VIDEO: MOVIE: REVIEW: The Wicker Man (2006)

3/5 stars, 7/10 from Clint & Carolyn.
3/5 stars, 6/10 from Parthena.
2/5 stars, 5/10 from Eli.
Native rating: 3.6/10.

Wow. What a low IMDB rating. Talk about a movie that has major remake-hate! By rating it 7/10, Carolyn & I are in the top 12% of opinion in this movie!

When I watched selected scenes from the 1970’s version, it just looked incredibly cheesy and dated. Nude songs being sung?  Shitty film stock? Men instead of women? Cheap-looking sets? Meh. Pretty sure if I watched the original I’d like it less than this.

Plus, we really like Nic Cage and Frances Controy from Six Feet Under. And Ellen Burstyn is good too.

I was the only one who recognized Leelee Sobieski from Armageddon.

NOT THE BEES should have gone on longer!

It was better than Carolyn & Eli expected.

It was actually pretty creepy. Nothing great, but I’ve seen worse. Not the “worst movie ever” that so many people claim it to be.

LINK URL: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0450345/

 movie coverI'd rather be watching TV![IMDB link] [Netflix link] Have you ever seen something so scary that you just… you had to show someone else??

PLOT SUMMARY: Rachel and her son leave the town from The Ring 1… But uh oh! There’s another copy of that evil tape!

UNCOMFORTABLE PLOT SUMMARY (inspired by this): [highlight for spoilers]Mother drowns son

PEOPLE: Oddly enough, this remake was (unlike The Ring 1) directed by the original Japanese director of Ringu and Ringu 2. Very weird — he’s remaking his own film! But not quite — people are saying this is actually a remake of Dark Water disguised as a Ring remake. I gotta say — I thought of Dark Water when I watched this, even though I’ve never seen Dark Water!

With Naomi Watts, Simon Baker, Elizabeth Perkins (Cecilia from Weeds!), Gary Cole, Sissy Spacek.

QUIRKS: Same shit, different movie.

VISUALS: Yea… kinda creepy, but not really that scary. Ring 1 was better.

SOUNDTRACK: Yea… kinda creepy, but not really that scary. Ring 1 was better.

WILHELM SCREAM: Didn’t hear it, but supposedly there is one…

GOOD STUFF: Apparently the beginning is a re-creation of a fan-made short. That’s kinda nifty.

This was still entertaining, at least.

BAD STUFF: Kinda creepy, but Ring 1 was better.

CONCLUSION: Kinda creepy, but Ring 1 was better.

RATINGS:
Clint: Netflix: 3/5 stars (vs 4/5 for The Ring 1). IMDB: 6.4/10 (vs 7/10 for The Ring 1).
Carolyn: Netflix: 3/5 stars. IMDB: 6/10.
The native public rating for this movie is: IMDB: 5.1/10 (vs 7.2 for The Ring 1), Netflix: 3.0/5 stars (vs 3.4/5 for The Ring 1) (Netflix‘s predicted rating for us was 3.1/5 stars–pretty spot on) (vs 3.4/5 for The Ring 1).

RECOMMENDATION: Eh. If you really liked The Ring, you might want to check this out. You may be better off with the Japanese ones, though.

SIMILAR MOVIES: Dark Water, I hear. Haha.

MOVIE QUOTE:

Evelyn: It was you! You did it!
Rachel Keller: What did I do?
Evelyn: You let the dead get in. (more…)

 movie coverI'd rather be watching TV![IMDB link] [Netflix link] Remake of Let The Right One In, which I previously reviewed in 2009.

PLOT SUMMARY: Let The Right One In, but in English :)

PEOPLE: I totally did not recognize Hit Girl from Kick-Ass as being vampire Abby in this! D’oh. (She was also in The Amityville Horror 2005.)

QUIRKS: Remake of the only Swedish vampire film anybody really knows about.

VISUALS: Now with less snow. Thank god.

SOUNDTRACK: Better than the original, that’s for sure. Songs I actually know, vs. what one internet commentator called “Spanish Porno”. (Though, I hear the original score won awards for some reason.)

GOOD STUFF: Almost exactly like the original, but with less snow, and more relatability. And some would add: better acting, better cinematography, better script, better soundtrack. But nobody will agree on this. And almost exactly 0% of people will actually watch both films back to back to make a true comparison. (I sure didn’t — years passed between the two.)

BAD STUFF: They completely tossed out the gender issue with Abby (in the book, Eli — same character, different name — is actually a castrated male who looks like a female; a transsexual vampire if you will). At least in Let The Right One In, they showed her pull down her pants — having no genitals at all. Of course, this was never really adequately explained; you’d have to kind of fill in those details with your imagination. I didn’t know about the vampire clan castration ritual until I read the IMDB trivia for the original movie. So in a sense, both movies kind of dropped that plot, but the remake was less of a tease about it. So maybe this is actually a good thing?

