Sunday, August 26, 2012
Hell tells the story of a group of survivors trying to make it in a world where solar flares have destroyed the Earth's atmosphere and the Earth is slowly cooking as a result. Most plant life has died out and a good portion of the animal population has died off as well. We follow a pair of sisters, Marie and Leonie, and Marie's boyfriend, Phillip, as they attempt to find shelter, water, and food. The world around them is a living hell, you cannot stand in the sun for more than a few minutes at a time because it will literally cook you. When looking for gas, they stumble upon a mechanic, Tom, and take him into their group, but are not sure if he can really be trusted. From that point forward it is a fight for survival against the environment they now live in and the other survivors of the world.
This is not a movie that tries to make light of the situation that its characters are in. You truly get a sense of how horrible this world is from the start of the movie and it rarely lets up throughout the course of the movie. Every time the character have to go into the sunlight they have to cover their head and face along with any other exposed skin because even limited exposure to the sun at this time is life threatening. No one in the world can truly be trusted as seen at many points in the movie and the world these characters live in is just plain horrifying. The only thing I predicted in the movie was the presence of cannibals, which seems to be the go to solution that most filmmakers turn to while making apocalyptic movies. Other than that the movie is fantastic.
I really do love these independent "horror" movies made on a very small budget. They are forced to have quality stories and strong characters because they don't have expensive special effects to fall back on. It is also ironic that this movie was produced by Roland Emmerich, who is one of the main abusers of special effects in Hollywood (2012, Independence Day, 10,000 BC). Hell really has to survive on the interactions of the characters in the movie. The relationship between the sisters is central to the movie and is really the driving force of it. Marie is willing to do whatever it takes to make sure her and her sister survive, similar to the sisters in Zombieland. Tom is also a very interesting character because you think he is going to be the one to betray the group but he ends up being the one who is willing to put his life on the line to save the others. The movie had a lot of strong moments for each character and that is really what elevated it above the generic crap that is flooding the horror market right now.
Do not be fooled by the overly generic promotional images for this movie. This is one of the better independent horror movies that you will see this year. I really liked this movie and would recommend it to anyone who is a horror fan. Give it a try and I bet it will exceed your expectations. Also keep in mind that the movie is in German, so you may want to take that into account before you watch the movie.
Saturday, August 25, 2012
The Rocketeer tells the story of struggling pilot, Cliff Secord, who obtains a jet pack that was stolen from Howard Hughes by a group of mobsters. The mobsters were trying to obtain the jet pack for a Hollywood actor, who is also a Nazi secret agent. Cliff and his girlfriend, Jenny, get mixed up in the middle of the battle between the US government and the Nazis for control of the jet pack. Each side wants to use it for their own purposes in World War II and an adventure soon follows for Cliff and his friends.
Everything is great about this movie in my opinion. The story is a surprisingly good one for a family movie and it really has an Indiana Jones- vibe to the whole movie. This is an action adventure movie and there is an abundance of both in the film. There is nothing overly complicated in the movie and it is pretty straightforward which is great in a day and age of overly convoluted plots and bloated movies. Also keeping the story firmly centered in the 1940s was a great choice and having it set in 1940s Los Angeles was another inspired choice. The acting is exceptionally solid with Billy Campbell, Jennifer Connelly, Timothy Dalton, and Alan Arkin comprising the main cast of the film. Campbell does a great job in the movie shifting between the more action oriented scenes and the dramatic ones. His chemistry with Connelly is solid and you really believe that their characters are truly in love. Dalton plays a great villain in a lot of movies and this one was no exception. He turns in a great over the top performance as a Hollywood star working for the Nazis.
Most people will overlook the fact that Joe Johnston directed this movie. While he hasn't had the most storied of Hollywood careers, he has however been involved in the production of some of the best action movies ever made. He was the art director for the original Star Wars trilogy and the first two Indiana Jones movies. Those are some big time movies to be involved with. He was also the director of the recently released Captain America movie, making it his second comic adaptation behind The Rocketeer.
