Monday, January 30, 2012

Red Tails-review

In 1944, Tuskegee Airmen, a group of African American pilots in Italy made a lot of success for the United Stated by protecting bomber planes during missions.  The fact is these men were brave and essential factors to winning World War II.   This movie takes a story that should already be dramatic and hams it up making it needlessly cheesy.  Not that I don’t mind cheese in my movies some times. But this is just bad.  The dialogue is rotten. The characters are painfully one dimensional and there is a romance so forced that you’d think George Lucas actually put it in there simply to annoy us. 

The story follows a squadron of pilots in the Tuckegee experiment.  They are all written in the most cliché “war movie” stock characters you can find.  You have:
The drunk
The religious nut (Who believes in “Black Jesus” I might add. Going so far as to keep a picture of him; but I digress).
The angry guy who only plays his own rules
The racist(s)
The tough leader who has confidence in the men.

Plus, since this is a Lucasfilm production set in WWII don’t forget the cartoonish Nazi stereotype.  The scar face glaring gargoyle of a man that wants nothing more than to drink the blood of his enemies and sleep in Valhalla upon the skulls of those he has vanquished. The characters give no gravitas to the scenes they are in. When best friends die they just look like someone dinged their car with a shopping cart and yell an expletive.  The worst thing is that everything said in this movie is a quip.  After every plane is shot every airman has to say some stupid funny line like it’s going to be printed on a shirt one day. 

Like I mentioned earlier the characters are all stock cliché characters that you can find in any war movie.  They have brought nothing new to the table.  If only the director gave a crap about making something even halfway decent they should have maybe attempted to follow the story from maybe one man’s perspective. Maybe you could see these people as he does and grow to care about them rather then get several different plots ranging from bombing runs to an escape plot out of Stalag 18.

There is also a romance between “Lightning”, one of the airmen, and an Italian girl named Sophia.  They fall in love with all the stupid banal chatter you would expect in a Lucas movie.  Out of the blue she tells him she loves him and it’s almost as if he forgets his lines.  What the hell? Next time they are together he asks her to marry him and she says she has to think about it.  I expected him to make up a line about hating sand.  It’s stupid and pointless and adds nothing but filler to the movie which is already pretty emotionally lackluster.

The only good thing about it is that the dog fights look pretty cool. However, since it’s all CGI you may as well be watching the cut scene from a videogame.  There is no sense of reality to any of the explosions and the threat is not really there.  The whole time I know no matter how neat it is I am essentially watching a cartoon. I really just didn’t get into it.  The movie was dull and cliché and really think it wasn’t worth it at all. I can’t possibly recommend this.  I am sure it meant well during the writing process but it failed when it came to completion.

Sunday, January 29, 2012


I have never been too a drive-in theater. I regret this since so many of them are dying out all over the country.  This movie is a fun tongue-in-cheek look back at the days of drive in cinema and the some of the fun people used to have there.  It begins with a mass of people driving to a drive-in which is having its last night of shows.  Then it becomes a comedic horror anthology as we watch the movies unfold before us. Meanwhile, zombies are beginning to attack the unsuspecting drive-in movie patrons.

I guess for a review like this the best thing to do is just review each separate aspect of the anthology. So let’s start with the firstmovie “Wadzilla”.  “Wadzilla” is a story that pays homage to the 50’s monster movie like “The Blob”. Except in this case we have a man whose sperm has grown to massive size and is killing people.  The acting is appropriately over the top. The effects cheesy and fun and it’s a good way to start “Chillerama” off. It’s written well and the actors show a lot of skill in delivery.  Eric Roberts makes a cameo, which is some fun as well.

The second movie is “I was a Teenage Werebear”. I am not a big fan of this segment at all.  This one pays homage to the 50’s surfer musical, “Rebel without a Cause” and “Twilight”.  Now, why the hell is the last one in there? I am not sure.  Still it’s a musical with tons of homosexual overtones. The songs are not particularly clever and it comes off trying way too hard.  This is not exactly “Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog”. This is the segment that you should not feel bad hitting fast forward on. 

