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Shark Exorcist (2015)
A z grade shark movie made with zero effort that never delivers the goods
The premise of this movie caught my interest. A Great White Shark possessed by Satan living in a lake is feasting on young attractive women and a priest is called in to perform an exorcism and destroy the monster.
Shark movies all typically follow the same formula, so the idea of a demonically possessed shark seemed an unusual gimmick compared to your standard shark fare, however the kind of film I envisioned once I read the premise was not even close to the kind of film it ended up being.
This is a really muddled movie, sometimes it's a typical shark attack movie, but it's also a vampire movie and also an Exorcist inspired possession movie. These ideas might have worked, but at only 70 minutes long there simply isn't enough time to develop these story elements with any cohesion.
The whole movie looks and sounds terrible, with a cheap low-end digital look typical of YouTube videos, scuzzy audio design and nonexistent choreography. I was honestly shocked when i saw the director has been making movies for some 30 odd years, Shark Exorcist looks like something a first year film school dropout would have been embarrassed to make.
It's clear from the finished product that no one involved in the making of this movie cared whatsoever. It fails as entertainment, it doesn't even work as a piece of Schlock Cinema, it's just a forgettable cash-grab piece of trash.
A hopefully tragic misstep in the career of an immensely talented director
I still remember vividly six years ago when District 9 first came on the scene and shocked the world. One of the first true Sci-fi masterpieces since the Millennium was here. Nobody had ever seen a movie like it before, and the fact that it came out of nowhere had everyone asking questions about Neill Blomkamp the director: "who made this movie?", "where has this person been all this time" and "what will he do next?".
Blomkamps sophomore effort Elysium (2013) was made with the backing of a major studio, given a massive budget and featured A-lister Matt Damon in the lead. While Elysium is not the classic District 9 is, it's an enjoyable film well enough, with some fine action scenes and excellent visual effects, but despite the amazing technical direction the films script was a mess of lazy clichés and heavy handed social commentary, you cannot be at fault for calling Elysium a disappointment.
Chappie represents and attempt to get back to those roots that flung Blomkamp into the spotlight in the first place. Much like D9, Chappie is set in Johannesburg, features Sharlto Copley in the lead, has a relatively modest production budget, and like D9 is a remake of a short film that Blomkamp made years ago.
To call Blomkamp a master of visual effects is a pointlessly blatant statement, the man clearly knows what he's doing effects wise. Chappie himself and all the digital effects throughout are magnificent, you simply cannot tell where the seams are in this movie.
The actions scenes are outstanding too, Blomkamp learned his lesson from Elysium and the shaky-cam is almost entirely gone. All the big explosive scenes are beautifully choreographed and make up for a lot of pacing problems with the film.
But that is where most of the positive points with Chappie end, because for everything that works there's about 2 things that really don't.
The biggest problem with the movie are the characters, despite Chappies name being the title and his face being plastered on every single piece of marketing for the film he simply doesn't work as a main character. Chappie doesn't appear until about 30 minutes into the film, and then he goes through a slow period of learning that takes up way too much of the second act of this film. The things he learns from his "mommy and daddy" are questionable acts of crime and degeneracy that make you not like the character, and towards the end of the film when Blomkamp lays on the Jesus metaphors really thick you don't understand entirely what Chappie is even trying to do or why. When you don't understand where the lead character in a movie is coming from there's a disconnect with the audience.
The supporting characters are really what sink the movie however. Ninja is a disgusting human being that you don't want to root for, his attempts to turn Chappie into a "Gangsta" are childish and embarrassing, Yolandi brings no meat or intensity to her role, she is really out of her depth as an actress here, Blomkamp needs to learn from the mistake of casting these two that rappers don't always make good actors. Despite being in the film tonnes, Dev Patel leaves no impression, once he builds Chappie and hands him over to the crooks, he has almost no further bearing on the story, writing him out early instead of carrying his dead weight around would have been preferable. Sigourney Weaver is a really good actress in a thankless role that could have been played by anyone. Now, Hugh Jackman is the only character worth a damn, because he's the only person that makes sense as far as motives go, but he spends most of the movie making mean faces at Dev Patel, it's only right at the end that he gets to flex his muscles and do something.
