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Monthly Archives: July 2014

Detention

Streaming on Netflix

detentionI have already reviewed a film called Detention with a similar basic premise to this film but this has very different style. In fact this film is all about its style and if you find its too-cool-for-school self-aware hipster hilarious then this will be perfect for you. I didn’t like it at all. I think that this film annoyed me so much because it wants desperately to be a cool, culty film but it’s so busy being impressed by itself I felt it vanished up its own fundament.

The hate starts right away with an introduction to some spoilt brat cheerleader character Taylor Fisher (Alison Woods) whose fourth-wall-breaking reality show style narration of herself gets interrupted by the film’s killer in the mask of a cheesy derivative killer Cinderhella from a slasher film series that is popular because it is cheesy trash.

The main character Riley Jones (Shanley Caswell) is introduced by a sequence that deliberate echo of the Angela’s introduction and she’s every bit as self-obsessed as Angela but it manifests as self-pity instead of arrogance. She is also cynical and judgemental and it’s this character who put me off the film because I found her insufferable.

Riley goes to high school to meet the other characters who are the usual bunch of clichés that never get deep below the surface of what the barely literate literati use as labels nowadays. There’s Carlton Davis (Josh Hutcherson) who is a bland adolescent but apparently cool because he doesn’t care and is so random and he has a cheerleader girlfriend called Ione (Spencer Locke) who used be Riley’s best friend until she got a bitch implant and of course Riley fancies Carlton because it is in the script.  Carlton has friend called Sander Sanderson (Aaron David Johnson) who is barely formed just like him but a virgin. Of course there has to be a bully and he is  … who the hell cares really he’s a cartoon character defined completely through the eyes of those who are not him and the film just at laughs at its own attempt to give him a backstory and he’s called Billy Nolan (Parker Bagley) just like theBully in Carrie and he’s a football player

There are various background clichés like the nerdy Asian student called Toshiba and the teachers at the school are the various types of caricatures of the types staff that populate the American High School movie such as the cartoonishly angry football Coach and the Headmaster Verge (Dane Cook) who hates all the kids. The story is so busy giving us all these characters and set up before it finally remembers that there is a killer.

There plot with the serial killer is still somewhere in there and he makes a couple of attempts on Riley but no-one believes her until after a drunken party where Billy Nolan gets killed and Verger puts the main cast and supporting characters in detention to prevent them going to the prom. This is the point where the plot starts piling on the absurdity in the hunt for the killer which includes time travel, an alien modified stuffed bear and a threat to the future of the whole world. The story is certainly not lacking in imagination or audacity. There’s an amusing scene where they are watching Cinderhella on an illegal streaming site and there’s a scene in that film with a bunch of students in detention watching an illegal bootleg DVD of a cheesy horror film which in turn has a scene of students in in detention who watch a bootleg VHS tape of a cheesy horror film. It gave me chuckle

I have been pretty negative about this film but I realise it is not being targeted at me. Many people will love this film and I can completely understand that. It has been compared to Scream and Scott Pilgrim vs The World and that is a reasonable comparison but I don’t think it succeeds like those films. I will not be surprised if this becomes a cult films as it will probably find an appreciative audience out there. I’m just not one of them.

Rating 4.0/10

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Posted by on July 29, 2014 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Wolfen

One from the Vault

41yzr9evhpl_ss500_I know this is based a book by Whitley Strieber but I have never read any of Strieber’s books so can’t compare it as an adaptation. I have heard this film named among werewolf films of the 80s but [SPOILERS AHEAD] it really isn’t a werewolf film. In fact it is difficult to categorise this film since it has elements of the creature feature mixed with what is an urban crime drama.

