Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Disgruntled Monkey’s Rant Log: I Hate This Angry Feeling

So maybe it's confession time. A long time ago back in a university far far away, I used to write a monthly column for the university magazine called The Rat's Nest. Basically in my early twenties I was a very very angry young man. I had a temper that I had managed to focus on all the loves of my life. Mainly movies and pop culture. It became something that defined me as a person and even today many of my friends see ranting as a very big part of me.

However a few years ago something happened. I met this woman who I fell madly in love with and I wanted to better myself. See anger was one thing, but I suffered severe bouts of depression that sometimes had me curling into a ball. The two seemed to go hand in hand, you could almost view them as a tag team that were world champions in ruling my brain. However finally motivated to go to the doctor's, I'm on the path to feeling better and look back on my 'The Rat Nest's' writings with a slight smirk and shake of my head.

This journey finally led me to make this blog where I write about the things I love but always try to take the angry fanboy out of it all. Being an angry fanboy has always led to any discussion truly being thrown away. Sometimes the anger just obfuscates actual problems in the artistic medium we choose to champion, other times we can't get people to talk because they are scared that any moment a nerd will turn and become aggressive. It's a problem I see all the time.

This week there has been an incident that has made me feel exhausted. Ben Affleck is Batman.

I think he'll be good as Batman.
Wow did this bring out the angry comic fans. Statues of Ben Affleck were built just so they could be torn down by the mob. All the while I just felt like hitting my head on the table in embarrassment. But unfortunately even with the best of intentions I stooped to their level and put a few twitter posts expressing my anger at their anger. And you know what? I regret it.

It's fair enough to say, 'this pisses me off,' but taking a moment to calm down and rationally think about why, is always the right approach. Too many times when we type with our emotions at 11 we say things that we will often regret. Or worse we will come off as an asshole and cause bigger problems for ourselves.

You threaten someone with death over the writing of a video game. How does that help?
You make a petition to a studio cause you don't like casting. How does that help?
You hack a company and steal customers information. How does the help?

Small or big, fan communities really need to learn to deal with their angry feelings. Only when they treat people with some respect will other people turn to them and truly listen to their opinions.

I'm sure that this little post won't mean a lot to most. But it's a record of my constant drive to try and be a better person. My anger will never truly go away, but hopefully I can use it for a lot more constructive purposes.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Let's Play: Pickledancer and Dwod Play Portal 2 Co-op! (Part 1)

All let's play's are filmed for scientific studies.

Taking a departure from Terraria we throw Dwod and Pickledancer into the Portal 2 blender. Don't worry Terraria will eventually return, but the boys need to be punished. For Science!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Review: The Last Exorcism Part 2 (2013)

Review by Disgruntled Monkey

Director: Ed Gass-Donnelly
Starring: Ashley Bell, Julia Garner, Spencer Treat Clark
Writers: Damien Chazelle and Ed Gass-Donnelly\

Discussion about the ending of The Last Exorcism crosses the gamut. Some love it, others feel it destroys the tone, some are so-so but like the movie overall. For me I was a fan and I really dug the heck out of the film. All hell breaks loose and a monstrosity that seems to come from the Cthulhu mythos is set free. When I heard that there was a sequel I wondered what way they could possibly go. How big was this film going to be?

Um well. It seems that the fake preacher from the first movie found god, defeated the dark lord and Nell who was housing this monster is still alive and now lives in a half way house for girls. Okay. So not exactly the way I thought they would go with this. And it is with this plot turn that I think the movie makes its first mistake. It hits the reset button so quickly, that this feels almost like a remake rather than a sequel and instantly will disappoint fans of the first film.

Second mistake is that the movie focuses on Nell. Don’t get me wrong, Ashley Bell does a fantastic job as Nell and honestly I hope this girl gets some work in more prestigious films rather than direct to DVD fair. However her character is very sombre, with good cause, but with the first film we had false preacher Cotton to lighten the load of the movie. He created a much needed energy in the film. Nell tends to slow things down, which would be fine if the script was a little more exciting.

This leads nicely to the third problem. For the love of zombie Jesus is the movie slow. So exceptionally, tremendously, mind numbingly tedious. What I’m getting at here is that its pacing leaves a lot to be desired, if you get my drift. It would be okay if things happened apace but, unfortunately, they really don’t and even for the brief moments when they do it’s often done in such a boring and unexciting way that it still feels like nothing has happened anyway. Numerous times I would stare at my watch and wish I was somewhere else. That is not a good sign.

