Wednesday, August 31, 2016
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: Ghosts...in the fog...want revenge or something...it really doesn't matter.
Review: This might not be the worst remake of all time, but it sure as hell was pointless and shitacular. I'll give them a tiny bit of credit for attempting to correct the gripes I had with the original, but they failed monumentally in every other regard. The ending, in particular, is irredeemably moronic--one of the dumbest endings you could imagine honestly. There was easily room to improve over the original yet by the time that "sex" scene rolls around you are already losing interest. I'd go as far as to say no one bothered to watch the original or something. Gone is the atmosphere and creepy wraiths--in its place are shit CGI and teenybopper-esque drama. What the fuck were they thinking?! I remember wasting my money to see this in the theater...I fully apologize for that.
So let's go over the changes. When will Hollywood learn that CGI is not scary?! The ghosts look like absolute fucking garbage! You cannot even begin to compare the original effects to this; it's no contest. My main problems with the original revolved around a shallow story weakened further by one-dimensional characters. Here, these same problems persist and have been amplified! Who the fuck are any of these losers--fucking Clark Kent, really? The ghosts have no logic or reason to their actions either. Wow, some stupid sack of shit at the bottom of the ocean opens up and that triggers the ghosts?! What's with the beach bum too? The girlfriend is a reincarnated ghost...whaaaaat?! If she was able to be reincarnated then why the hell is the rest of the crew ghosts still?! ARRRGH! Oh, yeah, sure, they made it so the victims are actually connected to the betrayal of the ghosts this time--big whoop. One gold star for you, assholes. And actually...how are this many people related to those four guys? Town full of inbred freaks. Whose idea was it to lengthen the running time over the original? Someone realistically believed they needed more time to tell this--this--tale?! That's adorable. Going back to Clark Kent, was he supposed to be our hero? He didn't do anything except cheat and look confused. What a hero. Now that I think about it...every character is significantly dumber and more irrelevant than their counterpart from the original; the worst offender is probably that bratty kid. Okay, time to end this...now I'm just sitting here shaking my head and laughing while trying to think up retarded things that happened.
I really want to lower the score more, but I must maintain consistency. After all, this is nowhere near as horrific as the "Halloween" remake. Though...that did have my dear Danielle in it...hmm. Anyway, the film is competently put together from a technical standpoint, sans the CGI, of course; if I'm being objective, most aspects lean more toward bland than outright terrible. I can mildly appreciate the effort to explain a few loose ends from the original, but you can't simultaneously create a debacle in the process. More to the point, this film cannot come close to competing with the original in any form of film making. It does not replicate the atmosphere or sense of dread yet feebly copies scenes from the original without rhyme or reason. I'd also go one step further and say this is an insult to the original and the crew could not hold a candle to Carpenter's version despite the shortcomings of the original. Finally, I want to reiterate that the perpetual stream of inferior remakes really needs to stop!
Notable Moment: When Elizabeth goes outside in the cold. She takes the time to put on a sweater but not pants? Okaaay...I guess you gotta add a little sex appeal for that precious, PG-13 crowd.
Final Rating: 4/10
Sunday, August 28, 2016
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: A small town is terrorized by a supernatural fog that contains a crew of vengeful spirits.
Review: I really do like this movie, but it's arguably the weakest entry from John Carpenter during the '80s. There are plenty of positives like the use of atmosphere, the simplistic yet creepy design of the ghosts, and the implementation of the fog itself. However, the story lacks any conceivable depth, we know nothing about the characters, and the pacing feels off. Learning this underwent heavy editing and re-shoots definitely explains a lot, but that doesn't make the problems subside.
My main problem with the story is the half-assed nature of everything. We do understand why the ghosts are doing what they're doing, but I feel like they're late to the party. Why wait a hundred years to seek revenge? All the people they want to kill are long since dead. I guess you could assume that the people they kill are descendants of the people that betrayed the ghosts...but that's a huge ass stretch of the imagination given the indecisive nature of how the fog seeks victims. Meaning, if the ghosts want to kill specific people, why do we see them pursuing so many people they don't even kill who are not related to one another? This kind of leads me to the pointless nature of Jamie Lee Curtis' character. She's such a useless addition and has no twist that connects her to anything. I think what would have cleared everything up is if the fog was kind of an urban legend that, once every 100 years, it's said a mysterious fog rolls in and people disappear. You could keep everything the same except change it so that the curse has been going on for longer. I think this would add another layer of creepiness since the ghosts would not be satiated--like, they're doomed for eternity. My other gripe is toward the uneven pacing. I did not like that there's a lull in the action. The ghosts should have attacked the town all in one night...it only makes sense this way. Then the drama with the three guys at sea? Eh...such filler.
