Monthly Archives: November 2014

Zombie Honeymoon

I just watched the trailer for the new Jurassic Park movie. It looks amazing. In unrelated news last night I watched a movie called Zombie Honeymoon. With a name like that I was expecting big things, but it really was a bit of a letdown. I suppose it was a sort of plodding treatise on love and commitment, lots of really overly long shots of people doing what one assumes to be thinking, but really they mostly looked like they were in really bad adverts for perfume or levis or something, and not really very many zombies at all. The storyline is not dissimilar to that of Warm Bodies, but not nearly as charming. Here a zombified guy asks his girl to stick with him as he becomes increasingly gross and violent and she, on the whole, is pretty alright about it all. Herein lays the issue though, there are precisely two zombies in this film. For someone sitting down expecting about a million zombies to attack some idiots on their honeymoon, this really is a load of balls. One gets the sense that the film makers really like zombie movies, but didn’t want to go all out cheesy and good fun. In their wisdom they have introduced so much ‘trying to be pretentious’ balls that it is really not much fun at all, nor, because the being pretentious doesn’t really come off, is it that interesting. I can’t work out if it is supposed to be some sort of complicated allegory for domestic violence or something, or maybe a testament to love, or if the five minute long hallucinogenic scene towards the end really was an oblique reference to 2001. Who knows, who cares really, I am still grumpy with it for tricking me into thinking there would be millions of zombies – in wedding dresses and tuxedos.

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Batman : Year One

Yeah Batman movies. Omnomnom. There is something strange about Batman movies, I can’t seem to review them objectively. Someone could just label up an actual turd with a badass Batman logo and I would probably still think it was pretty cool. I wouldn’t touch it or anything; I would just say ‘hey, did you see that Batman turd? Pretty cool right?’ Anyway, all reviews of Batman on this site should be understood within that slight brain deficiency I have developed, objectivity is no longer on the table when it comes to Batman. So, Batman Year One. A brief synopsis. We follow a young Batman through his first year at school, seeing how he deals with being a social outcast, developing his love of winged creatures, and drinking so much Jack Daniels mixed with gravel that his voice breaks at age four. It is not long before he gets into trouble after a play fight with a young, un-genetically modified Bane and gets expelled. His understanding and very rich parents try to console him with a trip to the theatre, after which they both get shot, right in the bloody face. Batman is right depressed after this and goes relatively emo, not Spiderman emo, but sort of mopes around a lot in his mansion. Luckily he decides to start fighting crime, presumably because his parents got shot in the face, but also maybe because he doesn’t have much else to do, and his lack of education precludes him getting a job like a normal person. He has a moment where he starts talking to his dead father. Obviously he doesn’t reply, he got all shot up in the face and is dead, but just at this moment a bat shows up and goes nuts. Batman takes this as a sign he must dress up like a bat and go on a vigilante rampage. This is much better bat-motivation (Batmotivation) than the silly being a scared idiot like he is in the Nolan movies. All the while Gordon is fannying around being the only not corrupt cop in town. How much of this synopsis you choose to believe is entirely up to you. Needless to say this is really one of the better repetitions of Batman before he starts having to deal with actual super criminals like the joker and two face, here he is just trying to clean up the town in his own, unique, deranged way. Batman rules.

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Killer Klowns from Outer Space

Coulrophobia, the fear of clowns, it’s something apparently absolutely no one in the small town of … well … I can’t actually remember where the small town is, it’s not important; what is important is that no one living there has coulrophobia. If they did, they might react differently when creepy ass looking clowns turn up. Even before they start killing people, if creepy ass clowns turn up in my town I am getting in my car and leaving, possibly hitting a few as I go, or at least trying to. I would definitely not just be like ‘oh cool, a clown, I’ll just hang around here watching its clown antics till it kills the crap out of me’. If you really need a plot synopsis it reads as follows: Clowns come from outer space. They kill people. There are a couple of other things going on, like a halfhearted romance but really this is all about seeing clowns kill people in all manner of amusing ways. It’s about the least scary thing you’ll ever see, even if you are scared of clowns, but that isn’t really the point I suppose. There is a brilliant performance here by a guy who I think looks a tiny bit like Liam Neeson – except he just says badass things and doesn’t actually back them up with badassery – he’s the local cop who simply can’t believe all this clown nonsense, and has brilliant lines like ‘I made it through Korea I can make it through this bullshit!’ – what a hero. It all looks pretty good though, considering it was made over a hundred years ago in 1988, and probably had a budget of about seven dollars, the  clown weaponry is suitably … clown-ey for sure. If you delve into the world of film academia you’ll find no end of readings of horror films that view the bad guys as somehow representing some important social issue, usually communism or something, but, I mean, if you are renting a movie called Killer Klowns from outer space, I am pretty sure this is exactly the film you would be expecting.

