Monday, May 30, 2011

Review - The Hangover Part 2 (2011)

“Seriously what is wrong with you three?”

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Ed Helm, Zack Galifianakis and Ken Jeong
Director: Todd Phillips
Writers: Craig Mazin, Scot Armstrong

I think I can hear what most people are going to ask. Is it similar to the first movie? Well not wanting to get ahead of myself, but yes. Maybe things are a little more amped, but the beats are pretty much all there, including the way it ends. Does this make the movie a disappointment? I wouldn’t be telling the truth if I said I wasn’t a tad. But does that make it a bad movie? Well read on people and find out.

First off we will get this over and out of the way. When I say that this movie is similar to its predecessor I mean it. The ending unfolds the same, the movie unfolds by the bread crumb trail of clues, and the boys are driven by the same search for the missing person. It’s a tad off putting really as it shows nearly zero creativity, and yet I was still laughing throughout the movie. Basically the movie realises that with the course being set by the previous movie, the only option is too become more outrageous and over the top. While it was nice change that one of the boys (Ed Helm) was the groom it didn’t really make much of a difference. The writing does a great disservice to this movie as maybe with a few tweaks, and a few change ups this sequel could of been a rare one up on the original. As it stands the script does seem to misplace one of the most important things the first had, it's heart.

So while not being drawn in by the plot this time round, the comedy was all on the shoulders of the characters. Bradley Cooper’s Phil is the rock in the middle of the group, and honestly while I think Cooper did a good enough job, I don’t think he was given all that much to do. I honestly didn’t care about his character, and it did seem that he hadn’t developed much from the last time. Zack Galifianakis as Alan was doing his normal shtick and yet this time he wasn’t that sympathetic. In the first Hangover I did feel a little for him, he was trying hard to fit in, and he was just this outcast that maybe could have been a good person if he had good friends. However this time around he was just an arsehole, and while he did soften later in the movie I couldn’t stand him some times. Thankfully I think this is more to do with the script, as when away from his arsehole moments, I did find him enjoyable. Ken Jeong returns as Mr Chow and is the one line king in this movie. There is always the possibility of these type of characters wearing out their welcome, but yet I was still hooked. Finally I’ve left Ed Helms as Stu till last. He is truly the stand out of this film, thanks to having much of the plot on his shoulders he was the make or break character. While I thought he was a little short changed by the script, he really kicked ass. Moments of weakness, strength, insanity, everything was here and I was the most invested in Stu. My hats off to Ed Helm as it seemed most of the heart that was in the first movie, had left this sequel, and yet what was left was all because of him.

The look of the film was a bit grimy, which I guess is good for the setting. It was nice to being able to immerse into a place, which frankly I wouldn’t want to go there my self. Well maybe the island getaways. Still this look did produce a movie that finally breaks free from its predecessor. Some scenes you could really feel the sweat. However this is a comedy so don’t expect visuals to knock you on the arse. It does its job in setting up the atmosphere, and allows for the feeling that the boys are a long way from home. So I guess that’s a thumb’s up there for the movie.

I’ve read some other reviews criticising this movie about its lack of originality. But that’s not really a problem, because if it captured everything from the first movie then we would have all thought it was a good laugh. It may have lost a point or so. The real problem is the laziness in some of the writing, character arcs are not fully explored, and the heart the first movie had is lacking in this entry making it a lesser film. Still I can’t rip this movie to shreds because I did laugh. I left the theatre a little amped. So if you are looking for a good comedy go and see The Hangover Part 2, just don’t go expecting anything to original. Oh and if you hated the first I would skip this. You’ve been warned.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Comic Picks of the Week #4

Yes it’s back but slightly retooled. Since I was a little kid I’ve been watching movie’s and been giving my thoughts on them. I use to write reviews for the school paper. But reviewing comics is a new thing for me, and I haven’t been happy with the last lot of reviews I’ve done. I don’t think I developed a keen enough eye for the art mainly. So I’m now going to pick out a few of the comics from my pull list each weeks and do a brief, I thought this was cool paragraph.

