Showing 1 - 10 of 10 Reviews
Posted on 6/13/12 01:23 AM
Ever since the announcement in late 2010 that director Ridley Scott was going to return not only to the realm of science fiction cinema for the first time since Blade Runner but specifically to the universe he helped to establish way back in 1979 with the modern masterpiece Alien, speculation has run rampant as to just how much of a prequel (or if, indeed, it would be a prequel at all) we would have with the film, known as Prometheus.
The aura of mystery increased when a trailer emerged in December of 2011 which clearly referenced the derelict ship and it's fossilized passenger (known to fans as The Space Jockey) originally discovered by the unsuspecting crew of the Nostromo in the '79 picture while Scott simultaneously insisted that although the "DNA" of Alien was evident in Prometheus, it was not a direct prequel .
Well, Prometheus has at last landed and it turns out that Scott was quite right. Although Prometheus does indeed share common plot elements with Alien, it's really a stand alone film more concerned with asking it's own questions than it is with directly setting up the events of his previous film.
The movie opens with an eye popping and gripping sequence where we witness the origins of life on Earth. Fast forward several million years to earth circa the year 2089 and Doctor Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and her boyfriend Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall Green) discover evidence via cave paintings that otherworldly visitors were in contact with humans eons ago. The doctors are convinced that these beings- whom they refer to as "Engineers" - were the progenitors of the human species. Whereas Dr. Shaw pursues this from a faith perspective, Dr. Holloway is a strict adherent to Darwinism..so when it becomes apparent that the ancient visitors left clues to which star coordinates they originated from, both scientists want to try to find these "engineers"and discover for themselves who their makers really were and perhaps discover why they created us.
Enter Mr. Weyland (Guy Pearce, under some impressive age makeup) , who Alien franchise fans will recognize by name as one half of Weyland Yutani- ie the notorious Company so oft referenced throughout this series.
Weyland agrees to fund the search for the engineers..and so off goes the scientific research vessel Prometheus into the far reaches of space in search of answers. In addition to Shaw, Holloway and a team of assorted researchers (including an amusingly abrasive geologist played by Sean Harris) along for the ride are Janek, the captain of the Prometheus ( Idris Elba), Weyland Yutani company employee Meredith Vickers (a cold Charlize Theron) - charged with supervising the mission - and David (Micheal Fassbender), a state of the art android who may or may not have an agenda that could prove dangerous to his human counterparts.
The research team narrows the search to a moon located in the system the cave paintings indicated. Once there, they stumble upon an installation clearly designed by the Engineers. Unfortunately, they also stumble upon something else .......something human beings were not meant to find.
The first thing to realize about Prometheus is that , for much of its running time, it bears a stronger kinship to Blade Runner than it does Alien, despite being set in the same universe as the latter. Prometheus is less a horror film than it is a straight forward science fiction piece that happens to get to some terrifying places as the story unfolds.
There's been a lot of discussion about the quality of the screenplay by Lost veteran Damon Lindelof. This movie - like much of Scott's work- is destined to be divisive. Already there are two factions- those who think the film is smart and savvy, asking some big questions about who we are and where we come from (not all of which it is willing to answer) and those who think it represents poor screen writing , with a clunky script that cannot be redeemed by excellent direction and stunning visuals.
I fall resolutely into the first category. I've always enjoyed ambiguous science fiction that poses more questions than it resolves ( 2001: A Space Odyssey anyone?) and I think it's a shame that such a sharp, legitimately entertaining film is being criticized because modern audiences no longer want to be challenged to think about what they've seen after leaving the theater and would rather have every single idea spelled out in exact visual detail . People feel so cheated if they don't see everything in detail that if the aforementioned 2001 were released today, it'd have to end with the character Dave Bowman walking into the Mos Eisley bar on Tatooine in the original Star Wars instead of leaving the appearance of the extraterrestrials an open question . Prometheus opts for the mystery. And just to be clear, as it happens I felt that this movie did answer just enough of its questions to be entertaining while leaving enough open ended to entice audiences to a potential sequel.
