Category Archives: Disappointing

TV Review: American Horror Story Hotel (Episode 1, 2015) HorrorAthon 3

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Starring: Lady Gaga, Kathy Bates, and Evan Peters

Season 5 is here, and it gets weird. But not even a really good kind of weird. The kind of weird where Ryan Murphy is just throwing everything he has into a giant pot and hope it tastes good.

Continue reading TV Review: American Horror Story Hotel (Episode 1, 2015) HorrorAthon 3

Film Review: Sinister 2 (2015) HorrorAthon 3

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Directed by: Ciaran Foy

Starring: James Ransone and Shannyn Sossamon

Reviewed by: Brendan Graham (Phantomhour)

Yes, yes I know. This movie has been out since August, but what better way to start of this year’s HorrorAthon than with a sequel to a fantastically creepy film, plus it’s still out in theatres for a lot of you, so it’s a win win. In this sequel to the chilling hit from 2012, Sinister 2 picks up with another family that has been marked for death, and it’s up to an investigator to save them from the paranormal force, known as Baghuul.

Did Baghuul scare up a success for round two? Eh…

Continue reading Film Review: Sinister 2 (2015) HorrorAthon 3

Horrorathon Film Review: Annabelle (2014)

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Reviewed by: Phantomhour (Brendan Graham)

Last year, Director James Wan introduced the world to The Conjuring, a story of the paranormal with roots in a real story. Probably one of the most effective parts of The Conjuring for most, was the spooky looking doll behind the glass case who went by the name, Annabelle. So naturally, Hollywood had to give her a backstory, and here is that movie.

Is it scary? Is it intense? Is it bearable? Well….

Continue reading Horrorathon Film Review: Annabelle (2014)

Film Review: 300-Rise of an Empire

300: Rise of an Empire Movie Poster

Huh. As far as unneccessary sequels go, this one came near the top of my list. The story of 300 Spartan’s sacrifice while fighting the Persian army and their “god-king” Xerxes seemed to be self contained. The first seemed to show the stylized downfall of strong men with even stronger hubris, and the second… does the exact same things, just with confusion on what it wants to be. Is it a prequel? A midquel? A sequel? I couldn’t tell you, and I don’t think the people in charge of this film could either.

What Works:

Eva Green largely steals the show as the Persian assassin Artemesia. She plays an intelligent, capable female villainess who is more than her protagonist’s equal. It was rather pleasant to see her as a femme fatale who could fight and manipulate her counterpart using more than her “feminine wiles”, to steal a quote from Firefly. War Pigs is a good pick for the end credits, though it wasn’t a surprise given it was featured in nearly all of the film’s adverts.

What Didn’t:

The remainder. Everything, from the effects to the majority of the actors, to the writing showed a drastic disparity between this film and the first. Even the lead, Sullivan Stapleton’s Themistokles, is rather bland and is obviously standing in the shadow of Gerard Butler’s Leonidas from the last film. As for the other mentioned flaws, I’ll start with the effects. I understand this is a highly stylized version of semi-fictional historic retelling, but still, a film shouldn’t have CGI this bad unless it’s an Asylum production, and especially should not if it’s a sequel to a film with a rather strong impact on film and visual storytelling. The most drastic and noticeable difference between the two is the character of Ephialtes, the rebuked and deformed man from the first film that betrayed the Spartans and led to their downfall. While in the first film, he was rather well made, with a combination of prosthetics and a little bit of CGI, in Rise of an Empire, it was obvious they decided to go a mainly computerized route this time, and it showed. Every time I saw his face on-screen, I was reminded of the odd-looking giants from Jack the Giant Slayer, which I believe were specifically intended to look a bit cartoonish to add to the fantastical element, whereas the 300 series seems more intent on having stylized visuals, while still maintaining one foot in reality.

See what I mean?

Another problem with the film is the dialogue, which seemed to have no idea whether it wanted to be modernized or traditional Sword ‘n Sandals film dialogue, which is really jarring when it switches from dramatic speeches about the necessity of working together and democracy, to odd, modern cursing, which happens with relative frequency.

