Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Choose Their Kill – A New Venue For Retro Humor Horror

CryptTV, the digital studio co-founded by director Eli Roth, recently released the YouTube sensation, Choose Their Kill. Directed by Standards of Living director Aaron Mento, Choose Their Kill is a “choose-your-own-adventure” style of digital series. All choices feature colorful characters and over-the-top deaths, which make for a fun watch.

The scenarios primarily revolve around a mime, a fitness nut, or a green energy icon going about their daily business when someone does something that annoys them. The viewer is then presented with some options on how to dispose of this annoyance. There is an option to spare the person, however, that person usually meets a grim fate nonetheless.

This is a really fun series with good acting and a great concept behind it. I imagine there will be a lot of great ideas down the pipeline as director Aaron Mento is a very creative writer/director. If you are a fan of odd and dark humor this will certainly be up your alley. The videos can be found now on CryptTV’s YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FPwJTNaDDuQ&list=PLfarU_76noqqLsnTLM4oXk2C3_v-L9eHN.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Jurassic World – review

When I was in sixth grade I saw the first Jurassic Park movie and it amazed me. It was fun, it was scary, and it was smart. Two sequels later and things were not looking good for the Jurassic Park franchise. Unfortunately, it seems that the series has not aged well. While still being better than the past two sequels, Jurassic World leaves a lot to be desired.

Twenty-two years after the events of Isla Nublar, Jurassic World is a new and fully functioning theme park. Brothers Zach and Gray Mitchell take a trip to the park to visit their aunt Claire, the park’s operations manager, played by Bryce Dallas Howard.  Soon after their arrival one of the newest genetically created attractions, the Indominus Rex, escapes and starts a killing rampage. Owen Grady, played by Chris Pratt, is a Velociraptor trainer who comes to Claire’s aid in stopping the rogue dinosaurs.

Jurassic World uses a distracting amount of C.G.I. Just about nothing looks real and at times it takes you out of the movie to be watching the equivalent of a cartoon. Even the door to the Jurassic World Park looked poorly pasted, like a Photoshop image. It made me nostalgic for the animatronics used in the original Jurassic Park film.

The acting is fine and Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard have a fun chemistry that works to make the movie entertaining. The problem is that the plot is juggling various balls and as an audience member I didn’t know which one to focus on. Throughout the story you have the divorce plot of the parents of Zach and Gray, you have the escaped Indominus Rex, you have InGen hoping to use dinosaurs and military weapons, and you have a romance subplot with the two leads.

If producers come at us with a new Jurassic Park movie I hope that they at least have the originality to make a movie where they don’t need kids in the cast. They borrow a lot of elements from the past movies, which they do seldom enough to not be obnoxious. There was some good build up to seeing what the Indominus Rex would look like. The problem was that the pay off was not worth it.

If ever there was a scene that showed me there was-- at one point-- a good movie idea here let me illustrate the following scene. Owen gets caught in an unexpected chain of events involving his velociraptors. He spies one in the grass and they both catch each other’s eyes. There is a look of momentary understanding between the two of them before a rocket kills the raptor and sends Owen off his feet. Owen then stares silently at the burnt wreckage where his former friend used to stand.  All of this is done without words and it is probably one of the best scenes in the movie.

Jurassic World is not a bad film but it is not a theater-worthy film either. I would recommend it for rental for sure. It is fun on occasion but lacks the story direction of any of the previous movies. There are moments that seem funny and self-aware but they are few and far between. If you are a fan of the rest of the franchise you will enjoy the beast on beast action and insane mad science on display. If you are looking to start the franchise I recommend going back to the beginning before seeing this one.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

San Andreas – review

This movie is not good and I honestly don’t expect to remember it for long. It is a cookie-cutter disaster film that is predictable and void of originality. Even if you can suspend your disbelief enough to enjoy the action, it is ruined by bad C.G.I. of which would be more appropriate for a cut-scene in a video game. It should have been a lot more fun considering the cast.

Los Angeles Fire Department helicopter rescue pilot Ray Gaines, played by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, is in the midst of a divorce from his wife Emma, played Carla Gugino.  After discovering that Emma and his daughter Blake, played by Alexandra Daddario, are moving in with Emma’s new boyfriend, Ray is noticeably upset. Soon a series of earthquakes tear the city apart and it’s up to Ray to save his estranged family.

I was irritated that Ray is supposed to be a heroic fireman when the first thing he does in a massive crisis is basically steal a helicopter and use it to rescue his own family. People are dying left and right of him and you can count on half a hand the amount of times he goes out of his way to save strangers. Besides the rotten protagonist we have the massive dose of 9-11 and Titanic imagery that seems more like pandering than homage.

The C.G.I does no favors for this movie. Most of the shots look like green screen nightmares or the shots of people who move with the same realism of a living ventriloquist dummy. The plot is just what you’d expect from a disaster movie and is incredibly predictable. Some of the scenes even felt added for filler material to make it full length.

The writing is so weak that at no point did I feel that the main characters were at risk. With nothing at risk it really doesn’t make me give a crap what the characters do since the movie doesn’t have the guts to do something risky or original. In the end we get a movie that gives us a weak visual spectacle of an earthquake as seen by folks that, by all rights, should be dead several times over.

If they went for a more aware, tongue-in-cheek disaster movie this might have been great. The Rock and the rest of the cast would have been able to accomplish that. As it is I wouldn’t recommend this movie unless you are a die-hard fan of the Rock or just have a desire for bad science and patriotic imagery. It might be worth a rental if it wasn’t so forgettable.