NEWS: SILENT HILL 2

Silent Hill 2 Silent Hill was about a mother looking for her child. If the second movie was to coincide with the second game, would it be a husband looking for his wife? Sean Bean played a very underused character in the first flick. I know I’d be happy as hell if he was brought back for the pivotal role in the second movie.

The 2006 fantasy-horror film, Silent Hill was a very much hit-or-miss video game adaptation amongst gaming and horror fans alike. Featuring some of the most bizzare and creative monster effects in the last ten years, the story failed to capture most critics as Roger Ebert himself thought the plot was overly-convoluted. In his 1.5 star review, Ebert said “Not only can I not describe the plot of this movie, but I have a feeling the last scene reverses half of what I thought I knew (or didn’t know).”

Video game adaptations have had a really nasty track record- Mortal Kombat and Resident Evil were two franchises that actually could have worked out to be decent movies even if they weren’t sourced from videogames. The plot alone from the various scenarios was rife with suspense in the Resident Evil games, and the Mortal Kombat franchise had many interested (and possible-to-develop) characters. Unfortunately both franchises got handed off to Paul W.S. Anderson, who I will one day punch in the face for AVP. I won’t even mention the reasons why Street Fighter sucked, just the result: It killed Raul Julia with its suckiness.

When the Silent Hill film came out I was really indecisive about my own criticisms. The characters were there, but they felt like mere gimmicks compared to their video game counter parts. The story was there, but became Hollywood-ified as somebody during the screenwriting process decided to change the “evil” from a demonic Lovecraftian cult to uber-puritans. That was a big “NO” in my opinion. If you put Pyramid Head into the movie he is supposed to be a fantastical example of their executioner- The Red Demon, Xulchibara.

Yeah, I’m a total nerd for this series. That’s why over all I did end up liking the movie. The set designs and overall direction was just so beautiful in its own twisted, mysterious and fantastical way that I still watch the movie anytime I just want to mellow out and take in some…well bizzare scenary.

A foggy, oldtowne style pervaded the set design, and it kept the essence of the game clearly in tact, causing many genre fans such as Arrow in the Head to hail the film as a “flawed yet faithful video game adaptation, obviously made for mature horror fans.” This movie definitely could win you over for its presentation if nothing else.

However the ending proved to have some weird twist that made a lot of people in the theater go “what does that mean? I don’t get it!” and myself to lay down a huge “WTF.” I obviously won’t spoil it for you, suffice it to say that while it did make sense in context of the film, it really had nothing to do with ANYTHING plot related and really just caused for a loose conclusion. One wonders if Gans just said to his crew “Ok…well I have no idea what to do at this point…slap an ending here…and lets go get Dunkin Donuts.”
Yet it did leave an opening for a sequel, a sequel which I am happy to announce that according to Christophe Gans, Neil Gaiman is more than in talks to co-write with Roger Avary.

Could this be a match made in heaven? Quite possibly. Gaiman is one of today’s most prestigious and awarded fantasy and horror writers. He’s also a fully functioning graphic artist, creating well-recieved Sandman comic series amongst others. Gaiman is an artistic Renassaince man, and with his ability to create deep characters and fantastical situations just from the tip of a pen, Silent Hill 2 could become one of the greatest horror movies of recent times. That is if Gans comes back for directing. I myself would appreciate the same visual punch he put into it, and I doubt if the same director didn’t work on it, it would feel much too different and end up flopping around a bit.

I’m looking out for this one- expect to hear more news as I get it.

My overall opinion on the matter:

Silent Hill was about a mother looking for her child. If the second movie was to coincide with the second game, would it be a husband looking for his wife? Sean Bean played a very underused character in the first flick. I know I’d be happy as hell if he was broughtback for the pivotal role in the second movie.

REVIEWED: TRANSPORTER 2

transporter 2 poster

AUDREY BILLINGS (Amber Valleta): I thought you were a professional driver?

