Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road Movie Review

What a lovely movie. Seriously, what an absolutely disturbing, action-packed, lovely, THRILL of a movie.

If you haven't seen it yet, buy yourself a ticket and go see Mad Max: Fury Road, the latest from Mad Max creator George Miller. This is a movie that absolutely MUST be experienced on the big screen.

This is an incredibly difficult movie to describe, but I'll do my best. Essentially what George Miller created was an epic, unforgiving look at the future. With Mad Max, he depicts a post-apocalyptic, dystopian future that is dusty, dirty, without water, and insane. The people are insane. The cars are insane. The way people interact is insane. THIS WORLD IS INSANE.

The entire movie revolves around the most ridiculous car chase I've ever seen. Charlize Theron (playing Furiosa) is trying to help a bunch of women flee from the slavery and self-proclaimed god Immortan Joe (played by Hugh Keays-Byrne). She teams up along the way with Tom Hardy's Mad Max and a creepy, former follower of Joe, the highly-entertaining Slit (played by X-Men's Josh Helman). All the performances are spot-on, dirty, gritty, and above-all else....absolutely riveting.

It honestly should be unfair how entertaining and action-packed this movie was. Let me just make a list of things in this movie that SHOULD make you want to go see it:

1. Epic choreographed motorcyle battles (with motorcycles leaping over cars dropping bombs)

2. Amazing cinematography (truly phenomenal use of colors) that transports you to this unforgiving and desolate wasteland.


4. Cars covered in spikes

5. Truly insane stunt work and little use of CGI. Seriously, the guys in this movie do some straight ridiculous stuff.

If I haven't convinced you yet, let me try to convince you with some stills of the main characters in this issue. Don't tell me these people don't look purely fascinating!

You should want to see this movie. I really have nothing witty to say. This is entertainment at it's finest. Mad Max is the reason we go to the movies. Pure spectacle, with a story that actually has heart to it. George Miller created a crazy, insane, weird world that WORKS. I loved it and can't wait to see more.


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Andrew's Cinematic Adventures: Horror Movie Super Review (Unfriended, Babadook, Silence of the Lambs)

I have realized that if I want to be taken seriously as a movie reviewer...or at least be well-versed in all the different types of movies out there...than I should be willing to watch ANY type of movie. This includes movies that I wouldn't necessarily seek out. I love all types of movies for sure...but I tend to avoid the creepier, horror-type movies. Regardless, I have decided to watch ALL movies that come out, scary or not. It's been tough, but my nightmares have been worth it.

This review will include three separate horror movies that I've watched recently. Each one was very different and affected me in a different way. If you don't feel like reading a review of each, then just skip to the one you want to read. Included here, I will have reviews of the movies Unfriended, the Babadook, and Silence of the Lambs.

Unfriended (Skype is a serial killer...)
Let's go ahead and get this started with one of the weirdest, yet satisfying movies I've seen in my entire life: Unfriended.

The only reason I knew this movie existed was because I saw a trailer for it at pretty much every movie I went to last year. It's a pretty easy movie to explain...essentially a girl at a high school kills herself due to cyber bullying and uses the Internet to achieve revenge against all her friends/bullies that gradually pushed her to commit suicide. Simple premise? Yes...but the entire movie actually takes place on a computer screen...using Skype, YouTube, Spotify, and other common computer tools to tell the story.

Essentially we get to a see friend group gradually get picked off one by one by this girl....all using the technology they are using to communicate with one another. They are unable to kick the "mysterious visitor" out of their Skype convo and she gets to each one...wearing them down and turning them against one another.

Sounds stupid? Yes, it kinda was...but for some reason I could not tear away my eyes from the screen. There's something about hearing all those familiar Skype sounds, Spotify music, YouTube whatnots, and seeing them used in a truly terrifying manner against people that are eerily familiar to those you would know in real life. It was mightily effective. There were times during the movie where the camera was solely focused on one computer webcam, with nothing happening...but it was unnerving because you knew something was ABOUT to happen. You were waiting for a jump scare. And then nothing happens. Very well-done horror if you ask me. I've spoken in this blog before about horror movies using cheap jump scares to get the audience terrified...well, Unfriended did not use those overdo those tactics. Every scare in the movie was effective.

Unfriended also made effective use of actors/actresses that are unknown. It was refreshing to see a lot of faces in this movie that I didn't recognize. That contributed to the overall scare factor. Like I said, because the faces were unknown you felt like you were watching real people dealing with real terror. While the actual characters in the movie all had extremely stereotypical high personalities (they had the cute couple, the token fat stoner friend, the douchebag alpha male, the slutty friend, and the friend that they all talked to but secretly hated), it was still enjoyable and didn't feel too much like another cheap teen movie with poor dialogue.

This, as far as I can tell, was Levan Gabriadze's first movie. What a great first entry into the horror cannon of Hollywood. I'm intrigued to see what he does next. It was very fun to see a little bit of new vision and something completely different added to the horror genre.

UNFRIENDED VERDICT: 5/10 (fun the first time, probably would never watch again)

The Babadook

Dat Babadook doe, amirite? But seriously, Abby and I had heard about this movie for months. It was talked about on all the movie blogs, movie YouTube channels, and whatnot as one of the most well-done and terrifying horror movie of 2014. But yet we could never find it in theaters.

But then...NETFLIX came through. And oh boy were we glad we finally were able to watch it. Even though we both had pretty hefty expectations for this movie, we were still completely entertained and utterly unnerved by this movie. THE BABADOOK. Dun dun dun.

