Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Crazies (2010)

"The Crazies" is a remake of a George Romero film that I have never seen.  I haven't even heard of the original film until somewhat recently.  As we all know remakes hardly ever live up to the original, but this one I think might.

The film had a lot of good suspense and interesting scenes.  It was interesting to see a zombie film without true zombies.  These are just regular people that become infected by drinking contaminated tap water.  The town is quarantined and the United States government will not let anyone leave the area.  Now the survivors have two things to fear: the zombie like townsfolk and the government.  It was a situation destined to end badly.

There are a few really great scenes of horror in the film.  My favorite scene has to be when our group drives their car into a car wash to hide from a military helicopter.  Inside the wash, the crazies start their attack.  It was frightening and the end result of the attack was a great pay off.

"The Crazies" reminded me of the film "Quarantine" in the fact that it seems there is no escape.  Of course "Quarantine" was probably heavily influenced by the original film.  

I enjoyed "The Crazies" much more than I thought I was going to.  It is a sort of realistic take on the zombie film.  You could really imagine people becoming infected and the government becoming an enemy.  If this were a real life situation, what would our country do to a group of its own citizens to contain a virus?  

B  I recommend it.

Couples Retreat (2009)

Once again I viewed a movie I wasn't really interested in seeing only because Kristen Bell starred in it.  This one was a mistake.  I should have stayed far, far away.

"Couples Retreat" is so unfunny.  I can't even begin to describe it.  All these different couples have miserable lives and they go to an island to find their love again.  While on the island, the film is trying so hard to be funny.  They go through different exercises to work on their marriage including yoga, snorkeling, and therapy sessions.  In yoga, a half naked man is making the couples uncomfortable for his unusual workout style.  While snorkeling, sharks threaten the lives of our cast, and in our therapy sessions, dull conversation is had.  The entire script had not one laugh.

The acting in "Couples Retreat" was nothing special.  I must say that even Kristen Bell wasn't special in this movie.  The film has pretty girls in the cast, but they are not likable.  I don't have one good thing to say about this movie.

After I watched "Couples Retreat" only one thought came to mind.  "How the hell did I sit through this entire thing?"


Saturday, February 27, 2010

The King of Comedy (1982)

This was a different type of film for Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro.  This is a dark comedy about a man who will do anything for his 15 seconds of fame.

Robert De Niro is excellent as Rupert Pupkin.  He is an extraordinary character who is just shy of becoming a dangerous psychopath.  He doesn't believe anything is wrong with him though.  He is just a guy who believes himself to be a stand up comedian and he will do anything to be on the Jerry Langford show.  Jerry Langford is played excellently by Jerry Lewis, by the way.  

"The King of Comedy" does a great job going inside the mind of the most annoying person in the world.  We get a peek of how Pupkin believes events are unfolding, but when in reality, things are not going his way.  He thinks he is great friends with Jerry Langford and that he is the best thing that would ever come to television.  In reality, Pupkin is getting the brush off and his career is going nowhere.  When he finally gets a clue, Pupkin takes matters into his own hands...

There are some really funny scenes in "The King of Comedy", the best being when Pupkin is in his basement making audio recordings of his comedy.  While he is trying to do so, his mother is upstairs yelling at him to be quiet.  It was hilarious!

Sandra Bernhard is very good in this film too.  She plays a friend of Rupert Pupkin's who is also obsessed with Jerry Langford.  Bernhard and De Niro really play these roles excellently.  Their performances are what I imagine real celebrity stalkers would act like.

Throughout the movie, it is difficult to understand why anyone would like Rupert Pupkin.  He is annoying and a little insane.  He even has cardboard cut outs of Jerry Langford that he has conversations with.  It was scary.  So I can see how the viewer can be put off by this character.  That is until the end.  In his final routine, you really get to know what was behind the thinking of this character.  It was an excellent way to end a terrific film.  "The King of Comedy".

B+  I recommend it.

The House of the Devil (2009)

"The House of the Devil" is a horror movie you may have missed last year.  It flew under the radar, which is a shame because it is one of the better horrors to come out in recent years.

The film has an unbelievable style to it in which the viewer believes they are watching a film from the late 1970s or early 1980s.  It was shot and edited to reflect that film making style and it works remarkably.  My favorite part of the film that really shows this are the opening titles.  The font and freeze frames are reminiscent of the films of that time.  Even the actors seem to be from another generation.

