Séptimo – Review

Séptimo movie poster

“I Don’t Care How You Feel About Subtitles, Get Over It Because Séptimo Is Awesome!”

Paxti Amerzcua‘s Séptimo (otherwise known as The 7th Floor) is a frighteningly effective thriller about a lawyer named Sebastián (Recardo Darín) who stops by the apartment of Delia (Belén Rueda), his ex-wife, to pick up his two children.

She lives on the seventh floor, so he decides to take the elevator from her apartment, though his children, being children, wanted to take the stairs.

After a bit of convincing he decides to let them go, though when he arrives in the lobby they’re nowhere to be found.

So somewhere between the 7th floor and the lobby his children vanished, and the movie is spent documenting his efforts to track them down, though in the process he uncovers an almost unthinkable plot directed at him.

Séptimo reminded me a lot of Taken, except that instead of spending time with shoot-em-ups the movie instead revolves around a pretty clever–though remarkably mean-spirited, even beyond the kidnapping, that is–scheme that doesn’t come off as too far-fetched.

And for the most part the movie works really well, though its greatest weakness is that while Sebastián may apparently work for some pretty scummy clients, all that is shown is how much he cares for his children, which makes the plot directed at him seem really cruel, when he may in actuality deserve such treatment.

And Séptimo is entirely in Spanish, though don’t let a few subtitles stop you from watching a very effective thriller.  The music that plays over the end credits, by Roque Baños, is also particularly noteworthy.

Séptimo is currently on Netflix.

Dead Snow 2: Red Vs. Dead -Review

Red Snow 2: Red Vs Dead movie poster

“Apparently, No One Told Director Tommy Wirkola That Sometimes Too Much Is Just Too Much.”

Have you ever known a person that you enjoyed being around, despite that they always seem to try way too hard to be the center of attention?

You may like them as an individual, but wish that they would just tone it down, if only a little bit?

Well, Tommy Wirkola‘s Dead Snow 2: Red Vs. Dead is the movie version of that friend.  The first Dead Snow was a pretty enjoyable horror movie and tribute to directors like George Romero, Sam Raimi, and John Carpenter (especially Carpenter, seeing that it was essentially a gorier, more humorous version of his 1979 movie, The Fog).

Unfortunately, the sequel tries way too hard, upping the ante by throwing in an evil arm (very Sam Raimi), and a troop of Russian zombies on top of the Nazi zombies that were raising Hell from the first movie.

But sometimes more isn’t better, it’s just more. In fact, when things really get moving you have to be amazed that he can even wrangle it all.

Despite the similarities to The Fog, it actually plays more like a  Sam Raimi movie–as opposed to something from John Carpenter, who takes his subject matter more seriously–who’s likely to mine horror for humor as much as violence.  Though there’s an important caveat:  When Raimi tends to do so the humor acts as a release valve (for tension), while in Wirkola’s case the effect is often the reverse.

In other words, while the humor and outrageousness are ramped up considerably, it’s typically at the cost of the horror.

Which is a pity because while the Nazis never needed help in being terrifying, very little of what made them so makes it intact to Tommy Wirkola’s movie.

 

Red Snow 2: Red Vs. Dead is currently on Netflix

Kingsman: The Secret Service -Review

Kingsman: The Secret Service poster

“”Kingsman: the Secret Service” Is More Fun Than It Has Any Right To Be.”

Honestly I didn’t go into Kingsman: The Secret Service expecting all that much.  It’s directed by Matthew Vaughn, who did X-Men: First Class, Stardust, Kick-Ass, and Layer Cake.

Luckily my reticence wasn’t necessary because it’s a pretty good time.  The movie takes the spy thriller–something anyone that’s seen James Bond, Jason Bourne or even Austin Powers is familiar with–and tweaks them in some pretty interesting ways.

This secret organization, Kingsman (sort of like Torchwood, but without the name of their organization on their cars) is loosely structured based on King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table, which means that there are individuals with code names like Arthur, Merlin and Lancelot.  They operate outside of government and work behind the scenes to stabilize trouble spots all over the world.

There are about three violent set pieces in the movie, and they’re all gloriously over-the-top, making Kingsman probably one of the most violent mainstream movies that I have seen in awhile (in fact, it’s almost Monty Python-violent at times).

There’s also a very populist current undergirding much of the action, which was an interesting–and unexpected–turn.

Though mainly the movie was just surprisingly fun, and a lot of the credit goes to Samuel Jackson, who plays Valentine, a megalomaniacal billionaire who’s plan for saving the world just happens to involve the killing of millions of “surplus” people (and unlike most spy movies, his scheme actually makes sense in a Machiavellian kind of way).

And Valentine is a particularly quirky individual, though there’s one peculiarity that’s not only ballsy for any actor to attempt, but that Jackson pulls off with aplomb.

In fact, Kingsman is full of all sorts of ballsy moves that would have failed in a lesser movie, but happen to work in this particular case so if you’re on the fence about seeing Kingsman: The Secret Service, get off and go see it.

