Monday, June 29, 2015
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: This is what happens when you let tweakers edit your movie.
Review: Whoa...this might be the worst edited film I have ever seen! This will certainly be my new benchmark for horrendous editing that's for sure. My fucking goodness, what the hell were they thinking with this movie? It was as if they took an ADHD version of "Scooby Doo" and combined it with an endless array of stolen scenes from better films. I brought this up before, but imagine how a small child tells a story--they describe things in this manner: "...and then this happened, and then this happened, oh, and this happened, oh yeah and this happened first, but this happened before that..." Combine this pitiful display with the tweaker editing and you have a nauseating series of scenes strung together incoherently. To be honest, I don't even know what this movie was about. I suppose this film showed me what it must be like to huff markers for 90 minutes. What beautiful colors...
Setting aside a title that reminds me of Bella and Edward (shudder), this movie does have a respectable production value. Don't let that lull you into a false sense of security. however, as you will find yourself having a seizure within the first 10 minutes due to the ridiculously, fast-paced editing. There is something about suicides, cops, ghosts, psychics, a website, skanks, a wannabe "The Sixth Sense" twist, idiocy, and more shenanigans than I can tolerate. But the best aspect is the "Scooby Doo" inspired scheme by some random characters to scare people from their homes. And I would have gotten away with it too if it weren't for you meddling schoolgirls! Speaking of these characters, there are like a million of them! Good luck trying to keep track--some only appear for a single, split-second scene too. Don't worry though, none of the film's events matter or make sense in a feasible way. It was almost as if they wanted to tell an intertwining anthology tale but failed monumentally. I dare say there was a touch of pretentiousness as they kept using random animals for transition shots. What the hell does a rabbit, frog, doves, etc. have to do with this shit?! Also, I like how everyone talks about seeing ghosts like it's no big deal. "So I saw my grandma the other day..." "Oh yeah? I thought she was dead?" "Yup, she just stopped by to shoot the shit from hell!!!" And what's up with half the characters having jaundice? Go yellow? Why does one guy have all these girls chasing after him and are willing to commit suicide over him? He's not even a pretty boy or anything of interest. In fact, he's a bitch-boy! Now I'm just rambling on, but, man, are those markers smelling good...
Remember how I said people voted "Jaws in Japan" an 8/10? Are you sitting down for this? Guess what they rated this movie? A 9.5 out of 10?! HAHAHAHAHA! I am fucking cackling here! Yes...this movie is near perfect...sure. I'm thinking it only lost that .5, because the ending wasn't hipster enough. In conclusion, this movie sucks. The acting is pitiful, the story is mental patient-chic, and the editing is the worst in the world at the moment. This movie should only be watched when high, but, since the makers were high, what will happen? If the production value was only slightly worse, and that one chick wasn't so cute, this movie would be hovering around 2/10 territory. Yeah, it's that bad.
Notable Moment: When the one crazy girl knocks the teacher out with a flashlight. I love the nonchalant, I don't give a fuck swing. That acting though...
Final Rating: 3.5/10
Friday, June 26, 2015
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: After receiving hypnotherapy, a man, who hates his job, views life in a new, profound way.
Review: There are three films that--how shall I say--pull together the collective consciousness of the '90s--maybe the millennium as a whole. Those movies being "The Matrix," "Fight Club," and, of course, "Office Space." You might be wondering, how the hell does "Office Space" relate to those two movies? Well, all three, from 1999, have a protagonist breaking the shackles of corporatism, and the nihilistic mentality that it instills, and, in the process, reaches a state of self-actualization. I won't get all pretentious and go into the philosophical aspects here, since, let's face it, "Office Space" is a comedy after all! I just wanted to highlight that, to many, "Office Space" was defining of a generation and especially the state of working...and all the soul-sucking forms it can take on. Yeeeeaaaahhh...
The story isn't as intricate as the likes of "The Matrix," but it's a lot smarter than most comedies. You have the main character, played amazingly by Ron Livingston, named Peter, who is a, self-admitted, pussy and bitch boy. I'd say his character embodies a significant number of weak-willed people who comprise society--afraid of the boss, has a cheating-bitch girl/boyfriend that walks all over them, timid, aimless, devoid of ambition or a soul, and, as Tyler Durden would say, their great depression is their lives. Thankfully, that all changes for Peter when he's hypnotized by a therapist to be in a state of relaxation. This relaxation allows Peter to see the world with clarity and to put things into genuine perspective. Peter no longer worries about the mundane, he's free of burdens, he ditches his girlfriend to ask out Jennifer Aniston, and does all the things that bring him happiness. While this is occurring, we still see the shenanigans at his job from other characters' perspectives; this serves as a beautiful contrast. Eventually Peter's company wants to layoff a bunch of employees, but he wins them over by simply being himself in the most humorous of ways. Instead of getting rid of him, the company gets rid of all of Peter's friends which leads to them installing a virus into the company's computers to steal fractions of a cent per transaction. This has the unintended consequence of taking hundreds of thousands of dollars prematurely. Fearing jail time, Peter attempts to confess, but the company is burned down by a disgruntled employee. In the end, Peter comes to terms with balancing a work life with doing what makes him happy. A sentimental enough ending but a fitting one at that.
