Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

DISTRICT 9 (2009)

>> Thursday, September 24, 2009

Christopher Johnson is not in Kansas anymore . . . (alien Kansas)

It would be a lie to say this film was not on my most wanting to watch list of 2009. Now, that said, I didn’t know about it until earlier on this summer by watching the trailer at The fact that Peter Jackson was “behind” it, didn’t interest me much, either. Frankly, I found Lord of the Rings to be technically exhilarating, and a classic example of fantasy, but when it comes to that trilogy, I pretty much think “so what?”. Away from that, District 9 was not directed by Jackson, so perhaps my point is moot.

This movie starts off like it’s going to be compiled much like Quarantine or Cloverfield, made up of documentary and security camera footage. Some into the film, it becomes obvious that it’s a hybrid between that and your usual fly-on-the-wall narrative. This isn’t a bad thing, just a little confusing if you’re paying attention to that kind of stuff. But that might be the only issue I have with this film.

An alien ship has been hovering above Johannesburg for over twenty years, when the government decides to move the inhabitants of said ship (who have been living below in District 9), to an area more than 200 km away from the city due to the unpleasant outcries of the people affected by the “invasion”. Heading this mass eviction is Wikus Van De Merwe, played by Sharlto Copley, an unknown amongst many other unknowns - which, in a film like this, hell, in any film, is fine and adds realism to the story. Someone like Johnyy Depp, even with his many Oscar-nominated voices, would have hurt this production. During his intrusive tour of District 9, Wikus comes across a black material that sprays him in the face when he attempts to open it up to see what’s inside. At first all appears fine, until he starts to lose finger nails and teeth (channeling Jeff Goldblum in The Fly no doubt). Soon it’s discovered he is slowly starting to change into one of these “prawns” (a derogatory term used to describe the aliens, as they apparently look like giant shrimp).

What happens once he discovers he is turning into one of them? The usual as you may expect. The government sweeps in and apprehends him, and he escapes. Soon he is one of the most wanted men in the world, with his image and name plastering all media across the globe. It turns out Wikus has the ability to use the alien weapons, which no human can, as they have a genetic safety lock of sorts. And you know us humans - always after new ways of destroying each other. (*shakes head in shame).

This movie is a wonderful example of human ignorance, xenophobia and role reversal. Only once the transformation begins does Wikus learn to have more than just political admiration and sympathy for these aliens. His story is paired with the story of one alien named Christopher Johnson and his son who are in a race against time to gather enough fuel to power a smaller alien aircraft and get back to the mother ship to return home, wherever that may be.

District 9 is weird, but it has great heart and a wonderful and a convincing story at its core. The effects are always realistic, and it’s never a chore to hold one’s suspension of disbelief. It moves quickly, and in the end, leaves you wanting a little more, while still feeling satisfied - definitely one of my favorite movies of the summer. The door is wide open on this one - all aboard the mother ship!

*Still courtesy of TriStar Pictures



>> Friday, September 11, 2009

Weird Al tells McDowell's Loomis to just "eat it"

Two years ago around the same time, I sat in a theatre with my friend Luke, my ex-manager and her beau. Why were we there? I'd scored four tickets from the local radio station to go to the premiere of Rob Zombie's Halloween. At this point I'd been a fan of the Halloween franchise (minus a few dismal flicks here and there) for about ten years. Although I wasn’t big on a Halloween remake, I was interested in seeing what director Rob Zombie could do with it. I loved The Devil’s Rejects and figured he could bring some realism to the story. Pull a 'Christopher Nolan' and reboot what had become a very stale series.

