Tag Archives: 2008

Review of The Happening (2008)

20 Mar

The Happening (2008) is a mystery/sci-fi/thriller film. It is about people trying to get away from a neurotoxin that makes you commit suicide.

Directed by M. Night Shyamalan (Wide Awake (1998), Unbreakable (2000)).

Written by M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense (1999), Stuart Little (1999)).

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Zooey Deschanel, Joey Leguizamo, Ashlyn Sanchez, Frank Collison and others.

This is a movie that shows that Shyamalan is better in small amounts. After The Sixth Sense the quality of his movies keeps decreasing and now he has become more of a punchline in a joke about twist endings than a respectable filmmaker. I just don’t understand what the hell he was thinking when making this movie.

The writing is stunningly bad. As I was listening to the dialogue I felt like I’ve missed some class in human communication, called „Numbingly stupid conversations”. I just don’t see how someone could write these ridiculous lines and think „yeah, ‘hotdogs got a bad rep’ that sounds natural”.

There’s barely a chance for any actor to redeem the awful script, but Zooey Deschanel and Mark Wahlberg are not the ones to try. Deschanel is cast for reasons I cannot fathom. You know, because which hipster chick who is actually a musician and has been in some comedies can’t do convincing dramatic acting?

And Wahlberg? Can someone please explain to me, what exactly was he doing? I just didn’t get it. And him talking to a plastic plant didn’t help that either. He has some acting experience, how didn’t he realize that he is talking utter nonsense? The best I can describe it is, if Forest Gump somehow got through college and became a science teacher, he would talk like Wahlberg here. You know, still retarded.

I like John Leguizamo, but I’m sometimes surprised by either his choice of roles or him getting cast in those roles. Here he plays a character that could be summarized as latino-teacher-dad. It didn’t require a guy who played that clown thing in Spawn. In this movie his just a bit neurotic and compared to the other actors isn’t bad.

There’s a little reference to Psycho. And I started wishing I was watching that instead of this. Alfred Hitchcock liked twists as well, but on his worst day he wouldn’t make The Happening.

Could everyone stop saying the word „happening”? It is repeated like… enough times, to have a drinking game.

The actions of characters are also very peculiar. They have interesting ideas like hanging around on a porch with an 8-year-old girl, looking at the two guys who just been shot on it, I guessed they used up their running limit on that scene a couple of minutes earlier when they were running from the wind.

It sort of has a twist ending, although it is stupid and not surprising at all.

Overall, one of the most ridiculous mainstream movies I’ve ever seen. It’s just stupid. Not recommended, except if you want to watch this with some friends (preferably while drinking) and laugh about it.

Pictured: Wahlberg slowly realising what kind of movie he's in. (Also my expression while watching it)

Review of Taken (2008)

20 Nov

Taken (2008) is an action/thriller/drama film, produced by the well-known French director/producer Luc Besson, mostly known for his stylistic action movies.

Directed by Pierre Morel (From Paris With Love (2010), District B13 (2004)), who has worked as a cinematographer and in camera department on quite a few Besson produced movies.

Written by Luc Besson (Taxi (1998), La Femme Nikita (1990)) and Robert Mark Kamen (The Karate Kid (1984), The Transporter (2002)).

Starring: Liam Neeson, Maggie Grace, Famke Janssen, Leland Orser, Olivier Rabourdin and others.

It is basically a revenge thriller, except nobody dies at the start of the movie, but the main character goes on a revenge spree while trying to find his kidnapped daughter. And there’s something about these revenge movies that resonates in people. I guess, it’s because most people have at times wished to just go and beat the shit out of the people who have been assholes to you.

The acting mostly wasn’t all that good. Liam Neeson at the start of the movie is pretty awful, there’s something about him playing a normal guy that doesn’t really work, but when he actually starts doing cool stuff, he becomes totally awesome and kicks so much ass. Famke Janssen just doesn’t leave any impression. I had trouble believing that Maggie Grace’s character is supposed to be 17, Grace does try to be convincing, but it comes across a bit too forced. She spends most of her screen-time crying, thankfully, she’s not in the movie a whole lot.

The writing isn’t the greatest asset of this movie either. If the action wasn’t so great, the cheesy writing would have killed the movie. There’s some things that just don’t stand logic, but work because of Neeson’s performance, he can convince that he means all his cheesy lines. I can even forgive that photo zooming they do on CSI, where it is all pixellated and then easily cleared or the movie’s xenophobic tone, just to see Neeson being angry and karate chopping people’s throats. And he does those quite frequently.

Speaking of action, it is pretty great. Liam Neeson just going around and in this matter of fact way punching and shooting bad guys. And it has one of the best torture scenes in years. Luc Besson just knows how to make these testosterone filled high-quality popcorn trash movies. Yes, they’re stupid, but unbelievably entertaining.

How come that in movies, there’s always enough perverts among the high-society rich people to have these organisations, where they do this sick stuff?

I was surprised, when after watching this, I found out this is rated PG-13, it is quite odd for a movie about sex trafficking and a guy killing a bunch of criminals, so it isn’t overly graphic, but still pretty violent and unapologetic about it.

I definitely recommend this movie, because I had a lot of fun watching it. Don’t expect anything intellectual and when watching try not to analyse it too much and just enjoy Liam Neesonbeing a bad-ass. It got me pumped up and wanting to go out and punch some throat’s myself.

This is what Liam Neeson's character reads every night before falling asleep.

Review of 10,000 BC (2008)

13 Nov

10,000 BC (2008) is an adventure/fantasy/drama film set in the prehistoric era.

Directed by the German director Roland Emmerich (Independence Day (1996), Godzilla (1998)), who is known for making blockbusters.

