Sunday, October 30, 2011

Hesher

***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. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

Hesher - 3 out of 5

If you haven't seen the hype-inducing trailer for Hesher, check it out...I'll wait...



The beginning of the trailer alone makes the film look awesome--and not just because we have Metallica's "Battery" rocking. The trailer teases us with the possibility of a unique, dark comedy about some mysterious man named Hesher. Even though the 2nd half of the trailer hints that the film will enter cliche territory as it appears to be a carbon copy of hundreds of other indie films that have been produced (and will continue to be produced) that focuses entirely on the bleak nature of the world and the story is doused in depressed characters who are unsure about their futures, loathing their past and disappointed with their present. You're guaranteed to see this same formula in 90% of all the indie films out there but rocking Metallica made me think that the film would be a send up of this tired, played out film genre.

Too bad it wasn't.

How can a movie that provides Joseph Gordon-Levitt in his underpants NOT be hilarious?!?

Hesher is about a small family that suffered the lost of the matriarch. The father (played by Rainn Wilson) enters a completely numb state over the loss of his wife, totally incapable of doing not much other than sitting and barely registering the TV. T.J., the son (played by Devin Brochu) mirrors his father's depression and, when acting out over his rage, he meets a long haired squatter named Hesher. This mysterious man starts to force himself into T.J.'s life, interfering in such things as his problems with a bully, a girl he has a crush on (played by Natalie Portman) and his overall problem with dealing with the death of his mother. Hesher makes himself comfortable in the family's home and starts to help them...in odd ways that, on the surface, appear to be more like he's doing harm rather than providing assistance.

"What do you mean I don't look like I'm 21?"

This story feels like it's loaded with potential and...it is. The problem is that all the cliches that plague a indie film (the overly depressed characters who hate life and dragging story) are all here. The beginning of the trailer made me think that the film would have dashed out of the cookie cutter that is the indie film but instead, the film settles nicely within those confines and the only thing it dares venture away from with it is the soundtrack. If you've seen even one of those boring, depressed indie films, you know the soundtrack consists of indie rock artists who are just as bad as the film itself. Shit you would expect to hear on Zach Braff's iPod. But loading the soundtrack with Metallica and Motorhead isn't enough to deliver what I had hoped Hesher would bring.

"This is my serious face."

The film is just good enough to give it a shot but it really feels like so much more could have been done. The film offers up some great humorous scenes but as the drama takes over the film, the comedy seen within the drama earlier in the movie is completely lost and you find yourself submerged in familiar indie film territory. All amusing scenes are replaced by people yelling at each other and crying--normally this wouldn't be a complaint because this is expected in a drama but when each scene starts and ends with it, you start to drown in the salty tears.

Natalie Portman preparing to fight off rabid Star Wars fans. Sadly, this is a daily occurrence for her.

The film even delivers some amazing performances. Joseph Gordon-Levitt destroys as the metalhead Hesher and a special mention has to be made for Rainn Wilson as the dad. His
performance as the grief-ridden father is so amazing that you completely forget he's been beating a dead horse and playing Dwight in every movie he's been in since The Office was created. The boy who plays T.J. (Devin Brochu) is...passable. He's not terrible but he doesn't bring much to the role. Normally, this could be a really bad thing because on paper, the character of T.J. seems to be the center character. Natalie Portman's character also feels tagged on and her performance doesn't really bring much to the screen or story. However, with Gordon-Levitt and Wilson delivering like bosses, it's easy to overlook these complaints.

"Dwight who?"

In the end, Hesher was not was I thought it would be. The script feels like it's confused on who they want the film to center around and it's even more confused on whether it's going to be a dark comedy or a drama. Despite these complaints, Hesher isn't a terrible film. It's nice to check out once, enjoy the soundtrack and some of the characters, get the few laughs the film gives you and call it a night. There was clear and cut potential that was never truly grasped upon in Hesher but what we do get is just good enough to check out.

Okay, this image may make you want to see the film.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Your Highness

***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. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

Your Highness - 3 out of 5

A brave young knight called Fabious has his young lover taken from him by an evil wizard and it's up to him, his jealous younger brother; Thadeous and his young man servant, Courtney to save her and thwart the evil. Along the way they are joined by the beautiful and deadly Isabel who is out for her own revenge on the magic man. Oh, there's a catch...Your Highness is a stoner comedy. Did you catch the pun in the title?

He's not attacking anything, he just caught his thing in his zipper.

Written by actor Danny McBride (who also plays Thadeous) and Ben Best (writer and Clegg on Eastbound & Down), the film initially had given me high (no pun intended) hopes. The red band trailer made the film look ridiculous and hilarious. I've never been the biggest fan of stoner comedies because most of them are written with the thought your audience will be high and, therefore, find everything funny. However, there are quite a few pot-laced comedies out there that are quite amusing...sadly, Your Highness isn't quite up to those standards.

Kenny Powers takes a seat at the Round Table.

I'm a fan of Danny McBride. I love his character of Kenny Powers and the show Eastbound & Down and I've found him to be very funny in Tropic Thunder and Hot Rod. Your Highness however, seems almost confused on what constitutes as a joke. Don't get me wrong, there were a couple of times that I was chuckling over the goings on but for the most part, it seems McBride and Best felt that by adding a swear word in at the end of a line would get some laughs. Sadly, it didn't...motherfucker.

