Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Teenage Zombies-review with spoilers

This movie is not nearly this exciting.
            The 50s monster movie sure had strange visions of what teen life was like for kids back then.  One movie that stands out for me as a really fun movie of this variety is “The Blob” which came out in 1958. It was essentially a boy cried wolf story and it was done well with a young Steve McQueen.  On the other side of the scale we have “Teenage Zombies”.

            While not awful a person can watch this and simply marvel at the amount of padding that goes into this movie.  The absolute grasping at straws the script does to come up with a plausible idea and how it comes together in this mess.  It begins with a quartet of teens going water skiing.  There is talking the ENTIRE movie of water skiing with no footage of the actual act of water skiing so I suppose it is implied.  The teens, Reg, Skip, Julie and Pam find Mullet Island during their fun afternoon.

            The island is run by a mad scientist named Doctor Myrna who intends to turn everyone in the U.S. into zombies. The island also apparently has a Foley guy that loves bird sounds because he uses the hell out of them. While exploring the island she takes their boat and captures them in cages.  A couple of their friends go to look for them with the aid of the Sheriff but it doesn’t go well.  They even find the island where their friends are and talk to Myrna but she gets rid of them. Just as two goons arrive to see the results of her mind control nerve gas.

Come up to the lab and see what's on the slab.
            She shows them it is not working well on some of the test subjects.  On a male subject he becomes listless and bored and the woman is full of rage. It sounds like they just went to a Jeff Dunham performance.  It works on a gorilla, so cheers all around.  Reg and Skip have found a way to break free. In the middle of the night they attempt to build a raft to get off the island.  The two teens arrive again with the Sheriff just as Myrna is about to zombie gas the two girls.  The two boys see what has happened and say, “Their minds are gone! Just like the rest!” Honestly with these two girls I’m shocked that Skip and Reg can tell the difference.  Then, in a shocking twist, it is revealed he is in cahoots with the criminals the whole time.  He says he was fine giving them criminals and drunks but killing kids is too far.

I am Torgo. I take care of the place while the Master is away.
            Because the Sheriff is waffling in their criminal enterprise, the goons shoot him.  The girls get gassed and a really lame fight breaks out.  It is more or less several games of twister rather than actual melees though.  The teens attempt to gas Dr. Myrna to find out the antidote.  She still won’t talk though and one of her goons reveals the antidote instead.  They test it on the Doctor and she throws the rest on the floor. 

            Somehow Julie and Pam are cured through editing.  The gorilla comes into the lab and tastes the de-zombification juice and goes ape (no pun intended) on one of the goons.  The teens then escape on the police boat.  When they arrive back at the police station an army peon greets them and tells them they will get medals and meet the President.  One of the kids tells them he just wants one thing his boat back.  Ha ha ha, those darn kids. 

I don't care how good it is.  I WILL NOT pay 50 cents for a milkshake.
            Like I said, it’s not the worst thing to watch.  It’s incredibly corny and the poster is much more exciting than the movie is.  If you are interested in making fun of something then it’s perfect for that. Otherwise, it’s something that really didn’t need to be made except to be drive-in fodder. 

Friday, June 24, 2011

Anneliese: The Exorcist Tapes- review with spoilers

"Real" is such a relative term.
Oh man. Is there any production company like “The Asylum”?  When you watch one of those movies you know exactly what you are getting.  I sure should have.  See, I didn’t realize that this movie was in fact a turkey from “The Asylum”.  But I guess we get surprised sometimes. To find out more about this phenomenon see my review on “Titanic 2”.   In this case I guess they wanted to kill two birds with one stone and cheaply rip off two movies by making it a mockbuster of “The Exorcist” and “The Exorcism of Emily Rose.” 

Even “The Exorcism of Emily Rose” has a slight element of truth to it.   In 1976 a Bavarian girl named Anneliese Michel had deep psychological issues.  She and her family were convinced that she was possessed by a number of demonic forces so they worked to exorcise them from her.  When she died during this process the autopsy revealed she had died of starvation and dehydration.  She weighed 68 pounds at her time of death.   Her parents went to prison for negligent homicide.  I am honestly not a fan of the Emily Rose version because the truth was so much more horrifying and it is more disturbing to me that they glossed it up so much.

