Thursday, May 26, 2011


Intruder seems to mainly be famous these days because it features Sam Raimi in a small role and Bruce Campbell in a barely existing role. That's how I heard of it, anyway.
It's about the night crew at a supermarket. Cashier Jennifer is being harrassed by her ex boyfriend who was recently released from jail. Then the crew finds out that the store is being sold and they'll all be out of a job by the end of the month.
Then somebody starts killing off members of the night crew one by one. Hilarity ensues. (It's not laugh out loud funny, but there are a couple good gags; a sign that says "1/2 Off" sitting on top of a guy who's been cut in half and shoved into two trash cans, for instance.)
It takes about half an hour to start getting to the gory bits, but at no point was I bored by the set up. It's not as bloody as I expected it to be (I'd heard somewhere the blood was copius but it seemed to me to be pretty average '80s slasher amounts of blood; it's quite likely Netflix only has the R rated cut, in which case I'm just missing out) but I still had a good time watching it.
The killer (once their identity was revealed) was pretty entertaining in all their crazy and the only thing about the movie I didn't like was the very last scene. It was too unnecessarily frustrating and downbeat for my taste. I think it was supposed to come off as funny (maybe?) but it doesn't work and it doesn't really fit the tone of the rest of the movie.
Other than that, though, nothing but compliments. I really enjoyed Intruder. And I would like to point out that one of the jump scares totally got me. Not because I wasn't expecting it but because I was so busy looking at all the old cereal boxes in the background. (The movie was filmed in an actual supermarket during its off hours so the backgrounds are full of glorious old product packaging. If you're as much a sucker for that kind of thing as I am, this movie's got more impressive scenery than Lord Of The Rings.)

End of line.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Gypsy And The Gentleman

This is one of the boringer Patrick McGoohan movies I've had to sit through. It's got a long, confusing plot wherein characters are constantly changing their alliances to each other.
First, there's a gypsy girl named Belle who lives a life prancing about fields and being all cuddly with a guy named Jess (who may or may not also be a gypsy; I'm still not clear on that) until she steals the purse of the titular "gentleman" (who gets his title in quotes because he's an asshole), Sir Paul Deveraux. Sir Paul saves her from the mob of angry people who want to kill her because she stole the man's purse by claiming that she didn't steal his purse. Later that night Belle abandons Jess because it's raining and hitches a ride in Sir Paul's carriage. Belle and Paul start shacking up (at one point Belle runs back to the forest to Jess for a couple days, but she ends up going back to Paul and no mention is ever really made of that again).
Meanwhile, Paul is engaged to a chick named Vanessa and Paul's sister Sarah wants to marry a doctor named John (I think?). Paul insists that Sarah can't marry John because his stature is too lowly. Then he marries Belle. Yeah.
Sarah informs Belle that Paul is broke, most of the staff quits and Jess gets a job taking care of their horses. Then Paul and Sarah's aunt dies and leaves Sarah her entire fortune as long as she marries before she turns twenty one. Belle, the aunt's lawyer, Jess and a somewhat reluctant Paul decide to tell Sarah the will says she'll get the fortune if she marries after she turns twenty one so Paul and Belle will get the fortune (why the lawyer's so gung ho on this deception is never explained, seeing as he wouldn't actually get anything out of it).
And the rest of the plot revolves around keeping Sarah locked up so Belle and Paul can get the aunt's fortune. And it goes on and on. And on. Aaaaand on. Paul has a couple changes of heart, Belle makes out with any guy unfortunate enough to get his face near hers, Jess spends the second half of the movie being a full on villain even though I'm pretty sure he wasn't one at the start of the film (he gets a cape and hat around the time he starts working for Sir Paul; I guess you have to do a heel turn when you get a cape and hat) and Sarah hopes desperately to be saved by her fiance and his friend, the famous actress whose hair never turns gray no matter how old she gets (it's known as "The Legend").
I didn't like the movie while I was watching it but in hindsight it was kind of entertaining, in an "I have no idea what the fuck is going on" kind of way. Nobody enunciates (especially not Belle) and I'm pretty sure every character makes the choices they make depending on what would be most dramatic at any given time. Also, Patrick McGoohan looks like this:

Never before or since was he so swarthy.

