Friday, December 23, 2011

Happy Holidays

I think many people are going to be busy and distracted for the next few days, while Christmas and other winter holidays take over for a few more days. Well, I know I am. I have a blanket I have to finish crocheting for my cousin and some real, actual work that needs doing. And, hopefully, I have a movie to see.

I wish you all well, whether you are celebrating a big day with your family or are staying home. Have a (pick all that apply: (1) Festive Yule, (2) Happy Hanukkah, (3) Merry Christmas, (4) Pleasant Day Off, (5) Happy Kwanzaa, (6) Wonderful Wintry Non-secular Gift Exchange with Loved Ones, AKA Giftmas and (7) Other _________ 

As a side note, I am working on TVD recaps, and hopefully will have some for next week, leading into January. I will not meet my goal of catching up, there are far too many, but hopefully as we get into the end of this season of TVD I'll be able to keep up.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Vampire Diaries Recap S1E2

I am going to have friends in town this week, so it may be another "I forget to do one of these for a week." There are a LOT of Vampire Diaries, and my goal is to get through them all before the mid-season break is over in January, so we're all caught up. I'll try to throw other things in for color, but basically: hold on to your butts, it's vampire time.

I am doing these recaps because I want to talk about them and nobody I knows watch the show. So if  I ramble (I do) that's why. I'm trying to make these not so long so if I don't have anything to say, I may not mention it. There's a lot of stuff that isn't necessarily inconsequential, but isn't called back until later in the series.

Season 1 Episode 2: Night of the Comet

The first death in this episode is another urban legend, this is the one about the girl who's sitting in the car hearing something drip on the roof, and when she gets out it's her boyfriend's blood. Except, this time it's a tent, and then the girl gets eaten by Damon, who is doing this for lulz as far as I can tell.
The start of a bad evening.

Next we get diary voice overs. Elena is gonna carpe that diem and so is Stefan. They are writing very similar things in their diaries which honestly makes me want to puke just a little. This is one of the things I was talking about, where the voice overs were stomping all over the actual acting going on. I don't need to be told how compatible they are, because they clearly are. I give the show a pass on this only because it was the plot device from the books, so it's not surprising they stuck it out in the show for a while.

Jenna and Elena have a cute scene, which demonstrates how much more they are like peers than any kind of adult/child relationship. Jenna is another one of those characters I liked instantly for reminding me of one of my family members, and I will admit that it's another small part of the reason I persisted with this show, in spite of its more annoying early habits.

Stefan brought Elena a copy of Wuthering Heights from when Emily Bronte was using a pen name, which is I think another jab at Twilight. This also establishes that they've been speaking to each other off screen, and assumes you're smart enough to follow anyway. One of the annoying things about television is that often people are telling each other things they've been told but that we've heard 2 or 3 times by this point, which gets repetitive and annoying. Speaking of repetitive and annoying...

Obligatory "Grams said I'm a witch" conversation for the episode.
Jeremy whips out his best angry walk and does his best to make Tyler feel like an asshole for not checking up on Vicki. It's hard to make Tyler feel like any more of an asshole than he already is, though. Jeremy also threatens to kill him if he hurts Vicki. Which sorta set an alarm off for me because they're on campus, and I was like "Oh snap, Jeremy's gonna get expelled!" This doesn't go anywhere, though.

We learn a little more about Vicki and Matt's family- no Dad in the picture, and their Mom is Elsewhere with some dude. So Matt and Vicki live on their own in town, and that's probably why Vicki is working at the Grill. Matt also mentions to Elena that Vicki thought it was a vampire, which is only important because Stefan is within Vampire Hearing Distance. Matt and Elena both blow it off. Matt takes off for the hospital when things between him and Elena get awkward (still more exes than friends) and Stefan disappears at the same moment, both headed for the hospital.
Mr. Tanner: *is an asshole to Jenna*
Then, Mister Tanner implies Jenna shouldn't be taking care of the kids. To be fair, Jenna is not really taking this parenting thing seriously, she assumes these two older kids can mostly taker care of themselves (Jeremy can, but isn't, and needs a bit of parenting) but she's like ...10? years older than Elena. It's an adjustment for everyone, and while she needs a wake-up call she also does not need you being a dick, good sir. This officially establishes that Elena and Jeremy lost their parents 4 months previously. Also this was the precise moment I wished Mr. Tanner dead. If you were curious.