I'm probably making it sound like I hate this movie, but it is still good for what it is. The way the fog works is especially cool--the ghosts kind of materialize within it and look quite freaky. Of course the best looking is the leader with his glowing red eyes. When you factor in yet another great score from Mr. Carpenter, the utilization of the fog creates this moody atmosphere. This is where the film truly shines as a horror, and I applaud that effort. The fake out and subsequent zinger ending does appear tacked on, but, I don't know, I kind of like the darker tone it creates; in one respect the ghosts are almost sympathetic, but the fact that they still kill the last victim demonstrates that they're definitely evil. Other than that, the technical aspects are all done extremely well considering this was another low-budget outing for Mr. Carpenter.
Overall, this is a decent horror film, but it lacks the kind of imagination and depth of John Carpenter's other classics like "They Live" or "Prince of Darkness." There is an eerie tone to the film, but it is boggled down by shallow characters and a huge lull during the second act. While the positives more than outweigh the negatives, I don't hold this in as high regard the way I do something as underrated as the aforementioned "Prince of Darkness." This is still worth checking out for newbies, but god help you if you end up watching the remake...
Notable Moment: When that one dude, sweeping up at the beginning, decides to take a sip of orange juice and put it back on the shelf. You asshole.
Final Rating: 6/10
Wednesday, August 24, 2016
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: A former thief must take on the role of a superhero and prevent a madman from recreating a dangerous technology.
Review: This was another instance where I thought things looked like shit. I mean, Paul Rudd...really? Thankfully, I was wrong on this one. Marvel has been such a hit or miss that I didn't want to take a chance, but, after seeing how Ant-Man was presented in the awesome "Captain America: Civil War," I figured it couldn't be as bad as I was imagining. Sure enough, Paul Rudd worked surprisingly well in the role, and the film, as a whole, spiced things up with a heist theme. I was most worried about the lighthearted nature of the story, but this aspect turned out to be complementary instead. Come to think of it, a lot of things were so cheesy--in a good way--that this felt like the formula for an '80s movie.
If you're burning out on all of these superhero movies then I think you might appreciate "Ant-Man" all the more. Although it's still technically an origin film, the pacing takes us through these formalities quickly enough. We get a seamless blending of the training to be Ant-Man fused into the buildup to the pivotal heist. As such, the film follows a heist structure more accurately which helps relieve the burnout from tired superhero cliches. Paul Rudd's sarcastic tone works better than I'd hope given the crazy situation he's been thrust into; it just feels apropos. In fact, the comedic tone throughout had a certain charm to it. I really liked Michael Douglas here--I didn't think he'd ever do a superhero movie, but he was a natural for the role; in fact, I wanted to see more adventures from his days as Ant-Man especially with the apparent death of the original Wasp. The peripheral characters are at that edge of entertaining and plain stupid, but they kind of won me over with the little things like Stan Lee's cameo. Hell, I even cared when Ant-Man's main, ant friend, Anthony, got killed. NO! The highlight moment is definitely when they're fighting near Ant-Man's daughter's Thomas train. It was such a fun combination with the cops wondering what the hell is happening and how Ant-Man and the villain, Yellowjacket, kept forgetting that it's not a real train. I wouldn't go as far as to say the film itself was a comedy, but there was a lot of successful genre-mixing at work.
While I was pleasantly surprised with this movie for the most part, there were still plenty of shenanigans afoot. For instance, the one-dimensional villain, Yellowjacket, was not fleshed out properly. And, even though I don't know much about the Ant-Man comics, I at least knew the real Yellowjacket was supposed to be a persona of Hank Pym...so that was a disappointing change. As I alluded to, some jokes and characters are outright moronic. I get that a huge draw for these films are the kiddies, but something like "Iron Man" balanced the comedy/action more substantially; this idiocy just wreaks of Disney's slimy hands. My last gripe is simply in regard to the simplistic nature of the plot: a stereotypical criminal with a heart of gold becomes a reluctant superhero against an over the top, evil villain who doesn't appear to even have a motive? Seriously, what did Yellowjacket hope to accomplish? To make more money despite being a successful, corporate CEO?! This cartoonish plot does feel '80s-ish, which I like, but that wasn't the vibe they were going for so it's more incidental than anything. So, in this case, it's a situation where a plot aspect can be both a positive and a negative.
