Sunday, February 27, 2011
DRIVE ANGRY 3D (2011)
Directed by Patrick Lussier
Nicolas Cage - Milton
Amber Heard - Piper
Billy Burke - Jonah King
Milton, a vengeful father, escapes from hell and chases after the men who killed his wife and kidnapped his daughter but the underworld doesn't want this and sends the Accountant after Milton to bring him back.
Where, oh where to begin this. Might as well be with Nicolas Cage. The man's track record for movies isn't the best. Hell, it's not even pretty most of the time as of late. But I'm not going to fault the man for picking movies that are more on the genre side of things. One of the things I'm thankful for is his not playing Superman a couple years back, even though the movie was a disappointment in and of itself even without Cage in it. His last really good movie he was in was Kick-Ass, which was just screw everything movie and it worked for that reason, because it didn't follow the rules. That's not to say that the movies he's in fail because of him, it's just that he doesn't pick the best roles for himself or studios get hold of the film and do their own editing on it which changes the film completely (such is what happened to Season of the Witch). So I do give Cage the benefit of the doubt due to this.
I must say that Nicolas Cage is decent in this. It's not his best role, but it's one of his better ones he has had in awhile though, which really isn't saying much. One of the things that help out with this is that he doesn't have one of those freak out moments he usually has in movies thankfully, even though I could have done without some of his brooding. Billy Burke though does good with his role as Jonah King and outshines Cage every time he's on screen. His character is slime, and he plays it to the max where you actually can't wait to see his character get killed. The character of Jonah King is so sleazy that it just seems to ooze off the screen. Even though Nicolas Cage and Amber Heard are billed as the top actors, William Fitchner though just steals the movie as the Accountant. The man is just cool and has all the best lines in the movie. Fitchner is one of those actors who you see in a ton of movies but don't know his name but yet still manages to steal every scene. The man is just that good as he plays the character as someone who knows he's better than everyone, as he delivers every line with a dry sense of humor.
Director Patrick Lussier knows what type movie he was going from the start, and it shows as he knew where to set his shots and get the best possible use of the 3D cameras he's using. There's actual depth in scenes that are missing from post conversion 3D process that those processes will never be able to get correct. Yes there are the usual 3D standards such as weapons flying toward the screen and body parts as well of course, but it's the small things such as ash that flies by on screen and bugs whizzing by that add layers to the whole experience. Lussier has grown as a director from his last, and really terrible directing outing My Bloody Valentine thankfully.While the movie slows down in parts, it just gives the viewer time to catch a breathe before the next frenzy that is about to happen. While the story itself wasn't nothing special, and predictable for the most part, and has it's more than fair share of plot holes, such as why Amber Heard's Piper was so important, the actors more than made up for this shortfall in the movie thankfully. Ficthner especially as he just gives his lines with a calm viciousness and makes his character more than what was giving to him as the same can be said for Billy Burke.
Anyone who goes to see this should know that this is a pure grindhouse movie that would have felt at home in the 70's. It's mean, ugly, and brutal yet fun all the way through specially if you have a sense of humor and love stuff that doesn't follow rules. A good example of this is Fitchner's character likes to poke at open wounds, literally, while asking questions, and throughout those scenes I was giggling like a school girl just because it was nice to see this type of movie in a movie theater. By this I mean it wasn't a sequel, or a tamed and watered down horror movie for 13 year olds. Yes, it's tacky, crass and smutty. Yes, it has knees, hands and heads being blown off and flying toward the screen. Yet it's all in fun. No it's not a perfect movie, in fact it's a bad movie and it knows it is, and by doing so it elevates itself above it. It is a fun, ridiculous escape that was better than I though it would be and I'm quite happy I got to see it in theaters.
Vehicular homicide to multiple persons by a flying Chevrolet Chevelle.
Carpenter. And contrary to popular belief, dislikes long hair.
Lussier's first directing job was on Wes Craven's Dracula 2000.
The cars Cage's character Milton uses in the movie are a 1964 Buick Riviera, a 1969 Dodge Charger, and a 1971 Chevrolet Chevelle.
The movie was shot all in Louisiana.
Saturday, February 26, 2011
BURKE AND HARE (2010)
Directed by John Landis
Simon Pegg - William Burke
Andy Serkis - William Hare
Ilsa Fisher - Ginny
A black comedy based on true life events about two 19th century grave robbers who find a lucrative business providing cadavers for an Edinburgh medical school.
