Friday, June 29, 2012

REVIEW: Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012)

Despite a cumbersome title, this dramedy starring Steve Carell and Keira Knightley is a pretty subtle, quiet and sometimes beautiful little movie. I didn’t even know about this thing until I saw the trailer for it before Prometheus, just two weeks before it came out. But I actually ended up liking this one better than the aforementioned sci-fi blockbuster…go figure.

Director: Lorene Scafaria
Starring: Steve Carell, Keira Knightley

This movie is an end of the world flick that doesn’t focus too much on the scientific reasons for the world’s end or even the bigger picture – it just focuses on the life of one guy (Carell) and those around him. And surprisingly, it works really well. I always like movies that do this, because it just gives a much more humanistic, natural spin on the usual kinds of stories these topics generate. The human element is the most interesting part of any movie, especially something as monumental and alien as the end of the world. I want to see the individual, common man’s dilemma in the face of Armageddon. And this movie delivers.

Seeking a Friend works because of its blend of comedy and drama. The first twenty minutes or so has some pretty standard Steve Carell styled comedy, where he’s all awkward and whatnot, but that doesn’t last long and isn’t played up to any kind of exaggerated levels. And even during those parts, there is a subtly somber sadness that enhances the comedy, playing off the fact that it’s the end of the world. The movie never quite shoves that fact in your face, but it is always there beneath the surface, the catalyst for the more personal relationship forged in the movie’s runtime. Carell actually does a good job here and conveys the sober, serious tone very well while also allowing the funny parts to shine through. The balance is well done.

Knightley gives a good performance too, as the very British and quirky female neighbor who Carell befriends in the midst of the chaotic happenings all around him. They grow close and share some very tender and also some very funny moments on screen, as is typical of these kinds of movies, but it’s all handled with delicacy and delivered with sincerity, so I like it. The seedy, desolate country atmosphere of a lot of the latter half of the film really serves to drive home how alone people really are with the impending end of the world – everyone, at the end of his or her days, is alone, and with the collective end approaching, who is left?

As such, it becomes a very poignant picture, and the effect of the movie will linger on you long after you walk out of the theater. And I think that makes it a good movie, so go see it if it has piqued your interest at all.

The image is copyright of its original owner. 

REVIEW: Fallen (1998)

There’s always a charm to movies like this. Fallen is a 1990s thriller movie starring Denzel Washington and John Goodman; isn’t that a kick-ass cast?

Director: Gregory Holblitt
Starring: Denzel Washington, John Goodman

This is easily one of the better Denzel Washington movies, in which he plays a cocky detective who ends up on the trail of a body-jumping demon called Azazel. This is just one of those great bare-bones detective thrillers with a premise that is original enough to stand out without trying too hard to be anything it isn’t. All the tropes you would expect are in this movie – you have the stoic and serious main character slipping to the dark side. You have the hesitant and mysterious female lead who slowly opens up to the main character. You have a little kid character, in this case Washington’s nephew. You have a stern boss and a concerned sidekick character – the latter is Goodman’s role here.

The difference with Fallen is the quality with which it is executed and the great atmosphere it exudes. The pacing is really good and keeps you on the edge of your seat the whole time. There are no real unexpected twists, and yet the story is told in such a way that you want to see what happens next anyway – that is an impressive feat. The events that transpire are carried out with a real seriousness and weight that make them compelling. It’s surprising how credible they make a body-jumping Biblical demon seem, too, and it never comes off as corny or anything. The scenes where you can’t quite tell who Azazel has possessed are the best ones in the film. Creepy and atmospheric, keeping you guessing.

Speaking of atmosphere, a word I have bandied about quite a lot already, this film is flooded with it – I especially like the use of the Rolling Stones song as a constant motif throughout. I don’t really know how Azazel knows a Rolling Stones song. But it works as a suitably eerie repeating theme throughout the film. And hearing John Goodman sing it at the end…that’s just great, man. A lot of the movie is set in crowded, urbanized city streets in the wintertime, which is good because the wintry setting bespeaks a cold, frigid feel, and the crowded and urban setting makes Azazel’s people-jumping skills all the more confusing and disorienting. It’s like he has a whole flock of unsuspecting, helpless chickens to feed on.

