Sunday, December 29, 2013

Review: Riddick (2013)

I love Pitch Black, but The Chronicles of Riddick disappointed me especially the damn shaky cam and over-lit fake-looking sets. I didn't care about the mythology. Calling his home planet "Furya" was just dumb and far too obvious. Alexa Davalos was incredible in that sequel though. I really liked her character, and the film had a good ending. When rumors of another one suggested it'd go back to more Pitch Black territory, I was really looking forward to it. Sadly, I was pretty underwhelmed again. The writer/director avoids shaky cam this time, but the film is full of cruddy CGI, and it's almost a complete rehash of Pitch Black except they have characters you don't care about, a weak silly contrived ending, etc. The monsters are also fairly weak, and there's only one type of them throughout the whole freakin film. I liked his furry companion, but the CGI sucked. It was like a bad cartoon. Plus, after The Chronicles of Riddick, Diesel's character has kind of lost his edge. You can't do Pitch Black again without bringing something new to it.

I miss her.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Review: We Are What We Are (2013)

I'm a big fan of Stake Land, the writer/director's last film, and I also like Mulberry Street (you got to keep in mind it's a no-budget first feature, but it isn't bad). I hate this remake though. It starts out alright. There is a great moment early on when the father suddenly snaps at his son, breaking the slow pacing, but these characters don't feel real at all. I didn't care about them so the whole thing became incredibly boring. Plus, the shit they do later on is just insane and doesn't make any sense, which is the point I guess, but without being invested in the sisters or seeing any real humanity in the father, the film completely lost me. What was obviously supposed to be a shocking scene at the end turned comedic. I wanted to like this movie, but it didn't even remotely work for me aside from the beginning. If they had developed the characters better and made the history of why they're doing what they're doing more understandable so we could see it through their eyes, it could've been interesting, but I don't recommend it. I'm curious about the original film though.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Review: The Conjuring (2013)

Quite good and creepy. I like Patrick Wilson a lot ever since Watchmen (even Hard Candy although he plays a disturbing scumbag in that, but he's a great actor). There is one dumb bit of cgi showing some black figures attached to the family members and some cg puke (ok, ok, a breaking chair too), but they only stand out since there is so little computer FX in this. It's definitely nice to have the emphasis on good old fashioned scares and atmosphere instead. The Warrens make for some great main characters, and the way they acknowledge all the skepticism helps your suspension of disbelief. The poster with the doll on it is pretty misleading, but I like marketing that doesn't ruin the movie. Wan does an excellent job directing this, and it feels different enough from Insidious so you don't feel like you're watching the same film regardless of the cast and crew similarities. Of course, it doesn't beat The Exorcist, but compared to most of the crap these days, it's outstanding.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Review: Monster Brawl (2011)

The idea of having all these classic monsters duke it out is genius, but the final result is unbelievably boring. The first time I tried to watch it I shut it off after 20 minutes. I went back and finished the rest despite it feeling more like an obligation than anything. I have to admit I'm not a fan of wrestling so I would've much rather seen some flesh being torn off with buckets of blood thrown around. These monsters do have teeth and claws for a reason so let them go berserk. They steal plenty of lines from Mortal Kombat for Lance Henriksen's voiceover yet all the gory carnage of that infamous game is missing just like its neutered film adaptation (sadly, that movie is still better than this). They also left out any spectators for the fights, which would've been a golden opportunity for some nightmarish contestant to run amok and paint the ground red. I like seeing each monster's origin, but the whole thing just disappoints in the end. Look at that Japanese poster. It's a million times better than the movie and shows you how awesome it could've been.

Rachelle Corbeil is the best part of this movie.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Review: The Purge (2013)

The concept is unique and pretty interesting even if it leaves you wondering why the rich couldn't just take a vacation to another country during the annual purge, but still, I'll admit I was entertained. There's plenty of dumb stuff like the daughter always going off by herself, not warning someone of immediate danger, not cutting someone loose who could help, etc. You also get a pointless stupid bit of cg blood. I do like Ethan Hawke though, and there is a fun action scene with him. Something ridiculous this film does over and over again is right when someone is about to be killed, there is a dramatic pause then a hero shoots the killer so the victim is saved. It happens like a million freakin times. It's actually hilarious. But I did like the main bad guy, a young spoiled Ivy League psycho. They don't flesh out his character at all, but he's pretty creepy and menacing. Also, I'm sure I'm just a gullible idiot, but I didn't see the end coming. I was surprised at what happened although it all feels unresolved and shallow. They also make Americans look pretty damn awful. If you're bored and got nothing better to watch, here you go.

