Friday, April 29, 2016

The Echo (2008 remake) Review

He's thinking, "Sweet, sweet glory hole..."

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: An ex-con moves into his dead mother's apartment only to discover she may have died at the hands of ghosts.

Review: I think "Sigaw" may have the (dis)honor of being the only Filipino horror movie that got the Hollywood remake treatment. Not sure why they'd pick this one over something like "Sukob," but at least they kept the original director and brought back the main ghost, played by Iza Calzado. While many of "Sigaw's" mistakes have been corrected, a whole slew of new problems are introduced. The two films are of comparable quality when all things are considered, but, if I must choose, I'd say "Sigaw" pushes ahead of this movie by a small degree. You wouldn't think the tale of a haunted apartment would be this difficult to get right.

The biggest improvements are tightened pace and clarity added to the story. Though, despite these changes, I can't ignore the continued inclusion of endless filler scenes. The picture quality is cleaned up, but I do miss that shitty grain; it adds a certain charm to the production. Effort is put into making the ghosts scary this time around, however, I believe this is done for the wrong reasons. I'll give some credit for trying to do more with the main characters' background rather than them simply existing pointlessly. Of note is the new girlfriend, played by Amelia Warner, who is surprisingly hotter than the luscious Angel Locsin! Overall, the production is of a higher quality that just makes everything feel better on a technical front.

With a second shot at this same story, you'd think the director would really nail it this time around. Nope. We no longer have the twist to work with since there is no overlap of events. In fact, the setup is a lot dumber considering these ghosts are running wild and people simply ignore them. The previous backstory for the ghosts is mostly glossed over here in order to establish them as a wannabe Saeki family. This annoyed me greatly since these ghosts seemingly kill people yet no one died in the original. On top of that, there are many throwaway scares that make no sense in the film's context (like the main dude seeing his mom's ghost). Then there are outright moronic choices such as including a creepy, old lady that contributes absolutely nothing to the plot and disappears entirely at one point. The lame drama for the main characters felt lame and forced to the point where you are simply rolling your eyes. I don't mind exploring the characters, but did we need to see cornball as fuck scenes of the girlfriend discussing with a classmate whether to get together with the main guy? Is this high school? I don't know how to explain it other than to say the material is not fully taken seriously. I don't know why they bothered bringing back Ms. Calzado either if they are going to greatly diminish her role. Finally, the ending is beyond actually should be a terrible conclusion for the leads. The main dude will probably be blamed for the deaths caused by the ghosts (especially his boss that had fired him for stealing), he is already technically wanted by the police, and we don't even know if his girlfriend will survive. Furthermore, the way the ghosts resolve their issues was somehow more nonsensical than "Sigaw." Don't give me that slow piano bullshit--this isn't a happy ending!

Realistically, these two films are simply mediocre. There are positive aspects, but they are fundamentally cancelled out by the negatives. For the remake specifically, the technical achievements are respectable whereas the story is full of painful mistakes. The slow pacing was a major problem with "Sigaw," however, the glaring issue with this movie is how distracted it is by the side drama; it needed focus on the important parts involving the ghosts and their plight. I almost get the feeling that the script was cut to pieces before (or during) filming which resulted in this choppy sensation between the scenes. I'm sure others might get more out of these two films than I, but there is way, way better Asian horror out there.

Notable Moment: First they include, what appears to be, a glory hole (god knows why), but then they had a shot with someone putting their fingers through it? Whaaat?! Oh goodness gracious. No one thought this might look...uhh...suggestive?

Final Rating: 5/10

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Sigaw (aka The Echo) Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: After moving into a new apartment, a man realizes the neighbors that have been keeping him awake are actually ghosts.

Review: I want to like this movie, but it's pretty much a complete fucking mess. In one respect, the story has an interesting setup, and the atmosphere is decent. On the other hand, the pacing is abysmal, and the narrative structure makes no conceivable sense; it's hard to describe--the basic concept of the "beginning, middle, end" is not designed or presented properly. If they cut out, say, 20 minutes of filler, and punched the sound guy for hitting the scary music cue every two minutes, this could have turned out infinitely better. I guess we could say this is yet another example of wasted potential.