I will always have respect for John Landis and have since I first saw An American Werewolf In London for the first time when I was sick when I was 12 years old. Werewolf was the first true horror film I saw that had funny parts put in it just to be funny and not due to unintentional comedy. How can you not laugh at Griffin Dunne's Jack Goodman's hallucinated decomposing, ripped flesh hanging off in patches body, telling his friend David Kessler, played by David Naughton, to kill himself while complaining about the crappy state of conversations among the dead. Since then I got to watch all his other comedies from The Kentucky Fried Movie ("Show me you're nuts.") to the awful Blues Brothers 2000 (stay away and stick with the original Blues Brothers.) Now comes his newest movie Burke and Hare.
Even though the film is called Burke and Hare, the true star is Simon Pegg as William Burke through and through. But that's not to say that it's his best performance, in fact it's not, but he does draw your compassion for the character as Burke is the most likable of the whole cast and shows he has the most flaws. Andy Serkis' William Hare on the other hand is played with a air of snobbishness that he feels that the world owes him everything and he does quite well with it but is likable none the less. Pegg and Serkis thankfully play quite well off of each other as a lot of the comedy is from the back and forth between these two and the situation they get themselves into. Isla Fisher's portrayal of Burke's love interest Ginny, is the one performance in this movie that I could not really get into, partly due to her fake accent, yet more than anything else it just seemed she tried to hard to be funny when it called for it and it failed.
Now as for the look and feel of the film, it feels like you are transported to 18th century as not one shot feels out of place or wasted. This is thanks to both Landis and the cinematography of John Mathieson. While it is great to see clean, crisp pictures where the action is never lost, a film will go nowhere if the direction isn't there. The main reason the film works is due to Landis. Landis has always had a knack for comedic timing in his work even though it seemed as if he lost that with his more recent works, just take his Masters Of Horror episode Deer Woman for instance. A complete mess that didn't really know where it was going and even the comedy in it fell flat every time. Thankfully Landis is back to his old ways .Landis litters the lansdscape and scenes with little details that are easy to overlook but that just helps add to the feel of the movie and brings back the classic John Landis that I love. As well as his direction of the actors is just exceptional, specially with Simon Pegg as he carries most of the movie, but also with the scenes dealing with Tim Curry and Tom Wilkinson's squabbling doctors who are trying to constantly one up each other.
Now Burke and Hare isn't for everyone as this is a black comedy. A good example of the comedy is when Hare is strangling an unfortunate, he just casually looks to Burke and says this is Burking someone and says that Burke is now famous due to this. Pegg face at this is priceless. The film is filled with scenes like this throughout. While not every scene works like it should, mostly scenes dealing with Fisher's character, it doesn't destroy the movie but it does bog it down in those spots. Thankfully those bog downs don't last very long though. I was laughing through most of the film, but then again I love black humor and this movie is full of it with Landis back in form finally. Now the sad thing is that this movie will probably never play in theaters here in the States, which is a shame as a set period comedy of this caliber is very rare now. If you can find a copy of it have fun and enjoy a return of old school comedy by one of the best as it's a must watch.
This is easily Christopher Lee's death bed scene.
You know William, I had confidence in a fart once. Then I shat all over myself!
Burke and Hare is the first full length movie Landis has directed since 1998's Susan's Plan.
David Tennant was originally scheduled to play William Hare but NBC wouldn't let him out of contract due to if a pilot he shot was picked up for a full series for fear of scheduling conflicts.
Actors Jenny Agutter and and John Woodvine rejoin John Landis, who all previously worked on An American Werewolf In London in 1981.
The Museum of the Department of Anatomy at Edinburgh University in Scotland has the skeleton of William Burke on display. Look below if you don't believe me.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
THE SWORD AND THE SORCERER (1982)
Directed by Albert Pyun
Lee Horsley - Talon
Kathleen Beller - Alana
Richard Lynch - Cromwell
A mercenary with a three-bladed sword rediscovers his royal heritage when he is recruited to help a princess foil the designs of a brutal tyrant.
