Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) Dir. by Joe Johnston

After being deemed unfit for military service, Steve Rogers volunteers for a top secret research project that turns him into Captain America, a superhero dedicated to defending America's ideals. - IMDB.com

Joe Johnston is either a guy I extremely like, or someone I want to punch. He has been behind such amazing films like The Pagemaster, Jumanji, and Honey I Shrunk The Kids. On the other hand, he has given us films that make me want to cry puddles of tears while screaming at the sky, "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!", such as he did when he made Jurassic Park III, or perhaps the most recent atrocity, The Wolfman - sorry, but I was really let down. With these things in mind there was really only one other reason to deter me from watching Captain America, and that was Chris Evans. Don't get me wrong, Chris Evans is a great actor, but he has already had his chance to be a superhero. I really think it should have been given to someone new to do the job.

That being said, I went anyway. I know what you are thinking... this is a horror movie review site, why does he keep reviewing non-horror movies? Well... because it is my site and I can damn well do as I please, haha. That and I feel like the nerd within me needs to share that part, and I don't really want to start another blog to do non-horror movies. I have a hard enough time updating this one between work, school, family, writing, and film.

The back-story for Cap is done extremely well, and I was surprised at well Johnston did with the shrinking or Rogers to make him so small. It was perfectly done, and I could tell a lot of hard work went in to the process. It was very detailed, and made it very believable. The film had a really nice pace to it, and really hit a home run on the overall feel. It felt very patriotic, and uplifting for a tiny little man to become this big hero and still keep his head. It very much felt like the early Captain America comics.

The acting was also done very well, despite Evan's usually mild approach to every character he has ever played. Once he grew muscles his acting took a backseat. He is still a fun person to watch on film, but he has never shown me much in the way of versatile acting. Either way he did better in the first half than the second. Hayley Atwell did exceptionally well as the hard headed Peggy. There were a couple of cameo/comic characters within the film worth mentioning. An unfortunately small yet powerful performance was that of the amazingly talented Stanley Tucci as Dr. Erskine. Also worth mentioning is Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes, Dominic Cooper as Howard Stark (yes... Iron Man's dad), Neil McDonough as Dum Dum Dugan, Derek Luke as Gabe Jones (later a member of SHIELD) and the rest of the Howling Commando (look them up). The film did a really good job of staying close to the source material... of course it is one of the easier Marvel characters to adapt. Either way, they do a really great job of including a WHOLE BUNCH of Captain American characters that were seen in the comics, and other Marvel comics. Hugo Weaving as the diabolical Red Skull was a very good fit as well.

Moving along at a steady pace, the film was a blast to watch. There were a few moments where I felt like the movie was just "there". I don't know how to describe it, but that is the only thing I can say bad about it. Evan's was an acceptable Captain, and all of the crazy action made up for any misplaced acting ability. The cool hints toward the other films and The Avengers were well placed, and made me chuckle every time. I also enjoyed the little Teaser after the credits. Overall I give the film:

Entertainment Value: 8/10 canisters of super soldier serum
Cinematic Value: 8/10 canisters of super soldier serum

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Last Winter (2006)

The Last Winter (2006) Dir. by Larry Fessenden

The American oil company KIC Corporation is building an ice road to explore the remote Northern Arctic National Wildlife Refuge seeking energy independence. Independent environmentalists work together in a drilling base headed by the tough Ed Pollack in a sort of agreement with the government, approving procedures and sending reports of the operation. When one insane team member is found dead naked on the snow, the environmentalist James Hoffman suspects that sour gases may have been accidentally released in the spot provoking hallucinations and insanity in the group. After a second fatal incident, he convinces Ed to travel with the team to a hospital for examination. However, weird events happen trapping the group in the base. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on IMDB.com

I am, and have been, a big fan of Larry Fessenden. However, I am used to seeing him acting, and not directing. He was fantastic in I Sell The Dead, and I have seen numerous films where he just pops out of nowhere. This is the first film I have seen directed by him, despite numerous attempts to sit down and watch Wendigo, but this one just happened to be On Demand. The overall feeling of the film is creepy, and there a few great things at hand.

