10.31.2012

50/50 Review #42: Halloween 4: The Return Of Michael Myers.

As most people know, Halloween 3 is not a Michael Myers film. It's some weird flick about Halloween masks that kill people. So when that bombed, they decided to go ahead and bring back the signature villain and dub it The Return of Michael Myers. The film picks up ten years after the second film when Michael Myers (George P. Wilbur) is being transported to a different facility. He wakes up, kills everyone, and escapes. Why? Because the next day is Halloween, and Laurie Strode's daughter, Jamie (Danielle Harris), is out there. And he wants her dead. So Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasance) is on the case to find her before Myers can.

The film gives off a decent atmosphere; however, it's not very scary. There aren't that many big scares, and the actor playing Myers seems rather scrawny or awkward and isn't very intimidating. And then that mask just looks silly in comparison to other variations. But there are some good scenes in it, like the rooftop scene and, of course, the ending. The ending is pretty shocking, and I was lucky enough not to know what happens. Though I've heard the next film completely negates it, so that sucks.

Otherwise the film came off as just a generic slasher. Outside of Loomis, the characters weren't very interesting, and the story was almost non-existent. And even Loomis is just saying "He isn't a man; he's evil" or some variation the majority of the film. He doesn't really do much in the movie outside of a really good performance in the final moments of the film. But I can't care about the characters. They just... had no personalities. And there was nothing to keep me invested in any of them... outside the fact that Jamie was a little girl and you rarely want kids to die in horror movies (unless they're creepy kids... or bad actors).

But it did have some good ideas that I wish it had gone with or expanded on instead. For instance, there's an implication at the beginning that Dr. Loomis could just have gone crazy after all these years and was just having paranoid hallucinations. Had the film been from his perspective, they really could have played that up. What if Myers really had been dead or totally invalid as he was supposed to be, and Loomis was just imagining this other stuff was happening. And even the teens in the town dressing up as Myers, as they did in the film, could have helped play it up. And going this route could have made the ending even stronger. Imagine--he goes through all of this just to realize Myers is really gone and he's kinda crazy. And then BAM, we get that same ending. That would have been awesome. As it is, Myers was really there, and there was another aspect of the film they could have done more with: The Town Vs. Myers. You don't see that too often in slashers. But the rednecks form this lynch mob... and nothing really comes of it except they make a pretty big mistake (that nothing ever comes from) and then when they're really needed, they're like "screw it." I wish they had set up the town to trap Myers so it was like a cat and mouse game, back and forth between him and the rest of the town.

On the whole, though, I found myself checking the time often. I just found it difficult to really get into.  Like I said, there were good ideas, and the one idea it goes with (the ending), they can't apparently stick with thanks to the follow-up. Again, the atmosphere was alright, but it wasn't really scary or exciting. A good scene here and there, but that's about it. It's not bad, but it's nothing super-fantastic, either.


Stop Saying OK! OK.

(P.S. That'll wrap up Joel's Month! I must say, it wasn't a very exciting month, unfortunately. I only actually liked one film (Open Your Eyes). Otherwise, the movies were anywhere from dull to blah (or just plain bizarre in the case of Watership Down). But now it's time to move on to the next month! Next month I'll be taking on Jess' selection... which, I'll admit, is an interesting mix of films.)

10.30.2012

The Demented Podcast #49 - Kryptoniiiiiitttteeee!

Sorry for the delay. It's been a busy couple of weeks. But hey, today marks the 2-year anniversary of the show! So that's cool. And for this episode, we're joined by Kai Parker of Man, I Love Films and the MILFcast. We're here to talk comic book movies, but more specifically... one of the worst and one of the best in Catwoman and Kick-Ass. And Kai gives one of the most homoerotic penis references of the show thus far. Besides that, he tries to climb the Tower yet again. How does he do? Listen to find out! (Note: Stay 'til after the closing music, as well. You'll get a little extra something.)

Due to Podomatic bandwidth issues, I will no longer be placing the podcast player on the site (and ask that nobody else links directly to it, either). But you can easily listen and subscribe through iTunes!

Current Tower Leaderboard
1) Dylan - 167 Points
2) Rachel - 155 Points
3) Dan - 152 Points
4) Tom - 143 Points
5) Jason - 132 Points
6) Nolahn - 131 Points
7) Joel - 117 Points
8) Joanna - 93 Points

Current/Previous Battle Royale Champions
(BR4) Stevee Taylor - 285 Points
(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.

10.29.2012

V.G. Movies #42: SILENT HILL: REVELATION.

[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

After the "success" of the first film (it is considered to be one of the best video game adaptations thus far), a sequel was almost immediately green-lit. However, director Christoph Gans stated that he wanted to work on other projects and left the sequel. That's when Michael J. Bassett stepped up. However, we were going to get a return of Roger Avary as a writer... until he was arrested for vehicular manslaughter. Bassett also took over as writer. And it has taken 6 years to get this sequel that quite a few people, myself included, have been waiting for.

The film is based on Silent Hill 3. The story follows the hero of the first game, Harry Mason, and his daughter, Heather. But someone named Claudia in Silent Hill has sent a detective named Douglas Cartland to find her and ends up killing Harry. Heather then travels to Silent Hill to exact revenge on Claudia. She also eventually discovers she's the grown version of Alessa/Cheryl from the first game. But the story here doesn't really matter, as from what I've read and heard, the film basically takes names and a few plot points and disregards everything else.

So after all these years of waiting and anticipation... what'd I think?

THE FILM

For those who don't know, I really dig the first film. I was ticked off at the original of the first film, as well, and have been highly anticipating a sequel ever since. So when I heard this was finally happening, I couldn't have been more stoked. It was one of my most anticipated films of the year. I would finally see what happened next after that terrible ending of the first film, and then hopefully get another good film to follow up. Was is everything I hoped for?

Heather Mason (Adelaide Clemens) has moved all around the country with her dad, Harry (Sean Bean) since an incident when she was a child that she has no memory of. But weird things start happening in her new town, going right along with some terrible nightmares about a place called Silent Hill. Then her dad ends up being kidnapped and taken there. So Heather teams up with another new student named Vincent (Kit Harington) to go to Silent Hill to rescue her dad... but there's more to what's going on then she knows.

I don't often say things like this in reviews, but I'm pretty sure this one deserves it: Holy Fuckballs, this movie blew. Like, I've seen a ton of bad movies. I basically make a habit of seeing terrible movies. I have this entire Video Game Movies series (that I decided to willingly do), for crying out loud. The first film is one of--if not the--best video game movie. This one is, while not the worst, pretty damn terrible. This was like a notch above old school Uwe Boll, but without the camp.

