Wednesday, April 25, 2012

This Week in DVD - April 24th

I didn't have a DVD post last week, because I actually didn't watch much and barely anything new came out on DVD that I needed to recap, so this blog post is going to cover more of the past two weeks.

The Darkest Hour (2011)

Let's start off with a bang then.  Holy shit this is a bad movie!  How did this get released on Christmas?

Despite being based in Russia, a bunch of Americans and an Australian are the survivors of an alien attack.  Glowing orbs fall from the sky and then disappear.  Shortly after, people just start disintegrating into ash.  I will admit that was actually kind of a cool effect, but at the same time, you know a movie is low budget when you're running from invisible aliens.  When the aliens are finally revealed, the graphics looked like something done on a personal computer, from 10 years ago.

It has some of worst acting and dialog I've seen in a while.  This is filled with so many logic gaps and inconsistencies that I have a hard time believing a sane person wrote this (it appears there were THREE writers credited for this crap).  For example, the main group finds refuge in a Faraday Cage, which a friend reminded me that it's purpose is to block electrical signals, so the aliens can't find them.  However, later in the movie, they are still receiving text messages while inside.  That's exactly what a Faraday Cage is supposed to prevent. The blocking of the electrical signals isn't one way.

Another inconsistent thing is that that once on Earth, the aliens seemed to be completely ground based and couldn't get around certain obstacles, yet they flew down to Earth?  How were the aliens planning on leaving then?    

The main character, played by Emile Hirsch, is initially a party guy, but once the crisis starts, he's also the guy that is somehow able to instinctively figure everything out.  This is especially a surprise when you heard some the lame-ass dialog he says.  The movie opens when a scene of them being ripped off by a unscrupulous business partner, who advised them that they should have singed a NDA, to which Emile counters, 'You mean a non-douchebag agreement!'  Great retort, sparky!  Shortly after, he says 'Every culture has drinking and religion.  That's why I drink religiously!'  Pure genius!  With zingers like that at the beginning of the movie, you know you're in for something special.

It wasn't entertaining on any level.  This is the kind of movie I can only recommend watching if you actually enjoy watching really bad movies.

.5 (out of) 5 Death Stars - Just forget it ever existed.

Carnage (2011)

Roman Polanski co-writes and directs Carnage, based on the French play God of Carnage.  You've got a really strong cast with Jodie Foster, John C. Reilly, Christolph Waltz and Kate Winslet.  There's no supporting cast at all.

Two families are brought together after their kids get in a fight. Initially they are writing a quick letter recapping the events (I'm assuming for legal reasons) and then agreeing on a time to have the kids talk it out. While initially the meeting is civil, you can tell that things are going to escalate the longer they talk it out.

As the meeting gets drawn out, drinks are poured and then it really picks up  Dirty laundry comes out and everyone turns on each other.  The problem is though that just when it starts to get interesting, it abruptly ends, if you can even call it an ending.  It's barely 80 minutes long, so maybe this is all the fault of it being based on a play.

Despite the short length, it started out kind of rough for me, but once they started drinking, it got funnier.  The cast was the only reason I kept watching after the first few minutes.  It really is more about just watching the actors doing their thing.  It's not really a plot driven movie.

If this was something I saw in the theater, I might have been a little disappointed due to the length and lack of ending, but I think it's good rental, especially if you like the cast.

3 (out of 5) Death Stars

The Divide (2012)

After a nuclear war, a group of people take shelter in the basement of the apartment complex they live in.  A lot of what happens is unclear and never explained, so the movie is more about focusing on this group of people hiding out in this shelter.  The longer they stay in the shelter, the more their social structure breaks down and things get weird.

While there's some messed up stuff that happens, movies like this always bug me when people are clearly acting irrationally.  In this case, some of them are being affected by radiation and showing obvious effects of it, yet somehow they are the ones that remain in charge.  If the other people would band together, they would easily overpower them, but nobody trusts anyone enough to do that.

There are also scenes where people have weapons and guns facing off against unarmed opponents and still manage to lose the upper hand.  That kind of shit drives me nuts!

It continues to get worse and worse and the movie drags on way too long to really enjoy or care about anything.  The whole thing was just too hard to believe.  It's a shame because I actually liked many of cast members from other movies and TV (Michael Biehn, Lauren German, Milo Ventimiglia).

1.5 out of 5 Death Stars - I'm gonna say pass on this one.

Recently out on DVD:

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (2011)

It's rare when a movie series starts out poorly but manages to improve as time moves on.  I actually really enjoyed the third M:I, but I think this is easily the best of the M:I series.

While a little ridiculous at times and the villain is a bit outdated, it's just a fun action thrill ride.  I've heard many people feel this this is the first M:I movie to actually feel more like the original TV show, especially with how the team dynamic worked out.  This felt the least like 'The Tom Cruise Show' of the series and that's a good thing.

I think director Brad Bird's experience with other team-based movies really served him well here.  I really hope they give him a good superhero movie to work on at some point.

Originally I gave this a 4 (out of 5) and I'll stand by that.  I strongly recommend renting this one.

Contraband (2012)

Mediocre action thriller that felt very paint by the numbers and didn't do anything new, special or all that interesting.  This is something that even my initial review, I said was ideally suited for a rental.

It has a really good cast, but they aren't given much to do and in some cases outright wasted, like Kate Beckinsale.  Why would you cast someone like Kate Beckinsale to play a housewife that doesn't do anything but get threatened by the bad guys?  It's a part that should have been used to give a break to a lesser known actress.  It probably would have saved the production some money, too.

Overall, I thought it was pretty forgettable.  I can't believe it's out on DVD already.  It was only in the theater three months ago.

2.5 (out of 5) Death Stars - It's a rental

The Innkeepers (2012)

Creepy horror film that's let down a little bit by it's pacing.  There really was no reason why this movie needed to be 100 minutes long.  If this had been 85-90 minutes, it would have been so much better.

It takes so long to get started, when you'll watch this you'll see how easily this could have been edited down and the end result would have been even more creepy and tense.  The length was the sole reason in my original review I knocked this down a half to a full star.

3 (out of 5) Death Stars - It's still a decent rental though if you like a creepy, haunted house movie.

That's it for DVD's this week.  I need to finalize some reviews for movies coming out this weekend.  Stay tuned...

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