Thursday, September 30, 2010

Review: The Fourth Kind (2009)

Director: Olatunde Osunsami
Starring: Milla Jovovich, Charlotte Milchard

I have too much faith in mankind. I didn’t actually think they were capable of creating a film this awe-inspiringly bad with this much work put into it, but they did. I guess all my confidence in humanity’s restraint and ability to not suck was in vain. Or vein. Feel like slashing any of them open yet? Well, if not, you probably will after seeing this horseshit. This is…The Fourth Kind.

The movie opens in a very unconventional fashion with Milla Jovovich standing in front of a cheap looking dark background talking about how she’s playing a character in this movie that is based on true events, and that what we are about to see contains shocking footage. Uh, I’m sorry, but wouldn’t this have been better if you just put it on the back of the DVD box or something? It’s not usually the best idea to start a movie with one of the actors telling us what to expect before the story begins. Oh, wait, it’s based on true events. For real. Like, so real that it could happen to you.

So then we get our first couple of scenes, showing a “real footage” tape of a doctor named Abigail Tyler, who is played by Milla Jovovich in the cinematic interpretation but is also a real person on this real tape…yeah, it’s confusing. We see her getting some therapy for the traumatizing events in her life lately: apparently her husband was murdered one night and it somehow gave her daughter such a shock that she went blind. Hey, cheer up, lady. At least you get your real name put under you as you get introduced in each scene. I’m sure we’d forget who Milla Jovovich was pretty fast if they didn’t do that!

And then after that we switch through some alternating scenes of real footage and the actual movie, which are so jumbled up that it’s near impossible to make any sense of whatsoever. I guess the plot is something along the lines of, Tyler’s patients are suffering from nightly terrors of the same thing all the time, and they can never remember exactly what it is until they’re put into hypnosis. That’s all fine and well, but how am I supposed to care about this? It’s hard to give a shit when you never stay on the same scene for more than five seconds!

The directing…oh, God, this is stupid. The film seems to think it’s clever to show scenes randomly in split screens of two or even four. What, is this a scrapbook now? Mommy’s First Alien Abduction or something? That’s ridiculous; can’t you hacks just tell a story the regular way? I don’t really need to have all this pointless showmanship to watch a movie about fucking aliens, for Pete’s sake! And what the hell is the logic in showing both the ‘movie’ and the ‘real footage’ side by side half the time? I only signed up to watch ONE MOVIE you know, not two of them at the same time!

The film drags on…no, I’m serious, you guys, I can barely even keep track of what’s going on. These characters are introduced for like a millisecond before each scene is run through a filter of annoying static and shaky cameras making it hard to even know what the fuck is going on. The movie shoots for realistic and mostly comes off as half-assed. The acting is just banal too, without a trace of any kind of pathos at all. Yeah, for a story trying to be real and spooky, Milla Jovovich sure comes off like she just doesn’t give a crap. And watch the scene where the guy is about to shoot his wife and kid in the house with all the police surrounding it. He just sounds so bored. “No, really, I’m paranoid and in agony. I’m about to shoot my kids.” Insert yawn here. “Really.”

This actor just watched The Fourth Kind.

But at least the real footage of the whole thing is intact and actually much more entertaining and creepy than the movie itself. God, it’s like I’m right there! This realistic footage is so gritty and so real that it’s sending chills down my spine.

So let’s see if I can sum up the rest of this story, jumbled as it is. Basically Jovovich talks to this other random guy while the movie thinks it’s clever to split the screen and show the exact same thing in crappy home movie format, and then he somehow ends up with a broken spine, paralyzed from the neck down, which the cops think is Jovovich’s fault for some reason and put her under house arrest. Unfortunately they do this right before aliens abduct her daughter. This is seen through the shaky home-cam vision as a cop watches from outside – although the tape gets messed up and nobody can see what happened.

Gah! This realistic footage is just blowing me away! It’s just so tense and scary! Wait. What’s that?


This real footage isn’t actually real? What do you mean it’s not real? It’s right there! They said in the beginning of the movie that it was, so it must be true, right? What about the real Abbey Tyler, huh? What do you have to say about THAT?

…Oh. Well…I see then. Ahem. I must now modify my very obviously not sarcastic position in this review to better reflect what the truth really is.

Let me just get this straight. So…this movie actually went the extra mile from telling us that some hokey documentary is a real story and actually filmed their own fake footage to look like a home-camera documentary and claimed that was real, all while over-lapping those with the other scenes with Milla Jovovich? They actually made two separate movies, both fake, and then told us one of them was real? Well, give them some credit for trying, I guess. It’s stupid as hell, but you can’t claim they weren’t trying. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this much creativity put into making a movie suck this hard – that’s some commendable effort to worthlessness right there, even I have to admit.

But even then, it doesn’t save the rest of the movie. They actually bring in some stuff about ancient Sumerian languages after they catch some ‘alien’ mutterings on a tape of Abbey Tyler’s? Excuse me while I laugh; this is so hokey and coughed up that I could smell it from a mile away. It’s cute that they’re taking it so seriously though. And monumentally silly, too – the acting is just so cardboard that you can practically see their cue cards hovering behind the camera.

Then after some more idiotic directing that basically looks like the movie’s reels got lost on a conveyor belt at the airport, we get some ‘scary’ attempts. They go to talk to that guy who got paralyzed before and apparently the aliens use his body to try to talk to them or something – I don’t know; it looks retarded. He floats up in the air like a deficient parade float and screams a bit in some weird tongue and I guess we’re supposed to be scared.

Because watching two shitty scenes is always better than watching one!

Just like later on when Jovovich and the fake-real-Abbey Tyler character are shown in dual screens both reliving the alien experience they shared and…somehow remembered this time, unlike the previous times. They scream a lot, make agonized, over the top faces and the camera even cuts away for a few minutes to nothing but a black screen with some static fuzzing on one side while you hear some screeching that I guess is supposed to be the aliens’ voices. You get to see some subtitles of what the aliens are saying, but we’re really supposed to look at this cacophony of noise and screeching and say “Hey! That’s really intimidating!”? Yeah, I don’t think so. It’s about as scary as a garbage disposal in your kitchen sink.

