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Saturday, May 30, 2015

Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths Review


Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: The Justice League must save a parallel world from their evil doppelgangers.

Review: While this film isn't quite as awesome as "The Flashpoint Paradox," this is still a cool DC original. At a glance, the story does appear to complement the Justice League TV show, but it's simply a standalone entry regardless. You have your usual big boys showcasing their abilities, however, a few characters like Martian Manhunter get more time to shine which was nice. The one major misstep I could see was an abundance of filler for an already short running time. Also, Batman saves the day--yet again--and that's really getting tiresome; the ending is satisfying though. Okay, let's take a look at what we have here.

This is an alternate reality, of sorts, where many things are backward. So it's not like you can pinpoint where this universe diverged from the regular DC timeline if that helps. The Lex Luthor of this world is a hero and knows he cannot overcome the villains alone. Escaping into the normal DC universe, Luthor gains the assistance of the Justice League in order to stop their evil counterparts, the Crime Syndicate. When trying to stop the villains the normal, beat 'em up way, the heroes realize the Crime Syndicate's control is too deeply embedded. In order to truly defeat the villains they must rally the public to stand up to the Crime Syndicate. While this is occurring, the Batman equivalent, Owlman, has come to the epiphany that there are infinite realities based upon choices. Creating a bomb than can destroy the entire planet, Owlman intends to travel to a place called Earth Prime where all realities stem. Apparently destroying this particular world will destroy all Earths in the multiverse; not entirely sure how that works, but this is a comic book movie after all. By the end, the public overcomes the Crime Syndicate while Batman squares off against Owlman in order to stop the bomb. Owlman is definitely the standout character in this film as he's brilliantly evil. Even when Batman manages to transport Owlman and the bomb to a different Earth that is covered in ice, this fookin legend of crime alley doesn't even stop the bomb and lets himself get blown up! Back in their own universe, the heroes just go about their business as usual. Ehh, how else could you really end it?

I want to mention a few highlights and low points as well. Surprisingly, Wonder Woman was standing out here. She doesn't do anything especially interesting, but she was kicking ass like nobody's business; this movie depicted her acrobatic and fluid style of fighting extremely well. I don't care for Aquaman much, but, come on, what was with the line acting like he's weak; he's a capable enough fighter to handle a Shazaam-reject. Batman semi killing the Flash equivalent and outright setting Owlman up to die felt out of character, but I suppose when the universe hangs in the balance he can break his one rule?

This film is not quite as good as it could have been, but it's still fun and enjoyable. While the story still focuses on the major players, there are quite a few background Leaguers to keep an eye on. The pacing needed some work as we get random tangents that feel like leftover plot lines from the TV show; definitely looking at Martian Manhunter's romance here. However, many of my complaints are minor grievances that can be overlooked readily. Overall, this is a great addition to the library of DC films.

Notable Moment: When Owlman smiles at his own death. It certainly helped that he was voiced by James "piece of candy" Woods.

Final Rating: 6.5/10

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Cat (Korean 2011) Review


Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: After a girl takes in a cat from a crime scene, the bodies begin to pile up.

Review: For some reason I remembered this being a lot scarier when it first came out. I must have been high out of my mind or something, because this is a by-the-books horror film with absolutely nothing we haven't seen a hundred times before. This isn't to say the film is terrible, but it lacks creativity and is loaded with virtually every Asian horror trope and cliche imaginable. On top of that, the story is simply about many animal abusers getting their comeuppance. This is fine to me except that the depiction of so many dead and tortured animals kind of makes it hard to bear for those who would enjoy justice being served. To be honest, it's hard to say who this film would actually appeal toward. The last thing I'll mention is that this film would have been more interesting had the ghost been some kind of abstract entity or embodiment of little kitties everywhere. Instead, it's your typical ghost girl who I am going to refer to as Toshio's girlfriend--those two seem like they'd hit it off.

The story is on the paper thin side of things with the main girl being your typical good girl with "problems." She works at a pet shop with a boss who, of course, hates pets. After one of their dumb clients (thankfully) gets killed, the girl takes in the client's cat; while this is occurring, the main chickadee keeps seeing Toshio's girlfriend. Toshio's girlfriend has turned into a kind of cat-human hybrid, but she's essentially a wannabe demon in her looks and approach. Everyone always takes note of Toshio's girlfriend's haircut too, yet, who would do that in reality? Contrivances begin to rack up after the main girl's friend dies and she becomes reunited with the guy she has a crush on. This romance subplot is painful to behold, and the guy is such a little bitch boy it's pitiful. Toshio's girlfriend is an unsung avenger of abused animals everywhere as she picks off assholes here and there, but she still spends half her time doing jump scares to the main girl; a few of these scares are not bad admittedly. Eventually they realize there was something about an apartment building sealing itself up to kill a bunch of stray cats, because apparently Korea has no animal control. Toshio's girlfriend, in life, was trapped inside with her kitty friends after breaking her back or whatever. Wait, what? Toshio's girlfriend dies by her own accident and this somehow translates into a demonic-looking spirit that hunts down animal abusers? 'Kaaaaay. Also, magically finding the body of Toshio's girlfriend somehow appeases the spirit and puts it to rest? Why? The movie then ends with a zinger fake-out. They're like, oh shit, are we going to do a zinger?! Nope...got you!

