Friday, November 21, 2014


***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, 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! At no point do I make a "horny" joke in this review.  I deserve a fucking medal!

Horns – 3 out of 5

We all have a little evil in us.  Even the best of us—the ones who feed the homeless, rescue stray cats, and go out of their way to pick up stray LEGO bits from your carpet so you don’t step on them while venturing blindly in the dark and half-drunk from sleepiness—even those people are capable of having some darkness around them or forced upon them.  For example, the food they fed the homeless was probably those cats and, not to mention, they clearly broke into your house in order to pick up those LEGOS.  However, what if the evil inside you is supernaturally granted to you so you can solve the murder of your girlfriend?  Imagine how many cats you could kill and feed people then!

Of course, Daniel Radcliffe could never be evil...he's too adorable.
The horns took away his powers to get super drunk
and turn his floor into a ceiling.
Ig Perrish (Daniel Radcliffe) had the greatest gal in the world.  He thought he was going to be with Merrin (Juno Temple) the rest of his life but she had other plans.  One night, when Ig was going to propose, Merrin mysteriously breaks up with him and, after they part ways in a storm of shouting and hurt feelings, Merrin is found raped and murdered.  Not surprisingly, Ig is blamed for the crime.  Desperate to clear his name and regain some sort of civil standing in the community, Ig wakes up one morning to discover horns have unexpectedly grown on his temples.  Ig suddenly finds that he can bend people to his will be giving them permission to enact their darkest desires and he quickly decides to use this new found power to locate the real killer.  Soon, as the pieces start to unravel and the yarn begins to fit together, Ig learns that his powers are growing and he can now use them to not only find out the truth but makes those who have wronged him or even flat-out falsely accuse him pay for their transgressions.  However, no amount of supernatural abilities or stylish horns can prepare Ig for the truth and who really killed the woman he cared so deeply for…

Turns out she was just murdered for her hair by wig poachers...which is a
thing I made up and applied to the film.
For the most part, Horns is a decent film.  The acting is really good, the story is interesting, and the few instances of special effects are really well done.  However, there is a single problem that harms this movie and keeps it from being something more than just an average experience.

"Average?  With these perfect eyebrows?"
"I turned my head and cough almost five minutes ago, Doc."
The trailer for Horns made the film look like a dark comedy and the final product was that…but it was also a heavy drama, a horror film, and a supernatural crime thriller.  The overall tone and vibe of the movie changes with literally every scene.  One second Ig is using his powers of suggestion to get a horde of reporters fighting in order to get an exclusive with him or accidentally convincing an old man to pull his pants down in order to show everyone his penis and then the next minute Ig is weeping over the lost of his girlfriend or his overall feeling of isolation and frustrations over the battle he fights for innocence.  During this you laugh and then find yourself crying with him.  Then, after that, the film will take on a horror feel as Ig takes his revenge on someone who wronged him in the investigation and then, the next minute, he’s using his powers to get to the bottom of the crime.  Having a film jump genres is all well and good but the film lacks balance and is constantly shifting tones.  It makes the film feel jumbled and chaotic.  Strange when you consider that this was directed by Alexandre Aja…who directed Piranha 3D.  He kinda nailed the comedy and horror mixing with that one, in my opinion.

He takes the word of the Lord very seriously.
"Ha ha, we're friends and having fun.  What were we
talking about?  Oh yeah...the death of my girlfriend."
The lack of a cohesive tone is really the only drawback the film has.  While it is a big drawback and ends up making the film just okay, everything else about the film is still really good.  The story is definitely an interesting one and the acting in the film is very choice.  There isn’t a single cast member that isn’t pulling their weight or slacking.  Whether it be the drug addicted brother of Ig played by Joe Anderson, Ig’s tormented parents by James Remar and Kathleen Quinlan, the waitress who claims Ig is the killer played by Heather Graham, the grieving father of Merrin played by David Morse, or the man who is taking upon himself to try and clear Ig’s name through the legal system played by Max Minghella.  Everyone really does their roles quite well.

