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Movie rating system (0-2) The movie is balls (2-4) A few moments but mostly bad (4-5.5) Entertaining film but lacking something to make it good. (6-7.5) A recommendation meaning a good solid watch. (8-10) must watch films, they are usually leaders in their respective genre. I can also be found on Facebook or follow my blog at the bottom of this page. THERE MAY BE MINI SPOILERS AHEAD!!! But there will be no endings/twists/cameos/or large plot reveals given.

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Friday, 30 November 2012

The Vow


The Vow
2012
Drama (Romantic)
Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 104 minutes
Starring: Channing Tatum, Rachel McAdams, Jessica Lange, Sam Neil, Scott Speedman
Directed By: Michael Sucsy
Rating: 6 out of 10
Outline
A husband must deal with his wife’s memory loss after a bad car crash.


Review
I was pretty disappointed finishing second to Channing Tatum on People’s sexiest man poll but I have gotten over it. The Vow is the story of married couple, Page and Leo. After a car accident leaves Page with severe memory loss, Leo must try and rebuild her lost memories and their relationship.

So this movie is decent for its genre but felt very much like a modern day Notebook. The film starts off and the viewer is treated to a very over the top courtship between Page and Leo. I get that it is to establish a super type of love only found in movies but it is a little much. People confessing their love in the rain and saying their vows in illegal places is a nice thought, but cheesy in practice. The film doesn’t really get going until the car accident and Page’s subsequent memory loss. Where the film works is the struggle of Leo to get Page to remember. His frustration of seeing his wife in duress is evident and his love is shown through his actions. The easy decision to just quit and move on seems like a distant thought as he does everything in his power to save the one he loves. He goes to uncomfortable family dinners, parties, suffers emotional outbursts, and it all seems genuine. The love is apparent on his side and the confusion is apparent on her side. She remembers nothing and so Leo is a stranger. The film works because you feel each of their pain equally and wonder how you would react if you were put in the same situation.

Leo is played by Channing Tatum and he is good at times and unremarkable in others. What he lacks in talent he makes up in sincerity so I liked his performance. Page is played by Rachel McAdams and she puts in a solid performance. The two of them are cute together and that really seals the story as it feels like Leo would stick it through to the end in such a horrible situation.

Although their love is super over the top, they still seem natural in their interactions. Not too many people get second chances at love so it is cool to see all the things Leo does to get her to remember. Seeing if their relationship works out or if they split up is worth the watch but there are problems with this film. I found that too many of Page’s inner circle try and take advantage of a woman with recent head trauma. Her family members, friends, and ex boyfriend all seem fine to interject in her affairs. Having all these shallow characters meddling gets tiresome to watch and really seems out of place. As the film comes to a close I felt they got it right and it made sense to the overall story. So The Vow won’t really pull on anyone’s heart strings but what it will do is make you like the characters just enough to get involved in its outcome.

Director Michael Sucsy does an okay job with this film. His casting is solid with the veteran McAdams and the charismatic Tatum. Although the story seems forced, it never the less has some honest appeal to it. This film is never slow and it is an easy watch even though the story is a tad ridiculous. I wouldn’t mind seeing another film from this director.

I give this movie a recommendation to people looking for a light look on love about a serious topic.

T Factor + If you like romantic movies than this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you watch a lot of romantic movies than this could score lower on the rating scale due to originality.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: The Notebook, A Walk to Remember.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

The Ugly Truth


The Ugly Truth
2009
Comedy (Romantic)
Rated: R
Running Time: 96 minutes
Starring: Gerard Butler, Katherine Heigl
Directed By: Robert Luketic
Rating: 4 out of 10
Outline
A woman tries out some unorthodox advice in her pursuit of the perfect man.


Review
Within the last few years someone in Hollywood realized that not only women watch romantic comedies. It took a smart person to realize this as millions upon millions of guys have been forced to the theatre. They have been going as a boyfriend, a date, or a husband capacity to watch the dreaded Rom-Com. This doesn’t even include that some guys actually like romantic comedies. So with that realization comes a new style of romantic comedy with edgier topics and saltier language. While I applaud the attempt to appeal to both genders I frown upon the finished product. The Ugly Truth is the story of Abby and Mike. Abby is a prudish and romantically challenged producer on a television show. Mike is a male chauvinistic pig who is hired to increase the ratings of the show and as a side project tries to help Abby find true love.

Nothing can make a guy’s testicles retreat up into his body faster than mentioning Katherine Heigl is in the movie. It is as if she wants the entire male race to hate her with bad romantic comedy after bad romantic comedy and this one doesn’t help her cause. The film starts and we get to follow Abby as she produces her struggling television show. Abby is supposedly this self empowered woman and yet she gushes like a little school girl over love and romance. She has a list of things that make up the perfect guy and even does a stupid dance when things go her way in the love department. Then we are introduced to Mike and of course he is the polar opposite to Abby in every regard. He has a show about men and woman that would make cavemen blush. Mike is the pessimist and Abby the optimist. He offers a very upfront approach on dating and sex on a small television segment called the Ugly Truth. Naturally Abby hates him but ultimately needs his advice to find her dream guy. So after a little posturing she becomes his project to find the ideal mate. Although Mike is the only redeeming quality to this film he is not a great fit in the movie. He casually mentions things like anal sex, Jell-O wrestling, oral sex, and a list of other things that are not typically found in a romantic comedy and it was poor attempt at humor. Having Abby as this naive and somewhat immature woman hanging out with a foul mouthed ass of a guy is not only strange it is a little perverse. Of course everyone at the television station loves Mike as he is charming in his crass way and Abby struggles to learn his ways to court her perfect man. The odd relationship leads to some interesting but ultimately stupid situations.

Abby is played by Katherine Heigl and she is meh in the role. It is like she knows this is all she can do so she has lost her passion for acting. Mike her mentor is played by Gerard Butler and he is okay in the role. His character is great it is just not that hard of a role to pull off. The two of them together are miserable. She acts like she is twelve and he is an idiot and to top it all off they are not even a good on screen couple. I could never picture the two of them together from the DVD cover and they look even worse on screen together.

So the movie never hits the proper level of entertainment. It was truly a weird blend of romantic comedy mixed with R Rated overtones. For every inappropriate ass slap, there is a scene of Abby falling in love. For every success at work or in Abby’s personal life, there is a lewd sexual reference. The low point of this film is an unoriginal orgasm scene at a restaurant that will make you think of When Harry Met Sally. Is this film supposed to be about finding your soul mate or about sex? It never really picks a course and so the viewer is left in limbo as the story struggles its way to the end. You won’t care about the characters, you won’t care about the outcome, and lastly you will hate Heigl just a little bit more. The pinacle of your angst will be most apparent when she is creepily hanging out in a tree spying on her semi clad neighbor. The truth maybe ugly but so was this film for the most part.

