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Into the Storm (2014) Frightening to some, laughable to others

stormI was excited for Into the Storm to come out on August 8th, its been a long while since a decent disaster film came out that wasn’t related to a biblical story or originated on SyFy.  I loooooove disaster films, they’re much better at scaring me than actual horror films, just because disaster strikes on a regular, real basis, unlike a crazed, unstable serial killer whose got it out for some randy teenagers. Not to mention, I’m no longer a teenager, and I am not a cop, and have yet to be exposed to a psychopath, so you know, in my mid twenties, I think I’m safe.

Although, ironically enough, Into the Storm opens with your basic dumb teenagers being swept away in a twister because they weren’t smart enough to get in the car and get the hell out of the street when they saw power lines dropping like Raid-ridden flies. What’s really interesting about this take on a disaster film is that it takes hand-held POV camera shots to a new level. There is no real shakiness to any of the film, because for once you see people use tripods (by the amateur students that just so happen to be filming a time capsule for their father who is the Vice Principal of their school) and anti-shake cameras (by the professional storm chasers). What makes Into the Storm even cooler though, is that we have about 3-4 separate stories going on during the film, all of which intertwine intermittently throughout the short 89 minute film, which makes the movie blow by. (ehehe, get it?)

It’s a fun, fast-paced, nail biter that I think might give it’s older sister Twister a run for her money (and yes we have a flying cow in this film as well). Our cast, is composed of a single, over bearing father (mentioned above, played by Richard Armitage) his two high school-aged sons (Max Deacon and Nathan Kress aka Freddy from iCarly), the girl that one of the boys have an obligatorily crush on (Alycia Debnam Carey); a team of storm chasers which include the heartless, get anything for the shot Pete played by Matt Walsh, two new comers to the team that seem to have no luck (Sarah Wayne Callies and Jeremy Sumpter) and two seasoned camera men, one token black college student (Arlen Escarpeta, previously seen in Final Destination 5 and Friday the 13th as pretty much the same character) and one older white man who had such short screen time, I thought he was an actual crew member of the film, until he was addressed ONCE by Pete. Oh and there is also these two hill billies that end up chasing after the storm while pounding back numerous beers. They are simply the comic relief of the movie, but add to the fun thanks to Kyle Davis as “Donk” and Jon Reep as Reevis. The acting over all is fine, there are a few scenes that are intolerable, but they usually have the newer actors in them, so it’s forgivable. The best performances by far go to the young Nathan Krass and Matt Walsh, with Max Deacon a close third for only one very heart-shattering scene where he and his crush are *spoilers, it’s a damn disaster film* face to face with their own slow death of water slowly filling an inescapable basement. 

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What really steals the show though are the mass amount of twisters and the sheer destruction they leave in their wake. I mean you go into a disaster film hoping to see destruction and mass chaos, and the movie delivers, which is why I find it hard to believe that Rotten Tomatoes scored it as low as a 21% by critics and 50% by audiences. The film set out to show the audience what a handful of repeating circulation storm clouds can do to one poor county: the chaos when the sirens hit, running to safety, praying to the gods that it won’t hit you, and of course, the clean up afterwards.

One of the most interesting scenes for me took place in the school as everyone at an outside graduation ceremony took cover in the hallways and covered their heads. A drill any Mid-Western kid would be familiar with. So I sat there, on pins and needles waiting to see if they would survive the tornado coming straight for them, because you know, that could have been me or you in our childhood. That scene is worth the price of admission alone, because of how terrifying and realistic it is.

Into the Storm, for me, as an Ohioan girl who had to hide away in basements and take shelter in the hallways of her high school, was very frightening and delivered exactly what I wanted, but for others, who may not have that same innate fear of terrible storms and tornadoes, they might find the film foolish and unrelatable because they never lived through the fear of losing everything in this manner. I had saw this film with a friend who lived in Mexico for the majority of his life, which I believe does not have tornadoes (maybe just those terrifying hurricanes?) and while I was on the edge of my seat, he was occasionally chuckling at a tornado demolishing a bakery. So there’s the big difference on if you will be the audience that will either enjoy the film or hate it.