In regards to the the performances : They're nothing short of remarkable. Scott has always had a knack for assembling talented casts and this one is no exception,with Rapace and Fassbender the highlights of the film.
Rapace shows both humanity and resilience as Shaw and there's an intruiging ongoing thread woven into the film about her faith not quite being as shaken by their discovery as her boyfriend would expect it to be. When asked how she can still hold onto the concept of God as the creator when she now knows the Engineers were responsible for our origins, Shaw gives an answer one could realistically expect in that circumstance... a reply that,as a Christian, I might tend to provide myself : "They created us..who created them?" It's a testament to Rapace here that I was as heavily invested in her character as I ever was in Ellen Ripley.
Adversely, Fassbender is a stark wonder of polite, controlled condescension and duplicity as David. This is the fourth time since 1979 that we've seen an actor or actress play one of these automatons - Ian Holm led the way as Ash, Lance Henriksen took androids a step back towards redemption as Bishop and Winona Ryder was the inquisitive Cole , all prior to Fassbender's turn- but this is the first time I would bet that an Academy award nomination is forthcoming. I am completely serious. Fassbender is absorbing and impossible not to watch. Even when he's occupying a vast, technologically advanced set replete with an extra terrestrial cryo-stasis tube and computerized holograms of vast galaxies hovering in air about him, David commands your full attention. If Heath Ledger can win an Oscar for his portrayal of the Joker, Fassbender must be given due consideration as Best Supporting Actor for the scene stealing work he does here.
Rounding out the core cast ,Theron is wonderfully nasty and unyielding as the icy Vickers, who holds a few important secrets of her own and- in role that has not received nearly as much praise in the press as it deserves- Idris Elba is both believable and likable as the captain. There wasn't a lot of detail about his character in the press for this movie and the ongoing back and forth Elba has with two men over the ship-to-helmet communication link (before events go south) was a particularly welcome surprise.
Another aspect of Prometheus certain to receive accolades from the Academy is the visual design. We've seen the depths of space and the surface of countless alien worlds on screen before, but never with this sort of detail and beauty. Scott doesn't merely film terrific effects and then throw them into the 3D mix..he uses the process as a paint brush, crafting exquisite compositions of color and shape. Early scenes of deep space are so lovingly rendered as to be jaw dropping ,with a ringed gas giant looming in the foreground against a deep, endless sea of stars. Later scenes of exploration reveal dark, winding tunnels leading into unknown shadowy depths, all with a clarity that makes it seem as if you literally could step through the screen into Scott's cinematic universe. Though this film would be an impressive visual feast even in 2D, I recommend that every science fiction fan get themselves to a theater and see it on the big screen in 3D at least once.
Now, having gone on about how this movie skews more to straight science fiction and how the visuals are so technically incredible, one might think that it sells short the fear factor that was such an integral aspect of Alien and its sequels.
While Prometheus doesn't try for that sort of sustained intensity, it absolutely hits some very scary high notes, including a bravura, brilliantly staged and executed sequence involving a self inflicted C-section that is as cringe inducing as it is terrifying. This is very much a creature feature in its own right, with it's own set of creepy crawlies as capable of carnage as any of the chest bursting Xenomorphs or arachnoid face huggers we've seen before.
With all of that praise, Prometheus is not a perfect film. The crew of the ship is too large- it's established that they have seventeen members on the team, yet only six or so have actual story lines and the rest are cannon fodder. In the original Alien, the Nostromo- a towing ship five times the size of the Prometheus - only had a crew of seven and the narrative was better for it. So points off for allowing the "red shirt " phenomenon to insinuate itself in a film that is far too smart to take that path.
The other criticism I have is with the pacing later in the film. There's been some press about how the second half feels rushed, but I thought the film held its pacing very well until things started to come together in the last thirty minutes. That's when it felt like scenes went by at a clip en route to a finale that -while spectacular- seemed to almost end before it started.