The positive aspects are primarily surface level accompanied by good ideas that were buried under the mistakes. The film quality uses that same, shitacular grain from "Sukob," but, as with that movie, this successfully enhances the atmosphere. Speaking of which, the apartment building looks more ominous and thoroughly worn due to this film grain. The story's setup almost works, and I do appreciate the kind of twist they were building toward; the goal is simply not achieved. This idea that the main guy, Marvin, is not supposed to realize everyone are ghosts is cool in theory. Showing the audience past events as if they're occurring in the present, all the while blending the scenes together with Marvin, would have been impressive. I will still give credit where it's due despite the failure to truly realize this vision. Another aspect worth mentioning is Marvin's girlfriend, Pinky, played by Angel Locsin. Hot.

So, while I commend the attempt at pulling a twist on the audience, I can't ignore that this also serves to create a nonsensical story structure. For one, it's not a twist when the film goes out of its way to emphasize the ghosts are...well...ghosts long before the actual reveal to Marvin. In other words, this ain't "The Others." Whoops...spoilers for that movie too! But it's not just the bumbling of the material...the film's pacing is far too slow to make the payoff worthwhile. There are times when nothing is happening for long periods of time as well as the ghosts not looking scary whatsoever. Likewise, too much effort is put into making the ghosts feel sympathetic when their story isn't all that compelling. It also makes no sense why the ghosts are fixated on Marvin even after he stops living in the apartment. By the way, if the ghosts are stuck in a loop, how in the hell are they appearing outside of the apartment anyway?! The story inconsistencies aren't an isolated incident either as there are plenty of shenanigans afoot. Marvin didn't realize he was living in a different apartment number...really?! What about setting up his mailing address or, ya know, actually talking to the landlord?! Making matters worse, Marvin and Pinky are not interesting, and their added drama to the mix slows down the pacing even more--bringing things to snail-like levels by the ending. By the way, the ending is lackluster, also a bit incoherent, and they had to include that final zinger, huh?

Eh, I thought this was merely okay the first time I saw it, but, upon a second viewing, this really isn't very good. Sure, there were good ideas scattered about, and the look and tone are certainly there to make a memorable horror movie. Unfortunately, the story is too messy with the entire movie feeling amateurish. The pacing is horrendously slow, the twist is needlessly predictable, and there appeared to be little effort to make the ghosts look scary. Come to think of it, if this were, maybe, a 30 minute short tacked onto an anthology, this might have worked a helluva lot better.

Notable Moment: After Pinky tells Marvin about her experience seeing the little girl's ghost. There is skepticism and then there is being a dumbass. Marvin is saying things like it's a big elevator (for why the ghost disappeared)...yeaaah, because you can lose someone in an enclosed space. Then Marvin says the blood on the ghost's face was probably just ketchup. Pinky, baby, you can do waaaaay better than this fool. Well, if they were striving for comedy this scene did make me laugh.

Final Rating: 5/10

Friday, April 22, 2016

Holidays (2016) Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: An anthology series whereby each story corresponds to a major holiday.

Review: What an absolute waste of potential. You'd think an anthology tale that showcased different holiday horror would be a slam dunk. The main problem is that every tale is only tangentially connected to their holiday and sometimes not connected whatsoever. There was also no coordination among the different directors to create a similar tone, style, or anything that would make the film, as a whole, not appear so disjointed. And, if that weren't bad enough, almost every story is terrible with a few bordering on mere, pretentious shit. I was looking forward to this film for quite a while, and it turned out to be a huge ass disappointment.

Valentine's Day: Compared to the rest, this opening segment isn't too at least made sense. An outcast, high school girl has a crush on her swim coach--the coach seemingly dying from a heart problem. After doing little to stop the girl from being bullied, the coach gives her a Valentine card to cheer her up, but this appears to inspire her to murder. Tracking down her main bully, the girl cuts out the bully's heart and offers it up to the coach. The end. Well, it could have been worse, so there's that. Honestly, this is the quality I'd expect from the weakest entry of an anthology...not one of the better ones.

St. Patrick's Day: This is probably the dumbest of the segments, but I wouldn't call it the worst since there was less opportunity to disappoint; I mean, let's be real, there isn't a lot to work with regarding this holiday. Some teacher in Ireland regales her students about St. Patrick allegedly removing all the snakes from the country. A weird girl leaves a message to the teacher that the girl will smile once the teacher asks for a wish. This wish is granted by somehow getting the teacher pregnant with a giant snake. The stupidity in this tale is palpable as the comedic elements fail miserably. I want to say this segment should have been called "4/20" as that would have been more apropos.

Easter: Trying to be weird for the sake of being weird, a little girl meets some kind of Easter Bunny/Jesus hybrid creature. I really don't understand what the hell was supposed to be happening. This creature turns the little girl into what he is...because why not? The girl's mother appears distracted to this incident due to heavy masturbation. Whaaaat? Oh for the love of fuck.

