Thursday, September 29, 2011

Disgruntled Monkey's Top 10 Comic Movies

Well this was one of the harder lists I’ve had to come up with. It wasn’t as simple as putting The Dark Knight as number one and calling it a day. I had to ask myself what comic book movies really stuck with me. Sure The Dark Knight is on my list but it was actually beaten out by some contenders.

This list represents some diverse sources and after really nutting out my ten I’m happy with what I’ve got. As always these are my personal favourites so don’t go crying that I’ve missed something. That fact is I’ve tried to do this list at least three times since I’ve started this blog and I’ve always had troubled. So I’m proud to finally get this bastard out there. Hope you enjoy.

10: Constantine (2005)

This comes in at number ten as this is very much a personal favourite, yet not something I can call an awesome example of comic book movies. Yes there are serious flaws, and John Constantine is not a full representation of the comic character. Yet I can’t help but enjoy this film as Keanu Reeves does a surprising job as John. To me there have always been two sides to John, the smartass and the tragic figure. The script ditches the smartass, but hits the tragic figure aspect right on the damn head, and Keanu manages to sell me on the character. Add to this an interesting take on hell and an awesome turn by Peter Stormare as the Devil, and you have a movie that rises above what could have been a horrid movie going experience.

09: Watchmen (2009)

Watchmen is a brilliant piece of workmanship, that shows Zack Snyder is very capable of both cherishing the source material but changing things that wouldn’t work with today’s audiences. Most of his work is based off other people’s works, and with Watchmen he hit such a high note I’m not sure if he can ever reach those heights again. Watchmen is a super hero movie, but also a character study, as well as a dark mirror of our world. Dense as all hell, visually stunning, it’s only real problem is the acting, but then Jackie Earle Haley’s turn as Rorschach makes us forget about some of the other actors. His performance is mesmerizing, and truly is the pillar that the movie is built around. It took along time for this movie to be made, the baton passed through many directors hands, but in the end the project was just waiting for Snyder.

08: The Crow (1994)

This movie has a legacy that often overshadows the movie itself. Brandon Lee was killed during filming of this movie thanks to a freak accident; as such many people remember this more than the movie itself. Alex Proyas gives us a movie that is rough around the edges, and hampered due to the tragedy, yet at the heart of this movie there is such raw emotion that the audience can’t help but be swept away. Love, revenge, hope, sadness and despair. Pure human emotions fuel this movie, and the quieter moments can sometimes be more fascinating than the action scenes. Brandon Lee has fun with his role, and brings forth a talent that seemed untapped in his previous movies. Michael Wincott is also a force to be reckoned with as Top Dollar the main villain. Wincott is every bit a force of destruction and chaos, as Brandon Lee is a force of love and revenge. Visceral as well as poetic, I do recommend people watch this movie if they haven’t seen it yet.

07: Mystery Men (1999)

A damn funny take on the super hero movie that also has a big heart beating away. It’s an underdog story like no other, and houses some great acting thanks to its line up. Geoffrey Rush, Greg Kinnear, William H Macy, Hank Azaria, Ben Stiller, Janeane Garofalo and Eddie Izzard to name a few. I will admit this movie was the beginning of my man crush on Geoffrey Rush, his turn as the villain Casanova Frankenstein is such a delicious performance. What is particularly great about this movie is that everyone of the main hero’s as a character arc, some may be smaller than others, but at least they get some time to shine. Just typing about this movie is making me want to watch it.

06: A History of Violence (2005)

Cronenberg makes a movie that looks at violence as a virus. I can’t say too much about this movie, as I don’t want to spoil it for people who haven’t watched it. But the general idea is a violent event happens to a man in a small town, this then starts to not only affect those around him, but brings unwanted attention. Viggo Mortensen as Tom Stall shows that he is one of the best actors out there at the moment, and isn’t going to be typecast thanks to a certain massive movie trilogy. This is a comic book movie that really does prove that not everything is about spandex, and some deep material can be mined from comics.

