Sunday, March 1, 2015

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb

***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 secret is love...and a dash of paprika!



Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb – 4 out of 5


I really enjoy the Night at the Museum movies. The first one sucked me in and made me laugh while filling me with child-like wonder. The second went bigger and, in my opinion, was just as enjoyable as the first installment.  Then, as an added bonus, had Hank Azaria and Bill Hader in it! I guess I don’t really need to inform you that I was a teensy bit excited to see one more movie.

I'm ready for Round Three, boys!

Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) is living the big life at the museum thanks to the Tablet of Ahkmenrah. The attractions coming to life bred new life into the museum and people flock everywhere to behold the wonder. However, something is happening to the tablet. A green corrosion is slowly starting to cover it and it is sucking out all the magic that is bringing the exhibits to life. And, if that’s not enough, he’s also dealing with his son Nick (Skyler Gisondo) growing up and looking to take a year off before considering college. With his family trouble directly in tow, Larry takes Nick and the familiar faces of Teddy Roosevelt (Robin Williams), Sacajawea (Mizuo Peak), Jedediah (Owen Wilson), Octavius (Steve Coogan), Attila the Hun (Patrick Gallagher), Dexter the Monkey, and Ahkmenrah (Rami Malek) to England in order to meet with Ahkmenrah’s parents; Merenkahre (Ben Kingsley) and Shepseheret (Anjali Jay). The only problem is that he has to content with the English museum’s night guard (Rebel Wilson) and an entire museum that is coming to life for the first time…which just so happens to include a Triceratops skeleton and a very determined and driven Sir Lancelot of Camelot (Dan Stevens).

Sure, a monkey peeing is immature but...it's a monkey peeing.  That's just funny.

While I will say that this isn’t my favorite of the series, I still immensely enjoyed it. Once again, director Shawn Levy helms a family-friendly comedy that never gets too serious but won’t get too silly either. Sure, some of the gags are callbacks to the other films—like the gag they do with Jedediah and Octavius where they are dealing with some hardship that seems insurmountable to them but, when the perspective is adjusted to the height of the viewer, it seems like nothing—but I didn’t really see this as lazy comedy but a comfortable and familiar joke that feels like it belongs.

Wait a second...the movie has Matthew Frewer and he's barely in it?!?
You're lucky you're funny, Secret of the Tomb.  Otherwise, I couldn't forgive this crime.

The trailer basically showed the whole scene...only
it's ten times longer in the film and ten times less
funny.
My complaints with this one are extremely minor and didn’t really do anything to kill the fun I was having watching it. For example, I wasn’t the biggest fan of Rebel Wilson’s character or her performance. In small bits, I find Wilson very amusing but sometimes more of her gets to be grating. For example, when she first arrives in the film, her scene lasts a little too long and the comedy starts to fade away quickly—granted, they make a joke about this scene going to long and it sorta redeems itself but it doesn’t complete do away with the awkwardness of the dead horse-beating sequence. Also, this introduction comes with not one but two poop jokes and that wasn’t really helping me with things in the scene. However, Wilson has her moments—including a great Dirty Dancing reference that had me rolling.

Forget spoilers.  This is the Dirty Dancing reference.

There was also an addition to the film that I simultaneously enjoyed but wished it was a little better developed. The story begins with the discovery of the tablet and, here’s the surprise, the man who gave his job to Larry; Cecil (Dick Van Dyke), was there and actually made the discovery. While Larry is trying to figure out why the magic is leaving the tablet, it requires him to meet with Cecil and his two grumpy old security guards from the first film. While it was cool to see Dyke, Mickey Rooney, and Bill Cobbs return to the franchise, nothing really comes of it except that Cecil directs Larry to England. While it works for what it is, it would have been cool to see a little more from Cecil since it was established that he was the one responsible for finding the thing.

Mr. Van Dyke's piercing blue eyes have not faded with age.

It also would have been nice to see a little more development between Ahkmenrah and his parents. Their story sorta parallels what Larry and his son are going through and, if Ahkmenrah’s part was feathered out a little more, it would have more strongly complimented what Larry and Nick are going through and vice versa. However, it works for what it is and it was cool to see how Ahkmenrah’s parents created the tablet…also, further development would have resulted in more Ben Kingsley and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Seriously, this movie should have had more Kingsley.

