Posts Tagged ‘ Computer-generated imagery ’

V/H/S (2012) – 3.5/5

Vile, disgusting movie with a few decent scares here and there and some really good setups, but terrible writing that ultimately confuses more than it terrifies. Lots of attractive half/fully naked chicks, though, and a good idea for a film despite most of the stories not making any sense at all. And the visuals were pretty good too at times, even with the super low-budget and occasionally obvious and cheesy CGI.

If anything, though, the film is more a series of tragedies than outright horrors. You often feel more bad for the characters and the various horrible and disgusting things they go through than scared, though the first person nature of the thing certainly adds to the terror of the given situations. And the acting too isn’t too bad either; some of it, at times, is obvious and awful, especially in the “Friday the 13th” homage set in the woods, but most of it is quite realistic, probably due to the said first person hand-held nature of it all.

And it’s more uncomfortable than scary; you just feel bad for these characters after a while, and disgusted at how graphic some of the gore is. Some parts made me feel a little sick frankly, with all the shaking and strange sounds and blood and body parts and graphic imagery all over the place. Geez. Had the writing not been so terrible I might have not actually been able to handle the thing. Luckily, it’s pretty bad, though many of these stories start promising enough. The one with the **SPOILERS** Skype like interface **END SPOILERS** in particular was pretty dang brilliant until the end. What a great, clever, suspenseful use of an otherwise extremely limited form of storytelling, but the ending, god. What the hell happened? They don’t even explain it properly, and what they do explain makes no sense. And this is the case with almost every single other story here except **SPOILERS** the first one. **END SPOILERS** Come on, people; leaving things hanging this much isn’t artistic or edgy, it’s just lazy and annoying.

Overall, not as scary or disturbing as it could have been were it better written. Much better written. And kind of misogynistic at times. Some of the shorts have their moments, like the first one, and the one with the video chat, and the last one with the guys looking for a party. Heck even the main plot was interesting until the end where…what happens? Huh? Really? Is that really how you’re going to end it? Ugh. Such a promising concept for a movie, wasted on terrible, terrible writing. Put some effort in it, guys, come on. You’re supposed to be at the forefront of horror here. And that red-ban trailer you put together was so damn good. Nearly perfect.

Disappointing. Not terrible, but could have been so much better.

 

 

 

Advertisements

The Abyss (1989) – 4/5

Overly long, but well crafted and visually stunning sci-fi film with a message that means well, but is a bit heavy-handed at times, especially at the end. The film is so technically well crafted though, and the setting so unique and meticulously captured, that you can’t help but marvel at how such a thing was made into a film at all, let alone a pretty god dang good one. Even story wise the film is pretty great; nothing groundbreaking, but it’s obvious James Cameron knows a thing or two about story.

The visuals here are arguably the strongest aspects of the film. Even by today’s standards they’re pretty impressive; granted there is some CGI and green screen here and there, but all the underwater scenes, and the many structures therein, were really built and shot as you see them, at least from what I’ve read of the production. It must have been hell to shoot, but man was it worth it. And no one died or was seriously injured doing it as far as I know, so, that’s a plus. Credit once again to Cameron for pulling off the impossible and not getting anyone killed in the process, probably.

The film just has a lot of cool and notable “action” moments, stuff that sticks with you long after it’s over, which is really rare, especially for an action film. It’s almost Spielbergian at times, the sheer magnitude of the unfolding destruction, like the scene with **SPOILERS** the crane falling, then dragging the underwater facility down toward “the abyss.” **END SPOILERS** It’s just such a cool scene. And some other stuff too, like **SPOILERS** Ed Harris’ character having to drag his wife’s drowned body through miles of water to reach the station, or the alien making its first appearance in the pool, or the underwater sub battle near the end. **END SPOILERS** It’s all just so memorable and well shot, even by today’s improved technological standards. You just don’t see stuff like this in films very often.

