Marter's Reviews

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Sat Oct 15, 2011 1:15 am

It's fun though.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Sat Oct 15, 2011 1:44 am

The Eye
At the halfway point of The Eye, I wondered why there had been mostly negative press regarding this film. I questioned the reasoning people had in disliking a film about a formerly blind woman having to get reacquainted with the world after a miraculous surgery allowed her to see again. I actually could not believe that some had called this the worst remake of an Asian horror film, as I was having a blast. Then, the halfway point hit.

It's at this point, and the subsequent 45 minutes, when I realized the "why" behind their claims. I found out that what I was dealing with wasn't a fun movie about what I described above, but instead a ghost story about a woman who sees things that may or may not be in her head. Nobody believes her, but she's determined to solve the mystery behind these images regardless. We get a bunch of unnecessary exposition, as well as a great deal of uninteresting scenes that are meaningless in terms of the overall plot. When you explain how a magic trick is done, it becomes less fun right off the bat. When you tell us who's behind the curtain in a horror movie, it ceases to be as frightening.

The woman in this film is named Sydney Wells (Jessica Alba), a violinist who is pretty good for someone who begins the film unable to see. A donor is found though, and since her sister (Parker Posey) has insisted, she gets the surgery and is able to see again. Everything is incredibly blurry to begin with, but that's to be expected; after all, she's been blind since she was five years old, when a firecracker accident that may or may not have been her sister's fault stole her vision.

She's told that her vision will improve over the next few days or weeks, and while images slowly become clear, she's going to work with a specialist named Dr. Faulkner (Alessandro Nivola). She has to re-adjust to the world now that her brain is once again receiving signals from her eyes, and that can be jarring, we're told. We watch her struggle for with day to day activities, while also getting POV shots of blurry things. We see what she sees -- or doesn't see, in this case -- and seeing her try to get her life back on track could probably make for an interesting drama.

Then shadow-like things are thrown into the mix. She first sees something almost immediately after she opens her new eyes for the first time, but isn't aware that it shouldn't be there. We are though, and it's creepy. Then, that night, she sees her hospital roommate taken away by one of them, only to find out that the woman had passed away in the night. After being released, she sees more of these things, but when she tells people, they pass it off as the brain being overloaded or her just seeing things.

Let's summarize up to this point. There's a woman who has only recently regained her sight. This is an entirely new experience for her, and she now has to get re-acclimated to the world now that her eyes work. She's now seeing things that she perceives to be a threat -- ghosts, shadows, or maybe something else. If this doesn't sound like a good premise to you, I don't really know what you want from a horror film.

What went wrong? Something, I know that. After this basic premise is given to us, and we're ready for some solid scares, it gets largely forgotten about so that Sydney can go from location to location trying to find out why she's seeing these things, as well as who the donor was. It becomes a mystery film that has things popping up and going "boo!" whenever the music cues tell them to.

The part at the beginning that was actually done the best was when Sydney had to get used to her new eyes. She had to learn how to walk without a cane, what depth perception was, how to read, and other such things. For whatever reason, I found this fascinating. Throw in a potential mental illness or supernatural disturbance, and you've got me captivated. But when the film turns into a "let's go solve a mystery" affair, I lost interest. Like I said earlier, once you explain things, it's no longer all that scary.

For what it's worth, there are a couple of decent jump scares that startled me. The soundtrack told me exactly when they were coming, but I jumped regardless. I think that it's because of just how sudden and loud they are, but at least they did accomplish their goal for some of the time. Some jump scares even fail to make you jump or flinch, which is when you know you've got a really poor horror film. If nothing else, The Eye got me good a few times.

I know that it's largely irrelevant, but I feel the need to point it out anyway, because I think that it's something that will surprise you. Performances in horror films are rarely anything great, and while that's true here, there's one thing that might shock you. Out of the three actors I listed earlier, Jessica Alba probably turned in the best performance. The other two, Nivola and Posey, were both incredibly wooden and showed no emotion throughout. You guys know that you can smile in a horror movie, right? At least Alba put in the effort, and when she was required to scream, she was effective.

In the end, The Eye is watchable, but nothing special. Its first half was very good, almost great, but everything went downhill from there, and in a hurry. I was promised a movie about a woman trying to figure out the world around her while dealing with visions that may or may not be real, but ended up getting one about a woman going around searching for an answer to a question I didn't want resolved. It has moments of brilliance, but on the whole is uninteresting.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Pararaptor on Sat Oct 15, 2011 1:49 am

Duuude, watch the original.

Scared the fucking shit out of me.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Sat Oct 15, 2011 1:53 am

I would if I could find -- and I mean legally find, as I can't download things because my father will kick me off the internet -- it. But I haven't yet. I'll keep looking though.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Pararaptor on Sat Oct 15, 2011 2:17 am

Not sure it's too hard to find. Picked it up from my video store.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Sat Oct 15, 2011 2:20 am

I don't buy movies if they cost me more than $3 though.

I'm a very cheap movie-buyer.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Pararaptor on Sat Oct 15, 2011 2:59 am

Oh, right.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Sun Oct 16, 2011 12:33 am

The Hills Have Eyes
When The Hills Have Eyes works, which is quite frequently, it's because we're given a lot of time to build suspense, while showing us a family that's just like your ordinary family. These are sympathetic, although sometimes annoying, characters, and they taunt and poke fun at each other with every passing moment. There's a lot of dialogue that doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things, but it helps us get to know these people.

We open with words on our screen telling us that there was a bunch of nuclear testing done in the desert of the United States, and that after it was shut down, the government denied the radiation having anything to do with the rapidly increasing rate of birth defects in the area. If you've already guessed how the villains are of this picture, go get yourself a cookie. After our opening live-action scene, which involves a few scientists being murdered, we get pictures of nuclear bombs going off interspersed with images of people who have obviously been affected from birth by the radiation. Later on, we see people with these defects, and we're saddened that they have had to live with them. We become less sad the more we see of them.

After this disturbing, yet effective, opening scenes, we meet our family. The members are too numerous to mention, but there's a mother, father, two children, as well as a second married couple and their baby daughter who have some sort of relationship to the previously mentioned family. I think that the woman of the second married couple is another child from the first couple, as the man of that marriage is unhappy about coming on the family vacation.

They stop at a gas station, where the owner has decided that it would be a good idea to send them astray on their trip in the desert. Because gas station owners in the middle of nowhere are always bad news in horror movies, this shortcut ends up leaving them stranded in the desert with no cell phone signals, and no one apart from the man who sent them there to know they're out there. They hit spike strips, which we see being pulled away afterwards, and begin having things go wrong.

At first, one of their dogs runs away, and is cut open. One of the characters finds it, but keeps that a secret for no rational reason. Later, characters split up, which is never a good idea, and some are killed. And then the crazies begin exposing themselves to us more frequently, in broad daylight, and terrorize our group even more.

Apart from how well we get to know our cast, there's one other thing that makes The Hills Have Eyes impressive: About two-thirds of it doesn't take place at night. Horror movies like being in dark places, as the dark is far scarier than the light. It also allows you to hide your villains more easily, using shadows to obscure them from view.

Setting this film in the light, but managing to still be scary is something impressive that director Alexandre Aja does. I was happy to find myself being thrilled and scared even during the daylight scenes, largely because the villains, (a bunch of crazy, deformed miner descendants), can still pop out from out of nowhere. Since we're in a desert with a bunch of hills, these people can come around the corner or jump down from the hilltops whenever they please. This is a tactic they abuse, and to good effect.

There are moments when The Hills Have Eyes doesn't work though, and this mostly comes in the last segment of our time spent watching this film. Once a lot of the characters are killed off (and trust me, they are) there isn't a lot more for them to do than fight back. This is far less interesting than earlier on when we have to watch them survive. The crazy people from the mines end up becoming as stupid as we'd assume they should be, despite seeing them as intelligent people earlier, and the victims turn far smarter than they previously appeared to be. The tides are turned, but it's not all that interesting or frightening.

For a horror movie, I was quite impressed by all of the individual elements. The acting and characters were both strong, the production values were high, and there weren't as many jump scenes as I expected. Anticipating these types of scenes is scarier than having them pop-up every couple of minutes, but The Hills Have Eyes doesn't fall into this trap. There were also some funny moments which helped to keep the mood light early on before dragging us down with the horror portion in the latter stages.

For the most part, this is a scary film. Not I-can't-sleep-tonight scary, but more along the lines of I-didn't-see-that-one-coming-and-now-I'm-kind-of-scared. This isn't a film that's going to be all that memorable or one that will stay with you for a long time, but it'll surprise you enough in the moment to satisfy your thirst for terror. It'll also fulfill your wish to see a lot of gore, because there is a ton of it here.

The Hills Have Eyes is a solid horror movie that, unfortunately, falls apart in its final act. It's still worth a watch though, as it has a bunch of scares, a solid build-up, as well as being an effective horror movie that mostly takes place during the day, a rarity. I had a good time with it, even if its well-developed characters did end up annoying me more than I'd like.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Furburt on Sun Oct 16, 2011 1:06 am

Original's fun, if very, very cheesy.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Mon Oct 17, 2011 2:45 am

The Hills Have Eyes 2
For the first 45 minutes of The Hills Have Eyes 2, I was prepared to call it a much better film than its predecessor. Much, much better, actually. It opens with a woman giving birth to a mutant creature, (although I assumed it was a stillborn), before being killed. Then we find out that the government has decided to start installing surveillance equipment in the hills from the first film, because the family disappearance of two years ago has freaked some people out.

We watch the scientists of the area getting killed, although how they survived longer than a day in the first place isn't explained. After that, we move to a group of soldiers in combat training. To put it bluntly, they suck at their job. Their sergeant berates all of them, as they'd all be dead if they acted just like they did in their exercise. Just like the previous film, their cast is too large to describe, and I wouldn't want to expend the effort anyway, as they don't last long enough, nor did I care enough, to figure out half of their names.

They end up delivering a bunch of supplies to the now-dead scientists. They receive a static radio transmission from a scientist on top of one of the hills, so most of them go up there to try to find him. As you might expect, things begin going wrong. One of them falls into a trap and twists his ankle, before being dragged into the mines beneath the hills. A couple of them find a man trapped in the portable toilet, and are told that there are things around here and they did this to him.

If you saw the previous Hills Have Eyes, you know what's going to haunt these people. They look like mutants, they're really intelligent (whenever the plot doesn't call for them to act like an idiot) and are ruthless. They love the taste of human blood and meat, while they have fun terrorizing their victims. The difference this time around is there isn't that many of them, so they don't kill the women -- at least not right away. They force them to birth a mutant child first, and I assume kill them after, or rape them again in hopes to acquire another child.

At the beginning of the terror, everything takes place in the daylight. This is what I enjoyed most about the first film; it mostly took place during the day, yet still managed to be very scary. The first 45 minutes takes place outside as well, and is also quite scary. The mutants can pop up from anywhere this time, as they can even pop out of the holes in the ground. Every part that takes place in the daylight is great, but unfortunately, we move to the mines after the halfway point.

I saw it coming though. After the first Hills Have Eyes, where mines are mentioned by rarely seen, I figured we'd need to have our leads go in them to fight the creatures that were haunting them. That's only kind of what happens here though; our group gets trapped on the top of one of the hills, and the only way down is through the mines. That's good enough motivation, but I really hoped they wouldn't go this direction.

Once inside the mines, the film goes downhill quickly. We get a bunch of jump scares, we have some shooting of creatures who pop up whenever they want to, and an attempt is made at claustrophobia, but it doesn't work. It turns into a generic slasher film with a bunch of monsters instead of just one. Oh, and there's one good mutant that shows up one time to serve one purpose that is never mentioned before and never mentioned after.

