Monthly Archives: March 2011

Rampage

Dejected by the futility of his tedious life, bitter small-town resident Bill (Brendan Fletcher) takes matters into his own hands by constructing a bulletproof outfit, picking up his semi-automatic weapons and attempting the largest killing spree ever seen. Written and directed by controversial filmmaker Uwe Boll, this ultra-violent action movie features jarring handheld camerawork and original dialogue largely improvised by the cast.

Brian
Rating: 0 out of 10

Welcome to the Rampage review. I’d like to share some adjectives to describe the film and its director. Uwe Boll is a talentless, worthless, brain dead, passionless, soulless, blind, and creatively DOA director. His script is disgusting, stupid, pointless, and probably written in crayon. And the film itself is offensive, irresponsible, ugly, and flat out horrendous.

It would be impossible for me to truly clarify my hatred of this movie. You want to know the plot? A college age kid puts on a Kevlar armor body suit and murders innocent men, women, and children by the dozens. Why? It’s not really explained nor does it need to be. This film is so bad, the only thing that offended me more than the senseless violence was the senseless script or lack thereof. How in the hell does this classify as entertainment? I am not offended by violence when it is relevant to a story. ” Taxi Driver,” “Fight Club,” and “The Passion of the Christ” all had extreme violence that served a purpose. This film seems to think murder is somehow entertaining. Now, how is it different than your typical slasher films? That’s easy. There’s no suspense, no buildup, no justice, and no fighting back from any protagonist. We, as an audience, basically sit and watch the main character slaughter people. Thanks Uwe Boll. You just reminded me why you made our “top 5 worst directors working today” list. Stay the hell away from the movie business. I say with no hesitation, “Rampage” is one of the worst movies I have ever seen.

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Top 5 Technologies that Changed Movies Forever

Brian

What will Superman change in now that phonebooths are all gone?

5. The Cell Phone: This isn’t really a technology that was directly made for the cinema but it changed the way movies were written. No longer are characters tied to desks, telephone booths, or home phones. All conversations can take place anywhere at anytime and are untraceable. Stop and think about how many movies in the last 10-15 years could not have been made without a cell phone. Almost every modern crime, action, and horror film completely relies on them. Also, cell phones have to be accounted for somewhere in the story. A character will almost always show that they can’t retrieve signal on their cell phone, lose it, or damage it in order for the plot to progress where they are helpless and alone or the audience’s first question is, “Why don’t they just call for help on their cell phone?”

4. Panaglide: I’m sure some of you are saying, “What the hell is Panaglide?” Well, Panaglide was a steadicam that attached by harness to a cinematographer to allow them to have isolation between the movement of the camera and the movement of the operator. This allowed them to get shots that were previously considered impossible. In the past, sets had to be created to allow for fluid movement of the camera and space for dolly tracking and cranes so that it wasn’t done handheld with the “shaky cam” effect. Panaglide solved that problem by creating smooth motion with one operator in cramped spaces. A great example of Panaglide is the opening sequence of the horror classic “Halloween”. The technology allowed the Director of Photography (Dean Cundey) to smoothly move from outside the house, inside and through it, have a murder scene, and then exit the house in one continuous shot in cramped space on location without dolly track on a very limited budget. Remember that great shot in Goodfellas where we are introduced to all the mob characters in one shot? Panaglide. Remember that great shot in Boogie Nights at the pool party that kept going for almost three minutes and underwater? Panaglide. It changed how films were made forever.

3. Surround Sound: I remember like it was yesterday the first movie I heard in full Dolby Digital surround sound. It was the terrific film Star Trek: First Contact. I was sitting in the theater and the moment the opening credits started I got goosebumps. The theater was completely alive with sound coming from all directions with crystal clear clarity. Unlike the days of stereo, when a spaceship flew by it felt like it went right over your head and through the theater. It immersed you in the experience of the story in a more complete way. Surround sound also changed the way directors and sound engineers created their movies. Effects and sounds had to be thought of in a 360 degree environment where the audience was just as invested with their ears as their eyes.

