Posted on 8/12/10 09:46 AM
Having a slasher based on April Fools Day simply does not work. The problem lies in the concept of the day itself. A movie based on a day in which people play practical jokes on one another is doomed to predictability.
In other words, you know where the movie is going long before its 90 minutes are up.
A group of college kids all gather on a ferry to a secluded island mansion owned by their friend Muffy St. John. They play a few practical jokes on one another until an accident badly injures one of the deck hands on the ferry and he is rushed to the hospital. What this means is that the only means to leave the island is now gone, at least for a couple days.
The entire mansion has been rigged as one big April fools joke and many pratfalls ensue.
It isn't long after that that the kids start to get picked off one by one. Everyone suspects that it may be Muffy offing them because she has been acting strange, but no one is sure of the motive. This all culminates in a big twist ending that, as the name of this film suggests, is pretty obvious.
There isn't much else to say other than that because the characters are generally one dimensional. They allude to having some depth, but certain information that arises to flesh them out is immediately dropped and forgotten.
April Fools Day is also light on gore, for obvious reasons, and they don't even have the decency to show a breast or two. I suppose that last sentence may sound silly to some, but what I am trying to get at is that this movie is missing the essentials of the genre.
To the film's credit, some of the ideas present are not all that bad. Some plot elements could have actually worked in a different movie; one NOT titled "April Fools Day" perhaps.
Posted on 7/22/10 11:14 AM
This movie sucked and it pissed me off. I will detail the reasons for this below, but be warned, there will be spoilers.
What bothers me most about many modern day movies is also something that has become sort of a cliche. I'm referring to the general tone of the overall production of many of these films. Mostly, the fact that the director and/or writers feel the need to punctuate each and every scene with some sort of one-liner or cheap gag. This occurs most often during movies that get released during the summer months, but it isn't isolated to that period of the year exclusively. For the record, I am not against humor, but when the jokes stem from a poor attempt to invoke laughter from an audience rather than from good, well written scenes, then I have a problem. Also, I'm well aware that action movies from the 80s and 90s had their share of this sort of thing, but they were usually found in Schwarzenegger or Seagal movies.
Dracula 2000 doesn't seem to know which direction it wants to go. It tries to be moody and edgy, but can't refrain from dropping a dopey line of dialogue from time to time in an attempt to get a laugh from its audience. For example, the character Simon needs to stake a vampire Omar Epps, but he decides to wait until Omar wakes up before he acts (one of the many stupid choices made during the movie). Simon quickly pulls out a cross and Omar tells him that the cross doesn't affect him because he's an atheist.
A movie this bad will undoubtedly have plot holes and none bigger than the film's climax. At this point, it's revealed that Dracula is actually Judas Iscariot, which explains why he hates all things related to Christianity. For betraying Jesus, heaven will not accept him and he's forced to walk the realm of mortals for the rest of time.
Maybe I am ignorant or perhaps I missed some vital piece of information during the movie, but how in world did Judas become Dracula? This big reveal makes no damn sense at all.
Filled with characters making poor decisions, bad jokes, plot holes, and featuring a nonsensical plot twist, Dracula 2000 most definitely sucks.
Posted on 7/22/10 11:13 AM
It's no secret that movies based on video games suck and Silent Hill is no exception. By completely ignoring the aspects that made the games so gripping (at least the first two), the movie does just about everything it can to ensure that both fans of cinema and fans of the Silent Hill franchise will walk away with a sour taste in their mouth. In order to adequately detail my disgust for this movie, I will first have to explain why so many enjoy the games in the first place.
First and foremost, I have always preferred the method of horror used in this series over that of the usual horror themed game. While most games are content with cheap scares, such as having a monster jump out at you from off the screen, Silent Hill likes to get under your skin. For example, you will be walking along a darkened corridor and then hear a high pitched squeak. As you approach the source of the squeak, a soft rumbling sound will start to slowly increase in tempo until suddenly... everything goes quiet and you can see a wheelchair lying on its side with it's wheel spinning. Don't get me wrong, Silent Hill has its share of jump scares as well, but because the games already have you on edge, they tend to be far more effective.
Then there is the town of Silent Hill itself, which for the most part acts as the main antagonist for the series. All of the hellish abominations that are encountered within it's confines are actually physical manifestations of each individual character's personal demons.
