Sunday, December 20, 2009


Ok, Avatar is pretty good. I was at a point where I was just getting so sick of 3D movies and then all of a sudden Avatar comes out and 3D actually helps make the movie more interesting instead of just gimmicky. Of course, the movie would be pretty good in 2D, but 3D just gives it that extra kick.

So, let's break this thing down. You got a dude who can't use his legs. They give him a 12 foot tall blue alien suit that he can control from a tube. He walks this blue alien suit into an alien forest where there are, basically, Native Americans but blue and tall. He learns their ways from one of the hot aliens. But all the while he's feeding intel back to the military so they can drive the aliens out of their giant tree house and steel some rock that's underneath it which is really valuable for whatever reason. But by the time they're ready to launch the attack, the dude with no legs has decided to help them fight the humans using all the crazy animals that live on this alien planet.

It's Dances With Wolves, meets Lord of the Rings, meets Cats. It's totally predictable, but what did you expect? It's 3 hours long, but I think we're all getting used to that. The 3D is distracting during the dialogue, but it enhances the action and the nature documentary style intro to this new world.

"This is a 12 foot tall indigenous race with neuro-toxic arrows, metal bones, and the ability to control wild animals...and they dance...gayly."

Although the final action scene, the face-off between the military and the aliens, is epic, it would have been a lot better if the story had been just a little less cliche. Ultimately, the only thing that's new about this movie is the visual effect of the 3D. There's definitely potential for sequels or some sort of continuation to the story.

"So, uh, we heard you had a pretty sweet planet."

Maybe that's what is ultimately my problem with the movie. Everything got wrapped up in a nice, neat package and then it's over. They created this whole new world with crazy animals and new people, but they stopped. They figured, once the the one-day fight is over, then there's nothing else to tell really.

"What a gruesome war."
"It was just an hour."
"I had no idea humans were this persistent."

But seriously, do you think the humans would give up? Are there not civil wars between these different alien tribes? Don't the aliens want to learn anything about humans? Are there different aliens on different planets nearby who want in on this action? I guess we'll just have to wait and see, because they definitely didn't explore any of this by the end of the movie.

Still, it's a fun movie and worth the time.

Whoa: 3/5
Huh: 1/5
Sweet: 4/5

Monday, November 9, 2009


BBC has the best stuff. Spaced, The IT Crowd, and my most recent favorite, Jekyll. This 6 part series follows a scientist who must plan his nights very carefully. He can't be near his family or even familiar surroundings. Sometimes he has to be strapped to a chair. That's because he'll change into a different person. Slightly slimmer, slightly taller, about 15 years younger and more sadistic than any other person in London.

When Dr. Jackman changes into his other self, his other self doesn't remember anything about who he is. All he knows is that he's thirsty, horney, and ready to beat the living shit out of anyone who stands in his way. The only way Dr. Jackman can control his own Mr. Hyde and keep him from killing is by the threat of turning himself into the police. The only way Mr. Hyde keeps Dr. Jackman from looking for a cure is by the threat of suicide.

They communicate with each other with a hand-held recorder. Dr. Jackman sometimes having to let Mr. Hyde know where he is, what he's doing, and sometimes who has a knife. Mr. Hyde is growing stronger though, even as Dr. Jackman tries to keep him inside. But things are getting more complicated. There's an organization that is after Dr. Jackman to learn his secret in hopes of creating supermen based on his DNA. They will go so far as to take his family hostage. Does Mr. Hyde care enough about Jackman's family to help save them? Or will he use this chance to take over completely and use Jackman's body for his own depravity?

This series could have easily been another cliche Hulk-like story about a guy who kicks ass when he's angry. At first it seems like Mr Hyde is just another incarnation of the man inside us all who's trapped by society's conventions. But as we come to realize, Hyde is really something more powerful. He's "love". He's the crazy, irrational, strong, fast, lustful, psychopathic part of us only without all the other stuff, the grown-up stuff, that keeps us from fucking, eating, and drinking ourselves to death. That's why he mockingly refers to Jackman as his daddy.

