Netflix Follies: Let Me In, Cargo, Pandorum, Predators, more

August 12, 2013

FOLLIES

 complete viewing  ♠ partial viewing   television series 

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 Let Me In: A relatively faithful American adaptation of the Swedish vampire film Let The right One In. So faithful—at times seemingly shot-for-shot—it begs a series of questions: 

  • Why bother to set it in America?
  • Given change in location, why keep it set in 1983?
  • If you’re going to be so faithful about certain aesthetic aspects, why jettison the element that made the original so intriguing ambiguity?

Though it’s laudable Hollywood didn’t Hollywoodize the film, it’s ultimately a kind of pointless exercise. Rather than bringing this story to a wider English-speaking North American audience, they still ended up making the kind of film that would generally appeal to people who aren’t turned off by reading subtitles. Only this time they did it with two leads who, though really pretty good, are just a few ticks less interesting than their Swedish counterparts. At best, anyone who sees this version first will probably want to see the mesmerizing original but will have had the experience spoiled for them slightly.

I had the unexpected sensation of actually wishing they’d bastardized Let The Right One In into some kind of Near Dark meets Twilight mess because then at least I’d be able to say, “Well, I guess they really did have to dumb it down for American audiences,” and then just enjoy it for whatever piece of crap it is.

Of course, if they had gone that route, I’d probably actually have been pissing blood on it, calling their version a travesty. So…

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 Cargo: This is a Swiss mash-up of Alien and The Matrix. Yeah, that second reference is a spoiler but they telegraph it so far in advance you’re spending half the film clawing at the screen willing the characters to figure out the obvious. Definite pacing issues. Also, the horror/suspense “hunted by something unknown in dark corridors” element should have been cut in favour of the main sci-fi story. It felt entirely shoe-horned in like they thought you simply can’t have a space voyage movie without it. Since it was ultimately inconsequential to the over-arching story, it wasn’t even thrilling. Otherwise, Cargo is not a the worst twist on the something-goes-terribly-wrong-on-a-long-space-voyage trope—but the bar is set pretty low.

 Pandorum: This is another something-goes-terribly-wrong-on-a-long-space-voyage film, of course recommended to me after watching Cargo. Reading the synopsis, I wondered if it was actually a Hollywood remake of Cargo so I gave in to my curiosity. It’s not a remake, but it’s another film in this sci-fi sub-genre that probably could have done without the “hunted by something unknown in dark corridors” element and been stronger.

Of course, then it’d be more Silent Running meets Event Horizon and less Aliens meets Event Horizon. Maybe that wouldn’t have been significantly better. Still, as with Cargo, it felt like they were making two different movies and sandwiching them together. The titular space madness “pandorum” didn’t add much to the sort of Noah’s Ark gone Planet of the Apes story, only distracted from it.

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Netflix Follies: Hot Fuzz, Knight and Day, Transformers 3, Arena, more…

July 4, 2013

FOLLIES

 complete viewing  ♠ partial viewing   television series 

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 Hot Fuzz: I’d seen this before and thus had been deflecting Mandi’s suggestions we watch it on the assumption I’d remember every single gag and the “who” in what there is of a whodunit. Or ANYTHING about the film at all. Other than the “our hoodies problem” and the two leads watching Point Break, I didn’t remember a thing. At any rate it’s silly, it’s charming, it’s a nice play-up of american style cop movies in a distinctly British manner. It’s got some nice gore even. Must see? Hmm, must see eventually. And then eventually watch it again.

♠ Beverly Hills Cop III: On the other hand, not a good cop/buddy movie is Beverly Hill Cop III, which I was under the impression I’d never seen before despite the first film in the series being my “favourite movie ever”. For at least a whole two months in 1984. I suspect I really might not have seen this one as you’d think I’d remember the surreal, Spy Kids-esque theme part sequence which contains a baffling series of events that include:

A) an extended mash-up of the “disaster movie” and “Battlestar Galactica” segments of the Universal Studios tour; and
B) a fucking GEORGE LUCAS cameo. I turned of off at this point.

But not before deciding Jason Segel has basically made a career out of stealing Judge Reinhold‘s schtick.
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Episode 168: Netflix Follies

May 9, 2013

Click to download episode 168. Thor, Ex-men First Class, In Time, Kick-Ass, and more

We’re pretty late to the Netflix party. For years now everyone has been saying we should drop by, so here we are. So far, yeah, we’re having an okay time. The chips are pretty good though the pop’s a bit flat. We’re meeting  some people we never would’ve had a chance to (lemme tell you, some are total D-bags) and hanging out with some old friends we’d forgotten about.