This movie may sound a lot worse than it really is, but it's bland and mediocre when it had potential. The ghost needed another origin, the main girl needed more depth, the love interest should have been dropped, and the abusers should have been killed before they did any real damage. On the other hand, the scares are acceptable, the cinematography was okay, and there were a few cool ideas. If you like seeing people die for hurting animals this movie may be for you. Ironically, if you like seeing animals hurt, this may also be the movie for you. Thankfully, the abusers aren't as sick and twisted as they could have been, but, still, it's pretty messed up. Overall, a forgettable excursion into Asian horror when there is so much better out there.

Notable Moment: When Toshio's girlfriend is hiding under the bed. Would have been a lot better if the scare came faster though.

Final Rating: 5/10

Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Pyramid (2014) Review


Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: Beneath the ancient sands of Egypt lurks...a terrible movie.

Review: Cliched, boring, and stupid are just a few, choice words that come to mind after watching this piece of shit. This trash doesn't know if it's found-footage or fake documentary or a regular film; make up your mind, son. It also doesn't know if it wants to be a horror, sci-fi, fantasy, or a damned kids movie, but does opt to be as mediocre and predictable as possible. Ugh...I was struggling to keep my eyes open by the end, and this wasn't that long (thankfully). And that ending...my goodness. Stop greenlighting these terrible movies, please!

The story is by the books pure idiocy. You have a father/daughter archeology duo uncovering a new and bizarre pyramid while being filmed by a reporter or whatever. For the love of fuck, this isn't "Tomb Raider." Blah blah blah, the Egyptian government is like, "Get the fuck out," and of course they have to go into the pyramid beforehand. For whatever reason, the pyramid is infested with cat creatures and the literal Anubis, the god. Yes, commence eye rolling. I like how they claim the cats are living off cannibalism. How?! Cats don't breed like insects, there's no water, and each generation would have a diminishing return especially with Anubis killing them...not flourishing for thousands of years! Next up, Anubis is depicted with horrendous CGI, and he makes no sense whatsoever. So...he's seemingly immortal yet can be hurt and has to eat? Don't even get me started on the movie's implication that he's a fucking alien! They loosely explain something about Anubis wanting to go to the afterlife with Osiris, but I don't know what bullshit they were trying to claim; supposedly he eats hearts hoping to find one of purity. Oh yeah, don't forget the Masons discovered this pyramid too for the lulz. Everyone dies in increasingly moronic ways until only the daughter is left alive. When Anubis is about to kill her, the little kitties come to her rescue in the most laughable way possible. Is this a Disney movie? The daughter finds a magic exit where she is clinging to life; she's poisoned by a toxic fume or whatever. A random boy appears out of nowhere and tries to steal the dying daughter's camera when Anubis grabs him. The end...

What can I say, this movie sucks. From the onset, as the cliches come hard and you take in that embarrassing acting, you know you've made a mistake. There are no twists or turns as this film plays it by the numbers and never deviates. The worst offense was failing to create a mildly entertaining presentation when you're dealing with the vast array of Egyptian lore at your fingertips. The ending is abrupt and idiotic--it would have been more humorous if aliens really did show up. Other than a few decent set designs, an okay story concept in theory, and somewhat making use of Egyptian mythology, this film has little to offer. There's a good reason why no one knows this movie even exists.

Notable Moment: That painfully moronic ending. Shudder.

Final Rating: 4/10

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

It Follows Review

(love the retro poster)

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: After a girl has sex, she is cursed and relentlessly stalked by a malevolent being.

Review: This is yet another divisive horror film to come out in recent years; the critics love it while many (alleged) horror fans hate it. Usually films fall short on the hype for me, but I think this one managed to pull it off--as long as your expectations aren't through the roof. With that said, I do understand why a lot of fans would think poorly of this film especially when factoring in the lackluster ending. It really just depends on your interpretation of the story. I simply choose to take things at face value for the most part while ignoring the artsy approach. Believe me, I've read every feasible interpretation, from the pretentious to the ridiculous, and still understand things a bit differently. My suggestion would be to go into this knowing very little.

