Legend (1985)

Legend (1985)

Original Theatrical Release: April 18, 1986
Director: Ridley Scott

Jack (Tom Cruise) is a boy at one with the forest, embraced by the Elves and other faerie creatures. He is pure of heart and has fallen in love with a girl, Lili (Mia Sara), and has decided to let her see a Unicorn up close and personal. Lili, overcome by wonder, touches one of the horned creatures of myth and unwittingly lures it into a trap set by the forces of Darkness (Tim Curry). One unicorn is felled and its horn chopped off, plunging the world into an ice age from which it may never recover and Lili is abducted by Darkness and his minions, leaving Jack to save the world, the woman he loves and the remaining unicorn from a terrible fate.

This is one of those films that sort of just slipped through the cracks. Against films such as Willow, Dark Crystal, Labyrinth and others, this movie was swallowed up and lost in the shuffle. Because of its sometimes-meandering story, it doesn’t hold up against those other films all the time. However, the visuals and the mood captured by Ridley Scott still hold up after all these years. I recently re-watched this film, since I hadn’t seen it in more than a decade, and I was extremely impressed with how almost none of it looks cheesy – even by 1980’s standards.

The acting style used by all of the actors is very Shakespearian and fits the tone of the piece well. Everyone is very dramatic and classical. Evil creatures wave their hands and belly-laugh as they take delight in that evil. Darkness, played by the very-talented Tim Curry, looks like something that stepped out of Hell. Jack, played by a very young Tom Cruise, crouches in his forest rags and does somersaults and climbs on trees. The landscape is surreal and fantastical and embodies everything fantasy – which makes sense because Ridley Scott reviewed many classical fairy tales in order to get the right feel for the film. He definitely succeeded on that front.

If anything, give this film a shot just to look at it. The story is a bit more complex than people think, so take your time to analyze all that Legend has to offer before dismissing it. Is it the most perfect fantasy film? No, not by any means – but its voice is one that should be heard.

JOE Rating: ★★★

Movie Trailer For Legend

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Evil Dead (2013)

Evil Dead (2013)

Original Theatrical Release: April 5, 2013
Director: Fede Alvarez

Five friends travel to a remote cabin in the woods to help one among them, Mia (Jane Levy) overcome her addiction to drugs, figuring that being away from the city will enable her to purge her system. With the help of her brother David (Shiloh Fernandez) she thinks that she’ll pull through this time. However, one of the friends, Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci), discovers a book and unwittingly unleashes a supernatural horror upon them all. Will any of them survive?

When I first heard that there was going to be an Evil Dead reboot, I was pretty angry. You don’t just go and mess around with the Evil Dead. C’mon, now.

However, when I heard that Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell were not only endorsing the film, but also producing, I was a little more accepting. THEN, when I saw the trailer…I was excited.

First off, don’t make the mistake of going to a movie theater that lets you order food while you watch the movie, because that’s what I did and let me tell you right now…it was really hard to use the ketchup and eat my rare hamburger with all the blood flying around on screen.

Blood. Sharp stabby things. Skin tears. Broken bones. Puke. Pus. Power tools. Blood. Broken Glass. Nails. Blood. Blood. Blood. Blood.

At times, it looked like Mr. Kool-Aid burst through the wall, yelling “OOHHHHH YEAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH” but he was full of blood instead of Kool-Aid and exploded everywhere.

A little bit of the movie is far-fetched, but as with all horror movies, this happens. If it were “realistic” there would be no supernatural horror, according to logic. There has to be a suspension of disbelief when folks are cutting their own limbs off.

As far as the casting goes, I think most of the actors did their jobs well. Some parts seemed TOO superfluous, and in my opinion, I would have cut out about five minutes of the movie at the beginning (though it opens with a great camera angle very reminiscent of Kubrick’s The Shining).

Overall, I think this was a good update to the original, although I will prefer to think of it as a separate entity from the original Evil Dead film. Go see it if you’re a horror fan or even if you think you might hate it. It could surprise you.

About the only thing the film lacked was likable characters. I didn’t mind most of them, but some I didn’t care about and even the main characters weren’t really as exciting as Ash was in the original Evil Dead series. We’ll have to see if they work on that with a sequel (if they make one) but as it stood, I felt that most of them were annoying and frustrating.

JOE Rating:

Movie Trailer For Evil Dead

Jennifer’s Body (2009)

Jennifer's Body (2009)

Original Theatrical Release: September 18, 2009
Director: Karyn Kusama

Jennifer (Megan Fox) and Needy (Amanda Seyfried) are BFF’s. Needy is kind of a bookish nerd while Jennifer is a cheerleader, very popular and all the guys want her. When the two of them go to see a band, who are actually satanic rock stars, Jennifer is abducted by them. When she finally returns to Needy, she is changed and then boys in the school start getting killed off one by one and Needy has to figure out what happened to Jennifer before her own boyfriend, Chip (Johnny Simmons), is claimed.

I will admit that my main draw to this movie, besides Diablo Cody’s script (she writes for Entertainment Weekly, a magazine I used to read all the time) was Megan Fox. Her acting chops are dubious, but I figured she might be able to nail this part due to her seeming detachment from humanity and her abundant sexuality. Amanda Seyfried was a great choice for her role, and I hadn’t seen her in anything before this movie.

I ended up being kind of let down on all fronts for this film. It was a horror movie at its core, but it wasn’t scary. At all. The one scary part of it was the Satanic band which was actually a really cool idea. A band who has to sacrifice young girls in order to stay famous? Awesome. At best, the movie could have been cheesy-good, like Evil Dead II or Army of Darkness, but the laughs weren’t consistent. Even the sexuality was underwritten so there wasn’t much in the way of tittilation to be found. I think overall, as good as I thought Cody’s teen-hip-snappy dialogue was, the movie itself wasn’t sure what it wanted to be. It ended up being sort of  a lesser version of Mean Girls meets Heathers (The link to my review for Heathers).

