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THEATRICAL REVIEW: Zombeavers

April 1, 2015 6 comments
ZombeaversDirected by: Jordan Rubin
Produced by: Evan Astrowsky, Chris Bender, Christopher Lemole
Written by: Al Kaplan, Jordan Rubin, Jon Kaplan
Edited by: Ed Marx, Seth Flaum
Cinematography by: Jonathan Hall
Music by: Al Kaplan, Jon Kaplan
Starring: Rachel Melvin, Hutch Dano, Cortney Palm, Lexi Atkins, Bill Burr, Jake Weary, Peter Gilroy, Rex Linn, Brent Briscoe, Phyllis Katz, Robert R. Shafer, Chad Anderson
Year: 2015

 

“We cannot turn against each other right now. That is exactly what the beavers would want!” That’s the line in the trailer that sold my buddy and me on seeing this film. And, as if that weren’t enough, the trailer ended with the tagline, “They’ll dam you to hell!” Ha! This movie knew what it was, and the fact that it was getting decent enough reviews on Rotten Tomatoes (64% positive!), we figured, you know… why not? So he came driving up 100 miles to visit, with Zombeavers being half the reason for our hanging out. (He also wanted to go to Ikea.)
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2013 IN REVIEW: Neither the Best, Nor the Worst Films I Saw

February 1, 2014 2 comments

Elysium - Sharlto Copley and Alice Braga

I apparently watched a lot more movies in 2013 than I had realized… The films below represent not the worst, not the best, but certainly not always good, but also certainly not always bad movies that I saw in and from 2013. Only films released theatrically were counted, and film festival debuts did not count. Some of these films were truly great, others were truly awful, but none of them were seen fit to be placed in “the worst,” “the best,” nor “my favorite” categories. And so, they go here. Here are some of the films I watched in 2013, in order of release! Read more…

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REVIEW: Zombieland

October 3, 2013 2 comments
ZombielandDirected by: Ruben Fleischer
Produced by: Gavin Polone
Written by: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick
Edited by: Peter Amundson, Alan Baumgarten
Cinematography by: Michael Bonvillain
Music by: David Sardy
Starring: Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin, [redacted]
Year: 2009

 

As a sort of American counterpart to the immortal and Halloween annual favorite of mine, Shaun of the Dead, Zombieland is surprisingly not very derivative of its then-5-year-old cousin from across the Atlantic and managed to carve out its own little niche of fandom (though there are undoubtedly overlaps between the two films). Whereas Shaun (now possibly the most referenced title on this blog) sought to contrast everyday life and troubles amidst the interruption of a zombie apocalypse, Zombieland is rather more about the adaptation to a new way of life post-apocalypse. Rather than take a bleak outlook, however, the film acknowledges that, much like in real life, the horrors and tragedies of the world are often offset by the little things that, more or less, make up for all the crap. Read more…

Review: “Juan of the Dead” (“Juan de los Muertos”)

October 30, 2012 2 comments
Directed by: Alejandro Brugués
Produced by: Gervasio Iglesias, Inti Herrera
Written by: Alejandro Brugués
Cinematography by: Carles Gusi
Music by: Sergio Valdés
Starring: Alexis Díaz de Villegas, Jorge Molina, Andrea Duro, Andros Perugorría, Jazz Vilá, Eliecer Ramírez, Antonio Dechent, Blanca Rosa Blanco
Year: 2011

 

I first heard about this movie through a Facebook ad. As you may already know, Shaun of the Dead is one of my favorite movies, and, so, naturally, I have it listed as such on my Facebook page. Released in the US under the same studio, Focus Features, I was naturally notified in my feed of what can essentially be considered that film’s Cuban cousin, Juan of the Dead. Intrigued at the prospect of what could’ve possibly been an international effort to portray the same outbreak, but wary of the film’s potential to just essentially be a remake, I naturally put the film in my movie queue. My expectations weren’t too high for this film, nor was I expecting utter crap. Luckily, the movie wasn’t. And it makes smart usage of the zombie-infested setting to say some poignant things about life as a family in Cuba. (However, it’s unfortunately not the beginning of some international project to depict a global outbreak. Darn.) Read more…

Review: “The Cabin in the Woods”

October 1, 2012 6 comments
Directed by: Drew Goddard
Produced by: Joss Whedon,
Written by: Drew Goddard, Joss Whedon
Cinematography by: Peter Deming
Music by: David Julyan
Starring: Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison, Fran Kranz, Jesse Williams, Richard Jenkins, Bradley Whitford, Brian White, Amy Acker
Year: 2012

