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Evil Dead (2013)
'Evil Dead' is Not the Scariest Film You'll Ever See
On a scale of 1 to 10, "Evil Dead" would be ranked somewhere in the middle. It wasn't good, but it wasn't horrendous either. It was a mediocre film when considering the standards for its genre.
Unfortunately, Fede Alvarez's "Evil Dead" didn't really have enough depth to make us properly feel anything for its characters. The attempt at a slightly emotional and connected character story is to be applauded; however, it still seemed to fall flat in many areas.
The beginning starts off with a recount of what happened earlier (perhaps a few years, but it's not clear) and a foreshadowing of what's to come. After, we cut to a cabin in the middle of the woods (because that's usually how the monsters, demons, and ghosts keep you away from civilization). Mia (Jane Levy) is trying to detox after a long battle with drug abuse with the help of her brother David and friends Eric, Olivia, and Natalie (Shiloh Fernandez, Lou Taylor Pucci, Jessica Lucas, and Elizabeth Blackmore).
The friends find an evil book in a basement filled with dead cats. Curiosity getting the better of him, Eric reads an incantation from the book. Of course, once this happens, the rest of the film becomes a tiring wait to see who dies first.
A demon is summoned and possesses Mia and then systematically begins trying to possess and kill everyone else. It isn't really scary as much as it is extremely disgusting. There is plenty of gore, cutoff extremities, and creepy sounds that are pretty on par with several other horror movies. Unfortunately, "Evil Dead" doesn't harbor any story surprises and becomes really tedious as the same thing happens to each character and you're left wondering if the movie is over yet.
Elizabeth Blackmore's character is only there to serve as one of the souls that the demon must feast upon in order to rise. She has a few speaking lines and her best performance comes from the scene where she shoots her friends with a nail gun. All the character decisions at some point leave you shaking your head at their illogical actions and occasionally even the dialogue is lackluster.
"Evil Dead" only really makes sense in regards to why the demon chooses to possess Mia and not anyone else. Besides the obvious case of being the nearest one, Mia has the weakest will of all her friends and the demon catches her at a particularly vulnerable moment. On the other hand, the reason for the demon's existence or why it needs to possess a certain number of people is never explained nor is the reason why they decided to remake Sam Raimi's "The Evil Dead" in the first place.
All in all, if you enjoy horror movies, a lot of blood and some creepy scenes, then "Evil Dead" is for you. Just remember not to expect too much out of it.
Grade: 2 out 5 Stars
Meth Head (2013)
'Meth Head' Delivers a Realistic Portrayal of Meth Addiction and its Effects
Kyle is a loving partner, brother, and son. He has dreams of having his own interior design company and plans to marry his partner Julian. All Kyle's plans come to a halt after he is introduced to crystal meth one night. Slowly after, Kyle's life and everything in it begins spiraling out of control.
Based on true events, Meth Head is a really eye opening experience. Jane Clark weaves a story about meth addiction without making it solely factual and focuses mostly on the deep emotional character journeys.
Kyle isn't a man without issues. While he has a job and partner, Kyle is still desperate in seeking his father's approval, a politician who isn't supportive of his son's life. Lukas Haas plays Kyle, the meth addict and main character. Haas gives Kyle some great characteristics which make him vulnerable and sympathetic regardless of the mistakes he makes. It is sometimes painful to watch his meth addicted performance because of the glimpses of normality Haas portrays in the very beginning of the movie. The scenes near the very end are the most heart wrenching of Haas's portrayal. He is alone and weakening and the actor really delivers the fear and panic without being unnecessarily over the top.
Luke (AKA Dusty) is one of the stand outs in the film. He's the dealer who initially introduces Kyle to meth. Somehow, there's a youthful innocence about him. Blake Berris portrays him as an addict who loves the drug but one who never sees his life spiraling so out of control. Dusty's easy friendship with Kyle is simple and co-dependent. Berris depicts Dusty as a man who doesn't really have anything left and whose addiction leads him to a very painful place. Berris's performance is understatedly powerful.
