Posts tagged movies
Posts tagged movies
Sinister was one of the few horror films I was excited to see. It looked interesting…different…but best of all, unsettling. Sadly, in reality it was only one of those things.
The movie gets credit for trying something new, a specific pagan deity as opposed to “oh the noes it’s a christian demon!!!” But while the concept is new, the end result is sadly ordinary…for the most part.
Everything about the setup, execution, characters, story arc (and I use that term loosely), and the scares are so damn cookie cutter it really is a damn shame. This movie could have been quite special. But at the same time, it’s not quite cookie cutter enough in places…there are very odd choices in the script that really don’t fit in with its familair , even clichéd, format.
There is no buildup to the ending…or rather, any real clues as such. Things just happen in this movie, not always having a reason. My friend Bill put it best. This movie was shot as an extended trailer. Nearly every other scene is framed, paced, and even written in trailer sound bytes. Even some of the visuals are exclusively for the trailer it seems, with no other purpose than “it’ll get people in the theaters.”
I know movies are a business, but you should NEVER do an editers job for them when it comes to trailers. Making trailers is an art form, there’s a a sort of magic to it. When you shoot things solely to put them in the trailer, it just seems fake…er…at least more fake from a movie standpoint.
There’s this whole thing where the son has night terrors…there’s no other plot element to it, no place for it in the story, hell, the character seems to drop out of the movie entirely after the first act…why? Because he was used for jump scares…that’s it. A wasted character and plot element for the sake of the trailer and worse yet…cheap scares.
Now, all that being said…
This movie is also one of the most unsettling films I’ve seen since I the last time I popped the original EVIL DEAD in my DVD player. Namely, the music score, and the super 8 film footage. These two things will leave you far more shaken than any jump scare. In fact, they are so unsettling, the movie is forced to lessen the blow with music stings at one point, get your adrenaline pumping before you can process what exactly you just saw.
This is commendable, considering the age we live in. Movies like SAW XXIII that have more gore than a Tom Savini convention don’t phase us. They aren’t real, they aren’t relatable…the combination of the fakeness of blocked, and professionally lit movies distance us from the situation, and when the killer is a monster or someone who makes traps that break all laws of physics distances us further.
What makes the super 8 footage so unnerving in Sinister is that they are none of these things. They look real, like if we took our camcorder out and shot on the fly…and the killer is worse than any monster…one of us. But the worse part? They are all silent…and thankfully the movie (mostly) realizes that silence is sometimes the scariest thing of all, and leaves us alone, in the dark, without a peep from our speakers, watching unspeakable horrors in the scope of reality.
For that alone, it’s worth seeing.
I really wasn’t expecting to like this movie…I really wasn’t.
First of all, that costume is damn hideous…and then add the verdict from the RED LETTER MEDIA crew (who almost always align with my tastes), I decided to give it a pass.
Then my friend saw it and sang it’s praises. And his taste, I trust almost as much as Jay and Mike, so I figured, why not.
So, I guess I should start off by answering the question…who was right?
Well, neither…it turns out.
Everyone seems to have their nuts all over the Sam Raimi, movie…and while it was good, I am not that crazy about it. It felt a little too unbalanced, and…dare I say, too campy for my taste.
This movie hit a refreshing tone through most of the film. Most say it’s “darker” which I don’t really agree with. No darker than any iteration of spiderman. I mean, his uncle was brutally murdered as a direct cause of his actions. Unless Peter Parker’s web comes from him slitting his own wrists…you don’t get too much darker.
Some say it’s more “realistic.” …really? How does a teenager obtain commercial grade, experimental, bio-cable in mass quantities? Oh, and giant lizard men…
Yeah…”realistic” goes out the window too.
I would define this movie as simply…”smart.” For the most part at least. And I really hate using that word because you see it plastered on movie posters for films that are anything but “smart.” But, really, that’s what comes to mind.
Look…this is probably the best written superhero movie we’ve gotten before AVENGERS came around. Things made sense (for the most part…again), they felt natural, they felt like REAL PEOPLE…
That’s what’s important.
