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Just not up to par...
When I saw the Primeval commercials on BBC America, I was "chuffed". It looked like it had a great sci-fi concept and I was prepared to see an innovative UK television series.
The first episode aired this weekend in the states (I had my DVR system set up to record the series) and what an abysmal failure this show is. It's hard for me to even find a place to start.
The first couple of minutes start off with a bang as a woman is being chased by a prehistoric creature. But after that, the plot moves forward WAY too quickly to be believed by anyone.
The professor seems restrained and by the time he sees his first dinosaur, I still don't know anything about him except that his wife disappeared (which he seems to harp on at every moment) and that it appears he works in a lab with a bunch of fossils.
The annoying "conspiracy" theory college student is just that. Annoying. And somehow he's allowed to tag along with the "professor". If I was the professor, a restraining order would have been implemented a long time ago.
The hunky teacher's assistant seems to just be around as eye candy. Otherwise I'm at a loss as to why he's even there.
The platinum-haired female seems to be the only saving grace as we know more about her than the supposed main character.
Editing and the flow of the story is jilted. Jumps to short bursts of conversations does not make an interesting story. Just a confusing mess of dialogue scattered about lest we forget about the other characters. In some moments the jump cuts to other scenes are so distracting that I thought at first that is was probably just my DVR screwing up on me. But as the hour progressed I dismally realized that it was the show itself.
Onward to character actions. A kid runs to his home, goes to his bedroom, and sits under the window after wandering around in the forest being chased by a dinosaur. Said dinosaur follows him home (of course). Enter Jurassic Park mode and the dinosaur breaks through the window and tries to eat the kid. What does the kid do? He jumps on his bed instead of flying straight out of his bedroom via the door he just came in. All the while the dino is trying to eat the kid while he's sitting on his bed throwing things at it. I mean, come on!! The most inane part though is when the professor and his entourage of stooges attempt to cover up the incident with the kid's mom. A dinosaur punched through the window of a kid's room leaving a gaping hole, possibly some saliva, and even some skin fragments of where he was trying to push through, but nnnoooo. The professor and the gang said it wasn't a dinosaur just to appease Mom despite the kid's lamentations that it was. So what the hell exactly punched through his window that sounds like a reasonable explanation? Swamp gas? A weather balloon?? Also, I love how the mom comes up AFTER the attack. "Jimmy? What are you doing in there? You better not be messing up your room!" Sheesh.
Needless to say I scrubbed my DVR of that episode and promptly canceled the series from recording. I would say "Nice try" to the creators, but then I would be lying. I say back to the drawing board.
28 Weeks Later (2007)
A Late 28 Weeks Later Review
I won't go into a summary of what this movie is about. I think anyone who has seen "28 Days Later" has an inkling of what it revolves around.
What did I like: Mucho more gore than the first. Always a big plus in my book. Very apocalyptic and not as "Hollywood" as I thought they would go. Great hand-held shots and timing/shutter effects similar to the first flick so you can practically see every little drop of blood in crystal clarity. The beginnings of a great flawed hero with an outstanding chance for a journey to redemption.
What I did not like: Though the gore was greater, the actual scare factor was significantly less. The first one had some intense scary moments. Granted the first 10 minutes of the second installment were really nail baiting, afterwords it was one big chase scene and the intensity left me numb. Maybe it wasn't as scary because those great hand-held shots, timing/shutter effects I mentioned earlier were so quick, chaotic, and distracting that I could barely comprehend what was going on. Artistically I know where the director was going with this. That was obvious. But it lessened the entertainment value because the shots are so quick that I sometimes had a hard time following exactly where I was in a scene. Since I couldn't see anything for a period of time longer than a nanosecond the scare factor fell dramatically.
The potential character arc of Robert Carlyle's character would have made for a superb flawed hero but that was snatched away halfway through when he became infected with "rage." Some may think he got his 'just desserts' for his actions earlier in the film, but what a great emotional hurdle to overcome and be eventually redeemed by at the end of the movie - if only they had given that specific plot a chance. Instead, the plot switched gears to the much less interesting children of Carlyle's character as we see them bumbling like dunder heads through a devastated London. Totally one-sided characters who I kept hoping would come to some untimely end while the minor characters out-shined them by a mile (and that's saying a lot since the minor characters were just as witless as the kids).