So if you’ve ever lived through a storm scare in your life, you might want to check out a controlled setting of it in Into the Storm, you might just have yourself a nice little fright and take away some handy tips for your next storm. Oh and one more thing, I totally ended up being chased by a severe storm right after I left the movie theater as well, check out my tweet with the photo.

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Hercules (2014) The one with Dwayne the Rock Johnson

Said action based poster mentioned below.

Said action based poster mentioned below.

The year 2014 could also go down in history as the year of Hercules, the demi-god known for his strength and his…. well let’s just say “amorous” father: Zeus. At the beginning of the year, screens were graced with a gritty, action drama; The Legend of Hercules, starring Kellan Lutz who you might remember as the beefy Emmit Cullen in Twilight or even the Greek Sea God, Poseidon, in 2011’s ImmortalsThe film overall tried far too hard, and left the audience feeling lack luster.

With not only the summer heating up, but the theater selection as well, in rolls Dwayne the Rock Johnson in 2014’s HerculesThe movie opens as a Grecian boy describes the most gruesome, famous labors of Hercules. The young narrator begins with the legend of the Lernaean hydra, moves onto the Erymanthian Boar, and gets interrupted during what is ironically Hercules’ first labor: Nemean lion.

Sorry for the low quality screen cap, best smirk I could find.

Sorry for the low quality screen cap, best smirk I could find.

As you watch Hercules take each monster down, you begin to wonder: “is this the same disastrous, overzealoused CGI film that Director Renny Harlin farted out earlier this year?” And then Dwayne struts into the camp of pillagers that kidnapped his nephew who happens to be our young narrator. The Rock is draped in the lion’s pride, the lion mane gloriously haloing around his head. As the camera slowly pans up to his face, we see him smirk and laugh, nearly right into the camera!

And you begin to wonder, is he being cheeky?

What type of movie is this going to be? (You especially wonder this, if you’ve kept your nose out of any trailers, commercials, or reviews for the film.)

Then something wonderful happens, Hercules takes out four men with one blow of his club with the lion’s teeth attached to the end. As his nephew, Iolaus, played by Reece Ritchie, continues to boast Hercules’ strength, we see him take down more and more men before he lures the enemy behind a wall so the leaders of the pillagers cannot see what’s happening. And that’s when you realize exactly what type of film this is.

3/5s of the band of misfits, and you can see how much of Atlanta's skin is vulnerable

3/5s of the band of misfits, and you can see how much of Atlanta’s skin is vulnerable

It is a campy, tongue in cheek, action film that delivers the type of fun that a summer flick should deliver. You meet the rest of Hercules’ crew of misfits, all of who hold their own genuinely interesting back-stories, along with a wonderful display of individual weaponry. Rufus Sewell (as the deviner, knife-wielding Autolycus, friends with Herc since they roamed the streets as orphans), Aksel Hennie (as the young wildling Hercules took under his wing when Tydeus’ entire town was massacred), the lovable Ian McShane (the seer who had “seen” his own death, therefor could go into any battle knowing he wasn’t going to die yet, Amphiaraus), and my personal favorite Ingrid Bolsø Berdal (as the badass “Amazonia” warrior, who inexplicably wears next to no armor Atalanta) all play their parts perfectly.

Just the right amount of seriousness and cheese; Hercules is one of those films where you can tell the cast had a load of fun while filming. It plays into all the stereotypes and tropes of action flicks while winking at the viewer, like “We know what you like, and we’re gonna ride it hard and long allllll night. Oh yeah.” It’s frustrating that they wouldn’t portray this elevated funness in the posters or advertisements, because the film is doing hella decent on Rotten Tomatoes (for a mid-summer action non-marvel flick) and only decently in the box office.

Director Brett Ratner’s Hercules is the best darn mythos-based movie I have seen since Disney’s 1997 Hercules. What writers Ryan Condal, Evan Spiliotopoulos, and (Radical Comic writer) Steve Moore did was more than just stick to the myth, they made Hercules a man, a man with pain and anguish, a troubled past, but also, more importantly, a man with a friends, a man who is both loved and feared, a man who became a legend thanks to his cohorts. He was no seed of Zeus, but since he believed he was a hero, he was one. And that is by far the best message one could take away from not only any movie, but also Hercules’ Legend.