This is one of those movies that is just great and it is kind of hard to explain to people why. It brings me back to the feeling I had watching the Indiana Jones movies for the first time. This is a great action adventure movie and ranks up in my top 20 movies of all time. Give this movie a watch if you love the Indiana Jones franchise and I promise you that you will not be disappointed.
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
The action in the movie is mostly hand to hand and each blow is just brutal. You see people get their necks snapped, throats cut, and the shit beat out of them. There is no pulling punches in this movie, every hit is hard and brutal. Pretty much every character is involved in some type of fight whether it be hand to hand or in a firefight. The gunplay in the movie was also surprisingly solid for the small amount it was used on screen. The action in the movie reminded me a lot of movies such as District 13 which happens to be one of my favorite action movies of all time.
It really does seem like the foreign actions movies are really outpacing the American action movies in terms of overall quality. With the exception of Jason Statham movies, the US really doesn't put out "pure" action movies on a consistent basis. The foreign action movie market is geared more towards all out action where as US action movies tend to add a lot of useless melodrama and side plots to the movies. I am just hoping that the US remake of The Raid doesn't add a bunch of nonsensical shit to the mix. The Raid is flat out the best action movie that I have seen since the original Transporter or District B13.
This is an action movie that you must see. If you are a fan of the Transporter series or Kung Fu movies then this will be right up your alley. Get this movie on Blu Ray because it is beautiful to watch. The action is brutal and it has a pretty good story to it as well.
Sunday, August 19, 2012
This is a movie that I initially had absolutely no interest in seeing. After I got the assignment to review it, I checked out some of the trailers and I started to think that it could possibly be a solid movie. When I was done checking out the trailers, I went to see the cast and was pretty surprised by who was cast in the movie. Kodi Smit-McPhee, Anna Kendrick, Casey Affleck, Leslie Mann, Jeff Garlin, John Goodman, and even McLovin is in the movie. After seeing the cast I really felt like the movie could be great, and it really is a great movie overall.
ParaNorman tells the story of Norman, a kid who has the unfortunate ability of seeing dead people. He is an outcast at school and home because everyone thinks that he is faking his abilities to get attention. No matter how hard he tries he can’t get through to the living like he can get through to the dead. He lives in a town where a witch was burned hundreds of years ago and put a curse on the people who burned her and he starts having visions of her being burned. He then finds out that he is the only one who can break the curse and put the witch to rest.
The great thing about this movie is that it has the early 80’s PG vibe to it. What I mean by that is that there are “raunchy” parts in the movie but it still has a kids movie feels to it. It is kind of like an animated version of the Goonies and that is a wonderful thing, especially when animated movies are generally bland except for Pixar movies. I also view this as what the Sixth Sense could have been, if the Sixth Sense didn’t suck. The idea that you can see dead people would be traumatizing and you would naturally look to talk about it with people. I’m just trying to figure out why an animated kids movie can get that right and not a critically acclaimed drama.
The animation in this film is also astounding, and it easily bests it predecessor Coraline in every way possible. Everything is smooth while on screen and there is no jerkiness to the characters’ motions. The effects used in the film are pretty solid as well such as in scenes where Norman starts having his vision while rehearsing for his school play. The way the scenery burns away as a transition to the vision was just a phenomenal choice in my opinion and gave the movie a really creepy feel in those scenes. There really need to be some more movies made in the same fashion as Coraline and ParaNorman, because you can see the hard work that the production team put into the movie because every aspect of the movie is high quality from the animation to the acting.
This is one of the few animated family movies that I have seen that is not particularly “happy” and it made the movie much more effective than the usual brain dead crap that makes its way into theaters on a regular basis. Idea such as death, bullying, mob mentality, and acceptance are used throughout the course of the movie and the movie expects you to understand the messages it is trying to get across to you. It does not sit there and explain what every reference means and it doesn’t tell you how to feel at certain points. ParaNorman expects you to form your own responses and it doesn’t dumb anything down and I really appreciated that aspect of the movie.
