**1/2 out of ****
I have been wanting to see this movie since I first learned that it was being made. The trailers were great, and I love actor Nathan Fillion (of “Firefly” and “Serenity”). Unfortunately I missed my chance to see it in the theater, and had to wait for it to come out on video. Seriously, I had this movie on my Netflix queue before there was even a release date. And after finally seeing it, I can safely say that I was not disappointed. ^_^
Premise: Small, sleepy, southern town celebrating the beginning of deer hunting season. Meteor. Alien worm thing. Need I say more? ^_^ This movie has a very Master of Puppets-like theme. Alien worm thing takes over the body of a prominent citizen, Grant, who uses people as a host for the incubation of all those little slug things. Slug things take over more people, and pretty soon you have a zombie-esque army all connected to good ole Grant. Main characters are Nathan Fillion playing police chief Bill Pardy and Elizabeth Banks playing Grant’s wife, Starla, who spend the bulk of the movie trying to find Grant and end the terror.
I was expecting this movie to be really bad. It wasn’t. It was actually hilarious. The beginning of the film isn’t bad, but it’s nothing special, but as the movie goes on, it gets funnier and funnier. The script is great, and Nathan Fillion is wonderful. Actually, I’ll go so far as to say that Nathan Fillion totally makes the whole movie. The guy who plays the mayor is hilarious too - great supporting character!
This is a James Gunn film, and since James Gunn is the same guy who wrote the newer version of Dawn of the Dead, you would expect some gore, but this movie is gross. I mean seriously gross. Not just gore, though there’s plenty of that, but throw in people eating raw, rotting meat, dead animals, the slimy little slug things themselves, and more in that vein, and you’ve got a disgusting film. Word of advice - don’t eat while watching. I actually think this was the biggest drawback of the movie - the overload of grossness. And actually the overload of swearing, too. Swearing doesn’t bother me at all, but it was constant through this whole movie. When Nathan Fillion says something like “That is some fucked up shit” with his deadpan expression it’s funny, but it would be even more funny if people hadn’t been saying “fuck” every two seconds through the whole movie.
Bottom line, this was actually a pretty good movie. Intentionally funny, good acting, good script, good (but gross!) special effects. Very entertaining, and very worth watching!
** out of ****
I very much enjoy watching the original Japanese horror flicks that America likes to remake. Interestingly enough, as much as I like to slam anything that America remakes as being inferior, these Japanese horror movies are actually worse than their American counterparts. Usually the acting and the ghost design are the biggest problems. But I still love watching them anyway, so when I was at Hollywood Video last night (with French film “Empire of the Wolves” already in hand) and passed Ju-on (the grudge) 2, I had to pick it up.
As a side note, this movie was completely different than The Grudge 2. I thought that The Grudge 2 was another remake, especially since Ju-on 2 was made in 2003 and has the same writer, but nope, Ju-on 2 is a completely different movie. So that was a nice surprise - I wasn’t just seeing the Asian version of a movie that I had already seen. Premise: The story follows several characters during and after they film an episode of a popular TV show in a haunted house. If you’ve seen Ju-on, you know exactly which house the idiots chose for their location. ^_^ Angry ghosts cheerfully go after their new targets, causing terror and death wherever they go… except for in one character’s case, where there’s this whole silly (and typical) pregnancy storyline. You know what I’m talking about. The whole “she’s pregnant… but with what?!” storyline.
On the whole, I was entertained by this movie, but completely unimpressed. There were a couple of neat things about two of the storylines, and that was it. Amusingly enough, for the most part the characters seemed content to sit, stare, and make horrified noises as the ghost approaches them at a pace a slug could outrun. Now, I’ve never been in this situation, but I am pretty sure that if a crazy dead lady was inching her way towards me, I would not sit still and scream, I would run away and scream. If the ghosts are really as incapable of quick movement as they seem, then you could stay away from them indefinitely!
The ghosts were, true to form, less impressive than their American counterparts. Although I will say that in the Japanese versions of The Grudge movies the little boy ghost is much more malevolent. Take this scene, for instance. The main ghost has just hung one of the characters (Nori) with her hair, and the character remains suspended from the ceiling. Girlfriend walks in, and the little boy ghost is looking directly at her as he pushes Nori’s legs, causing him to swing back and forth, back and forth, a macabre pendulum.
