I have never seen so many white people in Japan. Seriously, every main character that isn't a villain or a villain's accomplice is an occidental in this thing--and it only gets more ridiculous from there.
The evil scientist has literally no solid motivation behind his experiments, the main character is essentially just an overblown caricature of all the stereotypes associated with men of the '50s, all backstory is told in huge lumps of exposition...there's very little that "The Manster" does right, and that is precisely what makes it so gloriously fun. In fact, the only reason I can think of that this hadn't been featured on MST3K is that it drags in a few places--most notably toward the end. When there's a homicidal mutant with goofy prosthetics being chased around by the cops, I shouldn't be sitting here, listening to poorly-executed melodrama!
Despite the occasional stumbling block though, this is one hell of a good film to make fun of. And that's the only reason I've rated it so highly. But if you're looking for something that can stand on its own merits, then what are you doing, looking at a movie called "The Manster" in the first place?
With better acting, and a more serious final 30 minutes, this could have been a classic. As it stands though, it's still an eminently enjoyable indie horror flick.
There are some high points in the acting, where you can find yourself feeling for the characters, and in parts the effects and atmosphere can be genuinely creepy. The problem is, these moments are inconsistent, and cause this film to lose some points in my book. It's still fun to watch, and if you're a fan of horror, or b-movies, I highly recommend seeking out this unknown gem.
While I hadn't expected this to be a tooth fairy story (that's hardly a spoiler; the opening scene establishes essentially what the creatures are), I was pleasantly surprised. Guillermo del Toro spins a modern-day faerie tale, in the tradition of the Brothers Grimm; that is to say dark and foreboding. While there were a couple parts that seemed a bit over the top (ex: one of the creatures saying "We want YOU! Arblarblearble!" ), the story and its antagonists seemed fairly well realized. Del Toro goes against a rule of thumb in horror films, by showing us a lot of the creatures inhabiting the house, but it works here, thanks to some of the most convincing CGI I've ever seen. I've never been a fan of CG effects, because they tend to feel floaty, and not really a part of the rest of the scene, but the creatures here are top notch--to the extent that you can see light filtering through the thinner parts of their skin. All in all, "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" is a good horror flick--not perfect, but definitely entertaining.
I hadn't realized this was a Full Moon production, when I first saw it in the video store, but that said, it wasn't nearly as bad as I've come to expect movies from this studio to be. Granted, that doesn't mean it was good, by any means. Plot elements are introduced, and then end up going nowhere, the acting leaves much to be desired, and the admittedly short running time still somehow manages to be as padded as a high school cheerleader's bra. There's not much that's redeeming about "The Dead Want Women" (unless you count the copious amounts of T&A), but at least it's not full of lame jokes, or awful puppets, like I've come to expect from a Full Moon film. In the end, the best I can say about this movie is that I didn't outright hate it.
The first of these movies was bad, but still managed to be entertaining in a horrible sort of way. This one seems to have done away with the pretense of having anything to do with the "Dungeon Siege" games (though "Two Worlds" is another game series...one I doubt has anything to do with Dolph Lundgren traveling back in time), which seems to be a bad thing, believe it or not. While the original was about as loosely related to the game as you can get, at least it had a framework to draw upon; doing away with that, the sequel feels more like Uwe Boll's take on "Army of Darkness" than anything else. Without all the funny bits.
"In the Name of the King: Two Worlds" is a slow, muddled fantasy flick. Half the actors look bored to be there, leaving little reason for the audience to feel otherwise. Even as Uwe Boll movies go, this one is pretty bad. The story is a mess, the castle looks like (and probably is) made of styrofoam, and the line delivery ranges from lifeless to incomprehensible. I really can't see myself recommending this to anyone.
I have to say, "Dream Home" has some of the most creative, yet (mostly) realistic death scenes I've seen in awhile. Definitely not for the squeamish, this is a film exploring obsession, societal pressure, and discontent in about the darkest manner possible. That said, it does require some suspension of disbelief, but that's a small price to pay for this gritty, ultra-violent look into one woman's twisted psyche. My main complaint is that the buyer's remorse development at the end could have been explored a bit further, but that's a blemish I can put up with in what's otherwise a bloody good time.
Horror films that are "based on a true story" tend to annoy me. Far too often, the only "true" basis is something like a headline stating that people were found murdered, while everything else is entirely made up. Take "Wolf Creek" for example, where there was only one survivor, and he was unconscious until the very end of the film--meaning that almost EVERYTHING prior to him waking up was completely fabricated. "Silent House" is similar, except worse in several ways. Some spoilers follow, so if you actually want to see this disappointing feature, stop reading now.