Lesson learned from this: If you’re going to make a movie and try to sell it as a true story…do a better job than this. I mean this is just a mess on every level imaginable, from the woeful acting to the abysmal crap that is the aimless, meandering directing. It says a lot when the most alien thing in your science fiction horror movie is Milla Jovovich’s wooden acting. And that whole thing with the fake footage being passed off as real on the side of the actual movie they made? It’s a cinematic train wreck! It really is worth seeing just for the awe-inspiring effort put into making it so ridiculous, but even then, only see it once. That’s enough for anyone really. After that, you can just toss this crap-fest of a film into the garbage where it belongs.

Review: Devil (2010)

Director: John Eric Dowdle
Starring: Chris Messina, Logan Marshall-Green, Jenny O'Hara

Six people in an elevator, locked in due to technical difficulties. One of them is secretly the devil in disguise. You’ve heard this joke a thousand times, haven’t you? Well, me neither, but they did finally make a movie out of it for you weirdos who wanted such a thing! This is Devil.

Marketing a movie as ‘produced by M. Night Shyamalan’ should very well be a warning sign and will probably be a financial suicide in years to come after the very poorly received Last Airbender movie, but Devil manages to overcome all odds and deliver the goods. And I mean a lot of odds…when was the last time you heard a plot so stupid? The devil in an elevator? Ha! I was all ready to grill this movie a new asshole. But it really is a good flick.

For one, it just looks cool. This movie is sleek and dark as hell, with some of the best lighting I’ve seen in a horror movie in a long time. And the opening shots, turned upside down in an extremely ominous inverted cross-esque shot of the tall building the movie takes place in, are downright awesome as they zoom through the inner workings of the elevator like a slithering serpent. This was a really cool way to start a movie, and any doubts I had were already starting to diminish.

Second, well, it’s a very well written, tense thriller. The characters might not be mind-blowing, nor the acting, but neither are at all bad, and I never had any trouble believing they were who they said they were. The movie unfolds in a very no-nonsense, straightforward way with a lot of really good build up…well, okay, the part where the religious security guard takes the toast falling jelly-side down as a sign of the devil was stupid. But other than that, it’s all pretty damn good. The scenes in the beginning with the detectives looking at the window-suicide were very well done and ominous.

It really wastes no time getting into the elevator, and here’s where it really shines. I know what I was expecting when I walked in: a hokey, jokey thing where the participants in the elevator got wind of the ‘one of them is the devil’ plot and had to play some shitty guessing game to figure out who it was. But the movie surprised me and did exactly the opposite, delivering a subtle and mature set of twists and turns that never did what I thought. There were times when it got a bit weird, like during some of the ‘action’ scenes, but it never really stretched the boundaries so much that I couldn’t believe it. It just kept me hooked every second, wondering what was going to happen next.

Well, okay, the ending is pretty much crap. It’s a silly Christian message that leads to a fairly happy ending and a moral about redemption, and it just kind of sucks. It doesn’t fit the rest of the movie at all, like they just shoehorned it in at the last second because one of the producers didn’t want to scare his grandma. The revelation of who the devil was was pretty damned creepy, but it’s ruined by a lot of really silly parts – this was a horror comedy now? Try to be a little consistent, movie. It’s not a good ending.

But the movie as a whole is still worth it. Devil delivers a terse, solid thriller that kicks enough ass to excuse the rather dumb ending part. It’s a flick that asks us an important social question: what do we do when we’re stuck in an elevator with the devil? Well, just hope you didn’t do anything to fuck up anybody else’s life. That’s about all I can tell you.

Review: The Town (2010)

Director: Ben Affleck
Starring: Ben Affleck, Rebecca Hall, John Hamm, Jeremy Renner

Ben Affleck as a director is actually a pretty promising prospect, if we’re to draw any conclusions from the success of his previous film, the fantastic Gone Baby Gone. So you can bet when I saw the trailer for this new movie called The Town that I was excited. I was especially stoked to see the images of guys in nun masks robbing banks in a fashion similar to the great opening scene from The Dark Knight, or other similarly ass-kicking flicks. This looked like a pretty friggin’ awesome movie. And did it deliver?

Well, I will say I enjoyed it. It’s a lot more of a romance than is let on by the trailer, with a good quarter of it being devoted to Affleck’s budding relationship with the young bank teller woman who he and his cronies had previously kidnapped while masked. There’s a conflict with the pressure on Affleck from his thugs on doing ‘one last job,’ but even then, it’s still a pretty mellowed out film for a good chunk of its first half. After the initial heist scene, that is – which is excellently done, with a big explosion of tension and a great fast pace; wonderful way to start off a movie.

The directing here is really good. Affleck has an eye for some good shots, as is shown when we see Rebecca Hall’s character Claire standing on the beach, and he really excels at the action scenes, which are gritty, paced at the speed of light and tons of fun to watch. These will really put you on the edge of your seat – I particularly liked the first real chase scene, where the camera shakes so violently that it’s like you’re right there with the car, holding on for dear sweet life. And the shots of Boston do well to set up the atmosphere of this gritty film.

The acting is OK. Rebecca Hall does a very good job as the leading lady, as she is cute and down to Earth, without any kind of Hollywood gloss. Ben Affleck does an alright job, very workmanlike, but enough to make you believe that he is who he says he is. Jeremy Renner, fresh off The Hurt Locker, is probably my favorite here, as his character is just so much fun to watch. He plays Affleck’s old childhood friend who now assists him in every heist they do, along with two other guys, and he pretty much steals every scene he’s in with his expertly thuggish, vulture-like demeanor and cutting dialogue delivery.

“We gotta do somethin'. I can't tell you what it is, you can never ask me about it after we're done, and we're gonna hurt some people. “

“…Whose car we takin'?”

