Wednesday, May 29, 2013

REVIEW: Gigli (2003)

Alright, so I’m only reviewing romantic comedies now – it’s time for a change and this is the change to end all changes. I feel rejuvenated and ready to review again. I really don’t see any other true path for myself except this. And what better to kick off my new and improved film reviewing series by doing the biggest flop of the 2000s, Gigli.

Director: Martin Brest
Starring: Ben Affleck, Jennifer Lopez

That’s right, pretty much everyone who has ever seen this movie has something terrible to say about it. I’ve never heard a positive comment about this flick, ever. Most people call it one of the worst films ever made, in fact. But why? Most people really never go into why Gigli is so bad, and while I never doubted that it was, I was always curious as to exactly what horrific alchemical combination of cinematic elements made this film so reviled. After all, I’m never one to write off a movie before I even see it. So what better to do now than give Gigli the Cinema Freaks treatment and figure out why?

First of all, let’s look at the plot summary: Two professional gangsters, a straight man and a gay woman, have to live in the same apartment to watch after a retarded kid so the mob can blackmail some senator, all while the man tries to turn the woman straight so they can have sex.



Okay, well…it might not be that bad…you never know! It could be…erm, ehhh…okay, that sounds like the worst idea I’ve ever heard of. But hey, an idea alone doesn’t make a bad movie, so why not check out the two stars? Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez, who met on the set of the film, and drew heavy tabloid attention at the time because of how famous they were. They ended up breaking up after the film was released, and you can pretty much ad lib your own joke here - there are numerous different ones. And as we all know, isn't tabloid garbage over the personal lives of movie stars the foundation for every good movie?

Alright, fine, let’s just get started on the movie itself. Clearly every element of this film’s production, before, during and after, is working against it when it comes to the film’s overall quality, but that doesn’t mean a thing about the movie before I actually watch it! I stand resolute on that. Let us delve deep into Gigli’s bloated fat and hopefully come out with a gem or two.

We start off with Ben Affleck, playing the title character Gigli, doing his laundry:

Extra quarters needed when you use the dryer for torture methods.

Oops, did I say laundry? I meant pressure-drying a well-toasted Mexican. I suppose they’re about the same. I just wonder if this is the same Laundromat that Dr. Horrible uses. Lord knows this movie would be better with a song and dance number from Neil Patrick Harris.

After he fails at that, his boss gets onto him about not being a good hit man. As punishment, he’s given the task of watching some retarded kid, the brother of a senator, as blackmail. Affleck goes to pick up the kid, whose name is Brian, and finds probably the most insulting stereotype you can get outside of Ben Stiller in Tropic Thunder:

And this guy went on to play in the Hangover decide which is more of a smudge on his dignity.

Oh, okay, it’s not that bad, and as the movie goes on it does actually get a little bit funny. But seriously, can you get any more shameless pandering for an Oscar? The idea of this movie winning an Oscar is a bit silly though. And to be fair, he does have the only funny lines in the movie later on.

Back at Gigli’s apartment, Gigli basically shouts a lot and acts like a giant douche toward Brian. If you weren’t charmed by him up to this point, well THANK HEAVEN for these scenes! I just think any movie could be improved by adding screaming man-children who try to act way tougher than they probably really are! You know what else could improve this? An entirely implausible, unrealistic and silly plot thread introduced for the sole purpose of moving the ludicrous plot along!

There we go! This is J-Lo, playing Ricki, a female contract gangster-type person who was hired by Affleck’s boss because he didn’t trust Gigli to do the job alone. What exactly is so dire about this job anyway? He’s just taking care of some retarded kid for a few days. It’s not like it’s a matter of utmost importance. I guess I kinda see what he means; I mean the first five minutes Gigli gets Brian alone, he shouts at him and threatens him like a schoolyard bully on steroids. Yeah, real goddamn tough guy, right? But that’s exactly what I mean – the whole plot hinges on this implausibility, and so without it, the movie would fall apart. Great screenwriting, guys…

So the next ten minutes of the movie is pretty much just these three characters annoying one another. Gigli shouts a lot and in no way does he ever seem convincing as a tough guy. J-Lo mostly just keeps that irritatingly smug wise-ass look on her face the whole time and while she’s not as annoying as Affleck, she’s still pretty goddamn bad. Just watch the scene at the dinner table when Brian won’t eat and Gigli keeps shouting at him. Ricki gets involved, too, and the whole scene basically just becomes a cinematic nuclear bomb of annoyance.

Just look at some of this dialogue from our titular main character: If by some fuckin' miracle long shot you haven't heard of my reputation let me tell you who the fuck I am! I am the fuckin' Sultan of Slick, Sadie! I am the rule of fuckin' cool! You wanna be a gangster? You wanna be a thug? You sit at my fuckin' feet and gather the pearls that emanate forth from me! Because I'm the fuckin' original, straight-first-foremost, pimp-mack, fuckin hustler, original gangster's gangster!

…I am just at a loss for words. It’s like every 90s stereotype of white kids trying to act black rolled up into one overpaid, overrated Hollywood actor. If this was a 14 year old kid, it would be embarrassing, but when it’s Ben Affleck? The level of pure awfulness and life-ruining embarrassment just breaks the stratosphere and soars way into outer space. If you want nothing but a grown man verbally abusing a mentally handicapped person and a much smaller, less able to defend herself woman...well this movie is for you.