Let's look at the reasons why the film is winning over critics first. The tone, atmosphere, cinematography, direction, and, especially, the music, feel amazing. The technical aspects look as though they're from a movie with a bigger budget, and, seriously, the music alone almost won me over single-handedly; the synthesizers...that '70s/80s style...so perfect! In fact, the attempts at creating the feeling of retro horror were commendable. This was like the spiritual successor to "A Nightmare on Elm Street" mixed with a nearly endless array of horror film concepts; special emphasis on the chain letter idea. This sense of originality, yet still paying tribute to the past, is what a lot of fans are missing and/or ignoring. In this incarnation, one becomes cursed after having sex with someone else who is cursed. Only one person can be cursed at a time, however, if the current person dies, it comes back to the previous individual. Essentially, as many have stated, this is a supernatural STD mixed with a little "Ring" action. "It," if you will, can take various, creepy forms as it closes in to kill you which was interesting. Usually I believe I would do well against most fictional monsters, but this one would probably kill me quick if it took the form of Rika or a chickadee of her caliber. They don't go into a ton of detail regarding "It" or its motives, but the ambiguity of what "It" wants keeps the intrigue high. Lastly, the acting was decent from the cast of mostly unknowns, and they felt believable in their friendships.

Now, the faults don't bother me too much beyond the ending, but I'll go over the problems. First up, "It" being a ghostly or physical entity is ill-defined...which is it? This was handled incredibly poorly with little to no way to explain anything. Let's say it's physically in our world, as we see it interact with physical objects, then how does it catch up to anyone ever?! The whole walking slow is cool and creepy, but I didn't think it was literally walking constantly. My idea was that it would materialize closer to the person each time it took a new form, but I suppose I'm trying to fill in the holes. Think about it, if it walks everywhere, just drive hundreds of miles away. When it catches up, drive back again and again forever. But if it's an otherworldly entity, then how can it be slowed down by something like bullets or a door? For that matter, how can "It" hurt people not cursed? Theoretically, it could kill those who aren't cursed if you stay in a public place. There needs to be a level of consistency, and that's sorely missing. The retro idea is awesome, but the execution is off and nonsensical; just pick a decade and homage it. However, this film has shit lying around covering a 40-50 year time frame but in a way that would never happen. Vintage cars? Sure. Old TVs they stopped making 25-30 years ago in a teenagers room? Uhhh no. And a futuristic or custom cellphone of sorts? Whaaaat? As for the ending, you're telling me they try to fight "It" and semi-win? How?! They didn't kill "It" so the movie ends with the vague idea that it's still after them or it was successfully passed along. Come on, son. I knew it would end in a way like this, but, at least, make the buildup feel as though it could possibly be over.

As for where my interpretation comes into play...ehh, I don't want to go too deep down a pretentious path. I will say this though--that a lot of people overlooked--there was definitely something going on with the lack of fathers; every character has a mom but no father. We see photos of the main girl's dad and "It" takes his form at one point, but fathers are nowhere to be found. On top of that, the characters are depicted as sort of raising themselves and acknowledge their moms don't care. Is this a statement about the lives of kids growing up nowaday? Some kind of social commentary? I don't know, but it's something I picked up on. This is extra noticeable when we consider that the father is typically the disciplinarian in the family and these kids do whatever they want. Who knows, maybe I'm going too deep into pretentious territory. As for the supernatural STD angle, that's kind of self-explanatory. Others think this is a kind of coming of age tale with metaphors out the ass. Hell, maybe the movie was secretly about the dork being the last guy chosen to be fucked. Dude, gain some self-respect and let the main chick die!

A few other things to consider...what constitutes as "sex" to this entity? For a second I thought the main chick was gonna give the dork a footjob or something! Would that count? What if you had a three-way? Who gets cursed? They said "It" can only chase one person at a time. What if I trick "It" to getting on a treadmill? How does it get off? So "It" dry humps you to death when it finally catches up to you? There are worse ways to go. Who wins in a fight: this "It" or Pennywise's "It?" My vote is on it. Why did "It" take the form of people that could trick you while other times looking as though it was in the form of past victims? Certain aspects are best kept vague, but a few aspects make no conceivable sense.

Overall, this is a well put together and executed film with an intriguing and original story. The music is in a category of its own for sheer awesomeness, although, I'm sure many won't share my appreciation. Speaking of which, I understand where a lot of the hate for this film comes from, but I humbly disagree. Is this going to change the face of horror? No, but it's a step in the right direction away from the likes of "The Haunted Dollhouse" and those that try to outdo each other in outright idiocy like the sci-fi channel films. I certainly recommend "It Follows" but with the caveat of not focusing too heavily on the "what does it mean" aspect and appreciate the story for what it is. If your expectations are in check, you will probably find yourself enjoying a refreshing spin on a timeless horror theme.

