Sunday, February 24, 2013

Beautiful Creatures- review

Beautiful Creatures does not bring much to the table.  It’s a teen romance that many have seen before where evil and good are in the balance and a high school romance overcomes the odds.    The plot is very predictable. The effects are laughable. However, there are at least a few actors that are fun to watch.

Ethan Wate, played by Alden Ehrenreich, is a young, well-read high school student who hates his hometown. One day Lena, played by Alice Englert, shows up as the new kid in class.  It turns out she is a caster and has a select number of days to focus her powers until she is claimed for the dark side or the light side.  Can their young romance survive this magical drama?

The story is very predictable.  The dialogue is stunningly rotten.  I sat with people who had read the book and they were just as lost as I was on some of the decisions that were made to the story.  There are numerous, pointless plot holes that make this movie seem more like a bad joke.

The effects are really bad.  Considering that this movie is about casters that control weather and spirits, you’d think they would at least try to make it look interesting. Instead, there are blurry effects that would be laughed out of the cut scenes of a videogame.  I know a teen romantic movie is not one to expect dazzling effects but I am also not supposed to be bored.

The only people that seem to bring some fun to their roles are Jeremy Irons and Emily Rossum.  They both have characters that were over-the-top and it allowed them to at least act like they wanted to earn their paycheck.  They made it at least tolerable at times. 

Beautiful Creatures is a wildly forgettable movie.  If anything, this is a movie that is just another teen movie that will be met with eye-rolls.  If you like this genre, wait until it comes to video.  Otherwise give it a miss.  It really is nothing special and does not follow the book it was inspired by. Fans of the novel will go home disappointed.

Absentia- review

Absentia is a horror film from 2011 that is both creepy and subtle.  It has good acting and a very clever plot.  It also uses the age-old, brilliant production choice that less is more.  It has a strong Lovecraftian theme that seems to tell its tale in a symphony of terror.

After seven years, Tricia, played by Courtney Bell, is filling out the paperwork to have her husband declared dead.  Tricia’s sister Callie, played by Katie Parker, has arrived for support her.  They discover that a tunnel nearby might have something to do with a series of disappearances that occur throughout the neighborhood.  Might there be something much more terrifying coming from the tunnels?

The acting is fantastic.  Courtney Bell has a wonderful sensitive vulnerability. Katie Parker is dynamic and shows great emotion on screen. The rest of the cast is wonderful too. Another standout is Morgan Peter Brown who is haunting and scary in his performance as Tricia’s husband, Daniel. 

The subtly is a brilliant choice.  As the mystery unfolds the small town terror begins to become more expansive.  The fact that it unfolds like a lingering mystery makes it much more terrifying. This adds depth to the characters as they investigate fears that culminate from the dark corners of the earth.

If you are a fan of horror this is a must see. Absentia is a brilliant movie that masters simplicity.  Its great acting showcases its atmosphere rather than being cheapened by gory effects.  I recommend it for anyone who is looking for something original and different.    Hopefully we will see much more from these people in future productions. 

Saturday, February 16, 2013

A Good Day To Die Hard-review

As the fifth of the Die Hard series you sort of have to take each film with a certain grain of salt.  The character of John McClane has changed from reluctant hero to a super cop that is nearly indestructible.  This movie was a lot better than the previous one which seemed to dumb down the series a great deal.  As long as you aren’t looking at it with a nitpicker’s eye, it’s a pretty fun movie.

John McClane, played by Bruce Willis, hears that his son Jack, played by Jai Courtney, is being tried for murder in Russia.  He goes to Russia and catches Jack as he is in the middle of a daring escape from prison with another prisoner.  It turns out Jack is in the CIA and is working to keep this criminal alive in order to get a secret file he has on the Chernobyl disaster. 

Bruce Willis and Jai Courtney have a fun chemistry.  Their chemistry works well for this action movie.   The villains are over the top and pretty memorable.  There are a lot of unbelievable scenarios that really are sometimes fairly implausible.  Still, it delivers exactly what you would expect from a movie of this namesake. 

If I had to nitpick I would say that where the movie tends to lose me is their choice to hold the final scenes in Chernobyl.  For one thing, the heroes run around with no radiation suits when the villains do.  They also fall into pool water with open wounds. That water must still be irradiated. Even today people can’t handle Marie Curie’s notebook without protective clothing, what makes them think a person could waltz into a place that suffered a meltdown in a simple t-shirt and suffer no consequences.

The nitpicking for a Die Hard movie can only be taken as serious as the movie itself. I know I can’t expect realism is these movies.  These are the sorts of movies where you check your brain at the door and enjoy the ride.  If you like wild action then it is certainly going to be a fun movie and worth watching as a matinee.  Otherwise, give it a watch when it comes out on DVD as it makes an addition to the franchise.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Dead Space 3- video game review

Dead Space 3 is the follow up to the hit game Dead Space 2.  This time they chose to abandon the multiplayer game and create a co-op mode to accompany its single player game. Dead Space 3 still has a creepy concept and remains one of the better games in the survival/horror genre.  The fear aspect is still there and in game play it is sometimes a better option to run from danger when it arises. 

