Monday, August 29, 2011
Such is the case with Fright Night, starring Anton Yelchin as Charlie Brewster and Colin Farrell as the vampire next door, Jerry Dandrige. When I first heard that they were going into production with this film, I actually told myself that I would not go see this movie, that it was an insult to the awesome and campy 1985 original. But who am I kidding? I knew I’d go see it…I just knew I wouldn’t be happy about it.
I’ve been wrong before and I’ll admit I was wrong this time as well, because I really enjoyed this flick.
The film opens in some small suburb, seemingly isolated as we see the overhead shot of the whole neighborhood only consists of a few blocks surrounded by acres of open land. Throughout the streets we see that many of the houses are for sale, giving us a sense that this neighborhood is becoming abandoned and deserted.
Like the original film, Charlie lives with his mom (the beautiful Toni Collette), has his girlfriend Amy (Imogen Poots), and his estranged friend Evil Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse). The house next door to them has a new neighbor that has been doing a lot of work on the house, dumping a lot of broken concrete chunks in the dumpster out front, leaving Mrs. Brewster wondering what kind of work’s being done inside. Meanwhile, in school, kids have been missing during roll call.
The switch in this 2011 version is that Evil Ed is the one who voices his paranoia about the new neighbor, while Charlie thinks he’s crazy. He explains his suspicion to Charlie, telling him about the news reports of people missing and the kids that haven’t been showing up to school. He tells Charlie right out that he thinks his neighbor is a vampire. Of course, Charlie thinks Ed’s delusional, reading too much “Twilight,” and that the idea is ridiculous. Ed tells Charlie to make sure he doesn’t invite Jerry in the house, that a vampire can’t enter unless invited.
Later, Charlie gets home and is bringing in the garbage when Jerry suddenly shows up, startling him. He tells Charlie that he has a hot blonde coming over and had forgotten to replenish the beer in his fridge, asking if they had any. Charlie’s somewhat taken a back, seeing how insistent Jerry’s acting, and walks to his back door to go into the kitchen. As he’s at the refrigerator and getting a few beers together, he notices Jerry followed him to the back door but would not come inside. Charlie takes note that Jerry makes small talk about how nice the kitchen looks, seemingly wanting to come in to check it out, but doesn’t cross the threshold. Even as he hands the 6-pack of beer to him, he sees that Jerry won’t even let his fingers go past the door jamb.
Later, after Charlie realizes that Ed was right and taking pictures of some items in one of the rooms in Jerry’s house, he seeks out help from a local Las Vegas performer, and self-proclaimed vampire slayer, by the name of Peter Vincent. Charlie poses as a reporter for the local newspaper to get an interview with Vincent and asks him to help him kill Jerry. Of course, it doesn’t go well, as security kicks Charlie out. But he leaves his photos and Vincent finally looks at them later, recognizing a picture of an insignia that he had his own drawing of. He calls Charlie back to explain that he knows Jerry’s a vampire—one that killed his own parents—and tells him how to go about slaying the vampire.
Christopher Mintz-Plasse was basically playing the same character as he did in Superbad and Role Models and Kick-Ass…in other words, he was just being himself.
Toni Collette was wasted as Charlie’s mom, not lending any help to the movie except during one scene where she helps her son out of a confrontation with the vampire. She’s conveniently placed in the hospital for the third act of the movie and makes a little cameo at the end.
Overall, the film was enjoyable with some scares and feeling of dread (like when Charlie broke into Jerry’s house), a lot of lighthearted moments, and just an interesting flick to sit through.
My final “bit” on Fright Night? The story was more or less the same one we’d gotten 26 years ago with some modern spins on it and not too much added after that. As a fan of the original, I didn’t feel that there were many surprises and that it played out as it ended the way I thought it would. Aside from that, it was well acted by all, the dialogue and conversations between the characters were believable, never over-the-top. I opted for the 12:45 pm 3D showing in my town which left me by myself in the theater to watch this flick completely alone. Not much was added to make the 3D viewing worthwhile, so I’d advise you all to just go with the less expensive 2D option. I can’t say it enough that 3D is a gimmick and it really has over-stayed its welcome. Like Harold said in the A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas trailer, it has already jumped the shark. But, anyway, Fright Night is worth a look and I think most of today’s younger audience will enjoy this.
at 1:59:00 PM
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
One, the story should always be set in the fall, between the months of September and November. That way, it gives it the feel that it’s set on or near Halloween, especially when you see the characters wearing clothing adequate for the fall.
