Friday, March 30, 2012

The Terminator (1984)



THE TERMINATOR
James Cameron
1984 • 107 Minutes • 1.85:1 • United States
Orion

Cast:  Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Biehn, Linda Hamilton, Paul Winfield, Lance Henriksen
Writers: James Cameron & Gale Anne Hurd

Producer: Gale Anne Hurd

Cinematography:  Adam Greenberg

Awards and Honors



The Essential Films
100 Essential Horror Movies - #19
100 Greatest Movie Heroes - #43, Sarah Connor
100 Greatest Movie Villains - #49, The Terminator
Top 20 End of the World Movies - #2


National Film Preservation Board
Inducted to National Film Registry: 2008


You still don’t get it, do you? He’ll find her! That’s what he does! That’s ALL he does! You can’t stop him! He’ll wade through you, reach down her throat and pull her fuckin’ heart out!



THE PLOT

In the future, a great war wages between mankind and the machines. A cyborg, or Terminator, is sent back in time to present day to eliminate Sarah Connor, the mother of John Connor, who leads the human resistance against the machines. The humans send back a guardian for Sarah… a man named Kyle Reese who must help Sarah escape and outrun the deadly killing machine who will stop at nothing to change the future.

WHY IS IT ESSENTIAL?


3 GENRES FOR THE PRICE OF ONE

It is rare when a film cross-pollinates genres to create something extra-ordinary. This is what The Terminator does. The Terminator is an action movie with a science fiction concept filmed and presented as a horror movie. Schwarzenegger’s portrayal of the Terminator cyborg is absolutely terrifying. Truly, one of the great screen villains. The Terminator is essentially a hitman with a target. But the difference being, this hitman is completely unstoppable. Bullets, knives and explosions do not hurt it. It does not feel pain, nor mercy. These are all classic traits of any of the great horror villains from Michael Myers to Jason Vorhees… except increased exponentially.
 On top of this, who is the hero of the story? Sarah Connor. A normal, all-American girl who doesn’t understand why this (literal) killing machine is out to destroy her. Sound familiar? Add all this to the fact that, visually, the film is incredibly dark there are a small number of day time scenes which add to the horror ambience.




I’LL BE BACK


Chances are, you have seen this film before. It runs on cable all the time and its sequel is one of the highest grossing films of all time. It has become an iconic masterpiece that is completely worthy of its fame. The police station shoot-out scene remains to this day an all out classic. Why is it so great? Because throughout the film, The Terminator is established as a force of nature that will stop at nothing to achieve his objective. So when he says to the cop at the front desk “I’ll be back,” you KNOW it's about to go down… even if you’ve never heard of the movie or the famous line… you just know what’s about to happen.




ORIGINAL VS SEQUEL


There is endless debate amongst the Terminator fanbase as to which film is better: The Terminator or Terminator 2: Judgment Day. What’s entertaining about this argument is that they are incredibly different films. The original is more of a horror/thriller while the second is just straight-up ass-kicking action. However, the debate rages and that can only be the sign of a good series. Don’t believe me? Which film is better Godfather or Godfather II? Exactly.




PRODUCTION VALUES

James Cameron is an incredibly talented director. The man knows exactly what he’s doing and his movies always look spectacular and he’s always breaking new ground. The Abyss and Terminator 2 used special-effects technology that was still in its infancy and those movies STILL look amazing. Avatar, while being a recycled story, was a groundbreaking film visually and hell, yes, even Titanic looks incredible. James Cameron knows how to make a movie. But, the most impressive film to this day still has to be the original Terminator. Why? Because while Avatar, Titanic and T2 all look better, they also had HUGE budgets. Terminator was made for practically nothing (by Hollywood standards) and Cameron was put in a position where he had to create a visually impressive movie on pretty much no money. Do the some of the effects look hokey in 2011? Sure. But in 1984 that was cutting edge technology.