CONCLUSION: As both Netflix & I successfully predicted, we both liked the American remake of this film better than the Swedish original. With the exception of removing the “crotch scene”, it was more or less the exact same film, but a more enjoyable product. Our IMDB ratings for this are 1/10 higher than for the original.

RATINGS:

Clint: Netflix: 3.4/5 stars (vs 3/5 for the original). IMDB: 7.4/10 (vs 6/10 for the original)..

Carolyn: Netflix: 3/5 stars (same as original). IMDB: 7/10 (vs 6/10 for the original).

The native public rating for this movie, compared to the original, is:
IMDB: 7.3/10 vs 8.1/10 for the original.
Netflix: 3.6/5 stars vs 3.8/5 stars for the original.
(Netflix‘s predicted rating for us was 3.8/5 stars, vs 3.6/5 stars for the original).

So it seems that despite the fact that people preferred the original — Netflix knew that we would like the remake more. :)

RECOMMENDATION: Some people are passing this up because it’s a remake. I’d say the only reason to pass it up is because it’s a bit redundant (same story, same characters, same plot), NOT simply because it is a remake. However, Carolyn & I both found this to be a better execution of the same story.

Pro-remake thread posted for people who liked the remake better. But HERE is the most damning post I could find slamming the original. Funny stuff.

SIMILAR MOVIES: The original ;)

MOVIE QUOTE:

Owen: How old are you?
Abby: Twelve… more or less. (more…)

 movie coverI'd rather be watching TV![IMDB link] [Netflix link]

PLOT SUMMARY: Violent angry plumber must face demons — actual, and inner.

LIMERICK REVIEW: There once was a plumber named Jack
who lost his family to a monster attack.
When his teacher became possessed,
Jack’s problems had to be addressed.
The invasion of monsters will now be kept back.

UNCOMFORTABLE PLOT SUMMARY (inspired by this): [highlight for spoilers] Violent angry plumber abandons girlfriend in a parking lot.

PEOPLE: Starring Trevor Matthews as Jack Brooks: Someone who’s parents were killed by a monster during a camping trip, and has insanely hilarious anger management issues. This guy should get more comedy roles. Also starring Robert Englund (Freddy from Nightmare From Elm Street, Willie from the original V series).

Rachel Skarsten plays the disinterested girlfriend. She was Dinah in Birds Of Prey, and I didn’t even notice her in American Pie 6:Beta House. Surprisingly, I think she might look better as a brunette than as her typical blonde look (that’s her best blonde pic ever, she does NOT look as good as that in either the movie OR Birds Of Prey).

Strange cartoon-lover trivia: Howard — the elderly hardware store clerk — was the one who voiced Mastermold in the 1990s X-Men animated series. “I am still plugged in!” is a quote we still say quite often to this day — like when tripping over an electric blanket cord. He’s really done nothing we’ve ever noticed since voicing those robots back in 1992.

QUIRKS: A demonic possession Horror-Comedy movie that is an homage to 1980s/1990s “older” horror films.

VISUALS: No CGI. The monsters in this film are makeup and props — so it looks less modern than your average 2007 horror film. Since this is a homage to 80’s horror, that actually makes sense.

BAD STUFF: Despite the title of Monster Slayer, there is NOT a lot of monster slaying. If you’re waiting around for that, the movie will be ruined for you. It’s kind of a joke — he’s called monster slayer, but really it’s the last thing on his mind for most of the movie. He’s more concerned about managing his anger and trying to pass his night school chemistry class.

I thought the horror parts weren’t as good as the comedy parts, and wished this was more of a Comedy-Horror than a Horror-Comedy.

CONCLUSION: Funny as a comedy, and fun as a horror. Definitely worth seeing.

RATINGS:
Clint: Netflix: 4(3.6)/5 stars. IMDB: 8(7.6)/10. In my mind, I definitely thought this was better than Drag Me To Hell after watching it. However, when I looked back, I rated Drag Me To Hell pretty high. I also didn’t feel strong about my ratings, thus the “.6″. This is a low 4/5 and a low 8/10.
Carolyn: Netflix: 4/5 stars. IMDB: 8/10.
The native public rating for this movie is: IMDB: 6.3/10, Netflix: 3.1/5 stars (Netflix‘s predicted rating for us was 3.3/5 stars–they are correct that we like this better than most people).

RECOMMENDATION: Worth seeing! Just don’t expect a great horror OR a great comedy; it’s somewhere in between the two.