05: American Splendor (2003)

Harvey Pecker is a man that made a comic called American Splendor that was based off his real life, and often highlighted the things that perplexed him. The movie blurs the line between reality and fiction. It has Paul Giamatti playing the main role, but also has Harvey Pecker in interview mode as he explains some of his life events. Truly capturing the spirit of the comic, the actors are all great with Giamatti really excelling. This movie can be touching, frustrating, funny and is unique just like the subject matter.

04: The Dark Knight (2008)

Okay we knew that this was going to be on the list somewhere. A crime story that has superhero’s and villains as the main characters, it’s a somewhat realistic take on the comic book world. Nolan has really managed to create a Batman world that has engrossed many people the world over, and even those who shy away from the superhero movies have delved into Nolan’s work and found something they have enjoyed. Heath Ledger’s turn as the Joker is also fantastic and it’s a shame this was his swan song, as he gave a performance that just makes you want to more of. Every Joker has positive moments, but with Ledger we definitely got the agent of chaos that the Joker is in the best Batman stories. I can’t wait to see what Nolan brings to the next movie.

03: Oldboy (2003)

Oldboy blew me away. Dae-Su Oh is released after 15 years of imprisonment, what begins as a revenge story, morphs into a search for the reason behind his imprisonment. Demented, dark, it ooze’s style and made me a permanent fan of Min-sik Choi who played the main character. Based off manga I think that this is one of the more accessible Korean movies for audiences. Sure the subject matter is pretty dark but it’s not as confusing as some of the foreign movies out there. It has a relentless dark tone and I can only recommend this movie over and over again.

02: Scott Pilgrim vs The World (2010)

Sin City, 300, these movies were very close visually to the source material, but in my mind Scott Pilgrim is the movie that best represents the closest connection of film to comics. Edgar Wright creates such an interesting world where people explode into coins, and super fighting powers are the norm. The fact is through out the entire movie I never questioned the reality of the world, I just believed in it and went along with the fun ride. Michael Cera cops a lot of flak with his one note acting range, and I think there is a valid argument with the different portrayal of Scott that he gives, but he’s still good in this movie and I think he deserves more acknowledgement of this fact. However everyone’s thunder is stolen by Kieran Culkin as Wallace Wells. Everything he does is hilarious and really hopes this Culkin gets more work on the silver screen.

01: Road to Perdition (2002)

A gangster movie, that is also about the relationships between fathers and sons. It’s a comic book adaptation directed by Sam Mendes of American Beauty fame, and he brings that same great directorial eye to this movie. There is a certain beauty to this film, even at its most disturbing. However the visuals aren’t everything, as the acting is fantastic. Tom Hanks seems to dig into new ground as the hit man Michael Sullivan, I haven’t seen him act such a dark character but not only does he succeed, he exceeds expectations, and truly creates a believable father son bond with Tyler Hoechlin. We also have a strong cast with Paul Newman, Daniel Craig, Stanley Tucci and Jude Law. People need to watch this movie as it’s a tad underrated, and deserves more attention being shone on it.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Quick Movie Reviews: Vol 12

Fun. Sure I like to watch a movie to feel other emotions, but the main one for me is I watch moves for a sense of fun. This month the Fright Night remake really did a lot to remind me of the fun I can have when I watch movies. However this month also gave me some movies that were trying to be funny, trying really hard and yet just missed that mark. I think movies that are made my people who are too self aware of the fun clichés, can use them thinking that people will think their movie is cool, and not contributing any heart to the proceedings. Anyway that’s a minor gripe and I might come back to this topic at a later date, should get onto looking at another handful of movies.

The Warriors Way (2010)

Ninjas vs Cowboys with Geoffrey Rush as one of the cowboys. Was this movie made for me? Time to watch it. *fast forward two hours* Well that was a little shit then. Okay to be fair this movie is far from the worst one I’ve watched this year, however this movie seems to be begging the audience to acknowledge it’s cool. Some of the special effects are pretty, but most are obvious green screen and do break the illusion of the world. There is an idea here that is decent, but it actually seems rushed, and more time given to characters would have been appreciated. This was a disappointment. Oh and the line from the trailer that got me wanting to watch the movie wasn’t even in the movie.