Finally, the film lacks a central protagonist. The first film and the second both shined brightly in this department (especially Azaria) but this one felt lacking. Granted, the main conflict in the story is trying to figure out why the magic is leaving and trying to stop that but the film definitely needed something to stand in that way. Secret of the Tomb does provide this in the form of one of the newly awakened exhibit but it doesn’t feel nearly as strong or developed as the antagonists in the previous films. 


That's a terrible Blue Steel.


Even with these minor complaints, I still really enjoyed this final outing for Night at the Museum. The film is hysterical, the characters are still fun, and the acting is great. There are even some very touching moments that go beyond me just getting a little choked up at seeing Robin Williams in his final performance.

Williams may have left this world too soon but he got to play one of history's
most badass presidents!
I really enjoyed seeing Ben Stiller return as Larry but also seeing him as the new caveman Laaa.  There are many hilarious back-and-forths between the two and the tricks they used to combine them into single scenes were damn near flawless.  Additionally, I was really enjoying the performance of Skyler Gisondo as Nick Daley, Larry's boy.  The way he delivers lines and interacts with Stiller was ridiculously amusing and his sarcasm, wit, and delivery is very entertaining.

Honestly, I thought Gisondo was going to be annoying in the film but was complete
wrong about him.  He was great!
Another returning player that I have enjoyed in this series is the very talented Ricky Gervais.  While his role still isn't that large compared to other characters, he did seem to get more screen time and any time you get more Gervais is a good thing, in my book.  He has a absolutely fantastic scene with Stiller before the story crosses the pond that left me in stiches.  The man is just a great performer and hysterical comedian.

I don't want to meet the people who don't like Ricky Gervais.  I don't need that type
of negativity in my life.
These two just play so well together.
Once again, two show-stealers in the film are Wilson and Coogan as Jedediah and Octavius.  While some might feel their scenes and gags inserted into the story might come off as gratuitous since the story kinda forces their characters to be separated from the rest; however, their moments were still very fun to me and the chemistry the two actors have is easily enjoyable.  It's a bit sad that the spin-off that was planned for the two was canned after Robin Williams death (rest in peace, good sir!  You are missed).

Goodnight, Sweet Prince.
The Triceratops has a bone to pick with them!

I'll show myself out.
Finally, I really liked the inclusion of the new character of Lancelot.  The moment he is introduced with a hilarious and exciting action sequence with the Triceratops, Lancelot is shown to be someone that is of the same cloth as the other museum exhibit characters. He's likable, a bit over-the-top, and undeniably charismatic.  While I did find it strange that actor Dan Stevens sounds and looks like Cary Elwes in The Princess Bride, I admit there was an element to his development that I felt wasn't handled the best.  It worked for the film and story but it could have probably been so much better.  For the sake of Spoilers, I am intentionally not mentioning what development that is but, for the sake of clarity, Lancelot ends up becoming conflicted with suddenly being brought to life and learning he's not real and it ends up becoming a road block to Larry and his mission.

Sweet Lobster Bisque!  He is a handsome and dashing man, isn't he?
One element to this film series that has always worked for me is the special effects.  Sure, these films are not big budget superhero spectaculars or summer popcorn action films about aliens invading or something like that but bad special effects definitely would have hurt the overall magic of the film.  In the past, some of the scenes with Dexter the Monkey have felt slightly awkward (but workable) but, in this final film, I saw no special effects that made me say, "Eh...that's not the best but it's okay."  Instead, I found myself saying, "Wow, that was really good."  I know I already mentioned it (and I know I'll mention it again) but I really dug how seamlessly they were able to not only edit Larry and Laaa into one sequence but have them in the same frame without it looking like the shot was spliced from two different shots.  They moved and interacted like they were two separate actors on one set and it produced a fluid and believable scene.  That's basically what the special effects were doing in this one, creating a fluid and believable world that isn't looking like a cheap cartoon.

Infinitely funnier than the Geico cavemen commercials and the show.

While not as strong as the previous two films, Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb is a very decent send-off to the franchise.  The story wraps up Larry Daley’s tale nicely and it even manages to throw in a hysterical cameo from Hugh Jackman.

Jackman...he's the total package, people.  And the movie even states that!

Someone is blaming this scene on both Obama
and gay marriage.
The film has some very minor hiccups but they are easily overlooked by some hilarious scenes with Ricky Gervais, absolutely fantastic special effects—especially the near seamless integration of Ben Stiller as both Larry and the caveman Laaa (told you I would mention it again)—as well as a stand out performance from Skyler Gisondo. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I have to go hit a museum or two before this film gets a gritty reboot and the magic of the tablet is used in a museum that is showing the Body Worlds exhibit.

