Monday, October 28, 2019

Cool World

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching!  I've never been cool and this movie makes an argument that being cool isn't worth it.




Cool World – 0 out of 5


I was just a little eleven year old boy when I saw Cool World for the first time.  My father, sister and I rented it on VHS when it was released and all I remember about it was…well…not much.  Other thank being a growing boy and some of the imagery making me feel funny, the film had no staying power with me over the years.  The film was released 4 years after the ground-breaking Who Framed Roger Rabbit? so it was no surprise why I wouldn’t want to see another film where real-life people and cartoons interact with each other.  Recently, I was reminded of its existence after a friend suffered through it for a sketch we had in one of our comedy shows and, in a show of solidarity, I decided to revisit the film so he wouldn’t suffer alone.  It was quite the ordeal but sorta on brand for me because I only watch horror films in October and, while this wouldn’t necessarily fall within that genre, the film is terrifying in its own way—well, in a way that it was actually made and exists in our reality.

Here's the quality of jokes you'll get in this film.


Holli Would...fire her manager after this film.
In the mid-1940s, Frank Harris (Brad Pitt) returns from World War II and gets in a motorcycle accident with his mother.  As she dies in his arms, he is transported to a cartoon world called Cool World by an animated scientist named Dr. Vincent (voiced by Maurice LaMarche) and there he stays to become a police detective in this animated world.  Decades later in the real world, cartoonist Jack Deebs (Gabriel Byrne), who has become famous for making a comic book inspired by visions of Cool World, is released from a prison sentence.  Not long after his release, Deebs finds himself sucked into Cool World and there he meets what he once thought was just a creation of his but turns out to actually exist; Holli Would (Kim Basinger).  Holli desperately wants to get out of Cool World, become a real person, and get to the real world and, to do that, she must have sex with a real person (what the hell is this rated?).   Naturally, Deebs doesn’t put up much of a fight and has doomed both their realities as this act has led Holli to unleash the cartoon world on the real world.

In the modern era, Deebs would definitely have one of those life-size anime
girl body pillows.


I’m not the biggest fan of Ralph Bakshi.  Yes, there are films from him that I find interesting but rarely have I ever found his stuff to be entertaining.  The production behind Cool World is an interesting one and it is quite the rollercoaster.  Bakshi, no stranger to the more problematic features, originally wanted this film to be an animated horror film and then, after the studio was sold on the idea, went through rewrite after rewrite before it became the mess it is now.  Additionally, Bakshi (not surprisingly) wanted the film to be a hard R-rated feature (probably so he can get even more misogynistic and racist) but the studio wanted a PG-13 film.  Bakshi’s work is really gross, creepy and problematic, why the hell would the studio believe he could do a PG-13 film that wasn’t completely inappropriate?  Well, he can’t and what we were left with was this really sloppy and aggravating feature that wants to be Who Framed Roger Rabbit? but for Edgelords but ended up with a film that just made my head hurt.

I guess she doesn't have to worry about his eyes leering.  His eyeline isn't
even looking in her general direction.


It’s so hard to figure out exactly where to begin with Cool World because there is just so much wrong with it and so little right.  First off, that story feels like it was conceived by a 14 year old Men’s Rights Activist.  Seriously, the film’s story hinges on a cartoon main character desperately wanting to bed any human she can get her hands on because said bedding will turn her human.  I don’t even want to start contemplating the internal logistics of that.  I won’t even bother getting into the whole misogyny of it all—but that’s not really a surprise if you are familiar with Bakshi’s work.

This movie would have been saved slightly if, when Holli became human, just
started screaming and begging to be killed because she made
a huge mistake.


A real car...did that get pulled in through the portal?
Next up is the animation and character design.  This feature has its usual racist undertones when it concerns character designs and the females are made to only be legs, tush, boobs and lips.  There’s not much you can say in this department beyond “gross” and “This does not age well.”  However, aside from the designs and terrible story, one of the worst aspect is how obnoxious the animation can be.  For one, no animated character ever remains the same size when dealing with human performers.  They constantly grow and shrink—and not in a perspective sorta way but rather there will be static scenes where you will literally watch Holli suddenly start to get smaller or larger for no reason.  And then you have to deal with the random animations like some black and white underworld monster just come moaning its way into a scene or how a single second in Cool World can’t be without random cartoons just acting nutso.  I guess it’s meant to constantly remind the viewer that you are in a cartoon world but it is so inane.  Without a doubt, this was one of the hardest aspects of the film to sit through.

These invasive toons would make Cool World an anxiety-inducing home.


If there is a shining light in this film, it’s the soundtrack.  Right as the movie started, it had this great dance track by the Thompson Twins.  The song is killer and the rest of the soundtrack follows suit.  Hell David Bowie literally did a song for the soundtrack!  However, a fantastic soundtrack isn’t enough to save this terrible feature and it only serves as a golden nugget in an otherwise muddy and shit filled movie.

Pitt's character didn't arrive with luggage so how often is he washing that suit?