THE STORY


Unlike Avatar and Titanic, where Cameron relies heavily on his incredible visuals and sees the story as an after thought, The Terminator story is classic. He took an old science fiction concept (man vs machine) and put a spin on it that still keeps your imagination alive. Both T1 and T2 take the concept of fate and the concept of time travel and had a lot of fun with it. Can you change the future for the better or for the worse? Or will the inevitable always happen? It’s phenomenal story-telling.
  Too bad it may be ripped off some Harlan Ellison stories:




Oh well.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Scott Pilgrim VS The World (2010)


This post was originally published as part of the DVD of the Day series at Superfriends Universe on December 30, 2010.


Scott Pilgrim VS The World

- Next time, don’t date the girl with eleven evil ex-boyfriends.
- It’s seven.
- Oh, well, that’s not that bad.

The Stats

The Director:  Edgar Wright
The Cast:  Michael Cera, Allison Pill, Mark Webber, Johnny Simmons, Ellen Wong, Kieran Culkin, Brie Larson
The Release Date: 2010
The Runtime: 112 Minutes

The Plot

Scott Pilgrim plays bass for the excellently named band Sex Bob-Omb. After being dumped by his ex-girlfriend, he finds what he thinks is love with a high school junior, Knives Chau (complete with school girl uniform.) At a party, however, Scott meets and falls in love with Ramona Flowers, leading to a break-up with Knives as he tries to woo the multi-hair-colored Ramona. After successfully getting Ramona to fall for him, he is sucker punched (literally and figuratively) by her past. Seems like Ramona has 7 Evil Exes that have banded together to destroy Scott Pilgrim. Now Scott has to beat all 7 Evil Exes in battle, avoid a jealous Knives, deal with bumping into his own Evil Ex on top of trying to “make it” with his band.

The Lowdown

Let’s put it out there. This movie TANKED. Out of it’s $60 Million budget it only made $30 Mil at the box office. Which is a real shame. Maybe it was because the concept was just too quirky, or maybe it was because critics didn’t get what the movie was going for… or hell, maybe people are just sick of Michael Cera. Whatever the reason, the movie lost money. But the lack of Box Office numbers is not proportionate to the entertainment value of the film.

First off, it’s Edgar Wright directing. The guy gave us Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz… he’s a director that knows exactly how to blend kick-ass action with belly-hurting comedy. Pilgrim‘s It’s not as funny as those two epics, but it’s still pretty amusing. And besides, what it lacks in comedy, it more than makes up for in just plain awesome fight scenes. The creators of this movie clearly love their old school video games. Each Evil Ex that Scott has take on has his (or her) own “level” in the movie. And after each defeat, the Ex explodes into gold coins that Scott collects. No, seriously. The movie is an odd, yet effective blend of comedy, action film, comic book and video game.

From the entertaining-as-hell fight scenes, to the geek references… from the cool video-game “feel”, to the surprise cameos, Scott Pilgrim is a fun ride. Rent it!


Monday, March 19, 2012

Nosferatu (1922)


NOSFERATU
F.W. Murnau
1922 • 94 Minutes • 1.33:1 • Germany
Film Arts Guild

Cast РMax Schreck, Gustav von Wangenheim, Greta Schr̦der, Alexander Granach, Georg H. Schnell
Screenplay – Henrik Galeen loosely based on Bram Stoker’s Dracula
Producers - Enrico Dieckmann, Albin Grau
Cinematography – Fritz Amo Wagner

Award and Honors


Is this your wife? What a lovely throat.

The Story


Henrik Galeen’s story of Nosferatu is loosely based (read: ripped off) from Bram Stoker’s original novel Dracula.  At the time of production, Bram Stoker’s estate had not given permission to Murnau to shoot the film, so they worked around it by changing names and a few events… but it’s essentially the same story.  A real estate agent visits the reclusive Count Orlock in Germany to sell him some, but notices a series of unusual events surrounding his visit.  Sound familiar?
 
The Direction

Murnau is one of cinema’s pioneer filmmakers.  His sense of visual style was groundbreaking.  F.W. Murnau would later go on to direct a series of pioneering films, most notably the Oscar winning film Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans, but not before directing this horror classic.  One of the first horror movies, and the first great horror movie. Nosferatu is to the horror film genre what Metropolis was to the science fiction genre… extremely influential.  The shot composition was ahead of its time, especially this iconic image:

I mean… LOOK at that image.  Even 90 years later it is still chilling.  Many of the influences that Nosferatu had can be seen in modern horror films.
 
