Friday, March 30, 2012
THE DEVIL'S ROCK (2011)
Directed by Paul Campion
Craig Hall - Captain Ben Grogan
Matthew Sunderland - Col. Klaus Meyer
Gina Varela - Helena
Set in the Channel Islands on the eve of D Day,two Kiwi commandos, sent to destroy German gun emplacements to distract Hitler's forces away from Normandy, discover a Nazi occult plot to unleash demonic forces to win the war.
I like WWII movies a lot, but not a lot of them though. I don't really know why, I just do. Actually, I should put it as war movies instead of WWII movies. It could be because of the action involved in the movies, yet I think it's more due to the drama involved. In general the best film I've seen dealing with WWII was actually a HBO mini-series, Band Of Brothers. If you haven't watched yet, you should go and try to find it. I promise you will not be disappointed with it. Yet it's when you add the added bonus of horror to the mix you have the potential for some really fun horror. In both the aspect of story and visual.
One of the best parts in this movie is the actors. The cast is small so you actually get to know the characters, more so than in other films with bigger casts. Craig Hall, who plays Captain Ben Grogan, does well as a commando who still cannot get over the loss of his wife and is his driving factor of what he does in the movie. Matthew Sunderland, who plays the antagonist Col. Klaus Meyer, though is the true star of the film as he always has thinking ahead as his character, who was the lead in a occult experiment for the Nazi SS. Meyer knows how to use emotions to his advantage here and uses them he does in his tense battle of wits he play with Hall's character Grogan who uses morals to determine his actions. The last of the main characters is Gina Varela who plays dual roles as Grogan's dead wife Helena as well as the demoness in the film. Varela has to play coy and modest when we are first introduced to her character until we find out what she really is in the movie. After that the Helena demon takes over trying to seduce Grogan with love and power. Varela does an excellent job once the veil of humanity is lifted from her character.
The story for The Devil's Rock even though it seems straight forward has quite a bit of meat to it. What most younger people don't understand is that during WWII, the Nazi party controlled by Hitler had multiple divisions within it. The SS was one of the groups, but within that branch were multiple other ones including the Ahnenerbe SS branch dedicated to the search and retrieval of occult items and mysticism. One of the lines in the film has the Helena demon talking about artifacts the Nazi's were after. One was the Spear Of Longinus, which supposedly in reality was taken by them and brought to Austria. Also in the same line was a reference to the classic film Raider's Of The Lost Ark. Another stand out aspect of the story is the battle of wits being played out between Col. Meyer and Captain Grogan. Even though it doesn't seem like they are, they are in fact trying to think ahead of one another. From Grogan switching papers in Meyer's necklace to Meyer having Grogan help him set up his own death trap, it's a battle of wills being played out in a minimalistic level where it's not about big ideas but little moves in a deadly game of chess.
Director Paul Campion, who got his start at Weta Workshop and then moved on to directing. His past with special effects work comes into play in the film as he knows how to set up the shots when there are make-up effects being used and to get the right light on them to make them look the best and not fake. Campion as well knows how to tell a story as he also helped write the screen play. He knows that this film relies on seriousness from the actors in telling of the story as the two main actors are playing a very deadly game while playing off of each other. I should also mention the sound design in the film as once the action heads into the German bunker there's a sound design at work to put the viewer at unease. Even in scenes where there is no music there is still background noises that almost sound like voices all around adding a air of anxiety and restiveness. The effects work is top notch as well with the effects work of Weta in full bloody, messy, and very gory display which is something you would expect from them. In the end The Devil's Rock suprised me by how well it handled itself and was a very interesting watch that had no humor to it what so ever and was a very serious film, but one that I wish would have come to theaters instead of some the other supposed horror movies as this one is very suspenseful and filled with dark atmosphere.
Col. Meyer's pre-masticating severe head trauma.
Their leader has long been searching for so called wonder weapons, magical items with which he will kill your people in multitudes. He already holds the Holy Lance, he had within his grasp the Ark of the Covenant, he tried to awaken the Great Old Ones, and now he has within his reach the power to summon Lucifer himself!
The design of the German bunker is based on the real WW2 German bunker MP4, a Range Finding and Observation Tower which still exists in Guernsey, in the Channel Islands.
The tunnels and gun pit scenes were filmed at Wrights Hill Fortress in Wellington, a real semi-restored WW2 bunker.
The occult black magic ritual at the climax of the film was filmed on Friday the 13th.
