Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Apocalypto (2006)

Directed by:
Mel Gibson
Written by: Mel Gibson and Farhad Safinia
Starring: Rudy Youngblood, Dalia Hernández, Raoul Trujillo, Gerardo Taracena, Jonathan Brewer, Rodolfo Palacios, Morris Birdyellowhead, Ariel Galvan, Carlos Emilio Báez, Iazua Larios

The latest picture from Mel Gibson (apparently...). I wasn't crazy about The Passion for various reasons (this is not up for debate - it's personal). However, this movie sort of peaked my interest.

It's about a guy who has to escape from these scary human sacrifice people, run around in the jungle, and save his family while enduring lots of pain and blood loss and general unpleasantness.

I'm actually not sure yet whether I liked it or not (I liked parts of it...). First of all, it's marginally less violent than The Passion (that's not necessarily a good thing or a bad thing. It's a neutral observation). It's still violent as hell and a little bit disturbing.

There's some scary shit in there, but I guess that sort of goes with the subject matter. I'm not entirely sure how accurate the movie is, historically speaking, but I'm going to assume they did more research than I have.

The movie looked fantastic. Mel Gibson (apart from being one of my favourite action movie heroes ever - yeah Road Warrior) is a pretty good director. I also liked the people who were in it for whatever reason. They had cool stuff... you know?

So it's a pretty good movie. Well made (though it kind of looked like it was shot on digital... that bothered me. I am a digital snob), literally action packed (it never stops) and kind of cool.

On the other hand: it had scenes that seemed to be lifted right out of every other movie with Mel Gibson in it (Road Warrior, Braveheart, Signs...) among other things. The Mummy. They should make a Mummy with a South American mummy. Right now.

It was also not particularly engaging emotionally. I mean, I wasn't into the whole 'rescuing the family thing'. I guess there had to be something else going on, some other reason for that guy to go to all that trouble. And man, he went through a lot of shit. I was expecting him to just sort of drop dead after a while. That would have been a really lame movie, though.

And I wasn't convinced that it needed to have subtitles. Knowing what the people were saying didn't really add all that much to the movie, for me - they could have done it like Quest for Fire or something. Yeah, they would've had to change about half the movie (I'm really not sure that the grammar in that sentence works, but I'm just going to leave it that way), but dammit... dunno where I'm going. Whatever.

Um, yeah, kind of interesting movie and pretty entertaining if you overlook all the little bits of Mel Gibson weirdness (I used to love him so much before I knew he was weird - actually, I still do. I don't care, he's really cool. I can't resist his magic spell. The Mel-spell. It's kind of scary. I mean, I'd convert to his weird uber-Catholic thing or whatever if he told me to. It's that smile, gets me every time. He's be a great missionary).

Okay, I'm rambling now. Still undecided about the movie. I dunno. It was pretty good.


Monday, February 18, 2008

Air Force One

Air Force One (1997)

Directed by: Wolfgang Peterson

Written by
: Andrew W. Marlowe

Starring: Harrison Ford, Gary Oldman, Glenn Close, Wendy Crewson, Liesel Matthews, Xander Berkeley, Paul Guilfoyle, William H. Macy, Jürgen Prochnow, Donna Bullock

Basically the same plot as Die Hard except instead of Germans taking a skyscraper hostage and getting killed by John McLane, it's about Russians taking Air Force One hostage and getting killed by the President. But everyone knows that.

I liked Die Hard. I thought it was groovy. I liked this movie. Okay, it was stupid as hell (Die Hard, though it was pretty stupid, wasn't as stupid as this movie), but Harrison Ford is the President. Come on, how cool is that?

Harrison Ford should run for President in real life. I think he'd make a great President. He's charismatic and he's a better actor than any of the potential candidates.

Actually, he should run for Prime Minister and then I can vote for him. Even better.

