Friday, May 11, 2012

Wreckage

Wreckage (2010)

So I'm kinda getting tired of the selection of rentable movies they have at the Irving in Gagetown so the other night it was a toss up between this movie and Apollo 18, which will probably be my next endeavour, this one only got picked because I figured it'd have some neat cars in it, as well as a dude named "Scoot McNairy".

Once you get through the two opening scenes, one of which might as well have been the first twenty minutes of the Halloween remake, the story concerns four young persons who are going somewhere - I'm not sure where they were going, but they were driving some great distance in a really nice lookin car. If I had a car like that, I'd never drive it, I'd just rub it with a diaper. So anyway, they're drag racing some other dude and the car blows up forcing them to go to the junk yard down the road to salvage parts where they get picked off one at a time by a crazed killer.

This is one of those movies which, though bad, is morbidly watchable. Sure, it's completely fucking retarded. The video quality looks about one step up from being shot on a cellphone; the editing is, for want of a better term, baffling; the lighting was stupid for fuck sake and the acting was painful.


But you know I think the whole thing was supposed to be sort of comical. Fuck, it had to be. Otherwise there's no explaining the retarded hillbilly (played by the Scoot McNairy dude. That is seriously the most awesome name I have ever read off a DVD case) who showed up and ran around the junk yard for the better part of the movie. That character had no point except comic relief.

hey y'all
A lot of the dialogue was amusingly terrible, and the characters' ridiculously erratic behaviour was entertaining. Really, though, the most fun was trying to figure out who would be the next victim. All of the characters were obnoxious and rude enough that any one of them could have died at any time! It was pretty exciting.

Despite that, almost nobody got killed in the movie. Seriously, only three people died in the junkyard, which is about the lamest killing spree ever. Jason Voorhees routinely would bag twenty people per movie when the series was in full swing. Three is pitiful. You'd think there would be more than three ways to kill a person in a fuckin junkyard, and yet one of those three people was actually just shot to death. With a gun. Fuck. Also, despite the fact that there was a sort of skanky girl (one of the three to die), I did not see one breast in this movie. So if you're looking for one of those breast movies, don't rent this puppy.

Mostly what happened was this:
SHERIFF: Everybody back to the ambulance, we're going to wait for back up
CAPT. WOW: My finace is still out there, I've got to find her!
SHERIFF: I can't stop you but I recommend you don't do that.
CAPT. WOW: Don't get in my way.
Variations of that snippet of dialogue happened at least three times throughout, if not more, wasting valuable slashing time.

Furthermore, if you like it when movies mostly make sense, this is not the flick for you. There is... so so much in this movie that made my brain sore, ranging from small details to major logic problems. For example, they wouldn't sentence a twelve year old to life in prison for killing his crack head parents. How come the lights had no power but the car compactor did? And if there was no power to the lights, how come the junkyard was so brightly illuminated?

Why didn't the group of young persons go to the house of the people who owned the junk yard and ask to be towed into town? Why would the road be so pristine if nobody travelled it? If the junkyard was less than a few miles away from where the car broke down, why did it take them until well after dark to get there?

What happened to the girl who nearly got raped by the guy in the second opening scene? How could crazy guy be the killed if he was killing people in the area long before he was in the area? What was all that talk about a serial killer anyway? When the decoy killed escaped, why didn't captain wow and the sheriff just radio his location in and get the wounded girl to the hospital? Was the decoy killer supposed to be the real killer's brother, because if so that needed to be elaborated on a little more.

Although the fact that they needed two explanatory closing scenes to make sense of what the fuck just happened in the movie just goes to show that the plot was too convoluted.

But yeah, despite all that, if you're really bored and want a chuckle, roll up a doob and give this a watch, you may be amused. One word of recommendation, though I don't condone illegally downloading movies because that's stealing you guys, the price of rental is a little more than I think anybody'd want to spend on this, just sayin.