"LOOK AT ME, I'M TOUGH AND BADASS! I'M BULLYING A RETARDED GUY!" I seriously feel sorry for Affleck though, especially since he's trying so hard to be seen as a legitimate artist and filmmaker. This can't be helping his quest at all these days.

I mean this is bad. Really, really bad. It’s practically unwatchable. This is the equivalent to going to that family reunion you never wanted to go to, and having to sit there and listen to your divorced aunt and uncle trade jabs at each other while your baby cousin screams his head off, while you’re suffering from a painful ulcer. In fact, I think that’s selling the movie too short – the scenario I described is actually much preferable to watching Gigli.

So if you actually didn’t turn off the movie after that, we see Gigli trying to romance Ricki later on at night, even convincing her to sleep in the same bed as him for the hell of it. Wasn’t he just telling her how much he hated her a few scenes ago, and telling her how much he didn’t need her around? Given the way that Gigli has acted all movie up to now – i.e. like an impudent, tough-guy jackass – no rational woman would ever listen to him when he asked her to sleep with him. Hell, no woman would even find it the least bit endearing. But according to the movie’s warped universe, and its need for the plot to move forward, Ricki goes ahead and sleeps right beside him in the same bed.

Ohhh yeah, professional etiquette AND lesbian tendencies right out the window! Tell me, lesbian readers: just because you're not attracted to men, is it OK to sleep in the same bed with them because of that? I just love the several different yet equally proportionate tides of nonsense this movie is spewing all at the same time, within this one scene. It's just so unrealistic, even for an early 2000s rom-com, that it's practically the eighth wonder of the cinematic world.

She tells him she’s a lesbian, and that pretty much settles the whole movie, right? Clearly this romance will never work because Ricki is a lesbian, and since Gigli is a man, there’s no chemistry. So I can just turn the movie off now and not miss a damn thing. Phew. What a relief…

Oh, but of course that’s not true, because in Contrived Screenwriting Land, this just means that Gigli has a challenge set up for him! Because lesbianism is fine and well, unless you’re a really hot chick. In that case, it is the male prerogative to change her to straight! God this movie is bad. Is this really our plot now? Unless it’s going to go all Chasing Amy and actually explore the individual character rather than her sexuality, I don’t think it’s going to work. This movie has all the charm of an angry Wal Mart customer who lost his receipt. Incoherent, immature and out of touch with reality, expecting everyone else to play by his rules…yup, that’s this movie.

The next day Christopher Walken comes to see them, and at this point all I can wonder is how they got him to sign on for this. I guess his philosophy is that he’ll act in anything, with no restrictions on quality – he just loves acting. And you know what? I can respect that. Walken is a cool, funny guy, and he definitely brings this piece of shit up a notch. Even if his only contribution to the movie is talking about putting pie on his head:

Oh yeah Walken, bringin' the class. Easily the funniest part of this whole circus.

To be fair, that’s much more stimulating and interesting than what Gigli and Ricki talk about for the rest of the film. Hell, I’d rather watch a whole movie about Walken’s character. I bet at least he isn’t a self-important douchenozzle piece of shit who tries to romance a woman who by all biological laws of nature, isn’t interested in him and never will be. I’d much prefer Walken’s character had his own movie!

Sigh, but unfortunately the trainwreck must go on. Afterward, they go out and eat lunch at some place where a bunch of hooligans are blasting loud rap music. Gigli acts like a doofus and starts a fight with them, but Ricki diffuses the situation by going over and talking about how she can gouge out their eyes with some martial arts skills she has. Afterwards she tells Gigli that it was all bullshit and she was just putting on a show…wow, what a useful scene, movie. What does that establish? That Ricki is a good liar? Wow, what a great reason to have a scene.

Oh please J-Lo, bestow upon us some more of your wisdom and knowledge.

They go to see Gigli’s mom, and it’s pretty much just a waste of time, so I’ll skip it. Back at home, Gigli comes across Ricki doing some yoga in his room and they fight about which sex is more desirable in bed, men or women. It’s a stupid argument because, well, explaining why would just bring me down to the movie’s level. But I will say this: watching Affleck here, playing the tough guy, the sex machine, is about as embarrassing as the other scenes of him trying to act like a tough guy. Watching this scene is just a pinnacle of god-awful writing and embarrassing lines that I am surprised either actor ever wanted to show their face in public after seeing. It really comes down to a contest of which is more annoyingly bad: Affleck’s tough-guy, “I’m the biggest sex god in the world” act, or Lopez’s “I know everything about everything” bullshit.

…okay, well the answer is still Affleck. But DAMN does Lopez give him a run for his money here! You could buy a car if you had a dime for every time she gives an annoyingly pretentious speech in this movie! Might as well just call it a new philosophy: The Zen of Ricki.

The next morning we get introduced to another character that will make you want to bang your head against a wall, Ricki’s girlfriend, who refuses to listen to reason and just screams at Ricki for staying in a house with a man.

