September 26, 2009

Drip... Drip... Drip... Drip... RAWR!!



Sometimes, I just do not understand then human race. Take, for example, the current enigma running through my head. Why, in the future, are we so fascinated with building derelict space crafts? You know, massive ships with long, dark hallways, water dripping from the ceiling, and power that's as reliable a wind up clock? I mean, nothing good ever happens on these types ships, so why will we ever build them? Take Pandorum. If it's version of reality is anything to go on, then such a spacecraft will be the home to vicious, cannibalistic, mutants, paranoid and delusional humans, and lots and lots of death! Do we really want to become that society? I didn't think so!
Pandorum starts off on a very unsettling note. Two men wake up from cryo-sleep on a massive ship, with no recollection of their mission, and no idea why they woke up. One of them, Bower, ventures out of their secure room into the rest of the ship, while the other, Payton, stays behind to relay info from a computer console. It immediately becomes apparent that something went very wrong with the mission. For one, Bower is constantly stalked by dozens of crazed, homicidal, monsters, who may or may not be of human descent. He also runs into a group of people who have been awake for far longer then he has, and who have spent the time fighting off the mutants. But, as is explained in a very clever way, the biggest enemy to Bower and Payton may, in fact, be themselves, as they soon start to experience symptoms of a brain disorder called Pandorum, which leads the victim to become paranoid, start to hallucinate, and eventually become homicidal. All throughout the movie, you are constantly asking yourself, "Are the things that are attacking Bower real, or is he just slowly losing his sanity." Wait until a third character named Gallo shows up in the third act and the movie really starts to fuck with your head! In terms of storytelling, Pandorum has it in spades, especially when compared to other movies in this genre.
Ben Foster plays the confused and frightened Bower, and Dennis Quaid plays his guide, Payton. Both these guys do fine jobs. As an actor, Foster hasn't really found a, big, star making performance. He popped onto the scene with 2006's Alpha Dog, and started to really get noticed with his sociopathic and deranged gunslinger in 2007's 3:10 to Yuma. But, he still hasn't appeared in more mainstream stuff. Pandorum probably won't be the movie that starts getting him revered by the general public, but he still does an admirable job. The script he has to work with isn't the best, but he throws himself into it, and reveals a much deeper character then I think the writers had even thought possible. Quaid doesn't really have much to do, but the sequences of him coping with Cam Gigandet's Gallo are more intense and scary then any of the sequences with the mutants. Speaking of Gigandet, he is really good here. He's not in the movie for very long, but when he is, the screen crackles with a paranoid energy so fierce, you feel the skin on your back start to crawl. The last main performance falls to Antje Traue as a botanist turned warrior, who is easily the person most capable of handling the mutant problem. Performances here aren't great, but they are leagues better then others in the genre.
Director Christian Alvart must love movies like Alien, and Event Horizon. The infulences of these two is certainly prevalent in Pandorum. Though it may look like a standard horror movie, which the predictable scares and such, Pandorum is so much more. First off, the movie is legitimately scary. Not only are the standard, jump out of your seat, scares there and used to good effect, but the amount of psychological terror in this movie really starts to get to you. There's a twist, which I won't spoil, that, while a little easy to predict, is extremely unsettling and disturbing, and really ratchets up the horror for the rest of the movie. Pandorum is suspenseful, startling, and terrifying in ways that other horror movies these days can only hope to be.
There are a few problems. First off, there's the mutants. They look cool, can run up walls, and are great with a blade. But, when you mix in the expertly crafted psychological horror segments, the multiple chase and mutilation sequences seem a little out of place. Also, Pandorum is yet another movie to suffer from coked up camera men. During the action sequences, the camera jumps around so damn much, it's almost impossible to see anything. It's worse then Quantum of Solace, I shit you not! You actually never get to see a detailed image of the monsters until the end, because the damn camera is moving around so fast. But, it stays rock steady in the segments leading up to action, which, in accompaniment with an effective score, really ratchets up the suspense.
Pandorum is a pleasant surprise. Usually, movies of this sort are nothing more then B-movie, escapist, crap, but Pandorum is significantly better then these. Bolstered by strong performances, slick direction, and a real sense of terror, Pandorum is everything a horror fan wants. Be warned: I'm not kidding around here. This is probably the scariest movie I've seen in a good while. Be prepared to leave the theatre a little shaken. B

September 19, 2009

Putting the Suc Into Succubus!