So Fallen is a kick ass thriller. It’s well written, well acted and professionally executed, with flair and style. There’s nothing about this movie that really speaks out as something transcendent of its genre, but sometimes all you need is a good, solid B-grade movie in the genre. Fallen adheres perfectly well to all the clich├ęs of the detective thriller genre, and does them all beautifully.

That pic does not belong to me. All copyright to its original owners.

Friday, June 22, 2012

REVIEW: Ozombie (2012)

This review could not have been possible without the help of Aaron, whose knowledge of weapons was instrumental in understanding the colossal wrongness of much of the film.

I was away on vacation last week, and from my excursions I’ve brought you all a special treat…

Director: John Lyde
Starring: Corey Sevier, Eve Mauro
Website: N/A....

"I had a Pokemon problem."
-A very obvious Digimon fan in the Special Forces group in the movie

Yes, a movie about a zombie Osama Bin Laden coming back from the dead; I really can’t even make this shit up. Although they do now have a movie about Abraham Lincoln killing vampires, but then again, that’s a major Hollywood production based on a comic book. This is probably the worst zombie movie have ever seen in my life. It’s got awful acting, awful characters, awful storytelling…it’s just awful! But then again, I haven’t seen a better candidate for one of my reviews in a while.

As an added bonus, this isn't even released in the U.S. yet, and I found it in London. So you Americans are getting an extra early treat for this sucker! Aren't you feeling special right now? Let’s dig into this crapsack void of anything worth watching and lose what's left of our sanity!

We start off with a trailer for the new Call of Duty game:


They kill Osama Bin Laden and take him back in their helicopter, although I guess they didn’t plan this out too well as he comes back to life as a zombie and makes the helicopter crash into the Arabian Sea! I’m so glad this movie is historically accurate. Then we see a few magazine models getting undressed and going for a nice swim in the ocean at the sunset. These sunset shots are quite nice, so I’ll give the movie a score of one star.

However…


Yes, that’s the zombie makeup we’re going for in this movie. It looks like something you’d see in Party City’s discount $3 bin, but hey, at least the movie has great insightful writing and compelling characters to make up for that!

…heh…heh heh heh…

Okay, so we then meet our gang of Special Forces Task Members. There’s one guy who likes to fight with his shirt off, because hey, if it makes you more vulnerable AND a bigger target to your enemies, it’s TOTALLY a good idea. And then there’s this chick, who fights with a katana, because…well, I guess she just thinks having a hand-combat weapon is more efficient than using those pesky guns and killing her enemies from far away…oh, wait, it doesn’t do that at all! Man, these guys are morons! What kind of special task force is this? The literal Special Ed task force from the short bus?

What are you, an idiot? Put a goddamn shirt on! You're not tanning at the beach, you're fighting in a war!
THIS! IS! AFGHANISTAN! Also, when the bombs explode in this movie, how come they never have a blast radius of more than half a centimeter? Yeah, because explosions don't do any damage to anything but the one thing they actually hit, right? Realism at its finest!

One of them gets bit by a zombie that sneaks up behind him, even though everyone else on the team facing him should have been able to see it, so it’s just stupid. Then it bites him and he just sort of brushes it off like a mosquito bite, not appearing to be in much pain at all. Yeah, it’s only a zombie bite! Wouldn’t have you screaming in pain at all, would it? It’s just like being pinched in the neck a little.

Katana girl does not use her katana to kill him but an actual gun! So I guess she does just choose to use the sword because she thinks it looks cool. I’m not usually one to discriminate based on gender, but…yyyyeeeeaaaahhhh…this chick should’ve been kept in the kitchen.

Hahahahahaha.....ehhh, no.

So after that we see some girl dressed like she’s ready for a tour of Antarctica sitting with a stereotypical Muslim man talking about how she wants to find her brother, who was some nutbar who came to see if Osama Bin Laden was dead or not, and if not, wanted to kill him. Like idiots they can’t hear the zombies as they sneak up on them. The Muslim man dies and the woman lives to become a main character – this scene was entirely pointless except as a juvenile exposition dump. Yay!

