Fist Fight – Trailer 1

screenshot-2016-09-26-00-53-21Richie Keen’s Fist Fight looks to be pretty funny (and Charlie Day looks pretty short, especially when you consider that Ice Cube can’t be any taller than 5’6, give or take) but it also looks particularly one-note.

And while I haven’t seen the movie, I get the feeling that it’s going to end one of two ways:  Ice Cube beats Charlie Day within an inch of his life (possible, though unlikely), or some deus ex machina enables Day to get out from receiving the beating of his life.

What I don’t expect to happen–unless the movie movie is much more clever than I give it credit for–is that Ice Cube somehow gets his arse handed to him by a guy that the trailer establishes as pretty incompetent as far as fighting goes.

Blair Witch – Review

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If you happen to be a fan of Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez’s 1999 found-footage horror The Blair Witch Project, then Adam Wingard’s sequel/reboot Blair Witch will feel very familiar.

And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Blair Witch follows the same beats as its predecessor, as James (the brother of Heather Donahue from The Blair Witch Project) gets together a group of friends to search for his sister after receiving a videotape where she turns up for a brief moment, leading him to hope against hope that she was still alive somewhere in the depths of Maryland’s Black Hills.

This is despite an extensive search for the intrepid explorers, which the movie notes; though the funny thing is, despite having seen The Blair Witch Project I am not entirely sure what happened to her either, though I can say for certain that it wasn’t very good.

There’s a sub-plot about a filmmaker who’s interested in filming James’ search, which while evocative of the first movie is somewhat pointless and goes nowhere in particular.

Things proceed as you’d expect, which is good for moviegoers though not so much for James and his crew, as the force that vanished his sister reaches out to claim him and his friends.

As I mentioned earlier, Blair Witch feels very familiar, though it does differentiate itself in some important ways. For a start, it feels more like an actual movie than what proceeded it. This is important because my biggest problem with The Blair Witch Project–and why I preferred Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2–was that the former felt less like an actual movie than someone’s idea of a movie.

(It’s worth mentioning that watching the frenetic camera movement of Blair Witch initially made me mildly nauseous–though I suspect this had more to do with a lack of sleep the night before).

Money matters, and more often than not a humdrum movie (the only thing that saved the Transformers movies were their giant robot-sized budgets) can be made better–at least visually–with a large production budget. Blair Witch was produced for $5 million, and while that’s probably the catering budget for bigger films it’s still significantly more than the original movie, which cost $60,000 in 1999 dollars (I don’t know what that is in 2016, but I imagine it’s significantly less).

Though what surprised me most was how funny the movie is. Most of the humor was supplied by Peter (Brandon Scott) by the way he reacted to the chaos that unfolded around him.

It’s refreshing to see a character in a horror movie acting (for the most part) like a normal human.

That being said, it wouldn’t be a horror movie if people weren’t willing to venture into places where anyone with a modicum of common sense would fear to tread, but that’s a cliche that is typical for the genre.

Blair Witch isn’t perfect–then again, neither was the movie that inspired it–though what it is is a worthy follow up to one of the most innovative horror movies of it’s time.

Passengers – Official Trailer

Screenshot 2016-09-20 16.39.34.pngVisually, Morten Tyldum’s Passengers holds a huge debt to Pixar’s Wall-E, Danny Boyle’s Sunshine and Apple’s design esthetic.

In other words, it’s attractive, but doesn’t appear to strike any new ground.

The same thing can be said of the story, which revolves around two people who accidentally emerge from suspended animation 90 years too (or was it?), and eventually fall in love.

As I said, it’s nothing new.

Though it’s welcome that Jon Spaiths wrote the screenplay (Prometheus–before Damon Lindelhof came in and purged it of direct connections to the Alien movies and Marvel Studios’ upcoming Doctor Strange) so there’s perhaps the hope of a mystery (which is at least hinted at) to balance Lawrence and Pratt looking all starry eyed at each other for over an hour.

