2013: Day 11- 15 Best Movie Remakes! Remakes that are better than the original!

Okay, here is a list of Remakes for people who think they don’t like Remakes

or

FIFTEEN movie remakes that are superior to the original.

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John Carpenter’s THE THING
Daniel Craig in CASINO ROYALE
Francis Ford Coppola’s DRACULA
Tony Scott’s MAN ON FIRE

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David Cronenberg’s THE FLY
Zack Snyder’s THE DAWN OF THE DEAD
Al Pacino in Brian DePalma’s SCARFACE
Sturges’ MAGNIFICENT SEVEN
Scorsese’s THE DEPARTED

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Branagh’s HENRY V
Eddie Murphy’s THE NUTTY PROFESSOR

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Bogart’s MALTESE FALCON (The third film attempt, finally got it right!)
I AM LEGEND, while I have a lot of respect for the Vincent Price and Charlton Heston versions, Will Smith’s I AM LEGEND moves it into big scale territory with out losing the intimate horror inherent
Cameron’s TITANIC
THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH Hictchcock Improves on himself in this Stewart and Day remake of his earlier film

2011 Upcoming Summer Fall films worth seeing in the Theater! (And those that aren’t)

This Summer & Fall’s selection of movies is pretty uninteresting.

Pirates- don’t care. Harry Potter- don’t care. Green Lantern- trailer looks awful. Hangover- Don’t care. Panda2- Don’t care. Cars2- Don’t care. X-men First Class- Trailer has me completely uninterested.

So yeah, summer is sequel heavy, and I am not spending my money on most of em.

    Also ones that sound interesting and they can go either way, being either okay or terrible, are:

STRAW DOGS- As I’ve previously mentioned I have my qualms about this remake, and having just seen the trailer it only increases my doubts about this film. First the trailer basically is the entire film, and 2nd the film is a pretty formulaic reduction of a far more complex original, and 3rd the actors as I’ve previously discussed. Basically the trailer has actually decreased my interest in this film. The lack of a decent poster at this late stage, illustrating the lack of this films identity when compared to the original, that has one of the great, iconic posters of film. So based on all this, currently no plans to see this remake in the theater if at all.

VIVA RIVA- This congo film is seemingly getting some attention, but from some conflicting reviews it sounds like it might be more exploitation flick, gansta rap than I care to be interested in.

I liked CITY OF GOD because there is a vein of decency and humanity and redemption that grounds it. VIVA RIVA has me concerned that it’s just a lowest common denominator, abuse women gangsta want-to-be flick, and that doesn’t interest me in the slightest.

I have a low tolerance for watching women get abused, or the glorification of ignorance, not my idea of something to pay to see. If reviews come in and paint this as something better than what I think it is, then I’ll catch it on DVD.
ADDENDUM: I just saw the trailer to VIVA RIVA… it looks good. So yeah, if I can catch this at a local theater I’ll check it out.

ABDUCTION- I keep wanting to like the films of John Singleton, but the thing is typically I just don’t.

BOYS IN THE HOOD was okay, a nice debut, but is ever in the shadow of the superior MENACE II SOCIETY by the Hughes Brothers. The former feeling dated even upon release, and the latter being ever timeless in its stylish, existential and gothic examination, of hearts of darkness. But very few films can compare favorably to the Hughes Brothers debut, but taking that out of the equation Singleton’s followup films from SHAFT to FOUR BROTHERS also tend to underwhelm, to go through the motions of having a story but tend to lack either momentum or direction.

So adding to my misgivings of Singleton as director, is my complete disinterest in watching his TWILIGHT star, that is the lead in ABDUCTION. I don’t mean any harm… but that is one odd looking kid, but I guess the teen girls find something in that look. However me being not a teen girl, I require out of the star and the director, the ability to carry a film and make me care about it. And I’m completely uninterested in watching this actor. And the trailer does nothing to change my reservations.

So failing any additional feedback ABDUCTION will probably be a DVD rental if that.