Stefan goes to the hospital and somehow arrives at the same time as Matt, even though Stefan has Vampire Speed and should have been there and gone before Matt got in. Vicki is awake and has a full on freak out. When Matt goes for help, Stefan slips in and Compels her to forget about the vampire attack. Stefan leaves, again NOT using Vampire Speed, and when Matt sees that she's fully calm he spots Stefan leaving in the distance. He follows Stefan, but Stefan disappears out a window and finally uses his Vampire Speed to ninja vanish. (This is implied rather than seen, Matt just thinks he lost the guy.)

Caroline is having lunch with Elena and Bonnie, and they're talking about Elena's not-yet sex life. Caroline reminds Elena that she was gonna carpe that diem (or maybe just Stefan) and Elena leaves to find Stefan.
Caroline: Elena, we are your friends, okay? You are supposed to share the smut.*
Elena goes over to the Salvatore Boardinghouse and the front door falls open when she knocks. So she goes inside and starts calling for Stefan (she doesn't go past the foyer) and it seems like nobody's home until the crow flies in through the front door (subtle, Damon, subtle) and then Damon is RIGHT THE FUCK BEHIND HER. My first thought was that Damon was going to turn her into Elena burgers, but he invites her in and is remarkably normal and charming.

Damon: I'm Damon, Stefan's brother.
Elena: He didn't tell me he had a brother.
Damon: Well, Stefan's not one to brag.*

Also, he's clearly trolling Stefan by dropping Relationship Bombs. "Oh, I never thought he'd get over the last girlfriend, she broke his heart." Stefan is kind of a jerk to Elena because Damon is there. He's basically "Hey, nice to see you, bye," while glaring daggers at Damon. When she leaves, Damon kisses her hand and you can actually see Stefan's blood boiling.

Not pictured: Steam pouring off of Stefan
It's funny, though. Stefan and Damon clearly are not friends, but Damon still knows Stefan well enough to tell when he's pushed himself too hard. Damon really wants Stefan to start eating people, which seems counter-intuitive as it would mean that Stefan would be strong enough to be a threat to Damon. Maybe Damon just wants a really good throw-down and Stefan is too weak to do so.

Later, Damon manages to creep on Elena and Caroline at the same time. He's a multi-tasker like that.

He's also about as subtle as a brick.
The episode is so-named because a comet is passing and everyone's going to go outside and watch it, and they're all lighting candles and waiting. Stefan shows up and things are AWKWARD. Stefan apologizes for being a jerk earlier and Elena's kinda like "maybe this is a little too complicated, we're both on the rebound with brother issues and we just lost our parents". So she dumps him before things start.

Vicki sees Damon in the bar and semi recognizes him, so he decides to eat her, again. Damon does make a habit of snarfling her, poor dear. Jeremy picks up that she's missing, brings it up. Drama ensues. Then they split to find Vicki. Matt is apparently suspicious of Stefan, largely due to his disappearing act at the hospital.

Damon has got Vicki on the edge of the building and is threatening to drop her when Stefan finds them. Damon gets her to remember she was attacked by a vampire, and then Compels her to believe that Stefan did it. He's trying to get Stefan to eat Vicki, in order to protect himself. This is part of Damon's whole "pro-Stefan-eating-people" thing (and possibly part of Damon's "I'm bored and there's nothing on cable" thing). Stefan has more willpower than Damon supposes, though, and is willing to out himself as a vampire rather than be more like Damon. Damon makes Vicki forget everything rather than let that happen. If anybody's gonna torture Stefan, it's gonna be him.
It's not to say Stefan wasn't tempted, though.
Stefan: What are you up to, Damon?
Damon: That's for me to know and for you to... Dot dot dot.*

The upshot is that Matt is less suspicious of Stefan since he found Vicki and brought her back to the bar. Bonnie gives Stefan Elena's digits, since she thinks Elena is being too timid. Also, ladies and gentlemen, our first instance of Bonnie Bennet being witchy! She feels something WEIRD about Stefan when she hands off the number, and then wanders off.
Bonnie's Witch Face
Jenna has to hunt down all of Jeremy's paraphernalia (feeling like a big ole hypocrite the whole time), and she reminds us that when Jeremy and Elena lost their parents, she lost her sister. She also does it without uttering those words, so props. Elena tells Jenna something that, conveniently, she herself needs to hear. She takes off to at least make things up to Stefan, if not jump his bones. Elena shows up at the Salvatore Boardinghouse and invites Stefan out to watch the comet with her. They talk, and then kiss! It is a very sweet kind of kiss.