How come she's so hysterical? Why is she so rude to just barge into Gigli's place and cause a ruckus? How did she even know where Ricki was? The movie will have the grace to answer absolutely none of these.

Even though both Ricki and Gigli try to tell the woman otherwise, she won’t listen. The only thing worthwhile about this scene is the following dialogue exchange:

Bitchy Girlfriend Character: Who the fuck are you?

Brian: You’re the fuck are you!

Yeah, not much, but in this movie? I’ll take it. You may notice I haven’t been talking a lot about Brian, and that’s because frankly his scenes aren’t too bad. They’re not good, but at least you can tell the filmmakers were at least trying to make something a little bit likable with them, unlike basically any other part of the film. He keeps saying he wants to go to “Baywatch,” where “all the pretty girls are,” and every time Gigli just picks up a flashlight and pretends to talk into it like a phone, “finding out” that the “Baywatch” is closed for the day. It’s a pretty jackass move, and I’m not even convinced that Brian is stupid enough to really believe it, but whatever; it’s still one of the least offensive parts of this whole mess.

Anyway, if you can believe it, the bitchy girlfriend character goes nuts in Gigli’s apartment, grabs a knife out of his kitchen drawer and slits her wrists in protest of, I guess, the fact that Ricki is with a man. Did we just enter into another movie all the sudden? What the hell is this crap? It’s got nothing to do with anything in the film and leads to nothing at all.

This has been the emotional climax of an entirely different film! Thank you for your time.

Oh, except a quick joke about Brian coming in his pants when he sees pretty girls. Thanks for that one, movie…just, thanks.

Later on, because attempted suicide puts them in the mood, Gigli and Ricki have sex together. Well actually that’s a bit of an oversimplification. What really happens is this: Gigli and Ricki are riding in the car and Gigli decides he’s fed up with it all, that he can’t take it anymore! He confesses his love to Ricki in one of the worst, least-inspiring movie speeches of all time, presented verbatim here:

You know something? You're right. It is sadness. Its sadness and I'm fucking sad. You got me. You're a genius. You know why I'm fucking sad? Because I got this fucking beautiful-sexy-gorgeous-hearthrob-o-rama-fucking-smart-amazing-bombshell-seventeen-on a fucking ten scale- girl sleeping in a bed right next to me and you know what? She's a stone cold dyke. A fucking untouchable, unhaveable, unattainable brick wall fucking dyke-a-saurus rexi. So its sad. Okay? What you want me to do? I feel fucking sadness about that. There's nothing I can fucking do. And not only is she a major babe, but I really like this girl a lot, a lot, I mean she's not like anybody else I ever knew before and that's a completely fucking new one on me, and I don't even know her real fucking name so there you go. Oh and in case you're interested, my life sucks. Alright? Stick a fork in me I'm done.

My heart is just crying. But you know what the strangest part of this whole sad-sack love story is? That speech up there; that contrived, poorly done, emotionally retarded speech? IT WORKS.

That’s right – it actually gets her into bed with him. I guess the secret to any lesbian’s heart is making horrible profanity-laden, immature and selfish speeches! Straight men, rejoice!

They talk some more about which sex is better at having sex, and, okay, I’ll bite: how is this argument in any way worth having? They’re literally arguing for or against homosexuality. Dude, Affleck; it’s not really up for debate which team she’s swinging for! It’s not like they’re impressionable little kids choosing which sport to play, you know! But I guess he really does think lesbians can be swayed easily to turn straight…and in this case he was right…sigh. There goes more of my faith in humanity. The idea of these two having sex so casually and spontaneously after Ricki just went through an emotional confrontation with her girlfriend is just ludicrous, and further shows that the film is completely detached from reality. A logical plot? What’s that?

Then we get some other long, drawn out bullshit about this mob boss guy played by Al Pacino, of all people – unlike Walken he does not give a film-redeeming performance, and instead just comes off as incredibly dull, loud and obnoxious. His whole point in the movie is to tell them that he didn’t like the idea of having Gigli kidnap Brian. That’s really about it…amazing…he kills the other mob boss guy who we saw at the beginning, and then threatens to kill Gigli and Ricki, too. Until Ricki goes on another one of her oh-so-enlightening speeches and talks him out of it pretty quickly, to be honest…I mean really? This is your big final confrontation? A guy changes his mind after a pretentious lesbian makes a speech?

He looks like an out of touch old codger trying to remain cool and hip...great character movie; I'm just so blown away. I'm also blown away that you got such an irritating performance out of Al Pacino of all people.

After that the movie decides it’s done torturing us, and decides to just kind of end. They drive Brian to the beach, which he claims is the Baywatch he’s been looking for all movie – some kind of filming set with a bunch of chicks and dudes in bathing suits. He finally goes and talks to one of them, which I guess is supposed to be the emotional climax of the movie.

…or is the emotional climax when Ricki comes back and tells Gigli she wants to be with him?

Alriiiiight, they had no chemistry and by all the laws of human interaction, this scumbag shouldn't have ended up with this pretentious lesbian, BUT IT'S A HAPPY ENDING! WHOO!