SIMILAR MOVIES: People compare it to Evil Dead, but thinking of it that way could ruin the movie for you, as Evil Dead is a very nostalgic horror movie. I’d say it’s more comparable to Stan Helsing–a non-serious horror movie with comedic aspects. However, this got twice the IMDB rating of Stan Helsing. Drag Me To Hell also reminds me of this movie a bit, but only in the sense that they are throwback horrors that feel more like 1980’s/1990’s horror than 2000’s horror.

And of course, look for the sequel coming out in 2010; it should hopefully feature more monster slaying.

MOVIE QUOTE: [Howard has just told the story about how he buried his possessed uncle after he bit off his hand as a child]
Jack Brooks: So he… he ate your hand?
[Howard shows Jack that he has a hook instead of a hand]
Jack Brooks: How did you dig the hole?
Howard: Well goddammit, it wasn’t easy! (more…)

 movie coverI'd rather be watching TV![IMDB link] [Netflix link]

PEOPLE: Starring Ryan Reynolds. He is, pretty much, the only face you will see the entire movie.

PLOT SUMMARY: Contractor in Iraq wakes up buried in a coffin with a phone and tries to use it to not die.

UNCOMFORTABLE PLOT SUMMARY (inspired by this): [highlight for spoilers] Adulterer suffocates.

VISUALS/GOOD STUFF: Though not visually rich, the style of this movie is very striking and unique. The entire movie takes place in a coffin. You really don’t get out of the coffin, ever. It’s the most claustrophobic movie I’ve ever seen. And that’s the gimmick that makes it worth seeing…

SOUNDTRACK/BAD STUFF: Worst sound mix ever. I’m pretty sure it’s intentional, but they have the music build up to such a point that you can’t even hear what Ryan Reynolds is saying. Again, I’m pretty sure it’s intentional. But it simply didn’t work. It instead had me adjusting the volume of my center speaker, and cycling my Onkyo receiver through different modes, wondering what the fuck was wrong. Since it was DTS sound, I really don’t think it was an accident. It was purposefully mixed so bad as to cause people to flounder for their remotes. That is a failure. UPDATE: Tried watching the end again downgrading sound to stereo. Much easier to hear. Could actually understand the ending this time. Don’t generally have this problem with other movies. Kicking myself for not thinking of this while messing around with our receiver.

Carolyn adds, “I feel like I missed something because of the music overpowering the dialogue at parts… I had no idea what was going on at some parts. The overpowering music did add to the tension and i can understand if they were doing it intentionally, but it seemed to be too much and it made it so I didn’t seem to grasp major plot points…”

The ending wasn’t clear either. Part of this was the sound mix. Why did he [highlight for spoilers] cut off his finger? We have no idea (except for what the IMDB forums say). We couldn’t hear much of anything said once [highlight for spoilers] the sand started filling the coffin. I finally got, thanks to reading the IMDB plot summary, that [highlight for spoilers] insurgents led the authorities to Mark White {the wrong guy} instead of Ryan Reynolds. This was not at all clear to us. It’s really poor filmmaking if I have to read the IMDB summary to get the ending

Also [VERY MINOR SPOILER], the snake was kind of ridiculous. As was him burning his oxygen half the movie with a zippo lighter. Utterly ridiculous.

MORALS: Go to work in a war zone and you just might get your ass killed.

POLITICS: We should get the fuck out of Iraq. Let them rebuild their own country.

CONCLUSION: Worth watching for the “whole movie in a coffin” gimmick, but otherwise only a passable thriller. The sound mix is so awful as to make it so you can’t even hear the dialog during parts — even with a fancy DTS receiver and the ability to control the center [dialog] speaker independently. Throw in some unnecessarily ridiculous plot elements, and we have a movie that I would not like if not for the claustrophobic uniqueness. This is a mixed failure/success: It succeeds in its gimmick (which is roughly equal to a 1/10 rating increase), but fails on technical merit (which is roughly equal to a 1/10 rating decrease) and for a few ridiculous plot elements (also equal to a 1/10 rating decrease).

RATINGS:
Clint: Netflix: 3/5 stars. IMDB: 6/10. Would have rated it a 7, and was caught up in the excitement, but upon further review this simply failed in too many ways.
Carolyn: Netflix: 2.6/5 stars. IMDB: 5.6/10. Lowest possible passing grade.

The native public rating for this movie is: IMDB: 7.3/10, Netflix: 2.9/5 stars (Netflix‘s predicted rating for us was 3.9/5 stars–WRONG! We are about in line with the average rating here, for once.).

RECOMMENDATION: Watch 127 Hours instead.