It's important to note that this was not, by any means, a success when it premiered. Similarly to "Fight Club," this film gained a cult following that gradually elevated it into the classic territory. In fairness, the original trailer was utterly horrendous and doesn't even come close to capturing the true spirit of the film. As a consequence of being a comedy, this isn't going to entertain everyone especially if you haven't experienced the mindless, drone-like work associated with cubicle-type jobs. But that doesn't mean casual viewers won't appreciate the jokes--they are simply more focused on office level jobs; other jobs are touched on though. The concept of "working" in general is taken to task as we see the culture as a whole mocked and scrutinized. This is why I say this film can be philosophical as it explores what humanity should be doing with their time, how to attain happiness, what is our role in this world or society, etc. In essence, the general statement would be that this not what humans were meant to do; this movie is surprisingly deeper than you would imagine. Alternatively, you can simply view the gags and situations in whatever way you please. Speaking of which, my goodness, this has to be one of the most quoted movies of all time. I am always bringing up lines from this film--definitely a top 10 most quoted from me. There are so many ingenious scenes and lines that I think people don't even realize they come from this movie. I'm not saying everything is perfect or that you will fall over laughing, as that's not this film's approach, but you will find yourself smiling quite a bit as the jokes ring true in your mind. This is the kind of comedy that stays with you long after the credits have rolled as you apply the ideas in your personal life. Ehh, it's tough to explain, but, suffice it to say, the humor is brilliantly executed. And if you don't like it, then you probably have a case of the Mondays!
Where this film truly resonates with audiences is its ability to capture the everyday annoyances and make light of them; tiny nuances, most would ignore, this film highlights with glorious delight. At the same time, this is what life was like for many in the '90s. I mean, try and tell me you haven't had a Lumbergh-esque boss who doesn't listen to jackshit you say and is going to rattle on regardless?! I know everyone has experienced that annoying, passive-aggressive bullshit where you just want to punch them in the face. Although the film has dated itself, especially in regard to the idiocy that was Y2K, most of its themes are universal nonetheless. I know plenty of people still living the "Office Space" life and it sucks--pure, unadulterated soul-crush. But the important part of this movie is reaching a kind of harmony with what you (allegedly) have to do and with what makes you happy. In other words, you can't live your life like Peter was when hypnotized, but you also shouldn't live the bitch-boy life of the old Peter.
Although "Office Space" has its faults, like all movies, none are of great detriment to the experience. The acting is perfect--the characters feel real and interesting. The average person can relate to these characters, situations, and, perhaps, apply the ideas to their own life. The atmosphere of the era is captured flawlessly which can add a bit of nostalgia to the mix as time goes on (16 years already!). Also, you will find yourself quoting dialogue often as you suddenly realize you're surrounded by similar circumstances from the film. Overall, this is an excellent film with ingenious comedy aplenty. I highly recommend checking this out. If you can, I'd further suggest studying the philosophies of this film in combination with "The Maxtrix" and "Fight Club" as you get the full scope of the '90's working class. And while you're at it..."SAY HELLO TO LUMBERGH FOR ME!"
Notable Moment: Hmm...this is extremely difficult to decide. I guess I will have to go with when Peter is being interviewed by the Bobs. Lots of great lines, banter, and nuanced details. I especially like the brazen grabbing of the water and chugging it while being interviewed.
Final Rating: 8.5/10
Wednesday, June 24, 2015
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: A couple years before the Lambert family haunting, Elise tries to help a girl tormented by a malevolent spirit.
Review: I don't have nearly enough hands to bitch-slap all the people claiming this is the best entry in the series. My goodness, this movie was terrible! One might even say it was insidious how stupid they chose to take the direction. I was genuinely excited about this movie--I wanted this to be good! The script is a whirlwind of ideas that are never fleshed out, the scares are weak as fuck, the villain is pure idiocy through and through, and I don't think they understand the purpose of a prequel. Other than the usual polish and technical feats from this series, this was laughably bad. Not only is this easily the worst of the three, it cannot be compared in any shape or form to the first "Insidious." Hell, I was laughing during multiple scenes--they were almost too insultingly dumb to tolerate. Just...wow...I can't believe this franchise has fallen this fast and hard. A part four is a given but count me out after this inept display.
