Sunday, April 24, 2011

UHF (1989)


George Newman becomes the owner of a local public TV station when his uncle wins it in a card game. Seeing that the station is limping along he decides to spice it up by creating all sorts of wacky shows and becomes an unintentional hit. The problem comes when R.J. Fletcher, a big corporate media tycoon, tries to prevent UHF from becoming a hit so that he could monopolize the television stations. With its brilliant pop culture parodies, slapstick humor and over the top performances, this film is a treat to watch and really makes you laugh in unexpected ways. There is also a sort of charm and warm-hearted feeling that comes with it. Weird Al is great as always but considering the type of humor that is used, I wonder why and how the film would have turned out had the Zucker brothers co-developed the movie with Weird Al.

American Graffiti (1973)


Set in 1962, this coming-of-age film centers on a couple of high school graduates who spend their last night cruising around in their cars, drinking and drag racing. One teenage couple tries to patch things up before they part ways, a young man searches the entire town for a mysterious fem fatale, another young man tries desperately to impress his female passenger and another tries to have fun while babysitting a high school freshman. The music, the clothing, the lingo, the cars and the amazing performance by one hell of a cast highlight this period piece and it’s a must for any film fan. It’s surprisingly very engaging and funny for one of the first ‘coming of age movies,’ and even still… it’s a rather sad and reminiscent tale.

I, Robot (2004)


In the near future, a technophobic police officer investigates the apparent suicide of a key designer for a company that specializes in robotic servants for people. His investigation leads him to believe that a robot that displays emotional characteristics killed the designer but there is a bigger threat at large. Unfortunately, the officer’s extreme prejudice towards robots has blinded him from seeing the greater threat. For personal reasons, I found this movie to be very thrilling and an interesting critique on how we use and take machines for granted. Will Smith is great and the action sequences are pleasing but the real star of the show is Sonny, the robot that has a conscience. However, the CGI has aged pretty badly.

Scream 4 (2011)


Sidney Prescott has returned to Woodsboro after 10 years to try and regain her life back from the series of murders only this time she decides to reconnect with her family. The only problem is, the Ghostface Killer has also come back and this time he saved the most sadistic murders for her family but who’s affected more: Sidney or her young nephew Jill? Full review.

Inside Deep Throat (2005)


This documentary not only explains the controversial debut of Deep Throat but it also dives into the production, how the cast and crew took the controversy, the plead for and against pornography as well as the legacy that Deep Throat left behind. However, Deep Throat wasn’t just any porno… it was the top grossing film in the U.S. when it came out. This was a wonderful documentary that doesn’t just become the typical “how they made a porno” film but dives into the pasts, the lives and the thoughts of all the people who were involved with the film and becomes a personal recount of the whole situation. It’s funny, it’s sad and it’s guaranteed to open you eyes to the wondrous world of censorship.

Eye for an Eye (1996)


When her daughter is brutally raped and murdered, Karen McCann and the police suspect it was Robert Doob but when something went wrong with the courts he is set free despite the evidence against him. Enraged with the lack of professionalism by the LAPD, Karen decides to take the law into her own hands and avenge her daughter. Surprisingly there isn’t a lot of action and it’s substituted with Sally Field stalking Sutherland as she tries to map out her revenge. It does a great job holding you in suspense and Kiefer Sutherland does an amazing job playing the creepy, perverted, sadistic pedophile. I actually got chills in one scene.

Blast from the Past (1999)


Adam had a pretty good childhood with loving parents but the only problem is that he has been raised in an underground fallout shelter for 35 years when his parents mistaken a plan crash for the a nuclear bomb. Now, after almost 4 decades he has been assigned to go up on the surface world to get medicine for his ill dad and a lot has changed since the 60’s. Especially since his whole world has been the artificial 1960’s. As I already explained a while ago I love movies that have characters taken out of their elements and this is no exception. It’s a well-made, funny, whimsical film that really puts the 60’s ideologies with the 90’s culture. Brendon Frasier is fantastic and really nails his portrayal as a shy, naïve young man.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Midnight Cowboy (1969)


After leaving his quiet, small Texas town, a young male prostitute travels to New York in order to make a living off of his newly found career in female pleasure. During his stay in the Big Apple, he partners up with a slightly handicapped con artist in order to survive. However, his friend begins showing signs of a very severe sickness and dreams of Florida more than anything. This was a very powerful, disturbing and heart-wrenching tale taken from the gutters of life. It’s part experimental and part narrative yet it still manages to make you feel for the characters as they try and survive on the streets. Though Voight’s performance is solid, it’s Hoffman that steals the show as Ratso the con man.

After Midnight (1989)


This horror anthology centers on a professor who, after firing a bullet in school and getting a warning, holds an extra curricular study session at his home where students share scary stories to each other. The stories include a young couple that investigates a creepy mansion in hopes to find some gas for their car. A group of young woman who are chased through a city’s underground by a back of wild dogs, and a phone operator that’s being stalked by a stranger. Full review.