These missteps weren't enough to delineate the overall impact of the film, though. No, Prometheus isn't a perfect film- but it's a damned fine piece of science fiction , one of the best films in this genre to arrive in decades. I sincerely believe that in the years to come this movie will be re-evaluated and achieve cult status alongside Alien and Blade Runner as one of Ridley Scott's most accomplished works. It's a pleasure to see the director back in such fine form . Prometheus is a cinematic voyage that was well worth the thirty year wait and should be on the must see list of every genre fan.
**** out of ****
Posted on 4/14/12 10:29 PM
I agree with a lot (but not all) of what I've seen written about Cabin in the Woods . The performances are all solid and the film is often quite brilliant, with some moments of sheer , diabolical genius at play (it's actually worth the price of a ticket just to see one specific scene involving the use of a speaker phone) . I enjoyed how the structure of the film worked as sort of a cinematic equivalent to the Lament Configuration: Every time you solved part of the puzzle, something else popped up revealing even more layers. I think it worked best when it was poking fun at the conventions of the genre. I also -as many others have already expressed- had a blast with the manner in which this movie gleefully abandoned any sense of restraint in the last act and went off the rails insane bringing the gruesome.
I had a few reservations.
For one thing, I'd say Cabin in the Woods is being way over hyped. The press I've seen for this film is heralding it as a masterpiece and a game changer. It isn't. It's good, really good in fact ..but didn't think I was great. At least ,not on that level of greatness we'd afford A Nightmare on Elm Street (the Craven film) , Evil Dead or Shaun of the Dead. To be perfectly honest., I thought last years Tucker and Dale Vs Evil was a better horror comedy that was even more clever in subverting overused genre tropes and taking them in unexpected directions.
Another issue is that I just didn't find it scary. There were a few decent jump scares, but for the most part I was entertained, but never terrified.
The other problem I have is that I thought the film fell apart at the end. When the motivation behind the events taking place was revealed, I was underwhelmed. Instead of being impressed with something really unique, I thought it gave us a lukewarm concept that owes more than a passing debt to the work of Shirley Jackson and John Carpenter's In the Mouth of Madness and, by virtue of that, HP Lovecraft.
Then there's the final shot. I hated it. The closing image of this film was a cheesy, overwrought mess that was an insult to the level of ingenuity I'd seen demonstrated earlier in the film. Let me put it this way (and those who have seen it will understand what I'm getting at)..if I wanted to see Wrath of the Titans, I would have damned well bought a ticket to see Wrath of the Titans.
To sum up: I thought Cabin in the Woods was a very entertaining - a times ingenious - film that also boasts one of the best placed and most appropriate cameo's I've seen to date , but I don't feel it's a masterpiece or defining genre moment. I would easily recommend it- highly recommend it, actually - to genre fans , but I also advise anyone reading this who hasn't yet seen the film to temper your expectations.
I'd give it ***1/2 out of *****
Posted on 2/18/12 08:54 PM
I have to disagree with the majority of the mainstream critics. This movie is a darker, grittier film than the original and has a better look , as well as superior villains. Also, despite only having roughly half the budget the film makers had the first time, the "Crank" team somehow made Ghost Rider:Spirit of Vengeance visually much more impressive. As to Cage, I'm convinced that this time out he's deliberately playing to that part of the audience watching the film in the hopes of experiencing his patented over the top, bats*it insane persona. He doesn't disappoint. Actually, the performances are generally better all around this time (no Eva Mendez, thank God).
Where the film works best is in it's relentless intensity. After sketching out the skeleton(pun intended) of a plot on which to later hang the more eye popping visual effects, this flick shifts into overdrive and essentially becomes a superhero variation on The Road Warrior- once Blaze meets the woman and her child , they hit the road and that's where they remain for the majority of the film.