Also I don’t think this should be a one way street. I want some suggestions from people out there. What did you think was the best of the week? What series do you think I should jump on? Trust me, my local comic book store will thank you. So without further ado, let’s get to this weeks picks.

Uncanny X-Men #537: I jumped onto this series with the previous story arc, so Breakworld is new to me. The biggest compliment I can think of is that this story arc has intrigued me even though I don’t know the entire back story. I’m finding the characters really well realised. Also being an old X-Men fan, it’s nice to see Colossus and Kitty Pride take centre stage. Gillen is a great writer and I can’t wait to see where this is going.

Green Lantern Emerald Warrious #10: I’m a Guy Gardner fan, and it was great to see him take a pivotal spot in the story while in the thick of things with Hal, Kyle and Jon. I’ve heard rumblings on the internet that people have been turning away from Green Lantern over this War of the Green Lanterns story, but I’m not really sure why. It’s fun, has some great character moments, and I’ve like the Green Lanterns having to resort to the other colour lanterns.

Xombi #3: Yep I’m still loving this series and this issue we get a pretty decent fight. Also the villain is finally revealed a little, so I’m beginning to understand the threat level Xombi is facing. However the cards are still not all revealed, so I can’t wait to see where it’s heading. There is also a great pace starting to be developed as the hero’s seem on the back foot for most of this comic.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Review - Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011)

“I thought I should give you warning. We're taking the ship. It's nothing personal.”

Starring: Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Ian McShane, Geoffrey Rush
Directed: Rob Marshall
Writers: Ted Elliot, Terry Rossio

So the forth Pirates is upon us and the question on everyone’s mind is if we should set sail with this movie, or make it walk the plank into Davy Jones locker. I can remember the first movie and really enjoying it. Looking back on the first movie, Captain Jack Sparrow had one of the best entrances I can remember for a character, there was a sense of fun, and while it was a long movie it didn’t feel as bad as parts 2 & 3. Both sequels were over long, over complicated and the charisma on display from Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightly were lacking. So all in all, it seemed like a good idea to get a new movie going free from the previous sequels. Right?

Wrong. Oh man was this movie a big disappointed. While I was a bit put off that it would be all Jack Sparrow, I at least thought that the movie would be fun to suit its lead hero. The problem is while Jack is front and centre he’s not completely the focus. The story is yet again too complicated for its own good, and so very very very long. It doesn’t need to be, as there are plenty of mini sub plots that could have been cut. I’m not sure why the makers of these pirate movies seem to think that they need to cram the movie with story. Anyway it becomes a boring mess, because whatever momentum could be gained is wrecked when we have to wander off to the side plots.

However story issues aside I was hoping that the acting would make up for the plot. Yet again I was disappointed. Look Johnny Depp may have breathed life into the role of Captain Jack Sparrow but in this movie I got the distinct feeling that Johnny was just going through the motions and was almost bored sometimes. I honestly I think the gold that was Captain Jack Sparrow as been mined away and there is nothing left. So it was up to Geoffrey Rush and Ian McShane to keep my interest. Rush’s character of Barbossa was given some major focus and yet not much screen focus. This is ridiculous considering his story arc. You actually make a character more important to the plot than Jack Sparrow but then don’t give him that much time to fully get the audience hooked into his arc. As for McShane his performance was great, yet what he was given was pathetic and I just didn’t give two hoots about him as the major villain Blackbeard. Everyone else I just didn’t care and no one had the charisma to make them memorable.

Look wise the movie didn’t skimp and it was here that I got most of my enjoyment. It’s a shame that the plot and acting of the movie really does bore me to the extent that while it’s pretty, I’m just not drawn into the world. This is a big shame in my mind. This is a world that I want to explore, and a light and breezy adventure with Captain Jack could of really worked, its just every bit of myth and legend this world weaves is so laboured with back story it just makes my brain hurt.