Director Robert Luketic knows Rom-Com (Monster-In-Law, Win a Date with Tad Hamilton!) and did an okay job with this film. I was negative in my review but you can’t fault someone for trying something new to capture a bigger audience. The film was never slow and it did have a couple of laughs here and there. The casting was really off though and the story was unsettling for the most part. At the end of the day this movie was neither romantic nor a comedy and it failed when it easily could have succeeded.

I cannot recommend this film but I will say it is a decent compromise for guys having to watch a Rom-Com.

T Factor + If you like Katherine Heigl as an actress than this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you do not like the idea of an R-Rated Rom-Com than this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: My Best Friend’s Girl, Sex Drive.

Horrible Bosses


Horrible Bosses
2011
Comedy
Rated: R
Running Time: 98 minutes
Starring: Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, Charlie Day, Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Aniston, Colin Farrell, Jamie Foxx
Directed By: Seth Gordon
Rating: 4 .5 out of 10
Outline
Three friends conspire to murder each other’s bosses in the pursuit of workplace happiness.


Review
This film will have a wide audience as who hasn’t had a terrible boss either real or imagined? I have had excellent bosses and I have had ones that made me want to grab an axe and go all Jack Torrance on their ass, so I was looking forward to this movie. I was left disappointed though as the leading funny men ultimately couldn’t live up to their boss counterparts. Horrible Bosses is the story of three friends (Nick, Dale, Kurt) in very different situations at their jobs. The consensus though is that they each hate their boss’s for varying reasons and decide to murder them. The trio plan and try to execute these murders to less than desirable results.

It was apparent quite early on that this film was not going to be able to sustain the comedy for the entire film. It is due to the fact the bosses were the best part about the film and they have limited screen time. After a pretty funny introduction to each of the three friends and their respective bosses, the film gets underway. You shouldn’t be fooled by this introduction though as it is the best part of the film. Nick’s boss is a hardass, Dale’s boss is a sexual harasser, and Kurt’s boss is just a dick. Together they plot to kill each other’s bosses in the pursuit of happiness. In this pursuit they trip and fumble their way through the plotting and execution of the murders. They do reconnaissance on their boss’s homes that ends up in spilled cocaine, a hyperactive cat, and hitting up a less then reputable bar all in the name of being happy. I guess what really got to me was the three friends awkwardly roaming the city and getting into ridiculous situations that inspire little mirth. For every funny scene where one of their bosses yells at them, there are 3 unfunny scenes to knock the film back to earth. Like when they run into one of their old high school buddies at a pub and he offers them sexual favors for money. This is neither clever nor funny and it really drains the energy form the film.

This film is proof positive that when you stick three funny guys together that your movie is not guaranteed a success. Nick is played by Jason Bateman, Dale is played by Charlie Day, and Kurt is played by Jason Sudeikis. They are average in their individual roles and completely obnoxious together. Bateman seemed to be coasting in this one as the smarter and straight laced character. Charlie Day played one of the most obnoxious characters I can remember in any movie in 2012. He reminds me of a skinnier and higher pitched Artie Lang. I hated this role and for some reason his character is a sex offender and he just screams his way through this film. Lastly is Jason Sudeikis playing the smooth and kind of dickish ladies man. I didn’t buy him in the role for a second and he did virtually nothing with it. They have zero chemistry as friends and just fight and bicker their way through most of this movie to less than stellar results.

Their bosses were another story. Nick’s boss is played by Kevin Spacey and while not that funny, he does play the quintessential hard ass boss to a tee. Could you imagine killing him? In a heartbeat and that was why his role worked. Dale’s boss was played by Jennifer Aniston and she delivers as a dentist in a crazy sex addict role. A woman sexually harassing a man was a funny angle and Aniston looked like she was having fun in this movie. She does a good job with the role as she walks around the office making sexual innuendos and is scantily clad. Lastly is Kurt’s boss played by Colin Farrell and he was truly funny as a coked up, dick of a boss. He is crude and offensive and was perfect in the role. The three bosses outshone their employee counter parts and really stole the show in this one.

And so the film doesn’t really get any deeper than the three friends being idiots together and going from one contrived situation to the next. They break into houses, stake out places, and try and avoid the cops. They  never hit that comedy sweet spot in both execution or in the humor. The film has an R rating but besides from some swearing it has a very PG-13 vibe to it which also confused me. The film ends pretty stupidly but I guess this was in line with the rest of this poorly mashed together film.

Director Seth Gordon does an okay job with the film but ultimately fails with the overall product. The script is a mess as the three friends get themselves in to some pretty stupid situations over and over and over again. The main problem though is the three friends would never be friends as they are so opposite to each other personality wise. Their internal bickering and naiveté about murdering someone is hard to sit through. Their bosses make the film though as you could picture killing them all and they are all funny. The pacing was good but the humor never gets to a sustainable level. This film has some moments but not enough to make it a worthwhile watch.

I cannot recommend this film as ultimately the three leads just didn’t connect with me on any level.

T Factor + If you find Charlie Day funny than this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you like crude humor then this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: Office Space, Employee of the Month. 

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back


Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back
2001
Comedy
Rated: R
Running Time: 104 minutes
Starring: Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith, Ben Affleck, Jeff Anderson, Jason Lee, Brian O’Halloran, Shannon Elizabeth, Eliza Dushku, Ali Larter, Will Ferrell, Jennifer Schwalbach Smith, Judd Nelson, George Carlin, Carrie Fisher, Seann William Scott, Jon Stewart, Mark Hamill
Directed By: Kevin Smith
Rating: 7.5 out of 10
Outline
Jay and Silent Bob travel to Hollywood to shut down a movie they are not getting paid for.


Review
“Ladies, ladies, ladies, Jay and Silent Bob are in the Hizzouse.” Kevin Smith has created many successful characters in the past, but none are better than Jay and Silent Bob. They have shown up in all of his movies in varying degrees, but this is the first where they are the leads.  Some people hate this duo, I think they are hilarious, and they delivered the goods in this movie. Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, is a movie about the two title characters. They realize that they are receiving no money for the big screen adaptation of their comic book alter egos, Chronic and Bluntman. So they travel across the country to try and stop this movie from being made.

