Archive | April, 2012

Review of The Enforcer (1976)

30 Apr

The Enforcer (1976) is a thriller/action/crime film and the third movie in the Dirty Harry film franchise.

Directed by James Fargo (Every Which Way But Loose (1978), Forced Vengeance (1982)).

Written by Stirling Silliphant (In the Heat of the Night (1967), Village of the Damned (1960)), Dean Riesner (Coogan’s Bluff (1968), Dirty Harry (1971)), Gail Morgan Hickman (Death Wish 4: The Crackdown (1987), Murphy’s Law (1986)) and S.W.Schurr.

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Tyne Daly, John Mitchum, Jocelyn Jones, Nick Pellegrino, Rudy Ramos,  and others.

I love how in these movies every time Harry pulls some crazy stunt, the higher-ups are surprised by it and tell him that if he does something like that one more time, he’s suspended. He doesn’t care, because we all know, that, come the next movie, he’s still going to be in the force.

This time around not much has changed, Eastwood still talks through clenched teeth and has even more anger-wrinkles  on his forehead, you probably could use his scowl as a cheese-grater.  After Harry’s latest incident, he is sent exactly where a guy that basically hates people should be – taking the examinations from new officers.

Now Harry has a new partner, an old fat guy. But he dies from either oldness, fatness or bullet-wound, I can’t recall. So Harry gets another partner right away and guess what? It’s a girl! Yikes, some silly shenanigans are bound to ensue. This time, however, the movie turns into a buddy-cop movie. „He – a maverick cop, with his own vision of justice, she – a fucking woman.”

Yet, for such a ruthless guy, Harry has a very strict moral code and disappointingly you see him getting older and softer. He doesn’t even execute that many thugs, he mostly just shoots them in self-defense. The new partner chick is like every woman, melts in Harry’s hands and Harry warms up to her way too early. Daly is quite good as a strong female supporting character.

There’s a pretty cool foot chase, set to a jazz score. During which, at one point they crash into a porn set, so you get some both gender nudity. And another nice scene is at the end where a shoot-out takes place at Alcatraz.

Overall, well-paced and more or less entertaining, but not substantial enough other than „Hey, look at Harry in this situation!”, so it’s not very interesting, but Eastwood is a reason enough to see. I’d say this is the worst in the Dirty Harry series, but worst in good series is not that bad. I don’t know, recommended if you want to see Eastwood or all Dirty Harry movies, otherwise, you can easily skip this.

"If I'd clench my teeth any harder I'll make every person in this room instantly constipated, so what were you saying about assigning me to Personnel?"

Review of The Cabin in the Woods (2011)

27 Apr

The Cabin in the Woods (2011) is a horror/comedy/mystery film, which adds a little more to the stock horror clichés.

Directed by Drew Goddard. This movie is his directorial debut.

Written by Joss Whedon (Alien: Resurrection (1997), Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997 TV)) and Drew Goddard (Cloverfield (2008), Lost (2004 TV)).

Starring: Fran Kranz, Anna Hutcherson, Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford, Jesse Williams and others.

Watching the trailer I was quite intrigued by this movie, a “cabin in the woods” movie, which turns out to be something more. Sounds good enough to me! However, the trailer also created this misconception, that it is totally a standard college kid horror flick until it turns out there’s more to it, which would mean the movie is already spoiled. And that’s what I’m going to be very careful about, because there’s a lot to spoil. However, the movie opens with a scene in some scientific facility, so they’re really not hiding this fact, but they do keep to themselves a lot about why all the stuff that is being done there is done.

It is best to avoid knowing anything about the movie, since there’s so many twists and turns, which combined with the mysterious organization that is behind it, makes the movie really unpredictable.

There is some genre-bending as it slides from the usual horror stuff to some comedic lines, to the very dark meta humor, that is going on in the control room, where Jenkins and Whitford …control stuff, which intentionally plays on their similarity to horror screenwriters picking out from various stock monsters, characters and settings.

