Reviews written by registered user
|10 reviews in total|
When asked about the worst film ever made, it might be safe to take the
easy road of listing cult favorites like 'Plan 9 From Outer Space',
'The Room', or 'Birdemic', but I firmly believe that films giving
viewers the perverse pleasure of laughing through them, or indeed the
type that invite midnight screenings, cannot truly be considered the
worst. If you had fun watching it, how can it possibly be that bad?
'The Lucifer Complex', on the other hand, is the worst film I've ever seen.
It starts off promisingly enough: a man walks alone on the shores of a deserted island, rhapsodizing over the collapse of society and the fall of humanity. He returns to the confines of his man cave, full of futuristic tech that would've looked dated on 'Star Trek', and has a seat to reflect on the folly of his erstwhile descendants. Seemingly off to a great start, right?
Then, he watches film of what life was like at the turn of the century. War. Newsreels. Concert film? Five minutes becomes ten, and the next thing you know your brain is slithering out your nostrils. The story proper finally kicks in as one of these films, featuring a tired and bloated Robert Vaughn as the world's least convincing spy, uncovers an island where existing members of the Nazi party look to revive the Third Reich using clones. Yeah, it's basically an unauthorized rip-off of 'The Boys From Brazil', but even a plot this outlandish can't save the film for the midnight movie crowd.
Cheesy movies can be fun. 'The Lucifer Complex' is only cheesy enough to be depressing. Uninspired camera work, dialogue too stale to be droll, exhausted performances, locations that kind of work, editing that drains the energy from each scene... it's as much fun as waking up to discover that your arm is asleep.
I won't spoil the film more than the description already does, but rest assured, the film within a film ends, leaving our terminally bored, island-locked protagonist to mumble some commentary on mankind that was probably insightful before the transgenerational degradation of bad writers borrowing from good ones reduced it from Arthur C. Clarke to L. Ron Hubbard to Stephanie Meyer; it's so bland it's useless to mock.
On the plus side, it's a fascinating experiment in relativity. If you really want to make 90 minutes feel like forever, watch 'The Lucifer Complex'.
I'll start off with why this is a terrible adaptation. A book like 'To
Kill A Mockingbird' commands interpretation that is as direct as
possible, especially the inclusion of Atticus Finch. Likewise, a game
as intelligent, complex, and well authored as Silent Hill deserves a
similar approach. I was already angry to learn beforehand that Pyramid
Head was in the movie, because in the second game, the Pyramid Head
character is used in an allegory; he is guilt incarnate. In this film,
he is a throwaway, just something to look creepy. This is a small
example that fits the larger whole: the game series has a specific
assignment and explanation to everything, which was apparently a detail
dismissed by the makers of this film.
The new characters drawn for this film are mere throwaways, especially the men, who were a final addition to the script at the insistence of the producers. All the characters make unmotivated decisions and spit out useless dialogue (one scene: "I think there's a door behind here!" (cuts away picture) "There's a door!"). The all-female cast aren't even given distinctly powerful feminine roles to play, functioning too often as eye-candy. Seriously, what mother do you know that dresses like Rose? The few carried over characters are nothing like their video game counterparts who, sadly, have better drawn personalities as polygons.
The sad part about the story is that it's a near carbon copy of the first game until the religious fanatics are introduced, then the movie takes a flying leap away from the intensity of the game and changes the movie into a witch hunt with Monty Python logic (i.e. She looks like a witch, therefore she must be a witch). Christians and Catholics around the world should be offended. The only good part in the movie was the production design by Cronenberg veteran Carol Spier, who did an excellent job portraying the look of Silent Hill, but even that was botched in the execution by fake-looking CGI monsters that are only scary until you recognize the bump-mapping.
Aside from the movie having terrible characters and dialogue, the film is a structural disaster. The only real exposition in the film comes in the form of a boring, drawn out flashback with an equally boring voice-over, both of which together are benchmarks for sloppy exposition (flashbacks to a lesser extent), and do nothing to explain the dualistic nature of Silent Hill's existence, which makes the ending less of a revelation and more of a cheap stab at a final bit of creepiness. In the game, the huge fire isn't idiotically explained away as a mine-fire; rather, it attains resonance by actually tying the plot together and enhancing the ultimate explanation for Silent Hill's duality.
