Posted on 5/23/10 12:42 PM
I Want Candy wasn't a movie I was extremely looking forward to. In fact despite a relatively funny trailer I was actually dreading it at times. You see teenager comedy isn't exactly what I'm into, I find the whole American Pie scene very overrated despite only being 16 myself. Just could never get into the whole idea of sex comedies unless they were really inventive and witty. A shame that very few of these sex comedies have an ounce of originality between them. However it is a pleasant surprise to say that I Want Candy is actually a damn funny and well made movie. Sure its lacking in terms of originality, and I suppose I could complain that the ending wraps things up just a little bit too neatly, but the movie is consistently entertaining. Contains some pretty damn good performances and doesn't scrimp on the laughs either. Its a comedy that has enough dramatic weight to go alongside its great sense of humour. The other surprising fact is that despite it being a 15 (R in USA) the movie doesn't actually contain any nudity or that much swearing. Maybe people might see this as a negative, however it still works and it proves that the comedy doesn't need to rely on these things. Of course its got some rude bits to keep people entertained and keep with the porno theme of the movie, but it never relies on them like a lot of sex comedies have done in the past.
The actual movie isn't perfect. There are flaws. For example the beginning is pretty dull, until they actually start casting the movie does actually struggle to get any momentum. Sure there is fun to be had in those scenes and the humour there is pretty nice and subtle. But its just not what you'd expect from this sort of movie and it could end up actually boring quite a few people. Matters aren't helped by Jimmy Carr who is possibly the most overrated comedian going at the moment. His scenes are funny a times, but the actual actor himself I found more irritating than anything else. However after you get over the mild set back of the beginning and if you ignore the well wrapped up finale the bits in between are just a blast and can get some great laughs.
The performances themselves are generally brilliant. I never though I would be able to praise Carmen Elektra, however she really did surprise me. She manages to deliver a half decent performance here, surprising as all she has to do is really be the eye candy and say a few lines. But her performance is nowhere near as excruciatingly bad as she has been in previous movie, Epic Movie just one of those awful movies. The two leads, Tom Riley and Tom Burke are really likable as Joe and Baggy. Joe might come across as irritating at some moments and Baggy perhaps whines a bit too much in the middle section, but in general they're pretty believable characters and they do some great performances. Michelle Ryan of Eastenders fame does a surprisingly good job as the love interest, at least she'll come out of Eastenders alive and might actually be seen in quite a few movies after this performance. Credit also has to go to Mackenzie Crook in a hilarious performance that reminded me so much of one of my own teachers.
Now then I have to talk about the actual humour of the movie. Now despite a pretty subtle and dull at times beginning the humour really gets going when the porno theme kicks in. We've got an explosive ejaculation sequence that had me crying with laughter, a disturbingly funny bit with a pear, and a bit to make you gaga involving pubes and some butter. But the movie is more than your average sex jokes, its got some genuinely funny lines in there as well and moments that can make you laugh. Its a movie that is full of traditional British humour but has some sex jokes thrown in as well for your own pleasure.
Overall I Want Candy is a great surprise and a British comedy that is one to remember. It won't be to everyones tastes of course, but for the most part its a great laugh featuring some surprisingly decent performances.
Posted on 12/06/07 09:30 AM
The Golden Compass in my eyes was the must see film of this Christmas. I am a huge fan of the His Dark Materials books, and was reading all three in preparation for the movie to come, I was praying this would be the new fantasy epic to watch. I suppose I got myself way too hyped for this movie, even the slightly negative reviews didn't stop me from being excited, so what a shame to say this cannot help but be a disappointment for me. I have a few major problems with this mainly, mainly I suppose because of the changes from the book, in fact had I have not read the book I most probably would have completely adored the movie rather than have just liked it. The Golden Compass is not a bad movie, its definitely better than the first Narnia movie and Harry Potter movie, but after reading the book I couldn't help but criticise because I know how amazing this movie could have been. Thankfuly the entire cast, yes the entire cast, are absolutely perfect, there are two notable set pieces and the storyline still keeps its grip on the audience despite being rushed. The lack of the ending from the book actually didn't even bother me that much, so long as people who have read the book are aware its going to be in the second movie then I believe that they won't be that bothered. Overall Golden Compass is an entertaining two hours, that could benefit from another half hour. Its a great film to watch for Christmas and will hopefully do well at the box office so the Subtle Knife is made very soon.
The biggest surprise of the cast definitely comes from Dakota Blue Richards as the lead, Lyra. In the trailers I actually thought that Lyra looked terrible, her voice sounded monotone and the girl showed no expression. Thankfuly in the movie that is far from the truth. Richards pulls off the character of Lyra perfectly, she's cheeky, at times rude but alway likable and definitely well acted. Her cockney accent surprisingly works and never gets too irritating, although at first it takes some adjusting too, and her emotions throughout the film are very well displayed. She carries the entire movie very well and it will be great to see her return in the future films as I know how much dramatic stuff she will have to do. But its Nicole Kidman who practically runs over the hills with this movie. Mrs Coulter was always my favourite character in the movie, and Kidman delivers an icy turn as the villainess. Kidman makes her multi-layered and highly memorable, her best scenes definitely being towards the end. Daniel Craig unfortunately features very little, but he delivers a great performance. Eva Green is superb as Serafine Pekkala but once again features way too little for my liking. The other two superb characters, and my joint second favourite performances, come from Ian Mckellen doing the voice of Iorek, and Sam Eliott who is perfectly cast as Lee Scoresby.