Later, at the Forbes house, Damon eats Caroline. No, I mean literally.
Poor Caroline. We knew ye well. 
  *= actual lines.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Nearly a Month Later, the First TVD Recap!

I've been wanting to talk about this show for a while because I kinda love it like pie. It's cheesy and the first few episodes aren't super great, but almost all of the characters have a surprising amount of depth. I am recapping these with foreknowledge of what's happened because I marathoned them all on Netflix a while back. (As a note, you can find all but like the first four of season three on either Netflix or Hulu). In all honesty, the first few episodes are kinda boring until episode 4, which is when shit starts to get bananas.Need it be said, this contains spoilers about the episode and hints at the season to come.

I was told before I began that "The Vampire Diaries" was like Twilight, with a silly character torn between a nice guy and an evil one. The reality is that the resemblance is superficial, and literally so. In a move that was very self aware, Stefan (the main vampire and overall Good Guy, played by Paul Wesley) resembles Edward Cullen. Nina Dobrev, a brown haired, brown eyed girl plays the main character Elena (who was a blonde in the books), echoing Bella Swan's coloring.  The show also often makes references to Twilight as well- it's very aware of what it's doing here.  "The Vampire Diaries" is roughly based on the series of books by L. J. Smith but, as I understand, the show covers different ground and changes up lots of stuff, including Elena's appearance and personality. I don't know, I never read the books. I may occasionally reference things I heard about being in the books, but I assume they have separate canons due to the race and personality differences. Just so we're clear.

Season 1 Episode 1: Pilot

The episode starts out with a death scene right out of an urban legend. This kind of thing (urban legend death) starts the first two or three episodes and is eventually dropped. In this episode, I *think* it's the hook but I swear to nothing, I'm tired. We later (not that much later) find out it is the work of Damon Salvatore, Stefan's eternal brother, who is played by the insanely hot and talented Ian Somerhalder.

While this plot point is eventually dropped, I don't mind- Damon could easily stage deaths like urban legends for his own personal amusement before something else distracts him.

One of the weaknesses of the early shows, which they later ditch, is the lame voiceover that kind of is all over the place in the earlier episodes. It is far too literal and ruins the subtleties of the acting, which is a shame because the cast is actually really good. Elena starts off telling us how she's gonna fake it til she makes it. Stefan also does VO a lot, and at one point they VO ending in the same sentence. The phrase "gag me with a spoon" comes to mind. I don't blame the actors, voice over is hard to pull off properly.
I'm kinda in love with her myself, honestly.
Jeremy and Elena lost their parents in a car accident that Elena was also in (but survived). I'm unsure of the timing, six to eight months before the pilot I believe. Jeremy is a stoner who also deals drugs, largely pills. Jeremy also has the fashion sense and hair cut of someone who spends a lot of money at Hot Topic. They live with their aunt Jenna, who... isn't really much of an adult to them. She's younger and she reminds me of my youngest aunt, who is 14 years older than me and more like an older sister to me than an aunt. I peg Jenna as maybe 10 years older than them, at the very most. I think she mostly regards them as old enough to take care of their own shit, which is true in Elena's case and not so true in Jeremy's case, for now.
I liked Jeremy right off, but he kinda reminds me of my brother, so take that as you will.
Bonnie is one of Elena's BFFs. She is also eventually going to be a witch. I know this because this plot point is dropped with all the subtelty of a fucking brick, with each episode leading up to Bonnie's revelation being filled with her going "So, my grandma says I'm a witch" and going on about it for a few minutes. It makes her confusion later seem a little artificial and also serves to make the character a little bit annoying and repetitive in the beginning.
Grams says I'm a witch. Did I mention that Grams says I'm a witch? Because she totally does.
Matt spends most of the episode emo-staring at Elena, because they recently broke up. He believes in them but she broke up with him because although she likes him (and, indeed, they remain friends) it just wasn't... enough for her. And props to the show for never shaming her for breaking up with a great guy who wasn't doing it for her and not villainizing either of them. As a result, though, Matt does a lot of staring at her longingly.
Matt and his Emo-stare
Caroline is kinda bitchy, she reveals some of her insecurities in this episode but she also makes snarky comments to Elena and admits to being in competition with her to Bonnie. They are all supposed to be BFFs with each other but it's clear why, early on, Elena relies so much on Bonnie for friendship.
Also, because she always says the wrong thing. But she's working on that.
Stefan Salvatore is the hot new guy who's part of one of Mystic Fall's founding families. He's also got some kind of dark secret (hint: he's a vampire). He's hot, polite, and smart, and so most of the girls in school want him.
He also has the Brow of Brooding and a hair style I refer to as The Cullen
Elena chases her brother into the men's room and essentially kills his buzz because she doesn't approve of his druggy ways. While I dislike how much disapproval is heaped upon the kid for being a stoner when there's a lot of underage drinking in the show which Elena never actively disapproves of (and even participates in), I do think she's more irritated that he's flaking out on school and doing drugs on campus. Later on, though, (mild spoiler) Jeremy does become kind of straight-laced, sober, and nerdy, with a far better haircut, which may prove Elena's "this isn't you" point. Also, Elena just barges into the men's room because she's pissed off, which is kinda awesome.