First up, the prequel aspect was nonsensical. Who cares what was going on immediately up to the Lambert family haunting? Was there any indication that there was material to explore here? It's not as if this somehow explains the Lambert family haunting or ties up a loose end. Hell, I thought they would at least address what Elise saw at the end of "Insidious: Chapter 2," but we don't even get that explanation! Instead we get useless backstory on Elise that feels shallow as hell. Her husband committed suicide and now Elise can only see the Bride in Black when she uses her powers? Whaaat? Why? We get no explanation at all. You'd think if you're going to take the time to introduce these plot lines, you would then explore them, right? RIGHT?! And Elise just started working with Tucker and Specs a couple years ago? Again, why? Their relationship was interesting and would have been better served as long-time friends. All of this is essentially pointless--a more appropriate use of a prequel would be to explain something that needed to be explained or show a story that connects to the main focus of the "Insidious" franchise. None of this fits those qualifications. A better idea would have been to get that chick who played young Elise back and explore her early works or discovering her power.
Second, this ghost, or demon as they claim, is the least thought out of all the villains. I've read people swearing he's the coolest and scariest. Say what?! He looks scrawny and weak--he's the least intimidating of the bunch. Even Darth Maul has a level of scariness due to him being a demon. This brings me to my problem with taking "Supernatural's" idea that evil humans become demons. Ugh, no. This takes away a level of scariness most people cannot fathom. An evil human, no matter how sadistic, psychotic, and a sociopath, is still just a human. A demon is pure evil beyond imagination. It was never alive and therefore cannot be understood as a human could. It's hard to properly express, but there is a distinct difference. "Supernatural" and now "Insidious" imply that it's a matter of power level, and you better believe it's OVER 9000!!! Okay, so then why wasn't the Bride in Black a demon? Not a high enough power level? And does this mean that Darth Maul only looks like that because his human form looked like that? Oh Rika, no, please don't tell me we will get an explanation as to why he's known as the "lipstick-face demon!" Speaking of which, what exactly was this particular demon's origin? We get absolutely no backstory except he died in the building "a long time ago." Well, it couldn't have been that long ago since he looks like a modern hospital patient. They imply he likes young girls, but I think we need a little more to go on than that. Were they even trying?
Third, the scares feel rehashed with the Bride in Black popping back up, that vampire-looking dude seemingly appearing at the end, and, of course, Darth Maul going boo for no discernible reason. This demon, the man that can't breath, aka wimpy Darth Vader, wasn't doing much that I would consider creepy. In fact, his best moments were only in the beginning when he was lurking in the shadows. However, he is shown in the flesh far too early, and it was not impressive. If you take an objective look at the movie, he really doesn't do much either compared to the previous villains. By the end, they essentially gave up on scares and decided to turn this into an action movie. This leads me to my next point...
Fourth, Elise is literally fighting the demons! You're shitting me, right?! Look, Lin Shaye looks really great for her age (71), but I can't take her seriously. When she's giving one liners and doing a battlecry, this is turning into self-mockery. Few words can express the unbelievable idiocy of these cringe-worthy scenes. I was bursting out laughing in the worst of ways. This is shit I would expect from the moronic "Scary Movie" series.
Fifth, the main plot, if you want to call it that, is a trainwreck. The acting is not very good at all with some horrendous line delivery. Many characters exist for little purpose other than padding and disappear as if the movie forgot they existed. For example, you have the main girl's loverboy, her best friend, the pointless death of the cat lady, etc. These people serve no purpose whatsoever. They are introduced as if something will happen to them or they will play a significant role but nope. Even the little brother keeps disappearing and reappearing from story! Does he live at this apartment or not? And this haunting is flimsy at best. The main girl tried calling out to her dead mom and a demon suddenly became attached to her--stealing half her soul? Uhh, how does one steal half a soul?
Sixth, you're really going to introduce heaven in the third entry? Part 2 gave us the implication everyone ends up in "the further" in some capacity. I guess not anymore. The ghost of the main girl's mom seriously saves the day as she appears to empower the main girl. So contrived...so stupid...this is getting out of hand. Plus, what the fuck were they talking about with the mom wanting the main girl to find a letter? Whaaaat? Where did that come from--a deleted scene? This was supposed to be the climax and it's a sloppy mess. I don't mind the idea of good spirits finally showing up to help against evil ones, but look to the likes of "Ju-on: The Grudge 2" in how to do it with subtlety. And when the mom does get to say what she wanted to the main girl, it feels straight out of "The Sixth Sense" when Cole tells his mom about the grandma's ghost.
Absolutely do not believe the hype yet again--this was an utter disappointment from start to finish. Nothing makes any sense and the story was unnecessary as a prequel. The only real reason this film should have existed was to establish why part 2 ended in the way it did, and this film couldn't even do that much correctly. Elise is a cool character, but what little more we learned about her is hollow and pointless. The atmosphere and scares are simply not present. The man who can't breathe is forgettable, weak, and lame especially in comparison to previous villains (Kayako would wreck this fool!). In essence, this film failed in almost all regards. The only reason why I'm letting it go with an average rating was due to technical accomplishments and a few things it did do well enough. Stick with the first "Insidious" and pretend that was the end of it.
Notable Moment: "Come on, bitch!" -Elise Rainier: Action Hero
Final Rating: 5/10
Saturday, June 20, 2015
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: A journalist and her cameraman interview a strange man regarding the history of a notorious serial killer.