I didn't understand these characters. They're soldiers, I get that, but why did they all hate each other? Everything that say to one another is insulting, except when communicating with the two female members of the group; in that case, it's flirting or insulting. Is this supposed to give us reason to like them? The family in the first film insulted each other too, but we could tell that they loved one another, especially when things got rough. This time, these people continue their insults even once members begin getting picked off. Why? I didn't get it, and I definitely didn't care about any of the people in this film.

If you needed a reason to dislike this movie, it's because of how stupid it believes its audience to be, and how stupid its characters are. See, we know what type of movie this is, but they don't. They have people going around making sure they adhere to horror clichés, while explaining the movie to us. One of them tells us that "they're picking us off one by one." Enough said. But then they end up splitting up, going off on their own, and acting like complete idiots, all while explaining the movie to us. I got bored by the end, and by the time it was about to reach its conclusion, I was ready to kill some of these people myself.

During the first half of The Hills Have Eyes 2, I was ready to call this a great film. After it ended, I found out it was just a mediocre one. The first half is so good, but the second half is just awful. I wasn't scared after we entered the mines, nor was I entertained. There just wasn't anything to like in the second half, and it was at this point where the no-name characters who all seemed to hate one another really got on my nerves. It's almost worth a watch for its first half, but the second half drives it down too much to recommend.


Last edited by Marter on Wed Oct 19, 2011 10:49 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Tue Oct 18, 2011 1:38 am

Doom
I've been informed that Doom takes place on Mars. It could take place in the desert here on Earth for all that matters. We get to see a desert area at one point, but it isn't used in any way that one could consider useful. The rest of the time, we're spent in a dark venue that consists of corridors and other rooms where the lights have been removed so that not a lot of money needed to be spent on special effects.

The plot begins with something terrorizing a group of scientists in this remote research facility that happens to be on Mars. We don't get to see what it is, although we can assume it's pretty strong -- it does manage to tear through steel doors, after all. The lead doctor gets to a computer and says that they're in trouble, claiming that some help would be nice. We then cut to a team of soldiers who are waiting to go on vacation. They don't get to, as they're called in to go deal with whatever threat there is on Mars.

This group is led by a man called "Sarge" (Dwayne Johnson), although none of these men have real names. There's a guy called "Reaper" (Karl Urban), one named Goat (Ben Daniels), and countless others all with just as ridiculous nicknames. They go inside this facility, evacuate the other occupants, and begin searching the corridors. They're helped out by Dr. Samantha Grimm (Rosamund Pike), although why she remains isn't a point that's focused on. She's the sister of Reaper though, so that connection is given attention (although still not much).

Inside, they find scientists, as well as some creatures. How the creatures got there on the supposed "dead" planet gets explained later on, and that's just about the point I stopped caring. Before it's explained, we are dealing with monsters we don't know anything about. That makes them kind of creepy and interesting. After we learn how they've come into being, and what their purpose is, I was no longer interested in Doom. It's also at this point where we see more of them, and more bullets are fired, and this might have had something to do with my waning interest.

There are a lot of rounds fired, and a lot of people/creatures killed throughout. It would have been nice to actually see during most of the action scenes, but instead, we get short bursts of light let out by the gun, and a bunch of blurred action that makes little coherent sense, because we can rarely tell what's going on. And then there is the final fight scene, which, I kid you not, is a fist fight between two humans. You have a gun that can acidify two floors of a building, and you end with two humans duking it out. What a joke.

So the action scenes aren't great, that's fine as long as it's scary. It's just too bad that this isn't the case. The monsters are more interested with hiding around corners and jumping out to say "boo" than actually being terrifying. We get a lot of jump scenes and a dark atmosphere. It's got a descent tone, but since the monsters aren't all that scary, and they're more concerned with scaring us than killing the characters, we're not frightened often during Doom.

The story is as simple as you come, with one twist near the middle. I sincerely hope that this twist won't fool you, because it would mean that you either haven't seen, or don't remember, many movies. It's the most obvious twist you can have in this type of film. In fact, if the story would have just had a bunch of monsters attacking a group of scientists, it would have been more surprising.

There's one scene in Doom that works, and it takes place right near the end. We're given a first person shooter style view, where one of the characters manages to gain superpowers and apparently so does his gun. He gets to go around corners, not even blinking when a monster jumps out at him. Then he shoots them and kills them with only a couple of bullets. Entire clips were emptied into these things earlier, so I'm not sure how he managed to get a stronger gun after being injected with a serum, but there you go. But at least this scene was different, despite potentially being a lot more fun if it didn't feel like you were just watching someone play Doom, the game this movie is very loosely based on, really well on your computer.

I can also describe the characters in one or two words, which is rarely a good sign. Sarge is "loud", Goat is "religious", Reaper is the "good guy", the doctor is "annoying", and so on. These aren't developed characters or even ones that have much of a personality. They are soldiers, they have a job to do, and they shoot guns. Oh, and I'm not kidding about Goat's one personality trait being his religion, because that's all he gets to differentiate himself from the others.

If you're a fan of the Doom games, then you're better off just going to play those. If you're not, and are just looking for an action-horror movie to pass a couple of hours, look elsewhere. Maybe go try the Doom games; I've heard they're pretty fun. This is a movie that isn't good, although it is loud and might allow you to escape from reality for a couple of hours. It has monsters, it has guns, it has soldiers, but that's all it has. The action scenes are poor, the horror is lackluster, and it's just not all that exciting.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Wed Oct 19, 2011 1:14 am

The Last Exorcism
Found footage films are often overlooked because the camerawork ends up detracting from what's shown on-screen. A lot of the time, it's not believable with how shaky the camera gets at times, nor can you believe that someone would continue to film even when their lives are being put on the line. And then there's the professional editing and cuts that just don't work if all you've got is a camera. In order to enjoy these films at all, you've got to suspend your disbelief quite a bit.

So why, if we're already having to ignore these two points, do people insist on adding a soundtrack, no matter how subtle? Whenever something bad happens in The Last Exorcism, a found footage horror film, we get a musical prompt to feel scared. Either a loud noise will play, or some other post-production sound will appear. We're already suspending our disbelief quite a lot for these types of films, so why is our patience being tested even more than it needs to be? You can make a scary film without additional sound effects, but that option is rarely chosen, which I think it too bad.

The Last Exorcism begins with Reverend Cotton Marcus (Patrick Fabian) telling us the story of his career with the church. He eventually informs us that he's tired of performing the sham that is an exorcism, and since people have begun dying from them, he's going to reveal that possessions don't exist, and that exorcisms don't actually do anything. Instead of just coming out and saying that, he decides to take a filming crew to one final exorcism, all while revealing how he makes the bed shake, demon sounds appear, and other stuff like that.

He goes to the farm of Louis (Louis Herthum), whose daughter Nell (Ashley Bell) isn't feeling well. Apparently, some livestock has be killed, and everyone's putting the blame on Nell. She has no recollection of it, because I guess that a demon wouldn't allow you to recall any deeds done while under its influence. The exorcism is eventually performed, nothing goes wrong, and the filming crew leave with Nell resting peacefully. They stay at a hotel for the night, and it seems like everything will be fine.

But since this is a horror movie, and there's still about half the running time left, we know that this can't be the case. Nell shows up at the hotel, vomits a little, and isn't responding to Cotton or the rest of the crew. They take her to a hospital, but the tests all come back normal. Most of the rest of the film follows their attempts to get her healthy, all while feeling pressure from the highly religious Louis (who has no real problem with putting a gun in our hero's face).

The film toys around the idea of whether or not Nell is actually possessed, or if it's just a psychological problem. The answer is never completely given, although the ending did seem pretty clear to me. However, I didn't like the final scene, which comes very abruptly just when things were kind of getting interesting. But that's what a sequel is for, right? Tie up those loose ends? Honestly, we probably don't need one, because this is a film that is more effective without everything explicitly explained.

When this movie works, it's because everything happening on-screen allows you to ignore all of the problems with filming this way. When the action holds your attention, you don't notice things like how instant jumps to different camera angles occur, or the added sound effects. Unfortunately, not enough happens to hold your attention all the way through. There's too much time spent where all that happens is Nell looking kind of evil, but just standing there, staring at the camera, not doing anything of interest. And then there is also the first 40 or so minutes where nothing happens at all, and while this gives you a good idea of the personality of Cotton, that's all it serves to accomplish.

When it works, The Last Exorcism hinges on the performance of Ashley Bell, who has to contort herself whenever possible, because that's what a demon would do to someone, right? She give sit her all though, and I would assume that she'd be incredibly sore after filming. It looked like she was in pain while twisting her body in all sorts of directions, and while it isn't pleasant to see this, it holds our attention, and is genuinely creepy.

I'm still not sure why we needed this to be made in a mockumentary style. All of the cons that come from this filming style end up detracting from the tension that it tries to create, and there's no real reason it couldn't have just been filmed normally. The idea that Cotton is trying to reveal the hoax that is exorcism ends up being forgotten about, and not including that back story would have cut out some of the unnecessary time spent not doing anything, and allowed more traditional filming techniques to be employed.

The Last Exorcism is occasionally creepy, but never downright scary. It has some genuinely good moments, like most of the time Ashley Bell gets to contort herself in various ways, but the mockumentary style of shooting ends up undermining most of that good effort. There are also too many points where nothing much happens, and also a very abrupt and unsatisfactory concluding scene. It's okay, but it's not great, and it also ends up being kind of silly, instead of frightening.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Thu Oct 20, 2011 2:00 am

The Fog
In a horror movie, if we open up with a ghost story, you know that at some point, it'll come true. That's the general rule, anyway, and it's also what happens here in The Fog. There were a few people who forced a ship to crash, took the gold aboard, and then funded the town of Antonio Bay. The story tells us that those killed in the crash will come back 100 years later and start killing. This was 99 years and 364 days ago when we join, a day before the town's centennial.

We meet our characters, although none of them are all that interesting or memorable. One's the local nighttime radio DJ, one's a hitchhiker, one's a priest, one picks up the hitchhiker and they end up becoming friends, while another is a child. That night, directly after the stroke of midnight, things start to happen. Objects move around, car alarms go off, power cuts in and out, and so on. Oh, and a few murders take place on a ship, although we're the only people to know about that. These disturbances freak people out, but they kind of just move on with their celebration plans. It becomes local gossip, but nothing much more.

And then the fog starts rolling in. It glows too, which tells us that it must be evil. The ghost story, which only we and a few children were told, is coming true. Inside the fog are a bunch of people/zombies/whatever who are out for revenge/fun/murder/whatever. It doesn't really matter what they really are, or what they're after, it just matters that they are here, and they have begun killing people. Director John Carpenter seems to think their motivations do matter though, because the final few scenes are spent not in wrapping up the characters' lives, but in explaining why the fog is there in the first place. Too bad I didn't care.

What didn't make sense to me is why the fog didn't come inland the first time we see it. All it does is kill three people aboard a ship. It's still the right day, technically, because it was past midnight. So why wait until everyone's awake? It's clear that the fog can defy nature, because a point is made about it moving against the wind. Surely it wouldn't have a problem with daylight. And why is the fog needed anyway? If these things are the undead, surely they don't need cover to protect them from unarmed civilians.

But then again, these zombies/people/whatever are very polite, knocking on doors before bursting through them. If the people they target wanted to, they could probably run away. They usually don't though, instead opting for the "let's open the door because nothing bad can happen" route, with mixed results. Why knocking occurs at all is another thing I don't really understand, but I'm thinking that I over-think these horror movies far too much, especially when their primary purpose is to scare the audience, something that The Fog succeeds at quite admirably.