Necar Zadegan plays Maia, the third member of the meth trio. Also an addict, Maia lost her daughter to social services for being an unfit mother and takes care of her grandmother who lives with her. Out of the three of them, Maia seems like the most balanced mentally regardless of her addiction and everything going on in her life. She somehow holds the group together. Zadegan portrays Maia in an almost mature way. Zadegan shows us through her eyes and reactions that she knows she's making mistakes but continues to use meth because it seems like the only thing keeping her from falling apart. Zadegan really uses her body language to portray Maia's inner turmoil.
Wilson Cruz plays Julian, Kyle's partner. Cruz's portrayal of Julian is one of equal parts patience and frustration. Julian wants the best for Kyle and tries to help, but when things get out of control Julian shies away from pushing too hard for Kyle to see the error of his ways. With only the grim tug of his lips Cruz lets us know how hard Kyle's meth addiction is on Julian.
The supporting actors (Scott Patterson as Kyle's father comes to mind specifically) do a great job of adding to the story while letting the focus be on Kyle and his journey through his addiction.
With wonderful portrayals and a well written story, Jane Clark really brings home a powerful message while staying true to the emotional story of the characters. "Meth Head" is a well told and hypnotizing film from start to finish. The journey through addiction is well thought out and extremely realistic. The movie is hard to watch at times only because it takes the characters to very dark and harrowing places.
"Meth Head" is sad and tragic. Writer/director Jane Clark chooses to tell the story in a gritty and blunt manor that serves the purpose of informing and acknowledging the addiction to meth and the people it affects.
'Lifeless' takes on the undead in a new way - musical style!
"Being kinda dead sorta sucks."
Indie short film "Lifeless" delivers with catchy music in a jam packed half hour of dynamic storytelling. "Lifeless" never misses a beat (no pun intended) from the opening scene to the very last line. Every song tells a part of the story without being hindered by long and unnecessary exposition. It's a dark comedy which touches on the invincibility the young feel, the unpreparedness for death, and the lost hopes of a future.
Synopsis: "Lifeless" tells the tale of a group of high school graduates who throw a party intending to have a good time and get away from their lives for a night. Getting a little out of hand, the friends end up mixing herbs and household product chemicals together only to collapse and wake up as the undead. They all realize that being undead isn't exactly something they had planned and try to figure out how to reverse the effect.
Each member of the group has a distinct personality and each brings a different uniqueness which helps them all stay grounded as they work to figure out what they need to do to get out of their predicament. Their screaming and undead antics lead to a few funny moments. The musical number "Out of Our Lives" is worthy of a Broadway stage and the song "What I Might Have Been" strikes the right chords with its sad and tragic lyrics about all the lost possibilities in life.
The acting is generally well done and fits the tone of the movie. The choreography and atmosphere for "Out of Our Lives" is superb. The ensemble works well together and the subtle touch of the Halloween-style contacts to show their status as the undead is nice without being overdone. The single moment of silence when they all decide that being undead is not how they want to live is touching and brings with it a level of maturity that isn't there at the beginning of the film.
Overall, "Lifeless" is creative, funny, and wonderfully executed in a way that sheds new light on the undead without feeling tacky or unoriginal.
For more movie reviews, news, and updates, be sure to visit www.examiner.com/movie-in-washington-dc/mae-abdulbaki
Funny and Surprisingly Deep
This movie far exceeded my expectations. Not surprising, seeing as how I didn't have many. However, I did expect it to be another funny, stupid comedy with no real emotional depth. That's where I was wrong.
Besides being really funny, "Bridesmaids" had depth you rarely see in comedies. You laughed at what was happening and also often times felt with the characters. Whether it was lonely Annie, who'd given up on the world or Lillian, who probably thought everything leading up to her wedding was going to be perfect and wasn't, or even Helen who really just needed a friend. These women were three dimensional and the movie played that out very well.