This may not be Smith’s finest movie, but it certainly is his funniest. If you are unfamiliar with Kevin Smith’s prior work (Clerks, Chasing Amy etc.) then you should really check that shit out. If you are familiar with his stuff, then you know that Jay and Silent Bob are always awesome when they show up. If you think a whole movie about them maybe too much, then you couldn’t be more wrong. The movie has a quick but hilarious scene of Jay and SB as kids, in front of a convenience store (The Quick Stop.) Flash forward to them as adults, and they are still in front of the same convenience store, slinging weed and generally being disruptive. Incorporating past Kevin Smith characters with a bevy of celebrity cameos, this film basically turns into a potty mouth road trip. Smith is a huge cinephile and it shows in this movie. This film has the usual amount of Star Wars references and if you need to watch this movie, it can easily be based on this statement. If you find the thought of Mark Hamill playing a character named Cocknocker, funny, then watch this film. If that sounds stupid to you, then you probably won’t enjoy the film. So Jay and SB, hitchhike across the country to hilarious results. They run into all sorts of pop culture references like the Scooby Doo clan and a Planet of the Apes scenario. Jay swears and sexually harasses his way into some crazy situations. This film is laugh out loud funny and will be appreciated much more by people who like Smith’s past work, or people who like a Family Guy, pop culture reference style of humor.

Jay and Silent Bob are played by the playful Jason Mewes and the master himself, Kevin Smith. Are they good actors? Not really. Are they funny and great at delivering comedy? Absolutely they are, and even if this film had no one else in it, it still would have been hilarious, as their chemistry is that solid. It is a testament to Smith’s talent, that so many stars wanted to be in this film. Seann William Scott, Will Ferrell, Jon Stewart, George Carlin, Ben Affleck, and many more show up in this. This film has so many funny people in it that it is never slow. Each scene has a new celebrity to offer up a new situation for jokes.

Granted this film will not be for everyone. Some people may tire of Jay’s potty mouth and one track mind. Some other people may also tire from the low brow humor, but I thought it was hilarious. Seeing all the old Smith characters is a treat, and seeing Jay and SB run from the cops will bring a smile to most people’s faces. The great thing about these characters is how stupid they can be, and yet somehow charming at the same time. If anyone else but Jay said the line “Snoochie Boochies” I would never watch another second, and yet he pulls it off. If any other character but Jay, humped a store window. I would be like, who wrote this crap? and yet he pulls it off. Lastly, if any other character but Jay and SB had a monkey with them, (Sorry Ross Gellar) I would just shake my head and ask for a refund, and yet they pull it off. Smith just understands comedy, and more importantly understands his audience. As Jay and SB struggle to shut down this movie from being made, you will realize this film maybe childish, but it is extremely entertaining and shouldn’t be missed.

Director and writer, Kevin Smith, has been producing above average to great comedy for years, and this film is his funniest in my mind. He paces the film beautifully, and while the story could be better, it is easily compensated by funny dialogue and great cameos. Jay and Silent Bob are comedy icons, and it is great to see these characters in the forefront. You can expect beautiful women, drugs, Star Wars,  and familiar characters. This is vintage Smith and just a great film. Let us hope he will make a sequel.

I give this movie a big recommendation but especially to fans of crude humor.

T Factor + If you are a Kevin Smith fan than this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you do not watch a lot of movies than this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: Road Trip, Sex Drive.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Crazy Heart


Crazy Heart
Drama
2009
Rated: R
Running Time: 112 minutes
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Colin Farrell, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Robert Duvall
Directed By: Scott Cooper
Rating: 8 out of 10
Outline
A former country star travels from low paying gig to low paying gig trying to recapture his former glory.


Review
This movie made me want to go out and buy a Stetson hat and a guitar. Okay I won’t go that far, but Jeff Bridges made it look pretty cool to be a cowboy in this one. I am not sure why stories about flawed leading characters are always so compelling. Seeing someone down on their luck from addiction or personal tragedy seems to have the most appeal to me. It could be that you want them to succeed when things are so bleak. It could also be a reminder that no matter how bad things get there is always hope. No matter the case this film is a beauty and you won’t want to miss it. Crazy Heart is the story of Bad Blake. He is a faded country music star travelling the country trying to recapture his past glory. In this journey he must battle the evils of addiction that are ruining his health, career, and his love life.

This is a film that a viewer can truly get lost in. I don’t mean it is hard to follow, what I mean is the story is so real and Bad Blake is so cool that the movie just flies by. You get lost in the whirlwind of emotions that this story will take you on. The film starts out and we are blessed to see this former country star living day to day and from gig to gig. He stays in rundown motels and drives his shitbox of a car cross country, playing at different venues to make ends meet. He is broke, washed up, tired, and drunk most of the time. The film is really just a reflection of how stardom can be fleeting and how sometimes even the best can be knocked down if they don’t stay sharp and submit to their demons. The music is fantastic even if you aren’t a country music fan (I am not but really dug the music). An older man who knows nothing else but his music is a powerful story when he has given literally everything important up to play it.

Bad Blake is played by Jeff Bridges and this maybe his finest role. His best role will always be from the Big Lebowski but this is his finest. He plays this brash, chain smoking, whiskey swilling, down on his luck man to perfection. Was it worth the Oscar for Best Actor? Absolutely, and this film would not have worked without this performance. He is this charming older man and even though he has ruined his own life through bad decisions and drink you are rooting for him. He has such character that you want him to get clean and get a second shot at fame. His gravelly singing/voice also adds to this performance and it was as if he completely morphed into this character. He is supported on screen by Maggie Gyllenhaal and Colin Farrell, and they provide solid performances by letting Bridges work his magic. Truly the performances were all great in this film.

So this movie carries on and you get to follow Bad Blake through all his ups and downs. You get to see that his popularity is still there as small time bands want to play with him and people still buy him drinks. You get to see how he is slowly dying as he abuses his body on a daily basis. His pursuit of recapturing his former success is not only believable but chilling in its intensity. You never know which Blake is going to show up to play each night and although you will enjoy his music you will also hate him for not sobering up to fix his life. Why the film works so well is in the fact his life is always on a precipice. It could swing to the left and he could easily die and it could swing to the right and he could be a star again. It always has you hanging there right in the middle. As the end comes about it seems to fit perfectly with the rest of the films darker theme and it doesn’t ruin it with some unbelievable or fantastical Hollywood ending. Truly this is a great movie and Bridges just kills in this role.

This is director Scott Cooper’s debut film and man did he bring it. This film plays out almost like a country and western song. It is filled with trials and tribulations that seem to plague only the country singers of America. Cooper cast perfectly and he lets Bridges steal the show in all the right places. The pacing is fantastic and the film has a perfect amount of story to song. The film takes you on a journey of self worth and the power of human spirit and truly was one of the best films of 2009. This was a treat and I can’t wait until Cooper’s next film to see if he can recapture the magic.

I give this movie a big recommendation, especially to people who appreciate great acting performances.

T Factor + If you like country movies then this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you do not like slow built up dramas then this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: Walk the Line, Country Strong.

