About This Blog

A place to find my reviews not featured on epinions.com or horror-asylum.com, as well as opinions and lists on everything from movies to TV to music. It's all about me! Send hate mail to vegie18th@hotmail.com or just leave a comment beneath the posts. Review grading system assumes C+ is somewhere in the vicinity of a Passing grade or minor fail.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Review: Puss in Boots


The title character (voiced by Antonio Banderas), a Zorro-esque romantic, swashbuckling rogue, attempts to steal magic beans from the grotesque Jack and Jill, only to be interrupted by the masked cat burglar Kitty Softpaws (voiced by Salma Hayek), who in turn is in cahoots with Puss’ long-estranged brother (well, sorta) Humpty Dumpty. Humpty was responsible for the once heralded hero Puss being marked as an outlaw in town, after Humpty unwittingly getting him involved in a bank robbery. Humpty, who paid for his crimes in prison, says he wants a chance to make things right with his former orphanage companion, and wants Puss to join himself and Kitty in stealing the beans. Apparently the beans will sprout a beanstalk that leads to a castle in the sky, and the Golden Goose who will lay golden eggs. But is Humpty to be trusted?

 

Given he stole the show in “Shrek 2”, it’s little surprise that the swashbuckling cat voiced by Antonio Banderas would get his own spin off. What does surprise me is that this 2011 film directed by Chris Miller (“Shrek the Third”) is actually a lot of fun. Critics, for instance, have been all over the shop in regards to this film, but I personally rather enjoyed it. It’s not a great film nor a gut-buster, but it’s cute and likeable.

 

The film begins with the funniest DreamWorks logo ever, as the little boy in the moon whips his fishing line, accompanied by flamenco music (the music is excellent throughout). This is easily the best character Antonio Banderas has played to date (Puss is adorable as a kitten too), and he and Salma Hayek have very obvious chemistry, even when animated. Hayek’s pussy is gorgeous, by the way. What? What did I say? I guess Banderas is an unlikely choice to work in animation given his thick Spanish accent, but here he has found the perfect role to get away with his limitations. I loved the idea of Puss leaving his latest conquest in bed and also forgetting her name. I guess he gets lots of pussy. Yeah, I went there. It’s adorable watching him lap up his milk at the local saloon. The film also provides us with the funniest dance-off I’ve seen all year, and the cameo by Little Boy Blue was, for me, the comic highlight of the film. Meanwhile, only in an off-shoot of the “Shrek” series can Puss in Boots and Humpty Dumpty be brothers. It’s so cute (Even cuter? The Golden Goose, who looks like Tweety Bird).

 

I love that Humpty (voiced by a surprisingly effective Zach Galifianakis), Little Boy Blue, and Jack and Jill (the latter two voiced by Billy Bob Thornton and Amy Sedaris) are all a bit creepy and seedy. I certainly wouldn’t be recounting the story of Jack and Jill to the little ones after watching this. Am I the only one who always assumed they were brother and sister? Apparently they’re not, but at least neither is played by Adam Sandler. Screenwriters Brian Lynch, David H. Steinberg (who previously worked on “Slackers”, and “National Lampoon’s Barely Legal” of all films), Tom Wheeler, and Jon Zack obviously enjoyed bringing in all these well-known characters and subverting them in the best “Shrek” fashion. One question about Humpty Dumpty, however: If Humpty and Puss are roughly the same size, how big is the damn chicken? (Sooo tempted to make a ‘cock’ joke here, so please take note of my restraint). Meanwhile, am I the only one a little unnerved by the idea of an egg with teeth? It was just so creepy-looking. There’s an hilarious flashback/Talking Killer (credit: Roger Ebert) scene at one point, though. Not even sure why, it just made me laugh, though I do think an opportunity was lost not giving us a literal fried egg joke (After all, Humpty does have a thin skin...er...shell). The bit with the catnip was even funnier, and clearly designed for the adults in the audience.

