Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Sinister Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: A true-crime writer moves into the home of a murdered family for research only to discover he has become a part of the mystery.

Review: I have to say I really liked this film especially how original many of the plot elements were. Taking note on the widespread use of found-footage films out there nowaday, this movie incorporated aspects of those films with a traditional haunted house format to bring us something unlike anything else in recent memory. Although the obsessed writer for a main character has been done before, there were aspects altered enough to make it acceptable like the cops confronting the main guy, Ellison, or shots of him watching interviews he had in his prime; it's little extras like this that make things feel more fresh. The way Ellison finds the footage of the crime scenes and the way in which they are presented feels visceral and sets the tone fast. The accompanied sense that not all is right and that there is something going on in the house perfectly enhances the atmosphere to bring on a strong sense of dread I rarely feel in a film. The creepy music, snuff-like film quality, and eerie curiosity of the plot's direction sucks you into the film's universe and has your expectations peaked. There are predictable aspects to this film especially in regards to how the movie will end (you can guess the ending maybe 10 minutes in), but the overall story is surprising, and I really liked that the characters felt more real and did move out of the house and admitted freaky shit was going on rather than how unrealistic people typically act in a haunted house film. I also loved the look of the Mr. Boogie or Bughuul character as the demon haunting the films and seemingly being the murderer. The demon living within the film or images was cool as well since it set up some nice scares, but I do wish the film made more use of him since he looked so ominous; he served to create the more memorable moments so I suppose that was good enough. I really wanted to rate this movie so much higher, but there were two annoying things that held it back. One: the completely uselessness and red herring aspect of the sons "night terrors." It was such a pointless contrivance I had to take away points for only serving the purpose of providing scares without any reason. With the amazing potential here, they did not need to resort to such cheap scares or else they should have incorporated this plot element into the story!  Two: the daughter being mesmerized, or whatever the demon does to kids, came out of left field. Yes, it does make sense, but we had no inclination or hints to show this happening. As far as we know she was totally normal and then is suddenly enthralled by Bughuul. This could have been cleared up so easily by a few scenes or her interacting with those ghost kids (instead of just once) or even some flashbacks where we see her at points of the movie slowly being controlled. Again, this was basically the huge twist of the movie and makes no sense so I had to take away points. The ending is still appropriate despite the predictability as there really would have been no other way to end it. Overall, this is a great movie with some of the best use of atmosphere I've seen in a few years and definitely worth a view. Considering this was just another low-budget horror film, I give the film more credit for successfully making use of more subtle scare tactics.

Notable Moment: Even though it was in the trailer, when Ellison holds a picture to the window showing the location of Mr. Boogie, and removes the photo only for Mr. Boogie to be standing there for real.

Final Rating: 7.5/10

Paranormal Activity 4 Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: Five years after the events of part two, Katie, Hunter, and the demon emerge to further their agenda with a new family.

Review: To start things off, let's address the fact that this movie does, in fact, negate the canon of "Tokyo Night" since in that entry Katie was dead. I suppose you could really stretch your imagination in a way to make it make sense, but I think it is safe to finally declare that movie a remake and nothing more. The next thing is that I believe the critics are way off about this one. I thought it was just as good as part three, and I'm still not understanding how so many people see part two as the high point of the series. Nothing even happens in that movie! While I could see the complaints about part three, there are quite a few original scares in this film and the audience's expectations are toyed with quite often which adds to the suspense. For instance, I liked the use of the X-box Kinect and how they incorporated its motion detecting into the film (even if it was a cheap product placement), and how certain scenes were set up with you expecting something to pop out only for something to occur later when you're off guard. This "Kinect" allowed us to sort of see the demon for the first time while not flat out showing us what it truly looks like; this allows those who find it scary imagining what the demon looks like to remain content while appeasing those who want to see the damn thing already after 4 (sort of 5) films! Although the fate of the new family involved is incredibly predictable, there was a twist I was not entirely expecting in regards to Hunter. I found the new characters to feel much more real than most of previous films as they seemed to act more natural; events didn't feel as forced or as contrived. The Robbie character was also an exceptional young actor as he truly felt like some demonic child. My main complaints about the film arise in the final five or so minutes. As I mentioned in my review of PA3, my questions regarding the cult may have been answered since it would appear other children have been used in these deals with the demon(s); I was getting the impression that Hunter was so crucial for no particular reason, but at least now it may seem he is just a piece in the puzzle. We still don't understand the full reason for needing these dumb kids considering the demon seems to be one with Katie so much so that it can take a monstrous form at will. And while some of my questions with this cult may have been indirectly answered, we still don't know jack about them considering by the final shots they seem to be a damn army at this point! My understanding would be that at the end of the day, Katie is still in her body somewhere, and the demon wishes to be fully merged with Hunter through whatever ritual they are going to perform right before the movie cuts out. Ending the movie at that moment is really stupid since the makers should know how angry it will make the audience to end it so abruptly. It felt weaker too because the audience already knows they are saving the daughter, Alex, for last because they wanted her as a virgin sacrifice. Furthermore, the audience is left dumbfounded with so many more unanswered questions like why was Hunter given up for adoption, was there a connection between why this family did the adoption and the cult, was there more to the dad and mom arguing, etc.? I can see why so many feel disappointed with this entry since we really do need a part five, at the very least, to wrap things up. I would love for them to do one more film to just bring closure to it all with maybe some kind of showdown between the demon and an exorcist or even end it with the demon finally getting whatever it wants; either way, this formula is feeling old and each film is creating more questions rather than answers! The final scene after the credit is stupid too since the makers are claiming it has no real connection to the PA franchise, but is some kind of promotion for a spinoff series...huh? In the end, I did like this movie because it had nice pacing, original scares despite the whole found footage thing, good acting, and knew the audience's expectations and made effective use of that fact. I would recommend making your own judgement about this film rather than listening to the critics especially if you're like me and felt part two was the weakest entry so far.

Notable Moment: When Katie emerges from the shadows on the couch. I really couldn't see her, and I felt this was a nice and eerie touch.

Final Rating: 7/10

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Halloween II (remake) Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: After lying low for a year, Michael Myers decides now is the time to return to Haddonfield and finish what he started the previous Halloween.