The Bye Bye Man – Teaser Trailer

Screenshot 2016-09-13 15.36.46.pngI had never heard of Stacy Title’s The Bye Bye Man–or Stacy Title, which doesn’t sound like a real name, for that matter–before yesterday, but it’s a horror movie so it got my attention.

What’s interesting is that it’s from STX Entertainment, who earlier this year released The Boy.

It seems to me that they’re following in the footsteps of Blumhouse Pictures, who are adept at releasing and marketing low-budget horror movies.

It’s a strategy that appears to be working. The Boy–which felt like it was out for no time at all–actually earned just over $64 million worldwide.

Now that’s a not a huge amount of money, relatively speaking, till you take in account that the budget was only $10 million.

That’s a pretty good return for a movie that didn’t exactly kick up a lot of noise at the box office.

Ouija 2 : Origin of Evil – Trailer 2

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I think Mike Flanagan (Oculus, Hush) is quite a talented director.  That being said, I find the latest trailer from his upcoming Ouija 2: Origin of Evil in some ways a bit disturbing (and not in the good, creepy, what’s that shadow doing there kind of way).

It’s not that I think that it’s going to be as bad–keep in mind I paid to see the original Ouija,  so knowing Flanagan’s bona fides I can’t see it being as horribly ‘meh’ as that– as the movie that it’s a sequel to.

Though what it feels like is that Flanagan is playing in James Wan’s (Saw, Insidious, Dead Silence, The Conjuring, etc) sandbox rather than creating something all his own.

And on some levels that’s not quite fair.  Wan doesn’t own period pieces–as Ouija 2: Origin of Evil appears to be–but he has partially built a career on period supernatural movies like The Conjuring, Insidious and their sequels, which are very much products of their times (the 80’s).

Then there’s that most of James Wan’s horror movies are slicker than they have any right to be, and if there’s anything that I hope Mike Flanagan doesn’t learn, it’s that.

The Fog (2005) – Postmortem

Screenshot 2016-08-23 23.05.50.pngAs I have said time and again, I am not fond of remakes.

More often than not they don’t add anything to the original–did we really need to know about Michael Myers difficult upbringing in Rob Zombie’s Halloween reboot?–or they add details that seemingly are there just to differentiate them from the original.

The thing is, as far as remarks go, Rupert Wainwright’s remake of The Fog (it doesn’t help that  John Carpenter directed the original) isn’t terrible.

It’s not particularly good, but it’s different enough that you don’t at least hate yourself for wasting an hour and a half that you will never get back.

What works is the whole leprosy subplot–in the original I don’t recall the movie going into huge detail about what William Blake was doing with the gold–but in the reboot the point was to get his people to a place where they could live in peace because they were suffering from leprosy.

He was building a leper colony!  It’s a pretty clever idea that the movie unfortunately doesn’t take advantage of (there’s a scene where one of the ghosts comes in physical contact with a person, and she’s decays like she’s caught leprosy on steroids).

Unfortunately it’s an angle that they don’t deal with again.

They could have also done more innovative things with the fog itself, especially when you take into account that the bulk of it is CGI, but unfortunately they don’t.

It’s a movie full of wasted opportunities–especially compared to the original–but at least you don’t feel your time slipping away like digital fog.

 

Thor: Ragnarok’s Resident Wild Card

Marvel Studios’ upcoming Thor: Ragnarok looks to be the most intriguing release thus far, and most of the reason for it are due to idiosyncratic director Taiki Waititi.

He’s the director of quirky dramedies like Eagle vs Shark and What We Do In The Shadows and if the trailer he released at ComicCon is any indicator he intends to bring his unique sensibilities and extremely skewed sensibilities to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

And that’s a little scary because its hard to predict where he will take things.

He’s either going to create something that’s off the charts brilliant, or that’s so odd that it might not connect with a wider audience easily.

Either way, it’s going to be fascinating.

And if that weren’t enough, Mark Mothersbaugh is doing the music. He’s done soundtracks for everything from television shows to movies, but I’ll always remember him for the Rugrats theme song.

And there’s always this…