First and foremost, the script is so painfully bad. The dialogue often had me thinking "PEOPLE DON'T TALK LIKE THAT!" Seriously. The dialogue was so stilted and clunky and unrealistic. And the story itself was a disaster. It tried to take mainly from Silent Hill 3, but I doubt (no matter what they say) that anybody involved has ever played any of the games. Hell, I wouldn't be surprised if the writers or director had even seen the first film. Why? Because it ignores half the damn thing--but I'll get into that in a minute. Anyway, the story makes no damn sense. Everything that's happening is so illogical, and I'm pretty sure even the writers didn't know what was going on in the story. But the reason I said they didn't pay attention to anything in this series (games or film) is because it doesn't follow how a Silent Hill story works. It's supposed to be slow reveal where all the little mysteries and the monsters eventually build up to reveal some major secret about the characters and some fantastic backstory that really gets psychological on you. They're supposed to be this horror-noir, basically. But here, they take the biggest mystery of the game they're basing this on--that Heather is actually Sharon (or Cheryl in the games)--and announce that to you in the opening minutes of the film. Then it just throws in monsters for no reason. Even the first film had a reason for different monsters to exist in that particular nightmare. Here? They're just there because they wanted them to be there. No connection to the story at all.

Now I'm gonna get into some spoiler territory for both this film and the previous film. I'll let you know when I'm done with spoilers. So here we go. (SPOILERS) The entire point of the ending of the first film is that Sharon's mother, Rose, helps Alessa get her revenge by getting her into the church to kill everyone. She does so, and then Sharon and Alessa merge together and become one. The first film then ends by Sharon and her mom leaving the actual Silent Hill town, but still stuck in the "other realm." It's clear that Alessa has possessed Sharon. So here's Silent Hill: Revelation: Somehow, Rose figured out a way to get Sharon out of the "other realm," but got stuck there herself. Rose tells her husband, Christopher (Sean Bean), that people will try to come after Sharon so they have to keep on the run. That's why they move around so much and keep changing their names. So now Christopher is Harry and Sharon is Heather. But here's the kicker... they completely ignore the fact that Alessa got her revenge and then possessed Sharon. They somehow separated again and she wants revenge again on some other people, one of which being the baddie in the last film's sister (played here by Carrie-Ann Moss). And then the way they get Sharon out of the realm is such a piss-poor explanation-without-being-an-actual-explanation that I'm not sure if it makes the original's ending seem worse or is now better in comparison to what this film delivers. It was just a disaster of a connection. (END SPOILERS)

Now let's move on in to the acting. Not only was this easily some of the worst dialogue I've heard in a Hollywood production in a long time, but it was made even worse by the God-awful acting in the film. And I know at least Sean Bean has acting skills, and I've heard some of these other people do, too. But not in this movie. Not by a long shot. Our leads are basically two Brits and an Aussie, and none of them can hold their American accent. Not even Sean Bean! I swear, everybody slips out of their accents at least a couple times throughout the film (Hell, you can hear Adelaide do it in the trailer!). But every last person, including Radha Mitchell in a brief cameo near the start, gives such a clunky performance. I can't say it quite reaches Chris Klein-in-Legend-of-Chun-Li levels of badness, but it's still super clunky. There's a scene in the first act where Sean Bean is talking to Radha Mitchell in a mirror (yeah), and they keep calling each other "my love" in the most awkward way. It's so painful to watch and/or listen to. I think that was the first time I thought about walking out. (I will say, though, that Malcolm McDowell's brief appearance was great, because at least there he could ham it up and make it entertaining.)

And here's another thing. The first film relied on a building of tension and atmosphere. There was an air of mystery to everything, and it slowly build up the creepy and WTF factor. And it was a gorgeous looking film. To top it off, almost everything in that movie was done practically (with a couple notable exceptions). But the majority of the monsters were just guys in suits, and it looked fantastic. Here, they rely on a ton of really shitty CGI, especially in the case of the mannequin spider/scorpion thingy (also shown in the trailers). Not only did that scene not have anything to do with anything, it looked flat-out horrible. That was just some really bad CGI. And there's no atmosphere in this film. I never felt creeped out. I never felt any tension. And nothing looked as good or as stylish as the first film. There was nothing like the "Colin" scene in the first film.

There is some action in the film, and there actually are a couple good moments. Unfortunately, I'd already seen one of them a thousand times from the trailers and one of the big released scenes. The "Nurses" scene with Vincent is one of the best parts of the movie, and I'd already seen basically the entire thing before the film was even released. There was also maybe one scene near the end that I kinda liked, too, but that was about it. At least there was a final fight scene. If the movie ended with the most Epic-Hug-Battle ever, I'd have been even more pissed (that moment in and of itself was just ridiculous).

Overall, the film was just awful. And even worse, it was disappointing. Painfully disappointing, at that. I'd been anticipating this film for 6 years, and I get this piece of garbage. There's no atmosphere. No scares (outside the 'jump' variety The dialogue is terrible. The acting is terrible. Nothing makes any sense. It doesn't even look good. And, worst of all, it seemingly just ignores 98% of the first movie. Even if you've been anticipating this like I have, don't bother. It's not worth your time.


The Zed Word

(P.S. That being said, this was probably some of the best damn 3D I've ever seen. Holy crap, that was amazing.)

10.28.2012

The Vlog: Season 5, Episode 11 (An Epic Finale - Part 1).

Here we go, folks. This is the first of the two-part SERIES finale. And I must say, these are the two finest episodes of the entire series. I think that's pretty safe to say. Both are hilarious, exciting, and just damn entertaining, if I do say so myself. I also feel they both involve some of the best editing I've ever done. And I'm happy the show gets to go out with such a magnificent bang. So first up...

10.24.2012

50/50 Review #41: Watership Down.

Was I supposed to be on drugs while I watched this? Watership Down tells the story Fiver (Richard Brier), a rabbit with some psychic-esque abilities, and his wise friend, Hazel (John Hurt). One day Fiver gets a feeling bad things are coming to their warren (home), so he talks a group of rabbits in leaving with him to find a new home. Along the way, they face many dangers and eventually have to figure out how to prosper in a new land.

The story and its themes are inspired by Homer's The Odyssey and Virgil's The Aeneid. In other words, for an animated flick about bunnies, this film is dark, depressing, violent, and totally screwed up. Despite my love of the old Greek and Roman tales, I had a few difficulties getting into the story. I couldn't tell you why, but it was just something about it that didn't click with me.

It might have been the characters, as I had a difficult time for a while telling them apart. They did have their own characteristics, but there were still plenty of times it was difficult remembering which rabbit was who and what their personality was (if they had one) and what their role is in the story. Couple that with trying to mentally compare it to its inspiration, and I found myself lost for a good chunk of the movie. Even after I figured them out, I still couldn't much get into them. Perhaps it was the lack of differentiation or emotion in their voices (partly, anyway).

But I think it's the animation that needs to be discussed here. I've never really seen anything like it in a movie before. It's quite unique (Side note: how do you catch a unique rabbit? Unique up on it!). It almost looks like a painting that's turned into animation. But a really trippy painting that starts wigging out on you after you take some hallucinogens. Because this movie ends up in some very bizarre places visually. It sometimes drifts smoothly into almost a dream-like or nightmarish state where everything is off-the-walls, weird, or terrifying. It's also one of the most violent animated bunny movies I've ever seen, and the animation of violence and blood is both unsuspecting and quite well done. Apparently people still complain about the film's PG rating, and it remains today to be the most violent PG animated film ever made.

