Sunday, December 30, 2012

Moon

Moon is the first feature film from writer/director Duncan Jones, who also happens to be the son of David Bowie. This is one hell of a debut and I was pumped to see this movie when it was released a few years ago.     It was too bad that it was released within a few weeks of both Avatar and District 9, so it ended up being ridiculously overlooked during award season. Most science fiction movies strive to be as good as this movie and it would be an accomplishment is they were able to have 1/10th of the heart and soul that this movie has.

Moon tells the story of Sam (Sam Rockwell), a worker for Lunar Industries on the Moon based mining operation. He runs a mostly automated operation and the only other "person" in the base is the Artificial Intelligence known as GERTY (Kevin Spacey). Sam is coming to the end of his three year rotation and he is eagerly counting down the days until he is reunited with his wife and daughter. On a routine assignment to collect ore from a harvester he gets distracted, crashes, and is knocked unconscious. He awakens to see that he was brought back to the base by another version of himself. From there on out both versions must find out their origins and find a way home.

This movie would have been nothing if there was someone else in the lead role besides Sam Rockwell. He brings an every-man sensibility to this role that is just outstanding. There is no point in the movie that I felt like he was acting, every reaction feels natural and nothing is forced. He plays both versions of Sam completely different and each has their own strengths and weaknesses, which come i handy throughout the course of the movie. Rockwell has become one of Hollywood's great characters actors and this is the movie that really hammered home that point for me. His performance in this movie was as good as any other performance in the last 20 years and is on the short list of my favorite performances of all time.

The story itself is also incredibly original and Duncan ones did a wonderful job with the entire script. The dialogue is sharp, characters are great, and the story is wonderful. This was a home run on every level. Moon is a blue collar movie, and by that I mean that it works to do all of the little things correctly. The idea of mining the Moon for resources is plausible and is being researched currently by NASA and the way Sam reacts to his situation is written perfectly. Jones and the visual effects team took the time to make sure that all of the effects were realistic and plausible. They were even able to give personality to the AI played by Kevin Spacey, who acts as Sam's guardian, with simple things such as different smiley face emoticons on his screen. This was a movie for the ages in my mind and it will be extremely tough for Jones to replicate this type of success again.

Moon is one of those criminally overlooked movies that with a bigger studio push could have been on the same level of District 9 or Avatar in the mainstream viewer's eyes. Sam Rockwell gives a performance as good as anyone has in the last 20 years and even that was overlooked, which is a shame. You can see this on Netflix, DVD, Blu Ray, or Redbox, and the main thing is that you go and see this as soon as possible.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Game

The Game is a movie that I have been dying to see for such a long time and simply never got around to seeing it until today. This movie is simply stacked with talent from the director, David Fincher, to the talented cast consisting of Michael Douglas and Sean Penn. This was also the follow up to Fincher's ultra successful movie, Seven, so my hopes were really high. Needless to say, I was thoroughly impressed with this movie and it is a worthy follow up to Seven.

The Game follows Nicholas Van Orton (Michael Douglas), a very wealthy and successful investment banker, who seems to be 100% invested in his work at the expense of his personal life. The movie opens on his birthday and he meets with his estranged brother, Conrad (Sean Penn), who has a very special birthday gift for him. Nicholas is given a voucher to CRS (Consumer Recreational Services) for a "Game" that Conrad describes as being "life altering". He goes to CRS to redeem his gift and he soon comes to learn that this gift may be more than he ever bargained for.

Michael Douglas may be billed as the star of the movie but that honor really has to go to David Fincher. Every frame of the movie is infused with Fincher's visual style from different color palettes to the frantic action in some scenes. He creates a palpable sense of paranoia that builds as the movie goes and finally comes to a head in the last 15 minutes of the movie. I feel like this is where he really refined his ability to create the perfect mood in a movie, because he has been near flawless in every single one of his movies since this one. Michael Douglas is also excellent in this movie as well and this was his finest performance since his appearance in the first Wall Street. His character's "game" has to to with having him face his worst fear, which is being not in complete control of his life.

The cinematography is spot on throughout the entire movie as it usually is in a Fincher production. Who knew that a clown doll laying down in the middle of a driveway could be so terrifying? Little moments like this are signatures of Fincher and litter this movie. This is a dark movie that takes place mostly at night and there is never a time that the scene is consumed in darkness. You are always able to tell what is going on but there is a sense of dread that permeates every scene that keeps the viewer on edge throughout the entire movie. If a movie is able to keep me guessing and on edge that is a win in my book.

The whole theme of the movie is facing your worst fears and overcoming them. Van Orton's journey takes him from a selfish self-obsessed asshole to a man who actually values his life and the people around him. There is always something that we are afraid of and are unwilling to face no matter how up front and center in our lives it is. Sometimes we need a push to make a major change or to just simply get back on track. This movie is about an over the top attempt top fix someone's life and it is a great movie. I found a lot of myself in the movie because I tend to seclude myself from people and shield myself from certain things. I get wrapped up in something and I ignore things that are staring me right in the face. Those are somethings that I need to fix and that is probably what made this movie really effective in my eyes because it was personal to me.

I really loved this movie and I related to it on a personal level in many ways. Not so much the being rich and successful but the idea that you can seclude yourself from people and lose a lot in terms of lasting relationships. David Fincher did an absolutely incredible job and this should stand alongside Seven as being his best movies. Check this out in Criterion Collection form on Blu Ray of DVD, it is just incredible.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Crazies

The Crazies is one of the rare cases where remakes is far superior to the original. The original was created by George Romero after he made Night of the Living Dead and was a high grade B-movie at best. It was remade by Breck Eisner and stars Timothy Olyphant, Radha Mitchell, Joe Anderson, and Danielle Panabaker. This is one of those movies that was on my radar as soon as it was announced because I'm always down for checking out a remake no matter how horrible it is and it had Timothy Olyphant in the leading role which means the movie was a must watch for me anyway.

The Crazies tells the story of the small town of Ogden Marsh in rural Iowa and how it was consumed by madness and death. The sheriff of the town, David (Olyphant), is enjoying a high school baseball game when a man walks onto the field with a shotgun and David is forced to shoot him when he raises the weapon. Following the shooting, people in the town start to become afflicted with some sort of disease that slowly drives them into madness only leaving mindless killers. David bands together with his wife, his deputy, and several other survivors to escape the madness.

This is one of my favorite horror movies of the last decade, and it due to how solid everything is in the movie. Timothy Olyphant finally got a chance to star in a movie and he carries the movie on his back with a great charismatic performance. He plays the sheriff in the movie and is great in the role as he tries to protect everyone around with varying levels of success. This was the first time that a majority of the public was exposed to his talents and he has gone on to make one of the best shows on TV with Justified. He really needs to be pushed by Hollywood. Joe Anderson also delivers a quality performance as Deputy Russell Clank, and his role ranges from being David's protector to being completely unhinged all within the same scene in some cases and he really is a standout in the movie.

The story is fairly basic, town is poisoned by a virus and then the military comes to clean it up. What makes this movie rise above others is that this seems like it could actually happen in our modern day society. With all of the different types of biological weapons developed by this nation and others there may be something exactly like what we see in the movie in our own world. It is some scary shit when you actually take the time to think about it. More movies really need to start taking a real world approach to their stories because it makes them exponentially more terrifying if you can see them actually happening. It also helps when you have a director who makes every set piece in the movie an event within the movie and there is rarely anything that falls flat in the movie with the exception of Danielle Panabaker's performance. she just couldn't hold her weight against the superior actors in the movie and she is falling into the "all I can do is horror" class of actresses, that is a place you never want to end up.

This is the way that remakes should always be approached. Take an existing story and instead of trying to duplicate to word for word or shot for shot, make it your own. I have seen the original and the remake blows it out of the water. The acting is better, production values are higher (of course), and the story is more engaging. Acting and story are what hook you and the effects are the icing on the cake in my opinion. This is similar to the way the remakes for The Hills Have Eyes and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre were approached and it is no wonder why they are the best of horror movie remakes to this point.