On her way out of the men's room she bumps into future love interest and new hottie, Stefan Salvatore. He lives with his "Uncle" in the family boarding house on the edge of town. It's a really cute scene, actually, and Paul Wesley and Nina Dobrev have a lot of chemistry together as a young couple falling for each other. This is actually one of the reasons I kept watching, because Bella and Edward has as much on screen chemistry as two bits of wood. So I was interested to see where this went, and what happened when she found out Stefan was a vampire. In the interest of full disclosure, I was also interested in Ian Somerhalder. I find Damon, the character, reprehensible at best but incredibly hot.

Later, Elena is writing in her journal in a cemetery. She's sitting at her parent's grave, which is sad and sweet, but still a little weird. She also, as far as I recall, never does this again. But, again, they drop the journal writing voice overs and just take it as read that both Stefan and Elena are journaling. While she is busy writing her thoughts, a big black bird shows up. I'm still not sure if it's a crow or a raven, I'm betting a crow. He caws at her as the fog rolls in, and she tries to shoo the bird away. But things get too weird, so Elena does the smart thing and leaves.
Black bird and fog: also not subtle
She then runs flat into Stefan, who claims he's visiting family buried in the cemetery. (This is a meta joke, as his brother was the one creeping on Elena in the cemetery). He gets all creepy and knows she's hurt herself because he can smell the blood, then vanishes because he 'loses control'. She takes this as a simple aversion, which is actually pretty reasonable of her. I like the vamping-out effect but it seems familiar...
Dark Willow? Is that you?
Stefan later shows up with the diary she left when the cemetery got too real for her, and they bond over writing diaries. They end up going to the Mystic Grill, which is the only hangout in town (like the Bronze, but adults hang there too), crushing some of Matt's hopes and dreams. (Matt is a decent guy and introduces himself to Stefan without being too weird.)

Also, Caroline Forbes, ladies and gentlemen
Caroline: *knows everything about Stefan*
Bonnie: You got all that in one day?
Caroline: Oh please, I got all that between 3rd and 4th period.

There's a teacher known as Mister Tanner (I believe this is a jab at Full House and I don't care if you don't believe me) and he is a dick. He is also the breed of teacher I dislike most: the teacher who is also a coach. It's not that I haven't had good coach/teachers, but nearly all of the worst teachers I have had have also been coaches. But he's a dick to pretty much everyone, and actually gets mad when a student knows things. Stefan pwns him at the town history, largely because Tanner was being a jerk to Elena.
I like to think his first name is Richard.
At a party in the woods, Tyler Lockwood is a dick (this establishes a pattern), and Jeremy is a Nice Guy to Vicki, who is interested in Tyler and is kind of Jeremy's ex. Caroline also continually corrals Stefan at this party because, as she later claims, it's a competition against Elena. Stefan shuts her down after she offers to take her on a private tour of the falls.
Tyler Lockwood: also a bit rapey.
Vicki later becomes a victim to the "mysterious" vampire while, once again, Stefan is off screen. When the attack is discovered, Vicki is sent off to the hospital. Matt is sitting with her and she utters the word "vampire".
Snack. Also, hard to get an image of her smiling this episode. She's really pretty in an angular way.