I'm gonna spoil something for all you boys. No, Megan Fox does not get naked in Jennifer's Body! There! I said it! Now all you pre-pubescent, testosterone crazed, teens with holes in your pockets don't have to see it! While we're on the subject, none of you should, because even though it's written by a very gifted writer, and boasts big name, albeit questionable, talent, Jennifer's Body is one hellish experience to sit through!
So, there's Jennifer. She's hot, conceited, stupid, slutty, and other words that would describe a character played by Megan Fox! Then there's Needy. She's somewhat hot, smart, likable, funny, and other words that would describe a character played by Amanda Seyfried. They've somehow taken a hatchet to regular socially acceptable barriers and are best friends. One night, Jennifer drags Needy to see some arbitrary indie band at some arbitrary bar. The bar burns down due to... actually, that's not really explained, and Jennifer goes off with the band because... well in reality, that's not made explicitly clear either. Anyway, it turns out this band are worshippers of Satan, and try to sacrifice Jennifer to appease their demigod so that he may get their record sales up. Well, something goes wrong, and Jennifer survives, only now she's a psycho, man hungry, cannibal with a taste for any boy the movie deems important enough to capitalize on. I guess it's so we'll care. Anyway, she's starts gobbling up the sexually frustrated teens from her school, while Needy tries desperately to discover why her "friend" is behaving so friggin' weird. It's not the most original plot, but... no, actually, I can't really think of anything good to say for this one. Sorry.
Just by looking at the poster, you should immediately decide if you will see this movie or not. It displays the film's "star" Megan Fox, sitting seductively on a desk, all pimped out in short skirt and form fitting tank top. As Jennifer, Fox doesn't stray far from this image in terms of things we like about her. It is now an official decree! Megan Fox cannot act for shit! Sure, this is much more interesting role then whatever it was that was mistaken for a character in Transformers, but it's now abundantly clear to me. Whatever role is thrown at her, she will take it, and make it painful to watch. On a happier note, Amanda Seyfried is somewhat passable as Needy. Granted, she's kinda shoehorned into a stereotype dweeb role here. She wears glasses and has a ponytail. Warning lights flash! But, no, she's ok. On the man front, things are significantly brighter. Johnny Simmons turns in what I hope is career making performance as Needy's boyfriend, who meets a horribly unfair end! Adam Brody is quite funny as the maliciously evil leader of the band that is responsible for Jennifer's predicament, who meets a horribly awesome end! And JK Simmons is a righteous hoot as the kids dweebish, amputee, science teacher. At the risk of sounding sexist, the men in this movie do a much better job then the women. The sad thing is, if Megan Fox wasn't in this movie, it would actually a decently acted film. But, she is so terrible in it, that she brings everybody else down with her. What a bitch!
Jennifer's Body is written by Diablo Cody. Yes, that same Diablo Cody who just won an Oscar for the brilliant, Godsend of film that was Juno. This is how she follows that up? I know, stupid move. The self conscious, quirky, pop culture heavy, dialogue that she pioneered with Juno is still here, only now it seems, I don't know, different. You know how in the 90s after Pulp Fiction came out, and all those writers just started hopelessly trying to capitalize on the Tarantino style of writing. Remember how all of them missed that certain something that made Tarantino's dialogue so good? Well, it's more or less the same story here. Jennifer's Body feels like it was written by someone trying to emulate Diablo Cody, only Jennifer's Body was actually written by Diablo Cody, which is cause for concern. There are so many snarky remarks and pop culture references here that it just starts to get annoying. You know how in Juno, how all the teens seemed wise beyond their years with their witty syntax? You also remember how it seemed plausible, thanks to the movie having a certain air of, I guess, cheek? Not so with Body. You don't believe for a second that these kids would actually talk this. It's disappointing. And don't even get me started on the director. Karyn Kusama can make a good film; she showed us that much Girlfight back in 2000, but she followed that up with Aeon Flux, so maybe she isn't all that. Anyway, she is completely lost here with Body. She jumps around between tones so much it gives you whiplash, and completely fails with all of them. The scary and suspenseful sections are neither, the funny sections aren't funny enough, and the few sections that only exist to extenuate Megan Fox's curves are nowhere near hot enough to get anyone interested. Even the much hyped about girl-on-girl scene is a snooze. I don't really know why people make a big deal about a lesbian kiss on screen any more. That shit was old news five years ago! Now, don't get me wrong, the actors on display here are HOT! Megan Fox is HOT! Amanda Seyfried is HOT, despite what the movie wants you to think. And Adam Brody is HOT! That's right! I said that! But, the movie doesn't do enough to capitalize on this, which is surprising, given how much the marketing is capitalizing on it.
Jennifer's Body is one dismal movie! With a writer like Diablo Cody, you'd think the script would at least be good. But, even in that sense, you're left out in the cold. Body is poorly acted, badly directed, rarely funny, and not even remotely scary. Somebody will have to sell their soul to Satan to get the numbers up on this piece of shit! D

