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Carrie (1976) Review

I’m throwing this out there right now: I’m not a fan of Stephen King. It’s not like I didn’t try to read his stuff. I’ve read Misery, Bag of Bones, The Gunslinger, Hearts in Atlantis, Graveyard Shift and It. Never finished either of them. I’m not saying he’s a bad writer, far from it. It’s just that he tends to be really long winded. I’m sorry, I’m going to say it: The movies that are based on his stuff is better.

With that out of the way, I recently decided to watch one of his most popular movies based on the book that launched his career: Carrie. Now, I know that this is the book that King started writing, hated and then tossed away. Yes, King said himself he hates Carrie and that’s OK. As for the movie itself, I felt it was OK.

For those not in the know, Carrie is about troubled teenage girl Carrie White who is constantly being bullied at school. If that wasn’t bad enough her mom is one of super religious nut jobs who think everything is a sin. Oh, and she has unexplained psychic powers. One day a boy asks her out to the prom, but he’s on;y asking her because his friend asked him to, which leads to a lot of scheming.

We all know about the ending where Carrie burns down her school, killing everyone inside; but do we know the rest of the story? Well, the rest of the movie is basically Carrie getting ready for the prom, the girls scheming what they want to do to Carrie and Carrie’s mom being a psycho religious nut. Not much of a horror movie since the only scary bits are near the end. Most of it is pretty mundane to be frank.

That does not make this a bad movie by any chance. It’s more along the lines of a decent 70s movie. What brings this movie up is the excellent cast. Sissy Spacek (Carrie) does a great job of playing an awkward girl who is being held back (and abused) by her psycho mom and other girls. She makes Carrie out to be as shy and obviously mentally scarred.

In fact, the entire cast does a great job. Hell, John Travolta (yup, he’s in this) plays, well, John Travolta. What else is there to say? The role of a rebel douche (or douche in general) is perfect for him. Piper Laurie as Carrie’s mom is terrific in all the right ways. She took this role and had a ton of fun with it. It was a joy watching her and Spacek interact.

One thing this movie did do was make me want to read the book because there’s a lot more in that book that was taken out. Obviously, expect a review here once I’m finished with it.

In all, Carrie has a decent plot that doesn’t really have much scary happen until the end, but the great acting helps this movie a lot.

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Edge of Tomorrow (2014) Review

If you’ve been following me since this blog started you know my stance on movies based on books. For those who don’t, my stance is they’re fine if done properly. I’m also not expecting the movie to be 100% like the book because what works in a book does not work on the screen. What I do take offense to is making a story that is nothing like the source material.

That brings us to today’s topic: Edge of Tomorrow, based on the novel All You Need is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka. That actually should be loosely based on seeing as how much they messed up the book.

Have you ever seen that Nostalgia Critic episode where he reviewed the animated version of The King and I? Remember at the beginning he threw and then shot the book Mongkut: The King of Siam? Well, that’s pretty much what I (metaphorically) did after five minutes of the movie. Which means finding any similarities to the book are a moot point.

Anyway, the movie is about a near future earth where earth is slowly being destroyed by an alien race known as mimics. Leading the fight is Lt. Col. Bill Cage (Tom Cruise.) when I say leading, I mean doing join the ADF commercials in a safe place. The ADF decides to kidnap him, strip his rank down to private and force him to fight. He ends up dying on the battlefield, but he also is able to relive the previous two days over and over again. Now he must figure out how to stop the mimics and get out of the time loop.

Anyone who has read the read has just hanged themselves after reading that plot summery. Again, they stripped 99% of the book and made a movie. The movie itself is a mess. The first twenty minutes are pretty entertaining with Cage getting his ass handed to him and having Rita kill him a bunch of times to start over is hilarious. The problems start after that. The events here are boring. Yes, there’s action going on, but everything that happens comes off as generic action movie fluff. After the 80 minute mark you will stop caring.

Do you know what else you will stop caring about? Who the hell all these characters are. We do kinda get an introduction to the members of Cage’s squad, but they are so generic, lifeless, boring and devoid of any personality that they are nothing more than scenery.

Rita (Emily Blunt) is also boring. She comes across as another generic gung ho Valkyrie. Even when the movie tries to but some kind of characterization into her it’s hastily done and it becomes a mute point because cage “restarts” afterwards.