This may not be anywhere close to the best superhero film out there, but it's better than you'd think at a glance. Having a heist plot line helped considerably to keep things fresh in, what's becoming, an oversaturated market. The comedic aspects are done well, but jokes lean heavily toward the PG crowd. A huge positive is the quick pacing which carries the audience through the running time unaware. There are noticeable flaws spread throughout that are compounded by the heaps of superhero tropes, but nothing really drags down the experience. "Ant-Man" was intended to be viewed before seeing "CA: Civil War," but, if you were like me and passed on it, I'd highly recommend going back and checking it out. I'm now actually excited about the sequel and seeing what the new Wasp is capable of doing.
Notable Moment: When Ant-Man and Yellowjacket fight near the Thomas train set. It may have been part pandering or shameless product placement, but it was handled hilariously nonetheless.
Final Rating: 7/10
Saturday, August 20, 2016
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: An anthology of interconnected tales that occur along a mysterious highway.
Review: This could have been something exceptional but nope. The core premise is good, and the idea of connecting the segments was certainly welcomed, but the stories are nonsensical and uninspired. Individual segments fail to stand on their own merits and the interwoven plot is equally incoherent. I feel like there was a lack of coordination at play or that the execution failed at some point. There are redeeming qualities, no doubt, but it's hard to overlook the bland, final impression especially when the, nearly, boundless potential was clear for anyone to see.
The Way Out: This and the last segment, I suppose, serve as a wraparound in a loose sense. Needless to say, the film does not come out swinging as you'd hope. The viewer is immediately thrust into a world they don't understand and given little to work with. Even when factoring in the last segment, this doesn't really fill in the void of unanswered questions. What we are shown are two men, covered in blood, driving to a gas station in the desert. They see a phantom-like creature getting closer as they drive. Once at the gas station, the people there act weird as mild, supernatural phenomenon ensues. Deciding to bail on the situation, the two men find themselves driving in a loop whereby they keep coming back to the gas station until they can't take it any longer. These floating, grim reaper-things appear and kill one of the guys while luring the other into a motel room. In the room, the guy is put into another time loop where he is trying to catch a little girl that appears to be his dead daughter. And that's it. No context, no setup, no explanations...just...here you go. This wouldn't bother me, per se, if things came full circle in the way the filmmakers had intended but they don't.
Siren: Right next door, at the motel from the previous tale, three skanks emerge to hit the road. They're in some band or whatever, and apparently their fourth band mate died. They get a flat tire when driving down the highway and wait for someone to help. A weird couple appears and offers to take the skanks to their place. Of course there is an overtly creepy vibe, but the skanks rest up and have an unusual dinner with more weirdos. The main skank realizes something isn't right as her friends are losing their minds. Eventually the main skank notices everyone, including her two friends, are participating in, what appears to be, a satanic ritual. When the main skank runs away, back to the highway, she is hit by car driven by a guy talking on the phone. The end...? Wow, what a waste. Once more, nothing is explained and little inference is given for anything.
The Accident: I guess this is the best tale...though, that's not saying much. Picking up where the last segment ended, the driver guy is reluctant to help the skank although she is super fucked up from the crash. He finally calls 911 and is gradually talked through steps to help the skank. Driving to a nearby town, the man searches for a hospital and carries the skank into the one he finds. The town is strangely desolate and the hospital is empty but in a way to imply shit went down here. With the skank slowly dying, the people on the phone try to guide the man through makeshift surgery to save her. When the skank dies anyway, the people on the phone begin laughing at him. Apparently they are some kind of demons as we will learn, but, in the context of this segment--big shock--nothing is explained. Unable to escape the abandoned hospital, the man sits around until the people on the phone decide to let him go. They magically provide him with new clothes and a new car as if nothing ever happened. The man rides off into the sunset, or sunrise in this case, and that is that. Yippee. I guess the technical ending point is when we see that one of the demons was just hanging out, talking on a payphone, and trying to look like fucking Aileen Wuornos. That's just fantastic.
