Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Idiocracy Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: A horrifying vision of the (probable) future...

Review: This is one of those movies where you don't know whether you're supposed to laugh or weep for humanity. The film's story is a combination of numerous dystopian works but done in such a way to present a comical and satirical approach. However, I feel as though the sheer plausibility of the scenario creates a disturbing outlook for the world especially the USA. I've read every spin of criticism laid against this film, and I do understand why it bombed, but most problems simply boil down to the comedic aspects. Any of the political analyses are meaningless since the vast majority of people have a normalcy bias. For the most part, I think this film does succeed, but it certainly has noticeable problems.

So what exactly is going on here? A prototypical average Joe, conveniently named Joe, and a hooker are placed in experimental pods to test the effects of suspended animation. Instead of waking up one year later as planned, they are accidentally awoken 500 years later. In this future humanity's dumbest individuals bred like rabbits while the intelligent disappeared. All of society's systems are maintained through old technology designed to be operated by the lowest rung of intelligence. Joe's arrival coincides with humanity reaching a point where they are about to starve to death due to their inability to figure out how to grow crops. Although arrested initially, Joe is deemed the smartest person in the world and tasked to fix all the problems. With the help of the hooker love interest, Joe manages to figure out that the main problem was that they were watering the crops with a futuristic Gatorade. While Joe appears to save the world and set humanity on a path of recovery, the film ends with the implication that the stupefying of humans is inevitable. Obviously I'm leaving a lot out, but you get the gist of it.

The element they truly nail is in regard to the degradation process of society. Mega corporations and conglomerates as the root cause of the idiocy is something many viewers gloss over. I love how almost all clothing and items are laced with logos and people even speak using corporate slogans. Humans' inability to speak coherently is something this film has firmly predicted well in advance. Although we could lump it all as newspeak from "1984," Orwell explicitly said newspeak was to limit the ability to communicate and process big ideas that could result in resistance. In "Idiocracy," the newspeak is simply the natural effect of people not caring about how to read or write properly mixed with this bizarre hazing of the intelligent at the hands of idiots. What I mean is that there are often fools who claim someone is acting arrogant due to simply speaking intelligently. Now, granted, there are pretentious, hipster retards plaguing the world, but you know what I mean. Just look all over the internet with people unable to spell basic words even with most programs having internal spellchecks! Likewise, the horrendous abuse of any language coupled with moronic slang and texting lingo isn't helping. And let's not forget the most important aspect of all: the internet has allowed every person in the world access to the collective knowledge of all humans throughout time! Yet, this gift is squandered completely so people can spend time broadcasting their fake, hollow lives through shit like instagram and facebook as if their "friends" care. Not to mention the relentless barrage of advertisements and other rampant bullshit. My goodness gracious...

There may be a lot to praise regarding the forward-thinking nature of the plot, but I can't ignore the problems. The jokes can fall incredibly flat considering many of them are designed to appeal to the type of people this film is ironically mocking. The running time is unforgivably short; there was ample opportunity to expand the ideas further. The ending is somewhat abrupt and cliche when there was a chance to throw the audience a curve ball. Sure, there is a post-credit scene, but it's dumb and pointless. Lastly, I'm okay with the actors here, but I don't think a lot of them were right for these roles; few roles stand out in a movie this over the top.

Overall...we're fucked. If anything, this film should be viewed as a cautionary tale or a learning tool of some sort. There are many horrible truths demonstrated in the story, but it is more than capable of casual entertainment. The material is not taken seriously, of course, but it does boast a sci-fi setup worth examining. I would definitely recommend tracking this down for at least one viewing whether you like it or not. You can approach the film from the raw, satire angle or you can explore the visionary aspects and how they coincide with reality. It is important to acknowledge the film's shortcomings so be aware that this is far from a classic in the way "1984" should be read by any and all people.

Notable Moment: When Joe visits the doctor. I like Justin Long in these goofball roles, and it was amusing enough.

Final Rating: 7/10

Sunday, March 27, 2016

The Victim (Thai 2006) Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: An aspiring actress is hired to help the police with crime scene reenactments until she is haunted by a murder victim's ghost...or so it would seem.

Review: This could have easily ranked among the Asian horror legends, but, unfortunately, they dropped the ball...hard. At face value, the story sounds original and creative--which it is--however this is merely a ruse in order to shock the audience with a game changing twist around the halfway mark. While I can appreciate the twist and what that story line had offered, it transforms the film, as a whole, into an incoherent mess. It truly was as if they combined the scripts of two separate movies and hoped it would mesh; it didn't. More so, the first half is the more interesting of the two which exacerbates the situation whereby you wish they would switch back the focus. Despite these tremendous missteps, there is just something very enjoyable about the film overall. It's reminiscent of "February 29" in the way that you have to overlook the glaring problems and appreciate the awesome story under the surface.

The first half: this entails what most plot summaries online will discuss. Ting is a poor and struggling actress who crosses paths with police who are looking to hire someone to reenact crime scenes. Due to the popularity of these reenactments in the Thai media, Ting becomes somewhat of a sensation. After gaining a reputation as an actress who brings conviction to her roles, Ting finds herself haunted by the ghost of a high profile murder victim, a beauty queen. When the police feel the case has been solved, Ting believes the ghost is speaking out to her in order to catch the true culprit. Sure enough, Ting figures out that the murderer is really some lesbian surgeon obsessed with the beauty queen. But we come to realize none of this has been real. The first half of the story is actually taking place on a set...a movie within a movie if you will. On the plus side, this allows you to forgive the cornball music and wolf howling since that's supposed to be the filmmakers' doing.

