ask for."
"Anything you want.
*stab* "I want my father back, you son of a bitch!"

4. What's the strangest movie you've ever watched?

I've seen a lot of strange movies. I'd say it has to be a three-way tie between Eraserhead, Hausu, and Super Mario Bros.: The Great Mission To Rescue Princess Peach! And two of those are Japanese, so I think that says something...

5. Has it ever embarrassed you to watch a movie in the theater? If so, which one(s)?

Yes, actually. I've seen all the Twilight movies in theater, by myself. I was also incredibly embarrassed to see Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li by the time it ended because it was so bad.

6. Are movies still relevant as an art form or has Hollywood's mass production strategy made them something else?

I think they're still definitely relevant as an art form. Mainstream Hollywood aren't the only films being produced, and there are plenty of other films available that are incredibly artistic.

7. Which of the four Hogwarts Houses would you want to belong to?

I'm not brave enough for Gryffindor or mean enough for Slytherin. And nobody wants to be in Hufflepuff (I mean, only one person was really relevant from Hufflepuff, and he's killed off the same book he becomes relevant). And I consider myself relatively intelligent, so Ravenclaw it is.

8. Who's the best movie villain?

This is a damn near impossible question to answer. I mean, you have anyone from Hans Landa to Hannibal Lecter and Voldemort to Vader. But for the freakiest of villains, I might have to go with Annie Wilkes from Misery. She (along with Nurse Ratched) is like a precursor to Professor Umbridge, another terrifyingly evil villain.

9. You're babysitting in a quiet theater during a horror movie, watching the killer creep up on the unsuspecting babysitter on the screen. What flavor of ice cream are you eating?

Some form of chocolate, probably. Maybe strawberry.

10. Who is your favorite movie hero/superhero?

Does Richard B. Riddick count? If so, totally him.

11. What's a movie that surprised you by how much you liked it?

Moneyball. It's about math and baseball. I'm actually programmed to hate it. Yet I really liked it.


1001plus Questions:

1. At a movie theater, what snacks do you buy? Or do you sneak them in? If money were no object, what would be your movie theater snack of choice?

I actually don't typically get snacks. But if I do, it's usually water and probably goobers.

2. What's the first movie that really scared you?

Little Shop of Horrors gave me nightmares for over a decade... yet I always went back to it.

3. The television show/book/graphic novel/other thing I would really love to see adapted to film is...

I've always wanted to see a very well done, dark, live-action Pokemon movie. Either that or Dean Koontz's Odd Thomas, which has been rumored to be in production for ages but has never happened. I also really want a GOOD Uncharted movie with Nathan Fillion.

4. If you like horror movies, why do you like them? If not, why not?

I love horror, mostly because it's just something engrained in me. Little Shop of Horrors was really the first film I really loved. But it's also an adrenaline rush, and I find horror filmmakers always have the most fun when making a movie, and when that shows, I always have fun.

5. If you could be any movie character, who would you be, and why?

Scott Pilgrim. He might be an ass, but he was with at least three different hot girls, has kinda-super powers, lives in a video game/anime world, and has great friends.

6. Why did you start blogging? What keeps you going?

Easy question. Dylan of Man, I Love Films--formerly of Blog Cabins--got me into it. I stumbled upon Blog Cabins from imdb, as it linked to him from there. And while I was there, I found his Survivor Recaps and then just continued reading everything he did. And I just decided to start my own blog at that point and joined the LAMB and befriended Dylan, etc. And I keep going because of all the friends I've made.

7. What movie would you most like to see again for the first time with no prior knowledge?

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban without knowing the book? Maybe I'll feel the film actually has purpose in that case.

8. If you could write your own epitaph, what would it say?

"Here Lies Nick... And May He Never Come Back As A Zombie, Because That Would Suck. And If That Happens, Shoot Him In The Head."