I don’t know; the movie couldn’t even decide. This whole thing is like five different movie clichés all in one! Is it the touching story of two unlikely people who fall in love? A mob scheme gone wrong? Or is it the story of how a cold-hearted thug helped a mentally ill person?

Well, either way, Gigli is just unbearable. It’s as bad as everyone says. I will say there are a few moments that maybe could have worked, if done by a more competent director and given more emotional weight, like the parts about Brian. The film is poorly acted, poorly written and the directing is ho-hum at best. But most of this is just ear-raping, eye-gouging horrors at how annoying Affleck and Lopez can be, and amazement at how they’re annoying in such specially unique ways. It’s seriously amazing how little chemistry on screen these two have. Doubly so because they were legitimately interested in one another offscreen - you'd think that would have translated to at least a little bit of a feeling like their characters at least liked one another. But I guess the power of the awful script really just transcends any other efforts to salvage the film, because the two of them act like they just met in an elevator before being asked to come make the movie.

Really, Gigli is just living proof of how we shouldn’t expect so much from a film solely based on who’s acting in it, and especially not if said actors are notoriously popular heartthrobs famous for tabloids and “who’s dating who” tidbits. The late 90s and early 2000s was full of this kind of celebrity idolization, in a much deeper way than today’s more informed generation has it, and Gigli was the final nail in the coffin for that kind of shallow appreciation of movies. I really do think people have gotten a lot wiser since, though; because really, there hasn’t been a big flop like this since. Not one that everyone was really on the edge of their seats waiting for, anyway. So it’s good that we’re finally learning that much, anyway, and if that’s the best thing I can take away from a viewing of Gigli, then I’m okay with that.

And I think the BIGGEST lesson I’ve learned from this terrifying journey is that I don’t have to restrict myself to any one genre to review movies. Hell, even when I started out, I knew that. Where did I lose the way? From now on I think I’ll just make a vow to review anything, from any genre. That sounds like a way better idea than just becoming stagnant by only reviewing one type of film. So I guess this is a good happy ending after all. And to think it came from Gigli. Who ever saw that one coming?

All images are copyright of their original owners; I do not own any of them.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

REVIEW: The Ring 2 (2005)

Oh man, oh man, I only have a few hours to review The Ring 2 and pass my misery onto the rest of the world, or else my face will turn into a dried up prune and my brain will go defunct! Just like…what happens when one normally watches The Ring 2...

Director: Hideo Nakata
Starring: Naomi Watts, David Dorfman

I really can’t put into words how boring this movie is. But hey, I might as well try!

The movie starts off with some stupid high school kids getting ready for a hot night of sex when the guy asks the girl if she wants to see something scary. If the punchline is him unzipping his pants, I’m turning the movie off right now and converting to Catholicism.

No, actually it’s the Ring tape – apparently Samara was really hard at work in the three years since the first one, at making her very own video store chain, all around the USA now!

We see that he tricks the girl into watching the tape so he can get off the hook from Samara’s curse. But as will be a common theme in this movie, Samara cheats and kills him anyway when the girl only watches part of the videotape, closing her eyes for the rest of it. It’s not like it really matters, anyway. The first movie had plenty of people dying even after they showed other people the stupid tape. It’s an arbitrary, silly rule that just seems to be made up for Samara to kill people. What is even the point? Does she just get off on oddly specific murdering rules? I really want to see a ghost movie from Asia where the killer doesn’t have some bullshit excuse or guideline on what and how to kill people – that would be very refreshing.

Anyway, we then return to the main characters of the first movie, Rachel and Aidan. While I’m all for sequels actually featuring the same main characters as the originals, whoever cared about these two reappearing in another film? They’re bland as can be. It’s fine if you want to tell a continuing story, but for Satan’s sake, could you at least try to make it an interesting one? Or at least, not one that makes me wish I was in a coma?

"Honey. watch out, you're getting in the way of me neglecting you."

Rachel, being a super cool journalist, tracks down the girl who survived her idiot boyfriend’s Ring tape fiasco, and wastes a lot of time at a police station for basically two seconds of exposition where she learns that – DUN DUN DUNNNNNN – the horror is starting over again! Why did we need a five minute scene of her aimlessly putzing around at a police station to establish that this will in fact be a continuation of the horrors of the first film? I think it’s pretty self-explanatory, guys...

"Oh, I'm glad there weren't any guards around or anything. That would have made this completely impossible! And why did I wait that long and waste so much time when clearly I could've just snuck back here in the first place? I...I don't know..."

After that, Rachel manages to track down the tape in the dead kid’s house, and she goes and has her own personal bonfire with it. And just in case you’re completely retarded: this is not the end of the movie. If you think her burning this tape will end their troubles, or do anything beyond just punching holes in the “why don’t they just destroy the tape?” arguments that would have popped up...well, you’re in for a sour, rude awakening with the rest of the movie. As I said before, Samara just breaks every single rule the movie tries to tell us in set in stone. What a load of horse snot.

"I burned the tape! I'm so glad the rest of the movie just doesn't exi---oh shit, the DVD player tells me I still have an hour and a half left of the movie. Wow, this red herring totally failed."