Finally, this time through I also had a problem with the ending. Now I find that there are numerous ways to interpret the end, but if we take it at face value we pretty much end up at the same place we were at the end of the first movie. So why did I just wasted my god damn time watching this movie? Screw you movie, screw you from the depths of my soul.

Just hang in there kiddo, the movie is almost over.
If there are any positives I will say that the movie looks nice, but truly Ashley Bell is that stand out in this otherwise dreary fare. She deserves to be mentioned twice as she is truly fantastic and merits so much better than this. It’s a shame that this film wasted such talent, but here’s hoping she get’s another meaty role like this.

Fans of the first instalment should just avoid this one. New comers should watch the original and then also avoid this movie. There is no real point to it all. Thankfully this film really put a stop to The Last Exorcism becoming a franchise. Why would I say this? ‘Cause The Last Exorcism Part 2 is a title that is a lie and causes a rip in the space time continuum, and we don’t want that.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Review: Tape 407 (2012)

Review by Disgruntled Monkey

Directors: Dale Fabrigar, Everette Wallin
Starring: Abigail Schrader, Samantha Lester, James Lyons
Writer: Robert Shepyer,

If you’ve read my blog for any length of time then you’ll know that I’m a fan of found footage horror movies. For the life of me I’m not really sure why, but I’m at least monkey enough to also admit that while I’m a sucker for the genre, there is just a whole bunch of crap out there at the moment. Every time I sit down to watch one of these films it’s a bit like Russian roulette. Still, I keep spinning the chambers and pulling the trigger in the hopes of finding something awesome.

Unfortunately awesome and Tape 407 will never be seen together. In fact I believe that courts have already put into effect restraining orders that won’t allow Tape 407 to be within 100 feet of ‘awesome’. Tape 407 or Area 407 or Oh God That Movie, is just a really cheap film looking to cash in on the over worked found footage style. It brings exactly zilch to the genre and fails to deliver even a clich├ęd fun ride.

Characters are the usual assortment of bland and arseholes, with the only character I kind of liked dispatched early on. However to place the blame on the actors would be a disservice. There seems to be no real direction going on, with scenes seemingly adlibbed. Unfortunately the adlibs boil down to people screaming at each other, screaming at the monsters and going on and on about fucking peanuts.

Snout of doom. SNOUT OF DOOM!
Maybe if the monsters were fun I could of classed this movie in the so bad it’s good division, but you never really see anything except shadows and some really, really dodgy CGI. Of course you get the money shot at the end and it was most certainly not worth the price of admission.

Sadly, there is nothing here to recommend and yet I get the feeling that some may still venture into the nether realms that hold this movie in order to have a laugh. I warn thee, this is just bad, plain and simple. Do not watch. Do not feed after midnight. Just move on and ignore this corpse of a movie.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Review: Hatchet 3 (2013)

Review by Disgruntled Monkey

Director: BJ McDonnell
Starring: Danielle Harris, Kane Hodder, Zach Galligan
Writer: Adam Green

At the end of Hatchet 3 it occurred to me that there was no real story that I could mention. It’s all basic set up to get the characters in the swamp and then starting the FX reel. Suggesting that this third installment has even less plot than the first two is an understatement, no, actually more of an amazing feat of illogic; as the first two movies have the thinnest of plots to begin with.

This is the real gatekeeper when it comes to the enjoyment of this film. If you need characterisation or anything story based to enjoy a film then I suggest just moving on. It is kind of a shame though as the special effects are quite gory and impressive. Framing them with a more robust plot might have drawn some more people in, then again this is the third in a series and it’s just keeping pace with what the previous films have set up.

Victor Crowley is still a monstrous force and is memorable enough to at least claw his way close to the pantheon of horror icons, however, his lack of personality never truly gets him over the line. Like-wise his nemesis Marybeth, played by Danielle Harris, is actually quite an enjoyable character while never seeming to reach her full potential. In particular number 3 kind of has her split from the main action and it does hurt her inevitable confrontation with Crowley. Other than these two everyone is pretty much fresh meat with the occasional funny one liner thrown in for garnish.

Gee Victor! Compensating for something?