Mother's Day: We are halfway into the tales at this point and still not a single good one. This time around we have a woman who supposedly gets pregnant every time she has sex despite protection and birth control. Riiiight. A doctor recommends she visit, what appears to be, a coven of witches living in the desert. It's implied the woman is chosen to give birth to a demon or something, and the coven wants to force her to term. When she tries to escape she suddenly gives birth to a bloody adult, but we only see the arm before the segment ends. Wow. It's almost as if they aren't trying. This is two "Rosemary's Baby" wannabes already!

Father's Day: This is the only segment I enjoyed, and that's not even saying much realistically. I really like this actress, Jocelin Donahue (from "The House of the Devil"), so that helped especially when this story had a '70s/80s-ish feeling. A girl, named Carol, receives a box from her father many years after she last saw him. Inside is a cassette tape that explains that the father had to go away and how the two can be reunited. Following the directions, Carol finds herself in some abandoned beach town just as a cosmic alignment comes together. They don't explain anything, but apparently the father wanted Carol to willingly come to some evil place. Actually, the ending is extremely frustrating considering the commendable buildup and atmosphere. If there was effort put into explaining things, I'd consider this segment alone worth the movie, but, alas, the ball was dropped.

Halloween: This is the worst segment in the entire film. Not because it has the worst story (though it was atrocious in its own right), but because it wasted the most potential and was directed by Kevin Smith who was intended to be the headliner. How in the fuck are you going to take the easiest holiday to work with and present shit of this laughable caliber as a response? The story revolves around dumb camgirls forced to work for some douchebag. Growing tired of his abuse, the girls shove a vibrator up the guy's ass, glue his ass shut, and hook the vibrator up to a car battery. Oh my god, so edgy! For one, I don't see how they rigged a car battery up to a vibrator nor how the cord was so long. For two, the whole point is the girls want him to cut off his own dick yet he's too stupid to cut the cord?! Regardless, they crank the power up on the battery to max and this, I guess, kills the guy from vibrator overload or whatever. Pitiful. Utterly pitiful. What the hell does any of this have to do with Halloween?! I haven't seen someone shit all over Halloween this badly since Rob Zombie.

Christmas: This is probably the second best segment though it has virtually nothing to do with Christmas. Again, how do you waste the easiest holidays to work with?! Seth Green is trying to find the rarest holiday gift on Christmas Eve when some guy beats him to the last one. The guy seemingly suffers a heart attack at that exact moment, and Seth Green decides to let him die and take the gift. This gift turns out to be a kind of VR system that connects to your mind or something. Seth Green sees himself letting that guy die and grows nervous. However, the wife sees this murder and becomes super turned on by it. Either finding the courage herself or because she's a killer too, Seth Green sees the wife's VR images which depicts her murdering her boss. And that's it. Um, hello, the title of this film is "Holidays," right?

New Year's: Closing this nonsense out is just another mediocre segment. An awkward serial killer is picking up girls on a dating website--trying to find that one, special girl. When dating a pretty hot chick next, he goes back to her place to watch the ball drop on New Year's Eve. Looking around her bathroom, the guy realizes that this chick is also a serial killer. Oh noooooo! TWO serial killers?! That's never been done before! The two fight a bit until the guy reaches for his gun that he idiotically forgot to reload after his last kill. The guy takes an axe to the head and that wraps up not only this tale but the film in general. wasn't the worst ending to an anthology I've reviewed.

Did anyone understand that this movie was supposed to emphasize the holidays? The overall feeling from each segment is sheer pointlessness. Likewise, the stories felt incomplete and incoherently assembled. On top of that, all the tales ranged from mediocre to outright shit save for the "Father's Day" segment. The ONLY reason why I'm not rating this significantly lower is due to the attempt at holiday horror, the production quality, and I did like the music. I do not recommend this movie at all as it brings nothing but disappointment to the viewer. If you're a fan of anyone involved, you are not missing out on anything by passing this one over. Now, if they want to make a "Holidays 2," and fix the disastrous mistakes present here, I would be willing to get on board with that. Until then, this film stands alone as one of the worst examples of wasted potential out there.

Notable Moment: During the Mother's Day segment when that fat, naked chick is dancing in slow motion. Ueehhuahauh! That's the sound of me puking. She seriously had more cellulite areas than not--how in the fuck?

Final Rating: 5/10

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: Cordell is resurrected because...well...I'll get back to you with that one.