2. CGI: Love it or hate it, CGI changed movies forever. A lot of movies in the past were considered unfilmable. The ideas of large creatures, otherworldly locations, or sheer volume of fictional characters on screen at one time required such a huge financial commitment from film financers that many scripts were thrown away. CGI changed all that. For example, Steven Spielberg has said that without CGI, he would have never made Jurassic Park. After George Lucas saw what the technology could do, he decided it was time to start making new Star Wars films. And, James Cameron sat on his Avatar film for years because he knew that he needed CGI in order to achieve his vision. The technology had an even greater effect on the world of animation. The majority of films today are made through the process of computer animation. Pixar, Dreamworks, and Sony are just 3 of the many studios that are computer generated only. It has resulted in billions of dollars of revenue and been a driving force for creative flexibility.

1. Home Video: There is no single technology other than film itself that has changed cinema more than the ability for us to have movie playback in our home. It has gone through several advancements over the years: Beta to VHS to laserdisc to DVD to blu-ray and streaming. But, no matter the method of playback, the technology created new businesses through the home video rental market, movie collectors to buy and own their favorite films, and opened up a second way to get revenue for studios besides box office numbers. But, the most important thing it gave us by far is for us as film lovers to see movies we never got to see before. In the past, films would get re-released in theaters for short periods of time so that we could see films that we missed during their initial theatrical run. But, you would never know which films would come back and for how long. Today, we are so lucky to be able to see almost any film we want through services like Blockbuster, Netflix, Cable on-demand, or streaming boxes like Apple TV. It’s a great age to live in if you’re a film buff and it’s the most important technology added to movies ever!

Captain America Trailer Released

Kyle

“…because a weak man knows the value of strength, the value of power.”

Marvel has just recently released a full trailer for “Captain America: The First Avenger.” After watching it a few times, I have some mixed thoughts. As good as it looks, I’m not sure if the special effects in the cinematography are applicable. I mean, it looks good but if they are going for a true feel of World War II wartime, they shouldn’t have made given that unnecessary glow that it has. I haven’t seen Sky Captain, just some glimpses from the trailer when it came out, but the look of it reminds of that film. Perhaps my expectations of it are too high. I was kind of hoping for Saving Private Ryan meets X-Men.

The other thing I’m not sure about is Chris Evans’ portrayal of the cap. He played an okay hotshot in the terrible “Fantastic Four,” a good-looking street-smart with super powers in “Push,” and a funny hotshot in “Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World.” My hesitancy comes from the fact that he usually plays cool, confident, and attractive guys more or less. For Captain America, I imagine a guy who you can see and feel the hardship of being a below-average guy with a big heart who’s literally given the opportunity of a lifetime. With Evans’, I just don’t see it. Let’s hope his delivery better than my expectations. With Weaving as Red Skull, I’m not too worried. Weaving has some experience playing at both ends of being good and bad (“The Matrix” and “V for Vendetta”). I really hope the Red Skull’s history is depicted in the film; growing up as an orphan who has to survive by living a life of crime and eventually becoming Adolf Hitler’s right-hand man. I equally enjoy watching the rise of a hero as well as the rise of a villain; it adds some humanity to the protagonist by giving a reason for their ruthlessness.

Despite my two little bugaboos, I still look forward to seeing it. As a nerd, it’s a definite must-see regardless if it’s really good. At its core, it’s about a helpless guy who wants to make a difference and becomes a superhero and, from what I briefly saw, gets the girl. That’s enough appeal to any nerd such as myself. Will it be a huge success? Maybe not but we now live in time where if any comic book-to-film comes out, it’ll be automatically be compared to The Dark Knight and thus denouncing it as “not as good as ‘The Dark Knight.’” That alone creates quite a bit of bias for future comic book films, as different comic characters are very different than that of Batman and the world in which Batman operates. Regardless of this theory, it’s a big budget film that’ll be guaranteed to make a lot of box office dollars. Check out the trailer below and let us know what your thoughts are.