Second half: this part is longer than the first half and, annoyingly, makes all the previous plot points moot. Ting is played by an actress named May who really is being haunted on the set of this movie about Ting and the beauty queen. At first the crew believes the ghost is connected to the events of this film since it's implied Ting and the beauty queen were based on reality. Starting to get confusing, huh? After the cast and crew begin to die to this mysterious ghost, it is revealed that the connection is to a prop given to the crew. This prop actually belonged to an obsessed fan of May who died during back-alley surgery. Once May believes the spirit has been put to rest we learn, in typical fashion, the ghost is actually evil and wants to possess May's body. This possession is, of course, accomplished by the ending scene. I do want to note that the credits allegedly depict real ghost photos, but I would say they're more than likely attempts at promotional material. Another thing worth mentioning was that the ghost was kind of scary looking yet they chose to almost never show her face until the ending for whatever reason. What a waste of a commendable makeup effect and stylized appearance for the ghost.

Needless to say, I really love the first half. The pacing is a bit too fast which is kind of an indicator of the big twist to come. However, they could have expanded the initial ideas to bolster the running time. I don't think it would have been difficult to go into more depth with Ting's life and add more scary set pieces with the ghosts Ting was portraying. Speaking of Ting, played by Pitchanart Sakakorn, she has this whole Kris Aquino thing going on where she's hot sometimes and looking like a corpse other times. What is that? Nevertheless, I like her better as Ting over May. Ting is interesting to explore whereas May feels bland. The movie within a movie idea is always fun, but we've seen it before. We haven't seen crime scene reenactments though. Also, splitting up the story this way makes many characters completely useless.

I am mostly torn with this film. In one respect I appreciate the gamble with such a significant twist, but it did basically ruin the entire momentum of both story halves. In fact, the general premise of both halves could have worked independently. The first half is simply too refreshing and unique to casually cast to the wayside. Thankfully, the ghosts and effects are decent despite moments of shoddy CGI spread throughout. If you can sift your way through the confusion, there is an incredibly unique experience to discover. Sadly, I don't imagine many will have the patience to dig deep. No matter, I am confident that the first half is strong enough to earn this film at least a decent rating from most, and I would still recommend checking it out regardless of the shortcomings.

Notable Moment: When May is possessed by the ghost. She actually looked a lot hotter in that form somehow!

Final Rating: 6/10

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: The skills of three boy scouts are put to the test when a zombie apocalypse breaks out.

Review: I think we can all agree the usage of zombies as a plot device has grown tiresome at this point. However, I wanted to give this a chance given the over the top notion of a bunch of boy scouts trying to save the day. Unfortunately, this film does not achieve the over the top, zany antics you'd anticipate until the last 15 minutes or so. The vast majority of the story is comprised of childish jokes and a more gross out-centric humor akin to the likes of "American Pie." This presentation doesn't complement what they were going for at all. Why wouldn't they utilize the nature of the scouts or include moments when their skills were coming in handy to defeat the zombies? I mean, the title includes "Scouts Guide" when the characters offer little different than any other zombie movie. If anything, this chick that works at the strip club was putting in more work against the zombies while the scouts run around screaming! It's not all bad though, but the comedy is definitely focused toward a certain demographic.

Let's start with the bad for once. One of the things that really pissed me off was the nonsensical portrayal of the zombies. So...they can talk (sing even), use objects, and do things like kick you? What exactly makes them zombies again? The scouts do eventually put their skills to use by the end of the film, but this works out to be only 10-15 minutes of what you were expecting all film long. On top of that, it wasn't really anything above or beyond what any other zombie comedy would come up with--just some makeshift weapons. Most of the movie is about the scouts--who are portrayed more as loser geeks more than anything--engaging in shenanigans as they try to survive the zombie horde. This felt like such a waste to me. As for the comedy, it simply does not mesh with the themes. Sure, I smirked when that one cop had her shirt stuck in the fence, and the scouts were in awe of zombie tits; but, if that's the best you got, you've failed. Stuff like the zombie grandma gnawing on the one scout's ass, holding onto the dick of a zombie like rope, the zombie stripper, some chick getting eaten out by a zombie, etc. were all too dumb--used simply for shock and awe. I don't know, maybe others will see the humor in these scenes. Finally, Denise, the girl that works at the strip club, was completely wasted. Why didn't they hook her up with one of the scouts? Yes, the scouts were underage for her so up their ages or make her younger! The scouts teaming up with a hot chick who can fight should have been one of the highlights but, instead, becomes one of the glaring misfires.

As for the positives, I might as well continue with Denise; she's a fun character that they hardly explored. The scouts themselves aren't too bad, but they do feel cookie cutter. The acting was acceptable from all players despite their inconsistent reactions to various circumstances. Including zombie animals did keep things interesting since few other zombie movies explore this angle. There were funny moments admittedly; I simply expected a different type of humor. The final battle at the party was decent yet the one scout seemed completely oblivious to the fact that he was wearing a bandolier. Honestly, there's not much else to say. Umm...the chicks were kind of hot and there were titties?

With all things considered, I'd place this film at slightly above average. It has a few highlights and fun moments, but there is nothing here we haven't seen a hundred times before and done better. You would best enjoy this film if you're not burnt out on zombies and/or you're into this kind of humor. I am just kind of blown away that this was rated R when a film like "The Final Girls" went with PG-13. What the hell? Essentially, this is rental material all the way with the potential to be either better than you'd imagine or significantly worse. I don't see any rational individual rating this beyond a 7/10 even if you were a member of the cast and crew.

