Friday, August 26, 2011

Movie Review: Fright Night

Remaining in the same vein as many recent horror outings, "Fright Night" is more of an eerie action comedy than a straight-out scare fest. Good. That's my favorite type, especially considering scares in and of themselves hardly garner a pull anymore. Also, with a title like "Fright Night," we have an understanding with the filmmakers that we're getting one of those throwback horror flicks. You know, the ones that gave the horror genre that fun movie-going reputation it had in the 80′s before tasteless gore and tiresome predictability defiled the genre? This film succeeds on that promise, quickly turning itself into the quintessential "fun" horror flick perfect for Friday night.

Styled after Alfred Hitchcock's "Rear Window" (which inspired its own modern retelling, "Disturbia") with a suave vampire living next-door instead of a mysterious stranger, this plot is very similar to its original. Charley Brewster (Anton Yelchin; "Star Trek") is a ex-nerd who has joined 'the cool crowd,' dropping his oldest friend "Evil" Ed (Christopher Mintz-Plasse; "Kick-Ass") for a hot cheerleader girlfriend (Imogen Poots; "28 Weeks Later"). Things are looking oh-so-grand for the little flake (I mean, come on, any guy who hurtfully tells his friend "the day my life got better was the day I stopped hanging with you" is well a douche), he gets a new next-door neighbor that his mom (Toni Collette; "The Sixth Sense") takes a liking to: Jerry Dandrige (Colin Farrell; "Horrible Bosses"). Now Jerry seems like a cool guy, but as we all know, you don't cast Colin Farrell to be your average next-door neighbor. Ed's attempts to convince Charley that Jerry is actually a vampire fail, but when Ed himself goes missing and Jerry shows proof of what he is, Charley goes to the only person who might have the answer: Peter Vincent (David Tennant; "Doctor Who"), the Las Vegas magician who boasts of supernatural knowledge on how to kill vampires.

The choice to modernize the original 1985 "Fright Night" doesn't like that bright an idea considering the current rule that all horror remakes suck, but somehow this became a unique effort due to diligent actors, a reliable director, and successful laugh and scare gags. It is, without exaggeration, the first great entry in the long line of atrocious horror remakes. It takes what we liked about the original and comes up some clever changes that update the story 26 years to the present.

From an ingenious kill method at the end to wickedly suspenseful chase scenes, "Fright Night" boasts some surprisingly memorable scenes – some of which are incredibly suspenseful considering we think we should know what to expect from a vampire thriller. The opening is a startling 3D shot through dark thunderclouds that ends in an impeccably-executed family massacre. With Craig Gillespie's (the outstanding director of "Lars and the Real Girl") imaginative direction and Ramin Djawadi's (scorer of "Iron Man" and "Mr. Brooks") jarringly effective and wholly memorable musical score, the film hits all the beats it strives for with manic zeal.

The all-star cast deliver a gratifying romp of suspense and chuckles, but the movie belongs to its villain and its anti-hero, Colin Farrell and David Tennant. The rest give solid performances (especially Mintz-Plasse), but they pale compared to the main act.

Colin Farrell, when given the opportunity, revels in the grittiness of villainy whenever he can. For Jerry Dandrige, Farrell is at an all-time evil high and unchains his dark side. Part Hannibal Lector in his charming menace and part Buffalo Bill in his vicious brutality, Farrell carves himself a sweetly unpredictable part filled with great moments (from his menacing way of asking for a six-pack of beer to his ultimate way of overstepping house invitation rules to a great moment where his decision to do absolutely nothing produces far worse results).

The fascinating part about Jerry is he isn't like regular vampires. He seems more inspired by the worst of modern serial killers than mythical killing machines, with his secret torture rooms and closet full of dozens of uniforms signifying authority (from firemen to the post office to the police). He's modern without being "Twilight." He's a ominous hulking mass. Those characteristics mixed together with his bizarre personality create a rather unique Hollywood vampire. Due to this, I wish the "transformation" to full-on vampire face was never included, as it is poor CGI and takes away from Farrell's menace.

David Tennant, who I will admit I adore as the 10th Doctor Who, is a cinematic gem. His acting style has always been that of a Shakespearean extremist, and I can't think of a better role that has such obvious wicked glee in allowing him to let loose. There is something strangely mesmerizing in Tennant's scenes as the vulgar magician-turned-vampire-killer, especially in his first big scene where his vehemence and wide-eyed enthusiasm is outstandingly exaggerated. Also, seeing him acting with a giant shotgun is way more fun than I expected it to be. He's about as entertaining – if not more so – than the performance given by Roddy McDowall.