The funny scenes were random, laugh out loud moments in the best sense. This movie was not at all over the top. No, it wasn't perfect. For example, the sex scene in the beginning went on for too long and was a little awkward to watch because of that. However, it didn't deter the rest of the movie. Not at all. Rose Byrne's character was someone you could easily hate and get annoyed of, yet by the end feel almost sorry for.
Kristen Wiig as Annie does a fantastic job carrying the movie and her funny moments, along with her more dramatic ones are excellent as well. Also, she co-wrote the movie! I see great things in her future.
Melissa McCarthy really brings the laughs in this one. Especially the scene on the plane with the fire marshal. Wonderful all around.
So, go ahead and give this movie a try. It'll probably be better than you expected! 9 out of 10 stars!
X-Men: First Class (2011)
What X3 Should Have Been
I didn't know what to expect from X-men: First Class, which was good because I didn't expect too much after the disappointment that was X3: The Last Stand.
This movie was well plotted, well paced, and had great characterizations. I especially loved that it started the same way the original X-men movie started, with Magneto as a child in a concentration camp and took off from there. And it was a great ride from the beginning.
The acting, the cinematography and the action were all superb! The cameos by Hugh Jackman and Rebecca Romijn were excellently placed and how they interlaced the plot between X-men history and real history was wonderful. The X-men world is vast and rich with many different characters and I think they chose the right ones for this movie. The friendships were well drawn out and surprising given which sides some of the mutants end up on, but still realistic enough.
With a lot of different comic book movie adaptations out there, X-men: First Class really does a good job overall of maintaining a balance of character relationships and plot and action. Also, it incorporates the comic book world, such as the Hellfire Club, very well that even those who don't know X-men comic book history would understand.
Overall, this was a very well done prequel to the X-men franchise and truly what X3 should have been. I give it a 9 out of 10 stars. Watch it! I promise you won't be disappointed.
One of the Best Harry Potter Films
**This review contains spoilers**
I have to admit, I had my doubts when I heard David Yates was again directing the last two Harry Potter films--the two most important ones in the epic finale of J.K. Rowling's masterpiece. He did a mediocre job at best directing the fifth and sixth installments, focusing too much of his attention on the action and not enough on character interactions or story.
However, after seeing part one of "Deathly Hallows", I am happy to have been proved wrong.
The movie held much of the magic, sadness and hopelessness that the book embodied in the first half. Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson held their own and went above and beyond expectations. They truly embodied their characters here more than ever.
This movie had everything from humor to action. It wasn't prolonged or drawn out and the lack of music in some places gives it the right mood of foreboding, melancholy, or sadness. Also, during the chase scene in the forest the music would have only downplayed what was going on.
The characters have really grown up and the journey they take is not only in search of Horcruxes, but is also a road to maturity.
Things that were done exceptionally well: The fight between Harry and Ron was just so terrific. I could really feel the anger Ron was spewing at Harry due to the Horcrux around his neck, which makes everything you're feeling very much worse. His insecurities about Hermione's affection toward him were also brought out because of this and Rupert Grint did an amazing job here as well as the scene where he destroys the locket and when he tells his friends how he found them. That monologue could have turned out disastrously cheesy and over done, but it wasn't. It was very sweet and you could tell that in that very moment how much Ron loved Hermione. The comedic timing is done well also.
The dance between Harry and Hermione was very sweet and really adds a feeling of loss as Harry tries to cheer up his friend after Ron leaves. The Seven Potters scene was very well done also. You're really convinced that there are seven different people parading around as Harry. Very funny.
The infiltration of the ministry was very good. Lots of suspense. Hermione leaving her parents and erasing herself from their memories was very sad. Also, Dobby's death was one of the most depressing things you'll see in any of the Potter movies.
I could go through a whole list, but really it was all the little moments that made the movie special. Looks, gestures and whatnot really cemented this movie.
What could have been done better: I wish Harry had told Ron that he thought of Hermione as a sister and how depressed she was during his absence after Ron destroys the locket that held evil versions of Harry and Hermione berating Ron and feeding off his fears. I'm being nit picky, but the movies seem to feed off of a fantasy Harry/Hermione relationship sometimes and don't give enough justice to Ron. So, I thought it needed to be said.
