Friday, June 8, 2018

Action Point Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: Insufferable assholes run a stupid amusement park as shenanigans unfold.

Review: God fucking damn this was one of the worst movies I've ever tortured myself with! Look over this know the kind of trash I've reviewed over the years...and this ranks right alongside the worst of them now. I can definitively make this statement: this is the worst movie I've watched theatrically. Dear lord what the fuck were they thinking with this?! The only true solace was that me and my crew were the only people in the theater which meant we could openly trash the movie to each other. I wanted to throw my popcorn at the damn screen. You mother fuckers. Mercifully, "Action Point" is bombing to hell and back which is a good sign.

Don't ask me why I'm watching this shit instead of pumping out my reviews for Asian horror month. I'm sorry--I failed in that regard. Instead, you get to read about this shit. Yippee! Actually, I had wanted to see "Adrift" but ended up seeing this atrocity instead. Oh well. Basically, the most punchable characters in existence run an amusement park in the most idiotic of ways. The film pretends like this would be super popular when in reality no one in their right mind would pay to visit this shit. I kind of appreciated the idea they were going for what with how people used to not be pussies in the past, but this idea is quickly squandered with more emphasis placed upon scenes of alleged zany hijinks. More to the point, the entire movie feels like a collection of individual scenes that were just glued together by this weak story of keeping an amusement park open. Every character is annoying and you want to brutally murder them with your bare hands...well, at least I did. Teehee! Apparently the filmmakers thought you'd care about these clowns but you won't. There is one character in particular that has a hatchet that made my blood boil. UGH! Every joke and gag falls flat and is utterly pathetic. I can't even imagine the stoner crowd laughing at this.

I don't know what anyone involved was thinking, but this was an absolute disgrace to film itself. This is the kind of movie so bad it makes you question what you're doing with your life that you've resorted to watching this. This movie made me angry--VERY angry! I might spiral into a homicidal rage easier than most, but I'm quite confident this level of idiocy could turn the average film-goer into a maniac. Yes, it's that bad! Finally, I want to acknowledge that, while I've certainly reviewed significantly worse films over the years, none of that other shit had a real budget or advertising to match this movie. I mean, did anyone expect things like "Howling 7," "Sleepaway Camp IV," or "Severed" to ever actually succeed? C'mon, son. That's the real difference in why "Action Point" is so egregious. This film belongs in hell, and I'm gonna see it gets there.

Notable Moment: When that moron with the hatchet gets his girlfriend. That was the moment I had enough. The line delivery was so horrendously bad that I could no longer contain myself after that. ARGH! This fucking movie.

Final Rating: 2.5/10

Upgrade (2018) Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: After his wife is murdered, and he is left quadriplegic, a mechanic is given an implant that makes him superhuman.

Review: Damn, this is going to be one helluva cult movie as time goes on. "Upgrade" is relentless action on top of an amazing sci-fi world that is built up masterfully without needing to explain anything; you simply accept this future as plausible. Considering this was fairly low-budget, I am surprised the filmmakers were this ambitious with their vision and succeeded quite admirably. Although parts of the story feel like a collage of things we've seen before, these plot elements come together in an original way. The acting is good, the music is amazing, and the story is captivating--my only gripes come from the ending and how that affects parts of the story leading up to it.

To briefly cover the plot...we have the main character, Grey, as a hands-on kinda guy in a future where things are increasingly automated. Grey and his wife get into a car accident that is followed up by Grey's wife being murdered and Grey shot in the neck, left a quadriplegic. I especially liked the presentation of Grey's misery under this endears the audience to Grey and you want to see him get justice. Eron, a kind of eccentric genius and seemingly billionaire CEO or whatever, was a costumer of Grey and feels inclined to help Grey become whole again. Applying an advanced microchip implant, with accompanying AI (named STEM), Grey is able to not only gain all mobility but the AI can enhance every physical ability beyond the normal human limit. With a computer in his head and superhuman abilities, Grey tracks down the men that killed his wife and seeks revenge. What makes things more interesting is that these guys are ex-military that have had cybernetic augmentations of their own which includes guns embedded in their arms among other things.

The fights are fun and there is some crazy camerawork at hand along with commendable fight choreography. However, "Upgrade" isn't just a mindless action movie...the sci-fi aspects are given considerable attention and the film takes on an emotional tone as it goes on. The partner relationship between Grey and STEM is interesting as well as seeing how deep this futuristic world goes. It's worth mentioning that the filmmakers definitely included elements that could open up room for a sequel with the villains apparently having a little more going on outside the film's peripheral as well as a hacker hinting at a bigger picture and the tech companies having ulterior motives; these subplots are by no means a distraction though. Anyway, by the end, we, of course learn a few twists regarding Eron's assistance, why Grey and his wife were targeted, and the true purpose of STEM. In fact, I would say the movie transitions into sci-fi/horror in the last 10 minutes. I won't completely spoil the ending since I want people to go out and see this movie.

