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Decent movie, good entrainment
The movie has the same maturity as the original, so if you aren't a fan of gross out moments or semi-offensive jabs from varying topics, then may I recommend finding a different movie.
You can tell the cast is compromised of experienced comedians. With an easy plot to follow, the movie is carried by the personalities of the actresses, who bring their characters to life with amazing energy and enthusiasm. Kate McKinnon was by far my favorite, taking over the role is the oddball engineer and making it her own.
Although the story seemed rushed, I've found that problem in many films released these past two years. You can tell it was edited to make the story move faster.
However, there aren't any pointless dramatic or romantic moments to interrupt the comedy, and the musical score mostly consists of various dance songs. So feel free to sit back with some popcorn and enjoy a basic, entertaining film that keeps the spirit of the original.
Absurdist comedy at its worst
Everything about this movie said it was going to be a delightfully trashy b-rated flick; a kitschy trip down the horror-comedy path starring a sentient, super-powered tire. Unfortunately, though, the heart of the film is lost within the folds of its uninspired meta-plagued script, indie-inspired filmography, and dry absurd jokes.
Although the film got a few laughs out of me, this movie is an acquired taste. Self-aware scripts should be like dollhouses, where you can break them open and see the differences from real life, but still get lost in the story. This one tried the route of pointing to the fourth walls, breaking them, and then telling you about it. While some people may enjoy it, the truth is that it is a style better suited for ministers with silly walks, and not a Woody Allen knock-off.
The acting was flat, save for our unreliable narrator, who was a delight. The jokes were predictable, the pacing was slow, and the director seemed far too pleased acting more intelligent than his audience.
The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)
A Great Summer Flick, A Worthy Spider-Man Story
Other people have said it more eloquently than I ever possibly can, so I will leave short and simple: this is a great movie. It takes the story that we all know and love and places it in a real New York, with real people whose lives have real emotions and real consequences. It does not cater to any specific age group, but pumps the story with family-friendly nods to all. There is the perfect blend of humor and drama, and every character is given a strong backbone for their personalities and developments.
My only issue with the movie was a lack of a prominent character of color. While we saw a New York rich with people of different races, there were only two characters of racial minority given lines, and one was used as a gag. It would have been nice to have Peter interact with more racially diverse people.
I highly recommend this movie to everyone, though. It has some flaws, but it is an agreeable movie with most crowds, and is just generally entertaining.
Party Monster (2003)
The best party movie to date
It took me forever to get around to watching this movie due to the dislike of the overly campy tone of the trailer -- camp is not my favorite flavor when it comes to movies. However, upon recommendation of a good friend who knows me too well, I loaded the movie on Netflix and now wonder why I spent so long without it.
Sure, the movie is as campy as I feared it to be, but it fits well. Like a good John Water's movie, it actually fuels the film and makes the bitter moments seem that much more tragic. The opening scene was the only part of the movie that felt out of place; where it just jumps right into the surreal tone of the film without too much of a warning. After James' and Michael's opening narrative duet, though, the grandiose nature of the characters build the film.
The two main leads are perfectly cast. Although Macaulay Culkin's acting always leaves something to be desired, his monotone deliverance and wooden facial expressions seem to sell Alig as a real person, although supposedly the real man was a far different creature. It also helps to balance out Seth Green, whose character was born dancing to a wildly different beat, and whose spastic energy is an easy fit for the Buffy alum.
The movie does have it flaws. I've yet to find one that doesn't. But for a movie that seemed to promote itself as the "daring" gay flagship for Macaulay Culkin's return to the limelight, it is a genius tribute to the Club Kids, whose influence on pop culture and modern American youth is often unrecognized.
Clive Barker is slowly becoming a favorite
I had the uncanny ability of being able to predict what's going to happen in almost every movie or every book I experience. There have been few exceptions, and I'm sad to say that usually that doesn't make it a good story. Why this is important is because I take the time to enjoy the whole experience of the movie rather than just the story, unlike a good percent of the movie-goers out there.
The story was predictable even by the casual movie-goer's expectations. The villain of the story (Evans' brilliantly acted "Quaid") made his obsession clear from the beginning, and an obsession with the fear of others can only be taken to so many places. However, that does not mean it wasn't pleasant.
The script was excellent, each character's speech patterns different, yet far above the usual horror movie lingo. The actors were also wonderful at their jobs, dropping high-grade performances almost too crisp for their genre. The characters were almost amazing creations, each based off a typical cliché, but expanding beyond that thanks to their actors abilities. They are the kind of characters you don't want to see die, which is critical in a horror movie. The music was wonderfully indie, and the atmosphere was heavy coated with a constant sense of discomfort. Knowing what the villain planned actually helped the movie build dread, as you silently prayed for him to grow a conscience while knowing it wasn't going to happen.