FRIENDS’ RATINGS: Ian B reviewed it here. (more…)

 movie coverI'd rather be watching TV![IMDB link] [Netflix link]

PEOPLE: From the director of Beverly Hills Cop 1, Scent Of A Woman… And Gigli.

Starring Robert DeNiro and Charles Grodin (whose career stopped in 1994, with the exception of one movie. Why? I don’t know. He’s a funny guy! Oh I see now! He’s olllld! He’s 75!). Their on-screen comedic chemistry is gold.

Also with Yaphet Kotto (still playing cops to this day), John Ashton, Dennis Farina (What Happens In Vegas, National Lampoon’s Bag Boy, Snatch, Saving Private Ryan, Get Shorty), and Joe Pantoliano (Cypher from The Matrix, Ceasar from Bound, The Fugitive, Percy Jackson & The Olympians:The Lightning Thief, Daredevil, Teddy from Memento).

PLOT SUMMARY: A bounty hunter (DeNiro) must deliver a white collar criminal (“The Duke”, Grodin) to a bail bondsman within 5 days. Meanwhile, The Mob is trying to kill The Duke, and the FBI is trying to capture him as well.

UNCOMFORTABLE PLOT SUMMARY (inspired by this): [highlight for spoilers] Failed policeman fails at being a bounty hunter too.

QUIRKS: 1980’s buddy-action bounty-hunter road-trip film. Comedy-Crime-Adventure-Action genre. Shot at many locations. Many different factions: DeNiro, Grodin, The Mob, The FBI, the Bail Bondsman. Lots of friction between everyone trying to get their piece of the pie. In a sense, this is your standard “chase the money” movie; the type of movie I often complain about for being too generic. But this throws in comedy, comedic dialog, comedic chemistry between the two leads, road trip adventure, action (there’s even a helicopter explosion), and every form of transportation you can imagine. A lot of elements come together to make this far less generic than it sounds on the surface, including personal growth experienced by DeNiro’s character.

VISUALS: Nice to finally see this on blu-ray! It’s 1988, so everything looks very 1980’s-ish (to state the obvious). Smoking in airports. Wood-paneled station wagons. Nothing too special here, except that it’s amazing to see these old “VHS movies” in bluray-quality.

SOUNDTRACK: Done by Danny Elfman, but it sounds nothing like your typical Elfman soundtrack. More of a 1980’s bluesy/rock feel, it’s a noticeable change of pace from most modern Elfman soundtracks.

MORALS: Think about the consequences of your career choice.

POLITICS: Police are corrupt. And the FBI are douches.

GOOD STUFF/CONCLUSION: Grodin’s deadpan annoyingness meets DeNiro’s profane, surly annoyedness, turning their on-screen chemistry into comedic gold. This film is far funnier than its summary sounds. I hadn’t seen this in about 20 years — and Carolyn had never seen it at all. Re-watching it actually caused me to upgrade my rating from 3 to 4 stars. It definitely stands up the test of time.

RATINGS:
Clint: Netflix: 4/5 stars (upgraded from 3/5). IMDB: 8/10.
Carolyn: Netflix: 3.8/5 stars. IMDB: 7/10.
The native public rating for this movie is: IMDB: 7.5/10 (exact average of our two ratings!), Netflix: 3.7/5 stars (a bit lower than the average of our two ratings). Netflix‘s predicted rating for us was 3.2/5 stars, which was a bit too low.

RECOMMENDATION: It’s easy to pass this one by because it seems like one of those “chase the money” type movies. But it’s done as a comedy, which makes that type of pill far easier to swallow.

SIMILAR MOVIES: There are actually three made-for-TV sequels starring Christopher McDonald as Jack Walsh. They all came out in 1994: Another Midnight Run (4.7/10), Midnight Runaraound (5.4/10), and Midnight Run For Your Life (5.1/10). BUT WAIT! Look here! Untitled Midnight Run Sequel in development for 2012! Written by the guy who wrote the hilarious comedy Role Models. By the time this review is posted, maybe this sequel will actually exist!

MOVIE QUOTE:

Jonathan Mardukas: It means I can’t fly. I also suffer from acrophobia and claustrophobia.
Jack Walsh: I’ll tell you what: if you don’t cooperate, you’re gonna suffer from “fistophobia”.

Jonathan Mardukas: Jack, you’re a grown man. You’re in control of your own words.
Jack Walsh: You’re goddamn right I am. Now here come two words for you: Shut the fuck up.

Jonathan Mardukas: You’re OK, Jack. I think… under different circumstances you and I probably still would have hated each other!
[Both laugh loudly]

FRIENDS’ RATINGS: Well, I know my mom really liked this movie! (more…)

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