Reviews written by registered user
|52 reviews in total|
The dragon mother storyline is the only one that really captures my
The rest is a lavish soap opera. It ups the bar in production values and provocativeness, but is essentially a trashy, meandering romance novel that HBO successfully passed off as a pop culture phenomenon.
There is really no direction or character development to speak of. Peter Dinklage manages to inject some nuance into his performance, which appears as brilliant acting relative to all the other stone faces, of whom no director seems to make any hefty demands. Lots of great lines fall to the wayside while efforts are spent instead on costumes and sets. Evil characters are just evil, and making us truly understand them isn't remotely a priority.
I don't hate it. I sometimes hate myself for rather enjoying it, in the way humanity's less endearing qualities force us to grow addicted to juicy gossip and reality shows. I wouldn't call this a "good" show though.
On the upside, after watching an episode, everything I think and read takes on a posh British accent, which adds a touch of refinement to my American lifestyle.
Clichès don't bother me as much as melodrama, and I think that's what
most people really mean to complain about.
The X-Files was solid largely because each scene advanced the plot. This pilot suffers from what most TV sci-fi suffers from these days, and the reason most of them end up getting canceled: They try to cast a broader net of appeal than they think sci-fi alone can achieve, by spreading out revealing scenes in a pool filled primarily with melodramatic opera.
I was excited to find out Carter was doing this via Amazon, as perhaps then, skittish TV execs wouldn't be in the way to demand more "non-hardcore" material that (they think) will raise the ratings over a broad demographic. To see it make all the same mistakes anyway is very disappointing.
If this gets picked up, I hope Carter can start remembering what makes a show good, and direct the writers there, rather than shooting for broad appeal.
Some kind of weird meteor hits the ground and causes an otherworldly
electrical disturbance in the vicinity of a big college party. Suddenly
there's two of everyone, which apparently causes violence to ensue. In
the midst of it all, the main character is trying to win back his
Is it sci-fi? Horror? Drama? Sexy college comedy? It appears to try for them all, but doesn't achieve any with particularly flying colors.
A lot of people will probably like this just for the awesome party depiction; and that's cool. It does look like one hell of a party, and I kinda wish I'd been there. This movie has a lot of other things going for it, including a good premise, decent acting, glossy big-budget-looking production values, and some nudity (yay!). The effects were also quite convincing.
The story, however, leaves something to be desired. It's hard to tell whether the relationship drama or the weirdo cosmic event was supposed to be the main storyline, but I didn't much care about either one. A bunch of one-dimensional characters try to say deep things once in a while, and their reactions to the strange situation are a little contrived, as if the writers chose to force a horror/thriller show from a premise that should've taken a more intriguing route. I also kept wondering why everyone didn't just LEAVE when it became apparent that things weren't right. I guess the party was just that good.
It turned out fun, somewhat entertaining, and a bit disturbing, but could've been more. I'd recommend this for a streaming rainy day view.
I'm not really sure what I just watched. I did enjoy myself though.
As the first reviewer said quite accurately, the cinematography alone is worth it. There's a superbly eerie quality to many of the shots, and ditto for the set, prop, and makeup designs. Some elements are downright visionary. The main actors do a great job, especially Klaus Tange, who hits some authentically demonic high notes, and Roger Tebb's fanatic priest is also great. Jytte-Merle Böhrnsen (there's a mouthful) is devilishly delightful as the fair young maiden, and the cinematographer did some wonderful things with closeups of her beautiful facial expressions.
The realism falls a little flat in certain areas, most noticeably in the few "night" shots that are much too plainly day shots with a blue filter (it's not even a terribly dark blue). Some other visual effects are also a little cartoonish.
It's easy for a person like me to forgive those issues because I love watching a cryptic and unpredictable story unfold; and that, if anything, describes this movie. A dense myriad of clues are presented and it's not easy to figure out what might actually be going on. The point of the whole thing is spelled out in the end, sort of, but it's still not quite clear how it all fit together. This is one of those movies where you Google afterwards for possible explanations.
