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The Green Inferno (2013)
Bitterly disappointed in Roth's Lame Love Letter
This should have been a film that packed a visceral punch, this should have been a film that left me gasping at the horrors unfolding on screen before my eyes, it should have been a love letter to Ruggero Deodato's infinitely superior Cannibal Holocaust - needless to say it wasn't.
Eli Roth has done yet another hatchet job on a potentially good film. He had a solid cast, what looked like a reasonable budget, gorgeous locations and KNB on the makeup effects. Well, he screwed it up...again!
The film has it's good points, all of which lie within the first half hour or so. The character development is solid, the storyline is refreshingly linear and simply told and the plane crash is handled well. It's after said crash that the wheels come off.
This is where the film should have jumped into high gear and sent its audience screaming in fear. It's weak, it's predictable and above all - it's not in the least bit scary or ultra violent - in fact this felt like a Cannibal Holocaust Lite, for the "Scream" TV series generation.
The gore was mostly silly and unoffensive, the cinematography was way too clean and lacked the true grit that Holocaust had years earlier and there was little to no authenticity in the cannibal scenes.
Though not a terrible film - I'm being harsh purely based on my level of anger. This is coming from a man who claims to love Cannibal Holocaust but does't have the foggiest idea as to why that film works so well.
For those of you that know Deodato's work - Avoid!
The Dyatlov Pass Incident (2013)
A solid entry in the found footage canon
Yes...yes it's found footage - I see many of you rolling your eyes already but in fairness when this is executed properly, like it is here it can be a very effective way of generating some genuine scares and suspense.
Kudos to director Renny Harlin for crafting a very suspenseful mockumentary with a great cast delivering excellent performances. This is a far superior film to The much hyped Blair Witch Project from 1999. It takes the found footage concept but doesn't overdo it with deliberate jump cuts and over the top shaky-cam technique - it simply tells a really good scary story within the confines of the documentary structure.
Don't be put off by the fact that this is found footage. Found footage doesn't always mean "lazy movie-making"
The snowbound location is genuinely creepy and gives just the right amount of "middle of nowhere" vibe, the script is clever and well thought out and the direction from Harlin, is strong. Take a look and surprise yourself with this hidden gem.
3 Days to Kill (2014)
Tonally all over the place
This is one very confused piece of cinema. It veers wildly between laugh out loud comedy, dark and dreary drama and existential TV movie of the week.
In short the parts do not add up to make a very satisfying whole, which is a shame since Costner is great in the role. He's really given a good character to chew on here but the rest of the film is a mess.
Two people are to blame here, the scriptwriter Besson, and the director McG (does anyone remember his other travesties)
This film suffers from both schizophrenia and kitchen sink mentality. It throws everything into the mix in the hopes that it'll work - it mostly does not!
Well advertised schlock but nothing more!
No better than the 1998 version with Matthew Broderick but the difference is, at least that film had its elements of camp and fun. This one is just plain dreary.
The first half an hour of the film is great, emotionally intense, dramatic, suspenseful but then the film degenerates in Hollywood CGI porn for the remainder of the films over 2 hour running time. The lead is also way too young, again Hollywood ageism and stupid casting, to have a son of seven or so years old.
The 3D was nothing short of annoying and painfully distracting in fact whilst watching this film I made a mental note to make it the last time that I see a film in 3D, all it does is remove the viewer from the experience not immerse them.
Overall this was not the revelatory existential monster movie I was expecting but was merely more Hollywood popcorn fodder that the teens will love but it'll leave everyone over 25 stone cold. Bitterly disappointed. Well advertised but falsely advertised - do not be fooled by the hype.
Only God Forgives (2013)
A threadbare plot DRAAAAWN out over a scant 89 minutes that feels like 3 hours, I get that this director is an auteur, boy do I get it!
The only good thing about this film is that it looks beautiful and pays homage to both Argento and Lynch and Kristen Scott Thomas' performance.
Otherwise there is literally nothing to recommend this film. From sleepwalk inducing performances to some rather unimaginative gore I found the whole tawdry affair to be deadly dull.
The director also seems to be trying way to hard for my liking, steeping every scene in pretentious symbolism to the point that you can almost hear him droning on in press junkets as to how deep the whole film really is.
It's not deep, it's dull. It's not inventive, it's derivative of better films like Blue Velvet, so derivative in fact that I almost expected to see Kyle Maclachlan pop up and say, "Here I am"
The only reason this gets 3 stars is because it's prettily shot. Avoid.