So really, the first two acts of this movie are fun, engaging and atmospheric, with the alternating drama, romance and action making a trifecta of entertainment that will keep you watching. I did think it went downhill with the slightly bloated last third of it, but not so much that I wasn’t entertained anyway. It’s schmaltzy, it’s idealized and it’s romantic, but it’s a good, simple story, and it kept me entertained. The Town was not quite the masterwork I expected it to be, and it could have been a little darker and more dramatic, but as it is, it’s worth your 8 bucks at the theater. Go see it.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Review: Aeon Flux (2005)

Director: Karyn Kusama
Starring: Charlize Theron, Martin Csokas, Jonny Lee Miller

Why are some people allowed to make movies? Can’t we have some kind of a test or a license needed to do it? Can’t we just make it so certain individuals just can’t make movies or put them out for the public to see? I know that seems…incredibly fascist and dictator-like, but really, in the interest of common decency, we should really consider it. I’m not naming any names though. No sir, I’m definitely not naming Karyn Kusama or her second film Aeon Flux.

I mean, man, this is a piece of shit. I haven’t seen a more wretched, unholy projection of vomit onto film in a long time; it might as well be called ‘Incompetence: The Motion Picture.’ I don’t even have to make many jokes about it; the jokes are made for me by the movie itself. Just look at the pictures here for proof. It’s just such an inept, horribly written movie on every level that the only way to improve it would be to go back in time and completely erase it from the historical canon, wiping it out without a trace. But unfortunately it exists, so why don’t we take a look at what makes Aeon Flux such a terrible mess:

Our movie starts off with some words over a black screen that are typed in the Arial font from Microsoft Word, like they couldn’t even be assed to get a better looking one, detailing the back story of the film. Apparently in 2011…weird year to choose…the world was overtaken by a deadly virus that kills off most of humanity until they are saved by a scientist named Goodchild, who then proceeded to completely take over the world for the next 400 years. But – wait for it – there are rebels fighting against him now. Gasp! Rebels fighting against an overbearing tyrannical government? Who would’ve guessed? That’s such a radical idea my puny brain can barely handle it. Never mind why it took 400 years for anyone to start fighting back. I guess they were just waiting for the right moment! That’s really great. No, seriously, why the hell is that rebel fighting treated like such a fucking surprise? You’re in a goddamn dystopian future, you bungholes; this kind of thing should be like an every-day occurrence to you!

We’re introduced to our main character named Aeon Flux, played by Charlize Theron, who wakes up right as a bug is caught in her eyelashes – why do I get the idea this small, disgusting annoyance is in some way symbolic of the movie? Anyway, she narrates some more about things that the opening already kind of established, saying that she is one of the rebels, who go by some name I can’t understand, so I won’t bother even putting it in this review. They’re just rebels. That’s all they need to be called. So she walks around the city as the only person wearing a black trench coat with a weird veil over her face, somehow not calling attention to herself even though she’s clearly not like everyone else. For a fascist government that has been around 400 years, they sure don’t recognize dissenters to their cause easily, do they?

Then this weird thing happens where she gets called in her mind to some kind of chamber where an old woman with red hair gives her orders…she says that she has to ‘blind’ the government so they can't track them or something, even though if they could be tracked I'm sure the government would have gotten rid of them by now, and so…I guess Flux does exactly that. It’s not even that big of a spectacle apparently, given how she seems to accomplish this in a relatively short amount of time. She just goes into this weird circular chamber with water dripping from the ceiling, kicks something in and then gets out of there. But apparently not fast enough for her sister to be killed off so quickly that we don’t even get to know anything about her.

This of course throws Aeon into despair, although you wouldn’t know it from her consistent monotone that makes it impossible to relate to her in any way. She sits around in her house…turns water from its colorless normal state to black for some reason…and then she gets sucked back into her own mind again. She’s told to cheer up by the red-headed lady again before this happens for no reason:

Seriously, what the hell is up with these visuals? They’re never explained, never make any sense and they just detract from the storytelli…oh, wait.

So now Aeon has to kill the leader of the city named Trevor. The only explanation given for why these rebels didn’t do this earlier is that they “didn’t have the information they needed.” No light is shed on what information this was, or why it took them this long to find it. We’re just supposed to believe that they’re only just NOW trying to kill this guy for the first time. Sure. Aeon meets up with her friend Sithandra, who…okay, I can’t even type it out without feeling stupid; just look:

She has hands where her feet should be. I can’t even believe you’re expecting me to take that seriously; hands where her feet should be. That’s so STUPID I can’t even handle it! Every scene she’s in, completely robbed of tension and seriousness. She says that it’s useful and that Aeon should consider having the operation too. Why the hell would you even want to have hands where your feet should be? I'm not even going to dignify this by going into the numerous impracticalities of it in every-day life; it just looks fucking ridiculous. Gah! It’s like something a drunk science fiction writer would make up while writing a satire of science fiction, not something that would be featured in any serious story. It’s totally ridiculous. "And then the girl with hands for feet picked up the gun with her foot and tossed it to her partner. Then she scratched the blister on her ankle with her other foot. Ooh!" Insert weed binge here. What’s next, a character with ears for hands? Maybe a guy with three noses? Why not, I ask you? Why the hell not? Ooh, in the realm of Aeon Flux, anything is possible! Anything at all! Oooooh! Ugh.

So…after that we get our two femme fatales doing cartwheels, jumping over shit and avoiding machines that shoot razor-sharp grass blades at them? Seriously, the grass hurts them now. I couldn’t even make this shit up if I tried. I guess doing the yard-work for this evil fortress is a real killer, huh? Aeon goes in alone, confronts Trevor, but for some reason can’t bring herself to attack. He knocks her out and locks her up in a glass prison, but that’s just a front for more special effects masturbation as she escapes:


I mean honestly. Is it that hard to make just a little bit of sense? I’ve never seen more pointless, self-indulgent and superfluous use of special effects. They’re not even trying! They’re just…throwing in whatever the hell they want, expecting us to buy it. It’s the biggest mind-rape ever, all these completely random CGI images thrown at us for no reason. They don’t even know what they’re doing. It’s like the work of a mentally retarded child trying to use a CGI animating process. It’s completely insipid.

Through a highly confusing and vague train of plot-attempts involving a drugged out sex scene and a tiny machine that makes a hole in the floor leading to a hidden library/scientific lab when you touch it the right way (…yeah), we get some more scraps of “story.” Basically what I think the film is trying to get across is that mankind has been infertile for the 400 years since the virus was cured, and that the only way they’ve been having children and reproducing is through cloning dead people and ‘reincarnating’ them into the wombs of women through some pill in their drinks or something. This is how Trevor and his brother, who is also part of the government, have been alive ever since.

