Friday, October 23, 2020

Lake Placid: The Final Chapter

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching.  When a franchise claims it is "The Final Chapter," it kinda feels like the old rock stars who say that this latest tour is their "farewell tour."



Lake Placid:  The Final Chapter – 2 out of 5

Here we are.  We are at the fourth film in the franchise about giant, killer crocodiles in a single isolated lake in Maine; Lake Placid:  The Final Chapter.  Sometimes it is downright impressive when franchises that make no money can somehow make it this far but, goddamn it, Lake Placid did it!  I’m being a tad mean here but the films are entertaining in their own unique ways—not because they are good (except the first one is decent) but rather due to the reality that they are so poorly constructed that they are funny.  Unlike the other films, though, this one is a direct sequel that actually has a returning character.  So, it has that going for it.  Also, it’s probably the best of the sequels I’ve watched so far…but, as you can see from my score, it’s not a huge improvement.  It’s still an improvement though.  So that’s good.

Ooooooo, artsy!

I like to believe that Reba tracked down Nathan
from the last film and punched him in the face
for leaving her to die.

After surviving the previous croc attack, Reba (Yancy Butler) gives up her life as a poacher and joins the EPA.  The area of Black Lake, with the help of the Army Corps of Engineers, has now become a sanctuary to the giant crocodiles and has been fenced off with giant electric fencing.  However, an incident allows for a poacher named Jimmy (Robert Englund) to enter the sanctuary and the gate to the area is left open.  The local sheriff; Teresa Giove (Elisa Röhm), lets her daughter Chloe (Poppy Lee Friar) head out with the swim team for a camping trip at nearby Clear Lake; however, due to a completely incompetent bus driver and that open gate, they end up heading directly into the Black Lake sanctuary.  Now Reba and the sheriff must work together to try and get the kids out before they become croc food.

Chloe (in the middle) is probably regretting this trip.  Socializing never 
ends well.  Also, the swim coach looks like a ghost or a store brand Kyle MacLachlan...
or both!

I am not going to sit here and argue that The Final Chapter is a great movie and something that lives up to the fun of the first film.  It is far from that.  However, it is an improvement from the last two films.  An improvement on many elements—especially from the story’s perspective.

I don't know if I missed it or not and it got explained but there is a lot of watercraft
just sitting around in Black Lake.

She used to kill animals, now she protects them...
by being ready to kill them at a moment's notice.

I stated in my review of the previous two films (what’s that?  You want to read them?  Well, my friend, you can see them here and here), I felt the stories came off like they were made up on the spot while filming occurred.  They felt like they had a primitive outline and then decided to just “wing it” on set.  This one, aside from being an actual direct sequel with a returning character, actually had a pretty solid story that definitely felt like it knew where it wanted to go and how to get there.  Now, I won’t argue that the story is incredible or compelling, but it didn’t feel slapped together.  I will admit, however, that I did like the idea of Black Lake being fenced off like an attraction at Jurassic Park for the crocs to live and thrive in.  That aspect alone really set this sequel apart from the others and made it stand out.  

What do they got in there, King Kong?

It still gets super generic and has a lot of silliness with its development (for example, the swim team ends up in the sanctuary because the pervy bus driver is not watching the road and just watching a video of a woman in her underwear on the phone—he also exposes himself to some of the swim team later and that is just gross) but respect where respect is due that this one is able to be partially unique after two very messy previous sequels.

Pictured:  The pervy bus driver.

Pictured:  The low res undie video that captured the attention of
the driver so completely that he didn't realize he took a wrong turn.

Pictured:  The comeuppance to the pervy driver where he got his dick
bitten off after exposing it to some of the girls on the swim team.


"Wait!  We need to exchange insurance info!"
From the special effects end, the film is about on par with the last one.  In my review of Lake Placid 3, I stated that the special effects, while not great, are a definite step up from the second film.  They are about the same in this one--maybe a slight step lower.  I won’t argue that they are amazing and sell the reality of giant crocs, but they definitely feel less sloppy and not as cheap as the special effects were in the second movie.  They are still cheap but just not as cheap.  Without a doubt, there are still some really weak CG moments and super awkward portions that stem from the low-budget nature (like when they are running, they look REALLY bad then) but, honestly, they could have been far, far worse.
That million dollar electric fence is starting to pay for itself!

Let's be real, it's fun to see Englund show up in
low-budget horror movies.

