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16 reviews in total 
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Halloween (2007)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
This is the way re-makes SHOULD be done, 6 May 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I have seen both of director Rob Zombie's earlier flicks, and I was, frankly, unimpressed. It was clear that everyone involved with these films was having a good time, but it was at the audience's expense. So naturally, when I saw this film in the theatres, I expected more of the same: unpleasant, badly acted (on purpose, I imagine, but still), and thoroughly sadistic. I was surprised, and delighted. I have to say, this is probably (dare I say it) even better than the original Halloween - which was a masterpiece in its own right. Here's why:

Zombie has developed every character in this show. He dwells on the early part of Michael Myers's life, taking ample time to show us the abusive environment he was raised in, and his early psychopathic tendencies (torturing animals to begin with, moving up to bullies at school, and finally, his alcoholic, abusive father and his neglectful sister). We also see, from the people he doesn't kill (his mother and his infant sister), that he didn't start off as a complete psycho. He was lashing out at the things that made him feel powerless. Then, in steps the law, locks him up and, once again, the power is gone. So Michael simply shuts down.

From this, we understand exactly why he becomes the empty psychopath that he is described as being in the original film. To me, this is what makes this all the more scary. You can't reason with him, because the only experiences he's ever had with people have been terrible ones, which explains his absolute contempt for human life. This is the key to a good horror movie: the feeling of utter helplessness. If you ran into Myers in this film, there would be no question that he could, and would, kill you.

Rob Zombie knew that there was more to this character than we'd been previously allowed to see, and he knew that it was scary as hell. He hasn't done what so many other people before him have done with re-makes, and simply used an old title to sell a schlock film. He has literally re-MADE the masterpiece, and remained true to every part of it: the scary and the cheesy. All faith in him, that I had once lost, has been restored, and then some.

The Mist (2007)
1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Reminiscent of Night of the Living Dead... Especially in Black and White, 29 March 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I don't think I've spoiled anything, but be cautious, depending on how sensitive you are!!

It's official: Frank Darabont should be the only person permitted to adapt a Stephen King story to the screen. He understands the genre, the characters (especially the secondary ones, which are something that King values in his books), and how to scare the bejeesus out of his audience.

I recently saw the special edition DVD, which features a cut of the film in black and white (Darabont's preferred version), and the lack of colour seriously helps the film. Black and white has an amazing ability to make CGI (which looks computer-animated, even when it's done right) look absolutely real - even when everything else does not. It also gives the film an eerie atmosphere that reminds me of classic shockers like Night of the Living Dead.

The only place this film lacks is the creatures themselves. This is more a criticism of King, than of Darabont, since they were fairly faithful to the original novella. They were a little too elaborate to seem like they came out of a natural eco-system (tentacles that eat people?... well, I guess anything's possible, but still...). That said, the dynamic between the poisonous bugs and their bird-like predators was interesting, and realistic enough.

The camera work in this film is something that is new to many films - especially one by Darabont (who has been compared to Kubrick due to his demand for control over his camera). Here, he threw control to the wind, and with the exception of the night-attack sequence, he didn't even storyboard. Since the cameras basically improvised, there were no restrictions on the actors, and many of them commented that it was the closest thing they'd experienced to stage-work on film. The result is a documentary-style film that puts us right in the middle of the action.

Probably one of the most effective things in this film is the realism, and I'm not talking about monsters, here (which were very elaborate; too much, some have commented). Instead, I'm talking about people's response to fear. In the space of two days, the inhabitants of the small town turn from a decent, civilized community, into a pack of religious zealots bent on blood sacrifice. For anyone who says this is too over the top, they probably have forgotten just how long it took for murders and looting to erupt during Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

And to cap it off, Darabont has written some of the most chilling scenes (added to the story) ever put on film, not the least of which is the ending, which I will not spoil for those who haven't seen it. King, who rarely likes it when people alter his work, has said that it is the ending he wishes he'd written. It just goes to show how much faith the two have in humanity... not much at all.

10 out of 17 people found the following review useful:
tense ultra-realism, 23 March 2008

I've read many unflattering comments regarding this film, and the only things I have seen that they all have in common are: "boring" and "unrealistic".

First of all, they used real bloody crocodiles! How much more real can you get? No CGI, no animatronics, no miniatures. Just a croc and a piece of meat.

There is, however, no question that this film gets off to a slow start. Character development, what little they had, plodded at best, and I think this is primarily where this film is lacking.