9. What is the best or most useful class in school you have ever taken?

I don't know... maybe Narrative Fiction? There were some meta-stories in there, and I got to write a paper comparing a novel to Will Farrell's Stranger Than Fiction.

10. Describe your favorite article of clothing.

I don't care about fashion or anything, so I don't really have one.

11. If there was one household chore I could get away with never doing again, it would be...

Cleaning the bathroom.


Green People Soup Questions:

1. In what decade were you born?

1980s.

2. What do you think you'll die of, and when?

Assassination, so of cours I have no idea when. I mean, I'm kind of a big deal.

3. Can I borrow a hundred bucks?

I'm afraid not.

4. What's your favorite film genre, and why?

Anything fantastical... so fantasy, horror, and sci-fi.

5. Are "definitive" greatest-of film lists bullshit? Why or why not?

Yes. Film is subjective. There can't be definitive anything about it.

6. What decade produced the best action stars?

Is there any other answer to this besides the 80s (and/or early 90s)?

7. Where is the best place to sit in a theater, and why?

Middle, middle. Because.

8. Does nihilism solve any cultural problems?

I don't care.

9. Why don't you care more about stuff? Jeez!

*shrugs*

10. If you could, would you force filmmakers to revert back to using combinations of practical effects (miniatures, matte paintings, etc.) alongside some CG? If not, explain yourself.

Yeah! Especially with horror films. Body horror style stuff like Carpenter, Cronenberg, etc. is the best kind of thing. That's why I like things del Toro does with guys in suits rather than CG creatures.

11. Why do we exist?

Why don't we NOT exist?


Screen Insight Questions:

1. When you think of home--and your family--which film first comes to mind?

Spaceballs. A frequently quoted film.

2. Explain a Cinema-Story whereby something interesting happened!

A dude choked on some popcorn or something. Somebody started screaming for help, and a dude nearby me literally leapt over the back of the seats like a ninja and gave him the heimlich. And then everything was fine and everyone went back to watching the movie.

3. What is the most Erotic scene in Film?

Easily any number of sex scenes from The Room. Tommy Wiseau's ass... so hot.

(Seriously, I'd have to say the Natalie Portman/Mila Kunis moment in Black Swan.)

4. Which actor could [almost] guarantee your attendance to a cinema?

Simon Pegg. Love that guy.

5. Which actor used to guarantee your attendance--but doesn't anymore.

Ryan Reynolds. I'll still rent all his flicks, but after stuff like The Change-Up and Green Lantern, I had to pass. I'm still hoping for that Deadpool movie...

6. If you could go anywhere in the world, related to film, where would you go?

Real or fake places? For fake, Hogwarts! Real? The Harry Potter sets, which I know they'll be doing tours of.

7. What is your favorite 007 film?

I actually haven't really seen that many 007 movies. I think I've only seen one of the Pierce Brosnan films, and otherwise just Casino Royale. And the only thing I remember from either one is the free-running opening in Casino Royale. Sorry.

8. What is your favorite franchise?

Harry Potter. Easy!

9. Which film do you want a sequel for?

For this question, I'm gonna go the route of film that most likely will never, ever get a sequel (which narrows down the field immensely). And I still have four answers: Mathilda (a Leon sequel), From Dusk Til Shaun (a Shaun of the Dead sequel), Spaceballs 2: The Search for More Money (*sadface*), and Super Mario Bros. 2 (because... why not?).

10. Which film do you wish could be erased and remade?

This kinda goes against one of the previous answers, but... Super Mario Bros. As much cheesy fun as the first one is, I totally wish they'd just redo it and go crazy with it. And keep it closer to the games, which would just make it weird.

11. What is your favorite composer/score to a film?

Kind of a lame answer, but I have no idea. I don't really listen to scores much outside of the films. I might mention I like the score, but that's about it. However, two of my non-Harry Potter-related songs from a film score is the main theme from 28 Days/Weeks Later (which was later retitled "In a House/In a Heartbeat") and the main theme from Saw. I like a lot of songs that have a slow start and build up to this grand, epic theme. That's probably why "In the Hall of the Mountain King" is one of my favorite classical pieces.

