Archive

Archive for the ‘Movie Review’ Category

Feb
11
Death Race 2 2010 BluRay 720p
If it’s any point of interest, prequels and sequels are either a miss or a hit. There are numerous times when “What the hell?” seems like a ringing tone and rarely does “I love that shit!” find its way out of our mouths. Did I say rarely? Oh yes, and Death Race 2 can slap me in the face, for it is a rare find! Death Race 2 is a Direct-to-Video prequel to 2008’s smash hit movie Death Race created by Paul W.S Anderson and is technically also a prequel, although described as a remake, to Roger Corman’s Death Race 2000 of 1975. It goes on depicting the origins of Frankenstein, the most watched racer in the film. Firing straight away, Death Race 2 is a blast!
2012 seems to be a diabolical year in movies, not that I had any clue from the “End of the World” movie 2012, duh?! All the same, in this year, prisons and correctional institutions are non-governmental and privatized. That’s another way of saying justice is out and business is around. Luke Goss (Hellboy 2, Blade 2) stars as Carl “Luke” Lucas who is arrested after a botched bank robbery for his boss Marcus Kane (Sean Bean) for killing a cop. He is then thrown into Terminal Island Penitentiary, the one sadistic place on Earth close to hell owned by Weyland Corporation. It holds the most diabolical race ever spawned for market value, the Death Race, a deadly televised pay-per-view race of heavily armed cars hosted by the sexually controversial former Miss Universe winner September Jones (Lauren Cohan). The film finds Lucas racing for his life along with his crew and Katrina Banks (Tanit Phoenix) and eventually, it finds Frankenstein.

Death Race 2 brings out a loud rumble straight from the screen. It is a bloody and violent heck of a movie that exudes excitement and awe. When game-like features are the central point of a movie, it is likely that a lot of people can dig it, and if you’re one of them then I guess you still haven’t reached puberty, but what the hell, right? The infernal cars featured in this movie are also the same cars used in Death Race, only they are driven by different people who apparently belonged to the same crew of the drivers in this movie. An example of this is the Dodge Ram wrecking machine driven by Big Joe in this movie was the same car driven by Tyrese Gibson in Death Race, both drivers are black.

Death Race 2 boasts consistency (of course it should, considering it’s a prequel) as it presented the same mechanics for the race, the same cars, the same “women beside the drivers” catch, and hallelujah, the same announcer’s voice! Acting-wise, Carl Lucas did a good job of stepping in the shoes of Jason Statham for this movie; he delivered a convincing action hero performance which definitely adds to his action movie resume. Also, 14k (Robin Shou), the Triad member, was the only racer to appear in both films.

I was surprised to see Danny Trejo as a protagonist here considering he always appeared as this grim-faced vicious criminal in most of his films. I was even more surprised that he wasn’t holding a gun in this movie. His role as Goldberg could have been given to anyone else in the film and he could have made one hell of a death race driver instead of a crew man. That goes for Ving Rhames too considering he could have made a more convincing Big Joe. Just the look on his face and you can tell he’s a killer – not to be judgmental.

Hey how about the women in this movie? Well, hands down, Tanit Phoenix is hot (Can’t take that away from her) but honestly, she didn’t sell this tough girl role very well, her voice was too pitchy for her role, and her tandem with Luke Goss wasn’t really the best. Lauren Cohan, also a hot human being, wasn’t really the best Death Race host there ever was because her antagonistic presence didn’t fill up the glass, she fell short on that. Joan Allen did a better antagonistic job in the first movie.

I have to say though that the title is confusing. Death Race 2 sounds more like a sequel than a prequel. There were a few dull moments where action tends to lay low, mostly the out of prison scenes, but let’s face it, when you see classic cars with machine guns, napalm blasters, rocket launchers and flamethrowers paired with violent men and hot women, mixed with an action-packed game-like central theme, the result is a good B-movie worth your while. And that folks is synonymous with Death Race 2.

You can check other Movie Reviews HERE.

