Zombieland (2009)

Earlier this week I went to the local theater and saw Zombieland. The film had been getting good reviews, and the few people I knew that saw it seemed to thoroughly enjoy it. So, I figured I would go check it out. Unfortunately the film ultimately disappointed.

The trailers I saw of the film made it look like it was going to be a comedy with zombies in. Kind of like how Resident Evil is an action movie with zombies in it. This was not the case. The movie opened with a strong horror element, as it was plagued with cheap shock scenes. This set a bad tone for the film, as the shock scenes never came back, but the threat was there.

There were comedy elements throughout the film, but they didn’t feel right for the setting. And, quite frankly, most of the jokes really weren’t very funny. I cannot remember laughing once throughout the entire film. Part of the problem was that that film took itself too seriously, inconsistently.

Mixed into the horror/comedy was coming of age drama. At the end they tried to force a lame moral to the story: “if you don’t spend time with people, you might as well be a zombie” or something like that. I guess it had something to do with the main character, and the world coming to an end to finally force him “out of his shell.” It was like they were trying to make the film something more, but it didn’t really work.

Much ado was made of the cameo in the film. I had my fingers crossed for Bruce Campbell, but that was too much to ask. The cameo was actually just Bill Murry. Granted, I like Bill, and I guess that is a big deal for a random zombie movie, but it didn’t really do it for me. Like pretty much everything else in the filme, it just didn’t feel right.

As you may have guested, my biggest problem with the film was the identify crisis. Is it a horror movie? Not really. Is it a comedy? Sort of. Is it a drama? I guess. It is good? Not really.

So, while there were interesting points in the movie, it was mostly disappointing, and run of the mill. I will give the film a 0 on my Undecim scoring system.

District 9 (2009)

district9-posterDistrict 9 (D9) was easily one of the best movies of the year thus far. However, this is not saying much as the movie selection has been lack luster at best. Prior to District 9 I can think of only two films that I actually considered to be good. The first was Watchman, but it was too heavy handed and bombed in the box office. The second was Star Trek, which I still believe was an excellent movie and was enjoyable to watch, although the story was somewhat lacking. D9 falls right between the two.

While it is unfortunate that the Halo project fell through, it is nice to see some of the assets get reused, even though the good guys from Halo end up being the bad guys in D9. It was a treat to see the twist on the assets that would have been used, such as MNU battle rifles, the pelican that was the prawn command module, the modified warthogs, etc… Granted the movie in no way was billed as a recycled Halo. And, knowing nothing about it would not have hurt the movie. D9 is excellent in its own right.

There is an interesting mix of story elements, and gory violence. It works well without going too far in any particular direction. So, by the end of the film you feel full without leaving a bad taste in your mouth. All of the roles were played fairly well. It was nice to see some fresh faces that capably covered their characters. And, while this movie takes many queues from other scifi fair, it was relatively original.

One of the main reasons I really enjoyed this film is because it was not a sequel, prequel, or remake. I am so sick of the modern mentality of just remaking things. And not just good things, anything, so long as it isn’t original. And, to make things worse these shit films are being pushed by popular actors in order to pad the box office receipts. The era of the nostalgia film really needs to come to an end. But, I am not going to hold my breath, because these shit movies continue to rake in the cash. But, I digress.

The film was good, and I am recommending it to people. I am keeping this commentary short, because there are thousands of detailed reviews of the film, so this is just a general recommendation for my viewers. On my special undecim punctum scale, I have decided to give this film a solid 3. This means it was a pretty good film, but it is not one that I will frequently watch again in the future. Everyone reading this should go out and see the film and support something half way original.

Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)

WARNING: This rant contains MANY off handed spoilers that could ruin the film for you if you have not already seen it.

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Last Tuesday night, at 23:15 I venture out to witness Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen. I had one of my brothers go to the theater and get us some tickets earlier in the day, since they had already sold out four theaters at that point. By the time I got to the theater, they had sold out all six theaters showing midnight premiere. Now, please bear in mind that Grand Haven (GH) is a pretty small tourist town, and our theater only has nine screens total.

Typically, the GH theater will only open one theater for a midnight showing (some times two if the first theater sells out prior to the evening). I have witnessed a range of light to pretty full (the King Kong premiere only had a handful of people). But, I had never before seen the horror of six theater’s worth of people all cram packed into the lobby. It simply was not meant for that.

Sadly, their seating plan was rather shitty. Since the lobby could not possibly hold all the people, they opened up the last couple theaters for early seating. Basically, they rewarded people who didn’t show up until the last minute to get a ticket. Beyond that, they seemed to randomly let people into the other theaters one by one starting at 23:35. Since everyone was just packed in there, there was nothing resembling a line so when people finally realized that a theater was open few people actually started to flow in. I seized one of these opportunities to cut through a large group of immobile teens in order to get a good seat.