This is the real Anneliese. These movies sully her memory.
In that respect the Asylum made a better movie.  They at least kept it A) in Germany B) with an ending where Anneliese dies of starvation and C) the parents get put in prison for the crime.  However, the movie still makes it seem like she indeed has supernatural powers and that it was a mistake to do so.  For a “found footage” movie from the 70s the film quality and edits sure would suggest that it is indeed much later and that there were computer edits.  Silly, how it takes time in the beginning to rip-off “The Exorcist” by having her pee on the carpet.  I also didn’t realize that digital security style footage existed in the seventies.  If they wanted to make this a spoof of “Paranormal Activity 2” they should have made it sequel that wretched “Paranormal Entity” rip-off. 

Father Magneto comes to the rescue.
Where “The Exorcist” doesn’t fail is it took a bit of time to build up the relationship between Regan and her Mother before she is possessed.  Then the theme of Father Karras and his dwindling faith is front and center most of the film.  It’s a really great movie.  This one touches on nothing.  There is some debate between the doctor characters and priest characters.  Anneliese is said to be possessed by three demonic entities: Emperor Nero, Adolph Hitler and Satan himself.  Okay I know the first two did some bad things but I wasn’t aware they were demons.  Thanks movie.  At least they tried to a do a scene like the spider walk from “The Exorcist”.  Only it’s really not scary or choreographed well.

The movie spends about 25% of the time either focused on the pages in a book with handwriting that is barely readable or it goes to a Bavarian crest on a black screen with German audio.   That’s entertainment! Anneliese kills the doctor who wants to stop the exorcism.  Why would she do that?  She also kills a few other folks just because she can and takes her top off because this is an Asylum movie.  That means class.    

Captain Howdy! That isn't very nice.
Bottom line is this is not the worse “The Asylum” has put out.  It is sad that the movie that gets even closer to the truth then the mainstream version still perverts the real story.  I am sure there will be all sorts of new fodder from “Asylum” in the coming year.  Wherever there is a blockbuster they will be there to make a buck. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Kung Fu Panda 2- review

...That's what she said!
            I seriously went into this movie without many expectations.  Though, I suppose that is good for a critic.  The first film was okay.  I thought the message was cute. I really enjoyed the father Goose, and the message of there being no secret ingredient.  It was a cute tale.  But it also had story issues that were bizarre choices.  Like why was the leopard villain such a super villain that he could take on an entire army?  If he was not destined to become the dragon warrior who cares if he got the dragon scroll; especially if it’s blank?

Okay Dr. Jones. Hold on to your potato.
            But plot holes aside it was a good movie.  The sequel was I think a better movie.  The villain this time is Lord Shen, a peacock who is reminds me a lot of a mix between the Skexis of “Dark Crystal” and Saruman of “Lord of the Rings”.  His motivations are almost biblical, in that it is almost a spot on plot Xerox of Exodus from the Bible.  Still with the production value brought to us in part by Guillermo del Toro we can see that this can give the tale it’s own originality and even go into some dark territory where needed.

Gary Oldman as the villain! In what media?!
            Po, the Panda voiced by Jack Black is back and is actually pretty damn funny as the fanboy still in awe of the Furious Five.  He knows a lot more Kung Fu though since we last saw him and he seems very hungry to fight for justice.  This time the drama stems from him finding out that he is adopted.  I am a big fan of the father character so the scenes that involve the two of them really shine for me.  When he discovers that Lord Shen has knowledge of his past he must wrestle with his own inner peace to battle a devious warlord who seeks to end Kung Fu and rule China.

            For the most part DreamWorks is not the best when it comes to the animation department.  Their best stuff was the “Shrek” series and even that started to get stale after a bit.  This one is a diamond in the rough.  It reminds me a bit of the old “Disney’s Robin Hood” with the anthropomorphic animal characters.  All in all I totally recommend “Kung Fu Panda 2” and hope that if you watch it you smile as much as I did the whole time.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Green Lantern- Review

             This movie sucks.  Considering that there is a pretty decent cast list of folks tied to the project, you’d expect some level of care put into this. You would be very mistaken.  The writing is really what kills this movie.  The script is weak and gives you no reason to like Hal Jordan as a character. 