That's sweet...

What's that?  Nope, I'm not crying.  There's...um...dust in my eye.  Yeah, that's it.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Horrible Bosses 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, 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 could have been worse...it could have been a Hangover sequel.




Horrible Bosses 2 – 4 out of 5


I really enjoyed the first Horrible Bosses film. We’ve all had a terrible boss that we wouldn’t have shed a single tear if a rabid bear with an Uzi suddenly busted into the office and riddled his body with bullets and this film helped us with that fantasy…well, not the very specific one I mentioned but more of the worker killing the boss and fulfilling the very thing Homer Simpson once called the American Dream. When I saw the trailer for its sequel, I laughed quite a bit and was a little bit excited to see the trio of Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, and Charlie Day get into some more shenanigans…also, this film allows me to use the word "shenanigans."

And the shenanigans start!



Nick (Bateman), Kurt (Sudeikis), and Dale (Day) are in business for themselves and they create a device called the "Shower Buddy." They soon find themselves doing business with some investors named Bert Hanson (Christoph Waltz) and his son Rex (Chris Pine). After Bert screws them over in order to bankrupt them and buy the company when its in foreclosure, the group meets with their old buddy Motherfucker Jones (Jamie Foxx) and come up with a plan to kidnap Rex and have Bert pay a ransom—and said ransom will be used to get their company back in good graces. The group soon see a hiccup…Rex is willing to play along because he feels his father doesn’t respect or love him.


Movies have taught me that crime leads to fun and hilarity!


Hmmm...I think I'll start calling myself Motherfucker
Ron.
The critics and audiences were mixed on Horrible Bosses 2 but I really enjoyed this one. In fact, I had just as much fun with this one as I did the first one. I’m a sucker for a dark comedy and the more inappropriate they get, the more likely I will find it hilarious (of course, it still has to be a joke…just doing offensive things for the sake of being offensive isn’t actually humor). There were some very definite risqué jokes going on in this film that easily rode the line of being funny and offensive but I never had a problem with any of them and was cracking up quite a bit.


The longer you stare at Charlie Day, the harder you'll laugh.


I won’t deny the chemistry that Bateman, Sudeikis, and Day all have as a unit or the chemistry they have with the rest of the cast—especially Pine, Aniston, Spacey and Foxx. This chemistry seen throughout the cast is what made so much of the humor work for me and made the near two hour running length not seem like overkill. The film could have easily started to drag but the characters and the story mixed so well with the darker humor that I was entertained the whole time.


Look at all those shenanigans...


The scenes may be short but the laughs they gave me
went well into the night...the neighbors weren't happy.
The cast in the film are all really good—I already mentioned their chemistry but each player was able to hold their own and bring it up a notch with the humor. Kevin Spacey returns and has a small role but his few scenes are memorable as hell. Jennifer Aniston continues to be the sexed up harlot of the previous film but is able to take it even further and really bring the shock factor of hearing some truly cheek-blushing things from one of America’s Sweethearts. It was also really nice to see more Motherfucker Jones because he was, without a doubt, one of my top highlights from the first film. However, one actor that really stole the show for me was Chris Pine.


Never in my life did I ever think I would hear Rachel says what she says in these films.


I had no real expectations for Pine because I’m not the biggest fan of him. I don’t think he’s a bad actor, I just haven’t really seen him in many films where I felt he was perfect for the role. However, for his role as Rex Hanson, I was beyond entertained. Pine not only felt right at home with the group of Bateman, Sudeikis, and Day but he was proving that he wasn’t just there to be someone who tags along but showed he could keep up and even steal several scenes with his delivery. The character of Rex has a bit of complexity to him and he develops quite a bit through the story and Pine was perfectly showcasing the changes without it ever feeling like a brand new character showed up and, more importantly, was hilarious the entire way. To put it simple: Pine nailed this character and all of his attributes, development and humor perfectly!


His performance made me PINE for more of his character!


I am truly, deeply sorry for that pun.


