Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Thing Prequel - First Trailer!

You can watch the trailer here.  It looks like the movie is at least trying to achieve the atmosphere of John Carpenter's masterpiece, which is a plus.  Mary Elizabeth Winstead has done well in the film industry and I don't usually have any complaints about her acting.  Hopefully the prequel will end according to the beginning of John Carpenter's The Thing (1982).  It would be kind of lame if they made a prequel but ignored the original film altogether.  It wouldn't really be a prequel then, now, would it?  Again, I remain hopeful.  The thing is one of my favorite movie monsters, so I am kind of excited to see it on the big screen again.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Thing Prequel - Poster Released!

Check it out!  It's very classic and simple.  Overall, I like it.  My only complaint I guess is that the poster looks a lot like some of the original artwork.  Then again, the original artwork is very effective; it always gives me goosebumps.

Originally, I wasn't too excited for this one because it was labeled as a remake.  When they decided to make it a prequel, the film became much more appealing.

Now the question is, will it live up to the original?  Probably not.  I'm thinking they're going to resort to CGI in lieu of brilliant "real" gore effects.  The cast & crew section of imdb for this one looks very CG-artist heavy.  Unfortunately, that's just the most cost effective way to do effects these days.  There are some times where CGI is going to look better than real effects, just because there are some things that can't be done with real effects.  Hopefully there will at least be some non-CGI creature effects.

The director, Matthijs van Heijningen Jr., doesn't have much on his resume, but that's not necessarily a problem.  Detention (2011) was an absolute blast and nobody suspected that a movie from the guy who made Torque (2004) (and not much else) could be anything but terrible.

For now, I remain hopeful.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Rant about Netflix's new prices

Netflix's new pricing plans (starting September 1, 2011) essentially double the price of the current 1 DVD out / unlimited streaming plan because the DVD plan is no longer going to be a discounted "freebie" that comes with the unlimited streaming plan. We are now going to be charged $7.99 for unlimited streaming, as well as another $7.99 for the DVD plan.

With my current plan's prices, I just need to get 2 DVDs a month or watch 3-4 (give or take) streaming movies a month in order for it to pay for itself (based off of Blockbuster and Scarecrow Video's prices). Note: I consider the streaming movies worth less because they are usually older films that Blockbuster would price at a lower price. This is something that, as a full-time college student, I can usually manage, but I rarely have the time to watch more than that. Overall though, it's a pretty good deal. If I were to keep my current plan when the prices change, I would need to watch 4 DVDs a month or 6-8 streaming movies a month (or some combination of the two). I am double majoring in math and film, with a minor in Spanish. Thus, there is absolutely no way that I will be able to watch that many movies a month.

So, now I am faced with a choice. Will I spend $7.99 a month for unlimited streaming, or $7.99 a month for 1 DVD out at a time? It seems obvious that the unlimited streaming is a better deal. I could watch as many movies as I have time for versus getting 1-2 movies a week by using snail mail. This is exactly what the execs at Netflix are counting on. They want to eliminate the DVD mailing services of Netflix. There are, for cinephiles, some big problems with this:
  1. Netflix's instant watch selection is a joke. I'm assuming they'll fix this if they completely eliminate the DVD mailing, but that doesn't mean they will. Hopefully they'll be smart about it.
  2. Instant watch movies don't come with any special features. I love listening to cast and crew commentaries, but I can't do that when I stream a movie. I love watching deleted scenes and bloopers, but I can't do that when I stream a movie.
  3. Instant watch quality isn't always great. Whether it's due to internet connection or the fact that computer screens don't get blacks as deep as a fancy TV, the fact is that the visual quality of streaming movies isn't going to be a great home theater experience.
I plan to cancel my subscription after my last bill payment before September 1st in order to protest Netflix's desire to move to 100% streaming. Also, I don't like the shitty new look of their website. It makes me really not want to stream movies.

Friday, July 8, 2011

DC Comics Reboot

It has been really fun reading all of the debate on the DC reboot. As someone who hasn't really read much DC work at all, I'm excited to pick up some new comics that are essentially starting from square one. One of the reason's I've been reluctant to pick up DC comics in the past is that I worried I wouldn't understand the plots because I would be picking up issue 236 of Wonder Woman or something like that. I've always read Marvel comics, so I'm fairly well-versed in the Marvel Universe, and most other comic book companies don't have so much interaction between titles, so it's been easy picking up series like Hack/Slash and Preacher. DC, just like Marvel, has a lot of interplay between their titles, so I've read close to nothing of their titles. Here's a list of #1's I'll be picking up come September! Keep in mind that I am by no means a comic snob and that I'm just picking based on what stories sound cool, which covers look nifty, and which super-heroes I'd like to learn more about.

On sale 9/7/2011
  • Batgirl #1 - Written by Gail Simone, art by Ardian Syaf & Vicente Cifuentes, cover by Adam Hughes.
  • Detective Comics #1 - I'm sticking with just one Batman series for now. I'm a poor college student and there are 4 titles about Batman coming out. Written by Tony S. Daniel, art by Tony S. Daniel, cover by Tony S. Daniel
  • Animal Man #1 - This one's a maybe. Written by Jeff Lemire, art by Travel Foreman & Dan Green, cover by Travel Foreman.
  • Suicide Squad #1 - Written by Adam Glass, art by Marco Rudy, cover by Ryan Benjamin.
  • Green Lantern #1 - Written by Geoff Johns, art by Dough Mahnke & Christian Alamy, cover by Ivan Reis & Joe Prado.
  • Nightwing #1 - Written by Kyle Higgins, art & cover by Eddy Barrows & JP Mayer.
  • Wonder Woman #1 - Written by Brian Azzarello, art & cover by Cliff Chiang.
  • Aquaman #1 - Written by Geoff Johns, art & cover by Ivan Reis & Joe Prado.
  • Teen Titans #1 - Written by Scott Lobdell, art & cover by Brett Booth & Norm Rapmund.

