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So much potential was wasted on a mediocre execution. Freaks of Nature
could have, should have and would have been a really fun romp with the
genre and despite the pace of the film being set to go for most of the
running time, lazy editing and shortcuts in the writing leave me a
little than more underwhelmed.
Zombies, Vampires and Humans coexists in the small down of Dillford. The zombies have shock collars on them if they try to eat humans and are given janitorial type jobs. Vampires and humans hate each other, but put their differences aside to live their lives. When the arrival of aliens throws everything out the window in a royal rumble of sorts between the three different "species", it's up to three teenagers, one vampire, one zombie and one human, to get the town's life back to "normal".
What a wild and interesting premise. Backed up by a comedic supporting cast including Denis Leary, Bob Odenkirk, Joan Cusack, Patton Oswalt and Keegan-Michael Key in small but decent roles, Freaks of Nature seemed destined to be a cult comedy hit. Yet the sporadic writing and uneven editing end of hurting it. Some of the jokes hit, some misfire completely and the film never really reaches the absurdity of the premise. Strong performances from the three leads was surprising and fuel the film with funny gore effects. Vampires literally explode gallons of blood everywhere once they are staked. One character is eaten alive and never manages to "die" or pass out from the carnage, he comments on why he is still alive as the zombies eat his guts, or put his guts back to eat another part of his body. These little funny moments are few and far between.
I'm not sure if I enjoyed A Scout's Guide To The Zombie Apocalypse more or not, but both of those films feel similar in humour and structure. Freaks is nowhere near as smart of funny as it thinks it is. Stronger writing and a more keen sense of direction could have elevated this film into that cult status that it desperately wants to be part of. I'm a little disappointed it took the lazy route.
It also doesn't live up to that awesome poster.
While watching this film my wife commented how depressing it was.
DeNiro is a widower, living a lonely and routine elderly life. He
claims to be happy, he just needs to fill that time with something
productive. He spots an ad for an internship for the elderly and gets
the job. The job is at a cutting edge fashion upstart, run by the
determined Anne Hathaway. She started this business on her own and it's
now massively successful, which takes a toll on her family and her
sanity. To make matters worse, the investors want a seasoned CEO to run
the company, much to her disdain. Can this new intern help relieve some
of this stress?
To say I was surprised at this film is an understatement. I went in thinking I would hate it, but I was delighted. The film is cute and has heart, much of this is due to the performance from DeNiro. A man known for playing foul mouthed tough guys, plays a heartwarming old man trying to be relevant again. He had a job printing phone books for a living, talk about feeling outdated. Now he has to learn how to use a USB drive, something his nine year old nephew helps him with. Hathaway has a decent role opposite DeNiro, the hardworking woman who has no time for her husband, or her child, despite her attempts to make room for both. The film is very pro 'working woman' and mentions this numerous times.
As delightful as the film is, there is no real conflict. Sure she needs to find a new CEO, but that doesn't really play to the centre of the film. No conflict, no tension of any kind. Things just sort of always work out for DeNiro, he's a jack-of-all-trades type of character. Need something done? He can do it. This goes to absurd levels when they literally break into someone's home to delete an email. A very out of place scene.
The film poses a few questions about man versus woman in the workplace, adultery and relevance. A weaker third act and an even weaker ending hurts an otherwise good film. The chemistry between Hathawary and DeNiro is good delightful and I'm actually glad to see him in a role that he seems to care about this days.
A generic rom-com in which the focus is on how the two leads should not
have sex with each other, but instead help each other with their own
relationship problems. This becomes difficult when they discover
they've fallen for each other, but cannot let that secret out.
Both Jason Sudeikis and Alison Brie are funny people, they both get a few laughs here with some pretty humourless material. They play their characters are broken pieces of sex crazed objects. He can't have a steady relationship because he just sleeps around, she can't have one because she is obsessed with an ex boyfriend who is married. Both of them are the last people you'd want as role models but they manage to be role models for each other in their own unique and twisted ways.
With the film being about lots of sex, Brie has the troublesome task of being the sex symbol of the film. She has some moments to show off that side (lingerie fashion show) but the film just feels unsexy at times. It's a little off putting because the sex comedy is second to the emotional drama. Neither really prove to be THAT effective, but simply serviceable to the material.
