Monday, June 27, 2011

The Silence of the Lambs

The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

A young FBI cadet must confide in an incarcerated and manipulative killer to receive his help on catching another serial killer who skins his victims.



"Well, Clarice - have the lambs stopped screaming?"

Films don't usually get as creepy or thrilling as the top-notch, first-class creepy and chilling thriller known as Silence of the Lambs. There is nothing that can take your breath away with so much style and wit like Silence of the Lambs does. You'll need to watch this film in order to understand how thrillers are created and executed.




The young and feminine Clarice Starling, who is training to be an F.B.I. agent, must find the whereabouts of a serial killer named Buffalo Bill. The only way possible is interviewing a captured serial killer named Dr. Hannibal "The Cannibal" Lecter.




Hannibal Lecter is perhaps the best movie villain that ever lived. Anthony Hopkins plays his role with perfection, because you will hear Lecter's voice stuck inside your head. "I ate his liver with fava beans and a nice chianti," will re-play in your head over and over. Hopkins deserves an Oscar for his portrayal of the most sinister character on the big screen. Creepy, sinister, devilish, clever and cannibalistic-How much better can it get? If the villain isn't enough to entertain you, then perhaps the hero will. 




Jodie Foster, also a gem as the role, plays the feminine F.B.I agent in training, Clarice Starling. She is seemed to be well-liked (often flirted with) but insecure and very timid. Starling is very realistic, and shows how timid the human nature can be.




At a first viewing, all I could keep my mind on was the prison escape scene. I kept repeated the phrase "Oh God," and kept preparing myself for what was next. During a second viewing I realized the depth of the story line and the genius behind it all.




One thing this movie definitely has is atmosphere. The killings, the characters, the dialog, and everything else that leads up to the first appearance of Hannibal Lecter makes the film look so delightfully creepy. Even though Hannibal is silent when we first see him, it is considered one of the creepiest introductions ever made. Of course, we can't forget about this man. Even after the ending, he delivers one last line that sends shivers down our spines.




Silence of the Lambs may make you a bit disgusted, yet thrilled and excited. You will stay on the edge of your seat.




Silence of the Lambs is a masterpiece, atmospheric thriller.

10/10

Have you seen it? If so, what's your opinion?


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Insidious

Insidious (2010)

A family looks to prevent evil spirits from trapping their comatose child in a realm called The Further.



"It's not the house that is haunted. It's your son."

When the movie began, it reminded me of one of those old, 1970's horror films with a scary sight, large words of the title appearing on screen, and the classic shrills from the violin as if to say "BOO!" At this point, I felt the film was trying too hard but I was giving it a chance since it just started.




Then we are introduced to the family moving in, enter Josh and Renai (Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrnes) who have two boys and a baby girl. They just moved into a creepy looking house that looks right at home in Amityville, and like Paranormal Activity: strange things happen at night.




Things take a turn for the worse when their son Dalton falls into a coma and the doctors have no idea why. For three months they keep him on oxygen, and the other boy claims he walks at night. This is where they get strange visits from ghosts and the situation gets so bad, they did something the couple in the first Paranormal Activity should have done.... move. But then, things get worse, to the point where they call in a paranormal investigation team. It is there they discover what's really going on, and why Darth Maul is running around in their house.




The second half gets so outlandish and weird (though still implementing some good ideas) that it took me out of the movie. Even still, it was like the film lost sight of their main characters. In the first half of the film, we see Renai is struggling to become a musician, while Josh is teaching in school. But as the film goes on, it just seems like the two of them are just going through the motions, losing track of those plot points and just focusing on the entities and that stupid story they are trying to tell. Also, besides the use of the baby monitor, I didn't get why the baby was needed in the film. It didn't help with the plot device, only to serve for a couple of scares. This may be a result of some lazy writing, and the film itself could just be going through the motions.




One last criticism that needs to be addressed and I know I am not the first one to point this out: Darth Maul. I can't help but to think that the main ghost that's causing all of this looks suspiciously like Darth Maul. I was waiting for the double lightsaber to come out. This isn't something I should be thinking about when I'm watching a horror film!




Insidious is a hit and miss. It's an enjoyable experience, but it will only be enjoyable one time. It won't have the lasting appeal as some of the better horror films out there. If anyone is thinking of going to see this one, by all means go see it. It definitely has its moments. Unfortunately those moments are a one scare wonder.

7/10

Have you seen it? If so, what's your opinion?


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sucker Punch

Sucker Punch (2011)

A young girl is institutionalized by her abusive stepfather. Retreating to an alternative reality as a coping strategy, she envisions a plan which will help her escape from the mental facility.



"If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything."