Review: After the unbelievably terrible remake, we move on to the very loose remake of the second "Halloween" film which is also the final installment so far in this franchise. Well, you would think after 10 films in this franchise they could come up with some good ideas, but nope. I do see some glimpses of originality from Rob Zombie this time as he does want to do something different, but he just ends up going back into territory we already touched on during the "Thorn" universe as Jamie had a connection to Michael...well, now Laurie has a psychic connection with Michael for some odd reason. Like Jamie, Laurie also envisions herself as becoming like Michael and wearing the clown costume. This treading back into material already dropped for being too supernatural is really annoying because it makes me wish they just picked up with where six ended (did I really just write that?!). The first half hour or so of this film involves some hospital scenes that are similar to the original part two, but after that, it's all Rob Zombie from there on out. I did like these hospital scenes despite how weird all these dumb dream sequences were. These scenes really emphasize how much I want to kill Mr. Zombie's wife so he can't keep putting her in his shitty movies! Plus, come on, a serial killer with mommy issues? How original. As if Michael's character wasn't ruined enough by the portrayal in the first remake. The hospital chase is suspensful though and entertaining enough which is what I was hoping for from this whole film and the last remake. Laurie has been transformed into a huge, raging bitch while Loomis has been turned into a douchebag sellout. Their characters were already shallow in the remake, but I guess they figured, we ruined Michael, mine as well ruin all the characters, right? I don't understand why after going through all the traumatic events of the last film, Laurie would be such a huge bitch? Then when she realizes she's Michael's sister, she really goes off the deep end. Loomis, on the other hand, was always this guy so obsessed with Michael that he was borderline a villain himself, yet they feel that would translate better into some guy just trying to make a quick buck off Michael Myers?! Whatever. Thankfully Annie, played by Danielle Harris again, has been changed into a normal character which sucks because they decided to kill her off needlessly. Getting back to Michael, this film makes some pretty idiotic decisions about how to approach him the second time around. First, this film can't be bothered to explain how Michael survived the bullet to his head at point blank range from a .357 magnum, but decides on his off time, Michael is just a hobo moving about the countryside to stay under the radar. Desperately trying to explain what Michael does with his free time is one of those things that tells the audience this franchise has exhausted its storytelling abilities. I suppose it's not too bad when compared to the "Halloween" sacrilege committed later. Michael talks. Goddamnit...Michael fucking talks! It's only in the unrated version, but fuck, it happened! The other thing is that he lifts a car. A fucking car! I'm shaking my head in shame seriously. I can't even believe this shit. I always regret that I wasted my money watching the first remake in theaters, but luckily I did not make the same mistake twice. This shit is unforgivable. The film ends really stupid with little explanation as to what is happening and again ripping off part four, but I suppose there is a little closure since Michael is dead...for now. As I said, there were a few good ideas, and this film is a vast improvement over the abomination that is the first remake, but at the end of the day, this is just a stupid and unnecessary movie that thinks it is being more abstract and creative than it really is. Well, that wraps up this franchise. It sucks that most of these franchises end on a sour note, but that doesn't mean we can't keep appreciating the entries we love and of course the originals that spawn these sequels!

Notable Moment: When Laurie and her friends go to a Halloween party dressed as characters from the "Rocky Horror Picture Show." I really loved the look of the girls because they looked just like the characters. Other than that, just any scene with Danielle Harris as with the other stupid remake.

Final Rating: 4.5/10

Halloween (remake) Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: A retelling of the classic tale starting with how Michael became the monster in the mask we know.

Review: Before I begin, let me address the convoluted nature of this franchise. You have the purist perspective of just "Halloween" 1 and 2, the separate universe of part 3, the "Thorn" universe of 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6, the "H20" universe of 1, 2, H20, and Resurrection, and finally, the reboot universe of Rob Zombie's part 1 and 2. Got all that?! Anyway...I don't just hate this movie, I fucking loathe it! Throughout my reviews of this franchise, I have touched on many problems that went wrong in earlier films only for this stupid remake to do those same mistakes all over again! Like with the whole trying to explain why Michael kills angle...stop it! And for the love of god, why would you think this origin of Michael would be good? I would seriously rather have the "Thorn" story line over this, and that is saying something. So Michael was just a little, girly-looking, emo bitch-boy who had psychopathic tendencies and then snapped one Halloween? Lame. The original was so much more elegant and actually was outside the box. Michael was a normal boy from a good family who had no reason to kill and yet chose to. He then never disclosed the reason and waited with inhuman patience to do it again. Now that is disturbing...what's not disturbing is a little bitch-boy. Plus, the original had the plot twist aspect as the viewer had no clue the killer was actually just a little kid. This film didn't even try to put a spin on things or work with the source material in any regard. Grr! This movie gets everything wrong! The first ten minutes are a joke with some of the worst acting and dialogue you could come up with. The film then goes on for almost a full hour of just showing us what makes Michael crazy...a full hour! The less we know about Michael, the scarier he was, but I guess Rob Zombie couldn't wrap his mind around that one; it's so annoying because it's shit like this that made films like part six so stupid. Surprisingly, even with an hour of worthless material, I still don't get a lot of things. What made Loomis think Michael was so dangerous considering he keeps contradicting himself with shit like that he thinks Michael is his best friend (what the fuck!)? What is with Michael and the masks? Why does Michael seem to hate everyone but his mom and Laurie? Why did this version of Michael turn silent rather than always being like that as with the original? Why did Michael grow into a seven foot giant when no one else in the family is tall? Ugh! Nothing makes sense and the decision making was so poor. When the film finally gets on track to familiar territory with Laurie, we just get so many pointless moments that further ruin the characters we know and love. The girls are total bitches and not likable at all. It annoyed me too because Danielle Harris (who played Jamie in part 4 and 5) returns to the franchise as Annie and they made me not like her character. Although they did have the sense to not kill her character off this time since Ms. Harris is a fan favorite to those who follow this misguided franchise (and a personal favorite of myself). All the main elements from the original are quickly brushed over to get more to this idiotic plot line about Michael killing just to be closer to Laurie. I'm not even exaggerating when I say maybe 30 minutes are dedicated to remaking the original while the other 30 minutes are just weak action scenes of Laurie running, fighting, and struggling with Michael with a little help from Loomis who is completely wasted. They couldn't even get the "Halloween" theme right as it is first used out of nowhere. How hard is it to screw that one up?! This film is just a complete failure from the moment it begins to the abrupt and weird ending. I have no idea what they were going for except a cheap cash-in since all the icons were/are getting remakes. Had some of these scenes been reworked, get rid of the "Halloween" aspect, and get an original idea, this may have been at least average. But, as it stands, I actually prefer "Season of the Witch" over this shit! There, I said it! This is the worst in the whole franchise and deserves to be at the bottom as the pitiful waste of film it is.

Notable Moment: The few scenes with Danielle Harris since that's about the only thing going for this shit.