The film is plain, ordinary and not much else. I doubt I will remember anything about this film a few days from now, other than Brie in the aforementioned lingerie. Unless you're a fan of these two, I'd say this is a film you can totally skip. It's neither good, nor bad. It's the weird line down the middle.
It was at the point when everyone in Neverland started singing
Nirvana's "Smell Like Teen Spirit" that I knew this film was a
misguided effort in style with zero substance. Wright's Pan is so bland
that its desperate effort to be artistic is sad and frankly, a little
Peter is an orphan who desperately seeks out who his mother is. One night at the orphanage, he is kidnapped by some pirates and is brought to Neverland. He is instantly put to work in the mines under the rule of the evil pirate Blackbeard. While there he meets a young James Hook and together they escape. With Blackbeard in hot pursuit, Peter has to learn to fly, save the fairies and fulfill his destiny in becoming the boy who never ages.
I don't really know where the film went wrong, but one would have to say the script. Peter needing to fulfill the chosen one plot line is tired and clichéd. The idea of making him and Hook friends in the beginning isn't anything new either, in fact the exact same thing happened in the British mini- series adaptation of the Peter Pan story, Neverland. Wright's Pan takes the misguided step of focusing on spectacle rather then trying to tell a compelling story. The results are this disastrous attempt at something artful or creative.
The spectacle in this film tries so hard to dazzle the viewer that it becomes cringeworthy. Flying bubbles of water with various creatures swimming inside? Why? It looks cool I guess. All the ships fly, we have a bio luminescent scene that steals from Avatar and don't get me started on the absolutely terrible CGI in this film. Sometimes it works, mainly the background environments, but literally everything else is horrendous. Peter flying looks very reminiscent of early human CGI rendering, think Blade II if you've seen it. Then we are introduced to some Neverland Birds, something that looks like it belongs on the N64.
Shall we move on to the acting? My God does Garrett Hedlund make some awful choices in this film. What is he doing with his voice? I have no idea, but his acting sticks out like a sore thumb. Hugh Jackman goes over the top and chews up a lot of scenery with his Blackbeard. He seems to have some fun with the role and is a redeeming factor here. Levi Miller shows some promise, but in the role of Peter Pan, will be forgotten. Finally Rooney Mara, utterly bored and miscast as the Native princess.
Pan was "panned" by critics and I always wonder if those films deserve the savage beatings they get. Pan does, this film is a mess with no direction. A colourful prism of mistakes and bad effects. Pan and Hook being friends adds nothing to the story, they don't have any really conflict between each other. It's simply a "hey, we know they will be enemies later, let's have some funny foreshadowing". Neverland never inspires any awe, which is the real shame here because the film relies so heavily on the visuals.
Also...yes, I will mention again, they sing Smells Like Teen Spirit in this film, it was a real Moulin Rouge! moment...only terrible.
I thought that the film The Final Girls, which is an homage to 80's
slasher flicks, embraced the genre almost perfectly, but played it too
safe resulting in a mixed bag. Lost After Dark fares even worse, having
zero comedy, zero fun and drags the viewer through complete boredom
before the final credits rolls. The film is a chore to get through and
rewards the viewer with absolutely nothing.
At their high school dance a group of friends decide to steal a school bus and go up to a family cabin for some fun. Their bus breaks down in the middle of nowhere and the kids find themselves being picked off one by one from a crazed cannibal killer. Who will survive? What will be left of them? And every other 80's horror tagline you can think of.
This film desperately needed to be played for laughs and the biggest mistake it makes is that it chooses to play everything seriously. It wants us to believe that this film could have actually been from the 80's. Yet it has none of the charm that those slasher films had, as bad as some of those movies were, they had a sense of charm. This film has zero, nada, nothing really going for it. Being intentionally retro does not equal a good film.
It purposely inserts the classic "film grain" to make it feel authentic. It never works. It even lamely incorporates the "missing reel" gag that worked to hilarious results in Grindhouse. Here it's a pathetic attempt to try and feel more genuine. It fails, miserably. Aesthetic failures aside, the script fares even worse.