FRANK MARTIN: A different kind of driver.

If the name of the site and the company doesn’t make it clear, then I’ll make it crystal right now: I’m a HUGE action movie fan. I was watching Aliens, Predator, and Terminator 2 when I was five- all uncut, and all at my mom’s recommendation. The advantage? I grew up loving really GREAT action films that not only had huge explosions but deep stories or at least solid directing and command of plot.

The Transporter 2 stars the quickly-rising popular action icon, Jason Statham (who’s career could go down the drain if enough people see the next Uwe Boll film, Hail to the King- A Dungeon Siege Tale) in a film written by the fantastically-oriented Luc Besson, directed by the ever-growing Louis Leterrier, in a movie about a man who is moving things for money with his tricked-out ride. In this film, his “item” is a young boy going back and forth to school for a month, only to be kidnapped by the “nefarious badguy.” This angers our hero, who goes to save him and stop an even more twisted plot to take down the entire DEA. Or something like that. Cars crash, explosions explode, and people get smacked with Jason Statham’s fire hose…no that’s not a pun that’s actually what happens…deal with it.

Now all grown up and starting my own film business, I’m on the way to working on two of my own action pictures, The Peregrine Saga, and The Atavist Splinter: BLIND-SIDED. I love listening to rock songs by bands like Disturbed and N.E.R.D., all while imagining what great action could flow with it.

So even when it comes to downright cheeze, I will watch almost any action movie at least once. I mentioned in my last post that I’m an avid fan of Ryuhei Kitamura’s VERSUS (2000), a movie so low-budget it makes El Mariachi look like it was personally funded by Microsoft. The style was high but it was also “so obviously fake looking we’ll wink at the camera while shooting each other” extremely shot that I couldn’t get it the first time. The second time I loved it, and the third time while listening to the director’s commentary, I absolutely fell in love with how it sky-rocketed Kitamura’s career- the man has since directed the 50th Anniversarry Godzilla film, and the cutscenes for Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes. I also seem to remember that his movie Azumi is officially coming to America soon…I’m going to be checking that out.

Anyways, that’s all beside the point. Today was Christmas, and under the tree I mostly got clothing. I also got two DvD’s: Miami Vice (say what you will, Mann knew what he was doing in my opinion), and, oddly enough and not at all requested, The Transporter 2.

I’m a fan of numerous things in film, but when it comes to action there’s two things that excell: Luc Besson and Jason Statham. Luc Besson is the legendary French director who brought us such classics as The Professional (one of the highest rated movies on IMDB as you can clearly see), and the less-critically loved but undoubtedly clever The Fifth Element. Luc Besson does not direct this film, however, he gives the reigns to one of his most trusted associates, the young and upcoming action phenomenon Louis Leterrier, who has directed the other Besson-penned masterpiece, Danny the Dog, AKA Jet Li’s Unleashed, and of course the original Transporter. Luc Besson’s taste for action is hard-hitting, realistic elements put into fantastical settings and bizzare situations. Usually this pans out brilliantly as was the case for the films Unleashed and one of my personal favorite action flicks, District B13 (review to come soon!) in which the action can be seen as the point, but the stories and characters behind it are built up to be something just as strong as any punch thrown in terms of integrity and growth.

Unfortunately, the story for The Transporter 2 is incredibly…mmm…I’ll just use the\ word “blah.” Now, I can usually deal with this being that I was raised in a video game society (which the other Jason Statham flick, Crank, satires saliciously) in which paying attention to a story wasn’t necessarly goal number one. I, however, being the elitist jerk I am, could hardly ever swallow a game unless the story along with it proved to be just as exciting as the action. I kept that policy from childhood, and it has followed me into my career as a filmmaker and reviewer. For instance, the Tony Jaa flick Ong-Bak, was a great duty-bound story of a man who had to save his village from people who did not respect the faith of others. It ends with one of the minor characters redeeming his flawed ways and re-learning the respect he was taught as a child. That’s gold! The Protector (known as Tom Yum Goong outside the ‘States), the spiritual successor to that film, starring Tony Jaa again, lacked that same continuing message, instead just going for balls-out (and less solidly choreographed) action. In the end, the good guy literally kills EVERYONE and then just walks away peacefully with no real growth or explanation, aside from a decent albeit only ironic monologue by one of the minor characters.