Beautiful Creatures (2013)
Witches of Eastwick meets Twilight
Admittedly the above heading reeks of cynicism and that's really not the intention. It just aptly sums up the overall impression that Beautiful Creatures leaves you with.
Some may moan and groan but this isn't necessarily a bad thing. Twilight is garbage, teen girl fodder, I'm sure most over the age of 30 would agree, however when you inject a bit of decent darkness into the screenplay and pepper your supporting cast with fabulous performances from 3 Oscar winners, you're bound to end up with something halfway decent and Beautiful Creatures is just that, halfway decent.
Jeremy Irons, Emma Thompson and Viola Davis steal every scene they're in, specially Thompson. She's on top form here, clearly having a field day chewing the scenery like Nicholson in The Witches of Eastwick.
The biggest crime this film commits is that it's all too light, too watered down, too teen orientated and this is its downfall. It should have been played as a straight ahead horror/fantasy about witches and witchcraft. The romance angle is pretty well handled but should have been downplayed a little more. The humour should also have been reigned in here and there.
The whole affair should have been played straighter, darker, scarier, There's a great film in here trying to get out but with the tween-girl market in mind that was never going to happen.
What we're left with is a fun, light, slightly subversive take on witchcraft that's an entertaining way to kill 2 hours.
6 out of 10
Odd Thomas (2013)
Fabulously Fresh and Funny
Anton Yelchin is a very likable performer and Odd Thomas cashes in on his screen personality in spades. Stephen Sommers, who's been away from the directors chair for way too long, pens a witty and fresh screenplay that zips along and keeps the audience thoroughly entertained every step of the way.
The one liners are spouted fast and furiously, the dialogue sparkles and there are plot twists and turns a plenty. The film defies being classified into any one genre. It's a little horror, a little fantasy, a little science fiction and a little mystery, none of it boring or expositional.
It's also great to see Dafoe doing a little mainstream fluff piece for a change. But just as you think you know exactly where this film is going, it surprises you yet again and takes a U-turn in another direction. I realise the target market here are probably teens, but I must confess that I loved it.
A very solid 7 out of 10.
Friday the 13th (2009)
Friday the 13th (1980) was a watershed film. Essentially it made the slasher sub-genre profitable and a string of pale imitations were made between 1980 and 1985.
The new retread of Friday the 13th (2009) feels very much like one of these imitations. It's not even as much fun as some of the worst sequels in the Friday the 13th franchise. (Parts V and VIII spring to mind)
While not a terrible film this remake feels lazy. The character development is lazy, the exposition feels lazy and even the gore is lazy. This is film-making for the smart phone generation.
While the original is by no means a "Godfather" like classic it does retain a cult-classic status all of its own. This charm is what's lacking in the modern version. The producers have seemingly ticked all the boxes; boobs, blood and banging, but, it's all very slick, overly polished and a little lifeless.
This new retread retains none of the suspense, the surprise or even the grit of the original. While the production values are definitely higher, what modern film-makers don't seem to understand about remakes is that it's the very low budget nature of these films where they derive so much of their charm.
While Marcus Nispel is a more than competent film-maker and his own remake for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is in fact very good, this one misses the mark for me. It's distinctly average at best.
Anna Karenina (2012)
Self Indulgent and vacuous
I was intrigued on seeing this based on the superb trailer the marketing department had put together but on my first viewing I found myself resisting sleep every step of the way.
It's pretentious, plodding, vacuous and over long with some seriously sub-standard performances in something that should have been Oscar bait.
The entire film felt stagy and contrived. I understand that was the vision of the director but it just didn't work. It just felt incredibly heavy-handed and disingenuous. Reviewers all seem to be in love with this film but I always like to hark back to a classic phrase that needs no definition,
"An Ounce of pretension is worth a pound of manure!"
The Kiss (1988)
Entertaining Time Waster
It's 2013, and there's a distinct lack of originality in the horror field at present, what with all the remakes, reboots or re-imaginings.
The Kiss is by no means a classic of the genre but it is a fun way to kill 90 minutes and (shock! horror!) it's original. The ever wonderful Meredith Salenger here is pitch perfect in the lead. (Why she isn't working more is beyond me)
Joanna Pacula is also fabulous as the villainess of the piece. She's sexy, bitchy and suitably over the top. The film has its flaws; namely a god awful puppet kitty scare, but on the whole it has the sleek polish of any 80's studio horror flick. Tri-Star had quite a good track record with horror back then.
Sure it's cheesy but at least it's fun. The Kiss also has some genuine suspense and some good gory thrills here and there.
Big hair, big scares, big effects and big performances make this one stand out a little more than it deserves to. Welcome back to the 80's...
A solid six of out ten.