Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Quick Movie Reviews: Vol 14

With a new night shift job my blog posts have been a little more random, and I’ve gotten behind on my movie reviewing. But never mind for I’m about to catch up a bit with another dish of quick movie reviews. A journey continued with a Swedish trilogy, an American horror movie, English crime drama or was that action movie, and finally a movie that will be in my top ten of this year when I get to the list. So sit down, buckle up, and get ready.

Hatchet (2006)

Adam Green gives us a neat little slasher set in New Orleans. The first thing that I found endearing about this movie was that the characters weren’t complete and utter assholes; well most of them weren’t assholes. A nice set up had me caring about most of the characters and the situation they were put in. But let’s not forget why we are here. The gore was impressive and the kills inventive. A few times I was amazed that they went with such a gory death but then this is what the movie is all about. It’s trying to show the world what American horror is all about, and give the people a break from all the dull lifeless horror movies that are out there. My one complaint is that the swamp setting does get a little repetitive, but this was probably a budgetary concern and it’s not such a big thing.

The Girl Who Played With Fire (2009)

I loved the first movie and thought the chemistry between Noomi Rapace and Michael Nyqvist really drove the film. With this movie however, the two don’t share any scenes together, and while the actors are all top notch and the story is interesting there is something lost. The first movie really drew me in and the time flew by, however I couldn’t help notice the pace just felt slower, and more burden with the characters histories.  Noomi Rapace is amazing as Lisbeth Salander and Rooney Mara has got some big shoes to fill in the David Fincher remake later this year. If people liked the first movie, then there is no need to avoid this. The movie is enjoyable but be warned it’s not as good as the first. Also the movie ends pretty abruptly and left me kind of disappointed.

Blitz (2011)

Jason Statham plays a tough cop who is tracking down a cop killer. It sounds like a simple story and one that couldn’t be screwed up but somewhere someone lost focus and gives us a movie that kind of fails. The main problem of the movie is its very unfocused and seems to offer multiple side stories that really do nothing for the main story and only dilute attention away from the two main cops. The shame of this is both Jason Statham and Paddy Considine as the two lead cops actually do an impressive job. There could have been a decent cop drama with these two characters, instead the movie is trying to be an action movie and only pays lip service to the characters troubles. Aidan Gillen is an interesting villain, and while weedy and not looking like much of a threat does seem credible in his role. Overall I would give this a miss as the movie doesn’t know what it wants to be and thanks to that never seems like a full movie.

Contagion (2011)

In many of my movie reviews I have complained about the lack of character development, but occasionally there are movies where the characters aren’t the focus and the topic is. Normally in this case the cast of characters are played by dependable actors who will be able to give small character details in the briefest of glances and gestures. Contagion is a film like this. Each character is only set up in order to explore the effects of a virus that is spreading across the world like wildfire. Still the idea of the virus isn’t the main topic here; Contagion is more looking at how fear spreads and the effects on people. This movie is fantastic and throughout I felt unease, add to the fact the actors here who manage to connect with their characters when given just a few scenes to accomplish that, it’s an excellent master class in how to do a massive sprawling film. Steven Soderbergh has accomplished this before with Traffic and out of the two movies I would say that is more accomplished but shouldn’t take away from Contagion. One of my favourite movies of the year, I’m glad it’s done well and I hope more people get out there and see this movie.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Review - The Three Musketeers (2011)

“There were four of us, against forty of them.”

Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Starring: Ray Stevenson, Orlando Bloom, Christoph Waltz, Milla Jovovich
Writing: Alex Litvak and Andrew Davies

I can remember watching the 1993 version of The Three Musketeers and just having so much fun with it. Crammed with awesome actors it remains a corner stone of my favourite childhood movies. Going into this movie I was hoping to have the same sense of fun captured. Say what you want about Paul W.S. Anderson but he has made some entertaining movies, and a genuine horror classic (in my opinion) in the form of Event Horizon. So this couldn’t be all that bad right?