Notable Moment: When "It" takes the form of that big guy in the hallway. Why did they idiotically put that scene in the trailer?!

Final Rating: 7/10

Friday, May 15, 2015

Assault Girls Review


Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: How in hell was this written by the same guy who did "Ghost in the Shell?!"

Review: Oh dear lord. I had intended to get around to this movie months ago, but I should have left well enough alone. This was unendurable garbage from start to finish. It's like a 10 year old scribbled down a story on a napkin at lunch and then somehow convinced a pretentious art-house company to produce it. This is the kind of instance where I don't know if I can fully accept this as a movie in general; similar to "Jaws in Japan" feeling like someone's vacation footage. On the plus side, however, the girls are kind of cute, and you could easily kill yourself with a few drinking games if so inclined. I don't know, I'm just really struggling to figure what the hell this is supposed to be. Is it possible that someone's brain, while high on peyote in a desert, was projected onto film?

How to explain this shit to someone--hmm. Well, for starters, forget whatever bullshit is on wikipedia (and probably the cover of the DVD). The movie opens with a pretentious, yet nonsensical, explanation of the state of the world that lasts for a good 7+ minutes. Will any of that mindless blabbering have a bearing on the story? Of course not! Apparently people live inside a video game world or something--which has been done before--but where the hell is anybody? The whole point of the film is that the main characters can't get to the next level of the game by themselves and must come to terms with teaming up in the most emo of ways. To put things into perspective, picture yourself being told you will get through Mario 3 faster by using the flutes and you mope around like a crybaby bitch for a couple days because of this. My goodness, who fucking cares if you're sad because you can't lone-wolf-it in a video game. I know during that nonsensical blabbering they mention how trivialities of a virtual world could be taken seriously, but it's not like this movie is remotely attempting to be social commentary.

The main characters are played by some dude I've never seen before, the horny Sadako from "Rasen," Rinko Kikuchi, and Meisa Kuroki from "One Missed Call: Final." For whatever reason, they thought it would be a good idea that the characters speak their lines in Engrish and while wearing masks to boot. Pshhh, my fucking god...good luck trying to understand anything. I can easily overlook Engrish, but, when you couple this with the pretentious nature of the film, you want to roundhouse kick someone in the face. I'm not going to cover the inconsistencies and lack of details regarding this virtual world since it doesn't matter. Needless to say, the characters do team up to get through this level, but they turn on each other as the movie ends abruptly and pointlessly. What would have made for an amusing twist is if we learned the reason why these idiots were all alone was because this was still the starting level of the game.

As for the drinking games you can play, you need to keep in mind these are meant to be played separate rather than concurrently or else you will probably be comatose within minutes. The best game is taking a shot every time there is a camera angle right behind Ms. Kuroki's sweet, sweet ass. If they wanted to screw with the audience, they could have revealed that the girls were actually avatars of male players. Next, take a shot every time you see Ms. Kikuchi dancing. They probably said, "Okay, Rinko, act natural" and this is what came out of it. She probably was already wearing her "costume" when she arrived on set too. If you want to die faster, be sure to take a shot every time a line of dialogue is repeated...though there is one particular scene that may kill you within a few seconds. Finally, if you want to drag out a slow, yet guaranteed, death, take a shot every time there is a transition showing the sky. That's a shitload of drinking.

You'd think by the look and tone of the film this would have been a "The Machine Girl" type of flick, but you'd be very wrong. Your guess is as good as mine as to what this movie is actually supposed to be. It's too unbelievably stupid for any rational person to try and interpret, but it's full of so much pretense that they clearly wanted viewers to think about the material. You can't understand the majority of the dialogue--not that it matters--and virtually nothing happens in the story. The script had to be, maybe, a couple pages long at best. The effects are also abysmal with little to no explanation for why certain aspects are happening. Sure, you have some cute girls (mostly points for Ms. Kuroki), but that keeps my attention for fleeting moments. Do not waste your time on this film unless your idea of a good film is spliced together shots of shit CGI, floating orbs with English accents, clouds, snails, and Rinko Kikuchi dancing with her own theme music.

Notable Moment: I don't know, pick any moment when we see Ms. Kuroki's slappable ass.

Final Rating: 3/10

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Dark City (1998) Review


Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: An amnesiac, pursued by shifty men in black, must uncover his identity in a city of endless night.