Back at home, Aidan has some freaky nightmares about Samara and the tape and everything. Rachel assures him that she definitely will not just leave him alone while going out and almost dying again. So maybe her parenting is a step up in this one. But that just means she’s at the level of “drunk and slightly incoherent” mom instead of “holy shit, she just did THAT to her child” mom...don’t worry Rachel, you’ll have your own show on MTV sooner or later. It’ll probably be called “Whoops, I Left My Kid Alone to Go Ghost Hunting.”

After that, they go to a fair where she just lets Aidan run off in the middle of a bunch of perfect strangers, who could potentially be crazy serial killers or rapists, but it’s OK. He just goes in the bathroom and takes pictures in the mirror.

Glad your kid is weird and just goes off to take pictures in bathroom mirrors, instead of getting into vans with strangers - seriously, WTF is the logic in telling your young son "oh yeah, just go off without me, it doesn't matter"? Are you high?

In a truly Insidious-esque twist, we see that the camera just makes ghosts appear in the picture with you now, rather than the last movie’s silly ‘blurred face’ crap...apparently this is a signal that Aidan has contracted hypothermia mysteriously, so they get out of the house and go stay with Rachel’s reporter friend Max, who is filling the ‘generic horror movie guy’ quota of the movie. You know the guy who is inoffensive, bland and milquetoast as hell? The guy who, in every horror movie, is the best friend with a possible romantic interest in the main girl, but who would never dream of actually taking advantage of the situation in any way? The guy whose only role is to be the voice of reason and talk in a really wimpy, whiny sort of tone all the time? That’s Max.

In the bathtub, we see some crazy stuff happen as I think Max will want to re-look at his water bill for the month...hope he’s not too mad:

Just think of all the money wasted on this effect. Think of all the green backed dollars and shiny coins that got sucked deep into the funnel of corporate pandering in order to create this scene, in this soulless movie.

Then Rachel decides the best idea is to strangle Max just because she thinks he’s Samara for a second…it’s funny to me that THIS is the big reason that everyone finally starts doubting Rachel’s parenting ability. Let’s count the horrible things she’s already done before this:

1. Leaving the killer videotape for Aidan to watch on his own and thus put his life in danger?

2. Leaving him alone while she goes off on a journey that she could very well DIE on?

3. Letting him wander around a strange new town fair alone where anything could happen to him?

Yeah, like I said in the other review – just take Aidan away from this crazy broad and put him in a home where he’ll actually be SAFE. Christ, these movies give the Poltergeist series a run for their money in terms of bad parenting.

But nevertheless, at least they’re finally starting to suspect Rachel is a horrible parent, even if it is for the wrong reasons. They take Aidan to the hospital, even though Rachel says she doesn’t want to...WHY?! Why would you not take him to a goddamn hospital, you bimbo? What possible reason could you have? Are you just mentally deficient? Is that it? Are you just the worst shit-eating, loathsome, scum of the Earth parent to ever exist?!

Jesus. I’m reaching my limits here. Let’s just get the rest of the movie over with.

There are a lot of boring, dull, trite scenes where Rachel goes around to the old Morgan house from the first movie to research stuff. It’s a complete waste of time, and I’d rather watch paint dry. Why does every 2000s supernatural horror film have to have these slow-paced, uninteresting ‘research’ montages? It’s totally bullshit. There are ways to do these kinds of scenes right, but The Ring 2 doesn’t, and neither does any other subpar excuse for a horror film around this time. It’s lazy filmmaking and all it’s really doing is taking up precious film reel that could have been used instead to educate people, or at least to make an actual good movie. Sigh.

God, I'm glad Cabin in the Woods exists to show how stupid all of these kinds of scenes are. Maybe a couple of times, in the entirety of horror as a genre, has research scenes ever led to anything important to the plot. IT'S NOT SCARY, people! Learning the origins of things is not scary!

Rachel goes off on a quest to talk to Samara’s birth mother and figure out what the hell is going on. After another over-five-minute scene of wasted time trying to get in to see the mother, we finally get there – I think The Ring 2 thinks it’s conjuring up atmosphere, but this isn’t atmosphere, it’s just dragging out the inevitable, like a knife-wound left untreated while your paramedics go and get a grilled cheese sandwich from the bar next door. Painful, excruciatingly dragged out crap is what it is.

So apparently there’s some story about how Samara’s mother, Evelyn, once tried to drown Samara in the pond outside the mental institution, and that’s why Samara was given up for adoption…to the other family that tried to kill her. Evelyn tells Rachel that she did it because “Samara told her to.” Yup, she tried to kill her infant daughter because her infant daughter told her to; clearly this woman is a beacon of sanity in a forest of madness. Her advice to Rachel is to “listen to her child.” Hey, isn’t it a bit weird that Rachel would go to a child murderer and insane asylum inmate to get advice on parenting? Somehow it doesn’t surprise me though.

"I'm totally insane! But I'm a wise prophet on taking care of kids...please, yes, listen to what I have to say. It will tell you everything you need to know."

Oh, and NOTHING about this scene is ever brought up again. That “listen to your child” bullshit? Never referenced or mentioned in the film again! Hooray for pointlessness!