The girl teams up with the Idiot Special Forces team after they kill all the zombies, and they all bitch and moan about having to bring her along, yet do it anyway I guess. Then we get some more exposition from the Idiot Special Forces as they explain to the girl that the Taliban are making zombies – only instead of just saying that, we get like a five minute dragging and slow scene of them overexplaining it! I’m so invested I could just crap rainbows!

And then there’s a scene of her and Mr. Shirtless getting to know each other and flirting? Color me delighted; this movie knows how to keep an audience interested! Because when I watch a movie with a zombified Osama Bin Laden on the cover, what I wanted to see was people flirting. Good job!

Then we see the girl’s crazy Bin Laden hunting brother, Woody Harrelson stunt double, as he teams up with some little Arab kid who has been separated from his family. They try to talk a little although they speak different languages. Then the brother sees some Arab people and gives the little kid to them, and…that’s really about it. What was the purpose of this scene? Did that kid’s story really merit inclusion in the film? It was barely even three minutes long! Maybe they didn’t even script this part and just literally found a kid in the desert and helped him go home. I don’t know. But it did serve the purpose of making the movie 90 minutes, so I guess that was the only criteria.

Aaaand you've just witnessed the happy ending to a completely different movie!

And okay, this next scene is pretty friggin’ bad. It’s another attempt at a ‘zombie invasion fight’ that this movie keeps trying and utterly failing at every time. And it’s just awful in so many ways! Like how about how the guy has this huge sniper rifle-looking thing that can literally just make the zombies disintegrate on contact? I didn’t know zombies were made of elastic balloon like material that just pops and explodes! And also, why is the guy holding that thing like a regular gun when he should be just setting it down to use its scope? I’m not even a weapons expert and even I know better than these people! Doing at least the minimal amount of research isn’t going to kill you, you hacks!

Also, this line: “Haven’t seen a group this big since they opened a Wal-Mart in my town.” That speaks for itself. Movie, stop trying to write funny dialogue. YOU’RE REALLY NOT GOOD AT IT. See, you even made me use all caps again!

And finally, when one of the guys gets bit, he makes the decision to go in and blow himself up with a grenade to kill the zombies. However, before he can let the grenade go, he turns into a zombie and starts running toward the group. The katana girl takes a few shots at the big group of zombies but somehow misses all of them – what, is she blind? Then as a last resort, I guess, they finally decide to use the big gun that can blow up zombies like Angry Birds when they hit something. Because I guess THAT wouldn’t have been their FIRST option, would it? Ozombie, you are making my head hurt. I need some Ibuprofen.

Oh no, he's turning into the Lizardman!

This makes katana girl, who was romantically involved with that guy who just died, go and do a bunch of swordplay stunts against a sunny back-drop that makes the scene look like a commercial. I’m expecting the Capri Sun logo to pop up any second:


Then they all go walking up a mountain with music even more over the top than a Lord of the Rings movie. You know, movie, you’re not exactly a stirring serious epic. This music really doesn’t fit.

Katana girl then goes and kills a whole team of drunken stumbling “zombies” (more like rejected “Thriller” dancers, really) to work off her anger while the other two jackasses talk about the TV show “Intervention,” because…well, I have no idea. The movie brilliantly chooses to focus on that instead of the girl with a sword killing a bunch of zombies, because I guess even the filmmakers knew they had no budget for zombie effects and didn’t even bother trying. It still sucks, though, because the dialogue they’re focusing on from the other two guys is about as well written as a kindergartener’s scribbles on the back of a McDonalds napkin while his mother is smoking crack in the bathroom.

And I just love the choreography for these katana scenes! Yeah, lady, keep on swinging it around in circles! That’s good swordsmanship!

Sword fighting is actually easy if you just twirl the blade around like a cheap little baton that a five year old would use!

Oh well, this scene was a bust, but maybe the other characters will have something at least marginally more interesting for us! We see the girl asking this one dude who the lady is whose name he screams in his sleep. He then goes on a long, long, loooooong rambling tangent about how she’s his ex-girlfriend who he still loves because she used to buy him juice boxes when he didn’t have any money because he spent it all on Pokemon stuff. No, seriously, the actual line is “I had a Pokemon problem.” I…really just do not understand this movie. Who cares about this guy’s stupid-ass life story and Pokemon cards? What’s the appeal? This is a ZOMBIE MOVIE set in the MIDDLE EAST, which could actually be pretty cool, and what are we focusing on? Some stupid shmuck and his stupid ex girlfriend and his stupid Pokemon problems. THAT IS SHIT.