If you have seen any of the trailers for "Sucker Punch", then you should already have a pretty good idea what you are in for before you sit yourself down to watch this movie. Because this is going to be a treat for the eyes and easy on the mind. True enough! It turned out to be exactly that...




"Sucker Punch" is phenomenal in its splendors of CGI effects and wow effects. There is spared no expense when the dazzling effects are allowed to unfurl on the screen. And it totally blows you away, because it looks so amazing. From the very beginning till the very end, you are in for a very visual treat, CGI eye candy indeed. And if for nothing else, then the movie is well worth watching for the effects alone.




And sad to say, the effects galore is what carries most of the movie. In between the dazzling CGI effects and mind-blowing action sequences, the movie feeds you a rather dull and uninspiring story of girls locked away at a mental institution, where they plan an escape. An escape that can become reality because of Baby Doll's dancing. Stop! Are you kidding me? This is as far from any story with any depth as it can possibly be. But hey, if you have a serious case of hangovers, then the movie is right up your alley, because you need no brain to keep up with the storyline.




Moving on to the characters in the movie. Well, you have five heroines that are clad in fairly interesting clothing most of the time. And it being five attractive women at that, helps along to appeal to the male audience. Sure it looks good, but it just helps to throw fire on the fuel of a no-brainer movie. Now, I am not saying that Emily Browning (playing Baby Doll), Abbie Cornish (playing Sweet Pea), Jena Malone (playing Rocket), Vanessa Hudgens (playing Blondie) or Jamie Chung (playing Amber) were doing a bad job or that they are not good actresses, far from it. But it is clear to everyone why they are in the movie... Moving on! It was interesting to see Carla Gugino (playing Dr. Vera Gorski) in this movie, and her role was quite interesting. And Scott Glenn (playing the Wise Man) was a good touch to the cast list.




My rating for this movie is for the extravagant CGI fest and action alone. It has long been since I have seen anything of the like as in this movie. I was totally blown away by the effects, and it is what immediately stuck with me. The movie is well worth watching for these two facts alone, because the storyline is weak and quite stupid really.




"Sucker Punch" came as no surprise to me, being what it is, and living up to what I had believed it to be. But still, it is definitely a movie that you would not want to miss out on. This is hardcore CGI effects candy for the eyes, hard-pounding action, hot women and a "click off your mind and enjoy the ride" movie for men of all ages.

6.0/10

Have you seen it? If so, what's your opinion?


Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Boondock Saints

The Boondock Saints (1999)

Fraternal twins set out to rid Boston of the evil men operating there while being tracked down by an FBI agent.



"I'll catch you on the flip side."

Boondock Saints seems to be mixing styles of Guy Ritchie's twisted British crime stories with funny characters, some of Quentin Tarantino style dialogue and violence (although only the Unrated version is bloody) and loooots of strong language.




As the language goes, I have to say that I've seen lots of movies with much higher F-word count, but there seems to be a huge difference between an F-word and an F-word. As long as "Fu*k! Sh*t!" bartender scenes are super funny some of Funny Man's language is just hard to listen to. But enough with that.




As the movie goes, it is often compared to Pulp Fiction but the only major similarity I can find is a prayer before killing someone. Boondock Saints don't have the intelligence of Tarantino's writing at all, some dialogues are funny but non of them are that brilliantly written as Pulp Fiction's screenplay.




The showing of the story reminds me of Ritchie's "Snatch" - I have to say it is funny to watch both what happened and how the detective thinks it did. There is some hilarious scenes on the way, like the rope one, and some that are really well directed and filmed!




Willem Dafoe's acting is really good although I did not like that role that much (espiecially the ending costume part), while the rest of the cast is just good. Nothing stunning for sure.




Overall, Boondock Saints is a fun movie, for adults, that seems to be a mix of various styles and a parody of some and that has some good parts but also some pretty big flaws or parts that just could have been than so much better.

7/10

Have you seen it? If so, what's your opinion?


Monday, June 13, 2011

Tucker & Dale vs Evil

Tucker & Dale vs Evil (2010)

Tucker & Dale are on vacation at their dilapidated mountain cabin when they are attacked by a group of preppy college kids.



I had no expectations going into the movie but I can honestly say I haven't laughed out loud at anything else like I did with this one in a long time. The combo of Alan Tudyk (Tucker) and Tyler Labine (Dale) was as good as it gets. They played their characters without missing a beat.




Dale's crush, Ali (Katrina Bowden), played her part pretty well too, but left a little to be desired. All in all I was pleasantly surprised. The rest of the cast was as expected. Shotty, first-time or small-time actors that finally got the chance to play a role with some decent stars in a B-movie that just might get them some publicity.