    Now the ones that do interest me enough to pay theater prices? Glad you asked :) They are:

10 Jun-

SUPER 8- looks like a cross between ET and CLOVERFIELD, and considering it’s a collaboration between Spielberg and JJ Abrams, that particular feel is obviously by design. I hated CLOVERFIELD but JJ Abrams coming off his impressive STAR TREK reboot, has built up some good will with me, so I’m willing to plunk down money and try this one in the theater.


29 Jun 2011

TRANSFORMERS DARK OF THE MOON IMAX 3D- For reasons previously discussed, very interested in this film. And will be the only movie I pay IMAX 3D prices for, for the rest of the year. Michael Bay shot this with the Cameron 3D cameras, so the 3D should look as good as AVATAR. Plus the trailer just looks great.

THE LEDGE- Matthew Chapman’s first film as director in over 20 years, it’s an intriguing premise about a man compelled to committ suicide. Stars Terrence Howard trying to put his career back on track post the Iron Man debacle. This and another 2011 film LITTLE MURDER, directed by Predrag Antonijevic, starring Howard and set in post-Katrina New Orleans has me interested.

1 July 2011

THE PERFECT HOST- A criminal chooses the wrong house to hide out in. Not typically the kind of film I would pay to see in the theater, but the trailer looks good. Definite maybe.

5 Aug 2011

RISE OF THE APES- There’s only two trailers for the rest of the year that really made my jaw drop and made me exclaim “I have got to go see that!”.

One is the TRANSFORMERS DARK OF THE MOON the other is RISE OF THE APES.

Just like any other kid who grew up in the 70s I liked the Original PLANET OF THE APES films, largely due to the performance of Roddy McDowell one of my favorite actors, and Kim Hunter who I only recently realized was the Kim Hunter of STREET CAR NAMED DESIRE and THE 7TH VICTIM (If you had to define my perfect woman, what I’m attracted to, it would be very close to Kim Hunter in those two roles, her looks and the strange aura she gives off of both vulnerability and sultriness).

So shorn of these two actors to center such a out there scifi film, I had doubts about any remake. Particularly given the awful Tim Burton attempt. However this trailer is going for a different tact, and the Universal Monster/Frankenstein fan in me… really likes it. If the movie lives up to the trailer it will be AWESOME. Either way, I’ll be in the theaters to find out. Also I’m hearing noting but accolades for writer/director Rupert Wyatt’s previous film THE ESCAPIST (which I will make time to watch on DVD in the coming week). This could be the movie of the summer, if not the entire year.

12 Aug 2011

FINAL DESTINATION 5- The series that cannot die returns for a fifth installment. The previous entry which I saw in RealD 3D, was okay 3D, with a fantastic opening credit sequence, unfortunately that was the best thing about the movie, after that it continued to lose steam till the forgettable ending. That said a new director, the addition of Tony Todd, and a pretty solid trailer, and the fact it was shot in 3D has me interested enough to give this latest entry a look on the big screen.

26 Aug 2011

COLUMBIANA- I really liked SALT, and the trailer for this does look good, and I like Zoe Saldana, and how do you not like a director with the name Olivier Megaton… all that is on the plus side. On the minus side is Zoe Saldana playing a bad ass is pushing my suspension of disbelief too far. She’s a 110lbs for goodness sake. The guns are bigger than she is.

Angelina Jolie is at least a big, substantial girl, so you can buy into her handling herself a little bit more. Plus I don’t like how they are kinda grooming Zoe Saldana to be the next Halle Barry, ie someone who is being groomed for typical Black women in White films type rolls, ala MONSTERS BALL. These type of roles are the reason I don’t go to see anything Halle Barry is in, and i would hate for Zoe Saldana to fall into such easy stereotyping. All that to say, the trailer looks good, but I do have qualms. I may see it in the theater though, because it also has Lennie James in a starring role, and he’s a good actor.

Entering the fall only one film as of this writing has me interested in seeing it in the theaters, Tarsem Singh’s THE IMMORTALS.