It’s really not the worst thing out there. The film is worth watching at least once or twice, but you might find yourself hungry for better films out there after you’re done.

JOE Review: ★★★

Movie Trailer For Jennifer’s Body

 

Scott Pilgrim VS. The World (2010)

Scott Pilgrim VS. The World (2010)

Original Theatrical Release: August 13, 2010
Director: Edgar Wright

Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) lives in Toronto, Canada and hopes to be successful with his band, Sex Bob-omb. He is still having trouble getting over his ex-girlfriend and has taken to dating a high school girl, Knives Chau (Ellen Wong), who is five years younger than he is. When Scott meets the much more mature Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), however, he entagles himself in a love triangle. But, that’s not all…if he wants to be with Ramona he has to defeat Ramona’s Seven Evil Exes…all with different sets of fighting abilities.

This is, of course, based on the Oni Press comics by Bryan Lee O’Malley of the same name and does a pretty good job (better than I expected, actually) of capturing the feeling of the book and artwork. The special effects are all pretty nice, aside from a few times where it looked pretty unrealistic (even in the context of the film…I call it the Storm-Syndrome because of Storm/Halle Berry flying up the elevator shaft in the first X-Men film…looked completely false and unrealistic and unnatural)

I thought Michael Cera was a good choice for Scott Pilgrim and also all of the Seven Evil Exes seemed to be spot on, especially Lucas Lee (Chris Evans) and Gideon Graves (Jason Schwartzman).

The movie moved at a pretty decent pace, I thought, but maybe could have either been shortened or made into a couple of movies if more detail was put in. Some viewers might think the movie is all flash and not be able to appreciate the novelty of the story’s premise.

There are, of course, tons of throwbacks to classic video games and that gives it a fun sort of edge.

JOE Rating: ★★★★

Movie Trailer For Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

Frailty (2001)

Frailty (2001)

Original Theatrical Release: April 12, 2002
Director: Bill Paxton

A mysterious man named Fenton Meiks (Matthew McConaughey) confesses to FBI Agent Wesley Doyle (Powers Boothe) that his father (Bill Paxton) used religious fanaticism in order to get him and his brother to murder people he said were “demons”. Agent Doyle bites and listens as Meiks unravels a tale of religion and evil and murder.

First off, I need to say that this movie is severely underrated. Almost all of my friends, some of them even movie buffs, haven’t seen this film (until I force them to watch it). It was Bill Paxton’s directorial debut and he did a fantastic job with it, and also as the (maybe) fanatical father.

The talent in this movie really shines, especially from Powers Boothe (who is always great, in my opinion…the man can act, let’s be honest) but even McConaughey (who I think is so-so usually) did a great job. The child actors, Matt O’Leary (Young Fenton) and Jeremy Sumpter (Young Adam) turned in stellar performances as well and gave it a sort of Stand By Me feel.

We all know Bill Paxton. It’s hard to be scared of the man (amirite?!), but his quiet, matter-of-fact delivery in his role as Dad Meiks was a shining moment for him, I believe. I was truly terrified for the kids because of this character.

The movie has a lot of surprises in store for you and it’ll keep you guessing until the end with the way everything unfolds. WATCH THIS, or I will come to your house and make you watch it. Maybe. Probably not.

But I’ll be sad if you don’t. 😦

JOE Rating: ★★★★★

Movie Trailer For Frailty

Van Helsing (2004)

Van Helsing (2004)

Original Theatrical Release: May 7, 2004
Director: Stephen Sommers

Van Helsing stars Hugh Jackman as the movie’s title character. Gabriel Van Helsing is sort of a superhero/vigilante who travels the world hunting monsters that prey on the innocent. Anna Valerious (Kate Beckinsale) hears about his monster-hunting prowess and she summons him to Transylvania to help battle Count Dracula (Richard Roxburgh), who her family has been fighting for centuries.

This is one of those movies that COULD have been really cool. I liked the idea of Van Helsing as a Blade/Punisher mashup set in the past with all sorts of steampunk-style sci-fi weapons. Unfortunately, writer/director Stephen Sommers kind of wasted his chance to really shine.

For one thing, there were WAY too many monsters. We open with Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde as well as Frankenstein and his monster. Then we move on to Dracula and other vampires, werewolves and other creatures. How does anyone even survive in this world, let alone not know that Van Helsing is there to save them and is NOT murdering folks (as he’s been framed for doing). Focus on one, or maybe two….but as a viewer I was overwhelmed.

Some of the action is cool, but most of it is too cartoonish to have any real weight. The battles are sometimes too laden with chaos to follow very closely and a disconnect happens. I never really believed Van Helsing was in danger during the battles due to its campy nature.

If the story had been amped up to make it more believable as to why all these creatures came together or exist (yes, I know, monsters aren’t believable anyway but they need to be believable in the context of the film) and maybe if there had been a darker tone instead of trying to make Helsing seem like Errol Flynn playing Robin Hood (lots of rope swinging in this film, by the way), it could have easily been a great movie.

As it is, it’s still entertaining to watch if you just want a mindless action flick. Kate Beckinsale is drop-dead gorgeous (I’m sure many people think the same thing about Hugh Jackman, too) so it’s fun to watch these attractive people fight ugly monsters. Overall, I think the film relied entirely too much on CGI/special effects.

Richard Roxburgh had no bite as Dracula and Frankenstein’s Monster was just weird. The werewolves were so-so. The most interesting villain in the movie, to me, was Jekyll/Hyde…but then again, it’s hard to mess him up.

JOE Rating: ★★★

Movie Trailer For Van Helsing