TV Binge: Forget You Remember Love (忘记你记得爱情, 2020)

Forget You Remember Love (忘记你记得爱情, 2020)

Cast: Fair Xing, Garvey Jin, Cavan Wen, Xing Cheng Jiang, Joyce Zhao, Ming Na Yang, Alex Dong, Zheng Jun Li, Jurat Kutilai

A story between an ordinary girl who rescues a downtrodden CEO that has lost his memories, thus beginning a dreamy fairy tale. – MyDramaList

Where to watch: Tencent (Youtube Channel or App)

Forget You Remember Love is a remake of 2005 Taiwanese TV series Prince Turn To Frog (currently available on Netflix Canada, you would need to check your own area to see if its also available there). The original starred a popular cast lead by Joe Chen and Ming Dao. The 2nd female lead of the original actually plays a supporting role as the female lead’s stepmother in this Chinese remake. I can’t remember a whole lot of the original series so I can’t really compare the two but the course of events feels pretty similar but probably expanded on since the original was 31 episodes and this one is 38. Forget You Remember Love tells a rather common story especially when its remaking a storyline told in 2005, everything becomes less unique and much more predictable. In 2005, this type of storyline was quite the tale that brought chemistry and laughter and maybe even some tears so its a wonder to me whether the same ideas still work in the 2020 landscape. Speaking from my own view, some of it does work and then some of the really dramatic bits really do get a little frustrating. That’s the extent of comparing to the original that I will go.

Before we get ahead, lets do a more expansive recap of the story. Forget You Remember Love is a story about a small town girl Qianyu who saves a rich and cold CEO Junhao from drowning. They part ways with a pretty bad impression of each other to eventually meet again after he gets washed up after an accident with amnesia where she takes him in. For a few months (I think that’s what the timeline is), he stays with her family and helps out while the two fall in love but when his real life catches up, she means to bring him back when some power hungry people from his corporation plot to make him vanish causing him to have another accident that brings him memories back but forgetting the whole time that he stayed in the small village and his relationship with the Qianyu. For her village’s inn, Qianyu ends up having to work with him in order to save it and then causing him to fall in love with her again. Of course in the background, there’s Junhao’s fiancee and then the best friend that secretly crushes on his fiancee and then Qianyu also having a second male lead who helps her unconditionally causing a heavy case of the second male lead syndrome. There’s family and social class issues as well as revenge and dirty manipulation put into play. Like I said, pretty basic plotline for dramas especially for people like myself that have been watching TV dramas since the 2000s (or even before).

However, with that said, chemistry and character design can pull it through. I mean, I didn’t review Meteor Garden remake and even with its issues, that was a pretty successful remake overall (but I really should since my ambitious plan fell through). That’s where Forget You Remember Love might have some issues. First of all, the pacing creates some issues. Running at 38 episodes, there some major repetitive moments that drags on for much longer than it needs. The same issues keep coming up and the same reactions keep happening which creates more frustration than enjoyment at a certain point. With that said, there were some pretty great moments in the first half when amnesiac Junhao, now named Tong Hao is living with Qianyu that plays out really well. The happy and positive person that he becomes and the friendship turned to love that happens between them that wakes up this other side of him.

The key chemistry and fleshed out characters are Qianyu played by Fair Xing, an actress that I personally think is very natural when she acts, Garvey Jin as Junhao who really does give off a very opposite vibe in his normal life and amnesiac life and shows a change when he falls back in love with Qianyu. Its a fairly dynamic performances. Taichu as the second male lead played by Cavan Wen is also a charming and handsome guy who really maked you root for him but knows that he won’t get the girl. The direction for his character especially at the ending bits really adds so much to his character. Qianyu’s mother and and the people at the fishing village, mostly the prior is incredibly fun to watch. Her personality and the little bickerings adds a lot of laughter to the whole series. Where it falls into some fairly one dimensional characters does go to the fiancee Yunyi whose character is the most annoying as all she does is be sad, pretend everything’s okay and then lie about a situation which always backfires and it cycles between being sad and insecure over and over again. The same goes for the best friend character Ziqian who is a rather flat character until they give him a revenge plot.

Overall, Forget You Remember Love is an okay watch. The first half being a lot stronger than the second half. The main issue being that it drags out the ending a little more than it should. The plot is fairly basic as it is a remake however the main leads do have decent character arcs and chemistry making it a fun watch. The moments between female lead and first and second male leads being some of the best parts of the series while the fishing village parts and amnesia parts being the other standout parts.

Double Feature: Dawn of the Dead (1978) & Dawn of the Dead (2004)

Halloween marathon continues as we move onto the next pairing of the next movie of the Living Dead franchise, Dawn of the Dead matched up with the 2004 remake that also happens to be one of my favorite zombie movies (but surprisingly, I’ve never written a review for it).

Let’s check it out!