You might remember... her... from... what was I talking about? Oh yeah, Dredd.

Adelaide Kane... I don't think she even has a character in The Purge, but she doesn't need one.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Review: World War Z (2013)

Better than expected. A lot of CGI, and in one scene, it's horribly obvious they're intentionally not showing a dead zombie's head wound, but still, there's plenty of tension, Brad Pitt makes a good lead, they've got some nice big set pieces like the bit in Israel, and (tiny spoiler) you get a batshit crazy scene on a plane, which I loved. Plus, I've never seen hordes of zombies like this so even if the CGI was unconvincing at times, I appreciate something new. I haven't read the book, and I understand the movie doesn't really follow it at all so I'm just looking at this as its own separate thing. Of course, I would've liked some more blood (of the corn-syrup kind, not computer generated), but I knew going in there wouldn't be much since they were aiming for a wider audience. I did see the unrated version, which I guess added a little more, but it was still pretty minimal. I wish we could see the original ending since that sounds interesting, but I liked what they did instead. It really was pretty good. It's nuts how The Walking Dead can get away with so much on TV where anyone can watch it yet a film like this can't show a head wound.

She wasn't in World War Z. What a shame.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Review: Crawlspace (2012)

This one really reminded me of The Dark Lurking except the performances were a lot better. In order to tell you the real problem though, I've got to spoil something so if you just want to see it for yourself without knowing anything, stop reading. Ok, here it is: there aren't any monsters in this movie. With the corridors from Alien and Aliens, you really expect some creatures or demons or something, but all you get is one animal that was experimented on. When I was watching it, I was excited since that happens kinda early on so I thought that was the tip of the iceberg. Nope, that's it. What they do instead is alright, but it would've been awesome with some unique, terrifying monsters. They've got some pretty cool characters with good actors in the roles. The thing is it all reminds me of Aliens minus the other major component of what made that film so memorable. By using that aesthetic and not delivering the goods, they shot themselves in the foot. It's not awful, but it could've been amazing.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Review: Under the Bed (2012)

Pretty disappointing. They spend so much time at the beginning with the kid hesitating to go into the house that it's almost comical, and it gets incredibly boring waiting for the monster to show up. The first scene is a long exchange in a car between father and son that seems to last forever. I read an interview with the director where he talked about using practical FX, and there is a guy in a suit for the monster, but then they did a lot of CG effects on top of it to make him move quickly. It really doesn't look very good at all. The real problem is the monster doesn't do anything until the end of the movie, and the dad is another asshole who puts his kids in harm's way to make them face their fears, but it's going way too far. Plus, early on, you get a scene with the step mom in a washer room that ends so abruptly I didn't understand how she got away or what happened. It's just a mess. I liked the gore at the conclusion, but it was such a huge change from the rest of the film, and when they're in the monster's world, the fact it's low budget becomes horribly obvious since the set is way too cheap and small.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Review: The Dark Lurking aka Alien Undead (2009)

The special effects are outstanding in this Australian indie, but the acting is abysmal, and the shaky cam close-ups ruin everything (just watch the scene below). They had so much potential for an amazing Aliens-type action film (and the monsters really do rip off Giger's design as you can tell from the poster although they have some other different plague-like creatures too), but they screw it up. All the guys try to talk like badasses, but it's obviously ADR and sounds horribly fake. You've also got some extremely annoying characters that do nothing but whine and instead of dying immediately, they stick around to drive you nuts. In the US, this movie was released as The Dark Lurking, but in the UK, they put it out under the title Alien Undead. Either way, it sucks unfortunately. I thought for sure I'd at least be able to enjoy the practical FX, but with the fuckin shaky cam, it's impossible. Why the hell do filmmakers do that? Don't they understand how awful it is?

Monday, August 12, 2013

Review: Dark Skies (2013)

Great atmosphere at the beginning, but it definitely loses itself in the end by showing way too much. J.K. Simmons turns in a fantastic supporting role as a guy who has spent his life running from the grays. Sadly, he's not in it much (if he was the main character, that would've been really interesting and different from what we've seen before). All the actors did a good job, but the writing makes the father seem like a jerk sometimes, and it's hard to understand why the hell he's acting like that. Plus, the whole setup reminds me a lot of Insidious, which makes sense because it's by the same producers, but it's almost like the same movie with a family dealing with aliens instead of ghosts. There are some good scary moments though, and I got sucked into it while I was watching. It's a shame it drops the ball in the third act. They use CGI, and it looks like shit. I hated the last shot, because it just leaves things wide open for a sequel, and I'd rather they resolve the story. Overall, it was ok for an alien abduction movie. I like Fire in the Sky a lot more. If you've never seen that one, watch it instead.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Review: ChromeSkull: Laid to Rest 2 (2011)

