Escape From Tomorrow (2013)

Escape From Tomorrow is made interesting by the very way that it was shot. Escape from Tomorrow is a feature length film shot almost entirely in Disney World/Land without permission from Disney.  Just the fact that they were able to make this is a crazy thought, even more so that it has received such a wide release, even being shown in theaters and added to Netflix. The spectacle of seeing a dark horror movie filmed in Disney World is the reason to watch it, but the question is; Does Escape From Tomorrow have any depth or entertainment value beyond the production gimmick?

Well sadly the answer is; not really.

The story follows Jim, the father in your typical Disney going family. Jim is a sexual deviant who stalks a pair of young french girls around the park and the mother is nagging and annoying. The two children completely lack any traces of character.

Escape From Tomorrow manages to have fairly good cinematography for a large amount of the film which is especially impressive considering how it was shot, with many real people walking around and the general chaos of the park around them. There are some shots that they spent a very long time planning to achieve. The effort is valiant and doesn’t go unnoticed, but then there are particularly awful looking scenes. There are a handful of scenes that would horrible on their own, and are highlighted more so by the overall nice presentation of the rest of the film. More than one scene has the actors very obviously and poorly green screened into B-roll footage of the amusement park and it does not look passable at all.

Escape From Tomorrow is full of really bad acting. The best acting you can find in this film is passable, while the worst actually comes from the lead actor. He is consistently terrible throughout. By the end of the film I had actual become accustomed to the bad acting and stopped being as distracting, but adjusting to the bad does not make it good.

Escape From Tomorrow attempts to be a creepy screwed up horror film, but largely fails. The “scares” are too few and far between and when they do pop up they often fall flat. The closest the film got to be effective from a horror standpoint was actually the opening credits which managed to provide a genuinely surprising moment, but this one solid moment was cheapened when it was revisited later on in the film, to lesser effect.

The film seems very unsure of the tone that it wants to convey. It presents itself as a cerebral horror film, but then it throws comedic elements at you which don’t mix well. In the end both elements miss their mark and what few moments could have been funny, are muddled and ruined by the confused tones of the movie.

The Pacing is dreadful. Escape From Tomorrow has a meandering plot that kills far too much time following the characters as they walk around the park, go on rides, and do absolutely nothing of any importance. The movie wastes time and feels as though much of it was shot without purpose other than stretching out what probably should have been a 20 minute short film into a feature length film. As a 20 minute short this concept may have actually worked better. A more condensed runtime would have helped Escape From Tomorrow as most of the time it will have you waiting for something to happen, and when it does happen, it will likely disappoint. It also doesn’t help that pretty much all of the set pieces and interesting moments are given away in the trailer.

The gimmick is interesting but the film fails to impress beyond the fact that it actually got made and released the way it was produced. I would only recommend it to those who are seriously interested in the concept of a film shot guerrilla style in Disney world, otherwise definitely stay away. The concept is incredibly intriguing, but a much stronger plot and acting would have been needed to stop this film from being a disappointment.

Stranded (The Good, the Bad, and the Grindhouse)

Here is a comedic video review of the movie Stranded

Feedback is appreciated and encouraged

Sam’s Movie Recommendation of the Week #4

The Host

host poster

Reasons to watch

  • It’s a giant monster movie that also manages to be a competent drama.

The effects are great. There is a mix of CG and practical effects and all looks very good.

  • Quentin Tarantino named this one of his favorite movies since he became a filmmaker. If that isn’t a big enough recommendation from you, I don’t know what would do it.

CLICK HERE to read my full review of The Host.

the host

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) is overrated and self indulgent

2001 space odyssey

2001 space odyssey2001: A Space Odyssey is often considered a sci-fi masterpiece. Praised by many as the greatest sci-fi film of all time. Even praised by some as the greatest film of all time… Which is why many people will want to tear me apart when I say that it is not a good film.

The movie has some good elements, but is completely over run by the bad. I thought I would like this film. I wanted to like this film. I watched the film and was amazed that one of the most highly praised films of all time, was terrible. It’s not that the film was built up too much and was disappointing. It’s that the film was just awful. So what did I do? I watched the film again. I thought that something must have been wrong for me to not like such a highly praised movie. Was it any better on the 2nd time? No. It was worse.