Final Rating: 3/10

Ms. Harris is the only good thing...

Halloween: Resurrection Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: With nothing better to do with his life, Michael Myers goes back to his childhood home only to discover a reality TV show being filmed at the location.

Review: Now we come to perhaps the most hated entry in this franchise. I'm not going to lie, despite the ridiculous premise and how stupid this film is, I find it really entertaing as a sort of guilty pleasure. With Mikey losing his head in the last film, they used a pretty effective and creative plot line to ressurect him; they explain that when Michael was first hurt by Laurie in "H20" that he then switched places with a paramedic to make a getaway (although, since when has Michael been that smart?!) while Laurie actually killed the paramedic. Now Laurie has lost her mind and ends up in a mental instituition where Michael finally kills the character off. I'm really not sure if this was the wisest decision, but they really weren't going to lure back Jamie Lee Curtis like they did with Donald Pleasence since she apparently has no real love for the state of the franchise (can't say I blame her). However, this death is maybe the biggest plot hole in the franchise. Since when did Michael kill someone outside of Halloween night! Especially the main person he has always been trying to kill?! Fuck! Oh wait, I get it, you just want an asinine plot contrivance to explain the rest of the movie, is that it? This is just so stupid beyond belief; I'm talking "Season of the Witch" stupid! So in the oddest moment of the franchise, Michael does all of his killing the day before Halloween so he can take a much needed 24 year late nap at his house, but what's this? Someone is shooting a reality TV show the same year Michael finally gets his work done a day early?! Well, time to conveniently gear up for this Halloween, Mikey! I suppose there was really nothing left to do with the Michael Myers character since he finally killed all his family members and they killed the "Thorn" plotline. I actually don't mind this reality show angle, but it is executed so terribly with annoying characters you are begging for Michael to kill; I mean come on, Starbuck, a kid from American Pie, Busta Rhymes, and Tyra Banks?! Thankfully he kills most and they are decent enough deaths that I feel satisfied for being tortured with their presence. There is some dumb as hell contivance with the lead, Sara, having a friend on the internet that helps her survive getting out the Myer's house since he is watching the show. This constant cutting back to the internet friend, named Decker, is annoying because you feel removed from what this whole franchise is all about. Michael is totally wasted as well since he has been reduced to just a jump scare rather than the driving force of the film as in the past. Like "H20," this just doesn't feel like a "Halloween" movie at all. This movie is terribe, but, like I said, there is just something I find entertaining about this film that still allows me to watch it and laugh which I can't do with shit like "H20" and part six. I think the writers had become self aware and just tried to make something that would sell to the audience; needless to say, there is a reason why this was the last film before the reboot. Unfortunately, this film ended on a cliffhanger and I'm still wondering what will happen next (well, not really)!

Notable Moment: When Freddie says "Trick or treat mother fucker!" It is so laughably stupid that I find myself saying it at least once every Halloween since 2002.

Final Rating: 5.5/10

Halloween H20: 20 Years Later Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: Laurie has tried to make a new life for herself, but she finds herself being hunted by Michael Myers once again.

Review: First let me say I have no idea why this terrible installment gets so much praise. Sure, it's better than part six and most of the crap that will follow after this entry, but it was nowhere near on the level of part four or even as good as five in my opinion. The movie starts to go wrong almost immediately as it ignores the events of part 4-6. While I don't blame them for ditching that ridiculous plotline, at least try to connect the story; this lazy and easy way out annoys me to no end. This film loosely implies the storyline goes part 1, 2, and H20 yet creates its own continuity errors in this ignoring process. Up until this point, Michael's whereabouts were always explained in between Halloweens yet this film never addresses how the fuck a big guy in a mask can run around and live life for 20 damn years! Also, even part four explained Michael was severly burned after part two yet couldn't explain the bullets to the eye...well this film doesn't address either of these issues! Hell, it's been 20 years so that should be enough time to make your horrible burn scars disappear and your eyes to grow back, right? And even if the sequels had Michael's motives ambiguously stupid, they at least tried to give some method to the madness. H20 believes Michael would take a 20 year vacation and then out of nowhere obsessively stalk and try and kill Laurie again. I never knew he was so sentimental...hmm it's always the quiet ones. Jamie Lee Curtis returns as Laurie and she now has a loser son, John, played annoyingly by Josh Hartnett. Laurie has changed her identity and life to get away from Michael, but is spazzing out now. How convenient that she is losing her mind the same Halloween Michael decides to show up and say hello. I think one of the main reasons I hate this film is because it's told almost completely through the perspective of Laurie, John, or some pointless background character rather than through Michael as with the other films. There's no Michael in the shadows or mystery to him at all anymore. It doesn't even feel like Michael Myers which may be explained by the fact that this film was made during the "Scream" era of teen slashers being revitalized. It is odd to note that this film actually had the lowest body count of any of the movies and was really short. I did kind of appreciate the short running time because this movie is weak, but it only emphasizes how little content is in this film. Not having Loomis severely hurt the overall appeal for me as he always helped balance out things with the hero and Michael. To this film's credit though, the ending would have made for a satisfying conclusion to the franchise, despite the moronic build up, but even the final showdown with Michael felt weird to me. The original heart of this franchise was never meant to be about Laurie vs Michael, but was meant to be about the creepy aspect of a masked killer lurking in the shadows who has no motive or reason except to kill; that is what freaked out audiences in '78 not a cheesy wannabe "Scream." In the end, this isn't a bad film, but not a good "Halloween" continuation. There are some cool moments and a few things work well like the "Psycho" nods. But other than that, this is just a mediocre "Scream" ripoff that was common during the late 90s.

Notable Moment: The opening credit sequence. This scene is done so excellently that I had such high hopes for this film that I was angrily disappointed.

Final Rating: 5.5/10

Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: Michael Myers is back chasing some baby for whatever reason as he feels inclined to kill members of the Strode family occupying his childhood home.