Oh, she works at a dinner called "Eve's" and it has an apple for a symbol...
very subtle.
The highlight of the cast, however, was the lead actor Daniel Radcliffe.  Radcliffe will always be Harry Potter to me.  Try as I might, I have a hard time seeing him as anything but.  That’s no knock on his acting because he’s come a long way since his days at Hogwarts.  That being said…I still only see him as the bespectacled wizard.  It’s hard not to because once an actor gets put in a role that ends up becoming a piece of pop culture, it’s almost impossible to see them as anything but that role.  And when that role is played ridiculously well, it becomes even that much harder to separate the character from the actor.  Peter Weller will always be RoboCop, Harrison Ford is always going to be Indiana Jones and Han Solo, Christopher Reeves will always be Superman, and Nicholas Cage will always be Not The Bees! guy.  That being said, Radcliffe was incredible as Ig.  He was able to ride the constantly shifting tones and be whatever the scene needed him to be.  He was wickedly funny at times, sympathetic and touching at other times, and was all-around captivating as the hell possessed justice seeker.

Ice Cube saw this and immediately asked, "There snakes out there dat big?"
Horns probably could have been far more entertaining if the movie kept a balance between the constantly shifting tones it possessed but, as it is, the film is entertaining.  It never gets boring and is capable of being amusing, touching, and engaging.  Additionally, Daniel Radcliffe is quite impressive to watch and helps keep the film from becoming mundane or muddled from its lack of tonal balance.

Brick Mansions

***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, 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! I wonder if there is a prequel called Log Cabins?

Brick Mansions – 3 out of 5

I wanted to start this review talking a little bit about Paul Walker.  I’m not going to blow smoke and say I was a huge fan of the man.  I wasn’t.  He wasn’t a phenomenal actor but he was a part of a franchise that is a big guilty pleasure of mine; The Fast and the Furious.  He was a pretty boy who was passable at best with most of his performances.  However, it was a tragedy when he passed.  Aside from being a normal part of existing, death is still a tragedy and the guy was young and had so many more Fast and Furious films for me to have fun with.  Sure, some people don’t like those films and didn’t like his acting but celebrating his death would just be weird and the antics of an asshole in every sense of the word.  As the F&F franchise grew, Walker started to grow on me and I saw him becoming more than a pretty boy dude and see he was starting to head somewhere with his acting skills.  Sadly, fate had other plans and we can’t see where he could have gone to.  So, now that I started this review on a bummer note, let’s get to the synopsis.
We'll miss those beautiful blue eyes...
The title of the film is behind the Mayor...clearly that's
an Easter Egg.
A few years from now Detroit will be such a shithole (well, in fairness, it is now) that the project housing there is walled up and the riffraff is left to fend for themselves.  Inside the walled locale, a resident named Lino (David Belle) is desperately trying to live a normal life and clean up his neighborhood but after the local crime lord, Tremaine Alexander (RZA), kidnaps his ex-girlfriend, he finds himself teaming up with a very dedicated cop named Damien Collier (Paul Walker).  Things only go from bad to worse when Lino finds out that Collier was sent in to stop Tremaine from setting off a bomb he got his hands on.  Now it’s time for them to parkour the shit out this situation and stop the bomb, stop Tremaine, and save Lino’s ex.
Did the police force pay for Collier to take parkour lessons?
That fireball took a very specific route...and I'm sure
his ankles will be fine when he lands.
Brick Mansions is a remake of a French film called District B13 that David Belle played the same role in.  Full disclosure:  I’ve never seen the film or even heard of District B13 until I watched this film and I am disappointed that I wasn't able to loudly proclaim to hate remakes when this film was hitting theaters (or do we only do that when we remake popular American films?).  That being said, I actually wanna see the original now.
I'm pretty sure that wall is real in Detroit.
Walker, seen here doing his impression of his favorite
scene from Terminator 2.
Mansions isn’t the best action film to be produced but it was still plenty entertaining.  The story is solid (although, a little silly and 90’s-ish with the bomb thing) and it works for what it is.  The action is satisfying and offers up some cool parkour shenanigans (even though my fatass could never be able to do it, I think parkour is pretty neat—and yes, I said “neat”).  Finally, the acting is pretty good and it might be one of Paul Walker’s strongest performances.  However, there are some bad points…
So...does doing parkour mean you just leap and pray for the best?