Once my brother and I finally got in the theater the waiting game began. We were in theater five, which was being chained to theaters six and seven. This means that three theaters were all being shown from the same film. So, it took forever for them to get setup and sync’d. They even had to stop everything and reset once during the previews while they worked the bugs out. The movie finally began a little after 0:30.

transformers2_fox

I was quite pleased that the movie started right out with the Autobots taking out a few rouge Decipticons. Based on the previews, I was afraid we are going to be stuck with forty five minutes of lame college setup before we even saw a transformer. Granted, the college scene did immediately follow, and it was long and tenuous. I’m glad that is was at least forgettable so you weren’t leave feeling annoyed once the action got started.

The story of the movie really was quite horrible. But, not so horrible it was revolting. It was basically just enough to keep pulling together the action sequences, and confuse long time transformers fans. It might be a little better than I am describing, as I am told that I missed a rather important part that explained the nonsense.

I would say roughly half way through the film, at the scene in the museum I started feeling quite sick from the heat. It would appear that the theater’s HVAC system was not designed to accommodate such a large mass of people for a long period of time. My guess is that the theater itself was in the mid 90’s, and the air was stagnant and humid. When I got out into the lobby I saw that I wasn’t the only one wilting. Several people were milling around mumbling about how hot the theaters were. After a few minutes of splashing cold water over my arms and face I was able to return to the theater.

There were not a lot of surprises in the film. It was pretty clear that Megatron was going to be resurrected. I believe everybody thought that they were going to kill Optimus Prime (I still don’t like that decision). And, as expected there were more transformers, lebouf, and fox. However, a few things weren’t as I expected.

transformers2_optimus

Based on the name, and the way things were setup I assumed that they were going to do a blatant rip off if Star Wars: Revenge of the Empire. But, the film really did not bare much resemblance. However, they did do an incredibly lame “master / apprentice” relationship among the Decipticons. Additionally, I did not expect Megatron to kill lebouf. So, that was a really nice surprise. The only other really different thing was the story. I was expecting the story of the film to be something like the first one, which they spent too much time on in the first film (since it wasn’t very good anyway). In this film its like they knew the story wasn’t worth the effort so they just put everything into giant robots fighting each other. And, really, what more can you expect from a film based on action figures made by Hasbro?

Since, missed a chunk of the film, I am going to try to see it again while its in theaters. I’d love to see it at the IMAX, but I am pretty sure I would get some violent motion sickness from all the action going on, on the screen. But, at the very listed I would like to see it in a high quality DLP theater. Regardless, I did see most of the film, and feel that I can render a verdict on it.

Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen, as a film fails miserably. However, as a work of entertainment it is a wild success. As I mentioned in a previous post, it really hits the important parts of a summer blockbuster: PG-13, mass appeal, little story, lots of action, and sex appeal. I have recommended the film to anyone on the fence about it, and I expect it to make tons of money in an otherwise slow movie season.

Using my special rating system, as a “film” I rank Transformers 2 as -3. However, as a summer blockbuster, I rate the film a 5.

For anyone planning on seeing the film, and not caring about all my spoilers: enjoy!

Transformers 2: Initial Reaction

transformers22Well, Transformers 2 has finally arrived.

Based on what I saw of the movie (I missed a few minutes, but more on that in the follow up post) I would say it is the perfect summer blockbuster. It hit all the primary criteria:

  • Popular with teenagers (six theaters sold out in Grand Haven for the midnight showing)
  • Ample humor spread throughout
  • Over the top drama
  • Tons of action
  • Attractive protagonists
  • A bad story that manages to pull together action sequences

There are a few things that will seem a little wacky to old Transformers faithful, but this is made up for but Optimus Prime kicking some serious ass.

I’ll post more thoughts on the film tomorrow when I am actually awake.

Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen – Midnight Showing

transformers-2-megan-fox-web

The local theater finally got around to announcing that they will be doing a midnight showing of Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen, Tuesday at midnight. This is excellent news, as it will save me a trip to Muskegon.

However, even though I am going to see this early in a crappy theater, I do want to see it on IMAX since they’re doing special IMAX scenes for this film. However, I am not very interested in the prospect of being crammed into one of those little IMAX seats when the theater is filled to the brim with people. So, for those people that frequent the IMAX in Grand Rapids, what are the best “off hours” that has a chance of not being sold out.

Also, as you can see at the top of this post, I decided to include the de facto “transformers 2” marketing photo. However, in the interest of limited originality, I decided to crop it down and toy with saturation and blur to make the only important part “pop.”

That’s all for now. I plan on writing up a proper post after having viewed the film.