Feb
10

Comedy is a serious business, you either make it right to flush out giggle cream or not at all, otherwise it will be a complete waste of money and viewers’ time. Director Todd Philips though, won’t need an umbrella for any rain because he has little to worry about in his latest comedy film Due Date, where he manages to dish out another screwball cross-country humour, the other one being 2009’s big hit, The Hangover. Although Due Date isn’t as funny as the latter, it may well be a more deserving film for applause than any other comedy films in 2010.



For this fine albeit wild movie, Philips throws in an odd but workable pair in Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man, Sherlock Holmes) and Zack Galifianakis (The Hangover, Dinner for Schmucks). Due Date puts male fellowship under strenuous tests as Peter Highman (Downey Jr.), a tremendously uptight and soon-to-be-father architect whose wife’s five-day due date needs him to travel from Atlanta to Los Angeles, meets Ethan Tremblay (Galifianakis) who is a crack-smoking, barnacle-head wannabe Hollywood star, in an airport encounter. This encounter however, will ruin everything for Peter and throw him into the no-flight section. He is then forced to take on a cross-country road trip with Ethan in what moulded to be one literal hell of a ride.


Although Due Date has a few dreary moments like the Diner and the Grand Canyon scenes, there were instances where Todd Philips was able to hit the sweet spot of laughter. The moment where the car they both rode tumbled down from the bridge was hilarious, and the same can be said when they were at Darryl’s (Jamie Foxx) house enjoying coffee that turned out to be Ethan’s father’s ashes.
While it’s true that there are other actors qualified for the role of Peter, Robert Downey Jr. delivered a natural and convincing performance. His cool and grumpy antics gave his character much justice. And who else can deliver the goofed-off character of Ethan Tremblay better than Zack Galifianakis? Stooge-like roles are rapidly becoming his forte, not that it means any offense, and he’s the perfect actor for the wannabe actor Ethan Tremblay. It’s almost as if his role in The Hangover was prolonged in this movie, only with a different name, a different goal and a different company to spoil. The pairing of these two stars is quite odd and unexpected, but I think it worked out just fine.
There was one aspect of Due Date’s story that caught my attention – sadly in a downbeat way. The role of Jamie Foxx as Peter’s friend Darryl could have been more interesting if the controversy of having an affair with Peter’s wife was given life. Ethan suspected that Darryl isn’t really the friend Peter thinks of him which is supported by Darryl’s off the record stories, and this could have been an attention grabber for the movie. Unfortunately, in order for Peter to accept Darryl’s offer to lend him his car for travel, the filmmakers murdered the issue as if it didn’t matter. It could have given Due Date a kicker and would’ve brought Peter closer to Ethan.
All else, I’d say the movie has its own ups and downs. Sometimes it’s funny, other times it’s dull and boring. Great pair of actors, a little shaky story, but a wonderful, raucous ride, Todd Philips barely made it to heaven, and along with The Hangover, he may well have dodged the guillotine of the entertainment business.


You can check other Movie Reviews HERE.

Feb
10
Have you ever had that feeling of wanting to laugh at a comedic movie yet somehow the laugh gas is having a hard time coming in? If not, then Dinner for Schmucks will do you that favor. I applaud Jay Roach (Meet the Parents, Meet the Fockers) for attempting to do a remake of the French farce Le Diner Des Cons or The Dinner Game, it’s a tough job to make people laugh with a film, but if it was the comedy he was planning to improve, no Oscar’s or any award can be given; although, this is not to say that the movie was totally screwed.

