Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Catch Up - What I Watched March 27-April 23


I don't know what it is about March and April, but every year they seem to become one big black hole for movie watching in my household. This year has been no different, with viewing totals a lot lower than what I typically achieve. I honestly don't have an explanation, but with so few movies passing before my eyes, rather than do the usual weekly What I Watched column, it's time for a catch-up...

River's Edge (1986) VHS
- This teen drama that comments on the increasing apathy of the younger generation is as poignant today as it was back in the mid-80s. When a male member of their group of friends kills a female friend, the rest of the group reacts to the news in different ways. Oddball Layne (Crispin Glover) turns uber-loyal and tries to cover up the crime, while Matt and Clarissa (Keanu Reeves and Ione Skye) choose the more ethical route. Matt's younger brother Tim (Joshua Miller) sees his contacting the police as a betrayal, and adding to the volatile mix is crazed drug dealer Feck (Dennis Hopper). This bleak affair benefits from some stellar casting (Glover and Hopper are the stand outs).
Scream season 1 (2015) Netflix
- I'm on the fence about the Scream movies. I did enjoy the first couple (and part four was okay), but I also recognise the damage their success did to horror movies, spawning a long line of soulless teenybopper movies that are better left unmentioned. The TV series brings back a lot of the elements of the first movie, to the point of making me wonder halfway through if the outcome was going to be the same (luckily it wasn't). Yes, it revolves around high school life and features a bunch of stereotypes but the writing is pretty good and it kept me guessing all the way to a fairly-satisfying conclusion. Bonus points for giving regular work to Bex Taylor-Klaus (THE KILLING, ARROW).

Roadkill (2011) DVD
- This Scifi/Syfy original movie will be appreciated by fans of their output and is best avoided by haters of their fare. It has the usual elements - washed up star (THE CRYING GAME's Stephen Rea in a short cameo role), bad CGI and a killer creature (giant bird of prey). Making it rise above the crowd is its setting (Ireland) and the inclusion of some gypsy mumbojumbo magic. If, like me, you can appreciate Syfy's flicks as modern-day versions of 50s B movies like Attack of the Giant Leeches and The Giant Gila Monster, you'll dig this.

Journey to the Center of the Earth (2008) Netflix
- Family movie night, and we sat down to watch this Brendan Fraser vehicle. Remember him? I recently read something online about his fall from grace, and it seems part of the blame sits on his decision to pass on the sequel to this movie (he was replaced by Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson).
Fraser's slide into obscurity aside, this movie succeeds in doing what it sets out to do - bringing a Jules Verne tale to life in a family-friendly way using modern graphics. You get what you'd expect - lots of fights with giant creatures, perilous treks through underground worlds etc. Good fun.

The Hallow (2015) AVI
- I've lost count of the number of horror movies I've seen in the last couple of years that start off with a family leaving the city to move into a house in the country. That's the case with The Hallow (aka The Woods), with the three-person family (mum, dad and baby) leaving London to set up home in the Irish countryside. Dad is some kind of environmentalist, who ignores local warnings and ventures into the dark woods. This riles up the creatures of local legend (faeries, goblins etc), who begin to terrorise the family. It's a simple premise, part survival horror part fairytale, but one that succeeds for the most part. The creatures, which are presented using a mix of CGI and practical effects, are pretty damn creepy and the infusion of Celtic folklore keeps things interesting. Not a must-see, but okay for what it is.

Justice League vs Teen Titans (2016) AVI
- The latest DC animated superhero flick has a great premise, but sadly is not executed as well as it could have been. I love the idea of a movie centred around the Teen Titans (particularly Nightwing, my favourite outside of Batman) having to work together to defeat a Justice League possessed by an alien force. I even don't mind the heavy emphasis on Damien Wayne/Robin, despite the fact I usually find the character annoying. But what brings this one down a peg or two is the fact that it just feels like it drags on for too long. More action and less set-up would have been a better idea. My six-year-old son loved it, but then he's easily impressed when it comes to superheroes.

Hell and Back (2015) Netflix
- I was excited to check this one out, as stop animated movies for adults are few and far between. As the title suggests, two friends venture to hell to rescue their buddy who is accidentally sucked into the void. Together they face an army of demons led by the Devil (Bob Oedenkirk, BETTER CALL SAUL) and a variety of other characters, including a human demon hunter and a half-human, half-demon girl (Mila Kunis, FAMILY GUY). The humour is definitely of the toilet kind and I found myself laughing a few times, but for the most part the comedy hit the mark for me. I still enjoyed watching because of the glorious stop motion animation, but was left wishing this one had been better than it turned out to be.

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