Yeah, Harrison Ford... he's the coolest guy in the world. He's a great husband and a great dad (that kid wasn't even remotely fucked up) plus he can simultaneously run the country, kick ass and save his family. In this movie anyway. I'm not sure he can do that for real, but you never know. He's a carpenter. Cool.

Moving on, Gary Oldman has a Russian accent in this movie but no wig (at least, not a detectable one - I'm starting to think maybe the guy doesn't have hair...). I like him, too. He should run for Prime Minister. Wow, that would be cool.

Yeah, Gary Oldman vs. Harrison Ford is pretty groovy. That's sort of why I would even bother watching it. I mean, it's a load of patriotic horseshit, which is weird coz Wolfgang Peterson isn't even American, but I guess somebody's got to make it.

It's also a little too... long. I mean, Gary Oldman gets pushed out the air lock or whatever (hey, this movie should have been set on a space ship! Harrison Ford can fly a space ship) and then the movie's over, right? That's what I thought, and then I'm all like 'WTF, there's still forty minutes left'. So then all this other stuff happens, but never mind that.

In Die Hard, they push Alan Rickman out the window (he should run for PM) and then the movie's over. I think.

Oh well. I'm just being finicky. Still an entertaining movie but apparently not one I want to spend a lot of brain power reviewing. Jeez. I'm going to stop now, but tomorrow (or the next time I post...) I'm going to do Apocalypto and write about how much I love Road Warrior.


Sunday, February 10, 2008

Return of the Living Dead 5

Return of the Living Dead: Rave to the Grave (2005)

Directed by: Ellory Elkayem
Written by: William Butler & Aaron Strongoni
Starring: Jenny Mollen, John Keefe, Cory Hardrict, Aimee-Lynn Chadwick, Cain Mihnea Manoliu, Maria Dinulescu, Catalin Paraschiv, Claudiu Bleont, Sorin Cocis, Peter Coyote

One of the many sequels to Return of the Living Dead and the only one my library has. I've seen the first one, so I've got a basic understanding of the 'rules' in this one - the canister is full of bad shit, the zombies can sort of talk. Although in the first one they were sort of indestructible.

Anyway, some teenagers find this canister of mysterious shit and do what any young person would do: turn it into drugs and sell it to all their friends before the rave. Yeah!

Meanwhile, two wild and crazy guys working for the [Romanian?] government are looking for the canister.

The movie is supposed to be set in some little town in the states. It was shot in Romania/Ukraine. I thought maybe it was, like, B.C. But no. It looks like half the actors are dubbed, and the ones that aren't sort of stick out...

The movie is cheap, moronic and borderline incompetent and yet somehow strangely entertaining. Go figure. After watching Resident Evil 3 (I watched these on the same night) which is slick, high budget, extremely serious and moronic, goofy zombie antics aren't too bad.

It does try a little too hard to be funny in spots (same problem with the first Return), and reminds me a lot of other shit-budget films even in tone (and sub-par acting), but at times is wacky enough to amuse me.

Also, the overwhelming crapiness does bring a smile to my face. This one has a zombie rat! Rats, dogs, crows, fish, what's next? I'm holding out for zombie gnats or something like that. Why couldn't zombie be carried by a mosquito?

The whole 'don't do drugs cos you'll turn into a zombie' thing is a little irritating (and yet so effective! It could happen! E could turn me into a zombie. I am such a chicken shit).

Also, the rave didn't really look that fun. Even before the zombies. Mind you, I'm afraid of people, so raves aren't really my favourite thing.

So I guess for fans of really bad zombie movies. Other people will probably just think it's a total waste of time. And, I guess, they'd be right. But I'm proud to waste my time. I'm not really using it for anything.


Resident Evil 3

Resident Evil: Extinction (2007)

Directed by:
Russell Mulcahy
Written by: Paul W.S. Anderson
Starring: Milla Jovovich, Oded Fehr, Ali Larter, Iain Glen, Spencer Locke, Matthew Marsden, Mike Epps, Ashanti, Christopher Egan, Linden Ashby, Joe Hursley

Third film in the Resident Evil series and probably not the last (I predict they will make Resident Evil movies 'til the end of time - bogus prediction number one. Hoy!).