The basic vindictive premise of Dinner for Schmucks, which isn’t really that funny, revolves around an uncanny dinner set up once a month by the executives of a financial company, Fender, where invited employees must bring along someone who is nothing short of a nincompoop as a guest. Through the course of the dinner, the executives and the invitees ridicule and scorn these top rank idiots who are made to display their “special talent” or quality stupidity, for entertainment. Before the dinner ends, an award goes to the most impressive idiot for being “so special”. Takes the title literally doesn’t it?
Unless you are total fans of the two main stars of this movie, Paul Rudd (I Love You Man) and Steve Carell (Date Night) who are both masters of deadpan comedy, you will find that their roles didn’t really bring out the best in them. Along with the main premise of the movie, Paul Rudd plays the character of Tim Conrad, a “sixth floor employee” of Fender Financial Institution, who is caught between his fiancée Julie (Stephanie Szostak) and his most awaited promotion. To be promoted, however, requires him to participate in the aforementioned dinner, something Julie resented. Fate steps in and Tim gets a literally accidental encounter with Barry (Steve Carrell), a rodent maniac who is in the beyond section of stupidity. One day before the dinner, Barry tags along with Tim and proves hell existed on Earth.
Paul Rudd’s character did not make it to funnyville in Dinner for Schmucks, there again wasting Paul Rudd’s talent. He was transformed into a common love life-struggling, promotion-seeking regular employee which I think isn’t the best role for him. Although I have to commend Steve Carrell for his flawless and natural performance in this movie, his role as Barry was most of the time annoying and obnoxious because of the fact that he made Tim’s life miserable and hell-ridden. Instead of laughing all the time, which was my expectation, it somehow made me feel taken aback by his constant annoying role. The comedy on his part got swallowed whole by incongruity. Maybe the filmmakers wanted to portray Barry as a lovable, feel-sorry idiot, and if that’s the case, then they were successful a little too late when the true intentions of the executives for the dinner have been revealed. Humour-wise, it just wasn’t enough.


But Dinner for Schmucks is not at all that ridiculous. I have to commend the participation of Zack Galifianakis in this movie. He appears as a mind-controlling dufus who then becomes the rival of Barry in Major League Stupidity. He brought more comedy than the two main characters combined. And his out-of-this-world fight scene with Barry during the dinner was the funniest bit of the movie; it was hilarious! Aside from this hillbilly combat and admiring Barry’s “mousterpieces”, the rest didn’t live up to the expectations.
Overall, I’d give it a score almost halfway between “Oh Crap!” and “Bravo!” with the former having a tighter grasp.

You can check other Movie Reviews HERE.

Feb
09

Feb
09
Faster, a title with which one can wonder where this movie could go faster, make it to the pantheon of the film industry or crash down to the pit. I personally vote for the pit, but for anyone who likes watching a movie for the sake of having something to do, this movie can get four stars out of five rating, especially with the Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson fans. Yes, in almost 10 years of acting work, Dwayne Johnson seems to be the man among the boys of the league of wrestlers-turned-actors when it comes to performance. Sorry Austin, Dwayne is better. But is it just me or is it that when Johnson offers an improved menu, his dishes get spoiled in lacklustre movies like The Game Plan or Race to Witch Mountain where he didn’t even fit? And I won’t even bother explaining Doom. So, is Faster an exception? I don’t think so. The title, the trailer, the posters, they all reek of tremendous action, sadly the movie doesn’t.


A lot can be said about this movie, most of them are a disaster. Faster is about three characters who share something in common, a search for new life. But mainly it revolves around Johnson who takes the character of the “Driver” who endured ten years behind bars because of a bungled bank robbery where his brother Gary died. Suspicions of a set up are around, and after finally getting out of prison, the Driver morphs into revenge itself in trying to track down those responsible for his brother’s death and killing them one by one. In the course of his justice search, he is tailed by an assassin called the “Killer” (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) and a drug-drenched veteran cop (Billy Bob Thornton). As the movie unfolds, things get entangled and muddled as the Driver’s swift vengeance comes to an unexpected pit stop.