Notable Moment: When the scouts finally gear up to take on the zombies. This took far, far too long to happen.

Final Rating: 5.5/10

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

As the Gods Will Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: Teenagers around the world are seemingly abducted and forced to participate in bizarre games of death.

Review: Two words: wasted potential. You have all the right elements in place--large scale, creative ideas, and an intriguing premise--but the story is boggled down by cliched characters, unnecessary moments of pure idiocy, and unexplained, sequel-bait plot tangents. While I would still consider this a cool movie that can be thoroughly entertaining, there was a chance to make this the next "Battle Royale;" which, by the way, was clearly an inspiration for this film and the manga it's based upon. At this point, however, Japan has amassed a shit ton of movies in this "death game" sub-genre that they're not really doing enough to differentiate themselves. "As the Gods Will" manages to come out swinging in a way to appear unique to this sub-genre, but it falters too quickly and never recovers.

The story focuses on a character named Shun as he is forced to suddenly participate in a game to the death against his classmates. These games are Japanese-centric, but I'd say most countries should have some equivalent; for me, the first game is similar to "red light, green light." If you fail in this game your head explodes which establishes an amazing opening sequence to pull viewers in. The only way to win is to press the button on the back of this talking idol...I don't know how else to explain it. More so, all the games are administered by these living dolls or toys that I suppose act on behalf of "the gods." It is unclear whether or not it's supposed to be aliens or actual gods or maybe some other supernatural entity. I didn't like this ambiguity given the nature the scenario; meaning, holographic screens and floating cubes felt like aliens, but too many things had a feeling of omnipotence only a supernatural being could manifest. What I'm trying to say is the two forces wouldn't necessarily act this way, and it feels contrived simply to keep the audience guessing. Like, would a god use technological items? And would an alien really be so advanced it could pretty much materialize anything out of thin air?

Moving along...Shun manages to survive the first game, but this kills his friend since there can only be one winner (which is a bullshit contradiction shown in the very next game). Shun meets up with his love interest...I guess...and the two move into a game where a giant cat is trying to eat everyone. The only way to win is to shoot a bell through a basketball hoop around the cat's neck. Magically, Shun, his love interest, and the most annoying character in the movie survive this. This is the point when the film loses most of its steam due to this character, Amaya. He is tough because they say so, and he's cartoonishly psychotic because they thought it would be edgy or something. I've addressed this cliche before in other Japanese films, but the creator of this story decided we needed yet another version of this same, "watch the world burn" because it would be fun, type of guy. If they at least gave a reason for why he's like this besides the "I'm bored" cliche, I might have overlooked it.

Confounding the character cliche issue further is the addition of a love triangle when the third game begins. Oh good lord. And trust me, none of the characters are handled properly or given the time and depth necessary for you to care about them. Shun and his second love interest survive the third game whereby you have to guess who's standing behind you by the way they sing. But the real point was to guess who was holding a key? I don't know. The next game conveniently brings all the remaining characters together as they must guess who is the liar of their group. They nearly handled this game perfectly, but they ruined it by emphasizing Amaya being crazy and wanting everyone to die, putting annoying emphasis on Shun and the love triangle, and, worst of all, showing us how emo the story wants to be with Shun saying he doesn't like himself. Really...going with that, are we? Not that any of this even matters since one of the chicks in the love triangle dies regardless! pointless. The liar of the game turns out to be the "god" issuing the game of course.

The final game is kick the can except they annoyingly make Amaya "it." If Amaya catches everyone, he presumably lives and the rest die which, surprise, he likes. Shun manages to outsmart Amaya in some impossible scheme where he magically takes off armor without taking off the individual pieces? What? It doesn't matter since the "gods" seemingly don't kill anyone. This is a ruse as they still kill everyone except Shun and Amaya so they can be the only survivors of the completed series of games. That could have been a good place to end it, but they try to give us a little more with this homeless guy implied to be "god" and a weird dude claiming he will save the world. Riiight. And what was the point of any of this? Just to teach whiny, emo bitches a lesson about being grateful? The whole world was implied to have experienced this phenomenon so the global youth population should be devastated...right? Yet the adults are like cheering them on and shit like it's a TV show? Whaaat? Coming from Japan that is extra retarded given their elderly retirement problem! The fuck? Plus, no one is crying or screaming about their dead kid(s)? Sure.

In one respect you have this fast-paced series of crazy death games that work quite well at establishing suspense. You are intrigued by the mystery and what will be the final destination. The effects are commendable, and the scope was presented significantly better than I thought it would be. On the other hand, the characters are cardboard cutouts of tired tropes, the momentum is lost in order to focus on these characters, and many predictable twists occur. The conclusion also leaves a lot to be desired as we never have closure or clarity toward the point of anything. I did enjoy myself while watching this movie, and it is pretty good, but they squandered the setup and gave no reason to care about the characters' fates. Overall, I think this is worth checking out, but definitely do not expect it be of the same caliber as "Battle Royale." If anything, it's much closer, in terms of quality, to that film, "Tag," I reviewed.

Notable Moment: When Shun's friend is killed and manages to give the finger despite having his head exploded. That is the perfect example of the cornball tone that was bringing down the whole film.

Final Rating: 6/10

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Lifeforce (1985) Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: While studying Hailey's Comet, astronauts discover a seemingly derelict spacecraft belonging to alien vampires.

