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Zombi 2 (1979)
Average, undeserved reputation
I had to check this out considering all of the raving reviews about the gore factor and the insane zombie action. With movies like this, where the sole intention is to freak you out a bit and make your stomach churn, gore is quite necessary and some films don't give you enough. Today's movies are especially guilty of this mainly because they're more concerned with pleasing a bigger audience. They've got their priorities messed up. We want to see zombies playing volleyball with babies for crying out loud. Or baby baseball using a chainsaw for a bat. What gives?
During my viewing however, I found that I disagree with most of the reviews here. The story, while not grand by any means, is much more present than I was expecting. The gore, while fairly vile, was not even close to what I was expecting. Sure, there are some moments that are pretty satisfying, particularly the way heads are split apart and bullet damage, but ultimately it failed to gross me out...which was the goal here. I wasn't expecting to be scared. There are really only two scenes that go beyond most other movies, one of them being the eyeball scene. I can think of a few films off the top of my head that have easily grossed me out more, or at least equally. I thought this was supposed to be the end-all-be-all of gory flicks? The famous eyeball scene is nothing special, even when taking aged effects into consideration. I will say that the shark scene is pretty impressive. Unless my eyes fooled me, it looks like they used a real live shark for that sequence. If so, I have no earthly idea how they pulled that off. I will say that the make up effects of the zombies are probably the best I've seen. These things look pretty damn real. Very impressive.
Some have praised it for its cinematography. Decent, but nothing spectacular. All in all, I think my opinion comes from the fact that I was expecting too much, mainly because of the reviews here. So, I must say, do not expect to puke bile or anything and you should be satisfied. For me, overall it was average, although I wanted to like it more. It needed more gore and more action in my opinion. On a side note, there are quite a few beautiful women that love to take their clothes off for the camera which is always a plus.
In the end, while entertaining, I think it has a better reputation than it deserves although many will disagree with me.
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
A film of monolithic proportions.
A review I have put off for far too long....
Bluntly, 2001 is one of the best science-fiction films made to date, if not the very best. Stanley Kubrick was a genius of a film maker and this is one of his very best works. And although it is misunderstood by many, and respectively underrated, it is considered one of the best films of all time and I'll have to agree. Back in 1968, no one had done anything like this before, and no one has since. It was a marvel of a special effects breakthrough back then, and seeing how the effects hold up today, it is no wonder as to why. The film still looks marvelous after almost forty years! Take note CGI people. Through the use of large miniatures and realistic lighting, Kubrick created some of the best special effects ever put on celluloid. This aspect alone almost single-handedly created the chilling void of the space atmosphere which is also attributed to the music and realistic sound effects. I can't think of another film where you can't here anything in space, like it is in reality. Not only is the absence of sound effects in space realistic, it is used cleverly as a tool to establish mood, and it works flawlessly.
Aside from the magnificent display of ingenious special effects, there are other factors that play a part in establishing the feel of the film. The music played, all classical, compliment what the eyes are seeing and make you feel the significance of man's journey through his evolution from ape to space traveler.
The story, while seemingly simple, is profound. Sequentially, several mysterious black monoliths are discovered and basically trigger certain events integral to the film. What are they? Where did they come from? What do they do? These are all questions one asks oneself while watching the story develop and is asked to find his own way. While most come away with a general idea of what took place in the story, each individual will have to decide what it means to them. Any way one decides to answer these question results in profound solutions. It's not left entirely up to interpretation, but in some aspects it is. Experience it for more clarification. The end result is quite chilling, no matter your personal solution.
While it is a long film, and sometimes slows down, it has to be in order to accurately portray the journey of man. It's not a subject that would have faired well in a shorter film, faster paced feature. Those with short attention spans need not apply.
Last but not least, is the epitome of a remorseless antagonist, HAL 9000, the computer. Never has a machine held such a chilling screen presence. Which reminds me, for a film with such profound ambition and execution, there is surprisingly little dialogue. Another sign of Kubrick's genius.
All in all, one of the best films made to date and one of the very best science fiction films made. A personal favorite. Everyone must see this film at least once.