Review: Ugh, what a total mess. It should come as no shock that there are actually two versions of this piece of crap since this thing went through heavy editing; too bad it still sucked either way. After part five, I suppose they painted themselves into a corner as far as story could go so they figured, what the hell, let's go the sci-fi/fantasy route and ditch this horror thing. There are so many poor decisions here accompanied by flat out stupidity. First mistake, killing off the Jamie character in the opening act! After having a character at the center for two entries, they decide to replace the actress (how dare they replace Danielle Harris! Grr!), kill her off meaninglessly, never truly explain what happened to her, and then idiotically imply Michael impregnated her! Well since they closed up most of the loose ends from part five 10 minutes in, I guess they figured let's give Michael some stupid baby to chase after, right? Oh wait, can't fill a whole movie with Michael chasing an immobile baby can we? I know, let's bring back some old characters and call it "Halloween." Mistake number two: the characters. The main character (I think) is supposed to be Tommy from the first film while he teams up with some other members of the Strode family who are living in Michael's old house. Tommy is obsessed with Michael for some odd reason and since it is conveniently Halloween, he must be loving it. Loomis is back from the dead with no explanation and does so little here; it's a shame because this was Donald Pleasence's last film before his death and you can see aspects of the editing hurt by lack of reshoots. The Strode family is sort of reintroduced yet they seem oblivious to the subject of Laurie and serve as nothing but Michael fodder. There is some deadend plot point about the other lead, Kara Strode, and her son, Danny, apparently hearing voices and kind of becoming like Michael...I guess? It makes no sense and serves no purpose except probably some plan for a sequel that never panned out. The man in black that left everyone speculating after part five is revealed to be some guy named Dr. Wynn at Smith's Grove Sanitarium (where Michael was kept in the original film) who belongs to an idiotic group called the "Cult of Thorn." The biggest mistake of this film was trying to explain Michael and in the dumbest way imaginable! (We'll get back to shitty origins of Michael later in this franchise!) According to this film, that symbol from part five represents the curse of Thorn which causes chaos (where, in the whole world?) unless the curse is passed to an individual who is consumed by the curse and must offer their family as a sacrifice to ease the suffering. Therefore, Michael is nothing more than a cursed individual who must kill his family members to appease some druid demons or some shit like that; this is supposed to explain why Michael doesn't seem to die to anything. Also there is some nonsense about Dr. Wynn trying to create a perfect cursed being which has to do with the baby and the implied rape of Jamie by Michael which just makes no fucking sense! Plus she was only supposed to be 15 years old at this point! Nothing makes much sense here to tell you the truth or it is just so stupid I don't want to accept it. Not another thing works here as this was probably the lowest point in the franchise as a whole. This film has the worst variation of the "Halloween" theme of any of the movies, the acting is abysmal at many times, and the overall atmosphere just feels so off. This is not the direction this series should have gone in, but, for better or worse, the next entry also takes this franchise in a whole different direction.

Notable Moment: When Tommy and Kara are running from Michael at Smith's Grove and we see this stupid look come over Tommy's face with that annoying electric guitar rendition of the "Halloween" theme playing. Makes me laugh so hard for some reason.

Final Rating: 4.5/10

Monday, October 8, 2012

Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: Michael is back again as he continues his attempt to kill his young neice while a mysterious man in black lurks in the background.

Review: I am well aware many people despise this entry in the franchise, but I thought it had some good ideas executed poorly. This film had four major weaknesses that severly hurt its chances of being a hit: a Jar Jar-esque character in the form of Tina, changing the direction of the ending to part four, stupid and senseless choices, and basically repeating the same formula of part four. Like the first two "Halloween" films, part four and five are closely connected which is a big reason why I like it; I love continuity and especially when it flows. It is the following Halloween after part four and Michael has been recuperating since his previous pummeling. This film opens during the events of the graveyard scene in part four and shows that when Michael fell in the grave there was actually an opening that led out to a stream which allowed Michael to survive (forget the hundred bullet wounds). He finds his way to some random hermit living in the woods who generously takes care of him for a year only for Michael to repay him with death! Okay, this is just so stupid! I mean, was this the best thing they could think up to keep Michael occupied with for a year? Or here's a better idea, how about they pick up where part four actually ended with Jamie now possessed by whatever was making Michael kill?! I know Michael is essentially the selling point, but come on, they could have done it so much better. Michael's mask has been altered yet again with no real explanation as well. As for Jamie, they imply that her stabbing her foster mother was just an isolated incident...somehow. I still must give credit to Danielle Harris as she is just a little girl and she is basically leading this entire cast and film; it's also quite sad that she is a better actor than most of the cast. This film emphasizes that Jamie and Michael have a telepathic link that allows the other to somewhat see and feel what the other does. It is extremely vague and feels heavily contrived, but at least they did try to pick up with what part four was suggesting. Plus, I feel the Jamie character is the most sympathetic in this franchise since she is just a little girl who lost her parents, has been nearly killed by her uncle for no reason, and now has a weird power and is being stalked again. Loomis is back and even more crazy here as he doesn't really trust Jamie and the audience really feels the obsession getting to Loomis. But again, I need some Loomis in my life to make the franchise more complete. It's so funny because by the end of the film Loomis has gone completely off the deep end as he uses Jamie as bait to capture Michael and seemingly dies yet again. This franchise rusurrects Loomis almost as much as it does Michael! Rachel, who was a pivotal character in part four, is killed off way too early, the foster family seems to be dropped entirely, and all the supporting cast are replaced by the ridiculously idiotic friends of Rachel. This gang of goof balls includes two cops who get their own cheesy sound effects (why the fuck?!), two horny losers (the girl is kind of hot), a total douchebag conveniently named Michael (who thankfully dies early), and their beloved leader Tina. Suffice to say I hate Tina; she can't act, sounds annoying, and her part could have easily been, and should have been, Rachel's role. The only somewhat decent character is some kid who has a crush on Jamie. Rounding out this cast of misfits is the mysterious man in black. We never see his face and he just lurks in the background of certain scenes and he seems to be following Michael. He has a weird tattoo on his wrist and the symbol is seen in various shots if you have a good eye. Unfortunately, we never find out what the hell is going on with this guy since the only thing he does is bust Michael out of jail at the end of the film. We do finally get an answer as to who he is in part six, but I try my best to forget that one even exists. As I mentioned earlier, this film just follows part four's formula with Michael mindlessly killing fodder with many padded scenes. It is enjoyable somewhat, but the highlight is when Jamie, Loomis, and the police set a trap for Michael to lure him out at Michael's childhood home. This sequence is cool and there are some close calls for Jamie. As I mentioned earlier also, Loomis goes bananas here which is interesting to see the lengths he'll go to get Michael. To the great disservice of fans, we see a brief shot of Michael unmasked as Jamie makes a connection with him and he's fucking crying! Oh come on! Plus where the hell are his burn scars? Grr! Damn continuity errors! I assume they wanted to continue this plotline about him being cursed, but if it's going to be so vague you can't pull shit like this until it is clarified. Finally, Michael is put in jail as I keep saying (which is stupid in itself), and he is broken out; the final shot, which is a nice one, shows Jamie standing in front of the cell crying and in disbelief as she delivers a chilling and echoing "No" as the film closes. Once again, the ending is the best part of the whole film! I do like this version of the "Halloween" theme music and there is an extra haunting melody to the end of the theme I really love. Eh, I don't know about this one. I do like this movie because of Ms. Harris and Mr. Pleasence and because of the flow in my head of part 1, 2, 4, and 5 as an incomplete canon. I would say check this entry out especially if you liked part four, but don't expect much at all.