Review: Don't confuse this with another movie that came out the same year (2010) also called "Cyrus." How the hell does that happen? Anyway, this has mediocre written all over it, and, well, it still managed to be a disappointment. I like how it opens with a line about it being based on a true story. Right. Honestly, the only reason anyone should be watching this is for the exact reason I did: to see my darling Danielle Harris. Unfortunately, she is wasted yet again, and her character is soooo fucking stupid it boggles the mind. Danny, baby, I watch all your movies and have had a life-long crush on you but...I have to accept that the vast majority of your movies are unbearably bad. I don't even know what the hell was the point to this movie. If you want a better version of "a glimpse inside the mind of a serial killer" I'd rather go with "Dahmer" starring Jeremy Renner. However, no film has properly portrayed the deranged nature of serial killers in my opinion.
We are introduced to Ms. Harris and her cameraman as they are trying to figure out the mystery behind 200 missing people allegedly attributed to a local serial killer. While making their documentary, or whatever it's supposed to be, they stumble upon some random guy who claims to know everything; this guy is played by Lance Henriksen. Despite knowing incredible details, and having all the driver's licenses of the missing people, these idiots just go with it claiming he can't be the killer. Uhhh okay. They also don't tell anyone where they are or what they're doing the entire movie. This is even addressed in the story which is why it's so contrived and idiotic. Whatever. This old guy tells them the life story of the killer named Cyrus. Believe me, this isn't some visceral, in-depth look at being a serial killer--it's just cookie-cutter bullshit with a rough childhood and stupid life events that bring out the killer tendencies; it's nothing we haven't seen regurgitated hundreds of times before. On top of that, the acting and production quality is shitty. The narrative feels uneven as we simply get random moments of Cyrus' life and how he opened a restaurant where he served the town the dead bodies apparently. In reality, Cyrus would have been caught due to his idiocy, but this movie thinks it's smarter than it is. Through elaborate shenanigans, Mr. Henriksen's character has been working with Cyrus to help him get away with this shit for decades. They act like this is a huge twist to tie everything together, but it's pure bullshit and presented poorly. The film ends with Cyrus left to torture Ms. Harris to death presumably. They also throw in a scene after the credits as if that's necessary.
Essentially, this has the look and feel of a made for TV movie. If it weren't for fan-favorites like Ms. Harris and Mr. Henriksen, this would be more forgettable. There is ample amount of gore and nudity, but, ehhh, I'm too desensitized--it hardly registers. Although Cyrus is the focus, he doesn't quite appear as the main character; it's tough to explain. There needed to be a central theme to drive the story forward, but it didn't seem like there was a natural progression as to why certain moments would be highlighted and at the point they are shown in the film. The final nail in the coffin was the sheer idiocy of Ms. Harris' character and her cameraman obviously walking into their deaths. They didn't even bother to offer a reason why they wouldn't suspect the old guy despite all the information to the contrary! Overall, this is a big pile of meh with minor highlights. I wouldn't waste my time with this one unless you're a diehard Danielle Harris fan or a fan of the other actors involved.
Notable Moment: At the end when they act like this is "Saw" or something with the twist. It's really not hard to see it coming when the characters are even discussing how stupid the situation is.
Final Rating: 4/10
Wednesday, June 17, 2015
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: After returning home from a mental institution, a girl believes her mother's ghost is trying to warn her of danger.
Review: Realizing how late in the game they were with these shitty Asian horror remakes, they decided to pull a fast one and rename this movie. Nice try. So, yes, this is the "A Tale of Two Sisters" Hollywood remake. I'll give them a little credit--they did try to change enough up to make it different, but those changes were utterly pathetic. Instead of trying to improve upon AToTS, they opted to follow cookie-cutter tactics that have stopped working years ago. The only true positives you might notice are a more polished production value, the gravitas of having Christopher Young as the composer, and the atmosphere did start off well enough. Plus, that lakeside mansion, man. Must be nice. I guess you could, maybe, consider Emily Browning a positive. I don't know, I just like to call her little Babydoll (you have to say the "little" part) which is what I will refer to her as here.