As for the acting, it’s a Cruise action movie. Were you expecting good acting? Just watch any of cruise’s action movies and you’ll get the basic gist.

Some people do find Edge of Tomorrow an interesting movie for what it is, but it’s a pretty generic action movie that will be forgotten in a few years.

And yes,I will say it: THE BOOK IS A MILLION TIMES BETTER!

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Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The lightning Thief Movie Review

If you remember my review of the first Percy Jackson and the Olympians book I mentioned how I got a strong Harry Potter vibe from it. After reading the second book this vibe got stronger to the point where I felt this series was a ripoff. Sure enough, after seeing plot summaries of the last three books, yes, this is a Harry Potter ripoff. And it was interesting, too.

Besides that I finally saw the Lightning Thief movie. I have to say this movie got the same treatment as the Cirque du Freak movie. Mind you, this movie was done by the same guy who did the first three Harry Potter movies, Chris Columbus. while the first three Harry potter movies weren’t all that great, at least they were somewhat interesting. This one fails on everything an adaptation should.

The biggest problem with this movie is that it feels like it was filmed and written by a person with ADHD. That means that this movie jumps from one scene to the next at high speeds with very little to no time for character development or plot. The book at least had some down time for the characters to develop and make us care about them. Here, there’s no time. They have to go the next Macguffin.

“What Macguffin?” you’re probably saying. Well, remember those pearls that allowed the characters to escape from Hades? Well, the entire movie is them getting three on their way to Hades via a map that Luke gave them. “Wait, Luke never gave Percy a map.” I know that, but the film makers didn’t. They completely threw the plot of the book out the window and made it a fetch quest.

A fetch quest that Chiron had nothing to do with. Oh, did I not mention that Percy is not given a quest but decides to go on his own to save his mom? Apparently the film makers wanted Percy to just say say “I’m saving my mom and there’s nothing anybody can do about it” instead of it being a quest.

Also, Ares is nowhere to be seen. Why Ares is absent is beyond me. The other -res character, Hades, looks and acts like the devil and his domain is the Christian hell. Anyone who knows anything about Greek myth know that HADES IS NOT EVIL! Also, his domain is never described as a pit of fire. This is the second time I know where Hades is evil (the first is Disney”s Hercules.)

Do you remember that scene where Percy and co. go to a casino and they plays video games for a while? Then they find out this is a trap, escape and find out a few days passed? It’s here, except they actually gamble and they’re kept there because they eat a mind altering lotus flower that makes the viewer think they’re tripping . Oh, and Poker Face plays during the scene. They also escape by stealing a car in the casino THAT HAS THE KEYS IN THEM!

Basically, everything that was subtle about the book is thrown out for “THINGS! EXPLOSIONS! ACTION! FUN!” Not to  mention a complete rewriting of the story and you get this movie. Avoid.

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Speak (2004) Movie Review

Remember how I said Speak reads like a Lifetime Channel movie? That’s because the move version was broadcast on Lifetime (and Showtime.) It seems like they’ll make a movie out of anything nowadays,huh?

Now, I’m not one to watch Lifetime. In fact, I avoid the channel like the plague. The only reason for me seeing this movie was because I read the book and was curious (isn’t that always the case?) For a movie that was made for Lifetime this was actually really good.

The actors did a fine job of portraying the characters exactly like the book. Steve Zahn as the art teacher Mr. Freeman is perfect. He got the character’s eccentric personality down perfectly. He is even hilarious at times. In fact he’s the best character out of everyone .

That does does mean that Zahn overshadows the others. Robert John Burke as Mr. neck (the racist “my family came here on the Mayflower” teacher) brings out the character’s overzealous patriotism nicely.

The movie itself brings the book’s story to life nicely even if a few things were left out for time. Good thing those scenes were Melinda hanging out at a hospital for no reason except to see what it’s like and shopping for a dress for the prom. Those scenes didn’t do much and having them out was a smart move. It’s also well paced for a made for TV movie. In fact, this is one of the better made for TV movies.