Overall, I enjoyed the film. It’s a bit slow at times, and the version I saw, the director’s cut, is about a half hour longer than the original apparently, but has a better ending, or so I hear, which, though schmaltzy and, again, heavy-handed, was pretty great visually. Those **SPOILERS** giant waves at the end looming over coastlines all over the world **END SPOILERS** are truly the stuff of nightmares. And yeah, the whole thing near the end with the **SPOILERS** atomic bomb and Harris having to go down and disarm it **END SPOILERS** didn’t make a whole lot of sense. Why not send one of the remaining Navy Seals to do it instead? Why even do it at all, for that matter? It’s not like it was in any danger of going off from what the movie told us, unless I missed something? And how did Harris and team know where it would even be? Come to think of it, how was it able to remain intact as it did under all that pressure?

Anyway, I enjoyed the film. It has its flaws, but it’s a solid film when all is said and done; well acted, well shot, well-directed, well written, and visually groundbreaking. It’s also kind of a very simplistic story when you stop to think about it. Yeah, there’s aliens and military and bombs and science and stuff, but it’s ultimately about **SPOILERS** the power of love, **END SPOILERS** I think, which, again, is schmaltzy, but it works here in its own corny way. The film is also very visually similar to “Titanic” at times despite telling, naturally, a completely different story. Cameron stealing from himself, I guess. Not a bad thing.

So, if you’re into slow, but somewhat intelligent and extremely well made science fiction films, I recommend it. Not Cameron’s best, but still probably like nothing you’ve ever seen before.

Brave (2012) – 3.5/5

Beautiful, visually groundbreaking film with a strong first act that doesn’t make up for the otherwise strange, choppy, awkwardly structured nature of the rest of the film. The thing is entertaining, sure, but the element they introduce at the end of the first act, the “twist” if you will, comes out of nowhere and ultimately doesn’t work at all .

On top of that, the film establishes certain things it never pays off, namely, the whole **SPOILERS** girl is an excellent archer thing emphasized in all the marketing and posters and toys and pretty much every other element associated with this film since it was first introduced to the public many years ago. Or months. Whatever. **END SPOILERS** What gives, Pixar/Disney? Did you guys have a sudden change of heart regarding this key element of your main character’s personality and just neglect to tell the rest of us, hoping we wouldn’t notice? And why call the film “Brave” if bravery really has nothing to do with the story? It’s not even one of the central themes of the film!

But yeah, the story here is a mess. The whole **SPOILERS** magic bear transformation thing **END SPOILERS** comes out of nowhere and doesn’t work at all. Very little about the film prior to it happening implied that such a thing was even possible, and when it does happen, it’s forced and handled very awkwardly. As is the whole big bad “bear antagonist” side plot, which was very poorly developed and at times just plain stupid, especially at the end. Talk about tacked on.

I think the problem here was that the filmmakers were trying to do too much with the world they created: trying to cram too much story and theme in too broad a manner. And a lot of it feels forced as a result, and phony, and doesn’t make a whole lot of sense when all is said and done.

The animation though is great, probably the best to date. This is some truly groundbreaking stuff visually, especially the way the main character looks and moves, and her gestures and facial expressions, and the background visuals, god; it’s all genius. It’s extremely photo realistic, and in a few years, I don’t think we’ll be able to tell the difference between something shot from life and something made on a computer. Hell, we’re practically there now. Impressive stuff.

So yeah, not the best film story wise ever made, but visually, hot damn! Definitely style over substance here, though. The emphasis was clearly more on the visuals than the story, and the film suffers greatly for it. Oh, but the voice acting is pretty good.

Worth a watch if you want to see where the future of computer cinema is heading. Good places, I assure you. Probably.

 

 

Prometheus (2012) – 3/5

A shallow, dumb, incomprehensible, illogical mess of a film that does almost nothing right story wise despite an interesting premise and some good ideas here and there. Still, it has its moments, especially near the middle “explore” section, and the visuals are often spectacular, with the CGI and such looking about as photo-realistic as I’ve ever seen it in a film featuring effects of this magnitude. But the script, god; it’s terrible. Terrible dialogue, poorly developed characters, “watered” or otherwise “dumbed down” scenarios, and plot hole after plot hole after plot hole. Did anyone even read the thing before deciding to put it to screen? No?