Review: Closing this trilogy out, there is a noticeable drop in quality. While it's not as drastic as some would make it out to be, I can't deny this is the weakest entry. Nevertheless, these films are mostly comparable to one another, and none are exactly what I would consider good--they're simply average. As for part 3 in particular, it didn't make much sense by the end. Sure, the potential to be better was there, but they weren't having fun with the material the way part 2 was able to accomplish. On the plus side, the climax was maybe the best scene in the entire series.

This movie was not off to a good start when Cordell is resurrected through magic. Yeaaah, because that's what this franchise needed; at least Cordell is clarified to be a zombie though. At first I thought there would be an end goal for bringing Cordell back, but it's as if the writer completely forgot about this fact by the conclusion. In essence, some guy brings Cordell back for the lulz which coincides with Cordell wanting to, I guess, spiritually marry this female cop that is dying? Dude, I have no clue! Making matters worse is Cordell telepathically always knowing what's going on in order to kill random people up to no good. However, all of his kills are pointless anyway given the context of the film's The use of the hospital setting did enhance the situation a bit, but the aimless approach to the film's direction was hard to ignore. I'm also confused by--what appears to be--an alternate take of a scene from part 2 mindlessly edited in. What the hell? But before you completely write this movie off as inferior to the previous two, the final showdown against Cordell is awesome; we see a decent car chase that involves Cordell being lit on fire the entire time. The incorporation of a pitiful romance subplot did take away from this though.

Overall, this is more or less on par with what I expect from these films. Yes, part 3 is the weakest link, but it's not without merit unto itself. In fairness, I'm not holding this trilogy to that high of a standard. There is casual entertainment to be had from these 3 films if this is your cup of tea to begin with. These aren't the kind of stories that will appeal to general audiences especially since they have that shitty tone apparent in most early '90s horror. Still, the production values are commendable for what they were able to present, and I give a lot of credit for that. If you can track down all 3 movies at once, that's probably your best bet as it will make the experience worthwhile. I'd honestly recommend starting with part 2, and if that doesn't impress then there's no point proceeding further.

Notable Moment: The final car chase with Cordell. It's actually an impressively created scene if you think about it.

Final Rating: 5/10

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Maniac Cop 2 Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: Surviving the previous film, Cordell teams up with a serial killer in order to continue his murderous rampage.

Review: This is a better film than the first "Maniac Cop," but I don't feel the difference is significant enough to raise the rating any higher. There is also the fact that for every improvement made there is a corresponding bad decision. I will say this though, there was a concerted effort to increase the action which was noticeable and appreciated. The attack on the police station was an especially awesome scene. The makeup was fixed for Cordell to give him a gruesome presentation rather than that kool-aid mouth he was sporting before. I'm not entirely sure why Cordell would team up with some serial killer, nor how Cordell knew the guy even existed, but this did keep things kind of interesting. I'm sure others may find enjoyment from the strip club scenes but, damn, those chicks were looking homely as fuck! Lastly, there were just plenty of over the top moments that worked better than you'd think like the chainsaw fight (as quick as it was).

While I do have positives to say, this doesn't exclude the negatives. One thing that really bugged me was killing off the survivors from part one, Jack and Mallory; Jack being played by fan favorite, Bruce Campbell. That was a serious misstep right from the onset. More so, the new characters are lame and cliched. Cordell waited most of the year to continue his revenge, why? Considering that the setting was switched to Christmas, they never made use of this subject in any conceivable way; what an absolute waste. Although the plot is actually coherent this time around, Cordell's motivations are still vague and nonsensical. Likewise, they story refuse to declare him a zombie for whatever reason despite all the evidence he must be dead at this point. To semi-defeat Cordell, they exonerate him of his initial crimes which, I suppose, puts his spirit at rest when he's killed? I don't know. He does finish killing the people he wanted revenge against, kills his serial killer friend, and the two burn to death because two bodies falling into a bus surely makes it explode, right?

For what it's worth, a sequel to a movie about a killer, zombie cop was only going to be so good. There are plenty of improvements everywhere and much needed organization has been added to the plot. On the other hand, killing off Bruce Campbell will probably annoy the kind of fan that would watch the "Maniac Cop" movies. Likewise, everything feels pointless and many opportunities, like the Christmas setting, were squandered quite readily. But, with all things considered, if you liked part one you should enjoy this one just the same if not more.

Notable Moment: When Cordell storms the police station. It's a pretty cool scene--reminiscent of "The Terminator" even--though, they cut it way too short.

Final Rating: 5.5/10

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Maniac Cop Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: A seemingly undead police officer wreaks havoc on an unsuspecting New York City.