Skyline (2010)

Skyline is a special effects reel to show off to people what skills they have. The story is pretty basic, and the characters are of the cookie cutter variety. The special effects are good and the creature design is unique. However as the movie progressed I couldn’t help but feel that there was a better story happening with other characters away from the hotel. When the ending hits I almost wish the movie started from the end and went on its merry way. But thanks to budget concerns the movie is seriously hamstrung right from the get go. Simply this was a movie that didn’t need to be made. It was a completely hollow experience; it was made even worse as some good ideas hid around some of the corners. I should have listened to all the negative reviews that I heard at the time.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009)

I heard the hype and this movie deserves every bit of it. This is a good old fashioned crime mystery that grabbed me from the get go, and didn’t let go till the end. It’s actually a pretty simple movie, just executed well and no delusions of grandeur. Where it really gets interesting is in the performances of both Michael Nyqvist and Noomi Rapace which are magnificent. Not only well acted but the characters do give the story a refreshing quality to it, and the movie is a character study as much as it is a mystery, but it doesn’t push it too far as to destroy the story. The story is allowed to flow and great things come from that.

Barney’s Version (2010)

Paul Giamatti plays television producer Barney Panofsky as he looks back on the wives he had during his life. What starts off as a comedy with hints of tragedy, makes a subtle turn half way through and turned into a tragedy with hints of comedy. The turn is so well done, and it doesn’t come from nowhere. The movie is subtle in how it sets itself up for the ultimate punch and in that regards it’s one of the best crafted movies I’ve seen in a while. Paul Giamatti plays the loveable shlub that he’s mastered in many of his movies, but doesn’t rest on his laurels and gives a fine performance every bit as subtle and masterful as the movie. By the end I felt drained from the emotional ride I had been through but thankfully the comedy does dull the blow so I can look back on this movie, and now that I want to watch it again sometime soon.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Review - Abduction (2011)

“There were only four of us that knew your identity, two of us are dead.”

Directed: John Singleton
Starring: Taylor Lautner, Lily Colins and Alfred Molina
Writer: Shawn Christensen

So I made a few jokes at the fact I was going to see this movie, sure it was a free ticket but I’m not that interested in Taylor Lautner’s abs. But in all honesty I hope to be impressed by movies that are out of my comfort zone. As I sat down to watch this movie I hoped that this would be like I Am Number Four, and entertaining enough to get me over the all teen drama this movie would surely have.

Okay the surprise here was I was kind of into the movie at the beginning. It wasn’t my cup of tea but I could see other people getting a kick out of it. Taylor Lautner was okay, and there was a slow build up. It gave us some character development. Not a hell of a lot but enough to get people to give a damn about them. But then maybe a quarter of the way through there is a line that signifies a wave of stupidity that’s about to hit. A wave that washes away any good will the movie was building. That line? “There’s a bomb in the oven.” Basically it is the first plot point that makes little sense, and is only there to add an action beat.

This movies biggest problem is the script. It’s written in clichés and has some of the worst dialogue I’ve heard in a while. By the end of the movie there were people behind me laughing at nearly every line being uttered by the characters. What was worse was they were being uttered by good actors who were turning in some of the worst performances I’ve seen them do. It seems that plot is sacrificed for the sake of action, and even then the action isn’t all that to write home about. Though Taylor Lautner does show glimmers of potential in becoming a fully fledged action star in the future.

 Taylor Lautner is competent in acting in the beginning. All he needs to do is act like a teenager and show a little inner turmoil. But it’s all pretty one note. When the action kicks in however he does seem to have a problem transitioning from emotion to emotion. It’s almost like he can’t actually show two emotions at once. I do think he has potential in becoming an action star but this will probably take time. As for the other actors they all are weighed down with the script and only three manage to overcome it. Jason Isaacs, Maria Bello and Alfred Molina, with Maria Bello being the best of the trio. I really dug Alfred Molina but his character of Burton is written in pure cliché and I’ve seen this character so much that as much personality he brought to the role, I knew exactly where it was all headed.

Abduction was a disappointment because the first quarter of the movie did promise that it would be at least a competent movie. I think fans of Taylor Lautner might still like the movie, and find enough action to not be bored. However I saw first hand the demographic of this movie start to reject it with laughter which isn’t a very good sign.