11 NOV 2011

THE IMMORTALS- Tarsem Singh who helmed the visually stunning THE FALL returns this fall with THE IMMORTALS. By the producers of 300, it has that 300 feel with some CLASH OF THE TITANS tossed in. Visually the trailer looks awesome. However just in that bit of trailer the acting looks hokey and the story similarly questionable. It was a problem that plagued Singh’s THE FALL; shaky performances, and a shaky story. Unlike Snyder who can do both amazing visuals and elicit amazing performances, Singh has yet to meld both in service of a strong, engagingly told story. However, there’s always a first time, and based on the visuals alone I’m intrigued enough to give this film a try in the theater. Because again, like Snyder, even his failures are far more interesting than most directors’ successes. Much like Peckinpah who produced films that never did great at the box office, and opened to mixed critical reviews, but 50 years later have grown in esteem, and are now remembered and still watched when the more commercially successful films of his day are not.

That’s the trajectory of directors Snyder and Singh… they are making movies, slightly ahead of the comfort zone of their time, movies that people will be discussing and praising 50 years from now. Perhaps IMMORTALS will be one of those films or perhaps like most mythological movies it will sink like a stone from the memories of men. Time will tell.

Okay some last minute mentions:

After a lapse of over a decade, John Carpenter returns to the directorial chair with the horror film THE WARD. The film which wrapped in 2010 and received a UK release in January 2011, is finally slated for an 11 July 2011 US release. By all reports critical response to it so far has been luke-warm. I’m still at odds with the idea of releasing US movies abroad before releasing it domestically.

While some of this has to do with studios playing games of economic gymnastics, for smaller studios… much of that has to do with the monopolistic distribution system in the US and the difficulty and expense of getting a slot for wide release in increasingly studio controlled theaters. Whatever the reason THE WARD after a sizable delay is hitting US theaters this year.

Seemingly dealing with a ghost in a women’s institution… the film doesn’t scream original, but from the trailer it is shot nicely, plus it’s Carpenter, he’s earned the benefit of the doubt with me.

That said, the poster is not filling me with confidence.

I’m a big believer if you don’t care enough to put out a creative poster, that’s pretty proportional to what value the backers put in the film. Having a good poster is no indicator of quality, look at Roland Emmerich’s 2012 (a horrible film), but at least it means someone thinks enough of a movie to try and promote it well.

Typically when the poster is nothing more than someone’s face, the money men are saying “we’ve paid for a star, we’re not paying for marketing as well. Their mugshot either brings in people or it doesn’t, either way we’re not spending any more money to market this turkey.”. You get these bland mugshot posters typically when the backers think they have a commercial failure on their hands.

Now that’s not always the case, sometimes expected financial disappointments turn out to be commercial successes… such as HANCOCK (worst… poster… ever, but turned out to be a good movie and managed to gross over 300 million).

So we’ll see if THE WARD will also be an exception to the bad poster rule. Somehow I don’t think so.

And another delayed film, the Guillermo Del Toro produced DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK, after being shelved for some time, is also looking at a theatrical release this year. Already released in Iceland in March, the film gets a UK, Australia, and Turkey release on the 12th of August, a Finland release on the 19th of August, and finally cracks the states on the 26th of August.

That just annoys me. But the vagaries of distribution aside the film itself looks interesting, if extremely familiar and formulaic.

With odes of DARKNESS and any number of “child in jeopardy, not believed by the parents, evil house” films. Films that tend to infuriate me with the stupidity of its leads/writing.

Helmed by first time feature director Troy Nixey, the film can go either way. The trailer itself is okay, but films like this tend to lean on that same conceit which I have a problem with, of staying in a house when they’ve been made aware of the danger. So time will tell if this film can do anything different. Katie Holmes, who I tend to find, comes off very annoying and abrasive in everything I’ve seen her in, from Dawson’s Creek to the Batman films, seemed okay in the trailer, we’ll see if that extends to the film as a whole.