And he just keeps on going, too! It’s probably the longest dialogue in the whole movie, even! It’d be one thing if this was supposed to be some kind of really campy, silly flick, but the silliest it gets is the Osama Bin Laden as a zombie angle, the rest of the movie is a pretty normal zombie movie, so dialogue this absurd and ridiculous is just unredeemable. Go back to the drawing board movie, you failed completely!

You are a LOSER!

So if you actually kept watching after that, we get some more silly fights with the very unconvincing zombies. These guys look more like extras in a Rob Zombie video. Then they run into the girl’s brother, who has a truck they can use, so of course they do only for one guy to constantly patronize and make fun of the brother for trying to kill Bin Laden. They’re on the same side, AND he has a vehicle to get them places faster, but apparently that isn’t good enough for the Idiot Special Forces team! They’re the team with the highest standards.

They reach the Taliban stronghold and, imagine this: they look for Osama Bin Laden in a cave! Pretty weird, huh?!

But unfortunately all they find is a bunch of Taliban guys making a video to tell the United States that Bin Laden is still alive. The brother guy and Mr. Shirtless Man try to stop them, but somehow they get ambushed by zombies instead, saving the two heroes the trouble. Outside, the team’s resident Che Guevara lookalike gets killed and makes a stupid joke right with his last few breaths on Earth – it’s the Ozombie formula, every bit of dialogue HAS to be completely putrid and stale attempts at humor. Otherwise how would we be endeared to the characters?!? Ugh.

Inside, the brother is fighting off the zombies and comes face to face with Bin Laden himself, you know, the guy on the cover! Funny that he hasn’t been in the movie for more than four combined minutes until now! Tell me this doesn’t look like a godawful Halloween mask:

Ah R.L. Stine would be proud.

Then outside some planes come and firebomb the whole place! Look at these special effects. Don’t they just look like they were made in five minutes in Photoshop? You could get better effects from video games.

I didn't know the US military had resorted to firing green jello at its enemies...

OK, 80s video games even!

And miraculously, the only survivors are our main heroes, who make it out without a scratch on them or even any kind of damage to their clothes. And what’s more, the brother makes it out okay too, even though he had the added peril of almost being buried under rubble after the bombs. No explanation, no nothing, just pure stupidity. Hooray for Ozombie!

Uh, yeah, planes don't fly that close to the ground, unless we're supposed to take it that the perspective on that shot is from REALLY far away, which I don't think it is...yeah, just one final slap in the face to logic, I suppose. God this movie sucks.

What am I even supposed to say about this one? It’s so bad it makes other bad movies look pretty mild in comparison. This is the kind of bad movie that will be talked about in legends, in hushed, reverent whispers, like Troll 2 or The Room. Everything about it is uniquely and specially horrendous, covering almost every possible aspect of filmmaking you can think of. But hey, it did give us a shocking insight into what’s really going on in the Middle East! We can’t trust the government to tell us the truth, but we can trust horrible zombie movies to tell us that the Taliban are creating zombies over there to wipe out our special forces! Now we know the truth.

And with this information I will----

----

This review has been detained by the United States Government due to too much information given. Forget what you've read here.

Images copyright of their original owners. I do not own any of them.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

REVIEW: Deadgirl (2008)

Okay filmmakers, a lesson for you – if you want to make something grotesque and shocking, try actually writing your characters and story in a way that makes people, oh I don’t know, ACTUALLY BELIEVE what they’re seeing reflects real life in some way! That’s how you shock people! You get them invested in the story first! Because if you don’t, your movie just turns into a godawful laughing stock of terrible plot holes, inconsistent acting and characters who act like space aliens on their first day on Earth, they're so misguided and retarded. Basically if you don’t, you get Deadgirl, and why would you ever want this half-assed, poorly written sewer slime of a film?