The Acting
 
You can’t talk about this film without mentioning Max Schreck as Count Orlock.  One of the great screen presences… few on screen vampires have been more chilling.  Gary Oldman, Bela Lugosi and Christopher Lee have all played excellent Draculas, but Schreck is the original on-screen vampire.  Unlike Dracula, Orlock is not a charming, sophisticated aristocrat.  He looks like the demon he is, and Schreck’s portrayal is so alarmingly disturbing that it still sends chills down your spine.  80 years later the making of this film was fictionalized in a film called Shadow of the Vampire starring Willem Dafoe as Max Schreck who, in the film, is actually a vampire.  (Also a good watch, by the way.)

Summary
 
The original horror film. Even though this silent film is almost a century old, it doesn’t fail to deliver chills in ways that modern horror films wish they could. At the time this film was made, Bram Stoker’s widow was threatening legal action against the filmmakers for using her late husband’s story as the basis of this film, and so… Max Schreck portrayed “Count Orlok” instead of “Count Dracula.” Regardless of the name change, the story is familiar and is perhaps the best adaptation of the classic “Dracula” story. Schreck is especially creepy as the title character and the camera work was way ahead of its time. Beautiful horror film.

Since the film is in the public domain, you can watch it for free here:

Friday, March 16, 2012

FORCED PERSPECTIVE, Ep.12 – The Chronicle of John Carter




The dynamic duo is BACK! With the films of 2011 firmly behind them after the Oscars, join SportsGuy515 and Adolfo as they review a few of the major releases of 2012 so far: The Grey, Chronicle, Project X, John Carter, and Friends With Kids. Plus, an endorsement from Mr. Eddie, recent Blu-Ray purchases, Stanley Kubrick’s Lolita, why the MPAA ratings board is completely useless, and more! STREAM/DOWNLOAD NOW!


(*NOW with commercial breaks featuring vintage movie trailers and assorted wackyness*)


Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Wild Bunch (1969)

This was originally published on July 16, 2010 as part of the DVD of the Day series at Superfriends Universe 



The Wild Bunch

We’re not gonna get rid of anybody! We’re gonna stick together, just like it used to be! When you side with a man, you stay with him! And if you can’t do that, you’re like some animal, you’re finished! *We’re* finished! All of us!

The Stats

The Director:  Sam Peckinpah
The Cast:  William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Robert Ryan, Edmund O’Brien
Release Date:  1969

The Plot

An aging band of outlaws look for one last big score, but when one of their own gets captured by a corrupt Mexican general, they have to decide what’s more important: money or loyalty.

The Lowdown:

Don’t let the fact that this is an “old” western fool you.  This movie is fucking awesome.  You want violence?  This movie pushed the limits of what you could show in movies.  In 1969, the “R” rating was practically a brand new way of rating movies, and brother, did this film take advantage of it.


Violence.  Hookers. Gun fights. Swearing.  It’s got it all.

If you’re a fan of John Woo movies, you owe it to yourself to watch The Wild Bunch.  Woo was heavily inspired by Sam Peckinpah, and you can tell easily with this film… especially the action sequences.  Peckinpah has a way of shooting violence as if it’s a symphony.  There’s a kind of poetry to blood squirting out of a Mexican’s chest.

Yeah, it’s a western. But it ain’t your daddy’s western.  The Wild Bunch, quite frankly, are a band of degenerate outlaws.  They booze it up, whore it up and shoot it up.  When a big score goes bad, they decide on one final big score.  There’s a catch though when one of their gets captured by General Mapache over a personal vendetta.  The four gunslingers can just take their money and walk away.  But instead, loyalty trumps all.  The shot of these four bad asses marching into town to get their friend back sends chills up your spine.  You just KNOW that some serious shit is about to go down.  And boy does it ever as the Wild Bunch damn near take out half of Mexico.

Hell, this film is worth watching for the last 10 minutes alone.  The gunfight between the Wild Bunch and the Mexican army is one of the most violent and kick ass action sequences ever filmed… especially when you consider that it’s 40 years old at this point.

Watch this movie.