‘Deliver Us From Evil’ Review

Deliver Us From Evil movie poster

“There Is A Devil, Of This There Is No Doubt.  But Is He Trying To Get In, Or Trying To Get Out?”

One of of the worst horror films that I can recall was 1978’s Cruise Into Terror.  It’s been awhile, but I remember that it starred George Kennedy (going about things in his typically mildly-befuddled fashion) as the captain of a cruise ship.

The ship was also transporting a child-sized Egyptian sarcophagus for some reason.   It contained an evil entity, perhaps even Satan itself.  It never manifested physically, but it’s baneful influence was felt by everyone aboard the ship (kind of like Cthulhu-lite), till someone chucked it overboard.

Two things in particular stuck in my head:  The first was that, when the sarcophagus was sinking to the ocean floor, you clearly see that whatever was within it was breathing (by the sides of the sarcophagus pulsing).

It wasn’t an accident, but it was particularly dumb because a sarcophagus is essentially a very ornate coffin, so the body within isn’t resting directing against it, never mind being constructed in such a fashion that that just isn’t possible.

Though the important thing to remember is that there’s no way to tell if an occupant was breathing or not from the outside.

The other thing was that, when Satan was on its way to Davy Jones’ Locker, a woman said ominously in voiceover:  “There is a Devil, of this there’s no doubt.  But is he trying to get in, or trying to get out?”

And do you know what?  That simple line wedged itself in my teenaged mind, and in retrospect virtually redeemed everything about that damn waste of celluloid.

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No Crossovers: Why 20th Century Fox & Sony Need To Go It Alone

I understand why some fans of characters like the Fantastic Four, Wolverine, Spider-Man and The Avengers want to see all their favorite heroes on the screen at the same time.  Imagine the Avengers..avenging, when Spider-Man swings by or the X-Men encountering Iron man or Captain America?  It’s not impossible, though it is very unlikely because Iron Man and Captain America are owned by Marvel Studios, while Spider-Man is licensed to Sony/Columbia and the X-Men, which includes Wolverine, are licensed to 20th Century Fox.

As I said, I get it, though unlike some what I also understand is that there are even more reasons why it shouldn’t (any time soon, at any rate).

Let’s look at this on a studio-by-studio basis.

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‘Fury’ Trailer

What is it that calls actors to war (in movies that is, because I am reasonably sure few in the cast of David Ayer‘s Fury served in any conflict)?  John Wayne, who’s name was actually Marion, starred in quite a few war films, during World War II no less.

He didn’t serve in the military, though the reasons why are open to discussion or debate.

Fury is the second war film from Brad Pitt, Inglorious Basterds was the first, and I wonder what it is that motivates him, as well as other actors, to choose such roles.

Is it playing with big guns and tanks (the movie revolves around the crew of a tank in World War II)?  Is it the attraction of working with a director/writer who’s known for creating strong, compelling character (Whom are generally men.  Ayer doesn’t seem to invest much in women beyond their capacity to support men) pieces?

I have no idea, though it is interesting speculation.

What Separates A Successful Movie From One That Isn’t

Honestly, I have no clue.  Sure, I have ideas (and who doesn’t?) though you have to keep in mind that when I wrote that I thought that Robert Stromberg’s Maleficent was doomed to failure a few months ago that my reasoning was, for the most part, based on logic.  The “for the most part” is that I don’t think Angelina Jolie is a particularly good role model for young women.  Sure, she’s involved with all the right charities, but she also appears almost skeletal in pictures.

That’s not a good thing when, I assume, many of her fans are women of various ages, some of which happen to suffer from body-image issues.

And back on the logic side, there’s the fact that the production was troubled to such a degree that another director was brought in to help with reshoots.  And while that’s not necessarily a guarantee that a production is doomed, it’s not a good sign.  For example, the last time I recall it happening was when Oliver Hirshbiegel‘s 2007 movie The Invasion had reshoots done by the Wachowski’s.

And we all know how well that turned out.

More often than not, I don’t think much of movie studio executives.  From what I know of them, they appear to be a somewhat pampered, self-important lot that more often than not interfere more than they help any particular project.

In fact, if I were a studio executive and someone had brought me the screenplay–Hell, if Jolie handed it to me herself–I would have respected her enough to listen (though I don’t know how attentively) to the pitch before I wished her ‘Good day.’