If you like to be intrigued this is worth your time.
Fractalus is an intriguingly weird little 25-minute short about a near
future where humanity seems to be aware of God's location in the
universe. Scientific and religious teams try to reach it constantly,
but none have succeeded due to a breakdown of time-space during the
It's not exactly a big-budget production, but makes excellent use of what it has, presenting quite a delicious little riddle that you can have lots of fun interpreting.
It's a brain twister, though of the type where you can feel there's a more coherent intended plot, rather than a jumble of artsy symbolism (think "Donnie Darko", as opposed to "Blue Velvet"). There are also some interesting explanations to be found around online.
Even in the best cases, found footage is an obstacle to my enjoyment of
a film, and I feel every single found footage film could've been better
with traditional filming. Found footage films need to be at least three
times more exciting just to compensate for their annoying film style.
To think a story could've been "realistically filmed" is pointless and
adds nothing. These films just end up contriving camera situations
based on the story they want to tell anyway, and it's not like anyone
is actually being fooled, so Found Footage should have died with Blair
Witch Project. If only we could just let it go.
The bulk of Europa Report does not adequately compensate for its film style, but that aside, the acting, writing, and production values are actually quite impressive. There is a real budget at work here. It seems like a shame to me, as although an advanced spaceship does provide a somewhat rational scenario for providing plentiful "found footage" from multiple cameras, this movie could've been ten times better the other way.
Europa Report is a little too slow and a lot too long, one probably resulting from the other. Someone could and probably should have edited this down to about 45 minutes and come out with a film with a much better chance at notoriety. The desire to produce something feature-length ends up hurting this one, as is the case for so many indie film situations. There's some mixed chronology that was probably intended to show us "some of the good stuff" earlier on, but that really just ends up deflating the first half of the story.
So, why a 7 rating? Basically for the final 30 minutes, in which the movie more or less redeems itself. This is where things pick up with a competent sequence of plot points: action, suspense, and mystery. We see what we came to see.
That's not to say the rest of it sucks entirely -- I'm not sorry I sat through the entire movie, as it was decent. It just could've been better.
We first sit through five minutes of a broadcast interview over city
scenery. Waiting for something to happen here is an immediate
disappointment, especially after reading the exciting plot description.
Finally, a girl wakes up in a trashed apartment, with no memory and an iPhone glued to her hand. It has a mysterious countdown on its screen. We learn that she's one of a cadre of computer hackers, one of whom is an unhinged revolutionary.
Due to some unnecessary side stories, we're given the impression that there's something complex going on, but there isn't. Some blatant Fight Club references later, the conclusion is about as obvious as you'd hoped against.
To those of us who know a little something about the technology, several plot holes are evident. For example, at one point, our heroine attempts to hack the program, and in the process of doing so "kills" it with a simple command, then re-starts it; which would seem to defeat the purpose. If you CAN kill it, AND are willing to suffer the unknowable consequences, you might as well just leave it deactivated.
Considering the low budget, the camera work is good enough to impress. Nevertheless, the story isn't interesting, and much of it is filler. Some sort of vague philosophical question regarding the state of technology is presented, but is not explored beyond certain characters stating their general disdain for it. It looks like someone wanted to say something short but also wanted to make a feature-length film, and decided to mangle the two together.
IMDb's plot description makes reference to a "shadow world between life
and death." This had me go in thinking we were about to be treated to a
journey through an imagining of what lies beyond, disturbing
dreamscapes and such. But this is not that.
What this is, is a horror movie. It starts out with standard Japanese horror fare that we saw migrate to America about ten years ago, ala "The Ring" and "The Grudge", ghosts comprised of people with creepy contact lenses clawing at legs.
It then turns into something less subtle and more Sam Raimi: Travel to distant lands where only the natives retain the ancient knowledge required to defeat the evil. It gets rather silly, without being charming. Raimi's sense of ironic detachment isn't there, nor is any feeling of adventure or intensity, at least one of which you'd hope would be there.