This movie is supposed to be a fun, swashbuckling tale but it fails at the basic agenda. Most of the actors seem bored, and if they aren’t then they are let down by the script. Visual the movie does look good but without the foundation of a good plot and characters it becomes nothing more than a ride. And there is the thing. The first movie managed to catch lightning in the bottle, but these sequels just can’t do it. If you did enjoy parts 2 & 3 of the pirate movies then go and see it, but if you’re anyone else just avoid it till it comes out on television.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Quick Movie Reviews: Vol 4

Well we’ve got a few movies to get through today. Most were movies I missed out on when they came out, one was a new movie by a director I’m very interested in, and finally one was shown to me by a friend who thought I needed to indulge in the insanity. So without further or do, ladies, gentleman, mutated people across the world, lets delve into another Volume of Quick Movie Reviews.

Panic Room (2002)

A bit back I finally watched this movie. Being a David Fincher fan, I’m not sure why I was so reluctant to watch this movie. After the viewing I kicked myself in the ass, as I did myself a massive disservice. This is a tense film where the ultimate bad scenario occurs. Jodie Foster is excellent as the mother trying to protect her daughter, I also thought Forest Whitaker as one of the robbers was also fantastic as he gives a layered performance, and while he’s one of the bad guys we can see it’s not all crystal clear. Fincher knows atmosphere and is able to generate a ton with little effort. As always he knows exactly what he wants, and he won’t quit until he gets his exact vision.

Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girl (2009)

This was my first introduction into the over the top gore movies that have come out of Japan over the course of the last few years. To its credit this movie didn’t turn my away from the genre, and I do want to watch a few others. Tokyo Gore Police to name one. This movie is exactly what it sets out to be. Over the top gore, comedy, acting and pretty much taking the piss out of everyone and everything. However as a movie it doesn’t really work, it’s more of freak show, and so while I was entertained I’m don’t really need to see it again as I’ve sampled all its wares. Also should probably point out that the movie can get pretty racist, it tries to hide this under the guise of making fun of everyone, but it didn’t really seem necessary.

Knight and Day (2010)

I want to punch Tom Cruise in his face so much. I think that about covers it. As for this film I also wanted to punch it in its stupid face as well. Okay the action was okay, and there were some bits that had me genuinely excited. I may have also laughed at one or two things. For me the really failing of this movie is that Cameron Diaz and Tom Cruise share zero chemistry. I wondered what Tom saw in her and vice versa. Also the plot is incredibly stupid, with Diaz being made to look like a buffoon for most the movie. It was so bad I wanted to fly over to America, borrow a bucket from a friend, fly back to Australia, start watching the movie again with said bucket on my head, and start hitting the bucket. The only consolation was that I didn’t have to spend any money on watching this piece of drek.

The Slammin Salmon (2009)

I really dig the movies of Broken Lizard. I remember watching Super Troopers at the cinema and just laughing from start to finish. Even now after I’ve watched it to the point that would send most people insane I still laugh. Each of the follow up movies has also generated a great amount of laughter. I’ve been looking forward to The Slammin Salmon for a while, and I have to say I didn’t laugh as much. It’s still a great film, and there are plenty of great moments, but for some reason it just didn’t tickle me the same way before. I’m honestly going to chalk this down to waiting two years to see this, and expectation being built way too high, but I wouldn’t be honest if I said this had me rolling in the aisles like the others. Still the movie is good, and funny, and certainly worth taking a look at on Netflix or wherever you get your movies.

Source Code (2011)

Moon was a movie that knocked my socks off; what Duncan Jones was able to accomplish with the meager budget, and just one cast member was phenomenal. His follow up movie also taps into a deeper sort of Science Fiction movies have kind of steered away from. It’s a thinker. But while the premise is fascinating (a man relives the same 8 minutes in a dead man’s shoes, all the time searching for clues about a recent bombing), and the ideas of destiny, hope and of course how time works really do get the noggin chugging along. It’s the end that derails everything. There was a moment at the end of the movie that if the end point, would have left the audience thinking, and coming up with their own theories. Instead it tells the audience directly what has happened, and as such Source Code stumbles and instead becomes just a good movie, instead of great. If you’re a fan of the hard sci-fi, then I would still recommend this movie, as there is still enough to chew on.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Comic Pick of the Week - Batman Incorporated #6

Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Chris Burnham

I’ve done two of these so far, (three if you count the review I did for Girl on Book Action, a blog you should head to after you’ve read this) and I realised that I just haven’t read enough comics to give a really in-depth review of the comics that I pick. This doesn’t mean that I’m stopping but more that I’m just going to approach these reviews with a lighter touch. Of course then first comic up after I decide this is Batman Incorporated which is anything but a comic that uses a light touch. Let me explain.