I have seen pundits on-line creaming their shorts over the trailer for Jeff Nichols 2nd film, TAKE SHELTER, scheduled for 7 Oct 2011 release. I’ve seen the trailer, it’s okay. Obtuse, not giving anything away, but kinda intriguing. What it is not… is great, or deserving of all this hyperbole of best trailer ever. Are you people on crack? It’s a small, understated trailer, that doesn’t really say anything, but hints it’s about a guy with schizophrenia. May be worth a look, or not. But all this hype screams of award season bs. Time will tell.

And as of this writing that’s all the films for the rest of 2011 that have me interested enough to see them in the theater. I’ll add to this list should any notable new trailers pop up.

MASTERS OF HORROR: DVD Season 1 Season 2 Collection Review!


For two seasons, fall of 2005-winter of 2007, a most unusual series landed on fine cable channels everywhere. Grandly titled MASTERS OF HORROR the show was the brain-child of Mick Garris, known mostly for two Stephen King Adaptations.

Being not a cable guy, I didn’t catch the show on first airing, so catching up with it on DVDs, as is my way with all television these days.

So out of the 26 episodes, here’s my take on the ones I’ve seen:

Season 1, Episode 1: Incident on and Off a Mountain Road
Original Air Date—28 October 2005- An interesting episode to open the series on. Mixing Survivalist Drama, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Abusive Husband, Racist Militia, and Female Empowerment. Lot of ideas in less than an hours running time, helmed by Phantasm director Don Coscarelli. But I felt the parts didn’t mesh together for a decent whole. The mutant antagonist, ala WRONG TURN, just struck me as uninteresting. So not an episode I’ll watch again.

Season 1, Episode 2: Dreams in the Witch-House
Original Air Date—4 November 2005- Now this Stuart Gordan episode based loosely on HP Lovecraft, about a house and what lives behind the walls, is more like it. Stuart Gordon of REANIMATOR fame, helming a disturbing, Gothic, and sexy tale… of the diabolic. I re-watch this one often, Strongly Recommended. One of my favorite episodes.B+/A-.

Season 1, Episode 4: Jenifer
Original Air Date—18 November 2005- Dario Argento is one of the most influential horror directors, making his name on genre defining films of the 70s such as BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE, SUSPIRIA, DEEP RED. But it is clear his films of the last three decades, are not of the same quality as his early work. To be blunt they are not very good. So I was very happy to find JENIFER an extreme, but well crafted, and well performed, and engrossingly written tale.

A lot of the credit to this has to go to star and writer Steven Weber, who adapts the source material, a short Bruce Jones comic story, into a very engrossing and powerful tale of eros and thanos. Steven Weber’s strong writing reigning in Argento’s tendency to go off the rails when left to his own writing/devices. Huge kudos to Carrie Flemming who is immortalized as both the beauty and the beast. Another favorite episode. B+.

Season 1, Episode 5: Chocolate
Original Air Date—25 November 2005- A Mick Garris written and directed episode. Based on other Mick Garris properties I’ve sat through, and feedback on this episode from sources I trust I have no interest in seeing this episode. Mick Garris is to be applauded for putting the show together, and getting this talent under one roof, and by all reports is one of the nicest guys, and universally liked by juist about everyone, he’s a great networking guy/producer, but I think he really needs to leave the writing/directing to others based on the following:

Season 2, Episode 8: Valerie on the Stairs
Original Air Date—21 October 2006- I went into this episode thinking people were unfairly giving Mick Garris a hard time.

I mean an episode based on a Clive Barker story, and starring Tony Todd and Christopher Lloyd how can you go wrong? And the major complaint I could garner was people didn’t like the female nudity. So I went in with an open mind.

The episode starts off with good camera angles, nice dolly movements, nicely shot. The beginning is creepily effective, and I’m thinking.. “What the hell are people complaing about?” and then we get into the meat of the story, and it goes off the rails quickly.

Uggh where to start.

