Review of Dark Star (1974)

30 Oct

Dark Star (1974) is a comedy/sci-fi/thriller film, which is the feature-length debut of John Carpenter, who is the director, producer and co-writer on the film.

Directed by John Carpenter (Assault On Precinct 13 (1976), Escape from L.A. (1996)).

Written by John Carpenter (The Fog (1980), They Live (1988)) and Dan O’Bannon (Alien (1979), Total Recall (1990)).

Starring: Dan O’Bannon, Brian Narelle, Cal Kuniholm, Dre Pahich and others.

From the first moments it’s apparent that the budget of the movie was extremely low. It is basically a student film stretched to a feature-length. So I feel wrong criticising this kind of movie to harshly, but at the risk of sounding like an asshole, I do think that sometimes if you know you don’t have the budget to pull off your ambitious project, you should consider the possibility of toning down the special effects. It’s better to have one amazing special effects shot than a crapload of shitty ones. Thankfully or sadly, this movie has both.

The outer space scenes look rather jarring, because when the spaceship kind of stops, it just freezes and hangs in the space, so it seems like you’re looking at a freezeframe, which I am not sure that it isn’t. Maybe it’s just my brain that has this standard set-up inside, when I think of spaceship moving through space, I instantly flash back to the opening shot of A New Hope. And that’s an unfair and high standard to judge a pre-Star Wars movie with a way smaller budget.

We are introduced to some astronauts in a spaceship called „Dark Star”. Ka-ching! (That is the sound that plays in my head, whenever I hear the title of a movie appear in the movie) The astronauts banter a bit and then decide to listen to some country music as they look for a star to blow up. Oh, ok. I guess that inspired the movie Space Cowboys.

They reveal that the astronauts have been on a solitary space mission for 30 years. The incoherent banter, country music and a scene with a beach-ball made up to be an alien suddenly make so much more sense. Or does it? Even though they’ve been out there for a while now, they all still look like a bunch of scruffy-bearded 30-year-olds.

The movie hasn’t aged well, it feels incredibly dated, but you can sort of forgive the movie’s silly, cheap effects, sets and props, because it’s all mostly played for laughs. And at times shows genuine inventiveness, like a terrific scene taking place in an elevator shaft, which is obviously shot in just a hallway, yet done cleverly enough to provide enough of the illusion, for us to suspend our disbelief.

The film is basically a comedic portrayal of how boring and with that also insane it would be to be out there alone with a few guys for so long. There’s a scene where they attempt to tell some old stories, but it’s been so long that they fail to both recall them correctly or find a pair of ears that have not heard them before. I’d like to think it’s a completely serious take on what their mission is like, just through their perspective it all seems wacky.

It doesn’t feel like a John Carpenter movie very much, the score is great as is usual for his films, but it invokes a very different feeling. Although this isn’t the most polished movie, but for a shoe-string budget directorial debut from the 70’s it shows a lot of promise, although, I can’t imagine anyone seeing this and then expecting something like Assault On Precinct 13 or Halloween or later on The Thing, but it’s clear that a fair amount of talent and intelligence is present.

Yes, it’s a pretty smart movie, the humor is no slapstick packed gag blast. It’s played on the absurdities the genre’s limitless possibilities present and inserts polar opposites for comedic effect. The ship’s captain has died some time ago, but is still held in a state of suspended animation and the crew is able to communicate with him, which leads to a scene where one of them does this and I thought the scene was kind of creepy. In another instance there’s this intelligent bomb, which itself is pretty silly, but then it has this conversation with a crew member and it goes to either a satire of or an actual philosophy lesson on rationalism and empiricism. The ending is both morbid and funny as well.

Overall, I enjoyed some parts of it, didn’t at all care for others, recommended for those interested in Carpenter’s early stuff, not recommended if you think a guy literally surfing through space isn’t for you. It’s better than that Fantastic Four movie, though.

Pictured: What inspired Alien. I’m not even joking. This is it.

Review of Once Upon A Time In The West (1968)

25 Oct

C’era una volta il West also known as Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) is an Italian western/adventure film, about a mysterious harmonica player protecting a widow of a farmer.

Directed by Sergio Leone (The Colossus of Rome (1961), Once Upon a Time in America (1984)).

