Sunday, September 30, 2012
“I think Looper works best as a character piece, but the time travel aspects of this futuristic crime drama are also well utilized and satisfy this science fiction fan’s love of the genre.”
Science-fiction, Crime-drama and Action
Starring - Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Joe, Bruce Willis as Old Joe, Emily Blunt as Sara, Paul Dano as Seth, Noah Segan as Kid Blue, Piper Perabo as Suzie, Jeff Daniels as Abe, Pierce Gagnon as Cid, Qing Xu as Old Joe's Wife, Tracie Thoms as Beatrix, Frank Brennan as Old Seth, Garret Dillahunt as Jesse, Nick Gomez as Dale and Marcus Hester as Zach
Director - Rian Johnson
Writer - Rian Johnson
Rated R for strong violence, language, some sexuality/nudity and drug content.
Runtime - 118 min.
There are three different reasons that I will go to the time and expense of seeing a movie at the theater. The first reason is that it is a film in one of my three favorite genres: science fiction, fantasy and horror. The second reason is that it is directed by someone whose films I have enjoyed in the past. The third reason is that it features one or more actors whose work I have admired in the past. It is rare when all these reasons for wanting to watch a film as soon as it is released to theaters occurs, but that is just what happened with Looper, the new science-fiction thriller released to nearly 3000 theaters this weekend.
I have always been intrigued by science fiction films that deal with time-travel and Looper uses it to tell a fascinating story about a man whose job is to kill people that a crime syndicate thirty years in the future wants to disappear. Time travel was invented in this future, but was quickly illegalize, so of course the only ones to possess it are the mob bosses. In the year 2044, Joe is a looper who works for a mafia company in Kansas City. Joe's boss, Abe was sent back in time to manage the loopers and also owns a club where Joe spends his down time taking drugs and having sex with a club dancer, Suzie. Loopers are so named because at some point the crime bosses will end a looper's contract by sending his older version back to be killed by his younger self; referred to as "closing the loop.” One night, Joe's friend and fellow looper Seth, visits him and begs for help, telling Joe that he was supposed to close his own loop but couldn’t. Eventually Joe gives his friend up, but soon thereafter is assigned to close his own loop. Joe’s older self keeps from being shot by young Joe and escapes. Young Joe goes on the run, hoping to kill his older self and get back into the good graces of Abe.
Director of Looper, Rian Johnson, has directed and also written only two other feature films: The darkly-comic romance and heist drama The Brothers Bloom (2008) and the teen crime-noir drama Brick (2005). I have seen both of these films prior to watching Looper and knew that Johnson was capable of crafting a complex story featuring characters that develop and change with the circumstances that they find themselves in. Looper takes its basic premise of a man who has made the difficult decision to work as a looper and be an assassin instead of a victim. Johnson is not content to tell the more-or less simple story of a man faced with the prospect of killing his future self, because more than half-way into the film, he adds a twist to the plot that makes Looper much more than a futurist time-travelling crime-drama. In this version of the future that Johnson has created, 10% of the population has become genetically altered and have telekinetic powers. Most of these powers are inconsequential, but there are rumors of someone called the Rainmaker, who is taking over organized crime and for unknown reasons is closing all the loops. In a way that is both natural and complicated, Johnson ties the story of the two Joes and the Rainmaker together, ending the film by tying up all the many plotlines and character stories together satisfactorily. With Looper, Rian Johnson proves that he is a director to watch out for and I will be very interested in future film projects.
Two-thousand twelve has been a very good year for Joseph Gordon-Levitt. He first appeared this past July as Blake in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises. He then starred this August in the action-thriller Premium Rush. I first noticed Joseph Gordon-Levitt playing Arthur in Christopher Nolan’s brilliant film Inception (2010). In Looper, Joseph Gordon-Levitt not only plays a morally complex assassin, but does a skillful impression of Bruce Willis, who plays his character thirty years in the future. Gordon-Levitt also wore prosthetics throughout Looper, to make him look more like a younger Bruce Willis. Gordon-Levitt has so much screen time that if he didn’t pull this off, the film would have been a failure. Fortunately, he was more than up to the task. Bruce Willis who plays the older Joe from the future has always been a favorite actor of mine. Willis often plays variations of his John McClane character from the Die Hard films, but every once in a while he gets to play a character with more depth of emotion. Willis not only conveys the loss of his life in the future, but ably conveys the physical difficulties of a man forced into violent action at an advanced age. Two other favorites of mine, Emily Blunt as Sara and Jeff Daniels as Abe add depth to their characters, despite their somewhat small amount of screen time.