Back at home, Aidan is possessed by Samara now – did you know THAT was one of her powers? How about when he uses psychic powers to make his doctor kill herself? Did you know THAT was one of Samara’s powers? No? Well, that’s because this movie made that shit up without even bothering to try and connect it to the original movie’s story. Is it any surprise that a film so boring and lifeless has trouble even keeping its story straight? “Samara is an evil ghost with the power to kill people, but only if they watch a video tape...or if she just feels like possessing someone and murdering people for no reason...” What absolute ass.

Then Aidan goes to Max’s house again and somehow kills him. Rachel finds him in the car:

Did he even watch the tape at all? Did Aidan/Samara just force him to? I'm more inclined to believe the movie has just thrown all pretense of making sense to the wind.

Isn’t it kinda suspicious to the police in this town that people keep turning up with their faces like that? Even if half the murders happened in another town, they’re all obviously identical in what happened to them – even if nobody knows how it happened. So do the cops really just think it’s all a big coincidence? Geez, movie. I know small town cops aren’t always Sherlock Holmes, but c’mon.

Aidan acts strange and Rachel figures out that Samara is inside him, so she just drowns him in the bathtub again until Samara pops out like a jack in the box. Rachel revives Aidan and everything is cool, until Samara tries to come back through the TV – seriously, are they even trying with this shit now? The premise of “you have to watch the video to die” has become “Samara just does whatever she wants until she kills everyone.” Real gripping plot, movie.

Rachel gets sucked into the TV and ends up back in the well with Samara again. And we also see her do her best Dark Knight Rises re-enactment!

"RISE! RISE! RISE!" Maybe Samara can break her back and take over Gotham City afterwards. Makes about as much sense as anything else in this movie.

Despite all that crap the movie tried to shovel about Samara being sympathetic because people tried to kill her, we see Rachel just drop-kicks Samara in the face and condemns her to live forever in a dark hole with no light at all. After seeing what Rachel considers to be good parenting and just general good humanity, I question whether the ‘good guy’ really won in this movie at all. What else says ‘heroism’ like a little girl who was knocked around her whole life continuing to get shoved back down in the dirt for no other reason than the fact that she makes creepy insect sound effects when she moves and has too-long hair?

This movie is just wretched. It’s stupid, has questionable morals and, oh yeah, IT’S BORING AS HELL. There is nothing about this movie that I liked, or even found the least bit tolerable. It’s just a steaming pile of manure compost made up of the worst elements of post-2000 horror movies. Why even bother with horror movies at all anymore? I’ve already said everything there is to say, and this movie is the final nail in the godforsaken coffin. It’s just...God, this is so bad. It’s so completely insipid, and I’m as burnt out as you can get on reviewing movies like it.

That’s it, then – I’m done reviewing horror movies! I can’t do it anymore! From now on, I will only review romantic comedies!

Images in this review are copyright of their original owners. I do not own any of them.

Monday, May 13, 2013

REVIEW: The Ring (2002)

Oh no! I watched The Ring and now I only have seven days to do this review!

Director: Gore Verbinski
Starring: Naomi Watts, Martin Henderson

Yup, that's just how it works now. Seeing the movie The Ring is pretty much the same as seeing the fictional video tape featured in the movie. Seeing as I usually do reviews in less than seven days, I guess that won’t be a problem though…

For those not “in the know,” The Ring is pretty much the forerunner to most modern horror movies anywhere. It’s the prototype for all the modern supernatural ghost stories we have, long-haired little girl ghosts with demonic faces and all. But unlike The Grudge, which is unequivocally horrendous, The Ring at least does try to have some good stuff in it. But is it enough for me not to review it? I don’t think so!

The movie kicks off with two girls talking about the evils of television, and how it kills your brain. Assuming that extends to movies as well, I really don’t think it’s that great of an idea to kick off a movie with the reasons why you should turn it off.

"Like, the corporations are out to get us, man."

They play pranks on each other and stuff, lots of red herrings, and talk about boys and evil video tapes that kill you. Apparently one of the two girls has just come back from a weekend vacation where she and her friends watched this tape that is rumored to kill people a week after they see it. Insert your own ‘The Ring 2’ joke here, or any bad movie for that matter. I’m just wondering what kind of movie studio would be so desperate as to use a marketing ploy like this. I mean, a movie that makes people die a week after they see it? That’s pretty hardcore. I’m sure they would find a great audience among the kinds of incessant whackjobs who watch crap like A Serbian Film, however. Or, if they were really desperate…

Oh, okay, I know Lion’s Gate wouldn’t go that far. They did release the SAW sequels, but I’m fairly sure their desire to bring in a profit would stop them from a stunt like this. But I digress. Just when you think nothing is going to happen and the movie will be nothing but boring teenage banter…

Yup, looks like she tried to French kiss a vacuum cleaner. Wonderful. We then switch over to our next main character Rachel, played by Naomi Watts. Her problem is, her son keeps drawing freaky pictures in class instead of letting the United States Education System pound its historically and politically biased dogma into his brain. And that just won’t do!

So apparently, this kid thinks his dead cousin magically turned into a giant when she died. Or maybe he just thinks she was always that size...stupid kid.