Oh well. It wasn't a bad movie. It wasn't that good either. I wonder if/when we will see a third installment?
Day of the Dead (2008)
Day of the Waste of Money
This was not George Romero's "Day of the Dead". This movie does not even closely resemble the original and should have a different title altogether. The remake of "Dawn of the Dead" was a decent adaptation that was somewhat in line with the original (I emphasize "somewhat") but this flick is a different beast altogether. I really hope Romero did not sign off on this hunk of corn-filled poo.
What we have here is a low budget film and horrible screenplay that degrades and makes fun of the social commentary the original "Day of the Dead" possessed. Were the filmmakers even aware that the original was part of a trilogy (or quadrilogy if you count "Land of the Dead")? Apparently not as the zombie plague has not even struck yet when this newer version begins. In fact it's just contained in one small Colorado town! WTF?? Die-hard fans of this genre want world wide zombie apocalypse! The original "Day of the Dead" was more realistic with its Army references than this pile of trash. Mena Suvari (I doubt I spelled her name right) is totally unbelievable as a U.S. Army Corporal. In fact her corporal stripes are so large it looks like the wardrobe department found them on sale at Disneyland. Moving on, Nick Cannon's character makes fun of "Bud" because he's a new enlistee and bumbles around a lot. Hey, Nick! Guess what, you didn't have any stripes on your collar either so I guess you would be relatively new as well. Did the people who wrote this screenplay pull all of their Army references from "Sgt. Bilko"?? Pauly Shore's "In the Army Now" was more authentic. Jesus. Oh, and the fact that good ol' "Bud" keeps saying "Yes, Ma'am" to a junior non-commissioned officer is awesome. If anyone had said "Yes, sir" to me while I was in service, they would have immediately been corrected. You would say either "Yes, Corporal" or "Yes, Sergeant" not "Yes, sir or ma'am". And poor Ving Raimes. He at one point uttered that he didn't know what was going on. Well he should. He was in the previous remake of "Dawn of the Dead"!! Looks like he just needed a paycheck.
Speaking of more unrealistic moronic items, do most gun shops here in the U.S. carry automatic Kalashnikov AK-47s?? How come the 9mm's all sounded like they had silencers on them? When our fearless corporal drives through a bunch of zombies, there's not a spot of gore anywhere on the Hummer. And I mean nowhere and they had to have run down like 20 of the damn things!! Oh, and Army Hummers don't use keys or have doors that lock. Civilian Hummers do. What was the point of the fat radio DJ?? Why did people decay instantly when turning into a zombie?? Decay was just part of the natural process and evolution throughout the films. This was instant and frickin' dumb. How come everything everyone does is amazingly stupid??? Skip this film if you're going in looking for a remake similar to "Dawn of the Dead". This is NOT a remake. It is a zombie film with a different take on zombies and that's it. I gave it one point for some of the gore effects.
A documentary or just some family "Real World" situation?
Linda & Ali is a documentary that could have done something more. It's a quaint piece about two people from two different worlds that got married, had children, have arguments and cultural differences, and...wait...that's just life isn't it? No matter where you're from.
Yes, we as the audience, are quite aware 10 minutes in that Linda is still hung up over moving to Qatar from America. We are quite aware that there are MAJOR cultural differences between the two countries as well which we are brow beat with at every moment.
And that's about it. Linda & Ali could have just as easily been a 30 minute documentary with just as much substance. It really doesn't go anywhere and the shots of their, shall we say more than modest lifestyle (read as: they have their own maid and luxurious home), fails to impress or elicit any sort of pity for her situation. If anything, I felt for Ali.