I think Looper works best as a character piece, but the time travel aspects of this futuristic crime drama are also well utilized and satisfy this science fiction fan’s love of the genre. My only grip with the futuristic aspects of the film are budgetary ones, I’m sure. Like many lower-budgeted science fiction films, most of the fundamental tech of the future looks very contemporary. Some of this is explained away with the poorer population forced to make do with less advanced technology, but it still seemed like the film could have worked at creating a more three-dimensional futuristic look. Like Rian Johnson’s other two films, Looper does not offer a neat and pat conclusion to his film. It does end satisfactorily from a plot point, tying up all the loose story threads, but for those inclined toward films that evict a certain moral and emotional certainty, Looper’s climax may feel you leaving ambivalent and unfulfilled. It will however leave you thinking about it well after having watched it and that is something most films do not do.
TECHNICAL: Acting – 10 Directing – 10 Cinematography – 9 Script – 9 Special Effects – 8
VISCERAL: Visual – 8 Auditory – 9 Intellectual – 9 Emotional – 9 Involvement – 10
TOTAL - 91
Saturday, September 29, 2012
Podcast of the Month for September 2012 is:
The following is from their about page on their web site:
Discussing the best science fiction and fantasy shows on television. Each week, Tina, Chris, Jeff, Chuck and special guests discuss the latest news and happenings in the world of science fiction and fantasy television, as well as review new episodes of favorite (and hated) shows. From Lost to Doctor Who to Battlestar Galactica, we look at the latest, greatest and lamest (we’re looking at you, Ghost Whisperer!) and give an irreverent view of new TV. Bad TV may be a brain eating monster lurking in the dusty corners of your living room, but Television Zombies are along for the fight!
Based in Washington, D.C., Tina and Jeff first began podcasting in 2004 with the awkwardly titled “Restaurant Fuel/I Like Seamonsters” podcast, which centered around their experiences as expecting parents of twins. Following the births of their daughters, the pair took an extended break from podcasting to focus on sleep deprivation and hospital stays. Now that life has returned to normal, Tina and Jeff resumed podcasting, joined by their friend Chris who brings an encyclopedian knowledge of nerd trivia to the proceedings.
Television Zombies begin the podcast with brief introductions and intermittent anecdotes of their personal lives. At this time, Chris will also sometimes ask silly questions of Tina and Jeff just to get to know them better.
The next segment of the podcast is the news. The news focuses on their favorite Television shows like Game of Thrones, Teen Wolf and even the occasional non-genre show like Breaking Bad. They don’t just read the news; they also express their opinions – often humorously – on what they think this information will mean to the future of the programs.
The bulk of the podcast consists of them “talking about TV.” They review the most recent episodes of the genre shows that they watched that week. They go into varying degrees of detail on the episodes, depending on their enthusiasm for that particular show. They have no compunction of spoiling the episodes, so make sure you have watched the programs they’re discussing before listening. They will give a casual grade for each episode on the “A” for excellent and “F” for failure grading system.
Most episodes also feature an interview with Television personalities. These interviews go into much more depth than some other podcasts, as there seems to be no real time constrain on them. Recent interviews have featured: actors James Urbaniak, Zack Perlman, Ryan Ridley and Eric Bauza.
They usually finish the podcast by reading emails from listeners.
I like Television Zombies because of the light tone and casual atmosphere created by the trio of Tina, Jeff and Chris. These are fans of the shows they watch, so they tend to emphasis the positives of the programs and not focus too much on the negative; which I personally like quite a bit. Like all my favorite podcasts, Television Zombies post episodes on a regular weekly schedule, which allows them to review all the new programs almost as soon as they are aired.
If you would like to know more about Television Zombies go to: http://www.televisionzombies.com
Thursday, September 27, 2012
“You may love The Cabin in the Woods as I did; or you may hate it, but any fan of the horror genre should watch Cabin in the Woods and decide for him or herself.”
