Movie Review: Wolf Creek 2 (2014)

WOLF CREEK 2 movie poster -- exclusive EW.com imageThe outback version of Saw without the clever plot twists

2 Stars

The first thing I thought when I heard this was coming out was ‘there’s a Wolf Creek 1?’ Then, I checked it out and realized that the first one was made 10 years ago. What’s up with that? So many movies this year have been popping out sequels after a decade. Was this planned? The second thing I thought after I saw it was, “I am never going backpacking.”

To be fair, I never went to begin with, so it won’t be much of a loss.

In this gore filled gem, we meet again with Australian outback psycho Mick Taylor (John Jarrat) as he hunts down three backpackers who made the mistake of well, backpacking. Let’s be honest. There’s not much of a plot here. This is like the outback version of Saw without the clever plot twists.

There were some real frights in Wolf Creek 2. Jarrat himself is downright menacing as the charming one minute, stabbing the next, outback psycho. Unfortunately, he seems a bit cartoony in this effort.

It appears as though the makers are trying to somehow franchise this villain, much like Jason or Freddie Krueger. The problem with doing that is most horror fans have short attention spans. When you wait ten years to make a sequel, the fans have often completely forgotten the killer in the first place.

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Much like what happened with me, because I did see the first Wolf Creek! The thing is, it was a bit more menacing and a bit less ridiculous the first time around.

It seems that the director was going more for shock value in this rendition, and as a result, it just seems like killing for the sake of the gore. The first movie was had way more horror, with half the disgusting scenes.

There’s something a little Mad Max about our anti-hero and this cross country murder trek brings back memories of the Road Warrior. What it lacks was the one thing that made Mad Max…Mel Gibson before he went crazy.

Wolf Creek is nothing more than a new version of Australia based torture porn. Even worse, it’s not even good torture porn. It’s just gross and silly.

This is clearly an attempt at a franchise, and I have to admit I hope it fails. At least Freddy and Jason had their own redeeming back stories, clever quips and some kick ass props.

Seriously, who can look at a hockey mask the same way anymore?

But Wolf Creek 2, even though it’s a sequel, feels like it should be a one-off. This movie is a failed attempt to franchise an un-franchisable character.

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Let’s be honest; sometimes in Freddy and Jason movies, you wanted the bad guy to win. Sometimes it was because the victims were so annoying, other times it was just because they were so damn determined. But Mick Taylor isn’t a serial killer I can root for, not by a long shot.

If I’m going to get involved in a horror franchise, I at least need a serial killer that is likeable. Mick Taylor just doesn’t do that for me.  Watch the official trailer below.

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Movie Review: Godzilla (2014)

344757,xcitefun-godzilla-movie-poster-5The beginning and the end are entirely two different movies

2 Stars

You know what made the original Godzilla awesome? How much it sucked. Terrible special effects, laughable dialog that didn’t match the actor’s lips, and a ridiculous premise joined together to create an absolutely platinum standard in ‘so bad they’re good’ movies.

The movie starts in the late 90s, with Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston), an American engineer who works at a nuclear power plant near Mount Fuji. Earthquakes are ripping through the Philippines and moving their way to Japan. As a result of these tremors, Brody’s plant breaks apart with much bloodshed. Then comes 15 years of brooding, as Brody can’t get past that day. We get to watch the fascinating site of him studying charts and zoology books. For all this buildup, we get to watch some tremors before finally, monsters show up.

And we root for the monsters because by now, we just want this awful movie to end.

This movie is a lot like being served a strange multiple course meal. The beginning is a soft boiled egg, boring and tedious and not too hard on your digestion. Then, all the sudden, the chef comes back and dumps 17 gallons of extra spicy jambalaya in front of you.

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The beginning and the end are entirely two different movies. And for a movie that is called Godzilla, you would actually expect to occasionally see Godzilla.

Turning this classic into a major motion picture does not work. Anyone remember the mistake they made in the 90s with Matthew Broderick? Terrible…

Look, if they really want to remake Godzilla, they need to make it in the spirit it was intended. Screw the plotline, get to the monster quickly, and then have it destroy things for no reason while a bunch of confused looking extras run around screaming.

It worked for Cloverfield. I hear that movie cost $49.99 to film. Seriously, all they used was an iPhone and a lizard.