"The House of the Devil" is all suspense.  A girl is at a strange house baby sitting and she just starts to get scared.  There really isn't a reason she should be scared, but things just don't seem right.  The whole film has an eerie mood to it and it is paced like a late 70s film which makes it scarier that normal.

There is one scene in the film which is so shocking and unexpected that I don't want to say anymore.  That scene made the film unforgettable.  Unfortunately, the climax of the film wasn't as good as the buildup.  It could have been the scariest movie ever made if the result of the tension was a better payoff.  It just didn't scare me very much like it could have.  There is also a scene that is tagged onto the end that could have been done without.  I am being vague on purpose as I don't want to let you know what happens.

"The House of the Devil" is unique for its style and originality.  A classic was almost made until the climax pulled it back to an above average horror film.

B  I recommend it.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Shutter Island (2010)

The promotions for this movie were amazing.  I can't tell you how many times I saw the trailer for "Shutter Island" in the past few months.  From the very first time I saw the trailer, I really wanted to see it.  But because the trailer debuted so long ago, I was worried that the film was in trouble. 

"Shutter Island" is directed by Martin Scorsese and stars Leonardo DiCaprio.  It is a perfect suspense/thriller.  It is frightening and keeps you on the edge of your seat from the very first frame until the last.  I can see the exact same script being directed by another director and turning into the most boring piece of crap.  With Scorsese's directing style, all of your senses are being treated to a buffet of film making.

Visually the film is stunning.  This has some of the best cinematography I have ever seen.  I was truly impressed.  It also had some of the best sets and locations I have ever seen.  The mental institution looked authentic and very foreboding.  The dream sequences in the film are beautifully done and adds a perfect contrast to the main story being told.  

I don't want to go into the story too much as I don't want to give anything away, but everything about this film is excellent.  I was almost in awe the entire time.  "Shutter Island" is a great addition to Scorsese's film career.  It was amazing the first time and I will definitely see it again.

A  I recommend it.

Oh yea...  I gotta put my favorite line in here:  "It's as if she evaporated straight through the walls".

The Hurt Locker (2008)

Look at some of the quotes from reviews on the movie poster.  "Near-perfect."  "Ferociously suspenseful".  After hearing all of these great things, I was worried that "The Hurt Locker" would not live up to its hype.

"The Hurt Locker" is in fact all of the things these reviewers have been claiming.  It is an amazing movie full of suspense and emotion.  

Jeremy Renner is terrific in this role.  I remember him from a memorable episode of "Angel".  I had not heard of him since then, so  I was surprised to hear all this praise he is getting.  His character is so interesting.  The more you watch of him, the more you want to know what's going on in his mind.  

A parallel I found in this film was the fact that all these soldiers are over in a terrible place fighting a war, but they are all still children at heart, especially Renner's character.  Renner bullies people, fights with his friends for fun, and he even has a toy box under his bed, which in this case are souvenirs from every situation that could have killed him.  That parallel really made war (something I am not familiar with) a real life thing.

"The Hurt Locker" has everything going for it.  It has great direction, acting, cinematography, writing, and editing.  I was so impressed with the editing.  I think it will win that Oscar for sure. As for winning Best Picture, my choice is between this and "Inglorious Basterds".  "The Hurt Locker" was a thrilling movie and never let up.  Getting to know Renner's character was a journey that will not be forgotten.

A-  I recommend it.

Friday, February 19, 2010

My Bloody Valentine (2009)

I never saw the original version of "My Bloody Valentine", but this was next in my netflix queue, so I watched it.  

It was an OK movie.  It was far from good, but it wasn't terrible.  It has some fun things in it.  There were some interesting deaths, but the special effects were terrible.  

The best thing about the film was Tom Atkins.  It was good to see a cult star from the 1980s back to work in the genre that is meant for him.  All of the other acting was mediocre at best.  

I watched the film in 2-D, but it seems like it would have been a fun movie in 3-D.  This is the only type of movie I would like to see in 3-D.  If the 3-D worked well and didn't give people head aches, then it would have been awesome to see blood and guts flying at you.

"My Bloody Valentine" is extremely gory and violent.  I had never seen a movie that went into a killing spree so early in the picture.  You don't even know who these characters are and there is a masked killer chopping heads off and things.  The script and direction for "My Bloody Valentine" was embarrassing, but the camp factor and violence made the film tolerable.


Sunday, February 14, 2010

9 (2009)

This is one of the many movies involving the number 9 that came out last year.  

