Monday, September 30, 2013

Tool: Toology - Unauthorized Biography (2001) review


This independent documentary on Tool is very cheaply made and almost a sad attempt to make a documentary, had it not included real interviews with close friends and more side information I didn't know.

SUBJECT:This documentary covers the subject of the unique hard rock band, Tool, with brief information on their early start and rise to fame, with lawsuits and all, leading up to the release of Lateralus. The documentary includes interviews from a member of the band, some fans, and a few close friends of the band. I believe they covered the subject almost decently. Had it not been made so brief and soon, they could have covered more ground. It also would have helped if they had gotten interviews from more than just one member of the band and more reliable people.

PEOPLE:As I just said, the people they interviewed didn't seem to be the most reliable and knowledgeable sources they could have found. A couple of them seemed to really know what they were talking about, but the rest seemed to be as general as anybody else. Another problem I had is only one member of the band was interviewed. It would have been nice to have seen an interview with Maynard himself or another member of the band.

SCORE:The score is actually lacking Tool's music, due to copyright issues. This is an extremely indie documentary, so they couldn't put any of Tool's music in it, so they used some cheap filler rock and guitar with annoying sound. I know they couldn't use Tool, but I think they could have done at least a little better than that.

EFFECTS:Since they didn't have the license to use Tool's music, the creators also didn't have the license to use their videos. Instead, the director decided to make his own, cheap claymation videos that didn't even look close to Tool but disturbingly unintelligent and nonsensical. It looked more like an old Nine Inch Nails video than a Tool video. It also made me mad that the creators tried to make the viewer infer that was an actual Tool video.

OTHER CONTENT:This documentary was way too cheaply made and behind its time. If the creators had made this documentary later in the future, gotten the right licensing to make it, and made it longer, this documentary wouldn't have been just wasted potential. There were some good points covered in this documentary, but for the most part, it seemed too independent and student-led.

OVERALL,a mediocre documentary with an almost decent topic discussion, unreliable sources, lacking and annoying score, cheap and inaccurate claymation, a too-early start, lack of correct licensing, and a lacking duration, but it covered a few good points, included some interviews by close friends, and added some information I actually didn't know.


Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Cabin In The Woods (2012) review


This new twist on the classic horror set-up is a horror fanatic's blast into sharp humor, satire for the horror world, and clever ideas played for campy fun. However, this movie piles on more campy humor than it does scares.

PLOT:Five friends, including innocent Dana (Kristen Connolly), always-blazed Marty (Fran Kranz), flirty Jules (Anna Hutchison), athletic Curt (Chris Hemsworth), and intellectual Holden (Jesse Williams), go out to party at a remote cabin in the woods. As expected in a horror film, bad things happen involving zombies, rituals, and partying gone wrong. However, the story isn't what you expect it to be. The horror in this situation is controlled by a greater force involving two scientists known as Sitterson (Richard Jenkins) and Hadley (Bradley Whitford). For fear of giving too much away, I stop here. It's a great plot executed brilliantly.

ACTING:The acting in here is pretty good. Kristen Connolly and Fran Kranz would have to be the best in their performances as Dana and Marty, as well as the two scientists Sitterson and Hadley, played very well by Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford. There really wasn't a bad performance in here, not counting the zombies. The other shiners would have to be Chris Hemsworth as Curt, Anna Hutchison as Jules, Jesse Williams as Holden, Brian J. White as Truman, Amy Acker as Lin, and Tim De Zarn as Mordecai.

SCORE:The score is mainly generic horror score and a few indie tracks, but it balanced out well with the spirit of the movie.

EFFECTS:The effects were actually pretty cool. These had to have been some of the coolest digital effects I've seen. The make-up and blood effects were standard horror quality (but not bad), but the CG and other make-up effects for when you see the other monsters is really cool and does a fairly good job at putting out the scares and spreading the blood.

OTHER CONTENT:This movie was a very clever treat for horror fans. The new twist this added to the classic horror plot was not only sharp-witted, but pokes fun at the horror genre in such a satirical way that it pokes fun at even itself. The obvious and cleverly-placed allusions to other horror classics (Hellraiser, The Evil Dead, etc.) were a big treat for me as I'm sure they were for other horror fans out there. This comedy horror only had one flaw to me. The movie added all of these cool, intense moments near the end, but up until then, the movie isn't scary. The movie almost turns itself into a straight-up comedy parodying only itself. The question to me still remains: Was this made mainly for horror purposes or comedic purposes? I also appreciated how this horror movie came extremely close to breaking the fourth wall, with references to The Director and quotes such as, "We're not the only audience here." The fact that the characters in this movie have become self-aware is one of the best feelings I've ever had about a horror movie. This horror movie was definitely a treat for me that I won't forget too soon.