Review: I know some horror fans really love this trilogy, but it's mostly mediocre. I want to say part 2 is the best, but I originally watched these films in reverse order many years ago. Sure, there is casual entertainment to be had, but I think this series highlights the kind of lackluster movies that put the slasher genre on life support by the early '90s. In a nutshell, this series simply revolve around a killer cop--that's it. Yeah, I know, nowaday that may seem par for the course in real life, but let's not get into that debate! Anyway, there was a chance to utilize the police-themed material effectively, but the story is too incoherent to pull it off.

So, it's not quite script-in-a-blender phenomenon, but the main problem that holds part 1 down is plot inconsistency. At the core of the film there is a decent story trying to escape, however, the maniac cop himself is ill-defined and doesn't have any kind of parameter to work within. In other words, the maniac cop, Matthew Cordell, is like Jason if he became a cop yet doesn't have an explanation for why he targets the random people he kills. While the sequels did try to correct this mindset of Cordell, it remains the primary hindrance of the first entry. At first it seems as though Cordell is killing the people that wronged him, but he spends half the time killing random people. The incidental scheme to frame someone else for these murders was also tackled in a half-assed manner. Due to all the shenanigans going on, the pacing of the story becomes a mess and plot cohesion is totally lost along the way. It didn't help that the film can't decide if Cordell is alive, dead, or something otherworldly. Finally, killing off the McCrae character felt like a huge misstep given that he was essentially the main character.

Overall, this is a by the numbers slasher enhanced by the police concept yet weakened by a nonsensical narrative structure. It's not a terrible film, but it's not necessarily a good or even noteworthy one either. And there were plenty of great ideas like obscuring Cordell's appearance in the shadows and use of the cityscape. Had they centered the story around Cordell's revenge, and incorporated a real reason for why Cordell was inadvertently framing the Jack character for the murders, this would have been significantly better and made some semblance of sense by the end. I wouldn't really recommend this movie individually, but, if you can watch the entire trilogy at once, that offers up a better experience to the viewer that's for sure.

Notable Moment: When we finally see Cordell's face. I'm not sure why there was so much buildup for makeup effects that looked like Chef Boyardee ravioli. In fact, he kind of looks like the Joker when he was dressed up as a cop in "The Dark Knight."

Final Rating: 5.5/10

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Justice League vs. Teen Titans Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: When Trigon possesses members of the Justice League, it's up to the Teen Titans to save the world.

Review: Hoping to capitalize on the success (or lack thereof) of "Batman v Superman," they decided to release this little film at the same time. Unfortunately, this is probably the worst direct to DVD movie from DC that I've watched. The main problem is how unbelievably misleading the title and plot synopsis are. For one, the Justice League members are only there to create tension, and this is hardly a versus situation. Likewise, the Titans are done a huge disservice due to far, far too much emphasis being placed on this newer version of Robin, Damian Wayne. I haven't followed modern comics in over a decade so I had no idea who this new Robin was. He's fucking annoying! He reminds of the male equivalent of Rey from stupid "The Force Awakens;" overpowered because the writers demand it. I mean, this bitch is 12 years old, a regular human, and holding his own against the Flash. The FLASH?! That's a good one. And that line, "I AM a weapon!" HAH! No, what you ARE is up past your bedtime, kid.

The story is mostly straightforward as Robin is placed with the Teen Titans to teach him teamwork. Surprise, he's a total asshole to everyone. Instead of focusing on Raven and Trigon as you'd hope, Robin is further forced onto the story by having a lame connection to Raven. Instead of a fast-paced action film with the Titans taking on the Justice League, we are treated to a dance battle with Robin and Beast Boy. Oh fuck. Sure, the Justice League members are here, but they are simply pawns of Trigon who possesses them to do his bidding. When Trigon finally shows up in person, he is defeated easily enough by Raven. In essence, the Justice League members are here to simply draw in more viewers and to pad out an already thin plot. Furthermore, there is little attempt to bridge this incarnation of the Teen Titans with the beloved cartoon from years back; though, there are a few winks. On the bright side, Starfire's depiction was smoking hot!

Honestly, the deciding factor for whether you will enjoy this film is the degree to which Robin annoys you. If you love the character, you will love this film. If you're like me, and hate this bastard, the film will be dragged down tremendously. Besides this Jar Jar level of annoyance, there simply isn't enough going on--the Justice League members completely sidelined. While I would not mind a Teen Titan-focused film at all, they only give attention to Robin and a little bit of Raven. Another thing that bothered me to a lesser extent was the voice cast--they aren't how I would want them to be; Raven especially was hard to tolerate. Overall, this isn't a complete waste of time. There are still good aspects worth investing your time in, but everything felt messy to me. I simply expect more from these direct to DVD entries as they're usually really great films in their own right.'re better off sticking with "The Flashpoint Paradox" instead.