What I'm trying to illustrate is that the plot of the game is tightly woven and every character plays an integral part while the reasons for everything are explained. The film cannot begin to emulate this on any level because it got treated with the same respect that just about every other video game movie has gotten, and what's worse, the director and writer had no respect for the material and put very little effort into making a good film, either that or neither Avary or Gans were talented enough to pull this off. I'm not willing to give them the benefit of the doubt after wasting ten dollars on this monumental disaster.
Congo is rarely mentioned in any discussion about film. It seems like a
forgotten artifact, abandoned like King Solomon's mines, discovered
only by only those who maintain some fundamental interest; what you
find is going to depend on how open you keep your mind. Rest assured,
those of you who would rather ignore it aren't going to be missing a
diamond, but I'd say an arrowhead isn't out of the question.
I'll dispense with the metaphors: Congo is not a bad film. I watched it many times in my youth and just watched it again yesterday, and the biggest complaint I have is that the original song 'Sounds Of Africa' is awful. I won't summarize the plot or analyze the film in explicit detail, but I will say that it is briskly paced, sharply written, and features solid characterizations, or as solid as they can be in an adventure epic. As an example, Tim Curry has been dismissed too often as the comic relief when he is actually central to the plot and turns in a deliciously dense performance, above and beyond the limitations of his character. Considering the slightly campy tone, the special effects are well above what anyone could expect. Just don't come prepared to judge them based on modern standards or Jurassic Park. Personally, I find physical effects more endearing than CGI anyway.
As many reviewers have said, it's a film of a bygone era, a lost world story treated as an adventure epic. Clearly it's not Indiana Jones and the tone tends to waver a bit, but it's never boring, and if it had been adapted from the book directly, it would have been. I can't imagine someone watching the airplane SAM scene without being excited by the action, or watching the group's border crossing struggles without at least sporting a grin.
So, check your ego and check your critical faculties; this is no Citizen Kane and it doesn't pretend to be. Those that harshly criticize it, by my estimation, have a lot to learn about having a good time at the movies.
The film builds slowly and carefully, familiarizing the audience with
the protagonists in a brisk montage of scenes and steadily introducing
the political elements of the coming horror. As the tension escalates,
one never gets the idea that maybe something can be worked out, that
maybe things can be stopped at the last second, but that sensation of
hopefulness from the characters, as well as the blind refusal of some
to accept reality, is palpable. Once the clusters of missiles begin
ascending from the farmland of Kansas to assure mutual destruction of
the enemy, it is clear that these character's worlds have forever
changed in ways they can't even begin to comprehend. Those looking for
an upbeat tale of survival or a typical three-act structure can turn it
The myriad of images that follows the initial detonation is nothing short of deeply disturbing. Children being trampled by crazed masses looking to save themselves at the last moment. Thousands of people instantaneously freed of their clothing, skin, and organ tissue as their final pained screams cut off with deafening immediacy. These moments are dealt with as quickly as they would occur in reality, followed by the agonizing trials of those left alive, who would likely attest that the dead people were the lucky ones.
This is absolutely masterful film making, showcasing both the heroic highs and depraved lows of human beings once their mettle is tested. Some people make decisions that will drive the viewer positively insane, while others choose to push themselves beyond what they can be expected to do, forcing us to ask ourselves, 'where would I fit in?'. There's no cure for radiation poisoning aside from isolated convalescence, which no one in this world can afford without further risk. The very visceral images of bald heads, massive open sores across the bodies, and stricken children screaming in agony are constant reminders of the thinly veiled metaphor that once something like this is done in a peak of anger, it can never be taken back. Even if half of these people manage to survive, their existence would be plagued by what has happened just as surely as the thermal radiation from the detonation would burn a shadow into the ground.
