Archive for the 'Movies' Category

20
Aug
16

Horns, The Seventh Seal

Horns

Daniel Radcliffe is trying his hardest to not be typecast as Harry Potter. He is taking all sorts of bizarre roles in order to branch out, and one such role was the lead in the 2013 movie Horns. Radcliffe plays a man accused of raping and murdering his girlfriend. He soon starts to grow a set of horns, which have special powers. Everyone around him can’t help but tell the truth, as well as their darkest secrets. He decides to use this ability to find his girlfriend’s real killer.

The setup is kind of outlandish, but I suppose in the right hands it could have been a great movie. Unfortunately, not much really works. The tone is wildly inconsistent, jumping from horror to comedy to dolefully sad. This mash-up of genres works to the detriment of the film. Had it been able to maintain a consistent tone (any of them would have fine), it would have been much more effective.

Radcliffe himself does a pretty good job. He does have a laughable American accent, but if you forget about that, his performance was strong enough to carry the film. You do get lost in his sense of confusion and anger over the new horns and his desire for revenge. The rest of the cast turn in one-note performances, and Heather Graham is particularly strange as she chews scenery more than anyone I’ve seen in recent memory.

Overall, this is a weak movie. The plot isn’t riveting, the performances are bad, the directing is mediocre, and the tone is all over the place. The only saving graces are the lead’s performance, and the concept. Too bad they couldn’t get it more together.

Verdict: Shitty

The Seventh Seal

Let me just get this out of the way first: The Seventh Seal was not bad enough to qualify for a Classically Shitty review, but it is in no way an ultimate classic film that every movie lover needs to watch.

The Seventh Seal is about a medieval knight who wanders around Europe with no discernible purpose in his life. He meets Death who tells him his time is up. The knight makes a wager with Death: if he can beat Death in a game a chess, he will get to live. Death agrees.

The concept was cool, I’ll give it that, but the chess game is a complete afterthought in what comes next. The knight and his squire wander around meeting people and doing little. The movie showcases various people in different walks of life grappling with hunger, poverty, disease, witchcraft, and other maladies prominent in the Middle Ages. The movie is about humanity rather than the chess game.

You know what? That’s all fine and good, and I don’t have a problem with that. But the chess game should have gotten a more of the spotlight. And, no, I don’t mean we should have literally watched them play chess. I mean, there should have been more tension, a greater sense of growing dread, or even a cat-and-mouse-style of interplay between the knight and Death. As it is, the movie is fairly flat in its emotions. I guess we are meant to feel pity for the downtrodden people, but few other emotions are evoked. The only scene that gave me any kind of emotional reaction was when the knight realizes he is going to lose his chess game, and “accidentally” knocks the pieces off the board in an attempt to cheat.

The film is decent, I suppose, but I really don’t know why it is considered so influential. Nothing about it is particularly special. I suppose I could read up on it, but I choose not to. I’d rather be an uninformed nitwit.

Verdict: Average

13
Aug
16

Star Trek Beyond My Expectations

Brikhaus Prime: The 2009 rebooted Star Trek film has held up pretty well over the years. Sure, it has an overabundance of lens flares, but the story, acting, and special effects hold up. Plus, the inclusion of Leonard Nimoy as the original Spock was a clever touch for longtime fans. It’s amazing they waited seven long years to finally make a sequel. Considering how well this did at the box office, one would think Hollywood would try to cash in by making a hurried, cheesy, ill-advised interim film. Oh well, it’s good they didn’t, because Star Trek Beyond is out now, and it keeps the franchise moving ahead full-steam.

*** Interdimensional Rift explodes. ***

Brikhaus Omega: Stop! You’re wrong! There was another film!

Brikhaus Prime: What? Who the hell are you?

Brikhaus Omega: I’m you! From an alternate reality! Our two dimensions are merging, and it could mean the destruction of the entire universe!

Brikhaus Prime: That sounds bad.

Brikhause Omega: It is bad! But not as bad as Star Trek Into Darkness!

Brikhaus Prime: Star Trek Into what?

Brikhaus Omega: Darkness! The second film! The remake of Wrath of Khan!

Brikhaus Prime: *laughs* Why would they remake Wrath of Khan? That’s the most revered film of the entire franchise. That would be an obvious cash-in to just remake the movie that’s the most — oh, I see…

Continue reading ‘Star Trek Beyond My Expectations’

31
Jul
16

From Turkey With Love (James Bond 2)

From Russia with Love has long been considered by many to be the best of all the James Bond films. It perhaps isn’t the quintessential film as a few other aspects of the mythos wouldn’t be solidified until the third film. However, in terms of plotting, acting, directing, and spectacle, this movie has got it all.