Well I may be over selling this a little, but after two hours of this movie I wanted to claw my eyes out and erase any memory of this movie. Unless another movie comes along and craps in my shoes, I think I’ve got my worst movie of the year right here. The greatest shame is that there are some good things in this movie that tease at what could have been.

Starting with the acting I’m going to highlight possibly my favourite thing in the entire movie. Orlando Bloom plays one the villain Bukingham and he was my favourite thing in the movie. Never been that big a fan of Orlando Bloom but he is perfect as the moustache twirling British bastard. He engulfs his entire persona in this smarmy charm; it was just fun to watch him. Bloom beats out Christoph Waltz in the bad guy department, which is astounding as Waltz is a great actor. But Waltz just plays Cardinal Richelieu a little too seriously which doesn’t work in a fun adventure. On the hero side of things Ray Stevenson has a great time as Porthos and I would have loved if he was the main character. Logan Lerman as D’Artagan isn’t bad, and while wasn’t my cup of tea he at least tries, and is successful in giving the audience a hero to get behind. Everyone else is either really bad, or just seems bored of being in the movie. I could go into the individuals but honestly the bad acting was probably caused by the other problems.

This script is truly awful and the main reason why this movie is so bad. No matter the actors or director this thing was rotten at the core. The musketeer’s adventure doesn’t really kick in until maybe half way through the movie which leaves me scratching my head. Instead there seems to be a focus on Milla Jovovich’s character Milady and a lot of side stories that never really pay off. In the case of Milady there could be some great story work with Milady and the musketeer Athos. Yet the character conflict is paid lip service and when the story beat happens where the audience is supposed to care, there is no connection. It comes off pointless and a waste of time. Instead of any true story development the audience is given music cues. Every time the heroic music swell occurred I rolled my eyes as the moment was never earned. Sad music? Really? I don’t feel sad movie. There is some lazy movie crafting going on here.

Now this movie was filmed in 3D and it is one of the better 3D movies out there, it was never too dark, or blurry. It looked good, and some of the action scenes were exciting. Still there are some visual choices that just seemed like padding in a movie that is lacking focus. Directing wise the movie is as choppy and unfocused as the script. I also can’t help but feel that Paul W.S. Anderson might have put more focus on Milla because they are married, rather than finding the character interesting. The only reason I bring this up, as it might give some insight into the directorial choices of Anderson.

Overall this movie is a mess. There is no solid focus on the various stories happening, dialogue is awful with some lines sounding like they were stolen directly from other movies. Visually the movie looks good, but that doesn’t help the experience of watching this movie. Even if there were free tickets to this movie I would decline them, and instead go and watch the 1993 version.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Review - The Thing (2011)

“Not all of us are human!”

Director: Matthijs van Heijningen Jr
Starring: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Joel Edgerton, Ulrich Thomsen
Writer: Eric Heisserer

You would think that a prequel to the 1982 classic would not cop a lot of the remake stigma, but I think that’s to it using the same title, it’s still copped some flak. However title aside there is some room for the prequel as the 1982 did mention a Norwegian expedition that discovered the thing first. Also let’s not forget that the 1982 The Thing is also a remake and was an absolute awesome remake. So come on let’s be like the Blue Lanterns and let a little bit of hope enter us. Time to delve into the gooey mass that is The Thing.

One of the reasons why I loved the 1982 The Thing was for the characters used. Each was allowed their time to shine, and thus creating characters created tension. This time we don’t get as much character development, but there is still some distinct characters that get out of the pack, also the characterisation of the Norwegian expedition as a whole is done in a way that shows us that they aren’t bad people and allows the audience to get behind them quickly. Right at the beginning one of the Norwegians is telling a joke, at the punch line I noticed a lot of the audience laugh and you could sense in one confidant action, the director Matthijs had gotten the audience on side.