 

I realize this movie never made it to theaters, but I honestly can't understand why. If the budget was as low as I think, this should have been in theaters for sure. The movie definitely gets a thumbs up for the comedy in it. Tudyk was great just like he is in all of his roles, and Labine never let me down once. I've been a fan of his since "Reaper" and I'm just glad to see him working again.




I really think that this is one of the better comedy films I've seen over the last couple years. If you're looking for some comedy and a lot of guts and gore, this is definitely your flick.

7.5/10

Have you seen it? If so, what's your opinion?


Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Omen

The Omen (1976)

An American ambassador learns to his horror that his son is actually the literal Antichrist.



"Look at me, Damien! It's all for you."

At one time supernatural horror films normally dealt with assorted monsters, vampires, ghosts and things that go bump in the night, but in the sixties and seventies the fashion arose for what might be called the theological horror film, dealing with such matters as Satanism, demonic possession and the end of the world. "Rosemary's Baby" and "The Exorcist" are films of this type, and "The Omen" is another in the same tradition.




The central character, Robert Thorn, is very much a part of the American establishment- scion of a wealthy old-money family, a close friend of the President and his country's Ambassador to Italy. While they are living in Rome, Robert's wife Katherine gives birth to a stillborn child, and he is persuaded to adopt a baby born on the same night in the same hospital, and whose mother died in childbirth. They name the child Damien, a name presumably chosen because of its closeness to "demon". Soon afterwards Thorn is appointed US Ambassador to Great Britain- Italian viewers may not be pleased to note that in the movie this is regarded as a promotion- and moves with Katherine and young Damien to London.




As Damien grows up, however, he becomes the focus of a series of strange and unsettling events, including the suicide of his nanny at his fifth birthday party. Thorn is warned by a priest that his adopted son is in fact the Antichrist, the son of Satan himself. At first he dismisses the man's warnings as the ravings of a lunatic, but later begins to suspect that there may be some truth in them, especially after the priest dies in a bizarre accident. Desperate to find out the truth, Thorn visits Rome and Israel with a photographer named Keith Jennings and realises that Damien is indeed the Antichrist.




From a technical point of view, the film is well-made. This was Richard Donner's first major film and he showed the abilities he was later to bring to other action films such as "Superman" and the "Lethal Weapon" series. The action sequences are well handled and contribute to a growing sense of tension; only occasionally, as in the scene where Jennings is decapitated in a freak accident, do the rather primitive seventies special effects show through. This scene was clearly intended to be horrific, but today it comes across as inadvertently comic. The look of the film is dull and autumnal, regardless of the ostensible time of year, with a muted colour scheme, and this adds to its sinister atmosphere, as does Jerry Goldsmith's musical score.




Gregory Peck was not the first choice to play Thorn- the producers originally wanted Charlton Heston in the role- but he plays it so well that one cannot imagine any other actor in the part. Thorn is similar to some other Peck characters, such as Atticus Finch in "To Kill a Mockingbird" and Sam Bowden in "Cape Fear" in that he is a decent, liberal man suddenly confronted with the problem of evil, except that Thorn is confronted with evil in its purest form and with a dilemma- whether or not to kill his adopted son- even more stark than anything which confronted Finch or Bowden. There is another very good performance from Billie Whitelaw as the sinister Mrs Blaylock, who becomes Damien's new nanny after the suicide of her predecessor and quickly becomes his guardian angel. Or rather his guardian devil, as she is a servant of Satan sent to protect the boy form harm.




My reservations about this film are largely theological. I am normally prepared to suspend my scepticism about supernatural phenomena in the interests of good entertainment; I have never, for example, allowed the fact that I do not believe in witchcraft to spoil my enjoyment of the Harry Potter films. I tend, however, to make an exception in the case of films which ask me to accept the literal existence of Satan, or which preach that the end of the world is nigh, and there is a reason for this.




A literalistic interpretation of the Book of Revelation as a prophecy of a coming Armageddon has always struck me as a hallmark of the most reactionary and intolerant sort of Christianity, the sort which is always more ready to hate one's enemies than to forgive them and which finds it easy to identify the Antichrist with whichever enemy (the Pope, Muslims, the United Nations, whoever) is at the top of that particular sect's hate-list. I doubt if the makers of this film made it with the explicit purpose of furthering a Christian fundamentalist agenda; a much more likely motive was to emulate the financial success of "The Exorcist", which had been one of the biggest films of 1973. Nevertheless, I feel that that is the sort of agenda which this film, and others like it, may well inadvertently further.

6/10

Have you seen it? If so, what's your opinion?


Sunday, June 5, 2011

Triangle

Triangle (2009)

The story revolves around the passengers of a yachting trip in the Atlantic Ocean who, when struck by mysterious weather conditions, jump to another ship only to experience greater havoc on the open seas.