One thing however that felt extremely lacking in the film was the character played by Christoph Waltz. While it’s obvious who he is and the purpose he plays, I felt we never got to see enough of him and that having someone as ridiculously talented as Waltz go underuse was a bit of a crime. Granted, the film is already a bit longer than a lot of shenanigan-based comedies are and showing more of Bert Hanson and seeing some more development about him and his relationship with his son might have slowed the film down or make it too long, it still would have been nice to see some more Waltz added to the story and not regulate him as a metaphoric set piece or plot device.


One shouldn't waste Waltz.


More shenanigans!
Even with the consensus of Horrible Bosses 2 being deeply mixed, I really enjoyed this film and had a blast watching it. I loved how the story didn’t feel like it was trying to completely redo what was already done and I think all the characters are very amusing and played excellently by the cast. Some of the humor might be a tad offensive to some viewers but, to me, I felt it was hysterical and was laughing quite a bit. Sequels are always difficult to do but, in my opinion, I felt this one work exceptionally well.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Dear White People

***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'm going to take this time to tell you that bacon is pretty awesome...I'm going to eat some bacon now.  I know that has nothing to do with the film but I panicked.




Dear White People – 5 out of 5

As a white man, let me be the first to say that we sometimes can suck and we can suck big time. Aside from the fact that we clearly can’t dance (line dancing is the sad result when we try to dance) but a lot of white people are still harboring a lot of prejudice towards non-whites. We’ve made a lot of strides since the Civil Rights Movement started and MLK gave his infamous "I Have a Dream" speech but racism still boils under the surface. Whether it is white people losing their goddamn minds because Obama became president or the very palpable reality of racial profiling with our police officers, racism is clearly not going to be eradicated anytime soon. However, thankfully, we have films like Dear White People that will come in and ask the hard questions and show the reality of being black in a white world…and they were able to do it with a little humor along the way.
Also along the way, the film provided the cover of what I'm assuming is an acoustic
hipster rock back album.
So, this is what happened to Noah before he met up
with Rick and the crew.
Dear White People focuses on the very prestigious and predominantly white institution for higher learning called Winchester University. The story focuses on various black members of the student body and how they struggle with their identity and how it plays with their race. There’s Sam White (Tessa Thompson) who is causing a commotion with her campus radio show Dear White People.  Then there's Coco Conners (Teryonah Parris), a vlogger on campus who sparks the ridicule of the white students with her videos and is trying to get on a reality show that is casting on campus. There’s Troy Fairbanks (Brandon P. Bell) who feels the pressure from his father (Dennis Haysbert) to not become the stereotype that so many white people automatically think about black men. Finally there’s Lionel Higgin (Tyler James Williams), a gay man who feels ostracized by everyone on campus but thinks he finds some sort of belonging when he is asked to write about being black at Winchester for the student paper. However, tensions on campus hit a boiling a point when the University President’s son Kurt Fletcher (Kyle Gallner) has his club throw a black face party.
Okay...that is really offensive.  And, sadly, it's becoming a thing at many colleges.
I have no humorous caption for this pic of Sam...wait...
Sam's a boy's name!  Ha! Fuck it, I clearly have nothing
for this picture.
Too often, the world of cinema (and entertainment, in general) isn’t too kind to non-white characters. There’s the tired cliché that black men always die in horror films, the token black character in high school movies that, like they covered in Not Another Teen Movie so well, are designated to only smile and say things like "Damn," "Shit," and the likes, or action films allocating black characters to be drug dealers or thugs. Slowly, these tropes are starting to be feathered out of existence (very slowly) but we still have a long way to go. One thing Dear White People does extremely well is take on these stereotypes head-on and discuss them, asking the questions that a lot of people are uncomfortable with.
Every time someone said Coco's name, I had a craving for hot cocoa...I think I might
be pregnant...or I'm just fat and love food.
I found Lionel's complaining about white people always
touching his hair to be very amusing...mostly because
I have a friend who complains about that problem, too.
There are points in this film where these commentaries illicit some humor—like when Tyler Perry movies are brought up and a confused ticket taker is berated about his films and what they mean to black culture—and there are other points where the film has this commentary and it feels like a Facebook debate—like when Kurt Fletcher makes the ridiculous claim that white people are the true victims in our society. The thing Dear White People does better than anything else is provide commentary about what our race means to the overall big picture in society and how that plays into one's identity, and even better, the film doesn’t pretend to have all the answers. The film ends, after the big black face party leads to a disastrous conflict, with everyone providing their outlook on what it means to belong in one’s race and how this shapes one’s outlook on society and how they act and interact with the environment and people.
Wait...is that Edward Cullen?
I have nothing else to say with this picture of Brandon
P. Bell besides he has a perfect jawline.
Dear White People is also filled with just some amazing performances. While, for me, Tyler James Williams was the actor that I was most captivated with, everyone on this cast is really just amazing in their role. I don’t want to undersell anyone because they were all fantastic—it’s just Williams’ character was the most interesting for me. That being said, Thompson was incredible to watch as Sam and seeing her go from an angry militant to someone who is no longer afraid to show off her vulnerable side is impeccable. Brandon P. Bell hits the pressure his character Troy is under perfectly and has some great scenes with the equally amazing Dennis Haysbert. Hell, even Kyle Gallner as Kurt is great to watch—sure, his character is a loathsome little douche that, sadly, reminds me a lot of the people I went to high school with and find myself throwing up a little in my mouth when they post their "Racist but I’ll Claim I’m Not Racist" Facebook statuses and memes but he plays this role believably.