Scary Movie 3 (2003)


Quarantine (2008)


While tagging along with a local fire department during their nightshift, a reporter and her cameraman follow them during a seemingly routine 9/11 call. However, upon their investigation of a severely sick woman, all the people inside the building become quarantined and trapped inside by the CDC. They soon discover that this virus is contagious and that it turns people into brutal, bloodthirsty psychopaths. Even though it’s based off of [REC], I really enjoyed this movie. It has its scary moments and it’s a great adaptation but I don’t think the characters are there yet. There’re things that the original have that the remake doesn’t and vise versa.

Gone in 60 Seconds (2000)


Retired car thief Memphis Raines is called back to the fine art of car stealing when his brother gets into deep trouble with a mobster and has his life on the line. Now, Memphis must recruit his old crew back, with the assistance of his brother’s crew, and seal 50 cars within the span of 24 hours or his brother gets killed. I really enjoyed this movie; it had flair, action, some pretty great car chases and I loved the concept of old-school car stealing versus modern-day car stealing. The only problem is, since Memphis’ brother was never kidnapped, I don’t know why they couldn’t just leave the city.

Darkness Falls (2003)


After encountering an unforgiving spirit who takes the form of the Tooth Fairy when he was a kid, Kyle Walsh has all grown up and thinks that he’s avoided. However, when a young boy begins having night terrors of the spirit, Kyle is suddenly reminded of how relentless the spirit is and now he must find a way to destroy the spirit before she could harm him and the people he cares about. I really didn’t like this movie because it had the potential of being something great and downright scary. I loved the idea of the Tooth Fairy being the enemy but it was watered down with poor acting, glossy effects and bad scriptwriting.

Rat Race (2001)


A group of unrelated people are summoned by a casino hotel manager and given the opportunity to win 1 million dollars. The bag of money lies at a train station in Silver City, New Mexico and there are no rules of the game. The catch is, only one person will win the bag and that’s whoever gets there first. In the same vain of It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World, this slapstick joy ride is filled with laughs and suspense. The whole movie felt like one giant farce and strangely, all the characters are very likeable. You could tell they were all having fun, as was I.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Brokedown Palace (1999)


While vacationing in Thailand, two girls meet a young Australian man who promises them an even better time in Hong Kong. One girl wants to go but the other has a bad feeling about it, however they decide to leave anyway but they arrested before they have the chance to get on the plane for smuggling drugs. Now, trapped in a dingy abusive prison, the two girl’s fate lies within the hands of an American lawyer looking to redeem himself. Though I enjoyed the movie, I felt like it lacked in places and was filled up in exposition. The story was very compelling and is one of those cases where it could happen to anybody. The ending was very bitter and made me hate the Thailand justice system, even if the movie exaggerated it a bit.

High Noon (1952)


Taking place in real-time, when his wedding is interrupted by the arrival of three outlaws, Marshall Will Kane is urged to leave his town. Knowing that the gang of outlaws belongs to the notorious murderer Frank Miller, Kane returns to the town to defend it but he soon realizes that the entire town refuses to help him and backs down. Now, personally compelled and frightened, Will Kane must find a way to stop Miller who is the very man he sent to prison and who swore revenge upon. This is one of my favorite Westerns of all time not only for it’s revolutionary style of real-time filming but for the performance of Gary Cooper. The entire movie is based on anticipation and you begin to feel the fear that Kane has. This time, the hero isn’t going in guns ‘a blazing but rather is scared but has to do what’s good.

AVP: Alien vs. Predator (2004)


After a satellite locates a huge heat blum under an Antarctic ice shelf, the head of Weland Industries dispatches a team of scientists and engineers to find out what is under the ice. Unfortunately, while exploring a hidden ancient temple the team activates a mechanism that triggers the pyramid into turning into a giant maze. Now they must fight for their lives while being caught up in a million-year battle between the Xenomorphs (Alien) and the Predators (Predator). Though I love the imagination of combining the two movies I didn’t really care for any of the action. It felt very stale and over stylized when it should have been set on establishing a mood. With that said, it was nice to see some practical effects used instead of all CGI.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)


When a series of UFO’s appear all over America, the government begins receiving transmissions and strange evidence from the UFO’s. Meanwhile, a line worker who encountered a UFO starts having strange visions of a mysterious mountain. While the government quickly tries to find out who and what the UFO’s are, the worker teams up with a young mother to find this mysterious mountain so that she can get her son back from the aliens. This certainly isn’t Spielberg’s masterpiece but with its warm-hearted nature, beautiful storyline and amazing cinematography, it’s very hard to not like this film. It certainly is one of the best and rare non-threatening alien invasion movies. The only problems I had were concerning some story ideas but otherwise, it’s an absolute must.

Species (1995)


After a message from outer space containing instructions on how to modify DNA, a team of scientists creates a half human, half alien hybrid. Unfortunately their creation breaks out and is loose. Resembling a young woman and luring men to procreate with her, the project supervisor assembles a small team to track down their creation and bring it back to him dead or alive. I really enjoyed this movie purely because of the suspense and action, it’s a great twist on the alien invasion genre but it has one minor flaw. The CGI didn’t age well rending all the scenes with CGI in them look like bad video game graphics. It tends to distract from the story.