This is a movie that works almost entirely because of the atmosphere that is built, in that the fog can show up at any moment, and with it comes people who just want to chop your head off. Maybe they only knock on doors when they know that the people won't be able to escape anyway. Or maybe it's done because we know what's coming, but the characters don't, and it gives us reason to shout at them not to open the door, as we bite our fingernails in suspense. No, I didn't actually end up that frightened, but I'll admit that the atmosphere and mood set work greatly to The Fog's advantage.

There are, however, a lot of things that don't work all that well, and stop The Fog from being anything other than a descent horror film. The characters are all forgettable and moronic, the scares come and go as the please, just like the creatures in the fog, and the explanation as to why they're here in the first place is completely unnecessary. There's something to be said about ambiguity, especially when a great deal of time is spent hiding the creatures from the audience, so telling us their motives detracts more than it helps.

I also didn't care about any of these characters, or hope that they would make it to the end. This isn't a make or break point, but in this case, it would have been nice. Make some of them endearing so that we want to see them overcome the fog. As it turned out, I just watched them on-screen, and they were like hollow bodies with no real personality or reason to care. It's not that I wanted to see them die, as it isn't like I hated them, there just wasn't anything to them. I couldn't dislike them because there was nothing to hate, just as there was nothing to like. They were simply there.

It still felt like a lot more could have been done with this premise. For instance, why not just remove the back story and just have killer fog? We learn that it can do some damage, as we watch it destroy generators and power lines. Since that effectively renders the people within it pointless, remove them and just have fog going around killing it, all while trying to figure out how to stop it. That might have worked better, or at least, it would have in my eyes. Maybe I'm wrong, and I guess we'll never know. (I'm sure there's a movie out there like that somewhere, but I'm specifically talking this crew and this cast in this location making that movie.)

The Fog suffers from too many problems for it to be considered all that great, but for what it is, it has some good scare moments and a very promising premise. Unfortunately, the characters, logical issues and needless exposition end up taking it from "great" territory and ultimately rendering it simply as "good." Still worth a watch, especially if you, for some reason, are scared of fog, but not a movie you must rush out and watch.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Thu Oct 20, 2011 10:12 pm

Creep
It has almost become a rule in slasher movies that the opening scene, while useful in setting the mood, is completely unrelated to the plot. When a movie like Creep comes along to break this rule, while having the opening scene both set the mood and have an actual impact on the plot later on, I almost want to give it a gold medal right away. I'll give it a bronze for now though, as it'll have to work for the gold.

This opening scene shows two sewage workers working underneath London. After a false jump scene, they discover a tunnel that they'd never previously seen, and before you know it, one of them is dead, and the other is looking into the face of the killer. We don't get to see the killer at this point, although when we finally do, it's probably one of the most effective and terrifying jump scenes I can recall, while also not adhering to typical rules of these kinds of shots. Instead of quickly cutting in and out, we get a couple of seconds to stare at the deformed face of the killer, and that makes it all that more frightening.

That doesn't happen until much later in the film though; you wouldn't want your audience to get a look at this thing too soon, would you? After the initial murder, we meet our main character, Kate (Franka Potente), someone who probably needs to cut back on her alcohol intake. She's at a party making plans to find George Clooney (who is apparently in town) but her friend has abandoned her. We now find out that Kate is an impatient woman, as she decides to take the train after failing to catch one taxi. Her time must be very important.

She can't even wait eight minutes for the train to arrive. To pass the time, she downs about half of her petite vodka bottle before falling asleep. Upon awakening, she finds out that the "last" train has already departed, and that the station is now locked up for the night. Shame, that is. But then a train pulls into the station anyway, and she gets on it, along with one other person that she doesn't notice.

I'll leave you there because that's probably the best way to get you to want more about the story, while also not spoiling too much. If you're already wondering how the station got locked down without anybody seeing her, well, I thought about that too. Ultimately, you're going to need to suspend your disbelief quite frequently in order to get the most out of Creep. I didn't have much of a problem doing this considering I was too busy being scared silly by this movie.

Okay, okay, that's exaggerating a tad, but to say that this is a scary movie is not. I had a blast with Creep, and I was more than just a little bit scared. It lives up to its name in being creepy, working largely because of the environment that it's set in, as well as the atmosphere that it makes for itself. It also doesn't rely on jump scares all that often, even though the occasional one is well-placed and effective. The silver medal would be awarded at this point.

It also works on a human level, with a snotty, posh and downright mean main character, one who seems to hate everyone who isn't directly useful to her. At one point, she meets a homeless man (Paul Rattray) who begins to explain how he and his girlfriend are trying to find a house before Winter hits. She cuts him off before he can finish, telling him that she really doesn't care. How rude is that! But as we progress, she begins to learn the consequences of her dismissal for others. Granted, early on, we might as well hope that she dies, as she has no initial redeeming traits. But because we're put in her shoes and are fairly scared at this point, we don't think this way -- we only do in hindsight.

I don't know about you, but being trapped in a subway system is something that I wouldn't like to experience. Have you ever taken the subway at night, when maybe only a couple of other people are on the train with you and one of the lights of the train is slowly going out? And then the train starts coming to a screeching stop, and one of you blurts out "I sure hope we don't get trapped down here." Imagine that type of scene, and then throw a killer into the picture. Yeah, that's the beginning of an exceptional premise right there.

Eventually, we do get a good look at the ugly body that has decided to take up killing the people of the subway system. Sometimes, movies that have gone to great length to hide their killers lose a lot of the scares once we get a good look at them. That's not the case with Creep, which manages to maintain its level of scares even after we've seen it for minutes at a time. We even get some hints as to how it originated, although we're not explicitly told. You have to think about where it came from and why it has decided to become a murderer, because you won't be given such answers.

A man named Sean Harris does play the creature that haunts our characters, and whoever designed the costume and makeup here deserves an award (an actual award -- not just the gold medal that I might give out here). He is unrecognizable underneath whatever it is that makes his character that way, although he still manages to sink a great deal of emotion into his character. It's his eyes that do all the talking here. If there's one standout star, it's him, even if we never truly see what he looks like.

To top everything off, we end on an ominous note, and I'm still not exactly sure what the ending means -- nor do I think I want to. This is a film that ends with the perfect hint of irony, or maybe it doesn't end ironically at all, and instead with a faint hope of a world improved. There's also the chance to take it in the absolute worst possible way, and all three of these possibilities come to us thanks to a faint smile. And here is the gold medal, director Christopher Smith -- you deserve it.

Creep is an example of how to make a horror movie. Sure, it suffers from logical problems and you need to suspend your disbelief through a lot of it, but because it keeps you heart pounding and your hand over your mouth, you only notice these things in hindsight. I was terrified through portions of this movie, while others simply left me in awe. It's set in a dark place, and this just helps add atmosphere and mood. If you need a movie to watch that will make sure you leave the party early to avoid taking a late subway home, this is the one.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Furburt on Fri Oct 21, 2011 10:17 pm

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Sat Oct 22, 2011 12:45 am

The Fourth Kind
The Fourth Kind wants you to believe that it is simply presenting evidence to you. It even goes so far as to start the film with star Milla Jovovich talking directly to us, telling us that this is a dramatized version of events that really did happen in October of the year 2000. It's supported by a bunch of real footage and interviews, which will be interspersed between the actors. Conveniently, this footage merges almost perfectly with the newly shot footage to tell this story.

The reason for this, and maybe this ruins the façade right away, is that it isn't really archived footage, and it's not really a true story. Oh, some people have disappeared from the town of Nome, Alaska, but the FBI has chalked most of these disappearances up to alcohol and the tough climate. This film wants you to believe that people disappear because aliens are involved, and uses this falsified footage in order to convince you of such. The final lines of the film tell you that you get to choose what to believe. I believe that if you're going to make an alien film, you had better show me some aliens.

After this direct address, we progress to watch Jovovich playing her character, psychiatrist Abbey Tyler. Her husband has died -- she believes murder, the police believe suicide -- and she's struggling to accept this. She interviews three people, all of whom claim the same thing: Their sleep is being interrupted in the middle of the night, and owls stare at them for hours after they're awake. Something is definitely happening in this town of approximately 9,000, although, as I've already stated, aliens take the brunt of the blame.

That's not without good reason though. At one point, we see a tiny bit of a spaceship, before the "found footage" camera decides to die. This happens all the time, in fact, whenever something interesting or costly might take place. Anything actually involving aliens is either completely removed, or too blurry to tell what's going on. There isn't a single money shot here, nor any that would actually cost a lot to produce. Everything that could be costly is removed because of those terrible cameras that Abbey brings with her everywhere.

This is convenient for another reason too, though. See, nobody actually believes Abbey when she tells them that aliens are behind the disappearances, and that she was abducted herself. Her disbelievers are her colleague, Dr. Abel Campos (Elias Koteas), and the police Sheriff (Will Patton). Without video footage, all they have is her word. Since she's claiming something that a lot of people would find unbelievable, is makes sense that doubt is the most common reaction to her claims.

Whenever someone gets hypnotized in The Fourth Kind, something bad happens. They'll claim something is coming for them, and then their body will spasm in interesting ways. Afterward, something worse happens, and since Abbey is the one to put them under, she gets blamed. I didn't buy that for one second, especially the second time considering two other people were in the room when she performed the hypnotism, and saw her "victim" come out of it. Anything done after that point should not be the hypnotist's fault.

In order to truly appreciate The Fourth Kind, you need to have an open mind, and be willing to ignore the fact that it's all a big hoax. The filmmakers actually went to a great deal of effort trying to convince people that there was archived footage, tapes, interviews, and what have you, so that you'll believe their story. But the thing is, even if you're convinced by the film, you'll want to find out more. Are you really going to let a movie tell you all the information you need to know about a possible alien abduction? Of course not! So you'd do research, find out it's all fake, and then realize that you wasted your time watch this picture.

If I feel anything after seeing The Fourth Kind, that's what it is. I feel like I wasted my time. The runtime, which isn't all that long, would have bene much shorter if we didn't watch the same thing twice fairly often, (the "real" footage, and then the "acted" one), and since it isn't actually real, we feel cheated out of our time. Or at least I did. It's a stylistic choice to do this so frequently, but it just wasn't as effective as it needed to be.

And then there's the point where our intelligence gets insulted. I'm not talking about how we're expected to be gullible enough to believe that all of this really happened. No, I'm talking about how many times text comes onto our screen and tells us what's happening. Every time an interview clip plays, we're told. This carries through the entire time. We get used to the "real" Abbey's voice early on, so do we really need text appearing on-screen to tell us this in the final few scenes? I don't think so.

I think that if The Fourth Kind brought something to the table other than a falsified "true" story, I'd be okay with it. If it was actually scary, if the story was one worth telling, or even if the aliens were interesting, it might be worth a watch. But none of that happens. Jovovich tells us that "some of what you're about to see is extremely disturbing" in the opening monologue. That's a lie too, because we don't actually get to see anything. It's hard to be particularly frightened when all we get is a snowy image on a camera with intermittent screams.

In the end, The Fourth Kind is not worth a watch, especially if you’ve heard any of the "hoax" talk before you watch it (and you have if you’ve read this review). I don't think that matters though, because even if you're fooled, you'll want to learn more, and you'll discover the truth anyway, which will likely cause you to have an unfavorable opinion of this movie. There's just nothing here apart from being a "true" story to keep you engaged.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Sun Oct 23, 2011 2:31 am

The Roommate
There are times when you watch a movie, realize it isn't particularly good, and you determine that you should be thankful for what it does right. In the case of The Roommate, it at least doesn't fall into exposition-laden dialogue; it leaves more things for the audience to infer than outright explaining them. In a horror movie, that's somewhat of a rarity, so at the very least, I was happy that exposition was kept to a minimum.