Review: This is definitely on the list of forgotten gems from the '80s. Sure, there are plenty of cornball moments and nonsensical plot tangents, but the effects are great and the apocalyptic scope of the story is awesome. Besides, it is nearly impossible to go wrong with a hot, naked alien chick bent on destroying the world! I'm not surprised that this bombed at release, but it's good that there is a growing appreciation for this film's merits. One of the main hindrances of any success was that "Lifeforce" is not faithful to the source material, the novel it was based upon. I never read the book so I don't know how much it deviates, however, it doesn't help when the author comes out against the film. Nevertheless, from the perspective of the film alone, we are presented with a unique and original experience enhanced by solid pacing and an epic music score.

At a glance, the mix of vampires, aliens, and a take over the world scheme seems like it wouldn't work. For the most part, they pulled it off. The story focuses on a guy named Carlsen, the commander of a crew that was studying Hailey's Comet. In the tail of the comet is a massive alien ship that has seemingly been adrift for an unknown amount of time. This alien ship is semi-organic and the aliens themselves are bat-like creatures with the exception of three humanoids kept in a state of suspended animation. Over time, the aliens have died and become husks which leaves only the remaining three as the last of their kind. Later on, the three human-like aliens are brought to Earth after Carlsen and his crew are seemingly found burned alive on their spacecraft. Of course the aliens awake, escape, and wreak havoc on an unsuspecting UK. Instead of drinking blood, these aliens drain your soul or--you guessed it--your life force. In the process, you become like them, and you too must feed on other people's life forces or else you die. It's worth mentioning that the changed humans are more zombie-ish than vampires though. Also, the main three aliens can only be killed by iron, for whatever reason, while changed humans can die to anything on hand.

But the fun doesn't stop there as the female alien begins a process of consuming all the energy of the world. The aliens summon their ship to approach Earth's orbit in order to extract the collected life forces of the humans they feed on. Simply referred to as the "space girl," the female alien is played by Mathilda May. Obviously she is one of the main highlights of the film since she is practically always naked. Actually, her character is interesting since her motivations are ambiguous. The three human-like aliens really are bat-like underneath the skin, but they can warp their form based on whatever race they come into contact with. When it comes to Carlsen, the space girl claims she molded her form based on a subconscious desire from Carlsen's mind. It's never clear if she's simply playing Carlsen or that they did establish a connection deeper than love together--a bond at the spiritual level. I like this angle to the story as it opens up a lot of potential and speculation. Then there is the fact that she claims Carlsen is similar to the aliens. I'm not sure if that means he has a trace of their blood within him? After all, there is the entire subplot that these aliens are what vampire legends were based from. For all we know, maybe some aliens escaped the ship to Earth over the centuries and bred with humans.

Yet another instance where it's hard to find a non-topless shot!

I got this whole "Parasite Eve" feeling (the movie not the game) throughout, and, in fact, there are quite a few anime that appear to have been been inspired by "Lifeforce;" for example, "Kimera" comes to mind. Maybe I'm overestimating the romance subplot, but they do stress Carlsen's mysterious connection to the space girl and their longing to be together. By the end, I did want to see Carlsen and this chickadee get together, but she is destroying the world so Carlsen kills the two of them while they're embracing. But did they really die? If anything, it appeared the two were put back into suspended animation with the energy they managed to collect being sufficient to sustain them for god knows how long. We could have probably used another minute or two added to the ending for true closure.

Okay, real talk here! If the girl/guy of your dreams existed but was perpetually soaked in blood, would that be a deal-breaker?

As for the film's faults, I might as well continue on with the ending. It's too rushed and makes no sense. Why didn't the space girl die? Was it because of her connection to Carlsen or because they were directly merging with the collected life force? What was the end game anyway? Consume everyone on Earth and move on? No wonder these fools were practically extinct. The powers and limitations of the aliens didn't fully make sense. I felt they were trying to get too philosophical with the concepts of the mind and spirit that it stopped making sense. For example, if the space girl merged her mind with Carlsen to look idyllic for him, why were there two male aliens? Sure, there were two women on Carlsen's crew, but why didn't they have this spiritual bond then with the male aliens? They could have cleared this up by simply clarifying whether Carlsen was part alien or not. I mean, he even says the alien ship feels familiar. Yes, I get that it may have been subtle, but nothing else is subtle about this movie. Besides this incoherence in the plot, there are a few times when the editing is shoddy as hell. They did go through multiple cuts for this film, which is understandable, but it is a noticeable flaw during numerous scenes.

Although certain plot lines could have been tightened, especially in regard to Carlsen and the space girl's alleged romance, I think '80s fans will appreciate what this film was trying to display. More so, this is a memorable sci-fi film in general that all fans of the genre should investigate for themselves. If you check out the trailer, you will feel the epic nature of the story which should help you decide whether to proceed. Keep in mind that you should seek out an unedited version as you will want to experience the full presentation intact. Overall, this is a fun film loaded with creative ideas and imagination. There are a lot of flaws that can boggle down the final impression, and the ending is lackluster, but I still feel a viewer will not be disappointed.

Notable Moment: When Carlsen kisses Patrick Stewart's character. Anything for a little Picard action, right?

Final Rating: 6.5/10

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Leprechaun: Origins Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: A group of friends vacationing in Ireland are offered up as victims for the leprechaun.