Perhaps the greatest offense in the film is it’s ending, however. After a ton of boring, slow-moving plot between fight scenes (this is not an understatement of a jaded American only used to Michael Bay films, where all one watches is explosions punctuated by dialogue, trust me), the film culminates in a blatant and horrible cliffhanger that serves no storytelling purchase besides telling the audience : “Buy your tickets to 300 3: Decimation of your Wallet today!”

Final Score:

disappointing
With a massive pile of flaws, and a lack of a solidly interesting protagonist, added to a horrific ending, I would not recommend checking this film out. Though, say, if a friend intentionally rents it for a bad movie night, you may be okay, because Eva Green performs really well in this, and looks pretty good to boot.

3.5/10 untrained soldiers.

Film Review: Bicentennial Man (1999)

It can easily be reasoned that the 90’s were at least partially the era of Robin Williams family comedies. From Patch Adams to Jack, Williams apparently dominated the box office. Like any period of success, actor or otherwise, it has to eventually come to an end, and it is my theory it was films like Bicentennial Man that led to Williams dominance end… at least for awhile. With his natural comedic talent and rapidfire delivery, I hope for his return.

On to the actual plot. Williams plays Andrew, a robot that while under the servitude of Sam Neill’s character, decides he wants to be human. Over time he exhibits creativity, humor, and emotion, leading him on a journey of self discovery and pursuit of the right to be classified as a human individual.

What Works:

For being made in the late 90’s, a period where the studios were really anxious to start using CGI, the film has some really good practical appearing effects, especially the animatronics. Interesting points are (briefly) presented in regards to the natures of robotics and autonomy. There is a brief appearance by Bradley Whitford, which while short, is appreciated.

What Doesn’t:

It’s no secret I’m not a fan of child actors, and this film does not really change my opinions. The child actors either don’t emote according to the scene or overact worse than Jeremy Iron’s in Dungeons and Dragons. Neill’s character’s opinions and motivations change to move the plot along, making him seem far less fleshed out. In fact, that’s a major problem with every character, Andrew included. They’re all one-note, with no depth whatsoever. There is no real chemistry between anyone. I don’t know whether to blame the flimsy script or the acting, but characters all seem just there to move the story along and nothing else. Tone is another odd point of the movie. The back of the DVD I rented claims that the film is a family comedy, typical to Robin Williams, but besides the scene where Andrew is trying to tell a joke, I came nowhere near laughing. The film obviously kiltered more towards a scifi drama, but I believe a combination of casting Williams and desire to market to the largest audience led the studios to market it as a family comedy.The worst sin of the movie in my opinion is that the pacing is off-slow becomes fast and fast drags on, in regards to scenes. A menial scene that has little to no influence on the plot is about 10 minutes, while an important scene that could help the characters grow and develop is maybe 2 if the audience is lucky.

Final Score:

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Certainly one of the weaker Asimov adaptations, Bicentennial Man is plagued by a lot of on-screen problems, leading to an overall emotionally devoid film that shows a lot of potential left behind.
3.5 animatronic robots out of 10

 

(Ranting) Movie Review: Kick-Ass 2 (2013)

Having been an avid fan of the Kick-Ass franchise for years, I was really excited when a sequel to Matthew Vaughn’s fantastic adaptation was announced. Then it was revealed he wouldn’t return as director, and Jeff Wadlow, director of such classics Cry_Wolf and Never Back Down would take the reins. This set my hype levels from being nearly equivalent to my hype for Pacific Rim and the Evil Dead remake to being only interested in seeing it. So, that being said, was Kick-Ass 2 a total garbage heap, or a surprisingly good time? Ehhh…. honestly? Probably somewhere in the lower middle. But, as a cinephile and a fan of the series, I think I owe it to myself and anyone even mildly interested in reading my reviews to explain why I thought so in my favorite format:The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly!