Now, the first thing that makes this worse than "Wolf Creek," is that not only was there (presumably) only one survivor, but that survivor was never found. So pretty much the entirety of the events surrounding the murders is just made up. Hell, it's not even clear if the killer was even in the house in real life, when these murders happened.
This sense of confusion extends to the rest of the story, as well as the characters themselves. From a story standpoint, I gather that the father and daughter were asked to come out and fix up the house. So what's the first thing they do when they get there? Go to sleep. In the middle of the day. Because that makes any sense at all. As for the characters themselves, even calling them two-dimensional seems a bit of a stretch. The father is essentially a piece of scenery, as is the daughter until the end, when the relationship between her and the guy who owns the house is revealed, in a twist that has absolutely zero buildup leading up to it at all. In fact, it's so out of the blue that it feels entirely unbelievable.
I'm only being generous and awarding "Silent House" two stars, because of the cinematography. It's somewhat debatable as to whether this film was really captured in one continuous shot (because, as another reviewer said, there are some scenes that become pitch black), but I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, because the sound never seems to skip. And regardless of how dull the plot is, and how empty the characters are, that's an accomplishment that deserves some respect. It's just a shame that it couldn't have been attached to a better movie.
Curious how a vampire romance might actually turn out, if the story featured characters that felt like real people, and vampires that didn't sparkle? "Thirst" pulls it off in a believable and engaging fashion, touching upon questions of faith, temptation, fidelity, deception, and redemption in the process. While it is a bit on the long side, this film is still worth seeing, just to know there are still good vampire movies being made somewhere in the world.
Not since "Robot vs. the Aztec Mummy" have I seen a more misleading title. To put it bluntly (and spoilers be damned), the three never fight. Instead, the simpleton sister of the mad scientist accidentally pulls the curtain off one of the windows, showering Dracula in sunlight, and killing him. Bonnie & Clyde only mop up Dracula's lesser vampire spawn. This movie is a gigantic letdown, which is a shame, because it started out being halfway competent, faking the audience out in the opening sequence.
...then the mad scientist and his sister enter the picture, and things start to go south. The bulk of the film is a dull, plodding mess where nothing much happens, before an attempt to rob a bunch of bootleggers goes awry, providing the necessary plot contrivance for the two otherwise disconnected storylines to finally converge. While there are a handful of moments that are actually entertaining, they aren't worth sitting through the rest of the movie.
Half of me is surprised this movie wasn't produced by Troma. The other half is surprised it wasn't produced by Quentin Tarantino. But man am I glad someone did produce it, because they generally don't make them like this anymore.
Basically, you probably already know if this is your kind of movie or not, based on the title. But in case you've never run into a film like this, I'll spell it out: "Hobo With a Shotgun" is (nearly) an hour and a half of vulgar, gory, grindhouse fun. There's nothing deep or complex here (unless you really stretch things), but there doesn't need to be. All this film tries to be is a simple story about a homeless man who gets fed up with the dark underbelly of society and decides to clean up the streets he calls home, forcibly and with extreme prejudice. Everything here is so far over the top, you'd need binoculars to truly appreciate the heights to which it goes. From the villains, the gore (some of which is rather squirm-worthy), the violence, to the overall scenario, it's hard to take much of this seriously. But that's okay, because the point here is to revel in the excess which, in all honesty, is quite creatively done at times (never thought I'd see a noose gun, that's for sure).
I'm not really sure what else to say. Hell, I started out this review by mentioning Troma, so that alone should give you an idea of what kind of film "Hobo With a Shotgun" is. Base your interest accordingly.
I picked up this movie, not realizing it was a sequel (the 2 on the cover looks more like a stylized flourish than a number), so keep that in mind for this review. That said, even though the references to the previous movie were lost on me, I still found "Ip Man 2" immensely enjoyable.
What we have here is essentially the Chinese "Rocky." The fights are intense, and a joy to watch, and Ip Man comes across as a very likable character, who you really end up cheering for, during his struggles. The story is relatively straightforward, but it gets the job done, and paves the way for some excellently choreographed battles. My one main complaint is that the British nationals seem a little -too- absurdly evil. Yet, in a way, even that sorta works, making the last couple confrontations all the more engaging.
