Monday, August 30, 2010

Movie Reviews: Vampires Suck

Some sagas just won't die.

Directed by: Jason Friedberg & Aaron Seltzer

Written by: Jason Friedberg & Aaron Seltzer

Starring: Jenn Proske, Matt Lanter, Diedrich Bader, Chris Riggi, Ken Jeong, Anneliese van der Pol

In this spoof of vampire movies, Becca moves to the Pacific Northwest, where she becomes torn between her love for a vampire and a werewolf.

I am in general a fan of movies that parody genre films, though none of Friedberg and Selzer's other films (Scary Movie, Date Movie, Epic Movie, and so forth) quite live up to the classic Not Another Teen Movie, which was not one of theirs.

But Vampires Suck was absolutely dreadful. I've finally found a 2010 film worst than Legion.

I'll admit that I saw it by accident. I had several hours to kill waiting for a prescription to be filled, so I walked to the closest movie theater. This was the only movie that I didn't have to wait two hours for. But even so, I genuinely tried to like it. Alas, there was simply nothing funny about it.

It's hard to even characterize it as a parody of the vampire genre. It is, instead, simply a parody of the first two Twilight films, almost a frame-by-frame retelling of them, with only the barest of references to The Vampire Diaries, True Blood, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The films they are parodying were dreadful to begin with, but I finally found a film is even worse than the Twilight films themselves.

Twilight fans will hate that it's making fun of their franchise; Twilight foes will hate that it's too similar. No one will like this film. No one.

This is probably the harshest review I've ever written about anything. I'm not sorry. The tagline "some sagas just won't die" is sadly apt.

My grade: F

Trailers: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Part one of the seventh book in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, is scheduled to come to the silver screen in November of 2010, with part two being released in July of 2011.

When the first film was released, it was overshadowed at the Cosmique Movie Awards by Peter Jackson's translation of one of the seminal fantasy franchises of all time: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. And the next two Harry Potter films were naturally also overshadowed by the second and third Lord of the Rings films.

It wasn't until the 2005 awards that a Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, would win a Cosmo for Best Science Fiction/Fantasy Film. The series is getting darker now, and without a Lord of the Rings film to compete against, will the Deathly Hallows resonate with Cosmo voters?

Check out the trailer to see for yourself:

Friday, August 27, 2010

Movie Reviews: Piranha 3D

There's something in the water.

Directed by: Alexandre Aja

Written by: Pete Goldfinger & Josh Stolberg

Starring: Richard Dreyfuss, Ving Rhames, Elisabeth Shue, Christopher Lloyd, Eli Roth, Jerry O'Connell, Steven R. McQueen, Jessica Szohr, Kelly Brook, Riley Steele, Adam Scott, Ricardo Chavira

When an underwater tremor opens a cavern filled with pre-historic man-eating piranhas just as a desert lake is about to celebrate spring break, a group of locals and tourists must work together struggle to survive the fanged fish.

Begin by accepting this movie for what it is. It is not Sophie's Choice. It's not even Jaws (despite a cameo homage by Richard Dreyfuss -- and the fact that he gets top billing for such a small cameo speaks volumes). With an Oscar winner (Dreyfuss) and nominee (Elizabeth Shue), one might have been tempted to expect more, but you only have to glance at the trailers (or even the poster) to immediately lower your expectations. It's a cheesy T&A horror film with so much female T&A that it could easily be mistaken for something filmed for Cinemax.

Nevertheless, as cheesy thriller films go, it's passably enjoyable in that vein. Yes, the male T&A is virtually nonexistent while the female T&A is so nonstop that a purveyor of lesbian porn for a straight male audience could hardly have added more. The suspense is hardly suspenseful, but the jump scenes, while entirely predictable, were nevertheless jumpy.

Halfway through this movie, I began to lament that not enough people had died. I needn't have worried; within moments, the mayhem had become so exaggerated that I couldn't stop giggling.

The cast for the most part do a good job with shaky material. Shue plays the small-town sheriff trying to protect spring breakers from a then-unidentified menace in the water. Steven R. McQueen (The Vampire Diaries) plays her son who, in perhaps my biggest complaint of the film, remains extremely overdressed in board shorts as other female co-stars expose their breasts, vaginas, and what they ate for lunch (or ... what ate them for lunch). Jerry O'Connell appropriately overacts as a sort of Girls Gone Wild-esque soft core porn producer, while Christopher Lloyd inappropriately overacts to the point of irritation.

