Friday, September 15, 2017

SCREAM 4

Scream 4 Movie Review

After an eleven year hiatus, the Scream franchise returned in 2011 with the appropriately titled Scream 4. Sidney (Neve Campbell) is now an author who has moved on with her life, but when she returns to her hometown of Woodboro, another Ghostface copycat killer begins to terrorize the small town once more. So after the original, the characters of Scream 2 gave us the rules of the sequel, while the characters of Scream 3 laid out the rules of the final film of the trilogy--Scream 4 gives us the rules of a remake, and this movie certainly feels a lot more like a remake of the original 1996 film than it does a continuation of the franchise. The movie starts off with a few false starts that are both hilarious and terrifying, showing the Stab franchise is still going strong. Gale and Dewey are back again, and while they are not as prominent as they are in the third film, they are still in this movie way too much. We are introduced to a whole new group of teenagers, each essentially mirroring a character from the original film. This one also brings back a lot of the violence missing from the third film, and may be the goriest of the series.

She spilled her guts to him

It was nice to have a Scream film actually feel like a Scream film again, but the characters very much pale in comparison to the ones they are mirroring--Emma Roberts (Nerve) does a fine job as Jill, Sid's cousin, but the remaining actors playing the group of teens turn in very forgettable performances--you get what you expect from the rest of the cast. While this film lacks the cleverness of the original, it is still well-written, albeit somewhat TOO self-aware. Still, Scream 4 is a very good horror movie, a wonderful final film from legendary horror director Wes Craven, and a fitting finale to the franchise.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 7


Scream 4 Movie Trailer

SCREAM 3

Scream 3 Movie Review

Set three years after the events of Scream 2, in this outing, we find that Sidney has done all she can to isolate herself from the world--meanwhile, the film franchise within the film franchise, Stab 3, has begun production, which is where Gale (Courteney Cox) finds Dewey (David Arquette), now hanging around Jennifer Jolie (Parker Posey of Dazed and Confused), the actress playing Gale in the latest Stab film. It doesn't take long for another Ghostface killer to begin hacking people to death, this time mainly on the set of Stab 3. This movie came out in 2000, and this was a weird time to be sure--Friends, which starred Cox, was a top 5 show on television, and Arquettte was the WCW World Champion in the world of professional wrestling.

I'm not making this up

I can only guess this popularity of the real-life couple is why the writer and director of this film decided to make this film "The Gale and Dewey Show", but my God, is it every annoying. The two characters become full-blown unbearable in this outing, and it takes away from the film more than I could ever properly explain. The film is very much more comedy and less horror than the two previous outings--aside from Gale and Dewey hamming it up, we see Jenny McCarthy show up to...actually, I don't know WHY she is here other than to play into one of the stereotypes the previous movies made fun of. If that wasn't ridiculous enough, we also get...wait for it...

Jay and Silent Bob...IN A SCREAM MOVIE!!

Detective Mark Kincaid (Patrick Dempsey, Enchanted) warns us that all bets are off in the final outing of a movie trilogy, and that certainly seems to be the case here, but not in any good way. While the intertextuality of seeing the movie within the movie is expanded and actually somewhat cool here, it also helps to illustrate that Scream 3 has come full circle from the first film in the franchise and is...gasp...precisely the dumbed-down kind of movie the original mocked. 

She realizes it too

Patrick Warburton (our Soarin' Chief Flight Attendant) and veteran horror actor Lance Henriksen both turn in good performances, but it is Posey who steals the show in this one--I shudder to think how much less bearable this movie would have been had she not been a part of it. The reveal at the end could have saved this movie, but unfortunately, it is so absurd it is almost laughable. Scream was meant to be a three and out franchise--thankfully, Wes Craven had one more left in him, though we'd have to wait a while for it.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 5



Scream 3 Movie Trailer

SCREAM 2

Scream 2 Movie Trailer

Released just a year after the successful movie Scream, Scream 2 finds Sidney, now a college student, trying to escape the horrors she had just gone through in the first film--this is made all the more difficult because the story has inspired a film titled Stab, and now a copycat killer is on the loose at her university. Following the success of the first film we knew this one was coming, because--let's face it, baby--these days, you gotta have a sequel! Just as in the first film, the characters acknowledge the horror genre, discuss sequels, and, in a film class, struggle to come up with a sequel that was better than the original--Scream 2 certainly is not one of them, but that's not to say all is bad here.

