Thursday, November 24, 2011

Random Movie: Breaking Dawn: Part 1 (2011)

Written by: Tabitha Johnson

So the choice has been made: ‘Team Edward.’ Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) made the decision to be with Edward (Robert Pattinson) until death do they part, as per an ironic moment at the altar. Breaking Dawn: Part I covers the wedding, the honeymoon, and the pregnancy as result of their marital bliss. Oh yeah, and there’s a pack of werewolves that want to destroy their unborn child that they consider an abomination. If the first movies were about abstinence, this is a pro-life film if there ever was one.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Random Movie: New Moon (2009)

You might have noticed that it was over a year ago that I reviewed the first and third parts of the Twilight soap opera, err … saga, but not this one. That isn’t by accident nor is it entirely due to my extreme laziness. As much as I kind of liked Eclipse and was sort of okay with Twilight, this movie did absolutely nothing for me to the extent that I wished to rewatch and review it. Yet, the gap in reviews for the series has constantly bugged me and with a forthcoming review for the newest installment (hopefully not by myself), I figured I would suffer for the loyal fan or two that we still have and watch New Moon. And I hate myself for it.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Random Movie: Halloween (2007)

After the last creatively bankrupt installment of this franchise, it’s no wonder that the Weinstein boys decided to go back to the drawing board and reboot the Michael Myers saga with Rob Zombie‘s version of Halloween. Or is it a remake? Or a re-imagining? Much like the most recent Nightmare on Elm Street film, I was confused as to the point of it all. Are we trying to fill in needless backstory about Myers and his upbringing? Are we updating the tale for a more contemporary potty-mouthed audience? Does anyone have a clue at this point?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Random Movie: Attack the Block (2011)

I was quite disappointed when Attack the Block did not receive a proper screening anywhere close to the Movie Scum headquarters, especially after hearing so much advance acclaim from the gazillion festivals and select screenings it had. Yet, the film is now in reach at your local Redbox or Blockbuster and I highly recommend a viewing for many of the same reasons given before: this is flat out a fun movie experience.

Think back to when we (proverbially speaking of course) were kids and there were globs of adolescent empowerment films about kids saving the day while the adults were just sitting on their thumbs. Writer and director Joe Cornish is clearly a member of that generation as the best description I can give of this film is The Goonies meets Alien. Set in a not-so-nice part of downtown London, our core cast consists of a gaggle of delinquent youths, some legitimately of the tougher sort, some not. The gang, led by Moses(!) (John Boyega) holds up the meek and defenseless Sam (Jodie Whittaker) on her way back to her block, otherwise known as an apartment building for all us ignorant American-types.

The mugging is interrupted by a projectile that destroys a car nearby and Moses is attacked while scrounging in the car by an unknown creature. Moses, not the kind willing to turn the other cheek, hunts down the being and kills it. The group brings it to Ron (Nick Frost) in an attempt to identify it as a hairless orangutan or something else. While there, they top off with ample amounts of weed since Ron runs the cannabis business inside the block for Hi-Hatz. It is not too long after that more things fall from the sky right outside the building and the tough youngsters suit up to wage war. Little did they know they were up against a few dozen feisty aliens who target the kids wherever they may go.

I’ll warn you now that you may want to turn your subtitles on while watching this. I blame equal parts poor sound design (the music drowns out the dialogue in quite a few places) and some contemporary English slang that I was quizzical on until I had the proper context. Nevertheless, Cornish quite effectively crafts the characters by way of these terms unbeknownst to a guy like me. I’m no expert and this may or may not be representative of the linguistics of London’s young adults but the many dialogue exchanges (especially in the early parts of the film) feel genuine, especially with the delivery from all of the actors. Seriously, the cultural barrier may be a factor, but there is not a single performance that I doubted during the film.

Even though the film takes place entirely in a single building and in its immediate surroundings, it is quite an adventure as the group of kids are chased around from floor to floor, apartment to apartment, with little down time in the mix. What down time there is usually provides some quick comedic bits especially with Ron and Brewis as they sit and ponder an alien invasion while getting stoned or the preteen troublemakers Probs and Mayhem as they desperately try to keep up their delinquency with the big boys. The rest of the time though is used to effectively weave elements of action, sci-fi, and horror all together as those darn aliens creep up at the most inopportune times.

I must give Cornish and the special effects teams mounds of credit for the aliens as well. Their design is very minimalist yet effectively menacing and creepy especially as you see their pronounced features in the backgrounds of dimly-lit hallways or outside of windows. There are quite a few moments that, while not “scary” per se, are very tense with the monsters popping out after the group. While some of the cast is either in too few scenes to make a difference, there are many characters that stick out, either with random quips or complete character arcs. Of all, Boyega as Moses is one of the more compelling written and performed characters in a while as he gradually learns to embrace responsibility and self-sacrifice.

There is a ton more that I quite enjoyed in this film that I just briefly touched on, but suffice to say, all of the hype and acclaim that Attack the Block received is well-deserved. As a bonus, you can even make an effective drinking game out of the abundance of times bruv, fam, or innit are said.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Random Movie: Zodiac (2007)

Way back in Episode 20 as we discussed movies based on true events, PBF brought up Zodiac saying it was well-directed, well-acted, and quite engrossing in spite of its lengthy runtime. Now, having seen the movie, I agree with all points above. And that is my review. Good night!

Well, I might be able to get into a bit more detail. Centered around the Zodiac killings of the late 1960s in California, the David Fincher directed thriller is more based on the act of catching a killer through monotonous investigation rather than the murders themselves. This is quite remarkable even considering that the Zodiac murders could have merely been a blip on the radar if not for the killer taunting the police and news reporters with letters, phone calls, and bloody pieces of fabric.