To be fair, the trailers for this movie pretty much sum up what you can expect going in, so any complaints seem somewhat ridiculous. The movie delivers exactly what it promises.. a feature length adrenaline rush punctuated by some truly off the hook action sequences. In the process it improves on its' predecessor. It may not be art, but it's a hell of a lot of fun.
I saw the 2D version on a drive-in screen and, honestly, it looked great.The 3D was post converted and, although I'm told it does look good, anyone choosing to skip the surcharge and go for the regular version should be fine.
Posted on 12/04/11 02:23 AM
There is a specific moment in The Muppets where the film manages to pull off a feat of cinema that is regrettably infrequent these days: It takes that one extra step beyond it's already established level of excellence and into the pantheon of the classics. When the moment happened, I realized I was watching one of those films people will still be able to quote - possibly verbatim - a decade from now.
The moment is simple- some of the Muppets (led by a motivated Miss Piggy) have abducted someone (not saying who). They have arrived as a group at Kermit the frog's door in the early evening to explain to him what they have done and to urge him to continue on with a planned telethon to save the Muppet Theater. One of the characters points out to Kermit "You see? You inspired us!" to which he replies, horrified, "To kidnap people!?" He may be green, he may never give up and he may be an eternal optimist- but the frog has been around the block a few times and he knows when things may have gone a step too far.
The new film The Muppets understands that Kermit is wise enough in the ways of the world to temper his optimism with a sense of responsibility without losing all hope. It also understands that the values of friendship, loyalty, decency and honor are still worth prizing and that - in today's culture of celebrity scandals, obnoxious reality TV and downbeat news - we need an injection of the aggressive optimism Jim Henson introduced when he created Kermit and his cohorts all those years ago.
As the story opens, Gary (Jason Segel) and his Muppet brother Walter are due to head to Hollywood with Gary's girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams). Once there, they stop by the defunct Muppet Theater and discover that a twisted oil baron (Chris Cooper)has plans to level it in an effort to drill for some crude located beneath the property.
Walter (who adores the Muppets, a group who allowed him to vicariously fit in when his Muppetness placed distinct differences between himself and the human beings surrounding him every day of his life) and his human companions set about reuniting the long separated Muppet gang ,who then decide to put on a show to raise the necessary funds to save the theater..and perhaps the magic that once made them so beloved.
I could describe more, but there's really no point. With it's catchy songs (some new, some classic and at least one guaranteed to make even the most jaded adult eyes misty with memories ), dead on satire of cinematic devices ( I will never again be able to see a montage unfold without smiling after this flick) and clever nods to the inherent absurdity of the staging of production numbers in musicals , merely reading about this movie could never conceivably do it justice. It's one of those films that needs to be experienced firsthand.
The Muppets is a rare cinematic creature..a film that gets it absolutely right, understanding the founding principles which made the titular characters so enduring to begin with while simultaneously providing a fresh, quirky new narrative in which to reintroduce the beloved icons of the felt and fur set to another generation of audiences. It will engage the young ones, but is savvy and smart enough to appeal to any adult who takes the time.
At a time when a lot of miserable dreck occupies theaters, saturates television and fills Netflix cues far and wide, it's a breath of fresh air to see a film that gleefully addresses life -with all of it's peaks and valleys -by delivering a sly wink,a knowing smile and exuding unabashed hopefulness.
Whether we're four or forty, each of us has inside the desire to find the Rainbow Connection, that place where we realize our dreams and find that inherent peace which comes with inner happiness..and The Muppets - with it's rapid fire in-jokes, cheerful music and good natured sensibility - taps directly into that, reminding us of what we learned from Kermit, Piggy, Fozzie , Gonzo, Dr.Teeth and the Electric Mayhem, Rowf, Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker, the Swedish Chef and the rest to begin with : That joy,laughter, friendship and love are not only what make it all worthwhile, they may just be the ingredients necessary to make it work.
I am rarely this entertained when I go to the movies. I was blindsided. Consequently, I rate The Muppets a much deserved ***** out of ***** stars.
