‘Devil’s Due’ Review

Devil's Due poster II

“”Devil’s Due” is slightly more ambitious that most found-footage movies, though suffers from problems built into the format.”

Having seen Matt Bettinelli-Olpin‘s and Tyler Gillett‘s “Devil’s Due,” about a newly married couple destined to give birth to the Antichrist, it’s obvious that the found-footage trend, ushered in by the 1999 film “The Blair Witch Project” and made mainstream with the Paranormal Activity films, needs a break so that it can recover the sense of freshness and spontaneity that made such films so intriguing in the first place.

Which will not happen any time soon because these movies are so cheap to produce.

For instance, “Devil’s Due” cost $7 million to make, and earned almost $33 million dollars, which is a really tidy profit.

The premise of the movie while by no means unique, is at least interesting, though like other films in this genre it makes little in the way of sense because there are too many situations where someone would not be walking around with a camera.

Most found-footage movies at least stick to the cameras at hand, though “Devil Due” expands to using footage from literally any camera in an area, which the characters shouldn’t have any access to, as storytelling devices.  It makes no sense at all and kind of takes you out of the movie if you give it any thought.

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‘Bad Johnson’ Review

Bad Johnson movie poster

“I can’t deny that your dick can sell dog shit to a freshly mown lawn.”

                                                                                                          —Josh Nelson

Nothing about Huck Botko‘s “Bad Johnson” feels real–though to be fair it’s is about a man who’s penis decides that life could be better without him, so pretty much the entire “reality” thing is thrown out the window.  Rich Johnson (Cam Gigandet) plays a womanizing man-whore who–though losing his dick–becomes a better person.

Though let’s be honest: There are probably better ways to do so.

And if that weren’t bad enough, his anatomy has somehow become personified in the person of Rick’s Penis (Nick Thune)–Yep.  That’s his name according to IMDB and the film’s credits–a walking, talking personification of libido.

You cannot make this stuff up.

Such an outlandish scenario could be excused if it were really funny (for some reason I imagine a pre-freebasing Richard Pryor as Rich’s Penis.  That would be gold).  But it’s not.  Sure, there are moments when things are amusing, but for a movie about a man who’s penis goes on walkabout, it’s kind of dull.

Though prior to his dick’s attempt to steal the spotlight, the movie’s about Rich, who’s claim to fame was that he would screw virtually anything on two legs, as long as it was female because Rich doesn’t have eyes for the guys.

Though he somehow believes that his penis is the source of his problems–as if it had a mind and a will of its own–and before you know it, it does.

There’s no particular reason given for such a thing to happen.  No bombardment by cosmic rays, no bite from a radioactive dildo; Rich just wishes that his penis were gone, and “poof,” it is.

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‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ Review

Captain America: The Winter Soldier mo

“”Captain America: The Winter Soldier” Easily Ranks Among The Best Marvel Studios Films.”

Let me get something out of the way:  You know all those critics that say that “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” was a great superhero film that’s evocative of spy thrillers like “Three Days of the Condor (both which happen to have Robert Redford in starring roles)?”

Well, they’re right.

It’s a remarkable movie, easily the best Phase Two Marvel film so far (and it should go without saying at this point that you should never leave a Marvel Studios feature without sticking through the end credits) but what’s most amazing about it is that how it reinterprets old characters and brings Captain America forward to the present.

In fact, in that fashion it reminded me of Superman’s journey in Zach Snyder’s “Man Of Steel” except that despite the world being very different from that which Steve Rogers knew, he stayed true to himself and his beliefs, and as a result he changed it (with a little help along the way), while the superman that Synder presented wasn’t the Superman I remember and grew up with because he seemed to renounce the very qualities that made him what he was.

This was a trend that continued through the entire film, taking ideas and characters from Captain America’s past in the comics, and reinterpreting and reimagining them in a way that not only satisfied fans–such as myself–that have been following Marvel comic characters for years, but those that have never heard of the Falcon, Black Widow or Nick Fury (which, considering how successful “The Avengers” was, is probably a very small subset of people).