A wealthy businessman Van der Meer and his wife are brutally killed along with their driver in Battery Park, New York. The police chief Warren (Dick O’Neill) puts semi-retired detective Dewey Wilson (Albert Finney) on the case. Dewey is an experienced cop but he’s rarely seen anything like this with the bodies torn apart and pieces missing. On the scene is Whittington (Gregory Hines) from the coroner’s office

They suspect a political motive in the murders. Van der Meer had a private security firm watching him and his driver worked for them too. They are able to trace everywhere Van der Meer went until he was killed.  Rebecca Neff (Diane Venora) is an expert in terror groups and fringe political organisations so Warren asks her to work with Dewey.

They don’t get anywhere with the political angle but that doesn’t stop them and the security company keeps at it while Dewey consults Whittington who can’t help identifying the murder weapon since he can’t find any trace of metal in the wounds. The body of a homeless wino is found in the rubble in a demolition site in the slums of South Bronx and though there is no obvious connection between the victims evidence from the body shows he was killed the same way. Dewey thinks this proves that the motive is not political.

Dewey and Rebecca visit the South Bronx site and are drawn to the remains of an old church. Rebecca climbs the bell tower to investigate a strange noise she thinks is like a baby crying but Dewey gets an urgent feeling of danger so he grabs her and rushes both of them outside. Rebecca asks what he thought was up there and he can’t really say apart from the glimpse of a pair of glowing yellow eyes.

Whittington finds hair on the body of the homeless man and they match hairs he found on the body of Mrs Van Der Meer. Hair expert Baldy (James Tolkan) eliminates humans as the source of the hair so they talk to Whittington’s friend Ferguson (Tom Noonan) at the zoo who identifies them as wolf hairs. Ferguson would have been my number one suspect but then I think that’s because I saw Manhunter and Robocop 2. Ferguson goes on about how wolves aren’t killers and how it is humans who are the savages. It’s a point of view held by many who seem to be overcompensating for centuries of abuse but events will prove him wrong.

Dewey knows there is something strange about the killings but he still thinks a human is behind them. In fact he wants to talk to a Native American construction worker Eddie Holt (Edward James Olmos) who has been jailed for violent activity for the Native American cause. Dewey has to climb up one New York’s massive suspension bridges to talk to Eddie [There is no way I would have gone up there. Those shots were stunning and terrifying]. Eddie knows what he thinks and plays up to his fears with talk of skinwalkers being able to take on the shape of an animal.

This is what Dewey actually thinks and he follows Eddie when he leaves his local bar. Eddie goes to the beach and strips off and starts some crazy running about like he’s possessed by a wolf. He comes towards Dewey acting crazy and frothing at the mouth. This freaks Dewey out at which point Eddie spits out the foaming tablet and laughs at his joke on Dewey. “I told you it’s all in the head,“  he says as he runs off.

The last part of the film Dewey is left with only the truth about the killers but the killers know that Dewey has been looking for them and they have to take steps to stop Dewey uncovering them. After Ferguson disappears and Whittington gets his throat torn out trying to get pictures of the killers, Dewey goes to the bar where Eddie Holt drinks and they tell him about how when modern man arrived and built cities on their old hunting grounds a pack of magic wolves adapted to the city and lived off those who fall through the gaps. The rich man died because he wanted to redevelop the slums where they hunt.  I id cringe at this stuff but giggled out right when Dewey calls them wolves and he is corrected that they are Wolfen which might impress the ignorant or the hippies but that is just German for wolves.

Magic wolves may seem a bit of an unfair way of describing them but that is the only way to explain ending. Dewey was in Van Der Meer’s penthouse putting everything together when Warren and Rebecca arrive with news that a group of terrorists are being blamed for killing Van Der Meer and they’ve all been killed. They found a wolf skin in their base which is good enough to explain the wolf hairs. So everything has been wrapped neatly for the authorities even if Dewey knows it’s all BS. They leave and when getting to their cars the wolves strike killing Warren and driving Dewey and Rebecca back into Van Der Meer’s building and up to the penthouse. Just when they think they are safe wolves smash in through the window. Dewey does not attack the wolves but instead makes a point of disarming and then as symbol of his understanding he smashes up the model of Van Der Meer’s redevelopment plans and after that the wolves disappear.