And that’s even before a $180 million price tag would even had been mentioned.

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‘The Equalizer’ Trailer

This movie is going to be huge.  With The Transformers: Age Of Extinction and Guardians Of The Galaxy coming, The Equalizer probably isn’t on too many people’s radar, though it should be.

It’s based upon the 1985 CBS television series that starred the late Edward Woodward.  He played a private detective, and former intelligence agent, that specialized in cases defending people that had no other options, often against criminals that managed to evade the law.

In this current version Denzel Washington plays a former black-ops commando who wants out of that life, but finds himself picking up his guns (or a sledgehammer) to defend a young girl against Russian gangsters.

Despite a plot that sounds somewhat similar to 2004’s Man On Fire (or perhaps 2004’s Deathwish, hopefully minus all the rape). I expect this movie to reflect the action sensibilities of its director, Antoine Fuqua, who also directed Washington in the 2001’s Training Day, which earned Washington the Academy Award for Best Actor.

‘Think Like A Man Too’ Review

Think Like A Man Too movie poster

 

image courtesy of MovieWeb

image courtesy of MovieWeb

Tim Story is a prolific multihyphenate producer-director, who in the 12 years between 2002 to 2014, produced one feature and directed 10.

In 2011 he began a partnership with Kevin Hart, directing the standup specials Laugh At My Pain, followed by Let Me Explain (with Leslie Small) in 2013.

Between those two films he directed Think Like A Man, with an ensemble cast that included Hart.  It cost $12 million to produce, and earned just over $96 million dollars, which is virtually a license to print money.

In 2014 Story directed Ride Along, with Kevin Hart and Ice Cube.  I didn’t like it, partially because its plot was a rehash of Walter Hill’s Another 48 Hrs. (which was itself little more than a money grab, hoping to ride the coattails of the original 48 Hrs) though mainly because it wasn’t particularly funny.

Though I must be the only person who felt that way, because Ride Along earned over $153 million on a $25 million dollar budget, which was done almost entirely in the United States (only $19 million came from the foreign box office), which is the reverse of the way these sort of things work lately (movies like  The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Pacific Rim were stronger overseas than domestically).

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‘X-Men: Days Of Future Past’ Review

X-Men: Days of Future Past movie poster

SPOILERS ABOUND!  IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST GO AWAY TILL YOU HAVE BECAUSE SPOILERS ARE LIKE LANDMINES.  THEY’RE HIDDEN TILL YOU STUMBLE UPON THEM, THOUGH BY THAT TIME IT’S TOO LATE, AND SOMETHING IMPORTANT IS LOST.

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Is Sony Mismanaging The Spider-Man Franchise?

Part 1: Send In The B-Team

Looking at Marvel today, it would be easy to assume that they have always been as successful as they are.  Though you’d be wrong because, before they were purchased by Disney, even before they launched their movie production arm, Marvel Studios, they were flirting with bankruptcy.

To stop the bleeding, they licensed the rights to their most successful characters to 21st Century Fox, Sony, Universal and New Line (Marvel received a percentage every time a film was produced with their heroes).

So 21st Century got the X-Men and related characters (and exclusive use of the term ‘mutants’) as well as the Fantastic Four.  Sony got Spider-Man and related characters, while Universal had the Hulk and Namor the Submariner (Marvel’s Namor in terms of his abilities is similar to DC’s Aquaman, except stronger and more awesome).

But Marvel knew that no one could exploit their characters better than they could, so they threw the ultimate ‘Hail Mary’ pass.  To get a loan to build their own studio they borrowed on the strength of their remaining characters.

In other words, it was time for the B-Team to take the field, and Iron Man was released in 2008.  The movie was directed by John Favreau and starred Robert Downey Jr–an actor who at the time was known more of his drug use than his acting ability–and went on to earn almost $600 million (on a $140 million dollar production budget).

Marvel Studios was born, and they were eventually purchased by the Walt Disney Company for $4 billion dollars in 2009 (some analysts thought Disney had overpaid. They were wrong.).