The cast in this one is a bit of a mixed bag.  There are definitely some weaker players in the movie, but they definitely aren’t so bad that they harm the overall product (but some extras are definitely amusing).  There are also some really good performances.  Yancy Butler and Robert Englund are great in the movie and are definitely the best parts of the cast.  Finally, some of the cast are very easily forgettable.  Elisabeth Röhm and Paul Nicholls (who plays one of the engineers responsible for the fence) are easily the most forgettable members of the cast.  Their performances aren’t bad, but they too easily can be overlooked.  Röhm can occasionally be commanding but only when she is being the cliché “hard as nails cop” but when her and Nicholls are together, it’s basically watching paint dry because neither really have that attention-grabbing magic.

Forgettable White People vs Giant Crocodiles:  The Movie

Lake Placid:  The Final Chapter definitely stands out from the rest of the other sequels due to the story being fairly well constructed, being a direct sequel, and having special effects that are...eh...okay compared to what they could potentially be.  Additionally, the cast definitely has some highlights and standouts.  Still, it is a low-budget sequel to a late 90s monster movie that, in all honesty, didn’t deserve a second, third or even fourth film.  It has some wonkiness to it and some silliness that makes it easy to riff on and, all put together, it is not a great or wholly entertaining movie because it still gets pretty dumb.  That being said, it is still entertaining at times, has some legit decent qualities about it and, to be fair, is a pretty fun dumb movie. 

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Lake Placid 3

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching.  Lake Placid 3:  Tokyo Drift.



Lake Placid 3 – 1 out of 5

Another day, another rung on the Lake Placid ladder.  To catch up, I think the first one is flawed but still fun and the second one is really bad…but fun with how bad it is.  Now I am on to the third film—which, like the second, is a generic sequel that was made-for-TV (but has an unrated version like the second one that contains nudity—if you don’t require much as far as substance to your viewing and entertainment experience and can have a whole movie be a win if you get to see some boobage…I’ve had this blog going long enough to learn that there are a lot of dudes out there who really only need this in order to make a movie good).  Also, like the second one, it is a good example of those movies that are “so bad they’re good.”

Not only did Lake Placid crossover with Anaconda but it seems like 
Dora the Explorer is making a cameo in this one.

Ironside and Ferguson, Sundays on NBC.

Nathan Bickerman (Colin Ferguson), his wife Susan (Kirsty Mitchell) and their son Connor (Jordan Grehs) have inherited the home of Nathan’s aunt; Sadie Bickerman (Cloris Leachman in the previous film—who inherited the house from Betty White’s character in the first film after her character just upped and disappeared…potentially by the way of a croc’s mouth).  At this home, Connor discovers some baby crocs and starts to feed them but, after two years, they have gotten much bigger and need more food.  While Nathan is out working with Sheriff Tony Willinger (Michael Ironside) over a large number of elk disappearing in the area, the crocodiles attack Susan and Connor and leave them trapped in their home.  Meanwhile, a young college student named Brett (Mark Evans), enlists the help of a poacher named Reba (Yancy Butler) to hunt some game but ends up admitting he lied to her and is just trying to get her to help him find his girlfriend Ellie (Kacey Clarke) after she went off with her friends to party on this lake.  Now all their paths cross as the crocs close in on them and prepare to make them their next meal.

All of this was this kid's fault.  He fed crocs because his parents were busy with
work.  He should have played video games or took up smoking or something like
a real American kid would.

"Excuse me?  Do you know where the gluten
free section is?"

So…yeah, Lake Placid 3 is predictably bad.  Like the last one, the bad qualities keep this film from being genuinely entertaining, but it still makes it fun to watch and riff on—in fact, this one is very rich in bad things to make the film fun.  However, it’s still a bad movie with an incredibly inane story that, like the second one, feels like it was made up on set as filming occurred.  This is 100% the feel and vibe in the final act as you basically watch the characters move from one spot to the next as the crocs chase them.  It literally has this wash, rinse, repeat formula as you see Nathan and the gang flee one area, move to another, find the crocs followed, and then proceed to see one person die before going to the next location.  And that is just the tip of the iceberg with the bad writing.

The cast includes a store brand Andy Daly.