Horror, Dark Fantasy and Satire
Starring - Kristen Connolly as Dana Polk, Chris Hemsworth as Curt Vaughan, Anna Hutchison as Jules Louden, Fran Kranz as Marty Mikalski, Jesse Williams as Holden McCrea, Richard Jenkins as Gary Sitterson, Bradley Whitford as Steve Hadley, Brian White as Daniel Truman and Amy Acker as Wendy Lin
Director - Drew Goddard
Writers - Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard
Rated R for strong bloody horror violence and gore, language, drug use and some sexuality/nudity
Runtime - 95 min.
I am a horror film fan. I have been a horror film fan for over fifty years. Some of my earliest movie watching memories are of watching the Universal monster movies. I was particularly enamored of Frankenstein’s monster and even though he gave me nightmares, I insisted on watching Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein and Son of Frankenstein whenever they aired on TV. I have followed all the trends of horror films, watching and enjoying the best of them. Despite my dislike of most of the slasher films of the 1980’s/1990’s, the torture-porn of the 2000’s and the recent found footage fad, I have watched all of the best of them and even many of the worst of them. I say all this to give background to my reason for why I think The Cabin in the Woods is the most entertaining horror film I have seen in over a decade!
The Cabin in the Woods is difficult to describe without ruining the basic premise on which the plot of the film hangs, so I won’t even try. If you watch the trailer for the film, you can tell that this film is not your typical teenagers killed in the woods movie. While the film starts out like every other film of this ilk, it quickly turns into something much deeper, much more disturbing and most unexpectedly of all… one of the funniest dark satires of the horror genre ever made.
The Cabin in the Woods is a dark satire of the horror film genre, but is also perhaps an allegorical parody of our current society as a whole. Dark humor often plays well to some and not to others, so if you don’t like the conventions of all the horror films made in the last thirty years satirized, Cabin in the Woods is not the film for you. However, I personally took Cabin in the Woods to be so darkly humorous as to be almost farcical. The basic premise of The Cabin in the Woods – which I won’t spoil here, because I am trying to convince the few horror film fans that have yet to see it – is the most original, absurd and humorous that I have seen. If you are a knowledgeable and experienced horror film fan, I think you’ll notice and appreciate all the horror film tropes that the film plays with. The Cabin in the Woods is an amazing metaphorical pratfall and a darkly sinister lark, which plays with the common fears of all modern horror films by flipping them upside down and inside out. You may love The Cabin in the Woods as I did; or you may hate it, but any fan of the horror genre should watch The Cabin in the Woods and decide for him or herself.
TECHNICAL: Acting – 9 Directing – 10 Cinematography – 9 Script – 10 Special Effects – 10
VISCERAL: Visual – 10 Auditory – 9 Intellectual – 9 Emotional – 10 Involvement – 10
TOTAL – 96
Monday, September 24, 2012
“I wish I could recommend Dredd as an exciting comic-adaptation of a sci-fi dystopian future, but I unfortunately thought it fell short of being as good as the comic it tried to replicate.”
Science-Fiction, Action and Crime Drama
Karl Urban as Judge Joseph Dredd, Olivia Thirlby as Judge Cassandra Anderson, Lena Headey as Madelaine "Ma-Ma" Magrigal and Wood Harris as Kay Warrick
Director - Pete Travis
Writers - Alex Garland
Rated R for strong bloody violence, language, drug use and some sexual content
Runtime - 95 min.
As I mentioned in my TRAILER TUESDAY! DREDD 3D – 2012 – NOTA DREADED REMAKE! post, I was hopeful that Dredd would be more faithful to the British comic character than the 1995 film Judge Dredd, directed by Danny Cannon and which stared Sylvester Stallon. It was definitely more faithful to the source material in regard to character and visualization, but it was truly lacking in a multifaceted plot.
Dredd quickly establishes the future United States as an irradiated waste land known as the Cursed Earth and Mega-City One, the enormous metropolis containing 800 million residents with several sweeping cityscape shots and some descriptive narrative. We see Dredd being assigned rookie Judge Anderson, who is a psychic who has failed the tests to become a full Judge. A drug lord Madeline Madrigal, known as Ma-Ma, drugs three men with Slo-Mo (an addictive new drug that slows the user's perception of time to 1% of normal) and throws their skinned bodies from the top of a 200-story slum tower block Peach Trees. Dredd and Anderson are assigned to the murders and they apprehend one of Ma-Ma’s dealers, Kay. To keep Kay from being interrogated, Ma-Ma’s techie gains control of the Tower’s security control room and seal the building using its blast shields. The rest of the film consists of Dredd and Anderson making their way to the top of the tower to bring justice to Ma-Ma, killing all of her henchmen along the way.