For anyone watching this expecting another Se7en out of Fincher, you will be horribly disappointed as this is the least straight-forward serial killer movie I have seen in quite a while. The thing that is truly engrossing about the movie, and according to PBF the story itself, is that the gaps in the facts pull you into the story even more as all the investigators (and as such Fincher and writer James Vanderbilt) have to go on is spotty information from traumatized or less than reliable witnesses. Similar to the case, Zodiac is strung together on a series of damning, yet highly circumstantial, evidence that leads to the “favorite” suspect as much as it clears him. It is quite different to see a movie that is put together just like a court case, without a “smoking gun” and asking you to come to your own conclusions.

I really don’t even know where to start with the cast as they were all phenomenal. Mark Ruffalo and Anthony Edwards as the San Francisco detectives Dave Toschi and Bill Armstrong respectively tasked with the Zodiac case are incredible, both in their prowess to the clues leading to Zodiac and the banter they have between them. (Favorite line: “You’re not an idiot, you waited for him to put it in park.”) Likewise, their journalistic counterparts of Paul Avery (Robert Downey Jr.) and Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhaal) are equally respectable as both are invested in the case to the point that they risk their own safety (and sanity) to track down information on their own.

He has not really impressed me before, but I was quite blown away by Gyllenhaal who begins the story as a meek political cartoonist on the outskirts of the investigation only to take charge when it has been all but forgotten. His transformation from naive and bright-eyed to totally consumed with cracking the mystery of Zodiac was gradual enough but damn compelling as he almost single-handedly puts together the decades-old pieces of the puzzle that no one else cared to. While I fully expect that some elements of the story were fabricated or fictionalized compared to the real events, the character of Graysmith (who was also the writer of the source book) was one of the most complete and successful depictions of a character that would be largely inconsequential in another movie.

That is what I enjoyed the most in this film: almost everything you would expect in a true Hollywood film does not happen. There is no grand stand-off between the lead cop and the villain. Some characters (even played by pretty decent actors like Zach Grenier or Brian Cox) are around for a handful of scenes and just disappear. Fincher leaves a lot of grey area around the innocence or guilt of the prime suspect as the evidence is compelling, but not a sure thing. Even the ending (which I suspect would piss a lot of people off) is purposely vague and almost anti-climactic with no real resolution in the case at hand, just like the real events were. Rather than detract from the movie, this only makes it more engaging as we are clamoring for solid answers that do not exist. In fact, I cannot think of a more satisfying movie that leaves so many questions unanswered.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Random Movie: George: A Zombie Intervention (2009)

Written by: PBF

George: A Zombie Intervention (or George’s Intervention) comes to us via Breaking Glass Pictures. It’s quite an interesting take on the genre, but poorly executed.

The film opens with an educational film shown to school children. The opening was actually quite clever. It serves as exposition to us, and is meant to teach children the facts about zombies. Zombies have become members of society. So much so that there is a zombie technical support line. There are spores in the air that humans inhale. The spores lie dormant until the human dies. The spores then wake up and keep the brain functioning thus turning the human into a zombie. Not mindless Romero zombies. Rather, they simply remain their former selves, and are self aware that they are the undead. Unlike your typical film zombies, shooting them in the head does not kill them. It only makes them brain dead which turns them into the standard flesh seeking walkers. They only way to kill a zombie in this universe is to dismember them and burn them.

After the introduction, we see a group of friends having a pre-intervention for their friend George. He has a bit of an addiction problem. Much like you may have seen on television (or perhaps in an actual intervention), the friends are tasked to write down how George’s addiction has affected them. They arrive the next day at George’s home and he is quite resistant. George is a zombie, and he eats people. His friends plead with him to stop but he does not want to. As the group takes a break, people begin to be killed and George tries to eat them. One of George’s friends thinks that they are having a party, so George is constantly interrupted by guests arriving. He throws his victims in the basement to eat later.

This film is purposefully over the top. The gore is excessive and that’s fine. The problem is that there is an obvious attempt to make the film seem realistic at the same time, which places emphasis on its flaws. The performances are quite sub par, especially with the constant eye rolling and face acting. Right away as the friends arrive at the pre-intervention, they act as if they hate each other. So there was a bit of confusion as to why they are friends since they were all acting like jerks. This eventually changes as Sarah reveals that she likes Ben, and we learn that Steve is just a general dick.

The most bothersome thing in this film is George’s house. It’s like a billion square feet. No one in the house knows where anyone is and can’t hear the constant bludgeoning of guests, even after the loud music is turned off. The house also is apparently self cleaning, as blood seems to disappear from the floor.

There also is some inconsistency as one zombie discovers that he has no pulse and cannot feel pain and therefore must be dead, but in another scene, a zombie complains that being shot hurts.

The film was definitely entertaining, and some of the dialogue was quite humorous. However, most of the time is was poorly written and badly delivered. And not in a funny, quirky, Army of Darkness type way.

The very end is probably the funniest thing about the film. It is a “commercial” for a zombie rehab clinic and shows zombie supports groups and George eating Tofu Flesh.

The concept of the film is quite clever, and there are definitely some great moments. Very reminiscent of Dead Alive as far as style. I recommend a viewing, but must say that there is a lot to suffer through to get to the enjoyable parts.

Random Movie: Halloween: Resurrection (2002)

October may be over but sadly I still have a few more of these movies to suffer through. After watching Halloween: Resurrection, I began to yearn for the unoriginal simplicity of H20 or the complete and utter nonsense of Parts 5 and 6. Resurrection is the worst type of horror movie: it offers nothing of value to the franchise or the genre as a whole and it all around sucks complete ass. This movie (among others no doubt) is why horror films are seen as cheap, disposable, and worthless. In fact, there aren’t any better adjectives to describe this monstrosity.