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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

[6.50/10] Dead Snow (2009)

Dead Snow (2009)

Short review: Beginning in a similar vein to Sam Raimi's "Evil Dead", writer/director Tommy Wirkola's movie sees a group of medical students travelling to a remote cabin in the mountains for a weekend break; there they are attacked by an army of undead WWII German soldiers who rise from a labyrinthine network of subterranean wartime tunnels in order to claim a caché of gold that lies beneath the cabin's floor. Wirkola fills the first half of his film with silly hi-jinx, the occasional jump scare, and a half-hearted attempt at explaining the existence of his bloodthirsty zombies, but holds off on the 'good stuff' till later on. When the gore finally arrives, it doesn't stop flowing until the very end, and the sheer quantity and quality of the graphic violence is quite staggering. Loud, ridiculous and hitting all the necessary humor notes Wirkola's "Dead Snow" provides horror fans with an overdose of blood and guts to compliment a predicable story.

  • My Rating: 6.50/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 66% (6.0/10)
  • IMDb: 6.6/10

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

[6.00/10] Friday the 13th (2009)

Friday the 13th (2009)

Short review: Jason Voorhees, the 'Iconic Killer' who's been slashing countless victims in Crystal Lake, Manhatten, Space and even Elm Street is finally back five years later after we last saw the Hockey Mask wearing maniac butchering people in "Freddy Vs Jason". "Friday the 13th" does have it fair share of flaws but even with them the film was still entertaining especially if you don't take them seriously and just enjoy the film for what it is, a homage to the "Friday the 13th" movies and I must admit I had fun spotting the references. The movie also has some great atmosphere with the lack of lighting and gritty tone. Jason himself looks mean and intimidating. The acting in "Friday the 13th" is pretty decent and the gore effects are pretty good. The problem with a remake is it can be impossible not to judge it based on the genre standard that is the original. Try all we want, but we have to start there. This isn't a remake so much as a re-imagining, and is a continuation of the original lore. There are subtle references that will please the most avid fans while anyone seeing it for the first time won't feel like they've been left out.

  • My Rating: 6.00/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 25% (4.2/10)
  • IMDb: 5.8/10

[4.50/10] Donkey Punch (2008)

Donkey Punch (2008)

QuickRating: There is not a scrap of realism in the movie, not an iota of clever dialogue or impressive acting, and the by-the-numbers ending does nothing to boost the mood of genuine depression that permeates the entire movie. "Donkey Punch" is a waste in pretty much every way imaginable.

  • My Rating: 4.50/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 48% (5.4/10)
  • IMDb: 5.4/10

[5.25/10] Underworld: Rise of the Lycans (2009)

Rise of the Lycans (2009)

Short review: The whole Vampires-versus-Lycans tale leaps back centuries earlier in "Underworld: Rise of the Lycans", a Kate Beckinsale-less prequel to the first two "Underworld" installments, which aside from providing viewers an extended look at the franchise's oh-so detailed mythology, has virtually no innovations to offer to keep it from being derivative. That the narrative is also predictably headed to a foregone conclusion proves to be the film's greatest undoing in whatever mild interest the script presents in bringing back its implicit societal classes allegories. Long-time creature designer Patrick Tatopoulos steps behind the camera and his film still captures the viciously frigid environment co-creator and erstwhile "Underworld" director Len Wiseman have brought. But the chintzy amusement, while still there, is scant, no thanks to a rote product that recalls its predecessors' B-movie goodness with not much success, and its confusing action scenes and perpetually dark cinematography that can't mask the absence of the genuine excitement in this third-rounder.

  • My Rating: 5.25/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 32% (4.4/10)
  • IMDb: 6.5/10

[3.50/10] The Unborn (2009)

The Unborn (2009)

Brief review: If you've seen the preview you'd think that "The Unborn" is one edgy, twisted, scary flick. It's far from any of those. It is surprisingly dull! A predictable plot, cobbled together from a million other direct-to-video movies. Even with some effective, if not cheap, scares "The Unborn" boasts far too many lulls between the frights to remain at all involving. The downtime is crammed with expositive plot elements and Casey running around in her underwear. "The Unborn" is a title that should have been issued direct to DVD. The fact that it wasn't, and the studio opted to go ahead and foist it upon paying theater goers, is the true horror here.

  • My Rating: 3.50/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 12% (3.2/10)
  • IMDb: 4.5/10

[5.75/10] Wild Child (2008)

Wild Child (2008)

Short review: "Wild Child"'s plot is familiar stuff - spoilt, arrogant, rich bitch Californian teen is shipped by her father to a traditional English girls boarding school. Despite her resolving to get kicked out at the earliest opportunity, and irrespective of sundry plots both by her and against her, she ends up not only being turned into a decent human being, but also falling for the headmistress' hunky son. While this film won't be winning any prizes for being particularly deep and probably won't make you rethink your outlook on life, it's still good fun. There's some promising new talent, good laughs and sweet lines in this delightfully cheesy romantic comedy.