Bear in mind that my grade mitigates for what the film strives for. Had it aimed higher, the grade would have been lower.

My grade: C-

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Movie Reviews: Shutter Island

Someone is missing.

Directed by: Martin Scorsese

Written by: Laeta Kalogridis (screenplay); Dennis Lehane (novel)
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Max von Sydow, Michelle Williams
U.S. Marshall Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his partner (Mark Ruffalo) must investigate the disappearance of a female inmate from Shutter Island, an institution for the criminally insane.
We need to be careful with films like this to avoid providing too many spoilers, and that can make a review challenging. Let it suffice to say that while Leonardo DiCaprio is a great actor and Martin Scorsese is a great director, there's a reason this film was released so early in the year, long before the Oscar-bait season: the twists just aren't that twisty.
Still, the acting is excellent and worth considering. It might not make Best Drama, depending what comes later in the year, but it could well make it in the Thriller category. It's "Historical" only in the sense that it takes place in an identifiable time period, but is not based on true events, but for many voters that might be sufficient. And it could even be considered for "Best Use of (Gratuitous?) Nudity," though the male nudity, while full frontal, is fleeting and hardly sexy.

My grade: B

Movie Reviews: Legion

When the last angel falls, the fight for mankind begins.

Directed by: Scott Charles Stewart

Written by: Peter Schink and Scott Charles Stewart

Starring: Paul Bettany, Lucas Black, Tyrese Gibson, Adrianne Palicki, Willa Holland, Kate Walsh, Kevin Durand, Charles S. Dutton, Dennis Quaid, Jon Tenney

When God first tried to destroy mankind, he used a flood. This time he's sending ... angels?


This has to be one of the dumbest movies I've ever seen. It feels like it was originally written to be about demons attacking mankind but then some subsequent scriptwriter thought he'd be clever and switch it up a bit. I realize now that it's based on a comic book, so the premise didn't change overly much. Somehow that makes it even worse. I can't imagine how the premise alone got green-lighted.

If I end up seeing five films that are actually worse than this and knock it off the Worst Films of 2010 list, it will be a very bad year indeed. But I doubt it's possible to find five worse films this year.

My grade: D-

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Movie Reviews: Hot Tub Time Machine

Kick some past

Directed by: Steve Pink

Written by: Josh Heald, Sean Anders, John Morris

Starring: John Cusack, Clark Duke, Craig Robinson, Ron Corddy, Sebastian Stan, Lyndsy Fonseca, Crispin Glover, Chevy Chase

Four friends, depressed about the direction of their lives, revisit an old, favorite vacation spot and find themselves whisked back to 1986 with the potential to rewrite history.

John Cusack has starred in some great films. This is not one of them.

To be honest, I sort of went to this movie by accident. It was circumstantial. I was a little depressed and also needed to kill a lot of time out of the house, and I decided a comedic movie was the best way to do so. I had a gift card I wanted to use, which limited the theaters I could go to, and this film happened to be playing at the right theater and at the right time.

My expectations going into it were very low, but I'm pleased to report that it was better than I was expecting. Not that it's actually a great film, but I had set my expectations suitably low and therefore was lightly amused for 90 minutes.

The premise is somewhat silly (hot tub goes on the fritz because of a banned Russian energy drink?), and the hijinks in the past ... well, it's safe to say that the trailer probably covered the best of them. It's hard to imagine pushing this for any of the positive awards. But I guess that depends on how the year turns out.

My grade: C

Hall of Fame Spotlight: Dustin Hoffman

At the first Cosmique Movie Awards, when all of the categories were for lifetime achievements, Dustin Hoffman was a surprise win for Best Actor of All Time, and the first inductee in the Best Actors Hall of Fame.

The prolific actor of such great films as All the President's Men, Kramer vs. Kramer, Tootsie, and Rain Man, competed against a number of other favorite actors, including Cary Grant, Jack Nicholson, Gregory Peck, Jimmy Stewart, and Donald Sutherland. Grant and Stewart were inducted into the Hall of Fame at the second and third awards respectively.

Despite Hoffman's appeal to Cosmo voters and his ongoing acting career, his first award represents his sole nomination at the Cosmique Movie Awards.