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Chernobyl Diaries (2012)
Its Not As Bad As People Make it Seem
Was this movie great? No. Was this movie good? Not really? Was it above average? Yeah, I'll give it that.
In a genre that is literally over populated with cheap knock off Syfy- Channel style survival horror movies, you can certainly do MUCH worse than Chernobyl Diaries.
I think that the best part about this movie was the location. The abandoned living area of Pripyat was pretty creepy. This type of movie works better if you have a little bit of imagination and can project yourself as one of the characters. Even though none of this movie was shot near Chernobyl (yes I know there's some stock footage used in the movie, Im merely talking about scenes with the actors), check out pictures of the living areas of Pripyat. There's a good one on Wikipedia that is at least pretty similar looking as the location in the movie.
The whole concept of going on an extreme tour in a town that was abandoned after a nuclear disaster like Chernobyl is pretty cool. And in the realm of mutated people/zombie-like horror movies, its not all that implausible that there might be mutants/zombies like this.
The actors weren't terrible either. Yeah, many of the clichés of this genre are present. Incredibly poor judgment calls, non-existent survival instincts, etc. There's even a couple real puzzlers like the bear scene make you slap your head. But I've seen many movies where the entire cast is down right terrible. For what is was, the cast in this movie did a decent job.
Finally, one of the best things about this movie is that it WASN'T shot in the 'found footage/shaky camcorder' style. I applaud Blair Witch Project for coming up with a new sub-genre of horror, and there's been some movies that have used this technique well, but most of the time, its just annoying. I was happy to see that although the very beginning has some camcorder footage, the rest of the movie was shot rather traditionally.
If I had to pick the two biggest things that I didn't like about the movie is the lack of gore. Part of the reason I like zombie movies is for the mutated/dead/decayed look of the creatures. There are very few shots of the "monsters" in this movie. I would have preferred to see a little more gore. Also, the ending was kind of a cop out. I had the feel that the filmmakers got to a point where they were running out of money and rushed the ending. I don't want to ruin it for anyone, but it felt rushed to me.
So there ya have it. This movie isn't winning any Academy awards, there are some forehead-slappers, and the basic plot is one that's been done thousands of times. But for what it is, this is good entertainment. At the very minimum, it should keep anyone watching occupied for 90 minutes, and for horror fans who like this style of movie, it was pretty decent. A solid 7/10 in my book.
The Incident (2011)
Solid and Entertaining Movie, With One Exception
My wife and I just watched Asylum Blackout (or The Incident...which one is it) last night and I have to say, we mostly enjoyed this movie. At one point, shortly after the blackout (this isn't a spoiler since its in the name) we both agreed that this movie was doing a real good job at showing what it might be like to be trapped inside a building with the criminally insane and having no power.
The look, feel, setting, and plot to this movie are all well done. Even the acting, especially the performance of the main character George, done by Rupert Evans, is very good. George is a likable character that I could easily sympathize with. He's a struggling musician working a crummy job trying to make ends meet with people who are less than motivated. When things start to go badly, George's decisions don't follow the typical 'forehead slappers' that often happen in movies like this. He makes logical decisions regarding his survival and doesn't fall victim to many of the typical clichés you see in type type of movie.
There is a lot of gore in this movie, which some may interpret as a horror movie, but I wouldn't go as far as to say this is straight up horror. Its more like a "terror/thriller". If you can inject yourself into the characters and imagine what it would be like to be in their situation, it would be scary as he**. This, by far is the biggest asset to this movie.
Sadly, as with many movies of this type, there is a twist. I wont tell you what it is, but the twist didn't work for my wife and I. Reading through the other reviews for this movie, I am not alone.
Frankly, had this movie been as simple as "four guys get trapped in a mental hospital with no power", that would have been a very good movie. Instead, the filmmakers tried to add depth to the story by including twists, that simply did not need to be there.
I am actually getting sick and tired of movies with twists in them. M. Night Shyamalan did a good job early in his career with the twist ending, but come on people, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar!
Asylum Blackout is a good movie, with a good plot, a creepy setting, good acting, and lots of gore, but the filmmakers tried to make it into something that didn't, and by the end of the movie, I found myself frustrated and disappointed. I recommend seeing it, if only for the first 90% of the movie.
If any aspiring filmmakers read this review, please understand that not ever movie needs a twist or some type of profound deeper meaning to be revealed at the end. If you want to make a scary movie, make a scary movie and focus on the scares and be done with it! People will still enjoy your movie! Movies with twists have become so common these days, that I think a good twist ending to a movie would be no twist at all!
The Great Raid (2005)
I knew almost nothing of this film before I saw it but based on a couple comments I had heard, I went with my dad to see it tonight.
Some people commented on how slow the movie is during the beginning, and although that is true, it is there to give you time to develop a story and actual care about the characters. This is definitely not a movie for people with near zero attention spans from the MTV Generation.
This movie also doesn't rely on gimmicks such as CGI or what I call "shaky camera syndrome" where the filmmakers insist on making the audience nauseous by running around with handy-cams (ala Bourne Supremacy).
I really enjoyed the story and thought all the roles were well acted. The final raid scene is amazing. They did a really good job of explaining exactly what they wanted to do beforehand and when it actually happened, you understood where everyone was running to and what they were trying to accomplish.
Excellent movie, and highly recommended. Definitely one of the best movies so far of the year, I'm just sad that almost no one has heard about it and the movie has received so little promotion. I doubt this picture will even make $20 million here.
And one more thing, I thought it was a very tasteful and respectful thing to do at the end during the credits where they showed archival footage of the real soldiers being rescued.