True story.

James Nesbit, who plays both Jackman and Hyde is brilliant in his transformation. Physically, he just combs back his hair and smiles a little wider. But the change is so great, that if you didn't know it was the same person, you might ask yourself if there are two actors who maybe are just related in some way.

I really wish there was another 6 episodes to this story. I'm not sure if it's really necessary, but I liked it so much, it was like finishing a long book. I didn't want it to end. So, if you haven't already done so, get on Netflix and check this out in the Instant Queue. It's definitely worth the six hours.

Whoah: 3
Huh: 5
Sweet: 5

Total: 4.33333333333333333333333...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Trick R Treat

Why was this movie delayed so long???? I believe I had seen a preview for this ages ago when I rented The Chronicles of Reddick when it first was released as a rental. Needless to say that was some years back. So it finally was released straight to dvd/blu-ray this October. I was a bit apprehensive at first to buy this movie just because whenever a movie is held back for two years and then released right on dvd is typically an indication that the movie is a total turd-fest. That says a lot since about 75% of horror movies getting released currently are total turd-fests anyways so this would have to be pretty bad. Well everyone consider this the acception to the rule! As skeptical as I was this is a pretty solid movie. It reminded me a lot of Creepshow and intertwined the characters in different stories much like Pulp Fiction.

The movie is 4 short stories that involve the customs and myths of Halloween. Such as blowing out a jack-o-lantern before midnight, poisoning candy, and not giving kids candy when they come to the door (just to name a few). Each story is well written and doesn't go on too long, keeping the viewer constantly entertained. There is a good amount of black humor thrown in for good measure too.

This movie should be on everyone's top 5 movies to watch for Halloween. Yeah thats right I said top 5. Are there scarier/better horror movies than this? Yes Are there better horror movies to watch for Halloween? No....well besides Halloween.

Scare Factor:2

Final Score: 8.5/10

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I Sell The Dead

YES!! I saw this preview on apple itunes about 6 months back and thought this looked extremely promising. So I wikipedia'd it every now and then to keep tabs on it so I could check it out when it came to theatres. It ended up coming directly to on demand so needless to say I rented it ASAP. This movie is a big throwback to older 80's type horror movies that didn't take themselves too seriously and just had fun. It also gives quite a few nods to Re-Animator (which I love). They movie starts with Dominic Monaghan's character Arthur Blake sitting in jail waiting to be sentenced to death the next day and he is visited by Ron Perlman's character Father Duffy for questioning/last rights/all around comfort. Father Duffy says he is pretty into the occult and wants to talk to Arthur about his exploits as a grave robber.

The movie then breaks up into about 4 or 5 short stories involving Arthur and his grave robing mentor Willie Grimes. They encounter ghouls, doctors requiring cadavers, zombies and you know the usual sort of things that hang around graveyards at night. The movie keeps a good balance of humor and horror elements the entire time and while keeping the viewer pretty intrigued the whole time while adding a couple of good twists and turns in the story. Go and see this on demand or on dvd (whenever it gets released) if you are a fan of old school horror movies or new school horror doesn't really matter but just go and see this movie.

Scare Factor:1

Final Score: 8/10

The Collector

Well I had been hearing tons of great reviews and buzz about this movie so I went to check it out (some months back, sorry but I have been busy). So as we get into the theatre and its fairly empty since its a pretty limited release without much advertisements. So my friend turns to me and says yeah isn't this the same guy that wrote saw 4, 5, and 6? FUCK ......well I should have done my homework on this one but oh well I was already here....and there was a buzz about this movie afterall. The movie begins with a pretty creepy opening that had a good startle/jump factor to it. After the strong opening the movie just gets worse. The opening credits make you think they were done by some college film student that was really into industrial music. It felt really out of place.