Acting wise I couldn’t fault this movie. Sure some actors weren’t given much to do, but there was no one that I would call god awful. Kate (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is refreshing strong female character. She’s strong but not characterised as butch, which is a trap some movies fall into. I also didn’t mind Ulrich Thomsen who played Dr Sander Halvorson. While portrayed as the bastard scientist, his portrayal isn’t so much evil as focused on uncovering what’s happening. Also out of the Norwegian group I thought that Jorgen Lanhelle as Lars and Kristofer Hivju as Jonas stood out of the pack. Finally I thought Joel Edgerton was okay, but sometimes it looked like he was trying to do a Kurt Russel impersonation.

Visually the movie manages to capture the cold environment, and you do feel the loneliness and isolation of the area. In that regards it does stand along side the original. Where it goes a little pear shaped is in the special effects. Now CG wise the special effects aren’t that bad, but when compared to some of the work in the original it doesn’t stack up. There are some practical effects but mostly CG. However the creature design is pretty damn awesome. I like some of the ideas for how the creature changed, and exactly what it used. So while the CG isn’t as good as the practical work from 1982, the two match up perfectly with the design of the creature.

The 1982 The Thing was an exercise in tension, this movie does have some tense scenes, and at some points I was on the edge of my seat sometimes. But there are two things that really hamper this movie from becoming great. First off is the final act of the movie. Tension is thrown out of the window for the big bad alien hunt. While personally I didn’t mind it, I can see others just not liking it. Still I’ve seen worse tonal changes. Also the movie is slightly hampered by how it’s trying to connect to the 1982 movie. Things have to be set up, so it matches with the next movie. While it’s commendable that they are trying to have both movies connected, it does feel a little forced sometimes. Also the movie does mimic John Carpenters movie just a little. There are some similar beats, and I’m sure people will point to these story moments and say that this is evidence enough to call this movie crap. Fact is while I did recognise the similarities, and to some extent it did make me wish the film makers of this prequel were a tad more original, I still had fun watching this movie.

Overall this wasn’t a bad movie, but it’s going to cop some flak from people who love the original. This movie will be compared to the 1982 movie, and be found wanting, but that’s not fair. It succeeds more than it fails and personally I think that people who like alien movies should go along and see this as they will have fun. In fact when this comes out on DVD I’m going to buy it and watch the two movies together. This movie does not diminish the original, and personally I think it’s entertaining enough to hold its own.

Review - The Thing (1982)

“I know you gentlemen have been through a lot, but when you find the time, I'd rather not spend the rest of this winter TIED TO THIS FUCKING COUCH!”

Director: John Carpenter
Starring: Kurt Russel, Wilford Brimley, Keith David
Writer: Bill Lancaster

In 1982 two movies came out about aliens. One was the delightful family picture ET, the other was The Thing which was distinctly not made for the family. The Thing is one of my favourite movies, and with that you can probably tell where this review is heading. But putting a fresh pair of eyes on, I guess the main question is does this movie hold up in this day and age? Well you should get reading and find out.

I think one of the greatest strengths of the movie is in the group dynamic that is formed with all the distinct characters. There is time given to let all the characters differentiate themselves and allow us to not only to get to know them, but for us to give a damn about them when the crap hits the fan. Kurt Russel as MacReady is all that is man, and proves this with his glorious beard. He’s also a good sturdy lead for the audience to get behind. Was also a fan of Donald Moffat as Garry. Leader of the group he has a worn down father quality to him, not exactly hero material but an endearing character, he also has one of my favourite quotes from the movie which is up above. But honestly it’s hard singling everyone out as everyone does an awesome job, Richard Mauser, Keith David, Wilford Brimley, the list goes on.

Story wise it’s kept simple and it’s all the better for it. There is an alien that can take the form of anyone in the group, now it’s a race to survive. The tension created in the story is so thick, it really does add to the threat of the movie. Not a movie beat is misused and really does put a lot of current horror movies to shame. It gives enough time for character development, but also uses the character development to create character tensions to be used later.

Probably one of the factors that will age in any movie is the special effects, but with The Thing the work still holds up. Well maybe the monster design at the end is a little dated, but everything else is awesome including the famous head spider. I also think there is something special about practical effects. The actors are actually reacting to something there, and just adds to the believability of the scene, or as believable as an alien menace could be. Also the cold setting is captured perfectly by John Carpenter and does create menace from the environment as well as the visitor to the artic station.

