Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Latest movies I've seen part 1000

You might have noticed I haven't talked about any of the movies I saw before the Oscars ceremony because yeah, like every common mortal, I shed my b-movie lover cover and watched a few of the nominees - namely the big (and fair) winner Slumdog Millionaire. I confess I disagree with the dude who called it "the feel-good movie of the year", but whatever, it ended in a moderatelly happy way and I guess that Bollywood-style dance at the end made up for all the crap that happened to Jamal throughout the movie. It was really good, nonetheless.

The reason why I haven't talked about them is that, besides me being lazy, I think there are already plenty of good reviews about those movies, done by knowleadgeable people whose writing doesn't resemble that of a monkey with ADD. But what about crappy movies? Who reviews those? Well, I DO. That is my job in this world. So I have to cut back on the amount of good movies I review in favor of bad movies. Those need loving too.

Anyway, this was a great weekend of movies. I did watch a good one, and I guess that's the one I'll get out of the way right now. I'm talking about Coraline.

Coraline is a stop-motion animation movie directed by Henry Sellick - yeah, the same guy who did the wonderful Nightmare Before Christmas. He hasn't done anything in 8 years, but it seems the little sabatical did him good because Coraline is quite astonishing work. I saw it in 3D (complete with dorky glasses) and the 3D was very impressive, but even more than that I was awed by the animation (as I had already been in Nightmare before Christmas). The amount of detail in this movie, from the characters expressions to their environment, clothing, everything, is amazing. I can't begin to imagine the amount of work it takes to do one scene, let alone a whole movie.

The story goes that a little girl named Coraline (and not Caroline!) has just moved, and is incredibly bored on her new house. She doesn't know anyone, has no friends, and her parents always seem too busy to play with her. One day, after investigating her new house and listing how many windows and doors there are on that place, Coraline finds a tiny door hidden behind the wallpaper. The first time she opens it, the door is shut with bricks... but the second time she tries, she finds out the door leads to an alternate world where her button-eyed replica parents cater to her every wish. The food is better, there are magical gardens, new clothes and games... but is it all that good? It's not. And Coraline will find that out the hard way.

I loved the incredible visuals in this movie. Did I mention the crazy amount of detail? Yeah. The characters are all well-designed, albeit probably not as iconic as the ones in Nightmare, except perhaps the final look of the Other Mother. The stuff that happens is quite unbelievable, it almost looks like a drug trip (I can't imagine what it would be like watching this high haha). It's not exactly a kid's movie, as I'm sure a lot of kids will be freaked out by what's going on on the screen, but it has a childish magic and appeal to it that one can't deny. Besides, being scared as a kid builds character - and now I sound like Calvin's dad.
I've heard a lot of comparisons to Alice in Wonderland, and I guess I have to agree, at the core they are pretty similar stories. But Coraline is filled with details of its own that give the movie its identity.
It was a great tale of adventure and mystery and it takes 3.5 bouncing rats out of 5.

As you may, or may not, know, the Oporto International Film Festival (Fantasporto) is currently taking place. It's usually one of my favorite times of the year, and I always try to catch a few movies there, especially if those are movies out of the commercial circuit. This year's first was a german zombie movie called Virus Undead.

(crappy poster, I know. The movie wasn't much better also.)

Virus Undead tries to cash in on the bird flu panic that went around a short time ago. An old scientist called, er, Mr. Whatshisface, is trying to find out a cure for the flu when he stumbles upon a mutation of the virus. Sadly, he is killed by none other than a flock of birds, in his own massive mansion. His grandson Robert has to go back to his grandfathers village to take care of the inheritance paperwork and decides to take his "friends" (I say "friends" because not once in this movie do we feel any tingle of real friendship or any kind of relation between them.) Patrick and Eugen along for the ride, and hopefully spend a weekend of great fun in his dead grandfather's mansion. When they stop at a gas station to buy supplies, they run into Robert's ex-girlfriend (still baffled and hurt at why he ever left her) and into her co-worker, Miss Tits McGee, and of course horny James Dean look-alike Patrick decides to invite them over to the house. Things start going awry when people eat infected bird meat and start turning into zombies.

Well, well. Where do I begin? Maybe with the zero character development. These characters are cardboard cutouts. You have the responsible, level-headed one (Robert), the horny, careless one (Patrick) and the poor picked-on geek (Eugen). The girls are just another cliché, and an excuse to show some boobage. They are such stereotypes that I think the movie would have beneffited a lot from playing with this humorously, because taking the characters serious was nearly impossible. There was also a cliché cop, unprofessional dude always munching down on donuts, but there was a great moment when the cop, already turned into a zombie (oops spoiler), tries to keep eating the donuts, only to end up spitting it out. It was a good gag that poked fun at the stereotype, and it worked - now if only they had done it more! We could have a cool splatter comedy, but this way we only had a suckfest. The way these characters act is ridiculous and predictable, and Eugen suffers the quickest mental breakdown I ever saw in a movie.

The story tries to take a fresh turn with the bird flu thing, but it basically just comes down to being another zombie movie. And what zombies... these are super strong and fast zombies, a kind I'm not too fond of. I prefer the slow ominous zombie. But I can't deny it, the bits with the zombies were the best. There was a LOT of cheeseball action, and the gore was not bad either! Not bad for a low budget movie. The ending sucked, in my opinion - the "climatic" fight was just ridiculous and I could have done without those stupid CGI birds. We never find out what happened to Tits McGee, but she went out with a bang, her final part was one of the stupidest and yet funniest things about this movie. Sure made the audience laugh, and I think that's good because it means we're actually being entertained instead of just being bored out of our minds. Yes, we were laughing at the movie instead of with it, but that's better than nothing.

All in all, this movie was pretty bad, but I still gotta give props to it - for a low budget horror and with all its character and plot flaws, it managed to keep me mildly entertained, and that's more than I can say for a lot of big-budget hollywood shit. My biggest gripe with it is that it could have been much, much better if it didn't take itself as seriously. It takes 2 out of 5 burning zombies from me.

Stay tuned for part 1001 for a couple more reviews!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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