8.15.2012

50/50 Review #31: Suspiria.

Well... that was interesting. Suspiria was probably the one from this month I was most looking forward to having heard so much about it. But despite having always heard about this movie, I actually knew almost nothing about it except it was the "ballerina horror" movie (not entitled Black Swan). The story follows Suzy Bannion (Jessica Harper), an America ballerina who is accepted into a European dance academy. But weird things happen from the moment she arrives, like an ex-student running out into a storm and ending up dead the following day. And things just get stranger from there...

This movie is a total attack on your senses. In a way, it kind of reminded me of the first 15 minutes of Irreversible, except I didn't hate it. First and foremost, I have to talk about the score. This is equally my biggest positive and biggest negative. The score is absolutely amazing. "Goblin" made one hell of a haunting, creepy score, and I loved all of it. However, it's blasted so offensively loud at you that it makes you wonder if "subtlety" is in Dario Argento's dictionary (it isn't). Good thing it was so great, otherwise I would have hated this film just for that. (And part of my loves the fact that what sounds like a whispered "rar rar rar rar" is a part of the main theme of this horror movie. It's almost too cheesy that it's awesome.)

Next up is the color. I think that's what this movie is most famous for. The use of color in this movie is outstanding. It's mostly reds, but there are a lot of blues and even some greens throughout. It gives it this ethereal quality, which only helps some of the later scenes. In particular, there's this round office when she's following footsteps and hunting for a hidden room. The way the camera pans around the office is almost dizzyingly surreal, like the room is just changing around her, though it isn't.

Unfortunately, the rest was a little rough for me. The story was very interesting, and it was definitely a slow burn. But I felt the production values were otherwise a little on the poor side. The acting was pretty bad (though Jessica Harper was definitely the best--and the cutest... totally unrelated). And because it was a slow burn, it sometimes had trouble keeping my full attention (when the music wasn't blaring me out of my seat). I can't necessarily even say it was the direction, as Dario Argento was responsible for making it as stylishly great as it was. So I don't know.

Perhaps it was an expectations thing--due to it being Argento, I was expecting more blood and gore, and possibly a little more body horror. But the film is surprisingly lacking in blood. I mean, it's there, but not much. There were some great set pieces, like the wire room (was that supposed to be barbed wire or just regular wire?).

Anyway, the film was a bit of a contradiction for me. It's like everything I really liked about it was also everything I disliked about it. The score was great, but it was too loud. The style was fantastic, but part of it seemed off at the same time.  The acting poor, but fitting once you realize these were originally supposed to be 12-year-olds (and still made to act like children despite the older ages). The slow burn worked, but was sometimes a little wandering. I don't know... it was one strange little film, but in the end, I liked it.


I Am McLovin!

8.14.2012

The Vlog: Season 5 Poster.


And if you haven't watched the critically acclaimed trailer yet:

8.13.2012

V.G. Movies #31: Alone In The Dark 2.

[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.]

THE HISTORY

So let me get this right. Uwe Boll passed on this sequel, and instead turned the reins over to his long-time co-producers and screenwriters for practically all his former films, Peter Scheerer and Michael Roesch. Well... shit.

THE FILM

So some time in between films, Christian Slater became an Asian man. Interesting. I honestly have no idea what the plot of this movie is. Hell, IMDb doesn't even know, as it just gives some BS concept blurb. The best I can give is this... Edward Carnby (Rick Yune) is stabbed by an evil witch's knife and becomes infected with... something that attracts the witch. The Dexter family--including Natalie (Rachel  Specter) and her father (Bill Moseley)--take him in to heal him up. With the help of some companions--including Boyle (Ralf Moeller), Perry (Danny Trejo), and Abner (Lance Henriksen)--they... try to do something with the knife... to stop the witch... or something. But at least some Uwe Boll regulars show up like Zack Ward and Michael Pare.