This is one of the best movies that I have seen this year, animated or otherwise. The performances in the movie are excellent and it is great to see stop motion animation making a comeback in Hollywood. I really wish I would have seen the movie in 3D but it wasn’t playing in 3D near me, there is always the Blu-Ray version in the future. Go and see this movie as soon as possible, it will be well worth your time.
Thursday, August 16, 2012
The Walking Dead has been building momentum for issue 100 for a while with a few set up arcs such as a "We Find Ourselves" and "A Larger World". There have been hints of a new threat with the foreshadowing of a man named "Negan", who is in charge of a large barbaric group that takes whatever they want from the new communities that have been popping up all over Washington D.C. As we know from the past Rick and the group don't take kindly to threats and are very willing to eliminate "Negan" as a threat when propositioned by the leader of the Hilltop community. The notable characters introduced in the lead-up to #100 were Paul Monroe, who is a member of the Hilltop community that seeks out other communities to ally with, and Gregory, who is the "leader" of the Hilltop community that has negotiated a treaty with Negan's group. We really don't know a lot about either of the characters but Paul Monroe does seem to be the more interesting of the two because he resembles Jesus and knows Karate.
The issue is really well done because it doesn't feel like a landmark issue until the last few pages when everything is turned up to 11. I had put my money on either Glenn or Andrea to be killed by the end of the issue. Robert Kirkman tends to kill off characters that have too many positives going on in their lives. Andrea finally overcoming Dale's death and shacking up with Rick pointed to her being the one to get killed. Then we have Glenn, who has a kid on the way, a happy marriage, and a cute "daughter" Sophia. Seems like Glenn drew the short straw and then got the shit end of a barbwire baseball bat. I can't say that it shocked me that Glenn got killed at all because I came in with the expectation that one of the main characters were going to die. I still maintain that at the end of the series the only characters that will be alive are Michonne and Carl. Carl has been shot in the stomach and the face and still have the reflexes and wits to headshot zombies, the kid is just built to last. The best parts of the issue were the dread leading up to the death scene and the selection process was one of the best moments in The Walking Dead in quite a while.
On the other hand there was one big problem I had with the issue overall. Negan seems like a retread of the Governor in a sense. He is another sadistic leader but he seems much more brutal than the Governor. We know next to nothing about the character and I am sure that fact will change slowly over time. I also think that a lot of people overlook the fact that he was order Abraham to be killed as well. He has taken out two main characters so far and shows no signs of slowing up. I just hope there is more to the character than just a device to thin out the character cast in the comic. If he can be a threat and character on the level of the Governor then it will all be worth it.
This was one hell of an issue and after reading issue #101, I can firmly say that the series is back on track. If you are looking to get your Walking Dead fix then you should pick up some of the comics or even play Telltale Games' The Walking Dead which happens to be fucking incredible.
Sunday, August 12, 2012
The Bourne franchise is one of the better franchises in Hollywood at this current time. Each of the first three movies had a bankable star (Matt Damon), brutal fight sequences, and excellent stories. When Matt Damon was said to not be involved in the forth installment, people were understandably skeptical about the future of the series. Jeremy Renner was brought into the series, fresh off his roles in The Town and The Hurt Locker, to be the new main character of the Bourne series. The screenwriter of the first three films also stepped into the role of director as well as co-writer which was another good sign for the franchise. The additions of Edward Norton, Rachel Weisz, Scott Glenn, and Oscar Isaac to the cast also piqued my interest in the film.