However despite the incredible performances its the cruel way things have been changed or cut that made me incapable of ever giving this higher than a 7/10. I will never understand to this day why the polar bear fight was changed from near the end to the middle, and why the Bolvangar scenes are so unnecessarily rushed its almost cruel. Also changing certain characters and changing certain facts just infuriated me all the more! But the ultimate problem with the movie is the fact it is way too rushed. Occasionally it is a blessing to get a two hour movie rather than a bloated two and a half hour once, but this story requires all the time it can get, and with events just taking up mere seconds and events being cut out (fans of the book will hate The Cocktail Party not being in the film) makes the film feel too short and missing something. Thankfuly the bear fight is as incredible as I hoped for, it ends in very cool way, and the final battle at Bolvangar, while way too short is definitely well done. The movie also packs an emotional punch at times, the intercision scenes are pitch perfect and the ending is amazing in my eyes in terms of emotion. The effects of the daemons are very well done, and the daemons themselves are pretty cool, most namely Mrs Coulter's golden monkey which will terrify kids for a while.
The Golden Compass is hardly the new Lord of the Rings as many, including me admittedly, had hoped for, but thankfully it looks much more promising than the Narnia series and perhaps with a new director, and less editing, this series could really take off. But for now I just need to get over my slight disappointment of it. Still very much worth watching though.
Posted on 10/31/07 10:30 AM
I am a huge fan of the Saw series, and as a result of this have been condemned by some of my friends as being sick and being a fan of this new genre apparently called "torture porn." Now you see that terminology infuriates me, the term "torture porn" and the way critics condemn the Saw movies even before they have had a chance to see them. While the movies are violent it is not the violence that attracts me to the films, of course the deaths are interesting and are why many people like the films, but I much prefer the storyline and characters in the entire movie. Movies like Hostel are sick and admittedly despite me thinking they are half decent they are a bit too much in terms of gore. However the Saw series in my eyes a entertaining, twist ridden movies that I enjoy thoroughly. But the ending of Saw 3 left me confused as to how they could make a sequel. Its no longer a spoiler to say that both Jigsaw and Amanda (the assistant) are dead. At first I feared the worst and was worrying in case it turned out Jigsaw "faked his death" or it was all a dream or something ludicrous. Thankfully they never do that, Jigsaw and Amanda remain dead, so who is the new Jigsaw? Well that would be telling wouldn't it. Saw 4 in my eyes is the very best of the Saw series to date, mainly because of its surprisingly not as gory as its predecessor. In fact this seemed the least violent to me since the first movie. This will irritate a few people, but its because of this lack of gore that the concentration seems more firmly on the storyline, and boy is it a storyline. The storyline is fast paced and intense and the final twist so brilliant that it rivals that of the original. Admiteddly I half guessed the big reveal, but there were a couple of smaller twists along the way I really did not guess. Overall Saw 4 is a superb movie that once again is being massacred by the critics for no other reason than its violent.
So lets start with the cast of the movie. Tobin Bell does return in this movie as Jigsaw, but don't worry he's not alive. We see him in a series of flashbacks which are some of the best sections of the movie. One of the movies weaknesses I suppose is the fact as a result of his death we get a lot less of him on screen. A shame as his scenes in Saw 2 and 3 were definitely their highlights. Thankfully his past is still a intriguing enough to give Tobin Bell something to do and his voice still chills to the bone whenever the tapes beginning playing and the traps are explained. The man actually having to take part in the traps this time around is Lyriq Bent playing Rigg, a detective who has popped up in previous Saw movies but has never had anything to do. This time we get him for the majority of the movie. He's played very well by Bent, but admittedly he's just one of those characters that you don't really care about. His storyline is interesting but its much better when the twists are being revealed or we see Jigsaw's past unveiled. Costas Mandylor plays Hoffman and delivers a very good performance, Scott Patterson too plays yet another detective hunting for Jigsaw and has some good moment. Donnie Wahlberg makes a welcome return to the series and has a few good scenes to look out for, a shame he has little screen time.