September 11, 2009

It's So Grim!!

I must say...
I do love a lot of the animated films that come out these days. Indeed, some of them are among the best movies I've seen, but I can't deny that they are almost all, universally, aggressively kiddy in one way or another. For every WALL-E there's a Monsters vs. Aliens, a Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs, a Kung Fu Panda, and a Madagascar to go with it. Imagine my joy when I heard that 9, an animated movie aimed specifically at adults, was getting released. Imagine my disappointment when I discovered it wasn't all it was cracked up to be.
It's the future... or the past. I don't know. The movie doesn't do a very good job of telling us exactly what time period this takes place in. I'm just gonna say that it's some alternate reality and be done with it. Anyway, 9 is the next in a long line of humans vs. machines films, the only catch being that it picks up after the conflict, which the humans pathetically lost! Every single thing that was ever living on the earth, from humans, to animals, to plants, the those little bacteria that would come in so handy should aliens arrive, has been killed. That's not to say that the planet is lifeless though, no, no. Wandering the landscape are little burlap sack puppets, who have been given life by the scientist who created the machines in the hope that they may remedy his mistake, with nine in total. Unfortunately, the newest member of the group, 9, accidently awakens the original, and most powerful, machine, causing him and stichpunk allies a whole lot of trouble as they contend with an ever growing army of metal menaces. 9 is based on the Oscar nominated short of the same name. It follows the same general plot, albeit with a lot of things changed up for longevity. The setup is very compelling, but the execution is a bit stingy. More on that later...
Since this is an animated feature, the only acting on display is voice acting. There is no shortage of talent here. Unfortunately, it's all, more or less, wasted. Elijah Wood voices 9, and he's probably the worst of the bunch. I don't know what it is, but his voice just doesn't work for this character. Everything he says just sounds so stupid. I guess that can be attributed in some part to the script, but, this is the guy who tugged on our heartstrings as Frodo. You expect better! Jennifer Connelly plays the second most visible character, and most badass, 7. Again, her voice isn't right for the character, but she does bring more charisma to it then Wood. Crispin Glover is completely wasted as 6, as is Martin Landau as 2. Neither of them barely says anything, and when they do, it's all jabber. I wish we heard more of them. The two best voices are that of Christopher Plummer as 1, the leader of the group, and John C. Riley as 5, the medic/voice of reason. Plummer's old and cranky voice is perfect for 1, and pretty much anything Riley does these days turns out brilliant. In terms of voice acting, this is not the best the biz has to offer. I wish the producers and director were ballsy enough to make this a dialogue free movie, like the short. That would have been really cool. Also, and this is probably because the film was animated, but there is a lot, and I mean A LOT, of gasping in the movie. It got really annoying after awhile.
Director Shane Acker, who is also the man behind the short, and producers Tim Burton and Timur Bekmembetov have finally made a animated film that suitably be called a film for adults. The world of 9 is one of the grimmest I have ever seen on screen. It so masterfully creates this bombed out world, thanks to the wizardry of computer animation, and goes all out with the depressing and scary aspects. One of the first things that 9 sees after he wakes up the beginning was a dead mother holding her dead infant. That image right there immediately told me that this was not going to be the type of animated film where everyone gets what they want in the end, and where everything works out. This movie is leagues ahead of Terminator, The Road Warrior, or I Am Legend in terms of atmosphere and creating a sense of dread in the audience. And it bears mentioning that those movies created that atmosphere really well! But, thanks to a script that lingers on the side of awful, the atmosphere doesn't go as far as it should. The film focuses mainly on big action set pieces, with the dolls facing off against the machine of the week, including the cat from the short, a bird/stingray hybrid, a ridiculously scary snake like thing, and the big machine that controls everything. The violence is the main selling point here, and , though it is often thrilling, it just draws attention to the fact that the few scenes of dialogue are absolute shite! Not one of the characters here has anything to interesting or thought provoking to say. Also, I had a real problem with pacing in this movie, especially in the beginning. 9 wakes up and gets discovered by the rest of the group, and less then two minutes later, he's talking with them as if they were old chums who went pint after a hard days work on the factory floor. Didn't seem real at all! Thankfully, the action is quite good! All the machines look appropriately fiendish and evil; and all the dolls get to do something cool at some point, although that task usually falls to 7, and, thankfully, there are an appropriate amount of large explosions and cheer worthy moments to keep you interested enough to sit through it.
9 is not a bad film. I appreciate it in that it is an animated film for a more mature audience (that PG-13 rating isn't playing around), and that it brilliantly creates a sense of terror in this new vision of the apocalypse. It's disappointing that none of these good things were as fully realized as they could have been. An awful script and average voice acting bring the overall product down significantly. I'm still saying that it's worth seeing. You just might be better off waiting until it comes out on Blu-Ray. At least then you can mute it.

