Saturday, September 6, 2014

Andrew's Cinematic Adventures: As Above So Below Movie Review

I hate horror movies. They are the worst. I especially hate horror movies that deal with anything demonic...because I've seen stuff like that in my own life...and it scares the living daylights out of me. For good reason too.

I don't know what possessed me (bahahaha...demon puns) to go see this movie. I blame it on a combination of adrenaline from wanting to be scared and my friend Abby. She wanted to see it...and forced me against my will to see the movie with her. I lie. It was completely my decision. I wanted to see if I could handle it.

As Above So Below is a found-footage style film like The Blair Witch Project or Cloverfield. Normally, these types of movies give me motion sickness and I have to watch with a healthy mix of Dr. Pepper and dramamine, due to excessive camera shaking. This movie, somehow, didn't do that to me. Perhaps because I was utterly terrified throughout the entire movie.

The basic plot of the movie revolves around a group of archaeologists of some sort who are in search of the legendary Philosopher's Stone and are led to the catacombs underneath Paris to search. The catacombs of Paris are basically a tomb filled with millions of dead people. You can imagine where this movie takes this. They decide to enlist the help of some French grave-diggers or something (I'm not sure what they were...they found them in a club) to guide them to certain untouched parts of the catacombs. The majority of the movie takes place in areas that would make any person who hates tight spaces and dark corners absolutely mad. IT WAS ABSOLUTELY TERRIFYING.

This movie did exactly what it was supposed to do. I legitimately jumped out of my seat and swore very vulgarly (is it even possible to swear and not have it be vulgar) numerous times because of what was happening on the screen in front of me. This was more terrifying than The Blair Witch Project or any of the Paranormal Activities. The setting was perfect for the found-footage format. I felt legitimate dread every corner they looked around and the further into the catacombs they ventured.

 There are a few gripes that I have with the film, which I guess could be gripes with the entire found-footage genre. It might be purposeful, but these movies always seem to pick actors and characters that I really could care less about. They are always unnecessarily annoying and tend to make decisions that no normal person would ever make. The majority of their fates in the movie are justified...because they are putting themselves into STUPID SITUATIONS. The characters in this movie are exactly like that. Especially the main character Scarlett. She essentially gets all her friends killed because of her thirst for finding the Philosopher's Stone. The only character I actually cared about was the cameraman Benji. His reactions to events and scary figures were actually the reactions I would have if I were in the situation. So, in a sense, I related to the man. Poor Benji. Why would you ever become friends with Scarlett.

The other gripe I have with this movie is the ending. I won't give away too many details, but once the sh*t starts hitting the fan I kinda lost my understanding of what was happening. The more things got murky and freaky, the more my head started to hurt. I'm pretty sure there was a grip reaper at one point...maybe a dog ran past playing a piano...something about popsicles. I don't know. I got super confused and all I know is that things were freaky and then someone mentioned the name of the movie AS ABOVE SO BELOW. It was written on the wall somewhere...and I always get really excited when the movie says the name of the movie. It's all like meta or whatever.

But besides all that, the movie was incredibly entertaining and achieved the purpose of frightening the viewers. Abby and I closed our eyes numerous times and jumped various times. That's hard to do. We are avid movie goers and it's not easy to get us. This movie got us.

Also, it was slightly difficult to get past the obvious Philosopher's Stone connection with Harry Potter. The more they talked about it, the more I wanted them to go talk to Nicholas Flamel or Dumbledore. It got even more ridiculous when they actually TALKED ABOUT NICHOLAS FLAMEL in the frickin movie. I was half expecting Hagrid to show up and say..."Yer a wizard Scarlet."

Monday, September 1, 2014

Andrew's Cinematic Adventures: Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Movie Review

We all have our go-to childhood movie, I'm sure. Mine were the following: Muppet Treasure Island, Jurassic Park, and Space Jam. My friend Abby LOVES cartoons and her go-to childhood movie was Who Framed Roger Rabbit? For some reason, I have made it 26 years in life without ever seeing this movie. To be honest, I also never really had the desire to see the movie, either. But, because of previous golden movie recommendations, I trusted dear Abby and gave this movie a fair shot.

I am glad I did. I'm not necessarily a fan of cartoons in general, but I've gradually grown more and more appreciative of the entire genre. This movie was incredibly enjoyable...and...dare I say it...BETTER THAN SPACE JAM.

For me to say such a thing about a movie I straight up blasphemy.

In case you're in the minority of people who've never seen this cinematic classic (I was), this is the story of a cartoon character who's framed for the murder of Marvin Acme, the leader of the well-known cartoon manufacturer of failed products (just watch Wile E. Coyote for examples...ANY EPISODE). Roger Rabbit is the tune in question and must enlist the help of noted cartoon-hating detective Eddie Valiant. Other major characters include Roger Rabbit's too-hott-for-him wife Jessica, the creepy Judge Doom, and Benny the Cab.

To be honest, I hated Roger at the beginning of the movie. He had way too much energy...and I started watching the movie at a point where I was too annoyed to be able to handle Roger. But he really did grow on me. He also started to remind me of how much I used to love the Looney Tunes from days past. I loved this world that this movie was portraying: a world where tunes are also actors and living in this world with humans.

It was a bit darker, though, for a cartoon movie. The tunes themselves seemed like slaves, forced to cater and entertain the humans in the movie. Pretty dark for a cartoon movie. But it worked somehow. If you really think about it, the Looney Tunes have always been dark and full of adult humor that you don't really catch until you grow up. I mean, they ARE incredibly violent. Would you survive if a piano fell on your head?

A couple of things I loved about this movie....I loved the way the cartoons maintained their cartoon personalities even within this universe. They are who they are and they never change from that. That's something I noticed about Space Jam as well. For example, Sylvester the cat is always and forever going to be concerned with whether or not he can catch Tweety Bird. There's nothing that will ever trump that never-ending task in his brain. Really, they are all driven by a single purpose, and that's what makes them entertaining. It was also incredibly entertaining to see a mix of Disney and Warner Bros characters, which is not something that EVER happens (according to Abby...I'm not smart enough to know that information). For example, Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse have a scene where they are skydiving together. One day, I wish we could have a movie with both of them...some sort of epic rivalry/showdown between the two. Alas, it'll probably never happen.

One of the other greatest parts of the film was the villain played by the great Christopher Lloyd. I hadn't seen this guy in ages...I haven't seen a movie with him in it since Back to the Future or Angels in the Outfield. But he played Doctor Doom. For those who haven't seen it, I won't spoil it. But there was a scene with him that would STILL give me nightmares. I can't even imagine how terrified I would have been if I had seen this movie as a child.

Benny the Cab was also fantastic, if not adorable. My favorite scene of the movie, randomly, was the moment he got into the people car and started driving it with his tires being cute little hands. Oh my gosh, it was so cute I could die.

 But the greatest part of this movie BY FAR was the overall 40s/film noir feel to it. It was incredible. You don't see movies like that anymore and I am absolutely in love with that detective noir feel. To be honest, Hollywood needs to read this and make more movies like that. I would spend money to see more detective noir movies. MAKE IT HAPPEN HOLLYWOOD AND STOP DOING REMAKES.

Anyway, this movie was an instant classic for me. I'll probably purchase it and I actually liked it more than Space Jam. Which is incredible, because Space Jam has basketball in it.