Written by Sergio Leone (A Fistful of Dollars (1964), A Fistful of Dynamite (1971)), Sergio Donati (The Sicilian Girl (2008), The Big Gundown (1966)), Dario Argento (Giallo (2009), Dracula 3D (2012)) and Bernardo Bertolucci (The Triumph of Love (2001), The Conformist (1970)).

Starring: Charles Bronson, Henry Fonda, Claudia Cardinale, Jason Robards, Gabriele Ferzetti, Keenan Wynn, Lionel Stander and others.

We start off with a blast to the cinematic nerves in our eyes. There’s one iconic image after another. A cowboy standing in the door-frame, with his coat flailing in the wind. Two of his associates come inside, they take over a railway station without uttering a word. They just wait for a train to arrive, doing pointless and minute things, that don’t serve any other purpose than guide us into their characters. It’s pure cinema, we enjoy what we are seeing as it is happening. We live in the moment on screen, because a few moments later the lifeless bodies of the bandits will fall to the ground and we realise, there was no tangible reason for these characters to be introduced.

The train arrives. It leaves. A man is left standing there, playing a harmonica. They watch each other, a classic suspense building excercise in westerns. The leader of the bandit speaks and soon after that they meet their sorry fates. Now maybe all the posturing wasn’t so pointless after all. If we saw these, distinct in their own bad-ass ways, bandits fall from the gunhand of this harmonica player it means something. It means he’s pretty damn bad-ass himself. I mean, it’s Charles Bronson after all.

Sergio Leone is known for his almost B-movie like, fast-paced and in some ways mocking westerns, but there’s always been something that elevated them way over some classic American westerns, with his iconoclastic approach, while developing his own style and showing incredible potential as a filmmaker. Now here we see Leone fully embracing the iconic wild west, slow pacing, almost Shakespearean themes, Tonino Delli Colli’s absurdly beautiful cinematography, Morricone’s score (now involving some wild electric guitar work), turning this in a full on spaghetti western epic.

A fact that can’t go unmentioned is Henry Fonda as Frank, the villain of the film. He shoots a man and his three kids and then shoots us with his piercing blue eyes, leaving us trembling and asking ourselves how this good guy of American cinema can now be this ruthless bastard.

Charles Bronson plays the main character named Harmonica. I guess, because he plays that harmonica so much. Although, I wouldn’t call him a good player, since he keeps playing the same bit over and over, it’s a cool sounding one, but really it’s not that hard. It’s like his own little theme song. Every hero should have one, but not so often they are played by themselves. Kind of pretentious.

I would by no means call myself an expert on westerns, my familiarity with the genre mostly comes down to Leone’s work and general knowledge of movie history. But including Leone’s films, the few other westerns I’ve seen and clips in documentaries on films, this is the most visually impressive one I’ve seen. I don’t want to constrain it to just westerns, it’s arguably among the best looking movies ever made.

The slow pace at times gets tiring, but it’s not because Leone failed to make an action movie, it certainly wasn’t his intention. He has made a tribute to westerns and that’s what makes it so cool. It’s a compilation, a distillation of the best western imagery. It’s in a way a ‘best of’. But as it sometimes happens when you try to list examples that represent the best of something, you might find it hard to stop, to know where to draw the line of what to keep in. It really is more about the silence before the storm than the storm itself. There’s these sudden bursts of violence, but each preceded by a long, suspenseful game of waiting for the exact right moment. It’s that period in a revolver duel stand-off, where two characters sweat and grimace. A lot of skill is necessary not to cut short or extend to boredom this period. If anyone can pull it off, Leone is the man.

Overall, I loved this movie. How can you not love a movie that has a line like “How can I trust a man who wears both a belt and suspenders? The man can’t even trust his own pants.”? Maybe not the best introduction to the genre, but definitely worth watching after gaining some experience in the western/spaghetti western genres. Recommended.

“Hey, have you heard this one?”
“Yes, I’ve fucking heard it, you’ve been playing it like non-stop since we met! If you’ll play it again, I’ll jam that harmonica down your throat, you repetitive fuck.”

Review of Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning (2004)

21 Oct

Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning (2004) is a Canadian horror/thriller film, that is a prequel to Ginger Snaps and was shot back-to-back with its sequel Ginger Snaps: Unleashed.