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This movie was a joke and it doesn’t seem to understand the spirit of the original Godzilla at all. Instead, it bores us for the first 45 minutes, and then barrages us with way too many things for the second half. I could not keep all the monsters straight and to be entirely honest, I don’t know if this is racist to monsters, but they all looked the same to me.

If you just want to watch some stuff get thrown around, then I would recommend watching the first 10 minutes of this movie, and the last half an hour. But if you were a fan of the original, chances are you won’t be a fan of this one. In fact, it will probably remind you a lot of the mistake they made in the late 1990s trying to do one of these.

Hollywood, if you want to make a successful Godzilla, I highly recommend getting away from the convoluted plot lines and high end special effects. Instead, you need to make your movie a symphony of badness. B actors, plot turns that make no sense, and monsters that look like puppets are the way to go. Because the truth is Godzilla isn’t supposed to be scary. It’s supposed to be so bad it’s scary.  Watch the Official Trailer below:

[youtube id=”vIu85WQTPRc” width=”633″ height=”356″]

Movie Review: Walk of Shame (2014)

walk_of_shameA poor plot and stilted dialog waste Banks’ talents.

2 Stars

I had high hopes for Walk of Shame, as it stars one of my favorite actresses, Elizabeth Banks. Banks is known for her roles in both The Hunger Games and as Avery Jessup on 30 Rock. One thing she’s always been able to do is bring an air of comedy to her roll, even when the character she played has no idea she was being funny. Pulling off a deadpan delivery like that is no easy task.

In this comedy, Elizabeth Banks plays Megan Miles, an ambitious reporter who picked the worst night ever to have a one night stand with a handsome stranger (James Marsden of Anchorman 2). The next morning, she finds herself stranded without a phone, a car or even any ID, with only 8 hours to make it to the most important job interview of her life.

Unfortunately, not even the comic genius of Elizabeth Banks can save this movie. It goes from probable to slapstick ridiculous in a moment. A poor plot and stilted dialog waste Banks’ talents.

Steve Brills’ directed this attempt at a female version of the Hangover, but he missed the mark. Banks somehow leaves her purse in her car after a tequila fueled one night stand. Her car gets towed, and then she spends the next 8 hours walking home in heels, being mistaken for a prostitute multiple times.

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Seriously, they did that joke to death. Then, because the movie didn’t suck enough, they had the stereotypical Barbie meet several different ethnic stereotypes before she finally made it home to be saved by the hero, her one night stand.

A movie that had a lot of promise, with an all right premise, was completely ruined due to lazy scriptwriting and boring dialog. None of the characters were fleshed out, not even Banks’ stereotypical California Barbie reporter.

Oh, god and the obnoxious moral at the end of the story…I won’t spoil it, but the damn movie gets all sanctimonious about stereotyping people at the end, when that’s what they’ve been doing for the last two hours. Really, it’s a lot like having a smoker warn you about the dangers of skin cancer.

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Walk of Shame is just that; shameful. It made about $40k its opening weekend, which is probably way less than they paid Banks for the roll, and I can see why. It appears as though they tried to hide the opening of the movie because they realized it was that bad.

This is the kind of mess that I expect from some risqué made for TV Hallmark comedy. Banks’ talent was utterly wasted. Even she couldn’t make this mess shine. A plot more filled with holes than the streets Banks’ walks, and stereotypical characters, followed by some trumped up message, make this movie a miss for me.

Walk of Shame is already available on several streaming sites, if you’re desperate to see Elizabeth Banks. For me, I think I’ll save my money and wait for it’s inevitable premier on Lifetime.  If you don’t believe….watch the Walk of Shame official trailer below:

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Movie Review: Brick Mansions (2014)

brick-mansions-poster-paul-walker-official Terrible plot, Weird pacing and Dull dialog

2 Stars

You know how you’re not supposed to speak ill of the dead? Well, if Paul Walker wanted that to happen, he wouldn’t have made this movie and then died. I’m pretty sure he’s in heaven right now, wishing we’d just forgotten about this little gem.

In a dystopian Detroit that looks strangely similar to current Detroit, criminals now live in abandoned brick mansions. So of course, as dystopian cops are apt to do, they put a big wall up around itf. Undercover cop Damien Collier (Paul Walker) battles against corruptions while a good guy in a bad place Lino (David Belle), fights to live an honest life. Then, drug kingpin, Tremaine (RZA) kidnaps Lino’s girlfriend. Lino and Damien teams up 48 hours style to stop a sinister plot to destroy Detroit.