The movie doesn’t really start to get bad until the last half an hour, twenty minutes or so. Then the pregnancy aspect of the storyline concludes, and it’s just so ridiculous that you’re left rolling your eyes. It’s not even worth laughing at.
So, bottom line: fun movie, the end sucks. I enjoyed watching it, and I never need to see it again. ^_^
I was just talking to a friend the other day about one of my biggest pet peeves this year: female actresses in action movies. More specifically, their tendancy towards the stick thin image of “beauty” that is so strived for that leaving you wondering, “how the hell did she just throw that guy twenty feet away when her arm looks like a toothpick?!”
There are a few notable exceptions, of course - Linda Hamilton, “Terminator 2″. Sigourney Weaver, “Alien 3″. Jessica Biel (surprisingly!), “Blade Trinity”. These women had a respectable amount of muscle tone. They looked like badasses that you wouldn’t want to mess with.
Now let’s take a look at he other end of the spectrum. Charlize Theron, “Aeon Flux”. Milla Jovovich, “Resident Evil”, “Resident Evil: Apocalypse”, “Ultraviolet”. Alexa Davalos, “Chronicles of Riddick”. Oh, and how about this one? Sarah Michelle Gellar. Seven seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Was it just me, or did she actually lose muscle mass?
I think the whole “toothpick” beauty ideal is disgusting anyway. And it’s a little off topic, but THANK YOU MADRID for banning underweight models from your fashion shows!!! Long live healthy BMIs!!! But, anyway… back to my rant. So not only do these actresses look unhealthy and unattractive, they make themselves completely unbelieveable in the rolls they play. How is it that this continues to be encouraged in the media? My god, when the Tomb Raider movies came out, everyone was talking about how “hardcore” Angelina Jolie’s training had been. Umm… where was her muscle definition? Was it hiding? Did it not like the camera? (Notice I don’t even bother to bring up “Mr. and Mrs. Smith”…)
I wonder who would win: Demi Moore - “G.I. Jane”, or (good lord) Keira Knightly - “King Arthur”. How about these disappointments? Jennifer Garner in ”Elektra”. Actually, I will say that at least Garner isn’t as stick thin as these other examples. Kristanna Loken in ”BloodRayne” was a brutal disappointment to me. She wasn’t rail thin, but she looked kinda like a couch potato. She is a freaking BAD ASS VAMPIRE ACTION HERO! Give her a LITTLE freaking muscle!!! And Anne Parillaud, “La Femme Nikita”? Please. I could break her over my knee. Summer Glau, of “Firefly” and “Serenity”. Yes, I understand that due to tampering of her brain in theory she is supposed to be a badass warrior. Guess what? Physically she’s so frail that she couldn’t possibly do half the things she does on screen. I will conclude with Kate Beckinsdale in the “Underworld” movies. Enough said.
I understand that some of the above mentioned characters have power that negates the need for physical prowess. We’ll use Buffy the Vampire Slayer as an example. But don’t you have to train to get that good? Guess what - All that training, in theory, is going to build muscle.
I’m sick of seeing pathetic stick insects playing badass heroines. I don’t like action heroes who look like they weigh less than my sister’s dog. So let’s hear it for muscle tone! You don’t have to be buff, ripped, weightlifter built… just try not to look like you’re anorexic or don’t do anything but sit on your couch and watch TV, please. It would do wonders for the image of the female action hero in the movies. And it would sure make me enjoy them a hell of a lot more. ^_^
So, in conclusion… are we betting on Sarah Michelle Gellar--
-- or Linda Hamilton?
**1/2 out of ****
I am happy to say that the third of Korean director Chan Wook Park’s “vengeance” movies was much, much better than the second. I was exceedingly skeptical that this one would be any good, but I decided to give it a chance, and was rewarded for my faith. ^_^ Still not as good as Oldboy, but as long as it was better than Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance I was going to be happy.