Notable Moment: At the end when we discover Michael has been freed from jail and we are left wondering who was the man in black and what he wants.

Final Rating: 5.5/10

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: Michael emerges from a coma to seek out and kill his eight year old neice who is still living in Haddonfield.

Review: With the pitiful performance of the dreadful "Season of the Witch," and with it being the tenth anniversary of the original film, they decided to bring back Michael with this fourth entry which was probably the smartest move. Personally, I believe this is the second best film in the franchise so everything goes down from here on out, and there are ten films total! This movie has one of the most odd but interesting openings in the franchise. Instead of the famous "Halloween" theme music there is a kind of haunting melody with a windy-esque feel as we see Halloween-themed imagery of old, classic farm houses that really brings back the nostalgia of the 80s for me; something just feels off with this holiday now and everyone is a total wimp and wants to stop trick-or-treating by like 7 PM?!! The worst thing about this film is the introduction sequence because it is just so contrived and full of plot holes, but they did try their best to revive Michael in a feasible way without making him a supernatural entity like Jason. After part two, Michael was an eyeless crispy critter, but this film ignores the shots to the eyes and just says Michael slipped into a coma after the severe burns (yeah, unlikely story but okay). It's funny because they do this trick twice as Loomis has also returned from the dead with some burn scars; did they not realize there was an explosion too?! Apparently the thing that sets Michael off and wakes him from his coma is news about his neice which makes him go apeshit and kill everyone with only Loomis in hot pursuit as the police believe Michael died during the escape. How Michael knows his neice, Jamie, is in Haddonfield is as good as anyone's guess, but it may have an explanation by the end of the film. If you can get past all of this ridiculous resurrection, the movie becomes so much more enjoyable. We get an interesting contrast early in the film as we see the every day life of Jamie and how she appears to be very sad while at the same time we cut back to Loomis and Michael wreaking havoc across the countryside as they both are moving toward Haddonfield. Loomis has a lot to do in this film as essentially there are only three main characters besides Michael; they are Loomis, Jamie, and the other is Rachel, Jamie's foster sister. I did like the attention to Loomis as he does feel like a crusader in these films, and he always borderlines on being a little too obsessed. Actually, we have yet another big contrivance as Michael slowly assembles his attire from the first two films while traveling. The mask looks off too since they couldn't use the original likeness due to some legal issue with William Shatner; just look the story up on that as it is kind of entertaining. Oh, in case you hadn't realized it by now, all of this is taking place leading up to Halloween night in which the majority of the movie takes place during! There is a hint of typical '80s slasher material here with some teen stereotypes as Michael dispenses with whoever gets in his way. There is a part where Loomis finds all the police dead which was kind of preposterous since Michael has never been so overt, but since it was offscreen I will forgive it. I do like the relentless chase scenes as Michael tries desperately to kill Jamie. Danielle Harris, as Jamie, does a wonderful job, and I have to admit I had a crush on her when I was little; still kind of have a crush since she is still appearing in the "Halloween" franchise to this day! There is an interesting dynamic as you have Rachel trying to protect Jamie and Loomis not exactly helping things with his crazy antics. Unfortunately, there is way too much screen time to some idiots I refer to as random rednecks. They serve as some kind of pointless padding or I guess to show us the town as a whole is involved this time to take down Michael? After the body count has piled up and everyone thinks they're safe, Michael seemingly appears out of nowhere aboard a truck Rachel and Jamie are escaping in. Finally, after shaking Michael loose at a graveyard (how apropos), everyone guns him down with shotguns and he falls in a grave as many tombstones cave-in on him. After this, we are given perhaps the best and most shocking ending in the whole franchise! Remember when I said how did Michael find Jamie? Well apparently Jamie finds herself possessed with whatever made Michael kill as she does her best to recreate the opening scene of the first film in the clown costume and all. The film leaves us with a final shot of the bloody Jamie and Loomis trying to gun her down to no avail. This ending is half the reason I rate this so high. Now if only they continued the franchise properly with this plotline! Overall, this is a fun film that knows it has problems trying to followup where part two left us. I love the characters and we actually come to care if they are killed. There is a creepy atmosphere here that I don't think the other films were ever able to maintain. Since this franchise's timeline and story changes so much, people have their own sense of canon, but I would suggest any real fan make this a part of their canon.

Notable Moment: At the end when it appears the curse has been passed on to Jaime, and she stabs her foster mother.

Final Rating: 7.5/10

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Halloween III: Season of the Witch Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: A tale of the hilariously idiotic plot to destroy the children of the world through cheap Halloween masks, magic, and androids. You better believe zany antics ensue.

Review: Okay, before I tear this film to shreds, let me say I do appreciate the concept behind this film. I understand they were hoping to create a sort of anthology series as every year there would be a new "Halloween" film with a different story related to the holiday. This would have been amazing had this idea been properly realized, but why, oh why, would you start off such an ambitious undertaking with this piece of shit as the starter?! I mean seriously read my plot summary and let that ridiculous plot sink in a bit. It is so asinine it is hard to grasp what any writer was thinking! This story, with a few tweaks, would have made for a better kid's movie with light horror elements. Actually just the Halloween masks and magic might have been an okay subject despite the stupidity of the villain's plan, but why did they feel the need to include robots/androids?! It makes no sense and how would some crappy novelty company have the means and know how to manufacture androids in their spare time? Screw that, why would they even bother?! They already have most of the people in the town that the factory exists in as loyal followers. Needless to say, the androids look beyond stupid, and I still think they are just robots. They seem to be nothing but wires and glowing lights (how fucking typical); what exactly holds them together? As for the villain's plot, I was never quite sure if this movie implied he honestly thought he was killing everyone in the world or just a few people in the USA? Most countries don't even celebrate Halloween! Then you have to factor in how many people would even buy these dumbass masks; they only sold three types: skeleton, witch, and pumpkin. UGH! It's so fucking stupid! We don't even get a good explanation about why he's doing this except for a ritual or whatever; what does he even gain or accomplish by any of this? You gotta love vague and ambiguously stupid plans to destroy the world. Plus, taking tiny pieces from Stonehenge and merging them with computer chips that you put in Halloween masks while using some spell hidden in a commercial jingle so that it will make the wearer's head burst unleashing bugs and shit is such a plausible and perfect scheme, right?! Don't forget enforcing your secret and ingenius plot with android bodyguards! I'm shocked no one has tried to do this in real life because surely it must work! Don't even get me started on the fucking commercial jingle you hear a hundred times throughout the movie. Damn you Silver Shamrock! This movie mostly plays out like a crappy mystery thriller with no scares and no real suspense. The only thing that keeps you interested is wondering where the hell they are going with this or if you're one of those people who kept thinking Michael Myers would show up at some point. Probably the cruelist moment is when the main guy is locked in a room and they turn on a TV playing "Halloween." Well, there went any hope for a Michael cameo. Why didn't they at least tie in Michael by making one of the SS masks a Michael Myers mask?! This may not be the worst movie in the world, but considering all that it had going for it yet it turned into this mess, it deserves to be called one of the dumbest movies in history! I only watch this film when I want a good laugh, because this is really more of a comedy than anything else. Thank god this series returned to form with part four.