One aspect that really showcase how sloppy the writing is and how it feels like everything was made up on the spot is the fact that this story never really feels truly connected or like anything the characters are doing makes any sense.  For example, Susan runs out of bullets to shoot at the crocs and then proceeds to pull a chainsaw from out of nowhere in order to…do something.  She starts to go after the crocs but then suddenly changes her mind.  The story is literally filled with complete randomness like this.  

Well, in fairness, the chainsaw was established early in the movie--in a 
refrigerator--so they had to use it at some point.  It's a classic example
of Chekhov's Chainsaw.

"Hiring a hunter in order to help me find my 
girlfriend seemed like the most logical and
less psychopathic decision."

Another example would be why the hell is a college student hiring a poacher to help him find his girlfriend?!?  This character is spending a shit load of money and I can’t help but wonder that there was a better way.  Additionally, the character of Reba and Nathan should be two individuals forced to work together against their enemy the crocs because she is a poacher and Nathan works in the field of wildlife trying to figure out where the elk are disappearing to (elk that Reba loves to hunt).  Sadly, their connection never goes anywhere or have any real meaning or conflict—this happens despite the fact the story plays up that they are kinda/sorta enemies.  I mean, this might explain why Nathan constantly leaves Reba behind when escaping crocs, but this might also be because the production is a mess…also, Nathan sorta has a habit of leaving people behind in this movie.  That’s right, Nathan is kind of a dick and will leave people behind to be croc chow while he escapes with his wife and son.  Two separate occasions he leaves Reba to the crocs and one time leaves the babysitter who watched his son to die by crocodile.  Was he written this badly or was this just an unfortunate byproduct of a production that appears like it is making it up as it goes along?

He just left the babysitter behind so he wouldn't have to pay her for 
the day, that's it.

The look of a man who is determined to find
the Beer Baron.

For the most part, the performances in Lake Placid 3 are not good.  The college student characters are pretty cringe-y to watch and a lot of the supporting players are fairly awkward.  Michael Ironside is okay in his portrayal of the sheriff but, honestly, he isn’t giving a whole lot—although, it isn’t like his character has much going for it anyway.  Kirsty Mitchell and Jordan Grehs are serviceable in their roles but definitely have points where they are either very flat or awkward.  Finally, the performances from Colin Ferguson (whom I LOVED on Eureka—I still miss that show) and Yancy Butler are doing their best despite the limitations of the script and the product in general.  Butler sometimes mugs a little too hard with her reactions like she is trying to make her character more comedic than it feels warranted but, overall, both are the shining lights in the otherwise dim glow of the cast.

The character looks like she can spit venom.  Which, honestly, would
be pretty cool.

One shocking element about the film is how the special effects weren't as bad as the last movie.  Granted, they are still not great and no where near as good as the first film but they are noticeably improved to a small extent.  For example, they are rendered in a way that makes them look a little more realistic and like they actually have some texture to them.  Occasionally they even look passable enough that they actually appear to belong on the screen and don't have this strange uncanny displacement feeling that a lot of low-budget special effects monster movies have.  They still have a very real, very apparent inauthentic and artificial quality to them, but I won't deny that they do look better than the crocs in the last film.

I do try to find the good in all movies I watch and I will admit that this
is definitely a small improvement from the previous feature.

Lake Placid 3 is quite the mess.  It feels like some random ideas that were forced together under the umbrella of giant crocodiles and the Lake Placid name.  It would probably be the most forgettable of the ones I’ve watched so far it if wasn’t for the reality that this one is really, really, really, really, really easy to laugh at and riff on.  It truly became the best part of the feature as I sat alone in my living room just cracking jokes at the features expense.  Still, it is a poorly made film with kinda/but not totally awful special effects, forgettable croc kills, and some abysmal acting…but it is sure easy to have some fun with.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Lake Placid 2

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching.  It was eight years between the original and this first sequel.  I guess it really was after awhile with this crocodile.  Don't worry, I'll punch myself in the face for that one.



Lake Placid 2 – 1 out of 5

Here I am, working my way through the Lake Placid franchise.  I usually don’t get all “gatekeep-y” when it comes to entertainment properties and act like certain ones shouldn’t exist because I am not a fan of them but I am genuinely surprised that the Lake Placid property ended up becoming a franchise (and even crossed over with Anaconda).  I mean, sure, the first film is kinda fun in its own right but it never really felt like it had the legs to be a franchise.  Despite the fact this feature felt like a “one and done” type of monster movie, someone said, “We need more Lake Placid films” and Lake Placid 2 was made.  This was my first time seeing this one and, I have to say, it really sucked.

