...and the trouble she discovers.
Six years after NASA discovers alien life form in the universe a large portion of Mexico has been quarantined as an infected zone. While this film is set against a large scale invasion the story really surrounds a romantic pairing between Samantha and Andrew. Samantha is the daughter of an extremely wealthy man and Andrew, a struggling photographer, has been hired to retrieve her from Mexico. Our heroine reluctantly agrees to be escorted back to America and soon discovers that the only possible way to get home is to travel directly through the infected area. In the course of the trip the two strangers learn to depend on each other during their brief encounters with the colossal creatures that have taken over the country side.
There is some political observations happening in this film surrounding the US and Mexican boarder. Since these hellishly large creatures are wandering around the boarder a massive wall has been constructed to keep them out of America. At one point, during a camp fire conversation, Samantha refers to the wall as a way for America to imprision itself with no way out. Without being too forceful on the subject it does lend itself to a topic that a Sci-Fi fan may not really be interested in discussing.
What I enjoyed about the pairing of these two characters is their laid back approach at being absolutely terrified. In nearly every movie when a woman becomes more distressed and the situation calls to be diligently silent the woman will up the ante on the screaming. Samantha is a break from that monotony and is able to make rational decisions when things become a bit tense. You will find yourself caring about both of these characters and their outcome.
What I disliked about this movie is the deliberately slow place. There really isn’t a lot of screen time for the creatures so you’re stuck with just the two main characters and their often diatribe conversations which really wander aimlessly. Once you’ve gotten to the end it can only be described as the most bizarrely anticlimactic pay off I have ever encountered. There was no release for the tension that the movie had been able to build up to that point.
Monsters is an excellent show piece as to how a low budget movie can and should be done. When the creatures are on camera they are absolutely remarkable and with a show string allowance of only $500,000 it is esthetically flawless. As a story that spans over 94 minutes, though, this independent release truly drops the ball.
3 out of 5 stars.
Repo! The Genetic Opera begins with a comic book panel animation detailing the rise of GeneCo; a for profit synthetic organ manufacturer. As the health of the worlds population declines due to organ failure GeneCo comes to the rescue. The corporation quickly discovers that there is a profit to be made in elective surgeries such as face transplants. The message here is that you can change everything you hate about yourself even if you’re on a budget.
Shilo, a seventeen year old girl who has been locked away due to a rare blood disease, is found in a grave yard where she first encounters a singing grave robber. Shilo passes out after entering a mass grave and awakens with her overbearing father, Nathan, by her side. Nathan makes a huge stink about her being far too ill to go outside then scolds her for not taking her medication.
Nathan leaves while crooning about the fact that he is the dreaded repo man who will sneak up behind you, wherever you may be, and take back the unpaid goods inside your body. Yes, it is now legal to kill, maim, and disfigure poor people for not staying current on their heart transplant. Boy, does Nathan love his job!
This is about the point I had to stop the movie. I made it a bit further however the synopsis really isn’t worth the read. These are my guesses as to how it ends:
1.) Shilo isn’t really ill and will soon discover that Pops murders for hire.
2.) Soon either Shilo, Nathan, or the pair will bring down the evil Gene Corporation during which guts will be spilled and poorly written songs will be performed.
The singing. Dear God, the singing. It’s bad but adding to it are the impossible lyrics / dialog. It’s crawling with so much teenage angst I truly wonder the age and maturity level of those who wrote it. The acting is so much worse and the costume design? Well, the costume design is so trite it appears that the entire cast was fitted in a hot topic outlet store.
It’s not often that I will review a movie that I haven’t completed, however, Repo! The Genetic Opera is a very special case. Everything involving this movie was done so poorly that I owe a warning to the movie watching community. Stay away from this dull clunker of a film. Sure, it’s dressed up as a darker, bloodier, version of your favorite horror movie but it’s a lie. If you need a fix of oddly clothed men who like to sing and dance I’d suggest Rocky Horror Picture Show. It may not be exactly what you’re looking for but at least you get to see some hot Tim Curry leg.
0.5 out of 5 stars.