…well that’s stupid. Nobody ever noticed this going on, what with how some very prominent and well known people kept being reincarnated? There was never any uncovering of any of this during that whole entire 400 year regime? That’s pushing it movie, it really is. Seriously, THIS IS AWFUL. I am actually literally embarrassed to sit here and watch this movie, even dignify it for one minute with my attention. It's such a stupid plot that I'm almost sure what happened was that they spent all their money making the eye-raping special effect wonders and then threw together a plot at the last second. Doesn't it just seem like that? The kind of...phoned-in, thrown-together mess of a plot that didn't even have a real writer so much as one of the studio janitor's high school science fiction stories written in Algebra class? It's just about as insufficient. TRY THINKING ABOUT IT MORE, YOU GIBBERING APES. I mean this is seriously the bottom of the barrel, people. The absolute in wretched fecal matter. I am in total awe.

Oh, and apparently Aeon is actually Trevor’s old lover reincarnated without full memory of it. Could the movie get any more clichéd and brainless? Well, the filmmakers asked themselves that question and they'll be damned if they didn't try! How about we have Aeon’s old rebel buddies turn on her because she didn’t kill Trevor and have that freak with hands for feet come to her personally and confront her, leading to a fight? How about a clumsy big battle scene with explosions and guns that finally leads to a cheery, happy ending where all the oppressed people look toward a brighter future? GOD, what a bad movie!

It’s especially hilarious how they actually try to shoehorn in a generic theme about how people have lost their humanity with the cloning stuff going on. Hah, that’s a laugh. Talking about humanity in a movie where the characters amount to little more than crayon drawings by a kindergartener; that is rich. These characters are so whitewashed of any kind of emotional texture that it’s practically a miracle of bad writing – try and name any distinguishing characteristic of any of these characters beyond ‘good’ or ‘bad,’ and I’ll forfeit this review and admit that I was wrong about this entire thing. Just try.

Nothing? Well, color me un-surprised. This movie is just awful. It’s one of those movies that makes you feel dirtier and dumber the longer you sit there and try to watch it. The storyline is ridiculous, the special effects are ludicrous and the movie as a whole is just one horrible pile of I-don't-want-to-know-what after another, with no reprieve until the credits start rolling. Aeon Flux sucks ass! There's nothing about this that is in any way redeeming and I'd rather eat a bag of nails than watch it again. Hey Karyn Kusama, want to make a good movie next time? Just don’t even try to tell a story. Put Charlize Theron in an even skimpier outfit and have her do cartwheels and show off her body for 90 minutes. That would at least be more entertaining than this. As it is, I would rather have that virus destroy humanity than have a future with this many plot holes! That would be good riddance.

That's more like it.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Review: X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)

Director: Gavin Hood
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Ryan Reynolds, Liev Schrieber, Danny Huston, Lynn Collins

"I didn't call him Blob. I said "bub". God damn it."
-Wolverine, at the height of the film's wit

It’s called X-Men Origins: Wolverine. It sucks. What more do you need?

The movie begins with a cautionary tale to parents: if you’re going to lie to your kids and plan on telling them someday, do NOT come home drunk, shout abusively at your children’s mother and then shoot the man who they think is their real father. Especially not if they’re actually mutants whose powers can awaken at any moment, spring razor sharp bone claws from their hands and drive them into a frantic rage, ending your life immediately. That’s probably not the best idea.

Of course the little kid in the opening sequence is Wolverine. I bet that took a real rocket scientist to guess! After our title sequence, which gets a few points for actually showing some action while it’s going on, but loses some more for annoyingly freezing the screen to show the credits and not letting you know exactly when the real movie is going to start, we cut to a prison cell 12 years later. Inside the cell are Wolverine and Sabretooth, or Logan and Victor, but I really don’t think it matters all that much what you call them. A guy named Stryker is giving them a chance to break out of their running away and join his special forces team with a bunch of other guys that couldn’t make it into The Expendables. Will they do it, or will they instead continue to live their lives of…

Oh, in the next scene they’re in a jet with a bunch of other soldiers. Well that certainly cuts down on the suspense, doesn’t it? The team is made up of a token Asian dude who can do acrobatics that would make the entire Ringling Bros. circus blush, a token black dude in a cowboy hat over his military garb – yeah, not very good camouflage – who can appear and disappear at will and Ryan Reynolds. Oh, Ryan Reynolds, where do we even start with him? Let’s just say that the writers of this movie didn’t realize that in order to make a witty character witty and entertaining, the first step is to get some funny jokes. Which he does not have. So he mostly makes the viewer want to stab a spork through his eye. Or through their own ears so they don't have to listen to his unfunny attempts at humor.

So apparently after one mission that goes wrong in the jungle, Logan decides to call it quits, because it just isn’t worth it to cause harm to people. His brother Victor is so overcome with the desire to keep him there that he just…stands in one place and shouts, not making any motion to bring him back. The other guys say that he can’t just walk away, but you had me fooled, as it looked like nobody even made one move to go after him! We then cut to 6 more years later…okay, what is up with the time jumps? It’s really hard to care about the story when we’re only in each period of time for about 5 minutes! It’s like they’re playing Frogger with the movie’s timeline.

Apparently six years has turned Logan into a happy family man who spends his time looking at post-cards of the Rocky Mountains with his trophy wife/girlfriend/whatever and working as a logger. However, all of that is about to come crashing down when Stryker comes back and tells Logan that someone is killing off all their old teammates, and that he should come back and help stop it. He refuses, but as he says to his wife, “I’m the best there is at what I do.” Back at home she starts telling him a story about how the moon used to have a lover until they were split apart, never to be able to touch one another again due to the tricks of a vague…trickster. “They called it the Wolverine,” she says.

Uh…no, it doesn’t work like that, movie. You can’t try to…romanticize the creation of his superhero code-name. That’s incredible; it’s like completely missing the point – whoosh goes the point right over the writers’ heads. Astounding.

Unfortunately, his wife is killed off almost immediately afterwards by Victor, who has been the killer all along! Why? I don’t know; I guess they couldn’t find any better ways to move the story along. Logan grieves for about a second before he goes into a blind rage and attacks his brother at a bar, which he found him at by some unexplained process…yeah, I don’t think they thought this out too well either. But hey, then we get a fight scene! It’s pretty decent I suppose, even though the movie tries its hardest to suppress that fact with corny, childish dialogue.