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Directed by Richard Powell
Robert Nolan - John Dodd
Astrida Auza - Charlotte Dodd
Cathryn Hostick - Jordan Dodd
Through a series of tragic events, a middle aged man grows to suspect the negative impulses plaguing his mind may not be his own.
I know I mentioned that I really like when directors or producers get in touch with me about their work. In fact, I'll probably keep on loving it actually. The reason why is that it means that I'm doing something right (to me at least). Another reason why I think I'm doing something right with this is that most feedback I get from those same producers and directors say I'm usually fair and don't try to pander to them, but actually give a review that isn't afraid to pick out a problem. Yes, I can be rough sometimes. Even mean if the film is really bad. That's the thing though, when people send out their work for review, they want an honest opinion because it helps them find their weak points and in turn that makes them work on fixing problems.
Even though the film has three actors in it, it really only has one in all respect. Yes, Astrida Auza does a good job as Charlotte Dodd, as a wife and mother. As well does Cathryn Hostick as Jordan Dodd, the daughter who could care less about her family. Both play their roles competently though both of the characters are used more as plot devices more than anything. The one thing Familiar lets the viewer know is that John Dodd, played by Robert Nolan, is the main character. Most of the conversations between the family members are sporadic and minimal at best. There's nothing wrong with this as there is plenty of conversation in the short. Actually, all the main conversation takes place between John Dodd and himself. Robert Nolan, who plays John Dodd does an outstanding job making sure you know who is talking during these moments of communication between himself and, well, himself. While the real John is talking there's a twinge of sadness to his lines and a resignation. Yet when the hidden John Dodd talks, Nolan adds venom to every word and a sense of depravity to the thoughts spoken though left unsaid. Nolan voicing makes it easy to understand who is talking and the seductive nature of his other character is easily heard.
Director Richard Powell has directed a rather nasty piece of work that is offsetting as well as hard to watch at times. The film is wonderfully shot, and I'm also happy to see that more directors are using Red One cameras as it makes the shots look vibrant and brings out the little details. This is especially true during the ending of the film when John Dodd has had enough and and the crystal clear image of Dodd's final choice is displayed. Yet it's also during this that the true horror of the film comes to light, and Director Powell actually out-does David Cronenberg in the body horror field of the genre. The one hit this short has from being almost perfect to me was the transition the story takes from psychological horror to physical horror. It was as if the story hit a speed bump that was hard to work around. Though if the run time had been longer the unexpected turn in story could have been worked in slowly throughout and not be as jolting once it happens. What was a surprise to me was what I thought was going on turned out to be something different entirely and I would love to go into that, but if I do it would ruin the film for most. Powell also handles the two personalities of John Dodd quite brilliantly and how stray thoughts can have an impact on ones life and how those same thoughts can turn into a life of its own.Whether acted upon or not, the still have a way to worm into your being and fester till they have a way of breaking free no matter how hard the person tries to overpower the urges.
John's decidedly unfriendly razor manipulation on himself.
The world is different when people are asleep. Better.
The film follows the story of John Dodd, twin brother to WORM's psychotic high school teacher Geoffrey Dodd.
Astrida Auza has been in two shorts with another one in production right now.
Director Richard Powell has written and directed three short films: Consumption, and the interconnected Worm and Familiar.
Monday, March 26, 2012
THE HUNGER GAMES (2012)
Directed by Gary Ross
Jennifer Lawrence - Katniss Everdeen
Josh Hutcherson - Peeta Mellark
Woody Harrelson - Haymitch Abernathy
In a not-too-distant future, North America has collapsed, replaced by Panem, a country divided into the Capitol and 12 districts. Each year two young representatives from each district are selected by lottery to participate in The Hunger Games. A game of death played by children, that is televised for all to watch.
I'll go ahead and say that going into the movie I had no idea what to expect. The only thing I heard was from what JeNee told me, which is little bits and pieces of the story from the novel. And yes, I read bits and pieces here and there from reviews from different sites to see what the general feeling has been toward it. And from what I can gather people are generally pleased with the finished product all in all. Some of the backlash from it is that it's being compared to the likes of the cult film Battle Royal, which was finally released over in the US even though it came out in Japan in 2000, and contrary to popular belief was never banned here. Even one of my friends mentioned a little known film called Series 7: The Contenders. I realized that no matter what, there is going to be backlash against Hunger Games after the atrocity that is the Twilight Series (vampires do NOT sparkle!) and people will judge it from just that alone which I will say isn't fair to the film.