Dr. Foreman won't be around for part 3

Unfortunately, the all the best characters in Scream were killed off, so we are left with the rest--returning from the first film to join Sidney are Randy (Jamie Kennedy), not-the-killer Cotton Weary (Liev Schreiber), Deputy Dewey (David Arquette), and reporter Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox)--they are joined by a whole crop of young people you will likely recognize, including Sarah Michelle Gellar (The Grudge), Jerry O'Connell (Stand By Me, Piranha 3-D), Timothy Olyphant (The Crazies), Rebecca Gayheart (Urban Legend), heavy metal legend Jada Pinkett Smith, Luke Wilson (Soul Survivors), Heather Graham (License To Drive), Joshua Jackson (Shutter), and even Portia de Rossi of Arrested Development fame, so saying "Hey, look who it is!" will be something you will do more than a few times as you watch this one. This film is where we begin to see the story shift a bit from Sidney to Dewey and Gale, which is unfortunate in that neither character gives you much reason to care about them--or their on again, off again relationship--and whereas Dewey was funny and quirky in the first film, he begins to get a bit more irritating in this one; Gale, already irritating in the first film, is even more so here. The movie progresses at a good pace, and the death scenes are interesting. The reveal is a bit of a stretch, but certainly not something inconceivable, and is a bit more obvious than that of the first movie. While the humor from Scream is still there, and still effective, the scares are less, the story less impressive, and the twists not nearly as interesting as in the first film--still, as sequels go, this one isn't too bad.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 7


Scream 2 Movie Trailer

SCREAM

Scream Movie Review

A masked maniac begins killing students of Woodsboro High School, specifically targeting Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell, The Craft), a girl who previously helped convict the alleged killer of her mother. This 1996 horror film is largely credited with bringing new life to the slasher genre, and really to the horror genre in general--the late 80's and early 90's were filled with cookie-cutter horror films that ranged from bad to awful, and, before the release of Scream, many people had considered the genre dead. Writer Kevin Williamson and legendary director Wes Craven combined to bring Scream to life, and the world was given a horror film the likes of which it had not seen before--this film was scary, bloody, funny, and extremely clever. The movie points out the cliches and short-comings of many horror films before it, while also paying homage to horror classics such as A Nightmare On Elm Street, Halloween, and Psycho, and, in something that was rare at the time, the characters in the film acknowledge the existence of horror films--many of the lead characters are even fans of the genre. The movie also went against the grain of the horror genre by casting some big name stars, including the top-billed Drew Barrymore, and proceeded to shock the audience with the opening scene.

"My popcorn is burning!"

Scream has a ton going for it--the dialogue is smart, the story is multi-leveled and interesting on every one, the acting is very good, the scares are actually scary and the comedy is funny, and the reveal at the end is as shocking as the opening scene. The characters are very likable as well, and Matthew Lillard (SLC Punk!, Thir13en Ghosts) steals the show as Stu. The only real complaint I have with this film is the Gale Weathers character, though, compared to the films to come, she's not TOO terrible here. Over twenty years after its release, Scream stands as one of the more influential horror films ever made, and is considered on of the all-time greats, a title I myself don't mind giving it.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 9

 
Scream Movie Trailer

Saturday, September 9, 2017

THE CROW

The Crow Movie Review

One year after he and his fiancee are murdered, rocker Eric Draven, accompanied by a crow, returns from the grave to seek revenge on the group of miscreants responsible for their deaths. This 1994 film, unfortunately, is probably best known for the on-set death of star Brandon Lee, a tragedy I will not address here--not only was his death unfortunate for the obvious reasons, but it also overshadows what turned out to be a pretty incredible film. Visually, the movie holds true to the 1989 comic series it was based on, and the characters--particularly the villains--are over-the-top in the greatest of ways.