Directed by Grant Harvey (Freezer Burn: The Invasion of Laxdale (2008), Held Hostage (2008)).

Written by Christina Ray (The Collector (2004 TV), XIII: The Series (2011 TV)) and Stephen Masicotte (The Dark (2005)).

Starring: Katherine Isabelle, Emily Perkins, JR Bourne, Brendan Fletcher, Hugh Dillon, Adrien Dorval and others.

We’re back with the Fitzgerald sisters. Yes, both of them. And it’s really nice to see Katherine Isabelle back in a leading part, no matter how contrived the reason.

And the way this movie is set-up is really silly, we have the same actresses, basically play the same characters with the same names, just thrown into the 1800s. They even act like they’re from modern times. It is considered a prequel, but it’s less ‘let’s provide a backstory for the whole werewolf thing’ and more ‘let’s put the sisters in this wacky situation’.

So they’re wandering through a forest, Brigitte steps into a beartrap and they run into some native American dude, who takes them to some civil war-camp. The men there seem to be weary of some kind of evil outside the camp, so they’re kind of distraught when these two teenage chicks just waltz in.

Ginger seems more innocent at the beginning here than in the first one, but it doesn’t mean the film takes a very different route with her character, except that she’s a lot more passive this time.

Some other familiar faces from previous films pop-up, but in very small and different roles. I’d rather have liked the allegories about becoming a woman and all to make an appearance. Ginger’s transformation both visually and psychologically is so much less impactful.

I liked the whole ‘holding down the fort’ aspect, which I was expecting from Unleashed. The outpost is being attacked by werewolves and no one is too happy about this, the tension rises even more with the possibility that there could be some danger on the inside of the walls. This leads to an homage to The Thing, where leeches are used as a test if you’ve got the „wolf’s”.

Although it doesn’t even come close to the original, this one, as was the case with Unleashed, does provide more of a tonal consistency and doesn’t feel so broken up into acts. Here we get a spooky atmosphere throughout, but its effectiveness is debatable in the light of how silly the whole thing actually is when you think about it.

What it boils down to, is that this is just the same story as the original, minus the modern-day setting and what made it stand-out. It’s watchable, but not memorable. It probably has almost nothing to offer to those who didn’t see Ginger Snaps, while having almost equally almost nothing to offer to those, who have.

Overall, admittedly this is a bigger waste of time than Unleashed, but I did like this better. However, it’s really not worth watching, not recommended.

“Hey man, you got any weed? I have some serious glaucoma going on.”

Review of Looper (2012)

17 Oct

Looper (2012) is a sci-fi/action/drama film, set in the future, where time travel is illegal and used only by criminal organisations.

Directed by Rian Johnson (The Brothers Bloom (2008), Breaking Bad (2008 TV)).

Written by Rian Johnson (Brick (2005), Evil Demon Golfball from Hell!!! (1996 Short)).

Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Jeff Daniels, Pierce Gagnon, Paul Dano, Noah Segan and others.

This is another one of those cases, where I feel like saying anything is almost spoiling too much, but I have to say something, so I won’t reveal anything, that the trailers didn’t already show.

So the movie takes place in the future, 2040’s, time travel isn’t invented yet. But it will be invented in 3 decades. There’s these people – loopers, who work for a criminal organisation, that wait for people who are sent back from 2070’s and kill them. Our „hero” is one of these guys. He kills people and gets a shitload of silver for it.

But in the future-future there’s this bad guy The Rainmaker, who decides that the loopers should be sent back in time and be executed by their own younger selves. This is where our „hero”, 30 years older, comes in.

First of all you’re introduced to this future world, which is very realistic, it’s not some over-the-top dystopia, it’s mostly different by having more advanced technology and different trends, it does not like Blade Runner, but it does have that feel of it, There are these people controlling stuff and our hero isn’t sure of his loyalty to those people, also dipping into film noir quite heavily, starting with voice over, multi-dimensional characters with huge flaws and the clothing. And considering Rian Johnson made a modern-day true film noir film with Brick, I bet this was very intentional.

