The Wailing (2016) & Green Room (2015) Reviews

I’m doing a double review again today. This time I’m reviewing South Korean horror The Wailing & Jeremy Saulnier’s ultra-violent Green Room, the follow-up to Blue Ruin. Here we go…

The Wailing (2016) (곡성, 哭聲, Gokseong)

Directed by Na Hong-jin

Starring: Kwak Do-won, Hwang Jung-min, Chun Woo-hee

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A stranger arrives in a little village and soon after a mysterious sickness starts spreading. A policeman is drawn into the incident and is forced to solve the mystery in order to save his daughter.

My Opinion:

I was really excited about this film as there have been a lot of great South Korean horrors. A Tale Of Two Sisters, The Host, and the brilliant Train To Busan (which I plan to review on Halloween as it was my favorite horror movie this year. Well, that and It). Of those, I think The Wailing is probably my least favorite. However, it’s still a great horror film and far better than the majority of horror crap that Hollywood poops out.

The Wailing wasn’t at all what I expected from the synopsis of a “mysterious sickness”. I was thinking a zombie-like film or something bizarre & supernatural (which I love). I won’t say what it’s about but I’ll say it kind of ended up being a specific horror subgenre that’s a favorite of mine so I’m not sure why I didn’t love it. It did have an eerie atmosphere which worked really well to make it an unsettling film to be watching all by yourself late at night (which was how I watched it). The elements are all there to make it a fantastic horror movie and I did enjoy it but it’s unlikely to be one I’d watch again, especially with its 2 hour 36 minute running time.


Sorry – this is a short review and I doubt I’ve managed to sell this film to anyone even though it’s one of the better horror movies I watched this year. I think it’s because it’s a hard movie to explain and I found the story a bit muddled, which didn’t help. I also found myself not really caring about the characters, which was a shame as the other South Korean horrors I’ve seen (especially Train To Busan) had fantastic characters. However, I do recommend The Wailing to fans of foreign horror as it’s one definitely worth watching. If you’re new to foreign horror, I’d say this wouldn’t be the one to start on & would probably recommend Train To Busan instead.

My Rating: 7/10

Green Room (2015)

Directed & Written by Jeremy Saulnier

Starring: Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots, Alia Shawkat, Joe Cole, Callum Turner, Patrick Stewart

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Green Room focuses on a punk band who find themselves attacked by neo-Nazi skinheads after witnessing a murder at a remote club in the Pacific Northwest.

My Opinion:

First of all, I absolutely hated Jeremy Saulnier’s Blue Ruin (which I trashed HERE to the annoyance of some fans of the film). I’m happy to inform you that I liked Green Room much more Blue Ruin. Yay! But I still can’t exactly say I loved it & I certainly won’t be rushing out to see Saulnier’s next film, whatever that may be. Boo! (Sorry). It’s a shame, as I wish I could’ve added Green Room to my list of My Top Ten Color Movies. Not even close! Okay – I just looked up Saulnier’s upcoming projects. Not because I want to watch them but because I wanted to see if they have colors in the title. Pfft. Nope! What the hell? Now I’m annoyed.

Here are the things I liked about this movie: 1) That poster is actually really cool. That green one up there. I like it a lot. And green is my favorite color. 2) Anton Yelchin. Is it weird that I still almost want to cry when I see him in stuff? I liked Yelchin and I really liked him in this. 3) The setup. Punk band members witness a murder & end up trapped in the green room of this neo-Nazi skinhead club they’ve been booked to play at (not knowing that it was a neo-Nazi skinhead club). It was a bit of a weird plot but felt quite original. I must say that, when I watched this close to a year ago, I found the setting interesting but extremely far fetched. But, holy hell – maybe places like this actually DO exist in America?!?! Wow. I’m sheltered. Fucking scary shit. 4) The band were pretty cool, especially Yelchin & Alia Shawkat, and I felt quite stressed and wanted them to be able to get out of this crazy situation. 5) It’s an intense movie so I give credit to Saulnier for making a pretty edge-of-your-seat film. It’s not slow & boring like Blue Ruin. 6) Imogen Poots was okay as well, although that skinhead hairdo bothered me. It felt like I was watching This Is England (which I far preferred to Green Room). Kind of nice to see Poots & Yelchin together again after Fright Night.