So the movie has a fairly basic plot, a guy who is working construction on this couples house decides to rob it one night so he could get money to save his wife from loan sharks. They probably could have gone into the whole wife being a degenerate gambler thing or why they have such a strained relationship (probably due to the excessive gambling) and why he wants to save his wife who hangs with loansharks, doesnt let him see his daughter, is pretty much an all around byatch to him. He must have had some lawyer at the custody hearing. Anyways they dont really explain much about the whole back story about them. So the wife or ex-wife....not sure if they are really divorced, needs a chunk of money by midnight or the loan sharks will kill her. So the main character Arkin then goes to rob the people's house he is doing construction on. They are out of town anyways so this should be easy right....not so much

So as Arkin gets to the house he can hear that someone else is in the house. So Arkin does some sleuthing and hides from the other person. He quickly discovers that the family is being held captive by some maniac and he is now locked in the house with them. Ok I wont even go into the fact that in the 3-4 hours since Arkin left the house the intruder has booby trapped the entire place and also has made it practically impossible to get out unless you have all 10 of the keys that will unlock the 10 padlocks on the door. This just seems like so much effor and not to mention tiring and expensive for the intruder. So the movie pretty much swan dives into the deep end of an empty pool around now. It becomes the typical cat and mouse game between the intruder and Arkin and with the intruder senslessly torturing the couple when there was a lull in the plot (and there is lots of them).

Now I am not a fan of the term 'torture porn' since its usually used by people who haven't even seen said movie that they are criticizing. However, if there ever was a movie deserving of the term 'torture porn' its this one. Anyways I digress, the movie has a pretty shitty ending to say the least (no spoilers....dont worry). This movie could have been really good if they just gave it some more though or gave the intruder/killer some sort of back story or motive for killing people in this fashion, but as I mentioned before this movie doesn't do a very good job of developing characters so why start now. I dont really know where the buzz for this movie is coming from but its extremely skip-able. Its one of those movies that really makes you feel dumb for thinking american horror movies are original or good. Not that there haven't been good american horror movies in recent years but for every good one there is about ten bad ones.

Scare Factor:1

Final Score 6/10

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

District 9

Hey ya'll. Wyatt MacReady, again. Movie critic and cigar afficiando. Last Friday, I took a half day at work to go see District 9 on its opening day in the afternoon without all the fuss of dealing with the crowds and lines and people standing right next to you when you're at the urinal after the movie.

I had been anticipating this movie for weeks. And the problem with that is that you see the trailer way before it's actually released. You see Peter Jackson's name stamped everywhere. You even see the posters at bus stops telling you that it's only for human use like you've actually been in the movie this whole time! Your mind naturally imagines all the coolness that will be stuffed into the movie. But when you actually see it, it never actually lives up to your expectations. Kind of like Tara Reid naked.

This has happened to me too many times before. The first Hellboy comes to mind as an example. So, I tried my best to not think about what the movie was going to be like. I tempered my expectations so that I wouldn't be inevitably dissappointed by the lack of whatever was happening in my imagination.
Yes, I will ride with you Mr. Trejo.

Ultimately, when I saw the movie, I wasn't disappointed. It was just about as good as I had expected, but it still left me wanting. Maybe it was the unanswered questions, or the lack of a detailed epilogue, but I felt, as a sci fi fan, that more needed to be explained for me to really think about this movie on a different level.

As it is, there is great action combined with some pretty badass special effects. I never once felt like I was watching lame CGI action like a new Star Wars movie or something. Maybe CGI is finally getting to that point where you can really feel the texture like with stop motion animation. Or maybe the alien characters were just so well-developed that you can't write them off as fake. Or maybe the guy next to me had bad eczema and was sitting too close.

Also, the main character, Wikus van der Merwe (Sharlto Copley, look out for this guy in the future. Young Daniel Day-Lewis, he is.) walks the fine line between parody and reality to create a hilarious character. He reminds me of a Chris Lilley character from Summer Heights High or even Murray from Flight of the Conchords. We all know this kind of character as bumbling tool for comedy, but there is a deeper level on which he operates and the movie isn't afraid to make you empathize with him.