Cool World is a pretty infuriating film.  My friend describes director Ralph Bakshi and his animation and design style as something that is only meant for those over 50 and white.  I’d add to it they need to also be pretty misogynistic and racist as well.  Despite somehow getting a really great soundtrack, the film is just a mess of chaotic and obnoxious animation, a pretty gross story and performances that are as cringe-y as the story is.  However, I will say that the voice acting is fairly decent when it concerns the professional voice actors—it just sucks that most of them are having to voice sexual and racial stereotypes.  Oh, and then you get the pain of watching performers unable to convincingly act and react with the animated characters.  Although their wooden performances in this department are amusing.  Overall, it was a really hard movie to revisit because of how atrocious it is and my face was literally worn with a mask of a wince throughout the entire time I viewed it.   One might think I was in physical pain…which it at times felt like.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Scream 4

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



Scream 4 – 3 out of 5

The initial Scream film felt like one of those “one and done” type of movies.  That isn’t to say it is bad because I genuinely feel it is a genre-defining film that shook up the subgenre of horror that is the slasher film.  However, it is very limited by the fact it is built upon the foundation of exploring, satirizing and honoring slasher tropes.  Realistically, that can only take you so far before it starts to either get lazy and repetitive or feel like self-parody—which is what Scream 3 felt like.  However, reboots and remakes exists and come with their own set of loose rules and, since horror films adopt and evolve with the times, even more rules come into play, so despite the franchise getting to a fourth film there was no doubt that Scream 4 definitely has some fertile ground to play with.  Did it succeed?  Kinda.

Spoiler Alert:  Sidney was the killer in this one.  I'm kidding...or am I?
I am...or am I?

Ghostface is back!  15 years after the original murders in Woodsboro, a new killer has put on the stupid costume and is calling people and asking them what their favorite scary movie is.  Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) returns to her hometown to promote her book about the events but it seems she is once again targeted and so is her cousin Jill (Emma Roberts).  With the help of Dwight “Dewey” Riley (David Arquette), Gale Weathers-Riley (Courteney Cox) and two high school movie fanatics; Charlie Walker (Rory Culkin) and Robbie Mercer (Erik Knudsen), the group hopes to find out who the new killer is but the rules are no longer the same as these killings are a reboot of the original…

"He keeps saying I'll be in a horror series that averages about 5 good episodes
a season before it gets nearly unwatchable."

Like I stated in the last sentence, Scream 4 is essentially a reboot of the franchise and acts as a refresher point for the story.  Essentially, it’s the first film but for a new generation.  In a way this works because acting as a reboot allows new tropes to exploit—both from the world of reboots and the world of remakes—but it also allows new blood to join the fray in a way that makes more sense than in the ways they’ve done in the other two sequels—especially the third one.  However, this dynamic also runs the huge risk of feeling like a cash grab—something the horror/slasher genre is known for doing.

"I'm not touching you."

Overall, I found Scream 4 to be a decent film that offers up a fairly entertaining story and, I will admit, it is a big improvement on the mess that was the previous film.  The cast is great and the new members to the roster are all doing their jobs terrifically.  I particularly enjoyed what Emma Roberts and Rory Culkin brought to the table as not only are their performances genuinely great but their characters offer up a new take on characters we already know and love from the franchise.  However, this film just doesn’t have the kick or the same magic as the first film and ends up feeling more like it is just repeating itself rather than breathing new life into the franchise.

Look at Rory's gorgeous locks.  Anyone else wanna see him shake his head
back and forth in slow motion just to see his hair dance like a ballet dancer?
Just me?

Simply put, there are not enough “rules” and tropes of the reboot world for this film’s story to exploit.  Additionally, not enough time has passed where the expectations of the slasher genre to have altered and created new guideposts to expect.  There literally is a sequence where the movie buffs state that to live in the new world of slasher films is to be gay and later a character tries using this claim to stop Ghostface from killing them.  At this point, the franchise feels like it is grasping at straws and trying to force movie clichés that aren’t strong enough to support a plot point.  

This character with his headset that is live streaming his entire day definitely
smelled of a writer who believed that kids really were doing this
all the time with headsets.

One element that has clearly run its course is the kills.  Due to the more grounded nature of this slasher franchise, Ghostface’s kills have never really been that inspired and mainly are just of the stabbing nature with a knife.  The last film tried to venture into new venues as the killer used a house full of natural gas to kill a character but that just ended up feeling ridiculous because of how it worked against the nature of the series and the fact the sequence required a lot of suspension of disbelief because the killer’s plan in that instance required a lot of variables to fall perfectly into place.  I will grant that a kill or two in this one is cool but some of them are really silly and hard to take seriously.  Overall, after four movies of watching the killer pretty much exclusively use a knife as their main weapon and not venture any further than some stabby-stabs, the formula has grown stale.

"I didn't stab you that hard.  You're okay.  Don't tell mom!"