By creating a separate hell for each individual character, filled with visions of torment and pain that's unique to that specific person adds a great sense of isolation that is compounded by the fact that Silent Hill also serves as a prison of sorts, refusing to allow anyone to leave.
The narrative is also a strong point in the series. The games never outright explain what's going on, but trusts that the player is capable of piecing everything together themselves.
All of this is completely thrown out of the window for the movie however. It all starts when Rose and Christopher wake up to discover that their daughter's sleepwalking has endangered her life one too many times and it is time to act. So, they take her to a Doctor or a psychiatrist right? WRONG! They take her to Silent Hill because that makes all sorts of sense. Because this movie seems to outline its plot after the original game rather than the brilliant one from the sequel, Rose's daughter gets lost immediately after arriving and she spends the rest of the film searching for her.
The plot's progression is very straight forward with Rose running from location to location, finding clues and encountering digitized creatures that look worse than the cutscenes from the first game (released in February 1999). What really caused me to grind my teeth though was that, as I mentioned earlier, the movie ignores all the best aspects of the games. First off, the town is populated, which eliminates the sense of isolation. Next, the amount of exposition that's used to explain every detail of the plot is downright insulting. No, Silent Hill is not the first movie to holds its audience's hand in this regard, but considering the source material, I find it entirely inexcusable. The biggest crime though is that the movie is simply not scary in the slightest. There is never a moment that you will feel uneasy or dread that something horrible is about to happen. Rose walks around, sees some shoddily digitized monsters shambling towards her and then she moves on. Even the fan favorite Pyramid Head is handled poorly as he's a mere generic "fiend" rather than the executioner he's supposed to be.
It seems to me that the screen writer and director did a quick wikipedia search to gain some basic knowledge of the series and then winged it because it's obvious that no one involved with this project had any idea how to properly convey the aspects that made the games so good. Not helping matters is the stilted dialogue and Radha Mitchell's uninspired performance as Rose, which sucks because she is the main protagonist and gets most of the screen time.
If you really want to see a Silent Hill movie that doesn't suck then rent Jacob's Ladder.
Posted on 3/19/10 09:24 PM
What a cruel movie.
(There will be spoilers within)
Jack and Kate are in love, but when Jack heads off on a business venture, he leaves his past life behind him. Many years have passed and Jack is now a wealthy business man and is loving his bachelor lifestyle. Soon, he meets Don Cheadle who tells him that he gave up a fine family life many years back. Then, without warning he sends Jack spiraling into another dimension, one where he stayed with, and eventually married Kate.
There is one major problem with this set up though, which is that everyone has memories of Jack, but he has no memories of anything in this parallel life. Oh, this of course leads to some silly instances where someone discusses something and Jack looks on with a blank expression (par for the course with Mr. Cage), but it also leads to some rather mean ones as well. The point in the movie where I deemed it cruel though was when Jack and Kate's anniversary is understandably forgotten by Jack and it lands him in the doghouse.
So, Don Cheadle's character sends Jack into a life that he didn't want, and one that he resents for a good portion of the film. Not only that, but he sends him completely unprepared and leaves him flailing his arms and asking for a life-line.
You see, as I previously mentioned, Jack very much enjoyed being a rich and successful business man. Driving a nice car, sleeping with hot, slutty women, Jack was in seventh heaven and it's taken from him.
What angers me the most about this movie though is that just when Jack starts to warm up to his new family, Don Cheadle appears again and tells him that it's time to go back to his single life. BOOM! Just like that Jack is depressed again.
Is "The Family Man telling us that without a wife and kids that a man is nothing? That one needs his or her own family to be complete? Not everyone strives for that life; Jack certainly didn't.
A shame really because spoiled are solid performances by both Nicholas Cage and Tea Leoni. They really have great chemistry on screen and it's a pity that it's wasted on such an insipid script.
I did like them together enough to refrain from labeling this movie as a complete turd, but it is damn close.
Posted on 3/01/10 10:56 AM
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is a highflying martial arts fantasy epic, but it's also a touching love story as well.
Li Mu-bai, a wudang swordsman, intends to give up his warrior lifestyle. He asks his close friend Yu Shu-lien to give his sword, the Green Destiny, to Sir Te, a friend of Li Mu-bai's deceased master.