The Signal is a 2008 independent release made with only $50,000. Promoted as a psychological horror it is told in three chapter by three separate directors; David Bruckner, Dan Bush, and Jacob Gentry.
The story begins with two lovers in bed, Mya and Ben, who are woken from their slumber after a television in the room begins transmitting a strange moving picture and odd frequency. As Mya asks Ben what the time is she panics revealing that she is late in getting home to her husband. Upon her attempt to call her husband, Lewis, she finds that her cell phone is also making an odd noise. Despite Bens effort in keeping Mya at the apartment she must leave and they make a light hearted plan to meet at Terminal 13 the next day to leave Terminus forever.
On the way home Mya first runs into an irrational man who is in the parking garage. Mya successfully dodges the man and makes it home to find neighbors within her apartment building arguing with one another in the hallways. No one tries to stop her and once she’s safely inside her own home she locks the door. Mya finds Lewis and two other friends inside trying to fix the television on the basis that they’re missing a sports game. Lewis cross examines Mya solidifying the premise that the marriage is strained and he’s extremely suspicious of her whereabouts. While beginning to take a shower Mya peeks out of the bathroom door just in time to watch Lewis, enraged by a minor argument, beat his friend to death. Obviously panicked, Mya flees and seeks refuge in the apartment next door.
Once morning reaches Terminus Mya forces herself out of hiding and back into her own apartment. Lewis is found strapped to a chair and Mya silently makes the decision to leave him alone without help. While wearing headphone and listening to a mixed CD that Ben had given her the night before Mya leaves the apartment. Still in peril, and finally making it to her vehicle, the audience discovers that Ben has missed her by mere seconds.
With each director comes a unique style for every transmission of this film. The second chapter, Jealousy Monster, is starkly different in comparison to the other two and introduces black humor which fits perfectly for the newly acquainted character Clark. Clark quickly became my favorite personality in this film while he rationalizes why the signal is making people go mad and simultaneously tries to deal with Lewis who has now become a homicidal maniac.
With only $50,000 to complete this movie there are some obvious flaws, especially with physical continuity errors. With that said, though, I would like to say that The Signal is one of my top ten films of all time. I’m not sure if it’s the simple love story that runs throughout, the insecurity of what’s real and what’s being hallucinated, or if it’s just the bloody violence. It could possibly be the combination of all three but something about this movie has spoken to me. After watching it no less than a dozen times in a period of two weeks on Netflix Streaming I had to purchase it via Amazon Dot Com. I just had to own this gory fun treat.
4.5 out of 5 stars.
Wet Hot American Summer is a 2001 all star comedy directed by David Wain of The State alumni. It contains a cast molded from the wet dreams of nerds across the land including;
David Hyde Pierce
Michael Ian Black
Joe Lo Truglio
and even Bradley Cooper as a young camp counselor with dreams of stardom.
The movie begins fairly unassuming in the female bunk of a Jewish summer camp set in 1981. As the male campers flee from the females cabin in search of their own Beth (Janeane Garofalo) watches quietly then weakly issues the warning that they’re not to be outside. Being that it is the last day at Camp Firewood Beth wants nothing more than to make it to the end of the day with everyone intact. Beth doesn’t realize that she is soon to fall in love with a neighboring astrophysics associate professor (David Hyde Pierce) with whom she must partner up with in order to save the camp from falling pieces of space debris.
Coop, played by Michael Showalter, wakes up and quickly discovers that on the last day of camp he is utterly devoted to Katie (Marguerite Moreau) a fellow counselor. Coop faces a rough 24 hours ahead of him as he must try to pry Katie away from her obnoxiously rebellious and painfully obtuse boyfriend Andy (Paul Rudd). He will learn to play it cool with Katie once he receives guidance from the shell shocked Vietnam War veteran and camp chef Gene (Christopher Meloni). Gene has his own problems as he can’t figure out why odd statements such as “I’m going to fondle my sweaters” keep slipping out.