Directorial wise this is John Carpenter at his best. There are so many elements that he brings together successfully, it’s a credit to him for not dropping the ball. The performances he gets, the visuals he uses, all go together to create a tense, nihilistic movie experience. I think this is an example of Carpenter at his peak.

The Thing is a classic horror movie, and anyone who is a fan of the genre needs to see this movie if they haven’t. It’s a shame in the year of 1982 ET got more of the spotlight but then again I might be the weird one who likes man eating aliens, rather than Reece’s Pieces eating ones. But get out there and watch this.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Review - Bad Eggs (2003)

“Yep; I smell fuckwits.”

Director: Tony Martin
Starring: Mick Molloy, Judith Lucy, Bob Franklin, Alan Brough
Writer: Tony Martin

I suffer from the cultural cringe when if comes to Australian movies. I’m not sure what it is but I tend to be down on movies that try to be distinctly Australian, especially when distinctly Australian means milking the aussie cliché for humor. Personally I think this is a cheap way to try and distinguish ourselves in the world cinema, and that as a country we are capable of unique story telling in movies without going for the cheap laugh. So with that said does Bad Eggs, fall into this trap? Let’s find out.

Bad Eggs is the Australian take on the cop movie, and mainly looks at how mundane the job can be while still have the beats of a detective story. There is some low key humour as well as some over the top scenes. As a comedy movie it’s trying to walk a balanced line but sometimes just comes across as a little bit of a mess in the humour department. Still at its core this movie is written by a man who knows a thing or two about comedy, and I think the jokes hit more than miss.

Acting wise we have Mick Molloy as Ben Kinnear, and already we are at a hurdle. Mick is a good comedian, and I thought he was wonderful in Crackerjack, but while this movie is a comedy it also requires some seriousness to come through to make the cop portion work. Honestly Mick is too laid back for the role. Bob Franklin as Mike Paddock on the other hand is perfect. Believable as a cop, funny as hell, he is the balance this movie is striving for in human form. He also works well off Mick and the two do share great buddy chemistry. Finally Judith Lucy as Julie Bale is another who I wouldn’t normally believe, but she brings such fire to her character I can see her easily in an authoritative role. More a foil to Mick’s character she does have a few scenes to shine but is mostly in the background.

Tony Martin isn’t anything special when it comes to directing, but he is competent and occasionally has the odd flourish. In this movie I did like the flashback scene, where both Ben and Julie see their past in more action movie terms. The visuals in the rest of the movie seem very clean, precise; it’s hard to put my finger on it. I think the idea was to try and make the world as mundane as possible, so when the characters or scene went mad cap it was more pronounced, but this does mean the weight of the movie is on the shoulders of the actors to entertain, and if they are off there is a chance the audience will just be bored.

There is an attempt here to bring American sensibilities to an Australian cop drama, and show that Australia is never going to have these epic cop tales. There are some very Australian use of language and clichés present but it’s never so much that I get the cringe. In this regards the movie is successful as by making the distinctly Australian in some regards, it shows the stupidity of the American movie beats.

It’s hard to recommend this movie. I love it, I own it, but it is flawed, and the tone may just not work for people. I think it’s an ambitious movie that just doesn’t quite do it. Maybe with more time and some other actors it could have succeeded in what it was trying to accomplish. If you are after an Australian movie there are better out there, but I don’t think this is the worst movie to experience, maybe just rent it out and see.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Quick Movie Reviews: Vol 13

So more movies watched and now time venture forth and do my thing. One of the movies I just watched tonight, normally I don’t put a movie up for review this soon, I wait at least a day before I get writing. However the reason for this breach of protocol (yes I have some protocol), was the fact I had fun watching this just above average movie. Sometimes I get caught up with trying to break a movie down; I forget to just have fun. I think having really little information about this movie increased the enjoyment I had which got me thinking.