I liked quite a few things about Dredd, but the lack of any real complicated plot related to the city or the politics of Mega-City One kept me from really becoming captivated by it. Karl Urban as Dredd does an excellent job of playing the character as a force-of-nature. Throughout the film he never hesitates in his duty to serve justice, even when he is clearly outnumbered or in one case when he is shot in the abdomen and has to apply a field dressing to it. By Dredd’s very nature, he must have an interesting adversary to make him more interesting. Unfortunately, Lena Headey as Madelaine "Ma-Ma" Magrigal is not much more than your standard drug lord type of character, whose motivations do not appear to be anything more than killing the judges to maintain her Slo-Mo business. The most interesting character, and one of the films definite positive points, is Olivia Thirlby as Judge Cassandra Anderson. Anderson is a rookie cop and valued for her psychic abilities. Thirlby plays this character with just the right amount of realistic moral hesitancy, while still maintaining the character’s inner strength. If the film had featured more of Dredd and Anderson’s interplay and moral deviations, it may have helped to better understand how Dredd had come to be the way that he is. Unfortunately, Dredd remains a fairly one dementioal character throughout the film.
The scope of the film is too small for such an enormous environment that Dredd inhabits. Mega-City One is a sprawling urban landscape that is supposed to cover much of what is now the Eastern United States, yet most of the film takes place in the single slum tower Peach Trees building. I would have liked to have seen more of Mega-City One before being confined to the tower building, but evidently the modest budget didn’t allow for that. What we do see of the city is pretty impressive, but there just isn’t enough shown to give you a true feeling of the despotic and dystopian environment that the Judges are forced to keep the peace in. I did like the design of the Judge bikes and the multiple-cartridge guns that they use. Some of the more interesting fight scenes involve Dredd’s imaginative use of his weapon on the bad guys.
My only other real complaint is that for a film that relies so heavily on violent action to propel the forward momentum of the story, it just isn’t very imaginative or filmed with any visual flair. The only real stylized moments are when the film goes into extreme slow-motion shots and most of these just felt like they were killing the spectacle of the action rather than emphasizing it. I’m not sure that Pete Travis was the best choice to direct Dredd, as his previous films like Vantage Point (2008) and Endgame (2009) seemed like much more intimate dramas.
I wish I could recommend Dredd as an exciting comic-adaptation of a sci-fi dystopian future, but I unfortunately thought it fell short of being as good as the comic it tried to replicate. I can only hope that a sequel will explore more of the larger world of Dredd and Mega-City One.
TECHNICAL: Acting – 8 Directing – 7 Cinematography – 9 Script – 7 Special Effects – 9
VISCERAL: Visual – 9 Auditory – 9 Intellectual – 7 Emotional – 7 Involvement – 8
TOTAL - 80
Thursday, September 20, 2012
“ If an old-toughened male film fan such as me can enjoy The Hunger Games, than I suspect most people of any age or gender could be lured into admiring this film. ”
Science-Fiction, Action and Drama
Starring - Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen, Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark, Liam Hemsworth as Gale Hawthorne, Woody Harrelson as Haymitch Abernathy, Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket, Lenny Kravitz as Cinna, Stanley Tucci as Caesar Flickerman, Donald Sutherland as President Coriolanus Snow, Wes Bentley as Seneca Crane and Amandla Stenberg as Rue
Director - Gary Ross
Writer(s) - Gary Ross, Suzanne Collins and Billy Ray
Rated PG-13 for intense violent thematic material and disturbing images - all involving teens.
Runtime - 142 min.
Unless you have been living under the proverbial rock, you are no doubt familiar with media hoopla surrounding the Hunger Games book series and the film adaptation of the first novel The Hunger Games. For the few that have not seen the film, because you haven’t read the books and could care less about the film; or you aren’t interested in the film at all because it appears on the surface to be another cinematic Twilight/genre-teen-romance exploitive expletive. Speaking as a person who is definitely not the target audience (male-50+) and as someone who did not read/watch any of the Twilight books/films, I still decided to watch The Hunger Games in the hope that beyond the teen-romance-drama there would be some interesting science fictional speculation to be had. I was at least somewhat rewarded for my efforts.