I can easily say that Jennifer Lawrence, as Katniss Everdeen, carried the film and the weight that came with playing the lead role. She put a decent amount of emotion and physicality into her role. There's also a certain amount of deceit that also is put into her role as well. I'll go more into this later as it's one of the few things that bothered me. Josh Hutcherson has the hard job of making Peeta Mellark likeable. When we're first introduced to his character he seems to be more interested in making the most out of what time he has being pampered and Hutherson does a great job of making his character seem like a complete douche through most of the film. Yet Hutcherson also has to make sure the audience know he's in love. Unfortunately during some of these scenes his acting falters slightly as if he wasn't sure what the director wanted from him. Now Woody Harrelson, as Haymitch Abernathy, acting stuck out the most to me as every scene he was in you knew it, as his presence outshined the other actors in the film as the ever drunken past winner of The Games. He's surly and somewhat manipulative to get what he wants out of Katniss, but you still like his character as you can tell that there is something else going on in his mind and a pain he's trying to hide.
I mentioned that I was going to get into the character of Katniss and something that bothered me.That something is even without reading the books I know that something was missing from her character. We know from the very start of the film that her character has nothing but complete contempt for The Capital. She doesn't like what she is about to have to do, yet she learns very quickly she has to manipulate the audience that is watching her before the games to get sponsors to help her during them. This I think is well done in the movie and makes the character seem very smart but yet it still feels like something is missing. It's when later in the film when Katniss and Peeta are together that the manipulative aspect of her character is fully seen, partly to help Peeta, and at the same time to somehow make up for not being able to protect another character. I know that there is a lot missing from Katniss's character as she seems to be able to think through different scenarios to give her an advantage yet at the same time at certain points the movie tries to hide this fact, which I'm happy to say doesn't work. Thankfully what the film doesn't do is make Katniss seems stupid or inept. Peeta's character though is a little bit different, he starts out the manipulator once the games start partly to save himself but more than anything to help save Katniss even at the cost that he knows is his life. It can easily be seen that everything Peeta does throughout the film is for Katniss only and not for himself, as Peeta knows he was doomed once his name was drawn for the games. The one thing both Katniss and Peeta have in common is that they both don't want the game to change them or for The Capital to have control of their lives even though this is hardly mentioned, it is slyly implied more than anything else.
The weird thing about this film to me was the choice of director for it Gary Ross. The violent aspect of the film, all dealing with the killing of children by other children, is going to be rough for the audiences and Ross, who is known for more than anything else more happy film fare, does actually a decent job of making it more horrific than what I was expecting from him. The first couple of minutes once the game actually starts is more brutal and bloody than I was expecting and at the same time was a little chaotic and was never played for laughs and we know from that point. The chaotic film work is there to cover up the violence that is happening as the start of the game is a slaughter of more younger contestants by the more older ones, who take pleasure in what they are doing. It's kinda funny thinking about those first minutes of the game that if this film was made fifteen or ten years ago this film would have been rated "R" for the violence that is shown. Ross also has a sense of pacing for the film that actually surprised me as the film never really felt as if it lagged anywhere. My one complaint against Ross is that the film didn't have the feel of desperation that one would expect from the situation the characters were put in and the darkness associated with the pain of being forced to kill someone as a means of control. But I will admit that with all these complaints and and small gripes I have with The Hunger Games, it is a well put together film that transports you to a different world that is fully realized, and at the same time a world that very much could happen in real life which makes it more surreal than false. As well, the film makes you want to see the next one much sooner than you would expect as you know this one only scratched the surface of this world and there were other factors involved in what was actually happening.
BEST DEATH: (Spoiler warning)
Not really a death, but the after affects of a death.
Here's some advice. Stay alive.
Jennifer Lawrence left her lead role is Savages to do The Hunger Games.
Danny Elfman left film due to scheduling conflicts.
Early ticket sales for The Hunger Games broke the record held by the Twilight Saga: Eclipse.
Friday, March 23, 2012
HUGO ( THE INVENTION OF HUGO CABRET) (2011)
Directed by Martin Scorsese
Asa Butterfield - Hugo Cabret
Chloe Grace Moretz - Isabelle
Ben Kingsley - Georges Melies
Set in 1930s Paris, an orphan who lives in the walls of a train station is wrapped up in a mystery involving his late father and an automaton.
The Oscars have come and gone. The lights and false glamor has faded and the inflated egos of the some have been fed even more. Where does this leave the films that were nominated for different categories? Well where I live, most are not around here. No big surprise there. Bear with me on what I'm about to say, and think about it before anyone starts to complain to much. What does it say about the movie that won best picture this year, The Artist, where the dog from that film has gotten more press than the actually film. No, keep thinking about it. Okay. Not pretty is it. There were other choices for Best Picture, even though compared to previous years, the 2012 Oscars choices were not really that exciting or, to me worth mentioning most of them save Midnight In Paris and Hugo.