In short, if you like kung fu flicks, the sheer number of different styles on display here will definitely keep you entertained. If you like action flicks, you'll find no shortage of energetic fights. And if you miss the old days of films like "Rocky" or "The Karate Kid," where it was about one guy out to defend his pride against staggering odds, then "Ip Man 2" was made for you. I can't recommend it highly enough--and that's coming from someone who accidentally saw it before the original movie.
I had two major problems with "Born to Fight" that kept me from rating it higher: its overall sloppiness, and the lack of any meaningful characterization. The latter is the more fundamental of the problems, since we get some scenes featuring entertaining actors (the one-legged guy on crutches was certainly a surprise), but they're just that: actors. Nobody in this film comes across as a convincing character, which makes it hard to get too involved in what's going on. We never get to know much more than the very basics about most of these people, and some (see the aforementioned one-legged man), exist as little more than their visual descriptions.
As for the sloppiness, that comes in two varieties. First is some rather inexcusably sloppy editing, from the bomb that adds around 30 seconds to its timer between shots, to fight scenes where one guy will have his hand on the other, and in the next shot (with no transition), they'll suddenly be five feet apart. The other is just overall plot sloppiness. It's good to know you can apparently change the course of a missile--AFTER it's been launched--by slamming someone's face on the keyboard of a random laptop. And armed militia apparently don't care when the people they send to investigate a noise never come back.
But these complaints are offset somewhat by the stylish and often inventive fight scenes--especially since the actors did all their own stunts. Granted, some of these scenes are far too silly for their own good (you can knock an armed gunman out of a tower some 50 yards away, by kicking a soccer ball at him? Really?), but most of them are entertaining to watch.
Overall, this is an average, serviceable action flick, nothing more. Minus one star for the problems listed above, plus one as kudos to actors willing to risk their physical well-being for their craft.
Definitely an exercise in style over substance, "Holy Mountain" is still a film I somehow enjoyed watching, despite not having much idea what was going on at times. Not helping matters however, is the fact that the (semi-) cohesive storyline doesn't start until the second half, beginning with an ultimately tedious and drawn-out introduction of the other 8 supporting characters.
Still, despite its flaws, I've never seen anything quite like "Holy Mountain." There's some truly unique visual design here, which makes this two hour trip feel engaging for most of its length. I've certainly seen worse surrealist films in my time.
There's certainly enough history around the origins and vilification of the word fuck to make for an interesting documentary. Unfortunately, this isn't it. A good 3/4 of this thing, if not more, is composed of sound bites of talking heads that don't really offer much insight at all. Instead it's just a series of "These people like the word fuck. These people don't like the word fuck. Here they are again." While some of the clips are fairly amusing, they don't exactly make for a good documentary--which this film ostensibly is.
The parts that have some actual information to them can be pretty interesting, but they're all over far too soon. Some of the segments don't seem to serve any purpose at all, and it wouldn't be unfair to say that this film is something of an unorganized mess at times.
If you have an interest in the etymology of the word fuck, or perhaps the ridiculous legislation that's sprung up regarding it, I'm sure there are books that do the subject justice. There may even be movies that do a better job of it than this one does, for all I know. But there's really no reason to waste your time watching this.
I've come to the realization that I hate Italian horror. It tends to be slow, poorly explained, and riddled with plot holes that Evel Knievel would have been hard-pressed to jump his motorcycle over. This film does nothing to change my overall opinion of the genre. Examples of my frustration (with some spoilers) follow.
Okay, I get that the little girl was a ghost, but I thought the woman posing as the babysitter was one too--except, how did she get murdered later on, then? For that matter, why did no one bat an eyelash at this woman just randomly showing up in the house? Or the two-foot wide blood trail she was cleaning up at one point? How did the father figure out that Dr. Freudstein needed human victims to "replenish his cells" and keep himself alive?
Suffice it to say that plot points are regularly introduced and summarily abandoned. But that's just one of this movie's problems. Further bogging it down are the pacing, the fact that half the dialogue consists of people just calling out other people's names, and the overall dubbing in general. It's a terrible movie, and I can't for the life of me understand why people give it--or films like it--so much credit. I only rated it as highly as I did because it was pretty riff-able; the bat scene in particular probably garnered this thing an extra half-star.
This was a decent concept, that ended up being marred by several flaws that could feasibly have been fixed. From the fact that there is virtually no security or patient confidentiality in the asylum, to the utter incompetence of many of the characters, I found my suspension of disbelief faltering more than once. Not helping matters are the less than likable protagonists, and a rather predictable (yet still poorly explained) major twist. The alternate ending does assuage some of my gripes, which would be spoiler-ish to get into now, however.