So what of the traps I hear the gore hounds desperately asking? Well as I've said before the traps don't seem as gory, but there are a few memorable ones. There is the knife trap that really made me cringe quite badly and seemed more disturbing than most of the traps in Saw 3, the hair trap that was a bit nasty, a bit involving an eye ball that wasn't as bad as I feared it would be, a two people trap that is superbly executed and I won't spoil, a bit involving a melting ice block that I cannot spoil oh and the sowed up eyes and lips bit that a majority of people have seen. The traps here might not be as gory but are certainly very memorable and well executed. The nice thing as well is that each of the traps have a certain amount of importance to the plot and lead up to the big reveal at the end that had my friend I saw this with in complete awe. What I also appreciated about this movie is that the traps this time round don't make you feel ill but do actually disturb you a bit more. This seems closest to the first movie in terms of tone, a nice thing in my eyes as it prevents the films from getting to repetitive. The only ways this movie disappoints I suppose is the fact that some things are not tied up enough, the ending, while brilliant and superb after thinking about it and finally understanding it, left me a bit confused at first and didn't tie things up enough for my liking. But my guess is that they're waiting for the inevitable Saw 5 to explain things that little bit more, and as a Saw addict I am happy to wait one more year to find out what happens next.
Saw 4 is the best of the Saw series in my eyes and there is definitely life still in this series for it to go on for at least two more films. Not as gory as its predecessor, but the storyline and that superb final twist make the movie more than worthwhile. A great Halloween treat and a film Saw fans will relish.
Posted on 10/25/07 08:35 AM
I went into Black Sheep expecting something ingenious brilliant, original and downright hilarious. The premise in my eyes said it all, it was a movie about killer sheep. Snakes on a Plane was brilliant in my eyes and I expected Black Sheep to be along those sort of lines. Alas, Black Sheep is not as good as Snakes on a Plane, nor is a fifth as good as Shaun of the Dead like a lot of reviewers have been comparing this movie to. Black Sheep is entertaining, and the novelty of watching sheep's kill people is an amusing one, but unfortunately this is a one joke movie, and the joke gets stretched very thin by the end of its run time. Black Sheep does admittedly make you laugh, and it certainly does not scrimp on the gore, in fact there are scenes in this movie that made me surprised the movie got its 15 rating! Especially a scene involving, ahem, a castration! The humour ranges from some good one liners, emphasise on some because there are some one liners that fall flat on their faces, to some pretty funny slapstick scenes, a sheep driving a car off a cliff did admittedly provide me with the one laugh out loud moment. Unfortunately though the pretty poor acting and little new ideas after the halfway mark just left me a tiny bit bored after a while. Black Sheep is hardly an awful movie, its just a bit of a disappointing one given the actual idea of it, so at the moment Black Sheep remains just a decent idea with a below average movie to back it up. Still its worth seeing if only to see the sheep kill people.
The acting of the movie is one of the very worst things about it. Lead actor, Nathan Meister walks out of the film with his dignity remained intact, mainly because he does a half decent job with diabolical dialogue. His character remains likable and he does have some good moments in the middle part of the film. Unfortunately though his romance, with co-star Danielle Mason is the very weakest part of the movie. The reason why he romance is weak is because Mason is such a terrible actress. There are moments in the beginning of the movie where I just sat in my chair horrified as to why she was even cast! Thankfuly she scrapes average by the end of the film, but the beginning parts with her awful dialogue and leaden performance were still lingering in my mind. Peter Feeney is a pretty unimpressive villain to be honest and his character remains too complicated and unexplained for me to actually think anything of the character. Tammy Davis as Tucker plays a likable character, but poor dialogue and little to do leave his character pretty superfluous by the end of the movie. In fact it says a lot for the cast when the entire cast of sheep are much better than the majority of them, and all they have to do is go baa!
One thing that did surprise me about Black Sheep is the fact it does have a fair amount of atmosphere to it, and I commend the movie for not using jump scares. If the director had decided to make the movie a serious horror movie I still believe it could have worked quite well, there are moments when I found the sheep to be slightly creepier than I wanted to admit. But the director chose the comedy route, which is partly the movies weakness as it just isn't that funny. The first time you see a sheep attack it is pretty funny, the sheep driving a car over a cliff is hilarious, the sheep attacking people is occasionally funny, and the explosive ending is pretty funny as well. But for a movie that is nearly 90 minutes there just aren't that many jokes. In fact once you have laughed at the sheep running at people three times you get pretty bored by the tenth time they do it. Stoylines are also left a bit unexplained. The quite frankly disturbing section at the beginning is left unresolved and why the character did what he did still remains a mystery to me. I also felt the characters had other parts of information told to the audience, leading me to believe it was important information, only for that character to not show up again for half the movie. The were-sheep also start to wear pretty thin after a while as well.
Overall Black Sheep is a just about above average movie that I think should have been a superb movie. The idea remains brilliant and the great gore and occasionally funny scene make the movie worth watching. But this is a highly unmemorable movie with leaden acting and a dodgy script. Unfrtunately this movie has too many baaa-ad moments (what, I had to insert at least one dodgy sheep pun somewhere) for its own good.
