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Silent Hill (2006)
For better or worse, the first literal video game to film adaption thats out there...
Like I said, this film, with all its faults, is the first literal film adaption of a video game. Let me explain. The movie has been accused of many things; being overly-long, having bad acting, having abysmal dialog, being too confusing. That's just to name a few. Fans of the games will certainly recognize certain parts of these qualities in the film. Being a strong fan and supporter of the franchise (even the bastard child that is Silent Hill 4), I didn't realize at first what the filmmakers had done with this film. They have essentially created a Silent Hill video game thats plays out on the screen. All the great things about the games are there; the interesting if not somewhat inexplicable story line, the depth and history and metaphor to the design of nearly every element to the story and characters and creatures, the creepy and original atmosphere of all the different dimensions that embody the town, and etc.
Something that fans of the series, but naysayers of the movie, have failed to point out is that all the faults of the film are elements of the game. Some point out that the characters don't seem to react realistically to the goings-on that occur in the film. This is true of the games as well (ex. Silent Hill 3's Heather and her encounter with the terrifying boss monster Leonard, she seems completely unphased by the sheer horrific scene that she's in), while sometimes the people in the games do react with strong emotions to certain things, a lot of the time they fail to find the horror in their situations. Some say they don't get the story. Again, most people have to jump on to gamefaqs.net to read the countless plot analysis that exist for the series of games to fully grasp what's happening in the undercurrent of the story. That is part of the Silent Hill charm; it provides something that fans can analyze and dissect and try to explain, even when the game may be designed to be unexplainable in some instances.
I assure you, those familiar with the games, watch the film again keeping all the elements (both good and bad) of the games in mind and you will find that for better or worse, it is a true adaption. For the rest of you, I think you're probably $hit out of luck. Overall, I give it an 8/10.
A Great Action Film
Back in a time when the term "popcorn movies" actually meant something, Predator stands out especially today, mostly due to its high quality writting and top notch action. This movie never gets boring, as we watch the characters interact with each other, it brings to mind the feeling I got when watching the Marines from Aliens; a great feeling of comradary and gruff friendship. The special effects, while dated, in my humble opinion look better then the snazzy "futuristic" effects we are seeing today. The Govenator is perfect for the lead role in this film, he commands a certain respect both from the characters and audience alike.
The title character of the film is still cool and frightening by todays standards. The filmakers knew how to use the Predator makeup, they shadow it in as much darkness as possible, cover it in mudd and grime, which hides what could have been very obvious makeup "guy in a suit" effects. The guy who plays Predator did everything he could to add some life to the creature, to make people think he could stand up against Arnold in the end. Its really alot of fun to watch the Predator hunt these hapless soldiers, when just a while ago they were kicking ass everywhere they went.
As we watch the downfall of summer "popcorn" movies, its good to know we can still go back and watch something great like this film.
Dazed and Confused
First off, I'd like to set up my critique of the film. I had never heard of this film prior to seeing it, it had be recommended to me by a friend once with him simply stating "its hilarious". So I wasn't quite sure what kind of hilarious experience I was in for. Usually when I see movies, I read up at least a little on the making of it, or someone involved. I knew that Depp and Del Toro were in, and I knew that Terry Gilliam directed it (I had seen Holy Grail and 12 Monkeys before this, so I really really didn't know what to expect at this point, those were two very different films). I also had never heard of the author of the book or any of the hype or popularity surrounding the movie when it was released (if any).
OK so thats what I went into the movie with, coming out of it I was...well...dazed. I really did not know what to think about it, it definitely wasn't the drop dead, laugh out loud, funny experience I was expecting it to be, although I did laugh at a lot of the stuff in the film, it was a different kind of humor than I had ever witnessed on film. I definitely dug the psychedelic style of the picture, the drugged out effects were definitely cool, creepy, and funny to witness (I have never done drugs, so this was new to me). The acting by both leads was simply amazing, you can tell they really got into their roles and were having a blast playing these drugged out losers. The dialog was a little hard to follow so I turned on the subtitles to help me out. The cameo appearances were fun to see. All in all, I have to say that I don't know what to think about this movie, I enjoyed it quite a bit and I think with repeated viewings I might enjoy it that much more.
The Butterfly Effect (2004)
Better than what everyone expected...
I for one was very surprised by this film. Lots of things could've gone wrong with this film in my opinion. For one, I don't care for Ashton Kutcher, I think he's a smartass and his show is not very funny (better than Jackass though). The only other think the writer/directors have worked on is Final Destination 2, while that was a very entertaining picture, its very different than what this was set up to be. I was also worried that the film might be so heavily chopped by the studio and the MPAA that we wouldn't get to see it in all its glory. I was wrong on all accounts.
The acting was top notch from everyone involved, the child actors were amazing and I've never seen acting that good from kids their age. Kutcher was a big surpise, I was pleased to see that he wasn't just the smartass guy on Punk'd but he actually could pull off a deep performance. I had never heard of Amy Smart but she was good in the film as well.
I can safely say now that New Line is perhaps the most ballsy studio out there. They take big risks with the majority of the movies they produce, and this one was yet another winner. This movie has alot of touchy and mature subject matter and its great to see a big mainstream studio take on this kind of project.
