Thursday, April 26, 2012

28 Days Later

This is my favorite movie of all time. Many people may not agree with the regard in which I hold this movie but it's their loss in my opinion. Danny Boyle crafted a brilliant movie with awesome characters and brought fresh air to the "zombie" genre even though the "infected" are not zombies. Cillian Murphy also arrived on scene in this movie and he has been consistently excellent in just about every movie he has ever been in. The creativity that went into this story and production was just fantastic and the movie has the perfect blend of realism, brutality, and fantasy. This is a movie that you can see eventually playing out in real life and I think that is what made it so frightening in people's minds when they first saw the movie.

The Walking Dead has also borrowed very liberally from this movie and most people really don't realize it. The fact that the main character that landed him in a coma before everything started and then waking up in an abandoned hospital. Also being in a deserted city and then being taken in by a small group that caught him up to speed. The character of Michonne in the Walking Dead is a loose copy of the character of Selena in 28 Days Later. This movie really has had a large effect on the horror community in general spreading through not just movies but also comics and video games. The funny thing is that 28 Days Later isn't a zombie movie because the people in the movie are infected with a Rage virus so technically they could have been cured. Cillian Murphy also became one of personal favorite actors as a result of seeing this movie. His work in this movie and in the movie Sunshine (another top 10 movie) is just superb. He does a great job playing the everyman in the movie and being the eyes and ears for the viewers because they both have the same amount of info as the movie progresses. The movie was also anchored by a variety of believable and solid characters. Boyle has an uncanny ability to get the audience to care for the characters he creates and he even had to change the original ending because test audiences didn't think that a certain character should die in the movie (and I agree with their opinion). This is just a very special movie in my opinion and it is going to take a truly special movie to dethrone this movie in my eyes.

This happens to be one of the most influential movies to be personally because I really judge all horror movies off of this one. The only other horror movie that even comes close to this one is Shaun of the Dead and they could easily flip flop on my list of all time favorites due to my mood on a given day. This is one of those movie that I would recommend everyone see even though I know not everyone will like the movie.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Divide


The Divide is seemingly another generic story about a nuclear attack on the United States and how a group of survivors deals with the aftermath of the events. The writers chose to focus on a small number of isolated survivors and how they deal with the current situation that has been thrust upon them by the nuclear attack. Xavier Gens was tasked with taking this somewhat generic sounding story and making it something special and he does succeed. He also managed to pull great performances out of a large amount of the cast which is surprising because of all of the rumored bickering and line stealing while filming was taking place. He is definitely a young and talented director that should have great success in the future.

The story begins as a nuclear device is being detonated in downtown New York City, and show the tenants of an apartment building scrambling to find cover. Only eight of the residents, Eva and her boyfriend Sam, Josh and his brother Adrien, Josh's friend Bobby, Marilyn and her daughter Wendi, and Devlin manage to force their way into the buildings bomb shelter before the superintendent, Mickey, seals the door. After they seal the door to outside is when the real terror sets in because they have no idea how long they will be down there and what is happening on the other side of the door. The movie concerns itself more with the concepts of order, anarchy, and morality.

I have seen a lot of movie that revolve around an apocalyptic event and this was the most realistic one I have seen besides The Road. The characters are just regular people and react the way normal people would outside of a few isolated incidents. Also doesn't hurt that the performances of Michael Biehn, Milo Ventimiglia, and Michael Eklund are simply fantastic. Biehn gives his best performance since playing Hicks in Aliens. He is always a great part of every movie he is in and seems to be underappreciated in most roles, but the director really let him sink his teeth into the role of Mickey and it was great. Ventimiglia finally proved that he can actually act because he had shown really little to no skill in most of his roles but plays exceptionally well off of Michael Eklund throughout the course of the movie. The only other part I had ever seen Eklund in was a one episode role on Fringe, but his role in The Divide really proved that he has some good acting chops. This is a movie that really lives or dies on the performances given because there are no over the top action scenes in the movie and everything revolves around how the characters interact with each other. Lauren German also provides a very solid performance and her character provides the moral center of the film. Most of the scenes in the movie are seen from her perspective and if her performance had been sub-par the whole movie would have faltered. It was also refreshing to see that the writers and directors choose to go a more character driven route instead of going for an over the top action movie which sometimes happens when dealing with apocalyptic event movies.

The actions of some of the characters in the movie seem a little outlandish and impulsive even given the current situation they were in. Most people would not want to go outside immediately after a nuclear explosion had occurred only a few miles away. Some of the dummies in this movie were more than willing to try and rip open the door only minutes after they had rushed into the shelter. Little things like this detract from the story for only a moment at a time because the rest of the movie is of such a high quality. Also having a completely stocked fallout shelter with a fully functioning bathroom, electricity and abundance of beds also seemed mildly convenient but it helped the movie in the long run. 