Rather than bore you with the plot for The Hunger Games, I’ll reprint Suzanne Collins’, the author of the books and co-writer of the screenplay, plot synopsis:
In a dystopian future, the totalitarian nation of Panem is divided between 12 districts and the Capitol. Each year two young representatives from each district are selected by lottery to participate in The Hunger Games. Part entertainment, part brutal retribution for a past rebellion, the televised games are broadcast throughout Panem. The 24 participants are forced to eliminate their competitors while the citizens of Panem are required to watch. When 16-year-old Katniss's young sister, Prim, is selected as District 12's female representative, Katniss volunteers to take her place. She and her male counterpart Peeta, are pitted against bigger, stronger representatives, some of whom have trained for this their whole lives.
What makes The Hunger Games good science fiction? The premise of a future world where some type of world crisis has caused the social structure to revert to district states; with a Capital district ruling over them. Obviously Suzanne Collins has based her future world on the city states of early Rome and other historic political systems. This is a common practice of Fantasy writers, but science fiction writers have used history as a basis for their political structures as well. The way that the Capital Distict enforces this tribute of the 12 Districts makes for a fascinating premise to base a story on, but the execution of the story – at least the one presented in the film – could have been made clearer.
The film’s entire story is seen from the viewpoint of Katniss Everdeen, so there is little chance for the story’s larger premise to be elaborated on. While the character of Katniss is relatable to the film’s target audience, it made it frustrating for me, as I was often wondering about the origin of certain aspects of her life; specifically why her particular District seemed to be so short of food as to be almost starving. This is important to the character of Katniss, because of the food shortage, she discreetly hunts for deer and other meat in a forbidden zone. Her skill with a bow and also her ability to generate loyalty to herself plays a prominent role in her survival in The Hunger Games.
The visuals of The Hunger Games help to tell the story of this distinct economic separation between the poorer districts and the wealthy Capital. The wealth of The Capital is shown with the high-rise buildings, the advanced technology and the extravagant clothing worn by all its denizens. The later was so disparate and exaggerated, that I found it distracting. This could be why one of the few characters that I could actually relate to was Haymitch Abernathy. Despite his initial appearance to be an indifferent alcoholic, he was at least dressed more-or-less in a masculine fashion, sans the make-up and frills that most of the rest of the men in the film wore. Once again, I’m assuming the look of The Capital was based on the ostentatious clothing worn by such historical societies as the 16th Century French aristocracy. Still, I would have preferred something a little less visually distracting.
The only other caveat I have with the look of The Hunger Games was the camera work. Especially early on, there are many close-up and medium close-up shots, where the camera moves around aimlessly in several directions. I’m not sure what the director was attempting to do with these shots, but fortunately there were fewer of them as the film progressed.
Your level of enjoyment of The Hunger Games rests largely on your feelings for Katniss and the manner in which she ultimately survives the deadly tournament. I personally found Katniss to be slightly cold as a character. When the situations called for her to react emotionally, it didn’t really resonate with me. I do hope that with the next film, we will be given more of the back-story of how this world came to be. If an old-toughened male film fan such as me can enjoy The Hunger Games, than I suspect most people of any age or gender could be lured into admiring this film. Hopefully, with the second film – Catching Fire – due in theaters November in 2013 – I won’t be left hungering for more.
TECHNICAL: Acting – 9 Directing – 8 Cinematography – 9 Script – 8 Special Effects – 9
VISCERAL: Visual – 9 Auditory – 9 Intellectual – 8 Emotional – 8 Involvement – 9
TOTAL - 86
Sunday, September 16, 2012
“While Resident Evil: Retribution won’t go up as my favorite Resident Evil film, it certainly isn’t the worst film in the series either.”
Science-Fiction, Horror and Action
Starring - Milla Jovovich/Alice, Sienna Guillory/Jill Valentine, Michelle Rodriguez/Rain Ocampo, Aryana Engineer/Becky, Johann Urb/Leon S. Kennedy, Kevin Durand/Barry Burton, Li Bingbing/Ada Wong, Oded Fehr/Carlos Olivera, Boris Kodjoe/Luther West, Colin Salmon/James "One" Shade and Shawn Roberts/Albert Wesker
Director - Paul W.S. Anderson
Writer - Paul W.S. Anderson
Rated R for sequences of strong violence throughout.