The acting in this film is superb. Ron (I'm always a badass) Perlman leads the cast as a hard headed environmentalist just trying to do his job. James (I shouldn't have been in Phantasm II) LeGros takes most of the screen time as he tries to figure out what is going on. The supporting cast is filled with many familiar faces, such as Connie Britton (Friday Night Lights, NOES remake), Kevin Corrigan (Grounded for Life, Superbad), Jamie Harrold (Corn, Tell Tale), and of course Larry Fessenden himself. The casting is truly spot on with this film as the cast remain vastly diverse and keeps you interested during some of the films downtime.

The film is beautifully shot for being in essentially nothing but snow. It adds a lot to the eerie feeling the film has going for it. Music by Jeff Grace (I Sell the Dead, The Innkeepers, The House of the Devil) plays a huge part in the film's overall tone. Brilliant camera work and properly placed pauses only add to the feel. I think Larry should be very happy with the film as I really enjoyed it. The last thirty minutes of the film go a little batshit crazy, but in a good way. It really went in a different direction than I thought it would, but in a good way. The first part of the film was really focused on the idea that the earth was getting back at us, but managed to not get off track like The Happening. I won't say what is really going on because I don't believe in spoilers, but if you haven't seen it yet, then I highly recommend it. I hope Larry keeps up the directing thing. I had heard that he was set to direct the remake of The Orphanage, but when I hopped on IMDB today it says that he is no longer attached to the project, and that is sad. If I had to say one bad thing about the film, it would be that the pacing seems a bit off at times and kind of makes it drag for a bit, but the ending is well worth the wait. I give this film:

Entertainment Value: 8/10 crow pecked eyeballs
Cinematic Value: 8/10 crow pecked eyeballs

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Falling Skies (TV, 2011)

Falling Skies (TV, 2011) Created by Robert Rodat

The chaotic aftermath of an alien attack has left most of the world completely incapacitated. In the six months since the initial invasion, the few survivors have banded together outside major cities to begin the difficult task of fighting back. Each day is a test of survival as citizen soldiers work to protect the people in their care while also engaging in an insurgency campaign against the occupying alien force. Written by Deeww at IMDB.com

Most people might not know who the heck Robert Rodat is, but I do. He is the writer behind great military based films such as The Patriot and Saving Private Ryan. He has finally brought all his cards to the table by creating Falling Skies. A very high film quality show it is indeed, but who would think less of it coming from producer Stephen Spielberg. You didn't just think he was going to throw his name on everything did you?

I will be the first to admit that the first two episodes of this show were a little tough to get in to. There were a lot of moments where I just could care less about the characters and its awkwardly slow pace, but it definitely paid off over the next few episodes. I am five episodes in to it now and loving it. Such a great show.

It should be since it is led by a large amount of highly credible actors such as Noah Wyle, Moon Bloodgood, Will Patton, and Dale Dye! A huge cast that drives this show pretty much in its entirety. Drew Roy has also established himself as a great upcoming actor with this show. A lot of action and plenty of believable plot twists have got me wanting to see more. Such an interesting story, and rich in characters, and that is the kind of thing I can get in to. The effects are great, and other than the mechs, the skitters look very realistic. Just thought I would share with you all that this show is worth watching. Rodat brings his unique military expertise to a show about aliens vs. humans, and it makes for an exciting show.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)

Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011) Dir. by Michael Bay

The Autobots learn of a Cybertronian spacecraft hidden on the Moon, and race against the Decepticons to reach it and to learn its secrets.

I will have to admit, that I wasn't really sure how I was going to feel about this movie. I am happy to report that it was a pleasant surprise, and easily surpassed the second film.

The characters were plenty, but not overwhelming like they were in the previous film. They gave the right amount of screen time to the bots that deserved it the most, and used the other ones as filler, just as it should be. Prime was a badass! Even with the story really focusing more on the humans fighting for themselves, Prime still shines through kicking some major ass. I love it. The special effects were awesome, and the movie was a blast to watch.