The Devil Inside


The Devil Inside
Drama (Thriller, Horror)
2012
Rated: R
Running Time: 83 minutes
Starring: Fernanda Andrade, Simon Quarterman, Evan Helmuth, Ionut Grama, Suzan Crowley
Directed By: William Brent Bell
Rating: 5 out of 10
Outline
A woman becomes involved with some illegal exorcisms in the pursuit of finding out what happened to her mom many years prior.


Review
Admittedly there is something about exorcism movies that freak me the F out. I am not sure if it is the creepiness of the unknown or the grotesquely contorted bodies, but the material just sticks with me long after the film is done. The Devil Inside is the story of Isabella Rossi. She is documenting the story of her mother, who allegedly killed three members of the church during an exorcism. During this mission to find out the truth about her mom, Isabella becomes involved in a series of unauthorized exorcisms.  
  
I normally don’t listen to any hype surrounding a movie before I watch it. This is so I can give an unbiased opinion in my reviews. Unfortunately this film upset so many people, that it was impossible not to read some internet negativity surrounding it before my review. I heard the concerns and was expecting the worst but truth be told this wasn’t that bad. This film is shot primarily in the handheld camera style that is all the rage these days for horror. While filming in this style certainly adds some realism to the story, it also brings out a lot of the flaws in the acting with it’s up close and in your face shots. The Devil Inside plays itself off like a documentary. It has a background story of a horrific murder and details of the Vatican separating itself from exorcisms. After a quick introduction to the aftermath of Isabella’s mother’s crime scene, the movie gets underway. Ultimately with every exorcism movie the story is pretty superfluous as the viewers are here for the chilling acts of expelling the demon. This film unfortunately suffers from a lot of unnecessary build up as we get to understand what exorcisms are and where the church stands on them. So if you are looking for a fast paced and edgy movie this won’t be the film for you. But if you enjoy possession type films I felt this movie delivers on the important aspects. An interview with Isabella’s mom at an insane asylum really captures the essence of a severe mental health disorder or a terrifying possession. While there are not enough scenes like this for my taste, when they do occur they did give me the creeps.

The acting fluctuates so badly in terms of quality that it does detract from the film a bit. This is right across the board with every performance. At times you think you are watching a documentary as the actors seem to forget the camera and just discuss theology. Most times though, and especially when the characters are stressed, you can’t help but notice the forced performances. Every character suffered from the ups and downs and that really hurt this movies chance of succeeding.

So what did I like about this movie and why did I find it more entertaining than other people? It boiled down to the exorcisms themselves. While not treading on any new ground I still felt that they were tense and well thought up. Sure, it is basically the same young girl in the white nightgown scenario that all films prior and most after will use, but it still works. The contorted limbs, the foreign tongues, and the self mutilation all make this film scary on some level. I also liked that they waste little film as the run time is short (83 minutes). This film wasn’t trying to be anything other than a creep fest and I appreciated that fact. When the exorcisms are completed and the end seems to be ramped up for a blood bath it inexplicably falls flat. Its abruptness will satisfy few (me included). But to judge a movie strictly on its terrible ending is rather short sighted which everyone seems to harp on in regards to this film (get over it people). So in conclusion the exorcisms were solid. The acting, construction of story, and ending were not.

Director William Brent Bell (Stay Alive) doesn’t seem to know how to put a horror together properly. This film suffers from not enough frights other than the exorcisms. It is as if he forgets that a film needs a climax to satisfy the casual movie watcher. The casting seems weak as the performances were all over the place. The film rated higher on my scale as I enjoyed the exorcism scenes but this doesn’t disguise the fact that this film was haphazardly spliced together with a terrible ending. Truly this film seemed amateurish in its finished product even though I found it entertaining.

I cannot recommend this film but if you like exorcism films and aren’t a snob of the genre than it could be worth your time.

T Factor + If you like the handheld camera shot horror then this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you are an exorcist purist then this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: The Exorcism of Emily Rose, The Unborn.      

Thursday, 22 November 2012

The Ruins


The Ruins
2008
Drama (Horror/Thriller)
Rated: R
Running Time: 90 minutes
Starring: Jena Malone, Jonathon Tucker, Shawn Ashmore, Laura Ramsey, Joe Anderson
Directed By: Carter Smith
Rating: 2.5 out of 10
Outline
A group of young adults get stranded at an archeological site and are stalked by an evil that roams the dark.


Review
I am not sure why I hated this movie and laud things like Cabin in the Woods, but this film bothered me. It is probably that this film was trying to be super serious on a topic that is hard to swallow. No doubt, there are some amazing evolutionary traits found in all sorts of species around the world, but what stalked these kids was appalling. The Ruins is the story of group of young people who travel to a remote area in Mexico. What starts off as a quaint site seeing tour, turns deadly as an evil stalks them from the shadows of the ruins.

A group of young adults on vacation, travelling to an area they are not supposed to be, and they get into some trouble? That never happens. After some liberal drinking and some gratuitous nudity, we find ourselves following the group as they check out an archaeological dig, deep in the jungle. What occurs after they get trapped in the ruins is not scary, and it is intensely stupid. It is not to say I don’t appreciate a good sci-fi/horror story, but wow this evil was poorly thought up. This film is not clever at all and the characters are not compelling. What should be a perfect venue for plenty of scares, breaks down into a film of amateurish dissection and make shift medical operations. That is because in a shocking twist, one of the characters is a medical student. So of course when one of the group gets injured, the quasi doctor is there to operate and save the day. So the film prides itself on graphic scenes of surgical cutting and the resulting blood, and little else. Seeing people being cut open and operated on is a hard watch and really is a cheap scare tactic. So the group battles the unknown terror, hunger, thirst, and the unrelenting sun. The viewer just has to sit through a truly boring film as ridiculous noises mock them from all around.

The acting is not the worst but the characters are. Their terrible dialogue and relationship squabbling seems out of place while their lives are in danger. So we sit and wait for one rational thought, but none are forthcoming. What we are stuck with is characters whining about other characters faithfulness, and comments of not wanting to be there, and it just grates on the viewer. Just a heads up for all you people out there, if you are ever caught in a life or death situation, and you catch a glimpse of something lurking in the dark, maybe you shouldn’t sleep right next to it. Important tips like this will keep you alive.

So the film plays itself out, with the viewer not caring if the characters escape or die. There are so many inconsistencies with this film as well. The water that should last for one day lasts for way longer than that. The characters never really catch on that anything is wrong, even though there are clear signs that people have been here quite recently and have subsequently disappeared. The local Mexican natives stalk the area with a tireless abandon, never really explaining the reason of why they are there in the first place. There are many other problems, but I am just naming a few. Of course when the film isn’t being wearisome, there is lots of blood. Also if you haven’t forgotten, there are a multitude of gaping wounds that expose bone, muscle, and sinew. It is if the director knew the monster in this film was too far of a stretch, so he over compensated with gross visuals. When the end to this film does come around, you will feel apathetic towards the entire ordeal.