Sucker Punch

In this mind-warping action thriller, Baby Doll (Emily Browning), a girl slated for lobotomy in a 1950s-era asylum, leads a group of young female inmates in an attempt to escape both their mental fantasy worlds and the actual institution where they are prisoners. To accomplish her plan, Baby Doll must steal five objects — but is the man who’s trying to stop her real, or a figment of her imagination? Zack Snyder (Watchmen, 300) directs.

Matt
Rating: 4 out of 10

I had a ton of faith going into this movie. My wife and I were looking forward to seeing what Zach Snyder’s latest flick would be like. I’m a huge fan of “Watchmen,” which I think is one of the best comic book movies ever made.

This film follows his typical epic fight scenes — full of CG on the most massive scale and slick movement without being dizzying. But I found myself wishing this movie would end about half way through.

It starts out with a strong story of a troubled girl who loses her mother, accidentally kills her sister while trying to defend her from her monster of a step-father and gets institutionalized. After that, it takes very strange turns. It’s a film that follows the fantasies within fantasies of a girl’s mind — almost like the dreams within dreams in”Inception.” However, this film concentrates more on action than plot and character development. Through the first hour of the movie, there couldn’t have been more than 25 lines of dialogue, and that’s being generous. We’re given characters we don’t care about because they haven’t been developed, and we’re given so many epic fight scenes that they lose the effect they could have. The whole movie was flat. Strangely, my wife really liked it. She loved the girl power theme. But it’s hard to imagine women being empowered by scantily-clad, barely legal girls who wield loads of guns and bombs.

Top 5 John Carpenter Movies

victor

John Carpenter pulls no punches. He is a director of horror, science-fiction, and cult hit movies. He is the master of it. There are no Academy Awards on his shelf, yet he boasts a string of extremely popular films that have made him one of the most successful directors of his generation. From classics like “Escape from New York” to “Starman,” Carpenter has been entertaining and frightening us for decades. Here is my list of Top 5 John Carpenter Movies.

5.  They Live – Carpenter rarely does blatant social commentary but his low budget, alien-among-us opus, They Live oozes with it. Consumerism, apathy, alienation and some political satire. Yes, the film is cheesy at times and the make up is a joke. I think it actually adds to the appeal of the film. Carpenter is in complete control here and it shows. A great, long fight scene by the 2 main leads, Roddy Piper and Keith David, is incredible to watch. Possibly the longest fight scene ever filmed. A great sci-fi outing that never disappoints. Obey. Sleep. Consume.

4. The Fog – I really love this film. Carpenter’s follow up to Halloween cements his place among the upper tier of horror filmmakers. The Fog is first and foremost a dreamy, ghost story that is chock full of mood and menace. A scary campfire tale come to life. Dean Cundey’s photography is top notch as always and Carpenter’s score is intense and ethereal. Carpenter juggles multiple characters and tells a ghastly story about wronged pirates come back to to life to exact revenge. Great film. Just steer clear of the remake.

3. Big Trouble in Little China – Oh that Kurt Russell. He flexes his comedic muscles here as a heroic but bumbling truck driver who unwittingly stumbles upon an age-old Chinese feud. Full of great choreographed fight scenes (way before Crouching Tiger), this tribute to Kung-Fu films is amazing to watch because of Carpenter and Russell’s tongue-in-cheek enthusiasm. It has wizards, ghosts and creatures aplenty. Just plain fun. I have yet to meet someone who did not like this film.

2. Halloween – This film is a masterpiece. Halloween is an example of how to make a horror film right. Much has been said about this influential film that was shot for only $350,000. Cundey’s camera work, Carpenter’s music, and the great lead characters make his film vastly superior to it’s cheap knock-off peers. Yes, it is a slasher film but it is done with the utmost care, precision and love for the then young genre. We care for the characters and Carpenter carefully establishes that Micheal Myers is a force to be reckoned with. Insanely perfect all around, Halloween is a must see.