The only real complaint I have (HA!  I fooled you, I made the last paragraph sound like there were numerous bad things but there was only one thing I didn’t like) is the fact I have a very hard time taking RZA seriously as an actor.  He’s not the most convincing and most of his delivery is as sleepy as his appearance. 

RZA looks like he's never slept a day in his life.
Wait...Lino's girlfriend knows parkour-fu?  Did she really need saving?
Additionally, and I’m not saying this to be mean, the fact his voice has the same speech patterns of a two year old doesn’t help.
  His L’s come out like W’s and he ends up sounding wike he is just a widdle guy.  It’s hard to take him seriously as a crime lord when he sounds like he is on the verge of saying, “I wuv you this much” and requesting ice cream around the next bend.  However, as his character develops and he moves farther away from being a supposed tough drug boss, he is a little more bearable than I’ve seen him in other films.

I can't hate on him completely because that golden gun is pretty cool.
I'm not so sure we needed to see a shirtless Kurgan.
Brick Mansions didn’t wow me or send me falling to the floor begging for the pain to end—instead, it was an enjoyable action film that may not be the greatest example of its genre but was enough to not get boring and be very satisfying.  Sure, RZA still isn’t a very good actor but his time being distracting is limited.  Additionally, Walker gives off a great performance as Damien Collier and his partnership with David Belle is definitely a fun one that keeps the movie just lighthearted enough where it won’t take itself too seriously.  This was Walker’s final finished film he worked on before he passed and he did it quite well.  Not a bad exit.

And the movie ends happily ever after...with Lino teaching kids to parkour.

Into the Storm

***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, 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 prequel will be called Intro the Storm.

Into the Storm – 3 out of 5

Natural disaster films are pretty damn silly.  It’s hard to not laugh at the ridiculousness of films like 2012 or anything really made by Roland Emmerich.  However, with all the implausible weather and “natural” occurrences (even with Climate Change, The Day After Tomorrow is still pretty ridiculous with its science…and don’t get me started on The Core), the films are kinda fun and I would push over an entire horde of old ladies to play someone in those films—preferably someone who dies a ridiculous death.

Richard Armitage is giving the "what do you think, audience?" look.
Imagine all the porn you could watch with those screens...
Silverton, Oklahoma is just a normal town with normal things going on normally.  However, the residents are unaware that Mother Nature has decided to say, “Fuck this area in particular” and unleash a devastating storm that will contain the worst, largest, and probably least sexy tornado in all of existence.  During the calm before the storm, high school Vice Principal Gary Fuller (Richard Armitage) is trying to get his unruly sons organized for the upcoming graduation.  He’s charged his boys Trey (Nathan Kress) and Donnie (Max Deacon) with recording the ceremony and making a video time capsule for the school (and there you have the “found footage” aspect explained).  Meanwhile, a storm hunting team (more "found footage" explanation), led by a driven veteran of storm chasin’ (Matt Walsh), stumble upon Silverton thanks to their expert Allison (Sarah Wayne Callies).  They soon find themselves mixed up with helping the citizens of the town instead of researching the storm and it becomes a fight for survival against the homicidal wrath of Mother Nature and her rage ‘nadoes!