And now for the movie’s black sheep. Notice how I did not mention Melinda at all above? That’s because the role was played by… get ready for it…Kristen Stewart. Yes, this was a young, pre-Twilight Stewart but she still acted the same here. Wooden, emotionless acting. The same two facial features: stoned out of her mind and bored out of her mind. Not to  mention she does her usual noises here as she did in Twilight. In a movie filled with good acting we get this actress who can’t emote one bit.

Despite Stewart’s usual awful acting, speak is still a solid film. It has good acting, a solid story, pacing and will keep you interested.

 

 

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Let’s Talk About Shlock

Low budget, poorly acted, poorly written, bad direction. These are just some of the things that describe horrible movies, TV shows, books you name. Of course, there are those that have these qualities and people love them.

This is called so bad it’s good or shlock.

There is plenty of shlock around. TVtropes.org has an entire section on this. There’s more crap in there than a barn.

Of course, there are two types of shlock. There’s good shlock and there’s bad shlock.

Good shlock falls into that so bad, it’s good category. Some of the more popular forms of good shlock are Army of Darkness and Plan 9 from Outer Space. Books and video games even have shlock. Goosebumps come quickly to mind.

Don’t leave yet. Hear me out.

Yes, Goosebumps is intended for twelve year olds, but it has all the trappings of good shlock. Hell, a lot of the books are based off of those shlocky horror movies. Just look at some of the titles: Night of the Living Dummy, The Werewolf of Fever Swamp, The Blob that Ate Everyone. They take these monster movies and just make them “age appropriate” (as in make the main characters twelve year olds.) They’re also not well written and are pretty the same story told over again.

In video games there’s The House of the Dead games, those beat-em-ups from the early nineties and, dare I say, any survival horror games.

These are all low quality stuff, so why do we love them so? Simple: they have something in them that make us laugh so hard we almost cry. Not to mention they’re just dumb fun. Oh, and then there’s that whole escaping reality thing.

“But wait a minute,” you’re saying. “Isn’t every medium an escape from reality?” Yes, but shlock takes that to an extreme. You see, “good” movies, books and video games have some foothold on reality that you can say that might happen, Good shlock just takes everything you know about the world and wipe its ass with it. It takes them to such an extreme that you say “that’s just so ridiculous it’s practically funny.”

Of course, there’s bad shlock. It’s those that are so bad, it’s bad. They have all the trappings of shlock but they are such colossal failures at it. The one that quickly comes to mind is anything by Uwe Boll. This guy doesn’t understand why people like shlock. His movies are devoid of any fun, comedy are anything else that makes good shlock. In fact, this guy thinks he’s an awesome director and anyone who thinks otherwise had to fight him in a boxing match. Yes, this is real.

In fact, bad shlock is just bad writing altogether. Just look at A Vampire Christmas Carol (yes, THAT exists) or any book that takes a Victorian Era novel and adds monsters to them. These writers try to put a weird spin on these classics by adding monsters, but they come across more like bad fanfiction than anything else.

In conclusion, enjoy your shlock because it feels good. Just make sure it’s the good shlock kind. The stuff that you used to see on Mystery Science Theater 3000 are the stuff that deserves a night with your friends, some popcorn and bad pizza (Dominoes, Papa Johns) and just have one hell of a good time.

 

 

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The Giver Movie Trailer Rant

So the world finally gets a movie trailer for The Giver and my reaction to it is:

WHAT!

THE!

FUCK!

Seriously, this movie looks like it’ll be a spectacular failure. What in this trailer  makes me think that?

  1. It’s in color. I understand that keeping it in color was a design choice to appeal to the masses, but the whole point of everyone seeing in black and white was for the sameness motif.
  2. The injections. In the book the  emotion killing drugs were pills. Why did the film makers decide of injections? Was it to make the idea “edgy”? Wouldn’t be easier and cheaper to just buy a bunch of candies and call them pills?
  3. Rosemary. In the book we only see Rosemary once. In the movie it looks like we’ll see her multiple times. Oh, and she’s the Giver’s daughter. Doing that is unnecessary.
  4. What are they wearing? If everyone is supposed to be the same, why is everyone wearing unique clothes? In the book everyone wears the same grey tunic. That makes more sense than to have everyone wear different clothes.
  5. The all knowing elder. I thought the Giver was the only person who knows what’s going on. Why does the elder know about mind control and sameness WHEN SHE NEVER HAD THOSE MEMORIES?
  6. Hunger Games Syndrome. This movie looks way too much like The Hunger Games. Just because it’s the big thing now doesn’t mean you have to copy it. The Giver could be a success if it looks like its own thing. Why copy someone else? Oh, right. Money.
  7. Aliens? What’s with that alien looking spacecraft? I understand it’s supposed to be the future, but the book didn’t have those. They were F16s. Wouldn’t be easier and cheaper to have F16s instead of CGI spacecraft?
  8. Who’s Jonas? The  trailer makes it look like Jonas is a secondary character. Why would they do that when he the MAIN CHARACTER AND IN THE BOOK WE SEE IT FROM HIS POINT OF VIEW?