To compare it to one of those two films, which aren’t necessarily polar extremes but certainly different variations of similar styles (like how my younger brother keeps trying to explain to me the difference between the 2 billion different styles of Metal music), The Transporter 2 would have to fit into the second category with The Protector. That’s ok though- the action it brings in with it is great: intense and well paced, with variation of some of the best car chases in recent history and a lot of cheesy “finale” effects that still prove amusing even after the realization that they’re 90% CGI.

kicks

This all works because of one thing: Jason Statham himself. His IMDB profile claims he does all of his own stunts, and since he’s still rising in popularity and shows off some level of integrity with his acting, I doubt his profile is as cluttered with mis-information as Jean Claude Vanne Damme’s (freaking gymnast!). If I ever found out it was a lie, I’ll personally tell you, personally. In any case his stuntwork is very welcomed as not a lot of people had been doing it until the last few years without a stuntman to back them up, and I like that step in the right direction that modern action flicks are taking. I know Harrison Ford did it way back in the day with the Indiana Jones series, and the thing about this is it REALLY strengthens the acting and connection the actor has to his character. Statham pulls off his role remarkably, with Bond-like charm and pure bad-assedness. His fight scenes are pulled off with enthusiasm and brutality, and its really great to know the man behind the wheel for the remarkable chase scenes is actually the man getting out of the car in the next shot.

So we’ve got a great writer with a so-so story line and a great action star with some so-so action. Other than the damned-decent opening performances of the little kid (first timer Hunter Clary) and some of the bad-guys, the acting is nothing special. The direction is solid but ends up being overblown with impossible sequences that, while good for munching popcorn, only end up causing yawns upon later viewings. I enjoy CG work when its done right, however in an action movie when the main focus of the action is realism and choreographed stunt work, CGI takes away my “how did they do that?” factor and doesn’t exactly inspire me to watch it upon later viewings.

The movie does strike a decent balance between stylish and cheesy, and over all is a fun view for any action enthusiast or person just looking to lose their brain for an hour and a half. Things blow up stylishly, you get one great character in Statham’s Frank Martin (who, up until Casino Royale, was one half of the future twin-split children of the James Bond franchise, the other half being Jason Borne from the Bourne series), running the paces of current action movie trends, such as white guys doing insane martial arts. NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT as long as they got the balls to do their own stunts!

So, my review is going to be a little hard for me to swallow, but I can really only give this flick a 2/4, seeing as, while I enjoyed it, it won’t be something I’m going to watch over and over again for the action or the story line, but will encourage me to keep looking forward to Statham’s work. He’s got SO much potential to be one of the next great action stars, returning us to Schwarzenegger’s glory days of the late 80’s.

Let’s hope he keeps it up.

transporter 2 dvd

This film STRIKES A POSE!!! from the driver’s seat, zooming past the road only to kinda fly by without much notice.

**/****

PREVIEW- TRANSFORMERS: THE MOVIE

Yes, I had too.