Stupid dialog, annoying protagonists, stupid plot contrivances, and an antagonist, Tony Todd, that rather than look frightening, looks pathetic. Poor, poor makeup job. I like Tony Todd, but seriously, do some pushups before you take a role where you are going to be sans shirt. The whole sagging man boobs, uhhh… not good. And the sex scenes, and I have no problem with sex scenes, are not sexy, they are just disgusting and pathetic. And the plot, I say that loosely, is just abyssmal.

The only saving grace of this episode is Christpher LLoyd, bringing real acting chops, to what amounts to a thankless role, and almost salvaging the poor dialog. An hour long episode that felt twice that length. And the final ending…just atrocious. Mick Garris may be the nicest guy in Hollywood, but he really needs to leave the writing and directing to others. You would need to pay me to watch this again. Awful.

Season 2, Episode 6: Pelts- Now sticking with Dario Argento, we jump to his 2nd and final MOH episode… PELTS. Now this shows Dario Argento when he doesn’t have a great writer to reign him in, or give heart to his splatter. Starring Meatloaf this episode is quite frankly just a mess. Cursed pelts, ya, ya, ya. It is just awful. Written by Mick Garris, it’s a preview of what can be expected in Mick’s own episodes. Just awful.

Season 1, Episode 8: John Carpenter’s Cigarette Burns
Original Air Date—November 2005- I’m a huge John Carpenter fan. but was strongly underwhelmed. While this one has a lot of hype surrounding it, I found it to be a haphazadly designed and poorly written episode, that unfortunately Carpenter couldn’t save. Not recommended.

Season 1, Episode 9: The Fair Haired Child
Original Air Date—6 January 2006- William Malone is a director whose features tend to underwhelm, so imagine my surprise when this episode turned out to be one of the creepiest, most disturbing and visually inventive of the first season. Great performances by a cast that includes Lori Petty. B+.

Season 1, Episode 10: Sick Girl
Original Air Date—13 January 2006- A praised episode by some. I found this Lucky McGee episode very by the numbers, unengaging, and almost immediately forgettable.

Season 1, Episode 12: Haeckel’s Tale
Original Air Date—27 January 2006- By the numbers episode with not an engrossing bone in its body. Forgettable.

Given the above hit and miss nature of the series, I can see why it only lasted two seasons. But the ones that work, are definitely worth your time.

Well, wrapping this up, that’s all the episodes of MOH I’ve seen to date. Come back often as I’ll be adding to this review post periodically. Till then… be well. :) .

RECENT FILM REVIEWS: ORPHAN and DRAG ME TO HELL

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DRAG ME TO HELL

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There is nothing quite like having an entire movie theater to yourself. And I had just such an experience at today’s matinee showing of Sam Raimi’s latest DRAG ME TO HELL.

Though that said, DRAG ME TO HELL is obviously a film that plays to having the crowd experience. The jumps, and exclamations of the audience are part of the gestalt in a film such as this.

But having the theater to myself gave me a chance to evaluate Raimi’s film as a film, rather then just a theater experience. And as a film the first 2/3rd made me quite remember why the name Raimi is legendary. He remains an exciting, innovative filmmaker. You can see on the screen all the timing and experience he brings from his Indie days, his big budget days, even his TV days, and it makes the first two thirds of the film quite fun.
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The story perhaps relying a little too much on gross out gags, for the juvenile audience, but it is an easily overlooked flaw. It is not perfect by any means but the first 2/3rd of the film moves at a brisk enough pace to keep you from looking at the seams of the movie.

SPOILERS:

However from the séance onwards, the film becomes a little too campy. The wire-fu possessed dancing dude, is pretty much where the film loses me (dancing characters appear to be Raimi’s Achilles heel. I say that to be tongue in cheek, because unlike many, while I agree the third SPIDERMAN was the weakest of Raimi’s trilogy, as a whole I quite liked it. And found the dancing sequence in that film quite enjoyable, however not in this film).

The possessed guy, assistant to the medium who tries to exorcise the demon, his whole appearance in the movie seems like what it is, contrived, and calls attention to itself in a bad way. He comes in and comes out to be the weakest portion of the film. So from that point on the film feels really forced, particularly the ending just seemed (the name of the movie to the contrary unlikely) slapped on to give the audience an unconventional ending.