Very highly recommended.
Cool Hand Luke (1967)
Axl Rose, you cool handed guy...
Featuring a wonderfully heart-warming story about a man who would never conform or give up, "Cool Hand Luke" is a very enjoyable film, although not as great as it's ranking here may suggest. The story, although a simple one, works on the base level but fails to completely overwhelm...me. I realize many enjoy this film and consider it a great one, but for me it was a little too simple for my tastes. Simplicity works when that's all that is needed, but unfortunately it wasn't enough here to be truly "great". But enough of that ruckus, I enjoyed this film quite a bit. It is really good. I'm just trying to talk it down a bit so you won't get your expectations up to an impossible level.
Paul Newman plays his part marvelously, and although it's a simple role, he fills it more than adequately. Essentially, he is Luke and probably had no problems filling the role. Another good acting job comes from George Kennedy, who plays Dragline, the most prevalent supporting character and leader of the prisoners before Luke's arrival. He nailed the Cajun accent for the most part and that is no easy task for anyone outside of Louisiana. And although the prison setting and filler characters are for the most part, not realistic, I enjoyed watching Kennedy interact with Luke. Another enjoyable character is the lead guard, a man who always wears aviator sunglasses and never speaks.
Basically Luke has never been one to follow the rules, and never will be. This attitude has the ability to inspire and enlighten. That's the jist of the story.
My main qualm with the film is the fact that it's somewhat repetitive. It could've been shortened considerably if certain events happened only once. I won't say what these events are, but after the second time I was getting a little annoyed. Another qualm I have is the ending, while good, I feel it could have been better. That is simply my opinion.
All in all a really good film but not a great one, and a little overrated, but don't let that stop you. This could end up being one of your all time favorites. 8/10
Bubba Ho-Tep (2002)
Thank you, thank you very much...
As far as trying to classify this into any category, BBH-T has got to be one of the hardest to pin down because it's a mix of genres. Part horror, part comedy...with sentimental and reflective aspects. Campbell has starred in horror-comedies before, quite impressively, but none that has a reflective side and a statement. Although most films would have a difficult time with this mixture, it's what makes this one so special....and freakin' hilarious. Kudos to all involved.
Bruce Campbell plays the King of Rock, Elvis Presley, who must team up with fellow nursing home resident, John F. Kennedy, to destroy an evil mummy that's been terrorizing patients. Sounds absolutely ridiculous doesn't it? Well it is, and a good thing too as that is what makes it so enjoyable and is what gives it such a high replay value. Very rarely does such a diverse and particularly odd story come along, but it seems the creators knew what they were doing as they did cast Campbell as the lead, Elvis. Perfect. A long time Bruce Campbell fan, I wouldn't have even imagined he could pull off the King with such believability and humor. His accent is perfect. Campbell is a true joy to watch and justifies the price of admission alone. Ossie Davis plays JFK, another nursing home resident and the King's partner. Although he is a black man, he believes he's the real JFK and was painted by those who wanted to cover this up and make people believe JFK really died in Dallas. Davis plays his part marvelously and has an unexpected chemistry with Campbell. Excellent casting choices.
Aside from having many knee-slapping laughs and completely ridiculous situations that go beyond even my own imagination, BBHT has a deeper meaning and a statement, as strange as it may seem. It's about how we, as a society, push away the elderly and place them in nursing homes out of sight and forget about them. The statement here is that although the elderly of our society are swept under the carpet and forgotten, they are not useless....they can still fight mummies, and get erections. And while many things may be lost, if you're still alive and kicking, not all is lost. And even though there is a deeper meaning involved, the film never takes itself too seriously or forgets its role.
I find myself at a loss for words on this film, mainly because I can't come up with any that could accurately describe how and what it is. It must be seen. What it all boils down to is an instant personal favorite and an automatic addition to my collection. An excellent comedy and film, period.
Very highly recommended, ten-fold for Campbell fans.
An excellently terrifying story, with an awesome first half that is unfortunately marred by the adult acting in the second.