The Good: 

  • Jim Carrey, John Leguizamo, and Donald Faison are strong one-off additions to the franchise. Jim Carrey was surprisingly reserved and enjoyable, something I haven’t seen in him since Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. So, props.
  • They actually provide a justification for The Motherfucker’s ridiculous costume. A weak one, but one nonetheless.
  • Awesome cameo by Ser Jorah from Game of Thrones. (Sorry, but I’m kind of stream of conciousness writing this and don’t want to disrupt that by IMDB’ing the actors name. I’ll fix it later.) (It’s Iain Glen)
  • Hit-Girl seriously gets some moments to shine. Especially with her earlier one-liners and action scenes.
  • No rape scene or child murder that was in the books.
  • Union J’s cameo totally takes the piss out of boy bands. I found that interesting.
  • The Sick Stick. ‘Nuff Said. Juvenile revenge humor at its finest. But yeah, emphasis on the juvenile.
  • I actually liked Remembering Tommy better in the film than the comic. They were a really cute couple.
  • Hit-Girl’s Last Resort was a great reference to something you see in the first Kick-Ass book. Kind of. I don’t think giving cocaine to this iteration of Hit-Girl would go so great.

The Bad:

  • Aaron Johnson’s accent really showed, especially when he tried to act stressed.
  • Lyndsey Fonseca is in this movie for two short scenes. That’s it. Way to just disregard Dave’s main plotline of the first film.
  • Night Bitch. Nice to see a strong, dedicated female adult superhero who don’t need no man… Oh wait. Nope. She and her “banging/dating Kick-Ass” sub-plot did nothing besides initiate the cops hunting masks subplot.
  • The Mother-F***er’s costume…
  • ...I mean seriously, what happened to that kinda cool mask from the end of the first movie?
  • Why go from this:
  • To whatever this is:
  • Actually, just the entire Chris D’Amico plotline and character in the film. Yeah, y’know, I understand the whole basic vengeance plot structure in films, I actually love that type of story. But Chris goes from being an under-appreciated son just looking for his father’s love and support, to a completely immature moron. Unlike the comic, where Chris/MF’er is an emotionally unstable psychopath and potential sociopath, Chris is just an unlikeable spoiled idiot who has no justifiable motivation for pretty much everything he does besides “But my dad… bazooka!” Which is obnoxious and not an adult, fully thought out argument.
  • Hit-Girl’s “Mean Girls”-esque plotline was not necessary and was done much better in the Hit-Girl tie in comic.
  • Iron Kick-Ass? Wha????

The Ugly:

  • The utter lack of fun. The first film toed the line a lot between it’s violence and it’s humor, but it never forgot it was fun. Superheros are fun. Seeing bad guys get their comeuppance is fun. Pain and misery and erratic soundtracks with explicit songs just for shock value, with no contribution to the actual film, are not.
  • Ass-Kicker. Seriously, first you recast Evan Peters, then you write his character into being either A)a traitorous dick or B)The Biggest Moron in the History of Morons. I’m still unclear on which.
  • The Date Ditch scene. It just left me with so many questions… Is that even a thing? How do you even find that many people to pull such a dickish stunt? Why didn’t she call Marcus or Dave to come pick her up/explain the situation?
  • The rape scene’s replacement. Chris/MF’er is about to rape Night Bitch, but he can’t get it up, and it’s played for a laugh. Seriously? Friggin SERIOUSLY?
  • MF’er or his henchmen (excluding Mother Russia) doesn’t come off as a legitimate threat, seeing as besides the siege of Night Bitch’s house, we don’t see them really do anything besides hang out in a warehouse. Speaking of which…
  • The location of the final fight. Rather than the scope and chaos of Times Square that the comic had, it’s held in a mid-sized warehouse. Did they just get down to 20 dollars on the budget or what? I understand shooting on legit Times Square’d be crazy difficult and expensive, but still, that sort of thing or something similar can be accomplished with a set or a CGI shot. Just having it in the open, where civilians were actually a factor could have upped the emotional ante quite a bit.
  • The awkward, stilted, Dave/Mindy romance. Why? Hit-Girl is badass enough on her own, she doesn’t need a useless/pointless romantic subplot that comes out of nowhere. I can see the twisted logic the director or writer (I don’t know who to blame there) was going for, but it’s just no bueno.
  • The post-credits scene. We see in some of the last few minutes of the final fight that Chris is regretting at least some of his stupidity before he gets omnommed by a shark and presumably killed, so what’s the point in showing him whining about not being able to reach some water in his hospital bed while showing he is at least a triple amputee now? Even if Kick-Ass 2 breaks even, I don’t think he’s going to make too fantastic a villain in that shape if it gets another sequel. That left a really sour taste in my mouth.