The third movie is my favorite:  “The Diary of Anne Frankenstein”.  A black and white movie where the Frank family discovers their relatives were none other than Dr. Frankenstein. Adolf Hilter arrives and kills them himself to get their blue prints to build a monster.  He builds one and it’s played by Kane Hodder of Friday the 13th fame, naming him Meshugana.  This movie is really cheesy and really fun.  It was filmed in four days. They speak gibberish German with subtitles. All in all it’s a very fun look at a serious part of history.  Much like “Inglorious Basterds” was.

The forth segment is really just touched in brief. It is the movie folks are watching as they are being attacked by the zombies during that plot which I will get to in a moment. It’s called “Deathication.” It seems like it was just clips of people crapping while disco music plays.  The intro though is what makes this really funny. The director talks about his film warning the audience about how awful it is all the while adult film star Sunny Lane stands nearby trying not to throw up. “In other words, this film will rape you with your own feces.” That line itself can describe so many of the bad movies I have seen. 

The “Zom B Movie” is so-so at best.  It’s the movie that contains the others but it’s really just a run of the mill zombie movie that is a throwback the zombie moves of the 70’s and 80’s.  The most annoying part of this section is the script for this is feels like about 60% quotes from other movies.  Now I love movie quotes in general but I think it’s really stupid if you have to tell people what it’s from after every single line. If I am a watching a movie called “Chillerama” I am going to know you quoted “Robocop”, and “Gremlins” without you having to shout out the name of the movie after the quote.  Still it is a decent enough way to encompass the whole movie and it does its job at least. 

In the end it’s all just the directors watching this in a multiplex.  Remembering the days of the drive-in and THAT is what this movie is all about.  It’s a tale of people’s nostalgia for movie magic.  In that way it works on a whole new level.  I recommend this movie if you are a fan of cheesy, dark humor. If you want something wildly different to watch this will be right up your alley. If you were lucky enough to have experienced a drive-in maybe you will feel the same connection these directors do. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim-review

Having finally gotten through the main storyline of “Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim,” I finally feel confident enough to talk about it.  It’s a damn good game.  There is a lot of content and there is plenty to do in game, which is really nice.  The character creation is pretty smooth the skill trees and leveling is easy to figure out.  It’s also pretty nice to see that after main quest you can continue questing on side missions.  This was something that Bethesda games made the mistake removing in “Fallout: New Vegas”.  

The concept is that the character you create is a Dragonborn, a person that can use the powers of a dragon and can absorb the souls of dragons he kills.  You begin on your way to get executed when a Dragon attacks.  This allows you a chance to escape and make your way into the world of Skyrim.  Skyrim is lovely world that looks like a mixture of Viking art and the style of the animated “Beowulf” movie.  The graphics are fantastic and the creatures are very clever. 

The good thing is that there is a ton to do.  This whole game is incredible. It’s beautiful to look at and it’s very detailed from the books you pick up to the music in the background.  You can create a character that is unique and very customized to whatever your style of game happens to be.  If you are a melee style person, ranged fighter, or someone that would rather hurl magic like champ it is easy to set up to switch it out on a whim.  The NPCs are all very stylized and show a lot of depth and are not usually the generic kind you see in most other games of this style.

The mediocre thing is that some of the quests will get monotonous over time.  That is not to say they all are. You will do a lot of running from place to place. Many of the locations you delve into will either be way too hard or way too easy so finding that middle ground is a fair challenge. Still, it isn’t hard to gain experience and find better equipment so if a place is a pain you can always return later when you are stronger and ready to meet the challenge.   

The bad is that like any Bethesda game this one has an irritating mass of bugs.  It freezes at times.  Sometimes characters will go into a dialogue loop or dead characters will vanish into the floor.  This is not the worst thing in the world but it is annoying that the kinks aren’t all ironed out.  The other thing I’ve noticed is that it’s a real pain to pick up stuff in close proximity to certain things since if you accidentally take anything that isn’t yours you will have a bounty on your head and will immediately have the whole town guard come down on you. 