On the whole, though, I didn't really dislike it. In fact, once I got into it, I did enjoy it--even if it got really crazy at times. I particularly liked the character of Bigwig, as he was a pretty badass bunny. The animation was good and really interesting, which allows it to flow in and out of those strange sequences without seeming out of place. I doubt I'll watch it again, as I wasn't really in love with it, though I can see why somebody would be. It just wasn't all for me.


I Am McLovin!

10.22.2012

V.G. Movies #41: BloodRayne: The Third Reich.

[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

Whereas the previous two movies had nothing to do with the games, this film actually takes an idea and/or setting from a game. It sets BloodRayne up against Nazis. But, being a Boll film, that doesn't matter in the slightest.

THE FILM

Plot that makes no sense. Continuity of story or characters doesn't work from film-to-film (or even scene-to-scene). Some of the same actors are brought back to play new characters in a different era... making no sense. But there is a pointless lesbian sex scene. And a pointless hetero sex scene. And a bunch of other pointless scenes. And everything is done incompetently. However, Clint Howard--one of the two primary villains--was cheesily awesome and hilarious. But, in other words, it sucks. What'd you expect?





The Zed Word

10.21.2012

The Vlog: Season 5, Episode 10 (Barry's Adventure - Part 2).

So, this episode has literally been months in the making. I basically wrote this season's Barry storyline around the fact Tom would be traveling across America. This is a long episode, and it's mainly awesome visuals (there are a couple story aspects tossed in here and there). That being said, I made each "segment" somehow movie-related (though one was Tom's idea). Your Challenge: Can you figure out all the references?

That being said, enjoy. Also... you might notice about a half-second mistake during the credits sequence near the start. Just ignore it. I'm not gonna go back and edit it out only to re-export and re-upload only to fix a half-second issue. And a special thanks to Tom for taking time out of his travels to take a bunch of awesome footage (and embarrass himself in public by wearing that hat).

10.19.2012

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4.

I've never been a huge fan of the Paranormal Activity films. I thought the first one was good for what it was. The second one had some really good moments (the kitchen scene, anyone?). The third one... was kinda lame, but there were at least 1-2 decent parts. So what about the fourth? The film picks up 4 years after the first two (since the third was a prequel) in another state. This time we're following a 15-year-old girl named Alex (Kathryn Newton) and her kinda-boyfriend, Ben (Matt Shively). After the neighbor lady (who if you can't figure out who it is before the movie even starts, you're a moron... just sayin') gets sick and ends up in the hospital, her son Robbie (Brady Allen) stays with Alex's family for a while. But weird stuff starts going on when Robbie continually starts walking around every night, so Alex has Ben set up some webcams around the house. You know the drill from there.

This film has one very big positive and one very big negative. Let's start with the positive. The main characters in this film are probably the best characters in the series--at least to me. Alex and Ben are insanely likable. You don't want anything bad to happen to either of them. The film is really funny, too. The chemistry between the two is pretty fantastic, and they share some great moments and dialogue between them. So kudos for that. (However, I will also say that Looper spoiled me on brilliantly acted creepy kids, because Robbie is so lame in comparison. He never really creeped me out, and it was almost a forced performance from this child actor, which feels odd to say.)

On the downside, however, is that the film is not even remotely scary. Pacing-wise, this film kinda reminded me of The Innkeepers. You have this movie that centers around two fun and likable characters... and nothing happens. Seriously, there might be like 4-5 attempts at legitimate scares in the entire movie, but they're all the exact same scares we've seen in other films: levitation, randomly appearing, and a sudden yank to the ground (once it gets closer to the end). And, unfortunately, the other films even pull it off better. Katie being dragged out of the room in the first film was great. The mom in the second movie being pulled down the stairs only to be let go and pulled again and then down and into the basement? Easily the best version of the sudden pull/dragging in the films. But here... it lasts maybe a couple seconds and it's over. And at this point, you expect it. And while the levitation scene here looks cool, it's not even creepy at this point. Not to mention nothing ever comes of it. At least in the other films, we build up to a massive, freaky climax. That's not really the case here. It kinda builds up to something, but that something isn't even worth it. Even in regards to the jump scares, I actually jumped more at the other people in the theater freaking out than the actual jump scare.

I will say another positive is that there's a solid twist about halfway or so through that I didn't see coming until about 5 minutes before it happens. Granted, it makes almost no sense, but I can appreciate the attempt. It just makes things a little more confusing. But that's another thing--if the mythology of the first three films is to be followed, the demon (and/or Toby) has maybe only a 5% reason to be screwing with this family. And after a certain point in the film, not even that. I can't buy the climax because, by the rules the films have set up and why the demon is doing what it's doing, there is no reason for it to be happening at that point. And if there is, somebody explain it to me. This is also one of the first times in the series that it's ever really bothered me on why they still have the camera or laptop or whatever they're holding at the time. At least half the time, it makes no logical sense.

If you're a fan of horror movies--even old school horror--there's no way this film will scare you. If you almost never watch horror and/or haven't seen the other three (...why are you watching this one?), I guess this one could be scary to you. But this is a film with very little tension. Even the typical "Night" segments lost almost all building tension. Why? Because nothing happens. At least in the other films, stuff gradually escalates to help build the tension. Though I will give it another positive in that the Kinect light thing was a really cool idea. If you must see it, to it for the characters and the comedy... because you're certainly not going for the scares.


Feed Me, Seymour!

10.18.2012

Demented Podcast: "Best Of" Poll!

I promise a new episode of Demented Podcast is coming soon. I've just been preoccupied. Sorry. In the meantime, I have a question! Steve and I want to do a "Best Of" episode with the Top 10 Best Moments of the Show. But, of course, we can't remember everything!

This is where y'all come in. Do you have a favorite moment or memory from the show? Whether you're a former guest or just a frequent listener, we'd love to hear it! Even if it's from the show you were on! Please leave us a comment below letting us know what your favorite moments are. And who knows? Maybe they'll end up in the Top 10! The more you comment and the more we have to choose from, the better!

Note: Don't worry about anything related to genitals. We've got those covered. (No pun intended.)

10.17.2012

50/50 Review #40: Abre Los Ojos (Open Your Eyes).

This is the film that was remade as Vanilla Sky (in which Penelope Cruz actually reprises her role, strangely enough), which I saw years ago and didn't care a whole lot for. But I heard this one was, of course, much better. But what would I think? The film follows Cesar (Eduardo Noriega), a young man who has inherited his deceased parents' money. On his birthday, his best friend Pelayo (Fele Martinez) brings a date--the beautiful Sofia (Penelope Cruz). Cesar almost immediately falls in love with her and uses her as an excuse to ditch an overly obsessed one-night stand, Nuria (Najwa Nimri). But Nuria doesn't appreciate this and tricks Cesar into getting into her car, which she then crashes. Cesar is horribly disfigured in the wreck, and Sofia won't talk to him anymore. We also discover the story is being told in flashback while Cesar speaks with a psychiatrist named Antonio (Chete Lara), who tries to get a confession out of him. Apparently Cesar killed someone. But as he tells the story of what happened, Cesar explains how his whole world has gone insane and it becomes hard to tell dreams from reality. To share any more than that would be a disservice to the film.