So, three characters, three personal heavens and hells, one big mess, Faster failed to deliver a cohesion of these stories that it pummelled itself into a status of a half-cooked movie. To present three stories in an hour and 40 minutes time is something the director should give a lot of consideration, unfortunately, George Tillman Jr. (Director) failed in this. In the beginning, Driver gets on a killing spree after being released from the prison, and of course as a viewer, one would wonder why. Then, just before you can put that food in your mouth to go along with the watching, the reason is revealed. The reason for Driver’s agitation and actions is the fact that his brother died in the hands of an unknown group – a group which, I have to say, is weird in its composition considering it had two huge black men, a nerdy-looking middle-aged man, and an old man. It could have been better if the Driver’s motive was revealed at the near end of the movie.

Then there is the Killer, presented as a major character, but who in my honest opinion, didn’t have any real impact in the story of the movie – a character that the story could have gone through without. He is a hired assassin set to kill the Driver but at the same time is someone who is in search of his real life. It was a petty and useless attempt to add a subplot in this movie to portray the Killer as someone who wants to get married to his girlfriend. His story didn’t have any substance at all. He didn’t give any twist or catch in the story, so with that said, why bother giving out a glimpse of his life? The marriage thing is pointless because he still took the job of killing the Driver after that and fails in the end; it’s a complete waste of time. Maybe George Tillman wanted to portray someone who is bothered by his job of killing people and wants to move on with his life by getting into marriage, but I don’t think insisting to kill the Driver after getting married gives much justice to that. Yes, he finds new life but what good does it give the movie? So, gavel down, the Killer character was more of a filler role than a major one.

And third, the Cop. Billy Bob Thornton plays a veteran cop who has been reduced to a drug-induced addict. His offer in the film is his search for his own renaissance after having complications with his family due to his drug addiction. His character is a mix of the traditional good guy and the bad guy. He tries to get back to his family, pleading to his wife and all, promising to go to rehab and stuff, he gets a second chance from his wife, but then his story of renewal crashed down to nothing because he dies in the movie having been revealed as the main antagonist. So again, there goes another rather useless subplot. What’s it for? I understand George Tillman wanted to give a story to each major character so the viewers can have a slice of perspective for them, but they turned out to be stories for stories sake.

The lack of action in this movie, other than the shootout between the Driver and the Killer of course, made me think that its creators tried to deviate from the traditional car chases, gun fights and explosions by putting subplots and giving each main character a story and development – a movie run about by twists and catches. However, the movie didn’t have enough to sell itself, and that’s not in any way a good thing. The cast was great, the attempt to do away with customary action was good, the performance of the actors were convincing, but the plots and the ending were predictable, and I think George Tillman Jr. must be thinking of something to redeem himself.


You can check other Movie Reviews HERE.

Feb
09
                 
Talking about heist movies like The Italian Job and Michael Mann’s Heat, which is of the best heist movies of all time, they comprise one of the most known genres of action films because of their whimsical stories and plots. Movies develop around the twists and catches of the story, and regarding heist films, the expectations for new spills, frills and thrills are at a cloud nine level. Sadly, Takers fails to meet this requirement and John Luessenhop (Director) had better expect the storm. From a personal perspective, I don’t see how this movie offered something new for the viewers of action and drama films. Other than the great cast it presented, which is wasted in this movie, nothing more memorable can be said about it.
     

Takers is a typical bank heist movie where a group of professional bank robbers led by Gordon Jennings (Idris Elba) were wheedled by one of their former crew member named Ghost (T.I) into a big time robbery of an armoured truck loaded with green dogs. Of course there are problems to look at in this job because of its difficulty to pull off and of the time constraints, having only five days to complete all the work to ensure its fluidity. Some members of the crew didn’t want anything to do with this job, so, naturally they took the offer. But we all know that don’t we? In these kinds of movies, money makes the world go round. Also, this movie is not void of the police as the crew was tailed by a cop with a justice call. As the movie progressed, the crew was met by betrayal and a lot of problems including the death of three of its members.