With a more consistent tone, a shorter run time and a complete overhaul of all its characters Chappie could have been one for the ages like District 9, but as it stands it's just kind of nothing. I still believe Blomkamp is a great filmmaker with lots of potential but he needs to get his act together and learn from his mistakes, especially if he's going to direct the next Alien movie.
Into the Woods (2014)
The Cow randomly dropping dead was the perfect visual metaphor for the whole movie.
Monotonous, Alienating and Shockingly Cheap looking, Into the Woods is a movie that was seriously misguided from its initial inception.
As a musical, it's a total disaster, there is not one single memorable song from the whole film and the songs themselves are ugly monstrosities that are badly mixed and lazily written, as soon as one begins you're practically begging for it to stop.
It's a hugely irritating film to watch as an audience member because everything that happens in the film is arbitrary, everything that happens in the movie is something that happens because the film needs to get somewhere, there is no natural flow to the story. Characters suddenly die, characters suddenly appear, characters suddenly can do things they couldn't do before just do get the movie to the next scene without affecting the main plot at all.
The story itself it a hodge-podge of classic fairytailes cobbled together to form a unique story for the film, which may not have a been a bad idea for a film, but the actual story they went with makes little sense. Emily Blunt and James Corden are bakers who are trying to have a baby together, but the witch who lives next door (Meryl Streep) has cursed their family to never have children because James Cordens father stole vegetables from her garden years ago. She says she can lift the curse if they find her 4 magical objects and return them to her in 3 nights. That's the main story, there's some minor subplots sprinkled throughout with some iconic fantasy characters but none of that matters, they all converge on Emily Blunt and James Cordens' story.
The acting is mostly fine, this movie is shockingly well cast. Meryl Streep is Meryl Streep she was great regardless, Emily Blunt, Anna Kendrick they were fine too. Chris Pine stood out, or at least his accent did, he seemed to be having fun at least. I may be alone here but I liked Johnny Depp, he was in it just enough to not be irritating and I liked the design of his character. But why is James Corden in this? he's a soap opera level actor at best. There's a key scene in the third act where he is told his wife is dead, and Corden acts like he just dropped his fork on the floor.
But the worst thing is how Cheap the whole film looks, 95% of the film is shot on a very obvious forest set that looks the same, i'm sure they filmed it from as many angles as possible, but there was no fooling. The CGI was awful, the giants looked unfinished and the background Matte work was obvious and murky, "we don't have the money to finish a visual effect? cover it in Fog!".
The worst element was how they masked not having a budget for certain scenes. There are 3 instances where Cinderella runs out of the ball to escape the Prince, and in none of the 3 instances do we ever see the inside of the ballroom, just the castle stairs. Jack climbs the beanstalk to reach the giants several times, but instead of showing it through visuals the film has a song number for Jack to sing describing the giants home. Emily Blunt falls off a cliff, but we never see her fall, we never even see her trip over, we never even see her body for pity's sake.
It's a mess of a musical, plain and simple, I try not to judge films as soon as they start, but when the movie began and it starts with a horrible musical number, the feeling of dread was powerful. I can only recommend this for die hard fans of musicals and for live-action Disney film completionists.
Godzilla delivers enough, but is it wrong to ask for more?
Godzilla works, thank goodness. It's suspenseful, exciting, fun and almost everything I could have possibly wanted it to be.
But may I please get some more Godzilla in my Godzilla movie please?
What the movie gains in tension and suspense is sadly lost with a lacklustre delivery of the guy we all came to see, I just don't think Godzilla appears enough throughout the film to justify calling the movie "Godzilla".
Godzilla appears mostly in moments intended to make fans "squee" and I can see now why these were the scenes they played at festivals to promote the movie.
Also it appears that much of the storytelling is delivered with a lot of labour, everything has to be explained in detail removing a lot of the mystery and intrigue behind the monsters. Also making the dark-super- serious Godzilla almost feels redundant because it's impossible to escape the series' shlocky B-Movie origins.
Gareth Edwards was one of the best choices to direct this movie and he has a distinct eye for little moments amidst scenes of big scope, but by focusing on the humans instead of Godzilla most of the time it cheapens the spectacle and it feels very disappointing.