The highlight of all Hatchet films is the gore effects and like its previous entries this movie delivers. Right from the get go we have a man cut in half with a chainsaw and it doesn’t really let up from there. Everything is practical and it does give it a very old school type feel. Most importantly the violence never really delves into the cruelness of the so called ‘torture genre’. Hatchet has its tongue planted firmly in cheek and it asks its audience to enjoy the chaotic ride.

Overall the Hatchet films were never meant to impress people with their story; it’s an old school chaotic violent ride. Victor Crowley is still an impressive monster and with these three films goes out in such a way that this could be the end of the series - and a good one at that. I really do wish there was more Marybeth and maybe just a shade more story but hell I’ll go for fun over bad anytime of the week.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Monday, August 5, 2013

Let's Play: Pickledancer and Dwod Play Terraria! (Part 6)

No animals were hurt in the production of this Let's Play.

It's a Monday at that can mean only one thing, Let's Play with our resident gaming guru's Pickledancer and Dwod. The ever continuing journey into the world of Terraria. In this next episode Pickledancer accuses Dwod of cheating! Will their fragile alliance be shattered? Are our hero's coming to a crossroads? Am I pushing to hard to make this seem like a reality television show? All these questions and more will be answered. Or possibly not.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Review: The Conjuring (2013)

Review by Disgruntled Monkey

Director: James Wan
Writers: Chad Hayes, Carey Hayes
Starring: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Lili Taylor

I’m kind of obsessed with ghost stuff. I watch a butt tonne of ghost reality shows, I dig the heck out of ghost movies and I have many books on the topic. It’s not that I believe in ghosts, more that the subject matter intrigues me so much. So when I say how excited I was for this movie, you can understand where it’s all coming from. The Conjuring is a ghost film based on an apparent true tale and is centred around famous ghost hunting duo Lorraine and Ed Warren. I know these two well; you can’t wander through the mass amount of ghost media without learning about this pair. Expectations are high, seat is now buckled; what kind of ride am I going to have?

Ever since Paranormal Activity I think the ghost movie has gone through a little bit of resurgence. However it wasn’t until Insidious that we saw these films really hit their stride. The PA series, while enjoyed by me (well maybe not number 4) hinged very much on the jump scare. While Insidious does have its jump scares, it uses cinema techniques other than just the now ubiquitous ‘found footage’ to create an excellent sense of atmosphere. The Conjuring continues this tradition and it seems that James Wan as a director is really getting a handle on this.

The Conjuring oozes a style that is both disturbing and intense - the audience I had reacted to just the sheer promise of dread, instead of the actual outcome. All because right from the get go there are camera techniques used to make the audience ill at ease. Even in the happiest moments the shadows are always lurking. One of the more intense scenes occurred thanks to a squeaky door, some shadow and some excellent acting from the child cast members.

However while I could continue to give The Conjuring a sensual massage till the cows come home, time has come to stop and pay up. There are problems with the movie that, while they don’t really stop the movie from being a great little watch, never proves to be that exceptional.

The biggest problem is that Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson steal the show as Lorraine and Ed Warren. They share a great chemistry and are enthralling as the ghost hunting couple, so much so in fact that when focused on the family being terrorised I couldn’t help but want to get back to the Warrens as quickly as possible. It’s not that the other cast members are bad, in fact Lili Taylor is fantastic as Carolyn Perron, beleaguered and haunted mother, it’s just the script seems to be more in love with the Warrens. It’s a very weird feeling to have the focus of the movie on two characters that aren’t actually the main protagonists of the story.

Not only does this effect the acting, but I personally felt like I was never given enough of the Warrens, or the haunting effecting the Perron’s. It makes the individual stories feel truncated and yet the movie suffers from being overly long. It could definitely use a trim here and there. I think the film would have been more effective if we stayed with the Warren’s and journeyed with them instead of cutting back and forth. This may have hurt the Perron Family dynamic, but unfortunately sometimes sacrifices need to be made.

The Conjuring is an excellent movie and is a great example of a ghost story done brilliantly. It pays a lot of respect to the Warrens, who are legends in the ghost hunting world and gets us to care about all the characters involved even if the lime light isn’t fully on them. This could very well be one of my favourite movies of the year and makes me really excited for James Wan to unleash Insidious Chapter 2.