He has a love of the law and protocol. He doesn't care about the economic circumstances that the aliens (known as prawns) have to endure. His only concern is for his wife and his job. He doesn't hate the prawns, though, like some other characters. Quite the opposite. He prefers diplomacy over violence and even refuses under torture to use an alien weapon against one of the prawns. To him, prawns are just another group of refugees that require the application of the law.

But throughout the film, he is forced to sleep in the same bed as one of the prawn refugees that he evicted and wait in line to buy overpriced hunks of meat (or cat food as prawns prefer). He comes to recognize the difficulty of being a refugee alien in an environment as poor as the makeshift shanty town in D-9. And through an accidental exposure to an alien device, he is even physically transforming into a prawn (are all prawns just transformed humans I wonder?).

He must seek the aid of an alien he calls Christopher. The deal is, if Wikus can get Christopher a canister of alien fuel for their mothership, then Christopher will change him back to human. The relationship between Christopher and Wikus reminds me a little of The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (Not sci-fi but see it anyway).

Anyway, the relationship between the two characters is powerful and makes for some heartbreaking scenes later on. What impressed me most was the level of depth in developing not just Wikus's character but also Christopher's. Neither one is perfect and they both have their own goals which sometimes conflict.

You've got it all wrong. Listen. On my planet, I'm white.

But I have my issues with this movie because I think it could have been more. It functions pefectly well as a social satire for illegal immigration and refugee status, but when you're dealing with aliens there's literraly a whole world that you can build concerning that.

1. They never say why the aliens were stranded above Earth and why Johanessburg. You'd think Wikus, during the whole time he's with Christopher, would just ask, "Hey, sup with your city choice. Why'd you pick one of the most economically down-trodden cities to hover your ship over? And also, why are you out here in the first place?"

Google maps never tells you which areas to avoid.

2. The aliens obviously have superior firepower that only they can use. Why wouldn't they defend themselves more aggressively against their physically weaker human captors. They can build the robot from Robocop 2 out of trash but they can't organize an escape plan from D-9?

3. The run up to this movie makes it seem like aliens are living with us in our day-to-day lives. Not the case. They are all confined to one area of Johanesburg. Only poor people, gangs and immigration officers have any contact with the aliens. It would be a way more interesting movie if they were working in offices and construction sites where they have to deal with regular humans. Sort of like Alien Nation, but none of the aliens are hot.

In this movie, the aliens' balls are in their armpits. Thinks about it.

I would definitely recommend seeing this movie, but if you're anything like me, you will have to temper your expectations to truly enjoy the more dramatic aspect of the movie, because it does not quite fall into that special category of great sci-fi.

Whoah (Creativity): 3
Huh (Ponderability): 2.5
Sweet (I can't believe that happened): 4.5 (They literally shoot a spike attached to wires into a guys head and make it explode for absolutely no reason.)

Grand Total: 10/15

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

First Sci-Fi Post

When I first wrote this post, I was at work and I couldn't post it because of my firewall. Since then, I have seen District 9 and I will write a post for it. So stop being a dick, you generic reader.

Hey, Wyatt MacReady here- Movie critic and flame-thrower magnate. I'll be focusing mainly on the sci-fi pictures in this blog. Unfortunately for me, sci-fi movies as of late have gone way downhill.

Prime Example: Babylon A.D.

But then of course you have your gems that (again, unfortunately for me) transcend genre.

Prime Example: Children of Men (yeah, it's a sci-fi movie. Didn't think of that when you were crying over Julianne Moore, did ya?).

What I'm saying is, sorry if my definition of a sci-fi movie is a little broad.

Is science used for something impossible? Yes- Then it's a Sci-Fi movie.
Is there time travel? Yes- Sci-Fi.
Is there a robot? Yes- Sci-Fi.
Is Sam Neil in it? Yes- Double Sci-Fi.