This is one of my favorite horror movies of the last decade and is one of those movies that I will always take the time and sit down ad watch when it is on TV. Timothy Olyphant simply kills it in this movie and his performance is one of the main attractions of the movie. Check this out on Netflix, Redbox, or on Blu Ray, either way just go see this.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Return of the Living Dead

The Return of the Living Dead is one of those movies that a lot of people have heard about yet only a few have actually had the chance to see. It is often confused with George Romero's classic zombie film series and for good reason the co-writer of the original Night of the Dead was the writer of this movie. I had heard great things about this movie and finally had the pleasure of seeing it a few years ago and have since seen it 5 or 6 times and I love it just as much as I did the first time I had seen it. The movie features some great performances from veteran horror actors such as Clu Gulager, James Karen, Linnea Quigley, and Don Calfa.

The Return of the Living Dead tells the story of a two medical warehouse workers (James Karen and Thom Mathews) who unknowingly release a toxin that can bring the dead back to life. Cadavers come back to life, dissected animals as well and even the dead begin breaking out of the ground in the local graveyard. The two are joined by their boss, a mortician, and a group of young punks in the local funeral home as they try and escape the living dead. These zombies are smart, fast and out for brains at any cost. Will the military be able to save the group or will the living dead get to them first?

First things first, these zombies are unlike any zombies in any movie before. They are quick, retain all of their smarts, and are out for one thing only, brains. They are not the slow moving rotting corpses of the past and they are the zombies that inspired the creatures in such movie as 28 Days Later, 28 Weeks Later, and the Resident Evil movies. The main thing that stands out to me is the retention of their mind because it opens up so many possibilities because the zombies become characters and not just devices to show off gore like in some other movies.  These are probably my favorite zombies in any movies due to that fact and it is awesome how utterly ruthless they are in order to get that next fix of brains. They are like junkies but instead of crack, their choice of drug is brains.

There is not an over abundance of gore in the movie but when it is used it is pretty solid. The acting was actually solid for a horror movie made in the 80's where they used to just cast any hot young person and any girl with a decent rack. But here we get solid turns from genre veterans and the young actors do a good job playing the group of punks. Clu Gulager, Don Calfa, and James Karen carry this movie from start to finish and they are never hokey in their roles. Linnea Quigley gives a solid stripping performance in the movie and its easy to see why see was cast in so many horror movies as the young woman who gets naked. The story was one of th high points because while being a comedic horror movie, it treats its source material with a tremendous amount of respect and they even treat The Night of the Living Dead as a factual event in the movie's world.

More zombie movies need to inject a little bit of B-movie madness into their story and action. The idea of zombies is inherently ridiculous and when you try and treat them seriously it sometimes comes off as goofy. The Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead are some of the only zombie movies that were able to successfully pull off the serious angle. Return of the Living Dead blends humor and seriousness to make a great combination where as movies such as Resident Evil fail miserably. The idea is not to take yourself too seriously and then the movie will have a natural charm to it because nothing feels forced.

This is a classic zombie movie and one of the best horror movies of the 80's. The Return of the Living Dead is a movie that deserves to be seen by more people because it is truly great. Wonderful humor and great horror action make this a great horror comedy fusion. Get this on Blu Ray or stream it on Netflix, just see it as soon as possible.




Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Lost Boys

After seeing this movie for the tenth time, I felt like it was the right time to sit down and right an actual review for it. The Lost Boys is a classic 80's movie and is one of the greatest vampire/horror movies of all time. A cast that includes Corey Feldman, Corey Haim, Jason Partric, Dianne West, Kiefer Sutherland, and Jami Gertz will more that likely lead to good things. I saw this years after it originally came out because it came out the year I was born and I love it just as much as the first time I saw it.

The Lost Boys tells the story of brothers, Michael (Jason Patric) and Sam (Corey Haim), who have recently moved to a coastal California town with their divorced mother (Dianne West). Sam stumbles upon a comic book store run by the Frog Brothers (Corey Feldman and Jamison Newlander), who warn him about vampires in their small town. Michael is then taken in by a new group of "friends" who have a lot of dangerous secrets that threaten to destroy the lives of Michael and his family.

This is my favorite vampire movie of all time, it is not technically the "best" one that I have ever seen but it is the most memorable and exciting one that I have ever seen. The mix of humor and horror is just perfectly done and the two pairs of brothers in the movie are fantastic, each with their own creative dynamic. Jason Patric and Corey Haim anchor the movie and their performances are great and are probably the best of their respective careers. Kiefer Sutherland plays a great role as the main antagonist of the movie and really sells the fact that he is a manipulative bloodthirsty creature of the night. The action scenes and the gore in the movie are also top notch and the movie is devoid of any CG which is a plus considering how crude it was back in the 80's.

The story may seem simple on the surface but it does a lot of things that vampire movies don't do in general. They use a lot of the old myths about vampires to set the rules of what affects the vampires and how they act where as movies these days completely disregard vampire myths in almost every way possible (I'm talking about you, Twilight). The use of the hellhound, garlic, wooden stakes, holy water, and no reflections are done in an awesome way and really add to the movie. The Frog Brothers standing in as the Van Helsing characters was an awesome choice because they kind of know what they are doing but they get caught by surprise at almost every turn. The main thing about the movie is that it is fun, it never takes itself too seriously and plays up the inherent humor of the situations the characters are put in. This is just a great movie.

The Lost Boys is as close to a perfect vampire movie that you will ever get. It combines horror and humor to create one of the best movies of the 80's and in my opinion the best vampire movie of all-time. If you haven't seen this movie yet you were either born after 1995 or have been living under a rock since the 1980's. This is a must see movie for everyone because there is something that everyone can enjoy in this movie. Stream it, buy it, or pirate it, just go and see this movie as soon as possible.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

I will start this review by letting everyone know that I loved the Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter novel. It was a great alternate history novel that was both serious and silly all at the same time, the perfect blend. Seth Grahame-Smith did a wonderful job with the novel and he wrote the screenplay for the film as well which was a great idea. The main thing that got me pumped for this film was the involvement of Timur Bekmambetov, creator of the movies Night Watch and Day Watch.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter tells the alternate history of one of our nation's greatest Presidents, Abraham Lincoln (Benjamin Walker)  and his "life" as a vampire hunter. He feels responsible for his parents' deaths and he vows to avenge their deaths by killing all of the vampires. He is trained by Henry Sturges (Dominic Cooper), in the art of tracking and killing vampires. He also meets his future wife, Mary Todd, and has to balance his life as a vampire hunter and a rising star in the political world.

Benjamin Walker does a great job in the role of Abraham Lincoln, not Daniel Day Lewis quality, but he is still very good. He is extremely charismatic in every scene that he is in and it is great to see him become both this incredible leader as well as a skilled vampire hunter. The is  fine line that he had to walk in the role because it could have become very silly but thankfully he plays the role with the right attitude and easily carries the movie on his shoulders. Dominic Cooper is also solid in the movie as the mysterious Henry Sturges. Cooper is great in almost every role that he is in and is slowly building up to being in leading roles in movies. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is as beautiful as ever and plays the role of the supportive wife of Abraham Lincoln.  She is just so sexy.

The story heavily altered from that of the novel and I can understand why but it still took away from my enjoyment of the film. If I had never read the book I would have liked this movie a whole lot more, but this was still a solid movie. The altering of certain aspects was a good choice to fit the movie, I just can't describe them because I don't want to spoil the movie for anyone. All I can say is that they should have kept the ending to the book, it was just so much better than the movie version. The overuse of CG in the movie was a little disappointing but I can't really count it against the movie because almost every movie these days overuses CG.

The main negative of the movie for me was the fact that Timur Bekmambetov did not take any chances with his direction. He used a lot of innovative techniques in his earlier films such as Night Watch and Day Watch. Everything from the use of subtitles to the innovative effects sequences are what made those movies great and different from anything that had been produced by Hollywood. None of those things that made his earlier movies great appear in this movie, he uses the most stock of his abilities and shoves them into the movie.  Ir is sad that a director with this much promise has fallen into the Hollywood trap instead of differentiating himself from the pack. He still has a lot of time to build on his successes and get back to his old form. I am in no way saying this is a bad movie it just pales in comparison to his earlier films. If you have not seen Night Watch, you need to go see that movie right now, just make sure that you watch it with the original subtitles. It is unlike anything you have ever seen before.