Both Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Joe and Bruce Willis’ Joe are not the best people, they are anti-heroes to the point they drop the hero’s part, especially older Joe. They act in their own best interests, ready to do the most awful things if they find it necessary.  Both actors are just brilliant. Levitt is becoming one of the most convincing actors of his generation and in combination with the phenomenal make-up work mimics Willis with such precision you forgot it’s even him. And it doesn’t feel cheap, like making him look like Willis early in his career and doing an impression of him. You’re convinced this guy could get older and look and act like the older character played by Willis.

The performances by supporting actors are also excellent. Jeff Daniels is charismatic as the young Joe’s boss, who would usually be this stereotypical villain, here he is a mildly evil used car salesman with a lot of power. Paul Dano is Joe’s friend, it’s a pretty small role, but memorable, Dano is a young actor, who has been mostly excellent for the last decade, Emily Blunt is good as a vulnerable single mother with a tough exterior. And the 5 year-old Pierce Gagnon actually might have delivered the best child performance of quite a long time now. He totally sold it and I wasn’t annoyed by him as I am usually with child actors (Jake Lloyd?).

The time travel aspect is actually really well thought out and no wonder, since Shane Carruth, who made Primer consulted Rian Johnson and if there’s one person in Hollywood (read ‘sort of making movies’) that understands how hypothetical time travel might work, it’s Shane Carruth. But Johnson’s brilliant writing makes it so it’s not a cold examination of time travel paradoxes, but actually makes it a moving, human story, which happens to have awesome sci-fi concepts in it.

Overall, it’s nice to see an intelligent, entertaining, well-made, original and emotionally moving film, that’s a fucking R-rated sci-fi action piece. So far this is probably my favourite movie of the year. Definitely recommended.

“Hey, young me! I will shoot that midget if you don’t let me ass-fuck you! What are you worried about? If you think about it, it’s just some good ol’ masturbation!”

Review of Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2011)

14 Oct

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2011) is an action/fantasy/thriller film, based on the Marvel Comics character Ghost Rider and is the sequel to Ghost Rider (2007).

Directed by the filmmaking duo of Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor (Gamer (2009), Crank (2006)).

Written by David S. Goyer (Death Warrant (1990), The Unborn (2009)), Scott M. Gimple (The Walking Dead (2010 TV), Life (2007 TV)) and Seth Hoffman (House M.D. (2004 TV), Prison Break (2005 TV)).

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Violante Placido, Ciaran Hinds, Idris Elba, Johnny Whitworth, Fergus Riordan, Christopher Lambert and others.

Neveldine/Taylor is enough for me to sell a movie, ranging from their best (Crank 2: High Voltage) to their worst (Gamer) movies, one thing is clear, it’s going to be interesting to watch what crazy shit they’re going to pull this time. So here we have a sequel to what is generally considered one of the worst comic book movie adaptations. And then there’s Nicolas Cage.

We open to some black guy coming to a monastery led by Giles from Buffy. He rescues a woman and her son from some bad guys. And then the woman and kid run away from the black Frenchman, who decides to turn to our good old friend – burning skull guy.

Poor Johnny Blaze, his hairline has completely changed in just a couple of years and now is decidedly receding. So the black guy approaches him and basically says „Save this chick and you’ll get your soul back,” and Blaze is like „ok”. The deal is some bad guys have the woman’s son and he goes to get him back. He does get him and then there’s scenes where Blaze and the kid, who is pursued because of his destiny, start bonding and the boy starts admiring him, it reminded me a lot of Terminator 2.

This time the Ghost Rider effects look a lot better and he’s actually sort of terrifying. When you first see him as Ghost Rider you realise, that these guys were meant to make this movie. It’s as usual. visually very stylised, even dialogue is sometimes shot handheld with rapid zooms, there’s animated sequences, and great, memorable action set-pieces. Ghost Rider is actually bad-ass, he sort of now has a personality of his own. To be clear, I know almost nothing about the Ghost Rider mythos and so I didn’t care how faithful it was to it.

But the most important thing is that Nic Cage is used correctly, he’s a powerful tool in the right hands. I just love the guy. Here, they have him totally start freaking out as he’s about to turn into the Rider and Cage goes into his overacting mode, which is gloriously entertaining. The key aspect here is fun, when Cage seems to be having it, he’s awesome.

Maybe I’m not allowed to judge it, because I watched the movie on a 3D TV, but I really found the 3D barely noticeable. Speaking of 3D, Christopher Lambert appears as a monk with a tattooed face. Yeah, I know, maybe Christopher Lambert was worth a separate paragraph.

