Horror Marathon: Saw (2004)

We always kick off the Horror Marathon with our headliner! This year is Saw in case you missed the announcement yesterday. If you did, you can get a sneak peek of a few upcoming entries as well. I’m still in the process of watching as I’m drafting this review up so even if you asked me for other titles, I might not be completely sure. So let’s all be surprised, right?

I’ve always had the impression that Saw was a gore fest and its one of the reasons why I’ve avoided it all these years however, I’ve also learned that gore and torture porn while may not always be my constant watch, they tend to not scare me so much either. They make me uneasy if done really well but no lingering effects for the most part. However, the first Saw had its surprises for sure.

Let’s check it out!

 Saw (2004)

Saw

Director (and co-writer): James Wan

Cast: Cary Elwes, Leigh Whanell, Danny Glover, Ken Leung, Tobin Bell

Two strangers awaken in a room with no recollection of how they got there or why, and soon discover they are pawns in a deadly game perpetrated by a notorious serial killer. – IMDB

Cary Elwes and Leigh Whanell! Wow, it sure shows how little I know about Saw. Right off the bat, Saw starts off in tense moments showing us exactly the intricacy of Jigsaw’s plans. By the time, we get to Cary Elwes as the doctor and Leigh Whanell as the photographer trapped in the room with him, it starts being more psychological. If anything, Jigsaw and the Saw franchise is who started the escape room craze in an extreme way of working together and just with incredibly higher stakes. Saw is a psychological journey and a pretty tense and smart one at that. Jigsaw puts down these elaborate plans to reveal these characters’ secrets while using it as an extra layer of his obsession to push his captives to fight for survival to cherish their life.

Saw

Based on this entry piece for Saw, its not hard to see how this had a sequel. Jigsaw is still a huge mystery and that is mostly because his game gives his characters many layers to learn about and build up. Just like our two captives here. Both Leigh Whanell and Cary Elwes delivers some great performances. Sure, there are some over the top moments but somehow they all seem deliberate to either create some humor that could break the tension however, humor is definitely far and few here. On the other hand, the captives are also followed with a back story of sorts as we follow the detectives who try to track down Jigsaw played by Danny Glover and his partner played by Ken Leung. It is also through the investigation that we learn a little more about Jigsaw.

Saw

Perhaps here is the perfect place to talk about the story because James Wan and Leigh Whanell truly write a fantastic story. Its twisted and intriguing. Its characters are unraveled in a great pace and have enough depth to make them both mysterious and suspicous. As great as the actors here are, it does help that the script is very strong.

Overall, Saw is a great way to start a franchise and it will be interesting to see where the story goes next. Sequels rarely are as strong as their first part so I’m going to keep my expectations tame for Saw 2. However, for this marathon, its also an awesome to start with something both psychologically thrilling and disturbing all at the same time. I’m starting to feel a little silly that I’ve put off watching Saw for so long.

Have you seen Saw? Which is your favorite entry of this franchise?

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Ella Enchanted (2004)

Ultimate 90’s blogathon is done and wrapped up. It is time to embrace some movie reviews. I have to admit that I actually didn’t watch a lot of movies over the last three weeks. I took the opportunity to catch up on TV series and gaming, which was a really nice change in pace.

I am a fan of Anna Hathaway and especially in those Princess Diaries days and I am also a sucker for princess/Cinderella stories which makes Ella Enchanted all the more fantastic. It has been a while that I’ve wanted to see this one so I was excited to see it land on Netflix! Lets give it a go!

Ella Enchanted (2004)

ella enchanted

Director: Tommy O’Haver

Cast: Anne Hathaway, Hugh Dancy, Cary Elwes, Minnie Driver, Aidan McArdle, Joanna Lumley, Lucy Punch, Jennifer Higham, Eric Idle, Vivica A. Fox

Ella is under a spell to be constantly obedient, a fact she must hide from her new step-family in order to protect the prince of the land, her friend for whom she’s falling. – IMDB

Ella Enchanted is an innocent fun movie, actually much more than my first impressions that I remembered of it back when it released. While it does give a Cinderella-esque story, Ella embodies quite a few princesses we are familiar with. She does have an evil stepmother who brings two stepsisters and they do push her aside but Ella also has a fairy in the household and ends up getting a curse, like Sleeping Beauty except her curse is one of being obedient. While it seems great as a baby for their parents, as she grew up, it started to cause her to do many things she didn’t want to. Ella lived with no choices and under people’s desires because of this curse. However, she is very kind and accepting. It is hard to not cheer for Ella when she sets out on her journey to find Lucinda, the fairy who granted her this “gift” and feel bad for her predicament when she gets caught up in bad situations.