What I enjoyed most about the movie, though, was the fact that it could be interpreted many different ways. The genius' behind Dread is that with the exception of their fears, most of what drives each character is only presented to you in their actions. It gives you the power to imagine, and it makes for great replay value, as you may find something the second time through that you missed.
Without reading the short story this was based off of, I give a 9/10. I especially enjoyed the strong female leads, although I wished their characters had evolved beyond the role of victims.
Now I'm off to find what story this is based off of.
Pray for Morning (2006)
Way too serious for what it is
Pretentious is the word I'd use to describe this movie. The director went "to pains" for many of his special effects and prop pieces which were mediocre at best. The actors were terrible, and their characters severely underdeveloped. The pacing of the movie was also sluggish, as the majority of the kills were children twitching with blue light shining over them. They didn't reveal the ghost until too late in the movie, where you stopped caring.
I was most disappointed by the fact that these teenagers appeared to be stupid from their dialogue, but were still able to solve plot points. They were intelligent enough to figure out the curse and puzzle; to figure out from a twenty-year-old bloodstain that the victim was trying to hide something; they could speak Latin, translate "hobo symbols" on the walls, and use old photographs as maps. Yet they died because they separated unnecessarily from the group and then just stood in the same place for extended periods of time. No I'm not talking about the ghosts telekinesis when he held them in place, I'm speaking namely about the character Topher, who stayed behind to cry while his friends didn't notice his absence until the ghost descended upon him. It was extremely artificial, and not in the least bit suspenseful.
There are good points to the movie, as the characters seemed to genuinely enjoy each other's presence (save the obligatory fighting couple), which is a dynamic most movies miss on. There were a few good actors in the mix, even though they weren't playing with their best cards. And the story, if re-edited by a different company, could be genuinely interesting.
It also had a beautiful and creepy soundtrack, and sometimes (note, sometimes) had the perfect atmosphere for a higher quality horror movie.
Trick 'r Treat (2007)
A fun little Halloween movie
Not to be taken seriously, this movie follows the same theme as Tales from the Crypt, Twilight Zone or Goosebumps. It presents five little vignettes that both contain their own tale, and interlink to create the overall story of one unfortunate night.
The movie is not perfect, but it is one of the best Halloween movies I've seen. Many people may not "get" this movie, because you have to watch this movie as it was intended: as an urban legend. Despite the fact that it does benefit from multiple viewings -- they leave dubious amounts of nods to big surprises scattered throughout -- this movie is not more than what is offered: characters often have no back-story, no direction for the future, and no explanation. They simply do the things they do, and move on with their lives. There is no hidden meaning, or moral of the story.
The truth is that the movie is simply about the spirit of Halloween with ghouls and creatures of all kinds coming out to, as an in-movie news reporter put it, "be the scariest thing they can imagine." For that, I highly recommend it.
McLovin carries the film, but only so far
Coming into the movie, I thought I'd be watching a funny modern rendition of "Revenge of the Nerds" splashing over a plausible, probably-inspired-by-real-events buddy flick -- as so many of my friends had claimed it to be. Instead, what I got was a movie that had more foul language than meaningful dialog, misogynistic sex jokes that leave little for the female audience to appreciate, and several moments where the movie could have really soared, but instead fell flat. In essence, what I got was a poorly executed potential of a comedy.
McLovin was the saving grace. He was unabashedly geeky, and made it farthest with a girl -- which was a victory point for everyone, since he was the underdog amongst underdogs and also the most respectful of girls (despite him being mesmerized by his crush's thong). Every scene that had him in it, no matter how zany or fantastical, was hysterical.
Seth and Evan were boring, forgettable characters. Although knowing some people like them in real life, I could not relate to the characters at all, and was more than a little bit put off by them sexually objectifying all the women, even the moms.
So, as a comedy, it fell flat. However, as a social commentary, I think it's perfect. We live in an age where the police are considered villains or jokes, where spitting on people and making plans to date-rape is "cool", where best friends can't properly express their feelings towards each other without being labeled "gay", where criminals are allowed to get away, where pretty girls can be as insecure and unsure as the nerds, and where the adults are no more grown-up than the teenagers.
For that, I will cherish Superbad. Because as sinfully unfunny as it was, it's a wonderful documentary of life in high-school, 2007.
Paranormal Activity (2007)
Wait for the dollar theater
Me and my friends, true horror nerds to the core, could not wait for this movie. Much like with Cloverfield, we saw the advertisements and viral campaign on the horror blogs and youtube, and were crazy in love with this movie. Also much like with Cloverfield, we left the theater with a cold feeling of hatred deep in our hearts -- hatred for the mainstream turd that is the modern horror.
The movie itself was wonderfully presented. The "less is more" approach to this movie -- both in special effects and in scripted dialog -- is exactly what most modern horror films need. The "acting" was well enough (if improve really can be considered acting), and the tastes of comedy during the daytime portions of the movie truly amused me.