It seems the only thing the writers know about are the clichéd horror stereotypes. We are given the jock, the token black guy, the nerd, slut, good-girl, etc. We are forced to listen to them spew inane dialogue back and forth in a sad attempt at building character. It never works and makes the film feel longer than it actually is. The entire first half of the film drags at a wickedly slow pace and the so-called pay off of kills doesn't ever reach its potential.
I will give the film some credit though, it surprised me with the initial death. That one moment where they manage to fool the audience and pull the rug out from under our feet is the only interesting moment in the entire film.
The Do-Over is Adam Sandler's second film under his four film Netflix
deal. The first was the horrendously bad The Ridiculous Six. How does
his second go-round fare? A little better.
Charlie is a push over. He lives in the same old house, drives the same old car and works at the same old job. His current wife still has flings with her ex-husband and he does nothing about it, instead he supports her financially and takes care of her two brat kids. While at his high-school reunion, he runs into Max, his childhood best friend. Max encourages Charlie to live a little and invites him on his boat for some fun. That boat explodes. Charlie then wakes up to find out Max has faked their deaths to give Charlie a chance to "start-over". The only problem is the two identities they take over have some bad people after them.
Steven Brill's other two Sandler flicks are Little Nicky and Mr. Deeds. This might be the best one out of the three, but that bar isn't exactly high. I'm not sure if I'm going easy on this film or not, but it might be Sandler's best comedy film in years. A quick look at his IMDb resume shows his latest efforts: The Ridiculous Six, Pixels, The Cobbler, Blended, Grown Ups 2, That's My Boy, Jack & Jill...it's sad that The Do-Over is better than these movies. One of the reasons why has to be because this film actually has a STORY to it. A Sandler film with an actual PLOT??? WHAAAAAA???????
So, as one would guess, Max isn't telling Charlie everything and when those bad people come looking for them, Charlie is thrust into this violent life with no ways of protecting himself. He's a geek, a buffoon and has to grow a set in order to help out Max. This could potentially be the best thing for him. David Spade is Charlie, another Sandler friend from SNL. He isn't his usual crude and shred self, he actually shows some pathos here. As for Sandler, he still seems to be a bit on auto- pilot, but he's doing something different, which is something at least. His character obviously has ulterior motives and you can't really take anything he says at face value, so one of the more enjoyable moments is discovering what that is. So yes, I was a little surprised by how NOT TERRIBLE this film was. That's not saying it's good or anything...it's simply not terrible.
Sandler would never give up the opportunity to continue his lavish film location lifestyle as an actor. So like every other film he's been doing, they go to an exotic location here, living in a giant mansion with beautiful women and fast cars. No surprise there. One of those beautiful women is Paula Patton. Unfortunately I don't know if she is phoning it in more than Sandler or not because she is bland.
The Do-Over is an action comedy with some surprising story moments that will only be good to you if you expect the worst. I was expecting the worst. I think they should have gone with this film first and completely nix Ridiculous Six. That film is more gags, this one is more story. Story will always trump dumb gags in my opinion. The Do-Over isn't without it's own share of gags though either. Seeing Spade and Luis Guzmán in a threesome with awkward stares was kind of funny. The ball sweat dripping on someone's face later on was a bit gross...to say the least. Had this film come out first, it would have been reviewed worse in my opinion. It's only because of how UTTERLY TERRIBLE Ridiculous Six is, that this film seems to be getting a pass.
Look, even I'm doing it.
Superhero fatigue is a problem that many people think is starting to
settle in. Fantastic Four was an abysmal film and it made less than Spy
Kids 3D: Game Over. Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice received
terrible reviews and had one of the biggest Friday to Sunday drops. Are
people sick of these films? Well, not if you're in the Marvel family it
seems. For one thing, Marvel actually takes pride and careful attention
to detail with their films, both the previously mentioned titles are
rush jobs for specific reasons. Civil War is proof that the good guy vs
good guy aspect of superhero films can be done right.
The world wants to hold the Avengers accountable for all the death and destruction they've caused over the years, so the United Nations put together the Sokovia Accords, which means the Avengers would work for them. Tony Stark supports this. Steve Rogers does not. Things get more complicated when Bucky turns up again and is the prime suspect in a bombing that kills dozens of people. With two prominent members of the Avengers on opposing sides of the issue, will the team ever be the same again?