Way back when I was directed to start reading Grant Morrison’s run of Batman starting with the trade Batman and Son. Over the course of the four trades I was amazed at how layered Morrison made his story. At the end of Batman RIP, I went back and noticed little touches all over the place. Not only that but Morrison looked back into Batman’s past and brought forward elements that might have been long forgotten. However this was not the end. I’ve still got some reading to catch up with, particularly some Batman and Robin trades and The Return of Bruce Wayne. However when it was announced that Batman Inc was being done I hoped on.

As with Morrisons other Batman work, Batman Inc is a dense story, you can see the threads of what has happened before, as well as things being set up. I might be a little lost, but Morrison is able to create this layered story with a sense of fun. There is a good deal of humour that never derails the story, and a respect for the camp entertainment Batman once was, but not getting so campy that it undermines the seriousness of the story. Issue six really manages to push every aspect that I love about this series, as well as show all the cogs of Batman’s plan beginning to work. Also on a side note, being an Aussie I love the fact that Melbourne now has its own Batman.

The art by Chris Burnham is very detailed, and matches the writing style of Morrison. He does a great job in capturing the individuality of each character, especially when there are multiple batmen in the scene. Also I admired the neat little details in the background. If I have one complaint about this issue, it would be an art one. I’m not sure what the thought behind it was, but some of the close ups of Bruce freaked me the hell out. Why? The eyes. Those were some scary damn eyes. But this is really a very minor complaint. This happens in two maybe three panels so it’s not the biggest issue.

Overall this comic gave me a fun ride and an engrossing over arching story that I want to see to the end. This particular issue really promises great things, and with Morrison’s track record with Batman it’s most assuredly going to end with a smile on my face. Now bring on issue seven, my brain hungers for more awesome.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Review – Your Highness (2011)

“I shouldn't even be here! I will probably die on this quest, Courtney definitely will!”

Starring: James Franco, Danny McBride, Natalie Portman, Zooey Deschanel
Director: David Gordon Green
Writers: Danny McBride, Ben Best

So when I saw the trailer to this movie, I actually got somewhat excited. What I was hoping for was a fantasy film that somehow tapped into what really happens in RPG’s. Yes I’m a dice roller from way back, and all those heroics you see on the screen, the teamwork to end an ultimate evil, a group that only thinks of the greater good, it’s all a load of crap. Things go to hell pretty quickly, and the only thing players normally concern themselves is with survival, leveling up and getting that awesome sword he read about in that book that he wasn’t supposed to. Yep, I couldn’t wait for the ribbing to begin, and while occasionally the movie hits that right note it never succeeds fully. Time to see what went wrong.

I’ll start on the acting as it’s wasn’t the worst thing in this movie. Say what you want about James Franco but he plays the na├»ve heroic prince pretty well, it’s just with the lack of focus the film has, he sometimes seems lost. Danny McBride has done this role before, and being one of the writers meant he was probably the most sure footed of all the actors, the problem is he plays his guy as a dick and doesn’t have that much character growth, or more importantly the growth seems heavily forced. Sure I’ll laugh at what he does, but it won’t make me give a crap about him. Now I can’t believe I’m saying this but Natalie Portman is atrocious in this movie, she just doesn’t seem to know the character she’s playing. Also her acting choices just don’t gel with everyone else’s less than serious tone. With the side characters, some worked, others didn’t, but the main reason why I won’t get into them is that I just didn’t care. Most were there to be the bearer of one joke and then leave. Oh and poor Zooey Deschanel, she is so much better than the thankless role she was given.

