Monday, November 26, 2007

The "Wet Blanket" Wicker Man

*****
That's right - The Wicker Man was boring as hell, and that's putting it nicely. But what else can we expect from a Nicolas Cage movie succeeding his role in the first National Treasure installment? (If you couldn't tell, it is my opinion that every movie he has starred in since then has pretty much been a "flusher," meaning they were all absolute crap.)

The Wicker Man (version 2006), starring Nicolas Cage, Ellen Burstyn and Leelee Sobieski, is a remake of The Wicker Man (version 1973), which starred Edward Woodward, Christopher Lee and Britt Ekland. Cage plays a police officer who is requested by an ex-girlfriend named Willow (Kate Beahan) to come to the secretive island known as Summersisle, where she lives in a colony of nature worshippers, to find her missing daughter. When he arrives, however, the other members of the colony deny the missing girl's existence, sending Cage down a spiral of misleading clues and set-ups that will ultimately lead to his demise.

I had very high expectations of this movie, none of which were met. The story was stupid and one I have heard before; the lead actor was seemingly disinterested and just overall bad; and the ending was ridiculous and completely expected. I figured this film had come before Cage's downfall, but it actually seems like The Wicker Man marked the subsequent death of his previously-impressive acting resume.

Don't rent it. Don't On-Demand it. Don't download it. Don't watch it.

Boo, Nicolas Cage. Boo.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

"Lady in the Water"

So I'm going to attempt to make a videocast pretty regularly, meaning either every week, every other week, or monthly, if I get that behind... I'll give a brief synopsis of one movie each time, along with critic reviews and my opinion.

This is my first installment - enjoy, and please let me know what you think!



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Thursday, November 15, 2007

The return of what? Not a thriller...

*****
Sarah Michelle Gellar plays Joanna Mills, a traveling saleswoman who devotes her life to the business, in the 2006 psychological thriller The Return.

On a sales trip to Marlin, Texis, Joanna finds herself experiencing recurring fainting spells, during which time she has visions of a murder that occurred when she was only 11 years old. She awakens from these spells in random places with cuts on her arms and legs that were self-inflicted with a switchblade she keeps in her pocket. Joanna is set on uncovering the origin of her frightening visions, which are proving to be more accurate with each spell. Her determination leads her down a path of discovery, passion and murder; but losing her identity may be the scariest part of all.

Overall, the movie was interesting... at best. I didn't jump as much as I had expected (or hoped) to. There were no scary faces, no completely unexpected moments. The film had its plot twists, but not so unpredictable were they, nor was the ending. If there's anything good at all to be said about this movie, it's that Sam Shepard is the best - he plays the best father role, not only in this movie but also in The Notebook. I wish he were my dad (But, who wouldn't love that?).

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

ERADICATION. STERILIZATION. RE-POPULATION. RE-INFECTION.

*****
Some might call me a horror movie buff. Some might say that I have no soul. I believe that the rush of adrenaline I get while watching a scary movie is exhilarating; my favorite part is waking up in my room at night in complete darkness or walking from a parking garage on campus to my residence hall and letting my imagination spook me. And that is the best aspect of the 28 Days Later series - the two films have successfully managed to scare me, which hasn't happened with many others.

15 DAYS LATER: MAINLAND BRITAIN HAS BEEN QUARANTINED
28 DAYS LATER: MAINLAND BRITAIN HAS BEEN DESTROYED BY THE RAGE VIRUS
5 WEEKS LATER: THE INFECTED HAVE DIED OF STARVATION
11 WEEKS LATER: AN AMERICAN-LED NATO FORCE ENTERS LONDON
18 WEEKS LATER: MAINLAND BRITAIN IS DECLARED FREE OF INFECTION
24 WEEKS LATER: RECONSTRUCTION BEGINS
28 WEEKS LATER

In early May I went to see 28 Weeks Later, the 28 Days Later sequel, with my friend Ed and one or two of his buddies. (Ed and another friend, Mark, run a really great entertainment blog that everyone should check out.) I'm so glad Ed was there because he gave me an arm to squeeze when parts of the movie actually scared me. And just as a side note, because we saw the movie opening weekend, we got free posters!