Jailbreak: This is the worst tale of the bunch. So Aileen, tired after a hard day's work at the payphone, goes into some bar for demon beer. After the demons argue about shutting the dumb door, a guy comes in with a shotgun that can, for no real reason, hurt these godforsaken creatures. This guy wants to find his sister who has been missing for years and somehow knows she's here somewhere. The demon bartender takes the guy to a magical, Harry Potter-ish portal behind an ice cream parlor which is a moronic concept unto itself. Inside, the guy finds his sister who is giving demons tattoos for eternity it would seem. Ugh...fuck. Was this really the best some writer could come up with? Whatever, dude. The guy takes the sister with him, and they ride off into the desert where they are apparently not supposed to go all of a sudden? When they stop for a second, the sister says she belongs in this town, and the brother is dragged away by old, naked guys. Surrre, why not, right? This segment ends with the sister going back to her ice cream-tattoo parlor just as a jailbait-esque chick looks on.
The Way In: Closing us out is a half-assed attempt to bring the story full circle. Jailbait and her parents are at the ice cream parlor supposedly hanging out before she goes to college. So Jailbait is legal? Meh, still calling her that. When Jailbait and her family go to their motel, they are stalked by three men in masks. It's implied that the dad of Jailbait killed the daughter of the guy from the first segment as we realize this is the situation that led to them being so bloody. We don't learn why he killed the daughter or any kind of scenario...but who needs pesky things like story development?! They kill Jailbait's mom too probably because she starred in that "The Wicker Man" remake! At first they want to let Jailbait live, but they kill her anyway for fighting them. This leads to those grim reaper things coming out of Jailbait and her family with little explanation, of course. Their third guy gets dragged to hell by rape-tentacles because I guess it fits in with the whole jailbait motif. We then cut to the opening sequence as we have entered a kind of time loop with all the stories resetting. Umm...no thanks, I think I'll pass on second helpings. And that's all she wrote. I've read reviews trying to make sense of this shit, but I think they're reaching to the sky to fill in the gaps for a film that didn't care enough to try.
On the one hand, I respect the effort to tell this kind of interlocked story. On the other hand, it's hard to appreciate that story when the ball is dropped so casually. The production is commendable, however, and the general aesthetics are decent as well. Also, the notion of each story leading to the next in a loop is a creative idea despite the failure of execution. If only more attention were put into fine-tuning the stories this could have been significantly better. Furthermore, the point to everything and the plot details should not be this vague. As I've mentioned numerous times, you don't need to handhold, but audiences need at least adequate information to work with. If you don't care as a filmmaker then you enter pretentious-territory or you're a lazy writer. Overall, this is maybe worth a view if you're slightly interested, but keep your expectations on the low end.
Notable Moment: During "The Accident" segment when the skank's broken leg tears practically off. That was painful to imagine. Poor skank!
Final Rating: 5.5/10
Wednesday, August 17, 2016
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: After a series of unfortunate events, an overworked mom decides she will do whatever the hell she wants.
Review: Oh lordy...thankfully, my sister paid for my ticket to this shit, because there was no chance in Tartarus I'd choose to watch this on my own. In fairness, I am as far from the target demographic as you can possibly get. Regardless, I expected at least one laugh to be had. Nope. I did crack a smile a few times and came, kind of, close to laughing once. However, in retrospect, every instance I liked revolved around the same character, Carla; you take her away and this movie is instantly unfunny. On top of that, I felt the overall themes were mean-spirited and overloaded with unabashed, first world moaning and groaning.