1. The Thing – Carpenter’s Citizen Kane. The Thing sports an all male cast finely tuned and lead by Carpenter’s frontman, the always capable Kurt Russell. This is a sci- fi whodunnit with paranoid flair. Everything here is masterfully done. The ensemble is flawless. Cundey’s camerawork is miraculous to watch. Carpenter’s direction is tight and precise. But it’s the suspense that Carpenter establishes and the make up FX by Rob Bottin that really shine here. The film plays out like some morbid, alien take of an Agatha Christie novel where we are witness to the characters beginning to fear and distrust each other. The blu-ray includes a fantastic commentary by Russell and Carpenter that is a fan favorite to this day. The Thing is a must own. It is my favorite Carpenter film. Enjoy.

Splice


Ignoring instructions from the pharmaceutical company that funds their research, groundbreaking genetic scientists Elsa (Sarah Polley) and Clive (Adrien Brody) continue with an unorthodox experiment to create a human-animal hybrid, a new life form they dub “Dren” (Delphine Chanéac). When they see their fantastical creation, Clive warns that it should be destroyed, but Elsa refuses — a decision she’ll regret when Dren makes deadly plans of her own.

Brian

Rating: 7 out of 10

I’ll be the first to admit that I had very low expectations going into this film. I saw the trailer and it looked like another Alien rip-off. Creature stalks human prey until they turn the tables and outsmart the physically superior opponent. It has been done to death. So, I have to admit I was very pleasantly surprised by Splice. It’s a much darker and more disturbing experience than I expected. The film essentially has 3 parts to it:

1. The genetic testing part: This is the first portion of the film where the characters go through trial and error of figuring how to splice together different animal DNA to create a new being entirely created by man. It asks a lot of questions that I found interesting in terms of scientific versus moral decisions. Is it our place to clone and create new forms of life? If it all goes wrong and the new created being either doesn’t survive or has to be destroyed, is it immoral? The mere fact that I’m even thinking about this shows that it’s more than a monster movie.

2. Dren’s confinement: This is the best part of the film. Dren (the creature created by the 2 main characters that is part animal and part human) has to be hidden away from everyone. The 2 scientists (played very well by Adrien Brody and Sarah Polley) begin to make decisions that are violent and lustful while the creature begins to exhibit an almost innocent nature at times. I started to feel sympathy for Dren and hate towards the human characters that all seemed to want to take advantage of her in one way or another. It was fascinating to watch until…….

3. Evil mean creature goes through metamorphosis and kills: Why? I mean you had me wrapped into the story and then you do this. There were so many ways to end it but you just spoiled it during the last 20 minutes! I won’t reveal it but if you’ve seen it you’ll know what I’m talking about.

So, I recommend Splice, a good film that had the potential to be great.

Wild Target

When veteran hit man Victor Maynard (Bill Nighy) finds himself unable to kill his latest target, Rose (Emily Blunt), he winds up with an unexpected sidekick, Tony (Rupert Grint), who thinks Victor is a detective in this action-packed comedy from Britain. Now, with Rose and Tony tagging along, Victor tries to deal with the dual forces of his overbearing mother (Eileen Atkins) and a very angry client (Rupert Everett) who wants Rose dead.

Kyle
6 out of 10

As with many straight-to-DVD comedies on the shelves at Blockbuster, I grabbed it wondering if it was worth my time. When I put it in, though, and started to watch, I found myself more entertained than I thought I would.
Bill Nighy plays a professional assassin hired to kill a thief, played by Emily Blunt. This woman is stunning beyond the realm of my comprehension. My eyes were glued to her throughout the entire film. She could just wear a carpet as a dress with holes cut out for her arms and make it look sexy. As for Bill Nighy, he was great as the mother-respected assassin. I can’t really say anything good or bad about Rupert Grint’s performance. A lot of his character reminded me a bit of Ron in the Potter films, as Ron always provides the dimwitted comic relief, not so much now in the franchise. Hopefully this is a good transitional film for him. I’m not quite sure where his potential stands.

All in all, I thought this was a pretty decent flick. It had the typical reconciliation ending, but it was appropriate. The funny assassin films seem to be coming about more now, however, this doesn’t really compare to the others. This would be a good film to pop in with your boyfriend or girlfriend if you don’t feel like going out.