Notable Moment: Any time we hear the annoyingly catchy, yet amusing, Silver Shamrock theme music.

Final Rating: 3.5/10

Halloween II (1981) Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: Michael Myers is still on the loose and has tracked the battered Laurie Strode to a hospital where he continues his mayhem.

Review: Three years after the massive success of the first film, and with that infamous cliffhanger, you would think they would come up with a better way to continue the story than this. This isn't necessarily a bad film, but it didn't do virtually anything different from the first film except change the setting to a hospital. This movie is mediocre in most regards and only slightly boosted by the now pivotal plot point that Laurie is actually Michael's sister. Even this revelation isn't without flaws as I can still remember as a kid thinking to myself something just doesn't make sense about Laurie not remembering any of this. Not to mention, how did Michael know how to find her?! I guess this is where things started to move into a somewhat supernatural understanding of the character. I suppose a lot of the writing mistakes can be forgiven as John Carpenter has gone on record stating many times he did not want to do a sequel and just added the sister plotline as a way to spice things up. Other than this, Michael isn't doing anything different and many of the same effects that were so creepy in the first are just repeated; like when Michael slowly emerges from the shadows using lighting effects. In fact, Michael mindlessly roaming around the hospital picking people off really bothered me because he has no discernable reason why he doesn't simply move in for the kill! This plot point emphasizes how padded down this film is with filler scenes; this whole deadend plotline with some kid who just happens to be wearing Michael's outfit (oh gimme a fucking break) and gets ran over feels so dumb as a weak means to keep the cops out of the main plot. Realistically this film could have been cut down to a 30 minute special tacked on to the original since it is supposed to be the same night. It's funny, we didn't even get closure on Tommy and Lindsey's story, but I suppose they would have looked so different at this point they dropped them entirely. Loomis is wasted as he is just tagging along with the police, although, he still continues to deliver some great lines. There is this weird throwaway plot point about "Samhain" and no explanation if Michael or someone else wrote it. I still can't decide whether that was filler too or they just left room for a possible sequel setup. Unfortunately, this subject would come back to haunt the franchise in the even more pitiful part six. Laurie is also wasted as she just sits in a bed, has flashbacks, or freaks out from time to time. Seriously, other than filler kills, nothing happens worth mentioning until the last 10-15 minutes or so. On the positive side, the "final" showdown with Michael is rewarding and supplies a satisfactory end to the character and resolution to Loomis' crusade. Overall, it's not that repeating what worked the first time is bad, it just feels unnecessary. This film expands the mythos and works as a bridge to the sequels better than a conclusion to one of the biggest icons in horror. It's necessary viewing for a "Halloween" fan but still worth a watch in general. Compared to some of the later sequels, this is a masterpiece.

Notable Moment: When Michael kills one of the nurses, named Joy (pokemon nurse Joy?), and he kind of just holds her aloft. The pulled back shot has this strange haunting imagery.

Final Rating: 6/10

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Halloween (1978) Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: After being institutionalized for 15 years, Michael Myers "comes home" to continue his killing spree on Halloween night.

Review: Well, it's October now which is my favorite month with my favorite holiday which just so happens to be the title to one of my favorite franchises: Halloween! Again, we are going into the realm of an iconic villain and story with Michael Myers that I believe most are familiar with. Forget the mythos for a second and let's just focus on the original tale for what it was; I do realize it is so hard to suspend that knowledge that Michael Myers is Laurie Strode's (Jamie Lee Curtis) brother, but that was only true in the sequel. What can I say, it's the quintessential slasher film! "Halloween" has been credited with being the first in many things, which it isn't, but I would say it was the forerunner for providing the dynamics of what would become the standard for the '80s slasher phenomenon. Despite not actually being the first, this film was still original and quite imaginative for the time while pioneering some filming techniques among many other technical aspects. Considering how low the budget was, how inexperienced the crew was (John Carpenter really is a master), and the short filming schedule, I would say this film deserves extra credit for all that it was able to accomplish. While the story is mostly average, it is the presentation and characters that make it feel so engaging while the simplicity allows for focus. The setting of Halloween, the holiday, enhances the sense of fear or dread as we mentally associate it more with evil and supernatural forces. I do need to commend the crew for making Southern California appear as the fictional mid-west town of Haddonfield during Fall time. While the background characters are mostly just fodder we have three strong performances from Laurie, Michael, and, my favorite, Dr. Loomis (played by the late Donald Pleasence). Laurie makes for a perfect girl next door who just so happens to be stalked by a masked killer while simply trying to babysit; having this randomness to the killings adds to the fear viewers felt at the time as you don't know why Michael is fixated on her. Although, I have to admit, Mrs. Curtis' performance was shoddy at times, but she did come to life as the "fun" began, and you quickly realize how she would later garner the title of "scream queen." The Loomis character helps add some cohesion as the obsessed and borderline insane doctor of Michael when he was at the mental institution. Throughout the film, and most of the franchise for that matter, Loomis dishes out the best lines and helps the audience understand the evil of Michael. Although he often serves as a means of exposition, Mr. Pleasence somehow creates a unique experience with the deranged and quirky aspects of the doctor; Loomis often feels as though he is on a quest to stop Michael which makes his character feel more heroic. Michael (and that mask!) has become something of a legend, but in the beginning he was just this force of evil that seems to be everywhere always lurking just out of view of the characters in the shadows. Michael also never speaks (yes, Rob Zombie, he never fucking speaks!) and seems inhuman which adds to this persona of an unstoppable killing machine; Loomis helps explain this with his line about Michael waiting patiently all the fifteen years for that Halloween night! It also doesn't hurt that Michael always appears so imposing and as a genuine threat, but, unfortunately, as with much of the icons, he almost appears comical nowaday. Obviously no review of "Halloween" is complete without addressing that that musical score is genius! The moment you hear it your mind is just filled with nostalgia as to whatever "Halloween" means to you. Like many things in this film, it is so simplistic yet so unbelievably effective. It's not hard to see why this film was so successful as it was a modern day classic in the making. Everything about this film works so well, and it rightfully deserves its iconic status. I always make it a habit to watch this movie a few times each October. I'd recommend anyone to watch this film especially now or watch the whole franchise as I go through it! Sadly, the sequels never could hold up to the greatness of the original.