Bikini women who exist in the story only so they can show their boobs
are the crocodiles favorite meals.

The real tragedy is he died with his "Beer" shirt
on.  He was going to leave that to his children
one day.

After a researcher is attacked by a crocodile in Black Lake (wait, this already sounds too familiar), Sheriff James Riley (John Schneider) teams with wildlife officer Emma Warner (Sarah Lafleur), a poacher named Jack Struthers (Sam McMurray) and the poacher's assistant Ahmed (Joe Holt), in order to find the crocodile and stop it from hurting others.  Matters are complicated when they learn that, after her sister disappeared, Sadie Bickerman (Cloris Leachman), has moved into the remote cabin once owned by her sibling and has taken over the feeding duties of the crocodiles.  Meanwhile, the sheriff’s son Scott (Chad Michaels Collins) and some locals head out to the woods for a swim and soon find out that this croc is a mama with some babies and has a nest of eggs with more babies on the way.

I'll believe that these giant crocs exist in this film's reality but I have a hard
time believing that the older woman is somehow strong enough to keep
the young, completely fit woman from moving and is going to hold her
until the croc can come and eat her.

This movie literally has three scenes where the
characters are startled into thinking a croc
is upon them and it turns out to be a rabbit.
Literally three times!

Sequels are tough because they require a balancing act where you need to be similar enough to the original that it feels like it belongs to the franchise but unique enough that it doesn’t feel like you are just repeating what you’ve already seen.  In the case of Lake Placid 2, it is making the smallest of changes in order to stop it from just doing the first movie all over again but, in the end, is still repeating a lot of what is familiar.  Hell, the beginning is almost exactly the same except you have two researchers of some kind getting samples for…reasons…and one is attacked by a crocodile.  The only difference is one of them isn’t the sheriff.  The movie even tries to recapture the lightning in a bottle it had with Betty White by introducing that character’s sister with Cloris Leachman in the role.  Granted, the film does offer up some new stuff in the story by having some teens/college kids (I honestly couldn't tell what they were) from the nearby town finding a very elaborate nest that argues crocs are capable of weaving branches together but, at the end of it all, it is still a low-budget crocodile monster movie that isn’t really trying to reinvent the wheel and is essentially aiming for the lowest bar possible.  At the very least, the film is good for a laugh.

Apparently there was no money to rent a plane in the budget so they
rendered a CG one...

And then completely forgot to include it in the very next shot.

"Bunny ears, bunny ears, jumped into a hole..."

To get further into it, the story to Lake Placid 2 is really messy.  Nothing is developed well and, honestly, it kinda feels like the script was a basic outline that only said, “There are crocs who eat people” and the rest of the film is made up on the spot.  That is the only way I can explain away the never-ending continuity errors this movie has—seriously, this movie is pretty much non-stop continuity errors.  At one point, the wildlife officer is collecting the mama croc’s eggs in a shirt and will suddenly have them in a cooler out of nowhere in the next scene.  Mind you, there was no base camp she went to in order to collect said cooler and it wasn’t something they had supplied with them on their mission.  It just magically appears because they clearly were making this film up as they went along.  Oh, and there is also the reality that the sheriff apparently has a grenade launcher that can randomly shift into a tranquilizer rifle.  So, yeah, this movie is a complete and total mess…and that is one of its good qualities because it makes if easy to riff on and have fun with.

When you go to the grocery store for just a few crocodile eggs and think
you won't need a cart.
Let's just say she got that cooler from the old lady's house and leave
it at that, I guess.
"I am a great magician!  I will magically turn this grenade launcher
into a tranquilizer gun in the next scene."
"Ta da!"

Wildly lifelike practical effects going on here!
In the first film, I said the special and practical effects were genuinely good and held up.  I also mentioned that it would be the only case in this franchise where this happens.  It shouldn’t be a surprise that a cheap, made-for-TV sequel would have bad special effects but, shockingly, this movie has tremendous special effects.  The crocs are so lifelike and real and—I’m sorry, I can’t do it.  The special effects are horrendous.  Truly awful and wholly hysterical.  Like the messy story, this is just another aspect of the film that is easy to riff on and have fun with.  So, yes, the special effects are horrible but, Holy Potatoes, they are sure are amusing as hell.
Incredible!  It really looks like a poorly rendered crocodile is 
kinda/sorta under the surface of the water!  Amazing!