Fire it up!

As good as all those actors are in their portrayals, they all pale in comparison to Lee as Draven, turning in a performance for the ages, struggling with the reality that the woman he loved died such a brutal death as he teeters on madness in his quest for revenge. 

You got a lot of spirit son

The movie blends a good bit of violence and combines action, sci-fi, superhero, and horror nicely, but ultimately--and I have made this argument since I first saw it back in 1995--this is a love story. If you are fortunate enough (as am I) to have somebody you love as much as Eric loves Shelly, you can relate to how Draven feels and reacts in this movie. The Crow is probably secondarily known for its soundtrack--the music of Stone Temple Pilots, The Cure, Machines of Loving Grace, My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult, Nine Inch Nails, and more add a tremendous amount to the overall mood of the film and is, in my opinion, one of the all-time great movie soundtracks. Speaking of the mood--don't look for much uplifting stuff in this one--this is one of those movies that could put you into a sadness that will stick with you for a while. The Crow stands as a cult-like film--a little ahead of its time, a bit flawed, very influential, and grossly underappreciated. 

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 9


The Crow Movie Trailer

Monday, August 28, 2017

LIFE

Life Movie Review

Astronauts, scientists, and various other smart people (in theory) man the International Space Station when a space probe returns from Mars with a soil sample that proves there is life on Mars. The life form, named Calvin, starts off small and cute enough, but soon morphs into a deadly killing machine.

"I'm not touching you, I'm not touching you!"

This special-effects laden big screen film stars Jake Gyllenhaal (Donnie Darko) and Ryan Reynolds (The Amityville Horror) and, predictably, both turn in fine performances here--in fact, every actor in this movie does a pretty good job, making the characters across the board pretty likable--of course this makes you care about the inevitable death scenes, something we see too far little of in horror. Some of the dialogue may lose you, especially in the beginning, which starts off rather slow, and some of the decisions the characters make will have you shaking your head, but it's nothing we're not used to by now. These unbelievable scenes, and a somewhat drawn-out third act aside, there is a lot to like about Life. Yes, it borrows heavily from Alien, but separates itself more than enough to stand on its own in the long run, and it provides a very memorable final scene--this suggests there may be a sequel in the coming years, but I personally would very much prefer they leave it as is. If you're a fan of sci-fi and/or alien films, you should certainly set aside the time to watch Life.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 7


Life Movie Trailer

Sunday, August 27, 2017

ASHES

Ashes Movie Review

Doctor Andrew Stanton (Brian Krause) is trying to come up with a cure for AIDS, but when he prematurely administers the treatment to a dying boy, he instead unleashes an aggressive virus that turns hosts into zombies. This low budget 2010 film is part of a box set I own, and while trying to decide which film from this "prestigious" set to watch next, I decided upon Ashes based on one thing--it co-starred the legendary actor Kadeem Hardison, who, of course, we all remember as one of the all-time great 1980s sitcom characters, Dwayne Wayne.

We all remember this guy, right?

Naturally, Dwayne Wayne's iconic glasses are also remembered fondly to this day and were named...you guessed it..."Dwayne Wayne glasses". So, if you have stumbled upon this site because you are wondering what Dwayne Wayne, or Kadeem Hardison, looks like today...I can't help you, but I CAN show you what he looked like in Ashes, circa 2010.

"Anybody seen my glasses?"

Back to the movie itself--the film builds a lot more on character development than one would expect from a zombie flick, and it actually does it quite nicely. Krause plays both a believable and likable Doctor Stanton, Hardison is spot-on in his performance--in fact, with the exception of the unbearable Joel Bryant (of Jack The Reaper fame), most of the cast is surprisingly decent. Most of the violence occurs off screen, and the outbreak doesn't happen until near the end of the film, but it somehow works--what fails is the directing, the editing, and the camera work. From a technical standpoint, this movie is an absolute mess--it's a shame really, because this film had a lot going for it otherwise.

On A Scale Of One To Ten: 5


Ashes Movie Trailer