Posts Tagged ‘CGI’

10 Sequels That Are (Arguably) Better Than The Original

Posted 27 Nov 2013 — by Ezra Stead
Category Essay, Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

The Bride of Frankenstein is not only better than the original Frankenstein, but also the best of all Universal monster movies.We’re used to movie franchises being victim to diminishing returns, with the sequels to classic films generally lackluster at best (Ghostbusters II, Halloween II), and at worst, utter travesties that threaten to tarnish the legacy of the original (the Matrix sequels, The Godfather: Part III). On rare occasions, though, the second film in a trilogy or franchise (which I consider to be any series with more than three movies) actually surpasses the original in some way. Here are ten sequels that are, in some circles at least, considered better than the films that spawned them, and my thoughts on each.

10 Sequels That Are (Arguably) Better Than The Original1. THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935) – this is the one that got me thinking about the topic in the first place, and it’s also the oldest of the films discussed herein. James Whale’s follow-up to his 1931 hit, Frankenstein, ties up the loose end of Victor Frankenstein (Colin Clive) promising his monster (Boris Karloff) a bride to quell his loneliness. It also features most of the iconic images and dialogue associated with Universal Studios’ most famous monster, including Frank learning to smoke in the hut of the blind man he befriends (which was cemented in the public consciousness by Mel Brooks’ spoof of it in 1974’s Young Frankenstein). Bride’s expert blend of humor and pathos, as well as truly chilling moments such as Frank’s hollow, soulless intonation of the classic line, “I love dead,” make it not only better than the original Frankenstein, but also the best of all Universal monster movies. Read More

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol

Posted 02 Jul 2012 — by contributor
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Scott Martin

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, USA / United Arab Emirates, 2011

Directed by Brad Bird

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol stands well enough on its own, and as part of the series. It’s worth noting that Tom Cruise performed all of his stunts in this film, as well as the other three Mission: Impossible films. Sure, there are bits of CGI, though seamless, and I’m sure a large team of medics and nets and other things were around to make sure he was alive at the end of the day, but that’s really the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, it really is the tallest building in the world, and that really is Tom Cruise dangling off its side, thousands of feet in the air. And that’s not even the most impressive set piece in the film.

You don’t necessarily have to see the first three M:I films to get this one and enjoy it, but it can’t hurt. Here’s a brief recap just in case you missed them:

Mission: Impossible – they make the hero from the TV show the bad guy in the film.

Mission: Impossible 2 – they do some stuff with motorcycles and Thandie Newton.

Mission: Impossible 3 – There’s an actual story involving Ethan Hunt (Cruise) and his now late wife, involving her death, and a couple other intricate missions. Probably the only important story of the three, even if it’s not the best film at that point. Up until now, the first adventure remained the most startlingly well-made of the series, but, with the inclusion of Ghost Protocol into the canon, those three seem a mite irrelevant in the world of filmmaking.  Read More

Prometheus – We’ve Been Here Before

Posted 24 Jun 2012 — by Jason A. Hill
Category Essay, Film Reviews, Movies I Didn't Get

david holding the earth in the spaceship

By Jason A. Hill

Prometheus, USA, 2012

Directed by Ridley Scott

Much has been said about Ridley Scott’s career of late. Even though he’s given us such great additions to the Sci Fi lexicon as Alien (1979) and Blade Runner (1982), much remains to be concluded concerning his legacy or if he can return to his former glory.  Unfortunately, Prometheus does not help the conversation in his favor.  Prometheus is visually stunning and the FX are what you would expect from a big-budget film, it’s ambitious and epic within its context, performances by Noomi Rapace and Michael Fassbender are memorable, but the film slowly falls apart in its far-reaching themes and illogical plot.

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Lars Von Trier’s Melancholia

Posted 22 Apr 2012 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

Melancholia, Denmark / Sweden / France / Germany, 2011

Written and Directed by Lars von Trier

Melancholia is a very difficult and challenging film, and I can't honestly say I enjoyed every moment of it, but enjoyment is hardly the point when dealing with such a deep and intelligent examination of despair. Lars von Trier’s latest is by no means my favorite of his films, but I do feel much more charitable about than he apparently does. Here is what the great Danish artist / provocateur has to say, excerpted from his statement on the film’s official website: “This is cream on cream. A woman’s film! I feel ready to reject the film like a transplanted organ … I am confused now and feel guilty. What have I done? Is it ‘exit Trier?’ I cling to the hope that there may be a bone splinter amid all the cream that may, after all, crack a fragile tooth … I close my eyes and hope!”

