Saturday, October 24, 2009

Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant

"Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant" looked like the perfect film to catch around this Halloween season; but the film's promising plot is dragged down by stiff Hayden Christensen-like performances, bad direction, and some twists that are downright dumb. The cold opening of the movie is done perfectly, introducing our protangonist Darren Shan, played by newcomer Chris Massoglia, showing his funeral-where he's actually playing video games in his coffin. The opening draws you in but when it cuts to the lame and overly-long credit sequence, I already had a bad feeling.

The premise plays out as your basic kid-dragged-into-something-bigger-than-him archetype, with the cracks of the story filled in by the flavor of the day vampire garbage, and various grotesque circus freaks. Basically, while Darren and his troubled best friend Steve (Josh Hutcherson) are bitching about how boring and predictable life is, a limo drives up and gives them a brochure for a one night only freak show. Happens all the time. Anyway, Like any self-respecting teenage boys, they sneak out at night and go to the show. After a bizarre series of events our young lads end up on either side of two warring vampire clans. The vampires merely sedate their prey, while the vampeneze kill their victims. Why they can't just live in harmony is beyond me. On the good side we have, Larton Crepsley, played by a hugely miscast John C. Reilly, and Darren, who, after some freaky circumstances, is made half vampire by Crepsley. His friend Steve is drawn to the dark side, and vampire action/humor ensues.

"The Vampires Assistant," struggles to find its tone throughout the entire film. While there are some yuk-yuk moments it isn't consistently funny enough to be a comedy; which is almost a shame considering Reilly's considerable comedic chops. On the other end of the spectrum, it's not a good action movie either. Not that much happens, and the special effects are not all that special. In the end it just feels like an uneven, miscast, botched opportunity. It's watchable, but not worth seeing.

Grade C-

Sunday, October 18, 2009

My Top Movie Endings! (I'll try to have no spoilers)

1. The Illusionist

Reason: the ending of this movie was beautiful, happy, and best of all, totally unpredictable. When was the last time you saw a movie that had an ending that was beautiful, happy, and unpredictable? It almost never happens. Savor it.

2. Rocky (spoilers)

Reason: This movie could have easily gone cheesy-Hollywood and made Rocky won, but instead they made it more realistic and gritty, and yet also created one of the most moving and inspirational endings of all time. This is the only movie that has ever made me want to get up and go for a run. Ever.

3. The Sixth Sense (spoilers, we all know what happens though right?)

Reason: Right off the bat let me say I do not like this movie. I'm not a big fan of Bruce Willis (or I should say, not a fan of Bruce Willis in lead roles) and while the plot of this film is riddled with holes and cheap scare tricks-it's still thought provoking. Any ending that actually creates cliches I can respect, which is why this made my list. Show me someone who claims to have predicted he was dead the whole time, and I'll show you a liar.

Others that could have made this list...Lucky Number Slevin, Unbreakable, Psycho, Fargo, Fight Club, Matchstick Men.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Men Who Stare at Goats

The Men Who Stare at Goats. Yes, this is seriously the name of the movie. Everyone on the planet with a perverted mind is going to have a field day with this one. It rivals "Operation Dumbo Drop," for worst title of all time. Name aside, this could be the box office and critical sleeper of the year. Why you ask? (a) it has George Clooney, people like George Clooney, apparently he's sexy -I wouldn't know. (b) The rest of the cast is intriguing, (Ewan McGregor finally came out of hibernation) (c) (and this one is for the critics) it has a virtually unknown new director, Grant Heslov. Critics eat that up. Case in point, District 9. Director Neil Blomkamp was a virtual unknown at the movie's release and the newby recieved lots of juicy publicity and praise. Yes, District 9 also had Peter Jackson's name attached to it, but you get my point. Critics love a fresh face. Lastly the trailer and story are hilarious! It's a story about a reporter (McGregor) investigating a top secret branch of the army that trains psychic soldiers- the best of whom is a goofy George Clooney. Yeah it may sound ridiculous but it looks like a light, hilarious story that doesn't take itself too seriously; something in the mold of a movie like Burn After Reading. Don't be surprised if this one receives great reviews and makes a significant chunk of change at the box office. It is my pick for sleeper of the year. "So what movie are you guys seeing?" "The Men Who Stare at Goats." "Wtf!?"