Ooh that smell.  Can't you smell that smell?
            So without liking Hal Jordan, played by Ryan Reynolds, we are forced to hope that he will overcome his flaws to become the hero Coast City needs. Only the movie really forgets to do that.  I mean it.  It’s such a boring piece of shit that it forgets to make him do anything except save his girlfriend and some rich folks and ignore the obvious threat in the room. 

            There are not even enough action scenes to make this worth a shit.  You’d think a person could come up with all sorts of awesome things if you could create ANYTHING with a cosmic ring.  That would have been a great time to really expand the possibilities of C.G.I.  They should have given the ring to a kid.  He at least would have had a real imagination.

Is it me, or does this alien look like Kelsey Grammer?
            The villain is built up the whole movie only to be tossed aside towards the end. Hal Jordan spends most of the movie whining about the power he received and quitting things that are his responsibility.    The Guardians of Oa, who are suppose to be the immortal champions of good in the universe, are in the running for the most idiotic and corrupt run sci-fi club outside of the Jedi high council. 

No, Mr. Bond.  I expect you to die.
            I don’t get how a ring can seek out Hal Jordan when looking for a man of great will power when the guy is a total asshole that lacks any responsibility and cares very little for his life or lives and property of others.  Kira even told me that this movie’s basic plot rips off “Kung Fu Panda”.  Having not seen it I cannot confirm this.  But her description of the movie makes the comparison apt.

            Bottom line is they had a chance at a decent summer blockbuster and instead phoned it in.  They gave up a lackluster script where no one could possibly care about the protagonist.  The antagonist is not threatening and the story itself would be laughed at by the biggest comic book geeks.   My advice, don’t see this movie.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Alice: The Madness Returns-review

This scene certainly is inviting.
Many folks who know me will know that I love the computer game “American McGee’s Alice”.  It took a time loved story and gave it a dark twist as we ventured deeper into the character, Alice’s mental problems facing the death of her family after a tragic fire.  Her only refuge is to regress mentally back into Wonderland which is no longer the whimsical place she knew as a child but is now more evil and primal than ever.  The art style and game play was a wonderful for 2000 and it still remains one of my favorite games of all time.

Yesterday a sequel came out and I gave it a shot.  After a problem with the disc that required me to get a replacement I finally got it running. So far I am incredibly impressed.  First off the look of the game coming from 2000 to 2011 has improved immensely.  The art style is nothing short of eye-popping.  Both vivid and amazing, it shows a lot of detail as scene goes between Wonderland and Whitechapel in London.  It looks smooth and the cut scenes are fun.  The music is still haunting and appropriate for where you are in the level.  The game play is a lot better.  Changing it from a keyboard control to a console control makes it a hundred times easier to combat enemies that are much harder and use way more gang tactics than the original game.

It's on like Donkey Kong.
            If there is a flaw so far it’s that the game can be maddeningly difficult at times.  There are times when in a platform game it’s all about timing and if it’s not precise you are screwed.  The other problem is getting ganged up on by a dozen or more creatures of various types.  The problem with this is that often certain creatures have a very particular weakness that require a level of focus that is damn difficult to give when getting a beat down by other goons.  The weapons choice has been interesting and fun so far.  Though for some items I would have preferred simpler one button commands as opposed to hit L1 and X to perform a block.  

Fee Fie Foe Fards! I smell a group of humanoid cards.
Still, it’s a fun and very playable game.  The best part is that it even comes with a free download of the original game as a console port.  This is an awesome add on.  Now keep in mind that the original does have primitive graphics compared to its sequel but it at least it got transferred into HD and the controller is a lot easier to maintain control of a person than the keyboard. So it improved on the original only a touch to make it work.

            All in all “Alice: The Madness Returns” is a great game.  Plus you get much more than you bargain for with the original game as well.  It’s a very worthwhile  purchase and I recommend it to anyone who might be in the mood for a more adult take on the Alice in Wonderland story.  It shows style and heart which we’ve come to expect from American McGee.  If you give it a try let me know what you think.  Frankly, I think this is the story that Tim Burton SHOULD have made into a movie if Disney hadn’t turned it into “Narnia” rip-off.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Super 8- review

Keep the change ya filthy animal.
           Without revealing too much about “Super 8” I can say at least it is okay.  The characters are well acted at least and the movie seems competently put together.  But like most mediocre movies that come out these days there are things about it I like and things about it that I don’t like. J.J. Abrams is a great director.  I think we’ll see really wonderful stories from him.