Part 2: Raimi’s Spider-Man Films

As I said earlier Sony licensed Marvel’s Spider-Man and in 2002 released Spider-Man.  Sam Raimi, known primarily for the Evil Dead series of movies, was chosen to direct.  He cast  Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker and Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane Watson.  The first film cost $139 million to produce, and earned almost $822 million dollars worldwide; a very tidy profit.

Spider-Man 2, introduced Doctor Octopus (Alfred Molina) and was considered the best in the series.  It was more expensive than the first film, clocking in at $200 million and eventually pulled in almost $784 million dollars worldwide.

Still profitable, though not quite as much as the first film.

Spider-Man 3, the last film in the series directed by Raimi, cost $258 million, and earned almost $891 million dollars.  What set it apart from the earlier films was that it featured three villains, Sandman, Venom and the New Goblin (that’s actually what the character is called on IMDB).  Raimi fully expected to direct Spider-Man 4–even after being forced by producer Avi Arad to use Venom, a character he didn’t want in the movie, or like for that matter.  In retribution he cast Topher Grace as Eddie Brock/Venom because Arad thought he was a bad choice for the role.

Spider-Man 3 did very well, despite being the worse reviewed of the series.  Sam Raimi was apparently prepping the fourth film in the series, before his deal fell through.  As a result he was out and the entire franchise rebooted just five years later.

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‘Deliver Us From Evil’ Exclusive Trailer

Scott Derrickson’s Deliver Us From Evil definitely looks like a movie to watch for.

Lately everything seems so massive that every once in awhile I really welcome something on a smaller scale (though not too small.  Oculus was entertaining, but almost intimate.  And don’t get me wrong, I am not critizing spectacle, after all it’s a golden age for fans of superheros (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, X-Men: Days Of Future Past) and kaiju (Godzilla and prior to that, Pacific Rim) but if your interests run in the direction of horror, pickings are slim.

Derrickson has a good track record when it comes to horror, his Sinister was way better than it had any right to be, and his entry in the Hellraiser franchise was pretty inventive.

From what I can pick up from the trailer Deliver Us From Evil appears to play a bit like Gregory Hoblit’s Fallen, when Denzel Washington played a cop trying to stop an demonic entity that possessed the ability to hop from body to body via touch.   Though in this case the demonic seems to work along the lines of William Friedkin’s The Exorcist, and only a detective, Ralph Sarchie (Eric Bana) and a mysterious priest, Mendoza (Édgar Ramírez) have a clue to what’s going on, as well as the knowledge to stop it.

Sounds like good times to me.

The (Un)necessary Remake Dept: ‘Anatomy Of A Murder’

Anatomy Of A MurderOtto Preminger is a directer of some renown, having directed 42 features according to IMDB.

And of those 42 films, I am only aware of four:  Carmen Jones, The Boy With The Golden Arm, Porgy and Bess and Anatomy Of A Murder. And of those four, I have only seen Anatomy of A Murder.  

Twice.  

It’s an entertaining movie, though it has always bothered me because, despite such a heavyweight cast that includes actors like James Stewart, Lee Remick, George C. Scott, Ben Gazzara and Murray Hamilton, it feels like is a product of it’s time–1959–and hasn’t aged particularly well.

James Stewart plays Paul Biegler, an attorney who’s convinced by his friend and fellow attorney, Parnell Emmett McCarthy (Arthur O’Connell) to take the case of Lt. Frederick Manion (Gazzara), who’s accused of murdering a man who may have attempted to rape his wife, Laura (Remick).

The movie is well-acted but at times seems so relaxed that for long stretches I was not quite sure what feelings Preminger was trying to evoke.  In fact it often felt somewhat like a meandering stage play, oddly rural and countrified, while the music by Duke Ellington is dangerous, filled with switch-knives and bright lights.

Such slinky, at times almost brazenly erotic music needs a movie as subversive as it is. And unfortunately, Anatomy comes up short, that is till we meet Assistant State Attorney General Claude Dancer (Scott).

He brings an edginess–and an incredibly mocking stare–to his role that’s missing from anywhere else in the movie.  And speaking of “edginess” his face, with his aquiline nose and noble features, seems almost carved from a block of granite.  The tension comes from the way he gives the feeling that, despite being on the side of the angels, you can tell that he’s more than a little bit acquainted with devils.

The man is a predator, and within the dichotomy of his character Ellington’s music makes sense. Continue reading