Posted on 8/21/11 12:48 AM
I'm not a big fan of vampires or vampire films. Oh,there have been the occasional entries in the sub-genre that have entertained me and had some staying power, but by and large bloodsuckers and their machinations put me off. I prefer the novel Frankenstein to the novel Dracula and I don't empathize with anything that lives as a nocturnal parasite, surviving by feeding on the lifeforce of human beings . Adding what usually amounts to turgid romantic melodrama to the mix puts me even further off, which will explain why Twilight and its sequels active my gag reflex.
However, in 1985 there was one horror film about a modern day vampire that defied all of that and ended up being not merely my favorite vampire film of all time, but one of the best all around horror flicks I've ever seen.
That film was Fright Night, a deft mix of horror and humor which told the tale of a high school student who discovers that his new next door neighbor is a vampire responsible for a series of brutal murders right there in mid 1980's suburban America (no romance for this creature of the night..he was more akin to a serial killer), enlisting the aid of an unemployed TV horror show host to battle the undead menace.
Few films before or since have managed to walk that line of paying loving homage to the sub-genre they represent while operating as an effective example of the same type of film in their own right as Fright Night does. It is by every definition a true classic which holds up astonishingly well today, making a remake seem like even more of a soulless cash grab without any point in existing than is usually the case.
But there has, of course, been a remake anyway. This time the action is relocated from middle America to a suburban tract community in the desert on the fringes of Las Vegas, where high schooler Charlie Brewster (Anton Yelchin) attempts to fit in with the "in" crowd and impress his too hot for him and he knows it new girlfriend Amy (Imogene Potts) while his divorced mom (Toni Collette) works real estate and flirts with the new neighbor, a nocturnal type by the name of Jerry Dandridge (Colin Farrel). After a young neighbor vanishes and a number of their classmates stop showing up for school, Charlie's once best friend Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) deduces that there is something more sinister to Dandridge than his presumed life of just working on the strip at night and, before Charlie knows it, he's sucked into going toe to toe with a creature of legend, along the way seeking help from a Vegas illusionist with a vampire themed show who goes by the name of Peter Vincent (David Tennant).
Well, although it is by definition a cash grab (every sequel or remake is. No one has ever remade a movie or produced a sequel to a hit in an effort to lose money), the remake is certainly not soulless. Don't let any naysayers scare you off....the new Fright Night is a terrific film on its own terms
First and foremost among the reasons for this success is the cast. The cast, the cast, the cast. Did I mention the cast? If there's a dark, beautiful soul to this remake its all in the performances.
Everyone gets it right, with Farrel knocking it right out of the park as Jerry Dandridge. No kidding. He's clearly having a lot of fun with the character and it makes all the difference between merely hamming it up and chewing the scenery. He's equal parts charm and malice. There's a moment where he confronts Charlie at the latter's back door and launches into a diatribe about the boy now being a man and the underlying menace in the scene is tangible. As Farrel and Anton Yelchin exchange words, Farrel's eyes and body language suggest that ,underneath the casual cool facade Jerry erects, prowls an unspeakable animal..and Farrel conveys this dichotomy of bemusement and raw hunger with a thrilling sense of balance. I had watched my DVD of the original Fright Night again the night before I saw the new version and, much to my complete surprise, I actually think Farrel was a better Jerry than Chris Sarandon. Never, ever thought that I'd wrote those words given my reverence for the original film ..and I will always consider Sarandon's turn in the role to be one of the definitive examples of a screen villain... but there it is.
Anton Yelchin is solid as a different kind of Charlie. This time the character actually has more of a character arc and the young man at the end of the film isn't the same fairly mean-spirited kid we meet early on. In the early stages of the film,Charlie is seen as something of a social climbing opportunist and the cruel manner in which he treats his once closest friend during a tense sequence set after sunset is heart breaking. Over the past few years Yelchin has demonstrated some real chops in a variety of roles and if his turn in Fright Night is any indication, I expect a long career lies ahead for him.