The story of The Bourne Legacy runs side by side with The Bourne Ultimatum when things are going horribly for the clandestine operations of the United States government. Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner), an agent in the Outcome program, is in Alaska on a training exercise when the events of the third film are taking place. The head of the clandestine operations of the US are doing everything they can to contain an outpouring of information about their programs and missions from occurring in the near future. They begin to dispose of everyone associated with the programs and plan on rebuilding each program from the ground up. Cross is one of the assets that is marked for disposal but he decides to fight back.
As in all the Bourne movies, the action throughout the film is fantastic. The fights and shootouts are incredibly choreographed and the chase scene on the motorcycles at the end of the film was one of my favorite chase sequences of the franchise. Jeremy Renner also brings a breath of fresh air to the series as his character is fully aware of his actions and the actions of the program that he is a part of. Jason Bourne’s amnesia kind of became stale throughout the first three movies, so the introduction of an agent who is aware of everything he did in the past was a welcome addition. Renner’s chemistry with Weisz was fantastic as well and the scenes that they share are the best in the movie by far. Having Edward Norton play the main antagonist was also a very inspired choice. It has been a while since I have seen Norton in something that was worth watching and he was great in the movie playing the bureaucrat who is trying to do everything in his power to cover his ass. I am not going to spoil the plot for anyone, but at a certain point they start to introduce light science fiction elements into the film and they actually make sense. That was a huge surprise and I hope they elaborate on those elements in future installments.
The simple fact is that Matt Damon was a better lead in the first three movies. I’m not saying that Jeremy Renner does a bad job it is just that Damon did a better job in the same franchise. The movie also spends a lot of time in the beginning establishing a reason for this movie to even exist. In the first three movies there were only two programs named and then in this movie a whole more bunch pop up out of nowhere. You also don’t get a real sense that the “bad guy” in the movie is really evil. Norton plays the character as a man who is trying to protect the reputation of the United States by not letting all of the facts of the operations become public. I also wished there were more action scenes in the movie but that is a minor complaint because the action scenes are so great that I always want more action scenes in these movies.
This is a great addition to the Bourne franchise and on its own it is a great spy thriller. It is the third best movie in the franchise right behind The Bourne Identity and The Bourne Ultimatum. There is definitely room for the franchise to grow from here, telling fresh stories about Aaron Cross and his future adventures.
Thursday, August 9, 2012
This is a comic that seems to be tailor made for Hollywood. Given that many movie series have been gritty reboots over the last decade, it seems to be time to properly reboot Godzilla. No super agile, egg laying dinosaur needed, we just need a lumbering tower of destruction. That is the way Godzilla was created and it doesn't seem like is anything broken there that needs to be fixed. Base it around Godzilla's attack on a major American coastal city such as San Francisco or Los Angeles. I am assuming that Hollywood would not be rebooting the series and then centering Godzilla's attack around Tokyo again given the Tsunami that stuck there a few years ago and it would not be a good look to destroy Tokyo in a movie at this time. Also basing the movie around a squad fighting on the ground such as in Battle Los Angeles would be a great idea. If you take the squad concept and cut all of the dumb stereotypes of that movie, the new Godzilla movie would be pretty amazing in my opinion.
This is the best single comic book that I have read this year and it doesn't seem like anything will be challenging this book for a while. I cannot wait to see what this series has in store for future issues and I am looking forward to next month's issue. This is a book that needs to get more attention and if you are into comics then you should go to your local shop and pick this up. If you do not have a local comic shop then use Comixology to download the comic.
|This is the way Godzilla should be remembered.|
Monday, August 6, 2012
Brad Pitt and Christoph Waltz own every scene that they are in and make the movie what it is, great. Pitt's character has so many little ticks and idiosyncratic tendencies that Pitt really becomes the character of Aldo Raine and you never really see him as Brad Pitt. The scene where he introduces The Bear Jew to the Germans is one of my favorite scenes in movie history. You really get a sense of how serious his character is about killing Nazis and will do absolutely anything to accomplish his mission. Also, the scene where he pretends to be Italian is a fucking instant classic. Waltz creates one of the more terrifying characters in recent memory with the character of Hans Landa. Landa is scary because he is so deliberate in his actions and is 3 steps ahead of everyone else around him. He knows what you are going to do before you even know so he is ready for every situation. This also happens to be the movie that introduced the greatness that is Michael Fassbender to the world. He plays a rather minor but memorable role in the movie. It is also really impressive that Tarantino got an excellent performance from fellow director, Eli Roth, in the movie. His role as Donny "The Bear Jew" Donowitz was my personal favorite and he really should consider acting in more movies. The scene where his character is introduced is easily one of the best scenes in any Tarantino movie to date.