So on that note, you might have gathered that I liked it. And I did. I haven't seen Vanilla Sky in about a decade, but I strangely remembered a handful of things as they happened in this version (a very strange deja vu feeling, which is kind of ironic considering the film). I also remembered the ending, so it wasn't very surprising when it came down to it.

What I liked best about this film was how it messed with your head. You really were never sure what was a dream and what was real. You didn't know if Cesar was insane or if it was something like Fincher's The Game going on (and this shares some similarities with that, as well). Even by the time the film becomes obvious, the way it's made still made me keep guessing. That being said, I would have liked it if was a little more ambiguous. By the time we get to the climax, it's practically spelling everything out for you. The ultimate ending would also work better if they'd left everything else a little more ambiguous. In other words, it should be been a little closer to something like Inception, where you can look through the film or debate about the truth of everything. Instead, it really only leaves you with one way of looking at it, and everything about it is explained.

Besides that, the film looks really good visually. The aesthetics in dealing with Cesar's face is done well. From the prosthetics on his face to the masks that he wore, everything looked really good. On top of that, the film was shot beautifully. There were really some fantastic shots in this movie, and it was really nice to look at in that regard.

The acting is really good, as well. Eduardo Noriega is very believable, and you really feel everything he's going through. He also manages to play the role so well that, just like him, you're having difficulties knowing if everything that's happening is just some paranoid scheme against him or if it's all something much more. And, of course, Penelope Cruz is just as fantastic as she is beautiful (and she's insanely beautiful). I also really liked Chete Lara as Antonio. By the time we get to the end of the movie, you really like the guy and feel for him, especially in the climax.

Overall, yeah, it was a really good movie. Everything was done really well. And even thought I already knew the ending from Vanilla Sky, it was still so well made that I was continually second guessing myself. Again, I would have liked to have seen a more ambiguous ending. I think that would have made the film even stronger. But otherwise it was good all around.


A Keanu 'Whoa'

10.15.2012

V.G. Movies #40: Resident Evil: Retribution.

[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

Last week I talked about Chris Redfield, Las Plagas, and Albert Wesker. In the following movie, one of these things gets a larger role. One of them gets a cameo. And the other is ignored completely. If you guessed Las Plagas (larger), Wesker (cameo), and Chris (ignored), you'd be right! Except, of course, Las Plagas in this film is not what it is in the last film or the games, though what it was in the last film is still in this film, but as something else, which makes no sense. But hey, that's RE!

This week I'd like to talk about a few different characters, in particular Leon S Kennedy, Barry Burton, and Ada Wong. Actually, I won't waste your time with Leon, as I've talked about him in previous articles, at least off hand. He's become the face of the series, basically, and is the fan favorite character. He was also the primary character in the game Resident Evil 4. (I talked about this last time.)

Then there's Ada Wong. Ada wasn't formally introduced until the second game. However, she was mentioned in the first. An infected researcher for Umbrella writes a letter to Ada asking her to expose Umbrella. (Couple that with the fact Ada is known for her signature red dress that shows a wee bit of leg... and it becomes clear where the original incarnation of Alice came from.) In the second game, however, where she teams up with Leon pretending to be somebody she's not, but is really a spy looking to get a sample of the T-virus. Her next appearance is in Resident Evil 4, where she teams up with Leon, but is really a spy looking to get a sample of the Plaga virus (gee... you'd think he'd learn). Though this time she's working for Wesker.

Finally, there's Barry, who is in the first game (with a brief appearance in the third where he helps Jill and Carlos escape Raccoon City). But in the first, he was apparently a very likable character in large part due to poor writing, giving him really bad and cheesy dialogue.

And, as per usual, almost all of this will be ignored.

Note: I just reviewed this theatrically a month ago, so I'm just going to repost that same review below. So let's do it.

THE FILM


I say it with almost every review, so why stop now? I see every one of these in theater, regardless of knowing I'm not going to love it. I've never played any of the games all the way through, but I do know about a handful of the characters and the mythos. Not like it matters, since the movies are hardly anything like the games. Every film has made more money than the last while getting worse than the last (though, and I can't believe I'm saying this, with Paul W.S. Anderson back in the director's chair, Afterlife was kind of a step up from Extinction). Anderson returns again for this one, but will this be yet another step up?

The film picks up exactly where Afterlife left off. Alice (Milla Jovovich) has supposedly killed Wesker (Shawn Roberts) and saved Claire Redfield (Ali Larter), K-Mart (Spencer Locke), and Chris Redfield (Wentworth Miller) from the Arcadia ship. But then a mind-controlled Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory) shows up to attack with Umbrella troops. She's blown into the water and wakes up in a Russian Umbrella facility that tests real-life scenarios in fake re-creations of major cities (and some suburbs) with thousands of clones and some zombies and whatnot. But now Wesker is apparently alive, and he and his right-hand lady Ada Wong (Li Bingbing), who have defected from Umbrella, want to get her out of that facility and to safety so she can help them retake the planet before humans become completely extinct. They send in a retraction team including Leon S. Kennedy (Johann Urb), Barry Burton (Kevin Durand), and Luther West (Boris Kodjoe), whom she met in the previous film. But things get a little more complicated when they run into Becky (Aryana Engineer), a young girl who believes Alice is her mother. And due to the whole clone situation, we also get to see Rain (Michelle Rodriguez), One (Colin Salmon), and Carlos (Oded Fehr) again.

I'll be honest, of all the sequels, this film easily has the coolest concept and story. Granted, it's basically a rehash of the first two films (and there are a lot of connections to both of them). The return of One and Rain hark back to the original film, while Jill takes us back to the second. There's also the return of the Red Queen, which brings us back to the first film, and the idea they need to get out of an underground facility. But they're traveling through "cities" and need to escape before a bomb goes off, much like the second film. Despite rehashing old ideas, it worked, because this is easily the best film since the first one. Though there are still plenty of problems with it that stop it from being as good as the first, and put it closer to the quality of the second.

The story, despite being better and more interesting than others in the series, is very rushed. It felt like the film had just started by the time it was over. I suppose it's a good thing I wanted more, though maybe not so much since I wanted more due to it being lacking. Oh yeah, and Claire, Chris, and K-Mart are nowhere to be found in this movie. I think Claire and Chris are mentioned once (K-Mart never), and it's only when Alice asks where they are, to which I don't believe she gets a response. In essence, this and the last film felt like Anderson is slowly trying to naturally retcon the series... and I would think that's the case... if it weren't for how this movie ends, which seems to retcon a previous retcon. But I won't get into that.

A lot of the issues I had here I also had with Afterlife. For instance, this film has some fantastic action sequences, particularly in the first half of the movie. The entire bike chain/gun fight zombie attack sequence was pretty awesome. But there is just way too much slo-mo in this movie. I think if you cut out half the slow motion in this film, we'd lose 30 minutes of the movie. There were a couple scenes it was used well, but on the whole, it felt like 75% of the movie was in slo-mo. There were also some incredibly ridiculous moments where I felt somebody off to the side needed to press an "Easy" Button, because I kept thinking "Well that was easy." There's one particular moment in the climax where Alice is fighting Jill and she does something you knew was going to happen the whole time... but it's done with such ease that the people sitting next to me actually said "why didn't she do that hours ago?" Just way too many cop-out, easy defeats in this film for my liking for what are essentially "boss battles." There were also a ton of really illogical, almost physics-defying situations in some action sequences. And I don't mean like kung-fu kind of things, but like "cars don't work that way" or "bullets don't work that way" or "bodies don't work that way" kind of situations.