It is good movie, and i'm recommending it highly for what it gets right, but I must emphasize the lack of Godzilla in Godzilla.
Ever been to one of those parties where everyone is having a great time, but you can't wait for it be over?
That's this movie.
I don't want to completely hate on this movie, but essentially what this entire movie is, is a bunch of actors getting together and having a fun time while accidentally making a movie in tandem.
There are some big, big laughs here (most of them from Zac Efron surprisingly) even if the trailer spoiled the best ones, but I just don't find Seth Rogens "he's a big fat guy who loves weed" Shtick funny anymore, he's been doing it for doing for too long.
Plus most of the jokes are obviously improvised, like they just walked onto set that day with a rough idea of how the scene should play out and just decided to wing it, and for about every 1 joke that hits, there's about 5 that don't.
I also hated the huge lapses in logic, what about the other neighbours? wont the noise coming from the fraternity irritate them as well? and why do these parents think that a discarded condom would immediately give their baby HIV? and I don't think the Dean of the university would have been so blasé about a complaint from the public.
What difference did it even make to have them be a fraternity anyway?, The story would have worked just fine if it had been a group of loud, obnoxious young people. The only reason it was a fraternity was to attract college audiences.
Stupid, Boring and a Huge Embarrassment to all Involved.
Dr Will Caster (Johnny Depp) develops a sentient computer device with unsurpassed processing power. When fatally poisoned by a radical techno-terrorist organisation he and his wife (Rebecca Hall) upload his consciousness into his invention to preserve his life, but the now unrestrained supercomputer soon develops a frightening ambition that blurs the line between humanity and technology.
It seems that every few years somebody in Hollywood tries to redo The Lawnmower Man, which is by no means a perfect movie (especially with its laughable, early generation CGI) but it harbours an interesting premise; what happens if we ignore our own judgement and let our technology get the better of us?. It's an old sci-fi trope going back decades that has definitely become a crutch of story telling to some extent, but any good idea is worth exploring again, and with such an impressive cast and a very promising production team behind it, hopes were high for Transcendence to be a good movie.
Unfortunately though, it isn't. Transcendence is a turgid, lifeless bore of a film that doesn't really offer anything insightful about its subject matter because it's so single mindedly stupid about it. All the parts about technology, philosophy and what it means to be human are all thrown to the wayside, and the movie instead grounds most of its logic on the relationship between two people like its the most important thing in this world. In a movie where technology is used to heal the sick, rebuild the forests and even cure death, all the movie wants us to care about is how Rebecca Hall cannot possibly go on living without her dead husband and how all that amazing wonderful miracle-making doesn't mean anything.
I'm not even sure who the main character is supposed to be. Depp is in the movie in the flesh only for about 15 minutes and after that he disappears mostly into the background of scenes as a computer program making it hard to relate to him. Hall acts so selfish, stupid and blunt throughout that it's impossible to like her as an audience member. It certainly isn't Paul Bettany either, he's a prisoner through most of the film and when he's not, the things that are happening are more or less out of his control.
Also the vagueness of the films antagonist is a real problem, we're led to believe that Computerised-Depp is the main antagonist, but he's not really, a computer operating by logic is hard to hate as a viewer, because it's just doing what's in its own nature, and many of the miracles its capable of are not, in and of themselves evil either (since when was healing the blind considered unjust?). It certainly isn't the Techno-Terrorist group R.I.F.T either, their motivations as terrorists isn't even particularly clear other than "Technology is Bad", Shooting Johnny Depp over a hypothesis seems more like stupidity than martyrdom. Also during the films climax they become good guys.
Johnny Depp was reportedly paid $20 million for his role in this movie, and in my opinion he didn't earn his salary. He is stiff, lifeless, bored (that's even before he gets uploaded into a computer) and obviously uninterested in the finished product. Rebecca Hall is trying very hard here, but the terrible writing of her character hamstring her efforts. Paul Bettany is good here and is probably the films strongest asset, but he's not in the film enough and pretty much useless by the time the conclusion comes. Morgan Freeman and Cillian Murphy are just there, they don't really have anything interesting to say or do. Kate Mara gives by far the worst performance, the bad writing of her character hurts her more than others, but she was impossible to buy as the stern, serious leader of an organised terrorist group.