The college kid characters are the basic jock/slut/smart guy/comic relief/virgin ensemble, but here there is a reason for it and they are actually likable and not one note, they all have at least a little bit more to their characters, but they are forced to show only these sides of them. And the comic relief stoner guy is very funny and seems to be the only one who actually is aware that their vacation is turning into a horror movie. At one point the jock (played by Thor) suggests they should split up and he’s the only one who goes like “Really?”. And this was one of the rare times in a horror movie, where I really didn’t want any of the kids to die.

It is a movie for both the horror savvy and the not so much. Because for the horror fans this can be like a game, where you laugh about the next cliché that is thrown at the characters and guess what is a reference to what. Like “Hey, is that guy with the buzzsaws in his head a reference to Pinhead from Hellraiser?” or “Hey, is that werewolf a reference to any werewolf movie in existence?”, so it’s really fun. The other group can give into the suspense, jump at the jumpscares and laugh about the comedy.

Also it has a great cameo at the very end. I think I’ll stop right here, because the less is said about the movie, the better it is to watch it. It is a beautiful mess, where not everything is explained and it only gains from it.

Overall, a very fun, entertaining and clever film. Definitely recommended for both horror fans and those who just like some thrills with their laughs.

"Wow, I'm not doing that with my arms! ...oh, and also I'm not a girl..."

Review of Magnum Force (1973)

24 Apr

Magnum Force (1973) is an action/crime/thriller film and the second in the Dirty Harry film series.

Directed by Ted Post (Hang ‘Em High (1968), Good Guys Wear Black (1978)).

Written by John Milius (Apocalypse Now (1979), Conan the Barbarian (1982)) and Michael Cimino (Heaven’s Gate (1980), Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974)).

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Hal Holbrook, Mitch Ryan, David Soul, Tim Matheson, Kip Niven, Robert Ulrich and others.

Detective „Dirty Harry” Callahan is back with his huge fucking Magnum. Need I say more?

I just loved the opening titles and the theme. After that we see Harry as always working and disobeying orders. He’s got a new partner, to which he is oddly nice, although we don’t see them being assigned as partners, so maybe they’ve been working together for a while now.

Eastwood shows what might be one of his best abilities. Making everything cool. There’s not many people who can make the elbow-patches on a jacket look bad-ass, but he does. One might argue, that other than being cool, he doesn’t do much else in the movie, but I’m not asking for anything else. Oh, and as if he wasn’t cool enough, a hot asian chick just randomly appears and a few minutes later is crawling into his bed. That lucky bastard.

In Dirty Harry, it seemed that Harry doesn’t like his nickname all that much, but now it appears that he enjoys the „dirty” work.

The interesting thing about these movies, is that except for the asshole cop Harry Callahan, they aren’t very connected. You can pick up any of the Dirty Harry movies and you won’t have any problems because of not knowing the back story and unless you’re afraid of getting confused by Eastwood’s age, you can watch the movies in whichever order you like.

They throw the n-word around quite a lot here and that is what I enjoy about the 70’s cinema. In a way it is the grittiest it has ever gotten. The golden/silver age sterility is destroyed and the political correctness of the last three decades hasn’t arrived. Not that I approve of the n-word. Although, since neither me or my ancestors have had anything to do with slavery, I don’t feel any white racial guilt. However, one thing Harry is not is homophobic, that is, if you can shoot well.

What I found the most intriguing about the concept, that the antagonist force Harry faces is also a vigilante one, so it plays more one the line of „how far is too far?”. This sort of pulls back Harry’s own fascist view of the world and states his policy of fighting crime in contrast of the Traffic-Cop Killer’s complete vigilantism. And although it sort of is obvious who is going around serving merciless justice, there’s a couple of unexpected turns to it.

A very young Suzanne Somers appears and shows her breasts at a pool party, but it just made me feel dirty as I enjoyed it and at the same time cringed as I remembered growing up watching her as the mom in Step by Step. It felt like I saw what I wasn’t supposed to.

