Friday 13 February 2009

Review: Friday The 13th

Year: 2009
Director: Marcus Nispel
Screenplay: Damian Shannon, Mark Swift
Starring: Jared Padalecki, Danielle Panabaker

Synopsis is here (like you need it)

"Hollywood will eat itself" - Taken from an IMDB comment

The first Friday the 13th film was a shameless cash in, based on the success of the seminal slasher Halloween (which in itself borrowed a shed load of elements from Black Christmas). If you don't believe me, watch Return to Crystal Lake: The Making of Friday the 13th, or just google it. The filmmakers didn't care and are proud of what they did, they're extremely proud of those box office returns.

So we jump forward almost 30 years and we see Micheal Bay's Platinum Dunes production company "remaking" Friday The 13th as the franchise (one of the most successful in American film history...yeah seriously) keeps making money to this day. Derided by critics but loved by horror fans, Mrs Vorhees (1st film, watch scream lol) and her deranged unstoppable killer son Jason have made a mint.

It's quite a surprise considering the original film itself. Despite some fantastic special effects work from Tom Savini and a memorable score (Ki Ki, Ma, Ma) from Harry Manfredini...The original film is not much to shout about. Sure it helped re-enforce those now infamous horror rules and standpoints and it has some atmospheric moments, but thats it. It can only really be taken as camp (no pun intended). So with this said....I wouldn't mind a remake.

Platinum Dunes have been down the remake road before. Taking classic American Horror films and "refreshing" them for a new generation. The problem I've had with them is they've always seemed to miss the point. Hollywood is always going to remake films but the films Platinum Dunes take don't need the treatment they've been given.

After looking at the early reviews of Friday The 13, I found that the critics have missed what I would consider a vital point about the Friday the 13 movies. Not only they looked at it with contempt about it as a bog standard horror film remake, but they also viewed it as a cynical cash in on the original. They really should have dug a little deeper because the original film WAS a cynical cash in on Halloween. The filmmakers pretty much state that on Wikipedia and Return to Crystal Lake (The making of the original film). They saw the bandwagon and jumped on it. The critics hated it but people came in droves and they created more due the returns made on each sequel.

The reason I say this is? Because The filmmakers were very honest with what they were doing. These days filmmakers show so much disdain for the audience when it comes to horror films it's unreal. After a quick browse at Wikipedia I read on what the writers wanted to do with the film; they didn't want it to be a period piece, wanted the teens to sound realistic etc.

Now while the teens in the film sound more realistic, they are still horrible, vapid entires, far removed from the fresh faced teenagers from just before i was born. Unfortunately modern horror filmmakers believe that rude, self absorbed youth is the only youth that we we wish to watch in slasher movies. Hell even Sidney Prescott was almost 15 years ago. Would would want a bunch of teenagers you might actually want to hang with? I want that? Why? Because I want anticipation back in horror movies. I want good people who have fallen into unfortunate events because you will WORRY and WAIT in FEAR for when the knife strikes. It's why I like The Blair Witch Project, it's why I like Wolf Creek, it's why I enjoy alot of horror films and dislike ones like this.

Navitiy has been replaced with arrogance and this self-importance leads to disengagement. I'm not surprised that modern filmmakers are killing themselves, trying to make their monsters lovable, because the supposed heroes of the films are so self-absorbed, empty headed or blank that it's hard to last the films pace (note the film is only about 90 mins long). So yes we want these assholes to die and fast.

But comes another problem. So your victims are so insipid that they're sucked any wish for them to live and the killer is so tired that he can't be bothered to finish them off with any invention. It's bad enough you can't relate to these people because their dickheads, but the fact that our (now) anti-hero can't be bothered to bump off these bastards in any fun way is even more distressing. It appears that after 30 years Jason can't be arsed to put any va va voom in his killing, maybe he's bored, maybe he's tired? Well as long as Sean Cunningham is alive they'll be no rest for the wicked as Jason half heatedly knifes most of his foes with his machete which is bizarrely still sharp after all this time (note it makes that "shink" noise even though there's no other metal implements near it).