Here are the things I didn’t like so much: 1) That Poots hairdo 2) Patrick Stewart. Oh noooooo! I love Stewart!!! Oh man, that’s twice that I’ve kind of trashed him this month (I really didn’t like him in Lifeforce but that movie truly sucked balls). He’s not awful in this but he’s just, I dunno… Meh. And I don’t want Captain Picard & Professor X to be a baddie. Ever. Okay? 3) The movie is just so damn violent. And depressing. I mean, I know life isn’t a Disney movie. But GEEZ. 4) I’m now further depressed after finding out that this may be a more accurate representation of modern day America than I thought 5) Anton Yelchin’s poor arm!!!! Holy shit! That was nasty & unnecessary! 6) I just need to add this once more: This movie is just too violent. No thank you. Not for me.

Green Room is a good film if you like strong violence and some very intense scenes. I didn’t hate the movie but it’s just not really my type of thing. If it’s your type of thing, I can see why you’d probably like this one a lot.

My Rating: 6/10

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Only Lovers Left Alive (2013) & Byzantium (2012) Reviews

Saw these two together after really wanting to see them for ages. I was massively disappointed. Here are two quickie reviews…

Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)

Directed & Written by Jim Jarmusch

Starring: Tilda Swinton, Tom Hiddleston, Mia Wasikowska, Anton Yelchin, Jeffrey Wright, Slimane Dazi, John Hurt

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A depressed musician reunites with his lover. Though their romance, which has already endured several centuries, is disrupted by the arrival of her uncontrollable younger sister.

My Opinion:

Good god this movie was boring. I’d really been wanting to watch it because I find Tilda Swinton interesting, Mia Wasikowska has been pretty decent in things like Stoker, and I always really liked sweet Anton Yelchin (RIP). Hiddleston is okay – I can take him or leave him. Oh! And John Hurt (RIP)! Hurt was awesome (I did a list not too long ago of My Top Ten John Hurt Movies. Luckily, I don’t have to update that list to add Only Lovers Left Alive).

Anyway, Hurt was great in this – he was the best part of the film (for me). Swinton was also fun to watch. I usually like her a lot but, sometimes, she annoys me (like in Okja). Mysterious vampire is the perfect kind of role for her, though, so she was good in this. I suppose Hiddleston did well with the role but all he did was mope the whole damn time. How did Swinton’s character put up with that mopey bastards for hundreds of years (or thousands, maybe – I don’t remember)? If I want mopey “teen-angsty” vampires, I’ll watch Twilight. Can’t vampires be happy?! They’re immortal! That’s cool, isn’t it? Grumpy fuckers. Or is that grumpy suckers? This movie just reinforces my opinion that The Lost Boys is the best vampire movie ever. 😉

Um. What else? I’m bored. Review over! Just so you know, nothing happens in this movie. Hiddleston mopes. Swinton puts up with his moping. Wasikowska is a total bitch who stays with mopey Hiddleston & big sis Swinton for a while, which makes Hiddleston mope even more. Yelchin (the only non-vampire) and Hurt (a dying vampire – I can’t remember how that’s possible and I don’t care) were good and helped to make the movie slightly watchable. Without them… Meh. A movie having no plot is okay as long as you have really great characters (like in Dazed And Confused) and a movie with lacklustre characters is okay as long as you have a great story (like in Circle). Only Lovers Left Alive lacks both a good plot and good characters. But it has a 7.3 rating out of 10 on IMDb so what the hell do I know?!

My Rating: 5.5/10

Byzantium (2012)

Directed by Neil Jordan

Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Gemma Arterton, Sam Riley, Jonny Lee Miller

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Residents of a coastal town learn, with deathly consequences, the secret shared by the two mysterious women who have sought shelter at a local resort.

My Opinion:

Good god this movie was boring as well. I actually slightly preferred Only Lovers Left Alive because at least that movie had a bit more style & better actors. To be fair, I watched these movies back to back while cleaning the house so I wasn’t exactly paying full attention. But if they’d actually been GOOD, I’d have stopped doing the housework and sat down to watch them properly. Thanks to Byzantium, I now have a very organized bookshelf.