The relentlessness of the film's message can easily be interpreted as a wake up call to the audiences who are expecting to see the familiar tricks of film structure, and at the end it leaves the viewer with absolutely nowhere to go. Though the Soviet Union doesn't exist anymore, the parallels will carry themselves across time because this isn't a movie about communists. It's a movie about what humans are capable of doing and how war can never be the solution to any of our problems, no matter how insurmountable they may seem.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I'll start by stating that I'm a 20 year old liberal Democrat who voted
for Kerry. I'm also a film student at Temple University.
The assembly of this documentary is haphazard at best. The cheesy 'PowerPoint' graphics that slog the film to a start are mind-numbingly terrible. Any clips of any show that is being put on display are often so short that just about any statement made can be taken out of context. Many of the people being interviewed seem useless to the piece as their 'expertise' on the subject matter is questionable at best.
On the other side, there's a lot of people I hear talking about the liberal media. This is as real to me as Tom Cruise's relationship with Katie Holmes. Clinton got blasted just the same as Bush has, but it seems when the right finds out about any negative press, they cry out that the liberal media is brainwashing the American public. Newsflash: The liberal media is less apparent than the conservative media. Look at the prevalence of conservative radio alone. The worst press Bush gets is over his approval ratings, and it's hard to fake those. On Fox, certain words and phrases DO denote that their anchors and programs are right-wing. Trumpeting Bush's election win months before the election is a good start, but when one anchor utters (with 'Fair And Balanced' hovering in the background) "...If the unthinkable were to happen and Kerry gets elected..." the jig is up. Also, when O'Reilly tells the audience that anyone who doesn't agree with the war on Iraq is unamerican and should 'shut up', he certainly reveals his true colors.
Regardless, this film is an indictment of Fox's 'Fair And Balanced' views, and that's what everyone should focus on. It's clear as this program progresses that Fox is an entirely conservative news network. If they came out and admitted it, or at least got rid of their 'Fair And Balanced' tag, everyone would be better off. As far as the information conveyed as a solid whole, this documentary succeeds in providing a wealth of information to back its points. You can't expect that it's going to be 'Fair And Balanced'. It's a documentary. In the first documentary (Nanook Of The North, 1922) director Flaherty did such things as making the Inuits use a harpoon to kill the walrus when they had been using rifles for years and when he accidentally burned his film, recreated some scenes by directing Nanook.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I know Uwe Boll loves to read how people view his movies on IMDb, so I
will address this to him. Mr. Boll, I'm a film student at Temple
University, this is my third year. I'm studying not only writing and
directing, but also film theory and criticism, so I'll go through the
problems I see in your film as I watch it (for the third time).
Editing: For starters, the text that begins the film adds nothing. Yes, these statistics pertain to the events depicted, but this is something for a news broadcast, not a movie. Next, the subtitles denoting the time are the worst possible way to denote time changes. With editing, time change is inferred... this is called an ellipse. Your audience is smart enough to figure this out on their own. Since the fact that it's the last day of school is mentioned twice in the following scene, it does not need to be put on the bottom of the screen. The ending statistics are useless, and things most people already know, and aside from this, it's hardly a punchy ending for a movie.
Directing: I have to insert the score under this title, because it has to go somewhere. The metal that brings the movie to a start is WILDLY inappropriate. It's the kind of thing that belongs in an action movie, and if you're trying to glorify the events in question, your sickness extends beyond your inability to appropriately handle a movie. The girl reading the note aloud in her house is unnecessary, see Editing. The set design for her house (setting up that she is from a well-off family) is excellent, but I have your production designer to thank for that. Regardless of the pregnant girl's first scene being handled well in writing, she looks at the camera. This is not a French New Wave movie, and since you're going for straight narrative, this is terrible. When the abusive father is discussing his son's 'new job', the camera cuts from the father to the son, then pans across, then cuts again. This happens over and over, and it's very disorienting. The scene where the little mentally retarded girl is positively excellent, and this I must give you props for it. It's far and away the best scene in the movie, when the soundtrack, the acting, the writing, and the directing is all together. Shortly thereafter things start to fall apart again. The voice-over when the girl is reading her poetry during her drug trip is confusing and bad. The killings themselves are built up with pounding music and shot as violently as possible, my conclusion is that the act is being glorified. Again, if this is true, that you feel these young people were right in committing their murders, you are truly a sick individual. The credit song is also wildly inappropriate.