The whole point of superheros is that they are real people dealing with these unreal powers and situations. A superhero who doesn’t feel like a real person, isn’t interesting. Take SUPERMAN for example…
Most people don’t like old Supes because they see him as invulnerable, unstoppable. “How can he possibly be someone who I can understand?”
To those people, I simply say “read BIRTHRIGHT.” I learned more about his character in 20 pages than I have in years of watching cartoons of him.
Amazing Spiderman humanizes Peter Parker better than anything I’ve seen in a looooooooooooooong time. So much so to the point that Peter Parker, and Spiderman feel like two completely different people, in a very good way. And better yet, you get all this without being bogged down with a drawn out origin story.
Look…we all know the story by now. The movie knows this, so it doesn’t waste too much time on it. He’s Spidey in no time flat without all the angst and awkward logic of how the hell a teenager builds frigging web shooters in his bedroom.
Remember the “for the most part” phrase I keep saying? Well, there’s a reason. For as good as Peter Parker is…Curt Conners is god awful.
There’s no words to describe how poorly done the Lizard is. It’s just lazy, stupid, and half-assed. In that sense Jay and Mike got it right.
However, I feel the rest of the movie redeems itself. At the end of the movie, I found myself in love with it again with more sequences of Peter Parker, forgetting completely that there was ever a bad CGI dinosaur not even 5 minutes earlier.
Even the costume is growing on me…the idea, not the design. At first I thought it was a re-design…but…it’s written well enough to make sense. It’s literally, his first attempt at a costume. A makeshift, custom screen printed sportsuit…and in that sense, I can’t be that mad. Good writing will always win out against nerd rage.
So, as I said, neither got it right…
RLM mourn the loss of Sam Raimi…….while I feel there is nothing wrong with the new tone.
My friend thought the Lizard wasn’t that bad………he was that bad…so very bad.
But in the end, it could have been a helluva lot worse.
So yeah…I’ve decided…this needs to happen.
Planning on talking with my buddy Bill to start penning a script, meanwhile doing research on camera rental fees, set materials, special effects, etc…once we have a solid script and budget, I’m planning on starting a KICKSTARTER campaign to help fund it.
I’ll keep you updated on progress.
“Paramount Pictures Greenlights Michael Bay’s Found Footage Time Travel Project.”
I have never been more terrified in my life.
Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz….mmm…wha? Huh, Woody Harrelson…zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
(I’ll do a serious review soon…assuming I can finish the movie without dozing off)
…I have probably seen every “paranormal investigators explore a haunted asylum/prison/house” found footage film on Netflix.
I don’t know why…but I love them. Or rather, how bad they are. It’s an addiction…
I can’t stop myself.
Just finished HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA and have two questions burning a hole into my soul…
1. Why in gods name do you give the only cast member who can legitimately sing the Auto Tune?????
2. How did the same man who gave us SAMURAI JACK become responsible for this shit????
V/H/S is the shining example of both what is great about independent film, and what is horribly, horribly, wrong about independent film. The freedom to do whatever you want.
Here’s the thing…V/H/S is a collection of brilliant ideas bogged down by horrible execution.
I’ve always said, that if you are going to do a found footage film…make it look like it. One of the best things about this film is that it does just that! The segments that are shot on camcorder…are shot on camcorders. The segments shot with a p.o.s. cassette corder…are shot on a p.o.s. camcorder, or at least degraded enough to make it look it was.
That is the first thing you notice about this film, and the first thing that you come to love about it. Then…you come to a horrifying realization. Nothing is happening.
Yes, sadly, we have a poor balance of “realistic found footage” concepts. A lot of the movie is people acting like, real stupid teenagers…laughing, incoherent idiots.
Let’s take a look back at CLOVERFIELD…that’s an example of “real life” dialogue simulated well enough that it was able to play off as real but be compelling as well and not make you want to shut off the movie…at least during the opening party sequence.
But in V/H/S…basically, anything with dialogue just drags to the point where you really feel the length of the movie, which clocks in around 2 hours. It’s just painful.