0.5 pistols out of 1
Lautner fans will probably find enjoyment.
0 pistols out of 1
God awful.
0.5 pistols out of 1
Lautner has some potential.
0.5 pistols out of 1
I've seen worse and some action scenes are okay.
1 pistols out of 1
Probably the best thing of the movie. It looks good and has a surprisingly large scope.

2.5 pistols out of 5
Team Jacob need only apply.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Review - Fright Night (2011)

“Don't do anything I wouldn't do, and... that doesn't leave much. Well... basically, Sushi and mini golf.”

Director: David Gillespie
Starring: Anton Yelchin, Colin Farrell and David Tennant
Writer: Marti Noxon

Remakes huh? Scourge of Hollywood. Nothing good comes from the remakes. Or perhaps that’s what you might guess if you delved into the sea of Fanboy ranting. Yet there are plenty of remakes out there which are considered classics. I love the original Fright Night, it showed up in my top 10 vampire list, but I was willing to give this movie a chance. So the real question is, is this movie a The Thing or a Wicker Man?

Unlike a lot of the movies I’ve watched this year, I left this movie happy, content and feeling that a movie managed to meet and exceed my expectations. One of the key reasons has to be the acting in this movie. Acting wise horror movies can run the gamut, but I must confess they do seem to lack consistency. However in Fright Night every actor gives a good to great performance. I didn’t think one actor seemed unable to handle the material. Colin Farrell is awesome as the vampire Gerry. His portrayal reminded me of the vampires from 30 Days of Night, shark like, sniffing out his prey. He’s the alpha male in this movie and Farrell seems to revel in the role. David Tennant is also awesome as Peter Vincent and is a different kettle of fish compared to Roddy McDowall. Some may have a problem that he is far more capable than the Peter Vincent of old, but this new version is refreshing.

Anton Yelchin as Charlie is also great, and makes the role his own. I liked the different angle the script took with Charlie, how he was a nerd pretending to be a cool guy. It makes the dynamic between Charlie and Evil Ed that much sadder. Speaking of Evil Ed, it was great to see Christopher Mintz-Plasse stretch himself a little and take on a more serious role. Finally Imogen Poots as Amy was a very strong presence, and I believed in the chemistry between her and Charlie. I think as an overall thing, it was nice to see characters that seemed more dimensional. We are talking wonderful character studies, but because I cared for these well rounded characters, I was more invested in the movie.

Story wise the film moves pretty damn quickly, and before you know it, it’s over. Fast and fun is the stories catch cry, and it doesn’t bother you with too much dramatics. The script pays homage to the original but is still its own beast, and in fact does a brilliant job in what a remake is supposed to do. Modernise a movie for the current cinema audience. Maybe the only thing that I had a slight problem with is how Peter Vincent is given a little too much back story to make him work in the current setting. Honestly as I was starting to get bothered by this, the movie threw a one liner and I was back to having fun with the movie.

Visual the movie plays with light and shadow very well, which is always a plus in a vampire movie. The setting of a Las Vegas suburb does lend the movie a unique feel to it. David Gillespie does a great job in keeping the movie visually exciting. Special Effects are also good, with the 3D being gimmicky but still done well. Some of the CGI does come off a little overused; personally I still think that sometimes practical effects can be used more effectively than CGI; but I understand that it’s the way the film world works now a days.

On the basic level Fright Night is just a solid vampire movie that’s fun as hell. I don’t think fans of the original have really right to complain, and instead should revel in the fact that another good vampire movie is making the rounds at the moment. Horror fiends and vampire lovers should check this movie out. Anyone else after a fun ride should also go along. Fangs for the memories Fright Night.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Review - Red State (2011)

“I fear God. You better believe I fear God.”

Director: Kevin Smith
Starring: Michael Parks, Melissa Leo and John Goodman
Writer: Kevin Smith

I’m a Kevin Smith fan. I enjoy his entire film work on various levels. Yes this also means Jersey Girl and Cop Out. But the man does have his flaws, and his films have never been great works of art. But they are what they are, and they can make me laugh and sometimes they even make me think. However with Red State we have an interesting case where Kevin has really tried to push himself, and make a movie that means more that his previous entries.