The acting was all done very well for the most part. Rosie did alright as Megan's replacement, even though she is even worse at acting. Her role was pretty essential in the end. Patrick Dempsey was pretty unbelievable as a bad guy, but he was barely noticeable. Ken Jeong and Alan Tudyk were great comedic relief, but didn't go overboard.

As for the Bots, there was a unique arrangement of new and old Transformer, especially on the Decepticon side. It was a really unique portrayal of Megatron, and the addition of Sentinel Prime was awesome. Soundwave and Shockwave were pretty cool. Bumblebee was just kind of there. There were a slew of legendary voice actors in this film.

The story was what really drew me in. It was a very unique story that came together very well. From the set up with the moon landing to the very end it kept me engaged. The twists throughout the film were very cool, and unexpected. I'm really glad I didn't read any spoiler reviews before I watched it. I highly recommend seeing this film in the theater though, as I don't think it will quite as good on DVD.

Entertainment Value: 9/10 bot decapitations
Cinematic Value: 9/10 bot decapitations

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Lewis (segment from Psycho Street) (2011)

Lewis (2011) Dir. by Anthony G. Sumner


As a few of you may remember, I reviewed a movie called "Hypochondriac", directed by Pete Jacelone, a while back. That movie was a segment in a anthology film called "Psycho Street". Fast forward to now, where I finally have my hands on a second film from that film, Lewis. Through the past year or so, I have worked with many of the people involved in these films, so I have become accustomed to the fact that they are nine times out of ten, sick and deranged, but like a deer in the headlights I just can't look away. Sumner hits the hail on the head with a story partially derived from the sick mind of Marv Blauvelt, Anthony G. Sumner, and Trevor Wright.

The casting for Lewis is amazing. It is such a gathering of the most talented people I have ever seen on the little screen. I didn't know that Anthony could get such a diverse group of people in one film. We start the film of with the lovely, and amazing Deneen Melody (yes, the girl that is in my film Crestfallen) and this is actually the first time I have seen her in such a big role. At least, in a movie of this length. She does an amazing job as Amanda, a mother of one driven from her home by her cheating husband. On to the cheating husband, played by Marv Blauvelt. Now Marv is known for playing some physically diverse roles, from the doctor in Hypochondriac to the very silent Tiny in Slices of Life. That being said, I do have to say that this one takes the cake. I really don't want to ruin anything by telling you what he looks like, but it is AWESOME! Move on to the mistress, played by that dirty little tramp (kidding) Kelsey Zukowski. Without giving anything else about the film away with casting I will go on to some of my favorites, but not in great detail.

One of my favorite independent actors in the last few years is Jerry Murdock. It doesn't matter what character he is playing, he always plays it with such intensity, and he does it again in this one playing a questionably trustworthy man of the cloth. Accompanying him is the always, and I mean always awesome Susan Adriensen. She never holds back on the theatrics and plays her roles with heart, even if the characters are ridiculous. She seems to love what she does. Michael (I'm a hippie with a beard) Partipilo is in there, even if it is briefly, and playing a different role than I have seen him in before. He isn't even threatening at all! Nikki Watson and Michael Watson have a nice little cameo. Jason Hignite has a bloody cameo along with a creepy performance from another Muscle Wolf Production guy, Nick Morano. I saved the best for last. Taylor Metzger! My favorite little girl on the face of the planet! You can also see her and her amazing acting ability in my film Crestfallen. She is so awesome, and this was such a large role for her. Creepy when she needed to be, and had a lot of chemistry with her imaginary co-start Lewis!

As for the film itself, At first I loved it, then I was insanely confused, then I ended with rather positive thoughts about it. Taking in to consideration that this a short, I really feel like Sumner might have tried to pack a feature length film in to a short. I don't necessarily mean that in a bad way, but it can make things a little difficult at times. Some characters are very quick and disposable, so no time for character development. Some of them didn't really need it, but they didn't feel needed. There were times during the film where I felt like I was watching a porn. Not necessarily a bad thing either, but really really weird sex scenes. It wasn't anything that was so over the top that I couldn't watch it again, like with A Serbian Film, but the images will definitely stick with me for a few days. Particularly Susan dressed as a nun, riding a creepy dude in the forest, while doing some really weird things.