This a movie that failed to live up to its lofty expectations but it is still a solid and entertaining summer blockbuster. It has a handful of great performances and some really bad CG. But with movies like this, you take the good with the bad. Check this out on Blu-Ray or On Demand.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Lawless

Lawless is a movie that I have been looking forward to seeing for a very long time. John Hillcoat made one of the best Westerns ever with The Proposition and has now made one of most solid crime movies in the last decade. Bringing in some of the best young talent in Hollywood really helped him bring the story to life. The cast consisting of Tom Hardy, Shia LaBouf, Jason Clarke, Jessica Chastain, and Guy Pearce is one of the most star studded cast to be assembled in some time and makes this movie an instant Academy Award contender.

Lawless tells the real life story of the Bondurant brothers during Prohibition Era Virginia. The brothers, Jack(LaBouf), Howard(Clarke), and Forrest(Hardy) are bootleggers in Franklin County, Virginia and business is booming. The use their bar as a front for their operation and manage to keep a pretty low profile overall. Jack, the younger brother, witness a murder by a gangster and he begins to have aspirations of expanding the business to make more money. At the same time, Special Deputy Rakes(Pearce), is brought in to get a cut of the profits from all of the different bootleggers. Forrest comes into direct conflict with Rakes and the story becomes an epic crime drama.

The acting in this movie is off the charts good and is the real main attraction of the movie. Tom Hardy is as good as ever and he brings the character of Forrest to life with a ferocious intensity in every single scene that he is in. You can see how guarded this character is and how much he cares about the people around him and at the same time he has no qualms about killing rival gangsters who threaten his life. His story really was the most interesting in the movie and his chemistry with Jessica Chastain was impressive to say the least. Chastain seems to get better with every new role that she is in and even in her limited screen time she is still one of the best parts of the movie. The movie is also shot beautifully with Hillcoat handling action scenes as deftly as the quieter dramatic scenes.

Shia LaBouf is overshadowed by the greatness of Tom Hardy but he was still very solid in the movie. They did play up the occasional douchiness of his character but it really is a young man going through the growing pains of becoming a man. He does a great job of sharing the spotlight with Hardy and this is his first real "grown up" role in a quality movie. It was refreshing to see him acting alongside real people instead of crappy CG robots. Jason Clarke seemed to be the odd man out in the trio, because his character is the least developed and is relegated to the role of the protector in the movie. Clarke is an incredibly gifted actor but he has never really received his due but he seems to be getting close with roles in Public Enemies and Lawless.

After hearing all of the reviews of this movie, my expectations were a little bit lower than they originally were. Having seen this movie I can confirm that this movie is awesome and was one of the best movies that I have seen this year. Hardy's award worthy performance was the highlight of the film and again show why he is one of the top actor in Hollywood currently. Shia LaBouf also chimes in with a solid performance that would surprise most movie fans after seeing his other movies. Check this movie out On Demand, or on Blu-Ray.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Day

The Day is a WWE Studios production and is the first movie from the studio that does not feature a wrestler in the main role. They actually managed to secure a pretty solid cast consisting of Shawn Ashmore, Ashley Bell, Dominic Monaghan, Michael Eklund, and Shannyn Sossamon. That is an unbelievably solid cast for somethin as second rate as a WWE production. Ashley Bell is worth the price of admission because she is really head over heels better than everyone else in the cast.

The Day tells the story of a group of survivors in the near future after an undisclosed disaster wipes out a large portion of the Earth's population. The group consists of Shannon(Shannyn Sossamon), Mary(Ashley Bell), Rick(Dominic Monaghan), Adam(Shawn Ashmore), and Henson(Cory Hardrict). They are surviving day to day by scavenging and moving from place to place. They encounter an abandoned house and decide to rest, but they soon come to see that things may not seem as good as they appear.

The performances of Ashmore and Bell are really solid and they are the glue that ultimately holds the movie together. Bell gives a very quiet and intense performance and really embodies her character who is supposed to be the loner of the group and the one no one knows anything about. She is an excellent actress and really deserves to be in higher profile movies than movies like this and she definitely has a very bright future ahead of her. Shawn Ashmore is the other part of the equation and he plays the damaged one of the group as his wife and child were killed by a group of cannibals. Their relationship evolves throughout the course of the movie and is one of the main storylines of the movie itself.

Unfortunately for the movie, the two main performances are really where the good stops in the movie. Shannyn Sosamon gives a horribly wooden performance and her character does the most illogical things in the movie. She defies logic at every turn and actually makes the group's lives harder than they need to be. Her character is just terrible. The main villain is also not very threatening and we get to know next to nothing about him and his group throughout the course of the movie and they never seem to present a credible threat. The other performances in the movie are also pretty wooden as well and they don't really contribute anything to the movie at all.

The story is standard and it does not take a ton of chances to differentiate itself from all of the other post-apocalyptic movies. The only one who is a developed character by the end is Mary and she is also the main focal point of the movie which makes this movie not as horrible as it should be. The thing that did unfortunately ruin the movie for me is Shannyn Sossamon's performance and her character's actions which just defied logic at every turn and just killed the movie for me.

This is a movie that is a rental at best in my opinion. If you can stand having to trudge through some terrible performance to get to a gem then you will be surprised with what you will see and get from this movie., especially since it is coming from WWE Studios.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Red Dawn 2012


There has been an enormous amount of remakes in Hollywood over the last few years, and Red Dawn has been lost in the confusion for the last few years. Originally slated to come out in 2010, the movie was delayed because of MGM’s financial woes and was almost sold off on a few occasions. This is a movie that I was on the fence about because the original was far from a classic and no one really clamoring for a remake of it. But it did have Chris Hemsworth and Jeffrey Dean Morgan in it, so I was willing to give it a chance.

The remake of Red Dawn tells the same basic story of the original, with the North Korean army replacing the Cubans and Russians from the original. We follow brothers Jed (Chris Hemsworth) and Matt(Josh Peck) as they try and liberate their town with the help of other teenagers and they become known as the Wolverines. They use guerrilla tactics to try and drive the North Koreans from their town and hope there are other people fighting like them across the US.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Chris Hemsworth are really the only two things to be really commended in this movie. Morgan lends credibility to any role that he is in and is good as a marine that comes to help out the Wolverines. He provides some much needed humor and clarity to the events that have been unfolding through the film. Hemsworth gives an amazingly charismatic performance as Jed, the leader of The Wolverines. He commands your attention in every scene that he is in and seems to be the only actor in the movie that had any clue of how to handle an action scene. Adrienne Palicki also provides some eye candy in this testosterone fueled action movie and she is always great to look at.

This movie leaves a lot to be desired in the acting department. All of the performances in the movie besides Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Chris Hemsworth are pretty piss poor. Josh Peck does his best Hayden Christensen impression throughout the entire movie by acting as wooden as possible. He has almost no ability in relaying emotion and is just horrible. The rest of the cast isn't much better with Connor Cruise, Isabel Lucas, and Josh Hutcherson being dreadful as well. The producers and casting directors really went all out in remaking this movie because the horrible acting from the original was recreated perfectly in the remake.

Since the movie was originally filmed to have the Chinese be the antagonists and then switched to the North Koreans there was a huge hole in the story. There is no explanation given as to how the whole situation came to be or how the North Koreans could possibly stage a surprise invasion of the US. In the original at least they gave you the circumstances that could lead to an invasion in the opening credits, in the remake you get next to nothing. There is also the explanation that the North Koreans used a new EMP to knock out our defenses and render us helpless, yet cars are still able to function, there is power, and cell phones still power up. EMPs would generally kill all electronic devices and electrical grids, but you can’t have an exciting movie without power, cars, and cell phones, right? Also the North Koreans created a closed circuit communication system that only they could think up and were impervious to an EMP blast. At least the original tried crafting a story that seemed plausible, the remake was just a hole filled train wreck of a story. Also forgot to mention that we are supposed to believe that Josh Peck is a star quarterback, I laughed out loud in the theater at that one.