Director: Marciel Sarmiento, Gadi Harel
Starring: Shiloh Fernandez, Noah Segan

Okay, so the film starts off with two idiots staring at each other like they’re high off their asses and exchanging boring dialogue. These two mutated Bill and Ted spawns are Ricky and JT, and unfortunately they are our main characters. Because they’re bored – you know, the motivation that every great film character starts out with – they go and wander around in an old abandoned mental hospital. There they smash up old chairs and desks for no reason at all until they find…


OH COME ON, ANOTHER DOG? WHY DOES EVERYTHING I REVIEW HAVE A DOG IN IT THESE DAYS? And they’re always so menacing, too! The Stuff, Hulk 2003, Omen III and now this! What’s up with all the vicious mutts in these movies? Can’t you people vary it up a little bit and put, I don’t know, a ferocious panther in there? Or maybe a Komodo dragon. Those are always cool. Just…ANYTHING but another growling dog for no reason! I’m really getting tired of it if you couldn’t tell.

But I digress. They also go into the basement of the place and find a dead girl (hmm, wonder where they got the title for this movie…) tied to some table. JT starts to grope her and his first thought is that they should have sex with her. Not “what the hell is she doing here?” or “maybe she’s been kidnapped and the kidnapper is still in the building and could kill us” (nobody in the whole movie EVER thinks about that second one…morons!), but “let’s have sex with her.” Okay, kid, just stay the hell away from me, whoever you are. I don’t want to be anywhere near you.

"Why is that? I'm just such a lovable guy!"

They find out she’s actually unable to be killed somehow – maybe she smoked bath salts or something. And no, that doesn’t stop them from just keeping her locked up down there, either; they could potentially be onto something that could CHANGE THE WORLD, but their only idea is to keep her a secret so they can have sex with her. Aren’t these characters just so riveting? It’s like this director wanted to outdo Red State for worthless assholes as characters! Even though Red State came out after this…shut up, it’s my review!

So the movie just moseys along for a while, being boring…JT and Ricky make some promise that the dead girl will be only THEIR secret, because you know, all best friends need a psychotic bloodthirsty near-catatonic girl tied to a table or else they’ll NEVER grow closer as friends! And then the next day JT breaks the promise anyway and invites this other jackass, Wheeler, to join them in the orgy of fun.


No…no…not that Wheeler…

And if you think there’s something strange about a bunch of guys in a dark room with their dicks hanging out giving each other bro-fists for fucking what is basically a corpse, well, then you’re at the wrong movie.

"Ohoh, I can put my finger in an infected bullet wound; I'm so cool!" Movie...you...you just have no shame. Not even one little inkling. In fact I'm probably going to Hell just for watching this scene. Thanks a lot, Deadgirl.

But Ricky is the moral center of the group, and apparently we should like him more because he DOESN’T want to lower his standards to zombie girls. Instead, he asks out the girlfriend of the one guy who is psychotic enough to beat the shit out of him in public later on just for talking to her. Wheeler gets involved, too, and then starts shouting at them that they don’t need the guy’s girlfriend because they already have a sex toy they keep in the old mental hospital! And then the bullies do the only sensible thing – they lock Ricky and Wheeler up in the trunk of their car and drive to the mental hospital to force them to show them the girl!

They actually shove them in the trunk of a car like some mafia movie...what is this, Mystic River? Get over yourself Deadgirl you stupid, stupid, STUPID movie!

How did they get them in the trunk in broad daylight at a public school without anyone noticing? Shhhh…you’re not supposed to ask questions like that in a movie THIS EDGY. That’d just be missing the point!

And then we get…oh, come on:

"I'm running a very delicate operation here. And you boys will NOT mess this up for me."

Ha ha, you know, I think somebody ought to tell this kid he’s taking this whole thing a little too seriously. He acts like he’s Citizen Kane or something! Look at him, sitting there like a miniature Hugh Hefner, or some botched Superman villain or something. All he needs is a fluffy fat cat to stroke and a cigar in his mouth and the caricature will be complete.