From the moment the movie started, I knew I was going to like it. It had this seventies horror film vibe going to it. Partially due to an amazingly dated score from Gene Hodsdon, and also from the general look of the film. It really feels like a throwback to the cult films of the 70's, only with the disgusting stuff of our generation. With a really creepy feel to the movie overall, and a well developed script and characters, Lewis was s blast to watch. I'm pretty sure that there will be a bit of a backlash from the religious community, but well worth it, haha. I'm going to give this film a few more watches over the next couple days, and see how it gets from there, but my overall first opinion is memorable, thought provoking, and creepy. I really enjoyed it.

Entertainment Value: 8 out of 10 invisible friends
Cinematic Value: 8 out of 10 invisible friends

Check out the promotional site here: www.myfriendlewis.com

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Perfect Host (2010)

The Perfect Host (2010) Dir. by Nick Tomnay

A criminal on the run cons his way into the wrong dinner party where the host is anything but ordinary.

Nick Tomnay wins BIG in his first feature written and directed. Based on his short film "The Host", The Perfect Host fills the screen glowingly with rich characters, clever twists, and down right creepiness.

Clayne Crawford (Swimfan, The Donner Party) does an exceptionally good job as the criminal turned party guest. His character appears dark and evil, but as the story progresses you can't help but feel for him. Warwick, played by David Hyde Pierce (Frasier *TV*), knocks the flippin movie out of the park! David Hyde Pierce does things with this character that deserves an Oscar. His portrayal of Warwick is the perfect polar opposite to Clayne's character. At first you kinda feel sorry for him, having his house and party crashed by this unruly criminal, but as the story movies forward you see his much, much, much darker ways. Every little bit about David's acting job is FLAWLESS. I haven't seen spot on acting like this in a very, very long time.

I really really want to tell you so much about this film, but I really can't. I just want everyone to enjoy it as much as they can for themselves. The movie itself is beautiful. It is such a perfectly paced thriller, giving just the right amount of information at the right times. I really don't want to go in to too much about this film, but it is a MUST BUY! There are so many twists and turns in this movie, and eventually they kinda become predictable (In the last ten minutes), but the rest of the 90 minute movie is flawless. This movie was so much fun to watch! I laughed so frickin hard for half of it, and was creeped out at the same time. How is that not the perfect way to feel about a comedic thriller? David's acting and mannerisms are spot on. With the little story hiccup near the end, aside from that it is the perfect creepy film, so I can only give it:

Entertainment Value: 10/10 glasses of red wine
Cinematic Value: 9/10 glasses of red wine

Friday, July 1, 2011

Short Films characters for Marvel Comics to Explore

According to a few articles I have read recently, including this one - http://screenrant.com/marvel-studios-short-films-ant-man-dr-strange-black-panther-benk-121777/ , Marvel Studios is going to start making short films through production company, Film School Rejects, and the idea is to gauge how well audiences react to these lesser known characters before pumping big money in to them. I think that is a brilliant idea as long as they still plan to make a legitimate Dead Pool movie! Here is a lengthy list of characters I would love to see short films for. Let me know your thoughts and if you have any I missed that you would like to see.

in alphabetical order:

The Beetles (not the band)
Black Bolt
Captain Marvel
Cypher (yes I'm a nerd)
Doctor Strange
Iron Fist
King, Hannibal (Hannibal King)
Moon Knight
Silver Surfer
War Machine

Yes I am aware that some of these have already been represented on film, and yes I am aware that some of these have full feature films already in the works, but that doesn't mean that I would like to see a short film of them. That also doesn't mean that I don't think short films of these already seen characters could be great advertising to get people to come to future films.

That being said, one I left off of the list, but should definitely happen is all the wonderful heroes of Hank Pym. All I can say is that Pym better have one hell of a cameo in The Avengers movie coming out. I am almost 100% percent positive they are going to be using a storyline he was very much a large part of, and I really hope they honor that fact by putting him in there.

Tell me what you think of it all!