I wasn't very impressed by the first film. A ton of practical gore, which is nice, but you need a good story and characters too like John Carpenter's The Thing. Of course, I know very few movies will ever come close to that, and Laid to Rest was just a small indie, but still, they could've done more. This sequel doesn't improve much. I cared even less about the characters, and ChromeSkull sat around watching for most of the running time with an imitator doing the dirty work. You'd think a movie with the title of its killer would actually feature said character racking up a huge body count, but that's not the case here. I like seeing Danielle Harris in just about anything, but she also doesn't have much to do except try to win ChromeSkull's affection. You see more of his organization, but it still doesn't make much sense. Obviously, they have to be rich, but how do they get their money? Why does ChromeSkull record everything? Who is behind it all? Is it entertainment for some sick wealthy group of psychos or what? The problem with a film like this is if you're not invested in the characters, it's just boring.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Review: Watchers (1988)

Michael Ironside really makes this movie for me. Hell, he's the reason Highlander II is a guilty pleasure of mine, because "train wreck" is the only way to classify that cinematic disaster. I've always been curious about Watchers and its sequels, but I never figured they'd be any good. Turns out of course, they're based on a book, which was poorly adapted but came out well enough to where it's not a bad way to spend a couple hours if you can see it for free (thank you, Netflix). The story seems kinda goofy now since if you're going to send a dog in to make friends with the enemies, I don't think that'd work so well in the Middle East (obviously, this was made long before current events), but the idea of a super smart dog is pretty fun. I guess some people like to beat up Corey Haim, but I think he's fine in this, and the poor guy is dead now so give him a break. It does suck that his character was changed from a much older man in the book to a kid in the film, but that's Hollywood for you, and they love to do stupid shit like that. Aside from Ironside, the real star of the film is the dog, and he's perfect. Best actor ever.

How about the monster? You don't get a good look at it for the most part until the end, and I'd say that's a smart decision, because the design isn't the greatest. In fact, it looks pretty shitty when you finally see it (it ain't no Predator that's for damn sure). I was surprised to get quite a few kills in the movie, and every time that happens, the monster claws out the eyes of its victims, which was a nice gory trademark. I keep going back to Ironside though. He really makes everything he's in so much better except maybe Terminator Salvation, but he was barely in that. So again, it wasn't the greatest, but super low expectations, a certain affection for man-in-suit 80s monster movies and the awesome Michael Ironside made it pretty enjoyable for me.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Review: Deep Space (1988)

Doesn't take place in space, and it sure as hell doesn't take place in deep space. It's all on crappy ole Earth. The monster looks like the Queen from Aliens but not nearly as awesome. You'll recognize Charles Napier from Rambo II (he played the evil asshole in charge aka Murdock). He's pretty good in this too even if the movie is mediocre at best. At least, the creature is all practical. The script is a mess though with cop film cliches (these guys are out of control! suspend them!) and the alien being a super weapon made by a government experiment. You also get a dumb psychic subplot to tell the lead where the critter is (so much for good writing). Someone loved Ridley Scott and James Cameron a little too much, but they had no idea why those two made such phenomenal films. If only this was as good as the poster. You do get a chainsaw near the end, which is always appreciated, but I'd only watch this if you're really bored and really, really love weak '80s ripoff movies. It is available on Netflix if you're curious.

Here are a couple more pictures so you can see the monster. Not bad from the right angle although obviously stolen from Aliens. Still Napier looks pretty badass here.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Review: Malevolence (2004)

Boring slasher flick. You've seen it all before and done a million times better. Just rewatch Halloween or a Friday the 13th film. I didn't care about any of the characters. Not one. Didn't like the killer. He doesn't have a cool mask or costume. No amazing new weapons. Nothing to make him memorable. He's probably the most boring part. Every cliche is present and accounted for. Psycho standing in the background but no one notices? Yep. Picking off idiots one by one? Yep. Slow moving murderer who always gets back up? Yep. Is it scary? No. Is it exciting? No. Is it even remotely good? No. The beginning is a little different, but then it grinds to a halt, and you see a cruddy remake of Carpenter's classic without the talents of Donald Pleasence, Jamie Lee Curtis, etc. It was painful to sit through. Avoid. The fact this has a 5.0 rating on IMDb is ridiculous. Don't be fooled by it.