It has a very exciting car chase, which is odd, since I’m not a big fan of car chases. What I loved about this one, was that it had no background music, so there’s just the sound of engines roaring, tyres screeching, guns blasting and nothing else.

Overall, this is my favourite Dirty Harry movie, I think it is better than the first one and it’s the most entertaining. Definitely recommended.

"Hey, Davis, you know how my last partner died?"
"Yeah, I heard he was sucked into a jet engine, why you ask?"
"No reason."

Review of The Lords of Flatbush (1974)

22 Apr

The Lords of Flatbush (1974) also known as The Lord’s of Flatbush (1974) is a low-budget drama/romance/comedy film about a street gang in Brooklyn.

Directed by Martin Davidson (Looking for an Echo (2000), Hero at Large (1980)) and Stephen Verona (Pipe Dreams (1976), Talking Walls (1987)).

Written by Stephen Verona (Boardwalk (1979)), Gayle Gleckler, Martin Davidson (If Ever I See You Again (1978)) and Sylvester Stallone.

Starring: Perry King, Sylvester Stallone, Henry Winkler, Paul Mace, Susan Blakely, Maria Smith and others.

Of course my main reason for watching this film was that it’s one of Sylvester Stallone’s earliest roles, two years before his big break with my favourite movie of all time – Rocky.

The movie, I suppose, is set sometime in the late 1950’s as Stallone is a member of a small gang, consisting of four greasers in leather jackets, slicked back hair and low intelligence. And they’re all going to school together, even though none of them look like they’ve been high schoolers for the last 10 years. One of the gang members is played by Henry Winkler, who went on to play his most well-known role as another 50’s greaseball in the sitcom Happy Days.

The soundtrack is really good, which is remarkable, because getting rights probably wasn’t so easy, considering the film’s budget. Although in one scene they really fucked up and put a song with lyrics under a dialogue, so I couldn’t make out what the characters were saying.

Sly looks already really beefy in this, even before Death Race 2000, so I guess he didn’t have to put on much weight for Rocky.

The style is well done, although it has more of a 70’s low-budget movie feel, which contradicts my perception of 50’s. One chick wears hair rolls for most of the movie, I wonder if that was considered cool back then? I’m not a car guy, but there are some beautiful cars.

Interestingly there doesn’t seem to be a lead here, the four guys have more or less equal parts. They each have their own fairly interesting troubles, one is talented and smart, but is wasting his time, another can’t choose between girls and dreams of going away after school, another one is getting married and the fourth one I don’t even remember. But what they all share is being not very likable, they are a bunch of insecure jerks, hiding behind their macho facades, bullying people around them. This for me made it hard to identify with any of them.

The movie has a lot of flaws, but as far as the performances go, they are pretty decent, Sly shows some of his acting chops in a weird scene on a roof, by his character’s pigeon coop.

They try to make the dialogue realistic, but it just comes across as clumsy, when a lot of times it consists of the characters not saying things and just silently fidgeting. Yes, often teenagers do act this way, but it isn’t very entertaining to watch.

It really seems to suffer from it’s low-budget, I think it was supposed to be a fun coming of age flick like American Graffiti, but at times it’s depressing and painfully dull.

Overall, it is an odd coming of age film, that’s not very entertaining, has a nice, satisfying and uplifting ending, but it isn’t really earned. Mostly not a good movie, not recommended, unless you’re really interested in early Stallone’s work.

"Lord's of Flatbush? What? It doesn't make sense!"
"Oh, yeah we got another symbol for free, we weren't going to waste it!"

Review of Halloween: Resurrection (2002)

19 Apr

Halloween: Resurrection (2002) is a slasher/horror/thriller film and it’s the eighth film in the Halloween movie franchise and the final one before Rob Zombie’s remakes.

Directed by Rick Rosenthal (Halloween II (1981), Bad Boys (1983)).