There's also a huge lack of understanding of rudimentary film making skills at play. Wally Pfister is a gifted cinematographer and the film does look good generally speaking, but working cinematography on a movie and directing an entire movie are two completely different ball games. Many aspects of film-making are botched here: Framing, Blocking, Dynamics between Characters, Editing, Camera Movements but especially Pacing. This is one of the worst Paced movies in quite some time, nothing that happens in the story has any momentum, and this coupled with the poor direction over everything else makes the whole movie completely dull to watch (the biggest mistake is that film begins with the ending, spoiling any and all tension during the movie).
I'm not saying that every movie needs to have an action scene either, there isn't a car chase during 12 Angry Men, but Transcendence builds to a huge final engagement and when it comes it's over with way too quickly.
It's a combination of many elements that could go wrong with a movie, and it's easy to blame Wally Pfister for the poor direction, but I think this movie represents a far bigger concern. Johnny Depp is currently the highest paid actor in the world, but this and some of his last films "The Lone Ranger" and "Dark Shadows" both had disappointing box office takings, which leads me to believe that maybe Depp's day are numbered, and/or perhaps we're entering a new age of movies where it doesn't matter who you cast, a stinker's a stinker and people wont flock to see garbage.
The Raid 2: Berandal (2014)
An Exercise in Perfect Sequel-Making
Is The Raid 2 a perfect movie? i'm not sure, But a perfect sequel? absolutely.
The best movie sequels are the ones that take the basic framework of their predecessors and build upon it, stretching out and expanding the universe, moving the characters through different situations, going for different tones and even switching genres.
The genius of the first Raid movie was its simplicity, it was about a bunch of guys trying to escape a bad situation, the action everyone praises was just the plum in the pudding.
Now with the sequel, what Gareth Evans has done here is expand his own universe (which admittedly was a pretty small universe to begin with) and made an action movie yes, but also a pretty grandiose crime epic. In fact the crime story at hand is so good it would have made a fine film all on its own, but like its predecessor The Raid 2 knows how to play its cards right and balances storytelling with incredible fight scenes.
There is absolutely no conceivable way you can criticise the action in this movie, it's just not possible. Every fight scene has been shot, choreographed and edited to perfection. Several scenes in particular near the end of the film are likely to go down in history as the new benchmark for martial arts film-making.
I will admit the plot itself and some of the characters had me lost at times, but this was overcome after the halfway point once I understand the characters names and the story retracts into simpler focus. Some characters are so likable and memorable that they don't even need names like Baseball Bat Man and Hammer Girl. I did not care for Bejo however, his crooked teeth, greasy comb-over and limp made him too hammy to be taken seriously. Also two major characters from the first movie reappear way too briefly and I think The Raid 2's biggest missed opportunity was to under use them the way it did.
But it's Iko Uwais once again who steals the entire movie, his movement and speed is really the heart of the action, and while a lesser actor might have ruined the legitimacy of the quieter moments, he steals every scene he's in.
Because of the presence of a story to make you care about the characters, you stay invested through all the fighting, all the ups and downs our heroes go through we feel it too. Maybe it's too long and maybe there's a few too many fight scenes than necessary but for action fans this is a Must. I will never look as Baseball Bats and Hammers the same way ever again.
The Crater Lake Monster (1977)
Grade A Garbage Absolutely
But, my God what intoxicatingly sweet-smelling Garbage it is.
I love this movie, in the same way I love watching people falling down on youtube. I don't get anything out of it other than cheap laughs at other peoples expense. Just imagining what these Yokels did wrong during the making of this movie is enough to send me into hysteria.
"'Ey Earl, You play that there Keyboard real well ya hear? It don' matter if you don't know how to play" "I got's Ma to make this here monster head outta card-y-board, make sure ya don' get it too wet tho'" "We gon' end this on a downer ya hear? We need our audience to feel the weight of Arnie's death ya-hear?"
We need movies like this. Because they show us exactly how NOT to make a movie. Film professors the world over will force the message that "Citizen Kane is the greatest film ever made" down our throats until we swallow it. No, Forget Orson Welles, what Bill Stromberg did with The Crater Lake Monster will teach you so much more.