During all of the shenanigans Gary (A.D. Miles) and J.J. (Zak Orth) try to figure out why their buddy McKinley (Michael Ian Black) isn’t having any luck with the ladies. Victor (Ken Marino) tries to hurry a camping trip so he can get back to his lady love. Susie and Ben (Amy Poehler and Bradley Cooper) put on the best talent show the camp has ever seen and last but not least Gail Von Kleinenstein (Molly Shannon) confides in her arts and crafts students as to why her marriage went bust.
There is a lot going on in this film but every segment is brilliant and the characters are cause for the funniest laugh out loud moments I have ever seen. Even the child actors that were hired were hilarious and great within their roles. There is a fine line that the movie walks between nonsensical gags and being a parody of horrible teen comedies which is a perfect example of the genius pairing between Wain and Showalter. I find their off beat comedic style to be highly enjoyable while accepting its bizarre context.
Should you purchase this DVD there is also a pretty nice selection of special features. I believe there are two commentaries, behind the scenes footage, and deleted scenes in which you’ll catch a glimps of Kerri Kenney and David Wain arguing over a motor bike. Watching this flick will makes sense for any David Wain / The State / Stella fan or for anyone who just enjoys a great amount of silliness. It has already been said before but this is an awesome cult classic. It contains a huge amount of quotable lines and any friend who it is recommended to will surely thank you for the delight.
4 out of 5 stars.
5 out of 5 barbecue sauce all over your face.
Super 8 is the new bullet in JJ Abrams revolver of hits. It rotates around a group of preteen boys and one pretty little girl that must band together to figure out what creature has been unleashed upon their sleepy little town. With a feel for adventure and a bit of magic this flick borrows heavily from the growing of age movies found in the 80’s like E.T., Goonies, Stand By Me, and hell even The Sandlot.
The main character, Joe, is a lonely boy who lives in an altered home after his Mother suddenly passes away. His father, Deputy Lamb, has trouble connecting to the boy and begins to feud with a neighbor who just happens to be the father of Joe’s love interest. Joe is able to escape some of the tension in his home with a great group of friends which lend their talents for comic relief and emotional support. My favorite character happens to be Cary, played by Ryan Lee, who has a predisposition for flame and fireworks.
The story, friendships, and adventure make this flick an over all great experience. JJ hits a sweet spot for a generation yearning for their movies past. It’s been a long time since a coming of age movie with imagination has hit the big screen. This flick is also open for a new generation to enjoy what they may have been missing. I truly enjoyed the build up to the beast as well. Simple tricks were used instead of relying heavily on computer generated material. For me it felt refreshingly free.
With all of that said I do feel, however, that Abrams is now taunting his audience with the excessive use of lens flare. Without exaggeration the man found a lens flare in an underground tunnel with the use of only one lonely sparkler. I’m fairly certain the JJ has a problem and really needs some kind of help. Also, while the relationships between the child characters were strong (Well, the ones that were useful to the plot. A few of them got lost in the mix.) the strained relationship between father and son seemed to lack. When the reasoning behind the feud is finally revealed between both adults it too felt a bit stale. There has been some discussion online about whether or not it’s even a plausible argument but really that doesn’t matter here. What matters is how the adults handled it and by the end it was brushed off as a second thought. With some of the strong scenes it was a bit jarring to be thrown into a mediocre performance.
There is no way around it, Super 8 is a hell of a time. Fun, a few laughs, and an alien thrown in for good measure by legendary JJ Abrams? I really couldn’t have asked for much more.
4.5 out of 5 stars
100,000,000 found lens flares
1 great George Romero reference
1 special thanks to Judd Apatow
Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill in Moneyball. While I’m not usually a fan of sport movies (unless we’re talking about The Sandlot) I wouldn’t mind giving this movie a spin. As far as I’m concerned you can’t go wrong with a Pitt - Hill combination.
If you’re unfamiliar with the graphic novel by Bryan Lee O’Malley with the same name or you’ve never seen the film then you’re in for a treat. Pilgrim, played by Michael Cera, is a 20-something band member (Sex Bobomb) who is dating a 17 year old high school student. Pilgrim is surrounded by a bizarre mix of friends; the scene stealer being Kieran Culkin as Wallace the gay roommate. All of Scotts friends warn him away from Knives Chau, his simple yet still underage girlfriend, but it’s not until he meets Ramona Flowers does he finally listen. Well, kind of.
