Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Another Fun Movie Review

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Like my “Glitter” review (wow, I actually wrote that), I’m going to do this review in a different format than usual. I will describe the plot and you will guess the name of the movie. Ready?


There is a young man who happens to be a farmer who does not know his father or mother. He lives in a universe with an evil empire that rules through might. The boy is restless with his life and dreams to join the resistance against the evil ruler. The boy comes into possession of something that leads him to a wise, outcast, old man who is hiding from his past. The old man tells the boy that he needs to come with old man and joy the resistance group. The boy is hesitant but after the death of his uncle he ends up leaving. Along the journey, the boy learns how to fight with a special sword and how to use a type of magic that flows through nature. The old man teaches the boy to use special skills that were taught to him when he fought in a great and legendary war. Before getting to the resistance, they stop off in an area that has danger lurking around every corner. After a run in with the some incompetent foot soldiers, they continue on their way. The evil ruler learns of the boy’s existence and his special attributes and sends his right hand man to capture the boy for his own use. The right hand man has extraordinary magic powers that make men tremble before him. He captures a princess for the rebellion who was sent for help for the rebellion. The boy learns of the princess’ capture and decides to divert from the original path to attempt a rescue. The boy meets up with an outcast ruffian who helps in the rescue in order to get payback from a past failure. The evil magician ends up killing the old man who sacrifices himself in order to protect the escape of the young boy and his new friends. They escape and while the boy is sad over his mentor’s death, the princess consoles him. The three end up making it to the rebel base but the bad guy’s army is very close on their heels. The rebellion makes ready and the boy prepares to use his abilities to take out the evil magician’s flying death vehicle. Putting his recently learned powers to the test, he ends up defeating the magician and puts a hurt on the army of the evil ruler. As the evil ruler lays out a new plan to defeat the rebellion, the young boy is heralded a hero and is honored by the rebellion.


Now, what movie am I talking about? That’s right, I’m talking about none other than that classic motion picture…












Eragon


What? Wasn’t that obvious? What did you guess? Star Wars?! Why? Only because I didn’t have to stretch too many of my explanation points for you to think that? The sad thing; there are probably more parallels that I’m just forgetting. Let’s just go through the cast of characters to give credit where credit is due.


Luke Skywalker is played by Eragon (no, not Dragon..that’d be stupid!) acted by Ed Speleers.

Obi-Wan Kenobi is played by Brom acted by Jeremy Irons.

Princess Leia is played by Arya acted by Sienna Guillory.

R2-D2 is played by Saphira (the dragon) voiced by Rachel Weisz.

Uncle Ben is played by Uncle Garrow acted by Alun Armstrong.

Han Solo is played by Murtagh acted by Garrett Hedlund.

Darth Vader is played by Durza acted by Robert Carlyle.

The Emperor is played by Galbatorix acted by John Malkovich.

And I’m not even going to try point out the comparisons with Lord Of The Rings!


Grade – D


Re-read my initial description above as fast as you can. That’s how quick this movie moves.

This movie has a lot of character it introduces but doesn’t tell us who they are. The only somewhat fleshed out character is Brom. Jeremy Irons is so cool but I feel sorry for him being in this. Ed Speleer as Eragon is abysmal. He seems like a character from the year 2000 and not from Ye Old Dragon Age ero. Murtagh is a joke character who suddenly shows up, is quickly given a reason to stay, and leaves. There is a start of a romance between Arya and Eragon but that is completely forgotten about. It’s probably because they are brother and sister. Saphira is also hurt by the hurry up storytelling. Like “Reign Of Fire”, it seems like the movie ABOUT DRAGONS, wants to show them as little as possible. This movie ends up being boring because it tries to cram so many characters and so much story into a very little time frame. The visuals aren’t horrible but again, once you focus on them you find yourself quickly thrust into another scene. I think I went cross-eyed watching this movie move so fast.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Cocktail - Review

Cocktail

When creating a romance movie, or romantic comedy as IMDB wants us to believe this is, it is best to put in just one likeable character. On top of that, we should have at least the main character be someone the audience roots for. Sure he/she/it can have foibles and personality obstacles to overcome, but I shouldn’t wish that a rapid flesh eating virus comes along and devours him/her/it. Then again, maybe “Cocktail” is that one movie that says to heck with likable characters and development that would make sense or at least make for an entertaining movie!