The plot of the movie is pretty simple, Prince Fabious (Franco) has his wife to be (Deschanel) kidnapped by the evil wizard Leezar (Justin Theroux). Prince Thadeous (McBride) is forced to join his brother on a quest to rescue her. While such an A to B plot should have kept the movie focused the movie is really lost and never seems to have momentum. The problem is that a lot of the movie was ad lib. This is probably why some of the more serious actors like Portman have so much trouble. While it’s fun to kind of screw around with the fantasy conventions, the genre actually lives and dies on its story. Hence with the it being all over the place, it really destroys what could have been an awesome movie.

The humor is also pretty lacking in the movie, with most of the laughs supposed to be coming from the characters swearing in this fantasy world. It’s funny for the first two or three times but after a while you just wan the movie to get into something a little more meatier. There are a few times when the jokes do hit, and these were the little winks to the nerd crowd that I was hoping for. Actually maybe they weren’t there for that reason, but I’m sure many a role player would have gotten a hearty laugh. In truth I laugh out loud about two times. This is not a very good sign.

There are some ideas in the world, which are pretty damn cool. When the hero’s are in the arena, I thought the idea behind the monster was pretty well though out. However the ideas never seem to belong in the same world. Now the question could be asked, why does that matter in a movie that is making fun of the fantasy world? As I stated above the Fantasy genre needs a solid world and plot to thrive. A movie that is trying to be a funny version of that also needs a solid world to make the foundation of the jokes. Sure they may be books, but take for example the Discworld series. They do fantasy comedy so well.

I would not recommend this movie to people. I laugh out loud twice, maybe giggled to myself another 5 or so times. This does not bode well for a comedy. It has some decent actors and ideas, but its decision to ad lib most the movie completely unravels it. If you are of the mind that you have to go and see this movie, then rent it. You may find some things you laugh at, but going to the cinemas would be a waste of your money and time.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Censor Parents

For those who don’t have a finger on the pulse of the entire gaming world, a few issues have come up in regards to Australia and it’s game ratings, and how we seem to be a little bit of a laughing stock when it comes to our censorship. Now I won’t be getting into this issue full on, as I have friends who are a hundred times more informed than me. However with all the talk happening, it did get me thinking about censorship and more importantly how game/movie ratings are used as excuses to not look after children and not take responsibility over choices.

Let me first say that the Australian ratings board is broken. How can GTA4 get through on an MA15+ rating while Mortal Kombat is not only refused classification, but gets put on a black list as a big no no to ever own. Now at this point I’m not arguing over the violent content of Mortal Kombat, it’s just to me playing a character who sells drugs, guns people down, and basically causes mayhem is far more dangerous in the wrong hands than a game that has over the top violence that would never be able to be duplicated in a 100 years. (I say 100 because who knows what mutations me may have past that) The fact is we in Australia need an R18+ rating for games, so that we actually have not only an effective guide for people, but one that isn’t hypocritical.
Australian Ratings: Everything past MA15+ is not
applicable to games. Also the X18+ is for adult
entertainment. Hooha.
But as I said above I’m not going to dwell, when my anger should be directed at its rightful source. You see I’m beginning to get tired of hearing parents use the rating systems for both games and movies as the definitive answer to what their children should watch and play. I’m sorry but this is a load of horse crap, and firmly gives some shoddy parents the excuse of, ‘well it’s not my fault my kid went ballistic, I only showed them what I was told I could show them.’ Wrong. Your kid went ballistic because you couldn’t care enough to monitor him, and instead used the TV as a form of baby sitting. I know this isn’t aimed at all parents, most parents are good parents, otherwise we would already be living in a Mad Max style world, but the numbers have to be increasing and it’s really starting to piss me off.