Let’s see… What do I vaguely recall from this movie? I recall hating Gemma Arterton’s annoying accent. I’m terrible with accents so don’t know if she was doing it well or not but it was like nails on a chalkboard. Maybe I just don’t like her… I don’t think I’ve seen her in much but the quality of her acting in this film certainly didn’t impress me. Saoirse Ronan was far better in this film – I usually like her okay and she’s the best thing about this movie.

Er. You know, I honestly can’t remember much of this movie now. Lots of blood. It was a far more bloody vampire movie than Only Lovers Left Alive. More bloody, shittier acting, an actual plot but one that I can barely remember now, less moping but still pretty mopey overall (seriously – cheer the fuck up, vampires!), and no John Hurt or anyone with true star power to help elevate the film. Oh, I now recall that all the first vampires were men & they didn’t want any to be women but then Arterton became the first female vampire (if I remember right). So there’s a bit of a “girl vampire power” thing going on in the film, which was okay but kind of undone by all the terrible treatment of the women in the movie. And I still don’t like Arterton.

My Rating: 5.5/10

Fright Night (2011) Review

Fright Night (2011)

Directed by Craig Gillespie

Based on Fright Night by Tom Holland

Starring: Anton Yelchin, Colin Farrell, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, David Tennant, Imogen Poots, Toni Collette

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The plot follows a teenage boy who discovers that his neighbor is actually a vampire, which culminates to a battle between the two.

My Opinion:

I might as well start by pointing out the obvious to anyone who knows me: I prefer the original Fright Night and remakes piss me off. I haven’t actually watched the original in years, though, which is why I’m not going to do a comparison review. But I’ll always be fond of it as, along with A Nightmare On Elm Street, it was my introduction to 80’s slasher-type flicks at a junior high spin the bottle party. Ah, good times!

So, this is indeed yet another completely pointless remake but is it any worse than all the other pointless remakes? I guess it’s probably at the ever-so-slightly better end of things. It at least didn’t completely piss me off & make me want to shout at my TV like that godawful A Nightmare On Elm Street remake. Argh!!! That one actually damaged the franchise & I wish it didn’t exist. This Fright Night is just a bit “so what?”. It’s ultimately forgettable but is luckily different enough from the 1985 film that it hasn’t damaged it in my mind.


These signs seemed extraneous at the time…

The only reason I decided to watch this was to see Anton Yelchin (R.I.P.). I’ve liked Yelchin ever since Charlie Bartlett & was saddened by his untimely death. He was uniquely talented and the absolute perfect choice to play Charley Brewster in Fright Night so I have no complaints there. I also liked Toni Collette as his mother and had no problem with Imogen Poots as Charley’s girlfriend even though she’s too hot for him. But that’s movies for you! The nerdy guys always get the hot girls. Anyway – She’s a cutie & the name Poots never fails to make me giggle. Finally, I loved David Tennant as “vampire hunter” Peter Vincent. He’s my favorite Doctor Who and I found him strangely attractive in his leather pants & eyeliner…


Unfortunately, while the casting of these actors/actresses was spot on, I really disliked Colin Farrell as our main vampire baddie Jerry. I don’t normally like him much anyway but he really didn’t have the charisma or the sexy charming thing going on that I expect from a vampire. As for Christopher Mintz-Plasse, I can see why they chose him as Charley’s nerdy friend Ed but he’s so typecast now that he’s starting to get on my nerves & just ended up an annoying distraction. Massive fail with the casting of these two, which was disappointing as everyone else was so good.

Summary:

Fright Night (2011) is pointless but I suppose it’s not horrible. I’m not stupid, though – I know that younger people don’t like watching older movies so are very unlikely to seek out the original. Therefore, I’m not going to waste my breath (er… fingers?) telling everyone to just watch the 1985 film. If you like Yelchin & think this looks like your type of thing, give it a go. As a standalone film, it’s a fun vampire flick. I’d have liked more humor & it dragged to begin with but it did really pick up once Tennant came into the picture more about halfway through. Tennant & Yelchin are both very good and made a fairly mediocre vampire movie not feel like a complete waste of time. Meh. I’ve seen worse.