Optimus!  Hurry, get out of the way!
No, Optimus!  NOOOOO!!!!
Into the Storm isn’t the most memorable natural disaster film I’ve seen.  There’s no real praise worthy sequences that stick with you after the credits hit—well, beyond the teaser trailer that showed the mega-tornado picking up the 747’s and setting them free—and the characters really aren’t very deep.  However, the movie is kinda fun because, at the end of it all, it’s shit getting fucked up by weather. 
Hmmm...tornadoes have tails.
That one plane looks like he's having fun.
The “found footage” element in the film feels, often, forced and didn’t really help the film out in any way.  In fact, it often took me out of the action because you are passively watching the weather endanger the lives of the characters and aren’t in there experiencing the actors’ reactions like you are in other films.  It ended up creating a massive disconnect with the characters and the drama and that really hurts the film because you already have characters that barely have much depth to them to begin with.  It also provided an extremely lazy way of introducing the characters by simply showing them and having their name and occupation underneath.  It gave the film a slight mockumentary feel and that was something I could have got behind but this element is only utilized in the beginning and end and was almost entirely absent the rest of the time.  Add this to the times when the film abandons its “found footage” element here and there and you have a movie that feels like it really doesn’t know how it wants to present itself.
Here we go again...another movie reinforcing the stereotype that tornadoes
are aggressive.
"One piece of data I've collected is that the pressure
created from tornadoes causes spontaneous bowel
The acting in the film isn’t really terrible but when the film is pretty much Richard Armitage (who is unrecognizable to me without his Thorin Oakenshield beard and attire) yelling that he wants to protect his sons, Nathan Kress from iCarly just sort of being in the background and seen holding a camcorder occasionally, Lori Grimes from The Walking Dead rarely mentioning how she has a daughter and hates being away from her before going back to spouting off weather-y stuff, Matt Walsh being super dedicated to recording the fuck out of shark-less tornadoes, and Max Deacon doing very little as Donnie and being backed up even harder with doing nothing by Alycia Debnam Carey as the love interest of him, acting really wasn’t something you look for in this film. 
This.  This is what you are looking for.

Awww.  That one plane is photobombing the other.
All you really need is some minor defining characteristics and names and then you let them run around in the rain and wind.  Sure, Twister did a dynamite job at making the characters endearing and interesting but this film was fluff from the get-go.  Drama, tension, character development…you knew that shit was going to be accidental if it appeared at all and, for what it is, these characters work and the actors do their jobs as well as they need to be.  There’s no real bad acting going on…even from the terrible comic relief that was completely unnecessary for the film.
His ridiculous hair will protect him from the imminent flying debris.
When I sit down to watch a film like Into the Storm, I’m not expecting Citizen Kane or some masterpiece dealing with character-based drama.  I’m expecting disaster porn.  I’m expecting buildings getting torn apart, trees uprooted and tossed like the gods are on a bender, explosion after explosion with all their bright fireball-y glory and people running for their goddamn lives!  If the film is done right in these departments, I don’t give a shit if the characters are cardboard cutouts and one-dimensional.  However, it’s still possible for these characters to ruin a film.  The characters of Donk and Reevis are these characters…their names pretty much tell you all you need to know about them.
And that's pretty much how you would picture them, too.
Donk (Kyle Davis) and Reevis (Jon Reep) are two characters that are shoehorned into the film and do nothing but try to be comic relief…but, in reality, are bumps in the gratuitous action and are reminding us that life is fleeting and happiness will eventually end.  Donk and Reevis are two rednecks that desperately want to be internet famous and they use stupid stunts to try and up their YouTube hit count (because aside from cats and needless aggression towards completely insignificant things, residents of the internet love seeing people getting hurt in many different ways).  These two men, who almost definitely have a “Git-r-Done” shirts and testicles hanging from their trucks, see the tornado as an opportunity to get really crazy and they decide to film Donk standing in front of it. 
If anyone sees that and says, "I wanna get filmed standing in front of that,"
I say go ahead.  You won't be missed.
There is only one sequence where these two have an impact on the plot but, for the rest of the time, they are just randomly inserted into the running length and fail miserably at being amusing.  In fact, they are just uncomfortable and annoying.  The film would have probably scored an entire point higher if these two were not included.  You hear that, production?  A movie review blog run by a nobody will give you a better review if you got rid of Donk and Reevis.  I await your Director’s Cut that fulfills my wishes…
That's a terrible rap album cover.
Into the Storm is a poor man’s Twister that lacks the interesting and lovable characters but still has the implausible weather patterns and even goes a step further by having some truly remarkable special effects.  The chances of me giving this one a repeat viewing are slim but, aside from Donk and Reevis, the film is pretty entertaining and a decent flick to veg out to if you’re looking for something that is far, far away from being complicated.
"Well, we survived and I'm still stuck with kids who look like they are trying to make
a junior version of Donald Trump's hair.  Thanks, tornado."