There are a ton, TON, of problems with the story, but the most significant in my opinion is **SPOILERS** the very nature of the discovery they find at the beginning with the cave paintings. We’re led to believe initially that these are all a kind of map the aliens made for us so we may one day visit them on their home planet or something, because they’re our creators supposedly and they love us and want us to be with them and blah blah blah. Which is fine and makes complete sense.

Yet by the end of the film we find out that not only are the alien creators not as friendly toward us as we had initially thought/they apparently had been in the past, but the location specified in the map they made during a time when they were supposedly friendly toward us wasn’t even to their home planet or something similar but rather to a dangerous weapon planet they were using to launch a massive slime based attack on Earth. **END SPOILERS** Huh? Why the hell would their maps point there? Especially if they only changed their minds about us during a period I can only assume took place after they inspired those maps to be drawn to begin with?

It’s the catalyst of the film, the very event that sets the fancy space trip into motion, yet it’s completely implausible! I understand not making every little detail of the plot perfectly logical, but screwing up the very event that sets your whole story into motion? How incompetent of a writer can you be? I mean, come on. And the film is full of stuff like this: just stupid, dumbed down, poorly thought out moments that make absolutely no sense within the scope of the story. Even one of the coolest scenes in the film, the **SPOILERS** alien vivisection scene **END SPOILERS** which almost made me throw up, makes absolutely no sense in retrospect. Why did David want to keep her like that? How could he, or the people who programmed him, know that would happen, and why was it so necessary to keep it preserved once it did so? And why did she react so passively toward David once all was said and done? **SPOILERS** The guy just tried to kill you! Or at the very least, turn you into some kind of horrible experiment. At least show some emotion when confronting him again after the fact. **END SPOILERS** Idiot.

But no, I have to stop, cause once I start with the questions they may never end. Just bad, bad writing. Poorly thought out plot. Even the direction is merely okay, though, again, the visuals are great, the cinematography is excellent, and the acting is decent, with Guy Pearce stealing the show despite being on-screen for a total of less than 10 minutes. It’s all in the eyes, folks. The lead is also good, but her character is so one-dimensional there’s not much she can do with it really.

Ultimately, I didn’t hate the film. It doesn’t seem too illogical as you’re watching it, just stupid. It’s once it’s over and your brain tries to piece everything together that things start sticking out. It reminded me a lot of the new Star Trek film, actually: great ideas, terrible execution. The film had a lot of promise, with great themes to explore and a great universe to expand and play with, and toyed with lots of interesting thematic contrasts and parallels and metaphors and slimy disgusting aliens. Yet the writing is just awful, and lazy, and stupid. Very little of it makes sense. And that’s a shame, cause it really could have been something special had it been handled by more competent hands. Sad.

The Adventures of Tintin (2011) – 4/5

Exciting, action packed cartoon of sorts that doesn’t do anything new story-wise but is pretty dang entertaining nonetheless, with plenty of great, epic Spielbergian action set pieces and visuals and such, and a fantastic performance from Andy Serkis who plays a human for once, finally, sort of. And he steals the show too, bringing the character to life in a way that makes you wonder why he’s been mostly reduced by Hollywood to roles that really only require him to play mute subhuman CGI  type creatures. The man can clearly hold his own playing “normal” roles as well, so let him do more of those, damn it.

Anyway, the film’s story doesn’t reinvent the wheel, and the CGI is questionable at best at times, with faces looking oddly stiff and inhuman, though Tin Tin himself is animated pretty well. The action scenes are great, though, and clever, especially the whole **SPOILERS** pirate ship flashback battle thing, and the long take action scene near the end when Tin Tin and co. practically destroy half a town trying to get the pieces of paper back from the evil villain guy and his bird. **END SPOILERS** It’s a scene of truly epic proportions. Just pure Spielberg. Loved it. And the final “crane” battle at the end was great too, and clever.