OVERALL,an awesome comedy horror with a brilliantly-done plot, pretty good acting, generic horror score, pretty cool CG and make-up effects, sharp wit, satirical treatment of the horror genre, a good and intense ending, and a shaking of the fourth wall, but up until the end, the movie isn't scary in any way.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

American Mary (2013) review


This medical horror movie is a bit stylish and scares with a few intense moments, but for the most part, this movie is pretty bland and not entertaining.

PLOT:A medical student named Mary Mason (Katharine Isabelle) is running out of money to live on and is getting bored with medical school in general. One day, Mary comes up with an idea to get easy money by applying for strip club. However, something goes wrong and Mary is led to do her first real surgery for a large amount of money. Since that night, people have been coming to her asking for over-the-top body modifications, starting with the Betty Boop-like, Beatress Johnson (Tristan Risk). However, the more she gets into this weird art of body modification, the more twisted her mind becomes. It's a great plot executed decently.

ACTING:The acting in here is okay. It's good at some moments and bad at others. Katharine Isabelle played a pretty alright part as the young, twisted Mary Mason. She could have added more emotion to the part, but she was decent enough to settle with. The other performances were just okay and no one truly stood out, I'd say, except for some of the victims and past surgeries.

SCORE:The score was pretty good. There were some normal, freaky horror themes, but there were also some really beautiful piano themes as well as a few indie songs for the soundtrack.

EFFECTS:The effects in here had me convinced for the most part. The blood effects looked pretty real for the most part up to the end. The effects of the surgeries and their aftermaths were pretty good. There were a few scenes where the effects really failed, however. I enjoyed seeing the end results of some of these weird body modifications.

OTHER CONTENT:This body horror movie was just pretty bland overall. The suspense didn't build up to much, the story seemed a bit too generic and unrealistic (even for a horror movie), and the movie didn't entertain but in a few scenes were the girls are present and the violence occurs. However, there were a few key moments that I was convinced that Mary was really insane, and it almost scared me. The more intense parts were well done but seemed to be almost a shock after the rising suspense that was unconvincing. The movie was pretty bland overall, but it had a few key points and moments in it to save it from sucking much worse.

OVERALL,a neutral body horror movie with a great plot, okay acting, pretty good score, almost-convincing effects, and a few key moments that tied the movie in, but the suspense didn't build up to much, the story seemed too generic and unrealistic for a body horror, and the movie wasn't real entertaining.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Tool: The Ultimate Review (2008) review


This documentary on the popular hard rock band and its rise to fame covers everything from the band's vague origins to their place in rock history after 10,000 Days. I believe this covers and glorifies their history fairly well, but it misses some key points I wished they would have touched further upon.

SUBJECT:This documentary covers the early origins of Tool, from beginnings in the band Green Jello to the details and criticisms of their sounds on all of their projects leading up to 10,000 Days and right in between, including lawsuits and past inspirations of the band. I believe the subject was discussed rather well overall, but it seemed a bit too biased. I heard almost only good things on the band and their style.

PEOPLE:The people in this documentary that were interviewed included members of starting band Green Jello, record executives, artists for the band's album covers, the band itself, and many other individuals the band has collaborated with. I believe they chose some pretty fair acquaintances and relations with the band, but I think they could have dug deeper and found some more personal relationships. However, I believe they did a fairly good job at choosing the people.

SCORE:The score and soundtrack is mainly laden with the songs of Tool and side project, A Perfect Circle, with some quick flashes of early influences like King Crimson and Green Jello, alongside Nirvana and Guns N Roses. I believe the people who arranged and edited this documentary did a good job at picking the music and incorporating it into the documentary.

OTHER CONTENT:As a biography, I think the basics of the band were covered very well. They covered the history, the collaborators, and their distinct style. However, I believe they barely scraped the surface of Tool. I expected them to go more into the art of the videos and the bands possible involvement in drugs. However, most of that was ignored or barely touched. Also, the documentary itself felt too biased. I love Tool and everything about them, but I felt like I was listening to a collection of only positive reviews. There were no possible negative views on the band, but a world of glory for them. I feel a successful biography needs a view from both sides of the story, so to speak. This biography covered the basics of Tool and their stories and glories, but I felt a better job could have been done.

OVERALL,a great documentary with well discussed subject, some pretty close relations to the band and their music, great music editing, and lots of glory to the band, but the documentary seemed a bit too biased, and it left too many questions of mine unanswered.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Evil Dead (2013) review


This remake of the original horror classic is an amped-up blood fest that adds modern horror cliches while still paying homage to its source material. The performances were really good and the blood poured freely, but it's missing the dark humor that made the original a classic.

