Final Girl – Review

Screenshot 2016-03-16 18.34.27

“”Vengeance Shall Be Hers” But Frustration Will Be Yours.”

Have you even drank a Guinness Nitro IPA?  The reason I ask is because when you read the label there’s boilerplate about the the varieties of hops that go into the beer (There are five.  Admiral, Celeia, Topaz, Challenger, and Cascade) as well as it being infused with nitrogen.

Nitrogen!  Like something out of Buck Rogers!

Though when all is said and done, it comes down to taste, and Guinness Nitro IPA is so bland, you’d think it was flat.

And if that weren’t bad enough, it lacks body, making it also forgettable.

The point being, Tyler Shields’ Final Girl is the Guinness Nitro IPA of horror movies, where choice actors like Abigail Breslin and Wes Bentley are mixed in a brew that on the face of it sounds really tasty (a young girl is trained to be a weapon to take on a gang of psychopaths) but ends up not only barely palatable, but bland.

Which has a lot to do with the movie being over-stylized.  I went into it expecting I Spit On Your Grave-level grittiness, and instead get Streets Of Fire with serial killers.

And that’s not a knock against Walter Hill’s rock and roll fantasy because that movie worked with its very distinctive production design, not against it.

It’s exactly the opposite with Final Girl, which has an odd timeless quality to it that’s a bit distracting.  The vehicles seem to be from an earlier period, as does one of the killers, though the rest of the movie doesn’t.

In fact at times the movie reminded me of a really odd stage play, which is weird.

Final Girl isn’t a terrible movie, though to be honest I think that I might have enjoyed it more if it were.  Instead it’s  a well-shot, competent movie that is too stylized for its own good.

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The (Un)necessary Remake Dept: The Manitou

The Manitou movie posterSome people might call William Girdler’s The Manitou a ripoff of The Exorcist, and in a sense they’d be right in that both involve possession of a sort.  Then’s there’s the fact that Girdler’s film came five years afterwards, though other than that it’s a whole other animal and deserves revisiting.

The movie, based on the novel by horror writer Graham Masterson, revolves around a woman named Karen Tandy (Susan Strasberg), who one day discovers that she has a tumor on her back.

Which is a huge mindfuck in and of itself, never mind that the tumor ends up being the doorway–and by “doorway” I mean a full-sized human being grows on her back and eventually rips its way out long before Alien was even an idea for Walter Hill and David Giler–through which Misquamacus, a Native American sorcerer, would be reborn after 400 years.

The premise of the movie is pretty goofy, which works in its favor because it makes it feel more original than it actually is.

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‘The Purge: Anarchy’ Review

The Purge: Anarchy move poster

The Purge: Anarchy Is A Marked Improvement Over The Original, But There Is So Much Farther That It Could Have Gone

What bothered me most about James DeMonaco‘s 2013 movie The Purge was that after introducing viewers to a United States that had brought record reductions in crime though a once-a-year catharsis known as the Purge it didn’t even try to keep up with it’s entertainingly dystopian concept.

Instead, it became a simple home invasion thriller, though if You’re Next had shown us anything, it’s that that’s not necessarily a bad thing; though what DeMonaco pulled felt too much like a ‘bait-and-switch‘ to not be acknowledged.

He makes up for any such shortcomings in the sequel, The Purge: Anarchy.  You learn that behind the Purge is a cabal known as “The Founding Fathers,” who were apparently voted into power, and somehow–without sending the nation into the depths of fascism–managed to sell people on the idea that if they were able to engage in a night of violence once a night, every year that it would result in not only lower crime statistics, but unemployment as well.

Which makes sense, especially the latter part, when you consider who it is that’s doing the dying.

But the there’s a weakness to the concept:  As Americans we are defined to a very real extent by our excesses.  I mean, why have a can of soda when you can have a Big Glup?  And why stop at a Big Gulp when there’s the Double Big Gulp, which contains more liquid than your stomach can actually hold?  It’s all about making things bigger, and not necessarily better so if ‘purging’ one night a year had such miraculous results, then I am reasonably sure that at the very least someone would have suggested expanding it a full day.  Or a day and a half.  Or two days.

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‘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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‘The Purge: Anarchy’ Teaser Trailer

I went into the first ‘Purge’ expecting a subversive commentary on American mores, coupled with an ample helping of cathartic violence.  Instead what I got was little more than a home invasion thriller, with barely a pinch of anything wholesome or nutritious.

And while I can’t necessarily judge the upcoming sequel by the teaser trailer, I am getting the feeling that expecting more from this series isn’t going to get me anywhere.

And I have questions, such as:  How did a future America get this way?  How could our political process, which is currently barely functional, gather the wherewithal to launch such a sweeping, drastic change?

Does everyone agree with The Purge?  If not, where are these people?  And assuming that some sort of opposition exists, where are they?  Is there an Underground Railroad to help people escape, if they are targeted?

What group bears the brunt of twelve hours of anarchy?  African-Americans? Hispanics?  Whites?  Men?  Women?  Children?

What happened to the homeless population of many major American cities?  Were they killed off in a Purge?  Is it being used as an instrument of government, to get rid of “undesirables?”

There are so many fascinating questions that could be asked, but–as I implied earlier–I am getting the feeling that his sequel will involve little more than two people running around a city for half a day, trying to stay alive.

Kind of like Walter Hill’s “The Warriors,” minus that film’s intriguing premise.

‘The Heat’ Review

The Heat

“Paul Feig’s “The Heat” is often amusing, though it doesn’t work as a buddy movie because Sandra Bullock’s character is so bland that Melissa McCarthy has to do all the heavy lifting.”

Part of me was wondering if the reason I didn’t enjoy “The Heat” as nearly as much as I would have liked to – there are laughs, but oftentimes I felt a little weird afterward – was that the leads are both women.

Not that I am misogynistic, after all I refuse to take a position on abortion because I lack a uterus, but the world being the way it is, I sometimes need to check things out.

So I decided to compare Melissa McCarthy’s performance to Eddie Murphy’s in “48 Hours” and “Trading Places” – at the time another up-and-coming comedic actor – directed by Walter Hill and John Landis.

What I noticed is that I was a lot more comfortable with Murphy’s performance in both instances, and that it was for three reasons:  First, Murphy – even at that point in his career – displayed greater range in either film than McCarthy does in “The Heat.”  Now, she may have simply given what her director asked of her, but that doesn’t change that her character was essentially loud and obnoxious, with little variation, for the entire running time of the movie.

Her schtick not only got tired quicker than I would have liked, but felt strangely uncomfortable at times.

Another point is that Murphy, despite being the main comedic element in both films, displayed an entire range of behaviors, running the gamut from crude to endearing, sometimes even in the same scene, while McCarthy has ‘crass’ and ‘obnoxious’ dialed up to to 11.

And as I find myself repeating, it may be that she’s only doing what she’s being directed to do, but it doesn’t do her any favors.

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‘The Warriors’

Walter Hill’s “The Warriors” has always been a favorite film of mine.  It manages to hold up pretty well, despite being made in 1979.  Part of what makes it so durable is that the story is essentially a simple one, which is a gang from Coney Island comes to Manhattan for a big meeting, attended by what looks like every other gang in the city.

This meeting is being organized by Cyrus, the leader of the Gramercy Riffs.

The police, aware of the meeting and realizing that they will never have the opportunity to arrest so many gang members at one time, silently surround them though, just as the police spring their trap, a member of a rival gang, the Rogues, murders Cyrus, and blames it on the Warriors.

Now they have to make their way back to Coney Island, evading not only every other gang in the city, but the police as well.

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