Runtime - 95 min.
My immediate and initial visceral reaction to Resident Evil: Retribution was one of exhaustive contentment and marginal confusion. While I was still blown away by Paul W.S. Anderson’s ability to create innovative and exhilarating action sequences, I was puzzled by his creative choice to take the plot from Resident Evil: Afterlife and throw it away in favor of a completely different one in Resident Evil: Retribution.
Resident Evil: Retribution opens with the Umbrella Corporation’s attack on the freighter Acadia by a fleet of airships. The Arcadia is being destroyed by the airships, when Alice fires on one of them, causing it to crash into the Arcadia and throwing Alice overboard unconscious into the water.
Alice awakens in an idyllic suburban setting; complete with a husband Todd (who inexplicably looks like Carlos Olivera) and daughter Becky. Zombies suddenly burst into their home, kill her husband chase Alice and Becky out of the house, where they are rescued in a car driven by Rain Ocampo. Their car is hit by a truck and Alice is knocked unconscious once again.
Alice awakens this time alone in an enormous Umbrella base cell. Alice is interrogated and tortured by former ally Jill Valentine, who is being controlled by Umbrella through a red scarab device attached to her chest. Alice awakens again and there is a sudden power failure, which enables her to escape her cell.
Alice exits the Umbrella facility and is a city that looks exactly like Raccoon City. While battling a horde of zombies, she meets Ada Wong, who tells her that she is in a huge facility built by the Umbrella Corporation to recreate the great cities of the world. Umbrella used these to stage zombie attacks, in hope of selling their anti-virus-toxin to the highest bidder, but it was instead taken over by none other than the Red Queen – the Artificial Intelligence Computer that ran the original Umbrella Corporation facility that created the zombie virus in the first place. Alice teams with old and new allies, in an attempt to stop the Red Queen and the zombie plague from wiping out what is left of the human race.
Resident Evil: Retribution feels very much like it is treading water and merely setting itself up for a sixth and perhaps final film in the Resident Evil series. However, there is actually quite a lot of plot squeezed into all the multiple chase sequences and fight scenes in the movie. I think the reason that the film feels so bereft of plot development is because of its sudden shift in direction and its unresolved nature. The story is also confusing because of the many characters from the previous Resident Evil films that are brought back are not only clones of those characters, but sometimes they are multiples of those clones with both “good” and “bad” personalities. The film’s plot advancement relies so heavily on Alice’s character, that too many times it is unclear to both her and us, what the motivations of the other characters are.
Plot aside, the reason that Resident Evil: Retribution and all the other films in the series have been so entertaining are the multiple fight sequences between Alice and the zombies. While Resident Evil: Retribution certainly has its fair share of these, much of the film is taken up with Alice being chased and fighting with more human opponents. While these are done with Anderson’s usual panache and style, there is a certain lack of accomplishment to them. Every time Alice beats someone, it seems that that opponent is either replaced or made to be an ally. Still, the action scenes are for the most part top notch and definitely worth seeing on the big screen. I did not see it in 3D this time, but it was more from the fact that it wasn’t playing in that format at my local theater than the lack of desire to see it in 3D.
While Resident Evil: Retribution won’t go up as my favorite Resident Evil film, it certainly isn’t the worst film in the series either (that honor still goes to Resident Evil: Apocalypse -2004). Even that film is more entertaining than many bigger budgeted Hollywood films and I will definitely be going to see the next film in the Resident Evil film franchise to see how Alice helps to save humanity from the zombie hordes.
TECHNICAL: Acting – 8 Directing – 9 Cinematography – 9 Script – 8 Special Effects – 10
VISCERAL: Visual – 10 Auditory – 9 Intellectual – 7 Emotional – 9 Involvement – 9
TOTAL - 88
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Dredd is not a remake of the 1995 Judge Dredd starring Sylvester Stallone, but a new beginning for a projected series of films based on the comic stories from the UK's 2000 A.D. I read the Eagle Comics reprints of the early Judge Dredd comics stories from the late-70’s/early-80’s and thought that the 1995 film didn’t do the comics justice. Reading some of the early reviews, it seems as if Dredd will be truer to the comics.