Now here comes the verdict. For someone who can stomach plot repetition, this movie is going to do just fine. But for those who have no room for repetitive movies, you’ll agree with me on this one. Poor plot, poor dialogue, and a ridiculous ending, let’s take this by part. Looking at the plot of the film, I can absolutely say that even before a scene of the heist comes in, one can already determine the next move of the main characters. It’s another one of those “I have seen this already” moments. Typical bank heists involving disguises or underground works are a thing of the past and people choose to ignore these already. Question is, why did the director choose not to deviate from this cliché? Hands down, this one is about as healthy as cancer. Now what about the overall action of the movie? Well, there are some defining moments to applaud when it comes to action like the shootout in the hotel where A.J (Hayden Christensen), one of the crew members, dies. Another is the chase down of Jesse (Chris Brown) by cop Jack Welles (Matt Dillon) where parkour was performed by the former and where Eddie (Jay Hernandez), partner of Jack, dies as well. Car crashes, explosion scenes, gun fights, crew slugging, they are all that makes this movie, and I have to give it some slack, they are believable and realistic. Impressive enough, but let’s face it, have you seen a heist movie without this kind of action? I don’t think so and I don’t think it’s original. It’s like an Ocean’s movie gone bad. Particularly with Ocean’s 13, when compared with this movie – underground work, disguises to penetrate building, robbery – you be the judge.

Surely, one cannot pass through a movie review without the traditional critique of the acting, and this movie has its own ups and downs regarding this aspect. For one – and a good one, thank God – Idris Elba’s acting as the leader of the crew proved that he has screen presence all the time. Every time the camera puts him in the frame, a bulk of the focus goes to him and his acting made a believable leader of a bank heist crew. As for Tip Harris, or more commonly known as T.I, he gave it a rookie shot on his acting. His delivery of lines and facial expression weren’t natural and were most of the times exaggerated. But then again, there’s always room for improvement, after all he’s not a professional actor, he’s a music artist! So let’s not take him to the hillbilly high of acting yet. And now, the worst part of the movie – the ending. The ending did not give any justice for the rest of the movie. Matt Dillon’s character was put to no less than nothing. He was on the trail of the crew the whole movie, his partner got killed in the chase down, he gave it a lot of effort to get the crew members behind bars as a cop with a justice call would, and somehow at the moment where he could shine, he wasn’t even able to shoot one crew member, not one, worse, he got shot and was put out of action! Jack Welles is at gunpoint with Ghost and Gordon, and then the events unfolded. Uneasy talk, shots fired, Gordon was wounded by Ghost; Ghost was killed by John (Paul Walker); where is the cop? It would have been better if the cop was given some slack and was able to hit at least one of the other characters in the film. What a waste, and from then on, the movie hanged itself.

The vibrant colour design of the movie was good; it’s not as gloomy as other heist movies. The film was shot with a Panavision Genesis HD Camera which can quite pass for action scenes, but overall, although there are some good points in the movie, I’d say it seemed like it was created for the sake of having a movie to show in cinemas – which seems to be the trend these days. It’s a given that movies ring money and fame, but please, making a movie is not all about the cash and publicity, it’s about art, let’s keep that in mind!


You can check other Movie Reviews HERE.

Nov
26

This Rapunzel movie is one of the most awaited this year. So does it satisfy the crave for another Disney Animation film? Well, below is the review from IGN:

Walt Disney Animation once again embraces traditional “princess” fare with Tangled, a cheeky retelling of the Brothers Grimm fairy tale, Rapunzel. In this more action-oriented musical comedy, Rapunzel (voiced by Mandy Moore) is a princess who was abducted as a baby and raised as a virtual prisoner in a remote castle by the evil witch, Mother Gothel (Donna Murphy). Rapunzel boasts 70 feet of magic, golden hair — hair that keeps Mother from aging.

Having spent her entire life within the tower (with just Mother and the tiny, silent chameleon Pascal for company), Rapunzel is full of curiosity about the outside world. One day while Mother Gothel is away, Rapunzel is frightened by a surprise visitor coming through her window, the dashing, roguish bandit Flynn Rider (voiced by Chuck’s Zachary Levi). Flynn is on the run from his brutish former cohorts, the Stabbington Brothers (one of whom is voiced by Ron Perlman), after escaping with a jeweled tiara they had stolen.

