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Drive Angry (2011)
Dumb as a Post, but a Fun Ride Anyway.
OK, well, by know you should know that this is not going to have stellar performances, a captivating script or break new ground in storytelling. But then again, I'd be somewhat let down it that was the case. It never tries to be any of those things, nor should it. It is loud, fast paced, loaded with over the top violence and explosions and sexy women. Drive Angry feels a lot like Shoot 'em Up or Crank, but manages to differentiate itself from it's predecessors. The actors all manage to bring characters to life enough to suit the story, but I must say that William Fichtner was the most entertaining to watch through the film. The only downside was that the villain throughout the movie seemed to be a little too over the top for my liking, but didn't really detract too much from the overall movie. The story is petty standard for this type of film, but it manages to serve the movie well enough. Pretty standard action fare, but a fun enough ride if you just turn off your rational mind and go along with it.
Stylish, Yet Familiar Science Fiction Adventure
Cargo is an interesting and beautifully shot science fiction film, but not exactly a groundbreaking one. It bears similarity to several well known sci fi movies which are better known, but it manages to tell it's own story without falling into the typical clichés of the genre. Visually, the film feels epic, which fantastic cinematography and direction, and exceptional visual and sound effects; made the more impressive by the film's small budget. The story, however, feels personal and more character driven, more along the lines of Moon. The pacing is also similar and moves along slowly and methodically. The plot also has some twists and turns, nothing that will lose a casual viewer, but also will not engage or intrigue an experienced viewer. The story plays out somewhat like a murder mystery to begin with, but then delves into territory that will be familiar to those who've seen The Matrix. The performances are sufficient, but not exceptional. The real draw here is the visuals, but they are nicely backed by a competent, if not compeletely intriguing, story. Definitely worth a look if you enjoy your sci fi on the slower side, but this one may turn off some people that need more action with their space travel.
Flawed, but Still Entertaining
Chawz is another entry in the horror/comedy genre, this one coming from South Korea. Not as good as The Host, also from South Korea, a couple of years ago, but there is still some enjoyment to be had. The plot moves along a little too slowly for this type of film and has more than one similarity with the plot of the original Jaws. The comedy plays more to the slapstick side, which may or may not be a good thing depending on your taste in comedy. I personally found a few gags that made me smile, but nothing that made me laugh. The actors do a convincing job with their characters, but no one will blow you away or steal the show. The visual effects are good, using a mix of practical and computer generated, but not up to the normal standard of major North American films. If you have seen other movies of this type from this part of the world, the effects are on par. If you're expecting something along the lines of Slither or Army of Darkness, you most likely will be disappointed or even bored with this. But if you have seen The Host or Tokyo Zombie, this film is similar in tone and pacing and while never reaching the quality of The Host or the comedic absurdity of Tokyo Zombie, Chawz is an enjoyable monster movie. Flawed, but enjoyable.
Excellent American Monster Movie
Cloverfield is an engaging, intense and thrilling ride that takes about ten minutes to introduce our characters and set up the relationships between them before kicking off the chaos and never letting up throughout the remainder of the film. I was blown away by the effectiveness of shooting this story from the first person perspective. What could have been a typical monster movie is upgraded in intensity by making the viewer feel as if they are going through the same situations that the characters are. And by giving us likable characters that we care about also goes a long way to invest the viewers in the story. The story itself is fairly simple, but it works well enough for the purpose of the movie, which is paced at a near break neck speed. The writing is well done, giving us a few clever moments and a few moments of levity, largely provided by T.J. Miller as Hud, who gives nearly his entire performance off camera. The effects are the real star of this movie bringing the monster and a destruction ravaged Manhattan to life. Strongly recommended for anyone who is a genre fan, a first person perspective film fan, or anyone looking for a hell of a ride.