Thursday, November 20, 2014

V/H/S/: Viral

***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, 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! If these damn VHS tapes are so evil, why not just put tape over the tab thing and record over them?

V/H/S/:  Viral – 2 out of 5

I’m not the biggest fan of “found footage” films—if you’re a loyal reader, you probably already know that.  Despite that, I will always give these films a shot because, and I honestly believe this, they have limitless potential with storytelling.  Sure, the producers, writers, directors have yet to master the whole reason why someone is filming every aspect of their lives, why they never toss the camera down when danger presents itself, how all major plot points are conveniently kept in shot and focused, and who is editing these and deciding that its okay to leave in nearly an hour of filler where we watch the main players be annoying and go about their lives while barely any character development or advancement in the story takes place.  Besides these complaints, there is potential for these movies to go somewhere…or you can just recycle the old and make something that is pretty much exactly like the last two films like V/H/S/:  Viral did.
And prepare yourself for a lot of scenes like this...
Once again, this series gives us an anthology of “found footage” tales that focus on the macabre and spooky side.  This time around they have pretty much abandoned both the fact the stories are taking place on VHS tapes (those are DVDs and Blu-Rays' grandparents, kids) and the need to have a central story arc—granted, this film sorta has one but it barely connects in any real way with the other stories.  Viral opens up with a boyfriend filming his girlfriend’s ass (because this series is known for being slightly rape-y…see my review of the first film) and a mysterious Ice Cream Truck comes blaring through his neighborhood playing a song that drives everyone mad.  But that’s not even the strangest part as this story deals with a lot of people who are fighting to get a video of this chase for the hits on YouTube (which is a thing, maybe?) 

Or maybe people really are obsessed with filming car chases, I dunno.
This central story (and its barely that) leads into a tale of a magician that gets his hands on a cloak that grants him real magical powers but the cloak must eat people in order for the magic to exist.  A story is told about a man who opens a portal to a parallel world and is horrified to discover the differences.  Then, finally, a tale is weaved about some skaters who accidentally stumble upon some demons and monsters while trying to make a skateboarding film in Mexico.  There is an additional tale that was edited out before the film went to the VOD market and has yet to be included.  Maybe in the theatrical cut…but I’ll be damned if I watch this again.