This is one of the best World War II movies ever created, plain and simple. Each character in the movie is interesting and it is a shame that the runtime of the movie could not have been longer because it would have been great to seem more missions from the Basterds. If you are looking for a great Tarantino movie to watch then this is the one. Great acting performances, incredible dialogue and story, and engaging characters make this a can't miss film.
This is the movie that in theory led to all of the other stories in the Tarantino "universe". There are some theories that state that the events in this movie somehow bleed into all of his other movies. Donny "The Bear Jew" Donowitz's son is the film producer in True Romance and that is where the theory begins.. It basically states that instead of Hitler killing himself in his bunker, he was brutally dispatched by the Basterds in a movie theater (as seen in Inglourious Basterds) and this led to the Americans winning World War 2 in one hyperviolent scene. This leads to America's desensitization to violence and explains why many of the characters in Tarantino's movies react to violence in a very nonchalant manner. That is the basic version of the theory but it kind of turns all of Tarantino's movies into alternate reality sci-fi which is just awesome.
Friday, August 3, 2012
I am a huge fan of The Walking Dead comic series and feel that it is one of the best comic series to ever be created. Robert Kirkman has crafted some of the greatest heroes and villains in comic history and the television show does a magnificent job of destroying all of that. In this series of editorials that I will be writing I will be going volume by volume of the collected editions of The Walking Dead and comparing them to the television version of The Walking Dead. In part one I will be covering issues #1-#6 of The Walking Dead and comparing it to the first season of the show.
I will have to give the pilot episode of the television show a higher rating than the first issue of the comic. Unfortunately that is the last time that the show surpassed the comic in quality. The way they develop the character of Morgan is great in the pilot and it is a shame that he will probably never appear in the TV show again and the hospital scene was especially great and played in a more realistic way than in the comic. But from the outset the characterization of the group of survivors other than Rick and Glenn is just wrong. In the comics all of the the main characters and even the supporting characters are extremely well developed where as in the TV show we characters like Merle and T-Dog. I am not sure what was wrong with the original characters in the comic but someone must have thought it would be an excellent idea to randomly insert the most stereotypical characters ever created into the TV show. Lori comes off as a giant twat 99.9% of the time and her switching allegiance between Rick and Shane is something that is never even touched upon in the comics. Shane is dead by issue 6 and it made the comic series better because it showed that none of the characters are truly safe and anyone can die at any time. Characterization is such an integral part of the comic and at times it seems like the TV show is willing to sacrifice characterization for an over the top zombie kill which is unfortunate.
Characters like Allen, Donna, Billy and Ben were excluded in favor of piece of shit characters like Merle and T-Dog. I can understand trying to cut the cast numbers down and that is not a problem but do not replace memorable characters with two of the most uninteresting stereotypical characters that you can think of. Merle looks and acts like a reject from the KKK and T-Dog is named T-Dog, so that kind of explains itself. Daryl is the only worthwhile creation to come out of the TV series so far and I really do wish they would find a way to naturally integrate a character like him into the comic. His character has an amazing amount of potential and he really needs to be showcased on the TV show more. The reason I think they left out Billy and Ben is due to the sensitive nature of how their story line evolves over the course of the comics and it would not have worked on TV at all, but that is for a later part in this series of articles.