Here’s the link to the most recent trailer, the only one that shows us anything so far:

TRANSFORMERS: THE MOVIE HD TRAILER

Ok, so I’m going to give you guys all the info I have so far on the film. First, the basics:

Yes, it is being directed by the notorious Michael Bay of Armageddon and Bad Boys fame. He screwed up huge with Pearl Harbor, but from what I can tell, most people do in fact enjoy watching his movies when they are not meant to be serious.

skorpinok

Michael Bay is REALLY good at blowing stuff up- something I wish to one day accomplish, but his ability to capture actual essence typically misses the mark. Last year, he seemed to strike some level of improvement with The Island, however I haven’t seen it. Roger Ebert, from what I can remember, did however give it a thumbs up in a time when most sci-fi actioneer movies are given thumbs down because all mankind can come up with for his own future is inane garbage.
The one and only Michael Bay film I remember seeing was Armageddon. I personally enjoyed it- I can’t tell you if it was techinically sound or not, and yes it blew up a lot of things, but that is the entire point of disaster films. However, there was an inescapable charm to both Bruce Willis AND Ben Affleck in the film, and considering Steve Buscemi was in it well, how can I really not like it?
Back to the point though- The script has been co-written by at least three people, which in my experience is kinda low for a movie of this magnitude. I mean, the orignal Batman (1989) only required two people, but the script was all over the place nonetheless…So what I’m getting at is that I really doubt there is going to be much focus in this film, seeing as how 80% of it is going to be “In this scene…something gets blown up…and in this scene…something else gets blown up.”
Alex Kurtzman, one of the screenwriters, worked on the series “Alias” writing 10 episodes and producing over 20. There’s some credibility to that, at least if you were to ask my mom, but then again its also in a completely different direction from Transformers. The same goes for Robert Orci, another co-writer of “Alias.”

Starring in the movie is Shia LeBouf- a “Disney Kid” who’s proven his talents in Holes opposite Sigourney Weaver, Constantine, and Bobby. He seems the right kid to play the “Damn that’s one awesome giant robot” role, and if they get it right, I think it’ll work out just fine. However, if they get it wrong with this character, I’ll smell utter disaster A’comin. Personally, I’m just pissed he’s character is named Sam, and not SPIKE. Also in the movie are Tyrese Gibson and Jon Voight. They play the Army Guys. In my opinion, that’s just dandy cause I know they can handle their roles with charisma and toughness.

And to be honest, Jon Voight is probably one of the ONLY people who’s weird enough to the point where I’d actually believe him if he told me 50 foot robots were walking around town. So it’s a good call.

However, there’s only one main casting choice that should be taken into consideration, regardless of the robot-aesthetics (which I’ll shortly get into).

Yes, everyone that cares, Peter Cullen IS playing Optimus Prime once again. “Till all are one!” I say. There was even a contest online where fans could submit one liners for Optimus to say during the movie. Scary what the internet is doing to movies these days.

So the casting isn’t bad, the director is probably one of the only people crazy enough to actually TRY making a live action flick…so now lets get onto what could make or break the deal completely. THE ROBOTS.

Well, if you watched the trailer I provided you with up top, your opinion is probably already formed. I’m still on the edge though- the CGI still looks rough (obviously they just need something to show real quick) but it also looks plausible. The designs, however, are what have been getting to me and a lot of fans as well. Check this image out:

optimus

I’m still not sure myself what to think of that. He looks…interesting. But with all the stuff pointing out of his body I really don’t think I’m going to pay any attention to his face. That might be the point, but that’ll ruin the effect in my opinion.

I haven’t made a decision yet- I’m pretty damned sure I’ll go see it cause the Transformers were my freaking life when I was five years old, so why not try to give it a chance for the younger generation? Who knows, maybe it’ll inspire some kid to make a Metal Gear (the actual robot, God-forbid they make a movie) and nuke the parts of the world that disagree with U.S. Foreign Policy. You never know.

RECENTLY VIEWED: SATURN 3

saturn 3 poster

BENSON (Harvey Keitel/ Dubbed by Roy Dotrice)

Yes, you have a great body. May I use it?

