Wanted

April 5, 2015

The Simplistic Reviews Podcast (Ep. 43) April 2015

FOR MATURE AUDIENCES

Play-Doh!  YA Vamp movies! Good Friday & Passover Combined!  Get ready for the most eclectic episode of The Simplistic Reviews Podcast yet.  Justin and DJ finally pay their debts to Matthew by finally reviewing Vampire Academy.  And by reviewing…we mean trashing the hell out of it.  They also discuss how Fox does something right with Deadpool…then something way, way wrong with Play-Doh.  They also get their Artful Dodger on with the return of the segment Get Your Hand Out My Pocket.  Guard your jewels in this Holy edition of the Simplistic Reviews Podcast.

 SHOW NOTES
Play-Doh
Vampire Academy
Mad Max: Fury Road
Spectre
Best of Pennywise
Deadpool April Fools
We’re No Angels

MUSIC NOTES
My Flows Is Tight By Lord Digga
We Gotta Get Out Of This Place By The Animals
Birds And Brass By Sort Of Soul
Plain Jane By Sid Phillips

October 17, 2012

31 Nights Of Halloween, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

RIDICULOUS

When I first heard that they were making a live action adaption of Seth Grahame-Smith’s novel Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, my ‘BAD IDEA’ alarm went off like a tugboat horn.  When I found out that Timur Bekmambetov, the director of Wanted, was helming the project, my ‘GIVE IT A CHANCE’ indicator light began to flash.  But after watching Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, I’m saddened to see my ‘SATISFACTION’ tank is on E.  I drive a really strange car.

Whew!  Where do I start?  The acting?  Honest Abe is played by Benjamin Walker.  Walker plays him as bland and boring as you might imagine Abe Lincoln to be.  But that is the problem.  You’ve resigned to the fact that your hero will be boring, and yet, give him no one fun to play off of.  Well, they do but he is very underutilized.  And that character is Henry Sturgess played by Dominic Cooper.  You may remember Cooper as a young Howard Stark in Captain America.  Now there is a film with a patriotic hero who could have easily been boring but wasn’t, while still not betraying his character.  Though, Benjamin Walker is no Chris Evans.  I digress.  Cooper has the only performance in this film that seems to feel right.  He is having fun.  Everyone else is either sleepwalking or overacting to the point of mugging at the camera.  Even the love story between Abe and Mary Todd seems forced.  Yes, they made one of the most historically famous romances seem forced.  

Visually?  I’ll be frank.  The special effects in this film, whether it be because of budget restrictions or laziness, are surprisingly awful.  I cannot emphasize that enough.  The worst vampire effects I have ever seen, by far.  And that includes Van Helsing.  The CGI face transformations for the vamps in this make them appear more like cheap cartoons than creatures of the night.  You remember in Who Framed Roger Rabbit when Christopher Lloyd…..24 YEAR OLD SPOILER ALERT….reveals he’s a cartoon and becomes an amalgamation of live action man and Chuck Jones animation?  That is what these vampires look like when they go all savage.  Any moment that they are supposed to be scary is sabotaged by these lackluster effects.  They could have gone practical for much cheaper and garnered a better result.

What about the action?  Well, the action scenes are poorly staged and executed   Which baffles me seeing as this, AGAIN, is the director of Wanted.  There is a fight scene in this film that takes place during a stampede of horses.  And I have no hesitation saying that it is the most RIDICULOUS action sequence I have ever witnessed.  It is a perfect storm of horrible CGI, horrible action staging, horrible acting, and a horrible payoff.  This was when I knew I was in trouble, because this laughable scene happens only 40 minutes in.

Despite all these things, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter’s number one flaw is it’s tone.  It is something that, if they had gotten right, would allow us to ignore the other mistakes.  This is a story about Abraham Lincoln, perhaps our greatest president, being a vampire hunter.  And they play this film entirely serious.  The title, let alone the concept, screams ‘tongue and cheek’.  Yet, this film tries to invoke an emotional response from you.  And they do it haphazardly.  Middle of the road doesn’t work for this material.  If you want to go dark with this…go really dark.  If not, you have to go campy.  Instead, it tries to stick with the same tired, cliched, tropes you can probably see coming from a mile away.  So, here is an equally tired, cliched, summation of this film that you can probably see coming from a mile away.  Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter has no fangs, no teeth, no bite…it just plain sucks.  Watch it…bring your garlic…then tell me I’m wrong.