Oh shit!  Look at him Jimmy knock the board into a scat of the grind!
(I'm not actually familiar with skater lingo...)
If I had to sum up V/H/S/:  Viral in one word, that word would be “lazy.”  There’s really nothing special going on in this film that made it worth the time for me.  Sure, the stories are different but it almost exactly resembles the previous two films.  Granted, the film has the magician segment play out more like a mockumentary and even, at one point, completely abandons the “found footage” element and just lets the conflict play out (although, it tries to make itself look like someone is filming it and that makes it look a little silly) and, sure, the central story is a little different in the fact it doesn’t involve characters putting tapes in a VCR and watching the action take place.  However, despite this, it’s still just a collection of poorly put together tales and this one even takes it a step further by mashing them into a central story that really doesn’t connect in anyway.
Also, you get a ton more really awkward camera angles that take you right out of the action.
This was clearly an intricate part to the plot and not
a way to cater to any certain members of the
In my review of the first film, I stated I really hated the rape-y feel of the first film as every story centered on dudes who would either objectify women by only filming their sexualized areas or flat-out try to assault women.  This was adjusted in the second film but this one feels like it needs to pay homage to the first film as the central story opens up with several scenes right after one another where the boyfriend is filming his girlfriend’s bottom, crotch, or boobs.  Was this really needed?  It literally did nothing to the story and only made that character less likable and far more creepy than he needed to be…and this plays havoc later when the story wants you to actually give a shit about him.
Honestly, this does nothing to help the film.
"I hate to bother you while your skating but do you know
which way The Gathering is?"
I will admit that the skateboarder story actually has some potential to be good and felt very reminiscent of other anthology horror movies that inspired the V/H/S/ films.  It’s a simple concept:  Skateboarders accidentally spill blood on a Satanic symbol that alerts some sort of death cult and a demon ready to burst forth from the bowels of Hell and unleash…well…hell upon the Earth.  The idea is fun and super silly—but silly in a “let’s not take ourselves TOO seriously” way.  The only problem I had with this story was the fact it had no depth to it and it is just one long sequence that feels like it is repeating itself, not moving forward, and just around to extent the length of the film.  The first 25% of the story is the setup that is handled decent enough but the next 74% is the skateboarders fighting the cult members and monsters.  That’s fine but it gets repetitive.  Now, you’re probably asking yourself what the final percentage point was in that story.  Well, actually, that is the highlight of the story as it teases the arrival of the demon they accidentally summoned and then it quickly ends.  It’s a simple, but effective, end to the story that, sadly, could have been a lot better than it was.
This movie is just reinforcing the idea that all skeletons are evil minions of the dark.
Well, this is clearly fiction.  There's a parallel universe tale
and the two guys meeting each other don't end with
them making out...fuck you, you know you'd totally
do it if you met your parallel world self.
I will further admit that the story that involved the man opening a portal to a parallel world was pretty decent and extremely well put together.  This story doesn’t hesitate to take a slow pace and actually have some establishment taking place.  This, unlike all the other stories, actually makes sense when it concerns why everything is being filmed.  Someone who opens up a doorway to another Earth and decides to swap universes with his other self would probably want to document as much as he can—sure, it doesn’t explain how the plot points are conveniently in shot when the guys decide to ditch the cameras for their own personal survival or personal satisfaction but the story is very tightly put together that it is easy to overlook this complaint.  However, the very odd turn the story takes is far too silly to take seriously.  Besides that, it is a story that is well constructed and that is fucking rare in the franchise that is V/H/S/.

Alright...this looks like Rick Grimes is groping his crotch at the foot of someone's
bed.  Why does this franchise like going in such sexually creepy directions?
Okay, since the last two paragraphs I made some confessions, I am going to continue with that run and admit even further that I actually enjoyed the magician story.  It reminded me of something I would see in a Tales from the Crypt episode or a Creepshow sequel that wasn’t the awful third one.  It was a fun concept and the fact it was presented more as a mockumentary-style “found footage” affair only helped it.  Sure, the “found footage”/documentary gets abandoned for a “wizard battle” sequence but that doesn’t hurt it at all.  In fact, it actually helps the film because the silliness of “Who the fuck is recording this?” is no longer an issue and I was able to be completely immersed in the story.  The only real issue I had with this story was the fact the magician constantly films the murders/sacrifices he makes to his magical cloak and it left me wondering why the hell would someone film this because it is all the evidence needed for him to be convicted of murder.  That aside, this was the film’s strongest aspect…sadly, it is the first story to happen after the establishment of the guy who likes to film his girlfriend’s assets.
"And now my new trick...Swallow Slugs!"
Is V/H/S/:  Viral the best film in the series?  Maybe.  However, it’s not a franchise I have ever thought too highly of.  Each film only contains minor elements that work and then spends the rest of the time stuffing the film with fluff.  The franchise is the sizzle of the steak without the actual sizzle.  It’s a hologram of the sizzle or, at the very least, a minor spit of sizzle that comes after being sold on some pretty fucking amazing sizzle.  Like the other films, the stories are, mostly, poorly developed and hinge completely on the gimmick of being a “found footage” film and what follows is an emphasis of POV action rather than storytelling.  This one stands out because it is extremely poorly put together with no real cohesive direction.  The last two had a working central story arc to present the resulting “tapes,” but this one has one only in the faintest of ways.  It gives Viral a jumbled, uncoordinated feel that looks more like someone jumping from YouTube video to YouTube video rather than an actual anthology horror film.  Yes, the stories, in some cases, are far better than the other films but it is still very sloppy and the presentation is very lazy.