Notable Moment: The entire opening sequence with it's surprising twist, engaging and innovative camera work, and outstanding ability to set the tone for the film ahead so perfectly.

Final Rating: 9/10

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: Aragorn attempts to unite the kingdoms of Middle-earth to stand by his side in a final fight against Sauron's legions while Frodo and Sam make a final push to destroy the One Ring.

Review: This is by far my favorite of the three and one of my favorite movies of all time; definitely my favorite fantasy film. The scale, scope, and intensity of all the action has been amped up (to 11). The culmination of all the events in the past two films comes to a breathtaking conclusion that leaves the viewer immensely satisfied. The story jumps back and forth from mostly just two perspectives: Frodo, Sam, and Gollum making their final charge to Mount Doom, and the everyone else as they predominently contribute to the battle in the kingdom of Gondor. Aragon, Gimli, Legolas, Gandalf, and all the allies they've assembled meet up with Merry and Pippin at Saruman's ruined tower. Okay, this part really pisses me off! For some reason the theatrical version cut the death of Saruman which makes no sense since the audience is left wondering what the hell happened to him; I really don't understand the decision making here! Thankfully, the extended editions have the scene intact to bring proper closure to that story arc; I do realize that in the book Saruman did not actually die here, but for the film's narrative, this is probably the best place for it to go down. From here, Aragorn is convinced to take up the mantle as the king of Gondor with the reconstructed sword that was originally used to defeat Sauron. We learn that Gondor will be the main stategic battle for Middle-earth, and, with glimpses during "Two Towers," we learn that Sauron is marching the vast majority of his forces in an effort to conquer the kingdom. This army is fucking humongous! You have all kinds of mercenaries and evil humans, Orcs, Trolls, the Nazgul, and all manner of beasts. Knowing they are hopelessly outnumbered, Aragon, Gimli, and Legolas seek to gain the assistance of a cursed army of ghosts who are damned for their cowardice ages ago; of course Aragorn is able to unite them with the promise they will be redeemed after the battle! Gandalf, Merry, Pippin, and virtually everyone else are left to fight at Gondor including the likes of Eowyn and Faramir (Boromir's brother) who have grown to be very important characters in their own right. The battle at Gondor is the definition of epic and may be even more impressive than that little word can describe! This is one of the most awesome battle scenes in film history with just so much happening, amazing set pieces like the fight again the leader of the Nazgul, the Witch-king, and a great number of powerful moments that emphasizes just what makes this franchise so legendary. As with the other films, we see all the heroes get a chance to shine which helps build our growing love for these characters. And with any epic battle worth mentioning, right when all hope is lost and defeat is certain, Aragorn and crew arrive with the ghost army to save the day! I did feel this was a bit of a copout since the ghosts cannot even be hurt, but it can be forgiven because I suppose they are no different than any other magical creature of this realm. While all of this was occuring, Frodo and Sam have been betrayed by Gollum who has offered them up as a meal for a giant spider known as Shelob. Surprisingly, they are indirectly saved by Orcs, but Frodo has been stunned by the spider venom. At this point, they are in Mordor which is heavy in all manner of evil beings, but Sam is able to get Frodo free from the Orcs safe and sound as they make their final trek up Mount Doom. At the exact moment that Frodo and Sam are dodging the eye of Sauron trying to make the final run, Aragorn and pretty much everyone left able to carry a sword have gathered at the main fortress of Sauron to challenge his army directly and to bide time for Frodo and Sam to destory the ring. This trip up Mount Doom and all the accompaning scenes are really moving as you feel their strength to keep pushing forward despite how tired and weak they are. Frodo is so worn out from the ever pressing power of the One Ring that Sam is literally carrying Frodo; the music here is also one of the highlights of an already astounding soundtrack and incredibly moving enhancing the scene so much! The edge-of-your-seat climax involves frequent cuts back and forth to the final battle with Aragorn at the Gates of Mordor and Frodo and Sam trying desperately to just throw that damned ring in the volcano of Mount Doom! Frodo, within a fingertip of destroying the ring, has finally succumbed to its temptation which coincides with Gollum reemerging to fight Frodo for the ring. Everything is going wrong as our heroes are just about to be defeated by Sauron's army as Frodo pushes Gollum, who has gained the ring after biting off one of Frodo's fingers, into Mount Doom thus destroying the One Ring once and for all! Luckily Sam has saved Frodo from meeting the same fate as Gollum and the ring. With the ring finally destroyed, Sauron is blown up brilliantly as his legions are also destroyed without his evil to sustain them. After what was in actuality years of traveling, the journey has finally come to an end with glorious victory as Middle-earth has been saved! Gandalf uses giant eagles to save Sam and Frodo and all of our heroes come together for a celebration at Gondor as Aragorn gets with his honey, Arwen. Sadly, Frodo feels so distraught over the journey that he decides to go to a sort of higher plain of existence with the Elves where he can be free of his troubles. It is a heartbreaking conclusion as we feel the victory, but weigh in on all that was lost in the effort. We don't get closure on all the characters (you do in the book), but we can assume they went off on their own continuing adventures while the remaining Hobbits lived happily ever after so to speak. And so ends the legendary tale of the Lord of the Rings! This is one of the most moving and powerful franchises out there with every single aspect of filming being the highest quality especially the storytelling. I would like to give one final acknowledgement to all of the actors in this franchise as they have marvelously brought to life each of their respective characters! If you haven't watched these films yet, do it now! Or better yet, if you can find the extended editions of each, put on a diaper, prepare a lot of meals, and strap yourself in for a 12+ hour adventure like you've never seen before!

Notable Moment: When Frodo gives into the final temptation of the One Ring and he, Sam, and Gollum struggle over its fate. The music is beyond epic at this point with Aragorn and his soldiers seemingly within defeat at the same time of these events.