Brain Flanagan (Tom Cruise) comes out of the military and tries to make a million bucks. After quickly failing in ‘80s montage fashion, he gets a job at a TGI Fridays as a bartender. His Mr. Miyagi in bartending is crotchety and nihilistic bartender, Doug Coughlin (Bryan Brown). Doug is a guy that would drive a man to drink with his level of sleaze and wallowing. Brian and Doug team up to try and make it rich. Doug through the attempts of marrying rich New Yorker socialites and Doug through bartending in Jamaica where I guess they don’t have taxes. After constantly wrecking the good things Brian is going for Doug comes back into his life to, surprise to no one, does it again! Doug is like one of those professors in college who want to be “hip” with the kid-os but ends up failing in every way. Jordan Mooney (Elisabeth Shue) quickly falls in love with Doug in Jamaica because she is attracted to bartenders who grin all the time and have no personality. Doug gets Brian to cheat on Jordan. Jordan finds out, leaves, and now Brian has to decide what to do with his life and with Jordan.

Grade – D+

BLAND! Boy is this movie bland. The movie should be called Bland Tom Cruise Grinds Like He’s Getting A Chlorine Enema. No one is likeable in this movie. Brian is a jerk and a spaz; Doug is just sleazy; and Jordan, easily the most likeable character, is kind of air heady and becomes unbelievable and na├»ve in the movie’s third act. Brian and Doug aren’t amazing bartenders. Sure they can flip the bottles and catch them and whatnot, but it’s all just so bland. For example, in Jamaica, Brian is pouring a daiquiri and he puts the stirrer in the blender so that it falls into the glass. Doug calls this “feat” impressive! Seriously?! They also take part in bland, white people dancing with tightened faces and moves that appears their backsides are just as tight. There’s no sense of realism in either characters or plot. The ending is laughable, especially with the scenes with Jordan’s father. The only solace I found through the whole thing was the ending. No one lives happily ever after. Brian becomes stuck in a marriage that he’s only in for one reason. He doesn’t make a million dollars. He doesn’t do anything with his life but pours drinks. Doug, on the other hand, he was such a slime ball that he decides to kill himself from being bankrupt using money that he married into to. Boo hoo! Either that, or he was trying to get out of the movie as much as I wanted to.

Crossroads (2002) - Review

Crossroads (2002)

Listen, I’ve always been an honest reviewer. I watch movies all the way through before I comment on them. I don’t favor popular movies; I was critical of “Citizen Kane”. I admit to crying in movies, even ones where you wouldn’t expect it (“Charlotte’s Web (2006)”). So it pains me to admit that I’ve watched “Crossroads”…twice…completely…and only one of those times was with the Rifftrax’s commentary (http://www.rifftrax.com/rifftrax/crossroads) …and that was on the second time. This is going to be painful.

Britney Spears (*hard swallow*), plays Lucy who goes on a road trip to not have sex with her boyfriend of three years Justin Long and get away from her over barring, issue ridden father, Dan Aykroyd. Joining her is Zoe Saldana who must have paid her penitence early in her career for being a part of the process of ruining the “Star Trek” 2009 movie. Also Taryn Manning and Anson Mount “star”. I only mention these folks so that when the robot apocalypse happens…we’ll know who to get SkyNet first. Believe it or not, this was actually written by someone who was not a 400lb baboon with an addiction to very cheap whiskey. Shonda Rhimes is another person to add to your SkyNet list. The director, or should I say the person who told the camera guy to film this holocaust, Tamra Davis, must have been still buzzing from her work on “Half Baked”. Also, let’s mention David Gale. Why? Because not only was he a producer (one of eight!) on this movie, but he also helped produce “Pootie Tang”…Come on SkyNet! Get on with Judgment Day!

Grade – F

This movie should be called “Britney Spear Tries To Get Laid And Girls Squeal And Giggle On An Annoying Car Ride” the marquee could just read BSTTGLAGSAGOAACR for short. There is no point to this movie. I found myself throwing my glasses off my face at least three times to stop from being embarrassed…and I was the only person in the room! Britney, surprise surprise, can’t act. She barely sings well yet during the karaoke scene they make a bunch of money on the blandest songs I’ve heard. Half of this movie is Britney being mad at the lower half of her shirts and tearing them from the upper part. Anson Mount is the love interest but I kept mistaking him for a brick wall, which was ironic because I wanted to throw bricks at him during the whole thing, except I think his and my cycles synched up. This movie wasn’t as self-masturbatory as “Glitter” was but at least Maria Carrey is hot in it. This movie is literally about Britney Spears being a rooster-tease (yes, I went there) and then trying to get laid. This is the female equivalent of “Road Trip”.

Again, I have come up with a list of five things I’d rather do than watch this movie…for a third time.

1. Punch a baby in the head

2. Run my crotch through a pitching machine

3. Lick Robin Williams arms until he is without hair on them

4. Listen to N’Sync’s “Bye Bye Bye” on repeat until my head explodes like in “Scanners”

5. Watch “Glitter”

…well ok…not the last one.