Southland Tales (2006)
I Despise this Movie
I despise this movie, no seriously, it can burn in hell.
I know it's been like eight years, but forget it, i'm still mad, I need to vent this frustration.
Richard Kelly lost his goddamn mind after Donnie Darko and not one of the producers on Southland Tales had any guts to call him out on his bulls**t because they didn't want to question his so-called genius and make it sound like they "Didn't Get It".
They "Didn't Get It" because there's nothing "To Get".
This is what happens when storytellers who can't control their visions are left to their own devices without any creative control. Similar circumstances gave us: One from the Heart, Heaven's Gate, A Serious Man, Matrix Reloaded, Moonwalker, Glitter, Death Proof, Lady in the Water and the Star Wars Prequels. All those vanity projects that lost their way, some being remembered as some of the worst movies of their time.
It's a good thing that Richard Kelly's career never recovered from this, as far as i'm concerned after making Southland Tales he should have been shot into the sun, but such a glamorous death is too kindly.
I hope and dream that one day I will walk into a McDonalds and catch him sweeping the floor.
Probably the most mishandled episode in Doctor Who's history
What a disappointment, The Time of the Doctor honestly feels like a huge waste of time, a straight hour of too-fast-to-follow convoluted nonsense that serves a purpose that could have been done in 10 minutes.
What we are ultimately getting to here is the regeneration of The Doctor from 11th doctor (Matt Smith) to the 12th doctor (Peter Capaldi). The Doctor explains however that Time Lords only have a certain number of regenerations before they permanently die and his time is almost up.
In The first 50 minutes of padding, we're wasting our time watching shoehorned in Christmas themes (The town they visit on the alien world is called "Christmas" for pity's sake), pointless supporting characters, even more pointless villains that literally only appear for seconds each, jokes that appear and are never brought up again (The Doctor shaved his head for some reason), bad love subplots and truly embarrassing make-up effects.
But the biggest insult is the way we get to the resolution we've all come to see, how does The Doctor overcome his death problem? Well honestly I can't tell you. The episode is moving so quickly with so much techno-babble being thrown around that the main crisis gets completely lost in the echo, and before we know it it's done, problem solved and we're all just supposed to buy it.
Now, I love Matt Smith as The Doctor, he's in my personal Top 3, but his final episode is nothing short of an embarrassment. He spends most of the episode hobbling about on a walking stick in terribly unconvincing old age make-up. I remember back in 2009 when David Tennant left the show, crying about how "He didn't want to go" and many people cried foul that his character wouldn't be so feeble in his final moments. Well these people can leave Tennant alone now because Matt Smith officially gets the most terrible send off in Doctor Who history. Firstly it happens twice, the first time he regenerates in the episode he's screaming like a lunatic at a horribly unconvincing special effects UFO in bad old man makeup. Which leaves a bad taste in the mouth for when it comes to the second regeneration scene. Now in the second time it happens, honestly Smith has some great dialogue (plus a cameo by an old friend) that gets the emotions rolling and just as he's about get the slow, dramatic regeneration we're used to BANG it's Peter Capaldi. With no build up or suspense here he is screaming like a maniac too and then BANG credits.
Words cannot convey. Anger. Disappointment. Confusion to name a few. Now I always welcome a new era of Doctor Who, when Matt Smith took over in 2009 the show went through a period of prosperity with some of the best episodes in the shows history. But as time's gone by, show runner Steven Moffat's writing has gotten more convoluted, clumsy and frantic. With more and more focus of changing the basic fundamentals of the shows long history and Matt Smiths charm has only diminished by each passing season. Considering how badly they messed up Peter Capaldi's introduction only makes me more adamant that they are going to continue on this downward trend.
I feel bad for Matt Smith who has to look back on this chapter of his career knowing this is how he was treated when they sent him off, I feel bad for Jenna Coleman who's now stuck in this show with a much older actor who wont work well with her at all, I fell bad for Peter Capaldi who is going to go into the next season with so much added baggage. But I feel most bad for the fans, this was our moment to say goodbye to Matt Smith and Steven Moffat has ruined it. Steven, season 5 was great and we love you for it, but you cannot be in charge of Doctor Who anymore, Please Stop.