Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Law Abiding Citizen

By the looks of the trailer and TV spots, when it was running theatrically, I didn’t think Law Abiding Citizen was going to be that good of a flick, so I never bothered to check it out at that time.  Maybe it was the lack of promotion or that the trailers didn’t highlight the heart of this film, but I just wasn’t interested in it at all.

But not too long after this movie was released onto DVD and Blu-Ray, I decided to place it on my Netflix queue, leaving it resting for quite some time before I finally watched it.  It finally reached the top of the list, probably because I had forgotten to reorganize it to put other movies in front of it, and showed up in my mailbox.  Even after that, all I did was place it in front of my television, letting it sit there, while I watched other films I had in my collection or just flipping through the boob tube.  However, the day came when nothing was on TV and I didn’t feel like watching any of my DVD and Blu-Ray collection, so I grabbed the rental and popped it into my PS3.

So, what did I think about it?

I loved it.

With the star power of the two actors who lead this movie, Jamie Foxx and Gerard Butler, and a pretty gripping drama featuring just the right amount of action and acts of vengeance, you get this movie.

The movie starts with Clyde Shelton (Butler) at home with his wife and daughter, tinkering with some electronics and having some light banter with his little girl.  His wife calls to their daughter as someone knocks at the door.  Clyde goes to the door and as soon as he opens it, two guys come in knocking him to the floor and binding him arms behind his back.  The bigger of the two pins Clyde down as he slowly stabs him in the abdomen.  He does the same to the wife and is about to start raping her all in front of Clyde.  Suddenly, the daughter walks in and is horrified to see what’s going on.  The two men are taken a back by her appearance, but the bigger of the two gets up and takes the girl out of the room, killing her off-screen.

Turns out, Clyde survives the ordeal with the two men apprehended and going to trial for the murders.  This is where we meet Nick Rice, a prosecuting attorney working with Clyde to make sure the men pay for their crimes.  But Nick informs Clyde that Clarence Darby (the man who did the killing) is prepared to testify against Rupert Ames (the accomplice) in order to get a lesser sentence, making sure Ames gets the death penalty.

Clyde is not happy with this deal and wants Nick to go all out, to try and prosecute both men accordingly.  But, as Nick informs Clyde, if they go for the prosecution that strongly, they may lose the case and both men walk.  Clyde doesn’t care and is sure that they can win the case with his testimony and thinks that the jury will be in their favor.  Nick, however, points out the sad truth about our judicial system and how defense attorneys use any and all tricks of the trade to eat prosecution witnesses alive.  Before Clyde can argue further, Nick informs him that he’s already made the deal, much to Clyde’s disappointment.

The trial goes forth as Nick had indicated, with Clarence Darby getting off the murder rap by testifying against Rupert Ames.  Outside the courtroom, Nick Rice is stopped by reporters and answers some questions as Darby walks up with his attorney, extending his hand for a handshake.  Nick, reluctantly, shakes Darby’s hand, either because of the reporters witnessing the scene or as a simple reflex, and looks off across the street as he does.  Standing across the street, watching the scene that had just unfolded, is Clyde Shelton, looking mortified and wounded.

Cut to ten years later, Nick Rice has clearly moved up in the world.  He has much better digs, very busy in his career, has a daughter who is a young accomplished cellist…he seems pretty content with his life.

The time has come for Rupert Ames to be executed and Nick goes to the viewing to witness it.  What should have been a peaceful death by lethal injection turns out to be a terrible display of a man being killed in a very torturous and excruciating way.  We find out shortly that this is the first in many vengeful acts committed by Clyde Shelton against the broken judicial system that failed him and his family.

As I watched this flick, clearly the best revenge was acted out against Clarence Darby.  You may have to turn your head away from the screen if you’re a little squeamish because he clearly gets his just desserts in that scene (and make sure to watch the unrated version for that part).  There’s clearly some mystery in this story as you begin to wonder who’s helping Shelton out when he’s incapable of acting out the punishment to the people he believes are responsible.

From the beginning of the film until the end, you’re set into a roller coaster ride of emotions.  Because you may find that you’ll be asking yourself who’s side should you be on.

Anyway, this flick is entertaining the whole way through, keeping you on the edge of your seat, wondering what’s going to happen next.  Some of you may think you’d do the same thing if you were in his shoes, some of you may think he went too far.  It’s definitely a movie to think about long after it’s over.

My final “bit” on Law Abiding Citizen?

I love this movie from start to finish and it definitely has the potential to be re-watched over and over…for me anyway.  All I’ll say, to end this, is that my favorite scene in this film is when Clyde Shelton is in court, acting as his own attorney.  I’m sure many of us would love to say what he said to the judge in that scene.  Priceless!