So Wolverine agrees to go with Stryker to take down Victor. He has to undergo a process that will mold adamantium to his skin, a special kind of metal they discovered in the jungle. They’re about to erase his memory before he breaks out and runs for it, taking refuge at the house of an elderly couple. They for some reason don’t seem to care that he completely destroys their bathroom by accident, or that he showed up completely naked…but they’re killed off pretty quickly by the sniper character who tries to pin it on Logan.

Hold up there. They just killed off an elderly couple who probably never hurt a fly in their lives? Dick move, man!

Through a long chain of events we establish that it was all a set up by Stryker that Logan’s wife was killed, and that he has an island that he is using to perform experiments on mutants. We also see this guy, who I don't think you'd want to end up next to on the bus or in an elevator:

Seriously, it looks like a cow's ass on steroids.

Logan runs in with the much-beloved character Gambit, whose personality here is almost non-existent – heinous. And the black cowboy-hat wearing mutant is killed off with little fanfare…you know what the problem with this movie is? They just keep killing off characters so fast that you never have a chance to even care about them a little. It’s just poor writing, and it makes the movie a real chore to sit through on all accounts. But then, I guess if I was starring in this movie I wouldn’t want to be in it for very long, either. That’s got to be really embarrassing to be a high-profile actor and end up in a job like this.

The rest of the movie is mostly just decent fighting scenes with nothing else to add substance or meaning to them. The characters exchange one-note quips that aren’t even the least bit witty, like they weren’t even trying at this point. It’s so boring I can’t even comprehend it. I guess the fight scenes are entertaining, but you need more than that! Where’s the substance? It’s like a complete void of anything that isn’t pure adrenaline-driven action, any other kind of emotion. Why aren’t you trying harder?

There’s one scene where we see Stryker talking to an associate about his new weapon, where it’s revealed that apparently Stryker’s son was a mutant who accidentally killed his wife. And they’re only just now getting suspicious that he might be too emotionally involved to continue this project. Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. I bet they’d also be cool with a guy who’s family got murdered be the bodyguard of the murderer, wouldn’t they? That seems like it’d make sense to these jackasses. Oh, but there’s more! Stryker’s last ‘weapon’ is finally revealed and it looks like…Baraka from Mortal Kombat with his mouth sewn shut? Huh?


They’re apparently calling him Deadpool and…wait, what? Deadpool? The character that looks and acts NOTHING like this Baraka wannabe? How did they even come to that conclusion? What kind of retarded brain mash would ever be able to logically connect the two? That’s just…gah, what the hell were they thinking? You’re going down a dark road you can’t come back from, movie. You can’t just do this all nonchalantly and think you can get away with it. You know what? Fuck it. This review is over, right here. I’m done. Let’s just wrap it up.

The characters aren’t interesting, the acting is only passable, the dialogue sounds like it was written by a 12 year old and the only reasons to ever watch this are the action scenes. This is basically just a throwaway movie. It’s got nothing substantial and you could do better by just turning it off and doing anything else in the world, literally. But wait, isn’t there a way to sum up the conclusion to this review in a way that is more fitting of such a creatively lacking and all around impressive film? A way that is much shorter and more concise?

Oh, wait, I remember: This is crap. Don’t watch it. Full stop.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Review: I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)

Director: Jim Gillespie
Starring: Jennifer Love Hewitt, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe, Freddie Prinze Jr.

"We're going to go home now and never ever under any circumstances known to God- speak about this again. Is that clear? It's now a future therapy bill."
-Barry, referring to the creation of this movie afterward (may or may not be taken out of context)

The scene is set: a director’s board meeting at Hollywood. Fat old guys with huge cigars in their mouths lean back and try to cover up the sweat stains under their hairy armpits. They bring up a PowerPoint of old slasher movies as they try to figure out how to market them to a younger demographic and make wads of money. “Hm,” says one of them. “I know! Let’s take a standard slasher movie plot, uselessly complicate every bit of it, add in a bunch of attractive young stars who will make up for the fact that they can’t act with the fact that they have nice boobs, and remove all logic and reasoning. Yeah! That’ll do it! There’s NO WAY this won’t be a hit! We’ll rule the world!” Cue evil laughter here. Bam! I Know What You Did Last Summer.

The movie starts off with an absurdly long and drawn out opening credits sequence where we just see a picture of a scenic beach side at night for a few minutes as the camera moves along the road. Uh…riveting? Seriously, hurry it up; we don’t need to spend five hours watching a goddamned beach, movie. Wait, what’s that? They needed to pad the movie out so it would look like they had more material than they did? Oh, well okay then.

Okay, so we finally start the film as we see Sarah Michelle Gellar playing Helen, a character who has just won a beauty pageant. Her friends Julie, Barry and Ray, played respectively by Jennifer Love Hewitt, Ryan Phillippe and Freddie Prinze Jr., stand in the balcony and make insipid conversation to create more filler for the movie. Jennifer Love Hewitt's character is even named 'Julie Jane'...yeah, doesn't that sound kind of like a fake alias created to hide from the mob or something? Then we cut to later on as the four of them are hanging out on the beach at night, barefoot, smiling and sharing all the high school memories you wish you had with your own friends. They tell some ghost stories and argue about lore in which a guy with a hook kills people, getting mixed up on the specifics of the story. I mean honestly, movie; if you can’t decide the exact back-story that will later become ironic when the real killer uses the same methods, you’re going to have a real problem hooking in an audience. Just saying. Ray lures Julie out away from the other couple and they have sex on the beach.

Gasp! Premarital sex! YOU HEATHENS! YOU’LL BURN FOR THIS! How dare you enjoy yourselves, learn things about your bodies and gain experience in life! A POX ON YE ALL!

Ahem. Then they start driving again and Barry acts like a big douche, distracting Ray as he’s driving, causing him to hit a guy walking on the road. They get into an argument that would later be ripped off word for word in the Sorority Row remake as they try to figure out what to do with the guy’s body, eventually deciding to just dump him in the water. Barry threatens them if they want to go to the police, even going as far as to grab Julie by the neck and threaten her with bodily harm – her boyfriend Ray just stands there and does nothing; what a wonder they’re broken up in the next scene!