In 28 Days Later, a group of scientists are using chimpanzees to test a the effects of a new 'virus' - pure rage. A group of animal activists set out to release the chimps, unaware that the poor creatures are infected with the virus - which is transferred when one being comes into contact with infected DNA, found in both blood and saliva - and extremely dangerous. The virus spreads like wild fire, and over 28 days, Great Britain is overwhelmed with the infected. A few survivors struggle to stay alive, hiding and running from the virus as long as they can, hoping that there is still someone alive who can save them.

28 Weeks Later picks up - you guessed it - 28 weeks after the initial outbreak of the rage virus. An area of London has been quarantined by the U.S. Army, which reassures the world that the infection there has died-out; thus, repopulation begins.

Andy (Mackintosh Muggleton - and yes, that really is his name) and Tammy Harris (Imogen Poots - almost equally bizarre) return to England after being overseas during the outbreak of the virus and, therefore, safe from harm. Upon his re-entering, Andy is told that at only 12 years old, he is the youngest person residing in Great Britain. The kids are reunited with their father, Don (Robert Carlyle, Angela's Ashes), who survived an attack by the infected while hiding in a cottage. Don then has to explain to his children how their mother, Alice (Catherine McCormack), died (although he chooses to exclude the fact the he left her behind to be killed by flesh-eating zombies).

Andy is worried he will forget his mother's face, so he and Tammy concoct a plan to cross the quarantine barrier around the safe area where the survivors are housed, known as District One - for clothes and a photograph of their mother, mind you - into what remains of Great Britain, which has become a wasteland. The movie isn't boring up until this point, but things certainly take an interesting turn when Andy and Tammy reach their family's house and discover something that will change their lives, as well as the lives of the survivors back at quarantine, forever.

Muggleton and Poots are newcomers to keep your eye on. Although it was his first movie and there haven't been any since, Muggleton is sure to pop-up on the big screen again soon. Poots was previously seen as the young Valerie in V for Vendetta and can be seen in two upcoming films, Miss Austen Regrets and Waking Madison. Another actress to watch out for is Rose Byrne, who has acted in films such as Wicker Park, Troy, and one of my personal favorites, Sunshine.

I was disappointed that Cillian Murphy was not in the second film as well; he is one of my favorite actors, and it's not just because he's dreamy. It would have been interesting to see what became of his character after seven months (for those who don't know, Murphy was the main character in 28 Days Later). However, Days was a lower-budget film than its sequel, and although they cover the same general story line, the two films are very different.

Rolling Stone writer Peter Travers declared Weeks is unique in that it is "a sequel that doesn't suck," and I concur.

28 Weeks Later was released on DVD and Blu-Ray October 9 in the states. Pick it up, right now, and watch it - you will enjoy it. And I must have uncanny timing because this review comes approximately 28 weeks after the film's [theater] release date.

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Monday, November 5, 2007

Alec Baldwin is a failure, but you already knew that

*****

In his time, Peter Boyle could have made any movie worthwhile.

Alec Baldwin, on the other hand, only makes me wish I had the last 108 minutes of my life back.

Although the The Shadow was nominated for four Saturn Awards in 1995 by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films, USA - Best Actress, Penelope Ann Miller; Best Costumes, Bob Ringwood; Best Music, Jerry Goldsmith; and Best Special Effects - all I can bring myself to do while watching this movie is laugh.

Based on the 1930s comic strip, The Shadow is a movie about a man who uses his ability to become invisible and to "cloud men's minds" with the power of telekinesis. He fights his arch-nemesis, Shiwan Khan, played by John Lone, in order to stop him from holding the world ransom with an atomic bomb. Tim Curry plays a supporting role as Farley Claymore, the conniving evil sidekick - a character he plays so very well. Penelope Ann Miller plays Margo Lane, the damsel in distress who is able to help save The Shadow in the end, and Peter Boyle plays The Shadow's sarcastic cabby.

This movie is ridiculous - I'm not even sure that this fully deserves a review, but you can decide for yourselves. Go watch The Shadow for shits-and-giggles. It's only worth about the $4 you'll spend on the rental.