As gifted a filmmaker as von Trier certainly is, he doesn’t seem to quite have the knack for self-promotion. Then again, this could be yet another example of the perverse, impish delight he seems to take in his own self-destruction, as most recently evidenced in his controversial “I am a Nazi” joke at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. This is oddly appropriate to Melancholia, which, as the title suggests, is largely about the mysterious, fascinating pull of deep, all-encompassing depression, as well as the beauty and peace to be found in the complete destruction of absolutely everything. In fact, the latter – the incredibly gorgeous apocalyptic images that bookend the film – mainly functions as a metaphor for the former. The planet Melancholia, which has supposedly been “hiding behind the sun,” threatens to destroy all life on Earth as it draws near, yet it is also described as the most beautiful sight we will ever see. Depression may be always lurking just behind the nurturing light of life, but when it finally shows itself, we find that it is more absorbing and actually enjoyable, in a perverse way, than happiness. Read More

Real Steel – It’s The Real Deal

Posted 04 Nov 2011 — by contributor
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Scott Martin

Real Steel, USA / India, 2011

Directed by Shawn Levy

Real Steel is a genuinely lovable movie. Boxing movies all have one thing in common, especially boxing movies these days, in our generation: there’s that moment of pure bad-assery that lets you know things just got real. The hero, our hard-boiled yet soft-hearted fighter, is getting beaten down, physically and emotionally, and you have every reason to believe it’s over – there’s no getting up off the mat, no getting out of the corner or off the ropes, and no closing those wounds – but the motion will slow, the music will stop, and the boxer will look at his opponent and do something that should make that opponent very afraid: smile. Things just got real.

That’s probably in my top five movie cliches that don’t actually put me off to the whole project. Real Steel, fortunately, has a moment like that. If you’ve seen one boxing movie, you’ve seen Real Steel. While this isn’t exactly Rocky (1976) or Cinderella Man (2005) with robots, it has the same idea; you have your rundown fighter on his last legs, trying to make it all work, while overcoming all sorts of adversity. In Real Steel, that adversity comes in the form of gambling addiction, debts, and a kid. Of course, the kid proves to be the one thing that holds our hero together. That’s not a spoiler, that’s a formula. Don’t yell at me. Read More

John Carpenter’s The Thing

Posted 07 Oct 2011 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

John Carpenter’s The Thing, USA, 1982

Directed by John Carpenter

John Carpenter's The Thing is perhaps the scariest film of the 1980s. Continuing with my Month Of Halloween Movies (MOHM? Think of it more as a modified yoga chant and less as me crying out for my Mommy), it’s time now to revisit one of my perennial favorites, one that first traumatized me as an impressionable seven-or-eight-year-old when I saw it on a dubbed VHS tape, which is probably the best way to be introduced to any horror film from the 1970s or ’80s. John Carpenter’s vastly different, and I would argue superior, updating of the Howard Hawks produced, Christian Nyby directed classic The Thing from Another World (1951) is undoubtedly one of the nastiest, darkest horror films ever to make it to mainstream movie screens, a spiritual descendant of Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979) and a predecessor of David Cronenberg’s The Fly (1986). Don’t get me wrong – the original is absolutely one of the very best of the 1950s UFO-paranoia movies, with only Robert Wise’s The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) and Don Siegel’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) really equaling or exceeding it. It’s just that Carpenter’s relentlessly dark vision and the supremely grotesque special effects created by Rob Bottin easily trump even the best of the ’50s for sheer terror and awesomeness. Also, Kurt Russell’s iconic turn as the anti-hero of the story, R.J. MacReady, is one of the quintessential performances of ’80s machismo. Let’s look at the three main things that make this movie so great, beginning with Russell. Read More

Deep Blue Sea – A Gruesome Death Delivery System

Posted 03 Oct 2011 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

Deep Blue Sea, USA / Australia, 1999

Directed by Renny Harlin

Deep Blue Sea is little more than a delivery system for gruesome death scenes, but at that it succeeds tremendously. I traditionally spend the entire month of October watching as many “scary movies” as possible, whether they be truly frightening psychological thrillers, big campy monster movies or anything with a flair for the occult. You know, Halloween-type movies. With that tradition firmly in place this year (since, unlike this time last year, I have what can be called a permanent address), I’ve decided to devote this month to actually writing about some of these films, whether new discoveries or old favorites I’ve decided to revisit, perhaps for the sake of finally writing about them. I will not, of course, cover every single movie I watch, but rest assured that for the rest of this month, you will see no reviews of stark, sober dramas or films with undeniably redeeming social value. It’s all chills, thrills, blood, guts and campy dark humor from here on out. My first entry is really more of an action movie, truth be told, but it does feature giant, super-intelligent sharks eating people, so I think it fits right in.

This is what could be called a guilty pleasure movie, from a director who knows how to make them. While he is not consistently as much fun as my personal favorite guilty pleasure director, Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, The Patriot, 2012), who seems to be intent on destroying the world in nearly every film he makes, Harlin has managed to crank out at least a few enjoyable entertainments, such as Cliffhanger (1993) and The Long Kiss Goodnight (1996). His 1999 film Deep Blue Sea, like the slasher movies it emulates by way of films like Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979) and John McTiernan’s Predator (1987), is less a compelling narrative than it is a sort of delivery system for gruesome death scenes. And that’s fine; when a film realizes its goal, however high or low that goal may be, it succeeds. It is in that spirit, then, that I present my loose, irreverent, spoiler-heavy review, in which we shall look at this film in the way it seems to demand: by examining its death scenes. Read More