TRAILER: Predators

Rodriguez is a man who loves to boast about at least five movies at a time (which is why I'm still waiting to hear news about RED SONJA and looking forward to MACHETE), but this time the hype looks underwhelming compared to this adrenaline stoked trailer! I love the Predator mythos and as such watched the two AVP flicks purely for their contribution. This movie looks like a step back to the roots and I for one am excited as hell. July just got hotter.

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REVIEW: The Fourth Kind

"Real, not real, it was still a hell of a good time."

Since the 1960’s people in Alaska have been mysteriously vanishing, going crazy and even committing murder and suicide. Psychologist Dr. Abbey Tyler is at ground zero, trying desperately to help her patients and figure out what happened to her husband.

Immediately upon seeing the trailer for THE FOURTH KIND I thought of the abduction flick FIRE IN THE SKY and how as a kid it scared the holy hell out of me. I love a good alien flick, though I prefer a more cloak and dagger approach to the all out, in your face INDEPENDANCE DAY or the spoofy MEN IN BLACK. Thankfully this baby thrives on good old fashioned thrills, imagination and psychological terror. No complaints here as this flick stands up to two of my other favourites being the overlooked IMPOSTER with Gary Sinise and the unappreciated THE FORGOTTEN with Julianne Moore. What this film shares in common with those two is a very real sense of fear and danger, something which I find is missing in film lately but is all too crucial an ingredient.

The story is conveyed in a clever fashion, interwoven between layers of “facts” and “actual footage” from therapy sessions conducted back in 2000. The film begins with Milla explaining to us that what we’re about to see is quite real (cough, cough, so were the BLAIR WITCH tapes) but that I’m free to interpret it as I may. I appreciate that, and though I’m not really sold on each and everything I saw in this film, I do personally believe in abduction theories and the existence of other life forms. No, I was never abducted, I haven’t seen a UFO and thank Christ I haven’t had any owls at my window but the fact that I do believe in these things certainly made for an extra dose of tension.

The effects via blurred video tape were about what you’d expect and nothing too spectacular, I mean realistically nearly EVERY film in this sub-genre uses this approach in an attempt to add depth and realism. Do I think it helps? It all honesty I feel that these tactics hinder the ability to believe and end up hurting the overall atmosphere of any film. Now the use of animals is another story entirely. When a movie takes an animal and uses it to give off a sense of evil I feel the hair on the back of my neck rise. The owls used in the film did just that, and under the context in which they’re used, I have a feeling that I’m now pretty much scared of snow owls.

THE FOURTH KIND is a top notch suspense thriller with loads of dark thematic elements, religious nods and a wondrous cast that know how to deliver. I’m a serious fan of Milla Jovovich; I feel the woman’s come a long way and can tackle any project without breaking a sweat. Will Patton is another favourite, and though the man is underused by my standards, when he’s there, he’s all win. The “real” Abbey Tyler creeped the hell out of me, she seems sincere but that’s truly debatable. This is a film that hits hard and just so happens to know which pressure points to attack. I like that approach, and hope to see more of it in the coming days.

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REVIEW: Precious

"Not exactly the feel good movie of the year."

I’ve never really been a fan of dramas and or films that make you want to jump off a bridge and hope to catch an eyelid on a rusty nail before you hit the ground. To me, PRECIOUS reeked of ominous misery from the trailers and low and behold, the picture it paints is by no means pretty. Right off the bat you have a disturbing chain of events that start out far too early in this kid’s life, which make her tragic tale one that made me wince far too often. For some, this may be the longest 109 minutes of your life.

My particular distaste here comes from the subject matter. Rape, child abuse and domestic violence are a volatile mixture, and one that doesn’t ever go down smooth. I genuinely feel for Precious’ character here, but my personal complaint stems from the fact that many people endure these things in life and the idea of having them printed on paper or filmed just doesn’t set right with me. These problems are far too real to be taken lightly, even if the film is geared toward giving victims of these types of abuse hope. Furthermore, when I see these types of things happening on screen I think back to flicks like Paul Walker’s RUNNING SCARED where this type of behaviour was solved by shooting the perpetrators in the face. Now that’s my brand of justice.

The one aspect of this film I truly enjoyed was the raw strength Precious held onto despite the odds and her horrible situation. There is something to be said about that, and if I had to sum this film up in a word it would be strength. Sadly, there’s far too much else going on to focus on this alone, my emotions were a tangled mess leaving me ultimately troubled. Some of this confusion was brought on by a particularly awkward score that (like my emotions) was all over the place. Some of these songs (matched up with the wants and dreams of a kid who wished she was someone else) felt wrong and in the end played a serious number on the film’s tone.

I’m not at all surprised to see Oscar winners among the cast (especially from Monique and Gabourey Sidibe) as they’re portrayals were certainly believable and moving in a uniquely shocking way. However, when several musical sensations all appear in the same cast roster it does tend to raise a flag or two for me. Nothing against Mariah Cary or Lenny Kravitz but they stuck out like sore thumbs and for the amount of lines and screen time (which was thankfully not much) I just don’t see the point of them being a part of this unless it was a vain attempt at rekindling hurting careers.