I perfectly understand the humor is not meant to appeal to me, but the jokes are just plain dumb. The way they demonstrate most of the comedy is through over the top remarks no one would really say. I wouldn't mind this approach if it didn't happen over and over again; this is the shtick of multiple characters! The other avenue is just absurd moments which is a comedy staple. I liked these jokes a tad better, but most scenarios are tired bullshit like getting drunk and the zany antics that ensue; there's a reason why "tasteful shenanigans" are bonus points and regular shenanigans are not! Mila Kunis is also horribly miscast here. Now, I really like Ms. Kunis--she's 100% my type--but I don't buy her in this role. She's too young, her borderline, retarded husband would not cheat on someone still so young and hot, and she wouldn't be this altruistic if she's that jaded at the same time. I hated that they gave her a love interest too who is so unbelievable it was blowing my mind. You're honestly telling me that some single dad whose wife died would tell a woman he fucked once that she was the best he ever had?! AND he wants to go down on her AFTER busting a nut?!! WHAT?! Surrrre. He's such a pander character that it's comical unto itself for all the wrong reasons. Connected to this was a general sense of hating on dads. Ms. Kunis' husband is depicted as so childish yet he's clearly the one making the money. The same goes with all the other bitches...sitting around being moms while some dude is footing the bill. Just watch the Chris Rock routine about how no one thanks dad--he explains this better than I could. And if you want to make a film about moms and the kids...well they don't even do that right. The kids are depicted as excessively idiotic, selfish, and dependent yet there is little responsibility depicted on the part of the moms for raising them this way! Whatever, dude.
Did they do anything right? Well, I did enjoy Carla even though someone like her in reality would be an absolute trainwreck. I'd go as far as to say she stole the show. Plenty of her jokes still fell flat, but she was fun to see in action. Another reason why I upped the rating higher was due to the exceptional amount of pizza. This is why I know the script was written by men, because only a man would think you could eat this much pizza and still look like Mila Kunis! Nevertheless, pizza is one of my main weaknesses...kinda craving it just by writing the word. Anyway...the overall production is fine, and the acting was adequate enough for this type of movie. The running time did feel like an eternity, but the jokes were relentless that's for sure. I think that's all I got...
For me, this failed as a comedy, but I can picture chicks hanging out with their "girlfriends" loving this. Maybe a few tortured men could consider this a date movie, but I'd suggest haggling with your girlfriend/wife/lover/hooker/head in the freezer to watch something more endurable. The comedy is heavily reliant on the over the top scenarios so that is where your humor needs to be at to match. There were only a couple gross-out moments and little creative wit so don't count on those comedy styles. Honestly, I think this is a cut and dry situation. You either watched the trailer and said "that's for me" or you saw the trailer and said "oh, hell no." Because it's exactly as you imagine for both groups.
Notable Moment: When they crash the grocery store while drunk and Carla is on the mobile cart (hell if I know what those are officially called). This was as close to a laugh as I could muster.
Final Rating: 5.5/10
Tuesday, August 16, 2016
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: The children of a mentally unstable mother learn that her childhood friend has become a supernatural entity that lives within darkness.
Review: I'm not going to lie, this really disappointed me. While "Lights Out" is an undeniably good film, I had high expectations given the reviews coupled with the studio's confidence to push for a summer release. Unfortunately, the story feels empty and lacks any sort of reasoning for the events. Likewise, the antagonist is not fleshed out, and the parameters of her powers are nonsensical and inconsistent. In fact, I'd say they took a composite of every long-haired, ghost girl ever and spliced it with that bitch from "Darkness Falls." Obviously the film itself is based upon a short, so that might explain the shallowness, but I anticipated a greater quality of horror. I honestly think the guy that made the initial short should consider montaging all of his other shorts together into a makeshift, anthology film.
Starting with the positives I guess we can address the ghost(?) herself, Diana. From the shadows, she has a great design--effectively creepy, ominous, and intimidating. I did like the way they toyed with the lighting and the narrow escapes when a character would turn on the lights. More to the point, the cinematography is structured in such a way that you never know where or when Diana will pop out. This is exceptionally well done. If you don't watch many horror movies I can see these setups being especially startling. As with the best of horror, "Lights Out" was able to seamlessly blend together jumpscares, creepy atmosphere, and big set pieces. The characters were on the one-dimensional side, but they were compelling enough that you care if they survived or not. I guess it's important to note that the kid, Martin, was not annoying since most kids in horror are pains in the ass. Surprisingly, there was no final zinger--which felt like a given for a movie like this--so I'll give them credit for that unexpected turn of events. Finally, I think the pacing was nearly perfect for this type of horror; you had a solid opening accompanied by a slew of scares during almost every subsequent scene.
