tom holland

[Movie Review] A Warm and Welcome Homecoming for Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man

spidermanhome_posterWith great power, comes great responsibility, John Watts. It’s one thing to have Spidey somewhat back in the hands of Marvel Studios, it’s a whole other thing to deliver a portrayal of Peter Parker’s alter ego that can wipe the slate clean from sins passed. Watts has come from ultra low budget horror, Clown, to helming what is hands down the greatest Spider-Man film to date.

Sam Raimi and Marc Webb both tried and–to certain degrees–failed to deliver crowd pleasing adventures for everyone’s favorite web-slinger. While these were not the first efforts to bring the character to the screen in one way or another, of the most modern attempts it would seem the third time (third iteration anyway) was the charm. Tom Holland’s first appearance in Captain America: Civil War gave legions of fans hope for the impending reboot as it certainly appeared that finally the tone and personality of Peter Parker and his arachnid alias had been captured. Spider-Man: Homecoming extends that and more with nearly the entire high school setting.  (more…)


Movie Review: Locke

locke_posterMinimalist cinema can be a tough sell. Not everyone has the patience to stick with a limited cast in just a few locations- let alone one location. The worries range from rather or not there will be enough material to sustain at least and hour and a half to if the characters are interesting enough to watch for the entire run time. It’s not a tough sell for me though. In fact, if you tell me the entire film is one location and only one or so actors on screen at any given time then I’ve probably bought my ticket by the time you finish the sentence. As was the case with LOCKE- the fact that Tom Hardy dominates the entire film simply served to entice me to buy two tickets and stay for a second go around.

Not much to tell here. The film stars Hardy as Ivan Locke, a family man who really really loves his job as the foreman of a construction company. In fact, he doesn’t so much love his job as he takes immense pride in his work and admires the finished product. However, an unexpected phone call pulls him away from his carefully constructed existence on the eve of a huge cement pour at his job sight and a night of soccer with his wife and kids. The very same phone call threatens to bring his life crumbling down on him. For the duration of the film Hardy has a series of phone conversations while driving in his car to his desired destination. (more…)

Movie Review: Fright Night (2011)

Note: Screened in 2D

As much as I would love to join the ranks of people mobilizing against every single remake of an old 80’s horror movie or older for that matter- I just can’t. I believe in giving every movie a fair shake down and let it stand on its own without using the source material as a crutch. To be honest the 2011 update of FRIGHT NIGHT stands perfectly on its own even without the familiarity of the original. As a film the remake gave me everything the original struggled to give me- a fun and engaging movie experience.

Anton Yelchin stars as Charlie, a teen trying to leave his geek past behind by blowing off his former best friend Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) in order to stay connected with his attractive and popular girlfriend Amy (Imogene Poots). Ed turns Charlie’s attention to Charlie’s brooding neighbor, Jerry (Colin Farrell), accusing him of being a vampire.

There you go- if you’re familiar with the original you know the story, if not, then that’s all you really need to know. I have seen the original and I do like it, but in all honesty I may have come late to the party. I didn’t understand all the love I’ve seen regarding it and then when I saw the update all I could think was how much I enjoy the remake infinitely more. There’s very little in the remake I had issues with and the stuff that I did have issues with are minor and will likely grow on me after subsequent viewings. Multiple viewings is the other key factor- where I have no desire to watch the original on a regular basis, I could have sat and watched his version a few more times and be delighted to do so.

What I believe FRIGHT NIGHT gets right was the decision to cast Colin Farrell. From beginning to end Farrell’s performance as Jerry is nothing short of awesome. Jerry as a character is menacing yet playful at the same time- a mix that Farrell plays almost flawlessly, making both aspects of the character a ton of fun to watch. Anton Yelchin also does a great job playing off the awkwardness of trying to leave behind his geeky childish days in exchange of popularity and hot girls. Yelchin adds in another layer when he has to convey the absurdity of his neighbor being a vampire to others. As far as cast goes the only one that didn’t fully work for me was Christopher Mintz-Plasse- I didn’t hate him, but there are moments where I could have easily done without him. I also love David Tennant as Peter Vincent- updated as an egotistical Criss Angel type of Vegas performer. Tennant lends to the goofier side of the film, but I found him to be quite hilarious.

With all the different aspects and characters at play the film is edited together tightly. Not a second of the film felt wasted and even the quiet moments have a distinct sense of purpose but are incredibly subtle. FRIGHT NIGHT has maintained the fun and playful comedy as well instead of opting for a darker overall tone. Make no mistake there are some sinister moments to the film, but they are all done with a certain playful attitude.