Notice I don't mention anything about the acting or screenplay of the film? Well I'm sure the director stated to the token black kid in the movie "act black" and asked the Asian teen to (act Asian), but there's nothing that will make you wonder where these young thespians are headed to in the near future. This stems from the screenwriters not giving a shit about these people to give them anything near well rounded characterisation. Most of the young actors in the film do not have a chance to shine because they are quite simply meat.

The closest thing to someone you give a damn about? The ridiculously good looking Jared Padalecki whose given a sister to look for. He tries hard and comes out with the slight scratches but still has hardly anything to work with.

Like I said before the critics looked at this with contempt due to it being a bog standard horror remake. I look at it in contempt because even bog standard remakes can be fun. There is no fun in this, only mechanics. A Japanesse horror remake can still appeal to many who may not know about the original. The filmmakers here can't even be bothered to place anything dynamic into a tired franchese, even after 30 years.

Horror films are never award winners but they should be entertaining. For me they're most entertaining when those who are threatened by evil are people you can get behind. Because when the evil does get them, you lose hope and that's whats scary to me. "Can these people get out of this?" is the question I ask myself in a horror I like "he's going to die next" is the statement I say when I watch something I think is awful. least the tits were good.

Thursday 12 February 2009

Inglourious Basterds: A Quick Glance

So BANG! QT's new trailer's out and I'm surprisingly underwhelmed. The film doesn't look boring but I'm not extremely excited by what I saw. This however may stem from my disappointment from Deathproof and Benjamin Button. But this is can only be a good thing because now my expectations are low and I should be able to switch my brain off and enjoy Basterds come August 21.

Wednesday 11 February 2009

Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li: Quick Glance

As Street Fighter 4 is on the verge of being released on home consoles everywhere very soon, I've decided to have a second look at the horrendous Street Fighter movie due out near the end of the month in the U.S.

After checking out the movie blog i found myself even more disappointed. As "camp" as Bison's (or Vega depending on area) uniform is or as ridiculous as Balrog's (or Bison)boxing costume is...i want to see it. As a fan of the video game, I'm not there for realism (a such) I want to see M Bison with no pupils and Chun Li turn UPSIDE DOWN, DO THE SPLITS, HOVER IN MID AIR AND KICK PEOPLE!

For me and many fans I don't think it's too much to ask. Reason why? Comic Books are beginning to be taken seriously. Although the market is being saturated with graphic novel after graphic novel, 2008 was pretty much own by one film: The Dark Knight. A film which managed to keep the tone and spirit of the comics, have a hero doing outrageous things without looking stupid as well as break box office records and garner a shed load of critical and commercial acclaim.

I still believe this can be done for the video game film, with adaptations such as Hitman and Silent Hill displaying that the cross over could happen but at a snails pace. But not when the filmmakers show so much disregard for the fans they say the make the film for. True I have only seen the Trailer and read the blog (with it's feeble excuse of why your favorite characters are missing) and there's still the matter of me actually seeing the whole movie.

But a trailer is supposed to draw you into putting your hard earned cash down into watching a movie and by creating a film that has no feel of a street fighter game in any sense of the word (oh there's a hint of a fireball near the end of the trailer) will only cause those in two minds to most probably steal the film illegally.

Reading an issue Sight and Sound today had a review for Transporter 3, the magazine stated that with all the Bournes, Bonds and Batman striving for realism, Transporter becomes strangely endearing. I found myself thinking about Transformers and realizing that Micheal Bay's toy movie manage to do a similar thing with a lot of people. Although I hated it, I still respected Bay's cynically clever abuse of childhood nostalgia which gave the movie alot of it's praise. Maybe if the filmmakers looked more towards the absurd and the loony aspect of a Fighting Tournament people would warm towards it a lot more.*

* After more research I found out that the filmmakers are basing the film on the street fight alpha series. If your scratching your head and asking yourself "wha?" It's a series of SF games which came out after SF2 but is based on events which happened before it. While this may explain away some of my incessant moaning, it doesn't give good reason to why the drastic change of tone.