END

Directed by: John Mallory Asher.  Written by: David Frigerio.  Starring: Mike Erwin, Aaron Paul, Cameron Richardson, Roger Perry, Scoot McNairy, Kelly Kruger.

Conan the Barbarian

Conan the Barbarian (2011)

In this new interpretation of the Conan myth - directed by that guy who did the Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Friday the 13th remakes - Conan (Jason Momoa) watches an evil warlord (Stephen Lang) kill his father (Ron Perlman) over a magical mask fragment, and swears vengeance. Twenty some years later he some how manages to grab this lady-monk (Rachel Nichols) whose blood is needed to activate the mask's power. Apparently Big Bad spent two decades trying to find this chick despite having a clairvoyant daughter because he's a fuckin idiot.

I'm not going to lie, at about the four minute mark I decided that this was one of the stupidest movies I've ever seen and had to get drunk to even continue watching it. How stupid is it? Let me count the ways...

The whole movie was borderline incomprehensible with most of the scenes being ineptly shot and edited, particularly the fight scenes. I don't know what the fuck is the problem but it seems like every movie I watch these days has shitty, convoluted and generally poorly executed fight scenes - some examples off the top of my head include Thor, Priest and Cowboys vs. Aliens - I dunno why nobody can shoot a competant fight scene anymore. I suppose it's possible that Lord of the Rings pretty much set the bar and I have yet to get over it. Either way, it incites me to rage.

Furthermore the one sex scene in the movie was maddeningly brief and vague and left me feeling sort of disappointed and unsatisfied. I don't ask for much from movies, really I don't. All I want is a coherant story, halfway decent editing, piles of blood and organs and gratuitous sex. Is that too much to ask? Apparently so.

Moving on, the art direction was less than impressive, the CG was passable I guess and there was a suitable amount of blood which is really the only positive thing I can say about the movie.

The acting was terrible although I got the impression every now and then that these were not terrible actors, just not good enough to overcome how fucking stupid the script was. There were all these cute little quips which I don't remember and evidently were not even worthy of IMDb's Memorable Quotes, but overall there was way too much talking in this movie. One of the strengths of the 1982 Conan was that there really wasn't much more than six lines of dialogue in the whole movie - that worked. The violence said it all, man, there was no need for words.

Also on that note, though Jason Momoa kind of looks like a young Arnold Schwarzenegger, he lacks the charisma or whatever it is that made Arnold more than just a big pair of biceps with a sword.

He just looks so friendly
I'm not particularly familiar with the Conan stories, but I am totally a fan of that movie, it's the shit. Sure, it was completely retarded, but it was so unassuming. It wasn't trying to be awesome, that just happened. This movie tried to capture some of the elements of the old movie such as the meandering storyline and the monsters (there was a scene with a tentacle beast being fed hot chicks which was vaguely reminiscent of the giant snake scene in the older movie) but it shoved everything together haphazardly, added some weird goth chick and wasted a whole lot of time trying to be epic. A thing is epic or it isn't, there's no sense in trying. And if you are going to try don't rip off every other successfully epic movie ever. For fuck sake.

The most infuriating thing, however, about this movie was the lady monk character. There was nothing wrong with her per se, but... well, she was kind of a wuss. The only person she could even hold her own against was the other girl (Rose McGowan) and even then, Conan had to come rescue her. The evil girl wasn't too impressive either, she was slightly more badass but despite being way more powerful than her father she was just his tool. I got the impression that she was after his dink too which is gross.

See what I mean?
But really, the lady monk is just the MacGuffin - the bad guy only wants her because her blood is gonna do something magical, Conan only wants her to keep her away from said bad guy (and says three times that she's his property), there's even a scene in which she's caught in this big old wagon wheel, screaming her ass off, and Conan and the bad guy fight literally on top of her. She's an object in every sense of the word. Compare this to Sandahl Bergman's character in the '82 flick. She's a badass.