Stefan goes home to his "Uncle" (who, btw, calls him "Uncle Stefan") and tells him there was another vampire. Then, Damon shows up. It's the first time we actually see him, of course.

Damon reveals that drinking human blood gives vampires more strength than Stefan's diet of woodland critters (he refuses to eat people blood of any kind) by roundly kicking Stefan's ass. The show ends later this same evening, with Caroline revealing all her insecurities while Damon is in earshot, looking smug.
His default look, really.
If it seems like the supernatural stuff is kinda on the backburner, that's because it is. Things improve next week on As the Vam Pires! If you want a different perspective, and/or information from someone who knows more about the book, I recommend this recap/lesson.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Update: NaNo Ate My Soul

I have no clue if I'm going to do that many posts this month. I have a writing job. I am doing NaNoWriMo. I haven't even stopped long enough to update my word count on the NaNo site yet, but if you want to try to keep track of me there, give it a shot:

Monday, October 17, 2011

Silent Hill Review

Confession: I have not played any of the Silent Hill games. I mentioned it last week, but it bears repeating. I was not familiar with the games at all when I watched the movie, either. I was aware of the game's existence and I knew it was foggy, but really and truly when I sat down to watch it, most of what I knew about Silent Hill I had learned from Linkara.

After watching the movie I decided to do some research, because I wanted to know how much of the movie was based on the game and how much of the movie was it's own thing.

My opinion on the movie: It wasn't bad, but it could have been better. It was about a lady named Rose and her daughter, Sharon. Sharon was adopted and has some strange connection to Silent Hill, a connection that's causing illness and sleep walking. Sharon shouts "Silent Hill" during these fits, and Silent Hill is in the same state and general area as the orphanage that found Sharon. Rose decides to haul ass to Silent Hill, without her husband's knowledge, to see if visiting the town would help open up parts of her past, and (as everyone imagines) hijinks ensue. This movie has a plot very similar to the first Silent Hill game, it just changed the name of some of the protagonists.

I didn't walk away from the movie disliking it, and honestly there were some genuinely scary moments. However, the movie definitely has it's issues, and I can see (having done the research) why some Silent Hill fans would be irritated about it. I'm just gonna use numbered points here, because I'll ramble endlessly otherwise.

1: the first transition from the Fog world to the Other world was the best. Shit faded to black for a second, then the little children things attacked. Each subsequent transition added more and more CGI, and it just killed the mood. I have a very long rant stored up about CGI and how it harms more than it helps in a lot of films, but suffice it to say that for a movie that depends on atmosphere, CGI just kills the whole mood.

2: Rose runs away from a cop. This was the first of several things that made me really roll my eyes. Her talking to the cop, maybe explaining that they were looking for information about Silent Hill, the cop talking to the little girl, would not have taken very long. But for some insane reason she pulls over, sees the sign for Silent Hill, and thought "You know what? I'm going to try to outrun the cop in a ghost town that probably has at least one section of the road entirely missing due to sinkholes." It only comes into play for about five minutes, but it's clearly an artifice meant to expand the movie time by about five minutes. It also bothers me because this is a hugely dangerous tactic- Silent Hill is on top of a coal fire (more about that below) and that can cause sinkhole to open up suddenly. The road could end at any moment and she barrels down it. It's implied that Rose did her research, so she knows this. It just comes off as mind-breakingly reckless in more than one way.