 

Horns – Review

Alexandre Aja is one of the most consistently interesting horror directors working today.  His Maniac remake–which he wrote with his writing partner, Grégory Levasseur–was excellent, and the work he did direct, such as High Tension (a fascinating movie that irritates the Hell out of me–in an Usual Suspects kind of way.  It’s a long story), The Hills Have Eyes reboot, Mirrors, for the most part are sublime.

Which has a lot to do with his last film, Horns, is so disappointing.

I haven’t read the novel by Joe Hill (son of Stephen King), but I would hope that his writing isn’t as erratic, as schizophrenic as this movie was.

My biggest gripe is that I had no idea why things were happening.  For instance, the movie opens during a murder investigation, and everyone–including his parents and brother–believes Ig Perrish (Daniel Radcliffe) is guilty.

The problem with this is that he (Spoiler Alert!) didn’t do it, but despite this fact he finds himself growing horns (?), which have two wildly inconsistent abilities.

So let’s for a moment forget that Ig is innocent, which means that there’s no justification for devil’s horns to suddenly start growing out of his head.

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The Town That Dreaded Sundown (2014) – Review

The Town That Dreaded Sundown movie poster

The Town That Dreaded Sundown (2014) Is Remarkably “Blah” And Pointless, Which Is A Pity Considering The Source Material”

While I was a bit dismayed when I first learned that one of the favorite horror films was being remade, I am even more put out to see it turn up on Netflix this evening (which implies that it wasn’t good enough to release in theaters because, while I am a huge fan of Netflix, movies that aren’t in some way associated with them don’t traditionally make it their first stop).

It’s already a bit too meta for my tastes and opens with a couple at a drive-in, watching the original The Town That Dreaded Sundown–someone even wears an eponymously-titled t-shirt, which is a bit like wearing a shirt with James Holmes‘ picture on the anniversary of the Colorado theater shootings.  Sure, you could do it, but it would also be in awfully bad taste–and with some people protesting that a movie based on a true event was being shown again.

And the thing is, you can see their point.

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Black Sea – Review

Black Sea movie poster

“Somebody said that the road to Hell…”

“…is paved with good intentions.  And apparently, the road to Heaven as well.”

Doctor Helena Russell (Barbara Bain) to Ernst Queller (Jeremy Kemp) from the Year One Space: 1999 episode, Voyager’s Return

And while he didn’t have a reason to, Queller should have included “beneath the sea” as well.

Having seen Kevin McDonald‘s Black Sea last night it struck me how remarkably similar the movie was thematically to the Johnny Byrne-scripted episode of Space: 1999, Voyager’s Return.  In it Ernst Queller built a star drive that opened the stars to humanity, though too late to know that whenever the drive was engaged in proximity of populated worlds, ‘fast neutrons’ from it would devastate any worlds within its range.

The point being that Robinson (Jude Law) is a man that does his best to do good for everyone in his life, despite things not working too well for him.  He lost his wife and son to someone richer and more successful, and when the film begins, his job as a submariner as well.

That is till he learns of the location of a German U-Boat that’s resting at the bottom of the Black Sea that also happens to contain a fortune in Russian gold.

He finds a backer, gets a submarine (the decline of the Soviet Union providing ample opportunities for buying surplus weaponry, such as submarines) and brings together a crew comprised half of Brits and Russians (Russians because being a Soviet sub, Russians on the crew is a necessity).

Though despite Robinson’s best intentions, things go awry pretty fast, and retrieving the gold becomes less of a problem than dealing with treachery from within and the Russian Navy from without.

Black Sea is a remarkably engaging movie, with great performances across the board, though Robinson would have probably done better if he had watched Aliens prior to going to sea, because someone does a serious ‘Burke’ on him.

The Interview – Review

The Interview movie poster

 “The Producers Of The Interview Should Consider The Sony Hacking Fortuitous Because There’s No Other Way Such An Otherwise Middling Movie Would Receive So Much Attention.”

When I first learned of all the hullabaloo over Sony Pictures’ The Interview, the first thing that came to mind was that if it weren’t for the hack, there’s no way the movie would warrant all the attention its received.

And I was right, though what’s I found more interesting is despite the movie being only intermittently funny it was at its best when it referred, directly or indirectly, to homosexuality (such as the bit about Eminem coming out, “honeydicking,” or using tiger blood as an anal lubricant) which can perhaps be interpreted as how infantile the movie, at heart, is.

And at the same time it’s almost anti-homosexual because there’s no other way to think about a movie that contains moments of Seth Rogen semi-nudity.

James Franco’s buys into the premise wholeheartedly, and his ‘Dave Skylark’ is pretty interesting in a vacant, opportunistic kind of way though I get the feeling that Seth Rogen as a producer aching to be taken seriously is probably the most outlandish thing about the movie.

And while Randall Park, who played Kim Jong-un, is pretty engaging as Kim Jung-un, and considered to be a rising star by some, I am willing to bet The Interview will be the most noteworthy thing on his resume.

Which wouldt be a bit disappointing.

And the movie ending with Winds Of Change, by The Scorpions is a bit…obvious.

The Interview is currently on Netflix