Written by Larry Brand (Christina (2010), The Drifter (1988)) and Sean Hood (The Crow: Wicked Prayer (2005), Cube 2: Hypercube (2002)).

Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Brad Loree, Busta Rhymes, Tyra Banks, Bianca Kajlich, Thomas Ian Nicholas, Katee Sackhoff and others.

I won’t waste much time, this movie is a piece of shit. I wish I felt like my job here is done, but I have to pretend that I have at least a tiny bit of professionalism in me.

So we start with Jamie Lee Curtis in a mental hospital with long hair (she looks younger already). Wait, what? I didn’t know she was in this movie. Why? But, of course, because she fucking dies 15 minutes in!

It is explained that Michael didn’t die at the end of the previous movie. Well, the explanation for it I thought wasn’t bad, except that the final shot of H20 doesn’t make sense, however, it still made a lot more sense then this movie’s existance as a whole. So Curtis is in the loony bin, killed an innocent man, waiting for Michael to come after her and growing hair. And he does come and kills Laurie Strode. That’s it, his job is done. Naturally there’s nothing better left for him to do, than to come and hang around in his old house, because it surely doesn’t make more sense that he would go after Laurie’s son.

Then we switch to some stupid college kids and then I realise why this is a horror movie as I see Tyra Banks and Busta Rhymes in the same frame in a Halloween movie. I thought „Oh god, what have I gotten myself into?” and the answer was the steaming pile of anal-raped whore shit that Resurrection is.

And the fucking title. Yes, H20 was a stupid title, but this is definitely at the top of the most generic sequel subtitle list.

We find out that Rhymes and Banks has the genius idea to have a live reality show (ah, yes the early 2000’s when people would actually watch a show that is in lower quality than that of the built-in modern laptop webcams) in the old Myer’s house. I guess they didn’t know that the owner is home.

And that’s the main problem here, you should care about the teenagers, but here they are just so completely unlikable and also trespassing while Michael just wanted to chill after almost 25 years of going after his sister. I’d be pissed off as well. When back in the 80’s Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert were concerned with people identifying with slasher villains, they talked about this movie, because here the other characters are so despicable, that I couldn’t help but root for good ol’ Mike.

Sadly, soon you realise that Busta Rhymes is nowhere near the worst actor in this. That is until, of course, he runs into a burning room, spewing bad one-liners and throwing Wat Chun Lee inspired karate chops at Michael. In a way this sounds equally absurd as Jason in space. “Oh, shit. Who’s knockin’ on my door this late? Whoever this is, is distracting me from seeing Wat Chun Lee whoop some ass. ” I’d also rather see this, I guess, made up actor whoop ass than this.

I have to mention this as well, when did cellphones display text messages letter by letter? Who has ever been stuck waiting for the end of their message to finish appearing? No one, that’s who, you stupid assholes. That is not how you create suspense.

Overall, this is a really bad movie. From all the Halloween, Friday the 13th and A Nightmare On Elm Street movies, this is the only one, that I just completely despise and plan on never watching again. It’s a worthless fucking movie equivalent of an abortion gone wrong and still living as a disfigured shadow of what it could have been. Not recommended.

"Michael? You know what, he's a douchebag! All these years going after me in his stupid onesie and that shitty Star Trek mask. He's standing right behind me, isn't he?
Hey Mikey, wait, you know I didn't mean those things!"

Review of The Hunger Games (2012)

16 Apr

The Hunger Games (2012) is an action/drama/sci-fi film based on the novel of the same name by Suzanne Collins.

Directed by Gary Ross (Pleasantville (1998), Seabiscuit (2003)).

Written by Gary Ross (Big (1988), Dave (1993)), Billy Ray (The Shooter (1995), State of Play (2009)) and Suzanne Collins (Clarissa Explains It All (1991 TV), The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo (1996 TV)) .

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Stanley Tucci, Liam Hemsworth, Wes Bentley, Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland, Lenny Kravitz and others.