Leachman is usually great but it really felt
like she did this for the paycheck...and I honestly
don't begrudge her for that.

From a cast perspective, no one is totally egregious…buuuuuuut, if I’m being honest, no one is really that great either.  Everyone kinda has either a low energy take to their role or a complete lack of fucks to give and they are there just to mess around for their own amusement.  I kinda don’t fault them for either approach because this is a sequel to a kinda forgettable monster movie so should one be really giving their best?  Even proven funny lady Cloris Leachman feels like she really isn’t giving her all to her role and can’t even come close to matching the scene-stealing presence that Betty White had in the first film.  Granted, they are two different characters and Leachman isn’t trying to be the same as White was but Leachman is a comedian, so she was hired because she is parallel to White.  I will admit there are some truly awful performances in this but that is to be expected.  I really wasn’t prepared for the more apathetic ones or the ones that look like they just came to set to fuck around.

McMurray is doing an accent for his character.  I think it is Irish-ish or
Scottish-ish.  It's definitely some kind of accent.

I knew what I was getting into with Lake Placid 2 and, honestly, I was partially happy with the outcome.  I knew it would be a cheap, poorly made film that was just soaked in apathy and a desire to churn out a crummy sequel to a property that was probably bought for peanuts and that’s exactly what I got.  It is a legit terrible movie that contains boring characters, uninspired performances, a messy story that felt like it was made up on the spot on set, and special effects that are tragically bad.  However, on the other hand, it is all of these bad elements that make it watchable on a different level and makes it fun in its own unique way.  Without a doubt, this movie is one of those examples of “so bad it’s good.”

Monday, October 19, 2020

Lake Placid

 ***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching.  The lake isn't placid at all.  It has a killer croc in it and it wants--Oh, I see what you did there.



Lake Placid – 3 out of 5

As you might know, Halloween is basically the entire month of October for me.  I love the fall weather, I love that candy is plentiful, I find handing out said candy to Trick or Treaters to be a lot of fun and I love the turn towards the macabre we take.  I celebrate this by watching nothing but horror, thrillers, chillers, and dark comedies throughout the entire month and I usually pick up a franchise to work my way through.  Last year, I went through the Anaconda series and, during that journey, was pleasantly surprised to learn that it crossed over with the Lake Placid franchise.  Sure, the movie was cheesy as shit, but it still was fun on a dumb level.  More importantly though, it inspired me to work my way through the Lake Placid series.  I’ve only seen the first film (and the epic crossover) but have never checked out the cheaper, made-for-TV sequels.  So, I decided to start at the beginning with the 1999 original film—a movie I saw only once when it came out and didn’t really care for it.  Well, watching now, I found a new appreciation for it.  It’s still not a great movie but it has its own charms.

They are looking at a huge, steaming pile of...sequels this franchise will
mysteriously get.

Steve Irwin would have tame this thing and talked
about what a beauty it is.

In a remote county in Maine, Sheriff Hank Keough (Brendan Gleeson) witnesses a savage animal attack on a Fish and Game officer while out on a large lake.  Keough teams with another Fish and game officer; Jack Wells (Bill Pullman), in order to find out what attacked and killed the man.  Additionally, the American Museum of Natural History sends out the paleontologist Kelly Scott (Bridget Fonda).  They believe they are dealing with a crocodile and they are soon joined by crocodile enthusiast/eccentric mythology professor named Hector Cyr (Oliver Platt) in order to study and potentially capture the creature.  They soon learn that this crocodile measures 30 ft. long and now they must stop it before its bloodlust causes any more deaths.

"Today is our Independence Day...from giant crocodiles.
And tomorrow is our President's Day Sale on crocodile skin shoes
and purses!"

I won’t argue that Lake Placid is a good movie.  In fact, it has a lot of bad elements to it and there are some aspects to it that didn’t age well.  However, it does have some stuff working in its favor.  In fact, there are aspects about the feature that are genuinely great.  In the end though, the film is very dumb but fun in its dumbness. 

"Hey, you're Oliver Platt!  Big fan!"