Writing: The kid repeating the curse words is just gratuitous. No child talks like that, and his parents would discipline him if he did. Any message about adults having no control over their children (or being susceptible to their environments) is lost because of how clumsy this is. Clint Howard's dialogue is not believable, and he would be much more sadistic if his control were implied rather than weak and verbal. When the two teachers are discussing the abusive teacher's inability to write, the dialogue is more than obvious, and all of it can be inferred via subtext. Life does have useless conversations, but people don't go to films to see this played out. If the selfish boy wanted to have sex with the principal's daughter and she didn't put out, he would have left her. He gives no reason why he wanted to stay with her. The intelligent drug dealer is given decent dialogue (except his sarcastic remarks such as "you can at least say Simon says"), and he handles it well. The problem is that this whole sequence adds nothing to the film. Neither the teacher nor the student learn anything. When the bullies start beating up the outcasts, it's too brutal. I've never seen anything like that happen, and I've never seen or heard about people who act like that, it's insertion seems to be for nothing more than shock value. The main bully's arc is the most satisfying in the story, he's the only one in the story who conveys an appropriate range of emotions. By the way, his older brother should not just come out and tell him that these kids are going to be the kind of people the bullies wish they were. Part of these kids being bullies is not realizing this fact. In other news, if the abusive teacher were acting this way, he would simply not be a teacher. Part of the curriculum required, by law, to be able to teach children is knowing how to handle them. A writer can't simply take up a teaching job in public school without credentials, this only happens at the college level.
The albino girl's first drug freak out is straight out of SLC Punk. Each of the teenagers in the movie falls into a stereotypical category of teenager. The pure girl and her impure boyfriend, the pregnant couple, the torturous jocks, the drug dealer who's intelligent, the social outcasts. The albino girl's second freak out is taken from Requiem for a Dream.
By the way, some people, like me, own your movies to watch and make fun of. I realize you're laughing all the way to the bank as a result, but I'm perfectly happy shelling out five bucks for a used movie (and there are plenty of yours at video stores) and spending the rest of my life showing it to people as an example of what not to do, and you can't put a price tag on that kind of entertainment.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is the kind of movie that is sorely missing from today's theatres.
While numerous directors and writers (too numerous to count) are trying
to take horror films in new, original, and relevant ways, Jacob's
Ladder will stand the test of time as a cult film that is truly
terrifying and goes the extra mile by containing both criticism of
military politics and an incredibly dense emotional subtext, none of
which overwhelms the final product.
Current horror films take the concept of gore, jump scares, and soundtrack to the utmost extreme, sacrificing mood, tension, and restraint, which are the biggest assets to a horror film. Jacob's Ladder utilizes every tool in the horror palette that it needs while remaining true to its own ethos. The best scene to fit this example is the party, where one of the characters quite literally dances with a demon. In a more contemporary horror film, we would clearly see this demon, shots might be in slow motion to emphasize the sexuality in it, we would probably get creepy soundtrack music, the character in question would probably get torn apart, and at least part of the demon would likely be CGI.
Instead, the demon is seen in flashes that are quite unclear, which gives the viewer the idea that what they're NOT seeing is more terrifying. The sequence takes place in real time with appropriate dance music in the background without sacrificing the sexuality and the meaning of what is happening; this gives it a more realistic feel to the viewer. All the visual effects are in camera, but never in the same shot as the protagonist, offering a distance that allows for interpretation; is what the protagonist seeing reality, or an illusion?
This one scene (which is by no means a plot spoiler) is indicative of the technical, formal, and metaphorical mastery of this film. The explanations for what is seen in the film are critical without being overbearing and toe the line for believability while leaving space for interpretation. The mood conveyed by the film is consistently dark, darker than most any other film could hope to achieve. It's so dark, in fact, that a large majority of people were practically catatonic leaving the original cut of the film.
