Tag Archives: TV

Review of Dreams in the Witch-House (2005)

23 Sep

Masters of Horror – Dreams in the Witch-House is a horror/thriller/fantasy episode of a TV horror anthology series, each one-hour episode done by a different director.

Directed by Stuart Gordon (Re-Animator (1985), Stuck (2007)).

Written by Dennis Paoli (From Beyond (1986), Dagon (2001)) and Stuart Gordon (Body Snatchers (1993), The Dentist (1996)), based on a short story by H.P. Lovecraft.

Starring: Ezra Godden, Campbell Lane, Jay Brazeau, Chelah Horsdal, Yevgen Voronin, Susanna Uchatius and others.

I want to note, that this series of horror stories is pretty cool and unless it’s something really interesting, one hour is actually a decent length for an average horror movie, because usually when it’s more, you can see that the concept hasn’t been broad enough for it to sustain 90 minutes and they throw in pointless padding.

A physics student starts renting a shoddy room in some apartment building and as he works on his project, he gets to know his neighbours: the building’s asshole manager, a young woman with a baby and a creepy old guy. You know, your typical set of oddball sitcom neighbours.

Soon the guy starts having various weird dreams. In one of them the single mother is doing full-on nudity and turning into an old, ugly woman, who is equally naked. Then he keeps seing a rat with a man’s face, which looks really silly. Then he’s in a library and Necronomicon appears briefly. All this is due to some witch, which the title hints at.

Beside the close-ups of a talking rat, the movie has some decent suspense building, some over-the-top gore and almost depressing last 10 minutes.

Overall, it’s ok, nothing really special though, it’s an odd mix of brutality and a stupid rat. Not bad if you decide to watch it, but nothing really worth looking up. Not recommended.

Pictured: If you try really hard you can make the rat-human in your movie look less scary than anything from The Witches (1990).

Review of Star Trek Unaired Pilot (1965)

17 Dec

Star Trek S01E00 – “The Cage “ (1965) is the rejected pilot episode of the sci-fi/drama/adventure series Star Trek.

Directed by Robert Butler (Turbulence (1997), White Mile (1994)), who is best known for various TV movies and pilots.

Written by Gene Roddenberry (Mr. District Attorney (1954 TV), Highway Patrol (1955 TV)), who is considered the creator of Star Trek.

Starring: Jeffrey Hunter, Susan Oliver, Leonard Nimoy, Majel Barret and others.

I have never been a Star Trek fan, I’ve had Star Wars to fill my need for some space odyssey. Prior to this I’ve actually only seen the 2009 J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek film. And it was good. So ever since that my interest in the franchise has been growing. I find these large franchises intriguing, since it isn’t like watching a season and then there’s nothing left other than waiting for another season to come out or something like that.

And since I always try to experience things chronologically, like they are meant to, I decided to just start at the very beginning. And what is more “beginning” than a pilot that wasn’t picked up?

I thought it’s going to start off incredibly cheesy like from the first minute, but it is obviously taking itself very seriously.

Jeffrey Hunter is very charismatic as Captain Christopher Pike, I would have loved if he had stayed as the lead of the show. Also he looks a bit like Ray Liotta. It’s interesting that Leonard Nimoy is the only actor that was kept in the other pilot, even though executives didn’t like Spock. In this Spock isn’t quite the same character as in the real series. He touches some noisy Talosian (a planet where they end up for some unclear reason) flower and smiles in amazement. Susan Oliver is astoundingly hot and has one of the bluest pairs of eyes I’ve ever seen.

The special effects are like 50/50 bad to good ones. The aliens “Talosians” have these well-made, but extremely cheesy and cliché pulsating vein-covered heads, which from behind look just like butts. The set on the planet consists of obviously fake rocks and a painted background, which actually adds a weirdly claustrophobic feeling. There’s some people in weird alien animal costumes that I thought were going to be totally random, but they actually did use them for a reason. The inside of the USS Enterprise is all covered in the classic boards of computers that seem to be there just to blink random lights. But they did use these very cellphone-like devices, which I found cool. Also there’s a well-done aging/disfiguration transformation make-up effect on Susan Oliver.

How exactly do the Talosians know about Adam and Eve? How do they know this ancient Hebrew story? And why when they are able to communicate through telepathy, they decide at one point to talk with their mouths.