Ella Enchanted

Anne Hathaway does a great job at being Ella. There’s a bit of the whole innocent and Princess Diaries’ vibe in her at this point. It is a likeable trait and shows lot of potential in being more as an actress. We do know that she is capable of bigger and more mature roles nowadays. Most of the scenes with Ella as some of the best because she is so fun to watch. Along with the fact that her and Hugh Dancy have pretty good chemistry that it makes their love story even more appealing. I haven’t seen Hugh Dancy in a lot of movies. The one I remember slightly might be a few years ago when I saw Confessions of a Shopaholic (and then IMDB tells me that I’ve also seen him in Blood and Chocolate and The Jane Austen Book Club, oh well). He is a charming man for sure and fits well in the role of Prince Char. Perhaps the most entertaining part of Ella Enchanted is watching these two characters. While over the top to a certain degree, still manages to remain believable.
Ella Enchanted

Aside from our main characters, Ella’s crew of friends that she makes along her journey probably are the silliest. She has a magical book that is her household fairy, Mandy’s (played by Minnie Driver) boyfriend. There’s an elf who wants to be a lawyer and not sing and dance. There’s some silly orcs (I think) and of course, some friendly giants. The story is that Char’s uncle is ruling over the kingdom before he comes into coronation, which is pretty much when the story is set and he has decreed rules that make the other species feel repressed and treated cruelly. These friends while filled with a heart of courage and help with making this funny, sometimes can be a little off beat from the story. It still is fun and innocent especially seeing as this is a truly harmless story and one that we’re pretty familiar with.

Ella Enchanted

Finally, our villain. All fairy tales have one. Ours is none other than Char’s power lusting uncle Edgar played by Cary Elwes. And he also has a sidekick which is a magical CGI snake called Heston. Are you sensing an Aladdin’s Jafar feeling here with his Iago? Either way, Ella Enchanted is very lighthearted and even in its most sinister and dark moments still manages to keep it light and funny. Edgar is completely comedic in many ways. The other villain, in some ways, is the stepsister played by Lucy Punch who really just wanted Ella out of the way in order to get her hands on Prince Char for herself. Nothing too threatening about this character other than the fact that she’s merely a pawn in the whole ordeal to Ella’s dilemma. What makes sure that we are definitely watching a mash-up princess movie and not Cinderella is that our villain isn’t the stepmother who would mimick the role of Lady Tremaine but really has a small role here and who is not at all threatening.

Ella Enchanted

Ella Enchanted is an innocent and fun movie. It never lets us forget that we are watching a fairy tale story with an impressive heroine geared towards a younger audience. It keeps it light by staying comedic and making it a funny affair to watch. There is good chemistry between Anne Hathaway and Hugh Dancy who are clearly the strength of this film. The story is familiar and simple and quite predictable and yet, there’s something charming about it. Perhaps it is because fairy tales, especially live action ones nowadays are getting so dark that its nice to visit one that remembers to keep it fun and fantastical.

Have you seen Ella Enchanted?

Ultimate 90’s Blogathon: Liar Liar (1997) by Rhyme and Reason

Ultimate 90s Blogathon banner

Next entry for the Ultimate 90’s Blogathon is by S.G. Liput from Rhyme and Reason with his review of Liar Liar. Jim Carrey finally makes his entrance into our blogathon. If you haven’t visited Rhyme and Reason before, it is where “poetry meets film reviews”. Their tagline says it all.  Remember to head over there after you’ve read the review and show them some love!

Without further ado, let’s hear their thoughts!

Liar Liar (1997)

I cannot tell a lie, you see;
I tell the truth compulsively.
It’s gotten to the point that I
Clammed up till home to make reply,
So now that I am home at last,
I’ll answer every question asked.

First off, you’re not my type at all;
Your mouth’s too big, your ears too small.
Why won’t I answer what you said?
So you won’t hear what’s in my head.
I don’t much care to stay and chat,
And yes, that dress makes you look fat.

And boss, I love to cause delays;
I was not sick the last two days.
I’ve no excuse, and off the books,
I take the pens when no one looks.
I hate your guts, if you can’t tell,
And think your tie came straight from hell.

Last, I can’t volunteer with you;
I’ve less important things to do.
Like watching TV like a log
And hoping someone reads my blog.
The truth will set you free, they say,
Right now I don’t quite feel that way.

The characters and incidents portrayed in this poem are fictitious. No identification with actual persons (living or deceased) is intended or should be inferred.