The story follows Isaac Clark after surviving the Sprawl incident of the second game.  If you are new to the series, the game is kind enough to create a nice synopsis of the events leading up to now.  He is a hollow shell of a man and he finds himself the target of a plot by the Unitologist Church.  He now has to escape the planet and find the home world for giant markers, which cause alien infections.

The game play is similar in all of the games’ previous incarnations, which is nice. The game has amazing graphics and uses sound and lighting to great advantages.  There are so many scenes that you will play through that seem reminiscent of an Alien movie.  It’s really well done and will have you hoping that a creature will not leap up behind you at every turn.  The story weaves a great tale of loss and betrayal as well.

There are some frustrating creatures that show up.  At times you might find yourself piling on F-bombs as you curse your controller for not reacting fast enough.  Oddly enough, it seems like there are entire levels that were really tailored for co-op and single player game as just an after thought.  The problem is that co-op is not nearly as scary as doing it alone.  When I play a survival-horror I expect to feel the tension. The fact that they have it as co-op might be a fun new way to play, but it takes horror element out of it. 

Dead Space 3 is a great game.  The story fit well and it is full of novel concepts.  It’s certainly worth trying if you are into something scary or something sci-fi. I can see a little replay value in wanting to try to go through it again with a partner to see what it’s like.  I imagine it’d be just like playing Resident Evil 5 and 6 but in space.  You will care for the characters and you will enjoy the fear a good game can give you.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Impossible- review

If you see this movie bring tissues.  This movie will astound you.  The Impossible is based on the true story of a family that survived the tsunami in Thailand in 2004.  The actors are amazing. The story does a great job being subtle and terrifying.  The effects are even quite shocking and will have you glued to the screen.

Maria Bennett, played by Naomi Watts, and her husband Henry, played by Ewan McGregor, take their three children to on a trip to Thailand. At first it’s a decadent paradise until they are hit with a devastating tsunami.  Maria and her eldest son Lucas, played by Tom Holland, are separated from the rest of the family.  Tired and wounded, they find themselves needing medical attention and needing to find the rest of their family. Meanwhile Henry is struggling to find his wife and lost son.

Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor and Tom Holland are nothing short of amazing to watch in this movie.  They are strong and sensitive and their desperation is believable in this tragedy. The rest of the cast of this movie is very commendable at their task.  They work well in bringing an air of pathos.

One of the best aspects of a movie like this is that it was able to focus on the family and their great fortune in finding one another and surviving. However, it still gives the audience a reminder that lives were lost and explores the vast death and devastation caused by the disaster.  There are scenes of hope and struggle and it looks amazing doing so.

The effects of this movie are really well done.  The tsunami itself is terrifying and looks incredibly real.  The use of CGI and practical effects look seamless and show exceptional skill.  Then there are wounds and bloody gashes that look incredibly real. These brutal effects make this movie seem a bit more realistic.

The Impossible is a very good movie.  I would recommend it for anyone who is looking for a movie that is very dramatic and very emotional.  I wouldn’t recommend it for audiences with children due to the incredibly brutal gore.  If you have a chance, watch it. It’s an incredible story with some amazing acting.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Warm Bodies-Review

Warm Bodies is zombie romance film based off a novel of the same name.  For the most part it’s pretty quirky, and has fun with its subject.   At its roots it is a Romeo and Juliet theme that is thinly veiled in the plot of a zombie finding love.  It’s not the best movie but it’s entertaining and that is what is most important.

A zombie boy named R, played by Nicholas Hoult, narrates as he wanders the airport.  He and his friend M, played by Rob Corddry, gather a crew of zombies and go into the city for food. There they find Julie, played by Teresa Palmer.  When R eats the brain of Julie’s ex boyfriend Perry, he absorbs his feelings for her and he becomes protective of her. As they spend time together they develop more feelings for one another.

There are several things the movie does really well.  For one thing, the soundtrack is really good.  In addition, Nicholas Hoult and Rob Corddry do a good job playing their parts. Nicholas is really great at the stilted speech and the far off undead stare.  I also enjoy the makeup job on the zombies that were involved.  This film has some amusing scenes that made it at least worth a chuckle.

Then we get into the meat of the movie.  It is essentially Romeo and Juliet. R is Romeo, M is Mercutio, Perry is Paris, Julie’s best friend dreams of being a nurse, and Julie’s Father hates R.  They even share a balcony scene.  The Romeo and Juliet theme is definitely not subtle.

Warm Bodies is a very silly movie.  It’s not something that a hardcore horror fan or a fan of the zombie genre will really find appealing.  The idea of the cure for the zombie apocalypse being love is probably the most sacrine thing I’ve seen in a long time.  If you are looking for a different type of romance movie this will be good for you.  If you’re just looking for something entertaining, then I’d say it’s worth a rental at the very least.