Fright Night Review

Fright Night was probably the biggest surprise of the year so far. I was not expecting much at all from this film, I honestly went and saw it because of pure boredom and no idea of what else to do. Maybe the reason I had liked the film as much as I did because it was such a surprise, but that can never be proven and where it stands right now, I had one hell of a time at the movies when I saw Fright Night.

Let me preface the rest of this review by saying that no I have not seen the original Fright Night. I’ve heard mixed reviews based around the idea that this new one is actually better or ten times worse so I guess I’ll just have to see for myself one day. This film is about a high school student with a good mom, an attractive girlfriend and rising popularity. This new found happiness and his life are put in danger when a vampire moves next door.

Corny right? I know. Who cares? That’s what I say. Fright Night was a blast from start to finish. Fright Night is not some brilliant modern horror film, it wasn’t even that great of a movie. I will however gladly own this movie when it comes out and watch it over and over again. It’s nice to just sit back, relax and have fun once in a while. In Fright Night, you get a great blend of comedy, horror and action making it a whole lot of fun.

Where this movie about a vampire who lives next door has its fair share of camp, it actually does have its fair share of surprisingly intense scenes. Anton Yelchin played his part, David Tennant was extremely enjoyable every moment he was on screen, but the biggest positive here was Colin Farrell as the awesome vampire, Jerry. I’ve really grown to like him since In Bruges and he’s fantastic in this. You can really tell he’s just having a blast.

It really could nitpick all day, but I won’t because I had a great time. The biggest negative here would probably be in the part that Christopher Mintz-Plasse played. I just wasn’t entertained by his character, the way it was played and the scenes he was in. Hey, who cares? At the end of the day, Fright was a great time at the theater.

Grade: B+

Attack the Block Review

There are so many movies that come out just on a yearly basis and there’s always at least a handful that for the most part gets everything right for different reasons. A film could make you laugh out loud, it could bring a shiver down the spine because you fear for the lives of these characters, it could truly make you feel for its characters whether its happiness in the good times or sadness in the bad times, it could establish a clear and enveloping theme, and it could even have an original story that keeps you guessing as to what’s going to happen next. With a show of pure brilliance, Attack the Block manages to do all these things and much more.

Attack the Block is the perfect example of why you can’t judge a movie by a synopsis. It’s essentially a tale about tough inner city kids who battle aliens in their apartment complex with the help of the woman they just robbed and yes where that may sound like a fun film to some or even most, it clearly does not establish the fact that this is a truly amazing movie.

As the film begins, we’re almost immediately introduced to our protagonists, Moses and his friends, as they rob their soon to be friend, Sam. Each of these characters are in no way caricatures (which could have easily happened in the story being told), instead you get very distinct characters with real flaws and real emotions. When they’re down, you feel down and when their happy, you’re pumped and ready to watch some aliens die.

In this film, not only do you find a very well written exciting story and well written characters, but you’ll find that this excellent plot is being executed seamlessly making for the most fun I’ve had at the theater in a long time. With a great score and even greater editing you’ll get an action sequence that beats anything Michael Bay’s ever done or you’ll pause for a moment to laugh at a joke that was just cracked, then you’ll move into a very serious moment of drama that’s not at all forced and it all works perfectly.

Behind everything in this film, behind all the insanity, behind the coolest aliens I’ve ever seen, behind all of the laughs, behind the powerful deaths, behind the crazy alien violence, behind the weed, behind everything you’ll find a very touching and compelling tale about integrity and honor among friends and most of all, the people you love and how that’s worth more than anything in this universe. For this reason, the reasons I named above, among many others, I can truly bring myself to say that Attack the Block is simply awesome.

Grade: A

30 Minutes or Less Review

It’s truly hard to put my finger on exactly how I felt about 30 Minutes or Less. I found my self enjoying a handful of scenes during this movie which was surprising because it clearly is not a very good movie. The execution during parts were certainly on, but during others it just seemed like they were striving to have a coherent story when in fact it was just falling a part. 30 Minutes or Less was just a very odd, dark and a subpar comedy with some fun action thrown in the mix.

First off, knowing that this is actually based on a true and very disturbing story just makes you uncomfortable to be watching the situation being made light of. Looking passed that though, the fun of this film came from the pair Aziz Ansari and Jesse Eisenberg. The delivery was there with both of them and they were very funny.

There’s this belief in regards to performance sometimes that essentially states ones voice is the same as portraying a character. Though Jack Torrance (The Shining) and R.P. McMurphy (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest) have the same unique voice, they are two completely different characters played to perfection by Jack Nicholson. No, Jesse Eisenberg’s performances aren’t to the caliber of Jack Nicholson, but he does however do a great job here portraying a different character from his other roles.

The pair in this film are not so enjoyable (Danny McBride and Nick Swardson). I for one do not find Nick Swardson very funny at all regardless of the role he’s playing. I’m open for surprise, but with his character here, I got what was expected; a bad comedic performance. The same could really be said about Danny McBride, I get what he’s going for, but its simply not that funny. Whereas his comedy might work in some aspects in a great comedy like Pineapple Express, it really doesn’t work in a subpar comedy like this.

At the end of the day, if you go see 30 Minutes or Less you might laugh occasionally, you might be entertained at other points (the actual robbery, the car chases, some of the story driven scenes between Jesse and Aziz), but at some point, most likely, the obvious fact will be realized; you’d rather be watching something better.

Grade: C

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II Review

In this review of the second and last part of the finale of the series, Harry Potter, I’d like to express my views on the not only this part, but the first part and the series of films in general. I’d first like to take this opportunity to say that I have never read the books. This puts me in the rare position to actually judge these films with out a bias love for these generational books. This is all to say that I for one do not find the Harry Potter films very good.