Review: Ignoring all the other films in this franchise, this entry attempts to reboot the series with a more straightforward approach rather than comedic horror. In some ways this works, but, fundamentally, this is just as bad as the rest of the sequels. Instead of the joking shenanigans of Warwick Davis' leprechaun, this new guy is essentially just a monster; this film plays like a typical creature feature. At first I couldn't understand why this movie was getting a lot of hate since it starts off quite promising. I mean, did people really prefer the blatant idiocy of the first 6 films? However, by the end I could understand why this film was considered to be shit too. After all, was anyone really begging for a seventh leprechaun movie?!

What works this time around? As I discussed in a different review, you'd think taking the plot to Ireland would have been a given by now. They don't fully utilize the setting (not that they really filmed in Ireland anyway) in a way that would explore the notion of a leprechaun's "origin." Nonetheless, I'm glad someone at least realized the obvious direction to take this series. The quality of the production looks to be decent with good cinematography; though, I do have a major gripe with the camerawork. The serious tone worked for the most part in order to make the leprechaun feel like a legitimate threat. I thought some of the hints about the leprechaun were interesting despite their lack of clarity. For example, the idea that the leprechaun was freed from a gold mine and bound by some kind of runes; that emphasis on Celtic mythology works. Overall, the technical aspects are better than I imagined, and the acting was acceptable from all players.

What went wrong? I'll start with the two biggest flaws: endless motion blur and total half-assing everywhere. The motion blur was nauseating and relentlessly abused every single time the leprechaun appeared on the screen. Obviously they had a shit costume design or something, because they used this annoying trick to mask the leprechaun's appearance. This is especially moronic when considering he is the point of this film! As for the half-assing, it's implemented at every turn of the story and production. Give us the actual origins or the damn leprechaun and not these little hints. Why is magic seemingly controlling the leprechaun yet this version is nothing more than a living monster? Speaking of which, if he dies like any other creature, why can't the locals kill it? Why the obsession with gold? Why does it also need to eat people? The parameters are never specified. The locals not wanting to kill strangers was cliched and stupid given its inconsistency. The group of friends pointlessly leaving each other to die was unnecessary; it never has plot relevance and makes you glad when they die rather than wanting to see them survive. Finally, one of the biggest grievances is the 12 minutes of credits! Are you shitting me? I've said it before: there is filler and then there is fucking filler! And, if you're wondering, yes, there is a shot at the end, but it's just the leprechaun going "boo" at the audience. It's really more of a fuck you to the audience similar to the ending of part 4.

I understand where they were coming from with this reboot, but they missed the mark. Instead of tweaking the formula, in a way that "Curse of Chucky" was able to accomplish, the filmmakers went too far from the source material. I'm not saying we needed a third outing to "tha hood," but a decent origin story for our little lad could have worked to bring this franchise full circle. On top of wasting the potential, there are countless moments of stupidity, the ending is nonsensical, the motion blur gave me seizures, and the blatant use of filler is unforgivable considering how little payoff there is in the story. Now, for the love of all that is good in this world, let this be the last sequel! The only remotely entertaining entry was part 3, so if you must have an eighth film, that should be the basis for inspiration.

Notable Moment: When the main chick accidentally takes an axe to her friend's face. Totally predictable but it was the only worthwhile kill.

Final Rating: 4/10

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Leprechaun: Back 2 Tha Hood Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: The dumbest characters yet steal me fucking gold from the leprechaun and suffer the consequences.

Review: Forget everything I said about the last entry being the worst. THIS takes the cake! If the title weren't a big enough hint, this is another instance of every second being pure, unfettered torture to the senses. The only reason I'm not lowering the score further is because whoever scored the music was clearly having fun. I guess they thought they were creating music for the next "Lord of the Rings" or something. I'm not saying the music was good either--it was merely proof someone wanted this movie not to suck ass. And why the fuck are we going "back 2 tha hood?" Every entry has introduced a new location yet this was the lone setting they felt was worth revisiting?! You couldn't go back to Vegas? Fuck, take this franchise to Japan or Egypt or anywhere really. I mean, seriously, is the stoner crowd really this lucrative of an audience?

I know this will come as such a big shock, but--surprise--they completely ignore the events of the last film. In the past this was dumb enough as it was, but it's that much more idiotic given that they're still in "tha hood." Couldn't make even a passing reference to the previous events? They also immediately negate the theory that each leprechaun is different by explaining that this one particular leprechaun is the only evil one. Anyway, this time around the leprechaun is captured by the same hands that dragged Jason to hell--because that makes sense--after some priest uses holy clover water? Pshh...whaaat?! A year later, the most retarded characters in the series discover the leprechaun's gold...which causes him to come back from hell? Dude, I have no fucking clue; the dog pissing on Freddy's grave made more sense than this. These tools proceed to spend me fucking gold on lavish gifts and, of course, weed! Come on, son, that should have been a given. Eventually the leprechaun pops up to kill everyone in another overly roundabout manner. The way me fucking gold works in this entry makes little sense, and I don't think the filmmakers understood their own premise nor that the leprechaun wasn't exactly doing the best job collecting the gold.

What really makes this entry feel like absolute garbage is the cheap effects and pandering moments for the stoners. For example, a scene when a wannabe drug dealer boxes the leprechaun or when a witch suddenly starts using spells. Yes, you read that correctly...a magic witch appears to fight the leprechaun for a few fleeting moments. To a non-high viewer these events are pathetic and utterly stupid in every conceivable way. However, the worst offense is not killing off the majority of the main flunkies in the cast. A happy ending for these fuck-ups? Oh man, that's a good one. By the way, they use four-leaf clover bullets to stop the leprechaun. Yup...four-leaf clover...bullets--they went there. Yet, the leprechaun's final defeat is to simply push him into wet cement that he can't seem to climb out of for whatever reason? Oh goodness gracious.