According to ScienceFiction.com:
Judge Dredd is the law and proved it with the film ‘Dredd 3D’ topping the box office in the UK last weekend. According to THR, the Peter Travis reboot film took the #1 spot beating ‘Anna Karenina’, ‘Lawless’, and ‘That’s My Boy’.
This marks the first time an 18 certificate (which is equivalent to an ‘R’ rating across the pond) has taken the top box office spot in British theaters since 2010, the year ‘Saw 3D’ was released. While no exact figures have been released, estimates have the film taking in more than £1 million ($1.65 million) on its opening weekend ahead of the Kira Knightley and Jude Law film ‘Anna Karenina’ which brought in £980,000 ($1.60 million).
With such a strong debut in England, that tells me that Dredd pleased the fans who are more familier with that character and its source material than anywhere. That makes me hopeful that Dredd should be more than worth the effort to see in the theater.
Dredd opens in the United States on September 21. Watch the “red band” trailer for Dredd and see for yourself if Dredd is worth your time and money. If nothing else, this trailer proves that it deserves its R rating.
Sunday, September 9, 2012
“I can only recommend it [Detention] to someone who likes their films filled with dark satire, frenetic pacing and an odd reverence of the pop culture of the 1990’s.”
Horror and Comedy
Starring - Shanley Caswell/Riley Jones, Josh Hutcherson/Clapton Davis, Spencer Locke/ Ione Foster, Aaron David Johnson/Sander Sanderson, Dane Cook/Principal Verge, Walter Perez/Elliot Fink, Erica Shaffer/Sloan, Parker Bagley/Billy Nolan, Alison Woods/Taylor Fisher and James Black/Mr. Cooper
Director - Joseph Kahn
Writer(s) - Joseph Kahn, Mark Palermo and Mark Palmero
Rated R for bloody violence, crude and sexual content, nudity, language, some teen drinking and drug use.
Runtime - 93 min.
Detention is a film that is nearly impossible to describe. It uses the tropes of so many different film genres, that watching it is an almost exhausting experience. However, it is the type of film that if you open your mind to it and allow yourself to adapt to its crazed visual style, I think you’ll find yourself enjoying the wild ride that Detention sends you on.
The story is told from the viewpoint of Riley Jones, the self-described “second biggest loser to walk Grizzly Hills High.” Besides being extremely accident prone, Riley’s biggest problem stems from her crush on Clapton Davis, a slacker hipster liked by virtually everyone, who is dating her former best friend and cheerleader Ione Foster. Riley’s life is further complicated by Sander Sanderson, a friend who continually attempts to have sex with Riley, and Billy Nolan, the school jock and ex-boyfriend of Ione, who is still in love with Ione and keeps trying to beat up Clapton to win Ione back. All this is fairly typical high-school drama. The difference between Detention other films of the ilk are quickly discovered.
Right at the outset of Detention, the most popular girl in school, Taylor Fisher, is killed by someone dressed as Cinderhella, the serial killer from a fictional horror film. Cinderhella begins stalking Riley, but through a series of bazar accidents, Riley survives every attempt on her life. Ione wants to win a dance contest, so she switches bodies with her Mom, who won the same school contest in 1994 and Ione finds herself transported back to that year. We discover the source of Billy Nolan’s testosterone anger and strength is from being part fly, which occurred when he discovered an alien meteorite as a child. This is only some of the weird and strange people and things that you will see in Detention.
Directed by Joseph Kahn, whose only previous feature film was 2004’s Torque; a visually frenetic, but narratively vacant motorcycle gang movie. Detention has that same visual style, but has a quirky and unique satirically humorous plot and characterization that make it a much richer and rewarding cinematic experience.
None of the young actors are particular standouts. However, Shanley Caswell instills Riley Jones with a certain sympathetic distain that makes her character’s viewpoint of the strange events in Detention feel a bit more grounded than they would with a less talented actress. Josh Hutcherson, who is now better known as Peeta Mellark from The Hunger Games, shows a real knack for playing the slacker Clapton Davis with just enough panache to make him likeable even in his worst moments. Dane Cook has many detractors for reasons I’ve never been sure of, but his role as Principal Verge is the most interesting of the few adult roles in Detention.