The acting is all well and good, with William Hurt and Cary Elwes performing as expected. Other aspects of the production are also nicely done, but the second-time director doesn't seem sure what he wants to evoke in the audience. I can't call it "bad" per se, but I still can't see this being worth anyone's time.
Ashley (Caitlin Gerard) is finally off to college after apparently
getting over some serious psychological issues. Her roommate (Melanie
Papalia) introduces her to a strange party scene where anonymous
Internet posters gather in person to talk about their exploits, and
there she learns of "Smiley", an urban legend regarding a stitch-faced
maniac who kills webcam chatters, maybe.
But describing the plot of Smiley goes beyond not doing this movie justice. It's far from a typical urban legend-based horror. Think of it more like this: What if you moved to a new town, where you soon discovered a group of Internet trolls had gathered? What if it turned out that they all acted and spoke, in real life, the same exact way they do online? What if you weren't the most sane person to begin with? Smiley transposes Internet trolling into reality with disturbingly accurate thoroughness, along with examining the philosophy behind the trolling phenomenon.
Coupled with a simply mindblowing performance by Caitlin Gerard that might start off seeming mediocre but gets more incredible as the movie progresses, Smiley is... well, it's something. Roger Bart is also superb as a quirky philosophy professor with questionable intentions, and I must also mention that Keith David (who refuses to age, despite pushing 60) gives a standout cameo performance as a police detective.
I spent much of this movie's first half trying to decide whether or not I liked it. The dialog is eccentrically delivered in a kind of bobble-head everybody's-drunk Gilmore Girls style, but the reasoning behind that choice becomes clearer as the movie progresses. Some very early jump-scares also had me discouraged, as I'm not generally a fan of that particular horror tactic: they're cheap and easy, and these days they're usually indicative of a lack of any real ideas. This movie has a lot of them, but they turn out to serve a relevant purpose, rather than being thrown in for mere sporadic scares.
The writing, sets, effects (including moderate gore), and especially the pacing and camera work are superb. This movie deserves a wide release and probably won't get one.
I'll now respond to some bad reviews, because after reading the onslaught, I had to double-check whether I was on the right IMDb page:
Some who dislike this movie might point to a lack of knife chases and appearances of the main antagonist. Yes, if you wanted a Halloween slasher, this will surely disappoint, so put your expectations on hold. In fact, if you want a better label, I'd go with "psychological thriller".
One might also mistake the Internet references for a lame attempt to be contemporary, but that would indeed be a mistake. This movie is ABOUT the Internet, so if you find those references extraneous, you've missed the point entirely.
This is furthermore aimed at those who've experienced at least a taste of hardcore Internet trolldom: those inexplicable people who find some sort of satisfaction in repeatedly poking random bears with sharp objects. This movie's true meaning will likely fly over the heads of many who've never had cause to wonder about that particular phenomenon.
The story takes place in a town where werewolves are a common hazard.
Now, some sort of super-werewolf has apparently arrived. A notorious
werewolf hunter (Ed Quinn) swaggers in promising to kill it, while a
poor young resident (Guy Wilson), a doctor's apprentice who treats the
hordes of werewolf victims, develops an interest in joining the hunt.
This to the dismay of his secret love (Rachel DiPillo), the wealthy
sheriff's daughter from the other side of the tracks.
Some good twists are eventually revealed, but you have to sit through an hour of cliché filler before being treated to them.
The story definitely suffers from its writers' desire to follow the twist trend. Our straight-to-video production spends its first two-thirds biding its time in cliché limbo, then offers up a frenzy of twists as its climax. Offering some early indication that this is actually an interesting story might even have elevated the film to a theater release.
"Somewhat decent" is really how I would describe most of this. It's a decently glossy looking production with decent camera work, music, and effects, and what becomes a decently original story. Decent acting, too, though it escapes me why the most inexperienced actor was chosen as the lead (Guy Wilson, who definitely has potential, but just isn't a leading man yet).
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