Sunday 8 February 2009

Review: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Year: 2008
Director: David Fincher
Screenplay: Eric Roth, Robin Swicord
Starring: Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett

To say I was disappointed by this movie would be a bit of an understatement. Technical prowess aside, I haven't been so detached from a movie in such a long time. Superlatives have been thrown about the film and the Oscars have been extremely kind to the movie (13 nominations) but I found myself asking: "is this it?" The rushed ending, the dubious storytelling, the plodding pace, the overall coldness of the I the only one who felt these things?

Maybe I expected too much. I am a big David Fincher fan and Fight Club is one of my all time favorite movies. I could not wait to see what he would do with the material. Based on a short story by F Scott Fitzgerald, Fincher, Roth and Swicord nick the the gimmick of the story (a man aging backwards) and put a melodramatic spin on the tale turning it into the closest thing to a Rom-com Fincher will probably ever put out.

I don't want to go into the similarities of this film and Forrest Grump because it's very obvious to those who have seen more than the odd casual movie. In fact talking about the comparison to me is a waste of space because so many people have spotted it already. I will say this though...Gump's story is more efficient and more entertaining while less indulgent.

Once I got past the brilliant effects that the filmmakers have placed within the movie, BB left me cold. One of the main reasons is Brad Pitt portrayal of Button himself. Benjamin appears to us as an empty vessel. When an old man, he doesn't display the childlike wonder he should have, when he gets younger Pitt doesn't infuse the young with sage like wisdom. Pitt stays it straight all the way though. I love Pitt in many movies even though many people I know don't. He's embodied roles so much that to me he IS Tyler Durden, he IS Jeffrey Goines and he IS Rusty Ryan. Here however Pitt is too plain, too flat and just generally not that compelling to watch.

Because of this the main relationship suffers as Blancett plays the love interest Daisy with a great amount of energy. But while Blancett plays the role well, the character itself isn't a pleasant one, in fact the entire relationship the film is based on appears to me as awkward and cumbersome due to the fact that the two characters don't really gel. In fact the time where the two spend the most with each other is shown to us as a montage and for the most part their lingering looks before and after said montage just don't do it for me. This is because Fincher would rather pad the film out with secondary characters who are only around to ram home the films moral message: We as humans are lucky to be alive and we should live life to it's fullest. Not a bad message, however after three hours of constantly remind us ad get tired of it.

The storytelling just isn't Fincher's best. As a director not known for his short films Fincher goes overboard with this tale. Emotional moments are drowned out by scenes that could easily have been edited out, and we spend far too much time going back to our storytellers in 2005 than we need to. To add to this the film makes mistakes that a you wouldn't expect it to make. If a character is narrating a story and we're hearing it from their perspective, why do we hear this person narrate things that he would have no chance of seeing, hearing or knowing? One of the pivotal plot points relies on Benjamin telling of something he'd have no idea of. We get the idea, but it's not good storytelling. As for the film climax...I can't even remember it if I told you. I do remember it comes quickly (quicker than the rest of the film) and left me's that it?

But it's not all bad. Like I stated there lies some gentile moments that bring a smile to my face and some of the films insights on our own mortality are interesting enough. The film is technically superb and beautifully shot (it is Finicher ever all) and the score is wonderful. But for me it's to no avail. if Fincher streamlined the story and placed more focus on the relationship and given that more warmth I could see myself watching this movie again. However due to the reasons I've placed above, I can't see myself buying the DVD and growing old with it.

Thursday 5 February 2009

Review: Revolutionary Road

Year: 2008
Director: Sam Mendes
Screenplay: Justin Haythe
Starring: Leonardo Di Caprio, Kate Winslet, Micheal Shannon, Kathy Bates, Dylan Baker

I was given the chance to watch Rev Road a while ago but was not allowed to mention anything about it until it was released for many reasons. Fair enough, makes sense to those involved so I waited. Now the films been released, the awards have been announced and Rev Road got very little in the way of nominations, considering it's subject matter, it's stars, the director, the time it's was released...etc. I'm not surprised really because while Rev Road is well made, it's extremly hollow.