Anyway, as I said earlier, I've never really played through the games, but I know enough to know what fans will be pissed about and what fans will let slide. I think, for instance, they might let Barry's portrayal by Kevin Durand slide. It was average enough. And Li Bingbing was freakin' hot in this movie. Ada Wong doesn't do a whole lot, and she has some nice action scenes, but damn was she nice to watch. The biggest blunder here is Leon. Holy Hell was that a disaster of a character adaptation. They got a guy who looks very little like the character, made his hair look freakin' stupid (because that style doesn't fit that actor's face), and then make him one of the least interesting characters in the movie. Leon has pretty much become the face of the games. He's a badass. And here... he was lame background fodder that couldn't even get the look right, much less the personality. I'm also relatively sure they don't know what Las Plagas are (the whole Moscow/Las Plagas attack sequence is probably the worst scene in the film).

The acting is your typical Resident Evil fare. Shawn Roberts' Wesker is campy as hell, and fun for being so. Sienna Guillory can't act her way out of a paper bag (she is awful). I wish Kevin Durand had been given more, because he had potential to be a fun, snarky character. Milla Jovovich is the same as in every other movie. To be honest? This movie belonged to Michelle Rodriguez. She stole almost every scene she was in. And she was basically playing two roles here--a good guy and a bad guy. And the good guy character was so against her type that it was actually refreshing and really funny (and I'm sure purposefully done as such for that reason). She had some good lines and is really entertaining.  I'm glad they brought her back, because she really was the best thing in this movie. Though the little girl, Aryana Engineer (coolest name ever) was actually a pretty good little child actor, especially for this series.

One more thing I want to mention before wrapping this up. The film starts out really solid. We start with a slow motion sequence being played in reverse of the attack on the Arcadia during the opening credits. It's done very well and looks really cool. But then that ends and we cut to what is apparently a pre-requisite for every movie in this series: the Alice Recap. I wonder if Milla is getting tired of giving the same damn speech in every film, just slightly altered to include new events from the previous film? And it goes on for about 5 minutes this time before cutting back to the opening sequence, but playing it forward this time (and shortened, thankfully) before opening up in the suburbia sequence shown in the trailers. So yeah, the first five minutes are really cool. The five or so that follow are very been-there-done-that (literally). And then it goes back to being decent again, at least for a little while.

This is a very, very flawed movie... but I still actually liked it. There is a lot about this movie that doesn't make sense. Plot and logic holes galore. And there's too much slo-mo. But I still really liked the idea behind the story, and some of the action was pretty dang cool. And Michelle Rodriguez was great. If you're a fan of the series, I don't think this one will disappoint too much (unless you're a major Leon S. Kennedy fan). But if you're not a fan of the series, this one won't convert you. Would have liked more, but still pleasantly surprised.


I Am McLovin!

(P.S. The 3D actually wasn't that bad. There were some sequences when it was actually used well. Not the greatest 3D film ever, but better than most these days.)

10.14.2012

The Vlog: Season 5, Episode 9 (Barry's Adventure - Part 1).

Have you been wondering where Tom Clift has been all season? Well, he's finally here! And I must say, of all the "regular" episodes of The Vlog (i.e. the random, non-story, segment type), this is one of my favorites. I basically asked Tom to just improv and this is what he gave me. Actually, he gave me much more. By the end, I had at least 10 minutes of footage (if not a little more). I had to scale back some clips (which you'll see in the bloopers) and put in some cuts here and there. I also added in some fun effects and cheesy borders (I might go into more detail about that on a future commentary). But anyway, here you go! I hope you enjoy!

10.12.2012

SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS.

I love In Bruges. It's one of my favorite movies. And I knew this was a totally different type of film going into it (more straight-up comedy), but it was still one of my most anticipated films of the year. In fact, I'm not sure my anticipation for it could have been any higher. I was just begging to be let down, huh? The film follows Marty (Colin Farrell), a guy trying to write a screenplay for a film called Seven Psychopaths. Unfortunately, he has writer's block and no ideas to go on. That is until his best friend, Billy (Sam Rockwell), starts helping him along a bit. Unfortunately, Billy also runs a dog kidnapping business with Hans (Christopher Walken), and they kidnap a dog belonging to an actual psychopath named Charlie (Woody Harrelson), who starts coming after them. And... well, really, the film is incredibly hard to plot out. There's so much going on--I already kept out so much information, so I'll leave it at that.

So as I was saying, I was just begging to be let down. Thank God I wasn't. This movie is like something I've been waiting for my whole life and didn't know it. The meta scale of this movie is off the charts. Tom Clift once explained to me that the movie is ridiculous in how meta it is, but the characters are completely oblivious to that fact. It's a confusing statement... but it's totally true. And it makes sense in the film. (Don't worry, though... it's not complicated meta like a Kaufman flick. It's all pretty straight forward.) In other words, the writing in this film is fantastic. I mean, I saw every twist coming pretty early on (including one that's only implied), but it's so entertaining you just don't care.

But what really helps drive the writing home is the actors. They all own their roles, from Colin Farrell (who I think should only work with Martin McDonagh from now on) to Walken to... everyone. But let's be honest. It's Sam Rockwell that steals this movie. He's off the walls good in this--so funny and quirky and you never know what's gonna happen next with him. Also, if you love seeing little character actors show up (like one Mr. Dylan Fields), I think you'll love the shit out of this movie for that alone.

Gushing reviews are always the most boring to read, so I'll stop it here. See this movie, especially if you're a fan of meta. The dialogue is sharp. The acting is great. The directing is great. The film is really funny, but it also takes time to build characters, be dramatic and serious and even emotional when need be. You might see some things coming, but I promise there will be other things you won't expect. It's a silly, insane film, but it also has a heart. And I can't wait to see it again.

Rating System.
Royale With Cheese

10.10.2012

50/50 Review #39: Friday The 13th - Part 3.

Earlier this year for the list, I had to watch Part 6 of this series, and that was some goofy fun. But, interestingly enough, I was also given Part 3 to check out later the same year... and it's time to check it out. Granted, this one doesn't have the same positive reputation. And I'd actually seen bits and pieces of this one years ago, but never the whole thing. So what would I think? The film picks up right where the last one left off. Jason Voorhees survived and is now stalking a new set of crazy kids and wacky adults at a lake. And this time he gets a hockey mask. (Yeah... nothing much new here outside of this being the first time he gets his mask.)

The first 15 minutes are incredibly slow. It starts off literally at the end of the last one, and you see the climax again. This lasts about five minutes or so. But then for the next 10 minutes after that, we're introduced to this middle-aged couple who run a store near the farm by the lake. You know they're just there to be killed. But it's the longest build-up for a pointless kill scene ever. These aren't major characters. They have nothing major to do with the plot. They're nothing characters, and it takes them 10 minutes of way too much build up to have lame, boring deaths.