The first time I saw The Sword and the Sorcerer was when my dad took me to see it when we lived in Antigua on the Navy base there. The projectionist and my dad were friends so he told my dad what new films the base was getting in every week and would invite him to watch them as he got the films ready to show. This day stuck with me as this was what really set my love of genre films firm. I was treated to a double feature that day with only my dad, the projectionist, and me in a empty auditorium of the The Sword and the Sorcerer and the far superior Conan the Barbarian. While Conan still holds up today, the The Sword and the Sorcerer doesn't fare so well but still has charm.
It's funny how you remember something from your childhood as something so special only to find out that in fact it really wasn't as good as you remember them. This film is one of those. I guess I should start by saying that the plot and story is just a mess that is impossible to understand for over half of the movie and even when it does clear up I was left wondering what just happened and when did the movie start making a little bit of sense. The first half of the movie characters show up out of nowhere then disappear just as fast, story lines start that go nowhere, and speeches are giving that are just laugh out loud bad. The camera work is just horrendous throughout most of the movie as is the direction by Pyun. As a director's job is to make a piece work, and for most of the movie it doesn't work. Now what does work really well in the movie is the music by David Whitaker, as the music seems as if it should be in a better class of film as it hits well at all the right times, from the chase through the castle to the final battle.
Now on to the acting, which is the one thing that actually saves the film from being a complete waste of time. Lee Horlsley does an amazing job playing a rouge by the name of Talon who gets involved in the affairs of a kingdom just to sleep with the princess of said kingdom. Yep, that is his whole reason for fighting. Horsley knows what type of film this is and slams the ham dial to 11 and just goes for it. In any other movie it would just destroy the character, but this isn't a normal movie. By being hammy, it just adds to the character of Talon, who is actually a prince, and just makes you root for him. This is just a performance you have to see believe. As for Richard Lynch, I have always found the man to be scary, and now I know why. It is because of this film. He sneers, he threatens, he isn't afraid to fight his own battles and you believe this in his portrayal of the conqueror King Cromwell.
While I was watching this trying to make it through the first half of the movie, it turns out I started having fun with it and I don't know why, but I went with it, and made it through the movie. From Talon's missteps to his friends poorly executed attempt at rescuing him. The good guys were just a bunch of screw ups that actually survived amazingly. For a cheap laugh watch the table scene between Talon and the Princess. Or for unintentional laughter, watch the close to 30 seconds of dead silence centered around a raised sword after a rousing speech that falls flat. Now the movie isn't good, in fact it's a lousy movie that somehow you're able to have fun with after you just forget about plot, story, direction and acting.
Sword through brain pan. Just see the picture above!
Come now, let's be off. There's a battle in the offing! We've got kingdoms to save and women to love!
Jack Tyree was killed while filming a scene of him jumping off a cliff and missed the air bags below.
Richard Moll originally played Xusia, but had to quit when the make-up contacts he was wearing started causing eye problems and had to go to the hospital due to this.
The sequel Tales Of The Ancient Empire was filmed in 2008, but was never officially released. It starred Kevin Sorbo, Val Kilmer, and Lee Horsley reprising his role as Talon.
Albert Pyun, the director, was an understudy of Akira Kurasawa
Thursday, February 17, 2011
LA HORDE (THE HORDE) (2009)
Directed by Benjamin Rocher and Yannick Dahan
Claude Perron - Aurore
Jean-Pierre Martins - Ouessem
Eriq Ebouaney - Adewale Markudi
Joining forces to survive, crooked cops and gangsters must reach ground level of a apartment complex together or perish from a zombie outbreak.
I first heard about La Horde when it was announced it was being made back in 2008 and saw a production shot of the filming of it. It looked dirty, and rundown. Decrepit even. I'm going to be posting a shot close to the one I saw later on. But that shot sold me on the movie with only knowing it was about zombies and gangsters. Since then other zombie movies have came out, but all were outclassed by the AMC series The Walking Dead, which focused on the emotional toll the outbreak of zombies has on survivors instead of the blood, guts and death. La Horde though, is an old school zombie movie with French sensibilities.
Now when I say French sensibilities, imagine if Luc Besson and Pierre Morel made a zombie movie love child. That movie would be La Horde. The action scenes in this movie are frantic, kinetic, and rarely slows down and when they do it doesn't stay that way for very long. The old 80's action movie 100 rounds in a 12 round clip is in full effect and you just go with it as you're having to much fun watching the carnage unfold before you. Even though this is a low budget movie, it doesn't act, nor does it feel that way in the slightest as most of the movie is shot in confined spaces which make the action seem bigger and more viscous as the movie plays by it's own rules and doesn't truly follow anyone else's.
