Movies

Martyrs (2008) vs. Martyrs (2015)


This October on my horror movie quest I was picking movies from They Shoot Zombies, Don’t They? and I came across the movie Martyrs. I saw some good ratings and lots of comments saying how this was a modern masterpiece. With reviews like that I was excited to give this one a watch. I didn’t know any details or why this movie was so highly recommended to horror fans but I decided to dive right in. I started the movie up and…. realized I accidentally got the 2015 remake. So I went back to get the original and… I absolutely loved it. The more I thought about it the more I loved it. Since I’m a glutton for punishment I went in cold on the 2015 remake this morning since I already had it, just to see how it compares. That movie made me so angry I was yelling at my TV. I want to discuss these movies side by side to really compare the differences between them. As a fair warning, this will be a longer than normal post because I can’t stop talking about these movies.

They both start off very similar with Lucie escaping then the girls becoming friends as children. I liked the look and feel of the 2008 version much more than the 2015, but I had no real problem with the opening. The 2015 version was more direct when showing the girls becoming friends through the use of cookies while the 2008 version took a more subtle approach by showing the majority of it through old video clips.

Cut to present day and this is where the differences really become apparent. In 2008, you spend 3 minutes with the suburban family. They joke around with each other, you learn that the daughter is a talented swimmer, the son isn’t doing well in school, and the mother is into DIY projects at home. You get to know these people and become invested in them. Then the door bell rings and the shooting starts. Lucie takes her time and you can see her really struggle with killing the children. The emotion is intense and I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen. Now let’s transition over to the 2015 version whose same scene starts with a brightly light idealistic home and, aside from the father digging up the yard, the entire “get to know the family” scene takes not even a minute before the shooting starts. The only thing you learn about this family is that the mom is one of those control freak moms. The kids act like their 2008 counterparts but with much less back story. As a result, I don’t care in any way for these people. When the killing started I didn’t really care so much if she killed the kids because I didn’t know them. You also don’t have any connection between Lucie and the mother like you see in 2008. The shortening of this scene really took the punch away from it, and for such a pivotal moment it was a big mistake.

Next we have the introduction of adult Anna in 2008; she’s nervous and looks like she’s  just waiting for Lucie to call. From the dialogue we learn they’re working together and she’s trying to help Lucie find the people that hurt her. Whereas in the 2015 version, it looks like Lucie woke Anna up from a peaceful sleep. There isn’t any indication that Anna knows what’s going on and the whole scene takes about 30 seconds which is about half the time and contains 1/10th of the dialogue from 2008. So again, you lose some of that connection with the characters.

Here we are back in the 2008 house with Lucie for some character development. You see scars on her arms and are treated to an intensely gory suspenseful  introduction to her demon. She clearly suffers from some PTSD and you see flashbacks into the torture she endured as a child. The flashback torture scenes are pretty disturbing and sad to watch. They’re blended in really well with sounds from the present that act as the trigger. This scene in the 2015 version is, as you might have guessed, shorter and less complete. There is no flashback and you don’t get any connection between her demon and her past. The gore is dialed back quite a bit, which doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing but I preferred the 2008 amount myself. 2008 Anna even has bandages and first aid equipment like she’s handled the aftermath of Lucie’s demon before. You see her cleaning, stitching up and dressing Lucie’s wounds while in 2015, Lucie just has bandages on her wounds in the next scene which I guess she put on herself.

As for the relationship between the girls, in 2015 they seem very distant for two people that are supposed to be close friends/lovers. I mean that both figuratively and literally. They constantly stand apart from each other and I’m not buying into their friendship at this point. For all I know, Lucie phoning Anna was the first time they’ve talked in years and with the way they’re acting towards each other that could very well be true. In 2008, you have a scene where Anna and Lucie are dirty, bloody, crying and comforting each other while surrounded by the dead bodies of the family. It’s this moment when you realize that Anna loves Lucie and can’t stand to see her like this. I didn’t feel any of that in 2015 since the connection between them was that Anna gave her cookies as a child, so how that translates to “I will help you clean up dead bodies” is pretty far fetched. What this comes down to again is that 2008 takes the time to build up the characters because when you really care about them the suspense is intensified immensely. This whole section of the movie in 2015 felt like they took jot notes of all the lines and emotions they wanted to hit then filled in the gaps, while the lines and emotions in 2008 felt organic and well deserved.