Director Carter Smith relies too heavily on blood and not enough on ingenuity. The film goes long stretches without seeing the evil in the ruins, and when it does show up, you understand why it doesn’t appear more often. The casting was all right but the film is just drawn out, as the small location atop the ruins is not an area indicative of fear. No cell phone signals, poor character decisions, unexplained characters, and shoddy equipment are all hard to ignore. When the movie is this bad, you notice the clichés more. This film is not frightening, it is not fun, and Smith needed to work on a bunch of things to make this a proper horror film.

I cannot recommend this film as ultimately the unknown presence in the ruins is laughable.

T Factor + If you like lots of blood and gore in your horror movies then this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you do not like sci-fi type horror then this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: The Mist, Turistas.   

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Vacancy


Vacancy
2007
Drama (Thriller)
Rated: R
Running Time: 85 minutes
Starring: Luke Wilson, Kate Beckinsale
Directed By: Nimrod Antal
Rating: 3.5 out of 10
Outline
A young couple gets stranded at an isolated motel and must fight from being snuffed out.


Review
There is a disturbing trend in horror/thriller movies today to have the lead couple being in some sort of huge argument prior to their life or death predicaments. It could be they are breaking up or just angry about something (See Strangers, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning as examples) but it doesn’t work. I guess they are trying something a little different from the loving relationship angle but it bothers me and I will tell you why. When people find themselves in horrific situations like being chased by deranged killers or sadistic monsters, no one would try and protect someone they hate. It is barely believable when someone enters a murder house to save a significant other let alone someone they detest. Stick to the love angle Hollywood, I know it is boring but it is the only way to go. Vacancy is the story of Amy and David Fox. They get stranded at an isolated motel and realize something is not quite right with their accommodations. What is supposed to be a quiet overnight rest turns in to a fight for their lives.

This film never hooked me from the very start with the strained dialogue between the Fox’s and the cheesy broken down car scenario. Listen, I get that explaining why cell phones don’t have signals, and why people are on dark and quiet roads are a necessary evil. What I don’t understand is why it has to be such an odd calamity of errors for all this to happen. Anyways, the constant bickering between Amy and David about their impending separation doesn’t endear them to the viewer. In fact, because of the brooding and barely contained tension between them, it makes you want them to get put out of their misery quite early on. The film gets underway as they settle into their room. A knock at their door in the middle of the night teases you with thoughts of the unknown. Don’t be drawn in though as this is the best the movie gets. With the help of a randomly placed VHS tape, the Fox’s battle these unknown attackers who mean them harm. Now there is some good in this film even if the rating is so low. The motel room is drab and derelict leading to easy visions of prior multiple homicides. The attackers have that realistic vibe to them which is neat to see. They aren’t some crazy looking killers that are constructed by warped Hollywood minds. They are regular looking masked guys that want to have some fun at other people’s expense. This makes them more viable in my mind, but the scares are ultimately underwhelming and also infrequent in occurrence and that is hard to forgive.

Amy played by Kate Beckinsale and David played by Luke Wilson are okay once the film turns into the thriller parts. Once the stupid fighting dialogue stops and they focus on surviving this murderous motel they are more tolerable. Surviving the night is more enjoyable to watch when they are looking out for each other. The bad guys are cool in a generic, creepy mask wearing sort of way. Their simplistic look is easy to enjoy with so many other directors going overboard in the killer department.

It is almost as if the director knew this film wasn’t going to be scary so things get thrown at you seemingly at random. A rube cop that no one seems to care about, a horde of rats in a random location, tormenting knocks on the doors for no reason, and a host of other things that illicit little to no thrills. By the end of this film you will have tired of watching the Fox’s run around the tiny motel over and over again. You will want the bad guys to kill them or for the Fox’s to get away but most importantly you will want this forgettable thriller to end.

Director Nimrod Antal had some interesting takes in this film but for the most part forgot to add the suspense. It is easy to see a Psycho type vibe to this film but it never finds the right level of madness. Some VHS footage of people getting murdered is shockingly real and violent, and the opening sequence when the Fox’s check in also has some merit, but the rest of the film is a fail. People might like the character development to this film but I felt it was established in all the wrong places. This is not a terrible shot film but it is unremarkable.

I cannot recommend this film as Vacancy must be referring to the theatres when this was released.

T Factor + If you like thrillers than this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you like lots of blood in your thrillers than this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: Identity, Psycho.    

21 Jump Street


21 Jump Street
2012
Comedy
Rated: R
Running Time: 109 minutes
Starring: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Ice Cube, Dave Franco, Brie Larson, Rob Riggle
Directed By: Phil Lord, Chris Miller
Rating: 8.5 out of 10
Outline
Two underachieving cops go undercover at a local high school to bust a drug ring.


Review
I have a short list of comedies that I will watch at least once a year and this will easily be added to that list. I had a lot of misgivings about this film going in. First off, I never saw the Johnny Depp show of the same name it was based on, and secondly Channing Tatum in a comedy also made me uneasy. It took all of 15 seconds for my worries to go away and realize this film was going to be awesome. 21 Jump Street is the story of Schmidt and Jenko. They are unimpressive cops who get sent to a local high school to bring down a drug ring. Working undercover the two of them must bring down these dealers before this potentially fatal drug spreads.

At a cursory glance this is just another buddy cop movie and when you dig deeper it really is just another buddy cop movie. The difference between 21 Jump Street and films like Cop Out, The Other Guys, and Starsky and Hutch is this movie was funny the entire time. From the opening scene where we see Schmidt and Jenko as actual teens in high school, to the end of the film where the last bullet has been fired, this film is laugh out loud funny. There are no lulls or boring scenes, there is no downtime, and most importantly the film is always entertaining. Having forced to go undercover at a high school to save their jobs, the two buddies quickly learn that it isn’t like what they remembered when they were students. There are new cliques they don’t know about, the cool kids care about the environment, people who play sports are mocked, and even people wear their backpacks strangely. Trying to fit into this new crazy teenage world is where a lot of the jokes stem from. Jenko and Schmidt do everything in their power to fit in and discover who these drug dealers are. They throw an underage party with alcohol and drugs, enter the school play, take science tests, and they have car chases in a driving instructors car all of which you won’t want to miss.