Posted on 10/24/07 12:51 PM
Every year we get a new fantasy movie that is supposed to be the "new Lord of the Rings" or the "new Harry Potter", and every year the contenders are shunned aside as they are most clearly not the next big fantasy epics. So far we've had The Chronicles of Narnia, probably the most successful one to date, Brdieg to Terabithia, superb movie but its not the next big thing, and Eragon, an unmitigated disaster of a movie that I'm ashamed to say I enjoyed on first viewing. And now we have The Dark is Rising, the movie that Fox obviously hoped would be their big fantasy epic after Eragon failed so dramatically. So does is it is going to be the next big fantasy series? Errm, definitely not. Firstly the movie flopped big time in the US secondly judging by the lack of people in my screen today its going to flop in the UK and finally its not that good a movie. Admiteddly its better than Eragon, at least the actors are all half decent here and the movie at worst is still watchable. In fact this is an above average movie, but it just isn't the next big fantasy series because it just isn't as interesting. Love or loathe Potter but the concept is infinitely much better than about a boy who travels in time to find some sign thingies and prevent "the dark" from rising. The Dark is Rising is decent Half Term fare, and the movie isn't long enough to bore in you. In fact there are some impressive set pieces towards the end.
The cast are actually surprisingly decent as a whole, however there are a couple who let the side down. The main kid of the movie, played by Alexander Ludwig is not even a fifth as annoying as he appears in the trailer. In fact I'd go as far to say he does a pretty good job in the role, sure the endless amounts of times he says "awesome" really grates after a while, but for the most part, especially in some of the more dramatic moments near the end, he does a passable job. Christopher Eccleston does a good job on villain duties as "The Rider." Sure he has some clumpy dialogue, some stuff near the end is plain ludicrous what he says, but he does have a decent amount of presence and he definitely steals every scene he is in. However, in my eyes the best actor of the movie is Ian McShane as Will's mentor. Sure he pretty much is the obligatory mythology explainer of the movie, which means way too many philosophical lines for his own good, but McShaine is a competent enough actor to make the lines work well. Frances Conroy also does a decent job as Will's other mentor, she's just such a likable actress in the film you can't help but like her. Of course though one of the child actors has to let the side down, and that role falls down to Amelia Warner in the most pointless role of the movie. Also all of Will's brothers gets their moments to irritate the hell out of the audience.
The storyline of the movie is pretty mediocre to be honest. Boy has to travel through time, well that's pretty debatable as the time travel sequences are pretty pitiful apart from a cool bit involving snakes, and find these signs to save the world. The storyline is relatively simple, well apart from a little twist near the end that is blatantly obvious from the get go. Thankfuly the interesting characters and set pieces redeem the movie. The snake sequence is pretty well done and a few scenes involving crows impress (more on the damn crows later). But its the final stuff that impresses most and sticks in memory longest. But the movie does have an obsession with crows. I get that they are supposed to be the evil things and represent darkness, but a bit where a mall guard semi-mutates into a crow had me in hysterics as it looked absurd. The script of the movie is pretty poor at times, especially some of the mythology filling in bits, and as I've mentioned the ending is just pretty terrible. Anyone with epilepsy cannot see the movie as the final battle is nit so much a fight but lots of flashing lights while people move, it hurt my head a hell of a lot just watching it.
The Dark is Rising is certainly not going to be the next big fantasy series, so for now Potter's crown is very safe. If you want a dumb entertaining movie this may just entertain you enough. And if you found Eragin tolerable this will be a masterpiece to you. However don't expect anything much as this has moments of baffling lameness.
Posted on 6/10/07 05:51 AM
I was a huge fan of Ocean's Eleven, it was smart, witty, funny and in my opinion the best remake I have ever seen. The great cast and the smart dialogue just made it a pleasure to watch, leading my expectations to reach phenomenal levels before seeing its follow up, Ocean's Twelve. So perhaps that is why Ocean's Twelve seemed such a let down, my expectations were to high. As a result of this originally my expectations for Ocean's Thirteen were horribly low, I contemplated not even seeing it at one point. However after re watching Ocean's Eleven, I decided to give it a chance, perhaps Soderbergh at made an effort this time, perhaps it would reclaim the glory of the original movie. Thankfully it has not only reclaimed my respect for the series, but also produced, in my eyes, the best entry so far. The return to Las Vegas has also seen a return of a great script, a plot that is followable, decent jokes and also just a sense of fun that Ocean's Twelve was sorely lacking. In many ways this makes up for the mistake that was the past movie, this is the sequel we should have had. In actual fact, apart from maybe a couple of details, this movie has next to nothing following on from the second movie. This is a good thing as it allows more people to see the quality first movie and then not have to worry about seeing the horrific second one before seeing the best of the series.