Because Detention is such an unusual film, I can only recommend it to someone who likes their films filled with dark satire, frenetic pacing and an odd reverence of the pop culture of the 1990’s – or as Taylor Fisher declares at the begining of Detention, “The 1990’s are the new 1980’s.”
TECHNICAL: Acting – 8 Directing – 9 Cinematography – 8 Script – 9 Special Effects – 8
VISCERAL: Visual – 9 Auditory – 8 Intellectual – 8 Emotional – 9 Involvement – 9
TOTAL - 85
Saturday, September 8, 2012
I’ve professed my love of Doctor Who and all things Trok in my Friday Night Trok post. More recently I reminded everyone of my fav Trok band Chameleon Circuit on my Trok Tuesday post. The 1st episode of season 7 of Doctor Who premiered last Saturday night (September 1st) and the introduction of a new character almost overrode the excitement of the return of the Daleks in “Asylum of the Daleks”. A Trok musician who regularly posts new songs on her You Tube channel STOP! IT'S GINGER TIME, has already posted a beautiful song about this new character, Oswin Oswald.
Before watching and listening to “I'm Still Human (Oswin's Song)” I'll let our Trok musician describe herself:
About STOP! IT'S GINGER TIME:
Hi, I'm Allegra, and I like writing about things I like! On this channel, you'll find tunes about geeky stuff like Doctor Who and Homestuck, as well as occasional vlogs about the life of a teenage ginger.
For more Trok songs and other geeky stuff go to: http://www.youtube.com/user/stopitsgingertime?feature=watch
Tuesday, September 4, 2012
Resident Evil: Retribution is an upcoming fifth film in the Resident Evil film franchise and is set to be released September 14, 2012. I’m a fan of all the films and am looking forward to Retribution as well.
The Resident Evil is a film series based on the Campcon survival horror video game, which made its debut on the PlayStation in 1996. In January of 1997, Constantin Film bought rights to the first film. After failed scripts by Alan B. McElroy and George A. Romero, that film never got made. Sony acquired distribution rights to the film in 2001 and hired Paul W.S. Anderson as writer and director for Resident Evil (2002). Made on only a budget of $33 million, Resident Evil went on to make over $102 million worldwide! Anderson went on to write and produce both Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004) and Resident Evil: Extinction (2007). Anderson then returned as director for the fourth installment, Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010). After finishing directing The Three Musketeers (2011), Paul W.S. Anderson went back to both writing and directing Resident Evil: Retribution.
There were rumors that this may be the last film in the franchise, but in a recent interview on Collider.com, Anderson hinted there may be more Resident Evil films to come.
Collider.com: We have heard from some of the cast that when you were writing this one you were thinking of a 5th and 6th film and that there was almost talk of you guys filming them back to back.
Anderson: We definitely…there was an earlier discussion about that, but then we just decided to focus on this movie. But if it is that we make another one, I do know where it would go. It would obviously be great to kind of make two full trilogies and then just bring everything to an end.
Collider.com: That is the thing. Your significant other was mentioning that she can only play the character for so long. In your mind, is the 6th film the finale?
Anderson: Definitely. Unless, of course, no one goes to see this one. Then this one would be the finale, just maybe not a very satisfying one. [laughs]
To read even more about Resident Evil: Retribution and other Anderson projects go to:
The official synopsis for Resident Evil: Retribution reads thus:
The Umbrella Corporation's deadly T-virus continues to ravage the Earth, transforming the global population into legions of the flesh eating Undead. The human race's last and only hope, Alice (Milla Jovovich), awakens in the heart of Umbrella's most clandestine operations facility and unveils more of her mysterious past as she delves further into the complex. Without a safe haven, Alice continues to hunt those responsible for the outbreak; a chase that takes her from Tokyo to New York, Washington, D.C. and Moscow, culminating in a mind-blowing revelation that will force her to rethink everything that she once thought to be true. Aided by newfound allies and familiar friends, Alice must fight to survive long enough to escape a hostile world on the brink of oblivion. The countdown has begun. -- (C) Sony
So, is Resident Evil: Retribution redundant or requisite? If Resident Evil: Retribution is as action-packed as the previous four films, then I’ll definately vote requisite and I for one can hardly wait for this one! I won’t have to wait long, because the film is set to be released September 14, 2012, which is less than two weeks away! Meanwhile, enjoy the latest trailer for Resident Evil: Retribution!