The good far exceeds the mediocre and the bad on this game.  If you are fan of role playing games then this is a great one.  It allows you a lot of chance to explore and create a fun and unique character.  I highly recommend it since it shows a lot of potential and can only get better if and when DLC comes out.  It has an epic story with original concepts that make it an adventure that is really worthwhile and memorable. Even a newcomer to the franchise like me can easily get into this and find it easy to lose time playing.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

2012 Oscar Picks

Looking at the nominees I am seeing that this year I didn’t see nearly as many contenders as last year.  Still, if I am to venture a guess here are my
My 2012 Oscar picks
Best Picture- “The Artist”
Actor in a Leading Role- George Clooney in “The Descendants”
Actor in a Supporting Role- Christopher Plummer in “Beginners”
Actress in a Leading Role- Viola Davis in “The Help”
Actress in a Supporting Role- Octavia Spencer in “The Help”
Animated Feature Film- “Kung Fu Panda 2”
Art Direction- “The Artist”
Costume Design-“Hugo”
Directing-“Hugo” Martin Scorsese
Documentary (Short Subject)- “God Is the Bigger Elvis”
Film Editing-“The Artist”
Foreign Language Film- “A Separation” Iran
Make Up-“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows Part 2”
Music (Original Score)- “The Artist”
Music (Original Song)-“Man or Muppet” from “The Muppets”
Short Film (Animated)- “Wild Life”
Short Film (Live Action)-“Time Freak”
Sound Editing-“Drive”
Sound Mixing-“Hugo”
Visual Effects- “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”
Writing (Adapted Screenplay)-“Hugo”
Writing (Original Screenplay)-“The Artist”

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Devil Inside-review

You have seen this movie already. “The Devil Inside” is Paramount’s lame attempt to capture the same lightening in a bottle that “Paranormal Activity” did, and it shows in every painful, nausea-inducing frame.  The plot is simplistic and stolen lazily from other movies like “The Exorcism of Emily Rose”, “The Exorcist,” “The Rite” and even “Fallen” to name a few. 
The story is about a woman named Maria Rossi, played by Suzan Crowley. Maria murders three people who were performing an exorcism on her in the late 80s. She is eventually moved to a psychiatric hospital in the Vatican. (Nice cover guys.)  Twenty years later her daughter Isabella, played by Fernanda Andrade, is part of a film crew attempting to find answers as to what became of her mother.  Is she really possessed or just mentally ill?  Where will this strange journey take her?
The acting is on par with something you would see in an Asylum production direct to DVD movie.  No one seems to take the material seriously at all. When Isabella sees her mother snap and act like a deranged demon for the first time, the audience simply sees a lone tear roll down her cheek, as if she was just stood up for a date from a guy she really liked.  The other characters performances are a lot worse in their motivations. This might also be attributed a lot to the fact that the writing was wretched.
“The Devil Inside” almost seems to have been written hastily over a weekend. The characters are so poorly developed and lack so much motivation that in no way is the audience ever going to care when anything happens to them. For example, one of the priests gets a slight bit of back story about how his uncle may have molested him, but it’s shoehorned at the end right before one of the laziest endings I’ve seen in long time.  There are attacks that should have killed the characters or at the very least left them limping, but they are fine and dandy come a scene change.  The scares come at you in the cheapest way known- jump scares. 
Normally I am not one to find POV movies that bad. This one nauseated me. “The Blair Witch Project” and “Quarantine” are easier to watch than this movie and those movies shook like they were held by a Parkinson’s patient on a paint mixer.  Between every headache of a scene there is a transition that jars at you with the date and time like “The Shining,” and just as abrupt.
To this movie’s credit I am impressed by the use of an actual contortionist, Bonnie Morgan, who played the possessed girl, Rosa.  Her scenes were the coolest thing in a pretty dismal movie. Still, that wee performance is not enough to make up for the whole movie of under and overacting. 
My final thoughts are: This movie is a mess of epic proportions that shouldn’t be seen. It’s so clear that there is no real thought or care whatsoever put into this project. As I said earlier in the review “The Devil Inside” rips-off a lot of movies that do a lot better at telling stories of battles with Demons. Watch any of them before watching this and your experience will be much more rewarded.  “The Blair Witch Project”and “Paranormal Activity” did well in the box office and continue to be loved by people for a good reason. They were creative and well done for tiny budget. “The Devil Inside” feels like it badly wants to be that kind of movie, but fails on every conceivable level.