  • My Rating: 5.75/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 33% (4.6/10)
  • IMDb: 5.8/10

Monday, October 26, 2009

[9.75/10] Y Tu Mama Tambien (2002)

Y Tu Mama Tambien (2002)

Short review: Alfonso Cuaron's superb road movie is a film with a lot on its mind, a potent mixture of politics, sex and teenage abandon, filmed in a Mexico both pure and despoiled and facing an uncertain future. "Y Tu Mama Tambien" is really a deliciously original story from Mexico, fascinatingly put together, about three mesmerizing, very specific characters while touching on myriad universal themes and emotions that every one of us can identify with. Every scene drips with colour, and the cinematography is utterly beautiful. Mexico city and the desert drive to Heaven's Mouth are shot in long, flowing, low-down camera angles which take in the beauty of the country. All this is set off against the scatalogical ramblings of the three main characters. You would swear that Gail Garcia and Diego Luna had been friends since birth, the chemistry is second nature them, reacting to each others dialogue effortlessly. It also has a very 'easy' feeling from start to finish, flowing from a to b in one swift movement. Maribel Verdú's performance is also brilliant! Passionate, multi-layered, stunningly erotic and touching, "Y Tu Mama Tambien" is not to be missed by anyone with an open mind!

  • My Rating: 9.75/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes: 91% (8.0/10)
  • IMDb: 7.8/10

[10/10] [Rec] (2007)

[Rec] (2007)

It's very difficult, after 40 years of terror movies, to make something new or special anymore. Balagueró manages to master the false documentary style to create a really scary atmosphere and the movie beats all resistance to destroy the suspension of disbelieve. The jumps in your seat are guaranteed, and the adrenaline flow is sure! The premise is somewhat original; a TV reporter decides to accompany a local firehouse on a call to an apartment complex in Spain after a pretty unassuming call for help from residents after hearing screams from an elderly woman's apartment. The movie is from the point of view of the television camera throughout. Upon arriving, the residents are obviously shaken up and quickly we start to gather that there is something definitely wrong the situation after the elderly resident who was heard screaming attacks a police officer with a bite on the neck. All hell breaks loose as people start to get injured and for some reason the authorities on the outside will not let remaining residents leave or allow the injured officers and fireman to get help. As the movie progress, more casualties occur, the plot thickens, and we start to understand what is going on and the horrific scope of the events. This is the kind of movie that is all about the experience, the feeling, the atmosphere. This is the kind of movie you wish you hadn't seen because then you'd be able to experience it again for the first time. The atmosphere in Rec is simply amazing! If you think the documentary-style is a bit old by now, think again: "[Rec]" manages to immerse you into the movie - you might not realize that until the credits have rolled. The acting is superb throughout, the setting is believable and direction and camera-work are top-notch. "[Rec]" is one of the most terrifying and thrilling horror films to come out of recent years, that displays some clever inventiveness along with the traditional 'boo' scares expected of the horror genre. It's this brilliant style and memorable shocks that lend "[Rec]" as one of the most clever and inventive horror films of recent memory!

[10/10] Kung Fu Hustle (2005)

Kung Fu Hustle (2005)

Short review: The last few years have seen many excellent Chinese movies ranging from historical dramas, as in "The Emperor and the Assassin", to brilliant action movies, "Hero", "House of Flying Daggers", comedies like "Shaolin Soccer", thrillers like "Infernal Affairs" and more... "Kung Fu Hustle" is the next step of what I consider the growing up of the Chinese Film Industry. "Gong Fu" is an action film full of some of the finest martial arts you can find. But it does not stop there. Latest CGI and cinematic effects are deployed with ease to make the experience truly magnificent. This part could describe a well made but typical Hollywood action production. But "Gong Fu" grows beyond that, incorporating very satirical elements that make this movie a treat. If you are a fan of Kung Fu movies or if you are a critic, this film can entice both as it presents a delectable parody of the genre without taking itself too seriously. In so far it accomplishes what Hollywood has lost somewhere along the way, the ability to make a funny and inventive movie that is filled with little thoughtful vignettes to discover while still appealing to a broad public. Stephen Chow's "Kung Fu Hustle" is wildly imaginative, visually stunning, brilliantly directed , entertaining, smart and endlessly hilarious! Without a doubt, the best movie of 2005!

[10/10] Pan's Labyrinth (2006)

Pan's Labyrinth (2006)

Short review: "El Laberinto del Fauno" is a gruelling, disturbing, emotional and brutal journey of light and dark. Is is a wonderful fairy tale, with great performances, stunning visuals and strong story. All your emotions will be thoroughly tested in Guillermo Del Toro's grim fairy tale. A masterful fable that alternates between uber-gritty realism and dark, twisted fantasy with such a sublime slickness, it is near startling. The movie not only benefits of Del Toro's wonderful script but also of some compelling performances. The actress playing Ophelia, was simply perfect; Maribel Verdu is convincing as the troubled servant and Sergi Lopez gets the show stealer role as the evil Captain Vidal which he portrays successfully. The effects are fantastic and show how CGI use should be kept to a minimum unless you have a vast budget, as most of the effects in this are real and not computer generated. The set designs and costumes are outstanding.Doug Jones does a brilliant job of bringing Fauno and Pale Man to life. But the real star is Guillermo del Toro. With his great vision and excellent story telling, he brings the entire film to life. He knows exactly what fans want and works brilliant towards genre. "Pan's Labyrinth" is without a doubt del Toro's masterpiece, year's best movie and it is now in my "best of all time" list! It's perfect!