Ocean's Eleven worked particularly well because of its starry cast, and the fact the cast were clearly having an absolute ball making the movie. We had George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Andy Garcia, Julia Roberts and loads more. Ocean's Twelve saw the inclusion of more stars, including Catherine Zeta-Jones and Vincent Cassel. In Ocean's Thirteen two of the cast members have gone, thankfully the lack of Julia Roberts and Zeta-Jones doesn't leave a mark at all. In fact it seems a bit of a breath of fresh air, and even fresher when the reasoning for them not being in the movie is explained with one line of dialogue. But to make up for their disappearance we get Al Pacino in their stead, and trust me he more than makes up for it. Andy Garcia was a great villain in the original, but he lack the menace that Al Pacino has. He easily steals the beginning of the movie, and he threatens to steal it for the whole movie as well. He isn't overused, and he's certainly never underused. He's the best villain this series has had and it makes the quality of the movie increase. But of course this is still the original elevens' movie, and all of them get their moments to shine. George Clooney is still the best, he's such a great actor to watch as he just oozes star quality. He's the kind of person you wouldn't mind meeting in real life because he seems a genuinely nice guy. He's also used more in this movie, unlike in Twelve where he seemed to co-star in a movie with his name in the title. Brad Pitt is used less than Twelve here, and thankfully that works as well. My biggest problem with Twelve was the fact Rusty took centre stage, and in my opinion Rusty isn't an interesting character. In small doses he's brilliant, but in large doses his character just isn't good enough. Matt Damon has some great comedic moments here and there, Andy Garcia continues his role with style, Eddie Izzard's character actually seems to have a point here, and all the rest of the cast just carries on perfectly. They're all having a blast and they put their all into this movie.
So what of the actual storyline then? Well the actual motives for this movie seems to have improved a lot. Ocean's Twelve's storyline just didn't work for me, I liked the fact that they had to re-pay their money to Bennedict, but I didn't like the fact it got all involved with Vincent Cassel's jewel thief. Here though its all about revenge, and it works better here. It also helps that Al Pacino's Willy Bank is such a jerk that you can't wait to see the gang exact their revenge on him. How they do it, and if they do it I will leave as a surprise, and trust me there are a few little surprises install along the way. Some characters show up that you don't expect to show up, and also the movies pacing is tremendous. It throws you in at the deep end, the planning stage isn't very long, its all about the actual heist pretty much. The opening and the first half is generally talking, which some people might dislike. I personally loved it as the conversations were brilliant, and the quick fire dialogue a welcome relief from the clunky blockbuster stuff I'm used to at the moment.
Overall Ocean's Thirteen is a masterclass in smart, silly blockbusters. Its storyline is preposterous, and how the heist goes is a bit silly, but that's part of the fun, that's what makes the Ocean's series in general such a blast. The movies ooze style (yes even Twelve to some extent). If this is the final movie of the Ocean's series, and I personally believe it is, then they have the left the series on a very high. This has the potential to end up being the best Blockbuster of the summer, a surprise as I really didn't expect much from this. I highly recommend it, its cool, funny slick and most importantly of all, very cool.
Posted on 6/07/07 09:12 AM
Hostel was a very flawed movie, made tolerable by the simple fact the main idea about people paying to torture and kill people was a very good one. It was disturbing, and the brief screen time that storyline occupied the movie made it worthwhile. Overall that film was 7/10 movie at best, it was gory, fun and had a great storyline. Yet its characters and the plot surrounding them was a mess. I didn't care less about a group of American college guys going to have lots of sex. Not only were they irritating as hell, but they also never seemed believable. By the time we saw them start dying in gruesome manners I was practically cheering the killers, it made there irritating mannerisms seem worthwhile as we saw them operated on, beheaded and having half a hand cut off with a chainsaw. I was looking forward to seeing Hostel Part 2 as I was intrigued where Eli Roth would take the story. Would he follow the survivor of the original, or follow a new group of people altogether. The answer is a bit of both, as Paxton does make an appearance, but the major storyline follows a group of girls off to Slovakia to go to a spa. And its with these three lead character Hostel Part 2 succeeds. These three are believable, and actually likable. We have the normal one, the party loving one and also the sweet and considered slightly irritating one. They seem like real people, so by the time the nasty events begin we feel for them. Hostel Part 2 is a rare thing in the horror genre, a sequel that surpasses the original. It might not be as gory in my opinion, but its more horrific, more scary and overall a lot better movie than the original ever was.
So let me start off with the cast of the movie, as the cast are surprisingly decent here. As I said the three leads are pretty good, only one who started to grate after a while. We have Lauren German as Beth, she does a great performance here. Its not too showy and it never seems the average dumb idiot girl that's killed off in horror movies. Nor is she the ridiculously kick ass female either, she just seems normal. There's also Heather Matarazzo as Lorna. Now she was my personal favourite of the movie. She's geeky, but she's a genuinely nice person. Her character definitely seems the most believable of the entire movie. The final of the lead girls is Bijou Phillips as Whitney. Now she irritated me at first and after her first few minutes I was waiting anxiously to see her head mounted on a wall and her intestines spilling out everywhere. However her character grew on me, and in the end I found her quite likable, although certainly the least believable. Yet the lead three aren't the best bit of this movie. No what Hostel Part 2 decides to do is show us the killers world, the world of the rich businessmen who auction to kill the people. Its this storyline and the characters that inhabit it that works brilliantly. Roger Bart is the best character and best performer in the movie, I won't spoil anything about his character, he's too good to spoil. He has the best moments in the movie, and I'm glad to see the actor doing more roles. The other supporting cast are pretty great as well, definitely an improvement on the original movie.