In this day and age, with trailers and movie information at our finger tips, does it all ruin the movie going experience? It’s a topic that I will probably cover at a later date in a more in depth article, but at least for now it’s got me thinking. Anyway enough of this on to the movies.

Drive Angry (2011)

As you may or may not know, I have an obsession with Nicholas Cage. So it would come as no surprise that when this movie was announced I was joyous. A man breaks out of hell, to find the cult that killed his daughter and kidnapped his grandchild. That man is Cage. This movie was destined to be pure gold. Patrick Lussier was the man behind the remake of My Bloody Valentine which I enjoyed a hell of a lot (for the record I also enjoyed the original), it was so fun, and the man seems to have a knack of going for fun without trying to hard. Teamed not only with Cage in ‘let’s have fun mode,’ but William Fitchner being oh so awesome as The Accountant; the demon sent to bring back Cage; this movie is just a damn fun ride. Fans of horror movies and action movies should get this movie.

Eat Pray Love (2010)

This movie was definitely out of my comfort zone, yet I tried going into this movie with an open mind. The first thing that hit me was how hard this movie is trying to be important. I’ve been told the book was actually a very touching piece of literature that was a profound read to a lot of people. If that was the case then the movie just doesn’t create that same feeling. Biggest reason is Julia Roberts character of Liz Gilbert, a woman spending time in various locations trying to discover herself. I hated her. I wanted her to be hit by a bus. GO GREYHOUND. She came off as a horrible person and therefore I didn’t care about her journey of self discovery. The bad thing about this is I could have seen myself enjoying this movie if it wasn’t for her. The other characters I didn’t mind, I laughed and felt about their own personal journeys. There is a good possibility that Julia Roberts was not right for this role, give me someone more along the lines of Julianne Moore or Jody Foster and I might have been more inclined towards this movie. Still I think women will get more out of this movie than me, but honestly after discussing with my girlfriend they would do better in grabbing and reading the book.

Griff the Invisible (2010)

Griff is a social outcast who doesn’t live in reality, he believes he can turn invisible and at night is a super hero. Ryan Kwanten is fantastic in the lead role, and it just shows you the acting talent he has. Yes folks; playing Jason Stackhouse isn’t the only thing he’s good at. At first I was drawn in by the quirkiness, but there was a certain point where I was starting to get disturbed. I wasn’t sure where I stood. Should I cheer for Griff and watch as he spirals further into delusion, or do I hope that someone comes along to save Griff from his mental problems, but then see him become a mindless drone with no sense of wonder. It’s a tough stance, and a brilliant mood. Maeve Dermody as Melody was also good in this movie, and yet again offers an unusual question to the audience. She is someone who will make Griff very happy but also cement his delusion for ever. If any of this interests you, then get out there and watch this movie. It’s worth it. Oh and it’s an Australian movie that doesn’t use Australian clichés. More points for this movie.

The Last Exorcism (2010)

I’ve wanted to watch this movie since it came to cinemas last year. Finally being able to sit down with this movie I’ve got to say I was really impressed. Patrick Fabian as Cotton Marcus is fantastic.  A conman exorcist, who is getting out of the game, because he doesn’t want to hurt anyone, encounters a dark force in his last exorcism. Cotton is a complex character, a man who I would class as a good man, yet his talent lies in conning people out of money. He justifies why he does what he does, but you can see that after all these years he was conning himself and it’s beginning to stab at the good man behind the conman. This great character is then put into a situation which is creepy as hell. I was on the edge of my seat and felt so much tension as they start uncovering the truth about Nell, Cotton’s latest exorcist case. It’s a good movie and at one point seems to end, but then comes the twist. The problem with the twist is it wrecks the found footage angle, as there is some editing that couldn’t have been done with just raw footage. Also the ending is such amps things up from the subtle horror of the rest of the movie it will through people off. Personally I was invested with the movie so I didn’t mind the movie, but I know many who just hate it. Still this is a great, low budget movie, and people need to get out there and watch this movie to encourage this type of solid film making.