As for the stories themselves, I liken them to the experience of trying to put together a Lego set without a manual. It’s a long, painful process, where you are left with something that you aren’t quite sure is supposed to be what the engineer intended. The best way to do this, is break it up into the segments…
The frame story is simple enough, a group of petty crooks are hired to steal a V/H/S tape from a house by an unknown “admirer” of their previously video-taped criminal escapades and amateur porn…yes, you heard me, amateur porn.
Anyways, they get to the house and find a dead man in a room full of TV’s displaying static and proceed to search the house, one by one, the tapes in the various machines are played (either by one of the hoodlums or by itself, OOOOH SPOOKY!!!), each time of the teenagers disappear afterwards. In the end the dead man comes back to life and kills the final crook. …meh.
The thing that really pisses me off with this one is the missed opportunity. Throughout the story, we are treated with a bit of an insight into one of the crook’s personal lives when the tape used to record is over a previously taped attempt to get his girlfriend to have sex on camera. Now, between these segments and the fact that it was mentioned that the person who hired them was an “admirer” of his recorded work, led me to say: “Oh cool, so it’s like a vengeful spirit thing? Where we’ll find out that after the girlfriend found the camera she tried to leave, he got angry and killed her, and whatever hired the crew knew about it and luered them all hear to punish them for their misdeeds.”
“oh…no? So, what was the point of those scenes with him getting nekked with his girl? Just more shameless tna? Really? What are you 14, movie? So easily amused by boobies on camera? Ugh…”
In the end, it just ends where everyone dies off camera. Exciting, right?
The first “tape” includes a story shot by an eyeglasses camera of a group of friends attempting to go out, pick up girls, and get them on camera having sex…huh…anyways. They go out and pick up a pair of girls, one is very odd and has some rather nice practical special effects make-up on, at least for an indie film. After a loooooooooong sequence in the bar, and another awkward “attempted three-way” the girl turns out to be some kind of monster and starts killing everyone.
What’s cool here is that the girl actually seems to grow fond of the geeky friend, the one with the glasses, and keeps him alive in an attempt to mate with him…covered with his friends blood. When he rejects her, she grows wings and Michael Bay takes over the camera and we see nothing coherent at all and assume he dies.
This one was…ok. With better character interactions it could have been pretty darn good. The effects were cool and at times it was nice and tense. One weird thing…they pulled a punch, rather visibly. When she attemts to give the nerdy kid a blow job, he turns away, we hear the appropriate noises, but when he looks…his boxers are clearly buttoned (who wears undies with buttons on the fly??) and pulled all the way up. It can’t be squeamishness on man-bits, because just earlier in the scene we get a nice clear look of his friends dangle. It’s just…weird, and out of place.
So…this one reads like an urban legend…and then ends with a “huh?” There are a lot of conflicting things going on. We are introduced to the concept of a female hitchiker stalking the protagonists…even to the point where we see feminine hands stealing money and operating the switchblade when they sneak into the hotel room. But at the end when you find out that the girl was plotting to kill her current boyfriend/fiance/husband(??) and is in cahoots with her (we can only assume via her fortune reading) old boyfriend…you’re left hanging with that female hitchiker.
Furthermore…there is NO, absolutely NO foreshadowing or background on this old boyfriend. It comes out of nowhere, so when it happens, you are more confused than surprised. It means nothing because you know nothing about it. FAIL.
TUESDAY THE 17TH
This one is probably my favorite, because it’s a goofy homage to FRIDAY THE 13TH where the killer only appears on video tape…which does a nice job of explaining why the characters were constantly using the camera. Also, this one has the benefit of being the most brief and to the point stories, making it much more tolerable to watch. Again though, the dialogue is just awkward and weird…so it’s still not entirely enjoyable.
THE SICK THING THAT HAPPENED TO EMILY WHEN SHE WAS YOUNGER
No, I’m not messing with you, that is the actual name of the sequence according to the credits. This one is about aliens…
The one I was most excited to see was the last segment, making it almost worth it in my mind to sit through the pain. Sadly, it was only ok. This was the story with all the cool effects in the trailer, with the hands coming through the walls, and the windows shrinking. This one also has both the cleverest and lamest way of incorporating the camera…a Nanny Cam Halloween Costume.