3: The husband. Sean Bean plays Rose's husband. He appears to be in this movie, and probably believes he actually is.  In spite of all appearances and beliefs, he's not actually in the movie. He is completely auxiliary to the actual plot and we only cut to him to fill out the movie a little, and it cuts into the actual plot. I read on the IMDB webpage that his character was added because the movie producers were unhappy that the cast was comprised largely of women (aside from a few lackeys) and I do applaud the writer for not making the man save the day, but I do wish this had been handled otherwise. The only thing these scenes do is establish that the Fog world is different from IRL, and I think that would have been more effective if they'd saved it for the end.

4: Centralia. One of the points of the movie is that Silent Hill is sitting on top of a large underground coal fire. If that sounds familiar, that's because a town named Centralia is suffering the same fate. These fires cause a lot of structural problems in the ground, there are huge sinkholes that just open up randomly in Centralia, and it's a very dangerous place to be. Silent Hill is already dangerous, and the coal plot point only comes up once or twice. It's basically scripted reason for why there is falling ash, but it doesn't actually add anything to the plot, and the reason for the coal fire is a little farfetched. Basically, that part could have been left off and caused no changed to the plot whatsoever.

There are other small points, but those are the big ones. I thought for a little while that Rose would die and the cop lady would end up saving the little girl- the scenes with Sean Bean actually kinda hint at this, and it would have made those scenes make more sense. It would have made the movie a lot more interesting, although they would have had to focus a little more on Sharon to make it really interesting- then we wouldn't know if anybody was gonna rescue her, or if she was gonna rescue herself.

I probably would feel more strongly if I were a fan of the games, or had even played any of them, but I am divorced from the source material entirely. I can definitely see why it pissed off some people, but it wasn't a bad way to kill some time. Had some creepy moments, and while there were a few things that bugged me, I dunno. If you twisted my arm I'd say it was a C+, passable with some good moments and a bit of potential, but ultimately nothing special.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Review: Exorcismus

I'm going to review one more Netflix movie, and then I'm gonna switch over to Hulu for a couple of movies, and then back. My plan is to cover cheap and free entertainment

Exorcismus is another movie from the New Arrivals list, and I picked it pretty much because the cover looked vaguely interesting and I thought it might be in a foreign language. It was not, it's a movie starring largely British actors speaking English, but it was originally released in Spain. The more I watched the movie, the less I liked the title. The original title was La posesiĆ³n de Emma Evans, which is Spanish for the Possession of Emma Evans, and is a title I much prefer.

Title quibbles aside, I quite liked this movie. It starts a little slow and there are a couple of places where the dialog could use a little work, but overall I feel it's a solid movie. I'm not as familiar with exorcism movies as I am with other subsets of the horror genre, so I don't know if it's as unique as it seems to be, but I like the way the ending goes. There's a moment, and only a moment, where you root for Satan.

It is about a legitimate Satanic possession. The film plays like it's going to be a little ambiguous at first, but she levitates not too far into the film so that leaves out any "is she crazy? after attention?" questions. The curious part about this film is that the priest who exorcises her is her uncle, which is actually a plot point.

The beginning is a little... well if I were the editor I probably would have left out  some of the flashback scenes, and told the story in as linear a manner as possible. The point of the opening scene is to get across the point that when Emma claims she cut her hand, it was an accident, but I think the actress does this well enough without needing that primary scene where we see her deliberately cut her hand. It felt a little out of place in an otherwise linear movie.

Also, at one point after her daughter has levitated several feet off the ground in front of her very eyes, her mother still seems skeptical that anything unnatural is going on. Le sigh.

My only other real quibble with the movie is that there is a bit of shaky cam going on. Not a whole lot, but it was noticeable and distracting at times

The sound track is minimal, with music only in the background when someone is actually listening to it. Emma's father, downstairs, listening to a record or Emma listening to her MP3 player.

There are a couple of really creepy moments, and there are a couple of moments where you know what's going to happen and dread it. I enjoyed watching it, and I'd watch it again. I think the ending is really well done and makes sense in the context of the movie.

If you've seen the movie and have thoughts on it, or have thoughts on the genre in general, please leave a comment! Also, if there's something you want me to watch, let me know, I am always game for requests. For my next review I'm planning to watch Silent Hill, which is widely regarded to be crap, but as I haven't played the video games I'm curious to see how it stands up as a horror movie.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Strep Sucks and Megan is Missing, Apparently (Movie Review)

Strep sucks.