Its been told to me on many occasions that I can’t judge these films with out reading the books as if to say that I need to read the books to find the good filmmaking in the films. Its a comment like that, that only furthers my arguments against these films. It doesn’t matter what the film is based off, any film should be judged based on how well it was made, the ideas it trys to establish, how it entertains you, etc. If a film has to rely on a separate art form to prevail than it shouldn’t have been made in the first place.

This is not to say that I absolutely hate the Harry Potter films because I don’t. They are just not very good movies. Some of the story lines are compelling, others aren’t and others could’ve been but were executed horribly. Some characters are very interesting while others are annoying. Oh and some of the performances are phenomenal (particularly the adult cast; especially Ralph Fiennes), while others certainly are not (particularly the main characters).

Either way let’s get into Deathly Hallows. In part one of this final film you could find everything that makes for a bad Harry Potter film; the unbelievable melodrama, the failed attempts at humor due to writing and awful delivery, but most of all the exploration of characters that just aren’t interesting. Rarely was I ever enjoying what was occurring in Part I and I understood why it was being told, but for the most part I just wasn’t entertained with what was being told. And there was no art in the film to outweigh that fact.

Where as Part I might just be the worst Harry Potter film I’ve seen, Part II of Deathly Hallows was the best Harry Potter film I’ve seen. It was in no way an amazing movie, I could sit here all day and express my problems with this series and even this specific film, but I will say that I was never more entertained by Harry Potter film than when I watched Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II.

The greatest pro of this series is in its awesome villain and to finally see his rise and expected fall was very compelling especially when he’s played by one of the greatest actors working today (Ralph Fiennes). I’ve also been a big fan of Snape and Alan Rickman’s portrayal. He has a much larger part in this one and it worked well. There are other positive remarks I could talk about and there were definitely negatives I could go into and even some story aspects that I hated (mainly that our hero whom I’m supposed to be rooting for wins on a technicality), but I will say that no I do not like the Harry Potter movies, but this last one was kind of cool.

Grade: B- (Part II)

Part I Grade: D

Deathly Hallows Grade: C

Tucker and Dale vs. Evil Review

It is a very difficult combination to combine both genres horror and comedy. This idea is nothing new though its been attempted many times and sometimes it works, while other times it doesn’t. Tucker and Dale vs. Evil is a very clear example of an attempt to combine both comedy and horror and fortunately, this is an example of this combination actually working very well.

In the film Tucker and Dale vs. Evil you’ll find every cliche imaginable, you know exactly what’s to be expected from this horror film because we’ve all seen it a million times. Then the film punches you in the face   (in the best possible way) because this is actually nothing like we’ve ever seen before. The supposed villains are dim witted and completely lovable, the attractive blond is actually intelligent, resourceful and not bent on having sex with every guy she sees, the supposed heroic male character is actually a villainous basterd oh and of course everyone is dying in horrific ways, but for all the wrong reasons (or maybe they are the right reasons). Any of this making sense? Good. Just watch it.

Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine are great as the title characters. Their very lovable as I already stated, but due to certain hilarious circumstances they’re not given the chance to show their true colors. Tucker and Dale vs. Evil is a fantastic comedy of errors that I could see never growing old. I don’t want to go deep into this plot at risk of giving away a lot of fun to be had (don’t watch the trailer below if you haven’t seen the movie) suffice it to say teenagers take a trip in the middle of the woods all hell breaks loose, sound familiar? It isn’t.

I know with all this praise it looks like Tucker and Dale vs. Evil is some kind of perfect film and its not. There is some pretty awful acting that I believe is placed purposefully, but it gets a little draining. Of course I can be nit-picky for a film like this, but I don’t want to. Fact of the matter is, this is a great film for exactly the movie its trying to be. And for some, it might not be your thing, but if it is, watch it and you’ll have a blast. In all honesty its hard not to.

Grade: B+

Cowboys & Aliens Review

Before the film Cowboys & Aliens even came out I noticed that many people I talked to or read online were appalled by the very idea of the film. I never got, Cowboys & Aliens had a fantastic idea. If aliens are so advanced and its plausible that they can invade our time, how is it not plausible that they can invade the old west? The idea was fantastic, but when it came to the actual film, for the most part, that’s all that was there, a great idea.

I don’t want to be too harsh on the film because I did find enjoyment in a majority of this film, but it essentially seemed that Jon Favreau just thought wouldn’t it be cool if cowboys and aliens were in a movie together, and then just ran with it. There was not much of an attempt to throw a compelling plot at all. It felt like the filmmakers didn’t care how good their plot was because, hell, they were making a movie in which cowboys and aliens were fighting.

Where many masterful pieces of originality attempt to delve deeper into the tale at hand, Cowboys & Aliens stayed above water. Of course there’s a lot of fun to be had, I mean its COWBOYS and ALIENS, but I just found myself a bit angered because the potential for a pretty great film was squandered to make your average summer blockbuster film. Fortunately I did end up getting my fill of amazing this year, in regards to an alien movie, in the film Attack the Block, but that’s to be discussed at another time.

There were some pros to be had here. Harrison Ford was fun as the sometimes brutal owner of the town. And ever since Layer Cake I’ve been a huge advocate of Daniel Craig. He does just as well here. I can’t however wait for him to act in some type of dramatic piece, because every ounce of me knows he can do it, and he can do it very well. Can anyone say, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

Either way, Cowboys & Alienshad some pretty awesome action sequences and some very cool aliens that certainly deviated themselves from other film aliens while still being completely menacing. Though while being entertained by Cowboys & Aliens, its not hard to realize the obvious truth. Cowboys & Aliens took a pretty great and original idea and managed to make it a very generic film.

Grade: B-