There was just something about the actors and actresses in this film that fit it so well. Each person was perfectly cast to fill their roles and each showed a love that usually isn't there in most other films. The two main actors, Asa Butterfield as Hugo Cabret and Cloe Grace Moretz as Isabelle are both quite amazing in their roles. Butterfield plays an orphan who has been on his own for over a year living in the walls and ductworks of a train station keeping all the clockworks running ever since his father died. His portrayal of Hugo has an innocence, but at the same time a adult trickster feel to it after having to fend for himself for so long. Moretz though is the better of the two young leads as she just has a sense of wonderment to her character as Hugo opens her eyes to a wider world than what she knew previously before meeting Hugo. Even with the trouble Hugo gets Isabelle into and a less than pleasant introduction to each other, they form a bond that opens each others view of the world around them. Ben Kingsley who play Georges Melies, though is the true star of the film. Kingsley is both elegant and surly in his role of a old, and I could easily say, broken down store owner. The rest of the cast is filled out by a amazing cast. And Sacha Baron Cohen is actually fully watchable in this film as I must admit most of the things he has done I can't stand. Yet in this, he is fun to watch as a mean, love struck Station Inspector who's luck is far from the best.
So what is the film, or I should say what is it really about. While on the outside thanks to the trailers, it seems as if the film is only about Hugo and a robot. This is just a simple way to put this story, and doesn't do it justice at all. There's so much more going on as there is a dual story going on at the same time. One is Hugo, with the help of Isabelle, trying to figure out the secret from an automaton that Hugo and his father was working on before his father's death. Hugo's passion to fix and see what mystery lives inside the automaton, which is his last relic from his old life and his one true possession that Hugo can call his own, is what drives only half of the story. It is also with Hugo's side of the story that he shows Isabelle the wonder that is cinema at the time and the excitement and escapism that is present while watching movies. This is also when the second storyline comes into play as it deals with Georges Melies and why he seems so broken, as he seems a shell of a man. I don't want to give away Georges Melies story as when his life starts to intertwine with Hugo's to me the film truly came to life and I was hooked. This is also when the film became more magical as it shows why we love film and the experiences and emotions it can evoke from us.
The one hit I can put against the film is that the beginning of the film starts out slow and shows to many characters all at one time, yet this is also done to help set up the world that exist around Hugo. There is a bit of wondering off during the first thirty or so minutes, thankfully this also helps establish the world in the train station where most of the story takes place and also to make the station feel like a living entity more than a landmark. After this, the true story and the ride that is this film really starts. Scorsese is just a master behind the camera as there is always motion in this film whether it be from the clockworks in the train station to the living that occupy the station. Even the background characters played from such respected actors as Christopher Lee, Frances de la Tour, and Richard Griffiths are always in motion and help add to the world of the station. The audio and special effects (specially Hugo's nightmare, now that was creepy) are all above great and just add to what we are seeing before our eyes and hearing. This film is an experience to be had for people that love film. It shows what can be done with film still if the creators are willing to take a chance against the studios expectations (which is why movies are less now than what they were before thanks to the studios). If you, the reader of this love film, truly love film, this is for you and a must watch no matter what.
The death of Georges Melies dream during wartime.
No it's not. It worked perfectly!
The cam mechanism in the automaton is heavily inspired by the machinery in the Jaquet-Droz automata, built between 1768 and 1774. Indeed these automata are still in working condition (they can be seen at the Musée d'Art et d'Histoire of Neuchâtel, in Switzerland) and are capable of drawing figures as complicated as the drawing depicted in the film. Many nuances such as the head following the pen as it was drawing and dipping the pen in ink were also present in the automata in real life.
The opening track shot of the city ending at the train station was the very first shot designed and it took one year to complete. It required 1000 computers to render each frame required for the shot.
The train station depicted is the Gare Montparnasse. In real life Georges Melies did in fact work as a toymaker at that station after World War I. The derailment scene during Hugo's dream is a reference to the famous 1895 derailment at the station.
This is the first Martin Scorsese feature film to not feature Leonardo DiCaprio in a the starring role in over 12 years.
Monday, March 19, 2012
THE SUMMER OF MASSACRE (2011)
Directed by Joe Castro
Yep, it's another anthology movie I'm reviewing. This one kinda came up out of nowhere on me so I just had to see what was going on with it. Now anthology movies are nothing new, I reviewed a couple just recently in fact. Yet what got me with this one is it supposedly has the highest body count for a for a slasher film yet. And with a end tag line claiming the movie will have the viewer looking for a barf bag by the finish of it caught my attention the most. With it saying that it has a lot to live up to.