I sat down today in front of my widescreen TV and decided to surf my high-definition digital cable for a good movie to watch. I turned to God-knows what channel, and came across a movie about to start starring Kurt Douglas and Harvey Keitel, not to mention Farrah Fawcett. Apparently it was a sci-fi flick about two lovers who’s space station is breaking down, so they need to call in a doctor with some “big tools” to patch the place up. The Robo Handy-man, Hector begins to feel lovelorn as he inherits the lust for the loyal female character (Fawcett, of course) that his socially-retarded creator (Keitel) builds up in competition to the usually-naked space Commander (the aging Kirk Douglas)! Sounds like the opening of a porno, no?

Now let me ask you something- how does a movie starring Spartacus, Mr. White, and a freaking Charlie’s Angel end up being some of the biggest dreck I’ve ever had to witness, even by MY low standards? I mean…I watch the movie Versus like religion!

Well I was reading some forum threads from IMDB, and it seems like the cast and crew might have not enjoyed this movie either. One thread poster states that, more than likely, Harvey Keitel hated everyone and everything to do with the movie- probably because his character, the maniacal Dr. Benson, was dubbed by Roy Dotrice because he couldn’t compensate for the directors inane need for REALLY STUPID SPEECH PATTERNS. Let me explain something: Harvey Keitel has an amazing voice, and an amazing style of articulation. If you wanted Dr. Spock for this movie, labotamize Leonard Nimoy in the stylings of One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest and stick a crazy straw in his throat. This character sounded so awful, and while I know it was intentional it still does not deserve any forgiveness. Half the time I had no idea what this character was saying because the screenplay didn’t really get any damned coherent thought across even when Kirk Douglas was making a perfectly humorous quip! In fact if he wasn’t smiling like a jackass through half of his lines (probably out of contempt for this garbage) I doubt I would have even known he was making wisecracks!

Farrah Fawcett practically plays a Barbie Doll for the bumbling (notice how his legs never really move that much yet he walks? Bizarre) Hector- who falls madly in love with her to the point of evicerating her arms and trying to…wait…

Hector never tries to do ANYTHING to her! He just stands there going “look at me, I’m a killer robot! Insert Really Annoying Robot Noises HERE!” God if I had an audio clip for this I assure you I could give brain tumors to 90% of the people who read this review. It is THAT awful.

Now if you may have noticed I’ve been adding pictures to my reviews lately. Well let me tell you something about the next image: It’s a picture of a model/promotional tool for the film from 1980. And guess what? This scene, filled with intensity and action-never happens never happens.

So what do we get from this movie? Well…we get sex…a lot of sexual innuendo…starring Farrah Faucett and your grandpa, I mean Kirk Douglas. Now the relationship between these two could have been really well established had they not made Fawcett seem like a plaything to every actor (that meaning, two on-screen characters and two offscreen horney fighter pilot) and the giant robot who probably needed to adjust his apparatus. Maybe it was social commentary, but my only guess is that it was the commentary on: If you’re a stupid blond with your headlights constantly going berserk, yes, men will fight over you and you will be able to do nothing about it.

Hug robotThen again maybe the only real love going on in the movie was going on between the Commander and the robot, as seen in this image of a man giving one last glorious hug to his giant mechanical monster! Oh the passion!

On the plus side, Hector was decently designed, as were the sets and the special effects…

OH WHO AM I KIDDING!!? The sets looked like something out of a BAD episode of the original Star Trek (and by bad I meant worse than standard), Hector made Robbie The Robot look like a talented Jazz Dancer, and the special effects were stolen straight from Alien, only it looked like it had the budget of a sophomore film school project from 1964.

In his directorial debut, John Barry, the production designer for the original Star Wars movie, started directing this film, and died (or was fired, I can’t tell from the rumors on the net) about half way through the project. The cause: Menegitis.
Guess what? I’m going to place my bets on this film for causing his untimely death: It wasn’t the menegitis- it was the overwhelming obviousness that after this film, his career would already be miles down the crapper.

In the end, there were some very interesting ideas posed- humans giving robots intelligence through brainwaves would make a great film if done right (and I’m sure it has been, my brain is just too melted by this rotten-egg to remember any) and the fact that the two main characters were trying to make their own private Eden in a solar system of despair seemed relatively touching. Too bad it ripped the opening directly from Alien and didn’t even HAVE an ending!