Oh, contrived plot coincidences, you do bring me joy. Remember in the 1980s, when every villain was Russian and nuclear warheads were the easiest thing in the world to steal? Well, the villains might have changed, but those WMDs are apparently kept in an unlocked barn someone, because the bad guys in this one have one of them.

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Walker was good, but he wasn’t allowed to play to his strengths and his part was underdeveloped. Belle’s plot was over developed, and the guy apparently moves like the human equivalent of Donkey Kong. This movie is parkour heavy. You know, that version of ‘extreme walking?”

I have a new slogan for Parkour. “Parkour: the sport for people who can’t afford equipment.”

I’m sorry, when I picture bad ass buddy cop movie, I’m picturing Eddie Murphy close lining some dude with a car door in “48 hours”. I’m picturing Bruce Willis jumping off a roof while flipping off a terrorist he just exploded in “Die Hard”.

I’m not picturing a dude that ‘walks extreme’. And slow-mo does not belong in this movie, period. Someone doing slow-mo Parkour just looks sillier than they already do.

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You know what’s weird though? The movie this was based on District 13, was actually good. I remember enjoying it. What was that, 10 years ago? That would explain the sudden reappearance of Parkour.

Seriously, timely stuff Delamarre. What’s next? An in depth movie about the scandals in the eight track industry?

Delamarre, the editor-turned-director for this movie doesn’t seem to have a good grasp of filming action. It’s kind of paint by numbers stuff. Slow down for explosions, speed up for fights. I kind of felt like Delamarre was trying to do the opposite and it just didn’t work.

I’ve heard that this is Paul Walkers final film, but I really hope I was misinformed. Walker had talent and it wasn’t his fault this movie underused him. But a terrible plot, weird pacing and dull dialog make Brick Mansions hard to watch. It’s a shame that Walker had to go out in such a note.

While I can’t recommend Brick Mansions, I will say he was fantastic in his other posthumously released film Hours. It really showcased his incredible range and I highly recommend seeing it. Below is the official trailer: [youtube id=”WwkUQrIBLCY” width=”633″ height=”356″]

Movie Review: A Haunted House 2 (2014)

a_haunted_house_2_movie_poster_2Who even owns a rubber chicken?

2 Stars

It’s frightening, in a bad way, and funny in a bad way as well. Marlon Wayans’ comedy “A Haunted House” initially made about $40 million at the box office, so of course he’s going to latch on to that franchise. A Haunted House 2, which, like the nearly identical first one, parodies other popular horror films including “Dark Skies” and the “Last Exorcism” movies, among a long list of others.

We meet Malcolm (Wayans) as he is moving into his new home with girlfriend, Megan (Jaime Pressly). This is after his last girlfriend from “A Haunted House,” the demonically possessed Kisha (Essence Atkins), (SPOILER ALERT) has died in a car wreck. Megan has a young son, who of course spits more profanities than a trucker (Steele Stebbins), and a super trampy daughter, Becky (Ashley Rickards). The house has other residents as well. There’s evil unseen play mate Tony (think “Paranormal Activity 3”), and Abigail, an evil doll (think any movie with an evil doll) — and countless surveillance cameras. Malcolm gets his neighbor (Gabriel Iglesias), as well as married exorcists (Missi Pyle and Hayes MacArthur); and his friend Father Williams (Cedric the Entertainer, back from the last installment) to help.

For some reason, this movie is a lot like a middle aged woman who’s never been married in a single’s bar; shrill, needy and desperate to prove it’s having a good time. This combination doesn’t work for women or movies.

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Relentless pop culture references abound and the movie is one parody after another. It makes me long for the days where the Wayans would write a move and stick to one general parody, rather than pile them on top of each other until they were barely decipherable.

As far as laughs goes, A Haunted House 2 misses. When they can’t squeeze out laughs doing to 800 different plot lines, stuffed in to fit the jokes, they just do something gross. Seriously, I did not need to see an adult man have relations with a doll.

All the actors are back, and they seem woefully unaware of the how terrible their movie is. They play their oblivious parts easily, and don’t seem to realize that the gag just isn’t funny anymore.

Thanks to teenage boys, the Wayans will stay in business until the day they die, as long as they keep spitting out one tired, overstuffed movie after another. It doesn’t feel like their trying anymore.