Tim A. Colley - Chris
So let me get this one straight in my head. Guy gets mugged by three underachieving yet well dressed dudes in park. Said guy gets half of his face cut from side of his mouth to his ear and his eye gouged out then passes out afterwards. After he comes to he goes on a killing rampage with massive head trauma and losing blood as he goes along. Okay. Why is there no one screaming at the site of him and running the hell away or at least calling the cops after seeing him walk what I can only guess is half the damn city he lives in (he likes to walk I guess). And where is the rest of the story? And why does he go around killing random people, though I will admit in very interesting ways. Yet this segment is the second worst in whole movie but alas that isn't saying very much.
Nick Principe - Laurie
Lisa M. Garcia - Kimberly Ann
You ready for this one. Laurie, a mentally challenged "female" (wait until the twist at the end for this one) suffers from spinal bifida and one serious head cyst among other problems (including really hairy dude legs) is sent over the edge of a cliff by her sister to help speed up her dying process. Problem is Laurie is no longer as mentally challenged now thanks to that and decides to go and kill everyone "she" sees for past slights. And this one has some of the worst acting in it and the most awkward love scene in a movie I've seen. This one is just terrible all the way around.
SON OF THE BOOGYMAN:
Deanna Meske - Young Mother
Scott Barrows - Mr. Boogens
Wait a minute, how did this one get in here? There's a actually story here! A young girl is raped by the local boogyman legend and has a kid by the incident. 30 years later daddy wants to terrorize his son. The reason why I say this one has a story is because it sets up the present by having a back story of what happened in the past. You also have a monster in the form of Mr. Boogens and his dedication to finding and then terrorizing his son throughout the segment. Yet what this does correctly is ruined as well due to the same reason why the others fail which I'll go into after after a little bit. And I'm still wondering how Boogens is still walking around after taken at least 6 bullets to the face at point blank range.
Cleve Hall - Father Daniel
J.T. Seaton - Devon Hopper
Two gay firefighters are burned together by their co-workers. Simple set-up as possible for a story. And it starts out with a campfire tale about them at a church retreat in the same area where disappearances have been happening for over 30 years all related to the families who helped burn the two gay lovers. I can except that somehow the two lovers survived being burned and living with ease. What I can not accept is that there is a church retreat and a church in the same area where there have been so many people have gone missing and killed and have the church still open and retreats happening knowing that the offspring of said families of those killed will be there. Great setup for a story but lousy follow through.
Dan Lovell - Dax
And now we come to the wrap-around story. If you actually can call it that. It's actually just a four scenes before each segment and a end scene where you see the three convicts in a warehouse filled with dead bodies they've killed. I will give Dan Lovell, who plays the convict Dax, a little bit of respect due to he was the best actor in the whole movie (but that really wasn't hard to do) and that he didn't overact at all is even more amazing. And like all the other segments in the movie this one suffers the same fate as the rest. One other thing I wondering about in this one. How the hell did they get a nuclear weapon and no one knew about it?
That rest (as I mentioned in almost every segment) is some of the worst special effects I have ever laid eyes on in a movie. Actually make that they were the worst special effects I've seen in a movie. This movie makes the Japanese gore films look like a breath of fresh air. Ninety percent of this movie has cheap and terrible CGI. All the deaths use it instead of in camera effects which cheapen the production even more. The look of the CGI isn't even good as it looks like it comes from the early 80's. Also considering that most of the backgrounds in the movie use this CGI, if you want to call it that, make the production of the movie look like crap. The sound and sound design aren't much better than the special effects and the music for the movie is just annoying. But the worst part The Summer Of Massacre is its just boring as I kept looking at how much time I had left before this eyesore was over. Movies like this are the reason why horror movies in general get no respect, and I'm afraid there's going to be more movies coming out like this. One other note, this film boast that it has over 150 deaths in it, yet in reality it's more like forty. The rest are dead bodies shown in the background of horrible looking CG done by the same bad CG. Or if you want to really get technical the death count is more like three million thanks to a bomb. So even the filmmakers got the dam body count wrong. Do yourself a favor all those that read this, stay far away from this abomination. You have been warned.
Considering that most of the deaths are just horrible looking, this looks like it was done by WETA or ILM in retrospect.
My kitty kitty.
Joe Castro has worked on the special effects for over twenty movies, including his own films.