September 9, 2009

The Best Commercial Ever!

Remember when Robert Carlyle used to be good actor, before he was in Eragon and the likely to be awful Stargate Universe? Remember when he was in films like The Full Monty, Trainspotting, and 28 Weeks Later? Well, this should remind you of that time. I've always found scenes that take place over one take to be oddly fascinating, and this is no exception. Not only is it a good little film, but it's damn convincing. I now want to consume copious amounts of Johnny Walker! Enjoy!

September 4, 2009

The FITS Awards: 2009


Well, summer's over. Boo-hoo, right? Get over it. We all had to go back to school sometime. Anyway, summer 2009 was no slouch when it came to entertaining us at the movies. So, without further ado, Detailed Criticisms presents The FITS Awards for 2009. Let's start with the Best... Awards.


Surprise: Terminator: Salvation. Let me be clear. Terminator: Salvation is far from the masterpiece that we know the series is capable of delivering. But, it is not nearly as bad as some other big budget action movies that came out this summer. In fact, in terms of sequels, this one is quite possibly the best, only being beat by Harry Potter. Sam Worthington does a surprisingly good job handling piss poor dialogue while simultaneously kicking tons of ass and getting me psyched to see him in Avatar in December. And Christian Bale does an adequate job as the human messiah, even if it is the exact same thing we saw from his last few movies.
Runner Up(s): Adam Sandler's Performance in Funny People

Sequel: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Before you start shouting at me, I'll make my rationale clear. Yes, Star Trek is technically the 11th film in the franchise, but, I am not going to associate that masterpiece with the general pile of crap that the space opera franchise usually serves us. So, no, it is not a sequel. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, on the other hand, is a sequel, and it is a good one. I thought the Harry Potter franchise has almost lost its way around movie 4, but this one brings the series back up on the glorious high plateau it was standing on during movie 3. Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint have all done away with the childish acting tendencies that they inhabited in previous installments, and are now completely serious actors. Number 7 (parts 1 and 2) can't come soon enough!
Runner Up(s): Terminator: Salvation