Dawn of the Dead (1978)

Dawn of the Dead 1978

Director (and writer): George A. Romero

Cast: David Emge, Ken Foree, Scott H. Reiniger, Gaylen Ross, David Crawford, David Early, Richard France

Following an ever-growing epidemic of zombies that have risen from the dead, two Philadelphia S.W.A.T. team members, a traffic reporter, and his television executive girlfriend seek refuge in a secluded shopping mall. – IMDB

Set in a shopping mall with four people barricading themselves in a hidden nook of the building while being in the more optimal position of being somewhere that can support their needs for the time-being, Dawn of the Dead is a fairly straight-forward movie of people with different skill sets stuck together with an escape helicopter on the roof ready to leave if anything happens.

With movies like this with small cast and one setting, its really a big reliance of giving space to set up both the location and the characters while of course, learning more about the zombies in this world. In terms of the location, the mall is pretty well laid out. There is a lot more exploring of the key locations they frequent both at the beginning when they first get there and the end when a group of raiders come crashing in and the aftermath of how to escape this now unsafe space.

The characters quickly drop from four to three which spans for a decent part of the movie. Considering the small group, its expected that it doesn’t drop too fast. The three characters, while diverse in their skills and they do build a bonding together and a way to function together, its a fairly slow part of the movie as they live in the mundane routine of being trapped together. At the same time, they are caught in the situation of the girlfriend character being pregnant but also trying to help with what she can to not be the typical damsel in distress. These three characters are okay to watch. Perhaps the least intriguing parts is the middle bit when they are together and it gets a little slow. Not to mention the group of motorcycle raiders comes crashing in and is led by a cameo role by Tom Savini.

The first movie gave an introduction that the zombies are slow and came back from the dead. In this one, its still a bit of the same except highlighting the spread of the zombie apocalypse. Perhaps the ending is where the key point is that links to the next movie a little bit (as an afterthought of watching Day of the Dead, that I will talk about soon).

Dawn of the Dead (2004)

Dawn of the Dead

Director: Zack Snyder

Cast: Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, Jake Weber, Mekhi Phifer, Ty Burrell, Michael Kelly, Kevin Zegers, Michael Barry, Lindy Booth, Jayne Eastwood, Boyd Banks, Inna Korobkina, R.D. Reid, Kim Poirier

A nurse, a policeman, a young married couple, a salesman and other survivors of a worldwide plague that is producing aggressive, flesh-eating zombies, take refuge in a mega Midwestern shopping mall. – IMDB

Dawn of the Dead remake is one of the few movies that I enjoy in Zack Snyder’s filmography. Its not that I dislike it so much as I’m just not a big fan of a good portion of his latest work with DC movies. But that’s a discussion for another day (maybe if Movies and Tea ever does a season on Zack Synder). As a full length feature film debut, Snyder shows some great potential. The remake takes some similar choices such as its setting and also having a pregnant woman in the group however, that about stops since it then proceeds with a great choice of having a bigger cast of characters. It amends the slow pace of the first film. Of course, the arguing point of having more characters is that these people will have less depth and a varying amount of time spent with them but then on the upside, gives more bodies to be lost when the time comes. In reality, zombie movies work a lot like shark movies in that aspect, right?

The array of characters actually does give a lot of room for more relationships to bond and some standout characters to pop up. Sarah Polley as the main female character Ana is really great as she is rather tough right from the start to the end and she forms a connection with Michael (Jake Weber) who is a quiet and resourceful character that seems to have some story behind him as well. One of the more fun times is the slice of joy that Ving Rhames’ character Kenneth finds as he befriends a man across the parking lot that runs the gun shop. With security guards and people of different backgrounds and priorities in mind, this group eventually faces the same issue of having to find a way to exit which leads them to a credit scene that shows their escape and what happens.

Watching the original and then watching the remake again actually makes for a great appreciation since the script itself as well as some of the supporting roles give a nod to the original. Whether its having Tom Savini also pop up in the role as the country sheriff as well as one of the main characters in the original, Ken Foree pops up as a Televangelist role saying the same line that he did in the original “When there’s no more room in Hell, the dead will walk the Earth”. I may have forgotten some of the other things but noticing these little elements adds a lot to this film in general.

That’s it for this double feature!
Have you seen Dawn of the Dead (original, remake or both)? Thoughts?

Fantasia Festival 2020: Perdida (2019)

Perdida (2019)

Director: Jorge Michel Grau

Cast: José Maria de Tavira, Cristina Rodlo, Paulina Davila, Juan Carlos Colombo, Sonia Franco, Paulette Hernandez, Luis Fernando Pena

Shattered by the unexpected news of their irreversible break-up, an aspiring orchestra conductor is puzzled by his girlfriend’s mysterious and seemingly inexplicable case of disappearance. But, can he look beyond the facts? – IMDB

Perdida is the 2019 remake of the 2011 Columbian thriller called La Cara Oculta aka The Hidden Face (review). The source material itself is an outstanding piece of psychological horror thriller kind of deal with great execution and a stellar twist. It comes as a surprise after some research for this film that there was a remake before this one which was Bollywood film Murder 3. Its always been somewhat of a mystery in my mind whether knowing the twist of this plot would change its value in a second viewing and its probably one of the reasons that I haven’t revisited the original since I saw it years ago in the early days of the blog. Its also a movie that is very rarely talked about and it makes me wonder whether people actually have seen the original. Putting all that aside, Perdida was one that had a lot to live up to and one that is hard to not at least compare it to its original a little especially since movies that live in my brain years after its viewing is a rarity.