The plot begins with sweet, innocent Sara Matthews (Minka Kelly) moving into her new college dorm. She bumps into a girl named Tracy (Aly Michalka), who tells her there's a party at a fraternity house that night. Sara wants to wait for her roommate to show up, but she decides to go to the party anyway. She meets a drummer named Stephen (Cam Gigandet), gets drunk from punch that she didn't know contained alcohol, and ends up almost puking in her room. In the morning, she truly meets her new roommate -- she saw her the night before, but didn't remember -- named Rebecca (Leighton Meester).

They hit it off, because fighting with a roommate means you're probably not going to stay with them long. Eventually, they're having coffee together, exploring museums, and liking the same types of movies (in this case, Sara mentions her favorite film is The Devil Wears Prada, and the next day, Rebecca has a poster of it on her wall). Rebecca also seems willing to do anything to her friend, including telling Sara's ex-boyfriend never to call again -- without telling Sara that she's done that.

It's at this point when things begin going wrong, or at least, weird. We watch Rebecca slowly become obsessed with Sara, or more accurately, she starts showing that obsession more frequently and obviously. She calls Sara constantly, she puts on her special necklace, and even eventually gets a tattoo of something special to Sara. It's incredibly creepy, although not exactly thrilling. You sit and watch these developments and you aren't exactly pleased with what you're seeing, but it's not at all suspenseful or interesting.

I think there are a couple of reasons for this lack of tension. The first is how you know every single potential victim as soon as they appear. You see a character introduced, and you instantly wonder how Rebecca, the crazy one, is going to remove said character from the picture. No, this doesn't automatically mean death, and I wouldn't classify this as a slasher movie, but characters that were earlier shown will not necessarily be staying all that long.

The second reason is that there isn't a hint of originality infused into this film, which I'll blame largely on director Christian E. Christiansen (great name, by the way). His film falls into cliché after cliché, and has nothing to offer in terms of bringing something new to the table. Fans of Single White Female especially won't see anything new here.

However, as I always look for things to praise, the plot develops organically and without a lot of effort these characters, all except for Rebecca, seem quite real, and they spend a lot of time just going about their college lives. Sara and her now-boyfriend Stephen go on a few dates, Sara visits her friend, Irene (Danneel Ackles), who is a fashion designer (Sara aspires to be one), and we watch Sara go to her design class, which she has to fight to even get into. We see everyone go to parties, adopt a kitten, and live out weeks of their college life.

Like I said at the beginning, exposition is not used a lot. The only real explaining that The Roommate has is to explain to us why Rebecca acts the way she does, even if the explanation given doesn't make a lot of sense. (I'm going to spoil it here, so skip the rest of this paragraph if you don't want it "ruined" for you.) She has a medication for Zyprex, which she's stopped taking. Zyprex treats schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, although I don't think it is approved for anything else. You infer that Rebecca must have been on this medication, but stopped taking it for whatever reason. It's too bad that neither of those conditions makes a person act that way. Maybe it was a misdiagnosis, although how a practicing doctor gets it that wrong is beyond me.

Don't go into this film expecting good performances, because you'll be disappointed. If you've seen the trailer, you probably have a pretty good idea about how the acting is going to be. Minka Kelly always seems to have the same tone of voice and facial expression while Cam Gigandet is the generic nice boyfriend, despite squinting too much. The only good performance is from Leighton Meester, who is actually quite convincing as the psychotic roommate.

The Roommate is definitely a mixed bag, but since it didn't rely on exposition, and also allowed the plot to develop organically, I didn't have a bad time with it. Sure, it's not thrilling, surprising, full of suspense, or containing good acting performances, but it's a horror movie that doesn't feel like it has to explain everything to you, and that's got to count for something. Meester also gives a chilling and creepy performance, and in the end, it's not a boring film -- it's just not a terribly original or scary one.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Mon Oct 24, 2011 12:53 am

Mirrors
For a horror movie to work, we need one of two things to happen. Either it needs to be scary enough for us to forget many of its flaws, or it needs to stay consistent in its logic so that those flaws don't stand out as much as they might. Mirrors is an example of a horror movie that doesn't do either of those, and as a result becomes a chore to watch by the end. It also feels the need to explain itself, which almost always ruins the pacing.

We begin with a former police detective named Ben Carson (Kiefer Sutherland) taking a tour of a broken down department store. It had a fire years ago, and now a security guard has to patrol it every couple of hours. Why? I'm assuming because teenagers or homeless people might decide to occupy it for a while, but we never see anyone but the security guard inside. Ben needs the job because of his suspension from the force after shooting another police officer, and as a result, he became an alcoholic and separated from his wife, Amy (Paula Patton). He now lives with his sister, Angela (Amy Smart), and is trying to get back on his feet.

He gets the job, likely because nobody else wants it. He does his patrol every now and then, although things start to go wrong as soon as he begins. He notices that there are handprints on the mirrors in the burned-down store -- handprints that cannot be wiped away. And then he gets set on fire, unable to put it out through the tried and true stop-drop-and-roll technique. But it's put out anyway when we find out he wasn't really on fire at all. It was just his reflection that was burning, and when we zoom in on Sutherland rolling around and screaming without anything being wrong, it's quite humorous. Our villain is now established; the mirrors have it out for Ben, although we don't know why.

The question is ever-present though. "Why are the mirrors attacking Ben, and how can he stop them?" We want to find out, and so does he. After seeing Mirrors through to the end, I'll tell you that the explanation isn't worth how much drivel you have to sit through to get there, mostly because it doesn't make much sense. The mirrors constantly break their own rules, and when they do that, you wonder why they didn't do so earlier. And then there's the why which involves a demon and a nun and -- it really doesn't matter, just like it rarely does in a horror movie.

I'll give you an example of how it doesn't make sense. We've been told previously that you have to see your reflection in order for the mirrored image to do anything to you. But then we see later someone moves away from the mirror, and they're killed. Another example: At one point, the mirror drags a person into the mirror world, which seemed like a good idea earlier, but apparently nobody had thought of that, so it wasn't used yet.

It almost seemed as if writer/director Alexandre Aja was improvising as he went along, constantly trying to figure out how to top his previous scenes, even if it didn't adhere to the previously established rules of this universe. It gets even sillier when these attempts never manage to top one of the death scenes in the middle, and most of it is done just to scare the characters, not kill them. These mirrors aren't interested in killing people, or if they are, they're very bad at it. They'd rather just give them a bunch of "boo!" moments because they're aware that we're watching them. Or something like that.

The scene coming directly before the ending was also a disaster. It involves awful CGI, a lack of clarity, and also action that felt out of place considering that this isn't an action film. It came out of nowhere from a plot point only introduced a few moments earlier, and took away from the general feel of the rest of the film. It's like having a car chase in an otherwise slow-paced drama -- it just doesn't fit.

However, the actual ending -- the final scene of the film -- throws a nice little twist your way, and also ends up being the highlight of Mirrors. It's so good, however, that I wanted the earlier moments to have explored this new angle, as it potentially would have been more interesting. At least the reveal at the end -- which admittedly does feel tacked-on just for the shock value -- got me engaged once again. I was bored by the action scene that preceded it, and at least the final image I have in my head is one of positivity just because of how Mirrors ended.

Here's something that might turn some of you off watching this film: It's a remake of an Asian horror film by the name of Into the Mirror. Granted, it only keeps the basic premise, but it's yet another Asian film remake that was probably unnecessary in the long run. If the idea of sadistic mirrors is interesting, I'd recommend seeking that out instead of watching this film, as it's bound to be more fun than enduring Mirrors would be for you.

Mirrors is a mess that's almost saved by a twist at the end, although in retrospect, it would have been better to include that twist earlier so we could view things from a different perspective for most of the time it's playing. Instead, we get too much exposition, a great deal of time spent not being scared, but confused, as well as one interesting death scene. But it's not worth your time, and it's just another unnecessary remake of an Asian horror film.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Xandy on Mon Oct 24, 2011 12:57 am

Review Source Code.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Mon Oct 24, 2011 1:01 am

I actually already have a review for it written up.

Just not posted because it's horror (although really, sometimes it's more like "horror") movie month.

And, if I stuck to my schedule, it would be posted in a couple of months still. However, since I've gotten a request, I'll move it up to right after October ends.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Tue Oct 25, 2011 1:05 am

Mirrors 2
Here is an unnecessary sequel, but one that isn't completely awful like you might expect. After the climax of Mirrors, where we learned that a demon was behind everything that happened and that was resolved, a twist ending allowed for a sequel. It's unfortunate that the twist wasn't used when crafting this sequel, or more correctly, the perspective the twist gave us isn't used. This twist placed a character inside the mirror world, and ended up producing a potentially interesting idea.

The part of this idea that are used in Mirrors 2 is this: A soul (Stephanie Honoré Sanchez) is trapped inside the mirrors. We don't view the film from her perspective, which is unfortunate, but also might be a good thing because once again, the laws of this universe have been altered. After getting inside, through means which I believe would count as a spoiler, she turns demonic, instead of keeping her sanity like the character did in Mirrors. I guess having a sane person terrorize others wouldn't make much sense, although her reasoning behind it, once we learn what it is, does make sense.

Instead, our perspective is that of Max Matheson (Nick Stahl), who is still having nightmares and issues dealing with a car accident that claimed the life of his fiancée, Kayla (Jennifer Sipes). He takes pills and goes to counseling in order to try to deal with it, although he doesn't have a job, and he spends most of his time sitting around his house. One day, his father (William Katt) calls, and offers him a job as a nighttime security guard at his new departments store, the Mayflower.

Yes, that Mayflower. They've even brought over a mirror and stand from the original, which apparently didn't actually get destroyed after the ending of the first film. It adds something to the building, a character explains, although we've already see it force another security guard to eat a piece of glass. Or, his reflection ate a piece of glass, and he just felt the effects.

For those new to the series, that's how the villains work. They hide in mirrors, and when you stand in front of them, they appear as your reflection, and whatever they do happens to you with no effects to them. The rules regarding what they're allowed to do vary from scene to scene, but that's the basic idea. The first victim was that security guard, although he doesn't die from his wounds.

For the first half of Mirrors 2, it functions as a semi-descent slasher flick. Victims are killed in brutal ways, the killer can pop up whenever it wants to, and it's actually quite atmospheric. Even the jump scares, which are frequent, work about as well as those things do. It combines incredibly loud sounds with frightening images, and I'll admit that I jumped quite often.

But then the second half kicks in, and to keep the characters somewhat realistic, they need to find why these things are happening. Max enlists the help of Elizabeth Reigns (Emmanuelle Vaugiér), who is looking for her sister, Eleanor. You can be forgiven for thinking she doesn't care all that much though, as Vaugiér seems unenthusiastic about everything that happens on-screen.

Sadly, once we start trying to solve what's going on, Mirrors 2 becomes tedious and boring. Yes, there's a reason that the mirrors are killing people, and yes, it kind of makes sense why the murders are going on, but we end up with an absolutely silly back story that has absolutely no relation to our main character, or any character we've spent significant time with. I watched without emotion because I didn't have any connection to the character I was supposed to be caring about during these scenes.

I also made note that almost all of the kills disappear once Max and Elizabeth decide to play junior detective. The kills early on were actually quite inventive (with a highlight being a shower door guillotine) but after the characters decide to try to find out what's behind the deaths, they stop anyway, right up until the end. The villain also changes, but with no clues earlier on giving the audience a reason to suspect this person, so it seems arbitrary and forced, even if it's all explained in contrived flashbacks.

I'm not sure if you're expecting good acting in a direct-to-DVD horror movie, but if you are, you had better look elsewhere, because you won't get it here. Most of the characters simply don't appear interested whenever they're doing something in the film. Nobody shows emotion, even when a real person would, and that lead to more unintentional laughter from me than anything else. (For example, a character finds out that someone close to them has died. Not even a gasp is seen.)