It feels like a real 60’s sci-fi B-movie, it even has a more or less appropriate length to be considered one. But I don’t mean that in a bad sense, it actually is more intelligent than most 60’s TV series and sci-fi movies and that is one of the main reasons it wasn’t picked up by the studio. And I guess for a show that was watched mostly by older children, this might be a bit mature.

Overall, I think this is a great pilot and I would have enjoyed if they kept going in this direction, although, as I haven’t watched the following episodes, I can’t tell which version I’d prefer.

"You know Spock, as far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangste...uh, I mean a starship captain.".

Review of The A-Team (2010)

23 Oct

The A-Team (2010) is an action/comedy film based on the 80’s TV series of the same name.

Directed by Joe Carnahan  (Blood, Guts, Bullets and Octane (1998), Narc (2002)).

Written by Joe Carnahan (Smokin’ Aces (2006), Pride And Glory (2008)), Skip Woods (Thursday (1998), X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)) and Brian Bloom, who’s usually an actor and is one in this movie as well.

Starring: Liam Neeson, Sharlto Copley, Bradley Cooper, Jessica Biel, Quinton Jackson, Patrick Wilson.

I remember liking the TV show a lot in my childhood years and then revisiting it in early teens and finding it kind of dull and the nostalgia wasn’t enough for me to enjoy the series again.

And as the original show was mainly aimed at 12 year olds in the 80’s, this movies doesn’t seem to be sure who is it made for now. Is it for the current 12 year olds or the now 40-year-old… boys, who grew up watching the show.

It sort of succeeds in recreating the kind of ridiculous action, prominent in the 80’s, but while it does achieve a sense of fun, it fails to get me involved enough to make me care about the outcomes of the action scenes. And speaking of action scenes, it does that stupid new trend in action movies, having this confusingly violent editing, which gives you no sense of what is happening, cutting between shots like billion times a second, so epileptics beware!

At times it openly ignores physics, yeah, the absurd falling tank scene, I’m looking at you.

The freeze-frames combined with character names shown on-screen does work in this.

The soundtrack is pretty rocking, but they should’ve used the theme song more, which is one of the most iconic theme songs ever written.

Sharlto Copley’s Murdock was the best thing in the whole movie. Crazy and entertaining, just how he is supposed to be. Copley is one of the most promising new movie stars and it’s funny how fast this unknown South-African guy got to starring in major movies.

Patrick Wilson was my second favorite of the film, just because of how entertaining he is, playing a douchebag asshole.

The other actors do okay, but B.A. Baracus doesn’t really work without Mr.T, but I guess Quinton Jackson did the best he could and didn’t do as badly as I expected.

The CGI was bad. And again, tank scene, I’m talking about you.

It is pretty enjoyable as a mindless action flick, but I really didn’t care about anything concerning the actual plot, so the action felt only mildly captivating at best. Not an insult to the show, but not a compliment either.

"We are very disappointed."

Review of The Walking Dead Season 2 Premiere

18 Oct

The Walking Dead (TV)What Lies Ahead” (2011) is the first episode of the second season of the drama/horror/zombie apocalypse TV series based on the comic book series written by Robert Kirkman, who’s also a writer and executive producer on the show.

Directed by Ernest Dickerson  (Dexter (TV), The Wire (TV) & Gwyneth Horder-Payton (Sons of Anarchy (TV), The Shield (TV)).

Written by the show’s creator Ardeth Bey aka Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption, The Mist) and Robert Kirkman.

First of all, I must say that I am a huge fan of the comic books, those are just the best thing ever, I should thank my friend Dmitri for recommending them. So my opinion of the show is kind of biased and I care about the characters way more than if I had never read them.

Although I think the show is great, I wouldn’t say that it has or will change television, but it definitely shows that television has changed and surprisingly to the good side. When was the last time you saw an almost 20-minute sequence with basically no dialogue and a ton of suspense? There’s one fact I noticed on Wikipedia that might mean something in the future, when the studio executives will think of what to do with this information.

On October 16, 2011, the season two premiere set a new record of 7.3 million viewers making it the most watched drama in the history of cable television.

Is that true or not I don’t know, but that’s pretty cool.

Seriously this might be the best zombie related thing in the cinema/TV in the last 10-20 years. I’m not saying that there hasn’t been any decent zombie movies in that time period, but has there really been something as memorable as Romero’s Night/Dawn/Day zombie flicks? I think no. And I don’t think it’s even worth mentioning TV and zombies.