So what of the gore then, as unfortunately for a lot of people that's what seeing this movie will all be about. Well its hardly gory on the scale of Saw 3 or even Hostel for that matter. So for people going to see this movie foe extreme violence they will probably be a bit disappointed. Only one sequence near the end made me cringe like crazy, the rest seemed pretty tame, although a lot of it still left me disturbed. Especially a sequence involving a scythe and a bath (don't ask). Nothing comes close to sickening like the eye ball sequence in the original, all this does is horrify through other means. This movie rather than opting to sicken, decides to unsettle you. And it does that through clever ways. There are no "boo" scares in this movie, you won't jump at all. This works through psychological methods, and a great little touches. The most disturbing and horrifying sequences in the movie follow the actual people who auction to kill the people, its an unusual method to unsettle, but when you see them auctioning at first it creeped me out. Other methods and the actual character inhabiting the world are genuinely frightening, and leaves you a bit nervous. This might not be terrifying for a lot of people, but it is genuinely creepy and a lot more disturbing then the last movie.
So what are the faults of this movie as clearly its not a perfect movie (hence the 9/10 and not 10/10). Well if this movie has one fault I'll have to admit its probably the ending, and also the fact some people might complain about the set up a bit, as the set up does take a while. Also the storyline at the start seems a bit superfluous by the end of the movie. Anyway apart from the ending leaving me a bit disappointed and the fact that at least one cast member seemed unnecessary, this is a very good movie, and definitely a superior movie to the original. Whther this does well or not depends on what people are looking for, in terms of gore this won't satisfy the gore hungry fans who've seen Saw 3. But for the people who want a creepy, unsettling and admittedly very well made movie, Hostel Part 2 will not disappoint.
Posted on 6/01/07 11:45 AM
Hollywood is starting to seem pretty damn desperate with its horror movies, it seems to do one of two things, make an extremely nasty torture movie designed to sicken, but not scare, or to re-make a classic horror movie and add lots more gore, more skimpy clothing, and just wreck the entire memory of that classic movie. While the gorier option of torture movies might not be the best movies ever at least they are original stories that are entertaining. The Saw series and Hostel are good movies, flawed, and certainly not scary, but pretty good movies. However re-makes of horror movies are generally shoddy in comparison. This has been proved with the likes of The Amtylville Horror, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and last years pitiful attempt at remaking The Wicker Man. The Hitcher is another movie that can be safely added to that list. While The Hitcher has its brief moments, and a great lead in the driving seat, the movie itself is just too full of un-scary clichés and a certain lack of anything memorable. I have never seen the original Hitcher, I understand its a movie some people adore, and others can't see the huge fuss over. However, I'm pretty sure the movie cannot be as bad as this movie. The movie just isn't scary, it has its share of jump sequences, but a jump sequence without anything to fall back on is a scene designed to give a brief jolt, not to truly unsettle them. The story itself is predictable, the lead characters (with the exception of the protagonist) lame and annoying, and the whole scenario so ludicrous by the end that you no longer care. It also has an amazing feat of still feeling oddly long and tiresome at a brief length of 80 minutes! So let me first go on about the cast.
Firstly I'll talk about the one good cast member of this movie, Sean Bean. Quite why Bean read the script and accepted it is beyond me, he's clearly the most talented actor in the movie, and he's clearly out of place. He's simply too good for this movie. Thankfully though he does make the character interesting, he doesn't have a lot of screen time really, yet in his brief screen time he makes an effective bad guy. Later scenes, where we see the layers of his insanity begin to peel makes you honestly think about the character. Bean does a good job here, he shouldn't be in this movie, he should be in the better written Hitcher remake with a cast that comes off as passable, unfortunately he appears to have walked onto the wrong set. And so it leads me to the other cast members, well he lead cast members. Sophia Bush and Zachary Knighton. So were they any good? No, not even remotely. Knighton appears to be making an effort, despite the fact he's not talented in the least bit. But he seems to try and make some scenes tolerable when the pair are alone, he also gets to be in the movies one memorable scene towards the end of the film. But Sophia Bush is just horrible, her character development is unbelievably cheesy and poorly done, her dialogue is even worse, and her delivery is just abysmal. She clearly isn't making an effort and the writers obviously didn't with her either. She's essentially eye candy, and my thoughts were proved correct by the time she got to have a brief scene in skimpy underwear only to pull on a ridiculously small mini-skirt. No other cast members are even worth considering, the rest might as well have all been extras, their performances aren't even remotely memorable.