Unlike AToTS, this film emphasizes the influence of the mental institution with one of the dumbest contrivances that will make (no) sense by the end. Our little Babydoll is released as they believe she is cured...from being suicidal...I guess; hell if I know. When little Babydoll gets home we get more aspects from AToTS as we see the nurse/stepmother (though she's not a stepmother yet) and meet the sister, Alex. This is big departure as AToTS made us believe the sisters were institutionalized together. Dude, if you can't figure out Alex is dead all along, return your horror credentials now. "The Sixth Sense" was masterful in their attempts to hide the revelation--which I still guessed--but this film pretty much begs you to notice. Alex dives under water at one point and never comes up. Is she a fucking whale? Little Babydoll begins to see her mother's ghost which she thinks is trying to warn her about the stepmother. This film plays up the confusion of little Babydoll's memories compared to AToTS as the sick mother was blown up in this incarnation. Again, it doesn't take much to put these pieces together to realize little Babydoll was responsible, hence, the suicide attempts. The two sisters become convinced the stepmother is secretly a murderer hiding her identity, and they want to expose her. Of course shenanigans ensue in the vaguest of ways so that it will be such a startling revelation that Alex is dead and little Babydoll is truly crazy. If they wanted to actually trick the audience, this entire moronic plot should have just been another book the father was writing; they changed his occupation this time around. By the end, little Babydoll ends up back in the mental institution after killing the stepmother, her dumb boyfriend-ish guy, and remembering that she was the one who blew up her mother and Alex. In the worst final twist, we learn that little Babydoll's "friend" at the mental institution was telling little Babydoll her stories which somehow mixed up little Babydoll's memories even further. Yeaaah...surrrre. Did this movie really need a red herring subplot?
In all fairness, this movie starts off well enough and had the potential to do something different with AToTS' material. However, it doesn't take long for whatever momentum was building to taper off quickly. The ghosts look stupid and are completely irrelevant by the end. Little Babydoll actually being somewhat evil doesn't fit the established themes of the film nor does it fit AToTS' emphasis on guilt. The boyfriend-ish guy was painfully stupid and served as serious padding for an already short film. Honestly, this felt like a slightly edgier episode of "Goosebumps" or something. It should go without saying, but, obviously, "A Tale of Two Sisters" blows this movie away effortlessly. Although I find this film to be a huge waste of time, I can't deny it is told competently enough to warrant an average rating. Maybe worth a view to some, but I would stick with AToTS if you want substance from this story.
Notable Moment: The pointless inclusion of a vibrator scene. Come on, son. This was already "Goosebumps" levels of scary...you gotta do better than that to up the ante. And what woman would keep a vibrator in the top shelf of the bathroom?! "Hey, do you have any tylenol--uhh, what's this?"
Final Rating: 5/10
Tuesday, June 16, 2015
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: Two girls must cope with their unhinged stepmother along with apparent supernatural forces.
Review: Often considered to be the best among the Asian horror legends, AToTS, is actually loosely based on a well known Korean ghost story (with significant changes of course). AToTS' biggest claims to fame are it's use of mind-fucks and beautiful imagery-- two things that have resonated strongly with fans and critics alike. There is certainly no doubt this is a great film and a prime representative of what Korean horror is capable of...but, with that said--and I know this will piss off crybaby fans--this film is ridiculously overrated. Even when I first saw it, I'm like, this is the movie people think blows away "Ring," "Ju-on," and "Shutter?" "You don't get it--it's a masterpiece!" Riiight. If I need a book-long companion guide on Korean folklore, myths, double meanings, color interpretations, and every other far-reaching thing under the sun just to understand the story fully, then the film fails to convey its message coherently. So I don't appreciate the brilliance, because I don't understand the meaning of the changing wallpaper color?! Are you shitting me? That's about as pretentious as it gets. If people want to look so deeply into this story to the point they write their own fanfics in the process, be my guest, but don't act like this is a matter of "not getting it." Don't get me wrong, this is a good film, but it's far from the best Korean horror let alone the best of all Asian horror.
So let's look at what works first. Obviously the twists are memorable as numerous films have attempted to copy this formula. First you have the revelation that Su-mi's sister is dead all along, followed by the realization that the stepmother personality is how Su-mi vents her anger, and, finally, that Su-mi has been consumed by the guilt that she had the chance to save her sister, Su-yeon. These twists are hidden relatively well and the story tries to emphasize the emotional implications of each one. Su-mi's descent into madness is the best aspect as we see how this girl became the traumatized wreck that she is currently. Her mother became terminally ill, her father cheated and seemingly married the mother's nurse, her mother committed suicide, this suicide leads to the preventable death of Su-yeon, the stepmother also allowed Su-yeon to die, and Su-mi is institutionalized and heavily medicated. What a life. The subtlety of the events is also greatly appreciated. Another aspect to consider is the beautiful imagery and cinematography. While I don't see it as symbolic as others, many great shots are established and the house has an ominous feel. This goes well to establish a fairytale-esque vibe in the story's presentation. Again, this is a huge highlight as the film does present itself as a dark fairytale well enough. Commendable acting assists in making the tale feel believable and not as over the top as one would think.