People always say that the special effects are great. That is one place that I agree with the general consensus. The special effects continue to look great today, which is very impressive considering the year that this film was made. Some of the cinematography can be good at times, and the sets are well designed. But those things are not enough to carry a movie. Special effects are supposed to enhance a movie, not be the movie. The special effects are showcased past the point of self indulgence. No movie should be this self indulgent.

Speaking of self indulgent. Stanley Kubrick can be a good director. He has made some really good films, which is why I was so surprised to see such bad directing. Kubrick’s films tend to have slow pacing, but 2001’s pacing fell asleep before the film even started. The pacing is absolutely horrendous from start to end.

The film begins at the dawn of man. We see monkeys. We see monkeys. We see monkeys. We see monkeys. Non stop monkeys for much longer than is necessary. Now don’t say that I don’t get it. That is a line that I constantly hear people use when defending the film. I most certainly do “get it”. With the movie left up to interpretation, I “get it” as much as anyone could.

Now here is one of my biggest problems with the film. I don’t think that Kubrick himself “Got it”. The movie is a tightly wound ball of pretentiousness that encourages philosophical analization on topics not worthy of being discussed. The movie is really conceited. It has such an undeservedly high opinion of itself. It thinks that it is this philosophical journey to enlightenment, when really it’s just a self serving journey to mediocrity.

There are multiple 25 minute sequences in the film where absolutely nothing happens to progress the plot.  These long sequences serve no purpose, other than showcasing visuals that don’t have a great deal of relevance to the story. The sequence where the astronaut flies to Jupiter is one of the most pointless sequences I have ever seen in a film. We see bright flashing colored lights and landscape shots with weird filters. This is an incredibly long sequence of absolutely nothing. It takes more than flashing colors and filters to make compelling film and I am shocked that I am in the minority on this. This is not an acceptable form of story telling, because you’re not telling a story. You’re trying to be artsy with no real meaning other than to be enigmatic just for the sake of false intelligence. So in the end it is just wasting time.

Trying to talk about the plot of 2001: A Space Odyssey is like trying to talk about the robot in Pulp Fiction. There isn’t one. There is no plot throughout most of 2001: A space Odyssey. The only resemblance of a plot comes in when HAL 9000 appears. I always thought that HAL 9000 was the focus of the film, but it is actually a very small part of the films overall running time.

2001 space odyssey halI actually do think that HAL 9000 is an interesting character. This portion of the film is good, I would even call it great. If the Hal 9000 plot line were separated from the rest of the movie and being judged as a short film, then maybe the praise this film receives would be more reasonable, but this one good segment is so small and insignificant in the scope of 2001: A Space Odyssey. This film would have been much better suited to a 10-15 minute short film, rather than the droning self indulgent 2 hour and 21 minute pretentious film that exisits.

I am not someone who gets bored by film. But when a film is so utterly pointless, I don’t understand how it can remain interesting, aside from the visuals.

While I believe that most of the film is meaningless, I do believe that the last scene has some meaning. I do however feel that people drastically over analyze it. It’s not as deep as people think. I could be wrong about this, but I think Kubrick didn’t know what it really meant, he just knew that it could mean something, and that people would try to figure it.

If you agree with me then leave a comment because I’d like to know that there are some others who see past the pretension.

If you disagree with me and actually have a legitimate response to the question: Why is 2001: A Space Odyssey a good film? Beyond the point of “You don’t get it.”, “Because it just is.”, or “It’s a brilliant piece of art” Then I’d like to hear it.

People are blinded by the fame of this film and will defend it blindly without reason. I believe that many people consider the film to be great because they think that it means more than it actually does.

To me 2001: A Space Odyssey is one of those paintings where the artist paints just a red stripe and says that it has some deeper convoluted reason. Is that stupid? Yes. Do people consider it to be high quality art? Unfortunately yes.

Macabre Month of Horror 2013 movie review #7 ‘The Host’

The Host

The HostThe Host” was named one of Quentin Tarantino‘s top twenty films since 1992. If that alone doesn’t make you want to watch it, then I’m not sure there’s much I can say to convince you otherwise. But I’ll try.