The two main travesties that the TV series commits in the first season is the introduction of the CDC and keeping Shane alive. The entire CDC story was pointless and serves no purpose because the main idea of the series doesn't concern itself with the origination of the disease but with how people will survive in a world ravaged by zombies. The fact that Shane walked into Season 2 unscathed was bullshit in my opinion. His character was portrayed as being this hot head who was psychotically in love with his best friends wife. In the comics this was one component of what made him snap but it was also that he was so frightened by the situation that they were facing. He also had a huge amount of guilt that he was shouldering because he blamed himself for Rick getting shot. I feel like none of this was explored in the TV show and it made his character come off like a selfish piece of shit. His death in the comics also happens to be amazing and very memorable.
There was at no point during the first season that I thought that it was going to be better than the comic series. The comics series while really slow burning at points, manages to keep my attention page after page. The are entire episodes of the show that I wanted to turn off because they were so painfully horrible. Every time I talk about the TV series it pisses me off because the producers had unbeatable source material and still managed to fuck it up. Randomly inserting characters, leaving out huge events, and major characters were not the greatest of decisions and it just puzzled me as I continued to watch. Part 2 will go into depth about Hershel's Farm and the exclusion of Tyreese.
Thursday, August 2, 2012
Inception is a perfect example of taking an old genre and updating it, as it is essentially a heist movie with the usually story of the "last" heist with the promise of freedom. What Inception did right was that it never went the conventional route like many other heist movies tend to do and the sci-fi elements of the movie keep the movie fresh throughout its run time. The casting was also inspired and the fact that Christopher Nolan is given free reign with pretty much anything that he wants these days added to the quality of the movie. People, when they first saw Inception in theaters they felt like it was something that they had never seen before and they are not wrong in anyway. I can't remember a heist movie based around stealing information while in a dreamworld but there were still plot devices used from other movies that led to the formation of the story.
A completely original movie is not a true possibility at this time in Hollywood because most ideas or the foundations of those ideas would have been used in someway over the 100+ years of the industry. I would like to see someone argue to me how any modern zombie movie/series isn't in some way influenced or based on the original Night of the Living Dead or Dawn of the Dead. Shaun of the Dead is one of my favorite movies of all time and it is clearly influenced by the classic mentioned in the previous sentence. It is a great original movie on its own merit and it borrows masterfully from it forefathers and there is nothing wrong with that because it takes the foundation from them and then creates an entirely new story on top of them.
Unfortunately, for every Inception and Shaun of the Dead there is a piece of shit like James Cameron's Avatar. The movie blatantly rips off story conventions and ideas from other movies and source material. Dances with Wolves, John Carter(THE BOOK), Fern Gully, and Tarzan are a few of the movies that it borrows directly from. Even the space marines are pretty much cookie cutter versions of the ones that appeared in James Cameron's Aliens. The idea of transferred consciousness comes from John Carter, the destruction of the forest for materials is straight out of Fern Gully and most of the relationship plot is ripped from Dances with Wolves. The movie has absolutely no heart or emotion to it and that contributes to the fact that it seems to be completely unoriginal in any way. It is just a bland big budget Hollywood production. It kills me a little bit inside that a director of James Cameron's quality will be make sequels to this piece of shit movie until the day that he dies.
There is a fine line that major studios must walk when they say that they want to release completely original content because it may come back to bite them in the ass. Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie might be a completely original movie but it still sucks, because sometimes if you try and make something too original it comes out really weird and awkward. If you are able to find someone who is willing to take a chance and create an original story within an established sub-genre then you may strike gold such as Joe Wright's Hanna or Joe Cornish's Attack the Block. Both are personal favorites of mine and they just breakdown certain genres of movies and recreate them in magnificent ways. For all the "film aficionados" out there, I challenge you to sit through Salo: 120 Days of Sodom and still praise it for its originality and its artistic integrity. I would also challenge fans of James Cameron's Avatar to convince me that he did not ripoff several movies to make that movie.