Sunday, July 24, 2011

Behind the Scenes

Funny things have been popping up on the world wide web showing how the movie-magic or dirty tricks of the film industry.

First is the trailer for the "new" Spiderman. Yep, they are re-starting that franchise already.

and here is a comparison to a game trailer to the game Mirror's Edge.

The second is a comparison on scenes from two of Michael Bay's movies - Transformers 3 and the Island.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Death by 3D

For some time now I have been following with amusement the confusion that Hollywood is going through with their movies and titles. We have not even begun to see the tip of the colossal wave of re-makes or whatever they may end up selling a re-hashed movie as. I get the fact that they simply want to make money and thus don't need another reason (such as a good idea) to tackle an old movie anew. But I wonder how long people will still go see that kind of s...t? Let me stay on track here though and not go off on a rant...

I finally saw the trailer for the Fright Night re-make that is now coming out. I had heard of this project and mentioned it before in a post with the remark of how awful I thought the idea was to produce this. The original was a great 80's vamp flick that was humorous and frightening at the same time. It played at the old 60's Dracula and Van Helsing movies making fun of them at times while using that to introduce the new not-so-cheesy vampire in the form of a handsome young man who when angry transforms into a grotesque monster.
The new movie seems from the trailer to take itself far to seriously.
In the original movie Fright Night was the title of an old vampire show that is being canceled and thus a play on that cheesy type of flick... I couldn't see the Van Helsing-esque character in trailer for the new one at all and no vampire tv show. That makes me wonder, what is then the meaning of Fright Night for the new movie? I suspect none. At least none other than to try to lure fans of the original to see this one only on the base of them having the same title.

This is the conflict that Hollywood is having with titles these days. They just don't make any sense anymore.

Another example. The Fast and the Furious. They made a sequel called 2 Fast 2 Furious (so far so good).Then came The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (Ok...), then Fast & Furious (yep...similar to the first...but not the same...without the THE and with & instead of AND THE...). There I stop following the logic. Now I just saw the first movie and can't speak for the story in these sequels but from the plot summary it looks like the Fast & Furious is pretty much the same like the first one. Oh, and now there is a new one - Fast Five.

I have a hard time to know what movie is what unless I really have followed it from the start. I can't know judging by the title alone. And what happened to a simple ...2...3...4?

When they re-made the movie Piranha they added the ever-so-popular 3D to the title, making it Piranha 3D. Now they are working on a sequel to that and guess what they decided to call it - Piranha 3DD. Yep, time to get funky.

3D seems to give the chance to re-hash every single title that doesn't have it in there already. Hurray. When the movie How to train your Dragon came out they put 3D so big on the poster that I literally first thought it was a movie called 3D. It became funnier when I started seeing them disclaim REAL 3D. What is then un-real 3D?

Soon they will be releasing the prequel to The Thing. That happens to be one of my favorite horror movies of all times made by John Carpender in '82. They first planned a sequel, then a two part tv movie for the sci-fi channel and now lastly it's a prequel...but a re-imagining...huh? How does that work? And even if it's a prequel they decided to simply go with the same title The Thing.

Yes, Hollywood has abandoned making sense.

As Horror movies have demonstrated a lot of new trends and funkyness in their titles I list a few ones that I really enjoyed:

Pride Prejudice and Zombies

Twittering from the Circus of the Dead (it took the son of Stephen King to come up with this one)

Strippers vs Werewolves

Dracula 3D (yes they're going for it)

Orcs! (guess what it was originally going to be called --- Orcs! Orcs! Orcs! I'm not kidding)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Too Far?

Here is a new commercial for Dead Island, a zombie computer game.

My question is - do you think it goes too far?

Personally I think it does. It's exploiting the shock value of showing a small kid die brutally. Somehow it crosses the line for me. I realized that I don't want a computer game to intrude on some areas that are more serious for me. And it gets ridiculous if a game takes itself too seriously, I think. Same can be said about other products. I play a game to be entertained, excited, not for drama value.