In this one the t-virus (I'm not a nerd, I'm just very good at retaining information) has apparently wiped out virtually everybody and, as everybody knows, if humanity gets wiped out the world turns into a desert. Righto. Um, then the survivors have to fight zombies in order to gain levels and go up against the boss.

The boss in this one being Hamlet from Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead with, like, tentacles coming out of his hands. Cos that's what happens.

So, higher production values than the other two, I think - it looks like it's sort of outside for most of the movie (yeah, the second one was supposed to be outside, but it looked like it was inside). And there's lots of... stuff. Right.

Although the movie is kind of better than the first two, it's still stupid as fuck. And it ripped off basically everything. The Terminator, Road Warrior, The Birds, The Matrix and Day of the Dead. There's one scene that pretty much copies a scene in Day. And the bus driver's name is Otto. Jeez. And the Alice in Wonderland references are really starting to bug me. Not just in this. It's such a cliché.

Through the whole thing I was sitting there going 'why is [whoever] doing that? It'll waste so much time'. Also, the survivors apparently didn't heed the advice of such superior films as Road Warrior - if you go around driving hummers, you'll run out of gas quicker. Max Brooks could tell you that.

Still, Milla Jovovich is hot (as opposed to those movies where the hot chick isn't hot at all), and hey, Oded Fehr! He was in the other one, but he's still cool.

It's vaguely entertaining if you don't really care that it's totally shallow and pointless. And there are a few cool shots - particularly all the dead Millas lying in a ditch (they clone her, like, a billion times in this one, so you know what the sequel's going to be - how about Millas versus Smiths? Who would win?).


The Dead Girl

The Dead Girl (2006)

Written and Directed by:
Karen Moncrieff
Starring: Toni Collette, Rose Byrne, Mary Beth Hurt, Marcia Gay Harden, Brittany Murphy, Giovanni Ribisi, James Franco, Nick Searcy, Kerry Washington, Josh Brolin, Piper Laurie, Mary Steenburgen, Bruce Davison

I knew virtually nothing about this movie when I watched it. I thought it was called Living Dead Girl. I guess that's a song? But just imagine my confusion.

Anyway, it's five stories revolving around a dead prostitute (not intersecting-drama style, though, which is actually really refreshing. It could have gone that way really easily). "The Stranger" is about the woman who finds the dead girl. "The Sister" is about a woman whose sister went missing fifteen years ago. When the dead girl turns up at the morgue, she believe it may be her sister. "The Wife" is about a woman who discovers that her husband has been murdering prostitutes. "The Mother" is about the dead girl's mother. "The Dead Girl" shows how the girl became dead.

A little on the morbid side, but that's okay. A few parts of the movie were kind of overdone, a little too heavy, but generally it was pretty well done, well written, well acted.

It was almost exclusively about women, which was cool, and the characters were actually interesting, as opposed to, like, Evening which was also about women but boring as fuck. Coincidentally (or not?), both pics have Toni Collette in them except she really sucked in Evening. I guess it's not a coincidence. If you're going to make a movie about women, you might as well cast Toni Collette. I mean, she's a good actor (except in Evening) and she's not, like, a sex bunny.

Well anyway. Apparently she's Australian. What is it with Aussies/Kiwis? They must have a really good film school there or something.

Ah, useless trivia. Giovanni Ribisi has a twin sister. She's married to Beck or something. I learned that when I was researching Scientology.

Piper Laurie was scary in Carrie.

Shit. Okay. I also liked the music in the movie. I can't remember it right now, but I remember liking it. Also, the scenery was kind of nice. It was shot in California and shows some of the parts of California I don't really think about that much.