The Road (2009, John Hillcoat)

I know I know, I'm late to the party on this one, but I figured I should comment on it since I've read the novel. Anyway, this was a fairly decent adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's novel of the same name. It largely followed the original plot and Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee portrayed the Man and the Boy really well. Unfortunately, that just wasn't enough to make it a truly great adaptation. There's something about the novel that was just so much more compelling. This is probably due to the fact that when one reads a novel, pretty much all of the imagery is left to the reader's imagination. Unless of course you're reading one of Robert Jordan's books. With a film, however, all of the images are there for the viewer and I think The Road just didn't quite capture the imagery that my mind came up with when reading the novel. There were, however, some good visual ideas, such as the complete lack of color in the landscape. The book is better, but if you're not much of a reader, the movie is worth a watch. 7/10

Friday, July 1, 2011

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Some thoughts on the new Transformers:
  1. The little robots are stupid and annoying. I'm not sure why Michael Bay keeps thinking it's a good idea to include them in the series.
  2. Optimus Prime's lines are so blatantly pro-US and pro-democracy. There's nothing wrong with being patriotic, but I wish they had been more subtle.
  3. There were three female characters in the movie. Two were portrayed as stupid and one was useless eye candy. Transformers 4 better have a strong female character who does more than cry and yell "Sam, help me!"
  4. Why do some of the new Transformers have facial hair? Do Transformers have to shave?
  5. Even though I wasn't a fan of the movie as a whole, it's still really fun to watch robot violence. I wonder how Real Steel will do at the box office.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Made my own movie!

A friend recently bought a new crane setup for his camera so he invited me over on May 21st to make a short film and test out the new equipment. Here's the link:

Let me know what you think of it! We had tons of fun making it.

Friday, May 27, 2011

John Carpenter's The Ward (2010)

Master of Horror John Carpenter returns to the genre with a pretty darn good film. The Ward is far from Carpenter's best, but let's be honest, Carpenter's best films are pretty much flawless.

The Ward follows the story of Kristen (Amber Heard), a young woman who was recently placed in a mental hospital with four other young women. Kristen finds out that that the ward is haunted by a malevolent specter and tries to prevent it from hurting the other girls. A very simple, yet effective story. There are some great, classic Carpenter moments here and Carpenter does a great job setting the mood. Frequently the face of the ghost appears in the background, but it's not an "OMG LOOK THERE'S THE SCARY FACE" moment where the music gives the audience a huge cue and the face becomes the focus of the shot. The face is just there, watching, and it can only be seen if one is really looking for it. I thought that this subtlety was pure brilliance and very refreshing considering the fact that lately all horror movies consist of scary images popping up as stupid jump scares.

Unfortunately the acting failed in a couple of places. Amber Heard was good at looking pensive and confused, but whenever she tried to interrogate the doctors about what was going on in the ward, her acting was pretty bad. There was also some unnecessary CGI, which is always minus points in my book.

The score was reminiscent of Goblin's classic Suspiria scare and although I was sad that Carpenter didn't do his own score, I enjoyed listening to it and it wasn't horribly overbearing.

So even though The Ward is definitely not the best of Carpenter's work, it's still far better than most contemporary horror films. I hope that Carpenter's return to horror means that he has some more projects on the way. 7/10

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Trollhunter (2010, André Øvredal)

Trollhunter hails from Norway and is a satire of the "found footage" genre (i.e. The Blair Witch Project, Cloverfield, etc.). The trolls in the film are just like the ones from Norwegian myth in that the can smell the blood of Christian men, turn to stone when exposed to sunlight, and like to live under bridges.

The atmosphere of the film is great, although there are a few times where the story is just a tad slow. The characters are all fun as well as believable, and the acting is spot on. Where Trollhunter's greatest weakness lies is in the trolls. They really shouldn't have fully revealed the trolls so early on. Maybe this was deliberate in that the filmmakers wanted to poke fun at how most found-footage movies never fully show their monsters, but it really detracted from the film. The trolls would have been much scarier if more had been left to the audience's imagination.

All in all, a good way to spend an hour and a half.

Friday, May 20, 2011

SIFF 2011

I'm in the Egyptian Theater right now, waiting to watch my first movie at the Seattle International Film Festival! I'll post a review of Trollhunter soon!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Mobile Blogging

This is the first post from my smart phone. Hopefully I'll be able to figure it out and write some coherent entries!

I'm currently taking a film class about "contemporary cinema" (i.e. films from 1989 to the present) and we've mainly focused on foreign "art" films. Here is a list of the films we've watched so far:
- Underground (1995, Emir Kusturica)
- In the Heat of the Sun (1994, Jiang Wen)
- Good bye, Lenin! (2003, Wolfgang Becker)
- Night Watch (2004, Timur Bekmambetov)
- Welcome to Dongmakgol (2005, Kwang-Hyun Park)
- Sweet Mud (2006, Dror Shaul)
- The World (2004, Jia Zhangke)

My favorite so far was Welcome to Dongmakgol.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Time to start posting again!

Sorry for the lack of updates, but I've been busy finishing up the book I'm co-authoring with my buddy Jim.  It is a massive book of reviews, story break-downs, and body counts of over 200 horror flicks.  Adrienne King (of Friday the 13th fame) is currently working on a foreword to the book and then it'll be off to the publisher!  I'll post more updates here.