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Child of God

Cormac McCarthy’s treatise on loneliness, isolation, sexual deviancy and murder is hardly traditional movie adaptation fodder, its up there with one of the least joyful books I have read. This doesn’t detract from its power, and it is a thought provoking piece, so it was with interest, some trepidation, and the absolute understanding that it probably wasn’t going to be a bag of laughs that I sat down to watch James Francos attempt to commit it to film. There is a real sense of commitment to the material here; there is no shying away from the obviously challenging source material. To maintain this integrity is something to be admired. Scott Haze as Lester Ballard is absolutely convincing, achieving empathy for the character was always going to be problematic, but there are moments here, before his complete descent into deprivation, that one could almost like him. His performance is outstanding. The real problem lies in the way in which the original book worked because of its fluidity and ambiguity, none of which really translates effectively here. It feels more like the fable of a man outcast by society and his response, whereas McCarthy never really articulated it in such a down the line, cause and effect, fashion. Equally troubling is the depiction of Ballard as outwardly mentally ill, so much of the nuance of his internal monologue is lost in the process of having him have to vocalise his thoughts. Finally the ending is different from the novel. Clearly no one makes adaptations simply to have them compared to the original, but the change here is dramatic enough that any literature student who watches the film as a short cut will undoubtedly fail any exam asking what they believe the fundamental consequences of the ending are. It is an interesting film, and undoubtedly a well made attempt to tackle difficult material, but in the end it doesn’t get you thinking in the same way the novel does.

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The Two Faces of January

I became entirely sure the vaguely Hitchcockian nuance of The Two Faces of January was intentional about half way through, when the music underscoring a love scene becomes distinctly over zealous and orchestral in tone. It owes other things to the master of suspense as well, there are mcguffins aplenty, a simple story layered with sensational complexity and a look that makes the most of its romantic, fallen grandiose settings. Where it departs from the Hitchcock vein though is in its characterizations, there is real depth here backed up with a sort of realism the Hitch frequently put aside in the name of an exciting story. Indeed, it is personal drama on a grand scale, the small cast of characters lives entwining at the behest of a series of events both within, and beyond their control. Subtlety is king though, and this is what really sets the film apart. What makes it feel so much more like its straight out of the classics file is  the way in which a look, a drink choice, a misplaced word can change everything, or nothing. It’s just like a Hitchcock movie, and that’s not a bad thing at all.

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Four Brothers

Four Brothers is the most ridiculous film that is not ostensibly ridiculous I have seen in a long while. What do I mean by ‘ostensibly ridiculous’. Well any film starring aging action heroes, the Staith, Dwayne Escape from Witch Mountain Johnson, and generally taking place in a prison, army base, oil field, all of the above. Four Brothers is set in Detroit, which, whilst you wouldn’t realize by watching the film, is a real place, where real people live. What four Brothers does is replace those real people with insane criminals. Every single character, aside from a cop who hates bent cops, who isn’t even a main character, is criminally insane. Or a murderer. Actually, they are all both. Never before has any film made me not want to go to Detroit quite so much. I just had to keep telling myself that there was absolutely no way this many people can get murdered in one day in the real Detroit. Having checked the crime statistics, there is certainly an issue, but they get through a years’ worth of homicides in a morning in this movie. It’s all some family mystery squad crime solving vigilante thing/death squad. The story is pretty irrelevant, and silly – but then so is everything else in this film. Watch if you want to see guys say things like “jackhammer” before machine gunning a hole in a wall, a man threatening a whole basketball auditorium with a gun and getting away with it, and a car chase in the snow ending in an execution.

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The Rite

As the last vestiges of Halloween, particularly so many lovingly and not so lovingly carved pumpkins are consigned forever to the trash, it is time perhaps to attempt one final dance with the devil, before we all go holier than thou for the Christmas season. An exorcism movie is just what we need. All that frantic prayer chanting, throwing around holy water, pushing crosses onto foreheads, and best of all – possessed people saying batshit crazy stuff. Exorcism films are all the same, but this is what makes them good fun. So it was with absolutely no trepidation at all that I sat down to watch The Rite – knowing exactly what was going to happen. The only half curveball is that the main character is actually an avowed atheist, you’ll have to watch to see how this is shoehorned into the plot, as opposed to the rather God fearing, but perhaps not so Devil fearing Priests of other exorcism films. It has none of the dark bearing of those devil child movies from the 70’s and 80’s, but the special effects department has somewhat caught up with the needs of film makers in this department – the possessed faces change in entirely non cheesy pea puke ways which are just over the top enough to be exciting. Stealing the show though is Anthony Hopkins with a performance as a sort of exorcism mentor/possessed guy. Careening all over the place from understated line delivery, genuinely emotional responses to all out scenery chewing madness he gets away with it all because no one really can say what a possessed person should be doing. His demonic babblings are nothing compared to Regans, but they are still rather good fun. The ending is far too satisfying to actually be anything of the sort, there is none of the blunt sacrifice of the Exorcist. Even so the fact that there is nothing original here does not make this a bad film, just go in with expectations, then have them all confirmed.

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