It’s not trying to be this over-the-top B-movie, but it is and that is what I like about Neveldine/Taylor, it’s that they do things that they think are cool and funny and those are the same things that I like. Seeing Ghost Rider pee fire? Count me in! Although, I would almost wish they would’ve gone even a bit crazier, but they did a lot within the constrains of the PG-13 rating. Yeah, I’m never satisfied.

Overall, it’s really not a „good” movie, don’t get me wrong, but it’s entertaining as shit. If that shit was on fire and hitting people with a chain while being on fire and hitting people with a chain. Recommended.

They’ve really outdone themselves in the special effects department this time. Those glowsticks look so bad-ass together with the halloween kids make-up.

 

Review of Ginger Snaps: Unleashed (2004)

9 Oct

Ginger Snaps: Unleashed (2004) is a Canadian horror/thriller/drama film, which is the sequel to Ginger Snaps.

Directed by Brett Sullivan (The Chair (2007), The Border (2008 TV)).

Written by Megan Martin (Ninth Street Chronicles (2006 Short), Tangled (2010)).

Starring: Emily Perkins, Eric Johnsons, Brendan Fletcher, Tatiana Maslany, Katherine Isabelle, Janet Kidder, Pascale Hutton and others.

We return to follow Brigitte, the younger of the two Fitzgerald sister from the first movie. She is using the „cure” she developed in the previous film, but there’s a problem – it works only temporarily so she has to take regular injections.

She soon ODs on the stuff and is taken to a hospital/rehabilitation facility. She doesn’t feel like she fits in with the rest. I have to add that there’s only female patients there, which allows there to be the biggest douchebag of a male-nurse ever, even exchanging various drugs for some sexual services. Though it seems that even if he didn’t have anything to offer in return, most of those chicks would jump at him.

This is tonally a very different movie, but themes are somewhat similar. Locked up in the institution, Brigitte starts slowly changing, both physically and psychologically. The humor of the first movie is pretty much gone. What we get instead is some bizarre scenes, like when during a group meditation session, Brigitte starts seeing all the girls in the room start to masturbate, following instructions provided by the doctor. I guess, that’s amusing. More similar to the tone of the original is a group therapy session scene, where Brigitte describes what will happen to her if she doesn’t take her medication and the therapist writes in her notepad „lesbian?”, the ending also is quite humorous, yet very dark.

Soon we learn that the „locked up in hospital, growing fangs” isn’t the only problem and something ominous is going on outside the building and I got a bit excited, I thought it was going to be „holding down the fort” kind of movie, something like Dog Soldiers only set in a hospital instead of a house. But they disappointed me and halfway into the movie Brigitte teams up with this girl who looks like barely 13-14, but apparently drives a car. So they both escape.

The werewolf puppet heads look a lot better than in the first one, but these are actually different werewolves than what we saw in the first one. Also Brigitte’s transformation was a lot more gruesome than Ginger’s, Ginger was a sexy werebitch, Brigitte looks like the Elephant Man.

Emily Perkins as Brigitte convincingly grows up from the previous movie and is able to hold her own here and gives a better performance than before, however, besides her, there’s not really any other stand-out performances. Tatiana Maslany was quite annoying, but she does deserve credit for looking 13, while actually being 18. Katherine Isabelle appears, which was nice, but it felt more like fan service than actually having a reason to be there.

Overall, some people consider this superior to Ginger Snaps, I certainly do not, even though it’s more consistent, it lacks in many departments, but by horror sequel standards it’s pretty decent. If you watched the first one and would like to see what happens to Brigitte, give it a try. Not recommended.

“”You shouldn’t brush so hard! It’s not good for the teeth! Oh, look at me, I’m a dentist!” Let’s see what you have to say about this, you asshole with no medical degree!”

Review of Red Scorpion (1988)

6 Oct

Red Scorpion (1988) is an action film.

Directed by Joseph Zito (The Prowler (1981), Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)).

Written by Arne Olsen (Cop and a Half (1993), Repeaters (2010)), Jack Abramoff and Robert Abramoff.