Two, around 75% of the film should contain scenes at night. The dark is always foreboding and spooky, so to have settings filmed during the day is just a way to take the audience out of the movie, as well as the scare out of it. Everyone, at some level, is afraid of the dark.
Three, the setting must be a small town where everybody knows each other. It always helps when the fictional town features local farmers or cowboy types, or any type of character who’d seem to be not from the big city. Throw in a bunch of kids with letterman jackets and you have yourself a great start.
And four, there must be a well-known main character—someone who’s either very well-liked or looked down upon like some dreg of society. The latter character always makes for a better and entertaining part of the story.
With those points made, I’ve got to say that 1988’s The Blob has all those details I’ve noted: it’s mentioned during the film that it’s October; most of the movie was filmed at night; it’s an obvious small town; and everybody knows the main bad boy character.
The Blob was one of the 80s’ more quiet and lesser-known horror movies, which was a remake of 1958’s film of the same name. The original had a clean-cut Steve McQueen (as Steven McQueen in the credits) and was a pretty cool flick of the 50s’ creature features.
Here, in the 1988 version, it opens with the local high school football game, introducing us to the football star, Paul Taylor (Donovan Leitch), and the popular cheerleader, Meg Penny (Shawnee Smith). Paul gets tackled at the refreshment table and Meg runs over to see if he’s okay. Right before he passes out, he asks Meg out on a date that night.
The story follows the same path as the 1958 version as a homeless man who lives in the woods witnesses a meteorite that falls to Earth that night. He goes to investigate, finding the meteorite as some substance moves around inside of it, grabs a stick and pokes at the goop. It sticks to the end of it but the slime suddenly moves and covers the old man’s hand, leaving him screaming in pain.
Like I mentioned, this film, as minutely known as it was back then, has the necessary canon needed for a great horror movie. Seeing that this was filmed during the 80s—and it shows—makes it very nostalgic for me to watch. There’s even a touch of Hitchcock’s Psycho in the story as a character you expect to be a hero throughout the film dies within the first act.
As much as I’m against remakes nowadays, I feel that this one was justified, as the first one was made 30 years prior. But, really, when thought about, the film is just about the same as the 1958 version, just modernized and given a twist toward the end that I found rather interesting. Still, I have a love for the horror movies of the 1980s that I really can’t explain. So watching this movie the other day brought back great memories of going to the local video rental store to rent VHS tapes to bring home.
If you can get over Kevin Dillon’s super-mullet and Shawnee Smith’s densely hair sprayed ‘do, then you’ll love this flick. For a B-movie, the acting is pretty good and believable, minus the kids who sneak out to watch the latest slasher movie and the dude that sits behind them, but everybody else moves the story along well enough.
The pace of the movie was great with no down time. We get to know the main characters, the blob comes down in the meteor, and the shit hits the fan.
I don’t know if this will ever get a Blu-Ray release, but the DVD I own looks pretty good and it is in widescreen. But it’d be nice if we could get a behind-the-scenes featurette or some interviews, maybe a commentary track.
My final “bit” about The Blob is that you should go look for this DVD in your local rental shop or Netflix and rent it. Better yet, if you’re a fan of 1980s’ horror films, this is a must to own.
at 11:42:00 AM
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Growing up, my childhood superhero was, and still is, Marvel Comic’s Spider-Man. But a close second was always the Hulk.
Back in the late 70s, the television show was a big hit, starring Bill Bixby as David Banner (why they changed the name to David instead of Bruce, I’ll never understand) and Lou Ferrigno as the Hulk. It was pretty true to the comics on how Banner was inundated with gamma rays, causing him to turn into the Hulk when angered. I even bought into how they cast a body builder to be painted green and have him run around roaring at everybody in slow motion. Looking back at it now, it does look a little ridiculous, especially the TV films (Trial and Death) they televised in the early 80s.