I’ll fast forward now to the part of the movie where the torture rooms are discovered. In 2015, Anna becomes a stand in for the audience wherein she never actually gets tortured. She listens to the exposition, and becomes the hero of the movie. It’s a really uncomfortable thing to watch a character you’ve grown to care about become completely powerless and just give up. I don’t know if the 2015 version didn’t want to put the viewers through that, but the 2008 version certainly did. I was always hoping that Anna would make it out alive, but as time went on I started to feel hopeless right along with her and because of that her destruction was believable. The suffering in 2015 was of people I didn’t know and felt more like it was used for pure shock value rather than trying to evoke real emotions.

The last thing I want to compare is the actual explanation and meaning behind the tortures. In 2008, it makes sense that they would take Anna and continue the torture with her because in their eyes Lucie and the previous girl were failures. The girls were damaged people and were never going to become the martyrs they wanted. Now they needed a new subject and they had her. In 2015, they flipped this idea around completely and Lucie was not a failure, she was actually seen as the next martyr. There is no indication throughout the movie that there is something special about Lucie. If it’s because she sees things and hurts herself, then I don’t understand that. If I were the torturers, I would see that as weak minded which doesn’t fit their criteria for a martyr. The martyr is supposed to endure the pain and suffering, not escape it in their minds. They have to really suffer to be able to see the afterlife. Whether or not you can buy into that is up to you, but I did in 2008 so I don’t see why they had to switch it around entirely in 2015.

Overall, the 2008 version had a much better story with fleshed out and interesting characters. It was a roller coaster ride from one scene to another and even though it sickened me to the core, it left an emotional impact that’s keeping me thinking about it days later. The 2015 version was toted as more of a re-imagining rather than a straight up remake. I tried my best not to judge it too harshly in comparison but I think as a movie without even comparing it to the original it fell way short. The characters were boring, uninteresting suburban girls. I didn’t believe any of this could actually happen and I also just didn’t care. The only part that made me cringe or feel anything was the skinning scene, but even that was watered down and pointless. There was no build up to it, and the aftermath was very confusing. I feel like they threw it in because the original had it and audiences were expecting it. As a horror fan, I would definitely check out the 2008 version, especially if you enjoy watching great characters. I don’t think there’s any real value in watching the 2015 version since it just guts everything that made 2008 great while adding nothing new or exciting.

2008 Verdict: 9/10 Don’t eat before watching this

2015 Verdict: 4/10 Don’t watch this period.

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Movies

Chappie (2015)

chappie.jpg

Chappie is about Chappie the gangsta conscious robot from Johannesburg. He learns to walk, talk, fire guns, beat the shit out of people and most importantly… he learns to love. I absolutely love this robot. He’s voiced by Sharlto Copley who was the lead in District 9 which was directed by the same director and also took place in Johannesburg. It must be the guy’s accent because even in District 9 he had me cracking up. Something about the way he swears gets me every time and this movie is no exception. The way he swears, calls Yolandi and Ninja mommy and daddy, and his childlike innocence was just hilarious to me and I was thoroughly entertained by him. The shootout at the end was a little cheesy with the slow motion yelling, but I did enjoy how they left enough time to really feel the emotion of the scene. Not to mention, the special effects were pretty damn good in this movie. There were times when I wasn’t sure whether I was watching a real prop robot or a CG one and I loved that.

While I just loved watching the scenes with Chappie in it, I absolutely hated the scenes with Deon. I hate the stereotype that all programmers have to chug red bull to keep coding through the night. You’re going to tell me some mid 20s kid wrote the code for perfect consciousness all by himself by chugging some red bull? Like please… there are teams of people with scientific backgrounds that still haven’t been able to do it. I find this so annoyingly unrealistic that it made me mad enough not to want to watch the rest of the movie. To put a rotten cherry on top of that sundae, he brings his new found AI to the boss lady and explains it as a robot that can learn to write poetry and paint. Seriously? That’s your best pitch? How about that you discovered consciousness which in itself can be very useful in military and police applications, but if not for that then to harness and sell for a lot of money. Not the most moral of applications, but I find it impossible to believe someone can just discard this discovery. She won’t even give him a garbage robot to do his little experiments on. It’s an incredibly clumsy way for Deon to be able to power up Chappie in private without the company knowing about it.

This is a hard movie for me to recommend or even rate because my brain knows that the plot was sort of weak and it wasn’t the best made movie… but my heart can’t get enough of that robot. This verdict comes down based on pure entertainment value. I think it’s a movie I would watch again. I’d just maybe skip over the first 20 or so minutes.

Verdict: 7/10 No! You don’t use guns!