Take Me Home Tonight (2011)

What we have is a guy trying to figure out his life, and it seems that this is the night everything comes together. It’s a movie we’ve seen countless times, its jokes don’t hit that consistently and sometimes I wanted Dan Fogler to tone it down a little. However while I thought this was a just above average movie, I still had fun. It had a lot to do with the charm of Topher Grace, Anna Farris and Teresa Palmer. I liked these people and wanted to see things work out for them. Oh hell I’m even going to admit that even Dan Fogler had his moments, and considering what happens to his character I guess I can cut the guy some slack for his over the top antics. I also like that while it’s set in the 80’s, it doesn’t shove the 80’s references down you throat, it’s just the 80’s so people dress and act that way. The biggest problem is that the movie isn’t fall down funny, neither is it serious, it’s in this grey area so it never truly succeeds or fails. Hmm that sounds like the plot of this movie.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Movie Series Review: The Addams Family

Hello and welcome to a new little review thing I’m doing, where I take a look at a series of movies and get the reviews done in one post rather than multiples. Normally I’ll talk about the series as a whole first, and then get into the individual movies, then move into my final thoughts. To kick things off I’m going to take a look at The Addams Family and its sequel Addams Family Values.

Based off the old television series, I do remember watching reruns when I was a little kid and liking it. But what I feel for the television series is nothing when compared to the two movies; I adore them and personally think the sequel is as good as the original thanks a consistency fostered between them. Both movies are directed by Barry Sonnenfield this allows for a visual style to carry through to both movies. A real dark comedic atmosphere is created, and exploited to draw in adults while still appealing to kids with the more absurd stuff.

He's a real lady killer. Acquitted mind you.
Cast wise we have the late great Raul Julia inhabiting the role of Gomez. It’s amazing how he can take this deeply demented persona and yet put so much charisma into him, that we can’t help but like this acquitted lady killer. Angelica Huston is graceful and brings a lady like class to Morticia. She also has impeccable comedic timing, being cold most the time and then breaking out the emotion at just the perfect moment for maximum laughs. Christopher Lloyd is having a ball with both films and unlike the other members of the main cast gets to play two different variations of the character between the movies. While Raul Julia brings some suave charisma to his role to lesson the bad qualities, Lloyd brings a lovable goofiness to Fester. Jimmy Workman and Christina Ricci as Pugsley and Wednesday play off each brilliantly and you really do get a brother and sister vibe from them. It’s also obvious how great an actress Christina Ricci would become, and it’s no wonder Wednesday was given more to do during the sequel.

While the writing is sharp, I really do believe that the movies are as good as they are thanks to the director and cast. If one of those things were changed then it would have all been shot as the idea alone of the Addams Family isn’t strong enough to carry the movie. If you want an example you can always watch the third movie in the series, a straight to video effort called Addams Family Reunion. It’s bad. That’s all I got on that one so let’s take a look at the two movies.

The Addams Family (1991)

I’ve heard people be down on this movie more than the sequel because of the plot of the movie. Basically Tully Alford and Abigail Craven want to cheat the Addams Family out of their vast fortune. Fortunately Abigails son Gordon looks just like Fester Addams who was lost at sea. Inserting Gordon into the family as long lost Fester, they hope to find the vault with all the money and make off with lots of money. The fact that Fester wasn’t Fester got some people hopping mad, but it all works in the story, and while you could nit pick the plot, and ask if it was necessary to start off this way, the comedy is strong enough to really dispel any worry. Also at the end of the day the movie struck a cord with a lot of people and was successful enough to warrant a sequel.

