Month: April 2014

The Quiet Ones (2014)

I’m of two minds when it comes to The Quiet Ones, although I definitely lean stronger toward one than the other. The first is that it is scary and works so effectively at making you jump that anything else it does almost doesn’t matter, for good or for ill. The second is that its scares are primarily of the jumping variety, meaning they’re not really scaring — they’re startling. Quick pans or cuts to a thing jumping out at you while the music ramps up to ear-splitting levels isn’t frightening. Except that the film on the whole is just that, even if its standout moments, the ones that want to make you jump, are basically cheap gimmicks. Do you get what I’m saying? Most of this movie works without any of its jump scares or sudden loud noises. What I’m getting at is that the atmosphere that director John Pogue builds is strong enough that it keeps you expecting something to happen even when not a single thing will, or ever could have. Yes, the jump scares happen and are effective at getting you to jump, but the moments in between them are even better. That’s one of the ways to use them the most effectively. The plot probably isn’t going to seem fresh to many people, especially those who have more than dabbled in the paranormal horror movie...

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Movie Review of ‘The Rocketeer’ (1991)

Before comic book adaptations became a dime a dozen in the 21st Century, such ventures were risky gambles for studios. Although 1978’sSuperman and Tim Burton’s Batman were massive money-makers, other endeavours were less successful at the box office. One such financial flop was 1991’s The Rocketeer, a Disney-produced adaptation of the series of graphic novels by Dave Stevens. Best described as Iron Man meetsCaptain America by way of Indiana Jones, it’s easy to fall in love with this gem, as its sense of sincerity and spirit remains completely enchanting all these years on. With director Joe Johnston embracing the serial tone of the source material, The Rocketeer is a delightfully-assembled superhero feature, a robust demonstration of how to properly adapt a comic for the big screen. Set in 1938, ambitious pilot Cliff Secord (Billy Campbell) and his loyal mechanic Peevy (Alan Arkin) seek to make it big in aerial racing, but their prized plane is destroyed. In the aftermath, the boys discover a stolen jetpack designed by Howard Hughes (Terry O’Quinn), and decide to use it for personal gain rather than returning it to the government. Before long, Secord straps on the jetpack, becoming a high-flying superhero known to the public as The Rocketeer. However, there are others who want the rocket – not only the government, but also a group of mobsters working for dashing Hollywood movie star Neville Sinclair (Timothy Dalton). Secord’s actress girlfriend Jenny (Jennifer Connelly)...

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A Promise (2014)

It’s not reaching to say that a romance needs some semblance of passion in order to reach the hearts of the people watching it. It’s not believable if two monotonous, blank-faced people “fall in love,” because nobody watching is going to get that sort of feeling. It’s impossible to care about them when this is the case. Such is A Promise, which has two monotonous, blank-faced people — but we’re supposed to care, because … I actually have no idea why. Beginning in 1912 Germany — despite everyone speaking English with British accents; in these cases I always like to think they’re being “translated” for our sakes — A Promise follows a young engineer named Ludwig (Richard Madden), who begins interning under businessman Karl Hoffmeister (Alan Rickman) and within just a few scenes winds up living in the elder man’s house and becoming his second in command. Seriously. He gets promotion after promotion in a matter of minutes before settling as a live-in right-hand man. Karl has a wife, Charlotte (Rebecca Hall), with whom Ludwig immediately becomes enamored. Or, I guessed that he did. He never actually shows it. He stares at her, and sniffs her piano — I don’t know why — but he never really shows a shred of emotion for the film’s entirety. I understand why — this is his boss’ wife, after all — but...

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Movie Review of ‘Divergent’ (2014)

Based on the novel by Veronica Roth, 2014’s Divergent is yet another attempt to adapt a young adult novel series for the big screen, following in the shadow of Twilight and The Hunger Games. But rather than a promising opening instalment in a potential franchise, Divergent is a total misfire, crippled by an air of utter blandness all the way through to its core. It’s perhaps marginally more watchable than the apocalyptic disaster that this reviewer had anticipated, but that’s hardly a ringing endorsement. Although the seeds of an interesting story are here, director Neil Burger fails to give adequate life to the material, resulting in a lethally dull, plodding, agonisingly overlong sci-fi effort featuring a cast of wooden underwear models. In the aftermath of a devastating nuclear war which crippled the world, humanity is reborn into a tightly-ordered society split into five factions: Abnegation, Amity, Candor, Dauntless, and Erudite. As children reach adulthood, they are compelled to choose their faction, undergoing a test which recommends their destiny. An Abnegation native, Beatrice (Shailene Woodley) is tested and deemed to be Divergent, meaning her personal drive goes beyond the factions, and she cannot be controlled. Covering up the truth in fear of lethal repercussions, Beatrice chooses Dauntless as her new faction, rechristening herself under the name of Tris as she commences a gruelling training regiment designed to weed out the weak. Immediately, Beatrice stands out to leader...

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13 Sins (2014)

Sometimes it’s a shame that we don’t live in a vacuum. 13 Sins has been released roughly a month after Cheap Thrills, and that’s not enough time to make them feel like completely separate entities. Their plots are close, they contain similar themes, and the former is better, which means that the latter can only really disappoint. 13 Sins isn’t a bad film, but if you’ve just seen Cheap Thrills you should probably give it a few months before you choose to watch it, if that’s what you ultimately choose. I’ll mention now — because I know somebody will point it out in an attempt to show me up — that 13 Sins is actually a remake of a Thai film released in 2006 titled 13 Beloved. No, I haven’t seen it. No, I didn’t know it existed until I looked up 13 Sins. I mention it here because (1) it’s good information to have and (2) to make sure you don’t think I’m saying that 13 Sins is ripping off Cheap Thrills. That’s not what I’m saying at all. I just think they’re too similar and released too closely together to both be worth seeing right at release. You’ll get a sense of déjà vu. The plot revolves around Elliot (Mark Webber), a salesman who refuses to upsell and is an all-around nice guy. Not a “nice guy,”...

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