Mirrors 2 is good during its first half, but once it becomes a mystery film, it fails. In a lot of ways, it's like its predecessor, although I would argue that the first half of this film is better than that of the one before it. Regardless, it's ultimately not worth a watch thanks to its contrived and arbitrary second half, although in terms of direct-to-DVD horror films, you could do worse. If you liked Mirrors, you'll probably like this one too -- it even continues the trend of not following its internal logic.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Alkaline on Tue Oct 25, 2011 10:46 pm

Layer Cake and Snatch kgo

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Tue Oct 25, 2011 10:55 pm

I Spit on Your Grave
I think that there are many comparisons between the romantic comedy genre, and the rape/revenge horror film genre. Both generally require a relationship between men and women, both are genres that are off-putting to a large group of people, and they're both incredibly predictable. It's just that one of the genres is easier to watch, and doesn't feature all that violent or extreme content.

I'm not sure why I thought about romantic comedies while I was watching I Spit on Your Grave. Maybe it was because I was bored, and would have rather watched one. Or possibly, it's that I kept thinking that these are the two most predictable genres in film. I can't think of one that is, overall, more predictable. If you can, I'd be surprised. They're both somewhat specific sub-genres, I'll admit, but that's just another interesting comparison between the two. Granted, the content is nothing alike, and the people who enjoy one will typically stay far away from the other, but I think the comparisons between them are valid.

If you're unfamiliar, here's how the typical rape/revenge movie works. There's a person, usually a woman, who will be the victim. In this movie's case, it's Jennifer Hills (Sarah Butler). The victim will get some time for us to get to know her, and generally makes a bad decision that will lead to one of the two things mentioned in the genre. In this case, she naïvely stops and asks for directions to a cabin in the woods, and then spills some liquid on the creepy guy who tells her were to go. She spends some time at the cabin, drinking wine, smoking marijuana and writing -- she's a writer, after all.

The second potion of these films consists of the rape. This is usually done by a character already introduced to us. In this case, it's the people working at the gas station, as well as the plumber who earlier came in to fix the clogged toilet. The leader is Johnny (Jeff Branson), and with him comes three others, soon to be four. There's a guy working the camera, another holding a baseball bat, looking menacing, and one who is mentally disabled. The sheriff joins them shortly after. Then the rape occurs, and it takes a long time, and is not something that is pleasant for anyone. It's not fun for us to watch, it's obviously not fun for the victim, and it doesn't even look like that much fun for the group of vile people performing it.

The third part is the revenge that's mentioned in the genre title. The rape leaves the victim beaten, but not killed. They want revenge, as they rightly should, so they decide that it would be fun to act upon that desire for the rest of the time they're on-screen. In this case, Jennifer uses the same type of dialogue and actions that were done to her in order to torture and eventually kill her rapists.

At this point, you may be wondering where the surprises are, or at what point there is a plot twist. There usually aren't any. These are how these films work, and as a result, are very predictable. You think that romantic comedies are easy to figure out? Well, these are easier. They just aren't as well-known or popular with the mainstream audience, and as a result, don't get the same bad rap as their rom-com partners.

I Spit on Your Grave is a remake of a movie with the same title from the 80's. Have I seen that one? No. Will I after watching the remake? I doubt it. After sitting through over an hour and a half of unpleasantness, I'm done with the genre for a while. I've already experience this particular plot, and its slight deviations from the genre, anyway, so I doubt watching the original would be worth my time. The basic idea is the same regardless, so it's probably best to just watch one or the other, if you're so inclined despite what I'm about to say.

To me, this isn't a film that's worth watching. There's nothing here that I enjoyed, and nothing really to recommend. The set-up part isn't all that entertaining, as we mostly just watch Jennifer going about her daily routine. The rape is -- do you really expect it to be enjoyable? And the revenge is almost just as bad, largely because Jennifer performs most of the things done to her on these men, regardless of whether or not they deserve it.

See, the one mentally challenged person, played by Chad Lindberg, doesn't want to commit this heinous act. He tries to get out of it, and stop the rape altogether. (But since he's not all that bright, he gets forced into it.) He's just about as much a victim as Jennifer is. So why does he deserve punishment? Oh, but he gets his, just like they all do. And we're supposed to be rooting for this random woman going around killing people. Sure, they did a bad thing, but are they deserving of torture and death? Maybe, but how will Jennifer live with herself afterward?

That's how these films work though. But in order to do it properly, you need to make her revenge plot viable. About half of the things she does probably wouldn't work, or would be impossible for her to perform. There are five men who defile her. These men seem pretty strong, and while not intelligent, smart enough to avoid being tricked. Jennifer does not seem too smart either, and she's definitely going to be weaker than four of these men. But she manages to overpower them or trick them using implausible/impossible tactics in order to complete her elaborate revenge.

If this is your kind of movie, well, you'll probably enjoy it. You need to be able to overlook the predictable plot, elaborate revenge schemes and implausibility in order to call this a good movie, and then you'll still have to overcome the fact that pretty much everything that happens once the second act rolls around is vile and repulsive. This wasn't for me, and I had absolutely no fun while watching I Spit on Your Grave.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Tue Oct 25, 2011 10:56 pm

Alkaline wrote:Layer Cake and Snatch kgo
I finally found a copy of Snatch, so I can watch that whenever now.

Still looking for Layer Cake (and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels), although I think they're both on Netflix.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Alkaline on Tue Oct 25, 2011 11:02 pm

Kewl.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Thu Oct 27, 2011 2:40 am

Insidious
Insidious is brought to you by the people who created Saw. I figure that after they ended up having little to do with their creation, yet people still viewed them as a one-trick pony, they decided to go in a different direction. Director James Wan and writer Leigh Whannell had those roles on the first Saw film teamed up again to bring another horror movie. The difference being the type of horror film they created.

Saw, as many of you know, isn't a film based on subtlety. Called "torture porn" by some people, it was a graphic endeavour that had plenty of blood, gore, sawed-off body parts and other things that are not pleasant to see (although one could argue that it was the sequels that brought this label to the series). With Insidious, there isn't any spilled blood, no decapitated body parts or anything else that you would call particularly graphic. Instead, it takes the basic premise of demons trying to inhabit a body and throws in a bunch of jump scares. I suppose that makes it more of a horror film for everyone, although it also means that Insidious ends up being nothing you haven't seen before.

The plot begins with a couple just having moved into a new house. Renai (Rose Byrne) wakes up and continues to unpack, even though it appears to be very early in the morning. She puts books on a shelf, and ends up getting sidetracked by a photo album. Later, at breakfast, she's joined by her husband, Josh (Patrick Wilson), and we learn that they're a couple like everyone else. He forgot to tell her that he can't take the kids to school, and she is upset that he didn't tell her earlier. At this point, we believe that they're real characters living real lives. It's a good introduction to their lives, even if that introduction proves unnecessary because two of the children end up being forgotten about. Oh, and Renai notices that the books she put on the shelf have been moved, even if the children claim they didn't touch them.

One day, the oldest child, Dalton (Ty Simpkins), falls into a coma. Quite literally, in fact, as he falls off a ladder in the attic, and ends up not waking up the next morning. The doctors tell the worried parents that no brain damage was sustained, and that they've never seen anything like it before. Regardless, Dalton's out and he becomes the only child that matters anymore.

Three months pass. Dalton is still in a coma, but he's in home care now. It's now that things start going wrong -- or at least, going weird. Renai hears strange sounds on the baby monitor, she begins seeing people in her house, doors begin opening and closing themselves, and yes, those moving books were supposed to foreshadow this. Of course, you know that you're going to watch a horror movie, so you're probably well aware that those books were moved by something not supposed to be in the house, but I guess that was shown for those unaware they're watching a horror film.

However, if that was the case, I wonder how they didn't clue in after the opening title sequence. When the film's title is shown, it's done as a jump scene. Then, when the actors, producers, writer, director, and all of those other names you don't read are being shown, we see still photos that have things moving in them that are supposed to creep us out. And there a lot of loud noises, which is a theme that will continue as your progress through the film.

Unfortunately, as with most horror films of this nature, we need to figure out what's going on and how to fix it. Enter two women, Lorraine (Barbara Hershey), who is Josh's mother, and Elise (Lin Shaye), who is a paranormal expert of some nature. Eventually, the two women explain exactly what's going on and the precise way to fix it. It's at this point when I lost interest.

There are some fun scares in this film. I'd say there are at least 10 times when you'll jump in your seat. If that's what you want, well, you won't be disappointed. to say that I had a bad time with Insidious would be a lie, although it wasn't as enjoyable as I would have hoped, even if I was scared for a solid portion of time.

What it lacks is originality, which isn't necessarily a complain by itself. However, since the story relies on a couple of twists and "unforseen" circumstances, knowing exactly what's going to happen does become a problem. I'm glad that the plot doesn't stay stagnate, but having easy-to-guess twists makes it predictable and less frightening. When I can figure out that something is going to happen or that a jump scene is going to occur, I'll be mentally preparing for it and it won't have the same impact. Telegraphing your big moments doesn't allow them the opportunity to work.

What Insidious does well is give us strong, memorable characters that we can invest in. They're presented like your average couple, and when things go wrong, you think "what if this happened to me/us?" It helps with the immersion even if what's happening on-screen is improbable at best. You like these people and you don't want to see bad things happen to them. The performances turned in are also stronger than your average horror film, so if you're going for the actors, you won't be disappointed in that area.

Insidious isn't a bad film because it does deliver quite a few scares. However, it won't satisfy the desire for innovation, and because it's so easy to predict, many of the scares will be negated because you'll see them coming. It's still a fun film with strong characters, but don't expect something that's all that unique. Insidious is enjoyable but severely lacking in originality.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Thu Oct 27, 2011 10:36 pm

Sleepy Hollow
Sleepy Hollow is another one of those films that seems to think it's far greater than it is. It opens with some guy signing a letter set to an epic score by Danny Elfman. The soundtrack continues this way throughout, but I didn't know that signing and sealing a letter could be such a dramatic undertaking. He is also going to deliver is, but that journey is cut short when both he and his driver are beheaded.

We then meet our hero, Ichabod Crane (Johnny Depp), who gets told by Christopher Lee (in his only appearance of the film) to head to a town called Sleepy Hollow so that he can investigate the murder of three townspeople. I viewed this decision as more of a punishment than anything, as Crane had previously told the New York court that they need to change with the times and stop sentencing people based on evidence that cannot be called "concrete." Calling it a punishment also makes a lot of sense to me, as this is a character who faints with ease, is skeptical of everything, and is fairly cowardly. He's not exactly the best choice to go to a town that seems perfect for a horror movie.

He accepts his torture though, and ends up staying at the creepiest house in the town, which is stationed at the top of a hill where the sun never seems to shine. He's told by the people of the town -- a group consisting of Michael Gambon, Richard Griffiths and a few others -- that the headless horseman has decided to come torture the town. The reasoning isn't clear, but he's been severing and then stealing the head of the residents that he kills. Crane, a man of logic and reasoning, doesn't believe this, so he embarks on a quest to figure out who of "flesh and blood" is behind the recent killing spree.

What we do for most of the film is watch Crane act like Sherlock Holmes, except that he's nowhere near as competent. He doesn't face danger, he flees from it or faints in its presence. He also, despite claiming otherwise, doesn't seem to care much about logic or reason, especially once magic gets involved. I guess seeing a person and a horse come out from the roots of a tree that bleeds red blood would be enough to change anyone's viewpoint.

Up until we first see the Horseman, I was quite engaged. After seeing him a couple of times, I was much less interested. Something about seeing the serial killer a bunch, especially after he's had the chance to kill our hero and decides against it, makes him seem less menacing. The Horseman decides to show up whenever is least opportune, and becomes as predictable as the soundtrack attempting to drum up suspense, even when all it's really doing is making me laugh.