As for my gripes with the film--may as well start with the lack of scares and the forced nature of the few that are depicted. Let's be honest here, pure Korean horror pretty much doesn't exist; there is essentially only drama-horror. AToTS is way more drama that it is horror which makes the pacing come off as uneven. The scares make no sense and feel beyond forced--as if they're only there to keep you guessing for the sake of guessing. Why is there a ghost running around in the first place? It's more than likely a hallucination by Su-mi which is why the ending seems like wish-fulfillment; she wishes the stepmother would get killed off by some ghostly force. There is the theory the ghosts are real which is why the aunt(?) claims to have seen one too, but I'd say it was a side effect of the medication Su-mi was on; it seemed likely that Su-mi put pills in the food or wine or whatever. As for Su-mi in general, it makes no sense that she would be this crazy while on medication and deemed fit to be released from a mental institution. Most of the movie is in her head technically so we get the "it was all a dream" sensation that cheapens the experience. The dad was also inconsistent in his approach in an attempt to trick the viewer into believing there are two extra characters besides Su-mi. One minute he's a hardass and the next he's all caring; his dialogue does not stand up to repeat viewings that's for sure.
Once more, I want to emphasize I do like this movie, and it is quite good, but the legendary status many hold it to demands acknowledgement. By all means, have it as your favorite, but don't pull the "you don't get it" card as a last ditch effort to stave off any and all criticism. The visuals, acting, and fairytale-like presentation are all fantastic. The twists and turns are interesting and the intrigue as to what is going on keeps you engaged. On the other hand, the final realization as to what is happening is cliche, and the film plays more like a drama than a horror movie. And, considering the dramatic elements, we don't get to know the characters well enough or intimately enough to appreciate their plight. Overall, this is one of the better Korean movies out there, but it has real and noticeable flaws that most reviews gloss over. This is definitely essential Asian horror viewing, but be cautious about the hype this film has amassed over the last 13 years.
Notable Moment: When you see the ghost under the sink. I think this scene tends to be the most memorable one way or another.
Final Rating: 6.5/10
Thursday, June 11, 2015
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: After WW3, an emotionless society is erected and enforced by an elite branch of the police.
Review: This is easily one of the most underrated sci-fi films out there, yet, easily one of the most flawed as well. If anything, it was Christian Bale's own success in later years that helped shed light on this film since it had a small release initially. As a, somewhat, cult classic, you're going to get a divisive opinion on "Equilibrium" with many loving it while others detest it. Due to its glaring flaws, I'll admit, you need to have a certain "Gremlins" or "Signs"-like appreciation whereby you can overlook the plot holes and enjoy the story for what it is. I don't blame someone if they can't suspend the disbelief, but there's a lot to love that you're missing out on.
In nutshell: following the conclusion of WW3, a new, dystopian society was developed with absolute control over humanity. In order to prevent future wars and chaos, a supplemental drug was invented to inhibit humanity's emotions so that they would be, more or less, drones. The overall feeling for this society is a cross between numerous fictional works, but there is a noticeable emphasis on "1984" since that's probably the most likely fate for humanity in reality. The plot revolves around John Preston, played well by that "fucking amateur" Christian Bale, who is the highest ranking member of the clerics, a jedi-esque branch of the police. The clerics, as well as the police, serve as enforcers of the "sense offense" laws--whereby, some individual is feeling emotions or trying to invoke it in others through various forms of contraband (paintings, music, etc.). After killing his partner for sense offense, John misses a dose of the emotion-suppressing drug, Prozium, and we experience his efforts to regain his humanity as a result.
Where "Equilibrium" surprisingly succeeds is in telling a moving and fascinating tale. The film balances emotional scenes through subtlety while other times employing an in your face approach. For example, you have simple moments like John sensing the world without the protective layer of his gloves or blatant scenes like John huffing a ribbon from a woman that reminds him of his dead wife. Due to this combo, you never feel that the movie is trying to preach to you. The usage of various art and music helps set the tone for a world stripped barren of everything we consider of value. You have to imagine this is a world where people have nothing but their mindlessness to guide them--they don't even have sheets, blankets, or pillows on their beds! In this respect, establishing a disturbing future, the movie succeeds admirably.
Often times I've read criticisms that this film is too heavy on the action, but that is what makes it more accessible to casual viewers. I'm tired of dystopian futures where the heroes can't actually win. I'm glad that John is a badass--I want the resistance to win! This brings me to another highlight: the gun kata. Being as jedi-like as they are, the clerics needed a way to make them feel distinct and cool which is presented through their fighting technique. Essentially, through statistical analysis of gun fights, the clerics are trained to assess a situation and move within that fight based on probability. The clerics "aim" where targets are likely to stand and dodge pre-determined trajectories all the while taking each subsequent shot using this algorithm. Ehh...you kind of have to see it to understand it, but it looks amazing! There are discrepancies with it's presentation, due to the director and fight choreographer disagreeing, but you can appreciate both versions they depict--either the fluid moving or martial arts-esque style. Nevertheless, the gun kata, clerics, and all the fights create a more engaging film while being complemented by the interesting narrative.
Finally, the technical aspects are done well considering this wasn't a huge blockbuster or anything. The sets look great and incorporate many real-world structures masked well enough. There are quite a few impressive shots that help establish the grand scope of things too. Although this regime looks and feels similarly to numerous dystopias, they distinguish themselves enough to not feel like a ripoff. The actors are good for the most part, and I can't ignore Sean Bean dying for like the millionth time; definitely one of his best that's for sure.