My wonderful parents actually allowed me to watch some R18+ movies when I was only 11-12. They knew I really wanted to watch them, and so decided to let me but they actually monitored me as I watched them. They would have pulled the plug on the experiment as soon as I started behaving funny. They realized that it doesn’t matter about what the rating says, they are responsible and therefore they are the ones who will make the decision on what I watch. Sure the ratings guides are there to be used as (drum roll), guides, but they are not meant to be the law. Every child is different, every situation is different, and people need to take responsibility for their decisions, and not let it all hang on the ratings systems.
A world of half naked men, and car gangs await us if we don't take responsibility.

Now, the big question is why do I think that this is a very important issue? Enough to get me angry, and write this blog entry, and probably suffer the slings and arrows of many a troll. Simple. The more people we have not taking responsibility, the more people who use the ratings guide as a law, the more power that is given to the ratings guide. Suddenly you have problems, like what are occurring in Australia. At the moment Australia is trying to get a R18+ rating for games, however it’s being held up by a sense of apathy (by most in power) and of course pressure by people who want things to stay the same. Some people have been defeated, some hurdles jumped, and yet there are always people who want things to stay the same way even if this is a disservice to the whole. These people are ones who see the current Ratings Guides as the be all and end all, and of course are against the filth that might leak into childrens ears from the childhood assassins. However we all should be intelligent enough to make the call on what we watch and let our children watch, without people giving power to someone to create government regulation.

Look I’m not the most knowledgeable person in the world. The fact that I get my blog out at a somewhat semi regular basis is a wonder. The Monkey Cage if anything is something for me to get the anger out. The reason I post it, is maybe it might help people. But after all this I guess the one thing you should take away from this is people have to be given responsibility again. If a child does something horrendous, then the questions shouldn’t be directed at what they watch, hear or play, but rather at the people who have taken responsibility for them. Also getting away from children, people themselves should not be allowed to use the television, movies or game as a shield against their actions. Sure most don’t get away with it, but some have fed the media a little and suddenly they are the victim. Just be good to each other people.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Comic Pick of the Week – Uncanny X-Force #9

Writer: Rick Remender

Artist: Billy Tan

This week was a little difficult; here I was thinking my pick would go hands down to Fear Itself Book Two. Why? Well the introduction of the Worthy had got me excited. Not only that but with the slow start of Book One, there was expectation that things would really pick up. But then reading the latest Uncanny X-Men issue, I was amazed at the small, self-contained story that managed to have a lot more heart than you could have possibly expected.

Centring on Wolverine and Magneto, the story is about Magneto finding out the where about of a particular Nazi from his past. Knowing the existence of the Uncanny X-Men he enlists Wolverine in the task of killing the man. What could have been a brutal and bloody affair is actually transformed into a very sad story. This is in part, thanks to the awesome art of Billy Tan. The facial expressions that he creates for both Magneto and Wolverine, show men at odds with their feelings, and while they are both far down long dark roads there is a sense of ever pervading sadness that haunts them about what could have been.

The layout of the comic is four panels on each page, top to bottom, no deviation from this form what so ever. It really does make this comic stand out, and also at the same time create a flow to the story that could almost be like film. There is also a minimal use of dialogue. In fact right at the beginning Dr Nemesis (an X-Man) tells Namor (helping the X-Men at this point) to shut up and walk away. In my mind this sets the tone of the story. All super heroics please be checked at the door, this story is going to embrace the medium of comics and show exactly what can be done.

I’m thinking this is creating the impression that this particular issue is a sombre affair, and while yes the main brunt of the issue is serious, Remender allows Deadpool to at least have a line, and also to have some slight comedy. In this way the issue isn’t just a serious one shot for the sake of doing something different, but it add layers to this already fascinating series. Every character here is well realised, and I’m astounded how brutally honest this series can get some times. Harsh decisions, betrayal of morals, and an understanding that no matter how necessary they think their work is, no one on the team is going to get away with their souls untarnished.

This entire story is calculated on what is show exactly; some comic book fans may love the fact that there are little references in the pictures, but for me calling them references cheapens what is trying to be done. They are more reinforcements of what was, and how far the characters have yet to fall. Moving a little away from this particular issue I have to give a major round of applause to Remender for allowing each and every character to have their moments.