Despite the Horseman not really living up to his promise, the atmosphere in Sleepy Hollow is pretty good. The set design, the lighting, the costumes -- it all works in order to give us a sense of dread and despair. It does help increase the tension, even if it's pretty much exactly what you'd expect from director Tim Burton. The only thing that throws the setting off is the CGI blood, which is distracting and took me out of the mood that I was supposed to be feeling.

I don't remember the original short story "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow", but I'm fairly certain this "adaptation" doesn't stick very close to it. That's fine in my mind, although it doesn't explain why all of the characters, especially Ichabod Crane, have to be bland and have absolutely nothing to offer us in terms of depth. If you're changing things up from the story, you're allowed to improve the characters and give them real personalities.

Instead, what we get is a tacked-on back story that Crane experiences whenever he sleeps or passes out. Said back story doesn't come into play at all, except so that we can call his childhood a "tragedy", even if it didn't impact him at all. He has holes in his hands, something that a young woman named Katrina (Christina Ricci) wonders about. He says he has had them since his memory began, although in a flashback, we find out the reason, as does he. But nothing is ever done with this, or indeed anything about his childhood. Maybe it explains why he faints at the first sign of trouble, but the correlation isn't all that clear, and I'm grasping at straws to draw anything from it.

Katrina, who ends up being his love interest (a relationship that happens far too quickly, I might add), is just as bland. She's innocent, so we think, and basically does nothing except to act as suspect #2. Crane, even after seeing the Horseman for himself, still thinks that a human is behind its resurrection, so he begins suspecting everyone with even a potentially vague motive, proving that he's forgotten completely what he was fighting for which got him sentenced to this place in the first place.

The atmosphere, the setting, the musical score, and the costumes all allow Sleepy Hollow to be effective, but the mundane plot and uninspired characters wind up undermining their efforts to a great deal. It's still an easily watchable film, and for the good parts alone, I'd suggest giving it a watch, but unfortunately, there are a lot of things wrong with it that keep it from being very good or even great.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Sat Oct 29, 2011 1:56 am

The Hole
The Hole is one of those films that abuses the unreliable narrator method of telling a story. Our main character, Liz (Thora Birch) is first seen walking on the streets in tattered clothes, before finding her way to a payphone and screaming at the top of her lungs. She's forced to see a shrink (Embeth Davidtz), who assures her that Liz will get through this.

What is "this," you ask? Well, she's come from a place that the kids dub "The Hole," an underground shelter that not many people know about, nor would anyone expect people to be inside. Because teenagers make poor decisions, they decide that it would be a fun idea to skip a school field trip and spend three days inside The Hole. What should be a simple getaway turns disastrous, when -- well, that depends on who you ask.

We get several versions of the events that took place inside The Hole, with much of what's said not being the truth, or at least, the whole truth. Certain parts may have happened in the earlier stories, but we're lead to believe that the majority of the tales are lies. Even the reasoning for going down in the first place gets changed up, although I'm unsure of the purpose behind that. Everyone knows that the way the first story ends cannot be true, because in that one, everyone escapes after four days. We later learn -- and I assume that the investigators would know this from the start -- that Liz only emerged after eighteen days, meaning her first story cannot be correct.

She blames her friend, Martyn (Daniel Brocklebank), and claims that he locked her and her friends/classmates inside. Why would he do that? Well, he's in love with her, you see, and since she wanted to get close to the American hunk, Mike (Desmond Harrington), he decided that nobody gets out until they hate one another. Or at least, that's what everyone figures, so they stage a fight and are let out, causing the police to bring Martyn (a play on the word "martyr," perhaps?) in for questioning.

But Martyn was on holiday with his family. He couldn't have unlocked the door. The police overlook this fact, and decide that he had to be behind it. He tells a completely different story of how the group managed to get into The Hole in the first place, with him having nothing to do with it. Liz isn't even a loner in that story, she's popular and is best friends with Frankie (Keira Knightley), the tall blonde who convinces Mike and his friend Geoff (Laurence Fox) to party for a few days.

We get to see enactments of both of these stories, even if neither actually occurred. When we finally get the truth -- or what we can only assume is the truth -- it's less interesting than the fabrications we got earlier. Yes, getting closure is nice, but finding out what we do in the "true" version of the events is less satisfying than trying to figure out what actually happened. The build-up is far better than the result, which is a shame.

This also makes a re-watch a lot less satisfying than seeing it for the first time. Since you know that most of what you originally see isn't what really happens, and because you know what does occur, you won't feel the same sort of suspense that you get with the first experience. This isn't a movie with a big twist, but the differences in the story are things you'll probably only want to see once. Seeing them again while you can still remember what actually happened in The Hole would be pointless in my opinion. Or maybe that's just because I didn't have a great first experience watching The Hole.

While this is a film that does show a lot of things that don't really happen to our characters, I'm not even sure we can believe their personalities shown during the false segments. In the first story, Liz is a much different character than she is in later ones. This could be true to the other characters as well then, or at least, I'd think so. They stay largely the same, but by the characters' own admissions, they don't know each other all that well. Maybe they're just representing them how they believe they would act. Martyn wasn't even down there, so I have to really wonder why he described events that he couldn't have seen. There's so many moments where we're not sure what's real and what isn't, rendering large portions of the film somewhat pointless.

The final story, which ends up being told in the final 20 minutes, hinges solely on one character's stupidity. One of the people in The Hole makes one easily reversible decision that puts all of their lives in danger, but never thinks to fix it, despite easily being able to. I hate when characters make such idiotic decisions, especially if they're easy to reverse. If there's anything that ruins The Hole for me, it's the final 20 minutes, right up until the final frame, which makes absolutely no sense. (Although saying why would spoil most of the film, so I'll abstain from that.)

The Hole gave me moments of suspense, but in the end, nothing I saw was worth sitting through it. The plot ends up undermining everything we see, considering the majority of the experience is fabricated. By the time the credits began to roll, I was tired of being mislead, I was ashamed that I watched a character make such a stupid, yet completely fixable, decision, and I knew that there was no reason to re-watch this movie. It's good up to a certain point, but then it gets silly and begins making the earlier scenes pointless.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Sun Oct 30, 2011 12:32 am

The Unborn
At one point, near the end of The Unborn, a character says "I just want this to end," or something similar. Had this happened about 30 minutes earlier, I would have completely agreed, because I wanted the movie to be finished. When it did happen, I sighed and then laughed, because I felt as if writer/director David S. Goyer was toying with my emotions at this point, taunting me with the exact thought I had earlier on.

The film begins with a dream sequence, in which Casey (Odette Yustman) is jogging around the block, when a creepy little kid follows her. And then the kid turns into a dog, and runs into the forest. She follows, and uncovers a fetus in a tube that was buried in the ground. Why? She wants to know too. When she wakes up, she phones her friend, Romy (Meagan Good), who is superstitious and keeps a book that tells you what your dreams mean. Since Casey is babysitting, she hears one of the children making noise, and ends up getting cut with a piece of mirror. Weird, eh?

Soon, her eyes begin changing colours, she begins hallucinating, and, because we are the only people who can see her doing this, nobody believes her. They think she's crazy, and it's entirely possible that she is. Her mother did commit suicide, after all. Casey heads to her grandmother (Jane Alexander), who initially lies and says that she doesn't know of Casey's mother, but phones her up later and tells her she does. Why she lied in the first place isn't really explained.

Then the exposition starts, and doesn't stop for a while. See, there's this ghostlike thing, (or maybe it just is a ghost, I dunno), and it wants to come back to the world. It's now haunting Casey because it eventually wants to take control of her or something. Really, it's just an excuse to have a ghost haunt her, I think. There's also something that happened while she was still in the womb, when her twin brother was suffocated with the umbilical cord. It kind of makes sense when the film's explaining it to you, but honestly I'm not sure if it does looking at it retrospectively.

Because ghosts can be removed from your body with an exorcism, or so Casey believes, she heads to a rabbi (Gary Oldman), who tells her he may or may not be able to help her, and then doesn't appear until the final scene of the film. Why Gary Oldman decided to take part in this project is beyond me.

What we get for most of the film is exposition-filled dialogue, jump scares and an incredibly silly production. It's not all that entertaining, not even in a "so bad it's good" kind of way. I was more bored than I was involved, and I found myself just wanting it to end, just like one of the characters says. I don't find jump scenes scary, and I dislike exposition in films like this. Do we need to know what convoluted reason the ghost is terrifying Casey? I don't think so, and if we do need some reason, why did it have to be this one? Couldn't it just be that her dead twin brother wants revenge, as it was her cord that strangled him? That makes more sense than what we got.

I'm still not sure about this ghosts motivations anyway. For most of the film, it takes over the body of a young boy named Matty (Atticus Shaffer). If it already has a body, and we're told its primary motivation is to get back on Earth in living tissue, then why does it need hers specifically? Maybe I missed something, but to me, it makes more sense to pick the youngest possible victim so that you live the longest.

There's a scene where the exorcism does take place, (in case you were worried that Gary Oldman wouldn't get the chance to perform one), in which he and Youstman stand side by side, and it's just sad seeing how outclassed she is by him. He actually seemed into it, there was fire in his eyes, and he was passionate. She seemed almost disconnected, and made no real attempt to show emotion, despite the fact that her character was supposed to be in emotional distress. Scenes like this further make me question why Gary Oldman would agree to this project.

When I think back on The Unborn, I can't think of anything good about it. I wish I could, but I can't recall a moment when I was entertained, or a time in which I thought "hey, this is a good movie." It was all just terrible or average, with it never getting better than that. Actually, the first scene was okay. It wasn't really related to anything, but if it was, and the entire movie was created in the atmosphere that the opening had, it might be worth watching.

Unfortunately, that's not what happened. What we get instead is a bore of a horror film that doesn't make much sense, has largely indifferent performances, and simply isn't scary. I can forgive a lot of flaws in a horror movie if I'm actually scared, but this one just has a bunch of predictable jump scenes that actually detract from the atmosphere instead of using it to their advantage. It was like I was constantly being taken out of the (admittedly not all that enjoyable) experience because of the jump scenes, and they weren't even startling in this case, as you could call them every time they were about to happen. There is almost nothing to like in this film, and I can't think of anything worth praise.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Mon Oct 31, 2011 2:21 am

Piranha 3D
Piranha 3D is the type of film where you can watch the trailer and pretty much figure out whether or not you're going to enjoy watching it. It's a cheesy b-movie horror-comedy, and if you like that kind of film, you'll have a good time with it. If you aren't already in favor of these kind of intentionally trashy films, Piranha 3D isn't going to change your mind. Me? I was laughing during the first scene.

Said first scene shows us a man out on his boat fishing, drinking beer and singing some sort of sea shanty song. He drops his beer bottle into the lake, and we watch it -- after it has magically been turned into awful CGI -- float to the bottom. An earthquake is triggered, and man-eating piranha decide that they're going to ruin this man's day. Because this is a horror movie, that man isn't going to play any part in the rest of the film, although his death establishes our primary enemy -- even though that threat is given to us in the title. I laughed because of the terrible CGI that was used on the beer bottle, but I actually thought the piranha were rendered quite nicely; it's not hard to tell where most of the budget was spent.

It becomes spring break, and because we're on a beach, it's party time. Unfortunately for Jake (Steven R. McQueen), he has to babysit his siblings, as his mother (Elisabeth Shue) is the town sheriff and has to supervise all of these parties. While picking up his sister, he meets a girl who he goes to school with and may or may not have been romantically linked to previously, Kelly (Jessica Szohr), who has a jock boyfriend who we're supposed to hate. He also meets porn star Danni (Kelly Brook) and a film director, Derrick (Jerry O'Connell) who invites him to be their tour guide while filming. Despite being on babysitter duty, Jake accepts and ends up on a boat with Derrick, Danni, Danni's co-star, Crystal (Riley Steele), and Kelly, who tags along just for fun.