 

I don’t claim to be an expert on horror films. Last year, when I did my first Scary Movie Month, I ended up getting schooled by a group of Nightmare on Elm Street fans, who took me to task for not getting the point of the first film. Throughout that month, I struggled to gain a greater appreciation for the horror genre, particularly through the classic slasher films — Halloween, Friday the 13th, The Last House on the Left and its remake… Aside from just providing me with an opportunity to list all those films and link to my reviews, my point is that I’m not particularly fond of these types of films, aside from Halloween, which surprised me with its elegance, and the two Nightmare sequels I reviewed, Dream Warriors and New Nightmare, which ended up being more fun than I anticipated.

I do, however, like Scream and even its three sequels, which were fun, self-aware tributes to the slasher sub-genre while also being fairly well constructed horror thrillers in their own right, to varying degrees. But after this? It’s kind of hard to really think of that many subversive horror films that manage to capture that same sense of fun, creativity, and terror without reiterating everything that’s been said before. Lucky for me, then, that Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard knew exactly how take that formula and turn it on its head, yet again, and with The Cabin in the Woods, they not only send up the horror genre in a loving manner, but also lament the lack of creativity that has pervaded the genre in the past few years and all the factors that led to the genre’s stagnation. Read more…

Theatrical Review: “ParaNorman”

August 26, 2012 6 comments
Directed by: Sam Fell, Chris Butler
Produced by: Travis Knight, Arianne Sutner
Written by: Chris Butler (screenplay), Arianne Sutner, Stephen Stone (story)
Cinematography by: Tristan Oliver
Music by: Jon Brion
Starring: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Tucker Albrizzi, Anna Kendrick, Casey Affleck, John Goodman, Leslie Mann, Jeff Garlin, Jodelle Ferland, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Elaine Stritch, Bernard Hill, Jodelle Ferland, Tempestt Bledsoe, Hannah Noyes, Ariel Winter
Year: 2012

 

There are several things that I admire about this movie that I’m just going to highlight from the outset:

  1. The animation is impressive. I have no idea how they pulled off the visually (not to mention emotionally) charged ending effects, but I would really like to see the featurette on the home release on that.
  2. Getting back to the emotion, there are moments in the film that feel stunningly authentic, and that ending really does pay off.
  3. The filmmakers largely stayed away from obvious pop culture horror references that would be so prevalent in so many big studio film efforts. There are some, one of which is revealed in the trailers (“You want to play hockey?”) and another that is a lot more subtle than this (Norman’s ringtone is from The Exorcist), but, for the most part, the film is a much calmer, more self-contained experience than it could have been.

I lead into this review with those points because I don’t want to sound like I didn’t enjoy this film, because that wouldn’t necessarily be true. The fact of the matter, however, is that for all the things this film excels at, there are several things that hold it back for me from being the apparent critical darling that Rotten Tomatoes would suggest that ParaNorman is.

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My Top 10 Favorite Horror Films (2008)

October 13, 2011 4 comments
This is a reprint of an article I posted on Facebook, October 14, 2008 — 3 years ago to the day in about an hour and a half, actually! I was busy constructing a new list tonight, when I found myself struggling, getting off track and, thanks to being sick, I didn’t really feel too motivated to continue, to be honest. Then I happened to remember that I had already created one a while ago. I didn’t realize that it was actually that long ago, though!

 

Around this time, I was going through a phase, writing Top 10 movie lists that will no doubt find their way here one day, much like this list and my Simpsons Movie and Catwoman reviews I posted from my review-writing English class. In fact, these lists were made just a few months after those reviews were written. I was riding high on review writing, and these were my pet projects.

 

Looking over this list, I’m actually pretty happy with how it is, even with 3 more years of experience with the genre. Possibly the main exception I would make is throwing Scream in there somewhere, but that’ll get its own review soon, anyway, so that movie will get its just attention. Don’t worry! Also, while Shaun of the Dead is undoubtedly horror-related, I didn’t put it here since there’s a strong emphasis on films that scare and create suspense.

 

I’m once again presenting it unedited from its original format, typos and all, save for some additional photos just for visual flair. I was pretty loose with the term “Horror” to be honest, but I wasn’t really that well exposed to the genre at the time. Heck, I’m still not, which is kind of the point in me focusing on the genre this month. Hope you like this list, though, as I attempt to recover and recharge by being absolutely lazy! Read more…
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