Movies

The Lobster (2015)

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The Lobster is a sci-fi movie set in a world where everyone must be paired up at all times. If you’re single you’re brought to a “Hotel” where you can meet a partner… or be turned into an animal if you don’t. Loners are the scum of the earth: police are constantly asking them for papers, they’re tranquilized and captured like wild animals, and they’re turned into wild animals if they don’t find partners.  In this extremely weird world, we follow a newly single man into the hotel where we learn about the rules and consequences of this society. Scene by scene we’re fed more information until, by the end of the movie, we finally feel like we have the whole picture. There are essentially 3 different sections of society: the Hotel, the City and the Woods. The Hotel is for loners looking for partners, the City is for partners, and the Woods is for loners who want to stay alone. This movie manages to take us through all 3 sections so we can see how each of them live and how each of them might feel about the society as a whole. It also allows the audience to form their own opinions about each of the sections.

While the structure of the story was the strongest part of the movie, I did have problems with some of its details. The first is that I don’t really understand why they had to be turned into animals. It brings up a lot of unanswered questions for me, like are all animals on earth former humans? If that’s the case, then whenever we eat a lobster or cow are we really eating people? Do the animals have memories of their past human lives? One scene in the movie suggests that they do retain some memories which makes the prospect of us eating people even more disturbing. How can a camel survive in the woods? Why would a person want to be a lobster when obviously it’d be cooler to be a bird since you can fly? I wish I knew the answers to these questions, but sadly I’ll never find out. Just like I’ll never find out what happens to the main characters because the movie just ends. I’m really getting tired of movies that end with ambiguity and unanswered questions. I can appreciate this in the right movie, but I don’t feel like this movie deserved that kind of ending. You don’t know for sure whether he’ll end up with her or not. For me it doesn’t work because the movie never played with the “will they, won’t they” story element. It’s sort of tacked on for a cheap ending. Sometimes I don’t always want to make up my own ending for movies, I want to watch the ending that the director envisioned. When the scene cut back to the woman sitting in the booth I had this feeling the movie might be ending and then I saw the black credit screen and I was just more upset than anything.

Aside from the ending and unanswered questions, my other problem with this movie is the fact that it’s supposed to be a dark comedy. I didn’t actually realize this until I finished the movie and was reading other reviews. All these reviews were harping on how funny it was and that’s when I looked back and realized that I didn’t laugh once. I legitimately thought it was a serious movie. I can see scenes that were probably supposed to be funny, but it didn’t hit the right notes for me. Granted, comedy is very subjective, but as a dark comedy this movie missed the mark which might be a problem since it’s supposed to provide some satirization of our own society and satire generally implies humor.

Lastly, in rapid fire, here are more things I just didn’t enjoy about this movie. I didn’t enjoy the way the lines were delivered, the bluntness of what they were saying, the narration, the fact that a near sighted person can only be with another near sighted person, the weird no masturbation rules at the hotel, and the weird grinding of the men to get them all excited. This movie has some interesting ideas, but nothing felt fleshed out enough for me to really get invested in it. I watched the entire thing but I don’t think I’d ever re-watch or recommend it.

Verdict: 6/10 Needs less bad omen dog killing and more Léa Seydoux being French

Movies, TV

Catching Up

It’s been quite a while since I wrote anything here. I haven’t felt the desire to really put my thoughts about what I’m watching into words. Not to say I haven’t watched things lately that weren’t worth writing about. I’ve slowed down a lot on movies, but I’ve watched some great TV Shows. I’ll do another quick fire of things I’ve watched recently to get my juices flowing. Then the next movie I plan to watch, At Once, will hopefully have something worth writing a full post about.

The Newsroom (2012)

This is a TV Show that aired on HBO for 2.5 seasons. I watched the first episode and was hooked. I actually couldn’t make myself stop watching it. I watched the first season and a half in just 2 days. I thought the premise to try and run a news broadcast that focuses on the news and not ratings was interesting because I hate watching the news for that exact reason. I immediately fell in love with the ideas, the characters and the dialogue. I’m a fan of the fast talking sarcastic quips they do fairly often. I laughed a lot and ended up caring about almost every character on the show. Season 2 was brilliantly laid out and made it so I had no choice but to keep watching. They start off somewhere in the middle of the season’s plot and then fill in the pieces with each episode until you’re caught up. I watched the first episode and just had to know what could’ve possibly happened that was so bad. Season 3 took a little bit of a dive with the first 2 episodes feeling dull, and the series finale wasn’t bad but it also wasn’t that great. If they were able to do a full last season and finish it off stronger I would have given it a perfect score. It’s definitely worth a watch, just make sure you have a couple hours set aside cause you won’t be able to watch just one episode.