As for the shortcomings...the origin of Diana and her ill-defined nature is bothersome. It's still unclear whether she is even a ghost or some other kind of supernatural entity. For one, she died as a child yet her current form is an adult. It's kind of implied she has grown with the mother over the years, but how the hell does a ghost grow up? Furthermore, she exists in a supernatural state, able to teleport and other shit, yet she really does occupy space? What? I don't get it. I mean, we see her in the basement as if she's actually been "living" down there, and the light can, seemingly, physically harm her if under the UV light. It didn't help either that her makeup design is not on par with her shadowy version. Besides that, her origin is a bit Samara-lite and nonsensical. She has some skin condition, spontaneously combusted (not a real word?) or whatever, and then became spiritually bonded to the mom...except her ghost can be suppressed by medication?! Ugh...what a fucking mess. Connected to this nonsense is the unclear way that all these events have progressed over the decades like the main chick's dad dying off screen. Another bullshit aspect was that the story simply wraps up nicely, because it's written in the script. Ummm, two cops just got killed, the mom committed suicide, and you have a few suspicious characters left standing with only two explanations: claiming a fucking ghost did it or blame everything on the mom. If they chose the former then someone should be in handcuffs, and, if they chose the latter, that's a pretty fucked up resolution despite the happy ending vibe!
In the end, the positives do outweigh the negatives, but those negatives are of a considerable magnitude (pop pop!). I appreciate the effort to tell an original story, and they did succeed at making things reasonably scary. Had the story made more sense, or we were given better and more thorough explanations, I'd draw conclusions of my own. However, there is a fine line between spoon-feeding and not explaining jackshit. There are already talks of a sequel so they better actually address these glaring issues outright. Still, I'd recommend checking this out--it's a good movie but with heavy and noticeable flaws.
Notable Moment: When the mom tries to have Martin "befriend" Diana. Things don't go smoothly...
Final Rating: 6/10
Sunday, August 14, 2016
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: When the Universal Monsters unite to take over the world only a band of kids can save the day!
Review: Everyone has that one movie that represents and defines the '80s to them--for some people it's "The Goonies" or "The Breakfast Club" or what have you. For me, the quintessential film that exemplifies the magic of the decade is, as you might easily guess, "The Monster Squad!" This was a movie I would watch, quite literally, on a daily basis. It's funny too, because this movie embodies the '80s yet was trying to be a throwback to the bygone era of Universal's heyday with the likes of Dracula, Frankenstein's monster, and the Wolfman. At the same time, it satirized the tropes of invincible holiday killers and endless sequels that filled the '80s landscape--as evident by "Ground Hog Day Part 12." It shocked me to learn that this film initially bombed similarly to "The Thing." Thankfully, the fanbase has grown exponentially over the years. Still, some audiences cannot appreciate the merits of this wonderful film. People I've shown this to for the first time typically have mixed reactions--some falling in love while others saying it's dated. C'mon, what's not to love here?!
When I first saw this, probably in '88 shortly after it hit rental stores, I was extremely young--maybe too young--but the film ratings didn't mean as much back then. I still consider this a family horror movie since the audiences back then weren't comprised of pussy-children and their whiny bitch parents. Hell, the characters themselves reflect this attitude perfectly! This leads me to the first, main highlight: the characters. On one end you have the kids who are a lot of fun. Most people tend to love Rudy because...well...he's Rudy! Besides having great lines (like "This babe is major!") and looking like a total badass, Rudy kills the most monsters; his body count includes the Wolfman, Dracula's three brides, and (technically) the Mummy. But I like all the kids though--they're believably average but interesting nonetheless. They're the kind of kids I would have wanted to hang out with given their love for all things horror related.
"We're the Monster Squad!"
Now, on the other end of the spectrum are the monsters. I absolutely love the designs on everyone but Frankenstein's monster (he simply looks okay). This Wolfman is still my favorite werewolf design--no shitty CGI needed and looks menacing as fuck! But the positives go beyond mere cool design choices. There is a respect for the older, classic villains; there was certainly a concerted effort to up their strength and evil for the '80s audiences. It's difficult to properly express, because I'm admiring a movie that represents an era that was trying to pay homage to a different film era! Needless to say, the legendary beasts that frightened audiences of the '30s-50s--paving the way for the horror genre itself--are shown immense love. This commendable effort on the filmmakers' part is not lost on me.
"Let it begin."