I think with any ending [spoilers], the film has to earn that ending; has to earn its happy ending or earn its downer ending. This film did not earn its ending.

The ending felt, rather than coming out of the film we were seeing, as if it were there for no other reason then to appeal to an audience that increasingly confuses sensationalism and extremism with quality.

Being an optimist I think most films earn their happy endings. I’m a believer in happy endings. So for a film to have a downbeat ending, it has to, through the internal logic of the film, earn that ending. Films that fail to earn their downer ending, are films like THE MIST (its ending felt forced, and tacked on. But so did most of the film).

As far as examples of movies that earn their downer ending: DESCENT, Raimi’s own EVIL DEAD films, TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, SEVEN, Carpenter’s THE THING, etc.

Unfortunately DRAG ME TO HELL’s ending is more MIST then DESCENT.
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And I understand that studios increasingly gear films toward an audience that filmmakers are aware can’t appreciate plot, or subtlety, or even beauty, but just bodily fluids and banality.

So increasingly filmmakers crank out lowest common denominator films to lowest common denominator audiences. They create caricatures rather than characters, protagonists as objects for audiences to laugh at or feel superior to (for not being in their shoes). And I think that’s a dangerous itch to train the American public to get used to being scratched; to objectify and even enjoy the pain of the other. There’s a dangerous grooming of the audience that filmmakers are gearing their movies toward; a dangerous commentary about what our degenerating fictions say about our society’s degenerating freedoms.

But such pandering was not something I expected from a filmmaker like Raimi. And to his credit it’s not something I got for the bulk of the film. But unfortunately it is the ending that defines the journey, and I think the film swerved into oncoming traffic at the end.

The ending flew in the face of the internal veracity/logic of the film. How many blank sealed envelopes, with a round item in it are you likely to find in a car? It is illogical (in the logic of the film) that the protagonist would mistakenly pick up a duplicate envelope, or that such a duplicate envelope would just be sitting in the car. As soon as she lost the envelope, then found it again I was on the alert for just such an ending as we got. But I was hoping Raimi wouldn’t be as… slapstick as that.

And that is the perfect word for the ending, it felt slapstick rather than narrative, or emotive, or meaningful.

I think DRAG ME TO HELL is not a film that people who raved about it in the gestalt of the theaters, will judge it as favorably upon second viewing. I think the clumsy nature of the 3rd act, will be clearer when revisited.

An ending has to be a product of the convictions and craft of the filmmaker, as well as the strength of the script/story; and should not be an interchangeable thing. A film is not a video game, it shouldn’t have multiple endings. It is a narrative that should like a novel, build toward a singular end. DRAG ME TO HELL, its name to the contrary, felt untrue to its end.

So all in all, a film worth seeing just for Raimi’s directorial style, but a flawed film. It is a fun date/group movie for most of its running time, but just be aware the ending does not hold up.

**1/2 out of ****.

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ORPHAN

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Saw ORPHAN last week with a friend, and in a packed theater, and it was a very odd experience for me. ORPHAN is a thriller with a creepy kid, that’s all you need to know going in. That’s all I knew. It is a technically pretty damn impressive film, that does everything it wants to do, with a nice twist I did not see coming, but I really did not enjoy this film. Because for all its craft, its cliches got on my nerves. (I’m going to avoid the central spoiler of this film, because it is great and you should see it for the twist alone, that said to discuss what I don’t like about the film is impossible without discussing a few other things about the film. So these are very minor obtuse SPOILERS, but they are spoilers, so go see or rent the film first, and come back to compare our takes on the film. You have been warned! :) )

F**K I’m sick of characters of color being in a movie just to buy it. SICK OF IT. It was piss poor filmmaking three decades ago, and it has just gotten to be a more pathetic crutch today. Which is why I’m such an effing fan of John Carpenter films. Wow, great movies, where the character of color doesn’t necessarily have to be the victim or the villain. And where he typically has more than one character of color. Imagine that? Man, I understand roles are hard to come by for actors of color, but seriously to all actors of color out there: pick your roles with some care!