Rumpelstiltskin (1995)


Just like the fairy tale, Rumpelstiltskin kidnaps a young woman’s child in the 1400’s, however an old woman places a curse on him and turns him into a small jade figurine only to be awakened in present day Los Angeles. He is unintentionally awakened by a grieving widowed mother but when Uncle Rumpel steals her baby, she stops at nothing to get him back. The concept of the story was great but it suffered from major problems: the humor is off and very tacky, the acting is poor and the entire thing seemed very lackluster. Then again, it is supposed to be funny and b-movie-ish… I think.

Aliens (1986)


When a colony on the remote alien world from the first movie falls off the radar and looses contact with everybody, Weyland Industries assembles a team to find out what happened to the colonists. Unfortunately, Ripley has no choice but to accompany them and fight off the alien she thought she destroyed. However, this time around there are more of them and Ripley is beginning to loose faith in the cocky crew. This is one of the few sequels that could be better than the original; it uses a great sense of mood and action to build tension and it’s a treat to see Ripley even more as a motherly figure but also as an action hero. The special effects are outstanding and really show what the 80’s accomplished in film.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Event Horizon (1997)


A rescue team is sent to investigate the mysterious reappearance of a massive spaceship, called the Event Horizon, after it disappeared into a black hole years before. But when the team begins to search for any survivors, they quickly realize that the ship brought back something evil and psychotic from another dimension. Visually beautiful and surprisingly very brutal, this film is the embodiment of a space-horror movie. It’s literally a haunted house story set in space and has some amazing scare tactics, however the plot could have been made better and more psychological had they not sacrifice it to explosions and stylized cinematography.

The Blob (1988)


After a meteor carrying an alien substance crashes near a small town, it’s up to a high school cheerleader the town ‘bad boy’ to try to stop the blobby substance from consuming the entire town. However, things take an unfortunate turn when the military gets involved and the alien substance is looking less and less alien. Based off the 1950’s movie of the same name, this version is vastly entertaining and pretty graphic. It utilizes some of the best practical effects the 80s has to offer and offers no remorse to its characters. It’s what a horror film should be but at the same time it’s smart and very edgy.

Rubber (2010)


A car tire rises from a scrap-yard and discovers that he has the telepathic ability to blow up things, so he decides to roll around a small desert town blowing up people’s heads. He takes on an obsession with a young woman and kills anybody in his pathway. Meanwhile, a local police sheriff is hot on his trail to figure out who is killing all these people. The bizarre thing is, all of this is being witness by an audience that watches from atop a hill. They are given nightly means, binoculars and food that is poisoned. The whole film is based on randomness and it took me a while to figure this out and where it was going. It was okay but a lot of the humor was hit or miss, eventually it just felt a little boring after a while.

Critters 2 (1988)


The Crites are back and this time their eggs have been mistaken for Easter eggs and before long they hatch the ferocious critters are rampaging all over Grover’s Bend. It’s now, yet again, up to the alien bounty hunters to stop the Crites from destroying the town with the help of their new Earth companion… Charlie. This sequel to the 1986 hit Critters is a lot wilder and feels like a cartoon. The Crites are such a fascinating monster and they really make you want to root for them. It’s a great movie with a ton of Loony Tunes-like action and don’t forget the infamous Critter ball.

Krull (1983)


After a mobile kingdom of alien invaders kill his father, father-in-law and steal his princess, a young prince must befriend an old wizard to help him stop the alien invaders and rescue his princess. Along the way he makes allies with a bumbling shape shifter, a group of thieves, an old psychic and his young companion and a Cyclops. The story seems very familiar, as it should and the acting is very mediocre. However, the real spectacle of this film is the special effects, set design and creature effects. All of this makes for a beautiful looking film that really makes you feel like your watching a good old fashion fantasy action movie.

Day the World Ended (1955)


After nuclear war, seven people find refuse in a house located in the middle of the desert. With mental and emotional grips tightening, the group begins to learn that the danger may not be outside but rather themselves. It doesn’t help that some horrible mutant is lurking outside… waiting to eat them. This cheese-tastic film came from schlock-meister Roger Corman and it certainly isn’t hiding it. The dialogue is horrendous, the mutant looked awful and the performances were delivered without any emotion or sense of acting. Though, strangely enough it was funny. I think it could really benefit from a serious remake.

The Thing From Another World (1951)


Isolated from the world and on the tip of Antarctica, a group of American scientists and Air Force officials find a frozen spaceship and it’s pilot buried under solid ice. Upon recovering the alien body, they accidentally defrost it rendering it loose and confused. Now they must fend off their outpost as the alien hides and lurks, and they must stop it before it has the chance to take over the world. Based off of the novella Who Goes There by John W. Campbell, this film was pretty good. It has its genuinely freaky moments and builds a thick creepy atmosphere. Though it is heightened American propaganda at it’s finest; building its characters on Patriotic standpoints and Christian morals. It’s a must for any sci-fi fan.