Starring: Olivia Wilde, Mark Duplass and Evan Peters
Reviewed by: Brendan Graham (Phantomhour)
Possession movies are everywhere. Some of them are great (The Exorcist, The Exorcism of Emily Rose) and some of them are just awful and redundant. The Lazarus Effect, one of the newer fright fares from Blumhouse Productions is somewhere in between.
Starring: Heather Sossamon, Matthew Bohrer, Courtney Halverson
Directed by: Nelson Greaves
Reviewed by: Phantomhour (Brendan Graham)
The internet. Where memories last forever, but so do your mistakes. The trailer gets it right when it comes to how we act on the internet. Bullying in schools has always been a problem, but once we took it online, it got worse. You no longer have to be face to face with someone to make them feel like life isn’t worth living, which makes it even more dangerous. Unfriended brings to light this issue and tries to make an effective horror film out of it. Did it work?
Starring: Brandy Schaefer, Zach Andrews, Bobby Roe
Directed by: Bobby Roe
Reviewed by: Phantomhour (Brendan Graham)
Every October, Millions of people from all over the world visit haunted attractions in order to find the perfect scare. Everyone is looking for a bigger, better and more realistic scare, and so every year haunts come up with new ways to horrify. What happens when a haunt goes too far?
You ever have one of those films that for the longest time you love and hold to high standards, then go to rewatch one day only to find out it’s nowhere near as great as you’d thought? That really sums up my current feelings in regards to 2009’s The Collector.
Will Caster (Johnny Depp) is a scientist right on the verge of developing a cutting edge Artificial Intelligence with the help of his wife Evelyn (Rebecca Hall) and friend Max (Paul Bettany). This group is met with a lot of online protests, but they ignore many of these protests until the day Will is shot by an anti-technological group known as RIFT. The bullet turns out to contain a rare isotope that is speedily killing Will, leading Evelyn to come up with a revolutionary idea: converting the electrical signals in Will’s brain to create an AI, so as to preserve him. This works great at first, but as soon as the computerized Will is logged onto the internet, he gains a ton of power, perhaps too much… What Worked: Some interesting discussion points are brought up regarding artificial intelligence and the singularity, though often, they’re only surface level or are unexplained. Hall and Bettany are perhaps the strongest parts of the cast. Cinematography looks good, which is to be expected, since Wally Pfister was a regular cinematographer for Christopher Nolan films.
What Didn’t: The pacing of the film is really awkward, rushing in the beginning, then slowing down to a snail’s pace for the final two acts.Time lapse and clarification are even worse. Without a small notifier at the beginning of the film coming in the subtitles, I wouldn’t have had any idea the main storyline was supposed to have been stretched over the course of 5 years… Even with the best actors of the film (Hall and Bettany), the characterization is often really weak. The question of whether it’s truly Will or a machine using his likeness is often presented throughout the film, but Depp’s performance is so mechanical, I never really saw any possibility for him being a human. References to Turing will go over the majority of audience’s heads, and are too brief to be properly appreciated. Final Score:4.5 talented and confused actors out of 10. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VCTen3-B8GU
Based on a manga from the mid-90’s, the newest iteration of Oldboy (which I’ve taken to calling Newboy) is the tale of Joe Doucett, an obnoxious drunk of a man who, after a major business deal goes sour, suddenly finds himself imprisoned in a small hotel room for 20 years. After all that time, he blacks out one day and finds himself free… but to what cost? He’s left with that thought, and an immense desire for vengeance on whoever trapped him there.
Since the original was one of my all-time favorite movies, I was really excited for Spike Lee’s Americanized remake. Was my hype justified? Let’s see…
One solid point I can give this film is something I’ve noticed is relatively unified across the director’s body of work, and that’s the realism in the world surrounding the film. Characters actually use Google and Shazam to find information, rather than a made up search engine or program, and I appreciated that. The cinematography is better than the original, or it at least takes more risks, and in that regard, it often looks better than the original. Unlike the 2003 version, this is slightly more referential to the original manga than the first adaptation, at least in the first act. Characters seem to be a composite of both sources at times, and that is appreciated every now and again.
Gone is the philosophical narrative. Doakes/Doucett is not Oh-Dae Su, instead, Brolin’s version is portrayed as more of a thug. Even though the original is only a cult hit, this version pays a decent amount of fan-service, though in awkward ways, leading some of the most memorable scenes to lose their dramatic gravitas. A key example would be the hammer scene that was iconic, lengthy and visceral in the original, whereas the NewBoy version seems like an average fight scene by comparison, especially when the cinematography is set up almost ly the same as the original. A large number of the gory kills are usually OTT, and look silly, rather than realistic or dramatic, especially on the BluRay version. Copley, one of my favorite new actors, is extremely campy, a drastic departure from the serious roles he usually plays. His Adrian Pryce seems like the effeminate step-child of Peter Lorre and Hans Gruber, which is very saddening to viewers like myself who know he can play convincing villains and antiheroes, like he did in District 9 and Elysium.
While he does well in the role, Josh Brolin is very unconvincing as a 25ish year-old Joe. While the crew could have circumvented it with casting a different actor or better makeup, I can understand why they left the casting as-is. Without spoiling anything, the twist is much better executed in the original, especially the main character’s discovery of why he was imprisoned, and as the trailer says, why he was let go.
5. If it weren’t for a stupidly pretentious ending that just ignores prior character motivation, this film might be okay. Otherwise, I’m immensely disappointed. Is it complete garbage? No, but still, it doesn’t deserve a gold star or a rental recommendation from me. If you’ve seen the original, watch it at your own risk.