Hercules (2014) is based off of Radical Comic’s character from The Thracian Wars and The knives of Kush. The film currently rates a 62% on Rotten Tomatoes and has grossed more than $56 million domestically as of August 6th, 2014.

The below trailer is the closest perfect description I could probably find online without spoilers, and without it being the actual perfection that is Hercules. Beware, the trailer contains many scenes that are not in the final theatrical cut, but I am very happy to report that Hercules’ wife in this adaption is Megara (seen above), and they dress her in purple. Like I said the most tongue in cheek mytho movie ever.

Mud (2013) (Day 21 of 100)

Mud__2013__HD_230x322_poMud (2012) is a coming of age story starring Matthew McConaughey as a hobo? There was a specific word along the lines of hobo, tramp, or bum that title character Mud did not like to be called, I think it was “bum.” But Mud wasn’t a real bum, he was just camping out in a boat in a tree hiding from the group of people that wanted to kill him because he killed one of them. The plot sounds awfully silly for a coming of age story, but the real plot is driven by a young 14 year old country boy, Ellis(Tye Sheridan), whose trust in Mud is concerning, to the point where his buddy Neckbone (Jacob Lofland) even realizes it. 

The movie in lengthy for a coming of age film, whopping in at a total of 130 minutes, but delivers its’ central theme with a balance of grace and unforgiving bluntness. What writer and director Jeff Nichols really wants the audience to come away with, is how toxic and repetitively abusive a dysfunctional relationship can be for a man wrapped up in the entanglements of a woman with loads of baggage and a tendency to date around. He spins this beautiful web of deception making us, and the young boy Ellis, believe that Mud and his on-again-off-again girlfriend  Juniper (Reese Witherspoon) are meant to be with each other because their each others “true loves” and they should be together, gosh darn it! But this is a coming of age movie, not a romance movie, and as Ellis looks up to Mud more and more each day, we slowly begin to see that the relationship is noxious and harmful to Mud. That his life would be so much better if he never fell in love with her when he was Ellis’ age (who happens to fall for an older girl who only give him attention when her friends are gone), and he would have had a better chance at being happy and accomplishing something with his life. 

The end of the film is bittersweet. Mud finally realizes that he needs to move on and begin his life anew, but when Ellis is forced to move to town with his mother after his parent’s divorce, he looks longingly at another older girl that lives in the complex; showing that he’s moved on from the last girl, but still longs for something that is unattainable, just like Mud and his multiple decade long affair with a dangerous woman.

Does Mud need to be watched by everyone? No, maybe just the men out there who think they can never be single. Does the film deserve to be on the top 100 critically praised list? Not really, but it would be your choice to watch the film after this review, now wouldn’t it?

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Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is this summers block buster film that isn’t a superhero movie, but you may know the film’s better title: Rise of the Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, or even Dawn of the Rise of the War of the Planet of the Apes. I’m just kidding, those are just a few of the names that I’ve been calling Matt Reeves‘ installment of the sci-fi franchise that started back in the 60s. After many stumbles of the tongue and just saying; “Well, the writers don’t really give two shits about the lineage of the franchise, so I’m done remembering what  intransitive verb the writers are using for each Apes film” and I just call them That One Apes Film. It seems to suffice.  Continue reading

The Graduate (Day 11 of 100)

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Skipping around a bit here, and writing reviews for film’s I have already seen, since I have fallen so far behind in my 100ish Days of Summer. Number 90 on my list is the 1967 coming of age film The Graduate starring Dustin Hoffman, who, the lucky dog, has already appeared on this list two other times, once for All The President’s Men and another time for Rain Mann, and I am sure he will be appearing again later.