In the end, what really matters about this movie? Is the movie suspenseful and thrilling? Yes, especially when Jerry really is allowed to let loose his menacing charm and kill with the same love of general violence of a "Reservoir Dogs" character. Is the movie funny when it tries to be? Absolutely. The pop culture references – especially in a crack on "Twilight" and comparing Jerry to the shark from "Jaws" – work particularly well. This is a huge amount of fun. So if you walk into this expecting the right kind of movie, "Fright Night" is that perfect Friday night scare.3.5 out of 5

Movie Review: 30 Minutes or Less

 I went into seeing 30 Minutes or Less this week with significantly lower expectations. Rather thankfully, it surpassed all of them and then some.

Nick (Jesse Eisenberg) is a bit of a slacker, and living a fairly miserable life. He delivers pizzas for a living, while his roommate Chet (Aziz Ansari) has just started teaching in a local elementary school. On the last delivery of the night, Nick gets jumped by two wannabe- criminals, Dwayne (Danny McBride) and Travis (Nick Swardson). They want to have Dwayne's father killed, but cannot come up with the money in order to get it done right. So they strap a bomb to Nick's chest, and give him ten hours to rob a bank and bring the money back to them.

30 Minutes or Less is a rare breed of comedy, especially for this summer. It may sound derivative, and may sound even more like it has too much going on at once. But after a chaotically hilarious opening twenty minutes, the film nestles into its niche, and quickly becomes a fairly twisted story that gets more outrageous and dark with every turn. But instead of slowly falling apart like Horrible Bosses and especially The Hangover Part II, the film stays consistent throughout, balancing its tone and its laughs exceptionally. Despite being shorter than Zombieland, Fleischer and screenwriter Michael Diliberti pack in enough material to allow the story to flow briskly, while also never finding a moment to slow down. The one-liners come faster and furiously with every passing minute, and you may miss a lot from laughing so hard. This is a ludicrously high-concept comedy that could have gone horrendously wrong (especially given how dangerously close it plays out to a real life event), but it thankfully rarely misses the mark it sets out for itself.

Even though the trailer does not suggest it, the film also plays out as a wonderful homage to the buddy films of the 1980s, complete with an inspired soundtrack (Glenn Frey's "The Heat is On" plays over an absolutely hysterical key scene, instantly bringing memories of Beverly Hills Cop flooding back). Fleischer and Diliberti are about a year too late to the 80s nostalgia trip, but it does not really matter in this case. Instead of remaking or reimagining a 80s brand for the current time or using the nostalgia simply for jokes, they use that decade's influence to help craft the film to be even stronger. So strong that it almost feels like it belongs in that era, standing alongside the greats. It reminded me a lot of Pineapple Express in the way things play out, but 30 Minutes never allows itself to become overly serious or something it is not.

Acting wise, everyone brings their A-game and is absolutely fantastic. Their deadpan and quick-witted responses and chemistry together as a group is simply astounding. Eisenberg plays his usual oafish loser, but brings a kinetic and nervous energy he has so far reserved away from most of his movies. While he is usually calm and relaxed, he lets loose here, and brings about one of his finest comedic performances to date. Much the same goes for McBride, who is larger than life here, casting a shadow over almost everyone. It has taken me a long time to warm up to his brand of comedy, but seeing him in action here is simply magical. He gets all of the best lines, and delivers them with the gusto of a trip master of the craft.

Ansari, in his first real major film role, holds it together fairly well, but you can tell he is a bit hot under the collar. It pays off in his insanely delirious performance, but it is a bit too shaky in some cases. Swardson holds his own surprisingly, and proves that he can be an absolute riot when cut off from Adam Sandler and company. Let's hope this film helps him take the hint. But special mention has to go to Michael Peña as the would-be assassin, who dusts off his wacky accent from Observe and Report, and somehow makes himself even more over-the- top. I hate to say it considering how dementedly hilarious the rest of the cast is, but he steals almost every scene he appears in.