End of line.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Continuation Of Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

Well, I was right. I liked it way better the second time.
However, I disliked the mermaid romance and the Penelope Cruz twice as much the second time around, so that's still a big problem for me.
'Cause the thing is, in both cases, the movie doesn't give the audience a reason to fucking care. At all. "Oh, okay, I guess the religious guy and the mermaid are in love with each other now. Neither of them has really had any character development at all and they've barely said two words to each other, but I guess I'm supposed to give a damn for some reason?"
As for Angelica, we don't really know anything about her or her reasons for doing what she's doing. But some events happen that cause her life to hang in the balance (it's an action movie, after all; the token chick needs to be put in some peril or another) and I genuinely believe the audience is supposed to care whether or not she survives. We don't care because she's shrill and irritating and useless, but I think we're supposed to care and that sucks.
On the opposite end of the spectrum we have The Spaniard (that's how he's credited), commander of the Spanish fleet, who barely has any screentime but by the end of the movie we know exactly what his motives are and how they dictate his actions, we know that he is a royal badass and, I at least, want to see a whole movie about him. He's not shrill or annoying, he's a dude with a job to do. He's barely in the movie at all but he is one of my favorite new characters.
Him, the crew of the Queen Anne's Revenge and all the evil mermaids.
But not Serena. She can bite me.

End of line.

Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

It was good. I liked it.
It's also the first of the Pirates movies that I left the theater not feeling enthusiastic about at all, so I guess it's the worst of the four. Parts of it were good; overall it was a lot of fun, if a bit disjointed. It doesn't fit together as well as the first three did.
Barbossa was awesome (but not in it nearly enough; same goes for Gibbs) and Jack Sparrow was his usual fun, twitchy self. There was no Will Turner angsting around and getting on my nerves and it was really nice that the three characters I really cared about seeing were the three that came back for this movie.
As for newcomers there's Blackbeard, who's a darn fine villain, a crew member named Scrum who is rather endearing and adorable and, of course, the two factors that damn near ruined the movie for me (both of which I knew about beforehand and should have been more prepared):
1) the half-assed romance subplot between a missionary named Philip and a mermaid who he claims is named Serena even though she never tells him that's what her name is. I guess I didn't officially know about this one, but I did see a poster for the movie of a mermaid clinging to some bland looking man that, honestly, if it hadn't said "Pirates Of The Caribbean" on it, I would have thought was a poster for a particularly corny romance novel. I guess the filmmakers decided since Will and Elizabeth weren't in this one we had to have a dull romantic subplot from someone. 'Cause, you know, audiences go to pirate movies for the romance and not, oh, I don't know, to see some fucking pirates! (Eyeroll.) Oh well. At least this was practically a nonentity in the movie. My next complaint however...
2) Penelope Cruz. Not her character, Angelica, but Penelope Cruz is the biggest problem with this movie. 'Cause if a different actress had played her, I might not have hated her. But I have a serious problem with Penelope Cruz. Sure, she's very pretty and maybe in Spanish language movies she might even be a good actress (in fact, the two times in the movie she's yelling at Jack in Spanish are the two times she doesn't annoy me). But I've never seen her in a Spanish language movie. I've only seen her in English language movies and in those she's sailing by on looks alone and it's not enough. In every movie I've seen her in her performances are flat and the only emotions she ever manages to convey are "I'm sexy" and "I think I'm acting." So, yes, she made a very good looking (if a bit too clean) pirate, but she didn't make an effective or believeable one.
Considering the first three movies have strong female characters (Anamaria, Elizabeth and Tia Dalma) but also got talented actresses to back up the characters (Zoe Saldana, Keira Knightley and Naomie Harris) and make them likeable and believeable, it's disappointing that they'd drop the ball so completely in casting Angelica.
Overall, if you ignore her (or, at least, if I ignore her), it was a good movie. It was fun, if a bit more serious than its prececessors. It had long stretches of not-so-interesting bits. And it needed a whole lot more Barbossa and Gibbs, and infinitely less of Penelope Cruz. I'd even let the stupid mermaid romance slide if they'd recast Angelica.
Oh, I would like to say, though, that it was awesome that they decided to go with evil, violent mermaids. Evil, violent mermaids are so much cooler than how most of modern pop culture interprets mermaids.
So, in spite of the fact that the first three Pirates movies have Will Turner, I did like them better than the fourth one. Which is kinda sad; I was thrilled at the prospect of a Will-less movie.
Much like how I felt about the second one, though, I'll probably like this one better if I see it again. There are some ass kicking action scenes and now that I know what to expect overall, I can just kick back and enjoy it next time around.
I hope.