Civil War has a lot going for it. Stellar cast, great characters, top-notch special effects, excellent action sequences, comedic relief and...well the list goes on. The Russo brothers have delivered a slick action film that makes me comfortable with the fact that they seem to be at the helm of the Marvel franchise now. When The Avengers was first announced, I thought it was going to be dreadful, then they said these guy named Joss Whedon was going to be directing it and my expectations instantly changed. Whedon delivered a great superhero film that set up the rest of the films to come. The Russo brothers now have the task of juggling all these characters and they do an admirable job.
Each character has their shining moments, but the core of the story is Stark vs Rogers. So while it's fun to have Rudd come in and have a few laughs, I don't think anyone is expecting huge things from his character. Same with Spider-Man, who is forced in here to set up his future films within this weird shared universe with Sony. Those are not complaints, they both work wonderfully in the film. If I were to find a complaint it would be in the thought process of the villain, Zemo. His plan is so painstakingly convoluted that I wonder how it even worked at all. Too many things need to fall in place for him to get what he wants and it distracts from the emotional power of the climax. The actors and the history with the characters manage to save it a bit and do raise the stakes, but I had my problems nonetheless.
The grand spectacle at the airport between these characters was indeed a highlight. When you have characters like Vision and Scarlet Witch, who are so powerful they could end the fight instantly, it's a good idea to have them simply do damage control. I wondered how they would handle these two, they did a decent job of it. After this film, I can only hope that Infinity Wars goes this route and gives each Avenger a worthy foe to fight and not a hoard of mindless foot soldiers, which is exactly what the previous two Avengers films did.
Fans of the series will be pleased, the action is great (a bit shaky at first, but they let it breath later on) and some great introductions of new characters that will bring a fresh perspective to the franchise. Black Panther for one, steals a lot of the scenes he is in. Bold move to have such a big character "show up" in the film without a solo movie to set him up, but it works here. The cast is diversifying as more and more characters come into these films and I'm glad to see it. Tony Stark is great, RDJ does a great job with him, but we've seen the guy have a big role in these films 6 times now. I get that Marvel is scared to let some of these characters go because they are so integral to everything, but I honestly believe something along these lines needs to happen to bring more emotional depth to the franchise. For a studio willing to take chances are projects like Guardians of the Galaxy, they need to take a chance on this aspect as well.
I'm going through some Hitchcock. I was really impressed with the
simplicity of Dial M For Murder, now I've seen to go to the opposite
side and taken a look at Hitchcock's most ambitious project, Vertigo.
Using different lighting and colour schemes along with inventive camera techniques, Vertigo is highly regarded as one of, if not the, best Hitchcock film. Which is weird to me because if you were to ask anyone what they think his best film is, you'll get a variety of different answers. My takeaway is a little difficult. I'm still wrestling with this film because I was so utterly bored with the first half that I was seriously questioning why this film is so highly regarded. Then the halfway point hits and it instantly got me hooked. It demands you to look at the film in a different light and repeat a viewing. So how do I feel about that? I still don't know. What I do know is that this is NOT my favourite Hitchcock film.
John Ferguson, a retired detective, is asked by an old friend to follow his wife. He suspects her of being 'possessed' by her great great grandmother, who committed suicide at the young age of 26. The man's wife is 26 and is afraid she might do the same. While following her, John becomes obsessed and will do anything to make sure she stays safe...from herself.
I knew nothing about this film, so this supernatural element threw me for a loop. As I said before, the first half is slow and mundane to the point of insanity. I appreciated the creative techniques Hitchcock was implying in certain scenes, but I just couldn't force myself to care about anything. Then the surprise element is introduced and I thought the film was wrapping up soon...wrong. It goes on for an entirely different third act, which in reality, reflects Hitchcock's own persona. Roger Ebert expertly points out how Ferguson is actually Hitchcock with his controlling obsessiveness over his blonde actors. This is glaringly obvious and serves as another layer to this already rich film.
Vertigo is something I need to revisit in the near future. Maybe the second time around I can see the brilliance and throw it higher on my list, as of right now Rear Window still stands near the top.