Premise: A woman of nineteen is imprisoned for allegedly murdering a five year old boy. Thirteen years later she’s out of jail, changed from the angelic girl she was in prison to a woman cool and set on her business - looking for vengeance on the man who set her up. She enlists the aid of her former cellmates, each of whom comment on how she has changed, setting into motion a plan thirteen years in the making. During her quest she is reuinited with her daughter, and gets a job at a bakery. ^_^
This seems to be Park’s attempt at dark comedy, and for the most part, he succeeded. The biggest problem with this movie came when it just would not end. Someone did an extremely poor editing job on this film. And there was kind of a stupid side storyline with the main character’s (Guem-Ja) daughter. that could pretty much have been completely cut out.
The movie was pretty funny, which was quite refreshing after watching Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, and the core story was well told and very clear. There were a couple of scenes that left you trying to figure out what was going on, but nowhere near as badly as the second in this trilogy. The end, of course, was shockingly brutal. Looks like Park always has to get in his quota of gore and “O_O Holy crap!” scenes. But I have to say, there was something satisfying about the end. It’s always satisfying when the bad guy gets it good. Especially in this case, when the bad guy had murdered four children.
The bottom line - cut away all the extraneous crap, which would probably shorten the movie by at least forty five minutes, and you have a very decent film.
* out of ****
Wow. BAD MOVIE. This is the second in Korean director Chan Wook Park’s “vengeance” trilogy, and I have to say that after watching Oldboy, which was excellent, this came as a brutal let down.
Premise: A deaf and mute young man (Ryu) sells one of his kidneys on the black market to save his older sister, who is dying and can’t afford an organ transplant surgery. When the black market people rip him off, he and his radical revolutionary girlfriend kidnap the daughter of Ryu’s former boss, who had just recently fired Ryu from his job. **This next section will contain spoilers, so if you want to see this movie (and I don’t see why you would!) don’t read it.**
Okay, this was a decent, if unimaginative, premise. However, Park takes this premise and tries to turn it into some ridiculously dark, desperate, twisted film, with more in the way of brutal and gory scenes. I like dark films and I don’t mind brutal and gory, but it’s got to be done well, and it needs to be something besides utterly pointless. And stupid. Which is what this movie was.
So, here’s the sequence of events: Ryu tries to get his sister a new kidney via black market. Black market guys rip him off. Ryu and girlfriend kidnap a little girl. Ryu’s sister finds out and kills herself. While burying his sister, little girl accidentally drowns. Little girl’s father kills Ryu’s girlfriend. Ryu kills the black market guys. The father kills Ryu. Girlfriend’s revolutionary terrorist group kills the father. The end.
Not only was this whole movie completely pointless, poorly done, and brutal, you hated every single one of the main characters. There were no good guys - everyone was evil. Evil as in torture and brutal murder. Yay. Just what we all want to see. On top of all this, the story was completely disjointed. Half the time you have no idea what’s going on, where characters are, and why they’re doing what they’re doing.
In conclusion, I’ll say again that Chan Wook Park was trying to make a dark, desperate film, and succeeded only in making a twisted, unlikeable movie that has absolutely nothing to appreciate.
A few months ago my boyfriend and I decided that we were spending too much time watching Buffy: The Vampire Slayer and that we needed to get out and do something. Since it seems that I am always the one forced to come up with something new and interesting to do, I suggested the Point Definace Zoo in Tacoma. This might seem a strange thing to suggest, and I thought at the time that I was suggesting it because it was once again time to get in touch with my inner child and I wanted to see the sharks, but I now believe that there were other forces at work in making that decision.
It started innocently enough. Andrew and I went to my parent’s home so we could look up directions to the zoo and print them out. I do not own a printer, and neither of us was interested in copying the directions out onto a piece of paper. Yes, both of us are very lazy. The trip to my parent’s place probably cost us about twenty minutes, but we didn’t care. It was worth it to be able to utilize the printer. Directions in hand, we were on our way once again. The tip to Tacoma was uneventful, and with the aid of the MapQuest directions we were able to find the zoo with little difficulty. It was a nice day, and we were ready for some relaxing zoo fun. I even told Andrew that before we left we had to ride the recently restored carousel that was set up.
We wandered through a couple of the exhibits, non threatening small animals and fish. There was a special seahorse exhibit in the small aquarium, and we enjoyed ogling at the strange little fish. Then, we made our first mistake. We went to see the sharks.