Your Highness is filled with potential that was just never fully achieved. James Franco plays Fabious and his straight man act makes for some genuinely amusing moments. Add in the fact the filmmakers took all the right things seriously in order to set up some great comedy. The music sounds like it's taken from a number of fantasy films and the sets and costumes all look legit enough to create a world that's believable. The only thing that was left was adding in the gags but all the quality jokes come few and far between. All the rest are filler--gags like sexual references, gay jokes and, like I said before, pointless swearing...bitch.

"Do you smell onions?"

Don't get me wrong, I'm no prude. I have no moral or ethical reason against swearing, in fact I swear a lot. Sometimes when I'm dying a lot in a video game, I find myself inventing new swear words because the ones we have aren't descriptive enough to convey the frustration I'm feeling. Swearing isn't a seasoning that will make comedy taste better. In fact, sometimes, adding a "fuck" to a line might have the reverse effect and point out how little time a person spent at the writing desk. Don't believe me? Go to an open mic and watch a comic who adds "fuck" to their joke like a valley girl adds the word "like" to every sentence. It's clear the comic didn't feather out the joke like it needed to be and uses the F-bomb as filler as an attempt to mask his (or her) weak writing. And that's exactly how a lot of the scenes in Your Highness felt...shit.

What the hell is this thing?!?

The film isn't really terrible but it's not that great either. There are some scenes that are very funny but to get to them, you have to sit through some very unfunny ones. James Franco and Danny McBride work well together and Natalie Portman, who plays the dangerous Isabel, feels slightly out of place in the film. Maybe it's because she's too hot to be around McBride or the fact in real life, she's a really pretentious actress and seeing her in a stoner comedy seems like something she would have passed up, I don't know but she didn't belong in the movie...

Then the movie gave me this scene and I was suddenly fine with Portman being in it.

If you're a fan of McBride, I say check the film out. If you like stoner movies, get high and check it out because you'll laugh more than I did. If you have a curious interest in the film, why not see it. However, if you haven't seen the trailer, don't like movies that make jokes about weed or what I've said in this review repulses you like watching a fat man at a buffet, you might want to pass this one by.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

***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. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides - 5 out of 5

When the first Pirates film was announced, I was a little skeptical. How could the house that a mouse built make a feature length film based on a ride? However, after watching the trailers, I gave the film a shot and was incredibly surprised on how cool it was. However, the two the came after it weren't the best. The 2nd was mediocre and the 3rd disappointed me. So, when it was announced that a new film would come out--and it shouldn't be a surprised since, despite his popularity with the ladies, the Pirates films are the only movies Johnny Depp has done that actually makes money--I was slightly hesitant. But, like the first film, after seeing the trailer, I was sold. In fact, this movie is so good, it completely redeems the poor quality of the third film.

Yes, the surprised look of a man who just accidentally crapped in his pants.

On Stranger Tides sees the return of Captain Jack Sparrow and it seems someone is using his name to gather a crew on a mission to find the Fountain of Youth. Falling into the trap strewn about by an old lover, Jack ends up aboard Queen Anne's Revenge, the flagship of the dreaded Blackbeard. Forced into service thanks to threats and voodoo, Blackbeard uses Sparrow and his unique compass and colorful past to get to the Fountain in order to ensure that the dreaded pirate can continue ruling the seas. Meanwhile, Sparrow's old nemesis Barbossa has joined forces with the British crown in order to get to the Fountain first...although, Barbossa is mostly in it for revenge after his leg and The Black Pearl were taken from the mystic loving evil pirate.

Ian McShane is just a amazing as Blackbeard.

This new installment of the Pirates series takes an almost fresh start to the franchise but contains all the things we loved from the previous films. The music and look still make me want to live the pirate life, albeit without the STDs and scurvy, and the combination of a simultaneous grounded and over-the-top supernatural story makes for a cocktail of awesome. Geoffrey Rush is still a scene-stealer as Captain Hector Barbossa and Johnny Depp once again proves that the only role I can stand him in is as Jack Sparrow--let's be honest, if it wasn't for his life partner, Tim Burton, he wouldn't have a career because his acting sure wouldn't build it for him (in case you missed the sarcasm, I'm saying Depp isn't a very talented actor).

"Is that the last slice of pizza?"

However, the one man who steals the movie is the film's villain, played by foul-mouth throwing Al Swearengen himself from Deadwood; Ian McShane. McShane looks, sounds and acts like he really is a pirate and almost makes me believe that somehow Doc Brown and Marty used the DeLorean to bring back the real Blackbeard. The film's only real downside is that Penelope Cruz plays Jack Sparrow's love interest and Blackbeard's daughter; Angelica Teach. I'm not the biggest fan of Cruz and always finds her to be...passable in her roles. She doesn't offer up much screen presence to be memorable but her downfalls will quickly be overlooked as the story delivers to us a character that will make you wish for his death every two minutes. Well, it's not so much the character but the actor who plays him. Stephen Graham (probably best known for playing Tommy in Snatch) plays Scrum and it seems he felt being annoying is the same as being a pirate. However, this is really the film's only bad aspects. The rest is pure gold...pirates' gold!

Keith Richards never looked better.

