Sunday, August 17, 2008

Doomsday (2008)

God damn these post-apocalyptic movies - can any of them exist without the Mad Max mohawks and vehicles? Or what about Escape From New York? The lead character even has an eye patch!? Oh movie, what will I do with you?

Twenty five years earlier a virus wreaked havoc in Scotland, killing those who contracted it, and causing England to make a massive wall to keep the plague from spreading into it's cities. As time passed, it was assumed that everyone outside the wall had died. Within the past few years, cameras set up to take aerial photos of city streets in Glasgow started to show people.

The virus has broken out in London, so the government decides to send Major Eden Sinclair outside the wall to Glasgow. Once there, she and her ridiculously small team has 48 hours to find out if Dr. Marcus Kane - a scientist working in Glasgow at the time of the outbreak - discovered a cure for the virus, or how else these people managed to survive.

For military personnel, these people are pretty stupid and end up being attacked by Sol and his mohawked Mad Max tribe. There is even a strange dance number in the middle of the torture of the soldiers, where Sol and some girls do a sort of burlesque/vaudeville act and dance stupidly to 80s songs by Fine Young Cannibals, Adam and the Ants, and Frankie Goes to Hollywood. And the Mad Max crowd goes wild...yay. Wow, they are really hard up for entertainment if this is acceptable. And don't tell me it's the apocalypse. Just because there's an apocalypse doesn't mean you have to settle for sub-par jokers on stage doing a crappy act.

It starts off well and does have Malcolm McDowell in it, but it goes downhill pretty quickly and ends up leaving you cold.

The Eye (2008)

Sydney, a violinist who was blinded as a child, goes into the hospital to have a corneal transplant and ends up with the eyes of a woman who had visions. Consequently as Sydney gets used to her new eyes, she sees strange moving shapes, people who aren't there, and terrifying visions of a fire.

When she asks her doctor for help, he blows her off, suggesting that it is the plethora of visual information which she is not used to that is causing her brain to overload. I get what he's saying, but do cornea patients ever start seeing dead people or suddenly become crazy after their transplant?

I haven't seen the original Japanese film, but The Eye is an average film with a few scares and some creepy scenes. It isn't something I would watch again, but it isn't horrible either.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Megalodon (2002)

A news team heads to an offshore oil drilling site, which turns out to be completely CGI. The oil rig uses advanced technology which can be run by twenty two workers, and of those we get to see maybe six.

When drilling into the sea bed, they open an underwater cave with glorious sights. Unfortunately this also releases Megalodon, a prehistoric shark over sixty feet long who has a hunger for metal and humans. Weeeeeee, they're doomed!

Darktown Strutters (1975)

I was not expecting this. I thought this was going to be your typical blaxploitation crime film, so ending up with a slapstick comedy was mind boggling. A group of women on incredibly cool three wheel motorcycles and wearing outrageous funkified motorcycle helmets cruise around trying to find out what happened to the main characters mother, Cinderella. She was last known to be working at the Sky Pig, a rib joint run by a guy who resembles Colonel Sanders. The lettering on the Sky Pig sign is so bad that my friend that it said Slay Pig and I thought it said Slzy Pig, which I thought meant the Sleazy Pig.

The whole movie is like a madcap romp with scenes randomly coming and going with no real reason other than to try to get in another joke. Unfortunately the comedy falls flat most of the time. There are pimps, klansmen, acapella groups, blackface, a cloning machine, and police right out of the Keystone Cop school of law enforcement.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Diary of the Dead (2007)

I wasn't expecting much since I'd heard that this was terrible, and although I didn't like most of the characters, it actually wasn't that bad.

The biggest problem I had with the film is its overall preachy tone, hitting you over the head with how the media manipulates what we see. The characters and situations show this clearly. Yet one of the characters does narration to explain how our perception of reality is shaped by the media and how they distort or lie in their broadcasts. The narration is unnecessary unless your audience is too stupid to comprehend the story line, and if so, they're never going to truly understand that the news doesn't always tell the truth.

The story centers on a group of college students making a horror movie who hear news reports that the dead are returning to life. They jump into a Winnebago to head home to their families. Film student Jason has the camera to his face as he believes he is filming history and is compelled to film everything that happens. He is single minded in his pursuit of footage and continually uploads to the internet so that the people will get the real story, which they are not getting from the news.

He's so into filming that if one of his friends is being attacked, he keeps filming rather than trying to help them. His self importance is ridiculous as there are tons of people doing the exact same thing. Can you imagine if there really was a zombie uprising? Youtube would be clogged with lame videos on the subject, just like they are now with any other subject you can imagine. For every relevant piece of video on the net, there are countless other pieces with the same keywords that are a total waste of your time.

Plus Jason never even realizes that his truth isn't any better than the news, as he asks his friends to re-enter a house so that he can get everyone doing it. The video is Jason's vision, not what is real.

Even with that major issue, as well as some really stupid decisions when it comes to keeping themselves safe, there are some really good parts, especially the exploding eyeballs and the scenes in Amish country.

One other warning, if you're prone to motion sickness, you may have a problem as the film is shot as if it is a documentary done by the college kids. It's not as bad as Blair Witch, but there is more than the average camera swinging going on.

The Ruins (2008)

Two couples vacationing in Mexico decide to accompany a German tourist looking for his archaeologist brother who is working at a newly discovered ruin. Along with a Greek tourist who has also been invited, they take a taxi into the jungle and find the hidden ruin. Shortly after arriving and seeing no sign of anyone, a tribe appears from the trees and points weapons at them and the stupidity begins.

Would anyone really be this stupid? A stranger invites you to this remote, secret ruin in the middle of the jungle and you go, telling no one of your plans. They don't consider any possibilities other than visiting and then using their cell phone to call a cab to come back and pick them up. You're in the freakin' jungle. Ever think those cell phones might not work? (They don't.) Plus one girl actually wears flip flops. Come on! It's the jungle and ancient ruins - what good are flip flops?

Also first rule when non-English speaking jungle dwellers descend upon you with guns drawn, do not carefully compose and snap a photo or two. Holy moly, have you no cranial functioning whatsoever? It's not a good idea. (However I did like the fact that she had a camera that required film rather than the typical digital camera every tourist is packing these days.)

After one of them is shot, the kids run up to the top of the ruins, but don't really think twice about that fact that the tribe didn't shoot them during their ascent and have not followed them onto the ruin. Hey, ya think maybe something weird is going on here? Yup, it sure is and they're just the idiots to blunder into it.

New York Doll (2005)

An interesting documentary on Arthur "Killer" Kane of the New York Dolls, which follows Arthur as he gets ready for the Dolls reunion. When wondering where Arthur was all these years after the Dolls broke up, I never would have thought it would be converting to Mormonism and working in the family history library at the Church of Latter Day Saints. He looks like any older, soft spoken gentleman you might see working at a library in your home town. You would never guess this unassuming man used to be in a legendary NY band.

At the time I watched it I did not realize that a fellow Mormon had made the film, but I'm glad they did as I think a non-Mormon filmmaker might have leveled some sarcasm at the religion or perhaps there would have been an air like that in the scene in which David Johansen teases Arthur about it.

While there are joyous aspects of the film, there is also an overall sadness due to Arthur's having spent his post-Doll years yearning for the band to get back together, thinking several of the other members hate him, harboring that bitterness, and going into self-destructive rages when other former band mates are successful. Yet he seems a sweet sincere man who is thankful to his faith for helping him to beat alcoholism and his co-workers adore him.

Those looking for old footage of the Dolls will be disappointed as there is little to be seen, but the movie more than makes up for what it lacks and is a nice tribute to Arthur.