As for the aspect that infuriates many viewers...it is the fact that the characters are not supposed to be feeling anything yet they constantly prove otherwise. You have people smiling, getting angry, getting scared, and even saying things a drone-like being would not. It's not a deal-breaker for me, but I can understand the complaint since the crux of the film itself is structured around this unfeeling notion. Realistically, this just wouldn't translate very well if no character could express anything; if anything, blame the medium itself more than the film. However, I will acknowledge certain aspects of the society, that would invoke emotion, are still included. Why would they allow people to have families or any pair-bonding in general? How do you even have sex without emotion? How does one make any choice in general without an emotion? Maybe we can assume the government makes decisions on your behalf, but it's never shown and implied to be the opposite. My problem is simply that I can't believe a world like this would ever come into existence. It's too dependent on the Prozium drug and brainwashing rather than sustainable means of control. The director has said it's more of a parallel universe than a possible future so I can get behind that theory.
Overall, this is a fantastic film that I hope continues to garner more fans. Obviously the more mainstream this movie becomes, the more detractors will emerge, but fuck 'em. I understand the presentation has undeniable flaws, but they don't take away from the final experience or the film's message. I can still watch and enjoy something like "Signs" despite the idiocy of aliens that die to water; just as I can ignore facial gestures and emotional responses from characters supposedly incapable of feeling said emotions. The action is excellent and the pacing is wonderful. We get just enough history on this world to imagine the kind of nightmare it would appear to us. Then, as cliche as it may be, we get the Hollywood ending and it's damn satisfying. I definitely recommend checking this one out but be aware of the flaws.
Notable Moment: When we first meet John, and he kills like 20 or so people effortlessly. This was a great way to establish the character as well as the capabilities of the clerics.
Final Rating: 7/10
Monday, June 8, 2015
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: A search and rescue team must stop an alien organism from teleporting to Earth as antics ensue.
Review: I decided to watch this film on a whim and, wow, what an absolute mess. The editing alone was turning my brain to sludge with all the jump cuts, missing scenes, and pointless plot tangents. I was dying of laughter reading a few 10/10 reviews; let's pretend those are studio plants or paid reviews, shall we? This is a prime example of my script-in-a-blender phenomenon--simply stringing together random elements from every sci-fi horror in existence and adding nothing else; you name it: "Dead Space," "Aliens," "Prometheus," "Event Horizon," "Pandorum," etc. they're all here in some shape or form. Worse, they put no effort into making sense of this incoherent story. I mean, they couldn't even figure out writing 101 techniques such as not introducing a plot element that has no bearing on the story whatsoever. For example, in the future 95% of the population lives in poverty. Okay, now what? The story never addresses the significance of that statement and the characters don't appear to be among that 95%. But it's more than that...you get one character pointlessly pregnant that amounts to nothing. There is a dirty cop type person who seemingly disappears from the script. There is this setup with the main guy's friend that is abandoned...that never has relevance. There is supposed to be a new chick learning the ropes...that amounts to nothing. There is a guy retiring...that amounts to nothing. And this goes on and on. It's rare to see a lack of focus of this caliber.
So the main guy, Whit, does, well, whatever he does until his facility is attacked or something. I don't fucking know. Everyone is supposed to get killed but Whit teleports away before they get to him. Speaking of which, teleportation has become so common that you can go to virtually anywhere in the galaxy instantly. Yeeeeaaah...I'm calling bullshit on that. Isn't 95% of the population living in squalor? How are we making these kinds of advancements still? Plus, if humans are easily colonizing the galaxy, send people off Earth. Besides that, this teleportation makes little sense. How do they account for matter possibly overlapping the same space? They quickly mention it's dangerous, but it looked casual in the movie with little technological guidance. Also, you're really going to add time dilation to this mess? Uhh, no. Don't over complicate an already asinine plot.
Getting back on point, Whit ends up at this outpost or whatever where an alien organism has taken over humans and made them crazy. The alien is similar to a virus and it's trying to gain consciousness or something. Honestly, it makes little to no sense. One of the infected people is trying to send a shipment of this alien to Earth, but Whit inadvertently stops him by freezing all the infected people to death. This is also something you will notice--a ton of shit happens off screen. A team is sent to rescue Whit and make sure this alien shipment can't get to Earth, but they look like amateurs. They claim to have plasma weapons in the future yet they need conventional weaponry on this trip...hmm, a lot like a certain movie with aliens. The rescue team becomes insta-BFFs with Whit, like they've worked with him for years or something, but shenanigans ensue as that one infected guy that started this mess is magically alive and manages to infect the majority of the rescue team. Well, they're no colonial marines that's for fucking sure. In fact, two people who weren't around for this event still manage to get infected somehow. That editing, man. Whit becomes infected too but his will is just too strong to be fully controlled supposedly. Right.