Gore Verbinski, who directed the previous three films, was replaced by Rob Marshall (Memoirs of a Geisha) and he takes over at the helm. However, unless you really pay attention, you would never notice as the film stays very true to the tone that was established in the very first film. The costumes, the music, the beautiful locations, the action mixed with just the right amount of humor is all here--and the lack of Orlando Bloom is also a plus!! Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is said, by Disney's head of Production; Oren Aviv, to be the beginning of another trilogy and, if that's true, it's one hell of a start. Savvy?

Oh yeah, I forgot, there's mermaids in this one. But be careful, Ariel will rip your face off.

Captain America: The First Avenger

***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. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

Captain America: The First Avenger - 5 out of 5

Frisbee with the Capt. is serious business.

Here's my three word review of Captain America: The First Avenger...America: FUCK YEAH!!!



Captain America is the final film in the build up to The Avengers--Marvel's ultimate show of
bad-assery in terms of their film adaptations. It tells the story of the first Avenger (who is ironically the final film in the build up to the greatness!), a small, weak young man named Steve Rogers who, despite his lack of muscles and overall height and size, wants to serve his country and fight Nazis in World War II in order to preserve freedom and stop evil from taking over the planet. His determination and heart proves he is the best candidate for the Super Soldier program, created by Dr. Abraham Erskine (played awesomely by Stanley Tucci) and Iron Man's daddy; Howard Stark. This program takes wee widdle Wogers and turns him into the ultimate symbol of Hope and Peace and remakes him as the Star Spangled Superhero; Captain America!!! With shield in hand, Rogers goes to war and tries to stop a man even more dangerous than Adolf Hitler: The evil Red Skull.

It's amazing how they made Chris Evans look small and skinny.

Being a big comic nerd, Captain America was the comic adaptation I was the most excited for in the summer of 2011--even more excited than Thor and Green Lantern (and I'm a bigger fan of GL
than the Capt.). Not only did the trailer sell the film as an orgy of patriotic action, the story of Steve Rogers is something that anyone--even those who hate comic books (jocks, thanks for the wedgies guys)--can get behind. Rogers is the underdog who becomes the hero who saves the day, putting those who need help before himself. Yes, the Capt. is a symbol of patriotism with the red, white and blue but he's more about doing what's right, than doing what's important for the nation. Capt. didn't go and fight Nazis to make sure America is Number 1, he did it to protect the world from evil (if you read the comics, Rogers takes a very large stand against the government and pays the ultimate price for doing what's right). That being said, I'm going to say it: Captain America would NOT be a member of the Tea Party.

Toby Keith has probably already written three songs about this picture alone.

Not only is the character of Captain America a genuine hero in the Superman-sense and not the anti-hero or vigilante sense like Batman, his character just makes for great story telling. We see his heart and drive deliver him to something great and, if you already know the story of Capt. (both in the comics and movie) you know he sacrifices himself to save others and ends up frozen in the arctic--only to be awaken over 60 years later. So, you get the whole fish-out-of-water element that is more of a fish-out-of-his-era. It was always this aspect to Capt.'s story that I've found to be the most interesting and one of the many things this film did exceptionally well.


"Hey dudes, check this out."

Story-telling and special effects are just epic and it is backed up by an amazing cast that felt not like a group of actors pretending to be their comic-counterparts but rather the actual comic personas coming to life from the pages. Chris Evans (the same guy who played the douche Human Torch in the two Fantastic Four movies) takes up the shield and gives a performance that made me say, "Johnny Storm who?"

"Remember when I was the flaming dork? I'm a bad-ass now!"

When you have a great actor giving life to a great hero, you need an equally impressive villain delivered by an equally amazing actor. The Red Skull is not only a great villain and Capt.'s antithesis but having the incredibly talented Hugo Weaving as the man with the red...well, skull, is just plain, medical-grade awesome. And something I really enjoyed is the fact that Weaving based his accent on one of my favorite directors; Werner Herzog. He was so good at his impersonation that I wanted more lines for Weaving for him to read as Skull.

"Okay, everybody get your look at my red skull. Can we move on now?"

But having a great villain and hero played well wasn't enough for this film. They kept going. I
mentioned Stanley Tucci as Dr. Erskine and he was amazing but the small (but important) role of Col. Chester Phillips was brought on screen, like a boss, by Tommy Lee Jones! He was so good, I completely forgot he was in Man of the House--that is till I wrote this and now I remember that horrible film again.


"Hive five. Come on, don't leave me hanging."

Captain America: The First Avenger is one of those comic adaptations that very closely resembles the source material and brings the iconic character to life with gusto and style. The story flows with no hint of drag and the action is on such a scale that it makes keeping your ass in the seat nearly impossible. Having this film be the final one in the set up to The Avengers was a stroke of pure genius. Not only does it get my geek boner raging to see Captain America take up arms with Nick Fury, Iron Man, The Hulk, Thor, Black Widow and Hawkeye, it just gets my blood pumping in general. It is an entertainment high.

The Avengers sneak peek after the credits is enough to get me sexually excited.

Also, be sure to check out the special features to see a Marvel One-Shot short film about Agent Coulson called A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to Thor's Hammer. Seriously, you won't regret it.

Definitely check out Agent Coulson's short. It's funny and just shows how awesome Coulson is.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Green Lantern

***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. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

Green Lantern - 4 out of 5

"In brightest day, in blackest night
No evil shall escape my sight.
Let those who worship evil's might
Beware my power...Green Lantern's light!"