First a word on Michael Parks. He plays religious figure head of the Five Points Church, Abin Cooper. Many reviewers no matter their perspective on the film have said what a brilliant performance he gives, and damn it they are right. In this movie we are dealing with a bunch of religious fanatics, whose hatred of homosexuals has led them to finding and killing those they deem to have committed this sin. Abin Cooper could have easily been drawn as a character that we should just hate, but in the hands of Michael Parks he becomes a character who we certainly don’t sympathise with, but still see human traits that make him less of a monster than we would want. His a slick presence that doesn't yell but instead sells his message by being a dad to all. He's quiet most the time and only really starts yelling like a loon when he feels vindicated. It's a powerful performance, and one that I dare say could be Oscar worthy.

As for the other actors they do well enough, but are constantly hamstrung by the characters they are portraying switching mindsets too rapidly and not showing enough consistency. I like John Goodman, he was one of the better actors in this movie, but I never got a good handle on his character thanks to the inconsistencies. It’s a shame as the movie isn’t lacking from talent, it just seems the script has let the actors down and the only part that really shines is Michael Parks because it’s been deliberately put aside to be the show stopper.

On the director side of things, this has to be one of Kevin Smiths most accomplished films. There is a genuine effort to push himself and in doing so he seems to have tapped into talent he never knew he had. Some may want to get angry as it does make his previous films seem lazy, but instead I would want to congratulate a filmmaker being able to better himself. Editing is also interesting with different styles of editing being used for different characters. Rapid fire editing for the scared teens, a flowing style for Michael Parks silver tongued preacher and a steady more stable feel for the government Agents. It’s far from perfect but it’s still a wonderful step in the right direction.

With Kevin pushing himself in an area not many would think he had talent in, it’s funnily enough his writing that lets this movie down. Normally one of Smith’s strong suits, this movie just doesn’t feel complete, and its characters do not act in a consistent manor. Not to mention the overall theme of the movie isn’t that subtle. Yes we get it; belief can make people do crazy things. I will say at least Smith balances the approach by having belief in government and belief in religion held to the same standards. Still no matter how much I find the subject matter, especially in a horror movie context, I can’t help but feel the movie could have been so much better if Smith let someone else give the movie a once over.

Did I like this movie? Yes. Michael Parks performance is worth the admission, and despite the scripting problems, the subject matter did intrigue me. I feel happy for Smith that he’s made such a step forward as a director in this movie. But it saddens me that the script is just not up to scratch with his other movies. If you are a fan of Kevin Smith then I would recommend this movie. However just be prepared to see a heavily flawed movie.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Quick Movie Reviews: Vol 11

The other day I was thinking about the whole so bad its good movie, you know the type of movies like Sharktopus etc. I used to be a fan of them but I must be reaching my limit as I’m sick to death of them. Or at least I think I’ve come to an understanding that I can’t stand watching these movies and I’m more amused by the people who do the reviews for them. In truth there is no such thing as a so bad it’s good movie. It’s a bad movie that has inspired a separate awesome parody/performance/street theatre. Well maybe not the last one. Anyway that’s a quick thought for this volume. On to the movies.

The Room (2003)

This is really what got me thinking about the so bad its good movie. I went to the theatre to watch this, and probably had one of the best times I’ve ever had at the theatre barring maybe watching The Aristocrats. All enjoyment derived from this experience was watching it with my girl, my good friends and an awesome crowd. The movie is as bad as you’ve probably heard. But here is the big thing; there is no enjoyment to be had in watching this movie by your self. You are not going to laugh at the ineptitude, and while a chuckle might happen thanks to the acting, the movie is so slow and laboured that you will want to claw your eyes out and join Sam Neil in hell. If you are going to the theatre to see this film, do so. You’ll play gridiron, chuck spoons at the screen and try and come up with witty one liners. Mine was saying Johnny was a ‘Naval Officer,’ and trust me unless you’ve watched the movie you won’t get that.