This is not a movie for everyone but if you like psychological horror and apocalyptic movies, then this one will be right up you alley. Biehn, Ventimiglia, Eklund, and German make this movie truly special because each gives a career defining performance in the movie. The movie could also be a cool set up for a Fallout movie, just sayin’.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Lockout


After The Cabin in the Woods, this was probably the movie I was most excited about seeing in April. The trailers reminded me of the cheesy sci-fi/action movies of the mid-90s and with any luck to would either be so bad that it was actually good or it would just be good on it own accord. Guy Pearce also happens to be one of my personal favorites and I was looking forward to seeing him in his first real action movie role.
Lockout tells the story of Snow (Guy Pearce), an ex-CIA operative, who is framed for a crime he did not commit. He is blackmailed into helping the government try and save the daughter of the President of the United States (Maggie Grace), who is being held captive in an outer space prison. The prisoners have escaped from their cryogenic sleep and have taken the station hostage and Snow is the only person who can save the President’s daughter and the day as well.

This goes to Guy Pearce. He definitely transformed himself physically to play this role and it showed on screen because he looked like someone who could actually be this badass soldier. He does the best he can with a pretty weak script and he has you rooting for a character comprised of witty one liners. Hopefully this movie leads him to getting parts in action movies that have actual coherent scripts. The action in the movie is a lot better than I thought it would be. Given the inexperience of the leads in action movies, I thought the action was going to be terrible. It actually turned out to be decent. The inclusion of Lennie James was also welcome, because he is generally underused in the roles he gets. His character brings the “good cop” aspect to the movie and he is the side Snow agrees to work with over the course of the movie. Definitely thought this was the best thing that he has acted in since he was in the pilot episode of The Walking Dead. The acting ability for Maggie Grace is just not there. Every line of dialogue seems forced and she doesn't really convey a ton of emotion with her expressions. I will say that she is very nice to look at but that wears off after a few minutes and then you go back to immediately not giving a shit about her character and her “humanitarian” mission to the space prison.

Space prison? I truly can’t believe that this setting seemed like a good idea to anyone involved in the making of this movie. Also at this point I’m starting to believe that Luc Besson doesn’t really look at the scripts for the movies he is producing. The man hasn’t been involved in producing a good movie since the original Transporter, and the quality of that movie is even up for debate. The sheer amount of action movie clich├ęs in this movie is staggering. The CGI in the opening scene of the movie is also pretty horrific. Looks like it was made by a guy trying to make a cutscene for a Playstation 2 game, thankfully it gets better as the movie goes on.

A very mediocre action movie from a below average producer who wasted a lot of his potential. Guy Pearce is the only saving grace of this movie with his awesome delivery of cheesy one liners and his budding potential as an action star. 4/10

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Cabin In The Woods

This is going to be a very short review because by even saying some of the people who star in the movie will ruin the twists in the movie. What I can say is that this is the best horror movie I have seen since Shaun of The Dead. This movie went above and beyond all of my expectations and for the first time in a long time I was actually surprised by a horror movie. This is a must see movie for anyone who likes slasher horror movies as well as monster movies. If your favorite horror movies are Saw or Paranormal Activity, you will most likely not enjoy this movie and you should probably also jump off a fucking bridge. The pure creativity brought to the table by Joss Whedon and his co-writer was just staggering. For every cliche that they intentionally used they brought a fresh new concept to the table as well. It is going to be difficult to top this movie in terms of pure enjoyment over the course of the summer movie season. I guarantee that this movie will be a better time in the theater than The Avengers or MIB 3, both which are coming out next month. I am really proud of myself that I made it through the entire review without a single spoiler, and I will say that this movie has the best stoner in horror movie history in it as well. I will leave you with this single word, and if you see the movie you will know why it is so fucking funny, MERMAN.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Darkest Hour

The Darkest Hour is a movie that fails to live up to a lofty premise. While I did like the film, I never fell in love with any certain aspect of the movie. Timur Bekmambetov has become a very high profile producer in Hollywood and a lot of his productions have been so-so. He has so much promise behind the camera and rarely directs movies and instead decides to have a bunch of crappy producing credits to his name. Night Watch, Day  Watch, and Wanted were all great in their own right with distinctive styles but most of the movies that he produces seem to be very flat and retain none of the over the top style his directing is synonymous with. This  happens to be really sad because his injection of style can turn a crappy movie to a good movie and a good movie to a great movie.