Verdict: 9(.5)/10 


carolCarol (2016)

I absolutely loved this movie, it’s now one of my favorites and is on my regular re-watch list. I’ve seen it twice and am probably going to go for a 3rd watch soon. Maybe tonight because writing about it makes me want to see it again. It was so beautiful and restrained, nothing felt forced or unrealistic. It was slow but it sucked me in completely. Carol is kind, sophisticated and knows what she wants. There is something about her that just draws you in and it’s easy to see how Therese felt drawn to her. The movie had ups and downs that kept me emotionally invested and I felt so much throughout the entire movie. That feeling of thinking you found something special and then having it ripped away from you is devastating. I don’t want to say too much on the plot cause I think not knowing how it turns out really amplifies every decision the characters make and leaves you in suspense. It’s one of my top favorite romance movies and 100% recommend it.

Verdict: 9/10


hushHush (2016)

This is a horror movie where the main protagonist is both deaf and mute. I’ve never seen anything like it before in my life. As far as thriller/horror movies go, this is one of the most suspenseful and thrilling ones I’ve seen. I really wanted the main character, Maddie, to succeed and get out of there alive. Every scene is straight out of all the other horror movies out there, but it’s elevated to a new level when we know she can’t hear anything. He could be coming up behind her and she would never know it. When she’s trying to be quiet walking on the roof, she doesn’t know if she’s making lots of noise or not. That unknown makes it all the more suspenseful. Not to mention the fact that they inject some realism into the story with her not being able to load the crossbow.  Great, she got a weapon, but she’s still just a regular person and didn’t immediately become some badass who can shoot a man with a crossbow from across the room. Not that I don’t love that, but when I don’t have to suspense my disbelief as much, I enjoy movies a lot more. This one is on Netflix and is definitely worth the time.

Verdict: 9/10


10_cloverfiled_lane.jpg10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

As I was writing my other reviews, I realized a common actor among them–John Gallagher Jr.. He was in the Newsroom, Hush and in this review’s movie, 10 Cloverfield Lane. This is a “sequel but not really” to Cloverfield which I liked a lot when it came out. I didn’t know much about the movie before I started watching it and felt myself getting frustrated wondering when the Cloverfield things were going to start happening. So much so, that I almost couldn’t finish the movie because I thought it was crap and a waste of time. So I paused it, went over to IMDb and realized that it’s a standalone movie that merely exists in the same universe as the other. Once I understood that, it became a lot better of a movie. It was suspenseful and mysterious. I kept going back and forth in my mind wondering if John Goodman was telling the truth or if he was lying to keep her imprisoned. If it were me in that situation, I wouldn’t want to believe him because all I could think is that I’d end up as some idiot who was tricked into living in a bunker for 10 years. Momma didn’t raise no fool, so I really felt her predicament. On the flip side,  I’m really crushing on John Gallagher Jr. now. He was so sweet in this movie as Emmett and in the Newsroom. Ok sure, he was like a serial killer in Hush… but he was also in Short Term 12 which was an equally amazing movie. It all balances out in the end and I loved his character in this movie. When Emmett, let’s just say, was no longer part of the movie my jaw hit the floor. I love when movies have balls and just shock me with a plot decision. Overall, this was a really cool standalone movie that I will definitely re-watch.

Verdict: 8/10


And lastly, one sentence verdicts on some of the other movies I feel deserve a shout out.

10.000 km (2014) – Another great romance movie, except the characters start out in love and the movie progresses from there. Verdict: 8/10

Victoria (2015) – A 2h 18m movie all done in 1 continuous shot with strong characters and plot. Verdict: 7/10

Moulin Rouge! (2001) – A loud, obnoxious, annoying movie with weak characters and plot. Verdict: 5/10

Ant-Man (2015) – Pretty boring super hero movie that was lacking something that I just can’t put my finger on. Verdict: 5/10

Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961) – Great movie but needs a re-cut without the Mr. Yunioshi scenes… Verdict: 8/10

Movies

Back and Bigger and Badder than Ever!

Ok well maybe a slight exaggeration there… I’m back and the same as ever. It’s been awhile since my last post and I’ve watched many movies (27 to be exact) since then, but haven’t been able to find the words to review them. Fear not, my ability to put thoughts into words has returned! I will be rapid firing off some short, quick reviews of the movies I’ve watched that I can still remember well enough.