I'm a big fan of Green Lantern and, in case you were wondering, I didn't need to Wikipedia that oath--I know it by heart!

"Now this is a ring with power in it, Sauron."

I've been a fan of GL for a long time now--I'm also a big fan of The Hulk and Green Arrow, so, it seems, I definitely have a type when it comes to superheroes and that type is green. There's always been something about the man who wields the emerald power of Will that has spoken to me. First off, he wears a bad-ass ring that gives him the ability to manifest anything he thinks off--and it can make him fly, who doesn't want to fly? Then, to make the Green Lantern even more interesting, he's basically a intergalactic police officer out to stop evil and protect the innocent all the while hanging out with aliens. Unlike other heroes who think globally and act locally, GL acts on a galactic level--protecting all who are threatened by those things dark and sinister.

I told my girlfriend when we get married, this has to be my wedding band.

So, when it was announced that they were going to do a Green Lantern adaptation, I was stoked! I was even more excited when I found out that it would involve Hal Jordan, my favorite Lantern. Now don't get me wrong, Alan Scott started it all, Kyle Rayner is an alright Lantern, John Stewart is a bad-ass when he wears the ring and Guy Gardner is just a tool but Hal has always been the man for me--I don't know if it is because he's the first Lantern I was exposed to or what but he is, and always will be, the top Lantern in my book.

"Allow me to shed some light on the situation...I'll go now."

After the initial announcement of the film, I kept a close eye on the hub-bub on the internet for any juicy tidbits of news that would come out about the film. The first real news came in the form of who would play Jordan and a relief that can only be equal to hearing "you are NOT the father" on Maury Povich came over me when I heard that the man who's portrayal of Deadpool made the Wolverine movie interesting (at least for the first 20 minutes); Ryan Reynolds, would play the man who wears the ring. Why was this a relief? Because Bradley Cooper from The Hangover and Justin Timberlake were also up for the role. Cooper is funny and talented but I can't see him as Jordan and as far as Timberlake...well, let's just say I don't want one of my favorite heroes to sound like a wannabe gansta, more effeminate Michael Jackson dancing in space and using the ring to bring sexy back.

Seriously, they wanted this ass to play Hal Jordan?!?

With Reynolds in place, I was set to see the movie and I was NOT disappointed...although the critics were.

Here's what a GL nerd I am...this is me performing stand up in one of my Green Lantern shirts. Just ignore Jimmy Buffett in the background.

If you're not familiar with the Green Lantern or the story of the film, it's about a test pilot who is chosen by a powerful ring--a ring worn by the guardians of the galaxy, The Green Lantern Corp.--and ends up becoming one of the most powerful members. The film takes bits and pieces from the comics and creates an updated version of Hal's origin and pits him against the being created by the yellow power of Fear; Parallax. (This being was altered from the comic books but if you're not a geek like I am, you would never know) One of the biggest aspects of the comic books (and something I believe they nailed in the movie) is the all-around fantastic nature that is the Green Lantern.

If you look like this, it's hard to not be evil.

The Corp. itself is made up entirely of non-human aliens (and then Hal goes and breaks the status quo) and the constructs that the Lanterns create can be whimsical, comical and all-around awesome. These two facts alone makes bringing the man in green to the screen a difficult task because the filmmakers are always riding a razor-thin line that could easily get out of control and, the next thing you know, we have another Daredevil or Catwoman on our hands. However, it is my opinion, that the filmmakers were successful and created a Green Lantern film that captures the spirit of the comic books.

Insert generic headache joke here.

Now, I'll admit I'm bias because I enjoy the Green Lantern so much that they could have made a much worse film and I still would have enjoyed it--unless they put the guy who has yet to learn he can't beat box; Justin Timberlake, in it. Ryan Reynolds really captured the arrogant but flawed character of Jordan fantastically. Mark Strong as Sinestro was just awesome! And the cast they got to play the digitally created characters is fist-pumpingly tremendous. Geoffrey Rush as the bird/fish-like Lantern called Tomar-Re and Michael Clarke Duncan perfectly cast as one of my favorite Lanterns; Kilowog, are two examples of why this movie knew what it was doing. Finally, the man who does the voice of Mr. Krabs on SpongeBob providing an excellent voice for the super-being Parallax--that's right, The Kurgan himself; Clancy Brown. This cast, even without the fact the film is an adaptation of one of my favorite comic characters, would have been enough to get me to see this movie. Hell, with this cast, the movie could have been about a farting contest and I probably would have seen it--especially since Tim Robbins (the man I will forever be jealous of because he's nailed Susan Sarandon) also has a role.

"Hi, I'm Clancy Brown and I'm cooler than you."

With the story of Hal Jordan and his entry into the Corp. being something that is just amazingly fantastic and out-of-this-world, special effects that can live up to that standard are, without a doubt, needed and I believe they succeeded. CG characters like Kilowog look and feel like their 1-D counterparts had ripped their way out of the comic pages and came to life. More importantly was the filmmakers decision to make the trademark Green Lantern costume completely computer generated and not the usual "just make it leather instead of spandex" approach that we now see dominate the world of comic adaptations. Much like how Dr. Manhattan was created on Watchmen, the creators of Green Lantern used motion-capture technology to make Hal Jordan's suit look and feel more alien and alive. This effect makes Jordan appear larger-than-life as the ring is coursing energy constantly through the suit. The effect really sells the alien nature of the power Jordan wields.