Both Li Mu-bai and Yu Shu-lien have deep feelings for one another, but repress them. Yu Shu-lien was married to Li Mu-bai's brother, who was killed in battle and they feel that it would dishonor his memory if they acted on their urges.
Upon delivering the sword, Yu meets Jen. Jen is an aristocrat's daughter who is arranged to be married, but wishes to experience the life of a warrior. The Green Destiny is then stolen and the person responsible for the death of Li Mu-bai's master shows up and... You know what? I really don't want this review to turn into nothing more than a synopsis of the film's plot. Though I am tempted to discuss this film in greater detail, it would take me more time to do so than I would care to type.
So why do I love this movie? Simple. It has deep, complex characters and it takes the time to let them grow on us. There is an engaging plot filled with plenty of compelling developments. There's the stunning cinematography and even plenty of humor. The fight choreography is of course first rate and highly entertaining as well. This movie just has a certain level of grace and elegance that you rarely see from movies of this type or movies in general to be honest. As a testament to how well executed this film is, some of my favorite scenes are simply when two characters sit down together for tea and talk.
In the end, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is not to be missed. It's highly entertaining, visually stunning and emotionally gripping.
Posted on 2/28/10 02:24 PM
An American icon, Randy "The Ram" Robinson saw much success as a professional wrestler during the 80s.
Many years have passed and Randy is now much older. He still has love for his profession, but he is forced to wrestle at small venues, in front of meager crowds and for chump change. Randy is forced to work at a super market during his spare time in order to make ends meet, but still has trouble paying his rent.
After a show, a promoter offers to set up a rematch with "The Ayatollah", Randy's arch nemesis from his glory days. It goes without saying that he takes this opportunity to hopefully resurrect his career. His body however, fails him after a very brutal show and he is forced into retirement.
The Wrestler is a special kind of film. One that is as entertaining as it is moving. Mickey Rourke got a lot of praise for his role and it goes without saying that he deserved every bit of it. Equally impressive as his acting was his wrestling performace as well. Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe he did all the stunts and moves himself. A fact made all the more impressive considering the camera is focused directly on him during his matches, without any quick cuts or edits to give the illusion that he is actually wrestling.
Marissa Tomei deserves all the accolades for her performance as well. Her character is kind of in the same boat as Randy Robinson in that she is getting up there in age and in her profession, a stripper, she is finding it harder to entice men to let her "entertain" them. It also doesn't help that she has conflicted feelings about the career she is in when she thinks about her young son at home.
Evan Rachel Wood also does great work in a limited role as Randy's estranged daughter. I was truly hopeful that she would open up to him and that Randy would reconnect with her.
This is simply a rich, touching, uplifting character driven drama featuring grade A acting and direction and is one of the very best movies from 2008.
SPOILERS: I also loved the ending of this film though I have heard a bit of critisism from casual movie-goers.
As Randy stands on the top rope of his eventual re-match with "The Ayatollah", he looks out at the crowd. Tears fill his eyes as he sees and hears the cheers of the adoring fans; Randy "The Ram" Robinson was home.
Posted on 2/28/10 11:32 AM
Dr. Strangelove is a satirical dark comedy set during the cold war.
An Air Force General by the name of Jack D. Ripper, loses his mind and orders a nuclear strike against the soviet union. He does so under the false guise of a Soviet attack on America and takes preventive measures to assure that this plan could not be aborted. Ripper's executive officer (played by Peter Sellers) quickly figures out that there was no attack and attempts to find a way to avert the bombing by getting the code to abort the mission to the president of the United States.
From what I have heard, Kubrick took on this project due to his facination with the concept of "Mutual Assured Destruction". A doomsday device that was used as a fail-safe in case Russia was under nuclear attack. The humor there is that this fail-safe would mean the end of human civilization for the most part.
Surprisingly, the title character (Also played by Peter Sellers) is only in the movie for a scant few scenes. A former Nazi and now the president's scientific advisor, Dr. Strangelove is one of the quirkiest characters in cinema hisory and makes the most of his modest screen time. His sporadic Nazi salutes and his inabilty to control his right hand made for some humorous moments.
