Posted on 12/18/13 02:00 AM
Spring Breakers is an odd little film that I have mixed feelings on. On one hand, it's a beautifully shot and scored film, with a fantastic, stand-out performance by James Franco. On the other, it suffers from blandness for it's first half hour, and it's female leads are poorly developed and give forgettable performances. Harmony Korine's direction saved the film, as he pumps in energy and a candy colored palette to give a hypnotic vibe to the film.
But as you read that, what exactly differentiates this and a similar film from this year, Only God Forgives? Which, if you read my review, you'll know I despised. The difference is that Spring Breakers is actually entertaining. It's so excessive in it's depiction of the culture it satirizes that it manages to be fun to watch. I compare it to reality TV. You are watching the train wreck of these idiotic women do the most irresponsible and deviant behavior, ranging from doing drugs, robbing chicken shacks, burning their professor's car, and pissing on the sidewalk. There is something oddly satisfying seeing these once "wholesome" Disney actresses go bad. It's trashy, it's vulgar, and it's damn entertaining. It gets the exploitative aspects right, unlike this: "I wanna fuck a 14 year old". Yeah, nice try Refn. Try learning from Korine next time.
Like I said before, this film is a satire on the "spring break culture", which is the millions of 20-somethings who do incredibly stupid things while under the influence of (insert mix of any alcoholic drink with any drug) and the monotony of this life. Korine tried to make the proceedings, the constant partying, seem purposely repetitive. But does it make for entertaining viewing? Not always. There is one party scene that could have easily been removed, and nothing would have changed. It's near the beginning, and adds the the 30 minute slog in the film's early going. But once Franco graces the screen, the film instantly becomes better.
But another big issue I had with the film was it's poorly handled death of Alien, Franco's character. It felt so cheap, to kill off the best character in such a lazy way. The moment he dies, the film seems to die with him, and it ends on a whimper instead of a bang. It's a shame that such a ballsy film would end in such a way. It really leaves a bad taste in the mouth, and is reminiscent of the God awful ending of last year's Savages. It nearly ruined the film for me.
Overall, Spring Breakers is hard to recommend, as it would only be enjoyed by a select crowd, but it you enjoy seeing Disney starlets behave incredibly badly, then maybe you'll get a kick out of Spring Breakers. It's nothing great, and it's satirical aspect falls short, but it's effective enough.
Final Score: 6.5/10
Posted on 12/18/13 01:09 AM
I have a weird fascination with the work of Lars Von Trier. I don't always get his films, but I find them interesting and worth watching. This seems to be his most ambitious film yet(a rumored director's cut being 5 hours long). But will this be a good film? Or a glorified porno? It seems to be getting a positive response from critics so far, so we'll see...I will go in with an open mind.
Posted on 12/17/13 06:23 PM
District 9 is one of my favorite films, and in my opinion, the best film of 2009. I was very excited to see what writer/director Neill Blomkamp was going to do next. After seeing the first trailer, my excitement sky rocketed. Then came the reviews. I was turned off of seeing Elysium from the luke warm reception from not only critics, but from the general audience as well. I never made it to see this in theaters. And now that I've seen it on it's Blu-ray release, I regret that decision.
The film stars Matt Damon as a man who gets into a bad accident in the factory he works, and he comes out alive, but due to bad radiation poisoning, only has five days to live. He must find his way to the space station, Elysium, where the wealthy and powerful live, to get access to life saving medical care. That's the basic plot, but of course there are other aspects. The film is a social commentary on the drama surrounding immigration between the Mexican/American border. It's all very obvious, and probably the weakest aspect of the film. I appreciate Blomkamp reaching for the heights of D9, but he fell a bit short here. Elysium is really at it's best when it's in full action mode. And in that respect, it delivers.
There are two villains, one played by Jodie Foster(in a role many found poorly done, but I thought she was alright), and the other, more menacing, Sharlto Copley as Kruger. Kruger is one of my favorite parts of the film, as he's a great villain. He's entertaining to watch, and Copley absolutely relishes the role. I wouldn't say it's award worthy, but he's a great asset to the film, and is clearly the best performer here. Matt Damon, as the film's tragic hero, does an admirable job, but he's been better elsewhere. He's likable enough to have me care. I would have liked the character of Frey and her daughter to have more development, as I didn't feel enough for them than I think I was supposed to. That also hurt the film a bit.