Overall, I liked the film. It’s not the most original or unique, and you could really replace the Tin Tin character with just about any other action type hero and get essentially the same film, but it’s very entertaining for what it is: a fun family action adventure film with above average set pieces and some great performances, especially from Serkis who really ought to be given more roles like this, or even, god forbid, a few non-CGI roles. But will that every happen? Who knows.

Anyway, worth watching, definitely.

Chronicle (2012) – 3.5/5

Poorly written, predictable, and kind of stupid, though a few scenes here and there are pretty good. Oh, and what terrible, terrible CGI throughout. I don’t normally care for such things, and probably wouldn’t have here had the story been better, or had they shown some restraint with the effects, but man. It was like watching live action and cartoons mixed together at times. Terrible.

The plot is the main problem, though. And the dialogue. It’s just bad, clichéd writing. One dimensional characters, poorly thought out scenes, things that just don’t make sense. And why did they have to film this as a “found footage” type movie, anyway? It adds very little to the story, and becomes really improbable by the end, and distracting. I just want to see the action, damn it. Stop changing perspectives on me every five seconds!

Anyway, the main character here is your typical loner loser nerd type who everyone seems to hate despite being a pretty nice guy initially. And, naturally his father is an abusive alcoholic and his mother is dying of cancer or something. Great. Start the waterworks, folks.

I understand that he’s given all these hurdles so his eventual **SPOILERS** turn to the dark side looks convincing, but it isn’t, really. It’s done in such a tired and lazy way that it just comes off boring, and the actual event that finally makes him snap is silly.**END SPOILERS** The father’s character is such an illogical, stupid stereotype. What, he didn’t think his skinny, malnutritioned looking son being able to somehow **SPOILERS** lift him up with one hand and throw him across the room during their final argument was a little odd? And why did the son call him stupid, anyway? He couldn’t even look him in the eye before, and suddenly he has a spine? Yeah, his new powers could have given him confidence, but they didn’t in any other aspect of his life, so why do they here? Totally out of character.

I thought the son had killed him after that scene, frankly, as the father is nowhere to be found afterward. But no, he conveniently returns at the end to spout his clichéd abusive dialogue one final time, to threaten him even, despite the aforementioned “throw him across the room with one hand” incident. What?!? **END SPOILERS** Yeah, he was drunk, okay. Dumb.

The movie is better visually than it is narratively, even with the crappy CGI. A small handful of scenes stand out: the crazy “tunnel” scene, the flying scenes, the last 10 minutes or so. The tunnel scene in particular is great: it’s confusing and weird, yet effective given what it represents, namely, the unknown. I was a bit annoyed that they never **SPOILERS** explain just what the hell was actually in that tunnel, **END SPOILERS** but it’s a small nitpick.

But the CGI, again, is terrible. Some scenes should have just been done practically, like the car moving scene. They couldn’t have just hooked the car up to a few cables, moved it, and removed the cables in post? Or shot the baseball, or the lego, or the rock scenes in such a way as to not make them so fake looking? Surely it can’t be that much more expensive? It would certainly have looked better.

Overall, eh. Poorly written and sporting very little depth of any kind, sure, but a few great scenes lift the movie up a bit. Just a bit, though. I had actually gone into this expecting a smart, entertaining, well written film as I had heard nothing but good things about the writing and the direction before doing so, but no, the whole thing is mediocre at best. It’s the kind of story a teenager comes up while bored in class. Tired structure, tired dialogue, tired characters. The typical crap we’ve seen thousands of times before, with a few touches of brilliance every now and then. Eh.