The film begins to seriously drag as everyone still alive/infected meanders about pretending to be all philosophical. What is life? Really, you're going with that? What is a script supervisor, should have been your question. They claim the alien is a kind of primordial ooze that is also parasitic. How can it be a parasite if there's nothing to feed on?! There would need to be another life form on this planet. They claim the alien has insane regenerative properties yet the infected die easy enough. Finally, the reason it makes people crazy is that the alien believes that is basic human behavior due to its own lack of true consciousness. Believe me, this is all presented and explained in the least helpful way possible.
To save the day, Whit pretty much just whines to the aliens about there being more to humans than violence and the aliens resurrect everybody. They do leave it a bit ambiguous as to whether or not the real people are dead and now they are one with the aliens. Does it even matter? I like how everybody gets a new set of clothes pulled out of their asses. Whit and the rescue team all lie about coming into contact with an alien and the aliens have merged perfectly to fool human technology. The movie simply ends with Whit going home to his wife and that's it. Pitiful.
I can't stress enough the incoherent nature that these order of events are presented; my explanation is simply an attempt at summing up what shit I saw flashed in front of my eyes. I want to say the story was pretentious as I'm sure many will defend this pathetic editing as "artistic vision" but it's really just sloppiness. Despite being an all around mess from start to finish, there are a few redeeming qualities that stop the score from plummeting alongside the likes of "Jaws in Japan" and "The Haunted Dollhouse." For example, the set designs were great considering the low budget. The acting is acceptable as I could sense the actors trying to make the most with what little they had to work with. Some of the makeup effects looked pretty cool on the infected people, and I liked the use of Whit periodically having glowing red eyes due to effective lighting. Lastly, there was a hint of intrigue early on as you try to figure out what's going on...it just doesn't last very long. Overall, this is a slightly below average film with a terrible story that comes off like the ravings of a meth addict scribbling down a story with the ashes from their pipe.
Notable Moment: I don't even know...maybe when that one dude keeps running around screaming "medic" over and over.
Final Rating: 4.5/10
Thursday, June 4, 2015
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: A team of imbeciles explore the Florida everglades as antics ensue.
Review: If you recall back to my reviews for the "Bloody Murder" movies I mentioned that they were a part of an 8-pack. Well, this is another piece of shit from that collection. Needless to say, I can only tolerate one of these entries a month...if that. At that rate, we will see if I can get through the whole set by Christmas! It will probably take the casual viewer all of ten seconds to realize this movie will be shitacular. Seriously, where do these movies come from? In all fairness, this was about as terrible as I expected, but the production value is embarrassingly low. If they had a somewhat respectable look, and real actors, I think this could have, maybe, passed for an episode of a kid's horror show. The only problem with that approach was that they tried desperately to compensate with gratuitous amounts of below average, naked chicks. Blehhh...
The story is pretty much a cross between "Congo" and "Anacondas" minus all the fun. A crew of flunkies are killed looking for the fountain of youth which leads to another stupid crew to search for it next. Of course there is some rich dude who sponsored the first expedition but didn't tell the second group until they are in deep shit. They go to Florida, of all idiotic places, to search for this fountain of youth allegedly guarded by a monster. Surprise, the monster looks laughable--an inarticulate latex suit not even worthy of "Power Rangers." The idiots all die pathetically--most trying to mindlessly fuck right before they bite the big one. Speaking of such moronic behavior, these dorks are the least prepared "professionals" I could imagine. Tube tops, thongs, calling a magazine a clip, no apparent food or tools, etc. Yeeeeaah...because the everglades are a Sunday picnic in the woods. Something that was driving me insane--and made me think of a kid's show--was the ridiculous inclusion of specific music for the lighthearted moments. Ughh. By the end it is revealed that the fountain of youth is real and looks to be nothing more than a little stream. There are apparently multiple monsters who kill everyone until some Spanish explorer deus ex machinas them all to safety. Right. And you did not just ripoff the ending to "Predator 2?!" Plus, they imply that this Spanish dude has been living there since the 1500s yet he, and his flunkies, disappear like ghosts? Whaaaaat? Worse yet, they try to sequel-bait in the final shot. Wow...that's a good one!
Obviously this movie is utter shit. The effects are terrible, the monster(s) looks horrendous, the story is a cheap ripoff, the acting is atrocious, the chicks are busted up, the characters are all idiotic, and the ending is implausibly stupid. Despite all of this, the overall feeling is simply a big pile of meh. Realistically, if this had a real budget, I can see trash of this caliber at least being a 4.5/10. At the same time, if they had changed things up, this could have been a half-assed episode of "The Haunting Hour" or something. I don't know...I expected nothing and that's what I got so I can't say I was disappointed. Take that however you wish. All things considered, this is essentially as stupid as you would imagine--no more, no less.
Notable Moment: When the one guy delivers the titular line in the most forced manner possible. He even hesitates slightly as if to wink at the audience. Fuck you!
Final Rating: 3/10