I watched The Graduate for the first time at what might have been the perfect age to see the film, I believe I was a Junior in college and well on my way of not knowing what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. A seemingly silly, but difficult impasse that every college student faces, the same as Dustin Hoffman‘s character Ben Braddock, a recent college graduate, home for the summer. Bored and complacent, and lacking a sense of direction, Ben begins to “accidentally” have an affair with his soon to be girlfriend’s mother, the elusive Mrs. Robinson (notice the “Mrs.” she is married at this time). Although the film has no real driving plot and the characters themselves seem listless and underwritten, the film has been selected for preservation because of its “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significance.”  Some people may believe that this film should be watched by everyone at least once, but at the age of this twenty-something-year old, it is a bit lost on me. Maybe with more age, I would appreciate why this film is considered one of the greats, but as a product of the 90s and the new millennium, the time, acting, and writing, is mostly lost on me. 

It was by no means enjoyable to watch, but I appreciated what the 106 minute film set out to do and why it is considered great, but the only the thing I really took away from The Graduate was the amazing Simon and Garfunkle song that is still popular today, and that ending scene. I suppose, that currently, in my eyes, Dustin Hoffman is 1 for 3 in films on the top 100 list and whether the films deserves the spot.

The Manchurian Candidate (Day 10 of 100)

MCWhoa, whoops, so as I was doing my typical Google search to pull up my typical hyperlinks for my reviews, I might have realized I watched the wrong Manchurian CandidateI had not double checked my list, but recalled that The Manchurian Candidate was on my list and I found it on Netflix, little did I realize that I was suppose to watch the original 1962 film, which is not on Netflix. So this review will be for the 2004 film starring Denzel Washington & Liev Schreiber which is not in the top 100 list and ranks with an 81% on Rotten tomatoes instead of a 98% which the original scored. 

The drama, thriller, mystery focuses on soldiers kidnapped and brainwashed during the Gulf War. The scary bit about it though, is that the poor soldiers are brainwashed by American scientists in order to help ‘suade the nation into believing that   Raymond Shaw (Schreiber) is the perfect candidate for the next Vice President of the United States. The plan actually works as well.

The movie is well-acted, a bit hard to follow (which was the purpose), and interesting to watch. Overall, it is a great film to watch for any history buff or conspiracy enthusiasts.  I don’t believe it should be on a top 100 list, but perhaps the original should be.

Repulsion (Day 09 of 100)

repulsionposterRoman Polanskis 1965 Repulsion is one of the highest rated horror films of all time, the only other horror film on my list of 100ish days of Summer are Eyes Without A FaceAliens, Let the Right One In, Jaws, The Exorcist, Psycho, and depending on who you ask, also Vertigo and Rear Window. Although I must disagree, even as a seasoned movie watcher, from classics to b-rated movies, I appreciate all decent forms of cinematic-art, and I went in with pretty high hopes for Repulsion. I actually had downloaded it months before I decided to do this blogathon, and just hadn’t gotten around to it.

But the film is slow-paced for today’s audience and it relies on jumps far too much to even try to hold your attention between jumps. And you don’t become invested at all with ANY of the characters. And please, don’t think that I’m not a fan of Roman Polanski, because that would be a lie, I truly enjoyed Chinatown and his second installment of his “Horrors of living in an Apartment” trilogy: Rosemary’s Baby, but I also read the novel before hand. But there is just a huge disconnect to what must have been in his head, what main actress Catherine Deneuve was trying to portray, and how it aged over the years, because this film is a dud for this buff. The only part of the movie that held any sort of my interest was when a co-worker found a human heart in Carol’s (Deneuve) purse. And then did nothing about it. 

The movie relies heavily on music, symbolism, hallucinations, and movement, with hardly any dialogue, it expects you to jump to conclusions about the characters and the plot because the acting is terrible. I know Carol is suppose to be aloof and broken, which eventually leads to her *spoiler alert* murdering spree, but I think Catherine just doesn’t deliver. As simple was watching a woman stare blankly all the time.

"Symbolism"

“Symbolism”

Repulsion did nothing for me or my movie resume, aside from the fact that it is the first film to every present a woman having an orgasm, even if it was only audibly. Oh and that it, you know, represents what a woman becomes after being sexually abused, so it does have that going for it. Skip this one over and watch Rosemary’s Baby or even This is the End if you want a horror movie based around men tormenting somebody in someone’s home, because Hell, at least then, we have the Devil as a plausible explanation.

The Conversation (Day 08 of 100)

I am just as boring as this poster depicts. It is not false advertising.

