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I, Frankenstein is going to leave a scar

31 Jan

i-frankenstein

It’s alive! Well, it is happy to be breathing at this point because the newest interpretation of Mary Shelley’s classic character has many noticeable imperfections that are going to leave a scar. At times, the film is entertaining, but then it falls into a familiar sounding story line, “There has been a war…” and basically the Frankenstein monster is going to have to choose a side because his soulless body has the potential to change the face of the conflict. The film is on life support because the acting, directing and story telling falls short of the magic Kevin Grevioux’s created in the Underworld franchise. Aaron Eckhart’s stick wielding becomes repetitive and Yvonne Strahovski’s character is asked to make unrealistic leaps in a short amount of time in order to push the story forward. It just doesn’t work. However, this is NOT the worst Frankenstein film I have seen and maybe Grevioux bring it back to life in a sequel.

WORD COUNT 160:
Chuck’s Grade: C-

Adam’s Grade: N/A

HANSEL AND GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS

9 Jan

HANSEL-AND-GRETEL-WITCH-HUNTERS

Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters was a disappointing interpretation of the Grimm fairytale to say the least. The mixture of humor and horror could not match the coolness factor of Hansel (Jeremy Renner) and Gretel (Gemma Arterton) as witch hunter siblings hellbent on revenge. There were many great ideas in director/writer Tommy Wirkola’s script, but he could not maintain a consistent voice and look throughout the picture that could convince audiences to believe in his story. I could accept the exploding witches (to an extent) and kind-hearted trolls that seemed to be the only creature that could actually kill humans for some reason, but I could not swallow the anachronistic scenes of witches duking it out with Jeremy Renner, as well as the Van Helsing-like modern weapons used in the film. For me, the film was a complete letdown, but I am sure there will be  a sequel with a lesser known cast in the future.

WORD COUNT: 155
Chuck’s Grade: D-
Adam’s Grade: N/A

Gravity is out of this world

7 Oct

GRAVITY-FILM

The most anticipated film for me this year was Alfonso Cuaron’s “Gravity.” With his first film since the 2006 sci-fi drama “Children of Men,” Cuaron has broken new ground here, creating an experience unlike anything audiences have seen before. When a routine repair job on the Hubble telescope goes awry, a medical engineer, Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock), and a mission commander, Lt. Matt Kowalski (George Clooney), must work together to survive after an accident leaves them adrift in space.

Believe the hype, this is one of the most visually stunning films ever, with its groundbreaking CGI that features jaw-dropping single-shot sequences. Clocking in at 90 minutes, Cuaron wastes no time in moving the story along. Bullock ventures outside of her normal orbit of roles and gives an amazing performance while Clooney is great in his supporting role. This is masterful technical achievement with Cuaron, cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki and Visual-Effects Tim Webber creating a movie going experience worthy of Oscar consideration.

WORD COUNT: 159

Adam’s Grade: A

Chuck’s Grade: N/A

Insidious: Chapter 2 is lost in the after life

17 Sep

INSIDIOUS-CHAPTER-2

James Wan may have now established himself as the King of modern horror with SAW, Insidious and The Conjuring under his belt. He knows how to keep his audiences on edge and screaming for more. The sequel to the 2011 surprise horror hit brings back the cast and pick up right where they left off at. The Lambert family (Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne) seek to uncover the secret that has them attached to the supernatural.

The film does give some better scares than the first one, but also makes some predictable choices that would bore the avid horror fan. Writers Wan and Leigh Whannell bring some welcomed creativity to the story but at the same time overreaches and leaves too many unanswered questions. John Leonetti deserves some recognition for his brilliant camerawork as he frames the film’s haunting atmosphere. Insidious: Chapter 2  will frighten audiences, but the story does not live on in the “after life” of Chapter 1.

WORD COUNT: 157

Adam’s Grade: C+

Chuck’s Grade: N/A

Sinister just isn’t evil enough

5 Aug

SINISTER-MOVIE

Last week, my buddy told me that he felt that Sinister was scarier and better than The Conjuring. Intrigued I decided to watch it at night with all of the lights off to get the full effect.

Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke) and his family move into a house where a horrific crime happened. He hopes it will help him write a new book that will turn his career around. He finds some 8mm home movies and uses it as his source material, but he ends up finding some frightening facts about the films.

Sinister had potential. I was hooked from the beginning and thought for a moment that my friend may be right, but then I found myself losing interest during the second and third acts to the point I was rolling my eyes at the absurd ending. I appreciate Hawke’s effort, but the twists do not work and Sinister just isn’t evil enough.