End of line.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Young Sherlock Holmes

First, I have to admit that I have seen Young Sherlock Holmes before. Usually I reserve my reviews for movies I haven't seen but I figured for this one I'll make an exception because the last time I saw Young Sherlock Holmes was more than twenty years ago and my only memories of the movie were a living stained glass window and a hallucination about pastries that scarred me for life. (Sincerely. When I could tell it was coming my eyes teared up.)
Interesting that it turned up in Movie Lottery 3D now, when I've been watching the recent BBC series Sherlock with Ivy. Coincidentally, Young Sherlock Holmes also features Nigel Stock as Rufus Waxflatter; not twenty minutes before I turned on the movie my mom and I finished watching my least favorite episode of The Prisoner, Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darling, which stars Nigel Stock as Number Six.
Anyway, on to actually reviewing the movie:

I liked it.
The end.

No, no, okay, fine, not the end. I just don't know what to say. I can't say much without giving things away. The movie opens with a pretty awesome and disturbing setpiece about a guy being attacked by his dinner and bedroom. It then moves on to show Sherlock Holmes and John Watson meeting at school and becoming friends. Sherlock has a love interest named Elizabeth whose wacky uncle Rufus is trying to build a flying machine.
And that's all I'm going to tell you. I think Young Sherlock Holmes is really worth seeing and, by golly, I'm not going to give away any plot points. It's got a really cool mystery, exciting action sequences and some truly disturbing hallucination scenes (like the one about the pastries). The plot goes some places I didn't expect it to go and I'd seen the damn thing before! (Nevermind that I was about five years old at the time, I thought I'd have had vague recollections but almost the entire movie was new to me.)
I'd also like to say how much I liked the fact that it didn't seem gimmicky. I feel like the problem with taking famous characters and giving them a "young self" version is that it can easily seem to be trying too hard or ... I don't know the right words for what I want to express. It's just something that can easily be screwed up. But in this case it wasn't. It was a Sherlock Holmes story that just happened to take place when Holmes was a teenager. And it was well written, well acted and incredibly entertaining.
And, as when I was five, the kid who played Holmes still looks like Julien Lennon to me.