And nothing matches the greatness of the Directors Cut on the DVD. Go out and see this version of the film cause it is fantastic; although not much is added to the first and middle sections, the ending is worth it because it basically changes the entire tone of the movie you just saw. I've heard alot of people complain about lack of character development, I completely disagree with that, especially after viewing the Directors Cut.
Overall I gave this picture a 9/10, its entertaining, moving at times, well directed, written, and acted. Everything a movie should be...
Mystic River (2003)
A Very Bad Ending to A Very Good Movie
Let me start off by saying that I loved everything about this movie. I loved the directing by Clintywood, the music, the acting, everything. I was on the edge of my seat. However, like all good suspence/mystery movies, it has to have a twist. That's where some trouble can come in. I didn't buy the whole twist at the end, its building up to something much bigger and it kinda lets you down, but from the revealing of the twist it gets worse. The last 10 minutes or so are really bad. The whole scene with Sean Penn and his wife in their dead daughters room didn't seem right, its a very uncomfortable wrap up to all the emotion they've felt so far, with them making out on her bed like that, its just odd. I wish it would've just ended after the scene on the sidewalk, I think that could've saved alot of the issues I have with this film. But other than that its definatly a watcher, just rent it and see for yourself what you think...
Page by Page Adaption this is not...Great Fantasy Film it is...
First off I should start by saying that if you are a die-hard anal-retentive fan of the books and you are expecting a page by page adaption sequentially than listen to an audio book because this is not what you are looking for. One thing I really enjoyed about this film in comparison to the other two is its new look and cinematography, it really captures the darkness of Rowlings book and I cannot wait to see what they will continue with in the future (the books only get darker). Cuaron is most definitely a stronger visual director and perhaps even a stronger transporter of the literary medium to film than Columbus was. He shows the wizarding world in a much more fun and colorful way than Columbus ever did and I sincerely hope that Cuaron stays on board for the upcoming films. He is excellent at showing lots of neat stuff going on around Harry that simply brings the world to life a lot more. He also brings key scenes that might have not been touched on very much in the books to exciting life, the knight bus sequence for instance was really a hoot and a lot of fun to watch.
The acting is getting much better as the kids age. We can expect that as they mature, their acting will as well. It is a lot of fun to look at how the three have changed over the films and I hope they don't replace them for the last 4 films (Emma Watson is going to be hot when she's older...).
The creatures are getting a lot cooler. When I read the book when it first came out I was really exited about seeing the Dementors on screen and when I did I was well pleased...they are the coolest and scariest monsters in the series yet and I wanted more scenes from them (and in future movies they will come). Buckbeak the Hippogrif was also very well done (and a lot less annoying than Dobby), they did a good job of making him real and believable.
All in all this is my favorite Harry Potter film, it went by the quickest out of the three and I think it will be more accepted by those not too interested in the books as a great fantasy film...
Either REALLY good or REALLY bad...
I cannot decide whether this film is really good or just awful. It may be beyond my level of understanding and there may be some kind of underlying material that I'm missing here, but I simply cannot make up my mind. This is definitely not for mainstream moviewatchers, it has an extremely slow pace and even slower build up to the event of the shooting. On the surface, the characters (with the exception of John in my humble opinion) seem to be stereotyped out of a typical school movie, some serve as almost a type of comical relief (the three "popular" girl characters I found particularly amusing), some do not have very much depth (the "jock" character), and of coarse the shooters who also don't get very much depth either, nor are we given a hard reason for the shootings. It leaves the possibilities open, which counts this movie out of a "Bowling for Columbine" type of examination on school shooting. Van Sant's style choices sometimes got on even my nerves (I'm a fairly patient person) with his slow pans and very long drawn out shots of people walking down the hall, at times I found this to be somewhat suspenseful, but overall it really got irritating. Showing characters doing something that really isn't that important to the story should not count as "style" and there should not be an excuse out there that could give a reason for its use.
Evil Dead II (1987)
One of the Best!
A very fantistic horror experience! This movie is a true classic, its a pleasure to watch this "horror" film over and over with friends. Although the scary scenes in the first film are no where to be seen in this partial remake, they are happily replaced by comedy and an almost spoof like feeling. This movie is one big bloody cartoon. The character of Ash played by Bruce Campbell is no longer the squemish wimp of the first film, he is transformed into the one-liner spitting, chainsaw weilding action/horror icon of the next film; Army of Darkness. And the gore from the first film is still here, only this time in higher quanities and different colors. For those who have not seen the first film but have seen the more mainstream Army of Darkness, check this film out cause you are in for a treat.
The Evil Dead (1981)
A B-Movie Horror Gem
A first from a common favorite of mine, director Sam Raimi, and it shows. This movie is amateurish in many ways, the acting is subpar (but eventually leads to the rise of horror icon Bruce Campbell), and the story (now at least) is recycled. What stands out about this gem is the directing, this film is double-dipped in style and I would see it just to experience that aspect of it. This film also reeks of blood, the gore, even by todays standards, is astounding and the violence is quite startling (it is unrated mind you). Other than that, the little score that is used in the movie is also quite chilling at times. Check out this B-Movie classic and get a good thrill (also see the sequels).