This film does NOT strike a pose. It simply flops around like a fish out of water…and on a bed of burning embers, covered in sault and about to be sauteed with pig urine.

*/****

RECENTLY VIEWED: LAYER CAKE (2004)

Layer Cake Poster

XXXX (Daniel Craig):

“Always remember that one day all this drug monkey business will be legal. They won’t leave it to people like me… not when they finally figure out how much money is to be made – not millions, fucking billions. Recreational drugs PLC – giving the people what they want… Good times today, Stupor tomorrow. But this is now, so until prohibition ends make hay whilst the sun shines.”

Wow, those damned Brits! They sure know what they’re doing when it comes to crime flicks. I honestly haven’t seen many of the British variety, but for a genre that in recent times has been dominated by the, in my opinion, WAY-too-over-the-top Guy Ritchie, this Daniel Craig door-opener directed by newcomer Michael Vaughn REALLY took the cake (pun completely intended).

The story centers around a character who is known as “XXXX” in the credits. Craig played the anonymous character so convincingly, with a sensibility and stare that could rival Christopher Walken’s,that the impact caused me to just know the character even without a lable. If Daniel Craig has nothing else going for him (and he does) its those damn cold-blue eyes. The character is a young cocaine dealer, very professional and businesslike, who aims to retire soon after he completes two jobs. Trouble arises when he’s asked to locate another mob bosses’s daughter and also to sell off one million Excstacy pills.

Layer Cake Group shot
And a gang of Serbs want him dead if he doesn’t bring them the head of a megalomaniac cockney drug dealer. And he doesn’t know who’s trying to screw him over on his own side- everything is spiraling out of control.

But as previously mentioned, this film is not an insane “Look at me, I’m Guy Ritchie and I can edit like a teenage shroom addict with Adobe After Effects” British crime flick- its a well paced, easy to swallow yet still brilliantly shot crime-character painting. The many different colors of crime are present here- the dealers, the hitmen, the thiefs and the killers. Its stylish, but not bombastic, and for that you get to center in on the charismatic acting of Craig, who got to practice his torture reactions long before the Testicals of Insanity scene from Casino Royale. Vividly shot, the film goes from 0 to 60 over its brisk 105 minutes- a really great amount of time for a crime flick. Most don’t pack this much punch in two and a half hours, especially in recent years, and anything shorter is usually just a bunch of attention-span-deprived grade school crap for people who aren’t willing to look at characters who are more than just stereotypical, or gimmicks.

Colm Meany George Harris (Black Hawk Down) and Colm Meaney (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) have brilliant supporting roles as the two old-timer drug dealers who are trying to make sure Craig’s character stays on the right track, all the while being part of one of the biggest set ups in recent film history. In my opinion, the ending has only been met in terms of direction with Scorcesese’s recent masterpiece The Departed in terms of wrapping things up in a neat, tidy, “didn’t see that coming” surprise finale. Layer Cake George Harris
Filled with suspense, rife with tension, and spiced with some one-shot action here and there, this film entertains on a grand and intimate level- never deviating into scenes of complete disbelief. I have to say one of my favorite scenes involves Craig’s character being shot at by an unknown adversary, with nowhere to run and nowhere to hide. Watch for this scene- its a keeper, and most of the other ones are too!

If you loved Casino Royale and agree that Craig deserves the role of Bond, then watch this movie and see why they GAVE it to him! He’s cold but he’s real, just like the theme of this movie- crime is a business to many, it exists, and it is unavoidable. An honest living is made off of it by some, but when taken too far, even the killers and drug dealers have someone dangerous and evil to watch out for: each other.

This film is highly recommended, striking quite the nasty pose!

Layer Cake DvD

****/****

LAYER CAKE TRAILER PROVIDED BY YOUTUBE

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