This one is an animated film produced by Tim Burton involving a post apocalyptic world and the survival of some man made creations that each have a part of the creator's soul inside.

Visually the film was stunning, but it lacked in story.  It was very hard to follow and get invested in.  It was never clear exactly what these little robots were trying to do.  

The writing of "9" seemed like it tried to weave in good action sequences with a story that didn't quite work.  The action scenes were very nicely done.

I had a real interest in seeing "9" and it was a real let down.  On paper I suppose it had an interesting story, but the film just didn't work.  The only thing going for it was the beautiful animation.


Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Wolfman (2010)

The original version of "The Wolf Man" is one of my favorite movies.  It is wonderful.  Since I am such a huge fan, I had little expectations that this film would live up the original.  Besides that, when I was working at Universal, I read a script for this film and I did not like it.  Another thing that was going against "The Wolfman" were the re-shoots I read about and the drama in terms of changing directors and musical composers.  But to my surprise, "The Wolfman" was actually good!

The story has changed a little bit from the original, but it still stays true.  My biggest problem with the script was the character development.  Of course, we feel bad for Talbot (Del Toro), but it would have been nice to see him happy at least some of the time.  The original does this by having a happy Talbot trying to make time with Gwen, who in this version is played by Emily Blunt.  In this version, the relationship between Talbot and Gwen just seems to be there because it should be.  Her character was not really needed at all.

Del Toro was great as Lawrence Talbot.  We have sympathy for him and he is a ruthless killer when he turns into the Wolfman.  Anthony Hopkins is also very good as Sir John.

The best thing about the film is the incredible make-up by Rick Baker.  This is one of the best werewolf make-ups I have ever seen and I really liked how it hinted to Jack Pierce's make-up in the original film.  The facial expressions of Del Toro really comes through the make-up and at times, he actually looked like Lon Chaney, Jr in the make-up what with the squinting shifty eyes.  

The special effects were OK.  Nothing remarkable.  The transformation scenes were good, but nothing to really blow you away like how "An American Werewolf in London" or "The Howling" did.  Unfortunately, Rick Baker was not in on the development of the transformations.  That was really upsetting.  The producers decided to use an all CG transformation, but Baker thought it should combine CG with real life make-up.  I'm sure it would have been better with Baker behind the magic, but what can you do. 

I was pleasantly surprised by "The Wolfman".  It is nowhere near the original, but it's a good remake nonetheless.  

B  I recommend it.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Edge of Darkness (2010)

It has been a long time since Mel Gibson has starred in a movie.  Even though I didn't really care about seeing this, I was sure it would be a fun movie.  The story seemed to have all the right ingredients to a revenge film like "Ransom" had.  Unfortunately, this cake was built with the minimal amount of ingredients, which leaves a bad taste in your mouth when leaving the theater.

"Edge of Darkness" started off great.  The first ten minutes was intriguing and exciting.  Mel Gibson's daughter is sick.  Blood is oozing from her nose and mouth.  As they leave to go to the hospital, Mel's daughter is shot in the chest and dies.  Mel Gibson is now on a mission to find out what happened.

After this point, the film becomes so boring.  It just seemed to go in circles.  Gibson confronts various people that were involved in his daughter's life, but he doesn't use enough force.  It's just talking and talking.  He seems to be having the same conversation over and over again.  It was annoying.  The ending did pick up a little bit in terms of action, but it didn't make up for the two hours of dull conversation.

Ray Winstone, who is a very good actor, is put to waste in this picture.  I didn't really understand his character and he was not important to the overall story.  That was a shame.

"Edge of Darkness" will be long forgotten as time moves forward.  Mel Gibson had the right idea on choosing to make his comeback to acting in a revenge type thriller film, but this one doesn't hit the mark.


Sunday, February 7, 2010

Bruno (2009)

"Bruno" is Sacha Baron Cohen's follow-up to his mega hit "Borat".

While I think Cohen has a lot of talent, I don't think he puts it to very good use in "Bruno".  He is funny at times, but overall the story of the film just lagged.  It wasn't a very good story.  I also don't get if people are supposed to believe this is real.  It obviously is phony, so what is the point really?

There were a couple scenes that I thought were pretty funny like when he has a sexual encounter with the spirit of Milli Vanilli.  

Overall "Bruno" was an OK film.  It was entertaining at times, but on the whole, the film needed a lot of work.