 

Although a family film and a comedy, the film also works as a swashbuckler, at least for me it did. The only negative for me in the whole film is that Puss and Kitty should’ve had a genuine romantic relationship in the film. It’s practically a “Zorro” film, after all. The action is genuinely fun however, and the whole film is beautiful to look at. It proves that you don’t need motion capture, this computer animation is stunning. Hell, even the humans look better in this than in the awful motion-capture flick “Adventures of Tintin”. The fur on the cats (had to be careful there with my choice of words) in particular is amazing, even if the eyes still look a little cheap and 2D. I really liked that although a lot of this is bathed in sun and lights, it doesn’t make everything monochromatic, something that bothered me in the “Kung Fu Panda” films (and live-action films, for that matter). We even get a lot of attention paid to ‘camera angles’, with lots of close-ups throughout.

 

I’m not sure how this plays for kids and I don’t care. I really enjoyed it, and you might too. It ain’t “Pinocchio” but it’s solid entertainment for...well, just about everyone in the family, I’d wager.

 

Rating: B-

Review: Forget Me Not


Carly Schroeder and her pals are hanging out in the cemetery like they used to do as kids, but it seems someone wants to spoil their fun, bumping them all off one by one. A series of flashbacks suggest something or someone in their past has reappeared in the present. Christopher Atkins briefly appears as the father of Schroeder and her brother Cody Lindley.

 

Directed by Tyler Oliver and written by the director and Jamieson Stern, this 2009 teen horror pic contains one very strange element in an otherwise entirely nondescript and frankly boring film. It is apparently from 2009, but the film at times could pass for several different eras and even countries in horror filmmaking. There’s elements of J-horror in plot, but also 80s slasher elements at other times (“Prom Night” especially). Visually it seems to want to evoke 70s horror, yet looks like a low-budgeter from 1994 and occasionally throws in a J-horror ghostie as well as that low-angle ‘running while the camera is glued to the girl’s tight arse’ stuff seen in the remake of “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” (Some of the lighting and production design evokes that film too, and represent the only interesting element of the film). And yet, the characters are clearly modern, as are the performances. Worst of all, however, the film’s attitude towards sex and violence is straight out of the immediate post-“Scream” era. And boy am I not happy about that. Who the hell has sex in a bra? No one outside of the people in this film and actresses in the teen horror flicks of the mid-to-late 90s, that’s who. This is the only film I’ve seen in ages where you get post-sex without the foreplay or the sex itself being shown on screen. There’s just way too many hot chicks in this film to be having so many of them not nuding-up. They either take their tops off away from the camera (Why would you do that unless the camera is part of the actual scene? It breaks the fourth wall in addition to offending my perverted sensibilities), or just wearing underwear in situations where no one with such fine bodies would bother covering up. For instance, the sheriff’s slutty daughter bones a convenience store clerk and is barely wearing anything to begin with, but when she drops her top...we see nothing. I’m not just being a perve, this film is a cop-out. I’ve seen more risqué material on Nickelodeon.

 

The jump scares didn’t even make me jump, and I always jump at those! There’s a bit of gore here and there, but little more than you’d find in the horror films of the late 90s or early 00s. I mean, killing someone via a car accident? In a horror film? Unless that film is “Christine”, it’s simply not acceptable. Meanwhile, of all the film’s to use the phrase ‘You’re not making any sense’, this is the dumbest because the person apparently not making any sense actually makes perfect sense. What the hell? Also, the central mystery is stupid, because there is no way that these particular characters would ever forget this particular person. No way. Having said that, we are barely introduced to any of the characters, so we don’t care either. Flashbacks in particular come far too late in filling us in on who is doing this and why. Speaking of the characters, they’re awful. Aside from the slutty sheriff’s daughter, they are all interchangeable. The only way to distinguish between them is by who they are paired up with. The slutty sheriff’s daughter is just plain weird. In addition to not being slutty enough to do nudity, she keeps rubbing her sex life in her dad’s face to the point where it’s almost hinting incest. She seems to be flirting with her own father, and I’m almost certain that’s neither the attention in the screenplay nor the actress in question. It’s just totally unbelievable.