The action and special effects should be a focus for a movie like this, right? Looks like someone messed up and forgot to remind the director and the producers. The fact that all of the Chinese Army patches had to be covered with North Korean patches is something that I could accept if they were done correctly, but they look terrible and stand out way too much. The special effects are B-movie quality at best with the scene where you see troop parachuting in looks especially terrible and look like something done in the late 90s. The action isn't much better with most of the action made solely of large explosions. The limited amounts of firefights are standard fare and are not really thrilling or exciting. The lone fight sequence in the movie between Chris Hemsworth and Will Yun Lee was passable at best. After seeing the action and special effects in the movie it was no wonder why MGM was in no particular rush to put this in theaters.

Verdict

This movie is wooden, just like the acting of most of the cast. It’s a really bad sign when a remake of a mediocre movie ends up being worse than the original, and that is what you get with the 2012 version of Red Dawn. Good luck, if you decide to see this movie. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Superman: Earth One

This is the book that has officially changed my stance on Superman. This is a hero that I have hated for years but this book changed my mind in a matter of minutes and I now actually understand Superman as a character even though most writers have absolutely no idea how to handle him. J. Michael Straczynski does a great job of crafting an updated origin story for Superman and manages to make the character very sympathetic. The artwork of Shane Davis is also as solid as ever and shows why he is one of the most popular artists in the comic industry.

This is a retelling of the origin story of Superman, and shows why Clark Kent decided to become Superman. We follow Clark as he comes to Metropolis to find a job that will help him support his mother for the rest of his life. He is not concerned about his own happiness and simply want to make his mother's life comfortable. He goes to an open tryout for the Metropolis pro-Football team and is offered a blank check to play with them, he makes scientific breakthroughs at a lab, and applies to the local newspaper, The Daily Planet. You realize that he is really alone in his situation because he can never truly show off his abilities in his Clark Kent persona because he will be studied and ridiculed. When the city is threatened by an alien threat, Clark comes to the rescue and he discovers himself and saves the day.

This is a great take on the character of Superman, and it is really in the writing of JMS. He is written as a very conflicted character and is trying to discover his place in the world while trying to do right by his mother. He realizes that he will never really be happy because he can never really be himself in front of people. He comes to eventually realize that Superman is who he really is and that Clark Kent is the mask that he has to put on in front of people. He gets to help the people of the world with his powerful gifts and also be a functioning member of society as Clark Kent. I feel that this is sometimes lost on some writers for DC and they tend to just write Superman in all of these over the top action sequences.

The art in this book is also amazing, and proves why Shane Davis is one of the most sought after artists  in the comic industry. Every panel is great and everything from emotional panels to action panels are handled with grace. Davis really needs to be on a monthly book at this point. His work is head over heels better than a high percentage of artists in the industry at this point. His art is perfectly suited for Superman and any of the larger title books in the DC universe.

This is a must read for Superman fans and comic fans in general. The great story combined with the top notch artwork makes this book an instant winner in my eyes. This is a creative team that deserves a shot at the main Superman title for DC for years to come. Go out an grab this as soon as possible and if you have anyone who is a Superman fan in your family then this would make an awesome Christmas gift. THIS IS A MUST BUY.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Manhattan Projects #2

For this issue the focus shifts from Joseph Oppenheimer to Richard Feynman and Wernher Von Braun. We are essentially following the brightest minds on either side of the conflict in World War II. Richard Feynman is one of the brightest minds that the Americans have to offer and he is also the most inexperienced of the group so he would naturally be chosen to parachute into German territory to speak with Von Braun. On the other side, Von Braun is approached by Hitler and his commitment to the Nazi cause is questioned. He kills all of his fellow scientists when the Americans are close to capturing their work and offers himself to the American with the stipulation that he can continue his work. This is where the actual Manhattan Projects begin to take form for me.

Feynman and Von Braun are two interesting characters to follow side by side. Richard Feynman seems like he is young and eager to learn from all of these brilliant minds and is portrayed as the every man in the group. In actuality he is smarter than a lot of the individuals in the group but lacks the experience to fully take advantage of his gifts. Von Braun is a super genius as well and he is realizing his life's work with the Nazi army, but has no qualms about doing what needs to be done in order for him to see his life's work come to life. Von Braun represents where Feynman's life could go if he makes certain decisions. That is the way that I see it any way, and I don't doubt the fact that I may be completely wrong in my assumptions. I will say that Wernher Von Braun is one badass human being and is oddly my favorite character in the series (up to issue #7 at least). His conviction is what really sells his character, because he really is mainly concerned with the science of his projects and could give a shit about the cause.

The issue also benefits from the stellar artwork of Nicholas Pitarra which is just as solid as the first issue. Every character has a semi-grizzled feel to them with the exception of Richard Feynman, because he is the young one of the group. The group suicide scene is pretty awesome as well, with everyone at the table contorted and dying while Von Braun just sits at the head of the table with a smirk on his face as the US soldiers storm the room. it is just a beautifully twisted scene and sets the tone for the issue. This is a comic that can be appreciated as much for the art in it as the story. Just a perfect combination of the story and art.

This is a series that I cannot recommend enough, and is a great comic series to begin with if you are just starting to get into comic. It shows how you can take real life people and mold their characters and their history into something epic and fantastical. If I were you I would go out and pick up the first trade paperback of the series so you can experience the craziness and greatness of this series firsthand. You're an asshole if you don't at least try the series out, just sayin'.

Verdict

Still very Tight Butthole

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Re-Animator

When people talk about the best cult horror movies, Re-Animator is routinely on the list of the best ones to date. This is one of the best black comedies that you will ever see and has some of the best makeup effects ever recorded. Jeffrey Combs also lends his considerable talent to the movie and simply takes over ever scene that he is in. This is one of those movies that falls into the category of "they just don't make them this way anymore". The combination of gore, story, and great performances make this one of the most under appreciated horror movies of all time.

The story of Re-Animator is a modern day retelling of the classic H.P Lovecraft story, "Herbert West- Reanimator". We follow Dr. Herbert West(Jeffrey Combs) in his search for a cure for death, and he is actually successful in bringing the dead back to life but with mixed side effects. Joining him in his quest is his roommate Dan Cain(Bruce Abbott), who becomes involved in West's quest after they reanimate Cain's dead cat. Their main goal is to defeat death but there is moral dilemmas in their way because most people are not going to accept "zombies" as living people. Another doctor at their school, Carl Hill, is obsessed with becoming famous and will do anything in his power to achieve his goals. Hill and West come into direct conflict and the results are gore filled to say the least.

For being a cult horror film, this movie actually does have some stellar performances in it. Jeffery Combs takes over ever scene that he is in and you really start to believe that he could be this modern day mad scientist. I for one loved this character and viewed him as an anti-hero while others may view him simply as a mad scientist. His main goal is to simply defeat death, we aren't given an of his back story as to why he has this need to overcome death but there is something definitely disturbing lurking in his past. Combs plays the role with an amazing amount of intensity so the character never become silly, over the top at times, yes, but never silly. These are the types of performances that I miss in my horror movies, casting directors in Hollywood really need to start seeking out talented character actors to play main roles in new horror movies, not just hot, young twenty-somethings. The art of the cult actor is a lost form that seems to be only really kept alive by Bruce Campbell and Jeffrey Combs.

The effects in this movie are simply mind-blowing. The amount of effort and time that was put into these effects seem to be well worth it and it made the movie a thousand times better than it would have been with modern day CGI effects. Hill's decapitated reanimated head in the surgical plate is one of the best effects that you will ever see in any horror movie. The amount of planning that went into that effect must have been staggering. All of the effects are great and none of them seem goofy at any point which lends to the effectiveness of the action and the story being told on screen. These are effects that should be admired and set as the goal for each and every practical effects worker in the movie industry.

This is a must see movie in my opinion and is one of the best movies that the horror genre has to offer. A lot of people have seen the iconic poster of this movie but have never seen the movie itself. Well, guess what? Its time to actually sit down and watch the movie. It features one of the best performances in any horror movie and features innovative effects work. Rent it from Netflix or but on Blu Ray/DVD, either way you need to see this movie right away.  