So here is the movie, the marketing tried to tell us is going to be the next Twilight. And that is a fucking insult. Except for its target demographic, there’s nothing these two have in common. Twilight is a characterless romance with a gimmick and The Hunger Games is a cool action drama for young people. Another comparison that is often brought up is Battle Royale and some other similar films, but the survival reality TV wasn’t a new concept even when Battle Royale was made. Why didn’t we draw the line after The Running Man or even earlier Death Race 2000, in an age of constant idea recycling, this is not a serious offense.

And now even more than ever this satire of reality television makes sense. During the contest we get all the staples of modern reality TV, forced romances, very antagonistic characters, fake obstacles created by the producers, sleazy hosts and so on.

It’s also very stylistic movie and I think this could get an Oscar nomination for production design. It is abundant with weird anime inspired/Neo-Victorian outfits for the upper class members of the society and some early 20th century common plain clothes for the working class.

Jennifer Lawrence, who I think is one of the most promising new actresses, doesn’t disappoint here and is solid as Katniss, who volunteers for the game show, after her sister is chosen and thank god, because her sister was a total wimp, she would’ve been dead in 5 minutes. Most of the other contestants are either not given enough screen time to do much (would have loved to see more of Isabelle Fuhrman) or they are just ok.

The adult characters, however, are very fun to watch. Woody Harrelson, is a winner of the games, who now is a drunk mentor for the District 12 contestants and he’s just amazingly entertaining. Also here he looks like an older Josh Holloway. Elizabeth Banks I didn’t even recognize under a heavy layer of make-up that looks like taken straight off of Helena Bonham Carter in Alice In Wonderland. She also acts appropriately over-the-top. As does Stanley Tucci being the overacting host with blue hair, who really knows how to milk the contestants for the right emotions, both from them and audience. Seems like the director told all the adult main actors to turn their eccentricity up to eleven. Lenny Kravitz went the other way though and just put on some golden eye-liner. Donald Sutherland does what he does best, plays a cold bastard.

The main negative point was the way it was shot. At the start of the movie we get some very shaky handheld shots of static things and I didn’t suspect that it was getting me ready for some of the later way more extreme shaking. In order to get the PG-13 rating they decided to keep some of the violence in, but make it totally incoherent. Seriously, after a couple of minutes of seeing stuff that looked like it was shot handheld by Michael J. Fox trying to stand while wearing roller skates, where the wheels are replaced by rotating vibrators, I thought it’s going to be the first time I’ll get motion sickness from a movie.

Overall, a good movie, I liked it and could recommend basically to anyone.

Pictured: Jennifer Lawrence interviewed by Meryl Streep on the set of The Iron Lady.

Review of Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998)

14 Apr

Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998) is a slasher/horror/thriller film and the seventh film in the Halloween movie franchise, which marks the return of Jamie Lee Curtis.

Directed by Steve Miner (Friday the 13th Part III (1982), Forever Young (1992)).

Written by Robert Zappia (5ive Days to Midnight (2004 mini-series), Christmas Is Here Again (2007)) and Matt Greenberg (1408 (2007), Reign of Fire (2002)).

Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Josh Hartnett, Chris Durand, Adam Arkin, Michelle Williams, LL Cool J and others.

So it opens with a great opening sequence, where as an instant mood setter „Mr. Sandman” by The Chordettes is used. Fallen leaves, a nice 50’s song and a pumpkin being violently carved. The mood is set at the perfect balance of innocence and violence.

A middle-aged nurse arrives at her house, when she understands somebody has broken in, she goes to her neighbour’s and gets two boys, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and nobody. Levitt appears with a hockey mask. Oh, I wonder what that is referencing so subtly? Maybe I should ask Steve Miner, the director of two Friday the 13th movies? They check out the house, don’t find any tall man in a Shatner mask, so they leave. Needless to say the nurse is fucked.

