Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer

fantastic_four_rise.jpgrating-3.0Shaving Fantastic Four by 15 minutes, this sequel continues the storyline and adequately keeps up but cuts to the bare bone in the way of story.

While the first Fantastic Four film was a much-maligned but generally charming and fun family superhero film, heavier on character interaction that high-minded stories or action, Silver Surfer is an attempt to carry on the tale devoid of the setup. Sadly, without the setup of the first film, the plot of this movie runs somewhat shallow, a hollow echo of its predecessor.

All the actors keep their parts up well and build on their strengths from the first film, though it can't exactly add a better pace to the far too quick movie.

The movie is not actually bad, it just feels rushed, its full and heady pace rushing toward its conclusion instead of taking the necessary time to pace out and ease the viewer through the movie to its full enjoyment.

The Surfer himself is handled well, though Lawrence Fishburne's voice was an unnecessary addition and doesn't do much to help the movie.
As a comic adaptation, some fans will feel it's muddled and complain endlessly about it, though I don't mind most of the changes. Thinking on the black amorphousness of Galactus' portrayal, though, actually made me wish they had made a purple giant to be bargained with, reasoned with, or tricked by the FF and his wayward herald. Instead, the Surfer's motives and entanglements are so much more nebulous, much as is his master.

Enjoyable, but far from perfect, this movie would have been better served with a greater focus on making Galactus an interesting foe, the Surfer's battle more real and palpable, and generally improving the story and pacing of the whole affair, not to mention making Doom's reappearance feel like more than just an excuse to add another villain to the mix.

It leaves the Silver Surfer open for a solo film and the FF ready for another adventure, so it may be interesting to see where the story leads. I can only hope that the next film is stronger than this one.

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Club Dread

club_dread.jpgrating-4.0Club Dread is substantially underrated, but, at the same time, somewhat deserving of its lackluster ratings.

From the people that brought you Super Troopers comes a film that is ostensibly a comic take on the typical slasher film, featuring a killer loose on the remote Costa Rican island resort of a Jimmy Buffet-like figure played well by Bill Paxton.

The various sultry co-ed employees on the island begin dropping dead in mildly humorous ways and a panic ensues as the staff tries to cover up the killings, lest they be next.

The particulars of the film aren't necessarily important, because if you explain a comedy, it's no longer funny and then it's not worth watching. The important thing to note is that the theatrical cut, running at 104 minutes, is a full 15 minutes shorter than the unrated DVD edition. Jay Chandrasekhar fully stands by the theatrical cut as the intended and funnier cut, but he is so vastly wrong that it isn't even funny.

While I appreciated the film in theaters, I didn't find it nearly as funny as Super Troopers in any way and I was somewhat disappointed for some time after seeing it. Until I finally bought the unrated DVD, I found the movie to be enjoyable, amusing, and having many good lines, but vastly beneath Broken Lizard's potential.

It's very strange, but that 15 minutes of extra footage made all the difference in the world and catapulted the slight and somewhat malnourished movie up into the realm of their previous movie and even their far-superior follow-up, Beerfest. It's a night and day difference and I defy anyone that says the movie is not vastly improved with its extended opening and longer scene throughout. Comedy is, as they say, in the editing, and these missing chunks were felt even before I knew they were gone.

The plot of the film is, of course, enjoyably silly and features no real scares, but quite a few bloody laughs. The acting is excellent and, aside from the pitch-perfect comedy of the Broken Lizard troupe, features highlights from Bill Paxton, at his best, Jordan Ladd, and Brittany Daniel. Where comedy is concerned it ranks high, despite its flaws, and is well-deserving of more notice.

Now, if only we could get them to make movies faster.

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Trail Of The Screaming Forehead

screaming_forehead.jpgrating-4.0Larry Blamire is the comedic genius behind Trail Of The Screaming Forehead, as well as previous sci-fi kitch comedy The Lost Skeleton Of Cadavra. Always providing quality comedy, Blamire has rocketed the tone and style of Cadavra from the black & white 50's to the color sci-fi films of the 60's.

Trail picks up the Cadavra ball where it was left and runs with it, taking the Pod People-like tale of alien foreheads from space and giving it the Blamire comedic flare.

Realistically, it's not quite as funny as Cadavra, losing the raw hilarity and retarded dialogue behind in favor of a stronger film, a fact that's not necessarily a bad thing but somewhat disappointing. This is not the film I'll be watching for the rest of my life, dying every time some inept line is delivered perfectly. Instead, the movie is clever and well-paced, making for a better, more stable viewing experience. While Cadavra had spots that the movie nearly ground to a halt, Trail keeps the pace moving nicely and feels light due to its sparseness.

Of course, the real joy of the film is in the acting. As usual, all the principals are excellent, Blamire himself moving to the background of the cast and putting the excellent Andrew Parks into the spotlight with the beautiful and hilarious Fay Masterson. But, of course, just as with Cadavra, the show is entirely stolen by Brian Howe and his character, Dutch "The Swede" Annacrombie. Howe is a master of turning every line and look into instant comedy and that's why he fits so well into Blamire's casts. Blamire's wife, Jennifer Blaire, yet again gets attention in this film, with many more lines than Animala, looking gorgeous and perfectly period as the mouthy Droxy Chappelle, foil to Blamire's seedy Nick Vassidine, a couple whose side-plot provides excellent breaks from the other characters.

Will Forehead end up being the cult favorite that Cadavra is? Probably not. It just doesn't pack the same punch of gut laughs. But it is good and provides some of the retro hilarity that Cadavra mined so well. You will be thrilled and amused by the pitch-perfect comedic performances, cute plot turns, and killer lines. It won't have you keeled over for the entire film, but you will enjoy the ride.

