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All reviews - Movies (155) - TV Shows (2) - Books (4) - Games (29)

"Evil Dead" (2013)

Posted : 4 years, 9 months ago on 16 August 2013 12:03 (A review of Evil Dead)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

So, the Evil Dead remake. It was a long wait for this one! :) Way back in 2007, I heard this was planned. But anyway, it's finally out, and in some ways, it exceeded my expectations. But in a lot of other ways, it's just kind of mediocre.
I'm not the biggest Evil Dead fan myself, but I still like the movies enough. And the filmmakers here also clearly have a great deal of respect for the franchise. There are several homages to the second movie as well as the first one, and they're pulled off well enough that they're recognisable but still different enough that they fit perfectly within the context of the new story. I'm usually flat-out against horror remakes, but that's how you do one properly. :)
But sadly, the reimagining itself is where the movie falls flat. The characters are boring (Natalie in particular is completely superfluous), and the new plot is so much more involved than the original. It revolves around a demon who needs to claim five souls before dawn, so that… actually, I have no idea what his goal is! It's so drastically different from the original idea that, in a way, it doesn't deserve to be called a remake.
To sum it up, as its own horror movie, this does very little to stand out from the crowd (aside from being gleefully gory!), but as an Evil Dead remake… it's a mixed bag, but you may find it's a pleasant surprise.

My rating: 55%


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"Side Effects" (2013)

Posted : 4 years, 9 months ago on 9 August 2013 05:50 (A review of Side Effects)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

The plot revolves around Emily Taylor, as she's prescribed a new experimental medicine for her bouts of depression – and at first, it seems like it's going to be a straightforward tale of her trying to live with it. Then, after she kills her husband while sleepwalking as a side effect of the drug, it becomes a completely different movie: a legal drama first, as it's debated who should be held responsible for her actions, and then a conspiracy thriller, as her psychiatrist, Dr Banks, tries to uncover the truth.
I have to admit, this is a tough one to review. It's definitely well written; I can't see any plot holes or loose ends in the mystery. The acting, for the most part, is solid, especially from Rooney Mara.
But I wasn't totally impressed. While I got the basic gist of how the mystery was unfolding, the conclusions that Dr Banks comes to – or rather his explanations for how he came to those conclusions – went right over my head. So his various attempts to get information left very little impact on me, because nothing that was being said really earned my interest until the very end. And, without actually giving away the final revelation, let's just say it's clear why those involved would want it covered up! :)
To sum up, I can understand perfectly if you were fully invested in this movie. It's just that, personally, I wasn't. Honestly, I found myself wishing for the conclusion to just hurry up.

My rating: 60%


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"Jack the Giant Slayer" (2013)

Posted : 4 years, 9 months ago on 9 August 2013 05:50 (A review of Jack The Giant Slayer)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

In this take on the classic fairytale, Princess Isabelle runs away from home and takes shelter from the rain in Jack's house. Then the beanstalk grows up through the floor, pinning the house on the top, so Jack joins a team sent by the king to rescue the princess.
In the opening scenes, the movie was just what I thought it would be: a predictable but still interesting story with straightforward fairytale sensibilities. They play the adventurous princess who's being forced to marry card, which had me calmly thinking, "Yeah, yeah. Get on with it." But the villain is painfully obvious right from the start; he is straight-up boring.
The CGI looks just as fake as I thought it would. And, as the film progresses, it just seems to get worse and worse. There's one moment in the final battle where a boulder sails over the battlements, which looks laughably bad.
I did like parts of the movie, though, like when the beanstalk's coming down and it really simulates a plane coming into land.
Ironically, for a movie called Jack the Giant Slayer, he hardly slays any giants at all!
But overall, I don't have that much to say about this movie. It was entertaining, but nothing special.