Addams Family Values (1993)

Two years later, the sequel hit and it wasn’t as successful as the last one. I think one of the main reasons was this movie was darker than the original, and that was saying something. We have a plot that deals with a black widow serial killer, and a sub plot of Pugsley & Wednesday being sent to summer camp because they are trying to kill the latest Addams, Pubert. Yep a lot darker than a heist like story. But personally I love the sequel as everyone has gotten better with their comedic timing, the kids are given a substantial increase in the plot duties, and the addition of both Pubert to the family adds a new dynamic that keeps things fresh. Also there is Joan Cusack. She plays Debbie Jellinsky who is the black widow like serial killer I was mentioning, and she has a ball. She plays off every member of the family well, and she brings such a funny yet darkly demented persona, it feels like she was always meant to be part of the Addams Family.

Really. Pastels?
Final Thoughts: I highly recommend these two movies. They are great comedies, and thanks to the consistency of the people involved they really do flow together well. Hire both out and sit back and watch with some friends. Just remember to hum and click along with the theme song. Oh and maybe do the Addams Family MC Hammer rap, cause we all know that’s damn cool.

Finally I shall leave you with the dance of brotherly love, the Mamushka!

Review - 8MM (1999)

“If you dance with the devil, the devil don't change. The devil changes you.”

Starring: Nicholas Cage, Joaquin Phoenix and James Gandolfini
Director: Joel Schumacher
Writer: Kevin Andrew Walker

Nicholas Cage is an actor that people can have an adverse reaction to, I however dig most of what Cage does, and even in those roles that he goes full on insane I can find fun in his performance. Joel Schumacher is a director that has created one of the worst comic book movies in existence. Some people still whisper its name to this day in the hopes of children not over hearing and begin to cry. However the man has made one of my favourite vampire movies (see here for the rest). So with the two joining forces, what sort of movie do we have?

Well to put it bluntly, you have a dark, depressing movie that made a lot of people want to take a shower after wards. But even if the movie goes to places most people don’t want to visit, is it that bad a movie? In my opinion it’s not. I think this is mostly thanks to the script of Kevin Andrew Walker who gave us Seven’s script which was also dark and disturbing. The script is a solid detective story, with Tom Welles (Cage) being this relentless force trying to find out if a ‘snuff’ film is real or not. The world that Tom has to tread to find the truth is a grimy place, and in firmly gets the audience on Tom’s side as they are repulsed by the world.

Credit also needs to go to Joel Schumacher as he is aptly captures the grimy feel of the script. Honestly after watching this movie I feel like I’ve just walked through a sweat filled room and feel really dirty. The fact that the movie is able to create this reaction is impressive. Schumacher really does try to capture every little nuance about the world. It’s trying to be as truthful to the story as possible, yet at the same time it can be a little much, and I can see why some people just don’t like this movie. Not because of the quality but because of the subject matter.

Acting in this movie is pretty good, Joaquin Phoenix in particular is great and is one of the few characters Tom meets that is decent. The only two people that kind of let the movie down are Peter Stormare and Nicholas Cage. Both are favourites of mine but I found Peter Stormare was just hamming it up a little too much and came off too cartoony in a movie that had played it relatively straight. Cage while doing a good job for most of the movie does cross that ham acting line a few times. Personally I would have like him to tone it down just a little. Mind you telling Cage to tone it down is like telling Juggalo’s gravity isn’t a miracle but a scientific thought. It just won’t work.

Now I think the main bone of contention with this movie is whether it was necessary at all. When all is said and done what is this movie trying to do? It’s certainly not trying to be a fun movie. How about the message? Well if there is any message to take away from this movie is that anyone can do horrible things, it just takes the right environment to foster that personality. Not exactly an uplifting message. The movie does seem unnecessary, but that doesn’t invalidate the good movie that exists here.

So besides the topic and acting issues, I think this movie is damn good. It certainly creates an atmosphere that wallows in the horrid world being presented. As for recommendations, I seriously can’t tell people to go and see it. If you’ve heard about this movie and are interested in taking the plunge and then go for it. However if you are looking for a fun movie, probably best to move on.

0.5 reels out of 1
This movie can be too grim but there is thought provoking content.
1 reel out of 1
Great detective story if not a little grimy.
0.5 reels out of 1
Some good acting, but Cage is a little too wild.
1 reels out of 1
Films feel totally captures the dark world of porn.
1 reels out of 1
Schumacher knows what tricks to use.