Overwhelmed with the unexpected success of Dr. No, the producers hurried the sequel into production. The studio doubled their budget, and were expecting big things. The question was which of Ian Fleming’s novels to film next? Since they had already gone out of order (Dr. No is actually the sixth novel), they didn’t need to stay with any sort of continuity. Then-President John F. Kennedy had stated that From Russia with Love was one of his top-ten favorite books. So, why not use that one? They knew they’d have one fan eagerly awaiting the movie.

Since the source material dealt far more heavily with Cold War themes that the last, the producers decided to change a few aspects. SPECTRE once again became the primary villains. In doing so, the writers were able to carry over a few interesting aspects from the first film.

In 2008, the James Bond producers stated that Quantum of Solace was the first direct sequel in franchise history, coming after Casino Royale. Unfortunately, the current producers don’t know much about the history of their own franchise. If they were to watch From Russia with Love, they would realize it is a direct sequel to Dr. No.

Continue reading ‘From Turkey With Love (James Bond 2)’

24
Jul
16

Sisters, What We Do in the Shadows

Sisters

Sisters is a raunchy comedy starring Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Both of them play against type. Poehler plays a prudish, responsible older sister, and Fey plays a free-wheeling, sexually liberated younger sister. Put them on screen together, and what’s not to like?

In theory, this is the perfect idea for a movie. In reality, however, it didn’t live up to expectations. More than half of the jokes fall flat. There’s a lot of blustering and screaming, and of course CRAZY HIJINKS, but none of it was very funny. Most of the antics are just that, antics. There weren’t many cleverly written jokes.

The film is about two forty-something sisters who return to their childhood home to throw one last party before it is sold. Throughout the night, the party gets more out of control, just like in every movie party. The sisters, of course, take what they learned from the experience to achieve personal growth by the end of the film.

Sisters kind of works and kind of doesn’t. There isn’t anything to actively hate about this movie. The cast is good, and it seemed like they had a great time making the movie. There are a few legitimately funny parts, as well. But overall, the execution was off the mark. Based on good will alone, however, I will give this one a pass.

Verdict: Average

What We Do in the Shadows

Another mockumentary? Oh, grrreeeaaat. Oh, it stars Jemaine Clement, one half of the insanely talented and hilarious duo, Flight of the Conchords? All right, I’ll give it a chance.

*90 minutes later*

Wow, that was really funny!

What We Do in the Shadows is yet another mockumentary in an overstuffed and tired genre. However, the topic hadn’t been done before. It’s about a group of vampires who share a house in New Zealand. The movie follows them as they go about their day to day lives.

The thing that makes this film work so well is how mundane the vampires’ lives are. They muck about in everyday life, just trying to fit in. We get a look into the difficulties of vampire life. It turns out to be way harder than you’d think to find victims. You can’t just waltz into any house and pick out a victim, because you have to be invited in. So why not just hypnotize them into inviting you in? Well, it turns out that the whole vampire hypnosis thing is much harder than it seems. And vampires aren’t all bad, either. They even manage to form friendships with humans, even if they end up going sideways. The vampires have their own share of unique struggles, which the film manages to find in boatloads, and mines for huge laughs throughout the film.

There are so many funny things, I couldn’t attempt to list them all. I’ll just say that they made all the right decisions while making this movie. It has heart, is well written, and puts a fresh spin on an old idea.

Verdict: Good

10
Jul
16

Rubber

There are bad movies, and then there are BAD movies. Rubber, if you couldn’t guess by the title alone, falls in the latter category. It purports to be a satirical take on horror/slasher films. I suppose it is, but it isn’t a good satire, it’s a terrible one. Pretty much every decision they made was a bad one.

The film is about a sentient tire that rolls through the desert, and kills people by exploding their heads with psychic energy. That idea is amusing enough for a one-shot comic or an SNL sketch, not a feature-length film. That’s the problem right there. A punchline can’t be stretched to accommodate an entire movie.

The bulk of the movie is about a cop who investigates the murders, and slowly comes to realize that the tire is the one doing the killing. He and his colleagues attempt to take down the murderous tire. Now, if that had been it, the movie might have been watchable. But it didn’t stop there, it took things further down the rabbit hole of shittiness.

Continue reading ‘Rubber’

25
Jun
16

Dallas Buyer’s Club

AIDS was some scary shit in the 1980s. There was no treatment, and if you got diagnosed with it, it was as good as a death sentence. Today, we have effective, readily available treatments. It is no longer the death sentence it once was. Dallas Buyer’s Club tells the true story of one man who tries to beat AIDS in a time when the U.S. did not have any available treatment.

Matthew McConaughey tries to get enrolled as a patient in the first clinical trial for an AIDS medication. He can’t get in, so he pays hospital staff to smuggle him the drug. When that route eventually fails, he goes to Mexico to get the drugs. Of course, even though his health is important to him, he can’t pass up a business opportunity when he sees it. He decides to run a business, a buyer’s club. Essentially, people pay him monthly club fees and he will give them all the various AIDS medications they need smuggled from Mexico. Technically, he’s not selling them the drugs, so his venture is legal. The FDA, however, tries to shut him down as he’s providing an unregulated, untested drug to the general market.