Possible New Franchise: District 9. As I made apparent in my public tongue bathing of this sci-fi masterpiece, the world that director Niell Blomkamp has created, and its execution, is downright brilliant! I don't particularly want to see a new installment (District 10?), but I won't mind in the slightest if Blomkamp wants to revisit the story of the Prawns and Wikus van de Merwe.
Runner Up(s): The Hangover

Hero: Wikus van de Merwe (Sharlto Copley) in District 9. In District 9, Blomkamp gives us a hero who is complex and deep. You will love him one minute and hate him the next, while simultaneously believing absolutely everything that he is doing. When you sit down, you are holding on for the ride with Wikus as he goes through the most hellish few days of his life. He may be an asshole some of the time, but you are rooting for him the whole time, despite your initial misgivings. No other hero on screen this year can attest to that. Well done Copley. Not bad for your first acting gig.
Runner Up(s): James Tiberius Kirk (Chris Pine) in Star Trek

Villain: Col. Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) in Inglourious Basterds. I don't think a Nazi has ever been so likable on screen before. Waltz's Col. is going down as the best villain Quentin Tarantino has ever written, beating out Stuntman Mike and Bill. Every single line of his (That's a bingo!) is solid gold. Expect an Oscar nomination. It's practically guaranteed. Oh, also, if you ever sit down to have a strudel with him, listen to him, and wait for your damn cream!
Runner Up(s): Nero (Eric Bana) in Star Trek, Those Damn Machines in Terminator: Salvation

Performance: TIE: Joseph Gordon Levitt and Zooey Deschanel in (500) Days of Summer. I've made it no secret that I am absolutely in love with Joseph Gordon Levitt. He can take any role and turn into something you want to watch (Cobra Commander anyone?). Fortunately, he had a good character and script to work with in this absolutely wonderful movie. It doesn't hurt that he is complemented by the singular best performance to ever come out of Zooey Deschanel. These are two for the books, and two of the decade's best. No, you are not reading the wrong. I said decade!
Runner Up(s): Christoph Waltz in Inglourious Basterds, Zachary Quinto in Star Trek

Action: Star Trek. Ah, what a refreshing change of pace, an action movie that doesn't skimp on the characters and good dialogue while simultaneously exciting the hell out of us. JJ Abrams should at least get a pat on the back for taking this ridiculously boring and decrepit franchise and breathing new, invigorating life into it. There's already talk about if it'll get nominated for some serious Oscars, besides its guaranteed nominations for effects and editing and things of that nature. Hey, I'll petition for an Oscar nom for Zachary Quinto or Abrams. God knows, they deserve it.
Runner Up(s): District 9

Comedy (Romantic or otherwise): (500) Days of Summer: Words can not adequately express how much I love this movie. I honestly can't remember feeling this much adoration for a movie since the first time I saw The Godfather in 7th grade. Not only is the movie heartfelt and emotional, but it's also funny as hell. Just take the opening slides. "Author's Note: The following is work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental. Especially you Jenny Beckman. Bitch!" God, that's great!
Runner Up(s): The Hangover

Overall: (500) Days of Summer: Put it to you this way. I left (500) Days of Summer, and all I could think about was going to see (500) Days of Summer again. Seriously. You may think I'm crazy (I am), or that I just have a man crush on Joseph Gordon-Levitt (I do), but the movie is just that good!
Runner Up(s): District 9

And now, onto the other side of the spectrum. The Worst... awards. These are always fun.


Surprise: Transformers 2 Sucks. I'll admit it again. I'm a fan of the first Transformers movie. I thought it was a well made, funny, supremely exciting piece of summer action. Being that this is a Michael Bay movie, this is grand praise coming from me, indeed. Imagine my disappointment when I discovered that Bay went back to his usual tricks for his sequel. Pretty much everything that was good about Transformers 1 is nowhere to be seen in Transformers 2. And, he still has to answer for those robot twins. What was he thinking?
Runner Up(s): Just How Bad G.I. Joe Really Is