In 2003, I was very excited when Hulk came out. It was probably the last time I went to a late night showing of a movie (I think I went to a 10 pm showing) and I really liked the film. Ang Lee gave the film an artsy feel to it, but I thought it was very well done. To me, the ending left you wanting more, even though the film went on ten minutes too long. I waited a few years for a sequel, but was disappointed when I heard another film would be made, but as a reboot.
Yes, the keyword around Hollywood that almost guarantees a studio’s greenlight of a production is “reboot.”
But this was different as the new film would be tied into the new Marvel Studios universe of films to intersect each other, starting with Iron Man. So, I accepted this reboot of my second favorite superhero as The Incredible Hulk started production.
The film opens with a quick montage of how it all happens, so right away everything was erased from the first film as it’s solely gamma rays that made Bruce Banner what he is. It’s a pretty cool introduction as it follows the old 70s television show more than the comics. Throughout the opening assortment of scenes, we see newspaper articles and schematics which establish Stark Industries as being involved somehow.
As expected, Banner turns into the Hulk and takes off leaving Blonsky to ask what the heck was that thing, to which Ross explains everything to him. Blonsky wants another try at Banner and Ross introduces him to a program that has been closed since World War II: the Super Soldier Program—pretty exciting for us comic book buffs who know this is a direct correlation to Captain America. Blonsky takes part and gets injected with the Super Soldier serum and waits for his chance to get another shot at the Hulk.
As much as I liked the first film, I felt that Eric Bana (as Banner) played the part a little dry and boring. So casting Edward Norton, I thought, was a good choice. We all know the Hulk isn’t going to be on screen the whole time, so his alter ego needs to be an interesting character and Norton gives the movie that extra appeal that the first movie lacked.
William Hurt as General Ross was a good choice, because he seemed more like a villain in this rendition than Sam Elliot did in the first film. Hurt showed the desperation he had to capture the Hulk a lot more and how he was solely responsible for his actions, bad and worse.
Tim Roth did fine as Blonsky, as I’ve always felt he is always on top of his game when he plays a villain.
Now, the look of the Hulk was great, a little more realistic than the last version we saw on the big screen. But the problem I have with the look of him was that it didn’t match Edward Norton’s features. In the first movie, you could recognize a little of Eric Bana in the appearance of the Hulk (as a matter of fact, it was said in an interview with the computer animators that they mixed Bana's features with Jennifer Connelly's as well as Ang Lee's to make the Hulk's face). In this one, the Hulk and Norton look nothing alike. That can be considered nitpicking, but I think it brings a little believability to the movie. For instance, Norton’s hair is kept pretty short and doesn’t move around too much; the Hulk’s hair is sort of moppy and a little longer. And let’s face it, Norton’s nose is kind of big, yet the Hulk’s nose is a little smaller. It just seems like the filmmakers and studio had the Hulk designed before they cast Norton in the part.
But anyway, don’t get me wrong, this movie is pretty awesome and I think most Hulk fans will be impressed and blown away. Instead of the TV show and previous movie where all we hear are grunts and roars from the monster, in The Incredible Hulk, we hear him speak a few lines here and there.
A cool piece of trivia: the pizzeria’s owner, Stanley, is Paul Soles. You may not recognize him or his now-gruff voice, but he has done a few famous cartoon voices over the years. He was Hermey the Elf from “Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” Bruce Banner from the 1966 cartoon run of “Hulk,” Happy Hogan of the 1966 “Iron Man” cartoon, and none other than Peter Parker/Spider-Man in the 1967 cartoon series. I thought that was a nice cameo they gave him as respect for his legacy. Let’s not forget Stan Lee in his usual cameo, this time chugging the soda that was tainted with Banner’s blood.
Anyway, my final “bit”?