Seriously, though, she was Conan's equal, and though she gave her life to save his she continued to kick ass from beyond the grave. Fucking. Hardcore.

Fuck.
And for that reason, this is the first movie to genuinely offend me in a long time. To summarize, it wasn't worth the $4.51 is cost to rent, I would recommend avoiding if at all possible.

END

Directed by: Marcus Nispel.  Written by: Thomas Dean Donnelly, Joshua Oppenheimer and Sean Hood based on the character created by Robert E. Howard.  Starring: Jason Momoa, Stephen Lang, Rachel Nichols, Rose McGowan, Nonso Anozie, Ron Perlman

Friday, April 27, 2012

Thor

Thor (2011)

Ho boy. I've never read the Thor comics, but I am really big into Norse mythology so I kinda set myself up for disappointment here, but what the hell, I'll try to do an unbiased review of this piece of shit.

Okay, so there's this dude, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) who's dad, Odin (Anthony Hopkins), is the head honcho of all the gods. Thor pisses Odin off by fucking around with the giants and breaking the truce Odin had with their king - or whatever - and thus is banished to Earth where he gets picked up by some kind of lady scientist (Natalie Portman). Meanwhile, Thor's brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) takes over the home kingdom and acts like a dick for an hour.

There's really not very many good things I can say about this movie so I'll just start listing off the stuff I wrote down in my notebook while I was watching it.

My first impression was that the effects were kind of weak. Like, unusually weak for a movie that relies pretty heavily on them. I just rewatched Fellowship of the Ring not too long ago and thought that had better FX than this movie despite being ten years older. Also, all the scenes set in Asgard looked like they were storyboarded within an inch but the art direction was kind of vague and I didn't have a real sense of what I was looking at, which is maddeningly contradictive. How is that possible?

The fight scenes were frenetic and hard to follow and ultimately not that interesting. I didn't give too much of a fuck as to what was going on, but the sloppy direction just pissed me off. Surely to god they've figured out how to shoot a fucking fight scene by now. Holy hell.

The characters weren't particularly interesting - I'm supposed to believe that a) Natalie Portman is the world's hottest wormholeologist and b) she totally loses her shit as soon as a big chested retard takes his shirt off in front of her. And on that note (characters, not retards), I never quite got what the fuck Loki's motivations were. At all. Okay, I get that he's the god of bullshit, but if I followed what was going on, which I think he did, his whole nefarious plot was just to get attention from his father, making him the god of daddy issues. He had a pretty cool hat, I'll grant him that.

represent

All in all I thought the movie was pretty fuckin dull. The writing was meh, and the movie kind of crept along waiting for something cool to happen. It sort of picked up when they hit Midgard and then they did the whole "hey this guy's from another planet/dimension/time/culture, he doesn't know what doors are or whatevs" which was amusing but I've seen it done better. Parts of it sort of reminded me of that movie, Masters of the Universe, with all those retarded people...

Anyway, a killer robot shows up towards the end, granting brief excitement, and then some stuff happens in Asgard for some reason. Ultimately, the whole thing was sort of offensive to my religious beliefs but I said I was going to let that go.

The final blow, as it were, came when I awaited the credits - I assumed the movie had been made by some up and coming director who wasn't quite used to making big ass movies and stuff, which would excuse the sloppy direction here and there. Nope. Kenneth fucking Branagh. Now, I've never actually seen a Kenneth Branagh directed movie I enjoyed but I would think he would at least know how to make a fuckin movie. For fuck sake.

To summarize, this movie was an almost total waste of time, unless you're a big fan of the comics or something in which case maybe you'd like it or something. Otherwise, you should spend an hour and check out the comic Gods Almighty which heavily features Norse mythology, is reeeeeeeally funny and a much better way to spend your evening.