Starring: Dolph Lundgren, M. Emmet Walsh, Al White, T.P. McKenna, Carmen Argenziano, Alex Colon and others.

Once again Dolph Lundgren plays a Russian, however, this time he’s the good guy. For the most part. He’s a Soviet Spetsnaz trained, KGB agent sent to an African country to fight the damn anti-communists. Oh, you can stop right there, I see where this is going. I saw Avatar, I know he’s eventually going to join them, because his higher-up is a major asshole. Get it? Major? Because he’s a soldier? Ah, nevermind.

His first night there, Lundgren gets drunk, gets into a fight with a couple of people, speaks gibberish with a Russian accent, sings an amusingly senseless rendition of the anthem of USSR and other things that are supposed to make us believe he is truly a Russian guy with Russian guy troubles, which are mostly remembering his native language should contain at least some actual, existing words.

Obviously he’s too Russian for some people, so some officers come by and throw Nikolai Lundgren into a jail cell. There he spends about an hour pondering his devotion to his country and he figures that since they are treating him like a huge, violent and drunk guy, while torturing someone else, he’s on the wrong side.

So he teams up with an African man and an American reporter and they escape the prison. The reporter, played by M. Emmet Walsh, really hates Nikolai for being „a fucking ruskie”, let me guess, they’re going to be pals by the end of the movie. Spoilers. Yes. Yes they are.

For some reason, the only music you can hear in Africa is that of Little Richard. Seriously, there’s at least 6 fucking instances of Little Richard on the soundtrack. I like him alright, but it doesn’t make sense. Is this an homage to Predator or something?  I don’t get it.

Lundgren is sort of ok, but most of the time I can’t even understand half of his dialogue, the role is completely one-dimensional and the whole movie is exploitative of the 80’s action hero cheese craze, for example, having Nikolai getting ready to go swimming, with no other purpose than to have him shirtless for an entire action sequence. And I’ve always liked him better as a villain, Rocky IV, Universal Soldier, never cared that much for him as a protagonist.

The action scenes are not very memorable, maybe except a couple of  bits during the climax. Nikolai (at this point randomly smeared himself with black paint, because that’s the best camouflage in the desert) is fighting like hundreds of military guys and then suddenly one of them appears with no shirt on and holding a knife. Why? Did he think he’s the protagonist? Stand out moment is when Nikolai shoots a guy’s arm off. That was nice.

Red Scorpion is basically a First Blood knock-off, having both Nikolai and Rambo be disillusioned by their service to the country. But, while Rambo was actually an interesting character and the movie did comment on aspects of Vietnam, Red Scorpion is stylistically more similar to later Rambo movies and having this overblown action, an actually dumb hero, and the Cold War propaganda so blunt and heavy-handed, that it just doesn’t hit any intelectual or emotional beats.

There’s also another part of the movie, which just comes out of nowhere. Nikolai starts hanging out with some bushmen and for a while it becomes this odd buddy movie having his relationship with one of the bushmen resemble that of Robinson Crusoe and Friday, surprisingly this is the most enjoyable part of the movie.

Overall, it’s dumb, not consistently entertaining, entirely forgettable. It’s just your typical B-grade 80’s action flick, lacking anything that would make it stand out from the other one  and somehow made on an almost A-budget. Not recommended.

“Hey you want to know why I’m wearing cut-offs? Have you ever heard of nevernudes?”

Review of Ginger Snaps (2000)

3 Oct

Ginger Snaps (2000) is a Canadian horror/comedy/drama film, following the Fitzgerald sisters and their collision with the world of lycanthropy.

Directed by John Fawcett (The Boys Club (1997), The Dark (2005)).

Written by Karen Walton (The Listener (2009 TV), Flashpoint (2008 TV))  and John Fawcett (Half Nelson (1992)).

Starring: Emily Perkins, Katharine Isabelle, Kris Lemche, Mimi Rogers, Jesse Moss, Peter Keleghan, Danielle Hampton and others.

When I started watching this, I wasn’t actually aware that I had seen it before. But I had seen it like some five years ago late at night on TV, just turning it on during the opening titles and missing the title itself. I remembered thinking it was quite decent back then, but it seems I had missed more than just what it’s called.