Thank you, Mr. Blamire.

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deathwatch.jpgrating-1.5What makes someone think they can craft a Jacob's Ladder-esque horror film out of World War I? Very little of great interest happened in World War I except for people dying in trenches at a fairly regular basis, often of gangrene. I know, I'm sure that thrills you to the bone with desire for foggy WWI horror films, but some might see this as a big shrug.

So, what we have here is a fairly inept British independant horror film about a gang of unready or unstable British soldiers roaming the wasteland and trying to keep hold on some lost foxhole behind enemy lines, where they are picked off one by one in the few interesting bits of invention in the movie, usually involving barbed wire and strange muddy figures. Mainly the men go mad and try to kill each other, ramping up their brutality until virtually no one is left and they fight to save their souls.

There's a few bits of decent acting in the film, but mainly I'm left to wonder how a 94-minute movie can be so goddamned long and dull.  What probably should have seemed farily tight and fast-paced was, instead, an arduous trek through a grim ditch where there's nothing but Billy Elliot star Jamie Bell's whining to keep us amused.

The movie was not an absolutely terrible failure, but the payoff was so slim, the length so long to get to it, and the plot so unimpressive that it seems like a complete disaster.

There's a minor amount of style to the preceedings, but the whole thing just makes me feel like I've been left in a trench to die.

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grindhouse.jpgrating-1.5This review has been a long time coming, stewing in my head... Without a shred of regret, I can tell you that this movie is an utter clusterfuck of incomptent execution and sub-literate idiocy.

I went in with the lowest of expectations and I was still surprised. Rodriguez's Planet Terror was where I believed the worst moments of the film would derive from, but I was wrong.

All in all, Planet Terror was as stupid as it looked. The very idea of a machine gun-legged woman killing everything in her path was... well, fucking retarded beyond imagining. The sad fact is, though, that it wasn't all that bad, at least in comparison to Death Proof. Sure, Rodriguez's writing was as terrible as ever, the acting he gets out of his actors was stiff and unimpressive, his casting was not always great, the subject matter was silly, but at least he managed some decent grain to the film and attempted to make it fun. Attempted. Really, though, it was just fucking stupidity heaped upon stupidity until the idea of a woman with an M-16 for a leg seemed completely reasonable. I can assure you that the very viewing of the movie made me dumber, a fact that I'm rather ashamed of, as I participated willingly, mainly so I could write this review.

The zombie opener was certainly pulpy, though I don't think any part of it mimiced the grindhouse quality of 70's films, unless anything with blood and tits can be considered "grindhouse". Instead, you have an intensely glossy multi-million dollar movie that's made to look somewhat shitty and inept instead of the directors just trying to make grindhouse films on restrained budgets.

Despite the constant head-shaking and "are you fucking kidding me?" that the film elicited, it was not the worst of it and, weeks later, didn't seem as bad as it probably was. The neverending string of zombie shoot-outs and somewhat abused character actors leads to nothing more than an escape and an end from the interminable mess.

The greatest crime of the film was Tarantino's Death Proof, terrible and entirely fucked in every way. Quintin Tarantino doesn't even seem to get the very movies that his ever-increasingly-more-mediocre films masterbatorally pay homage to. He attempts to mimic the style of films like Duel, but his pathetic aping is nothing more than vulgar and stupid regugitation of his own work, his fame and cadre of dick-sucking sycophants obviously giving him the idea that he can actually make whatever bullshit pops into his head while he's on the toilet and it will be genius.

This film rolls out the fucktarded plot with a group of loudmouthed women delivering awful, cookie-cutter Tarantino dialogue, like an unrefined Reservoir Dogs without the style, bringing them to a bar to drink like fiends and party for the first 30 minutes of the movie, until they meet our supposed villain, Stuntman Mike, who talks to the girls, kills one, and, in the only scene of real merit, runs head-on into their car, killing all of the girls.

Then the movie starts over again with a different set of girls and another 30 minutes of pointless Tarantino conversations. It's like a Groundhog Day nightmare from hell. We sit through another set of strongly feminine heroines trying to show us how women can be multi-dimensional in the most ham-fisted way before finally returning to the "plot". Stuntman Mike returns again to threaten three of the women, who give him a good run for his money.

A viewer may notice at this point that the two plots are in no way really connected, the first seeming to exist only to mirror the second and reveal to us how horrible a person Stuntman Mike then is. That this couldn't be done without 30 minutes of stupid bitches delivering tiresome and idiotic dialogue is a testament to how bad all of Tarantino's ideas in fact are.

The unimpressive plot finally comes to its cartoonish and idiotic conclusion, giving me much cause to wish death upon Tarantino and his entire family.

Really, the only parts that echo the 70's feel of grindhouse exploitation films were the opening credits of each of the two movies. Everything after was a waste of time and money and the filmmakers would have been better off filming it on a grindhouse budget, perhaps three or four million dollars.

In the end, the two movies were made by stupid people for stupid people and represent the lowness that cinema can sink to when we give too much creative freedom to self-styled auteurs who know nothing about what makes a film good.

The upside: the fake grindhouse trailers were all rather inventive and amusing and Eli Roth's Thanksgiving showed us exactly how to mimic and pay homage properly to the low-budget gems of the 70's. Perhaps if the filmmakers had learned some lessons from Roth, the movie would have been entertaining.

Instead, the two hours and 45 minutes around the trailers is a waste.

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