The Russo Brothers may not have a lot of films under their belt, but that’s going to change rapidly.  They seem to understand that an action film doesn’t necessarily have to be wall-to-wall action, that the time spent establishing what motivates characters and laying the groundwork in the long run makes for a better movie.

And does this movie pay off!  Most of aforementioned “groundwork” revolves around Captain America solving the mystery of an enemy that–while the Captain was frozen in ice for over 65 years–was active, undermining the American democratic experiment from within.

And special mention needs to be given to Anthony Mackie’s Falcon, who not only seems to have a snappy quip for just about every occasion, but whom whenever he took the skies virtually the entire theater would erupt into clapping.

I didn’t catch the 3D version, because more often than not that it’s a racket that enables theaters to charge significantly more per ticket than a non-3D movie, and truth be told before seeing it I didn’t think it would be as immersive in 3D like “Prometheus” or, to a lesser degree “Pacific Rim.”

That being said, I think that I will see it again very soon, in 3D.  Just to be sure.

 

‘The Den’ Review

The Den movie poster

“”The Den,” The Debut Film From Zachary Donahue, Is A Startlingly Effective Thriller”

When I first heard about Zachary Donahue‘s thriller, “The Den” I the first thing that popped into my mind was the place where an animal lives.

And in sense, I was right though on the face of it the movie revolves around Elizabeth Benton (Melanie Papalia), a doctoral student who’s doing her thesis about The Den, a website that enables people all over the world to communicate with each other, kind of like the lovechild of Facebook and Skype (or FaceTime, depending upon your platform of preference).

As part of the research for her thesis, she’s delving deeper into the world that exists within the site and meeting all sorts of people, some interesting, some funny.

And some dangerous, because Melanie doesn’t know it yet, but among all the fascinating people she’s met, one of them is a murderer with some time to kill.

This Is One Creepy-Looking Kid.

This is one creepy-looking kid.

I have to admit that initially I didn’t think this movie would be very good, especially since everything you see is from the perspective of Melanie’s computer screen, which feels a bit gimmicky.  That being said, it takes a bit of getting used to, but when you do the story is not only effective, but surprisingly immersive.

Things begin gradually, starting from seemingly innocent attempts to contact her, to invading Melanie’s privacy though logging into her Den account and activating her computer’s camera without her knowledge (which is possible, though perhaps not for the average layperson).

Melanie then begins searching for the killer (in a manner vaguely reminiscent of Michael Winner‘s “The Sentinel,” which is high praise) not aware that while she’s looking for him, he’s looking for her.

And he’s seen her Friends list.

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‘Contracted’ Review

Contracted

“Irrelevant Details Mar What Could Have Been A Been An Excellent Example Of The ‘Body Horror’ Genre.”

Eric England‘s “Contracted” isn’t a bad movie by any stretch.  It looks good, is well-acted, and competently shot.

It’s also damned irritating.

“Contracted” is in the vein of David Cronenberg‘s ‘Body Horror’ films, such as “Scanners,” “Videodrome” and “The Brood” though not as imaginative.  Things revolve around Samantha, who happens to be a lesbian.

I mention her sexual preference because the film does often enough, though I have always been of the opinion that if you have to spend all your time talking about being gay, you’re probably not.   In any case, it’s not particularly relevant to the character.  It’s kind of weird in that I don’t necessarily expect Samantha to walk around like she’s auditioning for “The L Word, though I did expect the character being gay to somehow matter.

And I know I am not speaking from experience, but I would hope that being a lesbian is not defined by a hatred for men.

And speaking of homosexuality, a film that does a much better job of dealing with it is Paul Etheredge-Ouzt’s 2004 horror movie “Hellbent,” which revolves around some gay guys attending a carnival in LA.  It’s an interesting movie, though I mention it because the characters being gay is an essential part of the story, and helps to define them as people.