While my enthusiasm for the film may sound a little overbearing, it is far from perfect. The characters are a bit too under sketched, and never really develop outside of the parameters of the story set-up. They are not quite one-dimensional, but outside of their key traits, there is not much else there. This may sound a bit like nitpicking, but for a film that does so much else right, it seems a little strange that the characters are not better developed. We care about all of these characters, and especially want to see Nick make it out of this situation alive. But I think a bit of extra dialogue here and there to really make something of these characters could have gone a long way. And while I appreciated the movie references, some of the more advertising-like references were a bit excessive (Eisenberg mentioning Facebook was cutesy, but Aziz going on a tirade about Netflix pricing seemed a bit forced).

I held small hopes I would enjoy 30 Minutes or Less, and was impressed by how wildly hilarious it is. It is instantly quotable, and packs some of the best comedy we have seen this summer. It may come later, and may sound a bit ridiculous, but do not allow that to make you hesitate seeing it. Letting it pass you by is simply criminal. 3.5 out of 5

Movie Review: Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Of all the movies that can possibly be re-booted......why reboot another movie that's already been re-booted? And of all the projects that the Weta team can possibly tackle, why this one? Well it must be the script, because everyone that's come across it has wanted to be somewhat involved. Hopefully it lives up to the expectations that are already in place, because i don't think i could handle another stink bomb like Burton's version.

Finally......a summer movie that's actually WORTH your summer dollar. Almost every element of this film is pitch perfect. Just what makes this 'oh so' great? Allow me to explain....

Judging from the preview, i thought the movie to be a little too relative to the concept from "Deep Blue Sea". But this movie takes a much more different route with their Alzheimer's approach. Needless to say, they did a much better job than that movie.....obviously.

I know most people may be scratching their heads to this comment, but in my opinion, this is easily the most well written script of the year thus far. It's intelligent, thought provoking, emotional, and damn well entertaining. What makes this so good is the progression of the main ape 'Ceaser' (heh, ironic name), and his journey from a curious and smart ape, into an upset ape that realizes the harsh realities of being treated like an animal. It's now easy to see just why everyone jumped on board when they read this. I kid you not, i actually got goosebumps from this movie, and that rarely happens.

And once again, the Weta team did a phenomenal job with their brilliant special effects. Andy Serkis who has already done work like this before in 'Lord of Rings' and 'King Kong', out preformed most actors in Hollywood without barely saying a word. Is it wrong to say that a man in a blue suit with dots all over him, imitating an ape is so far the best actor I've seen this year? Uh.....not at all. Trust me, see the movie, and you'll understand why.

Bottom Line.......not only is this easily the best movie of the summer, i will go as far as saying it's the best movie i have seen so far this year. Yes, it is THAT good. Like i said earlier, almost every element of this movie is pitch perfect. The writing, the acting, the special effects.....all done to near perfection. It some people's eyes, this is called a reboot. However, it feels more like a prequel. But judging from what i just saw, i hope to god that they make more of these, because it literally just blew my mind.The movie gets a very strong 4 out 5

Hollyweird Living Vs The Green Lantern Corps

The newest issue of Hollyweird Living is out.  Check it out in its entirely at the EWS.   In this second chapter of the Red Bull and Mountain Dew fueled hallucinations they characters of Hollyweird living take a trip to Oa to take on the Green Lantern Corps and comic book writer Geoff Johns.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Hollyweird Living Vs The X-Men: First Class

Tyrone and Jay mix it up with the mutants of X-Men: First Class

Check out the entire issue to see what happens and how it all goes down here at Essential Webcomic Showcase.

Hollyweird Living and The Pirates of The Carribbean

The Boys of Hollweird Living got to the world of Pirates of the Carribbean and Captain Jack Sparrow.

Check out the entire issue to see what happens and how it all goes down here at Essential Webcomic Showcase.

Hollyweird Living Thor

The Boys of Hollyweird Living enter the world of Thor.  Check out the entire issue to see what happens and how it all goes down here at Essential Webcomic Showcase.

Bringing Wildstorm into the Modern DC Universe Part 2

Voodoo, written by Ron Marz (Green Lantern; Silver Surfer, Witchblade) & Art by Sami Basri (Witchblade, Power Girl).

Voodoo is one of Jim Lee's original WildC.A.T.S./Wildstorm characters that DC is integrating into the New DC Relaunch universe.
The original writer DC announced was BOOM! Studios Michael AlanNelson (28 Days Later, Hexed, Fall of Cthulhu). Nelson tweeted on May 31, 2011 that he was involved in DC relaunch, but 7 days later he wrote --“I spoke too soon. I won’t be apart of the DC Comics revamp after all”. I was said at the news cause I loved his Hexed series with artist Emma Rios (The Runaways, Amazing Spider-Man) & I wondered what his take would be like.