0 footballs out of 1
This is a bad movie.
0 footballs out of 1
This is a really bad movie.
0 footballs out of 1
This is really a very bad movie.
0 footballs out of 1
This is positively one of the very worst movies.
0 footballs out of 1
This is absolutely the worst movie ever made.

0 footballs out of 5
Just read the above.

Splice (2009)

I really wanted to like Splice, and in some regards I did. I managed to walk away from it more positive than negative. However there are some serious issues I had with the movie that did disappoint me. First off the movie supports a fine cast of douchebags. If we were supposed to be sympathetic towards Dren (the genetically splice creature), then maybe I can see the point of making the humans bad people, but it turns monster movie on us and I stopped caring cause I just wanted everyone to die and get to the end. There are some interesting themes that get explored, and I did dig the creature design of Dren, even if the animal characteristics she had sometimes got a little stupid. It’s really a hard movie to recommend to people, but if you like science fiction I can think of worse movies.

1 mutant out of 1
Themes and ideas are raised that are damn thought provoking.
0 mutants out of 1
Slightly schizophrenic in what type of movie it is.
0 mutants out of 1
I just did not care for any of the people in this movie.
0.5 mutants out of 1
Competent but nothing special.
1 mutant out of 1
The design of Dren is amazing.

2.5 mutants out of 5
Nice ideas and wonderful visuals can not save this movie.

9 (2009)

9 is an animated movie about rag doll like beings, which are made by a scientist, to be something good in a devastated world devoid of humans. Dark and depressing at times this is the kind of childhood movie I remember watching when I was young. It doesn’t pander to children, it doesn’t paint a pretty world, yet it teaches valuable things like hope. Sometimes the darker the picture the greater the message is. The movie is also visually stunning, and I seriously want this in my collection so I can watch this along with my Pixar movies, because it’s of that calibre. The only minor complaint is that the script sometimes feels like its rushing. But that could be that I just wanted more from this movie. Tip of the hat to Shane Acker who was both director and writer. Oh and the voice work is killer, with the likes of Christopher Plummer, Martin Landau, John C Reilly, Crispin Glover, Jennifer Connelly and Elijah Wood. Get this movie and watch it.

1 ragdoll out of 1
One of the better animated movies.
0 ragdolls out of 1
Seems to rush through it's story.
1 ragdoll out of 1
Voice acting is A+.
1 ragdoll out of 1
Strong visual sense and well put together scenes
1 ragdoll out of 1
Beautiful looking movie.

4 ragdolls out of 5
Dark, strong and beautiful animated movie.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Review - Attack the Block (2011)

“This is too much madness to fit into one text!”

Director: Joe Cornish
Starring: John Boyega, Jodie Whittaker and Nick Frost
Writer: Joe Cornish

I heard many good things about this movie, I was hoping for something along the lines of Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead, but this time with aliens. However this turned out to be a completely different kettle of fish. But I’m not entirely sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. It all has to do with the main group of kids and how they are introduced at the beginning of the movie.

At the start our crew of kids are actually introduced by mugging a young woman called Sam (Jodie Whittaker). It’s not exactly the best way to introduce your hero’s, and right from the beginning I was put off. Further into the film the personalities of the kids were really grating and I wanted to just smack the hell out of them, or at least watch them die at the hands of the aliens. But then something started to happen, I started to get behind the main character of Moses. This is thanks to the performance of John Boyega, who brings a quiet reserve to Moses and becomes the embodiment of hope. That no matter how bad things get, there will always be some good.

Alien design in the mofo is some of the best I’ve seen in a while. It was really unique and the darker than dark fur really gave an otherworldly look that some designs fail to do, not to mention the awesome neon glowing maw that just looked great. Other than the visual design of the aliens, the look of the English blocks is interesting. Joe Cornish does have a great eye, and does create a wonderful sense of tone thanks to the lighting. Also the way the block is lit, it creates a sense of menace, and allows us to see an environment where you could see these kids becoming hooligans. With aliens and environmental lighting the movie does have a distinct visual style that did impress me.