Joe Castro has directed one sequel movie, and that was for his film Terror Toons, Terror Toons 2: The Sick And Silly Show.
Brinke Stevens has had a very long career in film dating all the back to the 1972 movie Necromancy, and has been in over 130 films.
Saturday, March 17, 2012
As I've said before in previous posts (two so far I think, making this a third time), The one movie I'm looking forward to this year the most is Prometheus. Since everyone is posting the new trailer, or the Space Jockey, I've decided to post just two pics from it. Possible spoilers below........You have been warned!
If that isn't a Xenomorph, I don't know what is:
And the last picture I'll post shows what looks like is a hybrid.
If that isn't a Xenomorph, I don't know what is:
And the last picture I'll post shows what looks like is a hybrid.
Friday, March 16, 2012
JOHN CARTER (JOHN CARTER ON MARS) (A PRINCESS OF MARS) (2012)
Directed by Andrew Stanton
Taylor Kitsch - John Carter
Lynn Collins - Dejah Thoris
Willem Dafoe- Tars Tarkas (voice)
Transplanted to Mars, a Civil War vet discovers a lush planet inhabited by 12-foot tall aliens. Finding himself a prisoner of these creatures, he escapes, only to encounter a princess who is in desperate need of a savior.
It was a Saturday afternoon, and I'm just getting over a stomach bug that made me kinda surly for most of the week (sorry JeNee). JeNee and I are wondering what to watch, as we both love movies. JeNee is into comedies a lot more than I am, as I tend to find most of the jokes fall flat in most of the more recent ones. And those that read my blog know that I like horror films, which JeNee has started watching more of recently. So there was no horror films that opened up this past weekend, except for Silent House, which neither of us wanted to see. So I told JeNee that if she wanted to, we would see the Friends With Kids, which turns out didn't open here. Then JeNee said we should see John Carter instead. I relented, quite easily even though the early buzz for the film has been bad and the trailers for it made it look, well, like shit. So we sit down for the start of the film (in 3D no less) and are bombarded by trailers for upcoming movies in 3D. Prometheus in 3D made my jaw drop (just seeing Giger's work in that format is mind boggling) and Avengers in 3D is a no brainer and looks simply amazing in the format. After about 15 minutes of trailers John Carter starts.
I admit that the name Taylor Kitsch is only one I heard of in passing, and most recently only in a really underwhelming spin-off of a movie franchise about mutants in which the character he played was completely wrong. Well the good thing is that Kitsch actually fits the role of John Carter here quite well. He does a fairly decent job of man misplaced that has to learn how to walk (literally) again and understand a brand new environment from scratch. There's also a certain wonder Kitsch emotes as Carter at his new setting and the wonders it brings. Lynn Collins, who plays Dejah Thoris, is quite good in this as a princess trying to solve two problems at the same time. Collins brings an aire of dignity to the role, which is what was needed as she is playing royalty. Yet here's something her character does that few do in movies like this, she able to show her weaknesses without being tied down by them. The Tharks are filled out with the voices of well known actors and actresses. The Thark chief Tars Tarkas, is voiced by (one of my favorite actors) Willem Dafoe. He voices the leader of the Tharks and lends that character a sadness for what he has to do while leading his people and also being able to see a way out of his problems if he can get the help of John Carter.
So what does the film do wrong? To be blunt, the first fifteen minutes is a jumbled mess that jumps around. From a battle from the two main clans on Mars that ends abruptly, to showing a young Edgar Rice Borroughs receiving a letter telling him that his uncle John Carter is dead. So many characters and faces are flashed through this short amount of time that you get lost through all of it. It's only when Borroughs sits down and is told of Carters last will does the pacing of the film becomes stable. The movie could have done without the first fifteen minutes and still not have lost anything. So what does John Carter do right then? Almost everything else. From the story choices made, the main one being John Carter letting go of his past that has haunted and held him down for so long. When we're introduced to Carter finally he is a man that is basically a shell that only wants money and doesn't care for anyone else, just money. The first real glimpse we get of the man he will become is when he goes to help out his jailer after being shot. That man is still hidden through most of the film until the third act when Carter has to make a decision. To either run or fight. Yet the one thing that held him back the most was his sorrow and refusal to truly live again until he realizes that he fell in love and didn't recognize it until it was almost to late. Oh, and did I mention that there's a romance plotline in the film that helps the story, and is in fact integral to the overall plot. And the female interest isn't a girly girl that is afraid of everything. Dejah Thoris in fact wants to be the first one in a fight whenever possible and in fact relishes it. She also holds her own against John Carter whether it be in words or action, and is much more intelligent than her male counterpart. This was a nice breath of fresh air in the sci-fi genre in recent years.