I didn't understand a damn thing that was going on in this movie. Most of the plot was either not explained very clearly (or at all), or was explained so late in the game that it was far too late to matter or care. I didn't know what any of the character motivations were. Why did these people care about Edward Carnby enough to risk their lives for him? As far as I could tell, he never exhibited anything of importance to... anything that was going on. In fact, the few times you do get a sense of why he's involved, it's for selfish reasons that would only endanger everybody even more. I never could figure out why they wanted or needed the knife and what would be bad about the witch actually getting it back. Them having it didn't help them or make anything better. I'm also not sure what the point of the witch was outside "I want my knife back" was. Well, there was something you learn about a connection to the Dexter family later on, but by that point I really couldn't have cared less.

As expected, the acting is terrible. Rick Yune is barely a presence until about an hour in, as he spends more of his time incapacitated. Ralf Moeller is like an Arnold Schwarzenegger wannabe (not even remotely as cool). Bill Moseley, who I recognize as the worst thing in Repo! The Genetic Opera, shows up to give some more signature painful acting here. He's seriously so outmatched that even the shitty acting from Rachel Specter seems in a whole other league. It's almost comical. Danny Trejo is horribly underused; the man probably has a total of 5 minutes at best and doesn't do anything worth hiring Danny Trejo for. The best part of the movie, frankly, is Lance Henriksen. His acting is by far the best, and his character is at least fun to watch.

This film wasn't actually as painful as I was expecting, but that doesn't stop it from being God-awful. The story is so under-explained that you never know why anything is happening or what they're doing. The motivations of the characters are either nonexistent or muddled at best. The CGI is bad, which is also to be expected. The acting is laughable, and I still have no idea why they changed Carnby's race from the first film. Talk about odd continuity. Save for Lance Henriksen, there's nothing good about this movie, and no real reason to watch it.


The Zed Word

8.12.2012

The Vlog: Explained + Season 5 Trailer.

It's about that time, guys and gals! So I have some videos for y'all today to get y'all in the mood for some Vloggy goodness.

First up is "The Vlog: Explained." Many of you have often asked me what the heck the plot of The Vlog actually is. I admit... everything can tend to get confusing, and most of you question exactly how everything works in this little brain of mine. Well, I finally decided to explain it all... in chronological order. So whether you just want The Vlog explained to you or you want a recap of the entire series thus far to refresh your memory (This will even work to get you caught up for the fifth season so you don't have to watch all four of the prior seasons if you don't want to)... this is for you.

So hopefully all of you. In this video, I touch on all the important elements of the series, including everything you'll need to know for the final season. So instead of just revisiting 4 hours worth of footage, here it is, all wrapped up in a 20-minute short.

NOTE: It starts off with a lot of narration, but I assure you I do eventually start breaking it up with scenes or clips played out from the actual show. So it's not just me narrating the entire time.



Anyway, now that you're all caught up, you can watch the trailer for Season 5. The only thing of note to add before just giving you the trailer is the first minute (or thereabouts) will not actually show up during the season. Sebastian recorded it extra, and I decided to use it for the trailer because it fit so well. Warning: there is potential motion sickness involved in that first half.

(P.S. This is probably my favorite trailer I've ever done.)



So what do you think of both? Please let me know in the comments! (And if you decide to skip the retrospective for now and come back to it, please let me know on that, too... because I spent a lot of time trying to get that just right.)

8.10.2012

TOTAL RECALL.

So after the original Total Recall, they were going to make a sequel. They even wrote a script based on another Philip K Dick story, Minority Report. But that never happened; however, the script stayed in Hollywood, floating around. It was eventually re-worked and altered to be a little closer to the original Minority Report short story, and Spielberg used it in his film version... which co-starred Colin Farrell, who, of course, now stars in the remake of Total Recall. And this mind-trip, meta quality to these connections is also kind of how it felt to watch this actual movie.

