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.