Overall, the film works, regardless of my minor criticisms, and it was smart of the filmmakers to give Hulk a worthy adversary straight out of the comic book pages instead of just have him constantly running from General Ross and the military. The movie is enjoyable and you can’t help but find yourself rooting for the Hulk each and every time he appears. A very nice touch was including the musical cues from the TV show...a very haunting melody that fits in the film. I can not wait for Hulk's manifestation in the Avengers movie with Mark Ruffalo taking over as Banner. With the major accomplishments in CGI and motion-capture technology, it should be a major improvement after what we saw in Avatar (as terrible as it was) and the awesome spectacle of Rise of the Planet of the Apes. We’ve got less than a year to go and I hope it lives up to the hype we’re hearing. The Incredible Hulk is a SMASHing movie. Yes...I said it.
at 5:55:00 AM
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
So, I was pretty excited when they announced the production of Rise of the Planet of the Apes. With the exception of James Franco, each cast addition made me more and more excited.
The one cast addition that had me locked into this film was the announcement of Andy Serkis. You may know him as the man who brought Gollum to life in the Lord of the Rings trilogy or for bringing the giant ape to life in King Kong. Serkis has actually played bit parts in some movies like The Prestige and a little known horror flick called The Cottage, but it’s clear that he’ll be forever known as the motion-capture go-to-guy. With already a bunch of trailers and clips on-line regarding this film, there was a marvelous featurette that showed how they filmed the motion-capture scenes involving the apes. Many people have mentioned in the past, and are already talking about it for this film, that Serkis should win an Oscar for his performances. I agree.
So, without further ado, let’s get into Rise of the Planet of the Apes, shall we?
The film opens with poachers on the hunt to trap chimpanzees in their habitat. A sad sight to see, but it shows us the realistic side to how these chimps come to be in experimental labs for testing. The film, then, moves to Gen-Sys, the facility where Will Rodman (James Franco) is working on the latest cure for Alzheimer’s disease called the ALZ-112. As he’s setting up a presentation with the board, the handlers try to get a chimpanzee—treated with the new cure and showing increased high intelligence—ready for the demonstration. The chimp, however, shows signs of aggression and attacks the handlers when they try to get her out of her quarters. She goes on a rampage and is shot dead by security right when she jumps into the boardroom and in front of all the members.
One thing that hit home for me about the story is the subplot about how Will Rodman is driven to find the Alzheimer’s cure. As I watched John Lithgow play his ill father, suffering from the disease, it reminded me of what I went through with my mother. I can definitely relate to Franco’s character throughout this movie and it really moved me.
Again, I’m surprised that a movie of this caliber wasn’t forced to be filmed in 3D by the studio. Although I’m not a fan of 3D and feel it’s just a gimmick running its course (getting old, if you ask me), the visuals that you see in this film would’ve been perfect for it: Caesar climbing the giant trees in the Muir Woods, the apes swinging above and below the Golden Gate Bridge, the make-shift spears and manhole covers thrown…this seemed like total 3D fodder to me. But I guess Rupert Wyatt didn’t want to go the James Cameron route and wanted to get people in the theater to see the movie’s story and not the movie’s 3D.
Even though the acting is good from the cast, it’s the performances from the apes that you’ll be paying attention to—especially Andy Serkis’s Caesar.
Throughout the whole film, I had nothing negative to say or think about. The whole flick is believable and made me think about it long after leaving the theater. But if there’s one thing that I can nitpick about is at the very end. I don’t want to say or give away too much, but I felt myself about to say, out loud, “Oh, come on.” However, later on, it made me think a bit more, so I’m still pondering on it. Your thoughts?
Anyway…my final bit?
Rise of the Planet of the Apes, in my opinion, is the best film of 2011. Unless Fright Night kicks ass, Final Destination 5 pulls out an Oscar-worthy performance, The Thing prequel or Real Steel blows me away, my money’s on Apes as my favorite of 2011.
at 6:09:00 AM
Captain America is a comic book character I didn’t follow, but was always interested in when they tried to bring him to life on screen. He was first brought to the screen in the 40s in serials, then they tried in the late 70s when they cast Reb Brown running around in a motorcycle helmet and doing nothing with the shield. But in 1990, they almost had it right with a good-looking costume and a nice make-up job to depict Scott Paulin as the Red Skull. However, the movie was kind of boring and had the typical dialogue you hear in 1990s movies that will make you laugh today.