"At this school, we get Allstate."
Dear White People is a great insight about the pressures of race, the hardships that come with aggression and prejudices towards people, and the difficulties of trying to find identity in a location where you ride a thin line of being a stereotype if you go one way and turn your back on your culture if you go the other way. There’s an unending wit in the characters, the story and even the overall editing and presentation of the plot that makes the film insightful, meaningful and, most of all, damn entertaining.


Blindness

***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 had a friend we called Blindness...he was deaf.



Blindness – 3 out of 5


I fear going blind—unless that blindness comes with super-powers that give me a sweet echo-location-like ability, I don’t want anything to do with losing my sight. With this fear, having a film like Blindness could easily be unnerving and entertaining at the same time—sorta like how my claustrophobia helped me really get into the Ryan Reynolds starring Buried.  But did it?  Was I able to engross myself in this one?

What the what?!?  Moore is a blond in this film?  This is an unforeseen development...
I don't know if I'm ready for this.


Without warning one day, a young man (Yûsuke Iseya) finds he went blind—but not blind in the fact the world suddenly went dark but in the fact that the world suddenly went white, like he was submerged in a vat of milk and opened his eyes. This man—credited only as First Blind Man—visits an optometrist (Mark Ruffalo and credited only as Doctor) and he declares this "white blindness" and is quickly horrified to learn that it spreads like a plague. Doctor soon learns that he has fallen victim to "white blindness" and that everyone he’s come in contact with—like Man with Black Eye Patch (Danny Glover), Woman with Dark Glasses (Alice Braga), and other people who also aren’t actually given a name and are just credited as a vague description of their character—have also gone blind. The only exception seems to be the Doctor’s wife (Julianne Moore). The government rounds up these victims and locks them away in a quarantine zone. Soon, the numbers start growing out of control and the quarantine wards start to war over food and other commodities. However, when the day comes that they no longer hear from the outside world, the doctor’s wife leads the group outside and are horrified to find out how large the epidemic has spread…

That blindness is quite white.  The name makes sense.


So, basically, Ruffalo was looking like Bruce Banner before
he ended up getting the part of Bruce Banner.
Blindness starts pretty awesomely. There’s some mystery there like why are people suddenly going blind and how exactly this virus or curse or whatever it is gets passed. Then the film moves on to the horrors of living a life of sight and suddenly that is taken from you and, boy, I felt for the characters there and the frustrations there were feeling. Finally, you get the horrors of seeing how the government treats these people as you have to watch as they are treated like animals and left to fend for themselves in a garbage and shit filled building. These elements are incredibly intriguing and made the film something interesting to take in. Even seeing the wards in this quarantine building battle for the basic necessities, witnessing what happens to the world while they were left alone, and having to experience all this through the eyes of the only person who can see in this quarantine zone made for a film that was easy to get into and characters that were easy to sympathize with.

Jesus, would you look at this mess?!?  Can't you guys clean up or some--
oops, sorry.  Forgot you are all blind.

The one thing this film does extremely well is showing how hard it is for these people to adjust to losing their sight and how frustrating the responsibility of taking care of them is for Julianne Moore’s character. The use of POV shots and putting things out of focus for the blind is a simple, pretty much obvious, idea but it really helped put the viewer in their shoes and helped you understand their feelings of hopelessness and frustration. These feelings can easily be seen simmering under the surface of Julianne Moore’s character as she is forced to take care of her husband and be the person who has to keep order and sanity in the quarantine zone after the "white blindness" victims were clearly just swept under the rug.  Her character takes on a lot of responsibilities and has the weight of a lot of helpless people resting on her shoulders and the exhaustion and wear it puts on her was excellent shown by Moore.