I love when the teacher tells Rachel that her son clearly has problems and she just sort of waves it off. She says her son has been missing his cousin who died three days ago, and this is how he’s dealing with it. Because drawing pictures of dead people in class? TOTALLY DEALING WITH IT! At the end of the conversation, the teacher says Watts’ son actually drew the pictures a week ago, even though his cousin died three days ago. Creepy! Cue the “dun dun dun” music. Personally, I think the teacher should be more worried about Rachel's psychotic lesbian tendencies...

If you get the reference, I'll give you a cookie.

In the car, Rachel’s son Aidan says that the cousin – the girl from the opening – told him she was going to die, before the fact. Well if that’s the case, then why the hell was she acting so carefree and normal in the first scene, on the night she died? Did she just forget? Or was she just trying to scare her cousin? Personally, I really wonder what that mental thought process was like. What could she have been thinking?

“Oh shit! I’m gonna die in seven days because I watched a videotape! Hey, cousin, come here…listen, I’m going to be dead soon! I’m not explaining anything else because that would be antithetical to my goal of being as vague and ominous as possible and scaring a little boy who loves me! Hey, best friend, want to go party, talk about boys and joke around? Yeah? Cool. Okay, time to die now!”

Man I hate teenagers…

After that, the funeral happens, where Rachel talks to some teenagers and figures out that the other kids who watched the tape are also dying. So she does some poking around and goes to the cabin where they stayed, and finds the video tape almost immediately. Gee, that’s so implausible I can almost feel it in my teeth. What, she knew it was the right tape because it was the only blank one on the shelf? What if it had just been some homemade porn tape the guy at the counter made? Well either way it’s irrelevant, because by the laws of bad movies, it does turn out to be the correct tape. She watches it and…

So the ladder must represent man's eternal folly of making weak-ass, half-thought supernatural thrillers.

…wow, this is the worst Ingmar Bergman movie I’ve ever seen!

And then, you all know what happens next: she gets the phone call that starts it all, with a whisper that says she only has seven days to live. I personally feel sorry for whoever it is making those calls. It must get boring just having to call people over and over saying the same things…like the worst call center job in the world. But Rachel doesn’t have any sympathy as her countdown immediately begins!

Yeah, the funniest thing about this is that – spoiler alert! – most of their days are completely wasted. They barely even do anything until the very last two days! What an incompetent bunch of morons. But far be it from me to skip over large portions of this movie; no, no…I’ll go through all of it. First we see that apparently, a side effect of the killer video is that it makes pictures of peoples’ faces look kind of blurry and weird:

Man, Instagram wasn't so good in its early days...

Yeah, that’s right – this is a real side effect of the killer videotape. What do you think Satan was thinking when he conjured up that one? “This videotape, the spawn of all evil, will kill anyone who watches it in seven days…oh, and also it will make pictures come out kind of bad…it’s not a lame side effect! It’s, uhhh, just to screw over anyone who wanted to take pictures during their last seven days for their loved ones to remember them by! Bwuhahaha!”

Somehow I don’t think those two punishments quite even out.

Oh, and there's also Noah, Rachel’s old boyfriend, who is probably the coolest character in the movie, for now anyway. He at least knows what he’s doing, which is better than most of these movies ever get. He says he wants to watch the video, and at first, Rachel says no…but after the tiniest bit of prodding, she thinks it’s cool to show a person the videotape that KILLS YOU after you watch it. What a bitch.

He doesn’t think much of it either, and the two spend a lot of time trying to figure out what’s up with that freak-ay tape. To be fair, these scenes aren’t too bad, so I won’t really fault them that much. I will, however, fault a lot of the characters for the next few scenes…Rachel wakes up one morning to find that Aidan has watched the tape! Oh no! Maybe she shouldn’t have kept it in a place where her young son could easily get to it and put it into the VCR? Somebody call Child Protection Services on this broad.

"I really am the worst mother of the year! Oh well. At least he hasn't touched the bottle of Jack I keep on the kitchen table while I'm sleeping, or the gun I put under his bed for safekeeping..."

Then we get the big reveal that Noah is actually Aidan’s father. In the car while waiting for Rachel, Noah says he wouldn’t be good father material and so doesn’t come around that much. Great. Because of your insecurities, a little boy grows up without a father. You despicable piece of scum. How about next time actually taking responsibility for your actions, buddy? You asshole. It’s a shame because this guy was actually fairly likable for the genre’s standards, but after this? I just think he’s a pussy. Oh well.

I also love how one of the days this movie chronicles takes up more time with Rachel and Noah arguing in the hallway of his apartment building than it does them actually trying to accomplish shit. Do I even have to say why this is stupid? Oh no, guys, by all means. Continue your argument. It’s not like you have a kid together who’s dying or anything! Romantic banter is always equally important to life-threatening paranormal doom, right? Even Bonnie and Clyde would say these two are being ridiculous.

Somewhere along their research, Rachel finds out that the woman in the tape in one scene is actually Anna Morgan, a resident of some island with a lighthouse that is also featured in the tape. Apparently a long time ago, the horses on the island went insane after Anna Morgan brought home a foster daughter, Samara – who is the girl in the tape, if you’re the two or three people who don’t know that by now. So Rachel goes on a boat, finds a horse, and this happens:


Yeah. You just saw that. A goddamned horse went ballistic and threw itself over the side of a boat in this horror movie. Tell me which Grudge sequel has anything that ridiculously cool, and…well, I still won’t watch it, but you see my point!