Now, I don't want you to think I'm going to sit here and blow Will manifested smoke up your ass and say that Green Lantern is perfect because it's not. The only real complaint I had about it was it does run low on the action department. While the action sequences it gives you are created and a blast to watch, the reality is, there is not a lot of them. However, I'm quick to glance over this complaint when I remember the film is an origin story--and origin stories for comic book heroes are never easy to tell as the filmmakers are put in a difficult situation of running the risk of putting too much backstory in to satisfy the comic nerds like me or putting in too little to make average Joe and Jane movie goer happy--or the kind of people who ridicule me for reading the comics yet they are shelling out 20 bucks to see said comic adapted on to the big, bright shiny screen.

"I'm sorry Kilowog but did you eat shit for lunch."

Despite how badly the critics panned Green Lantern, I enjoyed myself. While some aspects of the film could have improved (like more action), the reality is, it could have been much, much, MUCH worse (like having a former member of N*sync in the film). Adapting Green Lantern into a film isn't an easy task because not only is the story very out-there, you also have rabid, die-hard fans like myself foaming at the mouth to see the man come to life. But, when the credits rolled (and we got teased with seeing Sinestro fall from grace and give into the power of Fear), I was very happy with the end result and can only hope a sequel will be produced.

Insidious

***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. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

Insidious - 2 out of 5

Halloween is upon us and the previous night (previous night to when I'm writing this--I don't want future readers to think that every time they read this I was doing what I'm about to say the night before like I'm stuck in some kind of blog Groundhog's Day scenario) well, the previous night I decided to carve some pumpkins with my girlfriend and the spirit of Halloween quickly possessed me and I was in the mood for some horror! Now, I wasn't going to waste my money and, more importantly, my time to see Paranormal Activity 3 again (read my review here: http://revronmovies.blogspot.com/2011/10/paranormal-activity-3.html). Looking through some titles I haven't seen yet, I settled on a newer one called Insidious. The title alone sounded devilish and, to be honest, I didn't really know much about the story--didn't read a single article about it, didn't venture to investigate the film's storyline and never saw a single trailer for it. All I knew was the film was about ghosts or astral projection or perhaps about monkeys attempting to run a law firm. Now monkeys being lawyers would be really cool and, honestly, after sitting through this lackluster scare film, I found myself really disappointed monkeys weren't involved.

Insidious is the story of a small child who enters into a coma-like state. Doctors are baffled and, in my opinion, the family should have went to the monkey lawyers for a lawsuit but as the months go by and the child sees no sign of leaping out of bed to play Pac-man, utilize hula hoops or whatever kids are into now-a-days, the mother of the family starts to experience weird goings on as she starts to see ghostly figures appearing in the house. And, like all other horror films that involve ghosts, shit starts to go wild and a psychic is called in--ready to scam (or as psychics call it, "help") the family out of their money...and possibly make the angry spirit flee.

A mother and son in matching pajamas?!? Now, that is scary.

The film was written and directed by the duo that gave us the sickly profitable franchise of Saw (James Wan and Leigh Whannell) but the film lacks the feel of the story that made Jigsaw a household name. The film lacks gore and, for 90% of it, lacks any real tension, suspense or scares. In fact, the first 45 minutes of the film is nothing but a boring look into the mundane lives of this family that seems like they are completely uninterested in each other. And the husband and wive have 3 kids. How do you produce 3 kids when the affection they show each other on screen is about as hot as a glass of cold water?

Now, if you're able to make it through the first dreadfully boring 45 minutes and can stomach the lack of passion and realism in the husband and wife (played by Rose "I was much hotter before I decided heroin skinny is the way to go" Byrne and Patrick "I was awesome in Watchmen" Wilson), the film will treat you to a single creepy scene that involves the husband's mother, played by Barbara Hershey. Don't get your hopes up--she isn't getting raped by ghosts in this one. (If you got that reference, then you have seen The Entity and I congratulate you.) This single creepy scene involves the mother explaining a nightmare she had and within it, we catch a glimpse of the angry monster terrorizing the home and keeping the family's child in suspended animation.

Now in all seriousness, this is just fucking creepy.

At this point, my hopes are up and I think I'm being rewarded for my patience in the beginning of the film and will now get to see some scares...I was wrong as all feelings of creep are stolen, destroyed, burned and pissed upon by the inclusion of the psychic in the form of her two arguing assistants providing comic relief. Not only does this mysterious inclusion of comedy destroy the creepy scene that aired not more than 30 seconds prior to their arrival, it also changes the tone of the film and the entire story flies off its tracks (that were, at this point, quite grounded) and lets it soar towards the skies and into "WTF" territory. Things start to get strange and I began to wonder if there was a gas leak in my home as I was quite certain that the evil entity out for the little boy's soul was Darth Maul from Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. After the film suddenly restarts itself and has a plot's answer to plastic surgery, the film reverts back to itself at the end and decides to give us one more scare (because 3 is the magic number in this film--I guess Whannell is a fan of Schoolhouse Rocks).

"Hi, we're here to destroy all momentum this film has made with our pointless and completely unnecessary comic relief."