My Rating: 6/10

R.I.P. Anton Yelchin 

I don’t really tend to do tribute posts but felt I should say a little something about Anton Yelchin as I really enjoyed his work as an actor. There are still quite a few films of his that I have yet to see but I first noticed him in Charlie Bartlett, a great film that deserved more recognition & his crazy character was to thank for making that film so enjoyable. I of course thought he was great as Chekov in Star Trek & Star Trek Into Darkness and it was cool seeing him in the adaptation of Odd Thomas, one of my favorite Dean Koontz books. But, of what I’ve seen, Charlie Bartlett is the one that really shows his unique talent. I highly recommend it if you haven’t seen it. What a sad loss.

R.I.P. Anton Viktorovich Yelchin (March 11, 1989 – June 19, 2016)

Odd Thomas (2013) Review

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Odd Thomas (2013)

Directed by Stephen Sommers

Based on Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz

Starring:
Anton Yelchin
Willem Dafoe
Addison Timlin
Nico Tortorella

Running time: 93 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
In a California desert town, a short-order cook with clairvoyant abilities encounters a mysterious man with a link to dark, threatening forces.

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My Opinion:

Well, I have to use the word: This movie is certainly “odd”. It’s also not exactly “good”. However, I kind of liked it and am going to have some affection for it since I read A LOT of Dean Koontz books. Odd Thomas is one of his better books and certainly one of the best characters he’s created. Which is why I suppose there’s a load of Odd Thomas books now… When did that happen?! I only knew of three. I read the first two and bought the third (which I then lost and still can’t find anywhere – I need to find it so I can continue!). Anyway, the first book IS really good and this movie doesn’t capture how great the characters are but I appreciate that they made the effort. At least it sucks less than most the other truly awful Koontz adaptations.

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I’ll be honest – if you’ve not read Odd Thomas, I don’t recommend this movie. If you’ve read it, I think you’ll at least enjoy seeing Odd Thomas (the character – it’s his actual name) onscreen and I did really like Anton Yelchin as Odd even though he’s not exactly what I’d pictured. I’ve liked Yelchin since the underrated Charlie Bartlett & think he has the right sort of quirkiness to play Odd. Addison Timlin was also good as his girlfriend Stormy Llewellyn and they had a very nice chemistry together, although they came nowhere near capturing the relationship as well as in the book (through no fault of their own – you’re just never going to get as much character development in a movie). The humor in the movie feels a little out of place and just doesn’t work the way it worked so well in the book. And then there’s the strange “supernatural” stuff… Well, it comes across as quite cheesy in the movie and, if you’ve not read the book, I think you might laugh at those bits. To be fair, I think it’s probably very hard to get a Dean Koontz movie “right” onscreen. Well, they’ve managed to make some Stephen King stories into excellent films but I suppose he’s more well known and those movies probably have a bigger budget. Odd Thomas feels like a made-for-TV Stephen King movie, basically. I watch EVERYTHING Stephen King-related and know there’s been some truly dodgy adaptations of his work but I still enjoy watching them. I felt exactly the same way watching Koontz’s Odd Thomas. By the way – I think the girl playing Odd’s girlfriend was truly adorable:

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But I’m not sure how necessary THIS shot was:

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Summary:

First of all, I highly recommend reading Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz if you at all like supernatural fiction with a bit of horror. He’s Stephen-King-lite. I have a strange relationship with Dean Koontz – his books are an “easy read” and I devour them then totally forget about them but, occasionally, I love one. My favorites are Twilight Eyes & Watchers but Odd Thomas would be close to the top of the list as well, especially as I think it’s one of Koontz’s finest endings for a story as well as one of the best characters he’s created. The movie handles the ending fairly well, which I was worried about them getting right. I think there are some changes from what I remember of the book but nothing that bothered me too much as it was more important to get the characters right and I think the movie did a decent enough job of achieving this. You’ll like it okay if you’ve read the book but you probably won’t if you haven’t (unless you’re not bothered by a low-budget sort of feel). Read the book. THEN watch the movie. Then read a few more Dean Koontz books. Then watch Charlie Bartlett.