I really should mention that the film is beautiful to look at and is wonderfully shot. Unlike recent action movies where different shots are used every three seconds when something is happening on screen, this film lingers on the action and isn't afraid to stay with a single shot. This I think is due to director Andrew Stanton's background in animation at Pixar. He understands that you can still create motion while filming action scenes if you move the camera around rather than to go to a altogether different shots to show the events. This makes the film have a much more fluid feel to it. It's a throwback to the way movies were shot in the 80's. In fact the whole movie is reminiscent of those films. From the storytelling to the pacing. The movie takes it's time to explain the universe and the characters that inhabit it. Which yes, makes the film slow down some, but it draws you in as the world is more understandable due to this and makes you care about what happens. Which is also why I think there is so much backlash to this film as well. Audiences now expect something to happen every five to six minutes. They can not stay still if something doesn't go boom or explodes in quick succession. Well that, and the film was just marketed so poorly as the trailers made it look like a completely different movie than what was actually on screen once the film started. I'll admit that from the trailers I could have passed on it and not really miss it. Which I'm happy to say didn't happen. As this was actually a fun, enjoyable film that I would love to see a sequel to, as I really want to see what happens after the movie ends. Oh, and JeNee, you can have Woola only if I can get a saddle and ride him!
The slaughter of the militant Tharks by John Carter. It was like he was a angle of death he killed so many.
It's not a spoken line, but an action that entails someone slapping someone in the back of the head.
The film has the distinction of being in "Development Hell" the longest at 79 years.
"A Princess of Mars" was originally published as "Under the Moons of Mars" by Norman Bean, the pseudonym of Edgar Rice Burroughs, in The All-Story pulp magazine.
Disney was so disappointed with John Carter's opening weekend that they started pulling the film from theaters the Monday after it opened.
Edgar Rice Burroughs other famous literature creation is Tarzan.
Monday, March 12, 2012
Directed by Mike Flanagan
Katie Parker - Callie
Courtney Bell - Tricia
Dave Levine - Det. Mallory
A woman and her sister begin to link a mysterious tunnel to a series of disappearances, including that of her own husband.
I love finding movies and films I've heard about that caught my attention for one reason or another. Most of the films I try to find are the films that usually play at film festivals such as Fantastic Fest, Slamdance or Toronto's After Dark Film Festival. These films for the most part are the movies I will completely go out of my way to find to watch and review. Yes, I do like the big summer blockbuster movies, yet most of the time those films are missing something. While the smaller release films and movies usually pack a greater punch due to the actual filmmakers have direct control over the final product most of the time. Whether that punch be emotional or visceral, these films just have a punch that is missing from more mainstream films, which is what is wrong with most mainstream films. I've noticed that a lot of the more smaller independent films I've watched recently just outclass most other films. That's not to say that they are all gems, in fact it's quite the opposite as in the indy film realm you have a lot more dreck than normal cause any person with a camera thinks they can make a film now. Yet it's finding those small gems that leave you either exhilarated or emotional drained make it worth wading through all of it worthwhile.
The two main actresses in the film carry the whole movie. Courtney Bell who plays the older sister Tricia is just wonderful. Bell has the more emotional of the roles due to the fact that her character is finally coming to terms with her husband has been missing for seven years and she has finally decided to declare him dead by absentia. The emotional toll is impacted even more by the fact that she's pregnant and she's seeing her missing husband as a ghostly apparition coming to haunt her for her choices. Katie Parker, who portrays Callie, does just as well as Bell. Parker's character is a little harder to get into at first but later on gives more warmth as she is more open of a character. Parker and Bell play very well off of each other after a awkward reunion at the start of the movie. Dave Levine who plays Detective Mallory isn't bad in his role either. Even though his character seems pretty common, it's when the movie starts reaching it's climax is when Mallory starts showing his true emotions. Also look for a cameo by Doug Bradley who always does decent in any role he is giving.