"Have a nice trip, see you next fall.  Ha ha, I'm kidding.  I'm very sorry for what
you are going through."


The film offers up some beautiful camera work and even has some great points of commentary and discussion about how the society treats the handicap, victims, and people as a whole. The film opens with the first blind man getting his car stolen by a man who is posing as a good Samaritan, the ward dissolves into anarchy and a single blind man (played by Gael Garcia Bernal) takes control of the food and demands payment and sexual favors in exchange for sustenance, and we witness the horrors of an armed militia with itchy trigger fingers who allow their fear of an outbreak overtake their sense of duty and protection. All these surface elements were interesting and made for a film that creates discourse with the viewers but Blindness suffers from a lack of…and this isn’t a pun…foresight.

Ain't no party like a blind pajama party...because you have no fucking clue what is
happening at a blind pajama party.

While the film has a lot of working elements, it did have some stuff that proved to be its undoing and kept it from being deeper than it could have been. The first thing that comes to mind is the film’s length. Blindness clocks in at one minute over two hours and the pace of the film and the way the story keeps changing focus as it goes from mystery epidemic to martial law-like in its rounding up of citizens and locking them away to trying to create a new blind society in the quarantine zone to dystopian breakdown of that society and the war between the wards to the venturing out into the unknown to see what came of the world—like it’s a television series pushed into two hours—the film ends up feeling like it last a whole lot longer. Too often the film drags in points—most notably when the man rises up in the quarantine building and holds the food at ransom for sex and money and you have to deal with the frustration of the only sighted person not acting fast enough—and this dragging makes the film feel like it is taking forever and kills a lot of the intrigue I had when it started.

I came to hate this character a lot and his death didn't come fast or brutal enough.

I also wasn’t a fan of how none of the characters have names. I get it, it plays with the theme of how these sick people weren’t treated as individuals that need help and were just faceless diseased things that were meant to be looked down upon by society and tossed aside to wither and die in their own filth and being nameless people only plays to the viewers being "blind" to the character's names but it ends up making the whole thing feel silly. Besides my nerves being rattled by watching these people struggle with the loss of their sight, I felt very little connection to most of them. Only a select few I found myself really being interested in and the rest are so often pushed aside, ignored, or even forgotten completely at points that it hurt my overall ability to really sink myself in to the drama and the characters.

Of course, his name really could be Man with Black Eye Patch.

Finally, director Fernando Meirelles is very preoccupied with throwing Red Herrings into the story and does a lot of cheap gags to make the viewer think one thing when, in reality, it’s the exact opposite. A few times he wants you to believe that Moore’s character has lost her sight and this same formula is done obnoxiously too often with the man who steals the First Blind Man’s car. Meirelles is constantly teasing that the man is there to screw over the blind guy but shows he's *SURPRISE* actually helping him…then this is done again and again until the fucking around has reached its zenith (and then beyond it) and we see that, yes, the dude is there to rob the blind guy; by that time, the gag is more eye-rolling than "A-ha!  Well played there, Mr. Director"-ing. While this worked slightly at the beginning of the film, it gets too repetitive and the gag runs its course very quickly and takes away from the energy that could have gone to drama or character development…or even shortening the fucking movie!

Aaaand then zombies attack.  They just can't catch a break.

Blindness has some intrigue to its mysterious blindness and is fairly interesting. It has some great performances in it and it seemed like it had a ton of potential. However, the dragging nature of the story, a running length that just felt too long and a lot of missed opportunities really hurt the film for me. It had some killer elements working for it but it also had a lot of elements that were killing it.

"That's my secret, Capt.  I'm always blind."

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Them

***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! This isn't the Them that is about giant ants.



Them – 2 out of 5

I never heard of this 2006 French-Romanian horror film until my horror nerd girlfriend requested that I put it on the Netflix queue. She watched it when I wasn’t around and I picked it up later and I’m wondering how she didn’t fall asleep during it. I mean, I totally would have fallen asleep but fortunately I was forcing myself to be active and watching it while I was running on the treadmill but, man, this film is boring.
"Goodnight, sweetheart.  Let us begin another mundane night that contains
absolutely no home invasions or potentially horrific situations."

