Monday, October 10, 2011

Fright Night (2011)

Fright Night (2011) Dir. by Craig Gillespie

After several people start disappearing in a small suburb of Las Vegas, including his former best friend, Charley Brewster fights for his life to protect his mother and his girlfriend from the vampire next door.

A few months ago... if you would have told me that Craig Gillespie was going to make a horror movie remake... let alone horror movie at all, I probably would have laughed at you. This is the guy who made the mildly funny and entertaining Lars and The Real Girl starring Ryan Gosling, followed up with the horrendous Mr. Woodcock. Gillespie is hardly the first choice I would go to when making a horror film, but I guess they assumed that Mr. Woodcock scared enough people that he might be able to follow that up with something really scary. Did he make anything really scary though?... No he didn't, but he did make a mildly entertaining remake of an extremely good 80's film. He's what I'm going to do though. I'm going to review it with the same mindset that I went in to watching it. From this sentence forward I will not be comparing it to the original.

With that being said... Let's dive in to the characters. Might as well start with Jerry since he is pretty much the focus point of the film. Colin Farrell one again shows his diversity with his ability to play a bad guy. I think he seems to be someone who generally gets a bad wrap, but I truly feel like he is one of the more talented actors out there and shows great range in his films. With Fright Night... I really just felt like he was having fun with his character and it worked really well. Jerry is a badass. Charlie, however, is not a badass, and at times he doesn't really seem to be much of a character at all. Aside from being a douche in the first 20 minutes of the film, I found it difficult to connect with him at times, but there were several occasions where I did manage to cheer for him. David Tennant continues to surprise me with his acting ability, while I'm still pretty sure that Christopher Mintz-Plasse has little to no acting ability what so ever. Still... he stretches what little range he has playing Evil Ed, and does get to explore a bit of a dark side for a while. Then there is the always beautiful Imogen Poots who manages to play a convincing hot girl who actually loves geeks. It gives hope to nerds everywhere. The rest of the supporting cast is filled with recognizable people and almost recognizable people including Toni Collette, James Franco's little brother(Dave Franco), Sofia Vergara's little sister(Sandra Vergara) and a clever little cameo from the original Jerry, Chris Surandon, who also happens to be another favorite character of mine multiple times as Jack Skellington in The Nightmare Before Christmas. Sorry... had to plug it.

The film itself is fairly predictable, but the acting for the most part keeps everything interesting. There were some plot twists that I really thought could have been avoided, and the biggest downfall was probably the CGI, although when done it was done pretty well. I don't know if they will make a sequel to this one, but I'm assuming they will... I just hope they clean it up a bit and focus more on the story. That being said... there were some really cool moments that got me to smile, like when the family decides to not let Jerry in the house... to which he responds by grabbing his shovel and digging up the gas line in the back yard. It was good stuff. Overall I enjoyed it, but I won't be purchasing the DVD any time soon unless I win the lottery.

Entertainment Value: 7/10 Pointless Illusionist Story Arcs
Cinematic Value: 6/10 Pointless Illusionist Story Arcs

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Drive (2011)

Drive (2011) Dir. by Nicolas Winding Refn

A Hollywood stunt performer who moonlights as a wheelman discovers that a contract has been put on him after a heist gone wrong.

Unfortunately I haven't really had the chance to watch all of Refn's other films, but I have managed to catch a bit of Bronson, and from what I have seen it is pretty good. Refn is making quite the name for himself as a not only a filmmaker but a writer as well, with the Pusher Trilogy, Bronson, Valhalla Rising, and Drive all getting great reviews and I can see why. He has such a unique style of filmmaking.

The acting in Drive is as top notch as I have seen this year. I have always been a big fan of Ryan Gosling, but he went above my expectations once again for Drive. Even without a whole lot of dialogue he is able to portray a multi-leveled character that just pulls you in to the story. The supporting cast is about as good as it gets as well including Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Albert Brooks, Ron Perlman, Christina Hendricks, and another solid performance from newcomer Oscar Issac. Ron Perlman was a bit over the top on occasion, but I mean... it is Ron Frickin Perlman, so I let it slide.

This film was unlike anything I have seen in a long time. It had a Scorcese tempo, and 80's style score, a story as deep as any Oscar winning film, and cinematography so beautiful it almost made my eyes water. The way Refn films this movie is a thing of beauty. The tempo is super slow, but just fast enough to keep you interested. I really appreciated the fact that he takes the time to not only develop the characters, but also concentrate on the relationships between the characters, and how they interact with each other. I cared about each and every one of them, even after they get dispatched like a Scorcese film. I was really not expecting the level of gore in the film, and when it happened it shocked the crap out of me. I was really surprised at how realistic it was, and it never took away from the story. If I were to end this with something negative about the film, it would be a couple of shots that just lingered a good twenty seconds too long, but other than that it was a solid film that I will return to watching many times.

Entertainment Value: 9/10 Shotgun Blasts to the Head
Cinematic Value: 9/10 Shotgun Blasts to the Head