Connected to the monsters were the impressive special effects for the time. I will admit, many effects do not hold up any longer, but context is, of course, important. The general aesthetics of everything, from the lighting to the weathered sets, looks fantastic. The pacing is another thing that will help modern audiences become invested. While I feel the film is too short, the plot gets rolling rather quickly and never lets up. Considering the story is about kids fighting monsters, there is a lot of action abound. Finally, the music is decent and adequately creepy--setting the tone remarkably well. In fact, we used this music for the theme in our shitty, homemade movie, "Danny Haskell." Surely, I've mentioned that piece of shit before, right?
"Wolfman's got nards."
For me, the reason why the rating is so high boils down to my own bias and nostalgia mixed with tremendous levels of bonus points. There is this overwhelming level of cheesiness that is fucking beautiful to behold. For example, Eugene writes to the army to come help fight the monsters, and they actually show up! And the manner in which this plot line is played straight is awesome. Even bullshit product placements feel natural when they joke about trying to do the ritual to defeat the monsters at Burger King. That dramatic music cue when Fat Kid says, "My name...is Horace!" And what '80s movie would be complete without an adrenaline-pumping montage sequence?! Gotta love this kind of shit. Then you have the dad who is the kind of character we don't even see anymore in film...an all around cool guy who steps up his game to fight the monsters. Plus, an ending theme song based on the movie? Oh hell yes!
"Dropped your candy bar, EJ."
This film has it ALL! Corny yet hilarious dialogue, quotable lines, memorable characters, solid pacing, an engaging story and action, kids kicking ass, intimidating monsters portrayed with admirable practical effects, and off the charts levels of '80s camp! I really don't know how anyone could not love this movie...I mean...guys, have you seen Patrick's sister?! I get that not everyone will appreciate this film to the degree that I do, but this is pure gold. Sure, there are plenty of detriments strewn about, but they are minor and the bonus points more than cancel them out. If you grew up in the '80s, and missed out on this gem, seek this out pronto. If you don't hold the decade in reverence I still think any horror fan should enjoy this movie; the entertainment factor is exceptionally high. Lastly, this is what family horror should be about. It...might...be a bit too hardcore for little, little kids but quit raising pussified children!
Notable Moment: Hmm...I love all the moments with Rudy, but I'll stick with when Rudy kills the Wolfman. "Only one way to kill a werewolf!"
Final Rating: 9/10
Monday, August 8, 2016
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: The new kid in town inadvertently unleashes the many, supernatural creatures from the "Goosebumps" book series.
Review: At one point I had every single book from this franchise, but I stopped somewhere along the way during the "Give Yourself Goosebumps" series. The stories were a lot of fun, and you could easily knock them out in a week with just a little reading before bed. Of course, there were borderline retarded titles like "Chicken Chicken," but I guess it would be impossible to write nothing but hits. When this film was announced, however, I had little expectations especially with Jack Black playing the man himself, R.L. Stine. And, while the tone is more childish than I'd prefer, this turned out to be significantly better than I imagined. If you were a fan of the TV series, or simply want to see an enjoyable family-horror, then this film will not let you down. I just hoped against hope that someone would try to de-pussify the youth of today and give them their own "The Monster Squad" equivalent.
If you've watched the trailer you should have the gist of what happens here: the "Goosebumps" books are brought to life and wreak havoc on a little town. There aren't really any shocking twists or turns, but I must applaud the effort of the filmmakers to include virtually every book in some shape or form. I mean, I don't have every book memorized off the top of my head, but the scene where the crowd of monsters gather appears to represent everyone. The chaos that ensues is of the PG variety, but I can live with that. The jokes and approach to the humor were also respectable for a kids movie; gags were nowhere near as eye-rolling as I thought they'd be. I think what was working for me in this regard was the quirky nature of the characters that made even the secondary cast memorable; for example, the overzealous, female cop was a creative addition despite the minimal screen time. Cliches that would typically plague a movie such as this are thankfully absent for the most part; meaning, the main kid isn't necessarily a dork, there are no bullies, the love interest is tweaked, etc. The action and pacing are certainly on point which made the film actually feel on the short side. The overly, Hollywood ending did feel appropriate, and, in fact, the cornball nature of the scenario worked better this way. The cameo by the real R.L. Stine solidified the satisfying conclusion as well. Essentially, the story delivered exactly what was promised and then some.