Casablanca (1942)

casablanca I think this is the one that broke my blog writing spirit. Such a classic, but honestly not very enjoyable for me. It suffered too much from a case of unbelievable romance. For a movie in the romance genre, if I’m not buying it… I’m not enjoying it.

Verdict: 7/10 Meh


 Ex Machina (2015)

ex_machinaOn the other hand, this is the one that almost re-invigorated my blog writing spirit. I was looking forward to this one since I saw the trailer, and it did not disappoint. I loved every minute of it. That house was beautiful and the story was very intriguing. I’m a huge sucker for these sci-fi movies and with AI in general, so it really hit home for me. The implications of the ending completely blew my mind and made me look twice at every one I pass on the street. Who really knows? I sure don’t! For all I know, you’re a robot scanning the internet for information to one day enslave the human race. And for all you know, I’m a robot who literally lost their ability to put words into thoughts and was out getting repairs this entire time.

Verdict: 9/10 I’m keeping an eye on you…


The Imitation Game (2014)

imitation_gameAnother of the movies I was looking forward to. Sadly, in this case, it did disappoint. It disappointed hardcore. If they gave an award for most anti-climactic movie, this one would definitely be in the running. It just ended… that’s it. The pacing was way off and it was hard for me to stay interested in it. It was another of those movies with scenes that are tossed in because they need to quickly advance the plot. For example, Turing’s girlfriend, Joan, gets in a fight with him and tells him he is wasting his time. He will never solve the problem. This shows us that there is some turmoil in the relationship. That is a great little scene to toss in, but then immediately after this he asks her to marry him. If they were going to show us problems in their relationship only to have them instantly be mended, what was the point? Either split that scene up and sprinkle that seed of relationship doubt throughout other scenes, or ignore it completely and just have them be “happy”.

Verdict: 7/10 Needs to come with a free extra large coffee


Pitch Black (2000)

I knew exactly what I was getting into when I watched this movie and it actually wasn’t too bad. As an action type movie, it was interesting enough. Yeah the special effects were pretty awful, but I’ve seen a lot worse. I would recommend watching this with someone else just so you can laugh at the cheese factor together.

Verdict: 7/10 Entertaining enough


Enemy (2013)

doubleIf you’ve heard of this movie, you’ve probably also heard, “Wtf was that spider at the end?!” so I’m not going to go there. Yeah, the ending is a little weird, and the whole movie might also be a little weird, but it has a Fight Club type appeal for me. I didn’t realize what was actually happening the entire time with the whole double thing, only after I was reading posts about the movie did it finally click. I think you’re better off not really understanding the movie, then understanding it and then watching it again through a different pair of eyes. This is exactly what I plan to do at some point… until then the verdict will be pretty average, but this is an interesting little movie for sure. Jake Gyllenhaal is awesome!

Verdict: 7/10 Weird, but interesting


Honorable Mentions

Tokyo Godfathers (2003) Verdict: 8/10 Make it through the first 10-15 minutes and you’ll get into it

The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz (2014) Verdict: 8/10 Infuriating and sad

Citizenfour (2014) Verdict: 8/10 Very interesting and informative

Still Alice (2014) Verdict: 8/10 Sad… really abrupt ending though

OXV: The Manual (2013) Verdict: 8/10 Really weird, just stick with it and it gets better and better

Rebecca (1940) Verdict: 8/10 Entertaining and likeable characters


Dishonorable Mentions

Serpico (1973) Verdict: 6/10 Bad music, slowly paced, semi-anti-climatic ending

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) Verdict: 6/10 Willie is one of the most annoying character I’ve watched, the rest of the movie is pretty solid though

Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014) Verdict: 6/10 Wasn’t as good as I was expecting, might re-watch at some point

Fitzcarraldo (1982) Verdict: 5/10 Just really boring, a pain to sit through

TV

Face Off Season 8 (2015)

Here goes my first TV series post and it’s for the fantastic reality competition show Face Off. It’s a special effects makeup competition where each week the competitors create makeups for different challenges. I started watching it last season and I absolutely love it. There are some incredible things done on this show and some weeks it just blows my mind what these people can do in 3 days. This isn’t one of those competition shows where it’s all about drama, it’s purely focused on the effects. They will bring in guest judges that worked for famous movies like Hellraiser, Child’s Play and they had an actor from the Hunger Games. If you’re a fan of special effects makeup then this is definitely a show to check out, if not for the competition elements then for the reveals at the end.

Here are some of my favourites from this season:

face_off_1 face_off_2 face_off_3 face_off_4 face_off_5 face_off_6