While I wouldn't refer to this movie as laugh out loud funny, it does have a bunch of great lines and I found myself smiling in admiration more times than I can count. I think the funniest moment in the film comes when Peter Sellers' character attempts to call the president from a payphone to give him the code to abort the bombing. He doesn't have enough change to make the call so he makes it a collect call, which the president in turn rejects.
Other tidbits that I found interesting enough to note:
- Peter Sellers played three roles in this movie and apparently ad libbed a lot of the dialog and mannerisms of his characters.
- General Buck Turgidson tripping was not in the script, but looked so natural that Kubrick left it in.
- Yes, that was James Earl Jones at the tender age of 32.
- There was only one female character in the entire movie.
- The opening title sequence was strangely erotic.
As I sit here and type all of this I feel as if I am doing great injustice to depicting this movie's overall quality.
While certainly not my favorite movie, I always give credit where credit is due.
Posted on 2/05/10 07:58 AM
You have seen this movie before even if you haven't. There are easily a few dozen films that follow the same formula and it has been done better.
Wesley Snipes is a member of a United Nations covert operation. This group has been assigned to watch over a major conference where the ambassador of China will sign a treaty opening up trade with the United States. The ambassador is then assassinated and Wesley Snipes takes the fall for it.
Who could be behind this set up? Could it be David Chan? He currently holds a monopoly on all trade within China and stands to lose millions. Perhaps it's the Triads as they seem to have a vested interest as well. If you don't know who it is by the 20 minute mark then you haven't seen many movies.
I am going to spoil it now because frankly, it's clear as day.
What I don't understand is why these top secret organizations always decide set up their best operative to take the fall. Why would you choose your top man when you have plenty of expendable lackys to pin the fall on?
It's clear that Wesley Snipes is the best at what he does and when he comes looking for revenge, they all look on in bewilderment.
The Art of War is a forgettable, derivative piece of cinema and while it isn't "terrible" by any means, it's just so predictable.
Posted on 1/29/10 09:40 PM
A fun movie that does a great job at capturing the spirit of the holiday while balancing horror and humor very well.
Trick'R Treat is a "Creepshow" like anthology of interconnected tales that center around one particular Halloween night.
A brief description of the stories are as follows:
1) A creepy principal teaches a pumpkin smashing fat kid a lesson he won't soon forget... OR WILL HE! This story has a great payoff.
2) A group of kids play a mean trick on a shy, somewhat mentally challenged girl. The atmosphere here builds thickly and while the payoff is somewhat predictable, I enjoyed this story a lot.
3) Anna Paquin and her hot friends head to the country to pick up some not-so-hot guys. Anna dresses in a Little Red Riding Hood costume, which is kind of funny actually.
4) The Halloween version of Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by Sam, a recurring character in all of the stories. Sam isn't there to warn him of his potential future though.
5) I guess that one could argue that this isn't an actual story. A couple returns home from a Halloween festival. The wife isn't really feeling the holiday spirit so the husband goes inside to watch porn... wait, what?
Okay, so while it does occasionally delve a bit into schlock, it's filled with enough energy and surprises to win all but the most jaded over.
Highly recommended to fans of horror.
Posted on 1/27/10 11:32 AM
Orphan is kind of like The Good Son, only without the whole sucking aspect.
John and Kate are still reeling from losing their third child at birth when they decide to adopt Esther. Seemingly loving, smart and a talented artist, Esther wins their hearts almost instantly. Despite having some peculiarities, she fits right in and all seems to be going well. Behind the exterior of this cute 9 year old girl however, is a being of pure evil.
I don't say this because she lashes out violently at others... though she does, but because she is a manipulative creature that preys on the weaknesses of others.
By taking sensitive topics and painful memories from her new family's past, Esther twists and perverts them. She learns which buttons to press and how to play each person against one another. You may actually feel contempt for this little girl as she makes you shift uncomfortably in your seat. Either way, if this was what the creators of this film were going for then they succeeded.
There is a big twist late in the final act that may ruin the movie for some people. I won't mention what it is, but trust me when I say that you will not see it coming, at least not completely.
The twist seems to come out of left field, but if you think back to events that occurred during the movie, you will see that it is actually pretty well foreshadowed.
Personally, I didn't really care for the final act of the movie, but I give credit where it is due; it's well executed.