End of line.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Phantom

The Nostalgia Critic reviewed The Phantom a few months ago, and if you want to go watch the video, I recommend it. It's very funny. One of the things I really like about Nostalgia Critic is that he can make me laugh even when I don't agree with what he says. 'Cause I didn't really agree with his review. He spent most of it nitpicking the logic of the movie and making fun of The Phantom's bright purple costume (and he completely ignored the fact that Patrick McGoohan was in the movie at all, an oversight that annoyed me even when I wasn't smack in the middle of a McGoohan phase. He did focus a lot on the fact that Catherine Zeta-Jones is in the movie, though, which is probably the Nostalgia Critic equivalent of me focusing on the Patrick McGoohan aspect).
I loved The Phantom. It's a fun, silly action movie with an affably evil villain, Billy Zane before he shaved his head and started getting cast as bad guys, ancient magic, a lot of chase scenes and some explosions. The first and last voice you hear in the movie is Patrick McGoohan's (a definite plus!) and, probably most refreshing, it's not a modern comic book action movie. Especially since The Phantom was a comic strip. But the comparison still stands!
Yeah, I love the Iron Man movies and the Pirates Of The Caribbean movies (not based on a comic book, but I'm including them anyway. I know it's "uncool" of me, but I'm really looking forward to On Stranger Tides. Five more days!) and if they released a cut of The Dark Knight that consisted solely of Gary Oldman's and Heath Ledger's scenes I'd totally buy it. But I have had a problem with action movies lately. They're all trying too hard to either be serious or over the top.
A lot of action movies these days are all about one-upping the action movies of those days. Everything's bigger and violenter and louder. Fight scenes are often incomprehensible (regardless of what editors think, movies are more exciting when the audience can actually tell what's going on), chase scenes go on so long they become boring and everything is extreme! Wanted had that whole "bullet bending" thing, Live Free Or Die Hard exploded a helicopter with a car, the most recent Indiana Jones was about aliens for some stupid reason, Rambo killed a million billion people (or at least a few dozen) with a giant machine gun mounted on a car and in general action movies aren't content to just be action movies anymore. They have to have at least one setpiece that is bigger and greater than any other setpiece in any movie ever, and they have to do it while cramming a bunch of obnoxious CGI down our throats. It's annoying.
I will point out that it's hypocritical of me to complain about over the top action movies, though, seeing as I own and love both Crank movies and Shoot 'Em Up. But it was refreshing to watch something as fun and goofy and innocent as The Phantom.
What's more refreshing was that every character really seemed to be having a good time. The Phantom loved running around and fighting bad guys while wearing a silly purple costume, just as the bad guy loved talking about his evil plans, having an evil 1930s mustache and ordering cronies to do his dirty work. Billy Zane never seems to stop smiling through the whole movie; this is a superhero who loves what he does.
And that is awesome.
I'm sick of "darker and edgier" superhero movies. I know everybody thinks it's cinematic brilliance, but Christopher Nolan's Batman movies can fucking bite me. I don't want to hear about Bruce Wayne's inner struggles! I want to see good guys beat up bad guys!
Nobody cares about that anymore. Everything has to be character driven, and the characters driving have to be murky and angsty and filled with turmoil. It's bullshit and I'm over it.
No more, I say! The time to hesitate is through. I call for a simpler time in moviedom when action movies are full of action, chatty villains, mild cursing and heroes who are totally cool with the fact that they're heroes.
Batman and his angst can go to Bat-Hell. Spiderman and his turmoil will be squished by my giant newspaper of fun action movies. That new Superman movie they're planning is also probably going to have some sort of seriousness that makes Superman brood, so let's just bury the whole thing right now in a Kryptonite grave of true entertainment.
I demand more movies like The Phantom!

End of line.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Two Living, One Dead

This movie is infuriating! ... Gaaahh!!
Here's the setup:
One evening three men are closing up shop at the post office. One of them (Eric) is in the back room counting money and the other two (Anderson and John) are in the front doing who knows what because the camera is in the back room with the money-counter. Some noise comes from the front room and when Eric goes to see what the ruckus is about, he finds a robber pointing a gun at him. "Hey," says the robber, "give me that money you've been counting." So, like anybody who doesn't want to die, Eric hands over the money and, when the robbers leave, runs to get help for Anderson and John, who have both been injured. Anderson survives with a bonk on the head and John becomes the titular One Dead.
"Well," says everyone in town "Obviously Anderson's a hero for having a concussion and John's a hero for being dead. But Eric's a coward with no sense of loyalty so we have free reign to make his life hell."
Anderson is given praise, money and the promotion that was meant for Eric.
Eric is given a whole lot of mean things said about him. Also the kids at school treat his son like crap and his wife, who for about ten minutes was very happy Eric lived, decides she's with the townspeople and that promotion was more important than her husband's survival and turns into both a hysterical bitch and my least favorite character. (Seriously, if Eric won't shout at her, I will.)
In fact, the only people in town who still treat Eric like a human being are the wife of the guy who died and a man (Rogers) who lives in a boarding house with Anderson, who thinks Anderson is being a royally pompous ass about the whole "hero" thing.
Eric and Rogers become friends, giving each other advice for "friends of theirs," one of whom was the coward in the post office robbery, the other has a badly hurt brother in the hospital.
Two Living, One Dead actually becomes far less infuriating once Eric and Rogers start hanging out. The scenes between them are probably the best in the movie, and there's a scene where Rogers tells off Anderson for being a pompous ass that's very satisfying. (Although I think that happens before he meets Eric.)
In another scene Rogers kind of tells off Eric's wife for being a hysterical bitch, which was somewhat satisfying. (It would have been more satisfying if I could have climbed into the television and slapped her, but that technology doesn't exist yet.)
Overall it was a good movie in the sense that it was engaging and the main character is likeable, even if he is rather mousey and doormatly. It was just really hard to get through the first half when everybody is giving him shit for not getting himself shot.
'Cause here's the thing: I have always heard that proper protocol in a robbery is to do what the robbers say, especially if they're armed, and then get help afterwards. The reason for this is to avoid as much injury and death as possible. So why the hell is an entire town mad at this guy for doing things properly and for wanting to stay alive in order to provide for his family? "Oh you're not brave and stupid and dead, so you suck." No, he doesn't. He's smart.
Admittedly, if the robbers had messed with pretty much any other character Patrick McGoohan ever played they would've gotten punched in the face because fuck them, but he wasn't in that kind of movie. And, honestly, it was really cool to see him play someone rather mousey and doormatly.
It was just a hard movie to watch because I really, really didn't understand why everybody in town treated Eric the way they did.