Right off the bat, the special effects in the film are surprisingly not bad and hold up really well.  The film marries computer and practical effects almost seamlessly.  Sure, the computer effects still have some issues where what you are seeing looks a bit artificial but, for the most part, looks great.  I also didn’t really appreciate it when it first came out but the animatronics to bring the croc to life on set is legit terrific and looks amazing.  It would be easy to shit on the effects because they are still a product of their time, but they are honestly one of the best things about this movie.  Sadly, the croc doesn’t get enough screen time where these elements can really shine to their brightest, but this limited access might be why they are so good.  When you don’t have a lot of screen time to fill, I guess you can really get things right.

Damn, that bear was only three weeks from hibernation.

Stupid croc.  You're too big to fit in that helicopter
and you have no idea how to fly it.

One of the downsides to the film is how the story can drag.  I just mentioned the crocodile isn’t seen very often and that can be okay in theory.  Jaws didn’t really show the shark that often, but it still is awesome because the looming threat is there.  There are times where the threat of the croc is there but not often enough.  Matters aren’t helped by the fact the body count is shockingly low in this film, so when you combine these two elements and the fact that too much of the interactions between humans are a bit grating and it makes for a story that has a bad habit of dragging and getting kinda annoying.  A big part of the annoyance factor from the humans stem from some bad writing for the characters and some 90s homophobia and misogyny but a little more croc mayhem might have eased the irritation from these moments...at least a little bit.

"Time to after-while this crocodile!"

One thing I really didn’t like about the movie was Bridget Fonda’s character.  The film was written by a man and Fonda’s character very much feels like a man whining against feminism.  The character is from New York and acts like anyone who isn’t from the city is unwashed, uncultured, and uneducated (some not-so-subtle elitism commentary and the dumb idea from some toxic men that any woman who wants to be taken seriously is somehow trying to be treated like she is better).  The character also isn’t afraid to call out men being gross—like when Wells and Keough leer at a young woman’s ass.  This is fine because such gross behavior should be called out but the problem comes with how she is treated the rest of the film.  The character is always the one put into danger.  If I counted correctly, she is launched (and I mean launched!) into danger three times and, immediately after, is showcased as a hysterical woman who is overreacting to almost dying.  I might be reading too much into this monster movie but it felt like the writer was trying to say that independent women and feminism is annoying because, in the end, they will all end up as damsels in distress that need men to save them.  Her character had the potential to be interesting at a potential expert to the investigation but, instead, she came off as this petty thing that looked like a chauvinistic writer who was venting his hatred about women.  This chauvinistic style also comes out with some mild homophobia that comes in the form of one man calling another man “gay” as an insult and a lot of dudes entering into metaphoric dick measuring contests to see who is the manliest of the manly men.  But, hey, it's just a dumb crocodile movie, right?

"Take that, woman." - the screenwriter.

He recently played Donald Trump.  So he's fought
a croc and played a crock of shit!

Despite some shitty writing when it concerns the characters, the performances are genuinely great.  I really hated Oliver Platt’s character because I found him to be a loathsome, very toxic man but Platt still has this charm that, in this case, partially shines through.  He’s really hard to completely hate.  Brendan Gleeson might be the best performer in the film and Pullman has this quiet cool about him that makes him entertaining to watch.  Fonda is doing just fine despite how awful her character is presented and she clearly is doing the best with it but probably the best performer in the film is Betty White.  White plays a woman who lives on the shore of the lake and has a part to play in the croc’s life there.  Her character is a salty, sassy, swearing lady who basically makes every second she is on the screen memorable and entertaining.  White alone is worth the price of watching this film because of how fun she is.

She really does steal the movie.

Lake Placid is, without a doubt, not a perfect monster movie.  It has some issues with the characters, the body count and croc terror are disappointingly low, and it has long stretches of time that feel like it is going nowhere but it is still mildly amusing.  Betty White is just awesome-sauce in it, the rest of the cast is legit fantastic, the special effects are better than they should be (and better than they will be in the rest of the franchise) and there are some genuinely fun moments—including a pretty terrific final act.  It undoubtingly gets stupid awful at times, but I would be lying if I didn’t say that I found much of its stupidity to be enjoyable and kinda fun.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Raw

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching.  Raw...is War!