We follow two teenage sisters, who are social outcasts and mostly just hang out together and have a very close relationship. Ginger (yes, the one who snaps) is somewhat more extrovert than her sister Brigitte. And I have to be honest, I have a thing for redheads, so I find Katherine Isabelle incredibly attractive.

Contributing to their social outcast is the fact that for a school project they take photos of each other portraying them dead in various ways very realistically. I’m not sure what was the project supposed to show from an educational standpoint, but it sure made for an excellent opening title montage.

The hook is that finally (because they’re like 15-16 years old) one of them starts menstruating and one evening a mysterious wolf-like beast attacks the sisters. Soon after that menstruating isn’t the only thing happening to the girl’s body.

The movie has a great deal of dark humor, while not parodying the werewolf genre. The humor is reminiscent of Heathers, even the male „lead” (or closest to it) Kris Lemche resembling young Christian Slater. Sadly, though, when the horror aspects of the movie kick in, the humor takes a step back. There’s still funny moments, but they are only for those with a messed up sense of humor. Thankfully, that’s the one I got.

It’s most interesting aspect and asset is the movie serving as an allegory for young women going through changes,  maturing, discovering their sexuality and the frustration that comes with it. However, one might argue that the film explores these themes not quite to the extent that one might hope or expect. So it might come off more like a sarcastic remark, than actually having something really genuine to say.

Both lead actresses deliver pretty great and convincing performances, embodying their characters. The other stand-out performance is the mother of the sisters, who is just hilariously peppy, oblivious and upbeat in comparison to her morbid daughters.

The movie is of this cycle of post-scream somewhat self-aware horror movies featuring teenagers, similar in both its themes and style to The Faculty, only the horror hook is werewolves instead of aliens.

Of course, the movie has its shortcomings, but I pretty much loved the movie and would definitely place it somewhere in my top 10 werewolf movies of all time. Somehow the transformations have become the main criteria by which to judge a werewolf movie, but here it is excellent in entirely different way, because it’s done gradually, we don’t see a special effects bonanza like in the not less excellent An American Werewolf in London, but it’s horrifying nonetheless, much like in The Fly, although in that case I have to admit The Fly is no less a showing off of special effects than An American Werewolf in London.

What I ultimately want to give the movie credit for is not forcing anything, they don’t force the comedy (tongue-in-cheek or otherwise), the transformation, a happily ever after ending and even the whole puberty/feminist message doesn’t come across as forced.

Overall, I enjoyed it a lot, I cared for the characters, it had more substance than is common for horror movies and it was suspenseful and entertaining. Definitely recommended, even for people not that into horror. And girls should be especially interesting in checking it out.

“Had they not gone into the whole wolfman business, they could’ve had great portfolio work when looking for a job as special effects artists.”

Looking Back or How to Stop Worrying and Keep Writing the Blog (1 Year Anniversary)

30 Sep

It’s almost hard to believe I’ve actually been doing this a whole year. And not because I’ve done a great and important or hard and necessary work. It’s surprising, that I’ve actually kept this up for so long. It is because I usually soon lose interest in things and other than writing about movies there’s almost nothing that keeps me doing this.

I have not gotten popular, my writing has barely improved, there’s nothing about my blog that stands out on the vast array of movie review blogs on the internet. But in a way it’s not the point, you have to be delusional to go on the internet today, write some opinions and think that surely you’re going to be the next Roger Ebert or Armond White.

Every movie I’ve written about has at least a dozen other reviews floating around the internet for the interested to find, so the chance that someone might be interested in a particular movie enough to go read reviews on it and to keep at it long enough to stumble upon mine, well, the chance is slim.

For me this blog has been more about documenting my musings on various genre films. If someone reads some of them and find them enjoyable, I’ll admit, it warms my heart, but I’m not desperate. I have no intention to say my opinions are right, my criteria consistent or criticism actually something you’d call „film criticism”, but I like to share my own stupid little world of thoughts with the world.

In the last few years movies and TV have become the largest part of my life. Even an obsession. It might sound sad to some people, but these aren’t the people who would read my reviews or would know enough about movies for their opinion to matter to me. What can I say? Fun is subjective. For me it’s movies, for someone else it’s going to nightclubs and for someone else it’s killing babies. To each his own.