 Final Score:

Somewhere between

.
.and…

disappointingIt’s nowhere near great, but it does have a select few charms left. 3.5 beat-up high-schoolers out of 10.

Movie Review: Silent Hill Revelation (2012) HORRORATHON

Twice the Silence!
Twice the Silence!

Reviewed by: Brendan Graham (Phantomhour)

Earlier this week I tackled the game to film adaption of Silent Hill, and favored it with an Okay  score. Now it’s time to tackle the latest cinematic venture into the mysterious and cursed town of Silent Hill. This movie, which is loosely based on the game, Silent Hill 3, tells the story of Heather (Adelaide Clemens) and her father Harry (Sean Bean) who, since the occurrences of the first film, have been moving all over the country to try and escape the past horrors that involved the town of Silent Hill. That may sound confusing if you haven’t played the games, but without spoiling much for you… Heather = Sharon. Got it? Good. Let’s continue on. Obviously, the past catches up with them and forces Heather to return to Silent Hill in order to save her father from the horrors within.

I don't know what she's screaming about, the set design is amazing.
I don’t know what she’s screaming about, the set design is amazing.

What Works: The visuals are still fantastic the second time around, all the sets are detailed well, and easily fit within the world of the games. The fog, the ash, the rusty world, all of it is stunningly beautiful and executed well. Little details from the games are incorporated well and little props you may recognize make an appearance, it made me quite happy.

I also have to give the story some positivity  this time around because they did a much better job at least keeping to what occurred in the game. The script is a improvement this time around as well. Probably the biggest step forward for the cinematic form of Silent Hill was having a better structured cast that mostly performed well with each other. Adelaide Clemens is wonderful as Heather, she looks like her, walks like her, and she has a fantastic screen presence and definitely carries the film forward. Sean Bean has just about the same amount of screen time as in the first one, but he is still a great addition, and Deborah Kara Unger is back as well as Dahlia, with a new look and new temperament which is very refreshing.

Run Heather Run, the angry fans are coming!
Run Heather Run, the angry fans are coming!

What Didn’t Work: I noted above that the story was closer to the game, but it’s not close enough for it to be enjoyable, important scenes and details of the game are ignored, or shown out of context.  Example: The Detective’s role in the story is so severely reduced that it’s almost criminal. I mentioned the script was better, but the dialogue still starts to suffer as the film progresses, hitting a dreadful peak at the end of the film. While we had some pretty good acting this time around, there are some that are bad enough to drag the film down even further. I’m looking at you Kit Harington and especially you Malcolm McDowell, and you can’t blame the script for your lack of enthusiasm in the roles you were given. Blah.

Once again, creatures like Pyramid Head make an appearance when they don’t belong there. The addition of the mannequin spider is also perplexing. Speaking of that scene in general, what was the point of that scene? I found no point at all to even introduce the girl that Heather sees there and tries to rescue. It’s pointless and cheesy. So is most of the ending of the film too.

Who cut this movie? The Nurses?
Who cut this movie? The Nurses?

Final Score:

disappointingBased on my criticisms, you’d probably expect a Just Bad or maybe even a Painful, but the feeling that came to mind the most was my level of Disappointment. I was really excited for this movie, and as fun as it was to watch in 3D, I came out not feeling angry but just feeling sad. Sure, the visuals are stunning, and the acting and script see some improvement, however, it’s the really their choices in telling the story of the game, some really bad performances and dialogue, some characters shown that were pointless or some characters that were important that barely made an appearance that makes a good chunk of this movie quite a drag.

I’ll give Silent Hill Revelations 4 out of 10.  It is available on Netflix if you’re interested.