Ramona is a hair changing vixen with just enough sarcasm and opened eyed cynicism to keep her interestingly lovable. Pilgrim quickly becomes intrigued but learns that he must soon do battle with seven evil ex’s in video game fashion. There is nothing odd or disturbing about the onslaught of attempted murder or hellacious body beatings that strikes Pilgrim as odd and it seamlessly integrates with the almost normal reality of the movie.
Scott Pilgrim VS The World is loud, fast, and fun. There is not one point of the movie that drags and the sense of humor that runs throughout the dialog made me snort out loud with laughter. The final and obviously most evil ex, Jason Schwartzman, plays well against Scotts whiny almost nonchalant way of dealing with the situation. The battles themselves are of epic Wright proportion and the music within the film is Beck-tastic.
Of course Ramona isn’t the only one with a broken past as Pilgrims wrongs do come back to haunt them as well. Spilling a bit of teenage anxiety over growing up into this pot of delicious Edgar Wright stew I must say this is hands down my favorite Cera comedy and is on par with Shaun of the Dead or even Hot Fuzz. People give this flick a hard time but I certainly suggest picking it up on DVD. Special features include deleted scenes, bloopers, and commentaries. I believe the Blu-Ray is packed with a lot more extras but since I’m not there yet you can look those up on your own.
4 out of 5 stars
3 Star Card Power Up
Serenity is the 2005 follow up film to the doomed Fox television show, Firefly, by Joss Whedon. The year the movie came out I had not even heard of the show and watched it without any prior knowledge of plot or characters. That’s a hell of a way to start the series but I have absolutely no complaints. I wouldn’t trade a thing for my first, larger than life, introduction to the gun toting bandit that is Captain Malcolm Reynolds.
Captain of the spaceship, Serenity, Mal leads a group of capable crew members on a journey to find the secrets locked within the mind of a telepathic girl named River whose brother has bought her passage aboard the ship. The Captain, embodied by Nathan Fillion, is a gun slinging, no nonsense, realist who understands the dangers of the Universe and the outer planet civilizations. He makes little to no apologizes for the brutal decisions he is sometimes forced to make and when it comes to his crew, deemed as family, he will not stop to keep them safe.
Reavers, a topic only lightly touched upon in the show, is brought to full light in the film. A mystery that only rumors surround they seem to be flesh hungry beasts in the shape of men who have not just mutilated their own face but commit unspeakable harm to their victims. They travel in packed spaceships which are covered in human remains and seem to show up on a planets as quickly and quietly as only a boogeyman could.
The characters, dialog, and weapons borrow heavily from American westerns but never cross the line into cheese. Personalities are well formed and never act outside of their nature just to fulfill a plot device. You can only imagine my delight in the movie theater as I watched a space cowboy deliver justice to zombie like creatures. Joss Whedon, in that moment, became my hero.
As I re-watched this treasure on Blu-Ray for the first time I was impressed all over again. It is a beautiful movie and the clarity is brilliant. Of course, in my humble opinion, it is never a poor decision to watch Nathan Fillion (sans shirt) in the most pristine viewing option possible. All in all; if you haven’t seen the show but are interested in this flick it never assumes. There is a fine line to walk when telling a story to those who are already familiar and those who aren’t. Joss does this masterfully with Serenity while never leaving anyone behind but never badgering a follower with old plot points.
4 out of 5 stars
1 leaf on the wind
Indie Game: The Movie Official Trailer (by IndieGame: The Movie)
Help finish the movie. Check out and consider supporting the Kickstarter campaign: kickstarter.com/projects/blinkworks/indie-game-the-movie-the-final-push
Indie Game: The Movie is a feature documentary about video games, their creators and the craft. The film follows the dramatic journeys of indie game developers as they create their games, and as they release those works, and themselves, to the world.
Indie Game: The Movie is about making video games, but at its core, it’s about the creative process and exposing yourself through your work.
I will definitely be checking this out as soon as possible. Hopefully they’ll get a fan base.