4 reels out of 5
Good movie with a dark heart.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

DC Relaunch

For those of you that don’t know what the DC relaunch is; first I would like to thankyou for bothering to read this. Secondly in September DC scrapped all its regular comic books and basically started from scratch. Hero’s and villains were brought into the modern world, and a fresh new start was given to characters that were buried beneath decades of stories that had caused their origins to be convoluted. The reason for this was DC was hoping new readers would hop on board and wouldn’t feel intimidated by the massive back catalogue.

Now I didn’t get all 52, but I still managed to get 20 of them, and read a further 6. I also have one on order as it was sold out before I could get a copy. I only bring this point up, as it seems DC has succeeded at least in the mean time in grabbing more readers. Whether this will keep up, needs to be seen. So out of the comics I managed to read, what were my favourites?

Swamp Thing #1 by Scott Snyder and Yanick Paquette

This was the first of two books written by Scott Snyder and I was honestly looking forward to Batman more. I mean why wouldn’t I? It’s the god damn Batman. However afterwards I was drawn to his work in Swamp Thing thanks in no small part to how well it hits the horror tone. There was just something fascinating in this book that grabbed my attention, and the art of Yanick Paquette really compliments this comic book. The more genuine horror comics in the DC universe the better, as it does allow greater story opportunities for characters in the world.

Aquaman #1 by Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis

This comic should not be on my list. Aquaman has never interested me in the slightest, and the fact that I’m walking away from this issue on such a high note is astounding. A lot of the awe comes from the writing of Geoff Johns who seems to have a great talent in recreating super heroes. In this first issue he tackles some of the goofier aspects of Aquaman with a good natured gentle ribbing of the hero, but then backs it up with some rather touching moments. This is amplified thanks to Ivan Reis, who alternates art styles effectively to bring more emphasis on the touching moments.

All-Star Western #1 by Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Grey and Meridat

Jonah Hex is a character that’s been around for a while. He started off in the west, went into the future, teamed up with present day heroes, tackled aliens and forces of the supernatural. This would be one of those characters that have a confusing back story. However Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Grey came along and stuck him firmly in his western era. The latest Jonah Hex was a series that got a lot of critical praise. I was thinking of starting to read it but being 50 issues in I felt there was no point. Low and behold relaunch has come along and in this case hasn’t messed with the creative team. Great time to jump aboard. This story just oozes that western feel, and give us a tale set in the past of Gotham City. I think this firmly cements Jonah in the world of DC, allows DC to flesh out the past of the world further, but at the same time keep in firmly in a time that suits him. That art is also damn good with Meridat really being in touch with what makes for good western visuals. I’m glad to be aboard gentlemen, I’ll be with you to the end.

Frankenstein: Agent of SHADE #1 by Jeff Lemire and Alberto Ponticelli

During Flashpoint the big event leading to the relaunch, there was a mini series that gave us Frankenstein and his creature commandos. For some reason I really liked it; maybe because of my love of the universal monsters. When I heard Franky was escaping to the relaunch I was hoping for a decent book that gave me my monster fix. What I got was DC’s take on Hellboy, and as much as I could decry it for not being wholly original, I love the quirky glory the pages inside contained. Jeff Lemire gives us a weird, weird world, and something I kind of missed in my comics. I got the same feeling when I would read Un-Men. I really hope this continues for a while as I want to know more about Frankenstein and his team of monsters.

Wonder Woman #1 by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang

Yet again another super hero I wouldn’t have thought ever putting on a favourite list but Brian Azzarello gives us a comic that launches into the action and doesn’t slow down. Dialogue is kept to a minimum, and exposition of the world comes naturally. I was reading Wonder Woman before the relaunch and it’s amazing the turn around that’s happened. The world is dynamic, the story so far is interesting, and Wonder Woman has taken the role of protective presence rather than cog in the story. Cliff Chiang does not drop the ball, capturing the action scenes perfectly and really allowing the fast pace to flow from page to page.