I didn't actually expect this to be as bad as everyone was saying, but
this 100 minute so-called superhero film is full of generic ideas, bad
decisions from the actors, director and writer and the biggest sin, is
Reed Richards is brilliant and cracks the code on how to travel between dimensions. Along with some other people he goes to another planet and boom, gets super powers. he can stretch, she can turn invisible, the brother can flame on and the friend is a rock. Someone else went too, he becomes bad because they left him behind. I decided to half ass my write up on the plot because the filmmakers choose to half ass it in making this film.
The only interesting aspect feels like it was all left on the cutting room floor. Glossed over by a stupid One Year Later title card. They come back and have these powers, the government instantly experiments on them. There could have been some Cronenberg-esque sequence here and I believe that was Trank's intention. Yet it's all left aside (stuido interference he claims) to jump ahead to the anti-climatic third act that had me playing Eurche on my phone. All the interesting aspects of the film are completely passed over. What was the government doing to these people over the course of the year? What was Richards doing while on the run? The relationship between the Fantastic Four is so utterly paper thin that I felt insulted at times. People know from the source material or even the original films that Johnny Storm aka The Human Torch likes the poke fun at The Thing. This never happens in the film until the last 5 seconds and it comes out of nowhere. It feels like some sort of forced hostile character assassination attempt.
Jordan is given very little dialogue, Jamie Bell as well. These two might have a combined screen time of 30 minutes? I'm not sure but it feels like these two are hardly in the film. Zero chemistry between Mara and Teller with cringe-worthy dialogue and acting choices. Teller honestly feels like he's reading off cue cards off camera. He has zero charisma and clearly did this for a quick buck. Kebbell as Dr. Doom is embarrassing. Forced "tension", if you can call it that, between him and others is laughable. He's suppose to be brilliant, but we have no picture of that, just his arrogance.
The continuity, my god, this could rival The Evil Dead for how hilarious it is. Teller with facial hair in one scene, then clean shaven the next. Mara with an obvious blonde wig that makes it look like a Targaryen in one scene then a normal person the next. These types of inconsistencies you would find in b-movies, not a Hollywood production of a known superhero franchise.
The studio has killed their new reboot here. They wanted something out there before the rights reverted back to Marvel and they blew it. This is a mess. Well, congratulations on keeping these characters under your studio for a few more years, it seems like wasted money.
Mike Flanagan is one for two in my books. His first big film was
Absentia, which was a slow boring mess of a film. Interesting ideas,
but nothing much else was going on in the film. His second output was a
vast improvement, Oculus. Flanagan showed promise and improvement,
which made me interested in seeing what else he had for future
projects. Well, he has two films coming out in 2016 and I want to talk
about Hush, his take on the home invasion sub-genre.
Home invasion films have been done to death. Some are great (You're Next), some are tolerable (The Strangers) and some are downright terrible (When A Stranger Calls, 2006). So how does one make their home invasion film stand out from the rest? There has to be some twist on the story to make it memorable. You're Next was a great deconstruction of the genre itself and had the heroine be a survival specialist. The twist Hush brings us lies in the fact that our protagonist if completely deaf.
The key element that makes or breaks this film is the sound design. I felt like the crew pulled it off and we have a solid thriller on our hands here. Maddie is a deaf author and she has secluded herself in a house in the woods to write her next book. Problems arise when someone outside her house decides to play a deadly game with Maddie and know she has to keep him out and escape alive. Again, this is a simple premise that is only made interesting by the fact that she is deaf and how the filmmakers decide to handle that aspect of the story.
While the film does inevitably go down routine routes with the story, Flanagan does so with skill and finesse. Multiple times throughout the film we are in Maddie's shoes as Flanagan completely mutes the audio. We see the terror happening behind her, but we cannot hear it. He can be entering the house at any point and we will not know. Flanagan manages to seep the viewer in suspense throughout the whole film and while there are some gory and squeamish scenes, he doesn't rely on them. They feel real and earned. Looking back at the film there are multiple sequences where I was taken back or had a huge grin on my face with the ingenuity of it all.
People will ultimately try to find inconsistencies with how the film handles the deaf aspect. I had maybe one issue myself, but can look past it for the benefit of the enjoyment I ultimately had because of the film. With a small cast of only four people and hardly any dialogue (maybe 15 minutes total?) Hush is a well crafted film that earns a viewing from anyone who likes this genre.
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