See? By my standards, White Chicks, The Lakehouse, Rocky IV, and Wimbeldon are all Sci-Fi movies (Yes, it is impossible for science to make Marlon and Shawn Wayans into believable white women and yes, there was a robot in Rocky IV).
As new sci-fi movies come out, I will definitely be posting reviews. I'm really revved up for District 9, Surrogates, and Daybreakers. But as for right now, I can't think of one movie in theaters that would actually be worth any real sci-fi fan's time (aside from The Ugly Truth, but that's just as an experiment to see how long it takes Gerard Butler to slap all of Katherine Heigel's teeth out of her chipmunk mouth with an open hand). So, in keeping with the flow of Virally's first review (by the way, I'm the buddy in that story), I'm just going to review a movie that I really think is awesome that maybe you haven't seen yet.

That movie: A Scanner Darkly

This adaptation of Phillip K. Dick's novel (He also brought you Minority Report and Total Recall. He's awesome.) was shot in live action, but then animators took the film and painted over it. The result is sort of like if they took the cartoon show Home Movies or Dr. Katz and superimposed it over Trainspotting. It's surreal, it's funny, and it makes Keanu Reeves look like he has emotions.

His cat just died.

We follow Bob Arctor (Reeves). He's an undercover cop going after the dealers of a new drug, Substance D. Unfortunately, since he's forced to sometimes take the drug in front of his junkie pals (Woody Harrelson and Robert Downey Jr.) and girlfriend (Winona Ryder), he must question his own sanity as he seems less and less able to function as a real cop due to the effects of the drug on his brain (way outside his normal acting range).

But the real story is not about Arctor at all. It's about the endless cycle of drug abuse and its corresponding components- how junkies get addicted, how the cops take them down, how they go into rehab, and how in the end, it's all perpetuated by a greedy, heartless corporation willing to destroy innocent people who want nothing more than to be a little bit happier with their lives even if it means throwing their money away (Damn you, Bed Bath and Beyond).

Yep, Renee Zellweger.

Unlike other Dick (hehe) adaptations, this one is not an action thriller. It's a drama. There's no explosions or mutants and nobody's trying to save the world. But this leaves us plenty of time and room to follow the story of a very real character in Arctor and how drugs and paranoia have affected his life.

To convince you that this movie is worth watching, let's compare it to Total Recall, shall we? Now, I love Total Recall. For me, there is no other movie that embodies so much awesome 80's sci-fi action. But if you're saying to yourself, "Hey, A Scanner Darkly sounds kind of heavy. I'd rather just rewatch Total Recall" let me share this observation with you.

We're all growing up. It's always great to go back and relive our warped childhoods by rewatching a classic like Total Recall, but you have to start asking yourself some questions that might entice you to try something a little more subtle and refined (At least more subtle then Arnold throwing an exploding woman's head at the guards on Mars).

For example, in Total Recall, Arnold's beautiful wife (Sharon Stone) actually turns out to be an assassin who's trying to kill him! Now, I know Arnold is a badass, but could you imagine how your dad would feel if all of a sudden your mom started wearing pantsuits and kicking him repeatedly in the balls and then started making out with Michael Ironside? It would be rough. But Arnold seems to shake it off without a tear (or does he?).

I was going to insert a sad Arnold picture but it doesn't exist.

Actually, come to think of it, Arnold then does fall into the arms of a lovely prostitute which is probably what most of our dads would do in that situation.

Nevermind the fact that according to Arnold's own recording, he was a total dick. Who knows how many innocent lives he's responsible for taking. Yet, current Arnold has no immediate feelings about the last 30 or so years of his life. I would say that he's a little detached from emotion at this point. I mean, let's say you woke up one day and suddenly realized that you were responsible for the deaths of hundreds or thousands of innocent Americans. You'd have a tough time dealing with that, wouldn't you?

Wouldn't you?