Then we get a title card and I just have to comment on this. This is might be the most idiotic title they could’ve come up with. I know it’s the nineties, when the trend of poor literacy being cool really started, but seriously, what the fuck is that? H20: 20 Years Later. The „H20” makes it look like the chemical formula for water or the 20th Halloween movie there is. I suppose it sounds a bit like „age 20”, but if the „H20” makes it so clear why do we have this „20 Years Later” shit added, in case you still don’t get it?

We get back Jamie Lee Curtis and she has a son now and she is also his teacher. People say the filmmakers ignored parts 3-6, but I say Laurie Strode is an asshole and chose to have a son instead of a daughter. A young Michelle Williams is cute as her son’s girlfriend. Besides Curtis we see her real life mother Janet Leigh not being stabbed in the shower.

This movie is really a surprising one, when else do you get to see the 7th movie in a slasher franchise, that is not totally absurd, doesn’t have bad acting and tries to be a legitimate mainstream movie. I guess when you ignore four of the six movies in the franchise. And I suddenly realised that this exact same thing applies to the A Nightmare On Elm Street franchise as well.

Ok, so a long story short, Curtis is now a paranoid alcoholic, seeing Michael Myers everywhere and pouring wine down her throat. Her son and his friends are having a little party. You guessed it, it is going to be interrupted by Michael. There’s one guy who deserved it for riding an old service kitchen elevator. Which then is surpassed by the classic stroke of genius in sticking your fingers in the sink’s garbage disposal. Laurie can’t help to rescue her son’s friends from their stupidity, but she can try to rescue her son from Michael, so finally in the last 20 years there actually is a reason to act insane and she goes after Michael with her „I told you so… for the last 20 years… What? You don’t believe me? Who the fuck is „the boy who cried wolf”?” face.

So Michael is back and despite being even older than Curtis in what I call her lesbo-hair stage of life, he can keep lifting people up and even more, lift himself completely above a pipe, on which he is holding with one hand and somehow then slowly and silently descend himself behind Curtis’ back. You could say, he’s in the best shape of his life. See what I did there?

I’d say that this time Michael’s last „death” is pretty cool and probably should be considered the definitive end of him, although as we all know there is this one last sequel, who did a lot of things and none of them good.

Overall, a decent Halloweenmovie, I think one, that even non-Halloween fans might enjoy, although for me, except for the ending, it seemed to lack impact and for most of it was still kind of bland. Recommended, still one of the best slashers the 90’s have to offer.

At least I'm not the only one who thinks that Jamie Lee Curtis with each year looks more like an old man.

Review of Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)

10 Apr

Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995) is a slasher/horror/thriller film and the sixth film in the Halloween movie franchise.

Directed by Joe Chappelle (Phantoms (1998), CSI: Miami (2002 TV)).

Written by Daniel Farrands (The Girl Next Door (2007), The Tooth Fairy (2006)).

Starring: Donald Pleasence, Paul Rudd, Marianne Hagan, George P. Wilbur, Mitch Ryan, Kim Darby, J.C. Brandy and others.

We start off with a bizarre childbirth scene in some kind of warehouse/temple sort of place, where all the walls are black and the only light sources are candles or some low power lightbulbs. Surprise, this is not a real hospital.

Then I find out that this girl, who is not Danielle Harris, yet is Jamie and she’s a teenager now, having a child and for some reason is in the care of these nice people in long black robes. She gets the opportunity to get out of this place, so she grabs her newborn child and runs. Out of nowhere comes Michael Myers. I can’t stress enough how little sense this makes. Are they telling me that Michael was just hanging around, waiting (to be fair he is good at that) until Jamie gives birth to her child, just to kill them both if they attempt to run?

Then we switch to a family who live in Michael’s old house, probably got it very cheap. We meet our heroine, who is pretty forgettable, her son, mother and asshole father.

And I realized that 90’s really don’t suit slasher films. No wonder they kind of died after 80’s. Are you used to an upbeat movie about teenagers having fun being interrupted by a killer? Well, there’s none of that here, since here it’s mostly just miserable people being put out of their misery.