The story to Them is simple: After a hard day of teaching, Clémentine (Olivia Bonamy) goes home to her ridiculously oversized house (they clearly pay teachers better overseas if she can afford this mansion that never seems to stop growing in the film) and spends a quiet night with her lover Lucas (Michaël Cohen). However, in the middle of the night, they are awoken by some noises and soon discover that their home is under siege by some unseen predators. Terror and horror overtake the duo as they scramble to escape with their lives…but when they learn who their invaders are and why they are attacking; no amount of preparation will soften the blow. By the way, it’s also based on a true story...because of course it is.
"Honey, hurry up!  I need to use the can.  You never know when a home invasion
will happen and you don't want full bowels in those situations."

After watching this, I do what I always do with movies and check out what others thought of the movie and see its rating on Rotten Tomatoes. For the most part, this film received good reviews but I just didn’t see it. Most critics say the film is terrifying and full of non-stop suspense and tension but I just didn’t get that. For me, the film dragged, provided nothing new that I haven’t already seen in the world of horror to the point the film is almost predictable, there’s no shock to the "reveal," and there’s just nothing happening that is really grabbing my interest and keeping my attention. In short, this film was just a snoozer for me.
Jesus...how fucking big is this house?

Nowadays, there's an app for that lighter.
Part of the issue I had was I just didn’t care for the characters. While the performances from Bonamy and Cohen are in no way bad, I just didn’t know anything about their characters beyond the fact they are lovers and what their occupations are. Besides that, I really felt no emotional connection to them beyond a feeling that they shouldn’t be horribly murdered because they are innocent people. This is actually a pretty common problem I have with home invasion horror films and when I find myself have a barely passing interest in the protagonists of the story, it’s hard for me to really get invested in the story—especially one that is fairly repetitive and something that is overly familiar in the world of horror...this type of film has been insanely popular in the last decade.
She has this gigantic house but has that for a TV?

"You monsters!  Get out of my room that only has plastic
sheets hanging from the ceiling!"
The film also takes a very, very minimalist approach towards music and that has the potential to be a good thing because it allows other elements of the film to provide the terror. However, thanks to a lethargic pace and the repetitive nature of the plot that involves running five feet, hiding, being found again and then running before one stops to listen to the sounds created by the chasers, this lack of music only amplified the boring state I was having with the film. This dynamic became really apparent during a sequence when Clémentine is hiding from the attackers in her car and is desperately trying to find her keys. At one point, she stops and stares out the front of the windshield—now, it’s obvious that someone is there because she’s terrified and the directors decided to stay on that shot of her looking in terror for several beats way too long and then, by the time the film cuts to the man she’s looking at, the suspense is already gone and maybe, just maybe, adding in a striking tone when they cut to the man might have made for a little bit of a scare.
Having her reaction shot last 9 minutes might have been too long and could have
benefited from a bit of a trim in the editing room.

The film also tries to have a twist with the nature of who the attackers are but the reveal of who they are and why they are attacking this couple was a bit "meh" to me. While the mystery of who they are and the seemingly motiveless nature of their attack seemed to be the only real bit of interest I had in the story, the complete lack of tension and suspense that bored me ended up making me indifferent to the reveal of the attackers and the half-ass way their motives are explained to the audience (fuck spoilers, they just have some text at the end of the film tell you why they attacked…that just felt lazy) made it impossible for me to really feel any surprise or even have any kind of reaction beyond relief that the film was over.
"I'll go get help!  I love yo--wait, are you flipping me off?"

He had a stressful week.  Attacking his home invaders proved
to help.  Hastag Silver Linings.
From a technical standpoint, Them doesn’t really do anything wrong. Aside from having some poor lighting in spots and some shaky camera work that didn’t really help the action, the film has a simple (albeit overly familiar) story, the acting is good, the lack of music and antagonists surrounded by mystery had potential, and, despite characters that have no depth to them, they work for what they are needed to work for. The reality is home-invasion horror films don’t speak to me (even though the idea may spook me because I don’t want anyone invading my domicile), so the film already was a hurdle for me to begin with. In the end, even with the potential I saw in it, the movie just didn’t work for me and I found it more tedious, boring, and completely empty on scares.
"Hi!  Oh wait--HELP!  I'm in danger!"