Following their meet-cute introduction, Rapunzel and Flynn make a deal. He will escort her through the wilderness to the kingdom, where she’ll finally get to behold the annual festival of lights. (This festival, held on what is the unsuspecting Rapunzel’s birthday, is in remembrance of the lost princess.) In exchange, Rapunzel will give Flynn back the stolen tiara she’s hidden from him.

Rapunzel and Flynn find themselves on the run from not only the Stabbington Brothers and Mother Gothel, but also from the royal guards (and one very determined horse named Maximus) who want Flynn in custody. As Rapunzel and Flynn grow more attracted to one another, the question becomes whether Flynn will succumb to his bad boy ways and betray her trust.

Tangled, renamed from Rapunzel seemingly in an attempt to not seem like another Disney “princess” flick aimed strictly towards girls, is a very funny, handsomely produced CG-animated toon that looks like a throwback to more traditional, hand-drawn animation but with the fluidity allowed by modern technology. Coupled with 3D, the end result is an immersive experience featuring the best of both schools of animation. Disney cartoons, though, are marked not only by their technical excellence, but also by the quality of their storytelling and characters. That’s where Tangled is a mixed bag.

The repartee between Rapunzel and Flynn is clever and sharp, and there’s good chemistry between them. Flynn is an extremely charming rogue, just pompous enough to laugh at and whose change of heart towards Rapunzel is believable and slowly earned. Mother Gothel nearly steals the show, with her overprotective tyranny being made to seem almost rational through some of her sly exchanges with the naive young princess. Mother also gets one of the film’s biggest musical numbers, which Murphy nails.

Disney vet Alan Menken once again provides the music (with lyrics by Glenn Slater). While there are plenty of catchy tunes here, none of them are as truly memorable as those in Menken’s The Little Mermaid, Aladdin or Beauty and the Beast. But it’s still fun stuff that allows Levi to show off his impressive pipes opposite Moore. (I can foresee Tangled becoming Disney’s next Broadway sensation a la The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast.)

Tangled might not ultimately be a modern Disney classic like some of the aforementioned animated films, but it’s nevertheless a lot of fun, full of humor, adventure, good music (especially the Mother Gothel number and a set-piece in a tavern full of cutthroats) and great production values. Tangled’s biggest drawback is the overall formulaic nature of its story, as well as its cop out ending. Those mar this otherwise fine film and prevent it from being among Disney’s best contemporary toons.

Given the review, do you agree?

You can check other Movie Reviews HERE.

Nov
06

Most people say that Megamind is a The Incredibles meets Despicable Me movie. If that’s the case then it is a good one. Lets see if IGN feels the same.

This CG-animated feature focuses on the bad guy rather than the hero. Megamind (voiced by Will Ferrell, who replaced Robert Downey Jr.) is a brilliant but luckless alien supervillain who is the longtime archenemy of Metro Man (Brad Pitt), the beloved, seemingly invincible protector of Metro City.

The evil genius Megamind — whose origin is a Superman-esque tale of a baby sent to Earth on a rocket ship, but who lands in a prison yard rather than the morally upright heartland — has spent years trying to destroy Metro Man, whose reporter girlfriend Roxanne Ritchi (voiced by Tina Fey) is often used as bait to lure him into some diabolical but easily thwarted super-trap. It’s all become so predictable … until the day Megamind actually succeeds in destroying the hero.

The arch-criminal suddenly finds himself king of Metro City, but later discovers that his life now lacks purpose without his do-gooder counterpart to lock horns with. It seems achieving his life’s ambition was the worst thing he could have done. Then it hits him: He’ll simply make a new opponent — the everyman-turned-superhero Titan (Jonah Hill) — to challenge him. However, this plan fails when Titan takes a liking to being a villain. That forces Megamind to ponder the unthinkable: Can he become the superhero that Metro City really needs?