Of course, this movie can be good and trailers have lied in the past. I will see this movie and post a review one it’s released. If it’s good, expect a written review. If it sucks expect a rant video.

 

 

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Earthsea (2004) Review

This movie sucks. This term gets thrown around a lot nowadays to the point where it’s an understatement. SciFi Channel’s (now SyFy) Earthsea is an abomination unto good cinema and good fantasy books everywhere. Everything that can go with a fantasy adaptation goes wrong here.

 Sometime in 2004 SyFy announced they would be making a TV mini series based on Ursula K. Leguin’s first two Earthsea books A Wizard of Earthsea and The Tombs of Atuan. Earthsea fans, myself included, rejoiced at this. As can be expected excitement built while more news came out.

 Then we got our first screenshots. The movie looked like any generic fantasy movie that SyFy makes and, what fans consider an insult to the source material, everyone but one character was white.

 Let’s step back a few paces a talk about what these books are about. A Wizard of Earthsea is about Ged, a boy from the island of Gont goes to the Wizarding School in Roke to study magic. As an FYI, this book came out in 1968. Harry Potter came out in1998. One day Ged accidentally summons a shadow and his magic becomes less powerful. He then goes after the shadow in order make things right.

 In The Tombs of Atuan Arha becomes “the eaten one,” a sort of high priestess on the island of Atuan. Her life is basically routine until Ged enters the fray. He’s there looking for the Ring of Erreth-Akbe, a talisman that will bring peace to Earthsea.

 So, not very typical fantasy fare, huh? In fact, these books are some of the best written and original fantasy books ever (remember, these books CREATED a lot of clichés. There was nothing like them before.) How can SyFy mess this up?

 As mentioned above, make the entire cast white. Leguin even wrote an essay called A Whitewashed Earthsea on her website detailing this. As anyone who read the books would know Earthsea’s inhabitants have copper-red skin, brown skin or black. The only white people are the Kargs (Arha.)

 Second, create a villain. Yes, make a movie based on two books with no villain because there’s no need and create one.  A cliché evil king bent world domination at that. The only time anyone would know his name is if you look at the IMDB page because he has that much of an impact on the story.

 On top of that, switch Ged’s true name and common name. HOW THE HELL DID THEY MESS THAT UP? Also, the Atuan priestesses WORSHIP those shadows behind the door, not protect the world from them. Oh right, they needed clear good guys and bad guys.

 They also call it the AMULET of Erreth-Akbe instead of ring. Why the change? There is no reason to change something like that.

 Also, Roke getting sacked would never happen in the books. The winds around the island would never allow it.

 If those major changes weren’t bad enough the movie is filled with typical SyFy original movie staples. There’s terrible acting, terrible editing (in one scene on Gont we see Ged’s dad talking to Ged and it’s mid-afternoon. The camera cuts and we see the evil king’s goons marching and it’s nighttime. It cuts back to Ged’s dad and it’s mid-afternoon again,) goofy, poorly choreographed fights and some very basic fantasy sets.

 So, if you want to get into Earthsea, go ahead read the books. Just remember the first three (Wizard of Earthsea, Tombs of Atuan and The Farthest Shore) are excellent while the second two (Tehanu and The Other Wind) and short story collection (Tales from Earthsea) are hit or miss depending of the individual. This movie should be thrown into the deepest, darkest pits of hell. If you want a decent Earthsea movie, watch Studio Ghibli’s Tales from Earthsea. It may not be up to par with other Ghibli films but at least it’s miles better than the crap SyFy made.

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