Throughout the documentary Linda consistently nags, whines, and complains. Her presence overwhelms all around her to where no one else can get a word in edge wise. She is loud and rude as she interrupts people (to include her husband and children) when they try to speak as she tries to emphasize how hard her life has been. After watching her, all I could think of was, "Wow, I know there are plenty of reasons the world hates Americans, hopefully they don't see this and add another to the list." I never once pitied her situation. This was a life she willingly chose and knew all too well what she was getting into. If she was being physically or mentally beaten, then yes, I could understand some desperation to escape. But Ali, despite his flaws, seems like a kind person just trying to cope. Who can blame the man for wanting to escape from Linda's harpy-like rants as often as he can?
Another complaint is that at times I had no idea who anyone was, why there was a celebration, who visitors were, etc... Scenes jumped from interviews, to various events that to anyone looking from an outside perspective (such as myself) could not put into any context at all. Linda had a group of obviously non-Muslim women come into her home as she explained why she converted to Islam, blah blah blah. Who were the women?? Where did they come from? Why were they there?? There is a celebration that I finally caught on that it was for a man's coming nuptials. How come some men were kissing or pretending to kiss each other? I could have sworn I saw "Eskimo kisses" as well. These are alien concepts to an outsider and some type of explanation, no matter how minute, would have been better than nothing.
This is a very disjointed documentary. If you have some knowledge of Middle-Eastern culture then I'm sure you will have no problem following the plights and adventures of Linda & Ali. For the rest of us though, we can only sit back, scratch our heads, and wonder when the next episode of "The Office" will air.
What film did I watch again??
OK, so I'm ready to rehash, perhaps pay homage to the people who have commented before me. DOOMSDAY is a mish-mash of much better movies clumped into one big and nutty pile of poop. Being a big fan of the MAD MAX trilogy, when I first saw DOOMSDAY's theatrical trailer and the brief car chase/combat scene, I was intrigued. Could this be an updated, modern telling (homage if you will) to my beloved Max and his apocalyptic world? The answer is NO! It's a rip-off of not only MAD MAX, but ALIENS, 28 DAYS LATER, ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK, and yes, even EXCALIBER!! I absolutely loved DOG SOLDIERS and THE DESCENT so I thought this would be another Marshall treat. I have a relatively open mind with horror movies. I always expect the worst and when something good shines, it really shines. That's how DOG SOLDIERS was with me at least. But this camp goes all over the place visually and the cinematic styles are so different that it feels like a hodge podge of directors shooting various scenes for one film.
Can anyone tell me what the hell was going on in that Scottish castle?? All I saw was dust popping up and suddenly Kane's fortress is being attacked. Attacked by what?? Catapults? Large sacks of sand?? It was established that Sol was at war with Kane, but when our heroes escape, Sol and his buddies seem to give up the assault (am I right to assume it was Sol who attacked Kane??) and chase them down abandoned Scottish highways. Was Kane even necessary or was it just some way to get Malcom McDowell another B-movie side role?? There's only so much of his alcohol-ridden bulbous nose I can see on screen before my eyes finally fall out from rolling all over the place.
The only reason I'm giving DOOMSDAY a rating of 4 is because of the outstanding gory shots we get to see (i.e. the officer at the beginning getting his head blown off with a shotgun, people getting run over into bloody pulps, etc...) and the lovely Rhona Mitra (who in the IMDb credits list is almost last...you'd think the main protagonist would be in the top 3 at least...).
Anyhoo, if you like good acting, character development, and would love to have your disbelief suspended, this is not the movie for you. If you don't care about any of that stuff, go see DOOMSDAY and enjoy it for its violence.
Gods and Generals (2003)
An Unexpected Horror Movie!
I saw Gods & Generals way back in 2003. A friend of mine brought up the film recently in conversation and suddenly the bile and hatred I harbored for it was quickly regurgitated into an almost incoherent rant. I apologized profusely to my friend and told her that my subconscious has not dealt with the trauma of watching Gods & Generals very productively.
So going back to 2003, I remember several things in various images and flashes. The somewhat intriguing movie poster, the lack of theatrical trailers or television advertisements which struck me as odd, and the weird warning I received from a movie theater employee, "Do you have four hours to spare?" I'm somewhat of a Civil War buff. I love my history, especially military history. But Gods & Generals was nothing but a melodramatic history lesson. I sat in the movie theater with a friend of mine and we gazed in utter amazement at the long, drawn out soliloquies, stilted dialogue, and the most sleep inducing battle scenes ever to be captured on screen.