As I said before, the film excels as being a pulse-pounding action film, and it does so with gusto. The design of the guns and other weapons, and how they work in this world, are well thought out and unique. Blomkamp obviously enjoys having characters blow up in a shower of blood and gore. It's a cool effect, but I hope he quits after this. The film's climatic sequence on Elysium was thrilling and and satisfying, as was the film's ending.
Overall, Elysium has some flaws, mostly stemming from the characters and it's obvious and heavy-handed message, but as a fun and thrilling action spectacle, it's a blast from start to finish.
Final score: 8/10
Posted on 12/16/13 12:15 AM
After a solid and promising start, The Hobbit trilogy is already loosing it's footing with The Desolation of Smaug. As a big fan of the source material, I was saddened to see this movie stray so far from the book, in ways that are for the worse. A couple critics compared it to fan fiction, and I have to agree, unfortunately. Peter Jackson really dropped the ball here.
*SPOILERS* *SPOILERS* *SPOILERS*
The film opens with a throwaway scene where Thorin meets Gandalf in Bree, another attempt to further connect to the LotR trilogy, even going so far as to repeat the cameo appearance of Jackson as a carrot eating drunk. There are a lot of little things lifted directly from the LotR trilogy, included a surprising amount of dialogue. Jackson, Boyens and Walsh really couldn't write new dialogue? Or did they really feel compelled to make as many unnecessary connections to the previous trilogy as possible? An example of such dialogue is when Balin is talking to Bilbo and telling him about the courage of Hobbits. This is almost the EXACT same thing Gandalf said in Fellowship. Little things like that really bugged me. Anyways, after this opening, the film cuts to Bilbo and company escaping the orc pack and fleeing to the house of Beorn. I appreciated this scene, but felt it was a little rushed. I guess Jackson didn't want to repeat the opening of Unexpected Journey, but I would have liked a little more time before the film goes on action overload.
After they leave Beorn's they head into Mirkwood, and this is really where I started to feel the disappointment set in. This scene was much more ominous in the book, and this movie rushes it, and tries to get to the action as quickly as possible. Again, I would have liked some time for, I dunno, a little more dwarf characterizations. It's a lot to ask, to develop 13 dwarves, but pick out a few for the audience to care about. The only dwarves that really speak to Fili, Kili, Dwalin, Balin, and Thorin. But when I say speak, nothing is said that really tells us anything about them. This could be a fault of the source material, but Jackson and co. had a chance to flesh the dwarves out a little. And they failed to do so.
After an underwhelming battle with giant spiders, the dwarves are captured by the Elves, lead by Thranduil, father of fan favorite, Legolas. But Bilbo is able to evade capture because of the ring, and sneaks in through the gate to their castle to free the imprisoned dwarves. Okay, this is when the movie starts to enter the realm of fan fiction. We are introduced to the new character, Tauriel. And guess what? There is some romance between her and Legolas! Eh. Whatever. But it gets worse. It becomes a love triangle, with Kili getting in the mix. Why does The Hobbit need a stupid love triangle, with a character that never existed in the books? Why is Tauriel even in the movie? Do women really need the representation that badly? I know several women who love the book, and they were completely fine with the all male cast. I have to say this was Jackson's worst decision concerning these films, apart from, you know, splitting what could have been a great 2-parter into a padded and bloated trilogy.
So after Kili does some flirting with Tauriel(even with a dick joke), Bilbo manages to free the dwarves and get them into some empty wine barrels and sends them out a chute into the river to freedom. Well, not quite. The orc pack attacks, and so the elves attack back, as the dwarves do their best to avoid the flurry of arrows. This scene is easily my favorite moment in the film. It's exciting, it's fun, and it's well choreographed, with Bombur providing some great comic relief. While I prefer An Unexpected Journey, the humor in Desolation of Smaug is much better. There were no Smaug boogers to be found, thank God. Anyways, during the battle, Kili gets a poisoned arrow to the knee(well, ankle, just had to make the Skyrim joke), and is mortally wounded. They escape the orcs, meet Bard the bowman and hitch a ride to Lake Town.