Scream 4 is serviceable but ultimately not as remarkable as the feature that kicked this whole franchise off.  It’s doing some concepts very well, the new members to the cast are great and the returning ones are doing fantastic but there’s just not enough meat to chew on with this one.  Matters aren’t helped at all thanks to a beginning that has too many Meta false starts that, by the time the first kill arrives, I was already on the verge of burnout and then there's an ending that just kept going and felt like it was never going to stop.  Overall, it has some things working for it and some things that just simply weren’t and it made for an average, middle-of-the-road experience for me.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Scream 3

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



Scream 3 – 2 out of 5

It’s not surprisingly in the least that Scream got some sequels.  Even sequels have their tropes that can be dissected and satirized.  Scream 3 offers this promise but ends up becoming almost a self-parody of itself as the whole thing goes completely overboard and bonkers.

He's running from the Tickle Monster.

The Ghostface killings have resulted in a successful movie franchise called Stab (very creatively titled, I might add) but it seems that yet another copycat killer donning the silly Halloween costume has arrived.  After Cotton Weary (Live Schreiber)—the man who was once falsely accused of murder—is killed by a man in a Ghostface mask, Detective Mark Kincaid (Patrick Dempsey) enlists the help of Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox) to discuss the murder.  Meanwhile, Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) is attempting to live in isolation but is now draw out as the new killer seems to be going after the stars of the new Stab film—even going as far as rewriting the script in order to kill performers in the order in which they will die in the movie.  Now Sidney is once again reunited with Gale and Dwight “Dewey” Riley (David Arquette)—and Randy (Jamie Kennedy) despite being murdered in the last film—and together they must solve who the new killer is before it’s their turn to die in the script.

Parker Posey's character is playing Gale Weathers in the Stab film but, considering how
nutso strange this sequel was, I'm surprised they didn't have Courteney Cox
play herself in Posey's role.

Jenny McCarthy died in this movie.  I would make a joke
about her being an anti-vaxxer but I don't have the
energy.  Besides, being an anti-vaxxer is a joke
in and of itself.
I really didn’t care for Scream 3.  With horror franchises the goal seems to be to always go bigger with each passing film in order to maintain a fresh feel but this one felt like it decided to go silly.  For one, the voice changer used by Ghostface and a staple of the franchise that has given us Roger L. Jackson’s voice saying, “What’s your favorite scary movie?” and also gave the killer a very iconic element beyond a knife and a goofball costume, apparently can now mimic anyone’s voice.  While not a terrible idea for a horror film that has a trope of using a phone call as the lead up to murder but having a device like this almost feels like a joke or a plot device used in a lower budget movie.  This is a bit nit-picky but how exactly did this device work?  Did the killer have to record someone’s voice so that the device could then figure out the correct modulation?  And the device is super portable and capable of changing voices seemingly on the fly.  The Scream franchise has always felt very grounded and this element, among others, sorta took that element out of the equation.  Of course, there were a lot of things that were taking away from the realism this franchise once held.  For example, Jay and Silent Bob show up for no apparent reason.

I was being serious.  They are in the movie.

He recorded a video of himself explaining the "rules"
of a potential third murder spree.  Sure, why not?
The franchise has always held a satirical atmosphere as it gave the slasher subgenre a good-natured ribbing.  This was, after all, the defining element that made Scream such an important film in the genre as it broke down the tropes that have been building up and then played off of them.  In this one, this element feels very forced because, realistically, there aren’t too many tropes in the 3rd films of a horror franchise that are any different from the tropes in a 2nd film.  Instead, this film borrows ideas from trilogies in other genres to try and make up for that difference and then leans into the whole plot point that the Ghostface killer is using a script for a movie to do the killings and it kinda results in a mess and a movie that almost feels like it is a parody of its own self.  Even when the kills decide to go large (and let’s be real here, the kills in this franchise have never been the most noteworthy) they come off more ridiculous than a natural progression of a slasher franchise.

Explosions just don't feel right for this series.

While I appreciate Roger Corman showing up in this
film, I can't help but wonder why?
Finally, this film has way too large of a cast and no one is really developed.  Even the returning characters barely get any growth.  The most we see from Sidney, Dewey and Gale is seeing that Sidney is understandably shutoff from the world and we once again have to see Dewey and Gale reignite their relationship.  This aside, there are so many characters who are all just blank slates, cardboard cutouts or hacky one-dimensional Hollywood cliché jokes—think the leading lady who sleeps with the producer for her role and the arts-fartsy director who takes on a big budget production so he can make his more meaningful project later.  With the complete and utter lack of development, it is no surprise that once again the “whodunit” aspect of the story is lackluster and gives the viewers nothing to chew so they can make educated guesses on who the killer is.  I was a touch critical of the reveal in the last one but this one is far worse.  If Scream 2’s reveal felt tacked on, this one felt like it was made up on the spot.

In a new film, Ghostface will have AT&T and his threatening calls will
always get dropped.

Scream 3 was a hard watch for me because so much of it felt like it was misfiring with everything it was attempting.  The cast isn’t terrible with their performances but there were too many characters to keep track of and with an odd atmosphere that felt like it was becoming too meta, too self-aware and too much like self-parody, I had a hard, hard, hard time getting invested with it and, ultimately, found the whole film to be boring and very tedious.