Because when you, the actor, are silenced… shuffle off this mortal coil; they… the images, will continue to speak for you. Actors like Poitier and Belafonte and Roundtree and Williams understood this. And while this principled stance has made their careers shorter than they otherwise would be, it has also made cinema better than it would otherwise be.

Here endeth that rant.

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Onto Cliche and rant two. The cliche of getting the upper hand on the villain, then turning your back on them. OH KNOW, NOT AGAIN!

The last time that was cool was in the first LETHAL WEAPON movie. It’s been done 5 million times since then, notice to filmmakers: IT IS NO LONGER COOL, INTERESTING, OR REMOTELY A SURPRISE so stop effing doing it! Grrrrrr! ORPHAN has this obligatory scene of “surprise the villain isn’t dead”, and it’s just lazy scriptwriting, lazy direction, lazy filmmaking.

And like I say, I quite like where the ending of ORPHAN begins to go, but that cliche just takes me right out of the film, and kills any enjoyment for me. And the whole movie is filled with frustrating and annoying cliches like that. Particularly the character of the husband is so stupid and whiny and blind, that I personally want to reach into the screen and strangle him. The actor Peter Sarsgaard is always such such a swarmy presence in his roles, though that did serve him well in the far better SKELETON KEY.

And the last thing that really kind of got me about this film, it’s really a very vicious film throughout. I mean, it’s bloody dark. Which is absolutely what the filmmakers were going for, but I have to say, I was pretty uncomfortable with the whole film. I’m no light weight when it comes to thrillers/horror, I’ve seen everything from UNIVERSAL CLASSICS to EXORCIST to SEVEN, Japanese Horror, Italian Horror, you name it, I’ve seen it. But a lot of this film revolves around violence around children, putting them in jeopardy, and while this has been done to good effect from films such as NIGHT OF THE HUNTER, LEMORA, WHO CAN KILL A CHILD, TOGETHER BROTHERS, etc., it’s always something I’m weary of. And here in ORPHAN there’s some really explicit violence, and implied violence, and language perpetrated around and at children. How parents of these young actors can be okay with their kids in such explicit scenes, I always find slightly disturbing.

All that’s on the bad. But on the good is that the performance of the cast, for the most part, is fantastic. Vera Farmiga as the mom, Kate Coleman, has been working since the 90s, but this puts her on the map for me. She completely ties you into this movie. CCH Pounder in a thankless role, delivers her usual solid and grounded performance (a great actress, who is typically underused). And the children Jimmy Bennett (The Young James T. Kirk from the new STAR TREK film, who only 13 already has over 30 film and TV credits to his name), and Aryana Engineer (in her screen debut) are excellent in really difficult and intense roles. But it’s the 12 yo Isabelle Fuhrman who is a revelation as the title character. It is an astonishing performance and one I would never have any 12 yo play. However in the long history of evil kid movies, without argument Isabelle’s performance takes the crown.

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Director Jaume Collett-Serra, a Spaniard, with this his third movie marks himself as a pushing the edge director to watch. If he can avoid the easy cliches, and the predictable scripts, he may become a house-hold name. Based on this film I’ll check out his previous two films: HOUSE OF WAX and GOAL II. And finally moving onto the writers, the story was by Alex Mace, and screenplay by David Johnson. Their twist I quite liked but, like the director, the writers need to avoid the clichés and the well worn choices of the genre.

An interesting film, with some really unnerving scenes. Not a film I walked out of the theater liking, though my friend— she was more a fan of it then I, but I can not argue that it was compellingly crafted.

An intriguing film, definitely flawed, but overall very capably put together. I wouldn’t recommend spending movie prices to see, but it is definitely one you should rent and decide for yourself. And let me reiterate if I didn’t make it clear, this is not a family film. IT IS NOT FOR KIDS, and is totally deserving of its R rating.

Okay those are all the reviews for this segment. See you next time!