Yes, we knew it was coming, since we caught a glimpse of the shield in the first Iron Man film and a deleted scene from The Incredible Hulk supposedly showed a body frozen in the ice that may have been Mr. Steve Rogers himself. So all us comic book geek brethren waited with baited breath as the release date drew near.
The only news I was concerned with when keeping track of the production news was when they announced Joe Johnston was directing it and that Chris Evans was cast as Steve Rogers, aka Captain America.
Johnston was a worry because he had some downers, in my opinion, under his belt. He directed Jurassic Park III and, most recently, The Wolfman. I enjoyed both of those movies, but for the upcoming Avengers film, all these inaugural films have to be stellar in the box office to be sure of the beginning ensemble extravaganza. However, he did direct The Rockateer a while back, which captured the feel of the era, so I felt there was some hope.
Evans concerned me because of how he constantly made quips and jokes in every movie I’d seen him in thus far. But I held faith and heard in an interview that he was going to take the character in a serious path, so I thought it might work with him in the lead.
So a few weeks ago, I went to the local cinema complex and sat down to watch Captain America: The First Avenger.
I loved it.
The origin truly showed how much love this individual had for his country and his drive to join the military as he went to every recruitment office he could venture to, seeing if there was one that would accept his weak, frail body.
And, of course, the shield was pretty awesome and used perfectly. It wasn’t something that Cap carried around to shield him from weapons, but used as a weapon itself as he sliced it through the air boomeranging and ricocheting off walls—and villains—back into Cap’s hands.
Ofcourse, no spoilers here, but stick around after the credits for an added scene, which leads to a nice surprise afterwards.
at 6:00:00 AM
Monday, August 8, 2011
Marvel Studios, once again, marches on triumphantly, getting closer to the awesomeness that will be The Avengers (coming out in the summer of 2012) as they released Thor last May.
Marvel sure has surpassed DC Comics in the last decade with great comic book adaptations, but it’s this new trek that we take towards the ultimate superhero movie, The Avengers, that is going to take the genre above and beyond anything ever filmed. Unless the super ensemble totally flops, we’re probably going to see DC Comics follow, with Warner Bros., finally bringing their own counterparts in The Justice League come to life.
But enough about the upcoming and possible films of the future, let’s talk about Thor.
Chris Hemsworth plays the title character, the God of Thunder, Thor, Anthony Hopkins plays his father, Odin, and Tom Hiddleston plays his brother, Loki. After seeing Thor on Earth, as Jane Foster (played by Natalie Portman) and two other scientists find him during a strange storm episode, the story flashes back to see Thor and Loki as children and how their father, Odin, seemingly favored Thor over Loki. The story goes forward as we see Thor, as an adult, about to be crowned king to take over Asgard from his father, Odin, the current king. Thor appears very arrogant and pompous, almost with a celebrity status as he smiles and winks to the crowd while walking up to accept the crown. Alarms go off and interrupt the ceremony as intruders have broke into the kingdom to try and steal a power relic. It’s found out that the intruders were Frost Giants and Thor becomes furious, wanting to retaliate. Odin, however, forbids Thor’s desired revenge and wants to keep the peace. But the warrior in Thor does not accept that and goes against his father’s ruling as he takes his warrior companions, along with Loki, to the Frost Giants planet to seek out revenge. Odin finds out, intervenes during the battle and brings Thor back to deal out his punishment, which is to be banished to Earth. He takes Thor’s mighty hammer, his Mjollnir, and casts it away through an open portal. Thor is stripped of his armor and is cast away through it as well.
The story picks up back on Earth, as we see what follows when Jane Foster ran into Thor at the beginning of the film.
The story is no great epic, but has an awesome feel to it as we see Thor learn to leave his arrogance behind and stand for something. Because, as Odin speaks before casting out Thor’s Mjollnir, only one who is worthy can wield the mighty weapon. And, as we saw at the end of the credits in Iron Man 2, that weapon landed and was lodged in the middle of the desert, no one being able to lift it from its place in the sand.
In Thor, we start off seeing a self-aware god and see how he becomes a noble hero.
Anyway, my final “bit” on Thor is go watch it if it’s still in theaters…otherwise, rent it or buy it when it comes out on DVD and Blu-Ray.
at 5:53:00 PM