Finally, we're introduced to the main characters. I won't spend too much time here, either. The characters are stereotypes, sure... but they're practically racist. The Hispanic character, for instance, is feisty with her mother and doesn't have enough money to pay for groceries--all she has are food stamps. Otherwise, the characters, what they say, and everything they do makes no sense. Of course, I don't think it ever does in these kinds of films. (In fact, some of this brought me back to Cabin in the Woods... there was even a Harbinger!) Still, some of it had to do with the actual writing. In particular with the lead girl, Chris, if felt like there was so much cut out of the script or film. They talked about how she's been seeing and hearing weird things ever since they showed up at the farm, but they never showed any of it prior to her saying it. It just comes out of nowhere.

And then there's Jason himself. Jason bothered me in this... because he wasn't Jason. Jason Voorhees is supposed to be a big, slow, silent killer... you know, like high blood pressure. But more violent. And he's superhuman. But here, he's way too human. He's slowed down by books hitting him. He groans when he feels pain (more than once!). He moves quickly and stumbles about. Although he does finally get his signature mask in this film...

Let's not forget that this was originally in 3D... and boy does it show. The film just looks ridiculous in 2D, as it's painfully obvious where all the 3D gags were. There's even a minute-long (or so) yo-yo gag... for absolutely no reason other than to have a yo-yo at the screen. Or a random juggling scene. Long or sharp objects are often pointed directly at the camera. Stuff (like glass) flies at the camera when it shatters. There's something constantly playing at the 3D aspect... and it was just stupid watching it in 2D.

I will give it credit where credit is due, though. There were some moments that worked well. There's a scene where they think they're gonna get pulled over by the cops so they start swallowing the weed, and it turns out the cops aren't trying to pull them over. That was done well. There's a part where a biker gang siphons their gas early on. I completely forgot that moment until Chris tries to escape with the van and it runs out. That was given a nice setup and payoff. And there's a really creepy moment near the end where she opens the barn doors and Jason is just hanging there staring at her.

Otherwise... it's just kinda... OK. There's no nudity in the movie (did y'all give me the only two Friday the 13th movies with no nudity?). The violence in this movie is actually not really shown. There are a couple that are (the head squish was the best), but on the whole... most of it happens while the camera isn't looking. In short, the characters sucked. The writing was lame. The pacing was off in places, though it worked well in others. Jason wasn't very Jason-like. The 3D does not work in 2D. And it needed more blood and nudity. The film wasn't terrible, and parts of it were entertaining (especially when you pretend the Cabin in the Woods stuff is going on behind the scenes). I just wanted more from it. So I guess if you want a clear winner between the epic battle of Part 3 and Part 6... Part 6 all the way.


Feed Me, Seymour!

10.08.2012

V.G. Movies #39: Resident Evil: Afterlife.

[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

When I last left off, I talked about Resident Evil 2 (the game) and the character of Claire Redfield who, in the games, is looking for her brother, Chris. (This doesn't happen in Resident Evil: Extinction.) But now I can talk in more detail about Chris and a few other things. (You'd think after three Histories for this series (four if you count Degeneration), I'd run out of stuff to say. Apparently not.)

Chris is, well... the main character of the first game (along with Jill Valentine). So it's awesome how it took four films to introduce him. Anyway, in the first game, he's one you can control to go throughout the mansion. He eventually returns in Code: Veronica hunting down his sister, Claire, who he believes to be in an Umbrella facility in Antarctica. He's in a few other games, as well, usually tied to either Jill or Claire in some way.

Next up, I need to talk about Albert Wesker. He had a small presence in the last film, but his role grows for this one, so it's finally necessary to bring him up. Wesker, too, started out in the original game as a commanding officer in S.T.A.R.S., the same special forces unit as Chris and Jill. As it turns out, he was a double agent for Umbrella and was used to bring in test subjects to face off against the mutations and zombies for battle data. He supposedly dies in the game, but of course comes back in Code: Veronica and has superhuman powers. He's in Resident Evil 4, as well, but I'll talk about that more next time. All that's necessary to know there is that he helped bring down Umbrella. But it's his role in Resident Evil 5 I'd like to mention. He's the main antagonist and works with the Tricell Pharmaceutical company. It was made known that he was part of a secret project called Project Wesker where they had genetically engineered children (one can kind of see the similarities between this and Project Alice from the films). He has super speed, super strength, red eyes, black coat, and created the Uroboros virus, as well as got his hands on the Las Plagas parasite for Tricell.

Now I need to bring up Las Plagas and Majini. In 2005 Game-of-the-Year Resident Evil 4, Leon S. Kennedy finds himself in a remote European village to rescue the President's daughter. She'd been kidnapped by a cult who are injecting people with this Las Plagas parasite, which can turn them into these giant tentacle monster things. Later, in Resident Evil 5, we follow Chris again as he takes a team to Africa where some people have been infected with a Stage 2 or 3 Plagas--meaning they apparently wait until the parasite is more than an egg before it's ingested. This turns them into Majini. Majini look normal and can do normal things, but are controlled physically and mentally by this parasite. Also, a quad-tentacle can appear out of their mouths, which shows that they are infected. And neither the Las Plagas or Majini have anything whatsoever to do with Umbrella or the T-Virus (or any other various of the virus).

And that brings us to the film, which picks up not where the last film left off, as the remainder of the series realized "Holy crap, that last movie was awful. Let's pretend that never happened. Well, except for the characters that died or survived... I guess we have to keep going with those. Everything else, though... yeah, let's forget about that."

THE FILM

Let's just get to it, shall we? (Note: This is a pretty heavily updated version of my theatrical review... so while most of it is new, you might recognize a few lines here or there... if you remember my reviews from 2 years ago, that is.) Alice (Milla Jovovich) and her clones are going to take down the Umbrella Corporation, and they start with the Japanese headquarters. Unfortunately, the new head of the corporation, Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts), has injected himself with the T-Virus much like had been done to Alice. And then he injects a cure into Alice, removing all her powers. After a crash, Alice decides to head to Alaska to find Claire Redfield (Ali Larter) and K-Mart (Spencer Locke), who were the only survivors of the previous film. But only Claire is there, and she has amnesia. So flying down to L.A., the two discover a handful of survivors hanging out in a prison, including Luther (Boris Kodjoe), Bennett (Kim Coates), Angel (Sergio Peris-Mencheta), Crystal (Kasey Barnfield), Kim (Norman Yeung), and Chris (Wentworth Miller)... yes, that Chris. So now they gotta try to find a way to escape and get to safety.

As you should know by now, I really like the first film, despite it being nothing like the games (but I'm no purest in this regard). The second film is more like the games (well, it has Jill and Nemesis), and it sucked. The third film is just... bad. But I will admit, despite this film's flaws (and it has many), I like it. I know a lot of people hate this one in particular, but I think it's entertaining. So let's talk about how it works and how it totally fails.

First, some good stuff. The opening is pretty cool with a mysterious Japanese woman just standing in the rain before attacking (which is revisited in the next film), and then flashing years later to the attack on Umbrella with all the clones. The action is fun, but it does take its toll with a bit too much slo-mo. However, there are some excellent visuals. The movie has some great visuals and cinematography (though some poor CGI with the dogs and Las Plagas stuff later on).