Story wise the film moves along at a decent pace, and manages to progress the story along without a hell of a lot of exposition. There is a redemptive story being told underneath the alien shenanigans, which for me proved rather effective. Hat’s off to Cornish again for being able to create a story with reprehensible teens, yet managing to give them qualities that doesn’t make them absolutely bad. I think this will be the major flaw in the movie for people, in that there is a hurdle to get behind the kids. Some will take the same path as Jodie Whittaker’s characters; others will just not be able to accept it.

I would recommend this to people into the science fiction and horror genres. And while very different beasts, I would say that if you liked Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz you would have no problem with this movie. People will find it hard to sympathise with the main characters but there is an interesting story of redemption if you are willing to go along with it. Attack the Block is a good movie that offers more than it lets on at first.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Quick Movie Reviews: Vol 10

Another batch of movies, and yet again surprises from films I would have never given a chance normally. This time I’m catching up on mostly 2011 movies. Looking back on 2011, I must admit there hasn’t been a movie that’s completely blown me away yet. Tree of Life was close but I had some issues with it. As it stands a comedy movie seems set to be my favourite film of 2011. Still plenty of time left in the year and with a David Fincher movie due at the end of 2011, things could change.

Horrible Bosses (2011)

This was just a solid comedy. With an idea I’m sure many people have thought about, it seems destined to be a comedy that pleases speaks to everyone. However with something as dark as people trying to kill their bosses, it doesn’t seem to really push the concept as far as you would like. Also the ending is a little to neat for my liking. Still everyone involved seems to be giving their all, and I was laughing a lot during the movie. The actors playing the bosses were a particular delight. Kevin Spacey is an excellent psychotic, but then we knew he can play roles like that. Jennifer Aniston plays sexpot really well and I think people have over looked her slightly. Finally Colin Farrell steals the whole damn show, and isn’t in the movie enough for my liking. Still it’s a funny movie, and people need to get out there and see it.

Priest (2011)

Being a vampire science fiction movie, this is pretty much in my wheelhouse. Still I wasn’t expecting too much from this movie. Colour me surprised when I walked out not only really happy with what I had just seen, but really wanting to see more movies set in this world. Now it’s certainly not the best movie in the world, some of the acting is a tad off, and the script is not as tight as it could be. I think the biggest flaw is that this movie almost feels like they were expecting to make sequels. As such it doesn’t feel that fulfilling as there is so much more to tell. Still Paul Bettany is decent as the priest, though I wish he would get away from these genre movies as he’s a better actor than what his movie choices suggest. Also Karl Urban as Black Hat makes for a decent villain who actually felt threatening. This movie is like a combination of Judge Dread, a cowboy movie and a vampire movie, does that sound exciting? If so go and see this movie.

Mutant Chronicles (2008)

Almost opposite of Priest, I thought that I would actually enjoy this. I remember playing the card game this movie was based off, and thought the world sounded interesting. The movie also stars Thomas Jane and Ron Perlman who always brings a level of awesome to the proceedings. But what I was greeted with was a movie that just felt really flat. Characters were underdeveloped which really doesn’t work when one of the main themes is sacrifice. What do we care about the sacrifice these characters are making, when we know nothing much about them? The look of the movie tries for something like 300, yet the special effects aren’t that great. The only positive is that the world has potential, but that doesn’t mean much if you don’t have a story that engages.

I Am Number Four (2011)

I heard that this movie is like Twilight but with aliens instead of vampires. As such I wasn’t interested in the movie at first, but was pleasantly surprised when I finally watched it. This type of teen movie isn’t really my cup of tea, but damn it if I wasn’t interested in the alien background and the villains. Add to this some decent action set pieces, and a great performance by Timothy Olyphant, I had a good time. Being based of the first book in a series, it does suffer from the same problems as Priest. There are more stories to come, so questions are left unanswered, and it’s not as fulfilling as self contained movie.

The Adjustment Bureau (2011)

Holy cow did this come from no where and just grab me by the balls. Both Matt Damon and Emily Blunt give excellent performances, and I believed in the love that they had for each other. The plot is also pretty unique dealing with notions of destiny, free will and god. There are some elements that get a little silly, but overall the performances, the look and the story are strong enough to kind of drive over these problems. I would recommend this for most people to try, as I think it did get overlooked when it first came out.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Monsters I Want To See In Films

This was originally written for Outside the Cinema and the blog I do for them.
I liked it so much that I'm putting it here. While I'm at it why don't you go to
the Palavr forums where the OTC Blog is, or better yet go to their website
(click here) and have a listen to one of the best cult movie podcasts in town.