While all of this is going on, Gandalf is investigating Dol Goldur, and the Necromancer, who finally reveals himself as Sauron. Gandalf takes on Azog, who is no longer hunting Thorin, but has become the general of Suaron's new orc army. But Gandalf escapes being bludgeoned to death only to run into Sauron himself, and there is some magical battle. It's pretty cool, but not as exciting as I hoped. But Gandalf is defeated, and put in a cage, where he remains for the rest of the movie.
The movie continues on smooth sailing during the Lake Town scenes. We find out about Bard, the way to kill Smaug is established, and we are pumped for the dwarves to finally head into The Lonely Mountain. After Thorin manipulates the people and their lord, he is able to get his crew on a boat with fancy new weapons and armor to get there. Once they get there, they encounter a slight snag with the key hole, but it's quickly resolved in a scene that felt a little drawn out. But whatever. They get in the mountain, and Bilbo is sent into the inner chamber to acquire the Arken Stone. But, of course, there's Smaug. Smaug is arguably the greatest dragon to ever grace the screen. Benedict Cumberbatch did a terrific job giving smaug his intimidating voice. But soon, the novelty wears thin. And so does my patience. Smaug talks...and talks...and talks, then he sense Thorin. Thorin and co. then must try to escape alive, with Smaug hunting them down and breathing fire everywhere. So, he comes up with a plan. To lure Smaug into the forgery and pour...molten gold on him. Um...what? Wasn't it established NOTHING could really damage a dragon through it's scales? This scene was so drawn out and honestly confusing that I kind of zoned out. And then...the ending. The most abrupt ending I've seen. And I have to wait a whole fucking year to see it? I'm fine with cliffhangers, but this was ridiculous.
Anyways, Desolation of Smaug is a decent enough film, but it's so flawed that I cannot recommend it. It's got one great action sequence, some good scenes here and there, fine acting, and great production design. But the fanfic aspects really hurt it, and the last half hour was very tedious. Overall, a major disappointment. Easily the worst of the Middle Earth films.
Posted on 12/12/13 12:01 AM
Poometheus...er, I mean, PROmetheus, is the "quasi-prequel" to the classic film Alien, and Ridley Scott, who I consider the king of sci-fi, returned to this world to direct. And I'm happy to say my issues with this film are not his fault. No, my blame goes to that fucking retard, Damon Lindelof, who wrote one of the stupidest scripts ever. Well, maybe that's an over statement, but it's seriously ridiculous.
The way the Nostromo crew reacted to the Xenomorph in Alien felt natural, as they were only space truckers with zero experience in dealing with a hostile alien monster. Sure, they did some stupid things, but so would you. It felt natural. Here, in Prometheus, we are lead to believe these characters are professionals, trained in biology, geology, etc. These are supposedly smart people, but when the biologist sees the corpse of an alien, he gets scared and runs off with the geologist, who he seems to have a gay crush on. Also, am I the only one to notice that he lost his obvious southern accent? Anyways, he goes off with the geologist, who has a mapping system of the cave. But they get lost. Yeah...it's stupid. But they then find a penis cobra and the stupidest thing happens: the geologist, who just ran away from a fucking corpse, now tries to fondle this fucking phallic snake. These aren't scientists. These are characters from a fucking slasher movie. They might as well been teenagers. Fuck you Lindelof.
This film does have a lot to appreciate though. Scott does a great job making the audience become immersed in this alien world. The visuals are outstanding, and it's one of the best looking films of 2012. The production design is also fantastic, and the recreation of the Space Jockey vessel from Alien was flawless, surprisingly since Geiger wasn't involved. Scott's ability to create a sense of awe and wonder really saves this film, and makes it watchable.
The acting by Michael Fassbender and Noomi Rapace is great, and the rest of the cast does a solid job. But another problem arises from Theron's character, as I found her completely useless. She does nothing to serve the film, and the "revelation" at the end that Weyland is her father was unnecessary and underwhelming. Because in the very next scene, he dies, and then the scene after, she dies. Nothing comes of it. And I don't believe that she is a robot. If she was, why was she in cryo-sleep? Would that even work on a robot? Whatever.