We've already seen our threat, so all we need now is to introduce it to the partying teenagers. That happens, and that's where I'll leave you: A bunch of piranha are attacking all of these students. Granted, I've taken you about halfway through Piranha 3D's runtime, but I feel that since that's the actual plot, it's essential that I mention where it kick's off. I won't state who dies, so that I won't spoil anything major for you.

The deaths are quite gruesome though; the piranha seem to know exactly where humans are weak and how to exploit those weaknesses, and as a result, the death toll rises quickly and with massive amounts of blood being shed. Since the piranha are evil, they've been given massive teeth that are capable of ripping skin off flesh within a matter of moments. And since the majority of the people in the film are in their swimsuits (sometimes they're not even covered that much), we get to see that flesh ripped from their bodies in great detail.

I laughed quite frequently at Piranha 3D. Whether that was always the intention, I'm not so sure. This is a film that wants to spoof of the horror film genre, specifically previous Piranha films and the Jaws series, but there are times when it seemed to take itself too seriously and during these points, when I laughed I felt like the film didn't do its job. Don't get me wrong, it does manage to have some scary scene, but for most of the time, even when it wanted me to take it seriously, I was laughing.

Sometimes, I was laughing with it. It's a horror-comedy, after all, and since it's spoofing previous water-based horror films, it wouldn't be doing its job if I wasn't laughing or at least acknowledging what it was trying to accomplish. When it uses a cliché, I found it funny. When it decided to use awful CGI, I figured that was intentional as well. There are also moments included solely to make you laugh, such as when a piranha decides to eat a specific body part of a human, but it ends up spitting it out because it wasn't to the piranha's taste.

In that one moment of the film -- where we watch a piranha choose to be selective about what it digests and we see its face after making that choice -- I realized that the piranha in the film actually had deeper characterization than any of the people. I'm not sure if that's such a good decision, but it seems to be the one made. We're not going to care about the piranha since they're tearing people apart and are set-up as the villains, but if we don't care about the people, we're indifferent about them as they start to die. Some of them are actually not all that nice, and we want to see them meet their end. Thankfully, we usually get that wish fulfilled.

I told you earlier that I took you to about halfway into the plot. That's true, but the part I've described up to is actually the best part of the film. After the beach assault begins, I sort of lost interest, likely because all of those teenagers getting eaten were nameless faces in the crowd who decided to ignore the sheriff's orders to get out of the water. It's their choice to get eaten, and as a result, I almost felt like they deserved it. It also becomes just a generic "let's kill everyone" film; nothing special happens after the mid-way point.

Overall, I had some fun with Piranha 3D, and I would suggest watching it if it sounds like your kind of film. If you don't like gory, cheesy b-movies, this won't help persuade you, but if you do, then you'll probably have a good time. If the characters had more depth to them, I might have cared when they started getting ripped apart. As it stands, I enjoyed it more before the piranha were released on the crowd -- the dialogue was more enjoyable to listen to -- but after that, blood and guts fly everywhere. If you like that, you'll have a field day. If you don't, stay far away from this film.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Tue Nov 01, 2011 3:05 am

Camille
I believe it to be impossible to review Camille without discussing spoilers. Considering that most of the plot is driven by an event, and that the characters don't fully realize its implications until halfway through, I feel the need to mention that I will have to mention spoilers in this review. If you want to avoid them completely, then you should just go watch the film because if you're dead-set about avoiding spoilers, you've probably already decided you'll see it at some point.

The film begins with a wedding. There's a rebellious young man named Silas (James Franco), who is a troublemaker trying to clean up his act. He still smokes and steals though, and he's currently on parole, but for some reason, his wife-to-be, Camille (Sienna Miller) loves him anyway. They wed, although after the reception, we hear him remark that he wants to punch her in the face whenever she talks. Not exactly true love on his part. Their goal is to travel by way of road to Niagara Falls for their honeymoon. I should mention at this point that they're on the American side of Niagara Falls, because that becomes a plot point of mild importance later on.

There's a snag in this plan though: The pair get into an accident and Camille dies. This gives the police a reason to chase them across multiple states after Silas enters a farmer's house to use the phone, while inadvertently robbing them. Yes, I did just say "them." See, for reasons that are hinted at but never directly mentioned (thankfully), Camille managed to come back to life. At first, I thought this was going to be one of those films where only Silas could see her, but it turns out, everyone can.

Everyone can also smell her, and they can also see her hair falling out. See, even though she's managed to cheat death for a while, her body is still decomposing. Her skin gets lighter (although never falls off), her hair all eventually falls out (here is where a red wig that would make Lola jealous is brought in) and she has to be bathed in formaldehyde in order to stop her from smelling. But, essentially, she's doing all right considering she died.

Most of the film just follows the pair on their journey. They end up being joined by a Cowboy named Bob (David Carradine), who runs a carousel pulled by painted horses. There is a focus put on a blue one who may or may not be dying, and the comparison between it and Camille is not subtle, but who cares? Also included in the cast are Scott Glenn and Ed Lauter, police Sheriffs who spend most of their time chasing our newlyweds.

What begins as a light, somewhat humorous film -- I particularly found the scene where Silas throws his boss into a pool funny -- turns dark after this accident. It's actually quite sad watching Camille begin to decompose, and the scene where she finds out about it was definitely not enjoyable. But, it does serve as a good reason for Silas to begin enjoying his time with her, and also serves as a way to get the film's message about enjoying each moment like it's our last out in a somewhat unique way. I could see the same film being made with her getting cancer -- in fact, there probably are multiple films with this premise -- but thankfully (and I can't believe I'm using that word here) she's dead instead.

Even though this is a romantic comedy that manages to sidestep many of the clichés generally associated with that genre, I saw the ending coming from a mile away. Granted, it still managed to be touching in a slightly depraved way, but it was touching nonetheless. Still, if you're looking for a surprising ending, you probably won't find one in Camille. I could see other ways that it could have ended, but I never once thought that the film would go in these directions. I was almost disappointed to find out that I was correct, but it managed to make an impact on me even though I figured out what was coming.

There isn't a lot of humor after the accident, which is a shame. Once the characters learn what's going on with Camille, everything becomes deadly serious and there are few, if any, laughs to be had. It works well enough in this film because the premise isn't something where playing just for laughs would serve it best. If the characters were joking the whole time while Camille is beginning to decompose, it just wouldn't fit. But it is worth mentioning for those of you expecting a laugh-out-loud comedy because you won't get one.

The highlight of Camille is Sienna Miller in the eponymous role. She gives it her all throughout the film, and without a charming performance from her, the film might have fallen apart. But because she does a great job bringing energy toward an otherwise lifeless cast -- on purpose, I must stress -- we are captivated. We want to see what she'll do next, even after she dies, and as a result, we keep watching even when not a lot is going on. James Franco's "bad boy" routine didn't gel with me, although it's forgotten about for most of the film regardless, so I guess it doesn't really matter anyway. (For most of the film, his idea of "bad boy" is being a chain smoker.)

For the most part, I quite enjoyed Camille. It's an off-beat, quirky and sometimes dark comedy featuring a likable lead and a somewhat unique premise. It avoids some clichés in the romantic comedy genre, although its ending is still quite easy to figure out. Despite this, the ending was still touching for me, and I definitely have to give Camille a recommendation.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Wed Nov 02, 2011 2:51 am

The Terminator
Set in 1984, The Terminator has two people -- one of whom is actually a cyborg -- coming from the future in order to either protect or kill a target. Said target is Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), a woman who works at a local diner. The first character we see emerge naked from a ball of light is the titular Terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger), while the second is a human named Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn).

We're not initially sure what's going on. We see these two characters come into view, and we see the Terminator kill someone else named Sarah Connor. Then we hear that a second woman named Sarah Connor is also dead. He's systematically going through the phone book and killing everyone with that name. Meanwhile, the Sarah we care about feels like she's being stalked, and she is, but it's by the human whose mission is to protect her. Why he she so important? Who are these future people? Is everyone just crazy?

The cops think so. At one point, Sarah and Kyle both get caught after a high-speed chase with the Terminator. It's during this chase that we find out the two future characters' origins and missions. Sarah, as we learn, will father a son that will end up becoming the leader of the human resistance against the machines. There's a war going on in the year 2029, and without John Connor, her future son, the humans will lose. The machines figured killing her before that son is born would allow them to win the war, so they sent a seemingly unkillable machine to complete that task. The humans, realizing that she'd be an easy target, send a single shy human. Is it any wonder why the machines think it a good idea to take us over when you think about that logic?

Whatever. That's the set-up. Reese has to keep Sarah alive while trying to kill the Terminator, while it has the single goal of trying to kill her. It's like a game of chess with these two characters; seeing who can outsmart one another is part of the fun. They get involved in chase scenes, shootouts, and, well, that's about it. But there's a bunch of each, so you'll be unlikely to get bored.

The Terminator is largely the film that got Hollywood to see Arnold Schwarzenegger in a different light. Prior to its release, he didn't exactly have the best of roles, with his only true star making role coming from the two Conan films. He had problems with delivering dialogue, and he didn't have a lot of range, which made serious dramas mostly out of the question. But here, he was turned into a true action star. Director James Cameron realized his acting weaknesses, and made sure not to play to them. Schwarzenegger is an imposing figure, and could dish out one-liners, so that's what we got. His character didn't talk much, but Schwarzenegger looked like he could kill you with ease. That's really all you needed from the role, and this was excellent casting on the part of Cameron.

There is a lot of action in this film, even if most of it seems like one big chase scene. That's really what it is, because there isn't a lot that two people with limited weaponry can do against a futuristic killing machine. Oh, they eventually manage to get something that can damage it, but even that seems largely ineffective against something as strong as the Terminator is.

We learn that the Terminator can not feel pain, or any emotion, so I feel the need to ponder some of its actions. The earliest point of contention comes at the beginning, when it's about to kill the first Sarah Connor. It knocks on the door to her house -- something that will never again happen -- and politely asks if she's Sarah Connor. Why go through that effort if you don't care about feelings, and you're just going to kill her anyway? It's not like killing an innocent person, which will happen frequently later on, is going to bother your conscience. Oh, and after the one high-speed chase I mentioned earlier, a lot of police officers show up. Kyle and Sarah are both trapped in a car. If you don't feel pain, why not just go kill them right then and there? We've already seen that bullets fail to do real damage. Instead, the Terminator escapes.

Apart from these logical problems, the only other issue I had with The Terminator was in the special effects done in crafting the Terminator without skin on. We learn that this thing has organic skin, blood, and other human-like things so that it blends in. It moves just like a person would. At one point though, this skin is removed and we get a stop-motion robot in its place. Now, maybe it's just me, but fake skin should not improve one's mobility. After the skin comes off, it no longer moves like a person, instead feeling very stiff and like it doesn't belong. This doesn't matter that much, especially because it's a film that was made in the year it was set (1984), but it might take you out of the experience.

The Terminator is a very solid action/science-fiction film, and still largely holds up to this day. The story it tells is interesting and smart, the action is intense and plentiful, and it ends up being a very satisfying experience. It does suffer from a couple of logical issues, and the special effects aren't always the best, but these are overcome by the film's strengths and the imposing presence of its titular character played by Arnold Schwarzenegger.