Imogene Poots and Christopher Mintze-Plasse round it off nicely as ,respectively Amy and Evil Ed. Interesting thing I noticed about this interpretation of Ed- in the first act of the film ,he's more like William Ragsdale's Charlie from the original film than the new Charlie is, which I thought was a nice touch. And fans need not despair-Ed's signature line "You're so cool Brewster "gets slipped in there, just not in the way you think. As was the case with the original Ed, there's an element of sympathy for this one and though I wouldn't say he's as quirky as Stephen Geoffrey's take on Ed, Mintz-Plasse is actually more likable..he's that the kid you think is kind of a geek until you actually get to know him and realize he's really just a cool guy who prefers to do his own thing.
Now about Amy. Imogene's Poots Amy is a better character. She's more spirited, she's smarter and she's more likable. I was okay with Amanda Bearse ,but lets face it- her function in the original was to be the off again on again girl, show concern, then be in peril as motivation for Charlie to come to the Dandridge house for the climax. Other than that, she didn't really have a lot to do with the actual action until the last ten minutes or so.
Well,say farewell to that happy crap because this Amy is right there in the trenches next to Charlie . She's a fighter and the narrative is the better for it.
And David Tennant? What can you say? His performance is top notch,but what makes it brilliant is that it was written in such a way as to make it incomparable to Roddy McDowell's performance from the 1985 film. The only characteristics the two incarnations share in common are that name and the fact that they are entertainers with a connection to vampire lore. Beyond that, no two characters could be more different and- for the direction they took Peter in the new film - Tennant does a superb job .
I'd have given this a four star rating, but there is a hiccup: The CGI blood. Former KNB giants Howard Berger and Greg Nicotero do provide some prosthetics and a decent amount of old school fake blood, but whenever you see an attempt at a squib, it seems to be digitized. There are also some CGI vampiric transformations that run the gamut between creepy cool (theres at least one such moment-which transpires on a stretch of lonely desert road outside of Vegas- that managed to creep me out because the visual brought to mind what Batman's nemesis The Joker might look like if he had been possessed) and annoyingly cartoonish. I'd just like to go on record as stating that, where I can at least wrap my mind around the idea of why a filmmaker would employ CGI to grow fangs on someone,have them performing superhuman feats or depicting them bursting into flame, CGI blood squibs piss me off. Other films I've enjoyed also used this technique from time to time and it bothered me then, too. Nothing can or will ever replace the tactile quality of good old corn syrup and food coloring. Does this even save the production money? I don't understand the attraction.
Is it better than the original? No. But I'd compare it to Zack Snyder's Dawn of the Dead, which I also didn't think surpassed Romero's classic so much as excel at building its own unique creature with a foundation built on the same skeletal system.
Final thought: I saw this sans 3-D and it was fine. Yeah, there are a a few moments where objects are tossed at the camera (including a funny bit involving a pebble), but not enough to distract and definitely not to such a degree as to warrant dealing with a dimmer picture and ridiculous surcharges.
*** 1/2 out of **** stars
Posted on 8/17/11 03:25 AM
Looking for someone to give this remake a sound thrashing? Look elsewhere. I went against the grain of critical consensus on this one, a tendency of mine when it comes to the horror genre.
The 2010 take on ANOES does not reinvent the wheel, it will never
supplant Wes Craven's original and Robert Englund will always have a
special place in our hearts as the man who gave Freddy his soul from
1984 until 2003.
But that era is done. Englund has moved on and the reality of the franchise as it stood before April 30th 2010 was that it had descended into self parody.
By the time Jason Voorhees emerged from the murky waters of Crystal Lake carrying Fred Krueger's disembodied head at the end of Freddy Vs Jason (if that's a spoiler for you at this point, then I submit that you're a bit behind on your pop-horror history) , we had seen - among other images- pizza's with screaming meatballs,
humans turned into cockroaches, an unforgivably stupid sequence where
Freddy murders someone via Nintendo and Freddy as the caterpillar from Alice in Wonderland .