End of line.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Are You Scared

It's very obvious that this movie was trying to cash in on the popularity of Saw without really bothering to take into consideration why Saw was popular. Obvious enough that it's barely worth noting. I've barely noted it, so let's move on.
Are You Scared is about six people trapped in a warehouse where they're forced to play "games" that are just excuses for violence and death, as dictated by a mysterious unseen figure who watches all the goings on via video cameras.
The twist is that this is all for a completely illegal reality television show (the police are investigating the kidnapper / games master). I guess the movie is supposed to be a scathing comment on television culture (albeit a halfassed one).
Wait a minute ...
It's a television show.
The six people in the warehouse all talk like they've seen the show before and know exactly what it is (even though they act surprised when the games begin), and we're all shown their audition tapes. Meaning, yes, this really is a television show.
Who the hell greenlit this show?!
It should be relatively easy to find the killer since he obviously has contact and contracts with a network of some sort. Find the network heads, find your killer.
Also, why would people audition for this show (which it's mentioned has been going on for two years)? Yeah, I guess the people who tried out for season one, having no clue what the show's about, they have an excuse. But anybody after that should know full well that this is a show where people are basically forced to torture themselves to death. There would never be a season two because everybody would know better.
The movie, of course, skips over all of that. They mention several times that it's a TV show, but carefully avoids all of the logistics, thus making an incredibly frustrating movie.
It's not even Fridge Logic because these questions spring to mind immediately; you don't have to be standing with the refridgerator open to suddenly start pondering.

End of line.

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Backwoods

The Backwoods is one of those movies that ends up shelved in the horror section (and got at least one article about it in Fangoria) in spite of the fact that it is a straight up drama.
At least I can kind of understand the mis-shelving in this case. The plot is an old horror favorite (actually, it's a bit of a two for one deal this time): English-speaking tourists in a foreign country (in this case Spain) go out to the woods and stick their big ol' city noses where they don't belong, which don't please the locals none, no sir.
In this case, they barge into an abandoned house uninvited and find a girl with deformed hands locked up in a room. So they take the girl back to their own cabin and hilarity ensues.
And by "hilarity" I mean, of course, confrontations with the people who were keeping the girl, murder and attempted rape. It's not a subgenre of horror I'm particularly fond of, so I'm even less fond of it in drama form. Really not my kind of movie. And I actually expected as much going in.
So why bother watching it at all?
Gary Oldman.
Beautiful, mustachioed Gary Oldman, who is in the movie a lot and spends quite a bit of it speaking Spanish. And he's not playing a villain, which is kind of a rare occurance.
He is wonderful and I adore him, and he's all I need to sit through a depressing drama of any sort. I just don't do it very often. 'Cause when he's in a drama, he goes for the gusto. He's been in some of the most depressing movies I've ever seen (Romeo Is Bleeding, Prick Up Your Ears, Immortal Beloved, State Of Grace ... and he wrote and directed Nil By Mouth, which I won't even try to watch).
Which is why I demoted him from being my favorite actor of all time. He's brilliant and, of my favorite actors he's probably the best. But if you're going to be in movies that I wouldn't want to watch if you weren't in them, at least be in ones that won't make me suicidal, you know?
(On the other hand, Robert Englund took over the number one spot when I demoted Gary Oldman to number two, and Robert Englund was in Red. I'd rather sit through Romeo Is Bleeding again, and I swore I wouldn't rewatch that one unless I was paid handsome sums of money.)
(Fun Fact: I just looked up The Backwoods on IMDB. Under the "If you liked this movie, we also recommend" section they included Red. The Backwoods isn't as bad as that, but I sure wouldn't watch it again. They also included American Psycho, but I can't figure out why.)
I'm not saying Gary Oldman isn't worth the trouble. I just wish he'd make more screwball comedies.