I watched the movie in 2D which had the lingering effects of having to watch the added CGI blood and cuts of stuff flying toward the camera- the CGI blood was the biggest detriment to the film for me. The film works despite the added gore for the 3D audience though. The vampire effects were also enhanced by CGI but I will say the effects were awesome- aside from some wonky CGI towards the end.

Given the damage done to the outlook of vampires that TWILIGHT inflicted- FRIGHT NIGHT joins the ranks of modern vampire films like DAYBREAKERS, LET THE RIGHT ONE IN that give the vampire genre the shot in the arm it needs. If for no other reason see FRIGHT NIGHT for Colin Farrell’s performance alone- it was incredibly hard not to have a total blast watching Farrell steal every single scene and looking like he’s having a blast doing it. I would never want to overhype and call FRIGHT NIGHT one of the best movies of the year, but I wouldn’t hesitate in saying it has been one of my favorites.

Movie Review: Hatchet II (2010)

A few years ago the name Victor Crowley meant absolutely nothing to me, even after I watched HATCHET for the first time. However, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I my initial viewing wasn’t totally fair; so when I watched it again things finally clicked. I had gotten so used to taking every modern horror movie I watched so seriously that when something modern but in a throwback and cheesy fashion came along I was still deadset on taking it seriously and HATCHET is a film that begs you to shut your brain off and soak in the carnage. Adam Green is back with the second coming of Victor Crowley in HATCHET II and in all honesty, it’s just not quite as fun as the first outing.

HATCHET II begins right where the first left off (spoiler alert for the HATCHET virgins), with Victor Crowley looming over Marybeth (played by Danielle Harris this time), just as she’s able to narrowly escape. She returns to town to urge Reverend Zombie to stir up a hunting party to return to the swamp to find and kill Victor Crowley to avenge the deaths of her father, brother and the rest of her boat party that was massacred. Reverend Zombie reluctantly agrees, but with a plan to end the curse of Victor Crowley once and for all (End spoilers for HATCHET virgins).

The spoiler free premise is basically that a group of people enter a cursed swamp of a deformed child trapped in the night he was killed and seeks revenge on anyone that trespasses in his territory. That just so happens to be the premise of the first film as well, but if you’ve never seen the first then all the other juicy details about who the group is and why they are going spoil the first and their motives for returning in HATCHET II will mean nothing to you. In many ways in the plot to HATCHET movies mean very little; the same goes for acting, so my advice is to just sit back and watch the fake blood spray the trees.

Speaking of the acting, in the first HATCHET I was left dumbfounded after the first viewing that it could be so unbelievably bad. Each subsequent viewing it bothered me less and my puzzled frown turned into a gleeful smile as I was happy to just bask in the glory of the bloodshed. The acting in HATCHET II is equally as bad if not worse than in the first, the only difference being that I actually kind of liked the characters in the first and I only liked a select few of the characters in the sequel. The casting of Danielle Harris really puzzles me as she not an improvement over Tamara Feldman, who played Marybeth in the first film. Tony Todd is a lot more prominent in the sequel which is a double edged sword; because for fans it’s nice to see him but I wish it could be under better circumstances. My favorite character was played by AJ Bowen even though he barely in the film, but his part also brought me the biggest laugh.

It’s pointless to judge a film like HATCHET II on the merits of acting, because the point of the film isn’t to be an Oscar contender. Adam Green is capable of making serious, tense and well acted thrillers like FROZEN and SPIRAL and his HATCHET movies are full of over-the-top cheesy acting and violence. The first film also had a lot of great comedy to go along with it and the comedy is still intact here.

What I liked about the first film was the opposing nature of Victor Crowley. Even with all the cheesy jokes and bad acting Crowley was a pretty intimidating presence and he still is here in the sequel. I couldn’t help but feel like there was something missing this time around that made the overall experience just slightly less enjoyable this time around. After the first ten minutes or so the film does start to drag due to Danielle Harris’ overacting and lack of action.

The violence is what every fan of HATCHET is waiting for when they hit play and have no fear there is plenty to be had once the characters get back into the swamp. There is an abundance of blood, intestines and severed limbs flying around on screen with the damage being inflicted by a variety of weapons that include the biggest chainsaw you have ever seen. Disappointingly enough there’s even one kill that happens off screen, which is a small price to pay with the rest of the carnage happening around you.

HATCHET II was made for the fans of the first HATCHET, with more blood, more guts and more cheese. The film will be too over-the-top and goofy for most to handle and for others that’s precisely what the doctor ordered. I can’t shake the feeling that this sequel is a step backward from the first; it took multiple viewings for the first to jive with me and that might be exactly what Adam Green’s Victor Crowley sequel needs as well. If you’re a fan of throwback horror movies with comedic sensibilities then HATCHET II will fill that gap nicely.