So what of the actual scares of the movie? As I mentioned there isn't any really, its a horror movie without any real horror. It seems to think its gory yet it really isn't, not one scene really makes you wince at all, and quite why it got the 18 rating originally amazes me, either the scenes they cut were really horrible, or the people who rated it were drunk. The movie does have a fair share of jump scares, yet most occur only through raised music or someone randomly grabbing another persons in some place. The most pitiful involves a car and a cliff, its so random and so ludicrous its unreal. Matters aren't helped by the fact its never explained and the film simply forgets about it, leaving me to believe it was a jump scene for the sake of a jump scene. The movie just isn't a horror movie, its basically an action movie devoid of exciting action for the majority of the movie. Only one sequence in the final third of the movie gets the pulse rating, the rest is just a poor mans attempt at making a horror/action.
Overall The Hitcher is a movie with a good idea at the centre of it all, and a good chief villain. But no one else seemed to bother with the movie and its clearly been made just to make as much money as possible. Cheap shocks aplenty for those who want them, but for people who have seen better horror movies this will seem an insult. Its not the worst movie ever made, its just a pretty poor one.
Posted on 5/24/07 09:16 AM
[indent][left]There's a funny thing about third movies in a series, they always have the tendency to be the biggest letdowns of the series, or at least the beginning of the end for that particular series. Take into account Star Wars, a great series, yet Return of the Jedi always feels the biggest letdown out of the original three. It had its moments, but the inclusion of Ewoks made it feel false. The X-Men series proved it last year, X-Men: The Last Stand was a bitter disappointment. Spiderman failed this year with Spiderman 3, and The Matrix trilogy just died by the time Revolutions arrived. The curse of the third movie has plagued great franchises forever, and it was a fate I feared might befall Pirates of the Caribbean. Many people disliked Dead Man's Chest, not me as I personally found it even better than the original, but a lot of people did complain it was overlong, confusing and not interesting. The initially negative reviews of At World's End had also started to take its toll on me, I began to fear I was letting myself in for a huge letdown. What an absolute relief it is to say that At World's End is not only a great successor to the past two Pirates movie, but also a movie that I might eventually be able to consider the best in the series! Its an action packed, story stuffed, character motivated piece of cinema, it won't win Oscars (well apart from for Effects) but it know that. The biggest misunderstanding people have about the Pirates series is that it is aware its not the most amazing series ever. Its a series designed for pure popcorn entertainment. It doesn't bother being artsy fartsy, it just tells a damn good story with plenty of swash-buckle and comedy as well. Its a mixture of genres that makes this series work, and At World's End manages to masterfully pull it off again. Although I shall confess that the movie is a lot darker than the previous two entries, a fact made noticeably by the surprisingly nasty opening. Anyway At World's End is a truly brilliant movie, and the first great Blockbuster of the Summer so far.[/left]
[left]So how does the storyline continue then? Well the movie initially begins not long after Dead Man's Chest ended. And from there we get betrayals, plot twists aplenty. I suppose it is advisable you try and brush up on what happened in Dead Man's Chest before you see At World's End, this doesn't allow for newcomer anymore, its a case of you've either seen the last movie or not. But I saw part 2 the day before I saw part 3 and I found that I enjoyed this movie a lot more as I could see subtle connections everywhere. At World's End feels like the natural progression of Dead Man's Chest, the characters, the story and the world of the pirates all feels expanded in this movie. In fact the movie seems a lot grander, the effects not only make the world more beautiful, but the scale of whats at stake is now huge. Originally it was all about Jack and his boat, Dead Man's Chest was about Jack's life, the third one is about the threat of extinction of all pirate kind. The plot here has progressed significantly and is a lot darker than last entries. This doesn't really account so much for the kids, and its all the better for it. They'll of course have fun with the action sequences and Jack the Monkey, but this movie doesn't have the big comic set pieces that the last two movies had.[/left]
[left]The characters of this movie have really developed now. And the cast itself have become so perfect in the roles. Johnny Depp once again is absolutely brilliant, he is the best pirate there has ever been in a movie. I suppose one moan from Dead Man's Chest is that Sparrow was often used purely for comedic effect. He was still absolutely brilliant, but he became a bit of a clown. Here he is much more as he was in Curse of the Black Pearl. He's clearly a genius, he's still absolutely barking mad, but the man is as clever and witty as ever. In Dead Man's Chest he showed this talent rarely, here he shows it all the time. Some of the best sequences of this movie have to be the ones in Davey Jones Locker, I won't spoil the sequence for anyone but that scene is hilarious and so odd it was amazing. One person who surprised me most in this movie was Keira Knightly, I've always found her passable in these movies, but never amazing. Here she does absolutely brilliant, I suppose its her character who has been on the biggest journey since the original movie. Her character is now fifty times better, her scenes towards the end are very well acted. Orlando Bloom has improved, his character seems wasted at some points in the movie, but towards the end I also realised how well he was actually doing. I was glad to see Geoffrey Rush back as Captain Barbossa, so many people have overlooked him in the original movie. Here he is almost as brilliant as Johnny Depp. Bill Nighy continues to be a menacing villain as Davey Jones, except here he has some genuine character moments that worked well. Oh hell the cast were perfect, no one lets the side down at all. The inclusion of Chow Yun Fat is a brilliant one, but my moan is that Jack Davenport features too little as Norrington. A shame as his character was perfect in Dead Man's Chest.[/left]