She gets to the island and meets Brian Cox, who plays Richard Morgan, the lone standing survivor of the Morgan family. He’s a depressed old man who is about as sad about his horses dying as he is his family dying. After some more poking around and researching, they figure out that Samara was locked in an attic for years because Richard blamed her for Anna’s death and insanity. Somehow while locked in the attic, she gained supernatural powers and made a video tape that kills people in seven days after viewing.

Uh, okay. I rarely ever do this. But we need a break for a moment, while I try to process exactly what this complete gibberish insanity is trying to convey here.

…I’m sorry, but I really don’t see the connection there! Even if you’re trying to say she already had the powers before Anna adopted her, it still doesn’t make sense! So she had the supernatural power of making evil videotapes? How does she make the phone calls happen every time? What happens if somebody watches the tape and they don’t have a phone? Movie, I know you’re based off a Japanese film, which basically means you can do away with making any kind of sense, but come on! A little bit of effort would be nice!

Then they go to the cabin again and tear up the floors. The TV falls down the hole and knocks Rachel clean into the open well conveniently still there – not like they would have demolished that when they built the cabin, right? – and seriously, Rachel is that clumsy? It’s like something out of a Tom and Jerry cartoon.

Personally I think the staticy TV had its best day in Poltergeist, and that came out 20 years before this!

Rachel gets stuck in a well with some dead bodies – always a fun time – and then Samara shows her how her mother put a bag over her head and dropped her in the well to begin with. Because, remember, any good horror movie always has to have a sympathetic killer! We can’t just have an evil, malignant force killing off our main characters! It has to be a sympathetic killer we can feel sorry for and know why they are so evil and bloodthirsty. Truly that is the way of good, scary horror movies. Doesn’t dilute the fear and terror at all. What’s really scary is backstories! And remember, for even more of an effect, go the Rob Zombie route and devote half of the goddamn movie to the killer’s backstory. The Ring doesn’t do that, but that’s only because it simply laid the building blocks for modern horror. It would be a few years before the formula was perfected.

But I digress…they get out, and go back home to find Aidan sprawled unconscious on the floor. Because any good parent leaves her child alone and unsupervised when they may not ever come back alive, right?

The floor is his babysitter now. The rug, his comfort. You are dead to him, parents...dead.

…no, I’m done being sarcastic. Will somebody just kill these parents already?! It’s bad enough that the father is a worthless dick-cheese who won’t help raise his son out of his own sense of insecurity, and now we have a mother that forgets to call a babysitter when she goes out on the off chance that she might DIE IN A WELL IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE. Please, just send these two to the electric chair.

But fortunately we don’t have to, as in the next scene, Noah gets killed when this happens:

Talk about interactive TV! I wish my TV could do that. Maybe in the future we’ll finally be able to get Scarlett Johansson or Megan Fox out of the screen and into our living rooms.

I’d also like to take a moment to, erm, “thank” this movie for pioneering one of horror’s biggest reference points after it was released – the creepy, zombie-ghost girl with long hair covering an evil looking dead face. This image has been done time and time again in numerous god-awful films such as The Grudge, One Missed Call and Shutter, among hundreds of others. I dunno, is this really what the Japanese find scary? Demonic little girls with too much white-face on? I guess I just don’t get it. But safe to say, even if it was a scary idea, it has been run into the ground SO DAMN MUCH that it would be ineffective either way. So thank you, The Ring…thank you so much.

I love the way Rachel actually doesn’t know what’s gonna happen when she turns Noah’s chair around…lady, haven’t you ever seen a horror movie? If you go into a room and someone is sitting there, not responding, with their back turned, do you think they’re just playing a joke? Oh, how innocent and free it must have been to live in a world where horror movie clichés are only a little bit dated, as opposed to 11 years later, when they’re just run into the ground.

"Maybe he really IS just sleeping! That must be why his chair is suspiciously and conveniently turned around like that, so I won't see his face yet..." Also, the guy's current girlfriend is shown going up the stairs after Rachel leaves. Rachel does not do anything to stop her or even lessen the blow of what the girl is about to see. Our hero, folks.

Anyway, she goes home, tries to destroy the tape, only to discover that they have to pass on the tape to someone else in order to get rid of the whole curse thing. There are some ominous cuts from the video aaaaaand…that’s pretty much how it ends. I wouldn’t even call it an end…more of a cliffhanger, really.

Well, I can’t say this is a terrible film, it’s got a few good moments here and there, and some nice atmosphere. But too much of it just falls into that annoying modern horror stereotype – it invented a good many of the stereotypes we see today, but then, I wish they were done better. It’s weird because these elements – the ghosts, the supernatural storylines, the backstories – could potentially be melded into something good. It’s not like these things are bad simply by their natures, so why can’t anyone string together a good film from them?

Oh, and I forgot, I’m gonna die in seven days because I watched the movie! Oh well. I’ll just keep pondering these questions and mix it up by flirting with people. No big deal.

The images in this review are not mine; they are copyright of their original owners.