PRECIOUS was a lot of things, but a fun night at the movies is definitely not among them. I understand that drama gives actors and actresses a venue to really push themselves emotionally so they can show us another side of things, but these are not areas I want to explore in film. There’s enough pain and anguish in life to go around, so when I go to the movies I’m one of those people who like an escape from reality, not a depressing reminder of how messed up the world truly is.

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TRAILER: Repo Men (Red Band)

I'm not a fan of Jude Law, not exactly sure why but I just don't care for him. That said, the man was great in SHERLOCK HOLMES and I'm getting the distinct feeling he's gonna do just fine here as well. Love the concept, love the action and love the fact that Forrest Whitaker isn't looking a day over thirty. Lucky bastard.

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TRAILER: Robin Hood

Yet another trailer for Ridley Scott's ROBIN HOOD, and yet again we're being shown far too much of this film for my liking. Yes, it looks good, but I'm now a little hesitant due to the PG-13 rating which leaves me disappointed in both Scott and Crowe. I really hope this flick pans out and ends up being even half as good as GLADIATOR, but I just don't know.

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TRAILER: Tron: Legacy

Everything about this trailer looks totally bad ass, despite the fact I don't really remember the first one and that this thing's being pushed by Disney. I really do like the vibe, the look, the atmosphere and the idea, but it's still too early to tell how this one will play out. You can color me curious though.

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REVIEW: The Crazies

"You gonna pay for that gas?"

A small town sheriff's worst nightmares are about to come true when the townsfolk start going crazy and killing one another, only to find out the army has something to do with it when they suddenly quarantine the town.

There was a lot of buzz about this flick over the past year, and I kept a close eye on it because I like Timothy Olyphant almost as much as I enjoy horror. Some of my colleagues gave this flick a raw deal, but I'm not inclined to agree. For a remake, THE CRAZIES deliverers, and considering this flick hits so close to the zombie front (without stepping over the line in my opinion) and survives, that too means something in my book.

The story does play out a little bit by the numbers, but the atmosphere laid out before our characters is bone chilling and it's the small things that count, like the confrontation in the baseball field and the house fire, to not give away anything we didn't already see in the trailers. There's more than that mind you, and these elements help add just the right amount of spice to this somewhat generic story. The army backdrop was there but not pushed incredibly too hard, beyond the satellite imagery, but again, too much army could also have hurt the film.

THE CRAZIES was a fun ride for me, a hard R horror flick with big names, solid acting and slick visuals all combined to make for a interesting tale (despite having seen this setup many times before). I find myself saying this far too often but there isn't much in way of kick ass mainstream horror these days so I take what I can get. This flick could have been far worse, but when it comes to an intense horror ride, this one was well worth the ticket.

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TRAILER: Iron Man 2

I don't have to tell you how fucking amazing this movie looks, a fact amply shown in this new trailer. My only two negative thoughts are that I don't want all Tony's great one liners used in these trailers and spoiled for me, and two, I'm gonna miss Favs if he leaves this franchise as he's exactly what IRON MAN needs to survive.

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REVIEW: The Box

"WE'RE RICH BITCH!"

A married couple who've fallen on hard times open their door to find a box with a note. Soon after a strange man appears and tells them that if they push the box's button they will receive a payment of one million dollars but someone they don't know will die as a result.

I'm one of the people who believe Richard Kelly is one of the genius story tellers of our time. I loved DONNIE DARKO and consider it one of my top five favorites (not to be confused with S. DARKO, a hammed up sequel that should have never been). Kelly's SOUTHLAND TALES was less revered and though I did enjoy it, the film was by far a touch too smart, complex and layered for it's own good. Thankfully Kelly goes back to his DARKO roots with THE BOX.

The story seems like a simple matter of morals and ethics: can you do the right thing and say no, or can you live with the idea of killing someone for a million bucks, even if you don't know them. But this decision is merely what's on the surface, the true enigma comes from those behind the offer. The tension ran thick here, with characters who felt real and were attached to a situation any one of us could relate to. This is one of the film's strongest points, being that what happens to these people could and probably would happen to us in the same situation.

THE BOX was a spooky out of body experience with all the right chills, brooding atmosphere and old school ghost story feel to make it complete. There are however, a good many questions left unanswered, not surprising or uncommon as per Kelly's style, and some of you will find it clever other annoying. I appreciated where this story was going and I don't mind a few cliffhangers, though I'd put two and two together about the "outcome" of the button pretty early on, which to me felt a little too obvious but the explanation of how to end the process made it worthwhile all the same. THE BOX might be a bit too out there for some, but if you have an open mind and are a Richard Kelly fan, you'll no doubt enjoy the ride as much as I did.

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TRAILER: Legend of the Guardians

This is certainly not what I would expect from Zach Snyder's next endeavor (this would be about the farthest opposite to WATCHMEN possible), but I'm sure it'll do just fine amongst the younger demographic. And hey, at least we now know what Harry Potter and company's owls do in their downtime.

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TRAILER: Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

I'm digging the feel of this movie (despite the tone being a little too laid back), and again, visually it's a feast, but I will say that it looks to be giving away way too much in these trailers and featurettes. In the end, it's pretty hard to lose with Gyllenhaal, Bruckheimer and Kingsley so my faith remains intact.

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