My Rating: 6/10

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I did it! I’ve managed to review movies based on books all week! I’ll attempt to do another tomorrow but at this point don’t have anything written yet. I may do Paperhouse – that was an “odd” film as well! Either that or The Spectacular Now… So far I’ve reviewed The Maze Runner & The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part I & of course Odd Thomas. 🙂

Star Trek Into Darkness (2013) Review

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Star Trek Into Darkness

Directed by JJ Abrams

Starring:
John Cho
Benedict Cumberbatch
Alice Eve
Bruce Greenwood
Simon Pegg
Chris Pine
Zachary Quinto
Zoe Saldana
Karl Urban
Peter Weller
Anton Yelchin

Plot Synopsis:

After devastating attacks on Starfleet, the USS Enterprise is sent on a mission into enemy territory in order to find the man responsible for these terrorist acts.

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My Opinion:

I won’t go into how much I know about all things Star Trek – I already did that here when I reviewed Star Trek (2009), which I re-watched this past week, and The Motion Picture & The Wrath Of Khan, which I’ve just watched for the first time: Star Trek Reviews

Basically, I loved The Next Generation and then watched the original series after TNG & have just now started on the movies with the original cast. So, this review is from someone who likes Star Trek but is not exactly a Trekkie (or is it Trekker?).

I really enjoyed Star Trek Into Darkness. I thought the 2009 movie was a decent enough intro to a new series of movies but it didn’t really blow me away. Plus, I fell asleep both times I tried to watch it all the way through. Well, I can say you’re not likely to fall asleep during Into Darkness. 😉

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I enjoyed the main characters more in this one as they were able to just kind of “be themselves” as opposed to in the first movie where they had to spend time setting them up for those in the audience new to Star Trek. It also meant they were able to spend more time focusing on the story and the action in this one – and there’s A LOT of action. It was pretty non-stop from beginning to end. I liked the opening scene (even if it was maybe a bit silly). The bits set in London and in San Francisco looked great. The emotional bits felt more “real” in this one than in the 2009 one (perhaps as we’re more used to the main actors now). Alice Eve is sexy, especially in all the different uniforms. And Benedict Cumberbatch is an EXCELLENT villain. He’s by far the best thing about this one. The only slight downside is he’s so good that it shows off the weaknesses in all the other actors in the film.

I’m reading mixed reviews of this movie now and see that some die hard Trekkies (Trekkers?!) are hating it. That’s unfortunate – I thoroughly enjoyed this but now, after seeing the first two Star Trek films, I can see why they’d take issue with certain things. To those who don’t hold the original movies so dear, I think it’s a lot easier to just sit back and enjoy the new films without overanalyzing them. To those who are pretty new to Star Trek, I can see them really liking the new films. Especially Into Darkness – I thought it was quite exciting (and much better than the first one).

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My initial reaction was that Into Darkness was “fantastic” and I called it the best Star Trek film yet. Well, I stand by what I said about it being fantastic. It’s probably not the “best” one, though. I haven’t watched First Contact since it first came out but I do remember how much I loved it at the time. And I don’t think Into Darkness would EVER top The Wrath Of Khan for any big fans of the original Star Treks. So I think Into Darkness is “one of” the best films of the entire series. But, okay, yeah… I think, for its time and what it will have meant to fans when they first watched it, The Wrath Of Khan is still the “best”. It just didn’t have the emotional impact for me watching it for the first time all these years later.

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Summary:

Star Trek Into Darkness is a thoroughly entertaining & action-packed film with a great villain played brilliantly by Benedict Cumberbatch, who is the highlight of the film. It’s a worthy addition to the Star Trek universe and, in my opinion, one of the best in the entire series. However, after the adrenaline wore off and I thought about the film a little more the day after seeing it, I can see some of the faults. There are minor things (Like the way Alice Eve ends up in her underwear. Yes, she’s hot. But the scene was silly). But there are a few major things as well, which I unfortunately can’t discuss without major spoilers. All in all, this film had the chance to possibly end up (almost) as much of a classic as The Wrath Of Khan. But it doesn’t manage it. None of the Star Trek films, for me, manage the depth needed to make any of them truly stunning films. And now that I’ve thought about things a bit more – Yes, The Wrath Of Khan is the one that actually came the closest to achieving the greatness that, hopefully, we’ll someday get from a Star Trek film. Star Trek Into Darkness was great fun but they’re going to need to get much more bold with the next film if they wish to ever achieve true greatness.

My Rating: 8/10

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Okay okay – Here’s Alice Eve in her underwear:

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