There are a lot of films titled “The Host” but the only one worth watching is the Korean one.

“The Host” was made in South Korea in 2006 and there is currently a sequel in the works.

“The Host” is about a giant fish-like monster that rampages through South Korea. It might sound like your typical monster movie, but what you end up getting is a surprisingly deep and emotional movie that just happens to feature an awesome monster destroying sh*t.

The monster itself was created by those silly Americans, who poured pretty much all the formaldehyde in the world down the drain and mutated a fish into a terrifying monster. This is actually based on a real event in which an American on a US military base dumped a lot of formaldehyde into a sewer that connected to the Han river in Seoul South Korea.

the hostThe monster is CG, which does not usually turn out well, but it was done exceedingly well in “The Host”. The way the characters and environments interact with the monster is very impressive, and you can really believe that it’s actually there in the movie world. The destruction on screen is a blast to watch. If this was the extent of the movie’s depth it would be a fun popcorn movie, but that is just the surface, the movie actually has some really deep characters as well as a profound statement on politics and panic in the public. The monster leads to a containment befitting any class act apocalyptic movie, and the main characters become renegades trying to recover a member of their family that was taken by the monster.

I’m getting tired of referring to the monster as “The monster” I’m going to start referring to it by the same nickname used by the Director and creature designer for the monster. Steve Buscemi. fargoYes. The monster was nicknamed Steve Buscemi. Reportedly because the monster was inspired by the way Steve Buscemi acted in Fargo? Steve Buscemi is one of my favorite actors and Fargo is a fantastic movie, but I don’t really see the connection.

“The Host” did very well for itself at the box office. In fact it became the highest grossing South Korean film of all time. Supposedly over 20% of the Korean population went to see the movie. It went on to featured in other countries and I’m sure Tarantino’s recommendation gained it an entire new group of fans. Hopefully anyone reading my review will go out and watch this movie, because it really is worth it.

I don’t want to go into too much detail regarding the plot because I think it’ll be a better and more surprising experience if you go into it not knowing much. All you need to know is that it’s a clever drama with a strong social commentary wrapped up in an awesome monster movie.

the hostYou can get the host on Blu-Ray right by clicking right “HERE” and keep checking back all October long for a new horror review everyday with this year’s Macabre Month of Horror.

‘The World’s End’ wraps up the Blood and Ice Cream trilogy perfectly

the worlds end

the worlds end

The World’s End is the final installment in the Cornetto trilogy from Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and Edgar Wright.

the worlds end simon pegg

The first two films in the trilogy being “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz”. Both were fantastic movies, so expectations were high for “The World’s End”. All three films in the trilogy star the excellent comedic pairing of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost who have to face off against a group of deadly enemies. In “Shaun of the Dead” the threat was zombies, in “Hot Fuzz” it was crazy cult members, and in “The Worlds End” it’s robot aliens.

the worlds end nick frostSimon Pegg and Nick Frost are best friends so they work great together on screen. They are one of the all time greatest comedic duos among the ranks of Abbot and Costello and Fry and Laurie. “The World’s End” has the two doing a little role reversal.

Nick Frost usually plays the drunk, slob, or unintelligent buffoon, and Simon Pegg usually plays the more professional one. This time it’s the opposite and each man delivers a great performance. Simon Pegg gives one of the strongest performances of his career. The character is well constructed and completes a surprisingly deep character arc for a comedy over the course of the story.

the worlds end martin freemanThe supporting cast is top notch. The supporting cast features a bevy of high level British comedic actors including Martin Freeman of Sherlock and The Hobbit fame. the worlds end paddy considineOther supporting cast members include Paddy ConsidineEddie Marsan and Rosamund Pike. All are very funny. There are some great cameos in the movie from people like Pierce Brosnan and Bill Nighy.

The World’s End pays homage to old sci-fi films from the 50’s and 60’s and manages to both satirize the genre while improving upon the formula.

the worlds end eddie marsenThere are a number of fight sequences in the “The World’s End” which was a little surprising but ultimately worked for the better. They are well choreographed and shot and are very inventive and original which is a big plus. The Cornetto Trilogy is also known as the Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy and The World’s end shows a  severe lack of both blood and ice cream. The lack of ice cream is actually used for comedy while blood is replaced largely by blue ink, from robots. But the World’s End still definitely earns it’s R rating with plenty of profanity used in the traditional English humor sense.

the worlds end rosamund pikeEdgar Wright brings his trademark directing style to the film with his utilization of fast cuts, non-traditional editing, and inventive camera techniques.