This film fires on all cylinders; the directing, writing, acting, music, special effects, production design, message, mood, and tension are always kept exactly where they should be. Simply put, it's a dark masterpiece.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In the midst of films such as The Fly (1986), Dead Ringers (1988),
Scanners (1981), and Naked Lunch (1991), Videodrome stands as the most
personal, visceral, affecting, and important film in Cronenberg's
Taking heavy media concepts from Marshall McLuhan (author of 'The Medium Is The Message'), Cronenberg melded his opinions on the workings of society, the human interest in sexuality and reality and recent advancements in technology and fused them together with excellent acting, brilliant (and hard to forget) special effects and stream of consciousness structure to create Videodrome.
On a surface level, you can see how his concepts in Videodrome mirrored ideas that are prevalent today, such as a fascination with reality, here portrayed by masochistic reality television, or 'snuff TV'. Below that there's the idea that human sexuality is so diverse that it needs to take its form in pain and filth for people to feel anything. Then there's the idea of sacrificing one's body, indeed their very mind for fifteen minutes of fame, which everyone in the film, at some point or another, is interested in. The idea of penetration, in any form, being uncomfortable and disgusting is at the heart of the film. You can move to any level and find more reasons why this film succeeds in what it sets out to do. The sound effects in sex sequences are surreal and grotesque while holding the viewer's interest. Max can be seen as a reluctant Christ like figure for his personal sacrifices as he achieves self-awareness, and the brilliant thing is that the movie can be watched on the basis that Max has gone totally insane by the final reel without fraying the message.
Not for the weak of stomach, heart, or will, this film takes repeat viewings to completely soak in, and people who dismiss it as trash are sorely missing out on what one of the finest horror auteurs has to offer.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I don't understand what makes this a good film. All of DePalma's signature camera tricks draw attention to themselves in the worst possible way: breaking the fourth wall. Every time I see that split screen or diopter I want to vomit. His 360 degree shot, while it makes sense in the scene, is equally annoying. Plus, taking single frame pictures with a Bolex to assemble a 'film' from pictures in a magazine? Hello?! Films are shot at 24 frames a second, not only were there not 24 frames in that magazine, they weren't even the same size. Consider this nit-picking if you want, but it's nothing compared to the film's final act. The scene with the hooker in 30th street station goes on far too long for a subplot. Besides, what happened to uncovering the plot with the governor? Did Travolta's character just give up? The editing in the liberty parade sequence is shotty at best. The slow motion grinds the film to an annoying, watch-checking stop, and the coda of Travolta using the girl's scream for his movie isn't a real ending. Where is the payoff? The acting is good in places (especially John Lithgow), and the brilliant production design in red, white and blue is gorgeous and gorgeously shot by Vilmos Zsigmond, but the directing simply sucks out whatever fun the movie could have had.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
When on the hunt for cult films, this one should not be overlooked.
Filmed over the course of five years (1972-1977), this film is the very
first full-length masterpiece of artist David Lynch. I say artist
because he began not as a director, but an art student. Finding canvas
too confining, he moved on celluloid, eventually moving on to AFI to
fund his script 'Eraserhead'. According to Lynch, the film was inspired
largely by his stay in Philadelphia. To know how he views it, the film
must be seen.
The script itself was only 21 pages long, so it was assumed to be roughly a 21 minute movie; most people wouldn't expect that the film would be a living, breathing piece of art.
The elements of the film cannot even be understood by film scholars. Lynch himself has said that in the 25 or more years it has been out that no critic or viewer has given an interpretation that is in line with his own. There appear to be prevalent themes of sexuality and conception, not to mention claustrophobia and physical discomfort in simply living. The film is definitely very affecting on a visceral level in certain scenes where Lynch appears to deconstruct the simplicity of family life and bring to the surface the inherent disgusting nature of feeding. Near the end, simple curiosity gets the best of the main character, played extraordinarily well-reserved by Jack Nance, and his mistake ends up causing his world to fall apart. Overall, the film logic seems to be one of a nightmare, an open-ended metaphor dealing with one man's fear of fatherhood.
Put simply, there is no other film like it. Not even Lynch's later work can compare. This is on the must-see list for any film student, however, it may be annoying and make absolutely no sense to the casual viewer.