Return to this obsession deal, it has become important to recommend a movie to people if I really liked it or ruthlessly make fun of shitty movies. It’s cathartic to me, I get that stuff out of my system and can move on. It doesn’t really matter if someone reads it or not. I’ve written a review and it’s done, I can forget about it. And I do, then after some time I read an older review and don’t even remember some of the jokes and I enjoy them myself. So yeah, I’m not trying to be pretentious when I say that I write for myself.

But please don’t get me wrong. I absolutely love getting feedback. Instantly, when someone comments on a post, the review pops back in my memory as if I’ve just finished writing it and I find great pleasure in replying. I like getting „likes” as well, because it gives me some weird sense of being appreciated. Why weird? Well because someone has just clicked a button at the bottom of the page, I actually have no way of knowing whether the person actually read the post and liked it.

This is just some of my free-form thoughts on internet movie criticism, similar to my pointless reviews and less a real, constructive looking back at a year of work. It’s nice to know that I have about 130+ reviews on here, just waiting for the end of the internet or a reader. During this one year I’ve, of course, seen more than 130 movies, probably closer to around 400 and with every seen movie I believe I know a little bit more about cinema and with every review I feel more sure of my writing and the form of my reviews have changed slightly.

So the real looking back is going to start now. I am now going to go through all my reviews starting with the first one, while still writing new reviews and I will add additional information, correct typos, categorise and tag my reviews and update the writing the best I can.

With looking back, I look forward to another year of movie reviews.

Review of Dredd (2012)

25 Sep

Dredd also known as Dredd 3D (2012) is a British/South-African action/sci-fi/thriller film, based on the 2000 AD comic strip series Judge Dredd.

Directed by Pete Travis (Henry VIII (2003), Endgame (2009)).

Written by Alex Garland (28 Days Later (2002), Never Let Me Go (2010)).

Starring: Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby, Lena Headey, Warrick Grier, Wood Harris, Domnhall Gleeson and others.

Sadly in the public mind Judge Dredd is most often associated with the 90’s Stallone movie, and even though I thought it was ok as a kid, deep inside I knew it was shit and never cared to find out more about Judge Dredd. Had I seen this movie as a kid, I would have been running around with a bicycle helmet on my head for at least a week. I can’t stress this enough – this is not a remake of Judge Dredd (1995), this is another adaptation of the comics.

It’s the future, Judges are like the last thing that upholds the law. Dredd is one of those Judges and one day on his patrol he is forced to take a rookie female Judge with him. They both go to an apartment block, to investigate brutal triple homicide. They crash into this apartment, where gang members are dealing and using drugs, they arrest one of them to interrogate, but the gang leader learns of this and closes of the block, locking Dredd and rookie Anderson inside it. They have to find a way to get out of there alive.

This  is just one of the things I loved about the  movie – it’s on a limited scale and period of time. It’s basically a ‘day-in-the-life’ story about Dredd. It’s simple, yet not simplistic. The setting is also cool, because, despite being a dystopian future, it’s not over-the-top, it’s very believable.

The gang uses a new drug called ‘Slo-mo’, guess what it does? Nice to see a movie, where there’s actual reason for using slow motion. The slow motion shots are just beautiful, combined with 3D and sometimes gore, that’s just art. The 3D use is actually the best I’ve seen so far in any movie, the compositions are great, it doesn’t feel forced or gimmicky, while adding to the entertainment.

Judge Dredd himself is really cool. Yes, the helmet is always on, which is a thankless role for Karl Urban, who did an amazing job, being virtually unrecognisable, but adding so much personality to a character, who is supposed to be the faceless hand of law. He seems pissed off, but doesn’t lose his cool, he’s not arrogant, but is confident, he doesn’t have any huge character arc or romance pushed onto him. At the end of the movie he hasn’t changed, his opinion about something might have changed, but not him as a character.

Both the side-kick rookie Judge Anderson and gang leader Ma-Ma are both great, not being more than they should be, but suggestive of much deeper characters than we’re shown.

Overall, one of the best action movies of the year, a comic book movie not afraid of the letter „R”, but probably suffering at the box office due to that fact, combined with the previous adaptation of the character and pretty low awareness about the movie. Go see it, while it’s in the theatres, first time I can really say it’s worth to go see a movie in 3D. Definitely recommended.

“Well, my father was a cop and my mother was 😦 , so yeah…”