Review: It's always bothered me that this film never received the praise and notoriety it most certainly deserved. Obviously this film has garnered a cult following, but, as a consequence, it has become subject to whiners saying it doesn't hold up or endless comparisons to films/books that came after; this is especially tiresome when it comes to parallels with "The Matrix." Was this the first movie to have this particular plot and twist? No, but it presented a style and atmosphere extremely unique and original. The intrigue and mystery are masterfully executed, and the neo-noir approach works wonders. The only downside for me is a few questionable aspects to the story, occasionally shoddy effects, and a cornball final battle. Finally, I only watch the director's cut of this film nowaday, and hardly remember the differences with the theatrical version, so bear that in mind.

To briefly summarize the plot, we are introduced to a man with only the faintest of memories--he believes his name to be John Murdoch. Finding himself at the location of a murder, John runs away in an attempt to find answers as police investigate the crime. Unfortunately for John, he is pursued by cenobite-like men (and a brat) who possess various psychic powers; John discovers he has similar powers as well. Trying to recall his identity, John comes across his apparent wife, played by the timelessly beautiful Jennifer Connelly, but he senses something is amiss. At this point, John starts to take notice of many strange occurrences around the city which includes people suddenly falling asleep, buildings appearing out of nowhere, and seeing people rearranged with new identities. Deep in his memories, John is haunted by a place called Shell Beach that is impossible to reach. When others try to recall how to get to Shell Beach, the memory is a haze and leads to a circle within the city's confines. Questioning everything around him, John, with the assistance of a police detective, confronts a mysterious doctor who knows the truth. It is revealed that the entire city is floating in space--a kind of experiment by aliens, who inhabit human hosts, as they attempt to understand individuality within humans. The aliens possess a hive mind that is dying, and, in order to survive, they are studying human memories and behavior in order to possess desired traits for themselves. The city is completely controlled by machines that enhance the psychic powers of the aliens in order for them to manipulate the lives of all the people similarly to rats in a maze. John was an anomaly as he adapted to the memory transfers the aliens would perform and somehow gained their abilities. In a somewhat Hollywood conclusion, John uses the aliens' machines against them in order to boost his psychic powers beyond theirs. By the end, John tries to reconnect with his wife, whose memories have been reset, as the city is free of the alien's manipulation and under his control.

The thing that makes this film feel so special is that the mystery unfolds with perfect pacing. You are given tiny glimpses of what is happening as the audience is as confused as John. As the puzzle pieces come together, you start to see the big picture in an epic way. The use of neo-noir to establish the story's foundation works excellently to complement the mystery.  It also serves another purpose in presenting that the aliens couldn't decide on the best way to depict a human environment. Speaking of which, the city's design is to be commended and is memorable--sticking with the viewer long after the credits roll. The perpetual darkness, the strange phenomenon around the city, and the hazy memories are all story elements I absolutely adore. But, best of all, is the questioning of reality, and the nihilistic vision of what our lives may truly amount toward. The usage of memory and how it shapes the individual is represented well and a fantastic theme I wish more films would apply. The ending provides an interesting idea to consider as all of these people have no true identity. Who they were, the lives they lived...those things are long lost. Are we defined by those things or does the core person reside within unaffected by outside influence? With John and his wife, they feel a love for each other beyond what they remember--would regular people be that way or is it simple romanticism? The film leaves many things to ponder.

The imagery, tone, atmosphere, and style are all amazing; the cinematography is top notch that's for sure. There are problems with a few special effects, but I can overlook that kind of grievance. The acting is done well enough, despite a few missteps, and Ms. Connelly is perfect for that dreamy kind of love interest. The aliens could have used a little more fleshing out especially with the mild indication that they longed for individuality. This made me feel somewhat sympathetic for them which was an avenue not explored properly. As I mentioned, the ending does falter slightly as the aliens probably should have been able to overpower John. Eh, it's not a deal-breaker, but it's nowhere near as satisfying as Neo vs. Smith. Yes, the parallels to "The Matrix" are noticeable, but this movie came first so it's a moot point really. It's just an inescapable comparison viewers will make since "The Matrix" is more famous and popular. If anything, the closest fiction that mirrors "Dark City" would probably be the anime, "Big O."

Overall, this is one of those movies every sci-fi fan should check out; I would go as far as to say non-fans may still appreciate the imaginative and original nature of the plot. The story is engaging and keeps you interested up until the end as you try to unravel the mystery beside the characters. The look and design of the film casts a lasting impression upon the viewer along with the thought-provoking themes and ideas. Although there are plenty of flaws that simply came with the territory back in the late '90s, nothing really hinders the appeal and greatness of the film as a whole. This is easily one of the most underrated movies out there.