Yes, we then fast forward an entire year to Julie at college. Her roommate comes in and tells her it’s time to go, to which she responds with this look:

Ha! Sheesh, that’s tacky. What, they really thought that was intimidating? Pfft…so that scene was apparently completely pointless as we then see them driving home, which we could have just opened on instead. Julie goes inside and acts mopey – because I guess she still hasn’t learned to cope with the apparently horrible thing she took part in even after a whole year away from home - until her mom tells her she has a letter from someone. She opens it and ooh, it says ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer’! Witness the birth of a trite and played out pop culture reference, people.

So now they’re paranoid. Julie talks to Helen, who is now working at a clothing store with her sister full-time and not doing anything else, and they go to find Barry, who has turned into a walking stereotype of a white tough guy, even more than he was before. Seriously, he struts around like a wannabe rapper, his hair is so gelled up it never moves in the wind, he wears sunglasses and he pouts like a five year old. What a douche. They go to find this guy who drove up for like a second while they were hauling the body out and Barry threatens him for no reason. They then meet up with Ray, who is coincidentally a fisher working in the same docks. Because I guess everyone from a year ago is now working as a fisherman, aren’t they? That makes sense.

Blah, blah, they have a sappy and poorly written love scene and she runs off before they can finish. Later on at night Barry is going home when he is attacked by a car that runs him through a wall after an extremely silly game of car-to-human chicken. The next day in the hospital he consults with Julie and the others and demands that they NOT call the police. Wait, so…a guy gets run through a fucking wall and is found alive, yet the police never asked him any questions? Nobody even thought to tell them about it? What, did they just assume Barry was clumsy or something and figure it wasn’t worth investigating further? GO TO THE POLICE, you fucking idiots! It will make everything easier!

But no, the writers just thought this movie deserved to go on longer, so now we get some actual back story as we find out that the man’s name who they killed was David Egan and that he was blamed for the death of his girlfriend two years previous, before he disappeared to commit suicide over it. Then the killer breaks into Helen’s house at night and…cuts off parts of her hair. How horrifying! I’m shaking in my boots over here, I tell you. Then we see the present he specially made for Julie in the back of her car:

Truly this guy means business. Nobody has ever cut hair so menacingly!
Max is feeling very crabby today, as you can tell.

Yeah, and then it’s gone when she tries to show Barry and Helen. How? Why? I don’t know, the movie never bothers to explain any of it! You know, that doesn’t make it scarier, you guys. Just stretching the limits of plausibility doesn’t make the movie more tense, it just makes it a lot dumber. So after that everything starts falling apart as Barry confronts Ray about the whole thing and blames him for it…even though that doesn’t make any sense, since it's so obvious Ray doesn't really have anything to do with the whole thing. Oh, fuck it, I don’t even care anymore. Let’s just wrap this up quick.

So they split up and Helen and Barry have to go to this parade thing for a beauty pageant, where Barry is killed and Helen is taken in by the most cynical small town cop ever. Even though this would probably in real life be something interesting for him to do being a small town cop and all, I guess the movie thinks it’s better for him to be a complete moron and disregard everything she says, treating the whole thing like a silly joke until he gets killed by the killer himself. Have you noticed that the killer in this movie is just lame? He doesn't look threatening at all. It's just some moron wearing a coat and a fisherman's hat. That's not scary; it's more like something you'd see in a Lifetime movie. It's just not that intimidating. I’d also like to note that he would not have been killed if Helen hadn’t screamed at him from the car and told him to look out. Nice going, honey. Nice going.

Then she hides in the shop with her sister and they split up while her sister is killed. The killer somehow maneuvers around the entire store without noticing her, hides the body somewhere and then covers himself with tarp and pretends to be a mannequin, waiting for her to come out to exactly the right place before he jumps her. She gets away and runs down an alley until he catches up again, and they grapple until she’s finally killed…okay, two things: One, what the hell is the logic of hiding and waiting like that? Couldn’t he just have attacked her like he did the others? And two, how the hell did she fight back so much? The killer has already picked off people who are probably more able than she is, so what the hell? This movie’s plot has more holes than a Cenobite's face!

So Julie and Ray meet on the docks and they’re confronted by the real killer, who for some reason decided it was the right time to reveal his face to them. They fight a bit and he even traps Julie on a boat where he intends to kill her, I imagine. But again, why doesn’t she just jump off the damn boat? Oh well, she and Ray finally beat him and cut off his hand in the end anyway. It’s revealed that he was Benjamin Willis, the father of David Egan’s girlfriend who was killed in a car accident while David was driving, at the exact same place where Julie and friends hit him a year later. Benjamin blamed David and waited a year to go and kill him, even though he was already out there on the same night about to kill himself. After doing the deed, Benjamin was hit by Julie and friends’ car, and thus wanted revenge on them now.

…are you following any of this? Why the FUCK would he wait a whole year before doing anything? Why would he keep taunting them with stupid things like cutting their hair? Why would he keep letting them live and not just kill them off quicker? Why would a guy who’s apparently SO GOOD at hiding, setting up traps and covering his tracks continue working as a fisherman and not try to, uh, do anything more worthy of his obvious talents? This movie is stupid! The characters are cardboard cutouts, the kills are nothing special and the plot makes no sense. It’s one of those movies where you just know any inconsistencies in the storytelling were glanced over with a callous shrug of the shoulders and a “Who cares, they’ll just be paying attention to Jennifer Love Hewitt’s boobs anyway” from the writers. And that’s just lazy as hell. The only reason this movie was popular was because of all the big names, nothing else.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go write my own slasher movie starring Shia LaBeouf, Michael Cera and Megan Fox, who will wear nothing but miniskirts and push up bras the entire time. I’ll be rich! Muahahahaha!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Blue Powder (2009)

Starring: Jessica Biel, Ray Liotta, Eddie Redmayne, and Forest Whitaker
Directed by Timothy Linh Bui

Uh...I...I...yeah...I do not really know how to describe this movie and the extent of what is wrong with it. I mean, I can but I do not want to spend a lot of time doing it. But I will give it a shot... 