Dallas Buyer’s Club is a fascinating movie. First, the story is true and relatable. Whether AIDS or something else, we all know someone who has been touched by medical illness. Some of these illnesses may have no treatment. What lengths would you go to in order to procure a treatment for yourself or your loved ones? That’s what this movie is about: one man’s struggle to find a way to survive. Second, it casts light on FDA practices (which have since changed) where they denied people treatment for a deadly disease while waiting for data to come in on clinical studies. Third, while you side with McConaughey, it’s easy to see that what he is doing is wrong. The FDA guys are assholes, but they have a point: you can’t just let people take whatever they want and end up killing themselves or muddying the waters so effective treatments can’t be discovered. The movie is great because it shows both sides as having multiple shades of gray. Neither is completely right or completely wrong. This is what fuels the compelling drama.

Of course, I have to discuss the acting in this movie. McConaughey was lauded for his performance. He took a method acting approach and lost a thousand pounds for this movie. He certainly looks like an AIDS patient, emaciated and pale. But more than physical change, McConaughey brings his A-game in terms of acting. His performance is excellent, and he is instantly believable as this character. You feel his struggle, and become emotionally invested in what happens to him. He was well deserving of every award he won for this movie. The rest of the cast turn in fantastic performances, as well. The entire production was a complete package. The film is wonderful.

Verdict: Awesome

12
Jun
16

Dumb and Dumber To, The Monster Squad

Dumb and Dumber To

The original Dumb and Dumber is one of my all-time favorite comedies. Don’t judge me, I don’t bash on you for liking whatever crappy movie you think is great. Anyway, the original film is a classic. It’s got just the right amount of stupid antics combined with sight gags and subtle humor (e.g. the salmon of Capistrano) to make it the complete package. It’s endlessly quotable (“I like it a lot”), and even to this day, I pretend like I’m running incredibly fast while I’m in the passenger side of a car.

Dumb and Dumber To is none of those things. Sadly, it’s a completely unnecessary sequel 20 years too late. It makes the typical mistake these kinds of movies make, and that is to rehash the original film. This sequel takes it to the extreme and essentially become a near remake of the first film.

Dimwits Harry and Lloyd embark on a cross-country trek to find Harry’s long-lost daughter so she can give him a kidney. They carry an unopened package with them that is worth millions. They are accompanied by a criminal who they trade barbs with, and accidentally kill him. Once they get to their location, they learn that there is more to their journey than meets the eye, criminals and police get involved, and everything gets sorted out in the end.

But it’s still funny, right? Wrong. Most of the jokes don’t land. The humor is tired and surprisingly mean-spirited. There are barely any gags worth remembering. The only part that I found funny was when Harry, Lloyd, and the criminal were debating the “He Who Smelt It” game rules, and even then it was only mildly funny.

Overall, this was a sad reminder of the state of Hollywood today. They resurrect every old property and spit an ill-advised sequel or remake into the theater. This movie doesn’t deserve to exist.

Verdict: Shitty

The Monster Squad

Back in the 1980s, kid movies were a big thing. A group of plucky youngsters would get involved in strange adventures that were way over their heads, and would ultimately save the day and/or world by the end. The Goonies, in 1985, was perhaps the greatest example of this format. The Monster Squad is one of the poorer examples of this format.

The Monster Squad has a promising premise, but executes it in the most moronic way possible. A group of kids who are obsessed with monster movies form a club so they can revel in their hobby. Meanwhile, all the classic Universal horror villains (Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster, Mummy, Creature from the Black Lagoon, and Wolfman) gang up with a thread-bare plot to take over the world. When the kids find out, they used their combined monster lore to defeat the bad guys.

I’m a fan of whimsical fantasy movies when they are done right. The Monster Squad, however, is done completely wrong. The characters are flat and boring. They have no personalities. They merely exist to shuttle the story along. We feel nothing for them. When the main kid is in danger, I didn’t care in the slightest.

The monsters are equally dull. They do nothing to strike fear into our hearts. They lurch about, hiss at the kids, and are generally impotent to do anything even remotely horrifying. They are easily defeated by the youngsters with shotguns, wooden stakes, and silver bullets.

Obviously, the kids are going to kill the monsters, that’s the whole premise. But it’s done in such a lazy fashion. The requisite fat kid kills the Creature from the Black Lagoon with a shotgun blast to the chest. Gee, how inventive. The requisite tough kid kills vampires with wooden stakes while they lumber toward him without any sense of urgency or danger.

With an underdeveloped plot, one-dimensional characters, and monsters with nothing to do, The Monster Squad fails on every single level. It’s too bad, because it could have been great in the right hands.

Verdict: Shitty




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