I had also hoped that Ron would scream Hermione's name when she was being tortured, but that can be forgiven as his facial expressions and Emma Watson's very real screams did it justice enough.
These are overall little things that, looking at the movie as a whole, can be overlooked.
Having written all this, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 is not a movie to be missed for Potter watchers, movie and book fans alike. It ranks right up there with "Prisoner of Azkaban". I have hope that the second part will be just as satisfying.
An Instant Classic
**This review contains spoilers**
This is the first Disney princess movie in 3D, and anyone who thought that Disney couldn't bring magic to a movie without Pixar being involved was proved wrong with this "Tangled".
The movie, as cliché as it sounds, is an instant classic. Not only will your children love it, but adults will as well.
Rapunzel, voiced by Mandy Moore, is a beautiful, held back lost princess waiting for her chance to break out into the world after being locked in a tower for eighteen years by a witch filled with greed.
Flynn Rider, voiced by Zachary Levi, is a reluctant savior and thief who only really seems to care about himself, at least until he meets Rapunzel.
The songs, composed by Disney alum Alan Menken, are catchy and serve the story well, especially the song titled "Mother Knows Best" and its reprise.
The movie isn't bogged down by random characters flowing in and out of the story just for laughs, but they are characters who end up serving the story's climax and that is refreshing. There have been several 3D animations in the recent past that have tried to introduce too many characters and end up overwhelming the audience without furthering the plot or individual characterizations.
The horse and the chameleon, Pascal and Max, are very funny and have much of the comedic relief although they have no speaking parts. Also, the romantic scene between the two leads amongst the lanterns floating into the air was perfection. Very, very well done.
Overall, I very much enjoyed this movie and would highly suggest you go see it! An instant classic!
Angels & Demons (2009)
I was excited to see this film - having only recently finished the book. But I knew, after watching the first two minutes, that I was not going to like it.
The beginning sees Vittoria in a lab, obviously at CERN, with a few other scientists who, we find out a few minutes later, have created anti-matter, a heavily unstable specimen. Then, Vittoria walks into a lab to find her partner dead... thus, taking out the personal relationship between them (they were father and daughter).
Then, we find Langdon swimming laps in a pool at 5am. A Vatican representative shows him a paper with the Illuminati ambigram (which, in the movie, was not branded onto Leonardo Vetra's -- his name change in the movie escapes me -- body.) Then, the quick chase to save the prefiriti (the favorites to become Pope) before the assassin kills them and brands them with the four ambigrams of the Illuminati.
The movie takes away from the true meaning of the book, changes two important character names and practically gives away who the mastermind behind the Illuminati scheme is near the beginning. Vittoria Vetra, a very strong-willed and intelligent character, might as well have been written out of the script for all the usefulness she provided.
I know most movie adaptations do not stick completely to the book, but this movie disgraces it. If I hadn't read "Angels and Demons", I would have been completely confused by the movie. It moved too fast and seemed too focused on the thrill of the chase, rather than the argument of science vs. religion. There was no real pause and stop for the character to play catch up with all the information they kept throwing out.
Tom Hanks' portrayal of Langdon was too sure and confident, almost cocky. In actuality, Langdon is just a professor with a love for art history and symbology. Yet, in the movie, he has no doubts, he is never unsure of himself, and walks, talks, and acts like rather like he'd be a better fit as an authority figure.
Ewan McGregor doesn't give the camerlengo enough justice. The camerlengo was supposed to be a character of stability while the world was supposedly falling apart around him. Instead, he is portrayed like a man with a secret gleam in his eye, which gave the impression that it was truly his orchestration. His portrayal should have been of a man of faith trying to maintain a sense of calm before the storm until the end when we actually do find out it was, indeed, him.
Overall, it was very, very disappointing. Not a movie I would recommend to anyone, especially those who enjoyed reading the book.