My rating: 50%


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"The Host" (2013)

Posted : 4 years, 9 months ago on 9 August 2013 05:49 (A review of The Host)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Needless to say, I went into The Host expecting to hate it. And… I knew this would happen! I expected the absolute worst, so I didn't get it! I mean, don't get me wrong – it's bad – but I was expecting it to be potentially the worst movie of the year.
The premise is that mankind has been almost completely taken over by parasitic aliens. Melanie Stryder is the latest victim, but her own mind remains intact and starts to fight back against the foreign entity in her head, so she's always in two minds.
Now, that sounds like an intriguing sci-fi premise. But the reason Melanie clings on is for the people she loves most. So yes, the aliens are foiled by the power of love! Oh, fuck off!
Another big problem is that, just like Twilight, the characters are all flat as pancakes. So, for instance, we're told that Melanie and Jared are in love, but we never see their relationship develop, so we don't believe it.
You want to know the moment this movie died for me? Early on, when Melanie's fighting for control of the car, the car suddenly leaps into the air just so it can roll off the road. Uh, bullshit! That road was perfectly even; there was no reason for the car to leave the ground!
To sum up, while I didn't hate this movie (again, because I was expecting to), it's still shoddily written and about as sappy as it gets.

My rating: 25%


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"Stoker" (2013)

Posted : 4 years, 9 months ago on 2 August 2013 06:42 (A review of Stoker)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

When I first heard the plot to Stoker, I thought it sounded like a rip-off of Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt – right down to the uncle being called Charlie! But here, instead of fearing that he's a murderer, our main character, India, just sort of mistrusts him.
Now, don't get me wrong: I was still looking forward to this movie, since it is Chan-wook Park's first English-language film. Alas, I didn't like it. But not for the reasons you might be thinking.
The opening scenes really set the tone for everything to follow. And I thought the beginning of Beautiful Creatures (which I rented along with this one) was pretentious! I'd seen nothing yet! Not even the most talented actors could make these lines work; a lot of them state the obvious.
And I hate to say this, but the movie is at times pretentious in a technical sense as well. For example, that weird thing with the light in the basement.
It's a shame, because the story itself does have potential. The whole narrative is basically about how the homicidal Uncle Charlie gradually influences India. Though I think that scene where she masturbates to the murder he committed in front of her was a step too far; that was just plain fucked up!
In conclusion, no other movie this year, and probably none of the ones to come, left me so crushingly disappointed. I'm just going to go and watch Oldboy (and Shadow of a Doubt) again.

My rating: 35%


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"Beautiful Creatures" (2013)

Posted : 4 years, 9 months ago on 2 August 2013 06:40 (A review of Beautiful Creatures)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Beautiful Creatures is basically Twilight with witches. Ethan falls for Lena, the mysterious new girl at his school, and soon discovers she's a witch – or rather a "caster". And her sixteenth birthday is approaching, when she'll definitively become either good or evil.
Now, perhaps equating it to Twilight was a bit harsh – this one does have more of a story and actual stakes to it – but, as it's a supernatural love story that came out in the wake of Twilight, the comparisons are inevitable.
At first, I really thought I was going to hate Ethan, because he does nothing but quote pretentious poetry. But I did kind of buy into his relationship with Lena: he's the only one who's nice to her, and they do bond over their shared interest in poetry; that at least gives them more of a foundation for a relationship than Edward and Bella!
Jeremy Irons and Emma Thompson's southern accents are really distracting, though, Irons in particular.
One thing I really hated was the Emily character. She does nothing but chastise Lena for religious reasons. She's that clichéd one-dimensional asshole that I hate for all the wrong reasons!
But my real issue is that the movie has no regard whatsoever for pacing. Spoilers here, but the plot just meanders to the point where I honestly thought the mind-wipe scene was the end.
Overall, this movie is terribly flawed, with bad visual effects and inconsistent pacing… but it's still better than Twilight! :)

My rating: 45%


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"GI Joe: Retaliation" (2013)

Posted : 4 years, 9 months ago on 2 August 2013 06:37 (A review of G.I. Joe: Retaliation)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

I saw GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra a few weeks ago, and it was one of the worst movies I've ever seen in my life. So, with the sequel, I figured the only way it could go was up.
Zartan, under the guise of the US President, wipes out the GI Joe team, but three Joes who survived are out for revenge. Meanwhile, Cobra Commander is sprung from jail and plots to take over the world via nuclear weapons.
Well, at least this sequel is better paced than its predecessor! :) It doesn't rush along like a runaway train; it plays out very naturally. But it also plays out like a very typical action movie; pretty much every beat is predictable. The plot is much easier to follow than the first movie, and it almost works. But the action scenes are over-edited (though not torturously so), the CG effects look like shit, and it's a continuation of a story I never cared about, so I was sitting there indifferent for most of the movie.
The inclusion of Storm Shadow did confuse me, though: I seemed to recall he died in the first one. And yes, I checked: there's no way he could have survived!
In conclusion, this movie's way better than the first one, but it's still a below-average action movie. I wasn't mad at it; there's just nothing remarkable about it.