I think almost everyone knows that, but I thought I'd just get that out there, for the curious. I couldn't eat for a good portion of last week, swallowing was so painful that it was a struggle to get water down. I lacked the ability to worry about food in any context.

Anyway, that's why I missed the beginning of one of my favorite months of the year. Ah, well, life happens. Last year Halloween fell of my radar. I don't know why, a variety of reasons I'm sure, but I'm determined to enjoy my favorite holiday this year. If you follow my twitter, you know I have a tumblr and I've been on Halloween overkill mode. I love fall, and I love Halloween.

In honer of the season, I decided I'd pick a couple of movies off the "New Movie Arrivals" Netflix list that looked vaguely horror-ish (based on the cover) and watch them, just for funzies.

I started with Megan is Missing, a movie that is supposed to be a found footage film about missing teenage girls. It's about a pair of girls, Megan and her best friend Amy. Megan falls in lust with a mysterious internet personality known as "Josh" and agrees to meet him at a diner she frequents, and then goes missing. Amy looks into Megan's disappearance, and then is kidnapped 3 weeks later.

Guess how much of this shows up in the first, oh, 30 minutes of the movie? If you guessed "Almost None", there's a kewpie doll waiting for you by the exit. The film is bloated with excessive material. You could easily hack off the first 30 minutes or so and lose nothing. Worse, the first 30 minutes highlights exactly how much Amy and Megan, who are supposed to be best friends, don't have in common. It leaves you wondering how on earth they're friends, which is a shame because the actresses playing them have really wonderful chemistry when they're on film together, and genuinely seem to be pals. The film should have concentrated on the bond between the two girls instead of needlessly inserting conflict that, in the end, doesn't make a difference.

The main conflict of the film- Megan disappearing, doesn't happen until LITERALLY halfway through the film. At this point we get several scenes that are unnecessary, and just add to the length of the film. One of the scenes serves to introduce cctv clips, but as the film itself is supposed to be a culmination of different clips all that the introduction really requires is a subtitle announcing it. It then repeats the clip three times, outside of the news broadcast. Thanks, saw it the first time.

Probably the most obvious film flaw is that all of the 'found footage' is clearly from the same HD camera, including the cctv clip. While I understand they were under time and budget constraints, the 'found footage' premise hurts the film more than anything else, because it's clearly false. It makes sense that Amy has an expensive camera as a gift from her absent father, but why should Megan's webcam be equally good? It kinda ruins the feel I think they were aiming for.

That being said, there are a few legitimate scares. At one point Amy is talking to her video diary and a shadowy figure steps into the back ground and is clearly watching her. Definitely creepy. In the end, "Josh" brings Amy into the other room and pulls the lid off a blue bucket that's been there the whole time, to reveal Megan's body. The glimpse is brief enough and the makeup creepy enough that it's genuinely freaky.

In other kudos, the makeup towards the end is pretty well done. The last scene, with "Josh" digging a grave while Amy begs him to crack the top of the bucket so she can get some air is pretty fucked up. And it shows the whole thing, him diggin the hole, pushing the bucket in and burying it, as Amy's cries get weaker and weaker.

I don't know if I can recommend the film, but the last 20 minutes of the film are pretty disturbing, which is clearly the intent. There is a rape scene which may trigger some, so this definitely is not a film for everyone.  The film definitely had potential, and a little editing could carry it over the 'potential' threshold.

Edit: this just occurred to me to add, because I forgot, but I pay for my Netflix subscription and have for years. This article was not intended to be an endorsement of Netflix, and was rather about utilizing a service that many people already have.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Thoughts on CGI

I don't have much to say about entertainment right now. A: because most of my entertainment comes from the internet, and if you know me, you already know the people I am watching online. And I haven't watched the Castle premier yet.

I did want to talk a little about CGI, based on a conversation Greg and I had the other day. I hold the belief that, while CGI can enhance film, it has made some directors really lazy, and given others access to tools they shouldn't have. (I'm looking at you, George Lucas.)

One of the reasons that movies like Star Trek (the movie alternate timeline) and Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogies work is because that they use a lot of practical effects. Many of the size tricks were done with perception, the use of little people and children as well as the use of tall people. They made two different sized items of nearly everything, a hobbit-sized one and a human-sized one. In Star Trek, the space jumping (parachuting) scene was done with the characters standing on a mirror. Oldies but goodies.