Final Destination 5 (2011) – 2/5

Disappointing sequel to a film series I’ve inexplicably continued to be a fan of since attending and being thoroughly destroyed mentally by a theatrical screening of Final Destination 2 many years ago. The series has yet to reach those highs again, but every time one of these things come out, I secretly hope it will surpass or, at the very least, equal, the stomach-turning insanity that is Final Destination 2. So far, none have, but the potential is there, I’m sure of it!

And, given all the positive feedback this one has gotten, at least compared to the others, and the fact that its director is a protegé of James Cameron of all people, I hoped it would at the very least be a worthy addition to the Final Destination cannon. Alas, no; it’s one of the weaker of the series, if not the weakest. Granted I haven’t seen the fourth, but if this is supposed to be better, then no thanks.

It starts out interestingly enough, with arguably one of the coolest opening credit title shots I’ve ever seen. The whole thing is essentially a montage of **SPOILERS** various objects falling toward us through glass, objects that have in past films killed many a character in many a gruesome fashion. The blood was also a nice touch. **END SPOILERS** It goes on for almost five minutes, but it’s fun to watch, and made me scratch my head as to how exactly it was done. Very cool.

Then the movie starts and it all goes to hell. The acting is terrible, which would have  been okay had the plot been been at least somewhat effective, but it isn’t. The deaths are silly and cheap looking, and, worst of all, unimaginative. CGI gore just looks stupid. It’s not horrifying or disturbing, it’s just cartoonish. The bridge disaster sequence would have been so cool had they made even a slight effort to not make it look like garbage, and the first death in particular was so idiotic and fake. Come on.

And suspense? What suspense? You see things coming from a mile away, and they happen much too quickly to have any kind of effect on you. Where’s the ominous, nail-biting tension in the minutes before the car wreck scene in the second movie, or its sadistic, gore drenched aftermath of blood and flames? I remember watching that scene for the first time and feeling sick to my stomach by how intense and realistic it all was, but this had nothing like that, not even close. What a waste of this series’ initial premise, again.

And what was with all the Hollywood look-alikes? The guy who looks and sounds just like Tom Cruise, the girl who is a dead ringer for Megan Fox? It would have been interesting had they done something with it, even a subtle wink to the audience or something, but they don’t, so what gives? Why cast these people if you’re not going to do anything with them? To be funny? Well, you failed.

The third act does introduce kind of an interesting new element where **SPOILERS** death sort of takes over one of the marked characters and, suddenly, he becomes the one trying to kill everyone to save himself, **END SPOILERS** but it doesn’t go anywhere really and ends about how you’d expect. And the “police investigation” element showed a lot of promise too: you have a detective who is essentially hunting down the ultimate killer, death, and it’s interesting, but it’s barely even a subplot, and is quickly dropped in the third act. Lame. They could have at least explored it more. Not sure how exactly, but it’s the most interesting idea your film has had so far, so you can at least try, damn it.

And the ending, talk about nasty and sadistic. Come on. I understand **SPOILERS** that death was coming to them regardless, as it has in all the previous films, and the timeline twist was a nice touch, one I didn’t see coming at all, **END SPOILERS** but how it plays out is just cruel, and sad.

Ultimately, the movie just doesn’t work. It’s not well acted, the plot is paper-thin, and the deaths are rushed, uncreative, and, most grievously, not that suspenseful. This movie doesn’t even try. Maybe during the gymnastic scene a little, but there are so many other things it could have done to really stretch that moment out.

There’s a death scene in Final Destination 2 that I still consider one of the best, most disturbing of the series, and of any movie featuring a character being horribly dismembered, for that matter. It’s the elevator scene. If you’ve watched the film, you’ll know what I’m talking about. It’s so gosh darn tense and unpredictable, and, once it’s happening, is almost impossible to look away from. And it ends with a joke, of all things. The whole thing is so disturbing and brilliant, I loved it.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, skip this movie and watch the second one instead, especially if you haven’t already done so. On a big screen, in surround sound. Sure it’s mindless and stupid, but on a purely visceral level, it’s one of the very best of its kind. Unlike this.

Advertisements