Since I just started this blog and you haven't heard my thoughts on the first Halloween, I’ll tell you what I thought of it. It sucked. Now, it wasn’t completely awful - I’ve seen worse. It was, however, awkward and unrealistic. Upon watching it again a few nights ago, I didn’t mind it as much as the first time I had seen it, but it still lacked the eeriness so present in the original 1978 flick. My mistake was perhaps walking into Rob Zombie's Halloween expecting something better and being too critical. But all I remember from watching that movie the first time, was looking at Luke and seeing him constantly rolling his eyes or shaking his head at me. So, I’m publicly stating an apology to Luke Fandrich of Editing Luke -I’m sorry. Even though it was free, its two hours you will never get back. Two hours which could have been spent playing Lego Star Wars on your GameCube.

That said, this is the frame of mind I had walking into Halloween II. The first thing I see? That Daeg Faerch has been inexplicably replaced by Chase Wright Vanek (yes, obviously no kids have normal names anymore). Now, when I say it’s the first thing I saw, I don’t mean it’s the first thing I noticed. I mean it’s literally the first shot. I don’t know why the other kid didn’t come back (perhaps he was too busy talking smack to Hancock with a really, really bad French accent). We catch up with Michael Myers is in Smith’s Grove Sanitarium being given a white horse by his mom, played almost decently Sherri Moon Zombie. It’s frivolous and seems to be only in the film to set up that little Mikey has a white horse fetish and mommy issues. Sure its artsy, I’ll give it that -(as are many shots in the film) which is probably Zombie’s biggest strength. As single frames, some of his work is breathtaking.

Scout Taylor-Compton
returns as Laurie Strode now all grunged up and party-happy. In contrast, her friend Annie Brackett (Danielle Harris) has now tamed down considerably and worries less about partying and more about her father’s calorie intake. Her father is Sheriff Lee Brackett, and he's played by the one and only Chucky, Brad Dourif. It’s an odd thing watching Dourif in another film, when all you're wanting the Sheriff to yell is “F***ing woman drivers!”.

Halloween II takes place one year after the first film, and follows Laurie as she struggles to deal with the horrific events of last Halloween,and an apparent psychic (or psycho, hmmm . . . ) connection she has with her maniac brother, Michael Myers. She has a breakdown when she discovers her lineage to Michael by reading it in Dr. Loomis’ new book “The Devil Walks Among Us”, or something like that. Loomis is played by Malcolm McDowell and has gone from a know it all doctor to an ego-driven writer, who gets his comeuppance handed to him on a TV talk show by none other than Weird Al! That’s right, Weird Al Yankovic is in Halloween II and might just be the best part of the film- or the least expected, one of the two.

As usual, Michael randomly ends up finding all the characters he needs to by walking through well-lit and smoky fields. As this is a modernized version of the series, perhaps he has GPS. When he does find what he’s looking for, it doesn’t take long for him to stab or curb-stomp his way past his victims, moving on until he finds Laurie. Now, I won’t tell you how the film ends (Laurie stabs Michael in the face and goes crazy) but it’s as expected.

The main reason I feel Zombie keeps getting these movies wrong is because he’s humanizing Michael too much. The original had Michael walking around, stabbing babysitters and doing it without batting an eyelash or saying a word. In the new Halloween series, he does the act but grunts and stabs his way through his victims - all while following his hallucination of a mother (and that damn white horse). The reason Michael was scary in the first place was because he was a shape, a shadow, a mystery. It didn’t matter what drove him, he just simply was there. You could either accept it or you could sit there and die.

Halloween (the holiday) is coming up in less than two months and if you're as into celebrating this end-of-October event as I am, you’ll notice that movies centering around this day are in short supply. So, although I can’t recommend seeing this movie in an expensive theatre, it might be worth a lazy Sunday look at the discount screen near you - should you get in the Halloween spirit in the coming weeks. Then again, you can also pop in the original 1978 Halloween DVD and watch that instead, which I would recommend.

