Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Purge: Anarchy

The first Purge was a surprise hit last year- having earned $89 million on a 3 million dollar budget. What's not a surprise is that they decided to make a sequel. Most of the time a sequel is rarely as good as the original, but I must say, I really enjoyed Anarchy. Even more than the first movie. It wasn't great by any means, but I still found the whole thing interesting.

The basic premise is pretty much the same as the first movie. So you don't really need to see the first in order to see Anarchy (but I think you should anyway). It takes place in American in the not so distant future. A new government has been formed and has decided that on one night a year, all crime is legal for a 12 hour period (including murder). All police services are suspended and the hospitals are closed during this time as well.

What's different about Anarchy is that, unlike the first, it's not confined to one house. It actually expands and explores this universe. That's what makes it better in my opinion.

The story here follows five characters- a police Sergeant (Frank Grillo) who's out for revenge on the man who killed his son, a mother and daughter named Eva and Cali (Carmen Ejogo and Zoe Soul), and a married couple- Shane and Liz (Zach Gilford and Kiele Sanchez), who's car breaks down minutes before the Purge is about to start. Circumstances bring them together as they try to survive the night.

I like that director James DeMonaco (who also directed the first Purge) too the time to develop these characters somewhat and made you give a shit about them. Most of them anyway. This is something that doesn't happen to often in movies like this.

I also thought the actors did a decent job, especially Frank Grillo. He's quite the leading man and is a complete bad ass in this.

As I said before though, Anarchy is good but it isn't great. My main problem is that it's loaded with cliches and very predictable. There were several times where I sat there thinking, "Okay, this is about to happen..." and sure enough, it did. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed watching it. I was certainly never bored.

Would I recommend it? Absolutely. I wouldn't tell you to rush out and see it or anything, but definitely check it out at some point.

My Rating: 7/10

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (3D)

SPOILER ALERT: While there really aren't any spoilers for this movie, there are a few for 2011's Rise of the Planet of the Apes. I strongly suggest you watch it before you see Dawn. Mainly because it's amazing but also because you'll probably be confused about certain plot points.

I was beginning to have my doubts, but we finally have a well made, intelligent summer blockbuster in the form of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. I knew this movie would be good but I had no idea just how good. Wow!

Dawn takes places ten years after the events of Rise. The Simian flu that started towards the end of the first movie has now wiped out most of humanity. Meanwhile, Caesar (Andy Serkis) leads a flourishing community of apes in the woods near San Francisco. He encounters a group of human survivors, led by Malcolm (Jason Clarke). The reach a fragile peace, but tensions rise between both groups that will push them to the brink of war.

Dawn is directed by Matt Reeves, whose previous work includes Cloverfield and Let Me In. He does an amazing job here. You can tell he really cares about this franchise. He puts so much effort into every little detail and delivers a movie that not only has some amazing action sequences, but a big emotional impact as well.

I also have to give a lot of credit to the visual effects team for all of their hard work. Not once while I was watching this movie did I think anything looked fake. Everything looked so real, especially the apes. It's amazing how far technology has come along even in the last few years. I've always been a huge fan of motion capture. Through the use of this technique you're able to see the actors every facial expression and emotion translated onto the screen.

Speaking of motion capture and actors, Andy Serkis gave another amazing performance. I've said it before and I will continue to say it- this man deserves an Oscar. I don't care what the Academy says- motion capture IS real acting. Just because you don't see his actual self on the screen does not mean he wasn't really in the movie. Check out some of the behind the scenes videos on YouTube and you'll see he performed in each and every one of the scenes his character was in.

I also thought the actors who played the human survivors did a good job as well. Especially Jason Clarke and Gary Oldman. Just so you know, Gary Oldman's character really isn't in this movie as much as the trailers led you to believe.

I ended up seeing this in 3D and I must say it was worth the extra money. The 3D was pretty good overall. Maybe it wasn't as in your face as other movies and was more subtle, but it was still effective.

I honestly can't think of anything wrong with this movie. It's one of the best I've seen this year and has a very good chance of making my top ten list. I highly recommend you see this if you get a chance.

So how does Dawn compare to Rise? I think it's just as good if not better. Matt Reeves is also directing the next installment and I can't wait to see where it goes from here.

My Rating: 10/10

Friday, July 4, 2014

Deliver Us From Evil

Oh Scott Derrickson, why did you do this? Why, why, why? He did so well with Sinister- a movie that I really enjoyed and consider to be one of the better horror movies to come out in recent years. Now he goes and releases this crap. To be fair, it's not the worst horror/thriller movie I've ever seen. But it's not great either.

I'm just going to warn you know- this review WILL have some spoilers. I normally try not to do that but for this I don't care. I'm sure most of you won't see it anyway. At the theater I went to, aside from my friend and I, there were only about seven or eight people there. Including a couple who brought a young child. The little girl couldn't have been more than three or four. At least she was well behaved (unlike some guys sitting behind us who wouldn't shut up at first, causing us to change seats) and mostly slept in her Dad's arms the whole time. It just drives me crazy when parents bring their kids to R rated movies. Especially ones like this. But that's a rant for another day.

Deliver Us From Evil is one of those movies that is "inspired by true events". Which really means, "Look, some of this actually happened. But mostly we made this shit up." It's based on a book written by Ralph Sarchie, who recounts his time as a NYPD officer and some of the strange cases he worked on. In this movie, Ralph is played by Austrailian actor Eric Bana (Munich, Star Trek 2009). Ralph is a police officer (married, with a young daughter) in one of the toughest neighborhoods in the Bronx. He and his partner Butler (played by Joel McHale. I kid you not.) investigate a series of crimes that are discovered to be connected by a demonic possession. Ralph, a skeptic with a lot of personal issues, eventually teams up with an unconventional priest named Mendoza (Edgar Ramirez) to try and stop this evil before it's too late.

I wish there was more to the plot but there's not. It's your standard horror/thriller that you've seen a million times before. There's nothing new here.

I'll start off talking about what I did like. I thought the actors did a decent job. Mainly, Eric Bana and Edgar Ramierz. The two of them looked like they were really trying. Which couldn't have been easy considering what they had to work with.

The movie actually started out strong for me. I thought the whole investigation aspect was really interesting. But then as the movie went along things got crazier and gorier. Just to warn you, there's several disturbing image (even ones involving animals). I like craziness and gore as much as the next person but this was too much. By the end it was so over the top that we laughed at how bad it was.

I also didn't care for the way Scott Derrickson shot the film. For one thing, he used that god awful shaky cam. Another is some of the scenes seemed almost blurry. I know he shot them that way on purpose and I get what he was trying to do, but it made me think something was wrong with my vision for a second. Not fun. He also dragged things out way too long. The movie was about two hours total but it felt like ten. Especially the exorcism scene at the end. I wanted to scream, "For the love of god! Just get the demon out of this guy already and be done with it!"

I obviously wouldn't recommend you see this in theaters. At least I had a free movie pass so I didn't waste any money on this. Deliver Us From Evil is okay if you want to get together with some friends, rent it from the Redbox, and have a few drinks. But that's about it. Hopefully Scott Derrickson's next movie will be better.

My Rating: 5.5/10