If there is one small complaint I have, it is the title. It’s called High Art and it instantly makes you aware of the intent of issue. I can’t help but feel it was a little smug; maybe that’s the point, or I’ve missed something, but I wish they didn’t use such an obvious title and let the readers decide it this comic exceeded normal convention to become something unique and wonderful. But honestly this is just a small nitpick.

This issue is brilliant, and being so self contained I would recommend anyone to just sit down and read. You really don’t need to know much background, and most of the story is told through the art which is spectacular in my opinion. I am a fan of this style, and reminded me of the art in the current Flash comics, which I’m also enjoying. Get out there people, and get this issue.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Review - Insidious (2011)

“It's not the house that is haunted. It's your son.”

Starring: Patrick Wilson, Rose
Byrne, Ty Simpkins, Lin Shaye
Director: James Wan
Writer: Leigh Whannell

So the makers of Saw have come back together to create a ghost story. The fact is, out of all the horror movies I’ve seen, the ghost genre seems to stick with me (I made it a point once to watch House on Haunted Hill on the big screen). I mean one of my most guilty of pleasures is watching Ghost Hunters, which I do adore. I’ve always been fascinated by ghosts and I guess this has extended into movies. The hardest thing in my mind, to accomplish in this genre, is to scare people without overstepping into the unbelievable. You need to make the audience feel that this could happen to them, you want them to jump at off sounds once they return from the cinema. With this in mind, can the men behind Saw; a movie that relied on gore and ingenious traps; be subtle enough to create a good ghost story.

Well to begin with this movie has me actually camped on two opinions. One is very positive, and the other is very negative, and it really depends on what you want from this movie. So let’s begin with the positive. I was scared, I jumped, my nerves were on edge and I was dreading what would happen. Insidious is an effective piece of tension building, and I wasn’t the only one. I know plenty of people who came out of the movie with jangled nerves and were dreading the inevitable time at night, when their mind would start to play tricks. Please note that the team of Wan and Whannell are really good at when and where to put their scary moments. Sometimes people were reacting to the movie with fear, without anything actually happening because they were anticipating something bad. This game of give and take works in the films favor and we are never sure when a scary event will occur. In the third act however it does lose this a little because it’s showing more. I certainly calmed down a bit at the end and I never reached that scared high like in the beginning. So when it comes to scares I know that this movie is effective, I’ve seen people get scared including myself, this means as a ghost ride it’s successful but unfortunately this is a movie, and it’s trying to tell a story as well, and this is where it all starts falling apart.

First off by playing it so subtle in the first two acts, when it comes down to the finale it seems so out of place. In fact I really wish the movie was resolved in a more realistic way. I’m trying to tip toe around the ending without giving away too much, but it was almost like another movie completely. Also they had to play catch up with the exposition, this leads to a thankless role for Lin Shaye who is an exposition machine. Sure she does have some fun as the ghost stories resident medium but still her dialogue is clunky as hell thanks to her having to explain everything. Another problem is that there are just holes in the movie. I won’t say plot holes as this would suggest the writer didn’t notice the flaws in logic, instead it’s as if entire scenes and background details were lost somewhere in transport and yet we have characters referring to these incidents as if we should know it. This just did my head in, and at times took me away from the atmosphere, which I mentioned above was bloody fantastic. Finally there are things that are telegraphed so boldly I was expecting some characters to wink to camera when the lines were said. All in all the actual layout of the movie makes it an unholy mess.

Away from the plot, other elements do shine. Visually the movie was very well shot; you learn to fear the dark even if nothing is happening. James Wan has such a great eye for creating off kilter scenes, it’s no wonder he wanted to attempt a ghost story. Acting wise everyone, including the kids, do a fine job. I was really impressed by both Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson. However out of the two Partick Wilson has the most trouble but this is solely to the lack of character development. Instead of letting his character develop naturally, the changes are just patched over with that exposition, and the audience is just expected to go along with it. The designs for the ghosts are also pretty creepy, and each ghost seems to have a unique aspect to them that does make them stand out from each other. Ol red face really got under my skin. A lot to do with the eyes.