            First off let’s talk about what is good.  Like I mentioned the acting is good. For the most part we are watching young kids act in a seventies backdrop during a small town terror.  That calls for a pretty good bit of range.  The person that really shined was Elle Fanning.  Younger sister of Dakota, whom I think we will be seeing a lot more from if she continues to turn in performances like this. 

My God! So many lens flares.
            As for the negative, it is really mostly nitpicking.  For example: Why the hell is Abrams using lens flares in his shots so often?  He did this in “Star Trek” too.  It’s like he enjoys blinding the audience.  The other issue I have is that the alien menace itself is almost a direct rip-off of the Cloverfield monster.  I sort of expected some sort of originality here upon coming into this but was disappointed.  Plus, with the strength and incredible abilities the alien has it seems to really stupid to assume that it couldn’t have left anytime it wanted.  Or even that it was caught in the Area 51 crash site for that matter.

            That aside there are multiple instances where characters should have been killed or maimed horribly in ways that are too numerous to describe but for reasons I can’t comprehend they can remain relatively unscathed.  I do like how a person can bathe with an object that sets off a Geiger counter with no ill effects.  That seems smart. 

For the last time.  No, I am not a young Don Johnson.
            Still, nitpicking aside it’s not the worst thing out there.  It’s at least got some likeable characters doing likeable things and you don’t want any harm to come to them.  That is somewhat rare in today’s movies.  It also has a really decent soundtrack for whatever that is worth.  Personally I think it might be a better matinee or a renter.  But it is at least worth seeing if you are a fan of other J.J Abrams movies.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

X-Men the First Class-review

Seig heil!
            Another X-Men movie seemed like such a bad idea.  The third one was pretty mediocre and the Wolverine movie was all sorts of rotten.  This one however is actually on par with the first one. Now we don’t have all the wasted time of exposition of what a mutant is we can get into the meat of the story and they actually give us a really fun ride through the Cuban Missile Crisis.

            It begins with Erik Lehnsherr as a boy from the first movie as his mother and father are being marched into the Nazi death camps.  We see the same footage with a few new frames spliced in of Kevin Bacon who is the new villain Sebastian Shaw.  Now for those of you who actually read the comics you know that Sebastian Shaw isn’t a Nazi scientist.  But the movie continuity and comic continuity never really came together anyway.

The champagne room sure is strange in this town.
            Frankly, I would have loved to have seen Erik in an entire movie of him doing what he was doing for a good portion of the film. He hunts Nazis with his powers in the movie.  It’s so badass to watch the guy beat the shit out of a guy then put out his fillings because that is what they did.  It’s sick and it’s twisted, but it’s also believable why a person would do that with the awesome powers that they have.   Meanwhile James McAvoy is Austin Powers-ing the hell out of his role as Professor Xavier.  That is, when we first meet him.

Betty Drapper brings home the Bacon. HA!
            He has a great relationship with Mystique and we and the development of the first X-Men team.  Beast looks amazing and all the characters are likeable and do their part well.  They have come a long way with effects.  I liked January Jones as Emma Frost.  First off, DAMN she looks amazing in her outfits that are almost straight out of the comics and damn near what a fembot would wear.  Second it’s actually fun to see her as this heartless, cold, bitch of a character instead of a frail housewife that is used to a life of getting trampled on by her husband in “Mad Men”.

When you can shapeshift are the outfits really needed?
            As far as nit picking goes the one thing that got me a bit was that at the end Xavier is crippled.  Now this movie is attempting very hard to keep up with the canon of the rest of series and considering Patrick Stewart was walking in the beginning of the third X-Men movie that is a wee bit of a continuity error.  Of course this really doesn’t matter in the long run.  In the Wolverine movie there is an Emma Frost character that is clearly a much younger girl.  So really who gives a shit?  It’s not exactly “Lord of the Rings”. 

            Really it’s a fun super hero movie that has a fun sixties backdrop.  The characters work marvelously with one another and you grow to care about all of them as they are incredibly well developed for a change.  Also there are some great cameos by Hugh Jackman and Rebecca Romijn which show some class coming back for a laugh.  All in all it’s totally worth seeing.