While attending a friend’s party Samantha gets drunk, then roofied by some guy, who they takes her to his car and has sex with her. I don’t know if it’s rape or not, because Samantha–though drunk–seems complicit in what’s happened to her.

Or maybe we’re watching a commentary by director Eric England on the malleability of sexual mores, or even a dislike of women–straight or gay–but it doesn’t exactly help to clarify matters.  

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‘Bad Words’ Review

bad Words Trailer

“”Bad Words” Starts Out Amusingly, Before Becoming Uncomfortably Mean-Spirited And Icky.”

“Bad Words,” the is the debut of Jason Bateman as a feature film director.  He also stars as Guy Trilby in a curious film that at first glance appears to be about an adult whom decides to compete in a children’s spelling bee.

And speaking of directing, Bateman initially comes off a bit shaky—during a conversation early on in the movie the camera switches angles a lot more than necessary. It feels as if he were trying to make a visually inert scene a little less so, though it mainly served to show that he’s not that comfortable behind the camera, though things settled down quickly enough.

If that were “Bad Words” worst problem, it would have been a triumphant turn. Instead the movie has to deal with an issue that the best camerawork in the world can’t fix.

And that’s that there are relatively few adults in this movie, no matter how old someone happens to be.

Because, for most adults, actions have consequences, while Trilby (Jason Bateman) has virtually none at all for his. Sure, there’s some grousing over the fact that he’s about 30 years too old to be participating in a spelling bee for children—which probably sounded funny on paper though in practice, not so much—yet no one seems the least bit concerned that an adult is spending an inordinate amount of time with a 10-year-old boy.

And sure, it’s a little nuts that a child was staying at a hotel alone so that he learns “responsibility”—yet for Guy Trilby to take advantage of that situation in some very unseemly ways is more than a little bit off-putting.

Because no matter how his character acts, he’s still an adult, and when as adult takes a child for a night on the town it seems a little…icky.

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‘Wishmaster 3: Beyond The Gates Of Hell’ Review

Wishmaster 3

“I Have Used 500 Words What Could Have Taken Significantly Less:  “Wishmaster 3″ Is A Pretty Mediocre Movie.”

Do you recall “Hellraiser: Revelations?” A movie that was little more than a cynical ploy by Dimension to keep the rights to the franchise by issuing a sub-par sequel?

I wasn’t aware of this being done before, till I saw “Wishmaster 3: Beyond The Gates Of Hell” a movie that had absolutely nothing to do with the gates to anywhere, never mind Hell.

Like ‘Revelations,’ the cash spigot, while not yet exhausted, has been reduced to a dribble.  Though that does not quite explain why most of the budget appears to have gone into creating  those improbable types of car crashes that are normally not acceptable outside an episode of “The A-Team.”

Wishmaster 1 and 2, despite being like an unholy union between “A Nightmare On Elm Street” and “Hellraiser” had their charms.

‘Wishmaster 3,” not so much.

The first Wishmaster was directed by Robert Kurtzman, who is renown for his effects work and “The Walking Dead” on AMC.  The second in the series was done by Jack Shoulder, who did “A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddie’s Revenge,” which managed to divide fans of the franchise, as well as “The Hidden,” which is all sorts of awesome.

While “Wishmaster 3:  Beyond The Gates Of Hell” was directed by Chris Angel.

Who’s Chris Angel?  He’s a magician an an illusionist, and while, despite having directed Wishmaster 3 and 4, he’s not a director.

Be Captivated By My Powers!

Be Captivated By My Powers (And If That Doesn’t Work, Check Out The Abs)

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‘Bad Milo!’ Review

Bad Milo!

“”Bad Milo!” Is Disgustingly Hilarious!”

(Spoilers follow)

Imagine E.T., if instead of outer space, he came from inner space.