Notable Moment:
If I had the talent to paint, this is the kind of imagery I would depict; I do like to add this motif to my writing however, but I prefer the girl to wear a white dress and face a cliff side. Regardless, it's such a beautiful shot that resonates deeply with me.

Final Rating: 7.5/10

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Feng Shui 2 Review


Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: More hapless victims fall prey to the cursed bagua and the evil spirit that resides within.

Review: After much prodding (a lot coming from yours truly), and ten long years of waiting, we finally get a "Feng Shui 2." But was it worth the wait? Ehh...yes and no. While the production value is up, and there are a lot of cool ideas added, the story is weaker and the scares are few and far between compared to part one. I will say this, however, it appears they did listen to feedback regarding the original and attempted to rectify those errors. Unfortunately, they introduced a lot of filler material that hurt the final product. The real deciding factor as to whether this would surpass the first film or fall short came down to the ending. They blew it.

As for what worked: you will immediately notice an increase in quality toward the technical aspects. I did like that shitty grain to the footage in the first film, but it certainly helps to have polished material. The best aspect added to the story was the notion that the evil ghost is working toward a goal--an ill-defined goal, but a goal nonetheless. This idea presents itself whereby the owners of the bagua are slowly bringing the Chinese zodiac to completion. Meaning, every owner in the past has symbolized one character of the zodiac; currently, the last owners represent the final characters. I like to believe that the goal was for the spirit to be released from the bagua, but the film didn't really explain what would happen once all 12 signs had been killed off. Although it's not properly executed, I did like the idea that the power of the bagua had been strengthened in the sequel after a relative of the main ghost was added to the list of victims; in essence, the mirror could now grant double the luck but double the death. Another improvement was in regard to dropping the cheating husband plot line; I've grown so wary of the subject in Filipino horror! The ghosts look decent enough, and there was an amazing moment when there's supposed to be hundreds at once (every victim the bagua had ever taken). I just wish there was a tad more effort toward the scares. This isn't to say there weren't any, as a few were pretty good, but the first film had the pacing better.

As for where the film falters: obviously the most glaring problem was the abrupt and anticlimactic ending. It's funny, even Joy, who is played once more by Kris Aquino, simply says something along the lines of "maybe it's over." Maybe, baby?! That's not how you end a horror movie. Imagine at the end of "The Exorcist" they're just like "ehh, maybe the demon is out of Regan." Hell, even a final zinger would have been preferable. Speaking of Joy, however, her apparent death at the end of the first film is glossed over as it's never explained how she survived yet lost control of the bagua. Beyond that, the deaths, and how they correspond to the victim's zodiac sign, felt way too forced this time around. I mean, the first film already pushed the plausibility and this one was hardly trying. For example, one chick getting electrocuted when there's a dragon statue nearby? Weak. It may be a nitpick, but I really loved the ominous music from the first movie and that's nonexistent this time around. Lastly, there were a lot of filler plot lines that came off as padding by the end. You have the main guy's girlfriend, that chick who dropped her wallet, the guy who pops up with a magic book, etc. If you're setting up "Feng Shui 3," then, by all means, tie this all together. In the meantime, these scenes play like nonsense, and you're like "what the fuck was that all about?"

Overall, this is about on par with what I expected from a sequel. The film is certainly entertaining and tries to keep the action going nonstop. It has its cornball moments and wasn't nearly as scary as the original, but it makes up for that with a cool twist regarding the ghost trying to bring the zodiac cycle to a close. If you enjoyed the first film, I don't see any reason why you wouldn't like this one as well. I should also mention that, even though it's been ten years, the continuity feels tight which is quite the accomplishment. The ending may be lackluster, but let's hope that is only to set up a third entry. Now, if we can only get a "Sukob 2" I'm set!

Notable Moment: When they see all the ghosts trapped inside the bagua at once. We needed a lot more of this action.

Final Rating: 6/10

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Tales of the Supernatural (2014) Review


Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: An anthology film of six, increasingly, moronic tales.

Review: Umm...what the fuck is this shit?! This is easily one of, if not, the worst anthology I've ever had the displeasure to see; this is right up there with "The Haunted Dollhouse." Uhh...they do realize when you tell a story it's supposed to make some semblance of sense, right? I couldn't tell you what the hell was even happening in half the entries--it was as if they simply strung together a series of images and hoped for the best. We've got shitty acting, laughable effects, terrible camerawork, and the most horrendous editing imaginable. I am not joking nor exaggerating, I have seriously watched waaaay better student films from complete amateurs. I would be embarrassed to have my name attached to this film that's for fucking sure! 