Realistically, what was anyone expecting from a sixth leprechaun film? There is no continuity when there was literally no excuse not to acknowledge the last installment. The effects are laughable, but I will admit they still tried to use practical effects. Trying to make the music epic somewhat makes this so bad it's good material, but it needs a helluva lot more than that overall. Making the main characters survive was unforgivable, and the leprechaun's defeat was moronic to say the least. Needless to say, this movie is horrendously bad from start to finish. Thank Rika I am approaching the final entry in this godforsaken franchise; I really don't know how much more idiocy I can tolerate.

Notable Moment: When some witch starts fighting the leprechaun DBZ-style out of nowhere. Uhhh...okaaay.

Final Rating: 2.5/10

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Leprechaun: In the Hood Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: Three wannabe rappers inadvertently unleash the wrath of the leprechaun as zany antics ensue.

Review: From Vegas to space to...the hood? Uh, okay. I think it goes without saying, but this is the worst entry yet. The disappointing aspect was that they had two separate opportunities to make this at least a mediocre film rather than absolute shit. The first attempt was at the beginning when the story is set in the '70s, and they could have made a satirical throwback to blaxploitation films. Strangely enough, the shenanigans of the leprechaun might have worked within that setting. Unfortunately, the story leaves the '70s right away. The other chance to do something interesting was in regard to the main characters constantly mentioning going to Las Vegas. They could have easily linked the ending of this film to the bizarre opening of part 3! I mean, seriously, who the fuck hires these shit writers who can't put two and two together?

Having no respect for this franchise (not that it really deserves any), they create a continuity error from the onset when we realize the leprechaun has been trapped by another magic amulet since the '70s to present day. Although, this entry does, sorta, imply that each film might have depicted a different leprechaun. I can't get behind that premise, and, besides, that is beyond lazy storytelling. So, due to his containment, some rapper, played by Ice-T, has become famous thanks to the leprechaun's magic flute. We're going with a magic flute this time around? Sure, why not. When wannabe rappers rob Ice-T, they free the leprechaun who now wants me fucking flute back. What follows is nothing but nonsensically moronic scenes and setups. I get that the filmmakers were probably trying to appeal to the stoner crowd, but the leprechaun doesn't even do that much or kill that many people. There was certainly room to explore this plot line with over the top sequences yet there is nothing worth mentioning; even part 4 had a few stupid moments worthy of acknowledgement! The one change this entry does introduce is that the leprechaun wins at the end. During the ending credits we are treated to the rapping skills of the leprechaun which is torturous.

I don't know why I'm expecting anything from a part 5 in a franchise about a killer leprechaun, but it really did bug me that they wasted the potential to finally bridge some sequels. In fact, I swear the statue form of the leprechaun is the same prop from part 3 too. Overall, this pathetic film makes part 4 look good in comparison. I mean, at least part 4 had Zarina's ta-tas! The acting is bad, the ideas are tiresome, the kills are stupid and lackluster, the leprechaun feels out of character, and there were only a handful of remotely acceptable ideas. My goodness, this franchise is terrible.

Notable Moment: When Ice-T's character keeps pulling weapons out of his afro. I'll admit, that was a decent gag.

Final Rating: 3/10

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Leprechaun 4: In Space Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: The leprechaun is back...yet again...and this time he's trying to marry an alien princess or whatever the hell was supposed to be going on.

Review: How in the hell do you kill all the momentum built with part 3 and create this abomination? I don't understand the jump to space as a setting. They were probably semi-parodying "Hellraiser IV's" idiocy of going to space, but that is a debacle to discuss on a different day. Why wouldn't they go to--I dunno--Ireland?! If you insist on continuing this godforsaken franchise, you'd think that Ireland would be one of the most logical conclusions, however, it took until part 7 to figure this out. Pitiful. But it's far more than the space setting that makes this stupid. Everything that happens is nonsensical, and the budget is way too low to handle the special effects believably.

What is the story this time? Surprising no one, the leprechaun is magically alive, and it's some time in the future. We are given absolutely no context for why the leprechaun is in space nor any kind of bridge between the franchise. The characters are wannabe colonial marines, but they're sooo fucking lame they don't deserve that comparison. For whatever reason, the leprechaun wants another bride which is essentially the plot of part 2 again. least it's not about a missing gold coin again, right? This bride is an alien princess from some random planet where the aliens conveniently look human. The princess, named Zarina, is a little bitch and teams up with the leprechaun willingly, but she is mercifully hot. Another bonus is an overly gratuitous titty shot from dear Zarina, played by Rebekah Carlton. I am definitely not complaining!

 Let's be real, this chick is the only highlight to this miserable film.

Too many moronic plot lines boggle down this already ridiculous scenario like a mad scientist that wants to regenerate his lost limbs with Zarina's blood, a cornball as fuck romance, and another torturous scene where the leprechaun is trying to get me fucking gold. The filler is especially noticeable this time around with scenes dragging endlessly; it seriously felt like they were writing the script as they went. By the time the leprechaun turns into a giant you will probably be ready to flip a table. The defeat for the leprechaun is the worst yet with him simply being sucked out of an airlock. The last thing we see is the leprechaun's hand giving the surviving characters the finger, but I think that was actually the crew of "Leprechaun 4" saying fuck you to the audience.

