Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Strangers Review

Overall Grade: C-
While the trailer for The Strangers gives you the tag "Inspired by true events", the movie itself is so far rooted in Hollywood convention that the true events had to be inspired by some Hollywood movie. While I really wanted to like this film (as I desire to enjoy at least one horror film a year), after about twenty minutes into this 80 minute film, I was checking my watch (or should I cell phone seeing as how I don't own a watch).

The film itself starts out fairly conventionally, with a couple in a home near the woods being terrorizd by crazed killers. What the film fails to do, is to root this story in anything true and believable. If I am to be scared because this story is true, then why include the movie killer convention that they are seen one second and the very next they have vanished from clear sight, even when there is nothing at all for them to hide behind. I kept thinking that if this were true, and in any ways indicative of how the killings happened then the killers must have gone to the same vanishing training academy that Batman went to in Batman Begins.

The film fails in another important horror film convention, the fact that the victims must actually stand a chance. The movie goes to such far lengths to show how these strangers can be anywhere and everywhere, that I rarely ever felt like the main characters stood a shot. Neither were our main characters given any sort of intelligent response to them, they kinda just scream from room to room until the strangers decide they have had enough. Without he actual suspense of an even fight, the movie just becomes a hunt after weak animals. Hunting can be suspenseful, but not if the deer lets you walk right up to him and stab him, then its just brutalness.

In the end, the film is well-crafted (even though I felt the scares relied a little too much on the film score), though totally vapid. I can't give it a reccomend. If the film premise looked intruiging to you or the film trailer gets you interested than I suggest the far superior (but not a great horror film) Vacancy which deals with much of the same themes. Included for your pleasure are the trailers for both below.
The Strangers

See Thats a great trailer right? Too bad its better than the Film


Indiana Jones 4 Review

Overall Grade: C+

I keep a private collection of movie databases and lists on my computer at home and show them to a rare few. One of those lists is titled "Movies to See" and is a running list of every movie I want to eventually see in my lifetime organized by year. Obviously this list is kept up to date as there are new films coming out all the time.

For 2008, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (which from here on out will be called IJ4) was in the top five of my most anticipated films list. So to say that I had high expectations going into the film, is a bit of an understatement. I saw the film with a great group of friends on Memorial Day at the AMC Theatres, my favorite theatre in Tallahassee. The setting was just right, it was one of my most anticipated films, it had to be good right?

Well, the answer is mostly no, but a little bit of yes. It should be known that most people when they review a film take their time to convey the plot of the film and give the reader a good summary before posting their commentary. I will be up front with you, I don't like doing it, never have, and hopefully I never will. Mostly I like posting my thoughts about the film however they come out of my brain. That means, a little less cohesiveness for you, but it means that I actually get it written down. This is why I don't write and professional reviews, I can't stand the formats they require. Anyways, back to the movie.

IJ4 is clearly the runt of the Indiana Jones series. The first three Indiana Jones films were all made in the 80s and really kinda had the same feel and look. It's been twenty years since The Last Crusade and as much as I would've liked for IJ4 to look the same as the other three films, the entire look of the film felt like a blockbuster in the late 2000's; and thats not a good thing. As much as I like Janusz Kaminski (he's won a Leaman Award), he creates a new look to an Indiana Jones film that looks far too modern and more comfortable at home in a Pirates of the Caribbean film (which oddly Dead Man's Chest was an homage to in lot of ways, and its action scenes dwarf ID4's). Its the same with much of the action scenes as well.

The first three films relied heavily on practical stunts and certain moments were punctuated by special effects (like the opening of the ark). In IJ4, we get entire action scenes with green screen backdrops. Imagine if the entire truck chase scene in Raiders was done with a moving backdrop on a set, or if the bridge scene in Temple of Doom was done with a green screen, and you'll begin to see what I mean. There is an over reliance upon CGI for the backdrops, and it takes it completely out of the Indy look and feel, and places it more in the line of todays CGI blockbuster.
Are the action sequences fun? I think for the most part the answer is yes, but its a muted yes. I could tell that people in the theatre enjoyed them, but for the most part, I found myself rather bored with them. There is however a decent motorcycle chase that does its best to reach the standards the previous films have made, but its over far too quickly.

Overall, the film was quite a dissapointment for me. I didn't care for the story and thought that several storylines were cut short and unnecessary. Several ideas were too wacky and too out of place (I vote Shi Lebouf's tarzan monkey scene as this years Spider Man 3 dancing down the street Emo style scene). Of the four Jones films, this has got to be the least for me.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of Your Thoughts

If you have been alive the past couple of days then I think its impossible for you to have missed out on any of the advertising blitz that Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is puting out right now. I would love to go see this movie tonight on its opening night, but unfortunately, its just not going to be in the cards for me. I've got a busy weekend coming up with the Chi-Alpha Reunion on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, so I'm not making it out to the movie until Monday. Expect a review for the movie from me sometime late Monday night.
Until then, I wanted to create a post that would allow anyone out there who goes and sees the movie to give their own comments, feelings, reviews, rants, or whatever you want to say about the film, here is a place to do it!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Welcome to my New Home!

After much care and thought, I've decided to call a new place home on the internet. Previously, I did all of my posting on Myspace, but I haven't even updated my myspace page in nearly a year. I enjoyed Myspace while I was on it, but I've decided that it no longer served my wishes to be one there anymore.
Myspace is defiantely more of a social networking site, and I really gradually became more interested in posting movie-related items on my site. So in order to make a clean break from the old, I decided to create a new page that would really just help me have an outlet for my love of film. Whether its current thoughts or just mini-reviews, this will be my own personal movie site. So if you found yourself at this page, then welcome. Feel free to bookmark it and I look forward to the movie discussions to come in the future.

P.S. As sort of a new arrival celebration I've decided to post a favorite clip from one of my favorite all-time films, The Return of the King. Enjoy!