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These movies are box office gold, because they can be done on a minimal budget, and bring in a ton of cash. Based on how many times Wayans’ wrestled with inanimate objects as part of the big scene, I can only guess that the prop budget was around $8.

Who even owns a rubber chicken?

A Haunted House 2 is nothing more than yet another installment of a hauntingly obvious cash grab. The jokes don’t land, the plots are recycled, and all they characters play like oversexed stereotypes with brain damage. Once you leave the theater, you’ll be finding yourself saying “yeah, that was a Wayans’ movie all right”.  Here is the official trailer below:

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Movie Review: Nymphomaniac (2014)

hr_Nymphomaniac_20No Climax despite it being a movie about Climaxes

2 Stars

It feels odd to go from reviewing a children’s movie to a movie about a sex addict, but whatever. Variety is the spice of life.

Nymphomaniac is the story of Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg). Joe is a self-diagnosed nymphomaniac who has been seriously beaten and is found by older Seligman (Stellan Skarsgård). Think Black Snake Moan. That’s where the similarities end though. As Seiglemn tends to her wounds she tells the story of her erotic travels.

I’m going to be honest. This was a ‘did not finish’ for me, despite the fact that the movie was all about climaxes. I really felt like I was just watching depressing artistic pornography.  But it wasn’t just porn. It was overly smart self important porn. I know that I might be in the minority, but to me this was nothing more than a director making a movie called ‘this is a woman. Now watch how miserable she is because of sex.”

Joe is self destructive and damaged, but Seiglemn sees a hooker with a heart of gold. By the end, you get so sick of her self loathing and his mumblings about The Compleat Angler and the Fibonacci sequence that you won’t care anymore if people think you’re smart. You’ll just leave.

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The writing isn’t strong enough to overcome the overly explicit material. And it is overly explicit, even for a drama about a sex addict. I changed my mind. It doesn’t feel like porn. It feels like a snuff film.

I haven’t seen a snuff film this artsy since the Passion of the Christ.

The writing is juvenile and implausible. The first story in Joe’s stories of conquests is her and her friend on a train, having a contest as to who can hook up with the most men. Yes, I know that the world is crazy and stuff like that does happen, but the director makes it seem as though it is common place.

It seems that filmmaker Lars von Trier has a very bleak view of the world. In fact, I think he may be chronically depressed.

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The whole movie was bathed in grey and there was no spicing things up or making them more attractive. Everyone looks depressed and miserable most of the time. Even when they’re getting it on, most of them manage to look like they’re waiting for the bus on a rainy day.

The score feels pasted on and overly simplistic. “Born to be Wild” and “Burning down the House” are tossed in, while heavy metal music from Rammstein is inappropriately pasted over scenes in a way that is both distracting and irritating.

The movie is dirty, smug and self important. There are virtually no redeeming values to a weak script over actors with no charisma. The in your face symbolism does nothing to save the movie. When originally holding the press conference von Trier claimed he was making porn.

He was telling the truth in some ways. Watching this movie will make you feel dirty and ashamed of yourself. This sleazy drama is best skipped.

Here is the Official Movie Trailer….

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Movie Review: Pompeii (2014)

Pompeii Movie posterSo Bad…I wanted the Volcano to Win!

2 Stars

Pompeii was the big budget movie released this week and is performing reasonable well, though it is getting its butt kicked by the Lego Movie.

Pompeii tells the story of Milo (Kit Harington) a slave turned bad ass gladiator who is trying to save love interest Cassia (Emily Browning) from the clutches of an evil Roman Senator. Throw in Mount Vesuvius, which is about to erupt, and you’ve got yourself an action packed gladiator movie…

…that was just plain terrible. I mean painfully bad. It really bothers me to say this, because I am a huge Kit Harrington fan. He’s friggen Jon Snow! I love him and I really wish he had stayed Jon Snow, because his role in this movie was just plain embarrassing.

At one point, I actually wanted the volcano to win.

Though I will say this, Kit Harrington is way more ripped than I thought he was. So Kit, congrats on the 6 pack, but you might need to drop the dumbbells and pick up an application for acting school instead. Bland would be an understatement.

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Emily Browning as Cassia was just as embarrassing, seeming to fluctuate between hysterics and mild boredom, but not much else.

The screenplay was uninspired and simply copied from just about every single gladiator film out there including specifically “Gladiator”. It’s a predictable, violent, love conquers all action adventure that gets its point across with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer.