Most of the characters in the movie are pretty one dimensional and are not very interesting. If you are going to base the movie in Russia, use Russian actors. I am willing to watch and read subtitles if the movie is interesting. The Russian characters in the movie were the only interesting ones because they were the only ones to act rationally in the way they fought and defended their city. The Americans in the movie act impulsively and there is almost no logic behind their actions which is frustrating while watching the movie. If you can only see the enemy at night, why would you try and move across the city in broad daylight. Why would you run in the opposite direction of someone telling you they have a safe hiding place. These are things that the American characters routinely do in the movie, in direct contradiction to what the Russian characters tell them. In essence they are just being silly gooses. Sorry about that last sentence, I have been dying to use "silly gooses" for some time now. The movie really should have revolved around the group of Russians in the movie because they were engaging characters and it was interesting that they were willing to risk their lives to save their city. One of the things that stood out to me was that they said if they were all going to die anyway, then they were going to kill at least one of the aliens at all costs. Maybe sometime in the future they will have a sci-fi movie based in Russia that actually revolves around Russian characters. Just seems like it would make for a more engaging movie seeing as how Americans are usually the only ones affected by aliens in Hollywood.


VERDICT


A RENTAL AT BEST


The effects in the movie are pretty good, but nothing really special. The acting from the English speaking actors is pretty terrible but the Russians seemed to be having a good time with their characters and they saved the movie for me. Timur really needs to become a more active director in the industry and get more films under his belt because this movie really would have benefited if would have had the gumption to direct the movie himself. This gets a 6/10, so much potential but it fell victim to cliches and terrible directing.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Battle Royale

Battle Royale is the "so called" Japanese version of The Hunger Games. What people fail to realize is that The Hunger Games was written well after Battle Royale. BR also liberally borrows from movies and literature such as The Running Man and Lord of the Flies. That is not to say that it is not as good as those movies/novels because it is just as good as them in every way it just alters the formula in its own unique ways. I am not going to try and spell out all of the Japanese names because I really do not feel like it.

This is one of those movies that I feel was claimed by the horror movie community and that is why people are so protective of it. There was a fair amount of Hunger Games bashing when it was being compared to Battle Royale because fans thought it was insulting to compare BR to The Hunger Games. BR is a pretty good piece of disturbing action but it was not life altering as some people have described it. The characters are mostly one dimensional except for 2 or 3 of them and I felt almost nothing for them during their struggles. The kid who survived the previous Battle Royale was the only interesting character in my mind because he had the balls to come back and try and destroy the game itself. The psychotic student was also a lot more interesting in the novel and kind of got short changed in the movie but his character was still really badass. The main character was kind of a weakling and did almost nothing for the duration of the film and spent most of his time getting the shit kicked out of him. This kind of took me out of the movie at points and was a little disappointing.

This was a pretty good movie overall but I can't really recommend it to everyone. There is a select group of people who will love this movie and other who will simply think that it is okay. The violence in the movie is very similar to the of Tarantino's movies and that is what I liked best about the movie because the violence was so over the top. Give it a viewing and make your own opinion. Leave comments and lets see how everyone thinks this movie relates to The Hunger Games.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

American Vampire Vol. 1 (Graphic Novel Review)

American Vampire is the brainchild of Scott Snyder and Stephen King, which is pretty much an unbeatable combo in print media. They take the concept of evolving vampires and run with the concept to the extreme. By creating an original story with great characters, readers will be able to more readily able to accept the change in the vampire mythos. The American Vampires that are introduced in the story are a combo of Blade and the vampires from Near Dark. The inclusion of the Stephen King backup story gives a great amount of depth to the older characters in the series and gives a great amount of insight into what actually motivates some of the main characters to act the way they do.

The two main characters, Skinner and Pearl, are two very interesting characters that aren't really the typical main characters in comic books. Skinner is a ruthless and brutal outlaw, who was inadvertently turned into an "American Vampire" by an old European vampire. Pearl is an emerging actress in the 1920s who is turned by Skinner in order to save her life after being attacked and fed on by a same vampires that turned Skinner. Skinner is a force of nature and just destroys anything in his path. He decimates entire towns in his path and does not have any personal tact or connections to hold him down.

The interesting part of the series comes from the idea that whenever someone is turned into a vampire they take on new characteristics according to where they are turned. The European vampires are "traditional vampires", who cannot go into the sunlight and have an aversion to wood. As of the first volume, there are not many details about the weaknesses of the "American Vampires". Their only weakness is when the sun goes down they actually get weaker. This is in stark contrast to the norm of vampires being at their strongest at night. Snyder and King craft the different groups of vampires in a masterful fashion. The European vampires are stuck up and are "old School" in their attitude and feel an new vampire line is tainted and impure. The American vampires are brash, powerful, and have no idea of their full capabilities and weaknesses. This is going to be an interesting thread as the series evolves and more and more characters are introduced.