 

Special mention must go to the d-bag who, after his disgruntled ex-girlfriend throws the bracelet he gave her into the water, yells out ‘Fine. It’s yours. Swim for it!’. Um...dude, she threw it. She doesn’t want it. Or you.

 

Sorry, but this tame, toothless, and tired film offers nothing new, exciting, or pleasurable at all. There are too many more distinguished horror films out there to waste your time on this one. I’ve forgotten it already.

 

Rating: D+

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Review: Detention


An assortment of teens (including Josh Hutcherson) and the school principal (a miscast Dane Cook) have to band together to stay alive as a serial killer named Cinderhella starts slashing its way through the school. But things only get weirder from there, as even time travel works its way into the plot.

 

There were two things immediately apparent from this flick directed and co-written by “Torque” director Joseph Kahn; 1) It’s the most aggressively obnoxious film of its year, and 2) The film has no idea how incredibly unfunny and unlikeable it is. At times it seemingly wants to be the “Zombieland” of slasher movies, but the problem is that “Scream” already did it. Four times. Two of those times were actually good. This is like if “Juno” wrote a slasher film that wasn’t called “Jennifer’s Body”. I hated “Juno” so much on a cellular level that it’s one of the few major films I’ve yet to watch in its entirety. I just don’t think I can do it, and yet...I sat all the way through this turd. Imagine an entire film full of characters who speak like “Juno” and you’ll have some idea of what a personal Hell this was for me. And sadly, they never, ever seem to shut up. Oh how I wished they’d shut up. Why wouldn’t they shut up? I’m sorry, but no teenager in 2011 knows who the fuck Bronson Pinchot is. In fact, when I graduated from high school in 1997, I’m pretty sure I was the only one who would’ve known.

 

Sadly, it only gets worse. Someone remarks ‘A rave? What is this, 1996?’ after having already made a Hoobastank reference themselves. And making reference to your ‘mid 90s pop references’ doesn’t make you cool, it makes you a tool. I love in-jokes and cultural references (“Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” was one of my favourite films of the last 5 years) and I’m sure plenty of people have a frame of reference beyond their years, but from my experience, that’s not so much the case with the current generation. Besides, it’s too much to have an entire film full of such people. It’s like “Dawson’s Creek” except everyone is Dawson. I might’ve even contemplated suicide at one point. It’s that bad. “Southland Tales” bad. The saturation of references and in-jokes is insanely overbearing, and any good parody (like “Scream” for instance) must first work as a serious entry in the genre it is parodying, or at least be really, really damn funny. This film is 0-2 I’m afraid, and so ‘meta’ that it’s completely incoherent. These people are under the impression that they have made a funny, cool, and clever film. These people are gravely mistaken.

 

This film has the worst opening credits design I’ve seen in years. How am I expected to read it if I have no idea where the credits are gonna be and when they disappear almost immediately? I quickly learned that the film itself is similarly afflicted with ADHD and maybe dyslexia. Some might suggest that this is an intentional attempt at mirroring the ADHD/gamer mentality of Gen Y, but really, that’s just a lame excuse. The film is crap, no matter what it’s attempting, and as far as I’m concerned, it’s an unintentional mess.

 

Having a horror villain that sounds like a heavy metal band (Cinderhella? He looks cool, but that name is awful) is bad enough, but then the film seems to turn into a “Donnie Darko” rip-off time-travel movie, and cocks that up too. The structure is maddeningly incoherent, matched in its awfulness only by the wretchedly over-the-top performances (Shanley Caswell and Alison Woods are especially bad). None of this section of the film connects in any coherent way to the slasher parody plot. How on Earth did this get green-lit? I mean, it takes more than 45 minutes to even get to the detention, and then for some messed-up reason we find ourselves watching a shitty body-swap comedy. I’m all for a screenwriter letting their imagination run wild, but dude, you’ve gotta rein it in to create something ultimately coherent for your audience. This one goes in a million different directions, very few of which seem to connect with one another (What was that “Fly”-esque subplot about?). Either that, or Kahn and co-writer Mark Palermo watched “Donnie Darko” without understanding a lick of it. Considering this is the same film where someone claims to have adopted Steven Seagal’s fighting style...except it looks nothing like Aikido, I guess nobody here is a genius-level intellect. Meanwhile, the Cinderhella movie-within-a-movie idea is horribly plagiaristic of “Scream” (or is it “Scary Movie”?). And why on Earth would likeable poker pro Daniel Negreanu produce this film and lower himself to have a cameo in it?