Notable Moment: At the end when Cyborg brings the Titans pizza to the dismay of the Justice League. For one, pizza(!), and for two, this was pretty much the only moment that channeled the fun this movie could have presented.

Final Rating: 5.5/10

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: Titans clash as the Dark Knight battles the Man of Steel because...well...I'll get back to you on that one.

Review: Wow, what an absolute fucking mess. I am not surprised at all though--in fact, I knew this was going to happen! But, before we get ahead of ourselves, let's just knock out the positives in one fell swoop. I strive to be as fair as possible which is why the lowest I could go was a 6/10. The production quality is top-notch, the visuals are good, and the polish to the picture is too clean. I appreciate all the work that went into making this film, and it definitely deserves acknowledgement. If I rated solely based on the content of the story this movie would be hovering around a 4/10. Just keep this in mind since a lot of my rating is based on technical aspects just as it was with that bastardization called "The Force Awakens."

Where to even begin...I guess let's touch on Batman first. I am dying of laughter when I read critics and fans praising Batfleck. Dude, I think Adam West might have been a better Batman. Batfleck is such a mindless brute in this movie. Alfred is the one doing all the groundwork while Batfleck is just running around being pissy and flirting with Wonder Woman. The Michael Keaton version, sitting in the dark thinking, carried more nuance than Batfleck could have ever dreamed. Where is the cunning detective that Batman is supposed to be? The thing that killed the character though was how stupid he was acting with his hatred for Superman. He's pissed over collateral damage from "Man of Steel" yet never offers any way that Superman could have feasibly resolved the issue without it. I don't know, the fight should have felt more personal and, surprise, Batfleck does a 180 almost immediately after the fight. And why the shift? Because he and Superman's mom have the same name?! This is so cartoonishly's like a horrible fanfic come to life.

As for Superman...he's okay I guess. They don't spend a lot of time with the character, and we really should have had a proper "Man of Steel 2" before this. He and Lois still do not have good chemistry together, and they foolishly made that the main form of development for Superman this time around. The primary problem I had was how weakened they made Superman. The filmmakers decided to go with the whole, instantly dying to kryptonite angle, which makes sense if they want Batman to stand any chance. It's just annoying how the degree to which Superman is vulnerable to kryptonite is decided by story contrivances instead of consistency. The real kicker though is that they actually made Batman win the fight! My fooking goodness! Anything for the fanboys I suppose, right? Look, I LOVE Batman, but Superman could kill Batman in a hundred different ways before Batman could even blink. If this loss weren't bad enough, the film adds insult to injury by killing off Superman in the fight against Doomsday! HAH! Oh fuck. This is moronic in the long term since we won't feel any kind of stakes with the "Justice League" films down the road; why worry when they've already played the death of Superman plot device?

The rest of the cast is about as shitacular as you'd imagine. Lex is downright embarrassing--the casting of Jesse Eisenberg is one of the dumbest decisions I've ever seen. He has no motivation for any of his actions nor a connection to Superman. The movie wants you to believe he's menacing, but, come on, he's more humorous than intimidating. Connected to Lex was the utter waste of Mercy. She never even had a chance to fight anyone and dies for no conceivable reason. Wonder Woman is a joke with Gal Gadot serving as a terrible cosplayer. She is a twig and did not bulk up for shit as they claimed. Adding her to the plot felt forced when she should have been relegated to a cameo only. Likewise, Flash, Cyborg, and Aquaman did not need appearances. The story is overloaded with all these extra characters. Making matters worse was hinting at Darkseid, a future Flash or alternate Earth, evil Superman, and already trying to construct the Justice League. No one stopped and said, hey, maybe this is too much?

Other stupid things worth mentioning: Superman put on trial? Superman is seemingly blamed for the deaths of random terrorists shot? Whaaaat? Yeah, because Superman loves to use guns. What was with killing off Jimmy Olsen? Why would Superman let Kryptonian technology readily fall into the hands of the government? How exactly was Lex planning on controlling Doomsday? If that idiot somehow knew Darkseid was coming, why wouldn't he save Doomsday for that moment? This is where having no motivation to hate Superman cripples this pathetic story. Hell, the worst episode of the "Justice League" cartoon was better than this movie!