If you're unaware, the film is about Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell), a blue-collar worker with a hot wife, Lori (Kate Beckinsale), who works for the government. Douglass has been having some bad dreams involving being attacked by the government and running away with Melina (Jessica Biel). So he goes to a place called Rekall in order to sort his mind out and get some good memories. But in the process of uploading a Secret Agent memory, government agents--led by Lori, who is commanded from afar by Cohaagen (Bryan Crantson)--attack him. Apparently he has connections to a rebellion leader named Matthias (Bill Nighy), and Douglas has some info in his head that they do not what Matthias to get a hold of.

I'm not sure if it was a good or bad idea to watch the film in such close proximity to this version, because all I could do was sit there making connections the whole time. This film actually used knowledge of the original in its function, making allusions to it or playing out scenes the same way but to a different outcome. The best use of this method came about in the "two weeks" scene that I don't want to spoil if you have no idea what I'm talking about, but fans of the original film certainly will. However, because these films are all about memory--whether erasing or retrieving--everything gains this strange level of meta to it. And we all know I love meta... but at the same time, I'm not quite sure how well it worked. It might have been too reliant on the original film.

Still, there were plenty of things unique to this version that were great. One of the things I always love about PKD adaptations is where they take technology and the gadgets and whatnot they come up with. I love the whole magnetic system of the flying cars (something I always thought about when I was a little kid, so it was really fun to see it in effect). The guns, the elevators, the fridges, the phones, etc. It's just a lot of imaginative fun.

Likewise, the level of action in this flick is pretty awesome. All of the fight scenes and chase scenes were a lot of fun, and most of it looks fantastic. Though one of the writers was Kurt Wimmer, who has given us a lot of fantastic fight scenes in his own films, such as Equilibrium. This is being pegged as a dumb, summer action flick... and it is. But there's nothing wrong with that, is there? I'm not gonna bother with talking about the acting, honestly, because you wouldn't go see this for the acting anyway (hell, you wouldn't see the original for its fabulous acting, either, to be fair). You'll see it for the action.

This is a darker, more serious take on the story, whereas the original film was more cheesy... well... Arnold-ish. It doesn't have the awesome prosthetics or mutants or any of that (though you do still get the three-breasted woman, and yes... you do see them). Where it lacks in the whole "body horror" elements of the original, it makes up for with sweet technology and great action. Again, it's hard to erase the memory of the original film when watching this (ha), and whether or not it wants you to see this as a lone feature or in conjunction with the original to work to its fullest potential... this is still a fun, summer action flick, and I enjoyed it.


I Am McLovin!

8.09.2012

LKMYNTS: Archie's Final Project.

Stop reading this and just go watch the movie. It's on Netflix Instant Streaming, at least as of this writing... OK, you back? Yeah. We can get into it now. I want to talk about the story, but I feel it wouldn't do anything justice. Here goes, anyway... Archie (Gabriel Sunday) is a teen boy who loves movies, has ADD, is a virgin, has no friends, and is rather depressed. His video tech class announces that it's time to begin the final projects, and Archie announces to the class and everyone that he's going to film his own suicide. He then begins to film everybody's reaction to this and the journey it takes him on. The journey just so happens to take him in the direction of Sierra Silver (Brooke Nevin), a popular rich girl whose brother recently died and has sent her into a massive depressed state, as well.

It's not a big-name cast, but there are some people you might recognize. One of the biggest names here will be David Carradine, who plays a poet/writer/underground filmmaker whom Archie interviews. At one point Archie sees a counselor played by Tony Hale, and he eventually sees a psychiatrist played by Joe Mantegna. Archie's mom is played by Nora Dunn. And there's another boy in the school played incredibly well by Michael Welch, who is best known as Mike Newton from the Twilight flicks. Everybody's acting, especially Gabriel Sunday and Brooke Nevin, is magnificent from start to finish, and there's not a single person not used to their full potential in their given roles.