The idea of the protagonists mistaking the actual haunted house for a Halloween Haunted House, was also inspired, but almost too subtle to the point where it was almost lost on me entirely. As far as the entire movie goes, this is probably the best put together as a legitimate film piece, the only thing bogging it down is the camera lingers a little too long on the effects in a “look at our wicked cool effects” sort of way.
In the end, I reiterate, this movie is full of cool ideas and missed opportunities. I’ve heard the sequel is already in the works, and I’m eager to see if the filmmakers have improved their craft any. With a little more time and effort, there’s an amazing anthology film franchise here.
Just one last thing…if you’re going to be a professional film studio, you need to conduct yourselves as such. Characters like “Cult Dude” in the credits and titles like THE SICK THING THAT HAPPENED TO EMILY WHEN SHE WAS YOUNG are not the makings of professionalism.
I really tried to be unbiased towards this movie, judge it as a “general audience” movie and not a “based on” movie. Because the fact is, “A Princess of Mars” is not a movie that can be faithfully adapted…sadly, I failed, and as you will tell, hated this movie for this complete bastardization of its source material.
But, to be completely fair to myself, I didn’t hate EVERYTHING they changed. The whole civil war between Zodanga and Helium was quite brilliant, and gave the first story of John Carter a much needed central plot to revolve around…it was everything else that rubbed me the wrong way.
The fact is, Edger R. Burrows’ John Carter novels are not well written (so far that I can tell being two books in.) They are true emergence Sci-Fi, where it’s all about building a world for the reader to picture in their mind, rich, and fully developed…and where storytelling is purely an afterthought.
“A Princess of Mars” is exactly that, and if anything, an anthology of stories that revolve around the developing romance between Dejah and John as opposed to a story arc. So, that makes a faithful adaptation impossible as far as major motion picture studios go. No one is going to make that movie.
So how do you make this movie? It is possible, and JOHN CARTER is not it. To find out how to do this movie right, you basically look at what JOHN CARTER did wrong and do the opposite…
1. The Characters- The characters in this film are all wrong, even in the scope of General Audiences. There is no depth to them at all, they’re the same shallow cliches we’ve seen over and over again. There’s the bad guy who wants to take over the world, the worse guy who has muddy, if not completely incoherent, motivations, the damsel in distress that kicks just enough ass to keep the feminists off Disney’s back, an anti-hero that ends up being friends with the main protagonist, and the hero who ends up saving the world and getting the girl in the end.
I understand Dejah Thoras…in the book she was very the “helpless female” so, yeah, she needed to be much more than that if you didn’t want the movie to appear chauvinistic. But Thars and John Carter are the primary offenders here. In the book Thars had an amazing character arc, that is ripe for exploitation. It’s a classic revenge/love story, something that any general audience member can get behind. But in the movie, it is severly toned down, to the point where Thars is merely a plot device as opposed to a genuine character of his own. Without the arc, he is boring, flat, and ininteresting. John on the other hand, just comes off as a whiny, selfish, a-hole that somehow beats entire armies single handedly. The best part about the books was that despite his advantages, John Carter ALWAYS needed help. In the first two books, there’s not a single instance where he doesn’t have someone at his back, whether it’s Kanto, Thars, or the hostage Pirate. Furthermore, constant explanation of what’s going on made sense because in the books John Carter was not exactly the brightest bulb in the bunch. For godsake, in the second book he spends the entire journey with his own son and doesn’t realize it until he pretty much outs himself.
2. Mythology- They actually did a decent job here. They only changed what they absolutely had to…however, the River Iss really sticks me. “Gods of Mars” is by far the better book out of the first two. It has an over-arcing story, exciting developments, more great characters, and clever writing (shockingly.) By completely changing the Therns’ character motivations kind of kills the prospect of doing any kind of sequel based on “Gods of Mars” any justice…especially when you ignore the fact that when the characters returned from the river Iss no one batted an eye. A significant part of the tension lies in the concept that even if John Carter and Thars return from Iss they will be killed because it is seen as a profound blasphamy.