The problem I had with the film is that Mendes has been down the road of Suburian nightmare before and it was so much more entertaining 8 years ago. The film starts off swiftly as the two leads fall in love with each other and express (impose) their dreams on one another but after 10 minutes an arguement starts and it doesn't seem to end until the end of the movie. Most of the film is a slanging match between Di Caprio and Winslet.

It's hard not to think that this is what would happen if Jack and Rose got married at the end of Titanic, but amusing made up stories aside watching the two go at each for two hours isn't as great a movie I had hoped. The reason? It's all so basic and uninteresting, mostly because it's all so over the top. Nothing is understated, no tension rippling under the surface, it's all yelled out obviously to show the audience "HEY LOOK AT US WE'RE ACTING!" Everything is far too staged for it's own good. Richard Yates' novel has been heavily praised but watching the film first has given me no desire to ring it up. No doubt being a novel Yates would have some restraint, it's not seen here.

As the leads yell at each other constantly for almost two hours, there was absolutly no entry point for me as a viewer. Thoughout the film I was kept at a distance as these selfish, ignorant people shouted in each others faces. Mendes makes sure that we share no empathy with these characters plight in any shape or form, they're shallow at the beginning, manipulative in the middle and destructive at the end. I'm sure I've enjoyed unlikeable people in films like this before but there's no just no drawing point for me.

Mendes once again crafts a great looking film with the usual Thomas Newman score but the film is show, but the narrative doesn't interest, unlike you love two respectable actors SHOWING you how well they can "emote".

The revelation in the movie (so to speak) stems from the voice of truth within the film. Micheal Shannon plays John Givings, an ex-mathematician whose spent time in a mental institution and receieved electroshock treatment. Givings can see the through the couples charade. It's played superbly by Shannon, playing the right side of distrubed, it's a funny performance as well an upsetting but it's all over too soon as the indulgence sets in again.

And thats what I feel is the major problem with Revolutionary Road, like Cold Mountain (2003), it's designed to be a shallow award pleaser. Di Caprio, Winslet and Mendes have produced stronger work with wider range and deeper emotions and it's awful to them playing up to the golden statue in a film that's more smug than an Ocean's 11 sequel. Rev Road reminds me of so much of what Stephen King said about Kubrick's The Shining; A big beautiful car with no engine inside. I was also reminded of Mendes' first film (a personal fave) American Beauty and it's tagline because once I "looked closer" I saw a extremly superfical film

Duff and Cera: A Satanic Couple.

So reading the Internets and catch a headline about Hilary Duff mouthing off to Oscar winner Faye Dunaway. Reason? Dunaway rues the day that Hollywood can't a real actress for the remake of Bonnie and Clyde. A film which Duff is rumored to be starring in. Duff's response: "I think that my fans that are going to go see the movie don't even know who she is," and "I think it was a little unnecessary, but I might be mad if I looked like that now, too."

My first reaction.....They're making a remake of Bonnie and Clyde? What the motherhell? Which fucker said yes to this? I delved deeper into the production and couldn't believe what what i saw.

Now Bonnie and Clyde was one of the biggest shake ups for Hollywood. Do the google thing and you'll see. Selected to preservation in the National Film Registry, noted for being one of the premier films to change the attitudes of sex and violence to American cinema, loved by the critics and the geeks the world over. Now it's a star vehicle for Lizzie "fucking" McGuire? While the 1967 wasn't the first tale of the Depression era duo (or the last with a T.V remake starring that guy who played Bobby in Twin Peaks in 1992), but there's a nasty cynical feeling I get about this MTV-esque remake with Mickey Mouse club cast (seriously check out the guy they got with Clyde Barrow). Are we really gonna see that bird from "cheaper and the dozen" get killed in a hail of bullets? "Sounds Great."

As for the "war of words" Just because your starring in a few dramas for your next projects don't start bitching at Award Winning Good actresses because your young. As for Faye? She should know better. I mean come on! You've done some excellent work now so just watch the sun set while Hollywood eats itself.