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Skyfall

Now this is what I am talking about, a little bit less Jason Bourne and a whole lot more James Bond. This is the first of the last three James Bond movies that actually feels like a James Bond movie. You have James Bond given an assignment by M, exotic locals, and one of the best villains of the Bond series in general. That sounds like an automatic recipe for success, and it is. Having Sam Mendes fill the director's chair was an interesting if not inspired choice. He has almost no experience with action movies yet proves that he can hang with the best of the action industry. He is also able to evoke emotion from a series that has been devoid of it for some time.

Skyfall tells the story of James Bond(Daniel Craig) coming back to active duty after being deemed M.I.A on a mission that goes horribly wrong. He is brought back in by M(Judi Dench) against the wishes of some higher British government officials. Bond is attempting to gain back the "edge" that everyone thinks he lost during his time being "dead" and he is trying to prove that he is not over the hill. Meanwhile, there is a cyber terrorist that seems to be going directly after MI6 and more specifically M. Bond then goes to in search of the man that is terrorizing MI6 and M, he along his journey he learns to accept why he is the way he is and save the day as well.

Javier Bardem is the one that makes this movie truly great and is the most memorable Bond villain that I have ever seen. Bardem plays him a bit over the top but the character is always based in reality. He has no dream of world domination and only want to exact excruciating revenge on the people he thinks wronged him in the past. In the quieter moments of the movie with him on screen, he brings out how truly troubled the character of, Raoul Silva is.  He plays off Judi Dench and Daniel Craig masterfully and you can see his contempt for M in every frame he is in with her but you can also tell that they were once very close. While on-screen with Craig, he brings about a feeling of sympathy because he feels that what happened to him is what is going to happen to Bond in the future. Just a great performance and should be nominated for Best Supporting Actor in every major award show.

Daniel Craig again kills it as James Bond, and he is neck to neck with Bardem as being the best part of the film. This is the first Bond movie that I can remember that there was some actual back story on Bond, we get to finally see where he comes from and get a little bit on his actual past. M is also an essential part of the movie and Judi Dench is great in every scene that she is in. You can see how conflicted M is in most scenes between what she feels is best for her country and what is best morally. This is one of the only instances that I remember that M is an actual main character in the series and I wonder why no one thought of this concept earlier.

This is the best Bond movie to date in my opinion and made me forget the disaster that was Quantum of Solace almost immediately. The introduction sequence of Bardem's character is one of the best scenes in Bond history and is worth the price of admission alone. This hopefully this is the first in a long string of successes from the Bond franchise and MGM studios. Go see this movie as soon as possible and you are in for a treat. This packs more action, emotion, and badass acting into it than any of the other James Bond imitators.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Manhattan Projects #1

I am just going to get this out of the way and say that this is the best monthly comic series being produced by any major comic company at this current point in time. It is just crazy enough to make you feel like anything can happen and it features one of the most interesting casts ever used in comics. The idea of using the Manhattan project as a backdrop for the series is ingenious because there are so many interesting characters/people to use and since it was a science based project it lends itself to the idea that there were more projects being worked on behind the scenes. Jonathan Hickman and Nicholas Pitarra create an engrossing book that is getting better with each and every issue.

This issue focuses on Joseph Oppenheimer, who is being interviewed for a position in the new Manhattan Projects sponsored by the US government during World War II. It focuses on the duality between Joseph and his brother Robert, who are each polar opposites of each other. One is interested in science and helping the world while the other is a brilliant serial killer. They are both brilliant in their own ways and their paths just diverged to such a large degree that they have nothing in common. But at one point they have a reunion and it doesn't exactly go "great" for one of the brothers. Looks like you will have to read the issue to find out what happens.

The art is fantastic in this book and really gives the book its "life". There are so many crazy and over the top scenes to draw and each is handled perfectly. Pitarra creates a scene where the Japanese forces send death robots into the lobby of the Manhattan Projects and it becomes a glorious bloodbath. American soldiers and mechanized samurai battle each other and Oppenheimer comes in to save the day. The characters also convey a huge amount of emotion in each panel which is always the trickiest thing for artists to do correctly and Pitarra nails it in every scene. Seeing Albert Einstein locked in a rook just smirking because he knows someone is looking at him is great and seeing how Oppenheimer reacts to a machine trying to touch him is just priceless.

This is the most fun I have had while reading a comic in a very long time. The great part of the series is that I have absolutely no idea where the story is going to go from issue to issue. If it can keep me guessing, I will be sticking with this book until the end. Hickman and Pitarra have put together one of the craziest and most interesting series currently being produced. It is a true accomplishment when you can take a cast of almost completely unlikeable characters and make them awesome and compelling. This is a must buy for any Sci-Fi fan or alternate history fan. Put this on your monthly pull list at your local comic book store and you will not be disappointed.

Verdict

For all of you Workaholics fans out there, this series is very Tight Butthole.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Deadpool #1

This is the second title to debut under the Marvel NOW! banner. The team of writers Brian Posehn, Gerry Duggan, and artist Tony Moore do a fantastic job of creating a Deadpool book that combines over the top action, humor, gore, and dead presidents all under one roof. The combo of the oddball humor of Posehn and the outstanding artwork by Tony Moore makes this a pull list selection for avid comic readers.

I have never been a huge fan of Deadpool and I always found him to be more of a distraction in a book rather than being an essential piece of the story. His addition to the X-Force book started to turn my opinion of him and then this book made me a full fledged fan of the character. He is written impeccably by Posehn and is equal parts psychotic and heroic. The team up with Thor in the book is just priceless, because Thor is so incredibly embarrassed to be mentioned in the same breath as Deadpool. It is just a fantastic scene that shows how crazy the series is going to be and that happens before FDR shows up as a ghost and has a full out battle with Deadpool and SHIELD.

The art of Tony Moore is just flat out incredible and it is a major reason why this book works. With a lesser artist this book would be mediocre book but Moore just takes it to another level completely. He draws the action scenes with a sense of brutality that was probably carried over from his work on The Walking Dead and Fear Agent. His action scenes are over the top and when he needs to he is able to convey the humor that is laced throughout the book. His depiction of FDR being cut down by Deadpool with a katana is fucking hysterical and is the standout action scene of the book.

This is a book that needs to be read by comic fans far and wide. It is also accessible for new readers because you don't need to have a full understanding of the character to jump into this book. The art alone is worth the price of admission and the writing is just icing on the cake. If this is indicative of what the Marvel NOW movement will bring to the table then we are in for quite a treat over the next few months as the new titles roll out. This series also has some of the best covers that you will ever see.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Joss Whedon's Fray

Fray is a spinoff of the very successful Buffy the Vampire franchise. Joss Whedon, the creator of the Buffy series, returns and writes this wildly successful comic series. All of the characters introduced in the comic are original and only the concept of vampires, demons, and the slayer are carried over. There is never a mention of Buffy or Sunnydale. Whedon really got to run wild with the Buffy universe in this series and in doing so created a heroine that is every bit as likeable as Buffy and her crew.

Fray tells the story of Melaka Fray, a young thief in the future, who discovers she is a Vampire Slayer. She is aided by Urkonn, her Watcher, who is trying to train her in the art of being a Slayer. She becomes entangled in a plot to bring back all of the demons to Earth and bring the Vampires back into power. She begins to understand her destiny and finally embraces her role as a Slayer and starts to fight the forces of evil.

This is a great addition to the Buffy cannon and Whedon has created another great story to add to the Buffy universe. The character of Fray continues the trend of Whedon creating very strong female characters. He has created the likes of Buffy and River from Firefly, and Fray has that badass edge to her that allows her to be an engaging main character. The story is a great origin story and it is a shame that there was no follow up because there is so many avenues they could have sent Fray down. She is a thief and a hero at the same time and could have showed her trying to make a living for herself and at the same time trying to save innocents. This would also make for a pretty solid television show but the chances of that happening are almost non-existent.

This is an excellent comic series/graphic novel and if you are a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer then you should pick it up. The combination of Whedon's excellent writing and Karl Moline's artwork make this a must read in my opinion. Pick this up and you will be pleasantly surprised with the story and art.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Mirrors

Mirrors is Alexandre Aja's follow-up to The Hills Have Eyes. His first foray into the American Horror genre was a classic in my opinion and he had the unenviable task of trying to outdo himself with yet another remake. This movie stars Kiefer Sutherland, Paula Patton, and Amy Smart which happens to be a pretty solid cast for a Hollywood horror movie. The only thing that held this movie back was that Aja seemed to not want to go over the line in any of the parts of the movie and the brutality was scaled way back when compared to his first few movies. Oddly enough this was also the only movie that he has ever made that did not need to be cut in order to meet the MPAA's approval.

