Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Raven-review

Edgar Allen Poe has had and interesting past with Hollywood.  Several stories have been put to the silver screen with various degrees of success. This story is nothing special and the surprise ending is a tremendously lame.

The plot is a simple bit of historical fiction.  Several murders are committed in the style of Edgar Allen Poe’s works.  Poe, played by John Cusack, is summoned by the inspector to assist in solving the crime.  Can Poe match wits with this insane super-fan? 

Cusack is sort of an over-the-top caricature of Poe.  His portrayal was like an egocentric Nicolas Cage.  He yells and makes an ass of himself, making sure everyone knows how much smarter he is then others.  I’d talk more about the other characters, but the movie does a really poor job in character development.  There is very little to get emotionally invested in this movie.

The story is like a mix of “From Hell” and “Sleepy Hollow”.  Poe has a romance with a blonde girl that becomes mixed up in the game between himself and the killer.  The deaths are not very clever considering the material that they have to work with from Poe’s library.  This movie might have been more fun if they made Poe into a darker, depressed type, that drinks himself into an oblivion regularly; a Poe that still is mourning the loss of his 13 year-old wife/cousin.

As a whole, this movie is nothing special. It’s a subpar mystery.  The acting is piss-poor and the story shows a lack of effort. It really is not worth the movie ticket.  If you are a curious person I’d suggest going the rental route. My guess is that Poe would likely say, “Quoth the Raven, ‘Never mind!’”

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception-review

I am sort of a “Johnny Come-Lately” to this series.  For a long time I avoided it because at first glance it comes off as a male version of a “Tomb Raider” game. For a game heralding itself as a star series for the Playstation 3 game console, I’m getting a better understanding why the hype is so big for the “Uncharted” series.

In “Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception” you play as Nathan Drake, a treasure hunter who goes around the world seeking objects of mystery.  In this chapter he is looking into a ring that belonged to Sir Francis Drake and legend tells it might lead to a fabled lost Arabian City.  With the help of his friends, he must get there before a gang of nefarious criminals and unravel the mystery.

Elements of this game share a lot of “Tomb Raider’s” style of game play.  The major difference is that there is less emphasis on the puzzles and more on the shooter action. The biggest downside to this game is that it becomes repetitive quickly.  The game can be broken into sections that all flow like this:

-Cut scene
-Jump around high areas.
-Solve a puzzle.
-Shoot the villains
-Run from something.

It is only on rare occasion there is a slight variant on the flow, but for the most part all 22 chapters of this game were comprised of these elements. 

I might give this game a bad time for being repetitive, but there is one element that this game does really well and that’s its story.  The story is solid and the characters and really well defined and it feels at time like you are playing a well crafted movie.  Even the voice actors seem to be doing a good job giving the characters an element of life that seldom seen in games lately.

“Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception” also has the option to play in multiplayer and co-op mode which I haven’t given much of a try to as of yet.  I would say the game is worth looking into if you like shooter or action games that are on sale.  Normally I wouldn’t have gotten it at all, but it came with the new PS3 which makes it a pretty smooth bit of marketing on Sony’s part.  If you are considering purchasing a PS3 and are thinking about getting one with this game, I’d recommend it. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

We Need to Talk About Kevin-review

There are a lot of movies and television shows that really explore the criminal mind. With “We Need to Talk About Kevin” we get a slightly different take on it.  Instead of watching things from the killer’s perspective, one of the victims, or even an omnipresent point of view, we get the story told through the eyes of the killer’s mother.  It’s a disturbing story that will have you leaving the theater talking about it for a long time after the credits roll. 

Eva, played by Tilda Swinton, goes to visit her son, Kevin, in prison. As she goes through her day-to-day routines we are treated to flashbacks of her past with her family; such as when she gives birth to Kevin.  They don’t quite connect as child and mother should which is off-putting.  Kevin shows signs of being a sociopath but Eva can’t convince her husband, Franklin, played by John C. Reilly, to take her seriously.  He dismisses everything she tells him. What is it Kevin is planning on doing? 

The acting is really great in this movie. Tilda Swinton delivers a top notch performance as a mother who you can tell might actually dislike her own son.  Both of the kids playing her son did a fine job playing a sociopath. The acting was believable at making the character seem manipulative and was easily more disturbing than Damien in “The Omen.”  John C. Reilly brings the audience a serious style role as the goofy father who can’t take his wife seriously.  It’s good to see him return to his roots from time to time and do something more down to earth.

The plot itself will have you either debating with your fellow movie goers on child psychology, or it will have you sort of stewing in the disturbed juices of what you just witnessed.   Kevin comes from a wealthy family. I am left wondering why they didn’t get him psychological help.  He kills small animals, he is manipulative, avoids intimacy, has lack of remorse- these and more are textbook signs that the kid is a sociopath and heading down a path to be a danger to society.   When the family has a second child, she immediately becomes victim to Kevin’s abuse.