And then we get the best thing about this movie – Paul Rudd. I had no idea that this is how he started his career before turning into a comedy star. And he actually does the best acting in the movie. He plays Tommy Doyle (the kid Laurie babysat in the first movie), he’s now a weird, obsessive, nerdy guy, who is into the occult and Myers, which are some things that probably mean that you’re not the right guy to find a baby and keep it. Unless, it’s Jamie’s baby, which, of course, it is. Oh, yeah Michael kills Jamie, one of the two Halloween characters I actually cared about.

This brings me to the other one. It’s Dr. Loomis. No, he’s not dead yet, which takes away some impact from the previous movie. It’s nice to see Donald Pleasence for one more time, although he doesn’t have much to do in this movie, except look old and still be oddly respected and considered sane. You can see he’s not in good health and soon after this movie Pleasence died.

The writer obviously tried to do something interesting with the series, but what we end up is the bleakest Halloween movie possible, with an irritatingly cliché cultism inserted, which offers the worst possible explanation of Michael’s source of evil power. If you’re trying to be this very straight-faced slasher, you shouldn’t bring up concepts as idiotic as semi-druid occultism.

Overall, I know I sound like I hated the movie and it wasn’t that, I just could barely find anything much to like about it. It embodies what is wrong with Halloweenseries. It throws around these absurd ideas just as much as other slasher movies, yet just because the first one is so highly regarded, it takes itself much too seriously and sucks all the entertainment out. I’m not recommending it, not because it’s bad, but because even if you watch it, you’ll probably soon forget it.

"You know Rudd, I used to do Shakespeare before all this."
"Oh, really? I'm also doing Shakespeare after this, Romeo + Juliet"
"Plus?"
"I know, shut up."

Review of The Descent (2005)

7 Apr

The Descent (2005) is a horror/adventure/drama film about a group of women who go cave exploring only to find that the cave has been explored before them.

Directed by Neil Marshall (Dog Soldiers (2002), Centurion (2010)).

Written by Neil Marshall (Killing Time (1998), Doomsday (2008)).

Starring: Shauna Macdonald, Natalie Mendoza, MyAnna Buring, Nora-Jane Noone, Alex Reid, Saskia Mulder and others.

There’s really not many horror movies where the main cast consists solely of women, but here we are following six women, who have in my opinion one of the worst hobbies imaginable. Fucking cave exploring.

I prefer to think of myself as reasonably claustrophobic. Rides in elevators don’t bother me at all, scenes in action movies where people are crawling through vents make me feel slightly uneasy and the thought of crawling through sections of caves, where there is no possibility to turn around, stand up or be sure you won’t be squashed by some boulders is fucking terrifying to me. So I guess I’m the target audience of this particular horror movie.

The movie starts a year before the main events with the women doing some dangerous shit in the water (was it rafting?) as our main character’s husband and daughter wave to her from the shore. As they get ashore, it is important that you don’t miss some very meaningful glances between some characters as they foreshadow some tension which leads to the finale, there’s other hints sprinkled throughout the movie, some of which make sense only after seeing it.

The husband is distracted on the ride home and causes an accident, which leads to Sarah running through a hospital hall and having a Hitchcock zoom performed on her. There’s other consequences as well.

So a year goes by, the women gather to have a new adventure, because doing dangerous shit isn’t half as risky as being distracted on the ride home. And as I mentioned they go cave exploring. To spice things up, the leader of their expedition decides to fuck safety and go to the caves where allegedly no one has ever been before. What can I say, that’s the greatest idea ever. If you’re a professional team of scientists and everything, but not if you’re a bunch of chicks, who cleared out the rock climbing equipment and flashlight store.

Of course they soon start regretting they’re choice, even before they realize that they are surrounded by a bunch of flesh-eating bat-humanoid creatures, who have evolved to have great hearing, no eyesight and look like Nosferatu and Gollum had children. Seriously, the first time one of them suddenly appears I nearly shat myself. The make-up is just awesome.