Mirrors tells the story of a disgraced cop, Ben Carson (Sutherland), who is separated from his wife (Patton) due to an unseen event. He lives with his sister, played by Amy Smart, and he seems to be depressed all of the time. We find out that he killed a cop while he was on an undercover assignment and had been dismissed from the force because of this. Ben takes a job as a night watchman of a department store that had burned down several years prior to the events in the film. He starts to have strange experiences with the mirrors in the store at night and he begins to unravel the mystery of the mirrors and of the events that took place in the store.

This is a movie that desperately needed to take more chances in order to be relevant. The idea of demons being in mirrors is a pretty good concept but you have to do something with it. Aja failed to bring a sense of dread to the movie and that is what ultimately killed its success. There should have been a few more kill scenes (there are really only two) and that is just not a high enough body count for a modern day horror movie. I'm just being realistic on that front, I love some slow burning horror movies with low body counts but they generally have better casts and stories than this movie. When you have a director that has made movies such as High Tension and The Hills Have Eyes, there is a certain expectation for the amount of violence and gore that will be in the movie.

Kiefer Sutherland was also a very odd choice for the "hero" in this movie. He was still in the middle of his run on 24 and I felt like I was watching Jack Bauer fight off a demon threat to America, it just fell flat. Another thing that was flat was the chemistry between Sutherland and Patton, which was damn near non-existent for the duration of the movie. If you can get over the fact that you are pretty much watching a horror- inspired version of Jack Bauer then his performance works pretty well. The few death scenes that are in the movie are actually really well done and actually show how fucking terrifying the creatures in the mirrors could actually be, but the there are no kill scenes after the first 45 minutes which seems like a waste.

This is a movie that just fell flat in almost every way. There were a couple of really well done death scenes but other than that there was nothing to really be impressed by in the movie. This was a really weak offering from one of the great young minds in the horror industry. Aja really needs to start developing his own stories and concepts and shy away from remakes. This movie is by no means an essential movie to see but if you catch it on TV there would be worse things to watch.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Hills Have Eyes

The Hills Have Eyes remake is fucking incredible, and it demolishes the original in every way possible. This is the movie that introduced Alexandre Aja to American audience and proved once and for all that outside of the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, Wes Craven's movie properties are generally better as remakes. The movie stars Aaron Stanford, Ted Levine, Emilie de Ravin, Dan Byrd, Vinessa Shaw, Kathleen Quinlan, and Billy Drago. This was one of the first in a long string of remakes in Hollywood and it remains one of the best to date. In my opinion it easily beats The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Amityville Horror, and Halloween in the remake category.

The Hills Have Eyes tells the story of a family on their way to San Diego for their summer vacation. On their way they deviate from the highway and decide to take some "scenic" back roads that are supposed to be a shortcut. Unbeknownst to them, there is a pack of bloodthirsty mutants residing in the hills around the road they are traveling. Big Bob (Ted Levine) is the head of the family and when the car breaks down he decides to look for help in one direction while his son-in-law Doug goes for help on foot in the other direction.  Big Bob goes missing and that is when the real fun of the movie begins and the mutants begin to brutally attack the family.

This is one of the most graphic movies that you will ever see come out of Hollywood. Most mainstream horror movies tend to shy away from over the top gore these days but this movie embraces it. it also helps when you have one f the best directors in horror movies directing your movie in Alexandre Aja. The cast also does an awesome job with Aaron Stanford being the standout of the movie. Most of the action focuses on him trying to find his kidnapped daughter and seeing him evolve from this meek man to this rabid father that will do anything to save his child is just staggering to watch. He gets in a fight with one of the mutants and just gets brutalized for 90% of the fight and then he realizes that he is smarter than the mutants and finally starts to think instead of just reacting. He takes apart quite a few mutants in horrific fashion and it is glorious to watch. This has become a staple in my collection when I want to see a great gorefest.

This is the best of the horror movie remakes in my personal opinion. The story, acting, and gore are all top notch when compared to any other horror movie. The direction by Aja is just impeccable and this is one of those horror movies that you really can believe because I could see a bunch of psychos picking people off in remote areas. Go see this movie as soon as possible, this is what a modern horror movie strives to be, brutal and scary. This takes all of the great things that the original did and cranks them up to 11, just what a remake is supposed to do. GO. SEE. THIS. NOW.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Paranormal Activity 4

I feel like I could literally copy and paste my review of Paranormal Activity 3 and it would be almost identical to the review for part 4. Instead of being a prequel like part 3, this is a direct sequel to Paranormal Activity 2 and it picks up several years after the abduction of Hunter by Katie. This is the new yearly horror franchise that replaced Saw and somehow they have eclipsed the Saw movies in terms of popularity. Even after 2 sub par opening days, the fifth installment of the franchise has just been announced, much to the chagrin of horror enthusiasts.

This installment follows the Nelson family, who live in a very typical upper middle class neighborhood. Katie from the first movie (still possessed) moves in next door with a child and then really weird things start to happen. The kid starts to randomly show up on their property at different times during the day and he moves in with them when Katie is taken off to the hospital with an undisclosed medical condition. As soon as the kid, Robbie, steps in the house weird shit starts to happen. Doors open and close by themselves, and people hear loud noises in the house. Alex Nelson, a teenage girl, and her boyfriend keep track of all of these events by using the webcams installed in the family's various computers to record everything. When these recordings start is when the real fun stuff happens.

There is really no point to these movies anymore, seeing as how each installment is used to set up the next. There is no attempt to have any real conclusion to the film, there is just a cliffhanger that will more than likely have nothing to do with the next movie. There is no reasoning behind why the characters would continue recording in certain situations. The whole movie seems like one big anti-climactic haunted house attraction. This movie carries over none of the innovative effect sequences from the third installment, but it reverts back to using very simple scare tactics that were used in the original but with none of its charm. This was just a huge let down after the surprising performance of the last movie. I really hope the next movie is the final in the series because this movie series really needs to die as soon as possible. None of the actors are compelling and the story is so basic that it is laughable.

This is a franchise that needs to go away as soon as possible. There is no desire by the creators of the series to innovate or even bring a compelling story to the screen. This is just more of the same crap that has been produced for the last 4 years. The only way this franchise could have worked is if the story changed completely from year to year, with whole new scenarios and characters being used. This story has been milked to death and it really needs to be resolved already. Because without a speedy ending this franchise will become a laughing stock, of which I already consider it. This is a steaming piece of shit of a movie and does not deserve anyone's time, the only reason to see this movie is to see the crowd's reactions and they weren't even that great for this movie. AVOID. AT. ALL. COSTS

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Iron Sky

Nazis have been the subject of many B-Movies, ranging from horror to action. They have been werewolves, vampires, and zombies but they have rarely been astronauts. For such a serious group of people they get ripped on constantly, generally with hilarious results. The idea of the Nazis residing on the dark side of the moon after losing World War II is just ridiculous, which always the first sign of an awesome B-movie. The movie was co-financed by Finnish, German, and Australian backers so it is kind of a weird mash up of cultures. It takes the charm of those crappy Sci-Fi channel movies and brings along the special effects of a blockbuster.

The movie deals with an American space mission to the moon that is being used by the President of the United States as a re-election platform. She sends a black male model, James Washington (Christopher Kirby), and uses the slogan "Black to the Moon" as her campaign slogan, which is not the greatest of ideas. When they land on the moon, they discover a massive Nazi moon base and James is captured. He meets Renate Richter (Julia Dietze), a Nazi school teacher, who is very idealistic and believes that the Nazis' intentions are pure and peaceful. Then there is her warmongering fiance, Klaus, who wants to be the next Fuhrer of the Nazi Empire. Then the Nazis' plan unfold of trying to take over the world over again using their "space age" technology.