My rating: 40%


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"Monsters University" (2013)

Posted : 4 years, 10 months ago on 25 July 2013 10:11 (A review of Monsters University)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

I have very mixed feelings about Monsters University. On one hand, I was pleasantly surprised at how relentlessly fun it was. On the other hand, I still think what I thought before: this movie has no reason to exist.
It is, of course, a prequel to Monsters, Inc., in which Mike and Sulley enrol at Monsters University to learn to become Scarers.
Our heroes are both familiar stereotypes: Mike's the bookworm who knows it all but lacks the talent, while Sulley's the slob who gets by on nothing but talent – and his family name. The story is about as predictable as it gets, but the sheer level of glee and humour with which it's told is what keeps it interesting. Plus I loved seeing the tasks of the Scare Games and how our heroes' team triumphs.
But the problem with any prequel is that you already know how it's going to end, because it has to lead in to the original film. So Mike's singular desire to be a Scarer basically renders this whole film moot, because we already know that's not going to happen.
Also, Mike had a line in Monsters, Inc. where he implied that he'd known Sulley since the fourth grade. So this whole movie is essentially one huge continuity error!
Basically, Monsters University is this year's Prometheus (though don't get me wrong: it's a much better movie): as its own movie, it's entertaining, but as a prequel, it's inconsistent and unnecessary.

My rating: 75%


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"Pacific Rim" (2013)

Posted : 4 years, 10 months ago on 25 July 2013 10:09 (A review of Pacific Rim)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

The plot is that giant monsters, known as Kaiju, have been appearing through a dimensional rift under the Pacific Ocean, so giant robots called Jaegers have been built to combat them. But now things are getting desperate.
I can't vouch for how good a tribute this is to the giant monster and mecha genres, but I can say how well it succeeds simply as a piece of entertainment! This is more what the Transformers movies should have been like. The characters may be archetypal, but they're still effective and well-executed archetypes. And the action scenes are terrific. The effects work is absolutely top-notch, and although I sometimes couldn't tell what I was looking at, at least there's no shaky cam making it worse.
On top of that, the movie is actually witty. For example, the Jaegers are controlled by two mentally linked pilots, and I like how they actually do address how delicate and dangerous mind-melding is.
However, there was one major letdown for me. The dialogue was pretty hard to follow at times. It may be for that reason that, during the climax, I was actually sort of burned out; I no longer cared much about what was happening.
Still, on a side note, the idea that this lost to Grown Ups 2 at the box office is just sickening!
While I might need to see this movie again to understand it better, I can definitely say that it's a very solid summer blockbuster. It's fun but not brainless.

My rating: 75%


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"The World's End" (2013)

Posted : 4 years, 10 months ago on 25 July 2013 10:03 (A review of The World's End (2013))

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Okay, The World's End, the third collaboration between the double-act of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost and director Edgar Wright. Being a huge fan of Shaun of the Dead and especially Hot Fuzz, this is one of the movies I was most looking forward to this year. And for the most part, it didn't disappoint. :)
The plot is that Pegg's character, Gary, gets his gang of childhood friends back together to relive an epic pub crawl that they never completed. But as the night progresses, they realise that something's very wrong about town. To say much more would unfortunately mean getting into spoilers. Especially, the moment that first reveals what's happened to the town is hilarious not just for what happens but because of just how out of the blue it is. (Ha! Blue! Those who've seen it probably get my drift.)
What else can I say? It's just really funny, so it works. :) I especially liked how, contrary to Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, Pegg plays the wild and free character, while Frost is the stick-in-the-mud.
The tone of the film sort of walks hand-in-hand with the characters' mindset: as they get more and more drunk, things get more and more insane. The ending really flies off the deep end.
Overall, it's not as good as Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, because the developing plot is a little too involved, but it's still a rollicking good time.

My rating: 85%


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