This film may be coming out on the heels of Despicable Me, another CG-animated film about a supervillain who just might not be so bad after all, but Megamind is a sharper, funnier and all-around better take on the idea. If anything this movie may be hurt somewhat by some of its superficial similarities to Pixar’s Incredibles, but it’s ultimately puts a fresh enough spin on superhero spoofs that one can overlook them.

Megamind boasts some very clever, witty banter between Megamind and Metro Man as they try to one-up each other with good vs. evil cliches. Megamind has a penchant for putting the wrong emphasis on the wrong syllable and other verbal gaffes, such as pronouncing Metro City “Metrocity” (rhymes with atrocity) or revenge as “revahhnnge.” Ferrell is ideal in the role, imbuing the character with his signature arrogant nitwit schtick.

Pitt doesn’t have a huge role here, so he’s not exactly memorable in it; it’s more the idea of this seemingly perfect, all-American hero being pitted (no pun intended) against the likes of Ferrell that makes the star voice casting stunt work. Fey is fine as Roxanne, but never really gets any truly memorable lines or moments here. David Cross fares better as Megamind’s lifelong cohort, Minion, while Jonah Hill nicely plays Titan as more of a wounded kid who is lashing out rather than as simply evil.

The 3D is well done, and the animation and sound design are both top-notch. This is a great-looking (and sounding) toon, one definitely worth seeing in 3D, but it’s ultimately the story, characters and humor that makes Megamind such a pleasant surprise. It may not be as effective as The Incredibles, but it’s a fun comic book parody that offers its own clever, satirical take on the genre.

So what do you think guys?

You can check other Movie Reviews HERE.

Oct
29

At last, here is another latest movie review from IGN. Make sure to read carefully before deciding if you’ll watch Paranormal Activity 2!

Video cameras? Check. Spooky noises? Check. Vague nonsense about demons? Correct and present. Annoying characters with slightly wooden acting? Hello, sir. Yes, 2009′s low-budget, hype-tastic horror-phenomenon Paranormal Activity is back, to once again make us stare furiously at a static screen and then freak out at the odd rattle of saucepans.

After notching up $195 million across the globe, the reigning champ of the found-footage horror genre was always sequel-bound. However, heavy hearts will remember that the previous title-holder was The Blair Witch Project. That movie’s post-modern (and post-quality) follow-up Book of Shadows single-handedly chiselled “don’t hack out a rush-job sequel” into the Horror Cliche Commandments, to sit comfortably alongside “don’t go down to the basement.”

Happily, Paranormal Activity 2 successfully bucks the sucky sequel trend (and even chucks in some basement-related fun to boot) being just as effective as the original — mainly by being a straight carbon copy of it. With new director Tod Williams’ taking an “ain’t broke, don’t fix” view of Paranormal Activity 2′s horror-by-surveillance camera, it successfully grinds tension out of nothing but footage of an apparently empty room until letting rip with a solid shock from the unwelcome house guest.

The last we saw of the thing that bumps people off in the night, it was violently flinging Paranormal Activity’s lead and all-round irritating berk Micah arse-first at his video camera. So it’s a shock (and disappointment) to see him and girlfriend Katie alive and well towards the start of Paranormal Activity 2.

It turns out this is a prequel, with Katie being the sister of new lead character Kristi: wife of Dan, mother of toddler Hunter and step-mom to 17-year-old Ali, and it’s their swish, Californian house where we’re going to spend the next 90 minutes.

From here we tread over exactly the same territory as the first Paranormal Activity 2 movie — complete with doomy thuds — as the footage captures the splintering of the family’s domestic tranquillity.

During the day, we get a bunch of exposition through their HD camera, and when night falls, we’re treated to an endless cycle of CCTV — the pool, the lounge, the stairwell, the bedroom — often left staring at the screen like it’s a magic eye puzzle. Is the curtain twitching? What the hell was that noise? When will something actually happen?