And by “inner” I mean your ass.

“Bad Milo!” is a film directed by Jacob Vaughan, and Executive Produced the Duplass Brothers (Jay and Mark).  Mark Duplass acts as well, and probably is most well-known as Pete Eckhart, from “The League.”

“Bad Milo!” is the story of Duncan (Ken Marino, who also played Donny “The Seed” Sedowsky on “The League”), a milquetoast who’s grown to accept how badly everyone treats him.  The problem is that his Id, his ego, isn’t quite so accepting.

His frustration, his anger manifest themselves as Milo, a horrific little monster (that’s actually pretty cute at times) that began life as a polyp somewhere on Duncan’s rectum.

Yep.  Milo is an ass monster.

Milo also happens to be the size of a small child, which makes the fact that Duncan has to crap him out every time he appears quite possibly one of the most painful experiences a person could have.

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‘Welcome To The Jungle’ Review

Welcome To The Jungle

“For a movie with the same title as a Guns N’ Roses song, “Welcome To The Jungle” has no bite.”

Rob Meltzer‘s “Welcome To The Jungle” stars Adrian Brody as Chris, an unappreciated office drone whom redeems himself  (sort of) on a corporate Outerward Bound-type of excursion.

Rob Huebel (“The League,” “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D) plays his nemesis, Phil.

Surprisingly, the best thing about the movie is Jean-Claude Van Damme, who’s the leader of the group.  I wouldn’t go as far as saying that he has a gift for physical comedy, though he’s pretty game for whatever is thrown at him.

Particularly tigers.

Once everyone arrives at the island, things devolve quickly, like William Goldring’s “Lord of the Flies,” except much, much dumber.

The worse thing is how relatively quickly everyone turns savage, and then on each other.  I get that it’s a comedy, but it feels that they were on the island only a day or two, yet for some reason just about everyone–of course excluding Chris and those that follow him–abandon just about everything remotely civilized and begins worshipping Phil as a god, whom renames himself “Orco,” which leads into an interesting bit about He-Man.

“Welcome To The Jungle” isn’t terrible, but it spends so much time trying to be unoffensive and funny that it ends up mildly offensive (what was the thing with Phil’s Asian assistant, anyway?) and not terribly funny.

‘RoboCop’ Review

RoboCop

“RoboCop 2.0 is new, and not exactly improved, but it’s still worth the upgrade.”

I have an iPad 2, and I really liked iOS 6, and was perfectly content with it.  Soon enough, Apple came out with iOS 7, and when I upgraded I didn’t like it.  It was all shiny and colorful, but different than I was accustomed to.

That’s exactly the way felt about José Padlha’s “RoboCop” reboot:  Sure, you can do it, but why?  I like my old RoboCop just fine, thank you!

Like Apple, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer “upgraded” anyway.

Anyone who has read this blog before has probably noticed that I hate changes made just for the sake of change.

With iOS 7, once I got used to the changed appearance, I noticed that it offered certain benefits that iOS 6 didn’t.  The same thing applies to the new RoboCop.  It may not be the one that I remember, but for the most part it doesn’t feel like the changes were done just to change something (or as a cynical money grab, which is also popular with Hollywood).

You see, studio executives realize that if they reboot a popular franchise, name recognition is built-in, as is (they’d like to think) the audience.

But there’s a problem, especially when the film you’re rebooting a masterwork, which I honestly think the original film is.  It was a proudly R-rated stew of jingoism, bad taste and violence so extreme that the the original film was rated X before Paul Verhoeven cut it enough to warrant an R rating.

So when I learned of the reboot, directed by Brazilian director José Padilha (“Elite Squad”) was going to be rated PG-13, something stank.

The odor that aroused my attention must have been the laundry that’s sitting in the hamper next to my desk, because Padilha’s “RoboCop” differs from Verhoeven’s in ways that are mainly good, and the film was actually pretty enjoyable.

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