The Fourth Kind - Review

The Fourth Kind

“The Blair Witch Project” started it, “Paranormal Activity” perfected it, “The Fourth Kind”…tried to abuse it. The fake documentary offers itself to some interesting possibilities and plots. “Blair Witch” was crotch-punching boring (yes crotch-punching!) and “Paranormal Activity” executed itself almost perfectly with the mixing of a little “Cloverfield” shaky cam with the fake documentary style. This movie comes out right at the beginning and says it is real and the scenes witnessed with the actors are fake…I mean literally. Milla Jovovich comes out from a hazy forest and tells us this! Even director and writer, Olatunde Osunsanmi takes part in the charade by being an interviewer of the “real” main character.

The movie is about the actors acting out the main story mixed with “real” audio and video accounts of the actual events. The main story is about Dr. Abbey Tyler (Milla Jovovich), a psychiatrist, treating people who, we come to find out, have been experiencing abductions by aliens. As Abbey starts treating the people of Gnome, Alaska who are experiencing this phenomenon, she starts to find out that she is having her own experiences. To delve any deeper into the plot would give a lot of it away. However, I think the movie does a good job at self destructing without my spoilers.

Grade – C+

This isn’t a “bad” movie but it is poorly done. I was constantly pulled out of the movie by seeing “Milla Jovovich as Dr. Abbey Tyler” and other credits pop up to remind us that we are watching a movie within a movie. Mixing that with the fake “real” clips just led me to boredom with the whole set up. It would have been better if you had the movie mix the “actual” video into certain parts to kind of get the “actual feel” of the events. For example, when the footage of the abduction happens through the cop’s camera, it would have been great to see that cut into the movie. You add realism by having the footage grainy and realistic rather than through the great resolution of Hollywood cameras. The best scene with one of the most amount of tension is the hostage situation. The “real” footage is kind of more cut into the movie and adds a greater sense of realism to it. The only other high tense scene involves the abduction scene which does a good job with soft lights, shadows, and surreal camera shots. The ending is pretty decent and somewhat realistically believable. However, the biggest flaw is the motive of the aliens. SPOILER: The whole point of the abductions it seems is to create floating conduits for the aliens to speak to people who are placed under hypnosis. So pretty much their philosophy is the following: Step 1: Screw With People. Step 2: ???. Step 3: Profit! The reveal that they are either gods or demons pretending to be gods is completely lost in the absurdity of the movie as whole. If shot differently, the subtlety of the reveal probably could have been more acceptable. END OF SPOILERS. Also the “real” Dr. Abigail Tyler is Charlotte Milchard and it’s sad that she is probably contractually obligated to not list this movie in her acting credits because she is easily the best actor in this piece. Elias Koteas is pretty unlikeable here and is not even remotely believable. However, I really like him as an actor and he’s always willing to play in weird movies like “The Mothman Prophecies”. Not a bad movie, but poorly executed. The aliens from “Signs” had a better plan and they were killed by dihydrogen monoxide on a planet and people made up of it!

FRIDAY THE 13TH (1980)

FRIDAY THE 13TH (1980)

Jason Voorhees. This slasher star ranks up there with the great ‘80s movie murders like Michael Myers (“Halloween”), Freddy Kruger (“A Nightmare On Elm Street”), and Leatherface (“Texas Chainsaw Massacre”). Arguably, he is more liked because of the more realistic attributes than those like Freddy.

It all starts all the way back in 1957 with the drowning of young Jason at Camp Crystal Lake. The following year, two counselors are brutally butchered after breaking the horror movie rule of having sex in a horror movie. The camp closes and after trying to reopen a few more times without success, a new owner comes in cut off shorts to reopen the “cursed” camp. Before the camp starts, the counselors show up early to get the camp ready. Among them is Jack Burrel (Kevin Bacon!) and Alice Hardy (Adrienne King). Either not realizing they are in a horror movie or thinking they can get away with breaking the rules, they engage in all sorts of bad behavior. They do drugs, drink alcohol, have sex, and even play strip Monopoly. To be fair, that’s probably the only way to end a game of Monopoly without wanting to become a psychopathic murderer as well. Directed by Sean Cunningham and written by Victor Miller, we are treated to some interesting murders and mayhem; and with some of these teens being grossly annoying at times…it turns out to probably be one of the most fun times you can have at a summer camp.