And when it does, it’s well worth the wait. Armed with an arsenal of slamming doors and massive bangs — sometimes together — this still manages to outgun any of Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes’ remakes. However, Paranormal Activity 2′s secret weapon is the rising rumble that announces that pots and pans are about to be banged; John Williams might not be sweating the competition, but this signature tune still plays havoc with an audience’s nervous system.

Tapping directly into those primal fears of home invasion and your darkest imagination of what all those creaks that rattle around your home at night are, Paranormal Activity 2 once again lets its audience fill in the gaps for it. And where it drops points for originality — as well as a slightly rushed ending — it picks them back up when it comes to raising the emotional stakes (cute baby and family dog trumps annoying couple, any day of the week).

It goes without saying, then, that if you sat through the first flick wondering what the fuss was about — it’s low on gore and slow of burn — you should avoid this like a horrible, boyfriend-tossing demon. But for fans of Paranormal Activity, whose events are given a new twist by the action here, the latest set of tapes released by the California police department should be checked out immediately.

Now if only Kristi, Dan and Co. had bothered to take that advice…

So what do you think about this sequel?

You can check other Movie Reviews HERE.

Oct
29

TSL Rating: 3.9 / 5.0 

Personally, I like this movie but definitely the ending could have been smarter.

CinemaBlend shares its own insights:

The short description of The Town is that it’s about a gang of white trash Boston bank robbers, the women who love them and the FBI agents on their tail. The longer description gets a lot more tangled. Affleck takes the central role of Doug, a Charlestowne boy who tried to make good but got sucked into the same bank robbery career that’s landed his dad (Chris Cooper) in jail for life. His volatile best friend Jim (Jeremy Renner, a standout in a crowded cast) is also his partner in crime, while Pete Postlethwaite’s gangster boss pulls the strings and James’s hard-living sister Krista (Blake Lively, stretching a bit beyond her reach) seems to lie wait for Doug to take her off into the sunset.

Except that Doug, under the guise of keeping up after a witness from their latest job, has fallen for posh Claire (Rebecca Hall), who of course has no idea Doug is the guy who held a gun to her head during the bank robbery a few weeks back. Their relationship is a major plot contrivance in a story that otherwise unfolds fairly naturally, but Affleck and Hall sell the romance, particularly once Claire gets wise and has to make her choice between justice and her beloved outlaw. Learning hard on her is ruthless FBI Agent Frawley (Jon Hamm), who’s been after Doug’s crew for years and isn’t above faking evidence or being a general asshole to bring them in for good.

Yes, Doug agrees to “one last job” before trying to make his way out of the crime world for good, and yes, the entire story of a nice girl redeeming a criminal with her love rings off all kinds of cliche alarms. But the combination of fierce performances– Hall and Hamm are also especially good) and well-directed action scenes propel The Town along this familiar path with gusto; Affleck and his cast prove there’s always room for the same story told right. Behind the camera Affleck isn’t just deft at handling hails of bullets, but infuses tension by playing with audience knowledge and expectations; one particular lunch scene, in which Claire meets Jim, is as nail-biting as any bank robbery. Occasional flashbacks and moments of lyricism don’t add much to the otherwise gritty feel, but it’s nice to see Affleck stretching out as a director, never settling for just a straightforward telling of his complex story.

Those layers of plot get the best of The Town occasionally–Lively’s character in particular is wasted– and the hard-boiled dialogue dips one too many times into clumsy plot exposition, but then, it probably wouldn’t be a cops and robbers movie if it didn’t. Affleck as an actor actually winds up being one of the weaker points, maybe a little hamstrung as the typical anti-hero, or maybe trying too hard not to outshine his co-stars (though the live-wire Renner would never have let that happen anyway). The Town never reaches the operatic heights of the movie to which it will inevitably compared, The Departed, but it’s a solid improvement on the plothole-riddled Gone Baby Gone, and sports so many quality performances that miraculously don’t drown each other out. It’s probably time for Affleck to step away from the Boston criminals for his third film, but The Town is irrefutable proof that whatever he does next is well worth watching out for.

You can check other Movie Reviews HERE.