And there you have it. It's such a shame too because the first half of "IT" is story-telling at it's best. Most of the actors in the second half could not act to save their families from imminent doom. Some of this is due to poor casting and some of it could be chalked up to poor direction, but really, I think the people simply can't act so let's go with poor casting. This statement is in exception to John Ritter, Tim Reid, and obviously Tim Curry. The rest are laughable. I've never seen most of them in anything before or anything since, probably because most would not give them a chance at a commercial. The child actors completely blow away the adult cast aside from Curry. Tim Curry's Pennywise is one for the ages. He used to give me nightmares as a kid, as I'm sure he did for many. "Kiss me, fat boy!"
With the acting out of the way, let's move on. The story is based on King's book, which is actually more demented than the movie. No child group sex here, blast. Every thirty years, "It" awakens to feed and is manifested in the form of an evil clown....among other things. While they were kids, the group agreed to come back and destroy "It" thirty years later if they come to find out that they did not kill it and it's still alive. When they realize "It" is not dead, they all come back to Dairy, Maine to reunite and off the beast. Kick start the insanity.
Despite it's acting and scripting flaws, "It" can be downright disturbingly creepy, mainly due to Curry's insane performance. According to IMDb trivia, the cast tried to avoid Curry as much as possible during filming because he was so into character that it flipped everyone out and made them want their blankies. Combine Curry's performance with some clever effects and you have a pretty "scary" movie. Because of the work done in this department, the film triumphs over most of it's flaws. If the acting and script weren't so questionable in the second half, we might have a horror masterpiece on our hands. While not the best in the genre, I highly recommend it, or "It". Just remember that it was made for television. 7/10
"We all float down here....."
Waiting for Guffman (1996)
waiting for the ending
Being a fan of most of Guest's films, I found myself quite surprised and a little guilty for not enjoying this film. I didn't necessarily have high expectations for it, but I did expect it to make me laugh. For me, the only thing I found myself waiting for was the laughs. Thirty minutes into it I thought I might turn it off, but I trekked on to see if it picked up. It didn't. I have no problem with mocumentaries, and actually enjoy quite many of them, but this one just fell flat on it's face. All it is, is annoying people being annoying. I suppose it's intended to be humorous but I found it simply annoying, sometimes painfully. Maybe some of this can be attributed to the fact that I was expecting more of a film and less of a mocumentary. It's format, even for mocks, became quite tedious. There were too many interviews. The film's major flaw is that it takes what might be slightly funny in the beginning and just repeats it into infinity. If you've seen the first 20 minutes, you've seen the entire film. It's not that it's not funny, it's just not funny enough.
I will admit though, even if I didn't enjoy it, it's amazing to think that a movie can be made with literally no script and all improvisation. I do not doubt the talent of the actors involved, the film just might have benefited from some form of an outline and possibly better editing. Those who have said that if you like Spinal Tap, you like this film....not true. I love Spinal Tap but just couldn't get into this one. I'll never watch it again.
Pet Sematary (1989)
Sometimes they come back.
Herman Munster spills the beans on an ancient Indian burial ground and opens up the gates for dead and rotting loved ones to come back from the dead. This is a fairly simple film, so I'll keep the review that way. Like most cheap horror films, many of the important aspects to make a good film are overlooked and rushed to get to the money shots as soon as possible. This is all too apparent here in Pet Semetary. While it does have some decent spooks and scares, the bad acting and complete implausibility of certain actions and situations take away from the good parts. However, some of the good scares are decent enough to give the film a reputation, particularly the sick woman scene. Everyone has at least heard of the disgusting woman in PS, which says something; the scares here can be pretty decent. I particularly enjoyed watching a young Miko Hughes. He's a very good actor for being so young. Too bad a toddler can act better than the rest of the cast, otherwise we might have something really good here. It's not that the film is bad, it's just average. While it won't change your life or how you view movies, PS will provide at some good entertainment for a short period in your life...and possibly a few laughs.