End of line.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Treasure Planet

Treasure Planet is basically Treasure Island, but in space. I've never read Treasure Island, and the only movie adaptation I'd seen was Muppet Treasure Island, of which I remember the following:
- Tim Curry is Long John Silver
- there's a couple of good songs in it
- I think Gonzo's arms and legs get very long at one point
So I was pretty unfamiliar with the story. My whole family went on a pretty big Treasure Island kick back when I was in high school, but the most I got involved with that was attempting to watch Treasure Planet with them. I watched up to the part where Billy Bones dies and promptly lost interest. (Billy Bones is voiced by Patrick McGoohan. I wasn't even on a McGoohan kick at the time, but a fangirl is a fangirl no matter what the weather).
Now, however, I have watched the whole movie. And it was good, better than I figured it would be, but it did give me the impression that they weren't trying very hard. I think they cared way more about the animation than they did about the script.
Maybe that's why they picked a solid story to base their space movie on: so they wouldn't have to work on the script at all and could focus on animation. Which is a pretty smart way to do it, if you're going to be that way about things. It was a good, solid story with good, solid characters that took little to no effort to come up with.
And I think Treasure Planet is the only Disney animated feature with no real Villain. Long John Silver is the Bad Guy, obviously, but he's the first Disney Bad Guy I've seen who's layered the way he is; he's not just evil. Even their more layered villains are layered in evil ways (Frollo, for instance). Long John Silver is quite human (which is kind of ironic since he's a cyborg); he really does like Jim Hawkins and his affection for Morph is genuine (and was the cause of the only part of the movie that made me cry).
I totally want a Morph, by the way. (Morph is a little pink blob with giant eyes who can change into anything; he is absolutely adorable.)
Treasure Planet does have a genuine Villain in the form of a giant spidery looking dude, but he exits the scene about halfway through the movie, so he's not the Big Bad. He's just a bigger bad than the actual Big Bad.
What I want to know, though, is how does Billy Bones know he can trust Jim Hawkins? He crashes his spaceship and stumbles about hacking and coughing and dying of Lizard Consumption and babbling about how "they'll get his treasure when they pry it from his cold, dead, lizard fingers." Then he hands the treasure over to Jim Hawkins and dies.
Okay, that's great for helping the story along and all, and good for him for choosing somebody trustworthy, but he knew this kid for all of maybe five minutes. Did he figure "Oh, what the hell?" or did he actually have magic lizard powers that informed him that Jim Hawkins's hands weren't the wrong ones?
Also, why didn't they make BEN interesting-crazy (like I've heard Ben Gunn in the other movies is) rather than making him an irritating knockoff of the Genie from Aladdin? When BEN first showed up I was excited 'cause I figured he was going to be crazy (true) and funny (false).
In fact, there wasn't much humor in Treasure Planet at all, which never sits well with me.
There's a big group of post-Hunchback Disney movies that I just forget exist because they left no impression on me. I know I saw both Tarzan and Atlantis but all I could tell you about either of them is that there's a very disturbing death (Tarzan) and the preview was better than the actual movie (Atlantis; to this day I get excited for the movie when I see that preview even though I know the movie was a disappointment). I always lumped Treasure Planet in with them. And, now that I've actually seen it, I feel I was kinda right to do so.
Only kinda, though. I did enjoy it.

End of line.