[left]The action sequences also impress mightily in this movie. The end action sequence will blow you away, its hinted at in the trailer, but you will never understand how amazing it is until you watch it. I won't go on too much about that since its best you see it for yourself. Instead I will talk about the opening sequence, yes it is reminiscent of the Jabba the Hutt sequence from Return of the Jedi, but its well done. For sequence not featuring Jack Sparrow it still stands out as one of the highlights in the movie. Some people might moan there is a lack of action until the finale, but its this lack of action that still manages to impress. The talkey sequences the critics have complained about are never, ever dull. The Davey Jones Locker sequence is priceless, Beckett's mission to exterminate the pirates is engaging, all the back stabbings entertain, and everything just pieces together nicely. Its been well planned out and the movie shows this. The plot concludes perfectly here, there is a little bit after the credits that adds another layer to it, its not necessary to stay and watch it but I would recommend it.[/left]
[left]So any negatives then? Well one might argue that the movie is a bit long at nearly three hours, others might moan about the dialogue not being the most incredible stuff in the entire world. My response to people who moan about stuff like that is that they would never have liked the movie anyway if they went in looking for flaws like that. This movie has flaws, but the epics scale, the humour and the action overshadow the flaws. This is a perfect ending for an almost perfect series. I'm certain we'll be seeing Pirates of the Caribbean 4 some time in the future, but if they did end it here then they will have gone out with a huge bang rather than a whimper like a lot of other series.[/left]
[left]So At World's End manages to be the first brilliant movie of the Summer. Fast paced, funny and featuring Johnny Depp at his most manic and brilliant yet, this movie never fails to entertain. Oh and for anyone who cares, the Keith Richards cameo is pretty well done, not amazing but his character manages to still work in the Pirates world. Drink up me hearties! Its a success![/left]
Posted on 4/15/07 10:37 AM
Curse of the Golden Flower is the latest movie from brilliant director Yimou Zhang. Now the director is obviously best know for his brilliant last two flicks, Hero and House of Flying Daggers. Hero was a beautiful movie, a film that while not featuring the most amazing fights in terms of excitement, they worked in terms of art. Swirling leaves billowing around a pair as they fight with swords. Scenes like that and running on water just make the movie something for the eye to adore. House of Flying Daggers however dropped the artsy fartsiness somewhat, while each fight still looked amazing, it worked more in action terms. The audience got more of a thrill out of it. Anyway, both of the movies were absolutely brilliant. So what of his latest flick, Curse of the Golden Flower? The most expensive movie made ever in China? Well you can easily tell it was the most expensive movie made in China, you just have to see ten minutes of footage. The sets, the costumes, everything looks absolutely stunning. Every single piece of money put into the movie is up there gleaming at you in some way. But the movie is not all about the looks, many critics say that the movie looks beautiful but is really shallow as well. I really disagree. This movie while slow at the beginning is very much a story driven film, not relying purely on the fight sequences. Instead grand performances, intriguing plot twists and beauty make this movie something to savour.
First I will mention the performances, as it is the performances that surprised me most in this movie. Easily the best in the film has to be Gong Li as the scheming Empress. Gong Li is the latest actress from China to break through into the international market with the likes of Miami Vice and Hannibal Rising. Here we see the full extent of her capabilities and she is a force to be reckoned with. Her character is layered and complex, both victim and villain. Her character goes through a large array of emotions and Gong Li displays each one with a certain power and intensity. Opposite her, and almost as good, is Chow Yun Fat as the Emperor. Now there are no delusions as to what character his character is, his character is clearly the villain, and Chow Yun Fat is clearly having a ball playing him. In fact all of the royal family is played very well, Jay Chou, Ye Liu and Junjie Qin all excel in their roles as the three princes. Each actor bounces off the other perfectly and displays the complicated relationships of the family to perfection. Two scenes of note featuring all the family have to be the table sequence where the family meet, and a later sequence near the end of the film.
Of course the action and fight sequences are what a lot of people will go to see this movie for. Admiteddly not a lot of them happen until the final half hour, the first hour of which barely any fights happen whatsoever. However, when the action does eventually start, especially the movies climatic sequences, the film is just something to behold. The scope seems a lot more epic in the final few fights, Hero mainly focused on simple two person fights, but Curse of the Golden Flower focuses on grand fights with thousands of people clashing against one another. But as I said the first hour there is practically no action, and admittedly this can be seen as a flaw. I found the first hour to be a bit slow at times, only about 45 minutes in did I find it a bit slow and wanting for something to happen, no sooner had I though this that a revelation came tumbling out of nowhere and sent the movie a much faster pace.
Overall Curse of the Golden Flower is a movie that not only looks beautiful, but has a brilliant storyline going for it and a cast that never disappoints. A brilliant movie