This is a movie that takes everything to 11 and it is just awesome. The acting may not be the best, the story might be predictable, but it doesn't make the movie any less enjoyable. When you are watching a movie about Space Nazis, you really can't expect to get Oscar quality script and acting. The special effects in the movie are actually really good for a B-movie and to be honest they are probably better than 75% of the big budget Hollywood movies out there. The two main characters, James Washington and Renate Richter, are extremely likeable and especially Richter. She really believes that the Nazis' intentions are good and that they are trying to help heal the world. Her concept of the Nazi party is then shattered by watching Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator, and from that point on she only wants to destroy the Nazis' plans. There is an outer space battle that has the visual flair of the best scenes from Battlestar Galactica and they are great scenes. The acting overall is not that great and there are a few plot points that are dropped without any follow through, but those are only minor complaints when stacked up against the manic craziness that is the rest of the movie.

Iron Sky is a B-movie through and through. You have space Nazis, a swastika shaped Moon base, and the USS George W. Bush battlecruiser which can only lead to major success. This is a really great B-movie, it is funny, takes chances, and goes over the top for everything which always leads to a quality B-grade movie. This is a movie that encompasses the definition of fun to watch and you should really try and see it as soon as possible. Check it out on DVD, Blu-Ray, or On Demand. SEE. IT. NOW.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Poltergeist II

Poltergeist (the original) is one of the best horror movies ever created and unfortunately Poltergeist II does not live up to expectations. The first movie was directed by Tobe Hooper (a legend) and produced by Steven Spielberg (a legend) and neither of them are involved in this mostly lifeless sequel. If you have seen the original, the plot is very similar except the family is now hunted by the leader of the malevolent spirits from the first movie. The cast is almost unchanged with Craig T. Nelson, JoBeth Williams, Heather O'Rourke, and Zelda Rubenstein returning for another go around. The notable missing actress is Dominique Dunne, who was murdered by her boyfriend after the release of the original. It is a little weird that the movie never explains her disappearance from the family.

The plot is almost exactly the same as the first but it retains nothing from the classic that is the original. This movie does not try to introduce anything new to the franchise except for a centralized villain, who happens to be so over the top that it makes his character seem laughable at times. They use the same effects as the original and the story is just very flat. You know the family is going to be safe at the end and they never really seem to be in any terrible danger. There are a few scenes in the movie that I laughed out loud because they were so corny and they were supposed to be really serious but they weren't to me. This is just a fail of a movie for the most part with a couple of exceptions. 

There are a few things that this movie does nail perfectly. Craig T. Nelson does an awesome job with the material that he is given and his standout scene is when he becomes possessed by The Beast, it is just an awesome scene. He has to become a completely different character and is just super creepy in the scene. The aftermath of the scene is also awesome when you get tot see the transformation of the beast from a small worm into this hulking beast. It has some of the creepiest looking creature designs I have ever seen. Those are the things that movie does great, unfortunately the bad far outweighs the good.

This is a movie that completely and utterly pointless in every way possible. If there was ever an unneeded sequel, this is it. Most of the performances in the movie are wooden and lifeless, to go along with a shit story. The only standout is Craig T. Nelson, who does a great job with the material given to him. This is a movie that I cannot recommend except for seeing the transformation scene towards the end of the movie, it is spectacular. This movie is a shit sandwich, so don't eat it. 




Sunday, October 14, 2012

NYCC Coverage: Evil Dead


I got the awesome opportunity to sit in on the Evil Dead Remake panel on Saturday at New York Comic Con. We were not allowed to record any of the footage under the threat of death (kidding), but I can say that it looks absolutely fucking amazing. This is not the horror/black comedy of the original, the remake is going to be pure balls to the wall, brutal horror. We got to see the world premiere trailer which also happened to be red-band. From what they showed in the trailer, the main character will be a female, Mia (Jane Levy),and will still revolve around the group finding the Necronomicon and unleashing the horrors within it. They showed footage of a demonic infected arm with a saw being put up to it, a potential tree rape, and the final shot was of Mia being trapped in the basement with one of the possessed. Mia being trapped in the basement provided the trailer's creepiest shot with her coming face to face with one of the possessed and the demon then sliced its own tongue down the middle with a razor. Without you actually being able to see it,  my explanation loses a little of the power that the trailer had. This was the best thing that I was over the weekend and the movie just looks incredible. Now we get to the panel itself.

Bruce Campbell was the highlight of Comic Con for me, he was funny and witty from the beginning of the panel to the end. He was able to justify the remake and got the crowd really pumped for it. Having Sam Raimi and him being the producers of the film, I have full confidence that it is going to be awesome. The question an answer session was pretty standard stuff with 99% of the questions going to Bruce. The highlight of the Q&A was when a female was asking Bruce a question and started to cry mid-question because she was so nervous. Bruce told her to come to the edge of the stage, he gave her a kiss and 5 bucks, and told her to hit the road. It was one of the greatest things I have ever see, it was both funny and sweet all at the same time.

This was the best panel of the day and it was great to finally see Bruce Campbell in person. The director that they chose also seems to have a real passion for the material and he wrote the movie as well. They also brought in Diablo Cody to clean up some of the dialogue because the director is foreign and didn't have a full grasp of all of the terms we use. Bruce put it best when he said, "we're old men, what do we know about how young people talk, plus she won a fucking oscar". Jane Levy also seems like she is going to be a solid lead, because she really believes in the material and said she would have done anything to get the role. She said after she watched the trailer that it actually scared the shit out of her and it was the first time she was seeing footage from the movie.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Katy Perry: Part of Me

Katy Perry: Part of Me would not be a movie that I would generally go to a movie theater to see. Being the only guy in a theater filled with teenage girls and women is not a good look. Not wanting to be the creepy guy in the theater, I chose to watch this at home. I must say that I was really impressed by the movie itself and especially Katy Perry. After seeing this movie I can now admit that I am a fan of Katy Perry, maybe not her music but definitely a fan of her as a person. She is an example of what hard work and determination can get you in this world and that is what the real message of the film ultimately is.

The performances in the film are very high quality and the movie doesn't just focus on her main hits, it also shows her earlier music which has an Alanis Morissette quality to it. Her earlier music is actually very good and it would have been very interesting to see where her career would have been now had she been allowed by her record label to continue to pursue that alternative style. Through the course of the movie you get to see her triumph over all of these obstacles no matter how big they are and she becomes a better person because of it. You get to see her perform on stage in front of 10s of thousands of people, backstage during rehearsals, and in the studio. The best performance of the entire movie comes in the form of Katy covering The Beatles "Hey Jude", and it is fantastic. It is the first time that I feel she was really singing in the movie and not just performing and it made me see how truly talented she is.

On a separate note, you also get to see how her marriage with Russell Brand erodes over the course of her tour. They start out being madly in love and she is traveling to see him in between tour dates and it just starts to erode away. He seems jealous of her success and all of the attention that she is getting and seems agitated every time that he is backstage with her. Thought he was a complete tool before seeing this movie and this movie just reinforced my opinion of him.

This is one of the better music documentaries that I have seen in some time. The movie really does reveal how talented Katy Perry truly is and show the great lengths she had to go through to become successful. Her performances in the movie are top notch and her stage presence is ridiculously good, as she commands the attention of tens of thousands of people at a time. If you are a fan of her music or her boobs (for the guys) then this movie is made for you. Stream this online or pick it up on Blu Ray, either way it is worth your
viewing time. I included her version of "Hey Jude" for your listening pleasure.


Sunday, October 7, 2012

Pitch Perfect



This is a movie that I was pumped for from the first time that I was the trailer. I am a huge Workaholics fan, and it was awesome to see Adam DeVine from Workaholics getting a shot at the big screen. I also for whatever reason tend to like these campy PG-13 movies, so I was ready to see it opening weekend. The cast includes Anna Kendrick, Anna Camp, Brittany Snow, Rebel Wilson, Adam DeVine, Elizabeth Banks, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse. The cast in this movie is very talented and most really have to be triple threats, acting, singing, and dancing. I am also a fan of having Anna Kendrick and Brittany Snow on-screen at the same time because they are both extremely easy on the eyes and are very good actresses.

