Monday, February 23, 2009

Campers Find Jason A Real Cut Up On Fridays

Slumdog Millionaire’s domination of the Academy Awards signals the end of award season, right? Well there is still one last set of awards to be handed out and that is the 6th Annual BOC Awards. Organized by the brains behind The Sho ’Nuff blog and nominated by the movie loving folks at EZ1 Productions (now featured on Facebook), the BOC Awards cover a diverse range of film related topics. In short, these are the categories and films that movie fans would really love to see on Oscar night. The full list of nominees can be viewed here. The final list of winners will be announced in the next few weeks.

Although I spent the last few weeks catching up the few weeks catching up on the last few Oscar nominated films on my to see list (i.e. Revolutionary Road, Frost/Nixon, Changeling, etc.), I did manage to make room for…

Friday the 13th

After being burned, stabbed, shot, drowned, and battled Freddy Kruger; you may ask yourself “what is left for a psychopath to do these days”? Especially if you have already visited both space, and a place even more dangerous, Manhattan! Such was the dilemma facing our loveable hockey mask-wearing friend, Jason. Luckily Jason decided to follow the lead of other horror franchises (e.g. Halloween, The Hills Have Eyes, and Texas Chainsaw Massacre) and start again from the top. Whether you call it a “remake” or a “reboot” this new version of Friday the 13th is designed specifically to squeeze some new juice (i.e. audience dollars) out of an already withered up fruit. Yet unlike the other recent remakes, the movie actually maintains the spirit of the 80’s films without having to resort to excessive, and gratuitous, gore. This is not to say that Jason has gone soft, he merely does not need elaborate set pieces in order to dispose of his victims.

Picking up where the original movie left off, Friday the 13th is pretty much a reworked version of the old Friday the 13th Part 2 flick. While certain aspects have been updated for modern purposes, the core conventions remain the same. Attractive 20-somethings set up camp at Crystal Lake, and partake in various forms of debauchery (mainly sex, pot smoking, and excessive drinking). Unbeknownst to the five friends, Crystal Lake just happens to be where the machete-wielding Jason calls home. Before you know it, Jason is terrorizing the campers and seemingly bringing morality back to the Crystal Lake all at the same time. The surprising thing is that this all happens before the title of the film is shown. Which means that yet another unsuspecting crop attractive 20-somethings will soon be taking a trip on Jason’s pain train.

To say that the movie is light on plot is an understatement. Yet you really should not be expecting too much plot from this type of film anyways. Fans of the original Friday the 13th will be walking into the theatre for only one thing: to see Jason go to town on the dimwitted campers. In that respect the film does deliver. The only qualms I had about the film were in relations to the minority characters and the lack of clarity on Jason’s abilities. In regards to the two minority characters I found it odd that they were both relegated to the lame comic relief roles. Seriously, the writers could have given them something a little more interesting to do. Heck, at least given one of them a girlfriend or something. Minor quibble, I know. As for Jason himself, the film never seems quiet explains he went from boy who drowned to super powered killer. The first half sets Jason up as just your average deranged Joe. He uses tunnels to get around, is easily knocked down, etc. Yet in the latter part of the film, Jason not only is able to pop up halfway across the forest in a blink of eye; but he is practically indestructible as well.

While not as good as either the original Friday the 13th or Friday the 13th Part 2, this version does have its entertaining moment. I really liked that they kept the essence of the original intact. This movie could have easily been straight torture porn, similar to the Hills Have Eyes remake. Instead we get a moderately fun romp that brings back found memories of classic 80’s slasher movies. Will you remember this version ofFriday the 13th days after you see it? Probably not, but there are far worst films than this that you could see at the theatre *cough*Paul Blart: Mall Cop*cough*.

For more reviews from 2009 click here

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Quite Taken By This European Trip

“This is important…they're going to take you.” These simple words set in motion the first true guilty pleasure film of 2009. After his 17 year-old daughter (Maggie Grace) is abducted while on vacation in Europe, Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) has only 96 hours to get her back. After that time his daughter will be lost to him forever. Bryan must use everything he has learned from years of government service to aide him as he delves deeper into the criminal underworld of Paris.

The movie sets the stage early to let you know that Neeson's character has spent his entire life doing this type of thing. So it does not come as a shock to see Bryan disposing of the various bad guys with his bear hands. While there is a lot of Luc Besson’s trademark action, the movie gears it more toward Neeson’s age. He does not drive cars off cliffs onto boats. Nor does jump off of highways onto trucks below in order to chases the criminal etcetera. Instead you actually see him get winded while running. Most off his fights are quick hand-to-hand combat, or shootouts. The villains actually fight at the level you would expect them to. The goons throw punches and/or reach for their guns. The people near the top of the food chain are more business minded, and do not engage Bryan physically at all. Most American films would have had St. Clair and/or the Sheik go toe to toe with Bryan (ala the main villain in Quantum of Solace). Also, due too his experience and age, Mills spend most of his time taking in the fine details of everything. He never goes barging into a situation without first figuring out a course of action. Obviously he doesn’t have time to plot out elaborate traps like MacGyver, but he does not go into situations guns blazing either. He is often forced to leave that way though. The dinner scene is a perfect example of this.

I liked that the film tried to keep everything somewhat realistic, or at least as realistic as you can get with this genre. While I may not let my 17 year-old daughter travel across Europe with a friend, there are those who would. The fact that young women from all over get abducted and forced into the sex trade makes the premise easier to buy into. I also liked the fact that there was no real main villain. Pretty much everyone remotely associated with the sex trade network was consider on the same level. While the movie will never be considered a cinematic treasure, it was far more entertaining than I thought it would be. It will definitely make my guilty pleasure list at the end of the year.

For more reviews from 2009 click here