Schmidt played by Jonah Hill and Jenko played by Channing Tatum are awesome together. Hill plays the out of shape and brainy cop while Tatum plays the brawny and less intelligent one. The two of them play off each other like they have been friends forever. Having the two of them as twenty something’s in high school is pure jokes as their roles are not what you expect. Hill turns out being the cool guy and Tatum gets a taste of being the nerd and they both do great jobs. I expect nothing but greatness from Hill but Tatum was truly funny. His comedic range really showed especially where he goes on a crazy drug trip. Under the influence he talks about science and plays musical instruments which really shows he has a great comedic timing. A special note must be mentioned to Ice Cube playing their angry captain on Jump Street. Cube was a fantastic surprise with his yelling and cussing throughout this film. By the end of this film you will want to update your Facebook status to “infiltrate the dealers!….find the supplier!”

So this film has a liberal amount of swearing and drug use but it never gets out of control. While finding the drug dealers is the story, watching these two less than perfect cops go undercover is the hook. They fight and they bicker but seem like genuine best friends. Even when a pretty cool gun fight scene breaks out and people are being shot, the film is still able to capture laughs. Everyone in this film works. The teachers are funny, the students are funny, the drug dealers are funny, the cameos are funny, and anytime Jonah Hill throws an old lady to the ground by her face means you need to watch this. Is this the funniest movie of the year? I easily think it is.

Directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller have really hit comedic gold with this film. They have casted fantastically right across the board and really keep the flow of this movie light and easy going. Buddy cop movies are hard to do. The chemistry needs to be just right or it is left floundering. Not only are the lead characters relatable, they seem to be having fun and that helps out any comedy. This is a rare film that when it ended I was left wanting more. I give just a big applause to anyone involved with this movie.

I give this movie a big recommendation as it is a hilarious time of seeing immature cops retaking high school. I can’t wait for the next one.

T Factor + If you like buddy cop movies this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you do not like Jonah Hill as a comedian than this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: Beverly Hills Cop, The Other Guys.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Stake Land


Stake Land
Drama (Horror,Vampire)
2010
Rated: R
Running Time: 98 minutes
Starring: Danielle Harris, Connor Paolo, Nick Damici, Kelly McGillis
Directed By: Jim Mickle
Rating: 6 out of 10
Outline
Vampires rule the world as mankind is pushed to the brink of extinction.


Review
While John Goodman and I would thrive in a world named Steak Land I am sure we would struggle in a place called Stake Land. In a time where everything vampire is hip, this smaller known vamp flick works when so many of its big budget brethren fail. Stake Land is the story of the world in a vampire apocalyptic state. We follow the vampire slayer known only as Mister, and his protégé Martin, as they travel the country looking for a place free of vamps so they can settle down.

A perfect description of the film is the movie the Road meets televisions Buffy the Vampire Slayer (without humor.) Humankind’s propensity for violence is apparent even in peaceful times and that is why this film is so good. Not only are the vampires the threat but so are roving groups of cannibals and religious zealots. We find ourselves in a world where the economy, government, and even normal society have collapsed. Bartering is the new currency and the towns have been reduced to pockets of humanity behind heavily guarded barricades. The vampires roam the country side looking for human blood and the humans cower in fear. Through all the chaos and unrest are the grizzled vamp killer Mister, and his young Padawan learner, Martin. They are masters at surviving when so many others have died off. If you don’t mind a lower budget film and a slower moving story there is much to like about this movie. The vampires are not always amazing to behold but are still well designed. They come across more as zombies as they are perpetually covered in blood and behave more on instinct then brains. What the vamps lack in intelligence, they more than make up for in brawn and that is where Mister comes in. He is a remorseless killer and he brings down vampires like he is cutting grass.

Mister is played very well by actor Nick Damici. His grizzled and veteran look has a lot to do with his performance but he is a lead character worth following. His baby faced apprentice Martin is played by Connor Paolo. He is okay but really anyone could have filled that role. I have to mention that Danielle Harris is in this film mainly because she is such an awesome scream queen and a favorite of mine.

So the film really isn’t anything more than the two main characters traversing the country looking for a vampire free haven. They encounter brutal vampires as well as humans and they cut a bloody path out of each situation as it arises. It is cool to see the bleakness of the world as humans are on the brink of extinction. The makeshift towns and the people scavenging for food provides a great backdrop for how hard it is to survive in a world that has no future. The end might be too abrupt or unsatisfying for some but I felt it fit well with the apocalyptic vision they were going for. I praise this film but please be warned; it is more about survival than battling vampires. The lack of budget is clear as there are not as many vampires as one would like. However the story’s overall vision is more than worth the watch.

Director Jim Mickle has lots to be proud of. In a time where vampires are terribly oversaturated he puts forth a unique vision. He treats them more like fast moving zombies and it was a neat take. His casting was sound and his portrayal of humanity is quite believable. The film drags and the fight scenes could be crisper but he got his vision across and I liked it for the most part. It was a job well done.

I give this movie a recommendation as these vampires are not emo they are just here for your blood.

T Factor + If you like vampire movie than this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you like your vampire films more action oriented then this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: Doomsday, The Road.   

Monday, 19 November 2012

Shark Night


Shark Night
Action (Horror)
2011
Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 90 minutes
Starring: Sara Paxton, Dustin Milligan, Chris Carmack, Katherine McPhee, Joel David Moore, Daniel Logue
Directed By: David R. Ellis
Rating: 2 out of 10
Outline
A group of kids at a Louisiana lake house are held hostage by sharks in the water.


Review
I am tired of listening to young people say Jaws is not a great movie when there have been only a couple of good shark movies since. This is what shark films have been relegated to. The world’s top predators have become second rate killers that are embarrassing to behold. To be fair this film is not trying to be anything other than cheap horror but still it is hard to sit through. Shark Night is the story a group of early twenty year olds who spend a weekend at a Louisiana lake house. What is supposed to be a couple of days of fun in the sun turns into a nightmare as they are tormented by shark attacks.

I will start off by saying I am not a big fan of campy films, be it horror or any other genre. I assume that is what Shark Night was trying to be. So this could be a brilliant film from that aspect but I found it to be tacky, boring, and downright stupid. The film has little back story of the group of seven friends that you will be following, and that is a good thing. The film was never going to get you invested in the characters so why take the time to develop them. The kids head out to the lake house for a weekend of drinking and water sports. What should be the time of their lives becomes a fight for them instead. So yeah, if you were questioning as to why there are sharks in a Louisiana lake that will be explained to you. Not very well explained but explained none the less. The film is the usual mess when sharks become involved. There is no cell phone signal, they are in a remote location, the local sheriff is a useless rube, people accidentally fall into the water, the sharks are always around and super hungry, and people get killed by sharks that could win events at the Olympics. So as the film progresses people drop off in a pool of blood as the sharks tear them limb from limb. The kills are unsatisfying and mostly tame for a film that really has nothing else going for it. A shark movie rated PG-13? You money grubbing whores should know better than that.