Yep. Interesting movie. I'm way too off track to actually write any closing remarks that make sense, so I'll just stop now.


Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Eye

The Eye (2008)

Directed by: David Moreau and Xavier Palud
Written by: Sebastian Gutierrez
Starring: Jessica Alba, Alessandro Nivola, Parker Posey, Fernanda Romero, Rade Serbedzija, Rachel Ticotin, Obba Babatundé

American remake of the Chinese horror picture Mr. Red and I went to see on Sunday rather than watch the Superbowl.

About a blind woman who gets a cornea transplant from a dead chick who could see ghosts/the reaper/the future/all kinds of crazy ass shit. And then some stuff happens. Woo, it's scary.

Not so bad as I thought it was going to be. First of all, it was in English which cleared up the whole 'I can neither speak nor understand Cantonese' thing. And no, I must not use subtitles.

It was slicker and scarier than the original version, being more concerned with quick jumpy loud noise freaky bits and constant action. Yeah, action.

I think they changed the ending though. I don't really remember, but it seems to me that at the end of the other one a whole bunch of people died in a fiery fireball of fire. And they, like, get rescued in this one. Spoilers. Oh yeah.

Jessica Alba was actually better than I wanted her to be too. I never really liked Jessica Alba, in fact, I always hated Jessica Alba. Probably just cos I didn't like Fantastic Four (I'm more of a Scarlett Johansson person), but she did a pretty good job in this. She didn't look like she was wearing too much makeup either. She looked really awful, actually, which is good. If an actress will do a movie where she looks like crap through a good portion of it, she automatically earns my respect. Although I was wondering if she had any problems with her lip implants. Like, haunted lips or something.

Okay, some parts of it were pretty tacky, some of them even amusing (the people sitting behind us kept laughing. This was annoying), but it was okay.

I can't say I was crazy about buddy Alessandro Nivola there. I was convinced through the whole thing that he was on Pushing Daisies. This is not so. I was thinking of Raúl Esparza. Dunno where I got Alessandro Nivola. Nivola guy was in Jurassic Park 3, played that jackass with the camera.

In this he was supposed to be an eyeball rehabilitator or something, but he kind of looked like a homeless person. Well anyway, he seemed nice enough.

There are a couple of little, miniscule cock-ups I was having trouble with, the first of which being her ears. She gets a cornea transplant and suddenly becomes able to not only see but hear ghosts. Okay, it almost makes sense. Because sight dominates our perception of the world, when our eyes see something, they tell our ears that they can hear it (not a very good way of putting it, but trust me, it does make sense). However, sometimes she hears something, people making scary ghost noises out in the hall, and then goes to see what it is. That does not make sense.

Secondly, if she went blind when she was five, she wouldn't necessarily know that what she was seeing wasn't normal. Maybe there are shadowy figures walking around everywhere. Maybe everybody's room changes at 1.06 in the morning. She wouldn't know.

There was something else that was bothering me but I forget what it was.

None of these things are enough to really piss me off though. They just made me wonder.

Oh yeah, I was having a problem with 'cellular memory'. Sure, cells must remember what they are. For example, a liver cell must know it is a liver cell, and remember being a liver cell. If it didn't, people would just be amorphous blobs of stuff. Our brains would be our lungs and our spleens would be our skin.

However, can cells really remember who they belonged to? Can a liver remember what brand of cigarettes it's former owner used to smoke? Would they actually give someone the liver of a chainsmoker? Doesn't seem like a good idea, but oh well.

Just a bogus attempt at scientific explanation. The woman can see dead people walking around, there shouldn't be anything scientific about it.



Suspiria (1977)

Directed by:
Dario Argento
Written by: Dario Argento, Daria Nicolodi, based on Suspiria de Profundis by Thomas de Quincey
Starring: Jessica Harper, Stefania Casini, Flavio Bucci, Miguel Bosé, Joan Bennett, Alida Valli, Barbara Magnolfi, Susanna Javicoli, Rudolf Schündler, Udo Kier

Classic Italian horror picture about a young woman who is accepted into a prestigious ballet academy in Germany. She soon learns that the academy is run by witches. Apparently that's bad (I happen to be a witch, granted, I'm not practicing witchcraft at the moment, but still, I resent that terrible portrayal of my sisters. Ah well).

