Sunday, February 23, 2014

"The Conjuring" - - How I Spent My Dumber Vacation

If horror movies were high school students, "The Conjuring" would be the overachieving preppy girl intent on going to Harvard. What I mean by that is this movie seems scientifically designed to have all the elements that make a horror movie great, but at the cost of it's own soul.

Everything in this movie works, from the opening musical notes during the production logo to the acting, directing, cinematography . . .it is all above board. But let's go back to the preppy girl analogy. As long as everything is going according to the rules she sets up, everything is fine. But deviate from that prescribed course and it all goes to pot. Something that is so tightly wound up, so technically perfect, falls apart when it is no longer in control.

This is what I'm driving at: "The Conjuring" is a perfect horror movie . . .to see in a movie theater. But remove it from that context (i.e. watch it at home) and it turns out to be really, really boring and generic.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

"13/13/13" - - Cheap Yet Chilling

The Asylum, the notorious studio behind such "mockbusters" as "Titanic 2," "Snakes On A Train," and "Transmorphers" seems to be morphing itself lately. When they first hit the scene back in the late 90's they were just another low budget production company that specialized in genre films, like Maverick and Full Moon Video. One of Asylum's earlier release, "King Of The Ants" is terrifying on a soul crushing level. I watched that movie when it came out, 11 years ago, and still can't get it out of my head. But then they realized the real money was in making fast movies with similar titles to current hits and rushing them to the shelves of Blockbuster so people could be "Grandma'ed" (A term my sister came up with, meaning you got the wrong movie because the title was so similar.)

And although in the past year alone they released "Atlantic Rim," "Android Cop," and "AE: Apocalypse Earth"; all riffs are recent films, there seems to be a departure from this business model. They tried coming out on a movie called "Age Of The Hobbits" claiming it was based on real life. This as when a major film studio finally did step in and shut them down. The movie was eventually released as the generic "Clash Of The Empires."

So what does any of this have to do with 13/13/13? The Asylum seems to be splitting in two: On the one hand they made millions off of their recent hit "Sharknado." The whole point of that movie, and it's marketing, is that it was terrible. But recent films like "13/13/13" show a self-aware need for Asylum to grow their brand past garbage filmmaking.

The problem is: "13/13/13" has a garbage budget and if you start off with steak and run it through a meat grinder, you never end up with steak again.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

"Pac-Man And The Ghostly Adventures: Mission Impacable!" - - Devourer Of Souls

So, yes, I know. What did I expect when I rented something called "Pac-Man And The Ghostly Adventures: Mission Impacable!", right? Well, I guess I kind of expected a movie. After I rented it (Redbox Exclusive!), I took a look at the running time. 66 minutes. OK, it's a short movie but that's whatever. I figured it would be 60 minutes of Pac-Man eating stuff. I used to watch the cartoon as a kid so let's pop this in and see what's in store.

"Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Watch Past Here."

An experienced movie viewer can tell you that you can judge a movie by the trailers accompanying it. So when I say trailers for a trilogy of cheap "Jungle Book" movie, one for another trilogy of "Donkey Kong Country" movies that look like they were rendered on a Nintendo 64, and *ugh* "Primates Of The Caribbean," I knew I was in too deep.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

"Robocop" - - This Tin Man Has A Heart, But No Brain

Oh Robocop. How you influenced so many childhoods with your reckless violence. Back in the 80's and 90's, it was normal for an R-rated film to be made into toys and cartoons for kids. Rambo had his own cartoon, Aliens had it's own toy line, and Robocop had not one but two cartoon series along with a slew of action figures.

 "Robocop. Robocop. Roboooooooocop. Robocop. Robocop, Robooooocop. Oh Yeah. Robocop. Robocop. Robooooooooooocop. ROBOCOP!" Just in case you missed the lyrics.

So it's a little odd that an ultra-violent movie about the overreaching arm of corporate greed can become an animated series were Robocop has enough gadgets to have him promoted to Inspector, and then in turn become a PG-13 movie that spends half of it's time using animation in lieu of practical effects. But again, we're talking about an industry that turned a dark horror movie about a man eating plant into a Broadway musical, then back into a movie, then eventually into this:

My favorite episode is when the dentist
showed up high on laughing gas and pimp slapped Seymour.

But we're not here to discuss Hollywood's need to regurgitate it's product into every available medium. That's obvious and it's been said a hundred times over. The question is: "Is Robocop (2014), on it's own, a good movie?"

The answer, sadly, is no.