In A Scanner Darkly, we have real characters displaying real emotion (or at least whatever Keanu Reeves is capable of ((which is surprisingly a lot in this movie))). We get a glimpse of Arctor's old life as a paradoxical angry, stressed out straight cop with a beautiful family. We see him trying to reconcile the man he's become with the man he's supposed to be. His paranoia and that of his friends is well-founded as the government has license to spy on them as easily as finding a McDonald's on Google Maps.

This movie puts us in a situation that we can emotionally wrap our minds around. And then it proceeds to twist and turn our mind so that, just like the characters, we barely know what's real anymore. This is Total Recall for grown ups. Now, I hate using the word "grown up" as much as you. But being grown up has just as many pros and cons as being a kid. It's just on a bigger scale.

Kid Example: Going to Six Flags. Good. Going to school. Bad.
Adult Example: Going to Strip Club. Rocks. Getting herpes. Blows.

The film does have its flaws. It can be difficult to follow the plot and probably requires more than one watch to really understand what's going on. The characters created by Harrelson, Downey Jr. and Rory Corchrane are funny and engaging, but we don't get to see much more of them beyond their drug-fueled eccentricities.

Anyway, this is a really under-appreciated movie (only made around $7.6 million world-wide!) and whether or not you like it, you have to admit that it makes you think and is a great topic for conversation.

I'll be rating my movies using a 3 pronged system which I like to call the scpork! It ranges from 1-5 for each category.

Whoah factor= Imaginative scope.
Huh factor= the amount of time you'll ponder the movie.
Sweet factor= Overall fun and enjoyment/ Crazy shit/ Gross out stuff.

This movie gets...
Whoah: 4
Huh: 4.5
Sweet: 3 (No Kuato or eye transplants)
Grand Total: 12.5/15

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


So I figured I would start off my first horror review with the best horror film I have seen in the past 10 years.....hell in the last 20. This is the kind of horror film that makes you miss the 80's hay-day of horror movies. I first saw this movie knowing absolutely nothing about it. The only thing I had read about this movie was that Fangoria called it 'a gore roller coaster gone off the rails'. So needless to say that was a bit intriguing.
It was 2am and my buddy and I were done seeing a midnight showing of the original Friday the 13th at the Music Box Theatre in Chicago and they were showing this for free right after so we figured we would stay and check it out. The movie starts off pretty strong with a car accident scene that pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the movie. The movie takes a minor break from the gore for a bit to develop the characters and set the mood/plot. Most recent horror films should take note of this.
The plot is basically a pregnant woman is home alone the night before she is going to get induced to have her child when this mysterious woman breaks in because she wants her child. It doesn't sound too in depth or anything but the movie does a good job developing characters who we care for and adds some great creep factor as well as interesting twist and turns into the plot. The movie also does a spectacular job with the gore. They limit the CGI blood that seems to be all the rage these days so it seems all the more real. Most recent horror films definitely seem to pull back a bit on the gore so they don't offend viewers or test audiences but the directors of Inside didn't seem to really care about any of that. Also isn't part of a horror film supposed to offend people to some extent? Anyways the final scene had the entire audience screaming and even I yelled a bit for them to hold back a bit on the gore. However, I applaud them for going all the way with everything. I should also mention that soundtrack to this movie added this very ominous feel to the movie and was the icing on the cake.

For my reviews I will break down each horror film into three categories and give the movie a final score based on the rating of each category. The three categories will be Plot, Gore, Scare Factor which are the three key elements to any horror movie.

Review Breakdown
Gore:6/5 (sorry they get bonus points for the final sue me)
Scare Factor:5/5

Final Score:100%

Please note that I will not be giving out perfect scores often if at all but this movie really deserves it. However you can argue that its not technically a perfect score due to the fact it got bonus points in the gore category but why argue semantics

First Post!

Plain and simple the purpose of this blog is to review/recommend movies. All the writers/contributors on this blog are huge movie fans so what better person is there to review a movie? Probably none. The main areas of focus will be Horror, Sci Fi, and Action movies since those are the best movies around. Hope you enjoy the blog.