The concept is interesting in the sense of showing the result first and then back-tracking to see how it came to be. But there again it's nothing new. Here is an award winning commercial that I believe sparked the idea for this game trailer:

Monday, February 14, 2011

Kung fu & Horror

After a tip I decided to watch a movie called IP MAN. In case you haven't heard of it, it's a great new kung fu-movie about the real-life martial art legend of China- Ip Man. He was the martial art teacher of Bruce Lee and remains a symbol for kung-fu excellence.

The movie follows a part of his life where he is the undefeated master of kung-fu who's existence gets thrown upside down after the Japanese occupation. Now a poor man he finds no use for his fighting skills and begins to doubt himself and the path he chose. It is an interesting and fresh view upon a genre that I really like, yet usually is filled with very superficial characters and thin or simply ridiculous stories. Kung-fu movies many times are an excuse-of-a-story to see great fighting. Don't get me wrong, I like them none-the-less or maybe even because of that, yet Ip Man had an unexpected depth to it.

The entire movie is worth watching simply for one jaw dropping, chill-down-the-spine scene: At one point the Japanese invite Chinese martial artists to fight against them in a "friendly" match. If the Chinese win, they get food. Needless to say that desperation brings some of Ip Man's friends to go, yet some of them never return. Ip Man then witnesses his close friend getting executed after losing a match. This infuriates him and he steps into the ring challenging 10 of the Japanese black-belt karate fighters, much to the surprise of the general who enjoys watching these matches. What follows is the essence of a good martial arts movie and yet again proof that we in the West have a lot to learn from Asia in the art of kicking-ass in a beautiful way.

I have seen the trailer for Ip Man 2 that I'm not really interested in as I believe it's simply trying to ride the popularity of the first one. And in case you find there is another movie also made recently called The Legend Is Born - Ip Man, this is not the same movie and is not worth watching...yes I made the mistake of confusing the two.

The second movie I wanted to mention is a South Korean horror movie called I saw the Devil. That movie goes under my skin.

It belongs in the same category for me as the French movie Martyrs. They both have stories that utilize the horror only as a side dish to a nightmarish plot that really got to me.
I saw the Devil is a great title for the movie as the story is about a husband who tries to track down a serial killer who is responsible for his wife's horrific murder. As he gets closer to the killer and begins a cat & mouse game with him he slowly realizes just how merciless, cold, ruthless, brutal and senseless this person is. Trying to understand such a mind is like staring into darkness. This movie is that darkness staring back at you.

One of the scenes that got to me was as we watch how the killer goes about getting one of his prey. Usually when there have been movies about serial killers you didn't see the details of them luring in their prey and then brutally killing them. Usually they cut away. Here you see him offering his victim a ride seemingly a nice guy. Then, as he turns into a side street he pulls out a metal bar for the poor woman to see and continues to beat her head in. I mention this scene not in order to spoil anything, because the movie is filled with these kind of scenarios and thus there is still plenty left unmentioned. One worse than the other. The story is really unpredictable and leaves you wondering how it could possibly get worse from there on; yet it does. I found myself at one point literally saying out loud "oh no!". I realized slowly what they were planning to set up and I wasn't sure if I wanted to continue watching it. But I did.

Sure, the story is over the top. Yet it was their intention to play with your emotions, get you to feel the most extreme horror and terror. And that they did so successfully that I simply cannot recommend this movie to anyone even though I consider it well done.

This one should only be watched by people that can handle a movie that goes to the core.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The End

Sit back, relax and enjoy the beautiful End of the World... in HD.

Saturday, January 15, 2011


Want to share some goodies as I've been positively surprised by some movies of late.

To begin with there is Stone - starring Robert De Niro & Edward Norton.
This is one of those subtle yet high impact movies if you like stories with subjects of morality and human interactions. This would be a anti-action flick if you so will. But in that case the quality of acting makes or brakes the film and in this case...well De Niro and Norton delivered.

The characters in the movie are all far from good people which makes it interesting in the situation they find themselves in: De Niro is a case worker at a prison who is about to retire when he meets one of his last cases, Stone played by Norton. Stone is a prisoner trying to have his sentence shortened and De Niro must write a qualification/recommendation based on what he thinks during their sessions. It becomes a triangle when Stone has his pretty and freaky wife (Milla Jovovich) meet De Niro to persuade him in his favor.