Speaking of, let's look at how it totally ignores the mythology of the games. First, the Las Plagas parasite just seems to be an evolution of the T-Virus in this case. Even dogs can get it. And it's not just Las Plagas, but the zombies are also part Majini... despite the fact zombies and Majini are supposed to be two completely different and unrelated things. Chris also has almost nothing to do with his video game counterpart except for the fact he's Claire's brother and was once special forces. I'm also not sure an an Executioner is in the games, but I've read there's absolutely no reason one should be in this movie (though that action scene is pretty cool).

Besides being nothing like the games (or unrelated to the games in general), the characters are a step up here from the last film. You like Luther almost immediately. He's not a complicated or even deep character, but he just has a likability to him. And then you have Kim Coates playing a Kim Coates character, so that's automatically entertaining. If anything, the character to weaken the movie the most is Alice. She has to be the one to help everyone else. Why can't any character have their moment to shine and take down a baddie? Claire almost gets her moment with the Executioner scene, but nope... Claire's kill wasn't good enough, so Alice steps in and finishes the job. Or at the end, (SPOILERS) Alice takes down Wesker and Chris and Claire finish the job. But... nope! Turns out he survived, and it takes Alice blowing him up to finish the job (though not really, technically, since he survives to the next movie) (END SPOILERS). In fact, the only character that legitimately holds their own without any help from Alice (and, in fact, rescues Alice at one point) is Luther. Another reason he gets more props from me as a character.

The acting isn't too bad. I mean, it's a Resident Evil movie. But I must say, Shawn Roberts as Wesker, at times, reminded me of Gob Bluth (of Arrested Development) trying to be Agent Smith (of The Matrix). Imagine that as you will. And dammit if Wentworth Miller wasn't doing his best Karl Urban impression (without being as awesome as Karl Urban). And, unfortunately, there's no Milla Jovovich nudity like almost all the other films.

I really don't know what else to say about the movie. Good action, but sometimes too much slo-mo. Decent acting, but some cheesy stuff sometimes. Really good visuals/cinematography. And... I really have no idea what else. It had faults, probably even more than I mentioned (like how some of the action sequences make absolute no sense whatsoever). It doesn't reach entertainment levels of the following flick, but it's still entertaining.



I Am McLovin!

10.07.2012

The Vlog: Season 5, Episode 8 (Sing (Die) - Part 2).

So you didn't get enough singing last week? Well you're in luck! Here's the second musical episode! Is it even better than the last? Perhaps! (In a so-bad-its-good kind of away.) Hope you enjoy it! Let me know what you think in the comments!

10.04.2012

MonthWatch - September 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.]

September

THEATRICAL (4)
Resident Evil: Retribution - Most entertaining since the first... but that's not hard to do.
The Master - Great acting... very lacking story. At least I had a great theatrical experience to go with it!
Dredd - Very entertaining... Karl Urban rocked it.
Looper - One of my favorite movies of the year thus far.


RE-WATCH (13)

Tangled - I was in the mood for it! It gets better with every viewing.
Clue - Saw it was on Instant Watch and had to watch. Love this movie.
Thor - I still like it much better than Captain America. Kind of unofficially started the "Chris Hemsworth Marathon."
Star Trek - Another I was in the mood for... and forgetting it had Chris Hemsworth.
Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li - For V.G. Movie Article. Still a pile of crap.
Stay Tuned - Loved this movie as a kid. It's even better now!
Kick-Ass - For DemPod. A lot of fun.
The Cabin in the Woods - Currently my favorite movie of the year.
The Cabin in the Woods (Commentary) - Great commentary track to go with a great flick.
Captain America: The First Avenger - I liked it better than in theater... but it's still my least favorite of the Pre-Avengers flicks.
The Avengers - Still lots of fun. And this wrapped the unofficial "Chris Hemsworth Marathon."
To Boldly Flee (Noah Antwiler Commentary) - Not technically finished, but it's still over 100 minutes of commentary and over half the movie, so I counted it for September rather than October.
Tommy Boy - Guilty pleasure? Or just pleasure? I'll leave that up to you...


FIRST TIME (20)
Santa Sangre - For MILF. Eff this movie.
Rampart - Good acting... forgettable movie.
Mission: Impossible - Apparently I hadn't seen this whole thing before. Fun stuff.
All's Faire in Love - Cheesy and light and could have been better, but it was fun and entertaining for what it was.
Castle in the Sky - An amazing Miyazaki I hadn't yet seen. I need to see it again soon, though.
The Devil's Backbone - For 50/50. I liked it, but I like Pan's Labyrinth more.
Safe - Good story, but the movie played it too (wait for it...) safe.
My Favorite Year - For 50/50. Didn't care for this one much. Peter O'Toole was excellent, though.
To Boldly Flee - TGWTG Movie. Brilliance.
Catwoman - For DemPod. Literally one of the worst mainstream films I've ever seen.
Ponyo - For MILF. Another Miyazaki I hadn't seen. I really liked it!
King of Fighters - For V.G. Movie Article. Yeah, it's crap.
Take Me Home - It took me a minute to even remember what this was. Great concept, enjoyed at the time. Apparently forgettable, though.
Double Indemnity - For 50/50. One of my favorite of the List.
Snow White and the Huntsman - Part of that unofficial "Chris Hemsworth Marathon." It kinda falls apart at the third act. It looks gorgeous, though.
Tekken - For V.G. Movie Article. Entertaining fights and visuals, but terrible adaptation and mostly crap everything else.
The Hidden Face - Nice Spanish thriller worth checking out... but DO NOT watch the trailer before doing so. It spoils EVERYTHING.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers - I like the 70s version better, but this one was good, too.
Operation Condor - A Jackie Chan flick that is tons of fun! Incredibly silly and over-the-top, but super entertaining.
Headhunters - I was confused for a while, and it took me a while to get into it, but I eventually did... and the ending is a nice payoff. I'd recommend it.
Project A - Jackie Chan. Pirates. What can go wrong? Well... the plot sucks, for one, so it's a bit dull. Fights are great, though.


CURRENT COUNT

Theatrical - 17
Re-Watch - 150
First Time - 191
TOTAL - 358

10.03.2012

50/50 Review #38: The Invisible Man (1933).

Due to some Netflix and/or postal service issues, I had to rearrange some films for this month. So I began with the one film available on Instant Streaming, which also happened to be the one film I was looking least forward to this month. The Invisible Man follows the story of a scientist named Jack (Claude Rains) who goes crazy after an experiment turns him invisible. He wants to rule the world by doing whatever he wants, like commit murders, and even turns to Dr. Kemp (William Harrigan) for assitance, despite Kemp not wanting anything to do with it.

The worst thing about this film is the acting from anyone not named Claude Rains. The most annoying by far was Una O'Connor as a co-owner of this bar Jack lives above at the start of the film. You know that scene in Clue where Mrs. Peacock thinks she's been poisons and gives a shrill, annoying scream until she's slapped? Imagine that shrill, over-the-top scream for 25 straight minutes rather than 10 seconds. If I didn't have to watch this film for this project, I would have turned it off in that first 25 minutes for that alone. It was the most unbearable, annoying character I think I've ever seen.