The acting is not even worth writing about as the dialogue and characters are just awful. The typical horror characters all show up, the nerd, the athlete, the hot promiscuous chick, the quiet girl, and the medical student who can treat shark wounds. So they weren’t reaching for any new ground there. I thought it funny that the lead Sara played by Sara Paxton never thought to change out of her skimpy blue bikini throughout the whole film.

So as the film progresses the viewer is blessed with a myriad of underwater shots and some sub standard looking sharks. At times they are realistic but mostly they are a computer generated mess. They might have explained why the sharks do the craziest things to eat humans but I never heard it. I liked that they use more than one type of shark but the story is so lame that nothing was going to save this film. By the end you will not be shocked at who makes it out of this film alive. If you like bad horror where woman are scantily clad and blood pools in the lake then this might be golden for you. If you need any sense of fear or story than watch Jaws as this film sucked.

Director David R. Ellis is known for being overly tanned and making terrible horror movie (See The Final Destination, Snakes on a Plane). While granted there are people who like films that are so bad they are good they are mostly not for me. This film felt it was so bad it was bad. The sharks go mostly unseen or just a fin popping out of the water and what you do see is poorly computer generated. Having a PG-13 rating on a film where we need to see body parts ripped off is inexcusable. This film was screaming for humorous interludes and yet none show up. The story, characters, sharks are all a mess even for Ellis’s well known low standards.

I cannot recommend this film as it is not the equivalent of catching a trophy fish it is more like chum.

T Factor + If you like bad horror than this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you need graphic kills in your horror than this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: Piranha, Deep Blue Sea.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

The Woman in Black


The Woman in Black
2012
Drama (Thriller, Horror)
Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 95 minutes
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Ciaran Hinds
Directed By: James Watkins
Rating: 5 out 0f 10
Outline
A young lawyer travels to a remote village only to be tormented by a local superstition about a woman in black.


Review
Sometimes horror movies forget that they need good stories to truly capture the viewer. They seem obsessed with scaring people by any means necessary instead of providing a good fundamental background story. Unfortunately for us while this film does do a good job of keeping you frightened, it also will confound you with its bizarre story and characters. The Woman in Black is the story of a young lawyer by the name of Arthur Kipps. He travels to a faraway village to deal with the closing of a local estate, only to realize the townspeople seem to be terrorized by a local legend come to life.

Seeing Radcliffe in anything other than Harry Potter films will take some getting used to, although this film is very Potteresque if you really get down to it. It has the old English town slightly reminiscent of Diagon Alley, he has to take a train to get there, and the woman in black could be Severus Snape in weekend party mode. I was expecting Hagrid to show up to save the day at some point. Anyways, the film has that slow purposeful start where we are introduced to Arthur Kipps as he travels to the remote village for his job. As he arrives he notices that all the townsfolk act suspiciously and want him to go on his merry way back to London. Unfortunately for them, Kipps has a job to do in the scariest place on earth, and he intends to finish it no matter what. From there the film really degenerates into Kipps working at the dark and lonely estate house and seeing things that would freeze even the bravest man’s blood. The remote house is a nice setting for the paranormal as its graveyard surroundings and poor weather sets the stage well for frights. This is what I didn’t understand about the film though, Kipps is presented with abnormal experience after abnormal experience and it barely registers with him. He sees people in graveyards, in windows, shadows that walk by, and odd sounds all over the house and he seems fine with it. An extended scene where he just walks from room to room seeing bizarre things reminds the viewer of just how bad this story truly is. Yes it will make you jump but it is very hard to buy into as a premise. I am sorry if this makes me sound weak, but if I were to see someone looking at me from a window in an abandoned haunted house I would just bounce. No I wouldn’t ask questions, no I wouldn’t investigate, I would just leave.

This film was a safe choice for Daniel Radcliffe and I can’t fault him for his decision. He plays the lawyer Arthur Kipps, and playing in an English styled horror as an English character was not a stretch for him by any means. He also has very little dialogue so that helped out as well for his overall believability. He does an okay job with the role and if his character was better than maybe he would have been better. The most important thing is I can see him outside of the Potter series and he should be proud of that fact. The rest of the unknown cast do good jobs as being weird if not entirely believable characters.

As the film goes on we learn more about the woman in black and her unhealthy obsession with the children of the town. We learn the story of her life and we also learn the townsfolk are a superstitious mob. The film does a surprisingly good job of keeping the viewer scared for a PG-13 film. While a lot of the film is what I call cheap scares (loud and improbable noises) it will still set most viewers on edge. The movie just never could break itself away from its awful drawn out story. Kipps wants to solve the mystery surrounding this house and the woman in black at all costs. He forgoes personal safety and even normal thinking to accomplish this. He walks around the house and its surrounding area like a man possessed and it really is quite silly. The ending suited this movie fine and brings closure to a film with many scares but a weak story. Overall I was entertained by this film just not impressed with it.   

Director James Watkins takes on his second feature film and does an okay job with it. The turn of the 20th century timeline coupled with the darker cinematography set the tone for a film with a decent amount of frights. The strange townspeople and overly simplistic back story of the woman in black really sucked the life out of the film though. The camera work is solid if not remarkable and the casting was sound. A better script (Jane Goldman) would have made this movie a more viable watch.

I cannot recommend this film as the Woman in Black while frightening is not that interesting.

T Factor + If you do not need a solid story for your horror then this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you like blood and gore in your horror then this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: Sinister, Insidious. 

Rachel Getting Married


Rachel Getting Married
2008
Drama
Rated: R
Running Time: 113 minutes
Starring: Anne Hathaway, Bill Irwin, Rosemarie DeWitt
Directed By: Jonathan Demme
Rating: 6.5 out of 10
Outline
A girl gets a weekend pass from rehab to attend her sister’s wedding.


Review
Anne Hathaway in another movie involving a wedding is enough to make me shudder (See Bride Wars.) Just the mere mention of the overdone angle of marriage and movies had me wanting to bail on this ceremony faster than Julia Roberts. This film changed my view and shows with a little creativity even the holy institution of matrimony can be an enjoyable watch. Rachel Getting Married is the story of Kym. She has been in and out of rehab for years and she gets a weekend pass to attend her sister’s wedding.