Raw – 4 out of 5

I remember hearing a lot of positive things about the French film Raw when it came out in 2016.  I kept hearing how shocking and captivating it was.  I didn’t take the time to watch it and, honestly, kinda forgot about.  I was only reminded about its existence when I was looking at my Watch List (yes, I keep a list of movies I wanna check out) and saw its name sitting there and thought now would be as good as time as any to give this one a shot for my month of Halloween.  So, I went and grabbed a copy from my local library (I used to name drop Netflix like crazy and they stopped sending me bags of money for doing so and also never actually did that to begin with so I’m going to advocate more for local libraries—seriously, I do love libraries and think they are a great service and I have been using them my whole life).  I sat down and gave it a shot.  This one definitely lived up to its hype.

Uh oh, her nose is bleeding.  I guess that means she's using whatever 
powers she has too intensely.

Justine (Garance Marillier) comes from a family of vegetarians and veterinarians (Go Team Double Vee!) and now she is on her way to the veterinary school that her parents met at and where her sister Alexia (Ella Rumpf) is currently attending.  Her world is instantly rocked as she finds herself with a male roommate named Adrien (Rabah Naït Oufella) and her entire class is subjected to some hazing rituals typically subjected to first year students.  A part of the hazing involves Justine forced to eat a rabbit’s kidney.  She initially refuses and her sister is quick to force her to do it, so she isn’t ostracized. Initially disgusted, Justine is quick to discover that she now has cravings for meat but sneaking off and eating a hamburger isn’t enough and she soon starts to hunger for raw flesh.

It's just a rabbit kidney.  No one is making you eat pineapple on pizza
or black licorice or any number of foods that people have
incredibly strong hatred for.

For the most part, I found Raw to be a very effective and shocking film.  It is able to ride that line of being graphic and ghastly without feeling like it is being gratuitous.  The shock factor feels like it has a purpose and that means a lot in the world of horror.  Sometimes when horror movies get all Edge Lord-y and tries to be shocking for the sake of being shocking, they come off disingenuous and end up feeling more silly than grotesque.  Raw doesn’t feel this way and the graphic escapades it is showcasing all feel warranted for the tale it is telling.  Even more amazing is how they use these moments to not only be gross and horrifying but also strangely dramatic and used to evolve the characters and story.

Ahhh, the smell of raw chicken.  Intoxicating!

There are a lot of elements that I felt were incredible and I reacted to very positively but there are some elements to the story’s progression that I felt were a bit uneven.  Occasionally, there are moments in the story where Justine’s journey gets a bit strange—and I don’t mean strange in the sense that the film was getting a bit aloof or trippy but strange in the fact the plot gets a little hiccup-y and sometimes feels like it is skipping ahead or even meandering at times.  This become very noticeable when Justine’s sister learns of what she is going through, and the story starts to take unique turns that too often felt more like poor and uneven storytelling rather than calculated progression.  Ultimately, these moments pay off but they were unfolded on occasion in a way that made the story feel a tad sloppy and uneven at the time and it made for a viewing experience that was less captivating and more of having my full attention start to ebb and flow a tiny bit.

When you get hungry during a fight and crave human flesh, just bite down
and start eating!

While the story might have some unstable parts that I felt weren’t the strongest, the performances in the film are top shelf stuff.  Garance Marillier is tremendous to watch and has this captivating approach as she navigates a young woman on the own for her first time in college and is discovering who she is…both sexually and…um…in way where she is okay with eating human flesh.  The rest of the cast, like Ella Rumpf and Rabah Naït Oufella, are all incredible and do an amazing job of bring to life what is probably the strangest and most aggressively antagonistic veterinary school I have ever seen in my life (to be fair, I’ve only seen this vet school so that isn’t saying much).  In the end though, Marillier’s performance carried the film through the weaker moments I was having in the film (and I say that loosely because it really was only an occasional thing) and made this young woman’s journey through the horrifying something that was enthralling but nasty and uncomfortable to watch.

Do all veterinary schools give new students the Carrie treatment?

Raw is an interesting exploration of a young student discovering themselves when they arrive at an advanced learning center and are away from their parents for the first time.  Sure, this movie isn’t exploring someone who is on their own for the first time and learns how to do keg stands but instead is a woman who is experiencing something that was inside her but denied through means she was never aware of.  The performances are great, the story might have some hiccups from my perspective, but it never got boring and has some real thought-provoking commentary in it, and the shock factor feels absolutely pitch perfect for the product.  Also, the ending is killer!  Overall, it is an impressive horror that isn’t so much immediately scary but something that is shocking and has an unnerving ending that is equal parts unsettling and fascinating.