The action is entertaining and the comedy hits it’s mark perfectly. “The World’s End” works great as both a stand alone film and as the final installment in the Blood and Ice Cream trilogy. There are many little references and homages to the other films and “The World’s End” stays faithful to the trilogy in both style and humor. “The World’s End” is a fantastic film. One of the best comedies in a long time.

Repo Men (2010) Movie Review

repo men

*SPOILER FREE*

“Repo Men” is another film that came on that 4 dvd pack with 12 Monkeys and Children of Men.

I didn’t know what to expect from this film. I had no idea what it was about and usually on the 4 DVD packs there is at least one bad movie.

repo men poster

“Repo Men” not to be confused with “Repo Man”, or “Repo Chick”, or “Repo! The Genetic Opera”, or just plain “Repo”

Repo Men is really awesome. I was very surprised by how good it was. The movie has a great tone that jumps between serious and fun. The direction and writing are both very good and the cast is excellent. I’ve never really been a fan of Forest Whitaker, but I really liked him in this film. He brings a great performance to an interesting character. Jude law gives a great performance that really shines in a few key scenes. Jude and Forest have great on screen chemistry and the relationship between their characters is very well constructed. There are some odd supporting cast members. Only odd because they are small roles of actors that I’ve only really seen in one or two other things. Like “Cholo” from “Land of the Dead” who was uncredited in “Repo Men”, and the boss at the movie theater from theater managerDrake and Josh there’s even a cameo from RZA.

The film is directed by Miguel Sapochnik, who besides Repo Men has only directed TV shows. Usually just one episode on a few different shows, he directed 6 episodes of House, which is interesting. His only current work in progress is a TV movie, but I hope he gets another theatrical release, because he has real potential. His directing style is creative and has a personal flair. His sense of film style comes out in scenes such as the fast paced flashback sequence. He deserves another theatrical release if he desires one.

“Repo Men” is not just an action film, it’s not even mainly an action film. It’s mainly a sci-fi drama/thriller, and a pretty good one at that. I’m not a big sci-fi fan, I honestly don’t care much for the genre, but I know when one does it right. I saw the unrated version of this film, and it was very gory. In a good way mind you. It was a little excessive but not to the point of torture porn like “Hostel” or “Saw”.  There is an action scene towards the end of the film which is a gory as hell knife fight, and really makes me wish that there were more awesome knife fights in repo men knife fightmovies. “The Raid Redemption” has perhaps the greatest knife fights in a movie. Just letting you know.

There are a lot of digital effects in the film, some look a little weaker than others, and even a little dated (Which is odd seeing as it was made in 2010) But overall the effects look really good.

repo men characters

Repo Men is no masterpiece, but it is an enjoyable film. It has plenty of problems and at times has a B movie vibe, but I’ve always enjoyed that vibe regardless.

“Repo Men” is worth watching. Not a must see, but if the opportunity presents itself, check it out. 

 

Children of Men (2006)

children of men

*SPOILER FREE*

children of men

“Children of Men” is a movie that I had heard a lot about, but just sort of ignored. I have Ryan Connolly from Film Riot to thank for convincing me to finally watch this film.

I didn’t know what to expect going into the film. All I really knew about the film going into it was that it starred Clive Owen, who is a pretty good actor, had some explosions which I saw in a trailer, and that it was a sci-fi film, which I only found out right before watching. I watched “Children of Men” on a four DVD pack from Walmart that came also came with 12 Monkeys which is a really great movie that I might review sometime.

I’m not going to say anything at all about the plot, because I knew nothing about it and I wish the same luxury upon you as I feel it might have heightened the experience.