Final Rating: 10/10

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: With the fellowship divided, Frodo and Sam continue to take the One Ring to Mordor while the others prepare to do battle with Sauron and Saruman's forces.

Review: Picking up immediately where "Fellowship" ended, this film takes a slightly disjointed approach to the story as we see multiple perspectives from the divided heroes. Aragorn, Gilmli, and Legolas are roaming on foot to catch up with the Orcs and Uruk-Hai that captured Merry and Pippin. Unknown to them, Merry and Pippin escaped and fled to a place called Fangorn forest which is home to talking trees known as Ents (I love the Ents!). Meanwhile, Frodo and Sam are traveling toward Mordor and have run into the mutant-like Gollum who had once held the One Ring in his possession for centuries and seeks to regain it (Hobbitses are Tricksies!). At this point, I think Gollum has become something of a cultural icon with his weird way of speaking, grotesque look, and indirect comedic genius (The precious!). Frodo is able to "domesticate" Gollum so to speak, and with his guidance they are able to take a more clear cut path to Mordor. At the same time, we also gain perspective on a few new characters specifically those in the kingdom of Rohan and see more with Saruman and his plans to conquer Middle-earth at the behest of Sauron. Last, it is revealed that Gandalf has not only returned from the dead, but he has been elevated to a higher level of wizardry; it doesn't make a lot of sense in the film, but it has something to do with the god-like beings in this mythos and that the wizards are a sort of higher being themselves and these gods can send people back to Middle-earth...somehow this all works (I'm trying to explain it as best I can since I don't entirely understand it myself). Although this film is filled with tons of action, in this middle part, we have a much more character driven narrative as we come to learn of the corruption in Rohan, get a better feel for our heroes and their motives, and understand the tragedy of Gollum. A lot of little things and details comprise a large chunk of this film as we see events get set into place for the final film. Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas have joined the fight to protect Rohan from a coming army, Merry and Pippin help convince and join the Ents in an assault on Saruman, Gandalf has set out to gather allies in Middle-earth, and Frodo and Sam are captured which leads to Gollum returning to his evil ways. The main struggle and epic showdown for this film comes in the form of the Battle for Helms Deep as thoursands of Orcs and Uruk-Hai storm Rohan's main defensive stronghold. This battle is intense! It is perhap the most focused battle scene of the three films, but I believe it's eclipsed by the next film's battles. While this film does end on a cliffhanger, we are given a much more hopeful ending as things appear to be faring better for the heroes. They win the battle at Helms Deep, the Ents stomp Saruman and his goons, Gandalf has brought in more allies, and only Frodo and Sam have immediate danger as the audience knows Gollum plans to betray them. As with all three films, the effects are impressive, the acting is solid, the characters have grown even more, the music continues to be memorable, the story continues fantastically, and everything else is just wonderful! There are a few minor gripes I have especially with some annoying characters and pacing issues, but those are minor nitpicks. As with "Fellowship" those are only slight complains that take away from near-perfection of this trilogy.

Notable Moment: When the Ents decide to join the fight against Saruman and give a major beating to his forces while trapping him in his precious tower.

Final Rating: 9.5/10

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: A band of unlikely heroes must travel across their world in order to destroy a powerful ring containing the spirit of an evil, super being.

Review: Let us now go into one of the best trilogies in film history with the adaptation of the epic novel "The Lord of the Rings." Unfortunately, I still have never read the book, but it is high on my list of things to do before I die! I'll begin by saying the order I like the films are "The Return of the King" as best, this one as second best, and "The Two Towers" last. This film begins with a little backstory to what is going on in Middle-earth and an amazing battle sequence which makes me wish they had a movie based off the original fight against Sauron. Something you will notice throughout this trilogy are the great effects that have a gritty and worn out look to them; you get the feeling that this is brutal world and they don't hit the showers often if you know what I mean! From here we learn about the One Ring and how it came to be in the hands of a Hobbit named Bilbo which then leads to our current story. Early on you will find yourself quickly immersed into the mythos of this world which helps make the story much easier to follow. As the Hobbits are an innocent race of little people with little to no desires, the One Ring is mostly safe in their possession as it cannot influence them easily. Unfortunately for Bilbo and our other Hobbit heroes, the forces of Sauron have learned of the rings location and the ring is sent off to a place called Rivendell which is a city of Elves. It is also at this time we learn a powerful wizard named Saruman has joined the fray to find the ring as he has been corrupted by the evil of Sauron. We are gradually introduced to each of the main characters with a steady pacing which definitely helps the audience with taking a chance to meet everyone rather than being bombarded by names (it can still feel overwhelming at first anyway!). Eventually we see our fellowship come together as they realize the One Ring must be destroyed in the place it was forged: Mount Doom in Mordor. I really love the fellowship as most of the characters are fun and interesting and pretty damn good fighters. The fellowship is comprised of the four Hobbits: Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin (Merry and Pippin do borderline Jar Jar-like characters sometimes though!), the wizard Gandalf, Aragorn and Boromir who are men, Legolas the Elf, and Gimli the Dwarf. The vast majority of the film involves the nine heroes traveling across the treacherous landscape of Middle-earth running into one epic set piece obstacle after another; it is during these fights that we get a better sense for who our heroes are and how fun they can be. Always hot on the trail of the heroes are the ever intimidating Ring Wraiths (the Nazgul) which are my favorite; they look like grim reapers and are seemingly immortal as long as the One Ring exists. Of course the main battle in the Mines of Moria is the highlight of this film as the audience is led to believe Gandalf has been killed! The battle in the mines gives a chance for each of the heroes to show us what their made of and how even the little Hobbits can be courageous fighters. Everything comes to a head as the remaining fellowship finds themselves weary and corned by super Orcs called Uruk-Hai sent by Saruman. At the same time, Boromir has been corrupted by the temptation of the One Ring and this splits up the fellowship as Boromir is killed in the fight. The film ends with cliffhanger as our remaining heroes survive, but are now separated and left to continue the journey somehow while Merry and Pippin are captured by Orcs. Of course this leads directly into the next part! The effects are geat, the music is phenomenal (one of the best ever), the characters are beloved and great, the acting is solid, the story is well paced and engaging, and everything just comes together so excellently. My only real gripe with this part is the slowness at some parts which I do understand the book does show great detail of just "walking" the path, but as a movie, I felt even more could have been cut down or integrated a little better.

Notable Moment: When the fellowship runs into the Balrog and Gandalf stays to do battle with the beast.

Final Rating: 9.5/10