According to the IMDb, the idea was that the girls at the ballet school would all be under twelve, but apparently this would have been too shocking or something, so they changed that. This does explain why all the girls appear to be slightly retarded (I mean this in the nicest possible way).

Anyway, I actually thought the movie was kind of stupid, no offense, but the art direction was incredible. The movie almost seemed to be all about art direction. Beautiful blues and greens and reds. All the beautiful colours.

And there were some pretty cool shots, through the lightbulb for example. Neat.

And the soundtrack was fuckin awesome. My friend, Mr. Blue, had always talked about the Goblins, but I never truly believed the stories. They really were great. I did sit through the movie making fun of them, but I liked them all the same.

One of my biggest problems with the movie, apart from it's being a little bit stupid, was the dubbing. Almost all the actors in it were dubbed in English (they appear to be speaking English, I watched their lips move, so I have to assume they just had thick accents). This was mildly irksome but I didn't really think about it all that much until Udo Kier came on. Udo Kier with a thick American accent is just wrong on so many levels.

It was certainly gory enough, though. No complaints there. I kept thinking of a movie I watched a while ago called The Woods with Agnes Bruckner and Patricia Clarkson and, like, Bruce Campbell, which pretty much lifted the plot from this wholesale. I liked that movie better though...

Yeah, good to watch and easy to make fun of. Not a very difficult target, I'm afraid (hey, just like Scientology, but I'd rather not get into that).


The Messengers

The Messengers (2007)

Directed by: Danny and Oxide Pang
Written by: Mark Wheaton
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Dylan McDermott, Penelope Ann Miller, John Corbett, Evan Turner, Theodore Turner, Dustin Milligan, William B. Davies, Jodelle Ferland

I read an article about this in the NY Times magazine a long time ago, and I was all like, hoy! Shot in Saskatchewan! Kept that in mind when I was watching it, even though it was set in North Dakota.

Anyway, about a family that moves to North Dakota from Chicago to start a sunflower farm. The kids start seeing scary ghosts, but the parents don't believe them. Damn, I hate it when that happens. As it happens, the ghosts are only warning the newcomers that the guy they hired to plant sunflowers or whatever is about to go Jack Torrence all over the place.

Yes indeedie. As with The Eye, the ghosts aren't actually evil, they're just weird looking.

Um... not so much scary, though. Not even particularly creepy. It was actually kind of lame and I talked pretty much all the way through it. Which is kind of sad.

It was just kind of poorly paced. It had Canadian pacing as we like to say. It sort of went on and on and nothing really happened and when it did it was downplayed to the point of not even really mattering. And the dialogue was slow. The acting didn't stand out as being that great either. It wasn't bad. It just wasn't awesome.

I didn't really like the cast all that much, to be quite honest. Nothing personally, just nobody in it really grabbed me. Although, as I just read today, the little dead boy was played by Jodelle Ferland, of Tideland and that other thing. Go Jodelle. She's from B.C. Apparently Scout Taylor Compton auditioned for the main role. I like her better than the girl who was in this.

There were a couple of Canadians in movie, but not in the main parts. And not really ones I'm familiar with. I think one of the guys was on X-Files. Yay.

Moving on: The ghosts were weird looking but not especially frightening. I guess I'm becoming immune to the freaky things crawling up the walls with their feet on backwards.

I guess the original Eye wasn't that scary either (I went to see the remake, by the way, but I'll get to that).

Anyway, the CG crows weren't terribly impressive either. I wasn't entirely sure what their purpose was, but oh well. Nice homage to/rip-off of The Birds though.