My Other Beef is Micheal Cera being a cock knocker and starring in things like Extreme Movie and not signing up for the Arrested Development movie. I was going to say more but fuck it. Just Fucking do it. It made you famous and gave you options. Don't be a dick. Superbad doesn't always strike twice.

Wednesday 4 February 2009

Christain Bale is insane...and I LOVE IT!

More evidence that Christian Bale has lost his mind came up this week. After allegedly assaulting his mother last year, a four minute taped rant surfaced of Bales "antics" towards director of photography Shane Hurlbut during the filming of Terminator: Salvation. The rants has been said to have taken places a few days before his 2008 arrest. This says to me Bale was under a a shit load of stress. No excuse for chewing out the film crew...but hey....he's the goddamn Batman.


The reason why I love the fact that Bale is slowly going batshit insane is due to the fact that THE BEST ACTORS DO! From Brando to Kinski, all the great actors are mental, intense nutcases who are one coin flip away from killing someone. I expect that from actors, if your not...your not doing it right.

In fact in listening to the rant (until near the end where Christian is just fucking harsh) I understand what Bale is getting at. As angry as he is, the scene should have been finished before anything needs to be done. Also...alot of filming is waiting so long did the scene take to set up?How many takes were there before? How long were the actors waiting before the scene was ready? What time of day was it? While Bale and his rant was hilariously unprofessional, as an method actor who fully takes his role into himself (note he speaks in an American accent, he's welsh) so if he's in the zone and is hitting the right notes in the scene, I could see that being really annoying.

To add to this the reason I love it the most is.....Bale will more than likely deliver a kick ass performance because despite being mental he's that damn good. Also if he didn't go apeshit we wouldn't have been able to get this:

But as a counter point: Really? Leaving a film because a guy screwed up a couple of times? Get off your high horse you fucking diva, intense you may be but you ain't got no Oscars yet buddy, the guys just doing his job, i'm sure when you flubb a line people get pissed. Fucking prima donna.

Bet none of this shit happened on The Prestige:

Pictured above: A troubled man, happy with lights.

Tuesday 3 February 2009

Don't care for for film ad spots though

While there's nothing I'd like to see less than a bunch of testosterone filled jocks hugging each other, Superbowl did not disappoint when it came to upcoming movies. Yes most were jumped up toy movies but that didn't take away the fact that most of them looked fun on the bun.

Lets start with the bad though...

Angels and Demons looks to be as long and boring as The Da Vinchi Code. I hope the film isn't too bad as it would cap off a great year for Ron Howard whose Frost/Nixon was pretty damn good.

Fast and Furious looks like it has a lot of teen masturbation imagery going for it (hot girls, Vin Diesel, fast motors) but now the franchise seems to have gone so far over the top that it misses the cheesy point break charm that made the original memorable (to me at least).

But the good....

Transformers: Revenge of the fallen looks set to be the robot movie to see. It's 30 sec T.V spot makes the film far more interesting to see than the whole trailer of T4. For me the first movie seemed to be a uneven mixture of fanboy nostalgia, story elements ripped off from Independence Day and action which varied from brilliant to blocky. ROTF however looks set to sort some of that shit out. Just one thing Mr Bay....please can we have a story this time? I'm sick of Micheal Bay movies that have 30 mins of story and plot within a 2 hour plus movie.

G.I. Joe: Rise of the cobra I was never a G.I Joe fan although I did have one 1985 manual once. The action in the T.V spot....looks pretty slick in my view although the film looks very likely to suck balls in the plot and acting department (looks like well known actors sleepwalking though lines again.

I'm now really looking forward to Star Trek. I've never given a shit about the program or films before until now. It looks like it could be a blast. (fuck the fanboys)

My favorite however will have to be UP by Disney Pixer....I have never seen a Pixer film that disappoints me and this looks to be business as usual.

Plus can someone tell me whats going on with Simon Pegg on the Star Trek trailer web page? seriously.....he looks fucking weird.