_____________________

liar-liar-poster

MPAA rating: PG-13

In trying to think of a unique angle for this 90’s blogathon, there was one actor I thought of whose reputation was made and mostly played out in that decade: Jim Carrey. Those were the years of Ace Ventura, The Mask, and Dumb and Dumber, when his name became synonymous with over-the-top goofiness and that snappy smile, and by the end of the decade, he’d ventured into more acclaimed dramatic roles, like The Truman Show and Man in the Moon. I decided to pick a film that fell in the middle of these phases and exemplifies both his comedic and semi-dramatic talent: Liar Liar.

Carrey plays a liar, I mean, lawyer named Fletcher Reede, who has a surprisingly nuanced relationship with his son Max (Justin Cooper) and ex-wife Audrey (Maura Tierney). He’s not the typical standoffish jerk that one might expect from his character, but actually seems like a good and fun father when he plays with Max, a fact even Audrey acknowledges. Where he fails, though, is in the frequency of broken promises and flawed priorities, always willing to put his job ahead of his son. When he’s on the job, the title is more well-deserved, since he’s a master at both ingratiating white lies and wildly rewritten facts that make him such a strong legal case-winner. When Max has at last had enough of his dad’s dishonesty, he makes a birthday wish that causes Fletcher to tell the truth, no matter what.

It’s easy to recognize that the plot is a mere framework for Carrey’s trademark silliness, in this case the exaggerated spasms he goes into as he tries to eke out even the smallest untruth, and of course what’s a lawyer if he can’t lie? It’s the kind of concept that would work well as a comedy skit, but it’s surprising just how many variations of inconvenient truths were devised to fill a feature film, from the real reason we don’t always give money to homeless people to the worst possible thing you could admit to a traffic cop. And Carrey just chews the scenery up, sometimes almost literally, with ever more hilarious convulsions and vocalizations. I especially enjoyed his inescapable bluntness and his attempts at being truthful enough to get by, such as even beating himself up for the sake of “truthfulness.” Even one of his costars accuses him of overacting during the credit bloopers, but he does do it well.

On top of all the silliness of Liar Liar, there’s a worthwhile moral at its heart: honesty is the best policy, obviously. But watching Fletcher’s inability to lie actually emphasizes just how widespread lying is, even if it’s something small meant to save us some trouble. It proves that some lies are indeed necessary for, well, civilization itself to survive, but lies don’t always have to be big and absurd to start a slippery slope.

As I said before, the characterization of Liar Liar isn’t as clear-cut as redemption stories like this usually are (think of the unmistakable jerks in Ghost Town or A Christmas Carol). Fletcher does have good points, most notably his chemistry with his son, and by the end, his truth-telling ordeal feels like a believable revelation rather than a complete 180° for his personality. Likewise, his ex-wife’s boyfriend (Cary Elwes) isn’t a jerk either and seems like a legitimately nice guy trying to bond with Max, but he’s just not the same as Fletcher. Nuances like that aren’t what I’d expect from a film full of Jim Carrey’s eccentric hamminess, but it turns what might have been mere silliness into a rather heart-warming amusement.

Best line: (Max) “My teacher tells me beauty is on the inside.”   (Fletcher) “That’s just something ugly people say.”

Rank: List Runner-Up

© 2017 S.G. Liput
451 Followers and Counting

Thanks to Rhyme and Reason for this awesome review (and poetry piece) for Liar Liar!
Remember to head over to Drew’s Movie Reviews for tomorrow’s Ultimate 90’s Blogathon entry!

Meathead March – The Princess Bride (1987) -Tranquil Dreams

Check out my review over at MovieRob’s Meathead March Blogathon. In case that confuses you, it is a blogathon based on Rob Reiner directed films. My first entry is for the simply beautiful and exciting Princess Bride.

It started this week, so if you missed any, remember to head over and check it out.

meathead march blogathonFor today’s first review of The Princess Bride for the Meathead March Blogathon, here’s a review by Kim of Tranquil Dreams.

Thanks Kim!

princess bride poster

The Princess Bride (1987)

Director: Rob Reiner

Cast: Robin Wright, Cary Elwes, Mandy Patinkin, Chris Sarandon, Christopher Guest, Fred Savage, Peter Falk

While a young boy (Fred Savage) is home sick in bed, his grandfather (Peter Falk) comes over to tell him a story thats been in their family for a long time called The Princess Bride.  It takes them into the country of Florin where Buttercup (Robin Wright) falls unexpectedly in love with the farm boy called Westley (Cary Elwes).  Eventually, he goes across the sea in hopes of seeking fortune where news is eventually sent back to Buttercup that he lost his life on the ship held captive by Dread Pirate Roberts .  A few years later, Buttercup still in love with Westley, is…

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