Citizen Kane (1941)
For the record, I despise writing reviews for classic films, particularly the old ones. For one, it is impossible for me to write this in perspective to the the time it was released as my parents weren't even born yet, much less myself. Two, it's impossible to enjoy it to it's fullest because of the inherent aging of the techniques and effects used. With that taken into consideration, "Citizen Kane" being a film sixty-three years old, I was immensely impressed with the environmental and makeup effects. It's simple amazing that they were able to do what they did in that time period. I have seen recent low budget movies that don't even hold up to this, and that's sad.
CK set a massive number of precedents when it was released; not only technical precedents, but precedents in the amount of control given directors in that time. Welles basically had full and complete control which was simply unheard of and it seems to have worked to his benefit. However, given the many precedents it set, the film didn't totally and completely impress me, and I have no doubt in my mind that it's a result of my growing up when I did and seeing the films I have seen. Many, many films have used the same techniques since, many that are more entertaining. While I found most of the story and screenplay extremely interesting, it drags it's feet in several places which was distracting. And although the acting performances were fairly impressive, I had serious problems with Dorothy Comingore's performance as Thomas' wife. She didn't convince me. Her performance was forced at times, and simply satisfactory at others. Welles was easily the standout in the acting department, I'll say.
I will also be willing to admit that maybe my expectations were a tad higher than they should have been; me expecting to be blown away. I liked it, I really did, and I have nothing but respect for the precedents it set....especially in comparison to other films made in the same era. It just had problems with entertaining me at times. However, despite my problems with it, I feel "Citizen Kane" is a truly great film, just not one of my favorites. I think most of it's fame comes from it's technical brilliance as opposed to it's entertainment value. With that said, I'll give it 8/10, generously.
Blood Simple. (1984)
...not so simple.
What I love about "Blood Simple." the most is the intricate detail that the Coen brothers went to to keep you interested as to what is going on and just what will happen next. It's very detailed and technically advanced for a seemingly simple love-story-gone-bad thriller. What's even more enjoyable and ironic about this is the fact that the characters are in the same situation, not one of them knows the entire story and are left to their own assumptions making "Blood Simple." a cut above the rest.
This is definitely not a film you want to walk out on for a bathroom break or to grab a smoke, as you will undoubtedly miss something important. These guys have the subtlety nailed right down to the bullet positions in the revolver, literally, and adding nuances and hints here and there that may seem insignificant at the time, but are not. In addition, the cast is all but perfect, Hedaya, McDormand, and most assuredly M. Emmet Walsh give excellently convincing performances, the standout being Walsh without a doubt. I'm used to seeing him in very minor parts, but here he's more significant and is given the chance to shine.....and shine he does.
I feel one of the film's major attributes would have to be the environment that it establishes. It's just damn creepy, the music adding more to this tone than in most films, but also the thoughtful cinematography. Some of the shots seem to hold forever, igniting the tension. Even without the long duration of certain shots, the atmosphere is further complimented by the focus of certain small events and objects, hinting the viewer. The small Texas town, the murder, the panic, the assumption, the mystery.....culminating up to a dangerous climate and climax. I felt panicked while watching it.
All in all, an insanely clever cult classic worth checking out. Man, my reviews are getting simple due to the fact that I can't write them fast enough.....9/10
Big Fish (2003)
While it's visually stunning and exceptionally filmed, this piece is a little sappy for my tastes although it certainly shows some promise. Being a fan of Burton's previous work, I figured this was worth a look, and while I did enjoy most of the film, especially the visuals and scenery....I had problems with it's sentimentality and the basic underlying story which consists of a pathological liar promoted to a hero. Sure, not all of the stories were complete lies, and I realize that, but I feel the movie was asking me for more than I could give it to succeed.
The appearance of the film and characters within it are truly great to watch, particularly Helena Bonham Carter's witch character. The environments and landscapes are filmed with precision and masterful technique. The overall cast is great, although MacGregor has trouble with his Southern accent. The stories are rather boring but all have a whimsical feel to them, which makes them just bearable. However, it really ruins itself with the vomit inducing ending. If you liked Steel Magnolias, you should love this. I felt dirty. Average at best.