But CGI has created a battle call for certain directors, and that call is "We'll fix it in post." Occasionally, this is warranted. Everyone's been working long hours, you've got a shot that will almost work and another shot will break someone's patience, nothing has been as good as the first. But mostly it's people who are under a time crunch and won't slow down to get the scene right.

Also, let's talk about CGI blood. Here's what I have to say: No. Just no. It doesn't look real. It looks fake. And I realize that fake blood looks fake, but it also looks like it's actually there. No matter what you do, and how artfully you work it, the acting is never as good when you're reacting to something that is not there. (See: New Star Wars Movies.) Some actors can work around this, but it's a lot to ask. Watch the extra features to any movie that involves CGI characters, and you'll hear the actors talk about how hard it was. Sometimes they feel a little goofy saying it, but it doesn't get any easier. And also: fake blood is cheap. People with the lowest of budgets can get and make it. It is actual red fluid. Squirt it on your walls/actors/weapons/whatever.

Rant over.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Meet me on the Equinox

Greg hates the music in the Twilight movies. I kinda want to buy the soundtracks. I know, I'm a horrible person, but that's the way it is. I like the music.

I TOTALLY recommend these movies. Honestly, I do. I think they're hilarious, but they're also far better than the books. More action- well, lets be fair, in order for there to be less action in the movie version of New Moon they'd have to replace K. Stew with a cardboard cut out. Like, literally.

But New Moon is great. If nothing else, watch it for the moments when Edward pops up like Obi Wan's ghost. The first time it happened- and, oh yeah, I knew it was coming- I laughed so hard I nearly peed myself. I had to pause the movie and get a handle on my shit, because I started wheezing and I have had a cold or something, so I needed to calm down or I was gonna choke and pass out.

No, I wasn't that drunk. Yet.

Also, just take a sip of whatever you're drinking (because you're probably drinking something, even if it's pepsi or whatever) every time Bella either mentions the hole in her chest or squeezes her chest like there's an alien baby trying to escape. A sip because if you're drinking liquor you will get fucked up fast. Unless that's your plan- then you should totally go for it. The end of the movie isn't that great.

Also also, I don't know how many times you can send a half dozen shirtless hot (both in the 'high in temperature' and the 'buff and sexy in some people's regard' sense)  guys out into the woods for some weird kind of alone time and not expect people to go straight to the gay metaphor.

Eclipse I was not drunk at all for (not even a little bit) and it was still uproariously hilarious. Also, the movies are running together in my head, which is fine by me. There's lots of "Edward and Jacob are either about to hit each other or snog" moments and I'm still bummed that neither REALLY happened.

C'mon, that would have been way more interesting then the Bella/Jacob Bella/Edward thing and YOU KNOW IT.

I will also say that, in all fairness, the movies pull off the "you're fucked up and I'm fucked up so let's be fucked up together" thing a little bit, which is much saner then the OUR LOVE IS PERFECT AND NEVER ENDING AND EVERYONE SHOULD BE LIKE US. I am really looking forward to the last two Twilight movies, like, not even joking. They're gonna be so hilarious.

Oh I watched My Bloody Valentine because it was about to drop off Instant Queue and I was playing Gnome Town on Facebook so I needed background noise, clearly, and the guy who played Laurent in Twilight and New Moon showed up, and I couldn't decide which movies he was slumming it in. Because he's not a bad actor, he's good looking. I think the answer is "all" but, I dunno. My Bloody Valentine wasn't bad, except for the 'this is so obviously supposed to have been in 3d' part. Which was distracting. And, of course, very bloody. Also, I didn't like the ending.

Wait, maybe it sucked.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Watch This Space

I am currently in the process of moving stuff around. I should have a whole archive up at wordpress for my old website, but I am going to be doing a few new things. I've been trying to fit the way I like to discuss movies into other molds.

I guess what I am saying is that I'm kinda restarting. So all my old stuff should be accessible, and I will have a link to that archive, but I'm going to be... maybe we'll call it branching out?

Anyway, no worries- there is much more to come.