Then of course there is the fact that we are dealing with Eva after the crime so the town pretty much hates her.  She is openly attacked by some of the victim’s parents.  I understand their anger. It just seems so misdirected.  It probably should be towards the teenage wasteland that killed so many people.  It’s not as if Eva doesn’t experience loss in this film on a grand scale. 

There are a few flaws to this movie.  The music choice is rather bizarre in contrast to the mood.  There are also scenes that seem to tell rather than show.  If there was a way they explain by showing us exactly what the hell was going on in scenes that would help.  Still, these things are relatively minor and don’t seem to cause a huge problem that it utterly devastates the movie experience for me.

If you are looking for a decent drama “We Need to Talk About Kevin” certainly does the trick.  The story is good, the acting is very solid and the theme will leave you thinking long after it is over.  It’s a smart movie that really is well done and is relevant and worth seeing.  If you want to reaffirm your decision not to have kids or even that spanking is the way to go then you’ll appreciate this movie.   It’s a chilling look into raising an insane mind.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Cabin in the Woods-review

“The Cabin in the Woods” takes a trite idea and really gives it a unique look and clever spin.  There are so many movies that use the typical story about college students that go to a remote place and get slaughtered.  The fun part comes from watching the twists and turns that make it all come together in a truly awesome and Lovecraftain tale.

The story follows five typical college students, which reminded me of Scooby and the gang.  They go up to the mountains to party at what looks like the cabin from “The Evil Dead.”   Little do they know, there are technicians watching their every move. There is certainly something more sinister going on. The question is, will the young co-eds live to find out what it is? 

The most annoying thing this movie did was create a stereotypical stoner and slut character.  These two characters were so stupidly by-the-book, it seemed out of place for this movie. This is the sort of eye-rolling crap that you’d think a self-aware movie would be able to work around.  However, it falls into the same trite trap that all the other horror movies before it have fallen.  It’s not the worst thing though since these characters are only a couple of ingrown hairs on the glorious mane of an otherwise fun movie.

The movie is written really well.  The dialogue is quick and exactly what you’d expect from a Joss Whedon film.  There are lots of themes of other movies that you will catch if you happen to be a horror buff as well.  There are subtle and not so subtle references to “The Evil Dead”, “Hellraiser” and “The Grudge”.  If you are a reader of H.P. Lovecraft, this movie is right up your alley.

The acting is okay.  For the most part it was enough to get by with the acting of relative newcomers and Chris Hemworth. As college kids, I found them to get quickly annoying.  However, that might have been how they were written, as this movie does seem to be very self-aware.  The characters that steal the show are the technicians Richard Sitterson, played by Richard Jenkins, and Steve Hadley played by, Bradley Whitford.  Their dialogue is top notch and they play so well off one another. The movie could have been all about them and still been great.  They take the mood of moderate thrills and make it a comedy in a split second. It really makes for a fun bit of mood transition, though at times it takes you out of the movie.

In truth, the thing that I think hinders this movie might be the effects.  The CGI, at some points, is pretty bad.  It would have been nice if they decided to go ahead and work out the details and perhaps spend more of the budget on effects because some of the creative ideas they were clearly going for are borderline genius.  The ending is also something I would have probably altered a tad.  However, that is just nitpicking that I won’t go into here. 

The fact of the matter is “The Cabin in the Woods” takes one of the most overused ideas in horror today and adds a dash of the mythos of Lovecraft that makes this story both funny and creepy.  Is it scary?  Not really.  The scales certainly fall more towards the side of dark comedy. Still, it’s completely worth seeing and I recommend it highly.  It’s fun and it shows a lot of creativity and love of the subject matter. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Fun with "Lost in Translation."

The ending to "Lost in Translation" has spawned a number of theories of what Bill Murray’s character whispers to Scarlett Johannson.  Not that it matters really.  I think it’s better leaving it ambiguous and showing them both parting happily.  That says a lot more.  Keep in mind that the last thing we hear them say to one another is “Okay?” and “Okay”. For grins though let’s pick the top 10 things Bill Murray could have whispered from his former movies before he asks the audible “Okay?”. 
10. Oh what does that old queen know?-Ed Wood.
9. Forecast is for “bad craziness”.-Where the Buffalo Roam
8. I’m reliving the same day over and over-Groundhog Day
7. There are two types of people in the world: Those who like Neil Diamond and whose who don’t. - What about Bob?
6. No, you are a hallucination brought on by alcohol.. Russian vodka poisoned by Chernobyl-Scrooged
5. Please don’t make fun of me. I just wanted to flirt with you.-The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
4. You can’t go all the plants are gonna die!-Stripes
3. You’re lean, mean , and I bet you’re not too far in between ya.-Caddyshack.
2. You’re on a gravy train with biscuit wheels.-Kingpin
1. I don’t have to take this abuse from you. I’ve got hundreds of people dying to abuse me.-Ghostbusters