END

Directed by: Kenneth Branagh.  Written by: Ashley Miller, Zack Stentz and Don Payne based on the comics by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby.  Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Stellan Skarsgard, Kat Dennings.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Troll Hunter

Trolljegeren (2010)

Blair Witch style first person horror/fantasy flick about a group of students who are doing a documentary on dead bears or something, and decide to start following this dude (Otto Jesperen) only to learn that he is, in fact, a Troll Hunter. He hunts fucking trolls. Like, bonafide, under the bridge trolls.

There's not really much else to the movie - the camera crew follows him around while he travels here there and everywhere doing his job. The movie almost plays like a tourism ad for Norway with a few exploding trolls thrown in.. There wasn't a whole lot of character development, with the exception of the titular character. I didn't really feel that any of the film sudents were given a lot of depth - I didn't even really get why they were following him in the first place. He told them to fuck off so off they should have fucked.

That's generally the problem I find with these first person horror flicks which have been cropping up a lot lately. It's really hard to do proper character development and have it feel natural. You can't film all the time, and if you go that approach it seems really forced.

Also the run time is a little too long - most of the movie consists of the Troll Hunter and camera crew driving here and there and back again, which actually works for the majority of the movie but really started to get thin in the last fifteen or twenty minutes.

Other than that I thought this movie was fucking brilliant. The dialogue was clever but not smarmy, and the amount of consideration that was put in to making the trolls completely believable was kind of astounding, from descriptions of different types of trolls, to how trolls are to be killed. There's a troll veterinarian, and a government agency which covers up the fact that there are trolls. The effects were great but it was the troll hunter himself who made the trolls believable. It made sense that there would be trolls. Why the fuck not?

That actor, Otto Jesperen, I have no idea who he  is, some Norwegian guy presumably, but he was really good. The movie could have been unbelievably stupid if somebody not so good had been in the main role but he totally made me believe. Plus the character was probably the most badass of badasses.

Anyway, like I said, the effects were really quite impressive, the movie is well shot and the scenery is fucking gorgeous. It made me want to move to Norway, if it weren't for the damn trolls.

Long story short, I highly recommend this movie if you can get your hands on it, even if you're not into foreign language stuff, you won't regret it. Just the one scene of the Troll Hunter running up to the camera and yelling "TROOOOOOOLLLL!!!" is totally worth it. Check it out.

END

Directed by: André Øvredal.  Written by: André Øvredal and Håvard S. Johansen.  Starring: Otto Jesperen, Glenn Erland Tosterud, Johanna Mørck, Tomas Alk Larsen, Urmila Berg-Domaas, Hans Morten Hansen.

One Million Years B.C.

One Million Years B.C. (1966)

You know, that movie about cave people that isn't Quest For Fire. I remember watching this as a very small child and thinking it was one of the greatest things ever, so my brother and I gave it a whirl the other day. Please forgive the spelling mistakes which will probably occur, one of my fingers is kinda fucked up for some reason, probably had it in my nose too long or something.

Movie tells the story of a cave dwelling gentleman (John Richardson) and his long series of misfortunes. He's the son of the leader of his tribe, and somehow gets exiled by his dick brother. He wanders long and far and eventually comes across a group of blonde beach dwelling people - totally - and hooks up with one of their women (Raquel Welch). But, because he's kind of a dick, he gets exiled from there and winds up back amongst his own people.

This movie is kind of... how should I put it? Retarded. I wasn't entirely sure what the fuckin point of it was except to show off some okay costumes and bitchin special FX. Other than that it was just some vaguely Biblical horseshit with less morality and more glaring historical inaccuracy. I'm not really sure what the filmmakers wanted me to gain from it.

That being said, it was at least fun to make fun of, as opposed to, say 10'000 BC, the most soul crushingly depressing film ever made about prehistoric persons. Also, the scenery was sort of nice, the music was bizarre but interesting and Raquel Welch was ridiculously fuckable as the iconic CaveBabe. I'd put a picture but y'all probably already have it on your wall.