My numbers may be wrong, but the American Civil War was one of the bloodiest and costliest wars in American life. Over 500,000 dead, yet Gods & Generals misses the entire concept of how tragic the war was by having Civil War re-enactors fall on command as random puffs of smoke drift by. Cold Mountain had one of the most intense, bloody Civil War battle scenes on film. The irony is that most of that cast was English, Irish, Scot, or Australian and the director was a Brit! How in the world do THEY get it right but we ham it up with a bloodless reenactment?? My friend and I sat in our seats for almost 2 hours waiting, hoping, that the beginning battles were bloodless and not intense for some odd reason and that CERTAINLY something would happen. We raised our hopes as another battle played out only to be disappointed again. We had enough and we left before "Intermission" could even jump up on screen.
On the way to the parking lot we didn't say a word. I was embarrassed that I had convinced my friend to spend $8.00 on a movie we could have easily just had watched on television as a mini-series for free. I cried a lot that night. The shower was cold and I could barely stand as the fetal position I was in had cramped the lower half of my body. Eventually I recovered after a steady diet of Glory, Cold Mountain, Gone With the Wind, Seraphim Falls, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, and The Outlaw Josey Wales.
Better late than never...
It's amazing how masochistic the human race can be. Wives stay with abusive husbands (and vice-versa), wildfires rage yet doomed homeowners could seem to care less so they pull out the old garden hose to do combat with nature, and ultimate fighters continue to get in the ring and pummel each other silly all the while wondering why their oldest memory dates back to the last time they had a meaty fist slammed into their face. Why the long sentence you say? Because I have no grammatical license and I suck at writing.
But I digest.
I know Uwe Boll is a horrid filmmaker. I know it. I swear I do. I've seen HOUSE OF THE DEAD and ALONE IN THE DARK. I knew what I was in for but with a cast attached to BLOODRAYNE like Kingsley, Madsen, and Rodriguez, I thought "Surely Boll has improved as a filmmaker! He's got some good talent attached!" And, like the abused wife who thinks that perhaps this time around it will be better, I rented BLOODRAYNE. And like the stupid ultimate fighter, I received a meaty, ham-fisted clobber across the face after the first 20 minutes.
Make no mistake, this movie is BAD. Bad bad bad. No story, no character development or arc, the fundamental 3-act structure is left in tatters, excruciatingly painful dialog, bad production design...well, I could go on.
Why two stars and not one? Because after I couldn't stomach the first 20 minutes any longer, I fast forwarded to the sex scenes and anywhere I saw some gore (the assault on that monastery was pretty brutal). I got to see all the best parts without being annoyed by a film that barely had a story anyway! Woohoo!
ROTLD: Rave from the Grave...Please kill me...
I felt obligated to rent "Return of the Living Dead: Rave from the Grave" since I've seen the rest of the series. Needless to say the ROTLD series isn't the best in cinematic story appeal but at least the first 3 managed to suspend my disbelief (barely).
The newest ROTLD's are absolutely horrid. One-dimensional characters who do unbelievably stupid things one scene after the other. I kept screaming at the television "WHY??? WHY DID YOU DO THAT???" This stupid film consisted of the same cast from "ROTLD: Necropolis" so you know the acting wasn't going to be any better. The really funny thing was that it's obvious this hunk of poo was filmed in an Easter bloc country so all of the extras who play "American" high schoolers and whatnot have an accent. Yes, I know the filming locations of both parts 4 and 5 are no big secret, but COME ON! The only high moments were the topless Eastern bloc chicks. Very nice. Lamest part? A girl turns into a zombie while in the car with her boyfriend. She turns to him, says "Braaaains" yet instead of attacking him, she starts to perform fellatio. Of course the inevitable happens and she bites bites down. The whole time I'm thinking, "Now wait a minute. If she wants brains, why is she going down on him?? THIS IS STUPID!!!!!" Admittedly, "This is stupid" ran through my head the whole time I watched this snore fest. It's flicks like these that makes me miss Mystery Science Theater 3000.