Last edited by Marter on Wed Nov 02, 2011 3:05 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Pararaptor on Wed Nov 02, 2011 3:49 am

Marter wrote:We learn that the Terminator can not feel pain, or any emotion, so I feel the need to ponder some of its actions. The earliest point of contention comes at the beginning, when it's about to kill the first Sarah Connor. It knocks on the door to her house -- something that will never again happen -- and politely asks if she's Sarah Connor. Why go through that effort if all you don't care about feelings, and you're just going to kill her anyway? It's not like killing an innocent person, which will happen frequently later on, is going to bother your conscience. Oh, and after the one high-speed chase I mentioned earlier, a lot of police officers show up. Kyle and Sarah are both trapped in a car. If you don't feel pain, why not just go kill them right then and there? We've already seen that bullets fail to do real damage. Instead, the Terminator escapes.

Apart from these logical problems, the only other issue I had with The Terminator was in the special effects done in crafting the Terminator without skin on. We learn that this thing has organic skin, blood, and other human-like things so that it blends in. It moves just like a person would. At one point though, this skin is removed and we get a stop-motion robot in its place. Now, maybe it's just me, but fake skin should not improve one's mobility. After the skin comes off, it no longer moves like a person, instead feeling very stiff and like it doesn't belong. This doesn't matter that much, especially because it's a film that was made in the year it was set (1984), but it might take you out of the experience.

The Terminator wants to avoid drawing premature, unnecessary attention to itself, waiting until it's actually found Sarah Connor to kill her. Busting its way into a house & killing everyone inside only to find out the Sarah's off shopping or he's got the wrong house is generally not a very strategic move.

Should the Terminator leave its remains easily accessible to humans (which it does) it will without doubt push human technology forward (which it does), significantly upsetting the timeline that the machines have come from & possibly endangering Skynet's rise to power (which it doesn't.) That it runs away when the police show up demonstrates that it's judged them to be a significant enough threat to kill it. While the murder of Sarah Connor should be a higher priority, it must think it can still take her out later without dying in the process, just as easily.

If I remember right, the Terminator has all of its flesh burned off in a fire? Extreme temperature differentials are enough to cause significant damage to the Terminators, as we see in Judgement Day. Hence the decreased mobility.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Wed Nov 02, 2011 4:07 am

It does, later on, bust into houses and kill everyone inside, despite having the wrong house. (Or maybe that was in the 2nd film; I can't remember anymore.)

That's fair enough, but later on, it doesn't seem to think that way. It's seems to be a "let's do it now because it's convenient" idea.

I don't think it was burned off in the first film, although I can't remember at this point.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Terria on Wed Nov 02, 2011 9:24 am

"We're not initially sure what's going on initially."

NUT WELL WRITTUN!

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Wed Nov 02, 2011 3:44 pm

Freebird wrote:"We're not initially sure what's going on initially."

NUT WELL WRITTUN!
Oh, redundancy, how you plague me.

This is why I need an editor. I hear they do good work.

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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Walnutman on Wed Nov 02, 2011 6:09 pm

Marter wrote:

I don't think it was burned off in the first film, although I can't remember at this point.

It's in one of these when it explodes


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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Thu Nov 03, 2011 1:19 am

Terminator 2: Judgment Day
In The Terminator, an android was sent back in time in order to kill a woman so that her future son could not be born and grow up to be the leader of a human resistance army. How do you top a story like that? Well, you take the "2" in the title literally, and bring two androids back and have them fight against one another, that's how. In Terminator 2: Judgment Day, we get two Terminators, one of which is once again played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, while the other is played by Robert Patrick.

Now, in the first film, Schwarzenegger played the antagonist, and was trying to kill Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton). This time, he's the good guy, sent back in time to protect Sarah's son, John (Edward Furlong). Sarah starts the film in a mental asylum, as she has been proclaiming that Terminators exist, the world will end, and other things that a lot of people would consider insane. As a result, John is a rebellious ten year old who lives with foster parents and spends his time stealing and riding around on his scooter.

His day is interrupted when the bad Terminator (Patrick) starts chasing him. He's saved by Schwarzenegger's character, and they have to run away, but must break out Sarah from the mental asylum first. Why? Because John wants to, and he's going to get his way. Apparently Schwarzenegger's Terminator has been reprogrammed to both protect and unconditionally listen to the young John. Essentially, he becomes a pet for our hero-to-be, which seems like it could be a neat idea. I'd certainly like a Terminator that would protect me and do my bidding, and putting that power in the hand of a ten year old could be interesting. Kids have the best imaginations, after all.

Unfortunately, this kid has a conscience, and orders his new best buddy to not kill any humans. What fun is that? The Terminator in the first movie was so awesome because he didn't care if he killed anyone, only wanting to complete the mission. Anyone that got in the way would die, and it wouldn't care. But this kid decides to not let this new Terminator kill anyone, ostensibly removing the best part of the character.

But that's fine, as there's still another Terminator out there who doesn't care about human lives, right? And this is a newer model, one that can morph and change to become anything that is roughly the same size as a human being (as long as it isn't a complex mechanical device, we're told). This one also heals itself by just morphing back together if it gets shot at or cut apart, making it far superior to Schwarzenegger's original model. We still have that, so everything's fine, right?

Well, not entirely. Somehow, this new model isn't actually that much of an upgrade, because Schwarzenegger's character manages to outsmart and outfight it at almost every turn. This new model is still focused solely on killing one of our lead characters, but every time it is outran, it disappears for ages before resurfacing. In the first film, the Terminator was always on the prowl, always trying to locate Sarah so he could put bullets in her brain. This one just seems to wait until our heroes do something stupid enough so that it can track them down.

For a while, I'll admit that I was enjoying seeing Arnold Schwarzenegger's Terminator have to deal with being ordered around by a child. Seeing him have to maim his enemies instead of killing them was kind of fun. And then he also had to deal with John's personality, which made for some comedic situations. He also has to learn about humanity, and the only person who can teach him is this child. Why humans cry and feel for one another -- stuff like that. But it gets tiring over the course of over two hours, and I ended up wanting to just seem him go berserk and shoot everyone. This is especially true in the ending, which drags on and is quite predictable, even if it's somewhat touching.

But in an action film, does this matter? Well, probably not, unless you're looking for it. Terminator 2 has more action than The Terminator, even if we don't get as much Terminator versus Terminator action as I would have hoped for. Once again, there are chase scenes, gunfights, and this time, more explosions. That's all well and good, and, if nothing else, it's a fun movie that will keep you entertained for a couple of hours.

The highlight of the film is not in the story, characters or even in the action, but in the special effects, which were breathtaking in 1991, but still amazing today. The antagonist Terminator in this film is made of some sort of liquid metal that can morph and mold itself. The CGI, which was in its infant stage at the time, looks great, and it is never distracting. It doesn't look like a film made two decades ago, and in fact, some of the shots look better than some of the CGI done today, likely because more care was taken when it was being done. You had to pay a lot of attention to even achieve any CGI at this point, so you would make sure it was done well. Nowadays, you can do basic CGI on a standard laptop, but it doesn't look anywhere near as good as what's done in this film.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day never quite becomes the complete film that the first Terminator was, but is still a good action film that will keep you entertained. The best part are the special effects, while the worst comes in the form of a couple of character decisions and the fact that our villain, while menacing, doesn't show up often enough to gives us thrills and chills. But there are explosions and gunfights that are well-made, so you'll likely not be disappointed if you watch it.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by Movie Martyr on Fri Nov 04, 2011 2:32 am

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
Terminator 2 managed to top the first film in this series, at least as far as action goes, but having not one, but two Terminators. How are you going to top that? Three or more? No, that's not the path that director Jonathan Mostow has taken with Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. Instead, he brings back Arnold Schwarzenegger as one of the Terminators, and makes the second one a female played by Kristanna Loken. Okay, that's one way to top the last film.

The plot this time revolves around Loken's Terminator coming back in time (again) in order to kill people (again). However, unlike last time, her only target isn't John Connor (played by Nick Stahl in this film), but is instead to take out all of his future high-ranking officers in his army-to-be. Schwarzenegger's Terminator comes back too, and his goal is to make sure that John and his friend/future wife, Kate (Claire Danes), survives through Judgment Day.

But didn't we stop Skynet and Judgment Day in the last film? The characters lived past 1997, so it would seem that that's the case. How can these androids still come back and profess that Judgment Day is still going to occur? John Connor asks why the world wasn't blown to smithereens. "You only postponed it," the Terminator responds. "Judgment Day is inevitable." Well, it's good to know that the hard work done in the previous film is going to be largely ignored. This Terminator, despite looking exactly like the other one, (save for a few more wrinkles on Schwarzenegger's face), isn't the same one, and therefore there's a point made that it won't remember any of the things that John taught it in the last film.

However, this is ignored too, because it both refuses to kill people, and it checks for keys under the sun visor of a car, both of which were things that it was taught before. Whatever, maybe whoever sent it back this time told it these things. Or maybe it's a slightly newer model than the previous one, and it knows these things or, well, it really doesn't matter. It's likely just that the writers wanted to pay homage to the first two films. Fine, this isn't a deal breaker in an action movie, nor should it be.

What makes or breaks a film like this is the action scenes, and it's a good thing that they're really entertaining in Terminator 3. They're good enough that I was able to look past the many flaws it had, and instead focus on how much fun I was having while watching it. There are huge set-pieces, big shootouts and the evil Terminator gets multiple guns that she can produce right out of her arm. (Apparently in this film, the evil Terminator can morph into complex machinery.) These scenes are filled with energy and are exciting even if there are times when the CGI isn't quite up to snuff, like when a helicopter crashes through a wall, we can tell that it doesn't really.

However, most of the special effects are quite impressive, just as they were in 1991's Terminator 2. And surprisingly, not much has changed in this area, but a little polish has been added. For the most part, the new antagonist Terminator is just like the one in the second film, but is a female and is even stronger. It still morphs its shape, and more or less absorbs and bullets shot into it. I was still in shock of how good this looked, despite not looking much different from how it did last time around.

The thing that made Terminator 3 almost a more enjoyable film than either of the first two was the humor, which came across more often and worked more often than it had previously. There are times when it seemed like this film was actually a parody, and while this didn't exactly allow it to maintain a consistent tone, it made me laugh and I thanked it for that. For a series that are mostly just really professional B-movies, humor is important, and this is the first film in the series to really get that.

I think a lot of the humor comes from Schwarzenegger himself. He's not exactly a charismatic actor, and it plays to his strengths when he isn't trying to be. Here, he plays a ruthless killing machine tasked with protecting two humans that he only cares about because if he fails, he won't have a purpose anymore. This allows for a lot of deadpan delivery of his lines, which actually make them hilarious. And then there's also the way that Nick Stahl kind of doesn't understand what type of role he's really playing, and ends up just being a typical action hero -- despite not looking the part. All of this amounts to the film being funnier than it really should be, which may be seen as a flaw by some people, but I take it as a strength in the production.

Oh, but this film also kind of messes up the timeline of the films. It makes Sarah Connor (played by Linda Hamilton in the first two films) fifteen or sixteen in the first Terminator, and also changes John's age in Terminator 2 from about ten to thirteen. I didn't really care about these changes, (again, I pass it off as sloppy or lazy writing), but I can see how it could anger die-hard fans of the series.

For what it's worth, I really enjoyed Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. To call it the best in the series would be to lie, but to call it the most fun might not require you to stretch the truth. Granted, there's little real intellect to the story and the characters are just there, not developing or being fleshed-out, but the action scenes were better than ever and the jokes actually made me laugh quite a bit. So yeah, it's a lot of fun as long as you don't compare it to the first two movies in the series, because it is quite a bit different in terms of tone and purpose.
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Re: Marter's Reviews

Post by PayJ on Fri Nov 04, 2011 6:53 pm

Terminator 3 ain't too bad.

First ones the best in my opinion.

Have you seen the 4th one?

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