3. Tone- Disney should not have had this film in my opinion. The tone for JOHN CARTER should not be NARNIA, but instead LORD OF THE RINGS…but I understand why they didn’t go that way. The reason LORD OF THE RINGS reached a general audience release was two-fold. First, it had a profound amount of name recognition, secondly it’s setting was far more accepted. High fantasy is something everyone can understand. At this point in pop-culture history, you’d be hard pressed to find someone without a grasp on Dwarves, Elves, Wizards, and Men. True, old-school, sci-fi on the other hand…that’s still something the average person considers out of their scope of understanding and acknowledgement.
STAR WARS is not science fiction…it’s science fantasy (as a rather intelligent, albeit disturbed fellow has pointed out). STAR TREK is science fiction. And these days, more general audiences would go see a STAR WARS film, than a non-JJ Abrams STAR TREK film.
The tone of JOHN CARTER is more light hearted and whimsical, when it really needs to be epic and sweeping and, yes, even gritty.
4. The Script- The dialogue sucked…plain and simple. It was stiff, clumsy, and just plain wrong. And the framing device with “Ned?” Unnecessary. How John Carter gets to Mars is a minor detail, and unimportant, and Burrows recognizes this to the point where in the second book all John has to do is look into the night sky and BOOM! He’s back on Mars. Trying to explain logic and reason in a science-fiction story where a man fights giant, four-armed, ape monsters is just plain silly.
In the end. The movie falls apart because of the difficulty in it’s source material, which begs the question…if you are looking at a source material that is A) not widely recognized, and B) does not appeal to the tastes of a wide audience as a whole…why would you bother wasting that kind of money developing it?
The same problem lies in HP Lovecraft movies, which thankfully have been mostly limited to independent releases in the hands of directors that appreciate the source material. Spending millions of dollars for a name that for the most part no one is going to know…is a waste of money.
Watched DARK KNIGHT RISES again recently because when I saw it in the theater it became abundantly clear to me that it was definitely the kind of movie that I needed to see more than once in order to form my opinion. And I feel that I have.
It’s good…damn good…and yet ultimately fails to live up to its predecessor.
Now, let me be clear. This opinion is not based solely on the Joker…although he is a larger part of it. The fact of the matter is that as a film, and as a story, the DARK KNIGHT is far superior.
1) Less is more- Steven Spielberg can tell you an audience’s imagination is far worse than any nightmare you as a filmmaker can concoct. The Pit…should never have been shown, or at the very least been made a little more hellish. The way Bane describes it in the first act, you imagine it as a deep dark hole in the ground. Well, I don’t know about you, but it wasn’t all that deep, and it sure as hell wasn’t that dark. To the point where Bane being “born into the shadows” is more than an exaggeration.
2) The city changed their mind- What the hell happened to the lessons learned with the Joker…the whole, “we don’t have to stoop to the level of criminals and kill people based on some kind of twisted sense of justice?” Sure, Band had an entire army…and a nuclear bomb but I find it hard to believe that all of Gotham suddenly turned into a violent rabble that throws morals out the window to the point where they seem to actively enjoy looting, murder, and mock courtrooms.
3) Show me, don’t tell me- Early on they try to force the idea that Bane is the worse thing ever…like seriously…ever! The whole scene with the guy who wants Wayne’s Empire is just awkward as all hell. “You’re killing me…even though I paid you money??” “Yep, pretty much.” “Wow!! That makes you the devil and so much worse than that guy that we are awkwardly avoiding talking about this entire movie.” They are so desperate to try and get people to forget about the fact that Heath Ledger is dead, and won’t be popping up to salvage the third act.
4) Act 3…oh Act 3- Dear god I hate Act 3, I really do. For reason #2 primarily, but also because not a whole lot of interest happens until the climax. We see Bruce Wayne lie on a cot, scramble up a wall, and fall…three times. That’s……….about……….it.
5) “Rich people are the devil”- Yeah, Nolan…I love ya, but leave social commentary to those who know how to do it well. I don’t need, nor want, a poorly written “rich people are evil” subtext that uses the most shallow, unenlightened, schlock that’s being peddled to demonize the wealthy in an attempt to create a unity among the less privileged. That kind of thinking only further divides us as a people and offers no solutions or suggestions of betterment.
Those things aside. I really do enjoy the film…just not as much as the second one. Sorry Bane…