I am just as boring as this poster depicts. It is not false advertising.

Damn if this movie wasn’t misleading, The Conversation (1974) starring Gene Hackman as the lead, Harry Caul, and (hardly in it, Harrison Ford) is a Drama, Mystery, Thriller based around a secret surveillance expert (Hackman) and his recorded conversation of a couple he was spying on in the park for a very secretive client. 

The movie is slow-paced, had forced love interests in it (because really, even in the 70s, was Hackman considered a sex symbol? How much suspension of disbelief is expected of me for this film?), and probably only did well in theaters and with critics because it was the 70s. You know, that time in American history where no one, especially the government could be trusted? We had that whole Soviet Espionage thing happening, and every person everywhere thought they were being spied on, or phone tapped, or that a sleeper agent could “wake” at any moment.

The movie hardly held my interest and was far too long, dragging on for 113 minutes, and was directed by “all star” Francis Ford Coppola, regardless of the director and 3 Academy Award Nominations, the film doesn’t hold up for this new generation of movie goers. What was frightening, and psychologically tormenting about this film doesn’t translate for us today. It was placed on my list as #93 but doesn’t deserve it. 

 

The Conversation  has a rating of 98% by critics and a shocking 90% by the typical audience. Do not attempt to watch this movie unless you were born after the year of 1980. Even that is pushing it.

Eyes Without A Face (Day 07 of 100)

eyes3One of the most influential horror movies, Eyes Without a Face, delivers an eeriness with its’ plot that would be considered torture porn if remade/re-imagined for today’s audience. It is a 1960 French film (originally called Les Yeux Sans Visage) that focuses on the classic mad scientist bit, a man torn because he want’s his now inexplicably faceless daughter to have a face again. Docteur Génessier (Pierre Brasseur), with the help of his assistant, Lousie (Alida Valli), kidnaps countless women, all with the same physical appearance as his “missing/dead daughter ” (or so he would like the public to think): brown hair, blue eyes, and a defined, beautiful facial structure. The doctor performs these extreme plastic surgeries where he removes the face of the kidnapped woman and then transplant the face (quiet literally just the skin) onto his daughter.

Did I mention that it’s never explained upon why Christiane Génessier (Edith Scob) doesn’t have a face? Oh I did? Seriously, I would like to know what the fuck happened to her original face, if anyone reads this, and actually knows, please for the love of all that is sane,  tell me why. Not sure if I had missed the explanation because I, being American, had to read the English subtitles and something just went over my head or it was lost in translation. 

Anyways, the actors in the film all do a wonderful job, and the ending of the film is hauntingly beautiful and horrific. On the list that I have compiled for my 100ish Days of Summer it clocks in at number 94, and with good reason. This movie paved the way for classic horror movies, that may not be featured on this list, but would be featured on my own personal top 100 list. The two most important elements of  Georges Franju‘s Eyes Without a Face are by far the musical composition and the mask that cover’s Christiane’s frightening exterior of what is really, a girl misguided by a father whom was tolled by grief. Wouldn’t any loving father do anything to make his daughter stop crying?

 

Eyes Without a Face is certified fresh with 98% and an 88% for users, it went on to inspire pop icon Billy Idol’s Eyes Without a Face. The film can be found on torrent sites but is also on Hulu? So says my internet search. If your big on horror, this is one film every scream queen should get around to watching.

A Clockwork Orange (day 06 of 100)

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Ahhh, Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, a film adaptation of Anthony Burgess‘s  novella about a hyper-violent youth group in a dystopian future Britain which comments on juvenile delinquency, psychiatry, youth gangs,  along with social, economic and political subjects. One of the most difficult film’s to watch on this list. So much so that I could not bring myself to watch it again, for a third time to review it with a fresh viewing. This is also a bit of the reasoning behind the giant lag in my 100ish Days of Summer. I have loaded it up 2 or 3 times int he past few weeks, and haven’t been able to really push past the first 10 minutes. Don’t get me wrong, the film is one for the ages, premiering in 1971,  A Clockwork Orange symbolizes everything that was wrong with the rambunctious youths of England in the sixties and the fearful advantages that science takes in “curing” the “wicked.” Continue reading