That being said, it does start to get better after that. Most of that is actually thanks to Claude Rains, whose mostly vocal performance is pretty fun. Also, the visuals of the film are interesting--some fascinating--due to the time period it was made. Any of the invisibility tricks (including the ending shot) are in particular great.

On the whole, though, the film is just kinda dull. There's some interesting aspects, but when you don't give a damn about any of the characters, it's hard to care about the story. No character is three dimensional (...no pun intended?). And you don't get to know Jack before he becomes invisible, so he's already crazy by the time he's introduced. Because of that, you don't care about him, his transition or journey as a character, his relationships with other people, or really anything about him. And the people he associates with are pretty one-note, as I mentioned before. It's just either cops that are coming after him, a guy who won't work with him, or the woman he once loved who still loves him. (Fun fact: this character is played by Gloria Stuart, who you might know as Old Rose in Titanic. Funnily enough, her character's name here is Flora... as in plants and flowers. And she's in love with a guy named Jack. After almost 70 years in film, she really didn't expand her range much, huh?) Anyway, if you're into those classic "monster movie" types, it's fine. I just wished it had a lot more to it.


Feed Me, Seymour!

10.02.2012

The Demented Podcast #48: Tom Arnold Sex Tape.

For this episode, we were joined by Jason Soto of Invasion of the B-Movies to discuss films of the "Die Hard Scenario." These are films where it's one man fighting against man while stuck in a closed-in location. And this is apparently a real subgenre. Anyway, we ended up looking at two plane-related flicks in Passenger 57 and (you guessed it) Snakes on a Plane. (And, strangely, SoaP gets one of the longest discussions on a film for this season of the podcast.) From there, Jason goes on to climb The Tower. Will he do well... or will 20 Questions actually be too much for him? Listen to find out!

Due to Podomatic bandwidth issues, I will no longer be placing the podcast player on the site (and ask that nobody else links directly to it, either). But you can easily listen and subscribe through iTunes!

Current Tower Leaderboard
1) Dylan - 167 Points
2) Rachel - 155 Points
3) Dan - 152 Points
4) Tom - 143 Points
5) Nolahn - 131 Points
6) Joel - 117 Points
7) Joanna - 93 Points

Current/Previous Battle Royale Champions
(BR4) Stevee Taylor - 285 Points
(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.

10.01.2012

V.G. Movies #38: Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time.

[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

Finally! We're getting back in to some interesting history. The original game was created way back in 1989 for the Apple II computer. It was an incredible leap forward with video game animation for its time. The original game's story was set in (shocker) Persia when a warring sultan's vizier (and also wizard) named Jaffar takes control. His only obstacle is the sultan's daughter and locks her up giving her the option of death or marriage to him. You play as the love of her life going to rescue her. And... yeah, it's totally Aladdin. The game got 5 out of 5 ratings and "best game of all time" comments, but it was a commercial failure in America. (Though the game would also go on to inspire other classics, such as Tomb Raider.)

After a couple sequels, the game series got a total makeover for the PS2 in 2003. This is when the "Sands of Time" trilogy began. Besides greater graphics, the games introduced the sands of time and the Dagger of Time into the series. The dagger introduced the element of time travel into the gameplay, allowing players to rewind time in the case of a failure so to try again. Otherwise, the plot stays similar with an evil vizier and a kidnapped princess. The plot of the first game is otherwise too long and complicated to detail briefly here... but it doesn't matter, as the film is only loosely based. But the first game, at least, received high ratings and even won Game of the Year status, and it's still considered one of the highest rated and best games of all time.

So of course a movie was due. And because it's ancient Persia, why not case a bunch of white dudes? And give it to the same director as Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire--arguably the worst adapted book of the series (in the sense of choppiness and sheer volume of cuts and changes, as well as changes of character personalities).

NOTE: I was actually going to rewatch the film (I'd seen it in theater) and re-review it. However, my mail got screwy and the Netflix disc didn't come in on time. And my mail still has yet to come today, and I've basically run out of time to re-watch it today (I have other stuff to get done). So, that said, I'm just gonna repost the review I wrote from when I saw it in theater. If my mind changes on anything after I eventually rewatch it, I'll make note... otherwise, here you go.

THE FILM

I'd been mildly excited for this movie. I haven't played the video games, but I'm a fan of the concept. And anything that involves Parkour is cool. And then I started hearing the relatively positive reviews and got a bit more excited. Though despite the reviews being positive, they were only mildly so, with ratings around the 3-3.5 out of 5 range. But hey, that's at least entertaining, right? Right.

The movie follows the story of Dastan (Jake Gyllenhaal), who started out as an orphan but is adopted by the Persian king, thus becoming a prince of Persia. But with his street-based childhood, he has some street cred and knows how to move about (Aladdin-ish). Well, after getting some news that a major city might be selling weapons to Persia's enemies, Dastan, his brothers, and his uncle (Ben Kingsley) are forced to invade them. In the process, Dastan discovers a mystical dagger that has the ability to turn back time, which is guarded by the city's princess, Tamina (Gemma Arterton). But after Dastan is accused of murdering his father, he is forced to leave with Tamina on a quest to figure out who was really behind his father's death, as well as discovering the secrets of the dagger. The movie also features Alfred Molina as a shifty entrepreneur who dabbles with... ostrich racing.

Overall, some parts of this movie are better than others. This movie was pimped out to be the next big Pirates of the Caribbean. What I loved most about the PotC films, besides the quirky Captain Jack, were the imaginative fight sequences. And this movie had a lot of potential for imaginative fight sequences, what with the video game's basis in parkour and instant time travel. And I felt, for the most part, this potential was wasted. There's maybe one or two scenes that utilized these things well (primarily the parkour), but that's about it. But the scenes that do utilize these things are pretty cool.

The acting is decent, with the witty banter of Dastan and Tamina stealing the scenes. Dastan was a pretty fun character, and Gemma Arterton is absolutely gorgeous. Oh, and her character is decent, too, playing a strong female lead. Alfred Molina really hammed it up, and his character walked the line between funny and bizarrely annoying. There were some moments where he was funny, but the character overall was just strange, and the whole ostrich thing felt out of place. As for the other characters, the smaller roles (like the brothers) were a bit rough. They were flatly written and--sometimes--poorly acted. And Ben Kingsley was just kinda in it for the paycheck, I think.

Which leads me into the script itself. You can tell there are some very video game moments (puzzles, etc.). And those are pretty cool. But there is some pretty rough dialogue that is so forced, so stilted, so bad... I wonder how it even stayed past the rough draft of the script. Luckily, these moments are few and far between, but when they show up (especially around the beginning), they really stick out.

I know this review seems negative, but I didn't dislike the movie. It was actually pretty entertaining, and I can agree with all those other reviews that put it in that middle ground. It's not great, but it's fun, and it's a decent way to spend about 2 hours. Sure, you pretty much see everything coming a mile away, but the journey is still an entertaining one. And isn't that what summer blockbusters are all about?



Stop Saying OK! OK.