Overall, Insidious was a complete disappointment that killed (or exorcised) the Halloween spirit I was filled with. While the film offers up some scares (only 3), the movie is otherwise boring--even the presence of my beloved bad-ass Darth Maul couldn't help this one out. The comic relief suddenly placed in the film felt completely foreign and only seemed to further highlight the unexpected change in tone the movie takes in its third act. If you're desperate for some Halloween horror, I guess you could give this one a shot because the 3 scares the movie spent all its energy on are quite good and very creepy--I will neither confirm or deny I needed to change my underpants after seeing them--but if you're looking for something that is so scary that it will make you crap up candy corn you ate last year for Halloween, this isn't the movie for you.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Paranormal Activity 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, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

Paranormal Activity 3 - 1 out of 5

Normally I wait until a film hits DVD before I review it on my blog because I'm very picky about the movies I see in the theater. Number 1) seeing a movie in the theater is frakking expensive, Number 2) seeing a movie in the theater is frakking expensive and finally, if I want to see a movie in the theater, there's a great chance that I'm pumped to see the movie and I'm not just experimenting and seeing it for the hell of it because...seeing a movie in the theaters is FUCKING expensive.

Recently, my girlfriend wanted to see a movie and, being the awesome boyfriend I am, let her pick the film. Since Halloween is upon us, she decided to go see the latest in the Paranormal Activity franchise.

Paranormal Activity
has become the new yearly Halloween franchise that will, probably for the next several years, be churning out mediocre, cheaply made gimmicks that, mysteriously, makes millions of dollars. However, I have to say with the latest installment, they have been able to keep up the level of quality that the others produced. That quality? Pure and other shit made for no other reason than to make money.

Did you think this scene was cool from the trailer? Well, this and 90% of the other scenes in the trailer isn't even in the film. That means our money hungry filmmakers are planning on either re-releasing it or putting out an "extended cut" DVD. Now that's scary.

Trying to capitalize on the success of The Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity was, at least from my perspective, a poorly edited collection of cheap scares that, for me, were never scary. The film was basically a mash up of all the "cats in the closet" scares that most mainstream horror films contain without the follow up scare that involved the killer stabbing the now relieved victim in the face. The story about two very unlikeable characters being haunted by a demon and shown from the gimmicky perspective of the now overdone "found footage" genre of horror films did little to keep my attention. In fact, the only way I was able to stay awake was by watching it with RiffTrax commentary. But, the reality is, I knew the film was going to be a wash when I first popped it into my DVD player. Why, you ask? Because of the ads that showed audiences reacting to the film. Whenever a horror film does that, you're guaranteed to see an over-hyped piece of shit. And sure enough, that's what was delivered.

So, for reasons I will never understand, people found this film frightening and it made bank, so, like all money-making movies, a sequel was produced and since this movie doesn't pay money to have decent actors or put time into a story or plot, it takes no time to make and a year later, we got Paranormal Activity 2. I don't want to waste my time talking about it but the only good thing about that one was the pool vacuum. That was the only good character in the otherwise snore-inducing sequel. But, like ICP and their reason for why fucking magnets work, a miracle occurred and it made bank once again so, in 2011, we were once again treated with a low-budget, bad acting, plot-hole encrusted prequel.

Creatively titled, Paranormal Activity 3, takes the story back to when the sisters from the previous two films were wee little ones and when the haunting from the demon started. When you grind the film down to a fine powder and filter that movie powder, you see that nothing really new is going on in this film--in fact, you don't even need to grind it down as it is obvious from the get-go! The only real difference (other than the film taking place in the 80s) is that the movie decides to go balls out with the scares but the filmmakers had to do this because the franchise is beating a dead horse now--actually, it was beating said horse when the sequel came out and I think they've moved on to the next horse ranch for more horse beatings, right before jumping the shark on their way over.

Static shots of a bedroom--exactly what horror films need.

Despite pulling out all stops (and by pulling out all stops, I mean no more floor creaking, door slamming or swinging light fixtures to pass as scares), the film still fails entirely with creating tension and suspense and only goes for the quick spook. In the first film, all scares were announced with a low end rumble that appeared up to 30 seconds before the demon did his pathetic antics. To be honest, every time the rumble happened, not only was the film screaming "HEY, WE'RE GOING TO TRY AND SCARE YOU NOW," I secretly hoped that the rumbling was actually Darth Vader using the Force to choke out the filmmakers, trying to halt production of a crummy horror film. But, as we can see, that was only wishful thinking.

However, the film didn't utilize Vader's rumble to alert the viewers to the scares (and yet, somehow people were still pissing their pants with fear during the movie), the filmmakers decide that they need to dig deep into the horror film's steamer trunk of cliches and pull out the most obvious tool for alerting to scares--2nd only to musical cues--the long, slow walk towards a mysterious sound. While trying to stay awake in the theater, I actually lost count on how many times the film recycled this formula in a lame and desperate attempt to scare. Sometimes, these long, slow walks would last upwards to 3 minutes and by the time the scare actually arrived, I was bored out of my mind and ready to go to the dentist to get a root canal because that would have been a better use of my time and money. (Remember, seeing movies in the theater is flipping expensive.)

Finally, (this has to be finally because my laundry list of complaints for these movies could make me write forever) this film creates tons of plotholes in its own self-created mythology and story as it unravels like a sweater knitted by a grandmother suffering from dementia. I won't list them all as I don't think my body has the strength to start (and I don't want to spoil the film for anyone who hasn't seen it and, because they're a glutton for punishment, wants to see it) but the biggest plothole comes in the form of who put the footage of this haunting together for us, the audience, to see.