There are two essential problems that this film has. The big one is that it is very blotted: it tries to stuff too much into its 1 hour and 48 minute time frame (which feels a lot longer) and it does not really make sense. It starts off showing the audience all of the different characters and the problems they face. If you have seen movies like this before, you would naturally expect all of them to intervene into one another’s lives at the end. However, this does not really happen; instead, it evolves into two, almost completely different story-lines, one featuring Ray Liotta, Jessica Biel, and Eddie Redmayne (with cameos by Kris Kristofferson and Patrick Swayze) and the other one featuring Forest Whitaker (with small roles played by Lisa Kudrow and a random transvestite prostitute). The only time when any sort of intermingling takes place between these groups is when Whitaker and Redmayne briefly meet in a mortuary (woo hoo, happy places!), in a part that could easily have been left on the cutting room floor. Writer/director Timothy Linh Bui should have decided to use one story-line and stuck with it. 

The other problem with this movie is its moral. It is supposedly about how miracles can happen even in the darkest of times. It tries to reinforce that message by setting the plot during the Christmas season (though this is about as much of a Christmas movie as "Die Hard") That is all well and good, except there are no miracles that actually occur; some good things happen and some bad things happen, but it would be a stretch to call any of them miraculous. The only exception is starts snowing in Los Angles on Christmas morning...Really? That is the big miracle? That is something you see on a holiday special for a TV series, not for...whatever this movie is trying to be. Does this have anything to do with the plot you ask? I will give you a hint: no. 

The only thing that saves this movie from being a complete disaster is that the characters and the acting are fairly decent...well, sort of. I liked Redmayne's character for always trying to do the right thing even if it hurts him in the long run. Kudrow's character was also nice enough. Whitaker's character is a little difficult to sympathize with because how he became so miserable. He lost his wife on their wedding day by filming her in the car WHILE HE IS DRIVING; I am not saying that is not tragic, but in a film like this you kind of want your protagonist to be a little smarter than that. He also tries to pass on his problems to other people by asking them to kill him so he does not go to hell for committing suicide; this guy need to...let’s just say grow up a bit. I think the only reason why he comes off as well as he does is because Whitaker himself, which shows once again how great of an actor he is. I did not like Biel's character that much either; the audience is supposed to have empathy with her, but she has so many issues that she comes across as being too pathetic to have people root for her. The worst character was Swayze's; he is too over-the-top and outlandish as opposed to the people around him, who are relatively low key. It is almost like he is from a different movie and he sticks out like a sore thumb every time he shows up on screen. Swayze was not the best actor in the world, but he brought a sense of charm to (most of) the roles he played, and I feel kind of bad that, in one of the last films he made before he died, his abilities were wasted on this unnecessary bit part in a film that is itself a waste of time. 

Well, that pretty much sums it up. A weird, useless movie with a nonexistent theme. I do not recommend it and...yeah, that is it, I just do not recommend it.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Review: Dark Country (2009)

Director: Thomas Jane
Starring: Thomas Jane, Lauren German, Ron Perlman

“I love the Chinese.”

NOTE TO THE READERS: Upon trying to capture the images in this movie to put in the review, the computer broke due to the movie's astounding ineptitude, and we could not recover them. Therefore, we have replaced them with other things instead. We apologize for the inconvenience. But it's not like you really need to see any pictures from this movie, anyway.

Actors are just people. At the end of the day, they’re just as fucked up as the rest of us, no more and no less. Just because they’re famous doesn’t really mean that they’re any different. It’s just that their insecurities, fears and eccentricities are portrayed for the world to see in vivid light. And good god, does actor Thomas Jane ever exemplify that. I mean, what kind of fucked up psychological issues do you have to have to make a movie like this? What could possibly justify this?

It’s called Dark Country, and it really is a spectacle. I can’t tell whether I should laugh at this or just get pissed off at it. It’s a vile, stupid beast of a film that doesn’t take its audience the least bit seriously, has no feel for coherence and doesn’t even have the common dignity to give us a twist that wasn’t totally fucking predictable. Like a vomitous, exorcised demon from inside David Lynch this movie comes hurtling at you, bashing you over the head with its hammy attempts at being ‘deep’ and ‘weird,’ and everything else pretentious and ridiculous they could think of. God, let’s just get this over with, this movie is like a really bad hemorrhoid.

We start off with some narration that sounds like something out of The Spirit if there were even more drugs involved: “Oh, God, you should’ve known. You don’t remember how it started, but you could’ve guessed how it was all gonna end…she was a dealer, right? Black Jack or, was it poker? Doesn’t really matter now, does it? It’s all over…and done with. You woke up with the prettiest girl you ever seen lying in your bed, cheap ring around her finger and a 50 dollar receipt from the little white chapel crumpled up on the floor. You don’t even know how to spell her name, but it doesn’t matter…you only know you love her, and it’s real, and you’d do anything for her. Sucker.”

That’s the first line. The first line is a monologue that’s like what would happen if you let Dark City be remade by a crack junkie. And that fucking movie was already pushing it, people. This is like they just completely threw all caution to the wind, said ‘fuck it’ and just put out whatever came to their mind first. And listen to the way he talks…it’s like he’s intentionally trying to be as cliché gritty film noir chain-smoker ex-cop as possible; it’s so over the top it’s hilarious. He sounds like he’s been smoking a whole cigarette factory.

We see Thomas Jane, whose career I think we can pretty much write off at this point, getting out of bed and shaving. Then he goes to seduce his newly married wife with the best breakfast he could find – an apple and a can of soda. Yeah, real romantic there, isn’t it? Why not just go full stop and order a Big Mac while you’re at it? Oh, and listen to that music; it’s like the movie’s trying to be a film noir, except it’s totally goofy. It’s like what you’d hear in a Looney Tunes short parodying a 1940s detective story.