“Children of Men” is a true masterpiece of film. I was completely blown away, even more so because I didn’t expect much. The performances are great all around, but they are not incredibly clive owen children of mendemanding. The impact of the film comes from the the atmosphere, the production value, the story, and how it’s told. Clive Owen does a good job starring in the role. He seems very real which is hugely pertinent to the movie. I’ll explain why a little later on. Michael Cain has a supporting role which is a little smaller than I had thought, but he’s a really great actor, and adds to the film in a nice way. Also in a co-starring role is Julianne Moore, or as I like to call her “Back up Jodie Foster.”

Alfonso Cuarón does a magnificent job directing the film. He wanted to the film to have a documentary feel. These events are happening and someone just happens to be filming it. The camera work is very shaky which is often over done in movies, but this is an example of how to utilize it correctly. The camera works really adds to the movie and makes the action scenes more intense. The movie is full of incredible long shots. I am huge fan of long shots in film and it made me love the movie so much more to see so many long shots. There are single shots that last over 12 minutes. That’s insane. To someone

micheal cain children of men

who doesn’t know much about the production of film, that might not seem like such a big deal, but long shots are incredibly difficult to do from a technical production aspect. I sat back and marveled at some of these shots. I sat there and verbally exclaimed “Holy crap, I can’t believe they haven’t broken the shot yet.”

These long shots are not just static boring shots, but they are completely dynamic and just ridiculously impressive. There is a single shot where the camera follows Clive Owen through a complete war zone of a city. He’s panicking and trying not to die while running through the streets and buildings. The camera covers full blocks and goes in, up, down, and out of buildings. It’s astounding, I’m amazed by these shots. The took such magnificent orchestration to pull off, and it’s really a marvel of modern film making.

There is a shot in a car that lasts 12 minutes. It begins as a conversation among the people in the car and turns into an action sequence by the end. To make this shot work they had to invent a camera rig that went on top of the car and allowed the camera to move in 360 degrees through the entire car. The car seats were specially made, and the actors had to recline and move their chairs when they were off screen to allow for certain camera angles. There are actors inside the car, and actors outside the car, all working at the same time, also alongside some incredible special effects that most movies would cut away from to provide fake realism.

These very long shots are incredibly hard to organize and are an increased challenge to the actors. Entire scenes in the film consist of a single shot, similar to a play.

The production value is through the roof. The sets are huge and amazingly detailed. The setting is a post apocalyptic England, and it looks fantastic. You can see famous monuments throughout children of men citythe film amid the destruction that’s happening. The setting is the future, but things in the future are old, if that makes sense. Most of everything is destroyed and in ruin, and the set designers did a truly great job. I hardly ever feel the need to address the sets of a film when I’m reviewing it, but it is necessary here.

“Children of Men” is a true masterpiece of modern cinema and will surely go down in history as an all time classic.

Run Like Hell game review Macabre month of horror #18

run like hell

RLH stands for Run Like Hell. The title is most of the reason why I checked out the game. I very much like the title. Now the game, that’s different.