It's hard not to caption this with "DERRRRRR!!!!"


***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, 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! If you smellllllllll-la-la-la...what the cooking!

Hercules – 4 out of 5

Hercules is one of those legends that will never stop being told.  Sure, the quality of those adaptations may run the spectrum of that boring one with a guy from Twilight that is better used as a sleep aid than a epic tale to a fun Disney film that has a great performance from James Woods as Hades to having a mildly tolerable Kevin Sorbo before he decided to Kirk Cameron his career and let all of us know how his religious beliefs affect his opinions on current events like we really fucking care…and then you have the adaptation of Steve Moore’s graphic novels that include a man who seems like the only person you should cast in a Hercules movie.
"Hakuna Matata, motherfucker!"

Legend states that Hercules is the son of Zeus and was born of a mortal woman.  Tales of his adventures and his completion of the Twelve Labors have spread throughout the land.  Hercules (Dwayne “I’m not sure if he’s still credited as The Rock” Johnson) doesn’t buy into his own hype and doesn’t believe his own legend.  However, he uses his nephew (Reece Ritchie) to sell the shit out of it because he’s a mercenary and those tales helps him and his team—the prophet Amphiaraus (Ian McShane), the dagger-tossing extraordinaire Autolycus (Rufus Sewell), the animalistic feral warrior Tydeus (Aksel Hennie), and the Amazonian archer Atalanta (Ingrid Bolsø Berdal)—get as much gold as they can for their jobs.  One day, Lord Cotys (John Hurt) enlists Hercules and his team to train his Thracian army and defeat the vile warriors from Rhesues.  Soon, however, Hercules learns that not all is as it seems and he quickly finds himself on the path where he may face becoming the legend or face utter demise…
Don't worry, McShane, The Rock makes us all feel small.  Hell, somehow I'm sitting
in his shadow while I type this.

Young lady, you are not fighting a war wearing that!

Of course, Hercules is wearing a loincloth...
This was the Hercules film for 2014 that I was excited about.  Even in my review of that other one, I kept saying that I couldn’t wait to see the character played by someone who can act (The Rock has really come into his own in the world of acting and has been able to do something few former pro-wrestlers have been able to do...make a successful transition to a full-time acting career).  However, even though I was excited, the reality of the behind-the-scenes of the film and the royal screw job that the creator Steven Moore got from optioning the comics was hard to ignore—mostly because Alan Moore wouldn’t let us not NOT know as he requested we boycott the film.  The basics is that, before he died, Moore (Steve, not Alan) wanted his name removed from the promotion of the film because he got screwed out of money when the comic was optioned to be a film.  They used his name anyway and the rest is Moore (Alan, not Steve) saying, “Don’t go see this fucking movie!”  It was this reason, and the fact that I was both poor and had scheduling issues, I never saw the film in the theaters and decided to wait until it got to my budget theater or was able to rent it.  It’s a sad reality that screw-jobs like this happen a lot to comic artists and it pains me that we live in a world where comic book properties make mad money at the Box Office and we are finally living in a golden era where films like these aren’t just seen as “cartoon films” for nerds but we can’t treat the creators of the property with the respect the artists deserve.
Hercules is sent out to take out the MGM lion...

I’ve never actually read the comics this film was based on but after watching the film, I am a little more than curious to see the novels.  And by "little more than curious," I mean I want to go out and buy them right now to read because one of the things I loved about the film was the ambiguity they played with in Hercules' legend.  In all Hercules adaptations, we see the demi-god fighting monsters like the three-headed Cerberus, the multi-headed hydra, and the single-heads of all the dumbass mortals that got in his way.  We don’t see this in this version of Hercules and he is pretty much all but stated to be a mortal (who is also really strong and totes fucking lifts, brah!) and that the monsters that his nephew tells any listening ear about has explanations in the real world.  For example, centaurs are actually just guys on horses and the perspective of them being viewed at made the horses head impossible to see and the many heads of hydra were just dudes in masks (oops, does that qualify as a spoiler?). 
"Hey army down there, I'm totes a centaur!"

