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>> Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The first thing to be said about Contagion is that I highly recommend avoiding it at all costs if you're any kind of germaphobe. I don't consider myself a germaphobe at all - although (like most people, I hope) I wash my hands after using the washroom and before I eat, I pay no attention to how often I touch my face (Contagion states its a ridiculous 6,000 or so times a day) and I rarely pay attention to the fact I occasionally chew on my hoodie's draw strings. Coming out of Contagion I felt filthy. As the film progressed I became more aware of the people around me coughing, or sneezing. I nearly freaked out when a lady beside me sneezed and some of her spittle ended up on my hand. At that moment I recalled walking out of Super Size Me in 2004 delighted as the theatre staff handed out some healthy snacks in support of a better lifestyle. I was praying some staff would be standing outside of Contagion with free bottles of Purel. In the paranoia aspect, Contagion brought it's A-game. Other aspects of the film ranked a little lower.

For all those out there hoping to see a film with as much action as something like 1995's Outbreak, you'll be disappointed. The general population will probably get bored by Contagion's slower pace. For those of us that like dramas and can feel comfortable and patient enough to ride the slow beats, Contagion should serve you just fine. The biggest problem with a film like this (which is just under two hours long) is that the patience never really pays off. I don't remember there being a moment where I actually felt satisfied. I knew Contagion could have been the movie I wanted it to be, but it just never excited me as much as I felt it should have.

I've heard through various other sources that this film is the most realistic take on a deadly virus outbreak that's graced the movie screen yet - perhaps that was the problem. Everything more or less happened the way it supposed to and while the human population isn't turned into zombies or completely annihilated, it's hardly a happy ending. Contagion feels less like a whole movie and more like part of a larger story - or several half stories put together.

That stated, the acting is killer. More specifically due to outstanding performances by Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne and Jude Law. None of them get it wrong and all of them add realism to the story. Despite all the half-negatives I'm saying about Contagion, it still works. There may be problems with some pacing and character development, but it's still an interesting story. I don't for see anybody saying this is the best film of the year, nor is it the worst. It's right in the middle and ultimately I have to give it an open door. For all the more risky films like Contagion that don't quite hit the nail on the head, there are some that do. Besides, I'd rather have a world filled with mediocre movies than the one currently filled with 80% crap.

*Stills courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures


APOLLO 18 (2011)

>> Sunday, September 4, 2011

I can't quite remember when I heard about Apollo 18. What I do remember is immediately being drawn to it simply because of the tag line - 'There's a reason we've never gone back to the moon'. Like most, I've often wondered why Apollo 17 was the last mission and, more poignantly, why we haven't been back since. So regardless of the fact that this was undoubtedly a fictional piece of work - I was intrigued by the premise, the story and the method of cinematography. Plus, being a fan of the Paranormal Activity films made me that much more interested.

Occasionally I would look to see when Apollo 18 would be released and honestly, I didn't even notice it was pushed back several times. My summer has been filled to the brim with films to anticipate, so this was just another one on the list. However, the fact it was pushed back to one of the least busy movie weekends of the year should have been a healthy indication that it wasn't testing well. Fool me once...

The basic idea behind the film (or found footage, I should say) is that the Apollo 18 crew were sent to the Moon on a secret mission by the Department of Defense. The goal was to set up some receivers and basic monitoring equipment for an unknown reason. After discovering a Russian lander a couple of clicks from their base, the two astronauts on the surface (and one in an orbiter up above) believe they've found the real reason they were sent. However, it turns out a Russian conspiracy wasn't the only mystery lying in wait - the other mystery is the premise for the film. I'm strictly against spoilers so let me say that the antagonist in Apollo 18 is so ridiculous that it seems to be the afterthought of a really bored 8 year-old. Unfortunately, this only sealed the fate with Apollo 18 for me. There were far more problems before anything decent even started happening.

I had bigger issues with the pacing of the film. I often found myself bored and it didn't take long for me to get tired of the shaky camera gag. Even then, when it did work, it was only when scarier moments happened - and they were too few and far in between. This is where you can tell the difference between Apollo 18 a film like Paranormal Activity. Apollo 18 did it's best to slowly build the suspense and create 'edge of your seat' moments, but it failed at even that. We can't forget this is a scary movie that people are expecting to see. When it's anything but, you're left wondering if maybe you should have seen Don't Be Afraid of the Dark instead. For the record, no. In fact, at this point I'm not sure anything lately has come close to as good a horror movie as I would like. Maybe Fright Night?

Apollo 18 sadly gets an closed door. Despite my love for outer space, the moon and horror films I can't really say you'd have the best of times at this one. Maybe it was the mood I was in, or maybe it was the fact I saw the film at 1PM vs 10PM. It really shouldn't matter anyway. For now I'll stick with zombies and ghosts to get my horror ya-yas out. What I will respect about Apollo 18 is that it did only have a budget of $5 million. Than again, Paranormal Activity was made for just $11,000. Ya, never mind. Shark Night 3D anyone?

*Stills courtesy of The Weinstein Company



>> Thursday, September 1, 2011


Okay, look. This movie doesn't really have a lot wrong with it that would suggest anybody should avoid it. It has Morgan Freeman and is about a sad, sweet little dolphin who gets it's tale chopped off by.... something. I'm pretty sure it's even a true story. So the question remains - am I a humanless monster?


But, with good cause do I not recommend this. Because without even seeing it, I can tell you a few things. It'll be a happy ending, there will probably be a dramatic dolphin death at the hands of somebody who will later change their ways and, oh yeah - it'll be the saddest thing anybody's ever seen and tears will rain down from God himself to wash over humanity's good nature and bless us all with the power of love. Girls will love this movie. PETA will praise this movie. Japan will hate it, but really - they would throw a harpoon through Ariel's head if they thought it could make good soup.

The point rests solely on predictability and cheesiness. I'm not even sure if the title Dolphin Tale is supposed to be a play on Dolphin TAIL. As in, the TAIL end of a fish. Maybe they realized the latter wasn't technically accurate? Who cares, though? There are far more interesting films to see this month, and that's what it comes down to. Also, I'm literally allergic to fish - this film would probably kill me. It's just too risky.

Dolphin Tale opens September 23rd if you're interested (in getting laid).


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