This episode shows how Rick is slowly becoming a bit more ruthless for the sake of protecting his pack.

One of the biggest concerns I have is the kid actors. Chandler Riggs who plays Carl is already like 12, so I don’t understand what are they going to do when on the show it’s just been a few months, when in reality he turns 16 and is 6’3″. I’m sure they’ll figure something out, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see. I’m also wondering about that Rick thing (those who have read the books know what I’m talking about).

Norman Reedus (one of the character’s written specifically for the show) is pretty cool as this bad-ass hunter redneck, although he does look like a homeless person.

I was still a bit surprised by the ending, somehow I didn’t see it coming. I suppose, because I was waiting for a different scene. But I can’t imagine how pant-shittingly shocking that might be for non-readers.

Oh, and the zombie make-up effects might be the best I’ve ever seen.

Overall a pretty solid season start, which is good because the end of season 1 was starting to get sloppy. If you haven’t started watching this show, what are you doing here? Go, watch it!

Got some change? Will give archery lessons for food!

Review of 12 Angry Men (1997)

30 Sep

12 Angry Men (1997) is a courtroom drama/crime  television film, based on the same teleplay as the 1957 film of the same name.

Directed by William Friedkin (The Exorcist (1973), The French Connection (1971)).

Written by Reginald Rose (Man of the West (1958), The Wild Geese (1978)).

Starring: Jack Lemmon, James Gandolfini, George C. Scott, Tony Danza, Hume Cronyn, William Petersen, Edward James Olmos and others.

Well, this is one absolutely unnecessary remake, that managed to really piss me off. I honestly can’t believe this won a Golden Globe and 2 Emmy’s. The 1957 original in my opinion is one of the best movies ever made, the character interactions, the tension, the morality, the cinematography of it is executed with such craftsmanship and precision, that you forget any leaps of logic or other flaws that your mind might suggest, because your heart is in the dilemma the characters face.

The film is about twelve jurors, who have to decide the fate of the accused in at first glance seemingly clear case.

The main problem with this is that it doesn’t do anything new. The updated script doesn’t help the feeling that the source material is dated. The racial diversity doesn’t add anything much and I didn’t notice how there was added enough for the movie to be 20 minutes longer than the original. Ok, that’s not entirely true, it did make the whole thing seem a lot slower, if messing up the pacing was what they’re going for, then congrats, you did it. The original had this urgency and they occasionally went to the restroom, which allowed characters to ponder their decision and the audience to take a breath, here the actors just seem to go through it with a “let’s get this over with” attitude.

William Friedkin is a pretty good director but this felt amateurish. It’s hard to believe this made-for-tv waste of time came from a director, who made such a genre classic as The Exorcist and won an Oscar for The French Connection. The movie was the opposite of anything “fresh”, the word I’d use is not often used to describe films, but this movie felt “stale”.

George C. Scott doesn’t even come close to Lee J. Cobb’s performance in the original and his breakdown at the end is so overacted and the comments from the other jurors come across as heavy-handed and cheesy. James Gandolfini is underused. William Petersen and Tony Danza would’ve worked better if they switched their parts. All the acting is forced like every line they’re saying is so damn important as if it’s a play and you have to make sure the last rows understand what you’re saying. These are good actors, Jack Lemon, Edward James Olmos? What are they doing here?

I also don’t get why they decided to radically increase the ages of the characters. I’ll give you two progressions of the ages of actors at the time of portraying the characters in both versions.

12 Angry Men (1957) – 32,33,35,37,38,41,43,46,52,52,56,75

12 Angry Men (1997) – 36,37,40,44,46,47,50,67,70,72,80,86

Oh, yeah, you know what would be cool? Let’s make half of the jury senior citizens! It’s not that I’m just pissed about the actors being older, but the only reason for this movie to be made is to update it to modern views, but it ends up just the same only with some race, nationality and religion related remarks thrown in, the increased age of the characters only adds to the feeling of senility.

Overall, I totally hated it, the only thing it has that the original didn’t have is color, yet I’d say the 1957 movie was a lot more colorful  and rich than this washed out crap. Definitely not recommended.

“And that’s what is going to happen to the boy if we send him to prison. Ok, Ossie, you can pull it out now.”