It still pisses me off that part 3 was not given a proper followup. This film is simply embarrassingly bad. The effects are worse than sci-fi channel originals and akin to something you could draw on an Etch A Sketch. The acting is abysmal, the story is insultingly retarded, and the entire space concept is the worst idea this franchise has ever concocted...and that's saying something. I can still remember seeing this on HBO back in the '90s and wanting to badly hurt someone afterward. All I can say is that the few pandering moments increased the rating more than this film deserves.

Notable Moment: That titty flash. Hey, I've said it before, I am a man of simple tastes. That brought the final rating up a solid .5 right there!

Final Rating: 3.5/10

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Leprechaun 3 Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: The leprechaun returns once more, and this time he sets his sights on tormenting Las Vegas.

Review: Sure enough, I remembered correctly, this is the best entry in the franchise. Not only that, but this is a decent film overall. I's hard to believe that a film called "Leprechaun 3" could actually be good. The jokes simply succeed, for once, at being genuinely funny, and the story utilizes the leprechaun in a meaningful way. Furthermore, the gags and setups are imaginative and allow the film to properly revel in the asinine nature of the scenario. Things don't stop there--oh no--as we finally get some likable and nuanced characters added. To be perfectly honest, I'm really surprised anyone was capable of taking the material of this franchise and turning it into...(wait for it)...GOLD! See what I did there? Oh my god, the puns! Hooray!

In fairness, the first, roughly, 25 minutes are lackluster so bear with it until the film picks up in a big way. The story completely brushes over part 2 with the leprechaun starting off already captured by a random guy missing half his limbs. Somehow the leprechaun is encased in stone with a magic amulet keeping him at bay. This amulet is yet another weakness added, but it doesn't really play that important of a role. The leprechaun is sold to a guy at a pawnshop who, of course, awakens the leprechaun. When the pawn guy sees the leprechaun's pot of gold, he tries to take it but gets into a fight with the wee lad. The two have a somewhat amusing back and forth until the pawn guy dies, but a single gold coin is lost from the pot. Ohhh fuck...not this plot line again. We are three movies in, and this has been the only story line writers could come up with?! Killing me here.

While the shenanigans at the pawnshop were occurring, the main guy, Scott, stumbles across Tammy, a magician's assistant whose car broke down. I like the dynamics between these two since Scott is this naive kid, and Tammy is this cynic with a heart of...(you know what's coming)...GOLD! I do want to mention that the guy playing Scott, John Gatins, is better known as a screenwriter, but he had his start with shit horror movies like this. Well...he also appeared in "Witchboard 2" and "Pumpkinhead II," which both starred my dear, sweet Ami Dolenz. The chick that plays Tammy, Lee Armstrong, does bear a striking resemblance to Ms. Dolenz. I guess what I'm trying to say is that this movie should have had Ami Dolenz in it! Moving along...Scotty decides to risk spending money on the casinos despite Tammy warning him not to. I just love how this kid is running around with a huge check for college as if you just show up to the college you want and slap down the money. Sure enough, he loses all of his money and decides to try and pawn shit. This is when the film picks up and becomes a ton of fun. Scott finds the missing coin and inadvertently makes a wish that is granted. It would seem this film at least decided to alter the missing coin plot line for the better. Now you are granted one wish for each gold coin from a leprechaun, and the characters fight over the coin.

 Am I crazy or do you see the resemblance too? Ms. Dolenz is way better though.

Once others see Scotty winning a ton of money due to his wish, they figure out that the coin is the source. First it is stolen by the magician Tammy works for, but ends up in the hands of the casino manager. He wishes that Tammy will want to fuck him which is hammed up amusingly. Next is some bitch who wishes to be young and sexy (which was a fail to me). Finally, the magician wishes to become the best in the world. Of course each of these characters meets with a fitting demise at the hands of the leprechaun. Not to be outdone, there are also some enforcers working within the casino which have fantastic banter with each other and with the leprechaun. I especially like when these enforcers stumble upon the casino manager in bed with the leprechaun due to bad timing. It just comes off as so ridiculous that it's like the casino manager was into some super kinky shit!

Perfect timing. Imagine walking into this?

The other aspect that helps this movie stand out is that Scotty is bitten by the leprechaun, and the two have their blood mixed. Apparently this causes Scotty to slowly turn into a leprechaun as well. This means he develops the magic, looks, desire for gold, and, to my great delight, a hankering for potato pancakes! Yes, beloved potato pancakes. Scotty is also able to fight the leprechaun on equal footing to a degree which enhances the over the top nature of everything. To highlight the absurdity, the leprechaun even says for Scotty to come over to the green side. It's so corny, but so fun at the same time! In the end, the way they manage to defeat the leprechaun this time around is to melt his gold with a flamethrower that was being used for a magic trick. As far as defeats go, this too could have served for a nice place to end this franchise similarly to part 2's death scene.

Realistically, if you're going to give this franchise a shot, this is the high point. The use of Las Vegas and the concept of lady luck blend seamlessly with the leprechaun mythos. The jokes are funny and the gags work without endlessly relying on little person jabs. The characters are equally funny, memorable, and likable with great banter that adds a much appreciated layer of depth to this ridiculous franchise. To be as concise as possible: this film understood the notion of having fun with the material while simultaneously being smart about the approach. Sure, the plot still involves a missing coin, but they toy with that setup by using a genie-esque twist to the story structure. I don't know how else to explain it--they simply did everything right to squeeze out whatever potential there was in this series. After all, this is still just a movie about a killer leprechaun, but the filmmakers successfully took that premise and ran with it. You know what, forget every other entry in this series and watch this as a standalone feature. You may be shocked by how entertaining this movie can be.