In the first film, it's explained (and blatantly stolen from The Blair Witch) that the police put together the footage and released it--it doesn't bother explaining why the cops felt we needed to see the annoying ass that is Micah begging Katie for sex or the other 60 minutes of filler the movie delivers but at least the question of who put the raw footage together is answered. This same question isn't even remotely addressed in this film and, if you think about it too much, you'll end up going insane as you try to understand why the fuck I have to see some of the most unnecessary dialogue and sequences ever to be committed to film.

I try to always find something positive about the movies I review and Paranormal Activity 3 is incredibly difficult to locate any shred of entertainment. The scares are weak to the point they didn't even exist for me, the acting is terrible, the story is laughable and most of the plot makes no sense (like why is every single second of the day filmed and why are you NOT tossing the camera aside as all hell is breaking loose around you?). However, there were two sequences in the movie that I found interesting--interesting, not scary. The only reason these two scenes intrigued me was because of the camera work and the use of practical, not computer, effects to create haunting sequences. After seeing these, I wasn't nearly scared by them but actually said, "hmm, that was cool, I wonder how they did that." But that was the only positive thing I was able to walk away with from this otherwise pointless film.

I can't wait until they make one that is actually scary.

To fully enjoy Paranormal Activity 3, you need to check your brain at the door and possibly leave it there for the next week or so. If you even take a single second to examine any actions taken by the characters or any tidbit of the story, you will go insane over the stupidity of it all. Like the other films, the only scare I received from it was the worry that I would fall asleep and someone would take my wallet while I was out. But this reaction doesn't surprise me because the film was made for no other reason than to make money. The filmmakers obviously didn't care about suspense or tension, all they cared about was large bags with big black dollar signs on it. And, to be honest, that offends me even more than the fact we're going to see a fourth film next Halloween.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

America's Most Hated Family in Crisis

***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. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

America's Most Hated Family in Crisis - 5 out of 5

If you follow my blog, you know I tend to review movies on DVD but, on occasion, some specials, documentaries or made-for-TV films are so good (or just not offered on DVD) that I have to review them and Louis Theroux's America's Most Hated Family in Crisis is one of those qualifying specials. The documentary sees Louis returning to the Westboro Baptist Church several years after filming the documentary America's Most Hated Family. A rash of high profile family members leaving the church as well as antics that can only be considered exponentially crazier than before from the church inspired Theroux to return to see what condition the members who call out "God Hates Fags" are in.

Apparently leaving the WBC makes you incredibly hot!

Now, if you've read any other previous religious-theme movies I've reviewed, you've probably learned that I am an open and proud atheist--for you first time readers, you're probably wondering why I have "Reverend" in front of my name and the answer is simple: You can get ordained, for free, on the internet. So, going into the film, I already have my ethical reasons to despise the WBC but their misinformed animosity towards homosexuality makes me hate them on a human level as well.
Yes, the Bible says that homosexuality is bad but the Bible was written by man--or possibly the Flying Spaghetti Monster--and people like Phelps' clan refuse to admit how, at no point, does Jesus comment on the homosexual issue. I guess if I believed in God and the Bible is the word of God and said savior named Jesus didn't feel it was important enough to mention whether riding the rainbow and being fabulous was bad, then I guess I wouldn't waste my time being a dick and spend more time fist-bumping my gay brothers and sisters and telling them to have a great day.

Don't stare too long at Fred's image because one of either two things will happen: You'll either punch your computer screen or your face will melt off.

Writing this review, there's a big part of me that feels the need to cover my ass because I will not be saying anything nice about Fred Phelps and kin. The WBC are not afraid to sue those who disagree with them--at least some of them since a majority of the world doesn't agree with them--and I would hate for one of the Phelps to find this blog and sue me. I don't have a lawyer but I do have access to Google, so, I will say this, any inflammatory remarks I make about the Westboro Baptist Church and its members isn't necessarily fact but rather an assumption made from observations taken from their presence in the media. While Fred Phelps may not be a closeted homosexual, his "he doth protest too much" attitude towards them has made me believe there is a possibility that he may be one. Also, while it may not be confirmed that the WBC is a cult, their behavior has led me to believe they could possibly be one--however, they are missing the cyanide-laced Kool-Aid. These are merely believes I have and are not backed up by any real facts--so, WBC, they're kinda like the very foundation your church is based upon. Now, with my ass more or less covered, let's move on.


Her face makes me vomit slightly in my mouth and wet my pants from fear.

Like the previous go around, Louis gives us a thought-provoking (and often chilly) insight to the true insanity that runs the creator of the Church; the Phelps Family. We see their spectacle on the news all the time but Louis gets to show us that all the mind-boggling demented behavior we see from the world of media is...well, it's EXACTLY how they are. There appears to be no OFF switch for these lunatics. Louis once again speaks candidly with the members of the family about their crazy beliefs, their disrespectful way they treat others in the community and the world and he even speaks with some who left the cult to run screaming towards freedom. Without tricks of editing or twisting their words, Louis is able to show us the deep down hypocrisy that is the Westboro Baptist Church--and he did it without pointing out that creator Fred Phelps' daughter, Shirly, had a child out of wedlock (which, the church says you'll burn in hell for). Keith Allen did this in his doc about the nutcases called Keith Allen Will Burn in Hell. If you haven't seen that one, I highly suggest you check it out. Allen takes more of a name-calling, le'ts-make-fun-of-the-church approach and while it may be sophomoric to do so, it's fucking funny as hell.