Halloween II
, however, isn’t as bad as the first one and if you like Rob Zombie films, you'll notice his work and his skills shine through in Halloween II much more than it’s predecessor. That means you shouldn’t have any problems getting through this film without constantly looking at your watch (or your eye-rolling friend next to you). As another plus, this film is a half hour shorter than the first and it moves much more quickly. But just because a film isn’t as bad as a person expects it will be, it doesn’t mean one should see it. I have to leave the door closed on this one, especially with Oscar season coming up. Since there are better films in theatres right now, there are better ways to spend your money. If you’re bored though and you have nothing else to watch one day - then yeah, maybe Halloween II will suffice, but not for $10.

*Stills courtesy Dimension Films



>> Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Someone please kill me...

Four twenty somethings, a few racist rednecks and a security guard fight off death in what I hope to be the final Final Destination. After an explosion at a race track that happens after a dream of an explosion at a race track, the hero, his girlfriend, and the douche and his girlfriend run out of what is sure to be disaster. Never mind the poor construction of the building or the wreckless pit crew of one of the race cars, it's just one of those days that makes you wish you had stayed in bed.

The case is no different here. And much like the prior films in Final Destination series, the catalyst is a vision of the traumatic events about to transpire. I actually liked the first and second films a lot. The first one had your heart beating after the plane actually exploded, and death's "design" made sense. They even managed to work the effects of said deaths into the next film, again, into a highway scene that made your heart stop. This series should have pulled a Ghostbusters and ended after two. (this last line may have to be updated soon)

The Final Destination was made for the rednecks who starred in it, and want no emotion, no sympathy to the endless deaths, and nothing but a spectacle of the relatively new 3-D technology plaguing a cineplex near you. There's even a scene in the movie where the characters go see a movie in a 3-D - supposedly a clever nod at what you as a viewer are watching, when in reality it seems like an excuse to add another ending onto what seemed to be a movie that never really ended or had any close to the story at all.

This was NOT a movie I could get into. It reminded me of when I would watch a student film in university, more poignantly, one that would try and be something unachievable with resources like friends or family for actors. Especially if they were trying to make a drama. Now give them the 3-D technology, and you have this film. The acting and the beats were off, and special effects as gory as some were, were extremely fake. Something that was supposed to be scary made me laugh out loud. Imagine watching a movie, where the people in the movie are watching a movie, and it's cheesy and really bad. That's what this was! I literally looked around a couple times to make sure I wasn't in a movie myself. Okay, I didn't, but maybe this helps you understand better what I mean when I say I couldn't get into it.

Now, a person won't go into this movie expecting a great story line. But this movie, had NO story line. Literally - none. I think the biggest thing was that after our hero sees the first accident with a vision, the rest of the signs of who is next and what is going to happen literally come in the forms of wake up sweaty, shots from the upcoming scene, dreams. No . . . really. There is so little imagination in this film, the characters didn't have to work to figure out anything. Its like one writer said "what should they do to get from one accident to the other, and how do we tie it all together?" and the other writer said "I don't f***ing know, dreams? Now come here and see how I'm gonna kill this person - a bus will hit him!" WHAT?!

Also, let's theorize death is a real "figure" or whatever, would he (or she - I won't be sexist) really be spending its time chasing these guys through the film? It's like the equivalent of a villain monologuing waiting for the hero to get away, instead of shooting them in the head. There is literally a moment where in the movie where a character tries to kill himself - THREE TIMES, but death won't allow it. Does death not get to collect Airmiles if it's victims kill themselves?

The basic jist of this whole thing is, don't see this movie. There are plenty of other films coming out in 3-D for a person to sink their teeth into to gain the full spectacle of this miraculous new additions to our theatres. If Up is still available for 3-D viewing in your area, go see that. Hell, Toy Story and Toy Story 2 are coming out in a full blown, two for the price of one 3-D in October, see that. But do not, DO NOT, see this film. If I found out you did, after I wrote this, we are not friends, and I WILL remove you from Facebook. This is one door that should remained closed, be sealed off and never be opened again.

*Still courtesy of New Line Cinema


About This Blog

  © Free Blogger Templates Skyblue by 2008

Back to TOP