WORD COUNT: 154:

Adam’s Grade: C

Chuck’s Grade: N/A

ABE (short film) has a different serial number

3 Aug

ABE-short-film-2013

Killer robots is nothing new in the horror/sci-fi genre, but writer/director Rob McLellan interpretation of the idea is a fresh take that mixes psychosis with humanity, which are usually absent from such characters. The short film opens on a high note and is able to maintain the pitch through a well written monologue and adept cinematography from Kate Reid. A robot that feels loss and finds itself desperate to fix things creates a sympathetic character for a moment. The story lures audiences into a web like a spider, until it is too late to late to change our minds. ABE has a different serial number that separates him from other models.

WORD COUNT: 111

Chuck’s Grade: B+

Adam’s Grade: N/A

World War Z adapts to the zombie genre

31 Jul

WORLD-WAR-Z

World War Z wastes no time. The exposition is about five minutes, and then all hell breaks loose as Gerry (Brad Pitt) and his family find themselves in middle of mass hysteria and death as the infected run wild through the city. Gerry is a former UN investigator that is forced into tracking the origin of the virus with a small team. Most good zombie films have been attached to some social/cultural/political metaphors to describe the contemporary condition. There are hints of all of these ingredients in the film, but rabid consumption and depression from lack of stimulus resonated the most with me. I am not a zombie fan and I have not read Max Brooks’ novel, but I will pick up the book and I look forward to the seeing a sequel. It is a serious story that equals 28 Days Later, but like its predecessor finding a suitable ending that will satisfy everyone is its biggest shortcoming.

WORD COUNT: 158

Chuck’s Grade: B+

Adam’s Grade: C+

Van Helsing doesn’t make it to dawn

25 Jul

van-helsing

Writer/Director Stephen Sommers attempts to follow-up his blockbuster success of the Mummy franchise by digging up two of the most famous undead characters, Count Dracula (Richard Roxburgh) and Frankenstein (Shuler Hensley) to fight Gabriel Van Helsing (Hugh Jackman), not to mention a cursed family championed by Anna (Kate Beckinsale) and her werewolf brother Velkan (Will Kemp). I was waiting for Abbot and Costello to show up since it is a Universal Horror film, but unfortunately they did not appear. The script becomes an alphabet soup of characters that are unable to come together and spell out anything that makes sense. There are some cool scenes and well-timed humor, but once the machine gun-like crossbow appears everything starts to go down hill. It would be one thing if Sommers was going for campy Evil Dead 2 humor, but the over-produced action sequences, high-profile cast and long run time kills such an idea from working.

WORD COUNT: 152

Chuck’s Grade: C-

Adam’s Grade: C-

Birdemic: Shock and Awful

24 Jul

BIRDEMIC

Nothing can prepare you for this shockingly awful film. Birdemic is easily one of the worst films ever made, which means it has been exalted to a cult-like status with American audiences that prefer to throw up their middle finger at quality acting, directing, writing, and editing. Granted, this film was made on a 10,000 dollar budget, which also means no one believed in this film except writer/director James Nguyen. Inspired by Alfred Hitchcock’s Birds (a fifty year old film with superior special effects) Nyguyen casts Alan Bagh (Rod) and Whitney Moore (Nathalie) as the unsuspecting protagonists awakened after an assumed one-night stand by a flock of killer eagles. Well I guess there was more to their relationship than I originally thought because there is a Birdemic 2 released in select theaters this year. I will save everyone time and give that film an F grade as well.

WORD COUNT: 146

Adam’s Grade: F

Chuck’s Grade: N/A

The Conjuring will scare you immensely

23 Jul

the-conjuring

The Conjuring is based on the true story of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren who your parents would know from their work on the infamous Amityville house. It has been some time since I have seen a horror film that delivers the kinds of chills that The Conjuring does. I was scared, even though I am old enough to know better.

I love director James Wan’s filmmaking style. His camera movements are executed with precision and contribute to overall performance and production. The film does a fine job at developing the characters simultaneously. When Carolyn (Lili Taylor) and Roger (Ron Livingston) move into a farmhouse with their five daughters, their family is terrorized by a spirit and must ask for help from Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine (Vera Farmiga). The Conjuring uses some old-school horror film tactics to make audiences shriek, which I think is a good thing and a nice change of pace.

WORD COUNT: 155

Adam’s Grade: B

Chuck’s Grade: N/A (too scared)