Louis shows the family constantly talking about how people who judge them need to shut up and then, later in the doc, we see the family out spilling their hate on the streets or at soldiers funerals metaphorically saying, "nanna nanna boo boo, I can say what I want." With no real deception on Louis behalf, he is able to paint a picture Bob Ross style that shows the childish and evil mixture that is the Phelps family. And what makes this already volatile concoction even more dangerous is the fact the documentary does illustrate how the family truly is in crisis and, like a scorned man with nothing to lose, their tactics on their continuing assault on the secular and humanistic world goes from an annoyance to desperate insanity.

Louis Theroux: The Bravest Man in the World.

Documentaries on the cult called the Westboro Baptist Church isn't a new thing--there are quite a few of them out there--but I think Louis' are the best there is. Not only does he show that he has the balls to even be in the same room as the WBC, he also proves he's the best to showcase the crazies and their hate-spilling bile in the best light (if there is a good light for that crap)--he also proves to be the best host to do so. Louis himself doesn't believe in God--he admits it in the film and only slight alluded to it in the first doc. Having a man who doesn't believe hang out, talk and interact with a group that believes (and believes on the extremist side of the spectrum) is the dichotomy that a documentary like this needs. You can't have a man of faith who is cool on the gay issue make a doc about these nutbars because all they would do is toss Bible quotes at each other and, here's the sad part, they would both be right. Anyone can find a verse in the Bible to justify whatever they want to believe, whether it's for love or hate, you can twist those words to fit your needs--so, Louis and his lack of belief in the invisibly wizard in the sky is needed and the biggest aspect of the film that makes it work so well. Also, Louis just seems like a really cool, genuine guy. Honestly, even the Phelps crew, who runs on pure, high octane hate, can't help but like this guy.

I want to party with this guy!

America's Most Hated Family in Crisis is an all around fantastic, and deeply frightening, documentary that shows a family on the verge of collapse--I guess building a faith based on hate doesn't make the strongest building blocks, try some Legos next time. I just hope Louis does one final documentary after Fred finally kicks the bucket and gets the family's collapse on tape--as well as myself and thousands of others picketing the monster's funeral.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Aqua Unit Patrol Squad 1 Vol. 1

***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. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

Aqua Unit Patrol Squad 1 Vol. 1 - 5 out of 5

Aqua Teen Hunger Force is, next to Metalocalypse, my favorite cartoon on Adult Swim. The humor is off-the-wall, offensive, ridiculous and, sometimes, quite witty. So, after having a movie and reaching their 8th season, creators Matt Maiellaro and Dave Willis (also creators of the great Adult Swim cartoon Squidbillies) decided to freshen the show up the only way they could. So, using their unique creativity, they decided to re-brand the show and call it Aqua Unit Patrol Squad 1.

New title card...I have no joke to insert here.

ATHF was about a group of three anamorphic pieces of food (a shake, an order of french fries--or freedom fries if you're still riding that one--and a wade of hamburger meat) living in South Jersey and getting into absolutely insane situations with the likes of one-dimensional moon aliens, angry talking trees, suicidal and depressed toy dolls, an onion monster named Willie Nelson and their middle-aged, over-weight rocker of a neighbor--one of my favorite characters--Carl Brutananadilewski--Don't even try to pronounce the name and Carl suggests you just say "Smith" or "Jones."

Carl with no mustache?!? Where's your god now?

After 8 seasons and a movie that had an underground campaign that ended up causing an uproar when a Light-Brite was mistaken for an explosive device (if you didn't hear about this when it happen, Google it)
, it was decided that the show needed a fresh start--even though it wasn't getting stale--so, it doesn't take a genius to realize that this was done at the request of the network. So Maiellaro and Willis took the trio and made them detectives as they slammed a bottle of champagne into the animated cells and re-christened the show Aqua Unit Patrol Squad 1. The show offered meta-jokes in the first episode as it openly acknowledged it was a show, made references to the old formula and broke the fourth wall by saying this was a new show. But despite these gags, the new direction was abandoned after 3 episodes and the show returned to its already familiar glory--with a new theme song written by Queens of the Stone Age members, Josh Homme and Alain Johannes.



The show and its humor hasn't change. Even the attempt at changing the formula contained all the wit and completely f-ed up situations we've come to know and love from the Aqua Teens--with tons of great special guest voices to boot! The season, sadly, only lasted 10 episodes but it also contained the last 7 episodes of the show's previous incarnation (episodes that haven't been released on DVD), so the season's short length makes the DVD collection worth buying.

If you've never experience the insanity of these three, try it. If you dare.

The reality is, if you're a fan of the Aqua Teens, you already enjoy this show and couldn't care less about what I have to say and if you've never seen it, the show is almost nearly impossible to sell to you unless you take the time to sit down with someone who already likes it to take in a viewing. The Aqua Teens don't belong on any other network because there isn't a network ballsy enough to contain them. The offensive parts are too offensive and the absurdest parts are too absurd. So, this entire review was kinda pointless as, basically, I'm talking to myself and people who are already fans of the show. That being said, I'm going to go make myself a sandwich.