September 3, 2012

Snow White And The Huntsman

YAWN

More like SLOW White And The Huntsman…am I right? (Cheap Rimshot)  Sorry.  I’m sorry.  God I really don’t want to lay into this movie.  I really don’t.  The concept, the idea, the attempt to try and make something different inside the cookie cutter constant cliched world of Hollywood should be applauded.  Its hard to find films that have balls anymore.  Films that strive to be unflinchingly different no matter what the studio execs say.  When done right, when left alone, those cojones carrying films shine like a beacon through the forest of monotony.  The reason different, interesting concept films aren’t a plenty in Hollywood is because for every Matthew Vaughn’s Kick-Ass, there is a Frank Miller’s The Spirit.  For every Timur Bekmambetov’s Wanted there is a Timur Bekmambetov’s Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter.  Slow…I mean…Snow White And The Huntsman has cojones but just doesn’t know what to do with them.

So what do we got on paper?  Lets take the tale of Snow White and make it a dark and edgy (Sigh…Thanks Nolan) action filled visual masterpiece circa The Lord Of The Rings.  Awesome!  I want to see that.  Lets make it PG-13. Ummm…kinda goes against your desire to make it edgy but…fine.  Lets cast Charlize Theron And Chris Hemsworth in it.  Terrific!  Lets only use them for a tenth of the runtime.  What?  That seems stupid.  You usually want to have your best actors in your movies MORE not less.  Unless you’ve got a really good actress to play Snow White.  Who do you got?  We got Kristen–Bell?  That could be cool.  Veronica Mars.  I like her.  No.  KristenWiig?  She’s a little old for the role.  But at least she’s funny.  No.  Kristen Stewart.  What?  Kristen Stewart.  The Twilight chic?  Yep!  The lip biting Twilight chic?  Yep!  Pumped yet?

I knew all of this going in but still anticipated watching the edgy action filled movie that I was sold on.  And the problem is…the action takes FOREVER to come.  Oh its there, in spurts.  But man, if there weren’t several 25 minutes segments where NOTHING HAPPENS.  A large majority of this film is scenes of Theron gazing into space or Stewart walking through the woods.  If you’re going to promote your film to be this action slash adventure re-imagining, you have to give me some action SLASH adventure.  All that seems to have been accomplished by this re-imagining is making a fairy tale look as dreary as possible.  Its like someone poured black mud over the entire film.  The dreariness seems to bash you over the head to the point where you don’t even recognize ANYTHING that is supposed to be action, adventure, or Snow White.  If that was the point, then the point is stupid.

I only pepped up from my head nodding drowsiness while watching this movie twice. First is when Hemsworth appears.  And that takes a good thirty minutes.  Second was when the dwarves arrive.  Hemsworth and the dwarves are the only source of levity, fun, or entertainment in this entire film.  And as I’ve mentioned before…THEY ARE HARDLY IN IT.  You have the great Ian McShane and Ray Winstone,  the hilarious Nick Frost, the always interesting Toby Jones and the legendary but sadly retired Bob Hoskins and you barely use them?  Instead, you force-feed us Stewart’s STILL NOT CUTE blandness and wooden delivery for two hours.  Stewart’s YAWN inducing acting might have been correctable if the director of the film wasn’t so busy sleeping with her on the set.  Hmmm….Perhaps I’ve gone too far.

Snow White And The Huntsman does have some amazing effects.  The performances from the supporting cast are really good…probably due to the better actors being forced into supporting roles.  Theron does a good wicked queen, which could have been a great wicked queen if the “preoccupied” director asked her to reel it in a little bit.  But at the end of the day, its just boring.  An action film that makes you sleepy IS NOT A GOOD THING.  Snow White And The Huntsman is a swing and a miss that only gives unimaginative Hollywood execs ammunition against films that go against the grain.  And for that, I can not forgive it.  Take a handfull of NoDoze…watch it…then tell me I’m wrong.

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