This movie was completely different than what I was expecting. The trailers, posters, etc all marketed it as a creature feature. It appeared to be a movie about a small family dealing with a terrifying presence in their home...something that was a mix of Slenderman and Edward Scissorhands. Seriously, though....look at this thing:

I dont care who you are. That thing is terrifying. The movie, though, ended up coming across a lot deeper than I was expecting. While yes, the plot does revolve around a mother and child recovering from the death of her husband while battling some sinister and evil presence in her resonates a lot deeper than that when you actually think about the movie.

I'm sure if you've read about this movie, you've heard the analysis about it being essentially about depression and learning to live with it. The Babadook, they say, is sort of a representation of "depression and the struggle with always having it around." The woman, espescially, in the movie is the one gradually being taken over by the "babadook/depression" and it effects everyone around her (including the dog, sigh).

I like that analysis. It's hard to miss when watching the movie. But even just on a less-deep level, this movie has effective scares. The Babadook is hardly ever seen and the music contributes to an overall feeling of dread throughout the entire movie. I watched it with my roommate and my girlfriend and we were all feeling very unnerved the entire time. It all hit a little too close to home. AND THAT'S NOT A BAD THING. The fact that this movie could somehow get to all three of us on some level (even though we are all incredibly different personalities) speaks to how effectively this movie was made. That, to me, is the mark of a great movie.

I also loved loved loved the bleak atmosphere this movie portrayed with it's use of dark and dreary colors throughout this woman's home. No bright colors, just a lot of black, white, and gray. This isn't something I would've noticed if I wasn't watching the movie with someone who has an eye for art and such things. I love it when movies try to achieve a subtle feel even through just lighting and color. It's not something I've ever noticed before. But because I've been watching these movies with someone who has an eye for this stuff, it's cool to start seeing it in other movies. I love it. MOVIES. ART. GAHHHHH.

I can't finish my review of this movie without acknowledging the amazing performances of the two lead actors in this film. Since this was an Australian film, the two actors would be unknown to most of us. Regardless, Essie Davis as Amelia (the mother) and Noah Wiseman (Samuel, the child) were perfectly suited to their roles. Wow, wow, wow. Especially wow for Noah. Count me as one of the people easily annoyed by child actors. A lot of times they can come across as stupid or annoying (just watch the Phantom Menace) Noah Wiseman, on the other hand,  showed a lot of talent with his performance in his movie...and somehow DIDN'T come across as annoying. Top notch performance.

I would highly recommend this movie. But keep in mind, it's not for the squeamish. Remember this is STILL a horror movie, but more on the level of a psychological thriller mixed with a creature feature. Watch it with friends if you want the best overall experience. It'll become one of those movies that you can analyze long after the final credits have rolled.

THE BABADOOK VERDICT: 9/10 (must buy, great rewatchibility factor)

The Silence of the Lambs

I've been meaning to watch the Silence of the Lambs for years. I would always hear about it from friends but yet I never actually got around to watching it. Once I finally found it on Netflix, I knew it was only a matter of time before I give in to the peer pressure.

Boy am I glad I did. This movie is, obviously, a well-known classic and included one of the most iconic movie villains/killers of all-time in Hannibal Lecter. I usually go in to these classic movies that I've never seen with muted expectations. I'm always afraid I'll be let down or find out that the movie is overrated.

The Silence of the Lambs is NOT overrated. Anthony Hopkins is truly chilling in the title role as Hannibal Lecter. He steals the entire show. The weirdest thing about this movie is that Hannibal isn't even the MAIN VILLAIN. He's in prison for the majority of the movie and merely acts as a helpful voice to Jodie Foster's character Clarice.

The main plot revolves around Clarice attempting to catch a serial killer who is skinning his victims. For some reason or another, Clarice goes to Hannibal for help since a lot of the killings resemble what Hannibal did to his victims. While helping Clarice, Hannibal is also clearly manipulating her. He appears to have some sort of interest in her as a person and sees something truly intriguing within her.

Whatever that was, I have no idea. Allow me to just say that I hate hate hate Jodie Foster. She's probably my least favorite actress and always come across as whiny and just plain unlikeable. Ugh. Hannibal, c'mon man. She's not THAT great. Add her to my list of least favorite actresses along with Tea Leoni and Gwyneth Paltrow.

Anthony Hopkins, on the other hand, is a truly phenomenal actor. I have never once been disappointed by a Hopkins performance. I was raised watching his movies (my dad is a huge fan). Whether it was the Mask of Zorro, Instinct, or the Edge, Hopkins has always been able to put out a magnificent character and convince me that he has truly become that character. I cannot believe how well he performed Hannibal. My what a chilling man.

My favorite part of the movie was every time he chillingly said, "Hellllloooo Clarice." Ugh, so good. I really just wish I knew someone named Clarice, so I would be able to say that all creepily to her. It's become one of my favorite lines in the movie history. :)

If you're going to watch this movie, keep in mind that is is NOT for the faint of heart. Remember that Hannibal is essentially cannibal and there are some truly bloody and horrific scenes within the movie. I don't want to spoil anything if you haven't already seen it. Just remember not to watch with your children. Obviously.

But do you want to see a master class in acting? Watch it for Anthony Hopkins' performance alone. The movie would be just average if it weren't for his character. Everything else happening in the movie pales in comparison to his few moments on screen. He steals the show in every way. I'll be adding this to my library for sure.

SILENCE OF THE LAMBS VERDICT: 8/10 (purely because of Hopkins the God of Actors)

A lot of horror talk here. Do you need a little more joy after reading all this? Here's a picture of a duck. Also, be prepared in the next couple of days for my Avengers: Age of Ultron review and Mad Max: Fury Road. Woohoo!