Wraparound: There is something about a demon or the devil or whatever he is supposed to be. For whatever reason, this demon comes into a church and is like, "I'm stealing your janitor," and then tortures the guy by showing him the demise of six souls. I don't know what the point to any of this was, but they imply it's a ritual and the end of the world and every other cliche. By the end, the demon comes back for the priest at this church in a pathetic fashion. The worst part about this was the cornball as fuck CGI dust. Who does this?! The demon delivers his lines in the most over the top way that you will probably find yourself laughing often. For me, watching this film was as close to hell as I want to get.

The Book: If you think things will get better from tale to tale, better quash those ideas fast. In this segment, a chickadee is trying to get her book published by a loser. Beyond that, it's hard to decipher what is happening. There's something about the publisher killing his wife then he's married or dating that chickadee for nine years. Then the chickadee can't remember anything because of a car accident and thinks the publisher is screwing with her. To round this crapfest out, we see a zombie version of the first wife stabbing the publisher and killing the chickadee. Ugh. This should have been the point where you scrapped the entire movie or at least canned the editor. Your guess is as good as mine as to what was allegedly going on here. To say this entry is nonsensically stupid would be a huge understatement.

Bryan's Daughter: Well, on to the worst tale in the bunch. Some dude, named Bryan apparently, dies somehow...I don't know or care. The hag of a wife notices one of her daughters appears to be talking to the ghost of Bryan. I guess he wants her to kill herself so they can be together, and the daughter says as much toward the end. And that's it. Wow...it's as if you're going out of your way to make these segments as fucking retarded as possible.

The Hike: In a way, this may be the best entry; that's definitely NOT saying anything. A dork is roaming around the countryside when he comes across the English equivalent of rednecks I suppose. They keep cutting to the dork, seemingly, dropping acid into his tea or something as he's tripping out. Eventually the rednecks are chasing the dork around until they make such a surprising revelation. The dork killed himself, and now he's in some kind of afterlife. "WELCOME TO HELL!!!" was a line delivered so poorly I laughed uncontrollably for about three minutes straight. Yes, welcome to hell, indeed.

Paralysis: After a dumbass girl talks to a psychiatrist or doctor, who claims to have never heard of sleep paralysis, the girl talks to her friend who explains the situation to the dumbass. The dumbass wakes up each night unable to move and fears there is a presence bothering her. Oh noooo! The boyfriend doesn't give a shit since he's not getting enough nookie. Blah blah blah the dumbass gets killed one night. Whatever, dude.

Naked: It would seem every anthology feels the need to include a super pretentious entry to get a little indie cred, but, with this movie, it is simply hilarious that they bothered to try. A zombie-looking girl has dreams about being naked, and her doctor acts as though this isn't one of the most common dreams ever reported. Oh shit, did you also dream you were falling?! Once again, blah blah blah, the zombie girl discovers she really is dead after her douchebag boyfriend said "It's fucking over!" I thought his reason for dumping her was due to her pathetic dance skills, but he was cheating on her. It turns out the doctor can see ghosts and just gets off on making them realize they're dead. HA! That's actually pretty damn fucked up. Then the segment ends with the zombie girl killing her dumb boyfriend I guess.

Diary of Disturbance: Okay, let's close this out strong. Wait, scratch that, let's end this as idiotically as possible. Some dude and his family are about to be evicted from their farm, but then there's something about making a deal with the wraparound demon to save his daughter. Then there's something about the daughter being evil and cows and fake 16 mm film and sheer nonsense. Dude, I do not care anymore. You know the drill, nothing makes any sense mostly due to the editing. And that is mercifully the last entry.

You know what, fuck this movie. This is pure shit through and through. There are absolutely no redeeming qualities outside of laughing at how stupid everything was. Every technical front was a total failure. The production quality is unbelievably low yet they clearly did not realize their limitations; I mean, fuck innovation, right? Every scene is painful to behold. I literally fell asleep at one point. And the movie ended with a sequel bait line?! HA! Pshhhh, that's wonderful. Needless to say, avoid this like the plague. Maybe I should stop watching films on a whim...

Notable Moment: That "welcome to hell" line of course. It was extremely difficult to pick the dumbest moment however.

Final Rating: 2.5/10

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Avengers: Age of Ultron Review


Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: The Avengers assemble once more to fight Tony Stark's failed creation, Ultron.

Review: Wow...absolutely do NOT believe the hype. What the hell happened?! I was initially worried, when it was revealed Thanos was being saved for an Avengers 3 and 4, that this film would be nothing more than filler, and those fears were realized. All this movie set out to do was kick members off the team, add a few new ones, and explain why there wouldn't be another Iron Man movie. And even at that, the film's pacing is a complete mess--much of the story being rushed through, and Ultron being one of the worst developed villains in the Marvel cinematic universe thus far. You'd think after the sheer awesomeness of "Guardians of the Galaxy" and "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" that they would continue that hot streak but nope...not even close. What a complete disappointment.