This element fascinated me because it brought a new level to the hero that is Hercules.  Seeing the man I’ve seen portrayed as the son of a God for years suddenly just become a man who plays off his own legend became the film’s strongest aspect for me and one that made me really want to read the comics and regret that I never even heard of these comics till after the film came out.
"Let's just cut the heads off of two of them and glue them to the final one...
Cerberus solved!"

Another really strong aspect of the story (and that is slightly a pun) and the whole production was having The Rock as Hercules.  When Dwayne Johnson first started acting, I didn’t think he was going to become the actor he is.  I liked The Rock as a wrestler and wrestlers are great actors—they have to be because they have to be in character all the time, even when hurt—but there is a big difference to being a great actor in the ring and being a great actor on the screen.  However, as time went by and his filmography on IMDb got longer, Johnson has really started to hit his own and learned how to deliver. I’ve become quite a fan of his acting and he really does an amazing job as Hercules…even with the awful fake beard he wears…
I have a sneaking suspicion that The Rock didn't grow that lion's head either.

"Fuck you, horse!"
The Rock is a big, muscular guy and he oozes badassness (totally a word).  He seemed fit to play the part even if he was portraying your run-of-the-mills Herc but he wasn’t.  This was a slightly jaded hero who uses his legend and tall-tales in order to get paid.  He doesn’t buy into his own bullshit and uses it to fill his pockets with gold.  However, this story is all about Hercules finally understanding where he comes from and who he is—basically buying into his own bullshit—and The Rock sells the shit out of it.  I believe he is the son of Zeus and when he breaks his chains (literally and figuratively) I was ready to leap off the couch and join his fight.  And then, when I found out that The Rock broke real chains and passed out several times trying to do it, it only made me get into his performance more.
The fact he broke real chains in this scene makes me scared to ever give a movie with
The Rock in it a bad review...luckily no one reads these reviews.

"Hey, you guys back smell what I'm
The other mercs in Hercules crew might not be as large of a presence as The Rock is as Hercules but they all have their part to play and add to the film.  Ian McShane is incredibly entertaining as the prophet Amphiaraus.  His arrogance and acceptance of his own mortality brought some lighthearted moments to the film.  Rufus Sewell and Ingrid Bolsø Berdal may not have the largest parts in the story but both have their moments that are enjoyable and, finally, Aksel Hennie was a fun addition as the animalistic Tydeus.  Granted, the rest of his gang may not have a lot of focus and all have backstory that is, for the most part, just casually mentioned and never really dipped deeper into, they all do their roles quite well and add to the tone of the film well.  In fact, there really aren’t any complaints from me in the acting and cast department.
Tydeus once saw his parents having sex...he never got over it.

The real heart of the matter with this film is the action.  The whole Hercules being mortal aspect may have been the crowning moment and aspect of the film for me, the second part is, without a doubt, the action.  The fights scenes, the war, The Rock punching motherfuckers in the face…all of it adds up to action that perfectly satisfies the action itch for action junkies.
Not a sight you wanna see...

Because this happens.

The most surprising thing about this movie, though, was the fact it was directed by Brett Ratner and he hasn’t said anything stupid while promoting it yet.  Weird.
"Before we go to war, I must do my French Stewart impression..."

The War Doctor seems worried...
While I think it’s sad that one of the biggest things I’ll think of when I watch this film or think about Hercules is the creator getting screwed over while the producers and the rest involve are probably swimming in money and cocaine but I still really enjoyed the film immensely.  I like the fact Hercules isn’t a demi-god with supernatural strength, I was very entertained with the action, I loved the cast, and I really love the fact it has open me up to a graphic novel I never heard of and now wildly want to possess.