Written by Roland Emmerich (Das Arche Noah Prinzip (1984), Stargate (1994)) and Harold Kloser (2012 (2009)), who is better known as a composer.

Starring: Steven Strait, Camilla Belle, Cliff Curtis, Joel Virgel and others.

I guess, I should state my opinion on Roland Emmerich first. Although I do like some of his movies (Universal Soldier) and think some of them are ok (Stargate) and even if I ignore the outright awful ones (Godzilla), with his movies there’s always this feeling that he is an idiot. There is a certain group of directors, which includes Michael Bay as well, that consists of these filmmakers that have some talent in one area, but are total morons in other ones and Emmerich falls in this category, sometimes making something decent, sadly, with this movie he doesn’t manage to do that.

After a couple of minutes you start realizing, that this movie just keeps slapping you in the face with its stupidity. If you’ve ever heard anything about prehistory, you might notice the movie seeming to be a bit off. I don’t know if Emmerich, while doing research for his script ever noticed that every major element of prehistory wasn’t happening at the same time. So the script consists of wildly clashing historical inaccuracies, just to support huge spectacles and visual effects. It makes it almost absurd when the tribe speaks in a very articulate english, actors of different ethnicities are playing members of the same tribe and this distorted history is thrown on top of it.

The movie showcases a spectacular set of historical inaccuracies. For example, horse domestication – 4000 BC, boats – 3000 BC, boats that are anything like the ones seen in the movie – 1100 BC, Egyptian civilization – 3150 BC, blue eyes – 6000 BC, mammoths galloping – not possible and so on. I’m not saying it should be totally accurate, it is a fantasy film, but why did they call it 10000 BC, when it should be called The Whole Prehistory? Also the movie takes itself so seriously. And when talking about himself casting unknown actors, Emmerich stresses it was done to not distract from the realistic feel of the prehistoric setting.

Speaking of casting, the actors aren’t really bad, but them being of different ethnicities and all having dreadlocks and speaking English in weirdly stilted accents, just was kinda unbearable. Also it is said that Emmerich rejected making the film in an ancient language, feeling it would not be as emotionally engaging. Well, I think a similar movie shows us otherwise, it’s called Apocalypto and it is a better film.

Another point is that it presented no feeling of how large are the distances they are travelling, it seems that in a couple of days they manage to do a month’s worth of foot travel.

It has a totally stupid ending, where we are supposed to care about this love interest which we barely see doing anything but wearing blue contacts.

Besides the idiotic script, there’s this horrible CGI, which is laughable. Seriously, they couldn’t make the CG animals more cartoonish and the green screen sequences more painfully obvious.

So yeah, the movie is a total waste of time and because of the shitty CG and horribly written script, I can’t recommend it to anyone. Only maybe if you want to make fun of it with some friends.

10,000 BC - Even the acting is CG.

Review of 100 Million BC (2008)

20 Oct

100 Million BC (2008) is a direct-to-DVD sci-fi/action film from the infamous film studio The Asylum, which specializes in low-budget mockbusters.

Directed by Griff Furst (I Am Omega, Swamp Shark).

Written by Paul Bales (2010: Moby Dick, Sherlock Holmes (no, not the Robert Downey Jr. one)).

Starring: Michael Gross, Christopher Atkins, Dean Kreyling, Marie Westbrook, Stephen Blackehart and others.

Oh, Asylum, you bastard child of cheap CGI and bad actors, how much pain does your movies inflict on humanity.

To be fair, I don’t hate The Asylum just because they’re trying to get some cash from being associated with better movies. I understand they want to make cheap sci-fi/horror/action films with awful special effects and a compilation of has-beens and C-grade actors and ripping off Hollywood movies is just their gimmick. This is a company that produces a lot of “so bad it’s good” movies, so I don’t have a problem with that.

This one definitely is in the “bad” teritory, but doesn’t quite reach the little spot of “good” at the bottom of the barrel.

Despite what you might think hearing the title, the characters actually travel to the year 70,000,000 BC to rescue a research team.

This rescue mission is led by Dr. Frank Reno played by Michael Gross. It was so sad to see him in this, but I guess you can’t live just on Tremors fame. He does a good job, but sadly he’s not as bad-ass as I’m used to seeing him.

Christopher Atkins was ok, and the others of the research team were bearable, but there was one hilariously bad performance. That was Stephen Blackehart. I haven’t seen him in any other movies, but I’ve seen some of his demo reels with clips of him in different stuff and it seems that his main thing is doing bad accents and passing it as acting. And in this one he is this hardcore military guy, who enjoys saying “fuck” to make everything he says intense. It’s incredibly funny and painful to watch at the same time.

Of course that is nothing compared to how torturing is the sight of CG dinosaurs and green-screen effects. I could make a cardboard cut-out of a velociraptor and run around with it behind the characters and it would look less out-of-place than these abominations they’ve created. On the other hand they don’t seem pretentious about it and I think they fully realize how bad it looks, also it’s pretty much a part of the mockbuster charm. Still with this I can let it go and pretend the CG stuff is actually there with a lot less difficulty, than Michael Bay tries to stuff his cartoonish transformers down my throat as something realistic looking.

I would recommend watching this with a bunch of friends, while heavily drinking, there’s plenty to laugh about. But it’s not a good movie in any possible way, I found it entertaining only until they return back to present. So yeah, not recommended, it is awful, but definitely not one of the worst movies ever.

Oh, and this movie has the funniest FAQ section on IMDb.com I’ve ever read. For example: “Is time travel safe? Yes, unless you are black.” You can find it here.

Honestly, this is the best looking thing in the movie.