I'll go over what was done right first since that won't take too long. Obviously I love the characters and the way their banter plays off one another; though, the comradery is significantly toned down compared to the first entry. Seeing such beloved heroes together is great even if the assembling aspect worked better in part one as well. Each character does get a chance to shine and contribute something of importance to the plot. The special effects were on par with what I would expect, but I should note a few scenes, that could have looked goofy, turned out surprisingly well; that is certainly noteworthy. Umm...I'm really struggling to think of anything else positive. I guess the technical achievements are all there to bring together a competent and well done film, but it better be with that kind of budget.

Okay, where did things go wrong? First up: Ultron himself. He never felt like a serious threat and was defeated soooo easily. On top of that, he's such a cartoonish villain. I can just imagine a stupid Disney focus group being asked questions about the first Avengers movie, and they're like "we want more Iron Man!" So Disney was like, "Okay, make Ultron have Tony Stark's personality and forget his origin story even though we're making an Ant-man movie anyway!" I still don't understand why Ultron became evil immediately. There was an AI-like system inside Loki's staff that was warped by Tony's vision of how to save the world? Whaaaat? Okaaaaay. And Ultron's plan is to reveal himself to the Avengers in an attack that he knew he couldn't win, why? They mention Ultron is trying to access the world's nuclear weapons yet he never goes out to activate them manually? Instead he's too busy trying to build a vibranium device that will lift a city into the atmosphere and drop it down like a meteor--destroying everyone; just a tad convoluted when you think about it. Of course he's stopped, but he was never putting up much of a fight to begin with. His only advantage was having a million bodies to keep implanting himself in but why didn't he build a vibranium body? Or did he? I think he mentioned it, but was he simply talking about Vision? If he did have a vibranium body, it didn't help since everyone was wrecking him and his minions effortlessly. Finally, all there is to Ultron was Stark-esque quips and cliched villain monologuing. My goodness, I hope they don't handle Thanos is this fashion.

As for the rest of the faults, I'm just going to name random bullshit. For the love of god, why was Hawkeye's secret family in this movie? Way to bring the action to a screeching halt. And now Black Widow is in love with Hulk?! Psh...that's a good one; cornball as all fuck. Wait, Tony is quitting the Avengers because of Ultron? That was rushed. Hawkeye also quit, but did Thor and Hulk quit too? Let me get this straight, Thanos is finally getting off his lazy ass to collect the infinity stones even though one was in Loki's staff all along? You're shitting me, right? If Loki had an infinity stone, why did he lose so easily too? Dude, Vision looked terrible! Like, bad cosplay levels of shit. And he was able to wield Mjolnir to boot?! I like how they keep mentioning that Hawkeye is struggling to hold his own compared to the likes of Thor, Hulk, etc. yet Black Widow isn't?! She's just a human--she's just as useless as Hawkeye so shut up. Of course both get a chance to shine, but, come on, they worked better in part one staying at the edge of the main fight. Plus, since when were, a seemingly unlimited amount of, bullets and arrows enough to hold their own against Iron Man-esque armors? After all, that's pretty much what Ultron is basing the build for his minions on. Oh god, the Hulkbuster armor was such a tease and squandered. If you saw the trailers, you saw all scenes with that armor. In fact, a lot of the best scenes you think will be relevant to the plot are either downplayed or just a delusion from Scarlet Witch.

I know I sound extremely harsh on this film, but I had high as hell hopes. I'm still going to give this film a decent rating, because it does have it's moments, I enjoy the characters, and it's technical aspects are top notch. But the story is nothing special and appeals more to the Michael Bay crowd than comic book fans. Oh, I'm sure many will disagree with me, but, objectively, try and tell me this shit was anywhere on par with GotG or the Winter Soldier? Ultron is stupid, rushed, and appears as filler. The film has glaring problems and comes to an abrupt crawl during the middle. The final battle is anticlimactic as Ultron and his minions are dispatched with effortlessly. Overall, if you're going to watch this, and you will, set the bar low and hope to be pleasantly surprised. This was nowhere near as good as the first entry that's for sure. Thankfully, I am positive about where they're going with Thanos since they're bringing in the writing and directing duos from the Winter Soldier. Here's hoping...

Notable Moment: When everyone tries, and fails, to lift Thor's hammer. They were kind of implying Captain America almost lifted it, but, too bad, the whole scene was cheapened by Vision using it.

Final Rating: 6/10