PLOT:On a road trip turned intervention, David (Shiloh Fernandez), his girlfriend, Natalie (Liz Blackmore), his best friend, Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci), and other friend, Olivia (Jessica Lucas), meet together at a cabin in the woods to cure Mia (Jane Levy) of her drug addiction. However, things start turning dark when the group discover a former site of witchcraft in the basement of the cabin. There they find a mysterious-looking book with strange passages and incantations, which Eric reads aloud. Eric doesn't know, but he's summoned an evil spirit prepared to take all of them down, one-by-one, starting with Mia. It's a great plot executed pretty well.

ACTING:The acting in here was actually very good. A few of the performances really convinced me. Jane Levy played an excellent part as Mia, the possessed junkie reaching sobriety. I saw the fear and horror in her most. Shiloh Fernandez also played a pretty decent part as David, as did Lou Taylor Pucci as Eric and everyone else. There really wasn't a bad performance in the movie, from the few in the very beginning to the special cameo at the very end.

SCORE:The score in here was very intense and horrific. It was almost as generic as most modern horror movies, but I though it fit just right.

EFFECTS:The blood flows endlessly in this horror movie. The effects were pretty well done in my opinion. You could tell they were fake, but I believe the make-up effects of the demons, the visual effects scattered throughout, and some of the blood effects were really detailed and close to the original. They still succeeded at making the demons look scary in this one.

OTHER CONTENT:This remake actually wasn't as bad as it could have been. Though it added modern cliches to what used to be a classic, the movie still payed a thoughtful homage to the original by adding in scenes directly referencing to the original and its sequel. The main problem I had with this movie is the surprising lack of dark humor that the original had. There were little to no overdone, campy laughs as there were serious horror cliches. One of the things that made the original such a cult classic was its humor, which this lacks minus a few key moments and the very, very end. However, it was still pretty good for a modern horror remake.

OVERALL,a good horror remake with a great plot, very good performances, intense score, detailed yet fake effects, and a few modern horror cliches, but the cliches and bloodflow seem to take the place of the raging dark humor and camp the original had.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Army of Darkness (1993) review


This second sequel to the Evil Dead series was much goofier and lazily done in my opinion. It only keeps about half of the scary-funny spirit that the previous two had, but keeps its random mood where anything can happen. 'Army' is still a campy treat.

PLOT:Ash (Bruce Campbell), top employee of S-mart, and his car are sent back in time to the middle ages due to the evil powers of the Necronomicon, or Book of the Dead. The locals think he's of the rival castle until he proves himself worthy with chainsaw and boomstick in hand. To get back to his time, they tell Ash he must go and find the the Necronomicon itself, say the magic words, and bring it back to the castle. Things go wrong when Ash forgets the magic words and brings the book back, waking up a whole army of the dead. Now, Ash must help these people defend their land or leave them suffering. It's a good plot executed decently.

ACTING:The acting in here is pretty standard for the series. Bruce Campbell plays his usual stoically comedic role as Ash. Embeth Davidtz also plays a decent part as Sheila, Ash's female interest in this film. Everybody else is pretty good. Nobody really stands out, except for maybe the Deadites, Richard Grove as Duke Henry, and Bill Moseley as the Deadite leader.

SCORE:The score in this film doesn't matter too much, but it's creepy with enough action in it to get the job done.

EFFECTS:The effects in here were very lazily done as compared to the previous two movies. The props were more obvious, but the make-up and digital effects were good enough to get the job done. A few of the effects I really liked, but most of them were a fall from the first two overall.

CAMERAWORK:I don't know if it was intentional or of it was just because of sloppy work, but the camerawork in here was really awful at certain parts. The camera shook during more than one of the most action-packed parts in the film. If it wasn't meant to be there for camp effect, then it would just be awful. However, I don't know Raimi's intentions with that move.

OTHER CONTENT:This addition to the Evil Dead series was definitely a fall from the previous two. This sequel focuses more on laughs and goofy scares than accomplishing both to the fullest as in the previous two. There's maybe a couple of light scares and then it's laden with goofy, campy laughs. Most of them are really funny, but some just don't seem to entertain me but instead make me wonder where Raimi was going with this addition. For the most part, I enjoyed the random, campy laughs, but it just got to be too much in the end with less spirit than the previous additions. This could stand alone as a campfest of a film, but either way, I'd have similar feelings about it.

OVERALL,an okay comedy horror with a good plot, standard acting, mood-fitting score, mostly lazy effects, shaky camerawork, a bigger focus on campy laughs, and less spirit than the other Evil Dead films.