The hate this film is receiving is rightfully deserved. The entire story felt rushed, overly compacted, and lamely structured to rival Marvel rather than trying to tell a competent story fans want and have been waiting decades for. The characters are done a huge disservice with this weak portrayal of DC's finest. I suppose some of the complaints could be alleviated from the full, R-rated version that is coming, but I won't be holding my breath. "Man of Steel" was torn to shreds by fans, and it was significantly better than this trash. For me, this was some "Transformers" level of shit whereby it's cool to look at, but there is zero substance. Other than the production value, there is almost nothing I can say positive. It's so disappointing...

Notable Moment: That stupid Jolly Rancher scene. Pitiful. Did they think that made Lex look tough or crazy or what? He looks like a fucking idiot! I think this scene essentially embodies everything wrong with this film.

Final Rating: 6/10

Man of Steel Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: With the destruction of Krypton impending, Kal-El is sent to Earth where he becomes Superman.

Review: This movie receives harsher criticism than it deserves. Sure, it has a lot of flaws, but I think they captured Superman reasonably well; it was certainly a better portrayal than "Superman Returns" that's for sure. While the Jesus parallels were annoying, we are shown the reasons why Superman has the boy scout attitude and how he deals with the challenges of having so much power. We are also finally offered the kind of epic battles that this mythos is capable of displaying. Honestly, all of my problems with this film revolve around the peripherals rather than Supes himself. Considering this is the third theatrical version of the character, they managed to meet my expectations.

The good: Henry Cavill has the right look, build, and enough charm to pull off Superman...though, I wish they used an actual American actor. Mr. Cavill tries to bring conviction to the role and does take the material seriously. This helps. Flashbacks were the wrong way of approaching it, but I did like the depiction of Clark's early life and learning lessons from his dad. A lot of fans didn't like this apparent hypocrisy, but it was more of telling Clark to wait until a point he felt Earth could accept who he was and what he could do. Zod and the other kryptonians were cool and felt like a legitimate threat for Superman; Faora definitely stole a lot more of the show than the filmmakers anticipated. The Smallville and Metropolis fights are awesome and capture the godlike powers these aliens possess. I actually thought Russell Crowe as Jor-El was an underrated performance; these low-key roles suit his acting style better. Finally, the overall production quality was very good despite some shoddy moments during the Zod showdown.

The bad: I really couldn't stand Amy Adams as Lois. She looks nothing like the character's comic counterpart, and her face is stuck between a state of smirking and crying during every scene. Likewise, there is no chemistry between her and Mr. Cavill. Killing Zod didn't bother me--I think the fans are overreacting to this--but it was presented in a stupid way. Realistically, there were options for Superman to resolve the situation without killing Zod. I blame the filmmakers for not setting up the situation to be dire or immediate enough to warrant a kill. As I mentioned earlier, the Jesus parallels were lame and unnecessary. It may have been mildly acceptable if they weren't beating it over the audience's head in every other scene. Lastly, there is a sort of tonal misstep. It's hard to explain, but the comic book tone of Superman is not the way the movie demonstrates.

With all things considered, I don't understand the divisive nature of this film. Sure, the animated show and "Justice League" are, without a doubt, better portrayals of Superman, but this isn't straying that far from the source material. There are problems, don't get me wrong, but nothing insanely stupid that you are left rolling your eyes over. The action is handled great--better than I would have hoped. The casting did have its hits and misses, but Henry Cavill brings a commendable Superman to the table. All and all, this served as a decent revival for Superman. Not to mention, the subtle nods to other superheroes didn't overdo it either. I think people should go back and give this film another chance in wake of the "Batman v Superman" fiasco.

Notable Moment: When Lois is aided by an AI version of Jor-El in escaping Zod's ship. The music was amazing--similar to "Mass Effect"--and I wish we saw more of the Jor-El character.

Final Rating: 7/10

Saturday, April 2, 2016

April Fool's Day (2008 remake) Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: After a girl dies in a prank gone wrong a killer, seemingly, seeks revenge the following year.

Review: The original brought something unconventional to the table in the '80s whereas this film brings jack and shit to the table. I don't understand what was the point to remaking this. Oh, gee, wow, you changed the characters from regular college kids to obnoxious "socialites." Yeah, that's exactly what fans of the original would have wanted, right? Besides that, the killer's identity is BEYOND fucking obvious to the point that there's nothing to compare it to. I'm serious...if you can't guess who the killer is here, you might have a mental disability. Well, it's a moot point regardless since they kept the same goddamn ending of the original minus the original's context or any semblance of making sense. Ugh...god...why?