This film is one I often forget about. It didn’t spawn any sequels and doesn’t seem to have acquired a large cult following. It does have some of the typical simplistic romantic attitude of the evils of modern man and how he is out of touch with nature and his past and that is a sort crude them running through the story. The film does a good job of building up the tension of the presence of the killer wolves without actually showing them until the climax and I wonder if this is because the wolves just too adorable to show very often. It plays about with  audience expectations very deliberately when Dewey seems to be following up the skinwalker angle then laughs at us for taking it seriously. This may be why some misremember it as being werewolf film. The best thing about the film is Dewey and his dry morbid sense of humour and he is full of funny lines though the rest of the cast give back as good as they get. He comes across a bit like a grumpy Columbo and Albert Finney plays him perfectly. While it does get a wee bit preachy and pretentious and it’s a bit dated in its style, subject and pacing it is an enjoyable film.

Rating 7.0/10

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Posted by on July 20, 2014 in Entertainment, Film

 

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I Frankenstein

Bluray Pile

I Frankenstein Bluray 001This my second attempt to watch this film without falling asleep to give it a fair review then I can just forget it existed. This film is certainly not horror but is more of a fantasy action adventure film and in tone and colour palette is very similar to Underworld, which means very stagey dialogue interspersed with bloodless cartoon fight scenes and a sense that it’s up itself with its own importance.

The film starts right where the novel finished with Frankenstein dead and his creature (Aaron Eckhart) brings his body home to bury him in his family plot. That’s when he gets attacked by demons that seem to have escaped from an episode of Buffy. He kills some of them before getting knocked out and a couple of CGI gargoyles fly to his rescue, transforming into humans as they land.

Ophir (Mahesh Jadu) and Keziah (Caitlin Stasey) take him back to the cathedral to see their queen Leonore (Miranda Otto). After reading the text of the book they found with him Leonore realises what the Creature is and takes pity on him, naming him Adam. She explains to Adam the war between the gargoyles who fight for good and the demons who fight for evil and that he is being sought by the demon Lord Naberius. Leonore offers Adam shelter but he’s not interested though he accepts the offer of a free dip in their armoury and leaves with two demon killing sticks.

Forward about two hundred years to the present (I think, it is difficult to tell since the only real world event ever referenced is the publication of the original Frankenstein novel). Adam hunts down and kills demons in an alleyway but a policeman gets killed by a demon and this apparently is such terrible event that the gargoyles grab him and hold him prisoner.

We finally get to see Naberius (Bill Nighy) the lord of the demons as he supervises an experiment by a scientist called Terra (Yvonne Strahovski) who is trying to reanimate a dead rat and the experiment works. Naberius wants to know when human testing is happening and Terra claims that reviving a rat is simple! and that humans are so much more complex than a rat. That is just ignorant bullshit and I have been given no reason to be kind to the writer of this garbage.

Naberius asks Terra about what she thinks of the story of Frankenstein and Terra dismisses it as fiction but Naberius pulls her up for her close-mindedness. Naberius is funding Terra’s research for the same reason he has been looking for Adam. He needs soulless re-animated corpses to house the demon army he has waiting in hell and wants to examine Adam because clearly Frankenstein succeeded. He sends one of his demon commanders to capture Leonore to force the gargoyles to hand Adam over.

Adam escapes the cathedral and breaks into the demon base and meets Terra who is very excited to see him. Terra wants to help Adam if he can help her but she has no idea what Naberius plans to do with her work.

Visually the film is okay but the story is dull and the characters are just flat creatures of the plot. The script tries to draw on emotional relationships during death scenes that were never given the time to be established. The whole story is ridiculous but the film has no humour or joy in it.

Rating 4.0/10

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Posted by on July 11, 2014 in Entertainment, Film

 

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