"Lets go sailing!" 

Melissa George, still best known as Angel from Home and Away, plays Jess, an apparent single mother struggling to raise her autistic child. Given a chance to escape for a period on a boat trip, she joins her friends for a day's sailing while her boy is in school, but before long, things go from bad to worse and she finds herself in a battle for survival.




First off, I should immediately point out this is anything but a slasher flick - yes, there is blood, but it's ultimately a psychological thriller more than anything else - the gore is not the focal point of the story.




Secondly, the title was thoroughly misleading - I thought this was a disaster movie involving the Bermuda Triangle, which it absolutely is not albeit there were supposed to be originally links. In the end the title, and trailer, for that matter, should have reflected the kind of story it is, rather than lure folks like me in expecting something different.




That said, inasmuch as it isn't a blockbuster action flick, it is still a worthwhile movie - it would be fair to call it a psychological thriller mystery. And therein lies either its success or failings.




On one hand there's a puzzle in here, a puzzle of connotations and scenarios - something which many viewers will adore and try to pick at and analyse. On the other hand there's the Vanilla Sky audience, who want things explained to them in a conclusive manner - and this doesn't do that.




What you get out of this one is up to you, and what you expect from movies - it will be satisfying if you focus deeper and bite through the layers upon layers, which it must be said are extremely cleverly woven together. But if you want it spoonfed to you and an ending which explains the lot, you're at the wrong movie.




Abstract, different, and certainly worth trying out - but don't say you haven't been warned about thinking harder than Armageddon made you.

7/10

Have you seen it? If so, what's your opinion?


Friday, June 3, 2011

Into the Wild (2007)

Into the Wild (2007)

After graduating from Emory University, top student and athlete Christopher McCandless abandons his possessions, gives his entire $24,000 savings account to charity and hitchhikes to Alaska to live in the wilderness. Along the way, Christopher encounters a series of characters that shape his life.



"When you want something in life, you just gotta reach out and grab it." 

Into the Wild may not be the greatest movie of all time. However, this doesn't restrain it from the fact that it is a great film. Being the first time that i watched a creation of Sean Penn, I wasn't exactly sure what to expect, and to be honest neither were the others who were watching the movie with me.




Into the Wild tells the story of a young graduate living in a high life society who escapes the comfort of his parents materialism and goes on the road to discover new places and most importantly, to live a new life. On his journey he meets hippies, farmers and much much more. As time flies by, he becomes more and more independent of money and builds up to his ultimate goal: To reach the high grounds of Alaska and live with and off the wild.




Into the Wild is a complex movie supported by a great cast, great scene of photography and a compelling story. It is a film which will leave you thinking, trying to find the true message Sean Penn was trying to insert into our heads. This is where Into the Wild truly shines, because there is no clear message. It is the audience which can decide the cause of the what,where,why and when. Sean Penn has created a masterpiece which allows us to establish the basis of the story and have it represent our own thoughts.




Beware tho, this movie is quite long (140 minutes) and to truly enjoy, you must not question the realism of the film, you must embrace it and only then will you find your own message and conclusion to the movie.




Into The Wild is a beautiful piece of art which will re-define your ideas on the needs of an adolescent. 

Don't miss out!

9/10

Have you seen it? If so, what's your opinion?


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

I Spit on Your Grave

I Spit on Your Grave (2010)

A writer who is brutalized during her cabin retreat seeks revenge on her attackers, who left her for dead.



"Tell me again how sorry you are."

The remake of a film that I found to be boring, dull and abrasive. I wondered if they would keep the same feel of the original, which was dirty and inane all in one. The problems in the first film are fixed in the remake, which turned out to be a lot better than I expected. It fits right in with Hostel or Saw and it feels like it leaves the exploitation genre back in the 70's.




Jennifer, a young and beautiful writer heads up to a remote cabin to write her next novel. While there she runs into some unfriendly young men, who brutalize her physically and sexually. They leave her for dead in a river, raped and beaten. She shows up alive and vengeful. 




The stupidity of the original is cleverly ignored here. She used her sexuality to lure the men in the original, the same men who just raped and woman and left her to die. Would they really be stupid enough to fall for that crap? Here, she simply takes them by surprise and tortures them. To a degree of 'I need to look away'. There was one scene for me in which I cringed a bit, so bravo on that front. I'll never look at fish hooks and birds the same again. 




The film has some pacing issues, but the content is brutal enough to make you think, or make you cheer. Bravo to Sarah Butler who braves the role, she bares herself on screen and is humiliated. The rape scene is nowhere near as graphic or violent as the original, or even the Last House On The Left remake, but she still deserves and applause for taking on such a role.

6.5/10

Have you seen it? If so, what's your opinion?