 Artist Emma Rios
Soon after DC said writer Ron Marz would be doing the series.

 Art is being done by Sami Bari, who's been doing DC's Power Girl series (who sadly is missing in the Relaunch) & has worked with Marz on TOP COW's Witchblade series as well. Basri knows how to draw, so the art in this book is going to be top notch and a good reason just to pick it up.
The DC Relaunch Voodoo is still a stripper named Priscilla Kitaen, but now has to go on the run from mysterious persuaders after she finds out she’s a half-alien hybrid possessing powers of "the Sight".

Voodoo's history goes way back to 1992 when Jim Lee & a group of hot artists from Marvel Comics left for Image Comics.

Lee's first comic book was titled WildC.A.T.S., which I picked up, fearing it would be sold out. I saw that Jim Lee's art was gorgeous and unusual, drawing a group of women that included Voodoo who the team had to save from the alien Daemonites in the very first issue.

I'm not sure if the character of Voodoo can carry a whole series by herself without the rest of the WILDC.A.T.S. team. But with this creative team of Marz & Basri, I'm sure people will at least check it out. 

Bringing Wildstorm into the Modern DC Universe Part 1

The newStormwatch title is written by Paul Cornell (Action Comics) with art by Miguel Sepulveda (War of the Green Lanterns: Aftermath).

Stormwatch was a concept by Jim Lee during the formation of Image Comics in the early 1990s about a U.N. sponored superhero team, a counterpoint to Rob Liefeild's team of U.S. Government superheroes Youngblood.

But it was when writer Warren Ellis took over the series with #37 (July 1996) that I first started to take notice. With the creations of the Midnighter & Apollo (a Batman-Superman archetype duo), who both would go on to star in Ellis' popular Authority series in 1999, took the concept of superheroes to a whole new level.

 DC/Wildstorm then turned the team into a group of  non-superpowered UN troubleshooters dealing with superhero-related problems with Stormwatch: Team Achilles. A sort of G.I. JOE team against superheroes, much like DC's new relaunch title Men of War.

Then with Stormwatch: P.H.D. (Post-Human Division), they were transformed into a underfunded and overworked U.S. team trying to find "cost-effective" methods of saving the day with former Weatherman JACKSON KING leading.
In the new DC Relaunch the team is now a part of the DC UNIVERSE, a superhuman police force kept secret from everyone. Artist Sepulveda says that Stormwatch is perhaps the biggest sercet in all of the new DCU.

The team will include former Wildstorm/Authority characters Jack Hawksmoor; Apollo, the character who was rebooted in DC's Flashpoint: Project Superman & who's story continues in the aftermath of the events of the Superman Relaunch; Midnighter, with DC rumors going that they try to unsuccessful recruit in the very first issue; The Engineer, who feels better qualified to lead the team than the man who actually leads it ; an 11 yrs. old Jenny Quantum, who's represents "the Spirit of the 21st Century".

 The Engineer
DC will also include Martian Manhunter to the team as a conflicted old warrior about his feelings of superheroes place in society. He's no longer a founding member of the JLA, that role has now been taken by former Teen Titans member Cyborg.

I have always been a big fan of the Martian Manhunter (J'Onn J'Onzz to his friends), even though he was just another Superman clone in the DCU there was something about him that I liked.  Keith Giffen & Kevin Maguire's late-1980s Justice League series brought a funny side to the character, giving him an obsession with Oreo cookies that I loved.

I collected his entire 36 issue late 1990s series by John Ostrander & Tom Mandrake which I loved. I even pick up the Post-Infinite Crisis revamp mini-series DC did a few years ago. His death in DC's Final Crisis didn't effect me that much as it did others on the Internet. I just made me piss off that DC killed off a character just for shock value for a crappy "Event Comic", no meaning just like most comic book deaths now. Maybe he'll do better with Stormwatch. I wonder if his existence will be a secret also from the DCU? Did he still appear in the Mid-1950s? Can't wait for this book.

Three new characters have been created for the book.  They are Adam One, who writer Cornell descried as "aging backwards since the Big Bang, the master of tactics who… forgets things & isn’t that great at convincing people he knows what he’s doing", which becomes a problem since he's leading the team; The Projectionist, the voice of & god of the internet  & The Eminence of Blades, the universal master of bladed weapons, who has terrible doubts.
I'm excited about this concept and how it will effect the new DCU.