The hot sun dried our sopping clothing quickly, and though all we wanted to do was escape from the hell that the zoo had now become in our eyes, we managed to misread our map and took a wrong turn - right into the jaws of the waiting Siberian tiger!
Terror does not begin to describe what we felt when that tiger looked over us measuringly, then casually leaped over the safety moat and fence with a mighty spring, and came right for us! Andrew threw the map into it’s face, temporarily blinding it and giving us time to escape. Our lives were safe once again, but now we were without a map with no way of navigating the maze of pathways, each one of which could lead to a deadly trap. We gathered our courage, realizing that the only thing to do was to forge onwards, and moved on.
The creatures we encountered next all seemed to have some evil glint in their eye, even the most innocuous of them. Puffins, reindeer, they all seemed to be planning something cruel. Maybe this was just paranoia on our parts, but I will swear until the day I die that all the zoo was plotting our death that day.
Clearly this was not a good place to be.
Swiftly bypassing the beluga whale who was doing tricks for fish treats, wolves, and several other potentially fatal encounters, we finally found ourselves back at the exit. And the carousel. Determined to get some fun out of our experince, Andrew dragged me to the ticket booth and purchased two tickets. Before I could protest, it was too late, and we were on the carousel as it whirled around the sickening speed, making griding noises that made one start to doubt it’s stability. You can plainly see the terror on Andrew’s face.
We escaped that day safely, with only our scarred souls bearing the marks. I hope that my sharing this experience with the wider public will start to heal those scars. So if you are planning a trip to the zoo any time soon, beware.
Anything can happen.
*** out of ****
This Korean action/drama is a somewhat strange piece of work. This is the first in director Chan-wook Park’s “vengeance” trilogy (followed by “Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance” and “Lady Vengeance”, neither of which I have yet seen).
Premise: A man is kidnapped off the street and imprisoned in one room for fifteen years. Furious and desperate, all his pleas for an explanation ignored, he swears to escape and wreak vengeance on whoever is responsible for his predicament. Suddenly, he is released. Of course the first thing he does is go out and meet a girl, who starts trying to help him discover the mystery of his kidnapping. When he starts to get close to unraveling the knot, the man who imprisoned him shows up and gives five days to discover who his kidnapper is and why he was imprisoned, or the girl he has met and fallen in love with will be killed. Thus the race is on, and with the aid of an old friend and the girl, the main character, Oh Dae Sun, plows headlong for the movie’s shocking conclusion.
If nothing else, this movie is original - I can safely say that I’ve never seen anything quite like it. And I have seen a lot of movies.
When I rented this I was expecting a straight up action movie. I was wrong. The deeper the story goes the more twisted it gets, involving hypnosis, incest, and murder, and ends with a shocking conclusion. The film is also surprisingly visualy artistic, throwing in interesting bits of cinematography and gimics every once in a while. I was taken aback at a few of the scenes (including a lovely little incident where the main character pries out a man’s teeth with the claw end of a hammer), I was pleasantly surprised with the movie, and ended up appreciating it quite a bit.
The acting was good - not spectacular, but not bad, either. The story is excellent, and hard to predict, which is refreshing. The final twist at the end is definitely not something that you’ll guess. For once I don’t really have anything bad to point out about the movie - It’s hard for me to pinpoint specific negative qualities for this particular film. It tells a good story, and it tells it very well with all the mysteries explained at the end, but it doesn’t really start to suck you in for a while. And the bad guy isn’t quite as convincing as you would expect him to be. The actor was fine - I think it was the way the character was written.
Anyway, if you don’t mind your movies a little (or a lot) twisted, this film is definitely worth watching.
** out of ****
All hail the great American Bad Action Movie! Yes, I actually did go see this in the theater. Even my dad refused to go see this film. And not only did I go see it… I enjoyed it. In light of this information you may now faint, gasp, or laugh as needed. If you know me, it’s certainly no secret that I love bad action movies (commonly referred to as “Guy Movies”). I love Rambo, the Terminator, and all the rest. Granted, this movie was worse than most, but it was still a blast!