The caves we see were actually built sets, but there is no way you can tell, at first I was wondering how the hell they shot it in actual caves. The few, low powered light sources really help in concealing the fact that they are not real, while also creating the atmosphere and claustrophobic feeling. But it also made it kind of hard to tell the women apart at times, the fact that they were in helmets, dirty and had different accents and names I did not manage to memorize.

The movie does raise a lot of questions, mostly about the creatures, but I enjoyed the movie enough, to let it go. I stopped worrying and learned to love The Descent.

Overall, definitely one of the best horror movies of the 2000’s, a creature feature where the creatures aren’t the only scary thing. Recommended for sure.

Evolution of crawlers explained.

Review of Project X (2012)

5 Apr

Project X (2012) is a comedy/something/nothing film, which is filmed in the popular “found footage” style.

Directed by Nima Nourizadeh, who prior to this has worked as a music video director.

Written by Matt Drake (Tully (2000)) and Michael Bacall (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010), 21 Jump Street (2012)).

Starring: Thomas Mann, Oliver Cooper, Jonathan Daniel Brown, Kirby Bliss Blanton, Brady Hender, Nick Nervies and others.

I really don’t know what to say about this movie, I had fun, but on the other hand it’s not a good movie. And I don’t mean it in a so-bad-it’s-good way.

First of all the technical aspect. It was only a matter of time before they would start making found footage movies in other genres. But the problem here is that it is a total gimmick. The camera man is intentionally a non-interactive character. The whole point of handing the camera to a character is that we are presented a subjective view of the events, but here since the character doesn’t show any attitude and the other characters treat him as just a camera, it becomes pointless to use this trick. There are points where other characters use Flip cameras or other handheld cameras and they actually serve a purpose and I really don’t see why that couldn’t just be inserted into a traditionally filmed movie. I didn’t for a second feel the illusion of this being an actual „found footage”. I’d call it MTV’s found footage, where you get crystal clear sound in the midst of a thousand people party and music cuts off immediately after something sudden happens and has various party-dance montages (not surprising given the director).

It is marketed as „Superbad on crack”, which is true in the sense that the three main characters are the same ones from Superbad, they also want to get chicks and all, but here they lose sight of any sense of morality or responsibility.

After it all the main characters remark, that it was the most epic party ever and they think it was worth it. No, it wasn’t. Although the consequences of this party are just thrown in there, like an afterthought. At the end of the movie the main character has destroyed his future and bankrupted his parents in one night. What does he get out of this? He gets the girl. He gets the girl, who has been his friend since childhood and he could’ve gotten her at any point anyway. I have no sympathy for him.

I just don’t like people who are so afraid to be different, that they would do anything to fit in. Ok, maybe I don’t understand it, because I have never been the kid others make fun of, I have never tried to pretend to be someone I’m not to fit in and so on, but trust me, being an interesting person gets you better friends than a huge party.

I felt sorry for the guys parents, but then again the father was a total douchebag. At the beginning of the movie he calls his son a loser and in the end is a bit proud of him. Well, if you think that your son becoming a successful, normal person is worth less than him throwing a huge party, banging chicks and whatever, then fuck you, you deserve it all.

I don’t want to go in all the details of what is wrong with this movie, but just know that this was really an epic party, with some hilarious moments of a midget punching balls and various finger-banging techniques explained, so if you just switch you’re brain off for the duration of it, you might enjoy it.

Overall, I had fun watching it, it’s a spectacle alright, but although I laughed at most of the jokes, I also felt depressed because it might be one of the most juvenile movies I’ve ever seen. If you like sex-comedies, recommended, if not, don’t bother. Project X is like some really hardcore porn, you watch it and think “oh, yeah, that’s awesome!”, but if it really came (no pun intended) to it, you’d be like “nah, I’ll pass”.

"I seem to have wondered into the wrong movie. Could've sworn it said "Project X" on the door."