The movie touches on religion and has an interesting way to bring up themes of our times in form of radio talk that you hear throughout the movie in various scenes.

This movie reminded me in some ways a lot of another movie I saw a while back:

Under Suspicion (Morgan Freeman & Gene Hackman) is another low-key movie that lives entirely on the interaction between two great actors. Again the theme was an interesting area of morality and how we perceive and judge people. I really enjoyed this movie and feel that it was a rare touch upon a subject that is rather sensitive. The entire movie plays in an interrogation room where police detective (Freeman) is pressing a suspect (Hackman) to a series of rape/murders. As a little sexy bonus we have Monica Bellucci as the suspect's wife. Yam.

And saving the best for last, here is my Ten Star out of Ten recommendation:

The Man from Nowhere. Yet again heavy hitting South Korean movie that left me with sweaty palms and a dropped jaw. The discovery of Korean cinema has been such a treasury chest to me and again I was not disappointed.

Bin Won plays a mysterious pawn show owner who goes on a mission to save a little girl that gets kidnapped by a cruel gang. The movie takes the time to set up the pieces, introduce the characters and we see how the mysterious loner with a sad past befriends this tragic girl who lives in his neighborhood. His past and motivations slowly unravel as we get spun into a gang rivalry that ends with the little girl kidnapped and the police arresting the mysterious man for her mother's murder. The story keeps taking you to darker places and has you at the edge of the seat for the entire second part of the movie. The action is both ruthless and impressive at the same time and you can't complain about the lack of blood spilled. However it is well used and propels the story instead of becoming all about the action.

I will go even so far as to say that I liked this movie more than Old-Boy and Chaser, both also fantastic South Korean movies. The actor Bin Won also played in the recent movie Mother, which is another a must-watch, yet The Man from Nowhere is definitely the winner and he does an excellent job in portraying the tough guy with a soft spot.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

review - Sword of the Stranger

A great new anime movie, Sword of the Stranger came as a blessing.
I had noticed that for a while I hadn't seen any anime movies or series. Because they are not as popular or as well represented in the West it comes as a challenge to find those hidden gems that truly do keep coming.

Sword of the Stranger is both really well done in animation, atmosphere, choreographed action and storytelling. The story is subtle in a way as it doesn't wander into fantasy or fantastic dimensions as animation often leads people to (or perhaps they feel with animation there is a need to exploit the possibilities of over-the-top because the medium lets you get away with it more easily).
In ancient Japan we have a little boy being persecuted who meets a traveler. The boy witnesses his fighting skills and hires him to safeguard him and his dog on their journey. They become a cute trio and slowly begin to bond during their travels. On the other hand you have the group hunting the boy - a team of Chinese warriors led by an old monk.

The Chinese team is on a mission for their emperor to build a certain temple in Japan according to an old prophecy. When the time is right, the prophecy says, they must sacrifice a young boy in the built temple and this will give them the essence for eternal life - what the emperor is craving. For some reason this team believes this above-mentioned boy is the one and that they must find and sacrifice him before the time runs out.

Spoiler Alert for the next part -

This warrior team appears supernatural, however we find out that most things about them simply appear to be so from ancient Japan's standpoint - the Chinese for example have gunpowder and what looks like the first type of rifle. They also appear supernatural in their way to withstand pain, but again, we learn they use medicine that eliminates any sensation of pain for a limited time.
For some reason one of them (and this point I find highly...interesting) there is a "blond devil" with them. The most powerful warrior of them all is a European with blond hair and blue eyes, making him stand out from all others. Although in league with the Chinese, he has his own goal, to find a worthwhile foe to battle.

Needless to say, our trio is separated by the foreigners and our traveler must face the "blond devil" to save the boy.

Overall, a solid story utilizing the animation aspect to intensify atmosphere and making the action faster and more brutal then live-action movies can.

Once again Anime teaches us in the West a lesson leaving me humble as always.