And fuckit, there's a T-Rex (or something) fighting a Triceratops. That shit be bomb. Granted, with the popularity of this movie, that probably made a whole generation of people think that dinosaurs and humans actually existed at the same time, but fuck them if they can't take a joke. There were never god damn gigantic sea turtles either but that was still fucking awesome.

Honestly, I should probably start wrapping this up before I go off on a tangent about special effects. Just to get a little bit in there, the effects in this movie were pretty good - the stop motion dinosaurs courtesy of Ray Harryhausen were amazing but the giant iguana and aforementioned sea turtle attacks left something to be desired. Still, not bad all considered.

All in all, this movie defies any kind of real criticism as it's just too whack to really think about without feeling like a stoner of some variety. It's more exciting than a lot of fantasy movies and has more laughs than most comedies so what the hell, go for it.

END

Directed by: Don Chaffey.  Written by: Michael Carreras based on the film One Million B.C. written by Michell Novak, George Baker and Joseph Frickert. Starring: John Richardson, Raquel Welch, Percy Hebert, Jean Wladon.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

god damnit

So I keep all of my notes for upcoming reviews in this little blue book, because I can't remember shit for longer than about ten minutes. Anyway, said book has escaped me, hence the dearth of update this past week. If there's anybody out there what reads this regularly - reviews will return as soon as I find my fucking notes.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Invisible Ghost

Invisible Ghost (1941)

So I've been trying to tackle the "50 Horror Classics DVD Collection" ('classics' in this sense is a bit of an exaggeration at best) a little bit at a time, which so far is proving to be somewhat depressing. But every now and then comes a film which was actually worth watching. This is one of those films.


A sad old man (Bela Lugosi) lives in a big house with his daughter (Polly Ann Young) after his wife (Betty Compson) left him for another man. Little does he know, she was in a car accident shortly after leaving and suffered brain damage and amnesia and was later found by the gardener (Ernie Adams) who has been keeping her in an old barn in the woods in the hopes that her memory returns and she can go back to her family.

Unfortunately for everybody involved, the Wife developed some kind of magic powers as compensation for losing most of her brain function, so she goes out regularly, hypnotizes her husband and makes him commit atrocious murders.

Okay, I'll admit that the plot makes no fucking sense but that's not important. What is important is that it's pretty well made considering what it is - a low rent horror pic from the forties.

It's well shot for one thing, unlike a lot of shit I've watched lately which, between the writing, editing and cinematography is basically unwatchable. This is pretty classy, and maintains a spooky, old school atmosphere.

The writing and acting are decent and the characters are actually interesting, particularly Lugosi - super nice guy by day, ruthless murderer by night, giving the movie a sort of sad and poignant quality which is lacking in most horror pictures regardless of era. I feel bad for the guy, and his family. They didn't deserve this.

It's also got a healthy dose of sick humour which is sort of surprising for the time. Yeah, most of these old movies have some pathetic attempt at comic relief, but there's some actually funny stuff in this. There's one scene in which the butler discovers the body of the maid which is morbid and well done (I looked for a clip but couldn't find one - you can watch the whole movie on youtube though so what the hell).

And you know there's some pretty heavy shit going on in there. At the very beginning of the movie, Lugosi murders the maid who, as it turns out, was having an affair with his daughter's fiance (John McGuire). Right before she was killed, hubby told her to leave him alone or else and thus he gets pinned - and executed - for the murder. Which is kinda weird. I also got the impression that Lugosi totally raped the maid before or after murdering her. Also weird.

So yeah, the plot is a little strange - the movie ends abruptly without really explaining why any of the shit that happened happened - and it seems a little strange that the polic never so much as suspect Lugosi, but then he was really nice. Still, I found it really well made, extremely satisfying and totally worth watching especially for Lugosi fans as this is one of his better performances.

END

Directed by: Joseph H. Lewis.  Written by: Helen & Al Martin.  Starring: Bela Lugosi, Polly Ann Young, John McGuire, Clarence Muse, Terry Walker, Betty Compson, Ernie Adams, George Pembroke.