 

There’s a nice severed arm, and an hilarious decapitation near the end, but even if this film was wall-to-wall gore, it’d still be a putrid mess. Yes, I know what I just typed. Here’s a film from 2011 that’s worse than “Your Highness”, amazing as it may seem, but it’s true. This film is a complete and total mess, and everyone involved seriously needs to lay off the Red Bull.

 

Rating: D-

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Review: Mother’s Day


Jaime King and husband Frank Grillo are having a party in their basement with three other couples in the home they just bought. Unfortunately, the festivities are short-lived as three criminal brothers (Patrick Flueger, Warren Kole, and Matt O’Leary) burst in. They used to own the home, but since they haven’t kept in touch with their mother, they’re unaware that the house had been sold. Whilst the couples are held hostage, doctor Shawn Ashmore is forced at gunpoint to attend to the severely wounded O’Leary. Finally, mother (Rebecca DeMornay) shows up, along with the boys’ sister Deborah Ann Woll. Mother chastises her offspring for their inhospitable behaviour, however, once she realises that her sons had mistakenly sent the money they reappropriated in a string of bank robberies to this address, she sets about having people tortured to get King and Grillo to fess up to its whereabouts. She does bake everyone a cake, however.

 

Apparently the 80s original was a blend of backwoods horror/thriller and slasher pic (from Troma, oddly enough), and this 2010 Darren Lynn Bousman (“Repo! A Genetic Opera”, and “Saw II” which was his first and best film to date) loose remake takes things out of the backwoods and into suburbia. The result is quite a lot like a sillier version of the Spanish flick “Kidnapped”, also released in 2010. Hell, there’s even the same scene of a kidnapper and hostage making a trip to an ATM to empty out bank accounts. That makes it a bit less unpleasant, but no better than “Kidnapped”. In fact, it might be marginally worse than “Kidnapped”. In particular, I felt it took way too long for the victims to realise they have the numbers to do something about their situation. Bousman and the screenwriter try to get around it, but it’s obvious from moment one that this is as unlikely a kidnapping/hostage scenario as you’re likely to find, and the film for me never recovered. I mean, is it normal for thirty-somethings to have parties in their basement? That sounds more like teenage behaviour to me, or more to the point, lazy screenwriting trying to cover up the obvious numbers advantage our victims have. Then again, the film never really got around to introducing us properly to these people anyway, after throwing them at us all at once. I’ve heard this is a loose remake at best, so I lay most of the blame here on this film’s screenwriter Scott Milam, whose work in this is especially clunky.

 

A facially immobile Rebecca DeMornay is not nearly as good in the title role as you’d think (she made a terrifically icy Milady De Winter), never once getting into the hammy spirit like she should have. She has her moments, but for the most part seems to be offering a half-hearted rendition of her Greatest Hits. Patrick Flueger, however is decent, and although wasted, Shawn Ashmore is always solid. Meanwhile, one actress looks so much like R&B star Rihanna that certain scenes are very uncomfortable to watch. Also needlessly distracting is the music score, which sounds way too much like ‘Tubular Bells’. Am I the only one?

 

The film is pretty lousy, and at least 10-15 minutes too long. Glorious gunshot to the head, however. Troma Studios head honcho Lloyd Kaufman understandably acts as producer, as does Brett Ratner for some strange reason. Any idea why that is?

 

Rating: C