Good production, good comedy and acceptable acting only make a mediocre film at best. The idea of demon possession has been done before, the fauxumentary approach has also been done before -- and with the Exorcist and Blair Witch Project as obvious comparisons, one needs to perfect their pizazz in order to compete.
This is where Paranormal Activity fails.
The pacing was unbearably slow. Knowing that the movie was just outside of an hour and a half, I was expecting a lot more supernatural and lot less ordinary. Instead, I painstakingly awaited a scene where anything happened. Once it came, it was another long wait for it to have any significance on the plot whatsoever.
The characters were unlikeable. When you present a victim in a film, you're supposed to make the audience feel connected to that person so that they have an emotional stake in the outcome of the film. Micah comes off as nothing more than a big immature jerk; the girl (can't even remember her name) comes off as whiny, controlling, and helpless. Neither one of them contribute to the story in any way, and when you sever the feeling of "this is me", you get an audience that doesn't care what happens to them. Or somebody who starts cheering on the bad guy, which really ruins that feeling of tension all that slow pacing was trying to build.
Oh yes, and a tried and true trick of the trade? Your lead characters are supposed to lead your audience's emotions. When your lead characters respond to a haunting playfully, indifferently or by goading it, then your audience is going to fall into that mindset. "This is a game; this is fun; this is not scary." Paranormal Activity will probably provide some cheap scares for the timid, unexperienced (with horror movies in general), or those with pre-existing phobias to darkness, close spaces or hauntings. I would not recommend this film to anybody else.
State's Evidence (2006)
Not perfect, but definitely good
State's Evidence is not a perfect movie: the audio is out of sync, the movie switches between hand-held and steady cams when it is presented in a shattered time-line, and the edited bits from the story were deeply needed to complete a link for the extremes some characters experience. Despite this, State's Evidence is one of the best movies I've seen in a long time. It's political, truly entertaining, disturbing, and a beautiful look in the psychology of teenagers.
The movie is led by an intelligent young man, Scott, who decides that he is going to commit suicide. He very calmly explains to the audience that he's going to film his day so that others may understand him, and that the psychologists reviewing the tape would have material to work with in forming theories about his state of mind.
This well spoken boy then discovers the power of no consequences, giving him a boost of confidence. Since he's going to die, there could be no punishment. Without the fear of death, he is free to do whatever he wants. While trying to explain to his eclectic group of friends his plan and the freedom he feels, he inadvertently gives them all the idea to join him.
Suddenly, the movie blossoms from a single POV narrative to a series of strung together stories from this small group of close friends. This is also where my biggest gripe comes from.
The movie takes off from when they're given the cameras. The crew, at 4 Pm in the film room at their school, are editing the footage together from the various cameras (we know this from the occasional voice over and the way the footage cuts into each other's stories at times). However, the confusing camera (steady cam, hand-held) shifts still occur as though the story is being told linear. I cannot express how distracting this was. If they had left the entire middle portion the hand-held camera POV, and then finished up the finale with the steadycam, it would have come off more professional.
As for the tales themselves, they are not perfect and, unfortunately, half of them are incomplete.
Brian and Rick are tag-along characters. These two are about as shallow as characters come. Their actors, from what you see of them, are barely passable as high school kids. We are led to believe that they are just as serious about killing themselves as the other four, but in real life, they'd be the guys backing out first.
Trudi and Sandy are the female logic/emotion coupling in the story. Trudi is a deeply complex girl who hides her real self behind a typical Gothic charade. She pretends like nothing bothers her when, in fact, she hates her whole life (and for very good reason). Sandy, however, a generic sweet girl who discovers a raging politician buried beneath the shallow layers of a girl who is defined as only being in the group because of her "puppylove" crush on Scott.
Both girls flesh out to be deeper characters with deeper purposes behind their suicides. Unfortunately, Sandy, a more interesting character, gets shafted as she stumbles on her purpose and isn't allowed time to clarify.
Finally, we have the emotion to versus Scott's logic, Patrick. Even though he was given a camera to share with Brian, Patrick winds up with his own separate film that's been spliced into the footage of the other character's. While they are about self discover and awakening, maturing and admitting their faults, Patrick's is about a darker side to self discovery.
The characters do learn their life lessons. They do develop (except for Brian and Rick), and they do finish of their stories with a second discovery, and that's how they deal with life after all they've learned.
The finale is a bit of a let down. Since the beginning, you've known things would spiral out of control. Patrick's maniac story left a bloody pink elephant standing in every scene he graced that nobody could ignore. Once Patrick gets control of the realm of storytelling, however, there is a sparkling gem in this otherwise lackluster ending... the final dialog of both Patrick and Scott.
Patrick spins a monologue about human beings that is the dark side to Scott's philosophy. When Scott is given his piece as well, he finally admits the reason behind his decision to kill himself. His dialog has deeply lacked emotional input, as he is a man of the mind; his final words in the film dig up that buried emotion and tell us who the man behind the mind really is.
This movie is definitely a must see.