Freddy was fun. Freddy was entertaining. But Freddy was no longer
Well, we're back to square one and not a moment too soon. Jackie Earl
Haley brings the pain and knocks it out of the park with his amazing
portrayal of a creepy, sadistic Krueger fueled by a perverse anger
(aided by a horrifically effective redesign of his scarred visage).
This portrayal isn't an imitation of Englund, it's Haley making the
character completely his own and, honestly, he never steps wrong. When
Krueger tells one victim that a seven minute gap between
cardiac arrest and neural shutdown means they'll have "six more minutes to play", you believe the kid is going to suffer.
The plot elements are essentially the same, save for a deeper
connection between Freddy and the kids, particularly Nancy (played with surprising gravitas and plausible charm by Rooney Mara). It is this aspect of the new film that provides the story with a dark, twisted soul and, consequently, the overall impact is given more weight than I had initially anticipated. In this interpretation of the tale, Krueger was a more insidious kind of monster even before he was murdered.
Indeed, the way Freddy warps the dream world of his intended victims
can be seen as a parallel to the way he warped the bonds of trust
forged between himself and the children while he was alive, a set of
relationships whose benevolence was itself a dream masking a more
Kyle Gallner adds weary believability as Quentin, a classmate and stoic companion in Nancy's fight for survival and the film does a decent job establishing the growing bond between these two teens who have been unwillingly thrust into circumstances they can barely comprehend.
Negatives would include some suspect CGI work (most notably in the
redux of the sequence where Freddy emerges from a wall) and an element
of the back-story - ie the fact that the kids knew one another when
they were younger- that is not as fleshed out as it could (and should)
Those minuses aside, the good definitely outweighed the bad this time
out and I would strongly recommend this film to fans of the character
and for people who'd like to have a good time at the movies with a
decent scare flick. While the new ANOES is inferior to the original and Dream Warriors (the latter remaining my favorite Elm Street film to date), it easily trumps the rest.
I remember watching the original film the weekend it bowed in 1984. I
was thirteen years old and I had a terrific time with it. As the
credits rolled on the latest Nightmare, I realized I could honestly say the same this time around. I couldn't have asked for more than that. Recommended.
Posted on 4/17/11 12:49 AM
A pleasant surprise! After an eleven year hiatus, Craven, Williamson and Co. return to form with this clever, bloody, tense and lightning paced sequel. While I still feel that Scream 2 is the best installment of this series, Scream 4 is nevertheless a damned fine chapter and definitely brings the mojo back.
There are solid turns by the entire cast and Craven directs with a sure hand.Though this isn't quite at the level of his ground breaking pictures A Nightmare on Elm Street or The Hills Have Eyes, there are some set pieces and individual moments strewn throughout Scream 4 ( a sequence set inside of a barn loft is an excellent example, ditto a singularly creepy moment when a camera angle readjustment unexpectedly reveals the looming figure of Ghostface. Plus there's both the brilliant opening scene and the last ten minutes, the latter giving reveal to the most brazenly foul tempered , cruel and sadistic villain to grace the screen in some time) that rank with his best, repeatedly demonstrating Craven's ability to deliver the goods after all these years.
Bottom line: Quick quips courtesy of Williamson's particular brand of genius, buckets of blood, a capable and game cast and Wes Craven back in excellent form all effectively demonstrate that Ghostface still has some edge to his blade. This late sequel is a welcome reminder that slasher films need not be self serious, hardcore slogs through misery like Rob Zombie's Halloween movies. They can be fun and still have a scary bite. Although I'm not sure this can (or even should) spin off into an entirely new trilogy, as a capper to the franchise, Scream 4 is a respectable way to go out.
Posted on 11/01/10 03:07 AM
Not bad. There was a drop in quality from Saw VI ( which I consider to be the best of the series), but I found Saw 3D to be a solid, enjoyable ending. I was never a Gordon fan, but his inclusion for the finale has a twisted logic to it. Hoffman fans in particular should really find a lot to satisfy here. I know I did.