Grade – B-

While considered an iconic movie, it does have its share of flaws. The teens are pretty annoying but except for the cook in the early part of the movie, they seem pretty believable characters. The cinematography is pretty good. The best bits are when you experience the movie through the eyes of the killer. By no means the first time it being done, the forest setting mixed with the iconic score lends to some very creepy moments. You might find yourself immersing yourself deeper into the killer or twisting in your seat to try and get the camera to turn around. While some deaths tend to happen a bit too quickly or zany (archery range scene), there are some really splendid ones like the bathroom scene and Bacon’s is good. Considering that the master himself, Tom Savini led the special effects department, it’s hard to be disappointed. While there is violence, there isn’t a ton of gore and blood today’s horror fans have come to expect. It’s almost a “tasteful” slasher film. The twist in the film is done pretty well, however I do have a problem with what happens after the reveal. SPOILER: after Pamela Voorhees (Betsy Palmer) is revealed, she has to put way to much effort in finishing off the last survivor. While she does have the element of surprise on her side for the others, she seems to be very weak with Alice and is constantly getting knocked unconscious. END OF SPOILER. The horror is definitely done well, especially compared with the “horror” films of today. It rarely relies on jump scares (like Crazy Ralph in the pantry scene) but the suspense is built for most kills. The exception, being probably one of the most well done slasher scenes in horror movie history is Bacon’s scene. The mix of rest and calm at first with the surprise and confusion of the end result is awesome. The hockey mask doesn’t come into play in this movie but we do get to see zombie Jason which is a treat. Probably the best of the series, well at least they don’t go into space. That’s when you know the series is doomed!...crap.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

From Beyond (1986) - Review

From Beyond (1986)

http://www.devildead.com/covers/covers/frombeyondboxz1hires.jpg

For true horror fans, you know you will at the very least be entertained when the names Jeffrey Combs and H.P. Lovecraft are involved in the same movie. Combs has been a cult horror actor since his work on “Re-Animator” and as for Lovecraft, well his stories have seem to be a default set for cheesy horror movies for sometime. Combs; reteaming with “Re-Animator” director, Stuart Gordon, provides another interesting horror movie with some equally interesting special effects.

Dr. Crawford Tillinghast (Jeffery Combs) and Dr. Edward Pretorius (Ted Sorel) are experimenting with a machine that taps into the pineal gland to stimulate the sixth sense. As one would expect with this kind of movie, unexpected results occur. Tapping into a biological state somehow open up another dimension where weird creatures exist. A creature who is only referred to as ‘He” or “Him” kills Pretorius who goes crazy right before hand. Tillinghast also goes a bit crazy and cuts power to the machine. Crawford is arrested for the murder of his colleague. He is thought to be schizophrenic because talking about flying worm creatures and monsters eating people’s heads sound a bit far fetched to some people. But not to Dr. Katherine McMichaels (Barbara Crampton)! Dr. McMichaels, who looks like she is just once step from “if she only tosses off her glasses and lets down her hair in slow motion she’ll turn into a buxom beauty, works on trying to cure schizophrenics by experimenting on them and she believes Crawford and Pretorius might have found the cause of this mental disease. The science is at least there and a bit interesting. Heck, it’s more convincing than the effects of drinking man pineal juices in “The Leech Woman”!

Katherine convinces Crawford to recreate the experiment to prove to the DA that he didn’t murder Dr. Pretorius. Escorting them on their adventure to 666 Benevolent Street (of course!) is a cop named Bubba Brownlee (Ken Foree who you might know as the black cop from “Dawn Of The Dead”). Officer Bubba loves to make really unfunny jokes and laugh annoyingly at them. However, it’s nice to see a character in an “everyone but the audience thinks he’s crazy” be open minded about the main character’s innocence.

Not to give too much away, but the trio recreate the experiment, meet the creature who has taken on the personality of the S&M junkie (sure why not?) Dr. Pretorius, start to transform their own third eye which makes you see is pixilated Predator vision, and begin changing.

Grade – C-

The story is good, but not great. There is some decent science but there is definitely no common sense with any of the characters. Crawford can be forgiven somewhat since he has gone through a traumatic experience that has left his mind a little fragile. However Katherine and Bubba don’t have any excuses. Combs isn’t as fun as he was in “Re-Animator”, being demoted to more of a second banana who looks like a pouting puppy dog. Crampton has a Dr. Christmas Jones (“The World Is Not Enough”) meets “She’s All That” vibe going on and her development as a character is not very believable, especially when she breaks out the skimpy leather S&M suit (which fits her perfectly). Foree is a little annoying at first but at least he’s not a stereotypical “what the heck was that?!” cop-in-a-horror-movie character.

The visual effects are what makes this movie though. The unsung visual artists and puppeteers are wonderful. The main bady is definitely creepy and sticky looking. The appearance is definitely reminiscent of “The Thing” (1982). The transformation Combs undergoes is well done and creepy. Probably an overlooked effect that is very well executed is the third eye symbiot. It is very organic and doesn’t feel too puppet-like. The creatures and visual effects definitely are the driving force of the movie.

I would probably call this movie the poor man’s “Altered States”. Good but not great. Somewhat likeable but annoying characters. Creepy monsters, good practical effects, and a lot of blood, slime, and other goo. A good movie for a cheesy creature feature movie night.