Month: August 2011

Movie Review: DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK (2011)

Starring: Katie Holmes, Guy Pearce, Bailee Madison

Written by: Guillermo del Toro/Matthew Robbins

Directed by: Troy Nixey

A Quick Note: If any of you are parents and are concerned about the R rating of this movie, don’t be. Seriously. At all. There’s little blood, no cursing, and no nudity of any kind. It was given this rating because it was deemed “too scary” to be PG-13 but as you’ll soon realize, I think the MPAA and I saw completely different movies.

Adapted from a 1973 made for TV movie of the same name, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark takes the Insidious route and tries to scare its viewer with atmosphere and suspense, rather than cheap gore and shock value. Unfortunately, it isn’t nearly as successful as the latter; instead of being scary or even creepy, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark is so ridiculous, it becomes a movie that inspires laughter rather than guttural screams. I’ve got a feeling that wasn’t what they were going for.

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Movie Review: FRIGHT NIGHT (2011)

Starring: Anton Yelchin, Colin Farrell, Imogen Poots, Toni Collette, Christopher Mintz-Plasse

Written by: Marti Noxon

Directed by: Craig Gillespe

Buy Fright Night on DVD (or Blu-ray)

Rent Fright Night on Amazon

Taking place in a small Nevada town just outside of Las Vegas, Fright Night stars Anton Yelchin as Charley Brewster, a high school kid who has gone from a total dweeb to one of the cool kids thanks to a growth spurt and a less blotchy complexion. He’s even picked up a smoking hot girlfriend named Amy (Imogen Poots), who is not only gorgeous and nice, but wants to be the one to take his virginity. But even though he’s left behind his past as a nerd, his best friend Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) refuses to be shunned aside. After being blackmailed, Charley agrees to meet with Ed to investigate the disappearance of their mutual friend Adam (Will Denton), who is the latest kid to go missing over the past few weeks. That’s when Ed drops a major bombshell: Charley’s new next door neighbor Jerry (Colin Farrell) is a vampire. Like most sane people, Charley brushes it off but when Ed disappears things start to get real and it turns out that Ed wasn’t lying: the Ed Hardy-looking douchebag with a seedy grin really is a vampire. And now it’s up to Charley to save Amy as well as his mother (Toni Collette) from becoming Jerry’s next meal.

Fright Night is a fun take on the vampire genre, more comedy than horror but still able to mix the two into something entertaining thanks to a good snarky script by Marti Noxon and a cast that in theory should be “above” this kind of material.

[Finish the review over at Man, I Love Films]

Grade: B-

Rent the original 1985 Fright Night on Amazon

Bad Movies I Like Anyway: BICENTENNIAL MAN (1999)

Good luck sleeping now, SUCKER.

Be the only one besides me to own Bicentennial Man on DVD 

Robin Williams in an awkward looking robot costume on a 200 year journey to become considered as a human being? How bad it could it be? Well it turns out it’s actually pretty bad, but that doesn’t stop me from not only owning it on DVD but also revisiting it at least twice a year. A good jumping off point for this new feature-ish thing I think.

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Movie Review: BUBBA HO-TEP (2002)

Starring: Bruce Campbell, Ossie Davis, Ella Joyce

Written and Directed by: Don Coscarelli

Buy Bubba Ho-tep on DVD

Rent Bubba Ho-tep on Amazon

This review is kind of a cheat; not only have I seen Bubba Ho-tep before many times, I also own it on DVD. But as much as I’ve enjoyed watching it in the past, I never really put too much thought into it besides “Elvis and JFK fight a mummy at a rest home and that’s hilarious”. By committing to a review, it would get to me to really concentrate on the movie and not just have it on in the background to occasionally look up at and smirk. And I’m glad I did it; while Bubba Ho-tep is wonderful for its quirkiness and great performances, it was the underlying commentary about growing old that really grabbed me. Bubba Ho-tep is a lot smarter than people give it credit for and more over, is not just a quirky premise. There’s more to it than that.

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Movie Review: RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (2011)

Starring: James Franco, Andy Serkis, John Lithgow, Freida Pinto

Written by: Rick Jaffa/Amanda Silver

Directed by: Rupert Wyatt

Buy Rise of the Planet of the Apes on DVD (or DVD/Blu-ray Combo)

Rent Rise of the Planet of the Apes on Amazon

When Planet of the Apes was first released in 1968, I doubt that anyone truly expected the franchise that would be born from its success. Featuring state of the art makeup effects coupled with a story that on the surface was riveting and below the surface was intellectually stimulating, it grossed a ton of money and sent the folks at 20th Century Fox into convulsions with excitement for sequel opportunities (not much changes in the movie business, you see). Four sequels were produced from this landmark film, ranging from great (Conquest of the Planet of the Apes) to almost unwatchable (Battle for the Planet of the Apes), as well as both a live-action and animated television show. By the end of the 70′s though, everyone was pretty aped out and the franchise was allowed the chance to cool down.

Cut to the beginning of the 21st century, and Fox decided it was time to bring back its storied franchise about ape revolutions and destroyed landmarks for a new generation of moviegoers. Enlisting the talents of director Tim Burton, the revamped Planet of the Apes was released in 2001 and although it did make a boatload of money, critically it was not a success and the moviegoing public wasn’t exactly chomping at the bit for a sequel. 20th Century Fox decided to shelve the apes once again, showing the kind of restraint that you wouldn’t expect from a movie studio.

And now a decade later, 20th Century Fox has gone back to the well with Rise of the Planet of the Apes, hoping that the second time’s the charm when it comes to rebooting the entire series. And this time, they get it right; by somewhat following what was established in the original franchise while also building its own universe and course of events, Rise of the Planet of the Apes is the rare reboot that does it correctly.

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