Overall, I have a very love/hate relationship with Prometheus. On one hand, it's a visually excellent, and well acted film with some thrilling sequences, and on the other, it's a poorly written and often dumb film. I'm 50/50, so I give the film a 5/10.
Posted on 12/11/13 11:07 PM
WARNING: CONTROVERSIAL REVIEW-DO NOT READ IF YOU ARE EASILY OFFENDED
Ah, Marvel's The Avengers. A universally loved film that contains the world's favorite super-heroes fighting as a unit again an alien onslaught. On paper this sounds like a blast, but the final product(and I mean a product) is incredibly flawed and surprisingly tedious.
The film opens sloppily with a poorly shot action sequence after Loki(the most overrated movie villain ever) steals the Teseract(don't know if that's spelled right, but I don't really care) and escapes S.H.I.E.L.D's headquarters after it blows up due to the Teseract's power. The Teseract instantly reminded of the Allspark from Transformers, which this film borrows heavily from. Yet Transformers gets shit on and this steaming turd gets all kinds of praise from both critics and audiences. The first Transformers is solid dumb fun, and is way more entertaining than this.
The rest of the action in this film is unexciting and dull, because we know nothing will ever happen to any of these characters. Hell, the one characters that does die came back for Marvel's shitty TV show! Avengers is a live action cartoon and the characters are in no danger because Marvel wouldn't dare kill off any of their heroes because they are all about fan service, and trying to please the mass comic book reading populace. Joss Whedon takes zero risks with this film, and it might as well been sold as a family film. It's so sanitized, clean, and safe that it's fucking boring. And the poor, unfunny writing doesn't help things. Captain America's dialogue was pitiful("son, just don't."). I was also annoyed by the blatant product placement. It reminded me I was watching a product used to sell more comics and toys, and also Southwest Airlines flights...
Since I gave it a 4/10, I'll give you some pros. The acting was fine, the visual effects were great, and the action sequence on the aircraft has moments of mild awesomeness. I also found the Hulk smashing Loki amusing. But that's really all. The rest of the film lacks real tension and the film isn't very involving. Like I said, I never felt fear that any of these characters would die. And if they did, they'd just return in a sequel. Or a TV show.
Final Score: 4/10
Posted on 11/26/13 10:37 PM
The Wizard of Gore, another remake of a cult film, is one of the absolute worst fucking things I've ever seen. It has a plot so incomprehensible and convoluted that I am shocked anyone would bother watching it again to try to understand this pile of fucking dog shit.
I'm gonna just say right now, the sound design is fucking atrocious. The protagonist has some kind of condition brought on by constant "drug" use that make his bones crack. So literally, EVERY FUCKING TIME he moves his head, the foley guy inserted a terrible "bone cracking" noise. It's one of the most annoying uses of sound I've ever heard in a movie. Ever. It was like nails on a chalkboard. And I'm not exaggerating for comedic effect. It's fucking bad. The rest of the movie's sound is mediocre, but this bone snapping chicken shit bull shit was aggravating.
The movie tried to appeal to people like me who think Crispin Glover is hilarious, as well as Jeffrey Combs and Brad Douriff. So they cast these actors to make a quick buck. Crispin Glover is solid in his role. But Jeffrey Combs barely speaks, and Brad Douriff is also barely in the movie. The rest of the time, we're stuck with fucking Kip Pardue, some faggot who I don't give a shit about. He's a terrible fucking actor and I hate him. Bijou Phillips was almost equally annoying. For the most part, the acting is shit. Also, the movie appealed to those who wank off to Suicide Girls, casting a few in the movie. Sure, they get naked, and yeah, it was nice. But DON'T LET THEM SPEAK! Actually, only one does, and it was terrible. The acting isn't good-bad. It's just plain bad.
I'm not going to even try to explain the plot. Fuck it.
Overall, this movie fucking blows, and you should avoid it like the plague. Woods of Evil was almost dethroned.