There are a couple things I do want to acknowledge that could or should have been done better. The most glaring story problem was the fact that Stine's magic typewriter was being kept at a school for no apparent reason. Why? This felt beyond forced and is such a huge ass contrivance that it borders on being a plot hole when you consider that it's implied Stine moves from town to town regularly. Something I'd like to see added or addressed with a sequel would be the idea of how Stine's stories correlate to the books everyone buys. What I mean is that if the original manuscripts are supernatural, how are they published? Maybe they could work in a plot aspect that addresses the creatures coming out of copies of the source material. Connected to this...why can't Stine write happier tales? This is somewhat addressed in the film, but it is brushed aside too easily. Realistically, why would Stine write himself a daughter based on a horror story rather than a happy one? In fact, this is kind of creepy when you think about it. Who the hell would want a kid that was stuck as a teenager forever?! And his motivation is that he's lonely? Whaaat? I'm not buying it. Wouldn't he want his "companion" to be someone a little more compatible? Maybe my twisted thoughts are making an innocent concept weirder, but I can't imagine drawing any other conclusion!
Setting aside my overthinking of various plot elements, this is a fun movie that is great for parents out there looking for ideas on a Friday pizza night. Mmmm...pizza...yum. Regardless of the kiddie nature, this is still an interesting story that casual viewers can appreciate. If you grew up with the books you also have the nostalgia factor in play which enhances the enjoyment considerably. It goes without saying but if you're looking for a legitimate horror experience you will be quite disappointed. This is like a notch above made for TV--almost like the finale or capstone for the TV series. Definitely give this film a chance whether or not you have kids though.
Notable Moment: When Stine throws a tantrum after he's compared to Stephen King. An amusing, schoolyard comparison finally brought to life.
Final Rating: 6.5/10
Tuesday, August 2, 2016
Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!
Plot Summary: After moving into a new apartment, a girl believes she is being haunted by her recently deceased neighbor.
Review: Uhh...there was supposed to be a plot here, right? Sometimes I am completely baffled when I read a positive review for a film such as this one. "The Complex" is a complete fucking mess and lacks many, basic film making concepts. More than that, the unforgivably slow pacing wastes precious time rather than building up atmosphere or presenting a compelling story. Realistically, this is a torturous, boring drama with minor supernatural elements used simply to keep the plot rolling. When the horror elements do finally show themselves, it's too little too late with virtually no payoff. The ending is especially disappointing in both presentation and its general lack of satisfaction. For a film that surprisingly looks respectable, you would never guess it was mishandled this disastrously.
I'll do my best to try and explain this nonsense. Some girl, named Asuka, was in a bus accident when she was a kid. Her parents and brother were killed during this accident, and she was left as the sole survivor. This is meant to be a twist in the film since she imagines they're still living with her. Believe me, this will not surprise anyone! Coincidentally enough, Asuka's neighbor dies due to neglect, and she feels guilty over this for whatever reason. Asuka is then convinced that this neighbor, an old man, is haunting her except he only shows up like 3 times over the course of the entire movie. By the way, he disappears from the story entirely at one point, making his inclusion utterly useless! Adding more bullshit to the story, Asuka befriends a little boy who turns out to be an evil spirit out of nowhere. Surrrre, why not? Complicating matters further is some cleaning guy, serving as a semi-love interest, who feels guilty that his girlfriend is in a coma. Complicating things EVEN FURTHER is a random exorcist that tries to get rid of the ghostly little boy; there is also a cop and Asuka's relatives at play too, but I won't bother to acknowledge their roles. And what the hell is any of this madness building toward? Nothing. Asuka is obsessed with the ghost, they fail to exorcise the spirit, and the boy pulls a "Drag Me to Hell" on the love interest at the last second. The film then abruptly ends with Asuka's relatives driving her back home as she rambles to herself. Oh god, this is so fucking stupid I'm laughing over it.
Considering this was directed by the same guy who made "Ring," this is an outright embarrassment. Was there a storyboard on this set--serious question? Oh, I have no doubt there was intended to be a pretentious interpretation of this film somewhere along the way, but, between the boredom, needless background characters, and severe lack of horror elements, they lost me. What did any of this have to do with a complex? They could have played it safe with a cliched, haunted apartment story, and it would have been ten times better, guaranteed! If you are having trouble sleeping at night then check this out--should clear that problem right up asap. However, if you're looking for a coherent story, with any trace of scares, then you best avoid this debacle.
Notable Moment: When the ghost pounces on the wannabe love interest--badly shot and laughably so.
Final Rating: 4/10