So overall you have a movie that successfully scares people, has decent acting and visually works, but the framework of the story completely fails the movie, and turns what could have been a great ghost story into something you’ll see once and then discard. If you’re a fan of ghost movies, I would recommend it, if only to compare. If you’re after a scary ride, then yet again you could do worse. But honestly as a movie it fails completely structure wise, which does sadden me. What if the script was better? Imagine how scary this bastard would have been then.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Freak on a Leash

(This is a blog entry I already posted on an alternate blog. I've decided to consolidate all my blogs into one. So apologies if you've read it already. You may move on.)

So there I was walking away from the local food library when a little kid darted across me. My knee was nearly about to connect with his head and he would of gone flying as if I was Adon and the little fella was Dan. Thankfully I braked, managed to move my leg away and nearly topple over if it wasn’t for the handy counter near by. I turn to look at the kids parents who just happily moved about their business and never said anything to the child. I saw the boy jump onto the escalator unattended and I couldn’t help but think with joy that something from Mallrats was going to take place. Sure maybe it was an evil thought but to Para quote Brodie ‘but his mother should suffer that horrific ordeal so she'll learn how to manage her child!’

Now maybe I should just stop for a minute and say I have no real problems with children. They can be adorable sometimes. But I’m sick of parents not putting a god damn fucking leash on their spawn. I’m sorry, kids will be kids but you’ve got to rein them in especially if they are running straight into people and could be seriously hurt. I’m a big fucking guy, there is a lot of weight behind my knee swing, I’ve inherited my dad’s fucking leg muscles (he was a soccer player BTW), I’m pretty fucking sure I could go for fucking distance and send a child deep into the net. (Woo a sporting reference) If not for my sake parents; how about for your child’s sake? I’m sure you want them to live long enough to have to deal with taxes, idiots, being screwed by various politicians, religious icons, bosses and of course exes.

I think I can hear the rabid frothing of people which can only mean that logic is about to be brought to this knife fight. “Dan. Take a chill pill and relax. I’m sure it was a once off thing. You’re making too big a deal about it.” You’re absolutely right, if this was a once of that is. See in the last two weeks I’ve nearly kneed three children and each time the parents just didn’t care. Not only that but a month doesn’t go by that a child somehow enters into my path nearly causing accidents. It’s also not just me but what I see when I walk about. Also I should point out that I live in Australia. A deadly animal could be around any corner ready to feast on the young blood of the children. Well maybe that’s taking it a little too far. Anyway I’ve gotten off point. Back to children punching me in the balls.

Yep last year a small child came up to me and punched me in my balls. No warning, no reason, just a random crime that I attribute to the shows kids watch now a days. Limping to one side to collect my thoughts, balls and breathe; the mum told the child to say sorry. The boy did but I didn’t really respond. Not having me turn around and say ‘why that’s okay that your child used my happy sack as a punching bag, no problem at all,’ she got really pissy at me. Sorry but who here got punched in the balls. Hands in the air now. Yeah I thought so. Hey lady, stop being pissy and start saying to your child that you’re not supposed to do that. Sure this means you have one less tool to use in tormenting your dear husband but that’s why women have their fucking mind games. They are fucking Jedi mark my words.

Okay how to sum up this pile. Look most children are great, and most parents are caring and supportive. But there does seem to be an upswing in little brats and parents who don’t care. I think it all comes down to a world that is thinking kids are entitled to freedom. Bullshit. Kids need guidance, and their eventual freedom from the nest is something fucking earned. Children make mistakes but parents need to be there to show them the error. If some parents are failing on something as simple as, don’t run into strangers, then they need to start leashing their children. Come to think of it we could also leash some of the adults. You know maybe people have to pass a walking test to be allowed of the leash. My mind is bubbling with the creative possibilities. Anyway that’s all for now. Hope you enjoyed the first installment of ‘One Man Pissing in the Wind Theatre.