Premise: The Marine is kicked out of the corps for disobeying a direct order (although the disobediance of which resulted in the saving of American soldiers in Iraq, of course), and after a brief stint (one day) as a security guard, he and his ditz - I mean wife - decide to take a short road trip into the mountains. Disaster! Wife is kidnapped as a hostage by a notorious criminal for no discernable purpose, except for the vague, “we may need a hostage” which is repeated throughout the entire movie. As you may expect, they never actually need a hostage, and actually encounter no one except for The Marine throughout their entire getaway. Through explosions, car chases, bad lines, and silly fights, The Marine dogs their every step, determined to get his woman back!
The first hint as to how bad this movie is should be it’s name - “The Marine”. The second is the lead actor, WWF wrestler John Cena. The third - the actress who plays his wife is Kelly Clarlson. I am of the personal opinion that during auditions for the role of Cena’s wife, they chose the ditziest woman they could find. The only even halfway decent acting came from bad guy Robert Patrick (of Terminator 2 fame).
Of course, it’s not about the acting when it comes to movies like this - It’s about the explosions, the fighting, and the cheesy lines you quote to your friends for days afterwards! And this movie had explosions, fighting, and cheesy lines galore. I went and saw this movie with the only person who will see these terrible movies with me - Bob. Bob and I were laughing through the entire film. It was wonderful!
It’s hard to break down the good and the bad in this movie, because it was pretty much all bad. And it was great!
“They have a hostage. It’s my wife!“
The Grudge 2
**1/2 out of ****
First off, I want to say that this was a sequel that was much better than the first installment. The Grudge was mostly laughable. I am mostly alone in thinking this - my friends who have watched this movie somehow managed to find parts of it creepy. That is not to say that I don’t like The Grudge because I do, very much, and am completely entertained whenever I watch it. I was expecting more off the same from the sequel, and was pleasantly surprised to find that it was actually less unintentionally humorous than the first one, almost unheard of for sequels to horror movies.
This time around, the movie follows three separate storylines - Sarah Michelle Gellar’s sister Aubrey, come to Tokyo to investigate Gellar’s death, an international private Tokyo high school student, and a family in Chicago. It’s obvious what the first two stories have to do with the ghosts featured in the Grudge, since both characters featured in those storylines enter the house (thus incurring the wrath of the disgruntled spirit) but the reasons behind the family in Chicago remains a mystery until the end. It’s actually a delightful twist (even if it doesn’t make all that much sense when you think about it).
There was good and bad about this movie. Plenty of bad, in fact (after all, it IS a sequel to the Grudge!!). The good: All three storylines were entertaining, and surprisingly enough, for the most part acting was fairly decent. There were a few ghost scenes that were genuinely chilling. Not scary - I honestly do not get scared when I watch horror movies - but nicely chilling. You definitely don’t get that with every ghost movie these days. I mean, come on, look at Pulse. That was ridiculous beginning to end. And I’ve already mentioned this, but the twist at the end was really cool, even though it doesn’t really stand up to scrutiny.
The bad: First and foremost was Ghost Overload. I’m not kidding - it felt like every two seconds you were seeing one of the ghosts. An overload like that takes away from the chill factor. You end up just thinking, “oh, there she is again…”. And I really think that the little boy ghost is really just in the game for kicks - he IS a little boy, and all he really does is sit in corners and sometimes make cat yowling noises. Why? Because he’s not a disgruntled spirit, he just gets a kick out of scaring people. Probably played lots of pranks when he was alive. The acting was mostly decent, like I said, but there were definitely a few people in that movie who need to go back to acting school. Again, I’ll bring up the twist at the end. Cool, but really, could have been better. It just doesn’t really make sense. After the initial, “SWEET!” moment you have when all is revealed, you start thinking “…wait a second….”.
And one more thing….
If the ghost is physical enough to grab you like this, why don’t you just punch her or something? Come on!
Saturday morning my friend Bob and I sent out on a journey far to the east, traversing foggy, rainy highways, great bodies of water, perilous mountains, and arid lands.... all the way to Ellensburg. The object of this daring adventure was the aquisition of the most precious of household companions... the KITTEN!