Now as for plot and character development, this movie doesn't concern itself to much with that as this is a what you see is what you get movie. It's style over substance, and I could have cared less about the baby Claude Perron's Aurore was carrying in her tummy or the other unsolved plot threads. Just watching Perron's Aurore doing a beat down on a zombie lady in a kitchen and then ending it with her pushing over a old style refrigerator on top of said zombie, what is there not to love. Even though this is the first full length feature film from both Benjamin Rocher and Yannick Dahan, I couldn't tell as the movie was so well shot. I mentioned as the movie doesn't overly concern itself with plot that much, as a good example of this is the very first zombie that is killed had to go through being shot at least 30 times before the top part of it's head was taken off, you would think that after seeing this the characters would catch on how how to kill the zombies, yet they still decide to unload 30 rounds per zombie in their bodies and not in the brain area. Like I said character development isn't really there.
While the movie isn't a horror movie per say, it is a pure action movie through and through and probably the best one I've seen since 2008's Rambo. One thing that was different with this though is that the people you feel sorry for at the start isn't the one's you feel sorry at the end, as Eriq Ebouaney's Adewale Markudi is about the only one who actually undergoes a change in the film when he understands a mob rule is starting to take effect and he despises it. To break the intensity of the action, dark humor is spread throughout as to lighten the oppressive mood. While the film has flaws, mostly dealing with CG effects, as usual, and a thin story, it's easy to overlook as most of those aren't stayed on for to long. So if you're looking for a bloody, action filled time with a horror twist this is the movie to watch as the movie doesn't try to be anything but what it is.
As for the shot that made me want to see this, it's below.
The first thug to get munched on. Just the viciousness of it sets it apart.
Religion is just deaden insurance.
Jean-Pierre Martins is the singer of the rock band Silmarils.
La Horde premiered in 2009 at the London FrightFest Film Festival.
La horde won two Garner awards for the Best Screenplay and Best Special Effects or Cinematography at Fantasporto Film Festival.
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Episode 1 (2010)
Directed by Masaki Tachibana
When three friends are transported to a pariah folder in The World, which causes players to feel real pain, Sakuya gets trapped in the game and must figure how to get out and wake up her friend without losing their soul.
.HACK//Quantum is the tenth animated series, including clip series and OVAs, in the .HACK universe. .HACK started out in 2002 as a anime series that branched out to other media fields and has just continued to grow with the years. Unlike with most RPGs, the story lines and even some characters continue over through each iteration in some fashion or form. The easiest way to put .HACK is to compare it to World of Warcraft with everyone as humans with a overflow of player killers as the main hobby for most people.
While with most long running series it would be hard to jump into, Quantum was easily assessable even with it's long history. Anyone can easily get into the series as previous knowledge of the past doesn't come into play with episode one as it starts out quickly with the three main characters taking a secret route to get a valuable treasures guarded by The One Sin (which is a legendary dragon which only two players have ever beat in the whole series). While doing this Sakuya trips a trap that kills over 16 players and an illegal bounty is put on her head. An unknown factor, in the form of the character Hermit, is also present during all of this and enjoys what he is seeing as it messes with the order of the game. The next day Sakuya logs back in and is captured along with Hermit, who in turn is killed which causes the surrounding players to be transported to a Pariah Folder which causes pain to be felt by the players and if killed the players fall into comas (which is the main problem with the game throughout the entire series). While Sakuya isn't killed her consciousness is trapped in the game and her friend Mary is absorbed into the game itself.
As I said before the series is easy to get into as it puts you right into action with the main character who even though she loves playing, she winds up most of the time over her head in trouble in the game. Thankfully Sakuya is likable as the main character as she's more of a free spirit that has a curious streak which helps flesh out the character which helps the viewer out as well. While the animation isn't amazing, it is better than most anime that airs on TV in Japan and without a doubt superior than almost anything airing on television in the US as the animation by studio Kinema Citrus and director Masaki Tachibana know that they had huge expectations laid on them with this anime. I 'll go ahead and say that I love anime, specially ones that don't act dumb and are overly cute, which is one of the reasons why the anime market failed in the US in my opinion, and are beautifully animated that doesn't cut corners and .HACK//Quantum fits the criteria I just stated. Anyone that plays a MMORPG, in particular World of Warcraft, should watch this as it has the feel of those games and the wanting to see more of the surrounding places that inhabit them. My only complaint is that it's only 30 minutes and a 3 part series, but compared to what is on screen it doesn't take away the wonder and excitement of .HACK//Quantum.