I will say it had its unintentionally funny moments. Like as a volcano is exploding behind them and shooting fireballs that are crushing screaming citizens and burning them alive, Milo and Cassie stop to make out. It’s just so damn ridiculous that you have to laugh, while you resist the urge to scream ‘what the hell are you two doing? There is an exploding volcano behind you. Run!”

The shame is the special effects were pretty kick ass. It makes you wonder why they would spend so much money to film the scenery and explosions perfectly, and then phone it in on the screen play. I haven’t seen a disaster like this since the new Star Wars movies came out. Bad writing can ruin any special effect. I don’t care how good that effect is.

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As an example of bad writing, let me share one of the beginning scenes. How Milo and Cassie meet it probably the worst ‘how I met your mother’ story that ever existed. The dude literally murdered her horse right in front of her. No joke, he put that thing down with extreme prejudice. Naturally, instead of running away screaming, Cassia’s knees turn to jelly and her lady parts are set ablaze. I mean, what chick doesn’t love a guy who introduces himself by snapping a horse’s neck.

Ah, young love.

Terrible, just terrible, but this movie is almost wonderful in its terribleness. I think the main problem is that it is so poorly cast. While Kit plays an excellent, sullen Jon Snow, seeing him as a horse killing romantic interest is tough to stomach.

It might be big budget, and it might be bringing in great money at the box office, but it is a train wreck, albeit an extremely good looking train wreck. Speaking of which, it’s probably worth watching just for the shots of Kit with his shirt off, of which there were many.

Watch the official trailer below. [youtube id=”usMn3BeXf98″ width=”633″ height=”356″]

Movie Review: Escape Plan (2013)

Escape From Escape PlanEscape From Escape Plan

Escape Plan is the newest action/thriller that teams up Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger….and it’s the first movie that made me wish Schwarzenegger would run for president. It’s not that I agree with his politics or think he would make a good leader. I really just want him to stop making movies. It’s starting to get sad.

Escape Plan is yet another prison escape caper. In it, Ray Breslin (Sylvester Stallone) must escape from the most escape proof prison in the world, otherwise known as The Tomb. As an added twist, he’s the one who built the prison in the first place, being one of the foremost security experts in the world. He gets fellow inmate, Emil Rottmayer (Arnold Schwarzenegger) to help devise an escape plan, so he can break out of prison and figure out who framed him. [more…]

Not a bad premise, really. The problem isn’t with the story itself. The problem is with the execution. The producers could have just had fun with the premise and accepted the fact that it is an action movie aimed at people who like action movies. There’s nothing wrong with that. Unfortunately, in order to squeeze in some intelligence, they chose to cram several convoluted and completely unnecessary side plots as well. There’s a terrorist named Manheim (yes that’s really his name). In a flop back and forth between in the prison and out, Breslin’s buddies Hush (Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson) Abigail (Amy Ryan) and Lester Clark (Vincent D’Onofrio) attempt to find and help Breslin. Well, Hush and Abigail do. Lester mainly stands around, exhibiting shifty eyes, acting suspiciously and wearing a t-shirt that says “I’m the one who framed Breslin!”

So, ok, I made the t-shirt up, but he might as well have. The bad guy is pretty obvious from his first scene.

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escape plan

Here’s the thing. I think we all know that Stallone and Schwarzenegger can’t act. Hell, they can’t even elocute. That’s just fine when I’m watching them blow stuff up and beat the crap out of people. However, when I’m forced to try and decipher what they’re saying while they have thick accented conversations, I just get frustrated.

Also, for a prison that is supposed to be a fortress, it has more holes than the plot. Most people watching will wonder why the prison officials didn’t just choose to store their inmates in a drafty barn, with a door that doesn’t close all the way.Escape From Escape Plan 3

Finally, producers, stop trying to convince me that Schwarzenegger and Stallone are still in their forties. I think we all know better. These are two men that are clearly showing their ages. “Space Cowboys” rolled with their aging cast and it worked. Why couldn’t Escape Plan?

For die hard fans of action, there’s plenty of that. Escape Plan is still fun, as long as you don’t try to think too much or decipher what Schwarzenegger and Stallone are saying. Instead, shut off your brain, tune out the noise, and watch for explosions. If you try to follow the plot, you’re just going to get dizzy…and bored.