Then we get some high school stupidity as the lead jock guy decides to take a dare and put his dick in the girl’s mouth. Given that she’s completely insane…it’s no surprise that she takes a big bite and leaves him bleeding and infected, and the next day he runs from the classroom, goes to the bathroom and explodes from the inside, because…no, wait. There is no reason. My bad. And what's that, the other jock kid goes to the mental hospital to try and free the dead girl and take her away to the hospital and police? He gets killed off faster than you can say 'blueberry pie.' Why didn't he just bring the police with him FIRST; that would've been the sensible option, and it would have prevented the rest of this whole movie from happening! I'd really like that actually.

But yeah, apparently JT has figured out that by biting people, the dead girl can spread the zombie plague and turn people into immortal catatonic zombies just like her. So are we actually going to see either of the two jocks who she killed turn into zombies? Of course not! For a movie with such a creative premise, the whole zombie thing is really just glazed over, and it's one of the film's main problems. If they would just explain the exact workings of the zombie infection stuff in this movie, it would be a lot more plausible! It would actually make people a little bit invested in the rest of this shithouse story, too! Instead it's just like 'meh, zombies, skip over it; that's not why people are watching this. Let's have more scenes of that kid putting his finger in an infected bullet-hole! That's good cinema!'

But I digress: this does give JT and Wheeler the idea that they can have 'new' zombie sex slaves too, if they kidnap women and get them bit by the original dead girl; aren't these two just delightful? I'd want them around MY daughter any day! They don’t really know what will happen truthfully, since they weren’t there when the original girl got turned, and they have no idea what other side effects it will have…oh, who cares about this shit anyway? Just show the scene where they get the daylights beat out of them by a prostitute:

HA HA HA! Totally worth the price of admission! I'll give the movie one star for that alone, just because getting the shit beat out of them by a prostitute is exactly what these two anuses deserve.

And one ridiculously over the top scene later, they run into that chick whose boyfriend got his penis bitten off and infected and exploded, who…somehow found them at this abandoned gas station at the middle of the night? I don’t know. They kidnap Joann (yeah…that’s her name; couldn’t really fit it anywhere else) and tie her up back-to-back with the dead girl. How come they don’t just kill Joann now? How did they even take the dead girl off the table without her fighting back? I guess the answers to these questions would prevent our brilliant climax of having JT and Wheeler circle the two tied-up girls like cartoon Bugs Bunny villains twirling their mustaches.

Ricky comes in with a machete…seriously, a machete? Where did he get that? He cuts off Wheeler’s hand when he tries to touch Joann…


…and then the dead girl gets loose and starts killing everyone. JT stabs Joann (I guess because he wants Ricky to get the Deadgirl to bite her so Joann can be his undead sex slave...? I dunno) and somehow Ricky gets her to be undead like the dead girl even though we never see her get bit, putting her in some nice lingerie and everything. And we get some nice sunny-day shots of Ricky walking around clean of bruises and blood and just enjoying life! So I guess everything is all good then!

Comic books are the cure for anything, even necrophilia and losing all your best friends to a bloodthirsty uncontrollable zombie.

Except…how about that ZOMBIE on the loose?! What happened there?!? There’s no resolution! We see her running away into the night and…that’s it! What, so there’s a zombie running free and you’re just going to act like everything is completely normal? What the hell?


And for that matter, what about all the kids who went missing? We never hear about what happened to that jock kid who exploded in the school bathroom. And nobody ever asks about what happened to the other jock kid, JT, Wheeler or Joann, at all? Shouldn’t there be some kind of investigation going on? Anything?! If you’re going to rip off Shaun of the Dead, movie, DO IT BETTER THAN THIS HALF-ASSED NONSENSE!

So all in all, Deadgirl was totally worthless. I can’t even think of one redeeming factor. It tries to set itself up as a serious social commentary on gender roles and what not, but it totally fails due to the crapsack acting and the horribly godawful storyline and plot holes. There is just nothing about this movie that in any way makes it worth seeing. So why did I watch it? Frankly, I’d rather be dead than have to sit through this again!

However, if I had to choose between seeing this movie again and having someone have sex with my corpse…well, put the friggin’ movie back on. I think I’ve made my tough decision for the week. I feel better about myself now. Peace out.

These images were taken from the film on Netflix's instant player, and none of them belong to me. They are all under the copyright of their respective owners.