But this movie's highlight isn't the acting, really. No, it's the style. I've never seen anything like this movie. It's like a stream-of-consciousness inside the mind of a movie-loving, depressed, ADD teen. It's something totally unique that I couldn't even begin to explain it. I mean, the best I could do would be this: Take Bang Bang You're Dead (and change the topic from school shootings to suicide), Quentin Tarantino's knack for referencing other films, Edgar Wright's insane kinetic editing, the mile-a-minute style of Run Lola Run (including random animation), some visual cues from a Morgan Spurlock documentary, the originality of an indie film, blend everything together and multiply it by about five. Then you might have some idea of what this movie has to offer.

But unlike a lot of movies that are this stylistic, it has enough substance to match toe-to-toe. This is an intensely emotional film, one that might even bring some to tears. It definitely has a message and power behind it. The characters are strong, as well, able to carry the weight of the film on their shoulders. So while you're catching all the movie reference (and there are a lot... I mean, there's even a moment where he's whispering to himself "His name was Robert Paulson," and if you're not listening, you'll totally miss it), you're also being served an intense and solid film on every other level.

This movie is the type of movie that makes you go "This is why movies are made." Is it a cinematic masterpiece to go down in the history books? Probably not. But the imagination and love and heart and emotion and time that went into the making of this movie is clearly evident. This is not another film just put out quickly to appease the masses. It's art without being pretentious. It's a film with a unique vision and an important message, and I think it should be a film everyone--especially film fans--should see at least once.

Rating System.
Royale With Cheese

(P.S. It also has a really good soundtrack. You can enlarge the poster and see a listing of bands.)

8.08.2012

50/50 Review #30: Sherlock Jr.

Where to start? Well, it's certainly the shortest film I've ever had to review for any project, clocking in at 44 minutes (and the oldest on this particular project). The film follows a movie projectionist (Buster Keaton) who dreams of being a detective. But on the day he proposes to his girlfriend (Kathryn McGuire), a man (Ward Crane) steals the girlfriend's father's (Joe Keaton) pocketwatch... and then frames the projectionist for it. While being depressed about having to leave his girlfriend, the projectionist falls asleep at work while screening a film about a jewelry thief and dreams himself entering the film as Sherlock Jr., the greatest detective who has ever lived.

This being my first Keaton, I wasn't too sure what to expect. You see him rightfully compared a lot to Chaplin, though a lot find him to be even better... and I can understand why. He's similar, yet very different. Though I'm not sure I can exactly point out how... or even want to try until I see more Keaton films. I'd say the biggest thing I can think of just looking at this one film is that Chaplin tends to be more purely slapstick with emotion coming in when necessary, while Keaton keeps emotion at the core of every gag, whether that's emotion between characters or a clear love of what he's putting into the film.

This little film had me laughing out loud at numerous points. I'd say the two highlights being what I call the "Daffy Duck" segment and the "Pool" segment. The Daffy Duck segment is when Keaton first enters the film and then basically spends the next 5 minutes purely showing off. He wanders around on screen, but the setting keeps changing, putting him in awkward situations. In the context of the film he just walked into, it makes absolutely no sense... but it's so much fun that you really don't care. The Pool segment has the bad guys replacing the 13-ball with an explosive that will detonate on being hit, but Keaton manages to do every trick in the book to not hit that ball... and how the scene ends is just perfect.

This is one of those "I can't write this without gushing about everything" type of reviews that just suck to write. What's not to love about this? It has all the fun of a slapstick silent film, but adds in meta qualities, puns, and even some clever wit in the story titles (a personal favorite being along the lines of "Sherlock Jr had absolutely solved the case--except for finding the pearls and figuring out who the thief is"). And you all know how I love meta, puns, and wit. It's just a genius little film, and I strongly suggest it to... anyone. My biggest complaint? Much like this review... it's too short!

Rating System.
Royale With Cheese