What's happening this time around? Someone does die this time, for real, in the opening prank when a girl falls off a balcony. So they're realistically hearkening back to "Prom Night" more than anything. The following year a killer is looking for revenge against the idiots responsible. The production value is terrible, and you will feel like you're watching a made for Lifetime movie. The film does try to make you think the characters are genuinely dying, but the setups are overly ridiculous and complicated that it's hard to believe anyone would, or could, go to these lengths to trick the other characters. Wait, scratch that, this is all a ploy to trick only one character this time around. Yup, that's right, the characters are in on the trick from the onset this time rather than being clued in as they "died." Once everyone appears to be dead, we learn that the main girl was responsible for the initial death that started this movie and that this entire thing with the fake killer was to get her to confess to that prank gone wrong. was an accident...and her confession was was any of this going to work out? But wait...there's more! There is a new twist as the main chick does end up dying after all when the fake gun they were using somehow had a real bullet in it. The film then ends with the main chick's brother seemingly behind the real murder in order to get his inheritance money? Oh whatever, fuck you!

Needless to say, this movie is stupid on every level. The characters are annoying and unlikable, the music sounds like something out of a radio serial from the '40s, the effects are embarrassing, and they kept the same ending, yet, somehow managed to fuck it up nonetheless! If there is anyone who was tricked by an April Fool's joke it is anyone who paid full price for this trash. Do yourself a favor and stick with the original.

Notable Moment: When that first idiot "dies" in the pool. Okay, how the hell did they pull this one off? So he was just sitting there in full makeup and able to lay at the bottom of the pool without ever showing a sign he was really alive? Riiiight.

Final Rating: 3.5/10

Friday, April 1, 2016

April Fool's Day (1986 original) Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: A group of college friends, vacationing at an isolated mansion, appear to be targeted by a killer.

Review: Although they were scraping the bottom of the holiday horror barrel, this is one of the more unconventional '80s slashers out there. Sure, the cliches and tropes are plain as day to see, but the filmmakers had self-awareness and toyed with the audience's expectations. On top of that, there are a few worthwhile aspects to consider. For one, you have Thomas Wilson, notorious for playing Biff from "Back to the Future." The whodunnit angle is a bit obvious, but they offer many red herrings to keep you guessing. Finally you have the main chick from Jason 2 coming back for another slasher role; I know some fans like these connections. The only real detriment is the polarizing ending. You're either going to love it or see it as a huge cop-out.

The story is mostly straightforward, but you'll notice many loops being thrown. The connection between the characters is kind of confusing at first since they all appear to be close friends or whatever. Some do know each other, but their main link is the mutual friend of a girl named Muffy. Yeaaaah...Muffy. Well, Muffy is very rich and invites this group to stay at, what appears to be, an island mansion. Coinciding with April Fool's Day, the film starts off with shenanigans until things go too far with a guy getting messed up in an accident. With this prank gone wrong putting a damper on their little vacation, the group tries to get over it until a killer starts to pick them each off. Besides the usual suspects of the group, you have the guy who got messed up or the possibility of a third party unseen. Sure enough, the killer is a third party character, Buffy, Muffy's twin sister. Sounding a bit too corny? Well, that's the real crux of the twist--everything has been one, giant April Fool's Day joke. Each "death" was just the point in which Muffy let a person in on the joke. There were plenty of clues to this revelation as well including many contrivances and the mention that Muffy is studying drama. Muffy reveals that she wants to turn the mansion into a murder-mystery vacation spot and used her friends as a test. The red herring characters were in on it too, but a few of the red herring plot points are addressed as jokes that did, in fact, get taken too far for the sake of realism. All of this is presented extremely well, but I can definitely understand viewers feeling cheated by that ending.

If you're the type that has seen it all when it comes to '80s slashers, this is one that can still stand out among the crowd. The story may not necessarily offer anything unique when compared to other contemporaries, but the revelation and lack of genuine deaths is certainly original for the era; I can't think of anything that comes close from the same time frame. I have always enjoyed this twist and its play on the genre, but I realize it can be viewed as cheap; just something to consider before watching. Likewise, the film is far from perfect with shoddy acting galore, poor character decisions, and a complete lack of true gore. Nonetheless, this is an enjoyable trip into '80s holiday horror and deviates enough from the norm to attract casual fans.

Notable Moment: Any scene with Biff hamming it up. I mean, come on, it's Biff!

Final Rating: 6.5/10