As for my problems with the film, the most glaring issues concern how the story comes full circle. I do love when writers do that, but it doesn't completely work. I did like the hints to STEM creating a virtual world for Grey subtly with those alleged dreams that Grey says felt too real. Likewise, I did notice Eron wearing the earpiece...I just figured that was supposed to be their world's cellphone. Unfortunately, STEM running the company all along and wanting Grey is too farfetched and impractical for an AI to scheme. Plus, it's implied that Eron and Grey only met a handful of times. It's just too much of a stretch. In fact, making Eron and Grey have such a minor relationship was a misstep. It would have been better if Eron felt like he owed Grey something or admired him in a way. Furthermore, Eron only having a couple goons to protect him was nonsensical since he's supposed to be extremely rich and powerful. I could really spend a lot of time nitpicking the ending and how Eron being a pawn and STEM controlling the company makes little sense, but I don't want it to sound like the ending is bad, because it's pretty damn good and scary at the same time.

All things considered, "Upgrade" is one of the most impressive low-budget movies I've ever watched. The filmmakers accomplished so much and were able to do things with their world-building that huge studio films can't come close to creating. Everything from the simplistic set designs and eerie music enhances the film's tone and establishes a believable possible future. Grey is one of the best every-man characters I've seen in a long while, and I was fully in support of his revenge. I'd love to see this material continue in a sequel where we can get more context to those subplots and hopefully see Grey return. I'd highly recommend this movie with the mere caveat that not everything fully adds up by the end which kind of hurts the overall presentation.

Notable Moment: When Grey and Fisk fight. Great choreography, intensity, and truly impressive all around.

Final Rating: 7.5/10

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Mourning Grave Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: After moving to a new school, a guy who can see spirits must figure out why a vengeful ghost is killing his classmates.

Review: Yet again, this is some seriously wasted potential. The director seemingly couldn't figure out what to make of this movie. Is it a fantasy romance? Comedy horror? Serious horror? Lame high school drama? You tell me. None of these elements were blended properly at all, and that idiotic ending sure as hell wasn't helping either. Still, there are redeeming qualities to "Mourning Grave" that make it mildly enjoyable. In fact, had the filmmakers simply committed to one genre as the focus, this could have been quite good. More precisely, the horror aspect was the strongest part, and there were some great scares in there; the ghost specifically was a cool design.

So, right out the gate, the story kind of fumbles with the main guy, In-soo, seeing ghosts but everything has a lighthearted tone to it. People bully In-soo over his abilities which is kind of hard to take seriously. It's also kind of moronic that the ghosts sort of have to figure out on their own that he can see them rather than being naturally drawn to him; this is a plot point later contradicted in the film. Anyway, In-soo returns to his hometown that he once abandoned due to discovering his abilities and solving a murder during his childhood. There are way too many plot tangents for the story to handle which reeks of sloppy editing or script changes late in the game. Tough to say. We also learn that these medium-esque abilities are a part of In-soo's family as we meet his goofball uncle. At this point, the film has presented a comedic tone that suddenly shifts into a drama once In-soo befriends a ghost girl who, sorta, becomes his love interest. This girl, Sae-hee, is really cute and nice so it's not hard to fall for her especially when the only thing that makes her appear dead is being slightly paler than a regular Korean girl (which is even debatable unto itself). I want to say the film could have easily, and safely, transitioned into a fantasy-romance and it would have made more sense...but that's not the route they go.

Once more, In-soo is bullied by dweebs at school. I love how like 5 kids are terrorizing this whole school like it would be impossible to beat their asses. Hell, 3 of them are girls! In-soo said he was lonely and lived in the USA prior to the film's events. Here's what happens...I come to Korea, become In-soo's bodyguard, we kick the shit of these dweebs, fight evil ghosts, and he hooks me up with a Korean girl! Sigh. Okay, where was I? Oh, right, so these bullies led to the death of a student that has become a vengeful spirit that is picking them off. The identity of the ghost is kept hidden in the most absurd of ways which leads the audience to the painfully obvious conclusion that Sae-hee is the ghost. These shenanigans are explained away by saying there are two sides to Sae-hee's spirit which is just dumb. We come to learn that Sae-hee was relentlessly bullied until she committed suicide. Then her ghost possessed her grieving father who wanted revenge anyhow. In-soo tries to free the ghost of her pain which leads to yet another ridiculous twist--that, when they were kids, Sae-hee and In-soo knew each other and she was his crush or something. Good lord...stop...please. Whatever, In-soo frees her spirit and she goes off to Kayako-land or wherever. Despite this melodrama, the movie still tries to give us a zinger scare! What?! How does that even come close to fitting the tone?

Essentially, this was a movie that could have been great, however, it's buried under needless bullshit. The romance subplot was good yet squandered. The scares and ghost designs are creepy yet those are cancelled out by predictable plot twists and weak drama. The lighthearted tone was working until the film tried its hand at said melodrama. All in all, the attempt to bring everything to the table, while never focusing on anything, creates a mess of a story and a film as a whole. Don't get me wrong, there are things to enjoy here, but the way everything comes together is a monumental failure. This script needed some polish and clarity to either commit to straight horror or cut something out. I still think this is worth a watch, however, you need to dial back your expectations big time.

Notable Moment: When the evil version of Sae-hee is appearing in a flickering flashlight. Awesome effect. The tilted camera is a nice touch and the blood smeared on her mask looks like a sadistic grin (intentional or not).

Final Rating: 5.5/10