This week we cover the various things we’ve watched in the last month: Thor; X-Men First Class; In Time; How I Met Your Mother; Mad Men; This Means War; Starship Troopers; Kick-Ass; Puss In Boots; Portlandia; The IT Crowd.

A few movies we didn’t talk about on the episode (or that I watched on my own while Mandi was oot and aboot):

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Episode 82 – Residunce Evils and the 3 biggest sins of Afterlife

September 21, 2010

The most chafing costume ever?

We went to opening night of the fourth installment of one of my favourite movie franchises, Resident Evil, with the intention of reviewing it (RE: Afterlife) on the episode. Too enamoured with Milla Jovovich and Zelda we didn’t get around to talking about it much.

So let me lay-out for you what’s wrong with it here in these (very late) show notes. Be warned, I’m not going to shy away from spoilers but, since this movie has probably been dropped from theatres by the time this post goes live, you’ve had your chance to remain spoiler-free.

First off, like I’ve said all over the internet, I love the Resident Evil films because they’re the “greasiest cheese.” I went into the opening night showing not just prepared for le fromage, I was hungry for it.

Simply put: Afterlife delivers the curds.

Paul W. S. Anderson and co. seem to be taking the film franchise seriously. Unfortunately, not only are they taking it far too seriously, they shouldn’t be taking it seriously at all.

What began as a series of underdog B-movie mash-ups of The Matrix, The Cube and every George A. Romero flick, is apparently now being treated as an epic approaching the grandeur of Lord of the Rings or Star Wars. Or, more accurately, the aforementioned Matrix trilogy. A seemingly lofty goal until you consider that the Matrix trilogy was a pretty hokey affair to begin with. The risk of emulating a pop-culture watermark like Keanu’s cyber-fu adventure, is ending up as merely another second-rate knock-off cluttering up people’s Netflix queues. Afterlife suffers this fate in three main ways.

1: Lack of LOLZ. The first film got by as a decent action/horror film in its own right. Cheesy, yes, but that’s exactly what makes a decent action/horror film decent. Without a few yuks along the way to a zombie headshot, there’s really no point. With diminishing returns on the storyline and acting fronts, the only thing the second two installments of the series had going for them was unintentional comic relief. Afterlife‘s overly pretentious atmosphere significantly mutes the potential for sniggering at poorly delivered dialogue and cheesy snuff-lines.

2: The baddie is the baddest baddie ever. But not “bad” meaning good. He just sucks. He basically does the worst impression of your drunk friend’s worst Agent Smith impression the entire time he’s on screen. But he dresses like Neo. Actually, if your drunk friend was Keanu, you have a pretty good idea of this guy’s Agent Smith act. Only it’s not as good as when Keanu does it.

You’re probably wondering how this doesn’t factor into point #1 and the LOLZ. Remember Shane Brolly‘s hilarious performance as Kraven in the Underworld movies? Along with Bill Nighy, he saved that movie. This guy’s performance is that bad. Only somehow too absolutely meh to even be amusing.

3: Third time’s the charm. You can always tell when a director has disappeared up his own ass because the film doesn’t start until the third act. Their own rectum acting as a blindfold prevents them from seeing no one cares about Alice‘s trip down Amelia Earhart lane. Her whole discovery, or lack of discovery, of “Arcadia” in Alaska should have been told in a series of quick flashbacks. Instead it’s a long and ultimately pointless lead-up to where the story actually picks up in Los Angeles. Say what you will about the first three films, but the pacing was flawless (or nearly flawless) in all three.

It’s a fault that could be forgivable if the film didn’t begin with the final scene from the Matrix. Only replace the Agent Smith clones with Alice clones and add guns. Lots of guns. Too many guns.

It’s like the action sequences that open James Bond films—a bit of excitement that has nothing to do with the rest of the film, but whets your appetite for more. Unlike a Bond film though, this is a sensory barrage that deadens you to the rest of the film and perhaps any experience you’ll have in your life ever again.

Come to think of it, it was actually the perfect ending to Extinction. A little George Lucas-style re-cutting in future DVD editions and the two films could be somewhat salvaged.

Even if they don’t do that, and in spite of the film’s failings, I’ll probably still buy the DVD when it’s released. It’s always good to have plenty of greasy cheese on hand to help you get through those killer hang-overs.


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