Notable Moment: When the wannabe porn star comes out of the TV. Hey, she may not be Sadako/Samara, but it further lends credence to my proposed porn parody of "The Ring." Make it happen!

Final Rating: 6/10

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Leprechaun 2 Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: After waiting a thousand years, the leprechaun seeks to marry the descendant of his once promised bride.

Review: Surprisingly this is a tad better than the first film. Wait, that doesn't sound right. Let me reword it: "Leprechaun 2" is less terrible than the first entry...which isn't saying much. What actually makes it mildly tolerable is the toning down on the excessive amount of eye-roll moments. Sure, you lose out on Jennifer Aniston, but at least they included St. Patrick's Day. Now, don't get me wrong, this movie sucks too--and is pointless shit--but I need to acknowledge the distinction.

Well, you know this is a good franchise when they establish a continuity error in the first scene. In this entry the leprechaun is supposed to be 2000 years old yet he said he was 600 in part 1. And, come to think of it, they never explain how the leprechaun came back after part 1 or how he got his gold back. Hmm. Fuck it, right? For whatever reason, the leprechaun needs a girl to sneeze three times so he can magically take her as his bride. His end goal is to make leprechaun babies...or something? A thousand years ago the leprechaun was denied a chickadee so he wants the modern day descendant of that girl. Eh, she's cute enough I guess, but, boy, is she an absolute tease bitch. You'd think the plot would be straightforward, with the leprechaun trying to get the girl and her boyfriend trying to stop the leprechaun, but, alas, they needed to pad out that running time. Instead, half the movie is the same damn plot from part one where someone has one of the fucking gold coins and the leprechaun wants it back. Gotta have me gold! Another continuity error is that the boyfriend cannot be hurt by the leprechaun while he holds the coin. Funny, I recall the leprechaun having no trouble trying to rip out the coin from Ozzie in part 1. You might think this is nitpicking for a piece of shit like "Leprechaun 2," but when the plots are this similar you might want to avoid glaring contradictions. Anyway, after predictable shenanigans with a candy coin fake-out, the leprechaun is killed when he's stabbed by an iron rod--a newly introduced weakness. To their credit, the leprechaun does blow up, and his death could be considered permanent rather than the half-assing in part 1.

Honestly, if you enjoyed the first film, I don't see why you wouldn't like this one the same or more. It's less stupid and the characters are less annoying. On the other hand, the plots aren't that different realistically, the overall experience is still well below average, and the same jokes are repeated. Likewise, you might have actually preferred the over the top stupidity as a highlight from part 1. I still can't get over the fact that there are 5 films after this one. Wasn't it clear they were already out of ideas by part 2?!

Notable Moment: When Morty throws the box of pizza on the ground. One does not simply discard precious pizza and expect to live.

Final Rating: 4.5/10

Friday, March 4, 2016

Leprechaun Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: Idiots are tormented by a killer leprechaun as antics ensue.

Review: Arrrghh. The "Leprechaun" franchise...oh goodness. How in the hell are there seven of these godforsaken movies? SEVEN?! I vaguely remember liking part 3, but this is easily one of the most loathsome horror icons. Besides being painfully moronic naturally, each entry simply makes up shit as they go. Say what you want against the likes of Jason or Michael Myers, but at least there is a degree of plot consistency in those franchises. The leprechaun's powers are whatever the writers want them to be with no logic or reason, and he can die on a whim when the running time is up. There is also little to no continuity between the films which makes being a fan utterly useless. This series is supposed to be comedic, however, I don't understand how the same jokes about "me fucking gold," "it's not wise to (fill in the blank) a leprechaun," and being a little person can carry on for seven films. could be worse...I could be watching the "Witchcraft" franchise (shudder)!

Although many horror franchises have decent or good starting films, the leprechaun series has no such luck. See, I can do lame puns too! The leprechaun starts off with seemingly invincible powers yet we are to believe some old guy captured him and forced the leprechaun to reveal his gold. Yes, the precious gold which will come back into play over and over and over and over again. The leprechaun is sealed in a crate by a four-leaf clover despite this old guy later claiming you can kill a leprechaun by putting the same clover on his body. Sooo...uhhh...why is there a movie then? The rest of the story revolves around Jennifer Aniston and her crew of flunkies dealing with the dumb leprechaun. And, yes, every review of this movie must acknowledge Ms. Aniston's involvement in this cinematic masterpiece. Her character is an annoying, hipster forerunner if that helps, but she is surprisingly outdone in the annoying department by a kid who speaks through his nose and some mentally challenged guy. Hey...I don't know what to tell you. The story is padded out with a ton of filler scenes and random victims just because. By the end, they don't even fully kill the leprechaun. On the bright side, we are shown that if you pour a little gasoline into a well, and light it up, it will cause a giant explosion for some inexplicable reason. So there's that.

 Look Jenny, it could have been a lot worse.

I can't fully blame this series for being absolute shit--it did come out in the early '90s after all. In fairness, Warwick Davis, playing the leprechaun, is having fun with the role which helps. There are enough acceptable ideas and jokes to allow the audience to persevere with the viewing. Seeing Ms. Aniston can be a draw for people, and she did look better here pre-surgery. It's just difficult to endure the blatant stupidity at every turn in this film and series as whole. Oh well, on to part 2.

Notable Moment: When the leprechaun sees himself in the mirror and screams. Okay, I'll admit that got a slight chuckle out of me.

Final Rating: 4/10