So apparently these two got married in Las Vegas, because those usually turn out so well. He tells her some story about a girl he met on a train or something and how he lost her, acting like a total pussy. What does this have to do with the story? Why should we care? I don’t know, we have a horrible 1995 Paint graphic to show off as a title screen. I wish I could show you a picture of it here, but instead I’ll just show you a hot chick, since this movie was so hard for me to watch that I need some relief: 

Okay, so our two wonderful lead characters are driving along on a green-screen background…yes, they couldn’t even get the budget to rent out a fucking deserted desert road…when the wife starts pleasuring herself and trying to get him to have sex with her while they’re driving, even though they just slept together hours before and are going to do it again when they arrive at their destination. We go through a weird, weird sequence that’s like something out of a…no, it IS something out of an indie porn flick. She spends like five minutes rubbing herself and pulling his hand and moaning and…what am I supposed to gain from this? I’m really supposed to take this movie seriously after that? Try watching the scene where she pleasures herself with an ice cube and see if you can stop yourself from laughing.

Oh and apparently she says she’s an “old fashioned girl.” Ha. Hahaha. Hahahahaha! Yeah, right, and Mel Gibson is a picture of sanity.

So anyway, he speeds up to about a hundred miles an hour and almost hits a staggering passenger on the side of the road. It turns out to be a badly injured crash victim whose car is completely totaled right nearby, and they pick the guy up to take him to the hospital. The only problem is that the guy is a little strange. He talks cryptically, telling them they have no idea what they’re getting into. When they don’t listen to him and can’t figure out what the hell he’s on about, he jumps on Thomas Jane and attacks him, provoking Jane to hit him mercilessly with a rock until he dies. That’s really harsh.

Oh, and Thomas Jane is just horrid in this. I usually like his acting, even in more mediocre flicks like The Mist, but here he seems to have gotten some kind of acting-amnesia and forgotten how to do even the most basic kind of acting. He replaces subtlety, nuance and empathy with blank-faced anger and monotonous shouting.

Now Jane and his fiancée have to spend their honeymoon night burying a body. Doesn’t that sound more like the premise of a sequel to The Hangover or something? They then start to fight and argue more and stop at a rest stop to collect their thoughts, where they just…argue more. Jane realizes he left his watch out in the desert and has to go back and get it, even though I don’t know how the hell he would ever find one damn watch out in the miles and miles of Nevada desert. He says that his name is engraved on the watch…why would you do that? Oh, fuck it, I don’t care. If Jane had ever watched Pulp Fiction he’d know that going back to fetch a watch never leads to anything good, and indeed it doesn’t, as when he returns his wife is now missing without a trace.

Yep. She finally had enough of this movie. Because I guess a pedigree with the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake and Hostel II is still classier than Dark Country, so she just walked right off the set and didn’t come back. Why is she in trouble? Who is she running from? They just ran out of script and couldn’t answer those questions, so instead we’re just left with the rejected scraps from the Triangle drug-binge sessions…

This is much better than what you would have seen if I put images from the movie. Trust me.

So Jane runs into a cop played by Ron Perlman, who I’ve never felt sorrier for, and he tells him what’s going on. He of course has to leave out the bits about killing the guy, but his mad raving and ranting as he summarizes this film’s events somehow comes out to what I think is how he pitched this movie to the producers. Perlman gets him in his police car and takes him to “where the rest stop used to be 30 years ago.” Ooh, an over-used horror trope that has been done a thousand times! Good to see how low this movie set the bar finally put into the right light. And an ambiguous ending where Jane’s character crashes his car and then gets picked up by the past version of himself and his fiancée, setting the whole chain in motion all over again!

This movie sucks, this movie sucks, this movie sucks! I can’t think of a more annoying film that I’ve seen recently. It can’t decide whether it wants to be a film noir throwback or a surreal mind-bending thriller, and it can’t do either one of those with any kind of competency. With making these kinds of psychological flicks, you can’t just assume the audience will “get” it; you can’t just leave open spaces in the plot and try to tell us that it’s symbolism. Here’s a question for you, Thomas Jane and writer Tab Murphy: If Jane’s character was the bloody faced car crash victim the whole time, and he knew everything that happened, why the hell didn’t he just tell the past-Jane and his wife what was happening instead of talking in riddles?

Nothing? Pfft, why am I not surprised?

Look, people. There’s a difference between a film like Mulholland Drive where there’s an actual good story running underneath the weirdness, the free-flowing pace and the odd symbolism and metaphors, and this, which is hack-work and extremely lazy writing, substituting any kind of deeper meaning for a jumbled mess of plot. This movie is just the ass hairs of better flicks like Memento and Jacob’s Ladder. It’s a pitiful and woeful journey that I hope none of you have to undertake, ever. Fuck Dark Country.

P.S. 100th review!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

My Fellow Americans (1996)

Starring: Jack Lemmon, James Gardner, Dan Aykroyd
Directed by Peter Segal

"My Fellow Americans" is a film about two ex-Presidents and longtime rivals, Russell Kramer (Jack Lemmon) and Matt Douglas (James Gardner), who reluctantly put aside their differences in order to uncover a plot against them set up by the current man in the Oval Office (Dan Aykroyd).

This is a really good movie. The main laughs come from Kramer and Douglas fighting with one another over their various professional and personal shortcomings. I feel that if the lines that they deliver would not have worked with other actors, but screen veterans Lemmon and Gardner are such professionals that their delivery is very natural and sincere (even if their characters are actually being very insincere). There are also a number of funny parts where they end up in awkward situations while dealing with the common folk, as well as small yet humorous supporting roles like a vice-president who keeps making inappropriate remarks at the wrong time (Joe Biden, I mean...John Heard).

The plot itself is very interesting because it explores the mindset of a former commander-in-chief: what it is like to be the most powerful man in the world, the feelings of disapproval, and the little quirks that develop while in office (Kramer and Douglas both have their own personal versions of "Hail to the Chief"). In the end, this is what really brings the two together (though they never truly stop competing with one another): the fact that they are the only ones who know what it is like to hold the highest office in the land, only to fall from grace and find themselves dancing with a panda. That last part will make sense if you watch the film.

The story-line also has a lot of twists and turns, and almost ends on a bit of a downer, but then perks right back up again. The only problem I have with watching the movie is the fact that a lot of what is discussed are problems that, 14 years after its release, we are still dealing with (or rather not dealing with) today, which is a little disheartening. However, I do not blame the film itself, but rather [insert unfavorable institution here].

Anyway, it is an enjoyable film and I recommend it.