I have to talk about the story now as well as say that there with be a story spoiler here. So if you don't want anything ruined for you now would be the time to skip to the last paragraph.. Though the film starts out a little bit slow, it's necessary for the story as you get to know the two sisters who meet back up for the first time in years. You can tell there is some awkwardness between them as I mentioned before as Callie who is a recovering drug addict yet her sister Tricia sees past that. I mentioning this as even though both sisters have problems, they act like sisters around each other. Even though the first third of the film is somewhat slow moving it's done intentionally to allow the bond of the sisters to set in and show that each one has problems. While Callie is battling addiction, her sister Tricia is battling something much more internal and destructive. The story does pick up and once it does there's a certain creepiness to it. I put it that way due as I watching the film that creepy factor just slowly pervaded into the story without me noticing. I loved how this feeling worked it's way into the overall story as toward the end of the movie it comes to the fore-front at what is actually happening. I'm going to go ahead and say that what I thought was going on and what was happening I was completely wrong about. The story took a very nice turn into the Mythos territory and it just opened the whole film up to something completely different and made the story become larger and more expansive.
Director Mike Flanagan has created a movie out of a mash up of genres and it works wonderfully all together. Part of this is due to the story, the other part is due to how Flanagan directed the film. The camera work is steady for the most part and when something is happening on screen there is not ten different angles quickly put together in the Mtv style of directing. Instead the camera focuses on the characters reaction to what is transpiring around them and the true horror is just always out of focus either in the foreground or the background. This works amazingly at the end as the mind takes over and tries to fill in the gaps of what is really there. Yet the one scene this works best in is at the end of the film when Callie is asking for a trade. The trade is agreed upon but not in the way she wanted or who she wanted. I'm not going to give the whole thing away but what happens is a gut punch that I didn't see coming. Even before this the film took on a life of its own, but this scene made the movie into something else. Something more monstrous, and much more horrific. For a movie that was made for not even a fraction of what movies are made for in Hollywood, it does what most of those never come close to being, having a story that doesn't take its audience for granted as well as being suspenseful and scary, and a amazing film in general.
The return of a slightly rearranged missing family member.
Courtney Bell, who plays Tricia, was five months pregnant during the production of the film.
Mike Flanagan wrote the first draft of the screenplay in just two sittings.
Absentia was funded with help by over 300 donors on Kickstarter.
Friday, March 9, 2012
Directed by Cole Schreiber
A young American soldier who died in WWI unearths himself after 90 years of being buried in the European countryside.
Some of the short films I review come from young filmmakers getting in touch with me. Yet I also actively look online for short films to review. Some of the places I check are some more of the bigger horror websites, while I also check some of the more smaller ones as well. I'm also on Facebook, which is where I heard about this short thanks to being friends with Strange Aeons Magazine. As you can tell by that name, yes it deals with the mythos and anything surrounding it. So once I saw that they had link to a short film I decided to give the short a shot.
There really isn't much to judge acting wise in the short due to the two main characters are in fact zombies. They don't speak or even grunt. Though Chad Rowe does a decent job as the lead in this short film as the lead zombie, that's not to say that there isn't a problem in his acting. Let me explain why I say this.When we first see Rowe's zombie and for most of the short, Rowe stumble and shambles just like you would expect zombies to. Yet it's at the end of the short where all of a sudden Rowe's character starts moving like it isn't dead and start shoveling at his lost love's grave. Yep, not for brains does he salivate for, but for his lost love he lost over fifty years. The other zombie, and only other actor in the short, Caitlin Helms, only shows up for the last twenty plus seconds. Her main role is to lie on her side and embrace the hand of another zombie. For this she does as good a job as one could expect with the limited time she is giving.
While the story is pretty straight forward with Rest a dead soldier looking to get home to his lost love, I have no problem with it. Nor do I have a problem with the look of the short or the way it was filmed. In fact, it's quite beautiful to look at. And the make-up effects for Rowe and Helm's character are quite amazing. My problem with the short is that how can a zombie just walk around and not be noticed. Rowe's zombie walks through at least two major cities, and in fact he stops by a hardware store to pick up a shovel to dig up a grave, yet no one stopped him. I should also mention that Rowe's character also booked passage on a fishing boat to carry him over the Atlantic Ocean and no one freaked out on the boat, I just have to call bull on that one. In a time where if you look at little out of place people freak out, how can someone that has no lips, dark grey skin and holes in his epidermis not call attention to itself of the unwanted variety. Not to mention how can a zombie walking down a highway, dragging a shovel to less, while moving at a snails pace, not be target practice? Yet I understand that this is a love story, but at least one person would have smelled Rowe's zombie and gotten sick from that smell. Even though the look and feel of the short film is very professional, the suspension of common sense is to much in this one and ruins what could have been a very interesting take on the zombie genre.
Does a reunion of past loves count to be able to rest in piece?
There's not one line of dialogue in the short.
Director Cole Schreiber worked on the special effects for Underworld: Evolution.
Rest is viewable on Vimeo. Just click the link to view it. REST