RLH came out in 2002 on the PlayStation 2 and Xbox. I played it on the PS2 and there are some differences between the two, including an extra level and skins on the Xbox version, but the PS2 version gets a Breaking Benjamin music video, yeah, or not yeah, I don’t know that band, and I doubt anyone cares about it in the game anyway.In the game there are items of course which can replenish your health. One such item is the Bawls Energy drink. This is an actual drink that they sell in certain parts of the country, I’ve never seen one in person though. Now I’m mentioning this because of something that is in the manual for the game. It’s obvious product placement and the manual contains a full page ad for the drink, which I usually hate, but I will let it slide because the ad is genuinely amusing. “Grab your Bawls and Run Like Hell.”The game features voice from some well known celebrities including Lance Henrikson and Micheal Iornside. Iornside better known in the video game world as the voice of Sam Fisher from the Splinter Cell series. The first Splinter Cell game came out the same year as RLH, but a little while after.
Henrikson voices the character that you play as. Henrikson was also in Aliens which was a clear inspiration to the game. His character’s name is Nick Connors. A pretty boring name as far as games usually go. But the boring name fits because he is a boring character. His character doesn’t really have anything interesting going for him, he’s just the typical “I’m too old for this stuff” character. Oh yeah and he also has nightmares about his dead … wife?The story isn’t really very interesting. It’s just, everyone is dead, don’t join them. You’re not really trying to accomplish anything. You have little or no motivation to go and do the things your doing.The game is a survival horror game like Resident Evil or Silent Hill, with a much heavier Sci-Fi element. You are on a big space station and you are defending yourself from aliens. One of the sub titles for this game is “Hunt or be Hunted”. That’s an overused tagline anyway but it’s also just inaccurate.
You can’t hunt these things, and they don’t really hunt you either, they just pop out and attack you, or stand there until you move close enough. The main enemy you fight is just a rip off of the H.R Gieger Alien from “Alien”. Except he just slashes at you with his little blade arms. There are other enemy types, but they are all very underwhelming. The game say’s that the enemies learn from your behavior and adapt to it, but that’s just a lie.You upgrade your guns, but it’s not the same as other games with the same mechanic. When you upgrade a gun it doesn’t change much. You really just need them so you can shoot more than 1 bullet every 3 seconds. The  actual gameplay is very bad, you run very awkwardly and shooting is terrible.There are puzzles which is common place in survival horror games. One thing that is very annoying is that the game won’t save any information that you find, such as door codes. You need to remember these things for a very long time, since sometimes you find a code and you never even find the door until 30 minutes later. I suggest keeping a piece of paper to write stuff down on. I think that would actually be cool in a game like LA Noir. Having the option to keep track of all the clues yourself, could be pretty cool. But in a game like RLH where you just need it for trivial little things, it’s not good. The puzzles are either so simple that they’re pointless, or they just involve a lot of running back and forth, which again is pointless.I know I haven’t really said anything good about the game, but I can’t. It’s just not a good game. It had some potential, but every aspect of the game just fails miserably.

I am in fact selling a copy of it, so maybe it’s actually a masterpiece.

Alien (1979) Macabre month of horror #11

Cover of "Alien (The Director's Cut)"
Cover of Alien (The Director’s Cut)

*Spoiler Alert* I know it’s an old movie, but there are still many people who have not seen it.

Ridley Scott is a great director. He has many amazing film including “Gladiator“, “Black Hawk Down“, “Blade Runner“, and of course “Alien” which was only his second feature film.

The famous tagline for this movie was “In space no one can here you scream.”  This is a good tagline as well as a good solution to the horror isolation element. In horror movies there needs to be a reason why the protagonist can’t simply go to the police, or get help. In space there is no help.

The alien is one of the greatest horror character designs of all time. It looks completely original, like no alien before it’s time. The Alien was designed off of the art work of H. R. Geiger. Geiger does some cool stuff, and his designs have been used in other movies and games. The art design for the entire movie looks fantastic. From huge, very detailed sets, to the special effects, and eggs, the movie looks great and still holds up today. I’ll take practical effects over CG any day.

The cast is great. Sigourney Weaver is the main protagonist “Ripley” and this is the film that made her an icon. She has made many other films, and constantly returns to sci-fi films for cameos.

The rest of the cast is great as well. A lot of horror movies suffer from characters that you simply don’t care about, they just add to the body count, but these characters have depth, and even sub-plots aside from the main plot.

Giger's Alien, as portrayed by Bolaji Badejo i...
Giger’s Alien, as portrayed by Bolaji Badejo in Ridley Scott’s 1979 film Alien (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the characters who you went through the movie with, turns out to be an android. The android attacks Ripley and this causes a fear of robots in the sequels.

“Aliens” is claimed as one of the greatest sequels of all time, often claiming it’s better than the original. This time James Cameron takes over the director chair and we have a genre switch. The first “Alien” was a sci-fi horror film, while the second is more of a sci-fi action film. James Cameron knows how to make a sequel. The relationship is very similar between the Alien films and the Terminator films. James Cameron also directed the Terminator series, and the first one is more of a sci-fi horror/thriller (almost slasher even) and the second is more of a sci-fi action movie. The third in both series’ is complete crap.

The movie “Alien” is a classic. It has some of the most memorable and often referenced scenes. Perhaps most famous is the chest buster scene (Which it’s always called but if I remember correctly, it busts out of the stomach.) This scene is so instantly recognizable. Many people found it horrifying. I found it hilarious. Not the bursting itself, but rather the way the little alien slides across the table after. I guess most people are a little too freaked out to notice it.