Think the latest vampire movies suck? Werewolf movies need to be put down? Just want to bludgeon zombie movies till they are nothing but a pink and red paste? Listening to Bill and Chris’s sub genre list got me thinking. There are some monsters that have been used so much I just want to cry. I’m a huge vampire fan, hell I just did a top 10 vampire list for my blog. But man do they need to go back to their coffin for a decade or so. And I don’t blame Twilight for this; sparkly vampires aside, studios smelled money in the water with vampires and knew they had to bleed the sub genre dry.

I want something different, something that hasn’t been done a million and ten times, and this is where I get to my point. People don’t need to create something new like a Graboid, they can just steal from what already exists. So here are a few monsters that I would like to see hit the silver screen.

Baron Samedi: To me this is a bit of a no brainer. Some teenagers go piss off a voodoo practitioner and all of a sudden they have this nasty spirit of the dead on their tail. Top hat, skull face, dark glasses and black tuxedo, along with crude behaviour would make this particular menace distinctive, and in the hands of the right director creepy as hell. Also being a spirit anyone could become the Baron at anytime. Finally being the Loa (spirit) of death you could jam in some Final Destination shenanigans for fun. I hear the kids are down with the FD. Also how can a something that drinks rum by the bucket loads be all the bad?

Jenny Greenteeth: A little explanation for this one. Jenny is a river hag in English folklore that has green skin, long hair and very sharp teeth. She also drowns children and the elderly, as well as taking long walks down beaches with her perfect man. Okay may the last bit was false but like Samedi I see some great creepy potential. Water is always an interesting visual in horror movies, and the way some directors have used it, they’ve seemed to tap into some primal terror humans have of what lies below the surface. Tied into the myth of Jenny is the fairy tale background, and fairy tales aren’t common territory for horror movies so it would seem rather fresh. Have a family inherit an estate with a lake on the property, slowly weird things happen, the children find out the old tales of Jenny, parents start seeing weird things in not just the lake but any water surface. Ratchet the creepiness up, then bam, kill one of the kids, have the rest of the family fight for survival.

Ghoul: Smarter than zombies, the ghoul is an undead being who hangs in graveyards and consumes human flesh, not always alive. In some of the Arabic tales, Ghouls can take on the form of those who they have recently eaten, they also lure people into the deserts to die. In movies the ghoul has had its origins morphed with zombies and have even become servants of vampires in some cases. However I think it’s time to have the Ghoul stand on its own two feet. If you use the Arabic notion of shape shifting you could create a sympathetic ghoul, who’s just trying to get what all the living has. Or better yet change luring strangers into the desert wasteland, for the urban wasteland and you could make some effective social commentary with your horror movie. Anyway there is some potential still on the bones of this particular monster, and it would be interesting to see a Ghoul on screen who’s not blended with other monster myths.

Black Shuck: Finally the demonic black dogs that are said to haunt the Norfolk, Essex and Suffolk coastline in England. Ever since of heard of Black Shuck and read tales about the monster, I’ve been fascinated. Foretellers of doom, they both seem to come to scare people, as well as kill them. What I like about Black Shuck is that unlike my other suggestions it’s an animal, it can’t be reasoned with, it’s harder to understand, and I just piss myself at the idea of a regular dog charging at me, teeth bared. Tales vary in description, there are individual attacks as well as packs, regular dogs with demonic eyes to ones as large as a horse. One of the tales I heard was a Church in East Anglia being attacked by this dog that ran through the walls, scaring those who came to the night mass. Those who touched the dog received burns, and in the morning black burnt spots could be seen on the wall where the dog had entered. None died in the tale, but there was pandemonium, and I can imagine this translating very well on the big screen. Whether used as an omen of death, or as the actual monster to deal with, Black Shuck needs more screen time.

So there are my monster mentions, hope you enjoyed reading them. And with that, I’m out.