The three nameless player characters who are flambeed by The One Sin.
Not even death cures you of stupidity.
.HACK//Quantum is the first of the .HACK animes not to be produced by studio Bee Train or directed Kiochi Mashimo.
Past characters from other .Hack series that show up in Quantum include: Tsukasa from .HACK//Sign and Haseo, Ovan, and Shino from .HACK//Roots and .HACK//G.U.
Originally part one was supposed to be released in late 2010 but got pushed back to January 2011. Part two comes out in February 2011 and the third and final part to the whole series comes out March 2011.
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Directed by John Erick Dowdle
Chris Messina - Detective Bowden
Logan Marshall-Green - Tony Janekowski
Jenny O'Hara - Old Woman
When a group of people get stuck on an elevator and start to die one by one, a detective has little time to figure out if the passengers are who they say they are.
Originally I was hoping to see this in theatres but stuff always got in the way so it kept getting pushed back and then it was gone. No big loss after what I heard about Shyamalan's last two movies, which I haven't seen either one and from what I heard and read, I'm not missing much. I feel sad for his work after his first three movies, which each one had something to it on it's first viewing but that excitement wasn't there the second time you watch though. Now here's comes a movie his name is attached to again, but didn't direct. What a twist! Hmm.....maybe the studios got smart with anything he directs, which is to say they wont give him the money to waste.
I'll go ahead and say it right now. There is a twist in the movie. We all know it's going to be there but unlike his other movies there's no long flash back sequence of events that show all the signs or long drawn out musical cues, just a short one this time of the devil rising up, which makes all the difference as the film isn't slowed down or the tension isn't broken by this. The closest I can put what type of movie this is is a classic mystery in the vein of Agatha Christie, and that was a big hint toward the end of the film. As this is a classic who-done-it type of movie you'll be guessing who's who and who the real devil is. If you pay attention you'll pretty much guess it after the first 30 minutes of the movie, but I'm not going to give it away as part of the fun with this type of movie is guessing, and it still doesn't kill the fun.
I should mention the beginning of the movie due to the opening credits roll over an upside down shot of the Philadelphia cityscape which kinda catches you unprepared but also sets the mood right away because it sets you off balance. I know this has probably been done before but for some reason this had my interest piqued mainly due to I haven't seen a movie start this way that I can remember watching. Even the direction by Dowdle is well done, a lot of the credit has to go to Shyamalan for writing a tight story centered around a detective stuck trying to stop something from happening while only being able to watch. While the trailers seems to show that the main story takes place in a stuck elevator, the main character is Detective Bowden played by Chris Messina. Messina plays his character with a guilt hanging over him for losing his family to a drunk driver, even though he had nothing to do with their deaths, yet he still mentally punishes himself for it. I mention this as Messina's character is the main actor in the story and a lot hangs on him at the end to actually pull it all together which he accomplishes.
While the movie isn't quite a horror movie, it has the tension there that so many of the recent thrillers miss just keeping by the plot centered around two areas instead of using multiple plot threads that don't get resolved. Thankfully this movie does tie up all loose ends, not as if there was a lot of extras going on in the background. One thing I wish they did show more of was the Devil itself not just an image of it in a broken mirror. Also I hate to say that the characters trapped in the elevator were stereotyped, but they were and poorly also. Guy in the suit, yep he's a con artist. Old lady, yep a thief. You get the point. While the story isn't original per-say, it does do a good job of re-inventing what was done before and keeping it interesting and fun.
Bokeem Woodbine's extreme chiropractic neck twist.
Damn. I really wanted you.
Devil is the first movie in M. Night Shyamalan's The Night Chronicles trilogy.
The inspiration for the film comes from the folktale "The Devils Meeting" in which the Devil roams the earth in human form torturing the living. The film also mentions the folktale.
Number 666 references: the building number is 333 (666/2), the elevator number is 6, and stops on floors 23 to 42 (2*3=6, 4+2=6)