Sequel: X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The X-Men franchise was never very good, but it can't be denied that X2 was a fairly decent addition to the comic book-to-movie ranks. Ever since then, the franchise has been sliding down a slippery slope, but it has hit an all time low with Wolverine. I don't understand why they needed to make this movie. Pretty much all the last three dealt with was Wolverine's origin. Anyway, the acting is terrible; the special effects are awful; and the action is boring. Do not see!
Runner Up(s): Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Possible New Franchise: G.I. Joe. Words cannot express how much I loathe this movie. If you read my review, you would have noticed I said how the movie was a lot of fun. But, if you read my follow up article, you would've noticed I said that this fun does not hold up on the second viewing. In that viewing, you will see the film for what it really is, a piece of shit with awful acting (except for Joseph Gordon-Levitt), atrocious direction and the worst special effects seen in a big budget Hollywood actioner ever since Venom in Spider-Man 3. But, since it made tons of money, we're gonna get another one, and I'll have to see it for you people. FML
Runner Up(s): X-Men Origins: (insert mutant name here)

Hero: Duke in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. Usually, the hero of an action movie is supposed to have charisma, charm, and be able to kick ass. Channing Tatum's Duke can only kick ass. This is only exemplified by his partner, played by Marlon Wayans, who has all three of these things. Tatum plays Duke like the thickest jarhead on the face of the planet. Needless to say, I was rooting for Cobra in the end.
Runner Up(s): Sam in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Villain: The Fallen in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. Not only does this new evil Transformer look like the most impractically built robot ever, but his evil plan is even less clear then that of his lieutenant, Megatron. So, he wants to blow up the sun to do, what exactly? This is going to destroy the earth? Great. Why should I care? Good villains are supposed to evil, but have something to them that sort of masks that villainy, like charm or motivation. Subtlety goes a long way. The Fallen throws subtlety out the window in favor of a more direct approach, i.e. gravelly voice, evil looking appearance, and an ominous throne. Kill me now!
Runner Up(s): Col. William Stryker (Danny Huston) in X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Performance: Meghan Fox in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. I believe that Meghan can be good, but as long as she keeps taking roles like this, we will never see that talent. She knows this too, which is why she totally phones in her second outing as the hottest teenager ever! It's very sad.
Runner Up(s): Christopher Eccleston in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, Lynn Collins in X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Action: G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. As I'm sure you've guessed by now, G.I. Joe is a terrible movie. Every action scene looks like it was put together in a college computer lab; every actor on screen is clearly looking forward to the day when they can move on the better things, and so are you watching them. Do not subject yourself to this movie, ever!
Runner Up(s): X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Comedy: Nothing. Same deal as last year. I only saw good comedies, and I don't feel like insulting them with undeserved criticism. So... yeah.
Runner Up(s): Seriously?

Overall: G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. See above.
Runner Up(s): X-Men Origins: Wolverine

There you have it! 2009's FITS Awards have been handed out. It was a good season, even if we didn't have the massive influx of quality that we got last year. Oh well. Anyway, with that out of the way, Oscar season can begin. Stay tuned for more coverage.

Oh, in case you were wondering, FITS stands for Fun in the Sun!

Only on Blu-Ray...

So, I know it came out a few months ago, but I just saw the director's cut of Watchmen in sexy 1080p Hi-Def format. The new scenes surprisingly do a lot in adding to an already heavy film, and it is a much better movie because of this. All the actors are much better in these scenes, especially Malin Ackerman in one of her extended scenes on Mars. Jackie Earle Haley is still superb, and his added dialogue as Rorschach is fantastic. Characters that were only seen in one or two scenes in the theatrical version are more fleshed out and given more to do. Stephen McHattie as Hollis Mason has double the amount of screen time, and even gets to do some ass kicking of his own in a particularly moving and brutal scene. The film still has some glaring flaws, like in an extended segment when Ackerman and Patrick Wilson beat the crap out of a group of thugs, and then continue talking as if nothing happened. Also, director Zach Snyder still hasn't atoned for his sinful awful sex scene, even with all the great new scenes added. Anyway, if you have a Blu-Ray player, you can't really go wrong with Watchmen, but be sure to see it in Blu-Ray. Be warned: the new run time is 3 hours.