Despite all this, "Medium Raw" isn't a terrible movie, and there are some enjoyable performances by the actors playing a couple of the inmates. Still, it is fundamentally flawed, so know that if you're determined to watch it.
I love revenge movies, but they only work when the audience has reason to care about the characters. Sadly, that's where "I Saw the Devil" drops the ball spectacularly; these are some of the flattest characters I've ever seen in a film of this type. For example: The killer is...er, a serial killer who targets women. Oh, and he drives a shuttle van for a high school, and for some reason, he knows a cannibal. As for the cannibal, he's...well, a cannibal, who has somehow managed to find a woman to marry him. I'm not exaggerating here; what I've listed above is virtually EVERYTHING we learn about these characters in nearly two and a half hours.
The same goes for the protagonist. He's a cop who was never there for his wife, and now she's been murdered by the killer and he wants revenge. That's it. You couldn't make flatter characters if you ran over the script with a steamroller. But it actually gets worse, because this film features the absolute worst "protagonist" ever. Minor spoilers follow.
So, the "hero" of the film--a COP, mind you--finds the killer at maybe the halfway point, beats the crap out of him, and...sets him free with an envelope full of money, so he can hunt him all over again. As a policeman, he's charged with protecting the peace, and to just watch him set free a -serial killer,- putting untold numbers of people in jeopardy, just to draw out his revenge...it's very, very hard to root for a character with such wanton disregard for the well-being of others.
There are far better revenge flicks out there. Don't waste your time on this one.
It's sad that we've gotten to the point where a vampire movie deserves credit, simply for having actual vampires in it. And while I'm happy to say that this updated version of "Fright Night" does portray vampires as the creepy, bloodthirsty killing machines they were always meant to be, it does have other things going for it too.
I admit to being hesitant to go see this one at first. The original movie from the '80s was a campy, somewhat silly good time, and the tonal shift towards a serious horror flick had me a bit worried. The result is certainly a different sort of movie from its source material, as well as a pretty damn good film in its own right. Suspenseful scenes are actually suspenseful (rather than the predictable sequences that a lot of recent horror flicks have offered), the action is engaging, and the vampires, as I said, are actually formidable foes. If you're looking for a good horror movie, and don't want to wait until the upcoming ones closer to Halloween, you could do a lot worse than "Fright Night."
They do still make them like they used to. "13 Assassins" is one of the best samurai dramas I've seen in a long time. The first half of the movie does an admirable job of introducing us to the sizable cast of characters, including one of the most unabashedly evil (yet believable) villains that I've seen in awhile. So, the first half of the movie is setup. The second half is, I kid you not, almost entirely taken up by the main battle! Despite the fact that we're approaching Michael Bay proportions here, the final fight in "13 Assassins" is one of the most intense, imaginative, and just plain fun to watch action scenes this side of the Crazy 88 fight in "Kill Bill Vol. 1."
If you like samurai films, you'll be happy to see that the genre is still alive and well. If you like action films, and can handle a somewhat slow first half, you'll love the nearly hour-long battle at the end. My one and only real complaint about this has to do with a character that survives at the end. Sure, he was a neat character, and loads of fun to watch, but I find it hard to believe he just shrugged off a wound like the one we see him receive earlier. Apart from that minor stumbling block though, I really can't recommend "13 Assassins" highly enough.
Well, this movie adaptation of the 13-minute Mickey Mouse short wasn't as terrible as I would have thought; it's just unremarkable. Yeah, there are some pretty special effects, but if that's all it takes to entertain you, you might as well pay someone $10 to jingle their keys in front of your face for nearly two hours. The story is serviceable, but ultimately hampered by a rather unlikable hero. Dave (the titular apprentice) is a socially awkward klutz whose attempts to woo his childhood sweetheart come off much more stalker-ish than charming. And even if his character possessed any endearing qualities, he still suffers from something I call Chasing Amy Disease. Put simply, that's when a prominent character in a film has a voice that makes you want to either strangle them, or stick an ice pick in your ears. Here, Dave, despite being 20 years old, often sounds as if he inexplicably hasn't hit puberty yet. And something about that just irritated me to no end.
Bottom line, while "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" is no "Harry Potter," it's not a -bad- movie either. Sure, that trademark of Disney live-action films of forced, lackluster attempts at humor crops up from time to time, but TSA is much more watchable than some of its ilk. You could do a lot worse for a family-friendly action flick, but you could do a lot better too.