We started out early in the morning for the 9:40 ferry to Seattle where we acquired Andrew and food from Safeway to keep us alive on the long road ahead. Such delicacies as "Fruit by the Foot", kettle chips, power bars, other such snacks, and one caeser salad were purchased and consumed over the course of our journey, which we would discover later would barely sustain our strength. The road was long, but we girded our strength and forged onwards. Our goal was not one to be abandoned lightly.
We flew along the express lanes heading for I-90 to get out of Seattle when we ran into our first obstacle - Traffic! After sharing the express lanes with only our shadow, our progress came to a screeching halt as we found ourselves entangled in the dreaded Traffic Jam. Andrew bemoaned his ill advised instructions to take the express lanes as we watched cars passing freely on the freeways to either side of us. We turned on the radio in the hopes that we might be enlightened as to the cause of this situation. We eventually heard that it was a car fire that had caused the nightmare, and our thirst for knowledge thus sated, we proceeded to sit and twiddle our thumbs for what seemed like an eternity, realizing that our newly acquired information would really do us no good. Finally moving again, we passed the burned out shell of what had been a car - windows shattered, tires melted, the frame blackened - and with a quick statement of hope that the occupants of the car were uninjured and gratitude that it wasn't our car, we continued.
We quickly realized that the route we were taking was not going to get us to I-90 and the next leg of our journey, so we took the next exit and made a stop at a gas station. The car was hungry and unprepared to carry us to our destination far to the east without a good meal, so I filled the beast with gasoline as Andrew ventured into the station to ask for directions to I-90, proving once again that the statement "men never ask for directions" is false (a fact which never ceases to amaze me). In short order we were back on the road, and headed towards that long strip of asphalt that would take us to our destination.
We didn't stop again until we reached the tiny town of Cle Elum. This was a perilous stop, as we were deep in the sparsely populated eastern lands, and had sighted pickup trucks and men wearing orange camoflage who would quite likely turn on us if they happened to see the "Frodo Failed, Bush Has The Ring" bumper sticker on my car. It was a tiny town, but we stopped at the Safeway for a much needed (some might say desperately needed) trip to the restroom, and went next door to a cafe where Bob, the valiant driver of my car, purchased coffee in an attempt to maintain his flagging energy. Andrew purchased a chai, and someone must have seen the bumper sticker because they tried to poison him - the chai was overwhelmingly sweet.
On the road again (safely away from both men in orange camoflage and vindictive baristas), and it wasn't long before we reached Ellensburg. We navigated our way through roads with names such as "Uptanum" and "Manastash", passing 90 acre farms with huge fields of various vegetation and livestock. We turned down one wrong driveway and were stared down by a vicious bull with burning red eyes surrounded by his harem of meek cows before we were on the right track again. Finally we reached our destination - a small yellow and brown house with a large brown barn behind it. We were welcomed by the sight of the friendly elderly cat breeder holding the precious orange and white bundle of fur we had come to acquire.
Barbara offered us refreshments and invitied us to sit down, taking pity on our obviously weary selves, faced with the fact that we were only halfway finished with our trip. After allowing us to sit and talk for a bit, she introduced us to all of her lovely cats. On the way to visit the cats in the barn there was an alarming cloud of wasps that we were forced to walk by, but the wasps took mercy on us after our long journey an allowed us to pass unmolested. The cats were Siberians and Norwegians. Orange, black, seal point, torbies... all beautiful, all friendly. After much fawning over the cats, Barbara sent us on our way with the tiny kitten and a bag of apples from her apple trees.
The ride home was uneventful. The kitten was named "Stella" (if you ask me, I'll tell you she was named after a character from Anne Rice's "The Witching Hour" and if you ask Bob and Andrew, they'll tell you she was named after the beer Stella Artois). Stella slept through much of the return journey and caused no trouble. Valiant Bob, drained of energy at last, turned the wheel over to Andrew and had a well earned nap. I sat in the back with my new kitten and read my book, and the hours flew past. Finally, I took the wheel while on the ferry, and got us the rest of the way home.
Ah, home at last. After such a grueling journey it was like heaven. The kitten, Stella, was turned loose, and unafraid, she proceeded to thoroughly explore everything. She is affectionate, friendly, and adventurous. Playful, energetic, and sleepy. She's wonderful. Our journey was more than worth it. ^_^