The story follows an all-girls a capella group, The Bellas, who try to beat the reigning a cappella group, The Treble Makers. Beca, played by Anna Kendrick, wishes to become a famous DJ in Los Angeles, is forced to go to college in Carolina because her father disapproves. There she is introduced to the Bellas, who are scouting for new members. She also meets a boy who works in the radio station with her. One girl suggests that she should audition, but Beca turns down the offer. She later decides to audition, and passes the test along with Fat Amy, played by Rebel Wilson, and a few other girls. It turns out the boy she met passed the test to be in the Treble Makers, rivals against the Bellas. Both of these groups aim for winning the international a cappella contest, creating tension, and forbidden romance.

First and foremost, this is a comedy and it turned out to be one of the funniest movies of the year so far. I laughed out loud pretty consistently throughout the entire movie and that to me, is the sign of a good comedy. If you are sitting around waiting for the next laugh and not engaged in the story then the filmmakers messed up.  It was also great to see that the trailer did not spoil the funniest parts of the movie and instead used a lot of alternate takes for the material in the trailer. The quiet Asian girl in The Bellas is fucking hysterical, she says the most outrageous shit underneath her breath and it was just too funny at certain points.

Anna Kendrick plays the outsider in this movie, not wanting to connect with anyone around her because she thinks that she is going to go off to LA to produce music. She can really sing, if it is really her singing in the movie, and it just adds another dimension to talent that was never shown on-screen before. Rebel Wilson steals the show in every scene that she is in, and provides most the biggest laughs in the film. Her character is not-self conscious about her appearance and that is refreshing to see when plus-sized women are usual made fun of or relegated to lesser roles in movies. The mash-ups in the movie are also creative for the most part even if they exclusively use overplayed pop music, but since they are so well done it actually adds to the movie rather than take away from it. This movie is what the show Glee wants to be but it will never get there because it is too campy and wacky for its own good.


The movie is slightly predictable and you can tell what is going to happen over the course of the movie within the first half hour but it still a good ride. There is also no real clear-cut villain in the movie, not that there really could be in a movie about a college a cappella group. Other than those very minor complaints this movie is solid as hell.  There also could have been more Brittany Snow in the movie but can't really complain because she is smokin’ hot in almost every scene that she is in. The shower scene with her and Anna Kendrick pretty much made the movie worth seeing by itself.


Verdict


Pitch Perfect is one of the best comedies of 2012 and features some of the best young female talent that Hollywood has to offer. Rebel Wilson, Anna Kendrick, and Brittany Snow make the movie worth seeing and that especially goes for Wilson, who steals every scene that she is in. I actually ended up liking this better than Bridesmaids because it was just a flat-out funnier movie. It was also great seeing Adam DeVine from Workaholics bring his comedic styling to the big screen. Go see this movie, and I promise you that you will not be disappointed.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Loved Ones

The Loved Ones is a movie in the same vein as the Hostel franchise or Wolf Creek. The horror "sub-genre" of torture porn was really popular about 5-6 years ago and a lot of movie studio decided to make a ton of the movies no matter what the stories were. The problem with these movies is that they generally throw away the concept of characterization and focus solely on the violence. The movie has the premise that sounds very standard but the execution of the story and the quality of the characters elevates this into the upper tier of the genre and it seems to have a little more behind it than your standard crappy torture porn horror movie.

The Loved Ones follows Brent, a high school student recovering from a car accident that claimed the life of his father. He is approached by Lola to go to the prom but he is going with his girlfriend already and turns Lola down. Turns out that Lola is a crazed psychopath who has her "daddy" kidnap Brent. Lola and her "daddy" create a fake prom in their secluded house and Lola is the Prom Queen and Brent is the Prom King. They torture him in hopes that he will change his mind and fall in  love with Lola. From that point on it is a mad dash for Brent to try and escape, his mother to find him, and for Lola to fulfill her psychotic fantasies.

The thing thing that really separates The Loved Ones from the shitty movies in the genre is the fact that the characters are interesting and the villain is absolutely batshit insane. The main character, Brent, is a genuinely good guy dealing with the death of his dad that he feels responsible. He turns to cutting and drug use to try and dull the pain, and when he rebukes Lola there is no intention of hurting her. She has other plans though. Generally in a movie like this, the main character would be a jock and act like a jerk then would learn a lesson from his experiences. Brent just got targeted by a psycho and had to suffer the consequences.

The villain, Lola, is fucking brilliant in this movie and is a stand out in the horror genre. She is the embodiment of hatred and pure evil, and she will stop at nothing to get exactly what she wants. She lobotomizes people and has an incestual relationship with her dad, that pretty much sounds like pure evil to me. She seems like such a mousy outsider when you first meet her, then you realize that she is a tornado of crazy and will tear apart anyone in her path. She is damaged in just about every possible way a human could possibly be damaged and that is what makes her so engaging. You don't know much about her past and that is what makes her a compelling villain, you want to know what fucked her up.

This is a great horror movie, and while I am not a huge fan of the "torture porn" genre, I am a huge fan of this movie. The performances are stellar and the violence is brutal which is always a successful combo for a horror movie. This is a much more effective movie than Hostel or even Wolf Creek. This movies is certainly not for everyone and I would only recommend it if you are a fan of horror movies with brutal violence. Give it a watch on Amazon On Demand or on DVD.


Monday, October 1, 2012

Exit Humanity

This is a movie that I have seen previews for several times over the past year. Each time I saw it, in my mind I was saying, "looks cool but seems just like every other zombie movie". I will admit that I was completely wrong because this kicks the shit out of any movie/television show involving zombies over the past five years.  The fact that it takes place during the Civil War and the years immediately following the Civil War only adds to the greatness of the film. Every actor in the movie leaves their mark on it and it introduces a few legends of the horror genre to the new generation of horror viewers.

Exit Humanity tells the tale of Edward Young, a confederate soldier, who during the course of being ambushed by a squad of Union soldiers comes face to face with a zombified soldier. He takes the zombie down and then we find out that six years later there has been a zombie outbreak in Tennessee. His wife and child become zombies and he is forced to take action. He comes face to face with the realization that he has nothing left and latches on to a promise he made to his dead son. The promise he made is the only thing that is keeping him going and continuing to fight for his life. Along the way on his journey he meets several unlikely allies and runs afoul of an ex-Union General, who has become consumed with the idea that there is a cure for the zombie outbreak.

This sounds like a pretty lame story doesn't it. Well get ready to have your fucking mind blown. This is a movie that will be considered one of the best movies in the zombie genre t have ever been created. The zombie action isn't really the main part of the movie, it is essential but it doesn't define the movie itself. The thing The Walking Dead comic book does so well is to bring the humanity out in the cast of characters and you see how each and every decision they make affects them on a personal level. That is one thing that Exit Humanity replicates almost perfectly, and Mark Gibson, who plays the main character, carries the movie alone with his performance. His performance is marvelous and he portrays every type of emotion that you could possibly have in his performance. You see how killing zombies effects him over time because he begins to have the realization that they were once people and need to be respected in a way. It is an odd realization to have but it fits in line with the nature of the character. He is a good man stuck in an unbelievably horrible situation that is trying to regain a semblance of his former being.

The movie itself is beautifully shot and some of the shots in the movie rival that of one with 10 times the budget. The film has a bleached look to it but it never detracts from the viewer's experience, it only adds to it. There is no over the top gore in this movie and it happens to be one of the strong points of the movie because it relies on telling a top notch story instead of relying on gruesome deaths to draw in viewers. This is a story about how people deal with a horrible situation and how it can change those people, for better or worse. This is the type of movie that comes along once every few years and it really needs to be seen to be appreciated.

Verdict
A Must See

This is one of the best horror movies that I have seen so far this year. I did not expect to like this movie at all but in the end I loved it. Having genuinely well thought out characters coupled with a great story and gorgeous cinematography will hook me 10 out of 10 times. The cast was spectacular and I foresee great things in the future for the lead, Mark Gibson. I really wish the Walking Dead television show could replicate the heart that this movie had because it could then be considered to be a truly great show. Until that day comes, Exit Humanity is the best entry into the zombie/horror genre for the past few years. Watch it on Netflix or on DVD, just see it as soon as possible. This is perfect for those of you who are horror movie fans that love zombie movies.