I guess why I liked this film so much is the fact it wasn’t your typical romantic comedy where the groom gets cold feet and everything goes wrong for the bride. It also isn’t a romantic drama where woman gush over how beautiful the bride’s dress is, and how lovely the flowers are. It is a film based on realism and intense dialogue that is lacking from so many other wedding films. The movie starts and we are introduced to Kym as she arrives at the house for the lead up to the wedding. What occurs next is 2 days of dysfunction as long unspoken family issues come to the forefront. Weddings are supposed to be magical and wonderful events. This one may culminate as such but leading up to the big moment is fraught with tears and tension. This film weaves stories of personal tragedy, addiction, and family discourse seamlessly into the preparation for the wedding. Learning about this family’s past adversity will have most viewers tearing up more than the wedding will. That is how the movie plays out for the most part. One moment there is an intense conversation leading to a huge fight and you forget that this film is even about a wedding. The next moment the viewer is immersed in wedding planning, and wedding events, and forgets this film has a huge darker emotional side to it. The viewer is taken on that back and forth ride and will be entertained by both sides.

The acting and specifically the characters is what makes this film so enjoyable. Kym played by Anne Hathaway turns in a very believable and raw performance. Her character’s anti social behavior and rough exterior gives the film its gritty edge. In a film that is supposed to be all about the wedding, Hathaway sticks out like a tornado in a cornfield and that is a good thing. Her sister Carol played by Rose Marie Dewitt plays the straighter laced character very well. Her barely contained anger over her sister’s antics is always noticeable. She keeps the tension at the surface as she prepares for her wedding and deals with Kym’s hard to mesh with personality. The character that stole the show for me was their father played by Bill Irwin. A super liberal and caring dad takes both sisters sides as they literally scream and bicker their way to the wedding. He seems honest and thoughtful and was exactly what this film needed. All the characters do a great job though establishing family chemistry and the immense stress that comes with planning and pulling off a wedding.

The films camera work gives the film a very realistic edge to it. When all the intense moments of love or hate are captured you seem to be in the room with them. Another thing I really liked about the film was its believable family nature. Compassion and forgiveness are what most family’s are about and this one is no different. No matter how serious the topic, love still is apparent in the room and that truly is hard to capture well. The film does have its faults or it would have scored higher. Extended scenes of wedding rehearsal speeches are boring and hard to sit through. The film is also pretty depressing and seems to keep hammering the viewer with sad story after sad story never letting up and it gets distracting. As the movie came to a close I couldn’t believe how much I liked this film though. What ultimately is just about a weekend and a wedding comes off as a powerful drama that you won’t want to miss.  
   
Director Jonathan Demme has shot a pretty decent wedding film. Its dark lead character fits perfectly into the film about a wedding. The camera work is great and the family is so believable that most can relate even on some minute level. The film is slow at points but to be expected when the topic is so bleak. Overall though, the dialogue and intense scenes of family interactions are not to be missed. Good job on a topic that has been done to death.

I give this film a recommendation especially to drama lovers and people who like indie films.

T Factor + If you like indie films this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you do not like built up drama then this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: Pieces of April, The Door in the Floor.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Super 8


Super 8
2010
Action (Sci-Fi, Thriller)
Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 112 minutes
Starring: Elle Fanning, Joel Courtney, Ryan Lee, Zach Mills, Riley Griffiths, Ron Eldard, Gabriel Basso, Kyle Chandler.
Directed By: J.J. Abrams
Rating: 6 out of 10
Outline
A group of kids witness a train derailment. The cargo on it might have been something more than just crates as their town is hit by strange occurrences shortly after.


Review
If J.J. Abrams is involved with a movie, the odds are that some sort of over sized monster will cause havoc at some point. He likes to cause terror and mayhem by introducing Godzilla sized monsters into the general populace and that is a pretty cool thing to be known for. Super 8 is the story of a group of kids who witness a train crash. What follows is a series of bizarre events across their little town as there seems to be a huge creature on the loose.

I remember movies like E.T., Stand by Me, The Princess Bride, The Goonies, and The Never Ending Story, quite fondly from my youth. They are films that hold a special place in my heart even after all these years later. Movies have obviously evolved since then with much better cameras, amazing special effects, and lastly way bigger budgets. I don’t know the motivation behind Abrams making this movie but it seems directed at kids instead of trying to please the adult viewer. Perhaps in twenty years time, kids will have this on their favorite lists I don’t know. The story takes place in the late seventies and a group of friends are getting together to film their own zombie movie. While shooting said film a train derails and the film gets under way. There are two sides to this film. The first side follows the kids as they live their lives in the quiet suburban small town. The other side is the giant monster silently traversing the city, destroying anything or anyone that stands in its way. The two stories are good on their own but fit together like misshaped puzzle pieces when they try to blend them. The kid’s storyline is a cute coming of age tale synonymous with films of this nature. It is about finding young love, it is about dealing with the loss of loved ones, it is about defying adult authority, and lastly it is about dealing with situations that the parents, cops, and even the army can’t handle. Is it ridiculous? Of course, but that is why these films are so special for kids. When guns and bombs don’t work against this unknown terror there is something really pleasing about a young kid lighting off fireworks as the solution.

The kid’s friendship angle worked in this film because the acting was surprisingly strong. Child actor’s Joel Courtney and Riley Griffiths play the kids Joe and Charles respectively. They are great as the leading guys, and while their dialogue and mannerisms are a little too adult it still somehow works. Elle Fanning plays Alice the lone girl character in this movie and shows that she is one to look out for in the coming years. Her performance was great and especially coming from someone so young. The group of kids has that Goonie misfit vibe to it and it allows the viewer to easily follow their believable friendship.

The monster side to this film was cool but largely disappointing in length. This gigantic, unknown creature stalks the town and no one is the wiser. It attacks people and places seemingly at random. Some people die horribly while others are spared like a strange sort of monster roulette. We spend too much time in this film waiting for the monster to go out of control and start tearing the town a new one. By the time it actually hits the screen it will be a disappointment to most, and it is not nearly as viscous as one would hope. It is well designed though and frighteningly detailed but doesn’t have enough screen time for my liking. When the end does come it is in line with a film trying to appease the target audience being kids instead of making it fit with the rest of the story. Bottom line is the kids were fun to watch and the monster was well designed but the film was all over the place.

Director and writer J.J. Abrams has put together a kid friendly version of the movie Cloverfield. It is very well cast but the storylines seem to be going for way too much. He should have made the film just about the kids or just about the monster but not both. The limited special effects are cool in a childish sort of way. The monster also was well designed and who knows maybe he will arm wrestle the monster from Cloverfield at some point down the road. He does an okay job overall.

I give this movie a recommendation but it is hardly a super 8. It is more of a decent six.

T Factor – If you like films about kids then this could score higher on the rating scale.

T Factor – If you don’t like monster films then this could score lower on the rating scale.

If you liked this film reel recommendations: The Goonies, E.T.