Final Score: 0/10 (For some reason RT isn't recognizing my 0% score, so it's labeled as a 1/10)
P.S....fuck you Diablo Cody for saying the original film(judging by this atrocious remake) is better than Suspiria. You didn't deserve that Oscar.
Posted on 11/26/13 10:32 PM
Night of the Demons is a remake of an 80's cult film, that I unfortunately haven't seen yet(it's getting a Shout Factory Blu-ray release early next year, which I'm buying the SHIT out of), so I can't really compare. But the film has a similar plot to The Evil Dead and the Italian film, Demons. A group of people are trapped in a single location fighting off demons. It seemed like a staple plot in the 80's.
This is a pretty entertaining film, with goofy special effects(a lipstick tube being inserted in a woman's breast and removed from her vag) and a general sense of fun and craziness throughout. It also has a pretty decent soundtrack(including a song from Wednesday 13) and the score was done by James Wan regular, Joseph Bishara. But his work is very minimal, unfortunately.
I do have some issues with the film. It's poor intentional humor that often fell flat and the characters, which aren't really likable or well developed. I would have liked just a bit more characterization for the main chick, as she was the only character I found alright in terms of likability. But don't go into this movie thinking you'll really root for any of the characters. Cuz you won't. And Edward Furlong looked and sounded like he was taking the drugs that he was supposedly selling in the movie. The years really haven't been kind to the guy.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by this movie, having purchased it at Blockbuster(RIP) for 4.99 and having low expectations. It' not a good movie by any means, but it's fun and entertaining for folks who like low-budget, trashy horror movies.
Final Score: 4/10
Posted on 11/24/13 02:47 PM
I'm honestly sick of the superhero genre, but an Edgar Wright directed superhero film could be fucking awesome. The man directs some of the coolest action sequences ever, and I love his editing style, so I have high hopes for this. He's also co-writing it, so that's another plus. This could be the stand-out MCU film for me. I hope Pegg and Frost get supporting roles, or at least cameos. This is currently my most anticipated movie of 2015.
Posted on 11/23/13 08:38 PM
Edgar Wright's Three Flavors Cornetto Trilogy comes to a close in totally awesome fashion. This is definitely the most consistently great trilogy of all time.
First off, I loved the characters and acting in this film. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost give their best performances to date, and the supporting cast, stand out being Paddy Considine, rocked their roles as well. Each character had times to shine. But it was Frost who stole the show. In the first two entries, Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, he played the bumbling side kick, but here, he was the voice of reason. He gives a great, dramatic performance in some of the heavier scenes(World's End is easily the darkest and most emotional of the trilogy), but also delivers some of the film's best comedic moments. He also does some kick-ass martial art moves during some fucking awesome pub brawls, which I'll get more into later. Pegg also delivers a career best here. He's a total ass, but he's still lovable, and even sympathetic. He also does some risky humor for a comedy, which is tell deliberately terrible jokes, but with his delivery, is able to pull them off and still make us laugh, despite how awful his jokes are. It also helps to have amusing reactions from the rest of the cast. The "five musketeers" are all incredibly likable, and their chemistry and the great writing really make the film.
The action sequences are terrific. They were choreographed by a former fight choreographer for Jackie Chan, so they consist of martial arts moves. I love action scenes that don't require frenetic cuts and editing, and the brawls in World's End have great flowing camera movements where we can clearly see every punch, kick, and spilt beer. The accompanying score and soundtrack selections also add some major kick to these sequences. The fights in this movie are easily my favorite action sequences of the year. They're a shit ton of fun to watch.
I did have an issue with the film. I felt the final 10 minutes were rather weak, especially the final scene. It lacked humor(the exception being the Cornetto wrapper), and Gary King's sudden sobering up just felt odd. I guess the end of the world caused him to go cold turkey, or something. But I can forgive it's third act issue for the awesome first and second acts.
Hot Fuzz remains my favorite entry in the trilogy, but World's End is my second favorite, and it's also my current favorite film of 2013. It's a fun movie, with great writing, direction, acting, and even has surprising emotional weight. It's kind of sad to think that this is the last movie in a trilogy, and that it won't extend to a Cornetto Saga, as there are more than three flavors of the ice cream. But maybe it's for the best that the series end on a high note.
Final score: 9/10