However, when the film gets going, the action picks up dramatically. I don't mean to say that this is action packed. If you're looking for a Michael Bay gorefest, you'll be sadly disappointed. If anything, there are more moments where the croc can't be seen at all, and the people are just waiting. We know, though, that there won't be any relief. The croc is just biding its time. This had a similar eerie feel to other films that set to achieve terror through inaction. Open Water, another film that has been criticized by some viewers as being "boring," certainly comes to mind. Personally, I think that viewers who find themselves incapable of feeling the suspense have had their attention spans surgically removed at birth, but that's just me.

Finally the characters, though rather undeveloped, feel real and the situation is such that it really could happen to anyone in the right circumstances. Furthermore, the deaths are completely real, and at times, it's a little tough to watch.

All in all, this one's a winner.

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Dated, but hey! What do you expect?, 12 March 2008

I get it... it's an old movie, and it shows in a lot of the acting and the characters. It was 1953! For its time, it was about as intelligent as any malevolent-alien-flick could be. If you're looking for cinema that's on par with anything they could have made, even a decade later, you will be sadly disappointed. If you watch the film keeping in mind that back in that day, it was difficult to do a flying saucer without seeing the wires, then it's incredible.

Remember, this is before wire-removal, green-screen and animatronics (obviously). Every visual effect that was done, needed to be created, and masked, in-camera. Flashes of ray-gun fire needed to be put onto each frame by hand, and done in such a way so that it looked half- plausible, and not jerky. This film absolutely deserved the Oscar it got for visual effects. It also used what scientific information they had at the time (now, much of it proved to be false, but not then) effectively, and to the story's advantage.

We've got a winner, here, folks!

2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Good effects, good ending, bad characters, 11 March 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Spielberg is a FILM-maker. First and foremost. When it comes to the technical side of things, and how that will affect the audience, he is better than just about everyone. With his "hiding camera", he forces the viewer into the shoes of his lead characters so that we know only as much as they do. That is extremely effective and jarring. Also effective is the fact that the alien's intentions are never explained... only shown. I can see why this would bug a lot of people, but I thought it worked.

What is not effective are the characters themselves. They are the classic "stock" characters that a writer pulls out when he has something else he wants to write and has just remembered that he needs some character moments to fill the hole. Dakota Fanning's claim to fame seems to be screaming her head off (even when this is very obviously going to get her killed; even a terrified child would have more sense than that). Really, though, who can blame her: Tom Cruise doesn't try to help her fend for herself even a little. He just shields her. In fact, in one scene, he literally blindfolds her to hide the horror. Responsible. And my GOD! His son is the most annoying piece of emo garbage I have ever seen in a character. Even when things are blowing up all around them, he's still trying to pick a fight with Daddy.

Now, the ending, while a lot of people didn't like it... sorry, guys. It's the original H. G. Wells ending. The whole point of this story is that people are not as in control as we like to think we are, and to have the aliens be taken down by military might would have meant that this would not be The War of the Worlds... it would be Independence Day. THE Americans DON'T ALWAYS GET TO WIN!! The sickness solution is natural, plausible, and would probably be the only way something as unstoppable as the aliens they're trying to portray, could be stopped.

Good movie, but not great.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Not Miike's best, but engaging nonetheless, 5 January 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

(Might be some spoilers here, so watch out)

I'm sure we've all heard about the "Banned from cable" lore circling this film, and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out why. Miike has (perhaps deliberately) hit all the hot buttons of middle America. If you think my first example is going to be "torture", then you'd be dead wrong. In truth, middle America seems to be alright with gruesome torture (real or imaginary). It's abortion that they can't handle. This is probably the first film I have ever scene to show a medieval abortion, and it's just about as disturbing as the torture scene itself (this is coming from a pro-choicer too). This film also contains child abuse, rape (of family members), and patricide.

I've heard it said that Miike relies too heavily on shock to achieve his power. For counter- examples of this, see his film One Missed Call, or Graveyard of Honor (while violent, it isn't graphic in nature). Imprint is shocking. Not a question about it. It also isn't Miike's best work for a couple of reasons. His being forced by Showtime to shoot the film in English hurt nearly all the performances (Michie Ito, and Youki Kudoh's performances are formidable exceptions). Billy Drago hams his role up to an abominable extreme, though I suspect that this isn't Miike's doing.

The film does not, however achieve all of its power through violence. Rather, it is a story about humanity in all its decrepit contradictions. Some themes are sisterhood, love, and innocence, and the story seeks to illustrate these themes by showing them juxtaposed against a truly horrifying example of human cruelty.

This is an engaging film, whether you enjoy it or not. You certainly can't ignore it. Drago's character observes at the beginning of the film: "It's been my experience that the living cause far more suffering than the dead." After seeing this film, I know exactly what he meant.

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