Saw VI had essentially wrapped everything up save for a few threads and the focus of Saw 3D is to tie up those remaining story lines. The primary game that Sean Patrick Flanery must endure has a purpose in that not only does it teach the participant a harsh lesson, but another character actually uses the fact that the game is happening at all as leverage (that's not a spoiler..they come out and tell us this very early on). So, in the larger context of the overall film, the very concept that another game is in motion is extremely relevant to the surrounding action- a fact a lot of people seemed to have missed. This movie is sharper than it's getting credit for .
For what this sequel was, I enjoyed it. I'd rank this third on my list for the franchise, after VI and II. Consider me a happy enough fan.
And,hey, the 3D was fine. It was designed primarily to immerse us in the experience, not hurl things at the audience (though that did happen a few times). The sense of depth was really there at key moments (It was as if you could have reached through the broken windshield during the garage trap). That having been put out there, because of how Saw 3D was shot, fans can enjoy it in either format with no issues.
8/10. Not the best, but far from the worst and a respectable coda to my favorite horror series.
Posted on 1/27/10 01:13 AM
This is a visually dazzling film offering a glimpse into a 3-D universe that feels entirely authentic. From flying lizards, florescent foliage and glowing insects to the soil comprising the floor of the forests inhabited by the blue skinned, golden eyed Na'vi, Avatar captivates the senses and is a parade of wonders.
The story is formulaic but nevertheless engaging, with excellent performances by Sigourney Weaver and Sam Worthington. As the film unfolds on an epic scale, Cameron effectively uses foreshadowing to tie together his plot threads with maximum impact in the final act.
Even more impressive is that in the midst of the technological achievements displayed on-screen, Cameron manages to embody the Na'vi with a genuine sense of being. He has created out of thin air an entire , structured (if primitive) society with rituals, traditional progressions of power, social mores and all of the other cultural attributes you'd associate with a textured civilization claiming a long history. By the time the credits rolled, I felt surprising levels of both affection and amazement towards this jungle dwelling tribe.
That said, the film is severely hampered by a ridiculously one note performance from Stephen Lang as the sinister Colonel who serves as the primary antagonist. Obviously cobbled together from bits and pieces of better characters from strogner narratives, this villain almost manages to bring the film to a dead stop whenever he is the focus of a scene..which,unfortunately, is quite often. That's a pretty amazing trick considering how mesmerizing the film is otherwise. Lang can't be held fully accountable for this particular failure, though. Cameron wrote the screenplay and the dialogue for this character is just plain bad, amounting to nothing more than a strung together series of cliches'. Considering that he has famously painted Marines with much more vivid strokes in his own previous work (Aliens, anyone?) Cameron really dropped the ball here.
Having put that out there, I strongly urge Sci-Fi/Fantasy aficionados to run, not walk, to see Avatar on the big screen in all of its' three dimensional glory while they can. Although the story isn't exactly groundbreaking, the level to which the viewer experiences being immersed in another world is. The Academy may as well avoid waiting for the inevitable and just give Avatar the multiple technical awards it's going to win right now.
Posted on 12/28/09 02:17 AM
Surprisingly entertaining (considering I'm not a Guy Ritchie fan as a rule) spin on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's famed sleuth ramps up the action to exciting levels while never losing site of the attributes which make Holmes such a fan favorite in the first place- his astounding deductive powers and his interplay with Watson.
Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law are nothing short of perfect in their roles and Ritchie recreates 1800's London with seedy perfection. The incredible visual design services the story perfectly, never dominating the proceedings but accentuating them.
Rachel McAdams rounds out the primary cast with a smart, snappy turn as Holmes' potential love interest, exhibiting a real chemistry with Downey.
"Sherlock Holmes" is easily one of the best films I have seen in 2009 and I highly recommend the film to any movie buff.