Give it a look-see…you won’t be disappointed.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Tucker and Dale vs Evil

Not to judge a book by its cover, but there are so many movies out there—especially the ones that go straight to DVD—which display titles that just tell you that you’re going to be watching a stupid movie. Most of the time I skip them because I’m not one to punish myself with something that’s such a waste of time, wishing I hadn’t squandered two hours of my life with it. I usually go with my instincts on some of these titles, but there are a few, such as Tucker and Dale vs Evil, where I trust the given star rating on IMDb or Netflix and decide to give it a try.

Before watching it, I had heard about the movie through various movie podcasts and even Leonard Maltin gave it a good review—a rarity for a horror movie—so I started thinking this might be a pretty entertaining film. Seeing it as a feature recommendation on Netflix about a week ago, I clicked on it and waited for its arrival.

The movie starts as your typical and clich├ęd horror movie fanfare of a group of kids setting off to the woods for a weekend of camping and partying, all piled into an SUV as they head to their destination.  Most of the kids are just forgettable characters, but the ones of note are Chad (the guy who thinks he’s just too cool and can get any girl he wants) and Allison (obvious as the survivor girl from the start).

As they continue their drive, they come up on some old pickup and go around it. Soon, that same pickup is gaining on them and it starts to pass the kids. As they look over at the passing truck, they notice the guys inside of the cab are a couple of hillbillies just glaring at them, looking like bad news. The kids shine it on (after appearing a little frightened), making a few disparaging comments about the men, but continue their conversation on their trip, when suddenly one of the girls exclaimed that they forgot to bring the beer. Oh, that’s comedy! (sarcasm)

Down the road, the kids stop at a beat-up-looking service station/convenience store, not really paying attention to the same pickup parked right outside. We—the audience—notice it, but not the characters in the film, which I thought must’ve been a minor flaw in the film or the filmmakers just showing us how dumb the kids are...either way, it's forgiven. As some of the kids enter the store, we see one of the hillbillies at the counter talking to the cashier, complete with overalls and an over-the-top country bumpkin accent. As Allison looks through the aisles, she comes face-to-face with the other hillbilly from the pickup, startling her to leave the store.

As the kids get their beer and are packing it in their coolers, we get our real first introduction to Tucker (Alan Tudyk) and Dale (Tyler Labine)—the previously mentioned hillbillies. It turns out that Tucker and Dale are a couple of nice guys heading out to their newly purchased summer home that they’re going to renovate. Dale—the burly and bearded of the two—actually is attracted to Allison. There’s a pretty funny exchange between Dale and the kids that solidify in their minds that the hillbillies are people they should stay away from.

Tucker and Dale get to their summer home and are excited to start renovating it, noticing that there’s not much to do, but clean and fix a few flaws here and there. It turns out that the kids are staying not too far from Tucker and Dale’s newly acquired summer home and shortly after nightfall, the fun begins.  As the kids are starting their weekend with a few beers by the fire, Chad tells them a story about a “Memorial Day Massacre” that happened some years back, about a group of hillbillies attacking some kids that were there for the weekend.  Of course, it unnerves the others, being in the dark woods in the middle of nowhere, so with that in their heads, it helps with what we have in store for a very entertaining movie.

Basically, this film is written well with some camp added to it, but it takes the typical horror movie formula and sort of turns it around. It’s lighthearted and funny—especially the exchanges between Tucker and Dale—but has a smattering of kills with gore effects throughout.

Essentially, the story is how Tucker and Dale are misunderstood to be a couple of evil-doers by the kids. One-by-one, the kids are accidentally killing themselves with the remaining peers thinking it’s Tucker and Dale who are doing the killing. It’s very funny at times with a lot of shocks and how damned unlucky those kids are.

Tucker and Dale vs Evil is on par with—and maybe a little more enjoyable than—Zombieland or Shaun of the Dead, probably because it really doesn’t deal with the supernatural or zombies but sort of parodies the slasher genre. I think one thing they did on purpose was to make you expect the film to feature nudity and not present it at all. I mean, come on! The one slutty girl, dressed in cut-off denim shorts and a low cut blouse, exposing her cleavage, and she never gets naked?! Some younger horror fans may be miffed about that.

Anyway, without further a do, here’s my final “bit” on Tucker and Dale vs Evil: Go rent this movie now. It is hilarious and entertaining and, in fact…you know what? Don’t bother renting it, just buy it. I’m going to look for it on Blu-Ray to add to my collection. It is a classic in the making!