For the most part, Perdida stick fairly close to the source material especially in structure. Its atmosphere and the characters all come together quite well. Its interpretation of the suspense and the thriller also works well. What it does really well is the cinematography as it creates all the tension with ambiance as well as making some visually appealing scenes using the dim lighting and shadows. There are some passionate sex scenes and then the music score is probably what blends the best with the film which pulls together the orchestra conductor profession of Eric. The score builds up a lot of the scenes. At the same time, the contrast of subtlety in sound also crafts the suspenseful side of the story.

Where Perdida might not quite work so well is that the characters feel a little empty. The main leads between Eric, Fabiana and Carolina do a good job as their dynamic and the scenes sees the shift in those relationships. However, the need to cast suspicion on the husband being responsible isn’t as prominent and that has to do with a lack of the police officers presence in the story. There’s a bigger focus on the passionate love between Eric and Fabiana, a little bit of Eric’s obsession for this conducting career and a bit of his darker character perhaps, while Carolina is a someone who seems very resourceful but also having some extremes in her character.

Overall, Perdida on its own is a decent thriller. It follows the source material a lot and that originally had a very good story to begin with. The three main leads as Eric, Fabiana and Carolina all do a decent job while the other elements also come together fairly well. They also make the new home as a setting some kind of life as well with the little things that happen. In case anyone hasn’t seen The Hidden Face or Perdida, I’m going to avoid talking about the twist here which is executed fairly well. However, on a personal level, Perdida didn’t quite live up as a remake of La Cara Oculta since in my memory, the original still seemed to have a better control of a lot of these elements but that’s all comparison which if you haven’t seen it, Perdida is done pretty well overall.

Double Feature: Child’s Play 3 (1991) & Child’s Play (2019)

Welcome to the second half of the Child’s Play double feature. If you missed the review of the first 2 movies, you can find it HERE. I’m know that I’m missing a few other movies between Child’s Play 3 and the 2019 remake/reboot (whatever you want to call it). Either way, this is the pairing that I’ve gone with. Let’s check it out!

Child’s Play 3 (1991)

Child's Play 3

Director: Jack Bender

Cast: Justin Whalin, Perrey Reeves, Jeremy Sylvers, Travis Fine, Dean Jacobson, Brad Dourif, Peter Haskell, Dakin Matthews, Andrew Robinson, Burke Byrnes

Chucky returns for revenge against Andy, the young boy who defeated him, and now a teenager living in a military academy. – IMDB

I’m not going to lie that Child’s Play 3 is the one in these four movies of the franchise that I feel is the foggiest as I’m writing this. In some ways, it feels also very similar to the first film mostly because Chucky employs the same schemes to try to get back his life. In reality, if there is anything to truly appreciate about Child’s Play is that its killer doll has one goal (or well, 2): to get back a human body and to track down Andy. In this one, he uses his same schemes towards another young boy but unlike before, Andy is now a teenager and uses every way he can once he finds out to protect the little boy.

Child’s Play 3 is okay. It is third in a franchise and changes the setting to the military academy. There’s still a lot of people that fall into the trap that Chucky presents. At the same time, it is also quite predictable to watch. In some ways, its pretty on par with the sequel however still lacking the quality of the first one. Perhaps, its just that the freshness of the killer doll elements is not changed around as much. Its really a question of whether Chucky will succeed in his ploys.

Child’s Play (2019)

Child's Play

Director: Lars Klevberg

Cast: Gabriel Bateman, Aubrey Plaza, Trent Redekop, Beatrice Kitsos, Ty Consiglio

A mother gives her 13-year-old son a toy doll for his birthday, unaware of its more sinister nature. – IMDB

As we get remakes and reboots of all the horror films of 80s and earlier, everything is just spilling back onto the scene and its a great time to revisit those original films, like in the case of this one where this 2019 remake was the reason that I even started watching Child’s Play in the first place. 2019 Child’s Play is very much set in the present as it turns Chucky into a corrupted AI turning him into a malicious killer doll. In concept, this is the way to translate this film into the current technology and times.  Its not quite as satisfying in goal especially since the malicious AI plot is done rather frequently in current horror or thriller films. What gave Child’s Play the edge of a voodoo and actual human soul transferred into a killer doll gives this one less purpose perhaps. I just wonder if there was no comparison of the original and we took this solely as a standalone film, would it have seemed better in the world of corrupted AI film.

The general expectation of a remake/reboot is that it will not be quite as good as its original. In the case of Child’s Play, its just too easy to figure out. Instead of having some well-built moments and some creepiness, here it falls into a lot of predictable jumpscares. It succeeds at startling momentarily sometimes but in terms of being scary, it just doesn’t quite get there. Its not a horrible movie though and still quite at par with the quality of the second and third movie.  Its a rather lackluster movie experience. There are pacing and execution issues. Although the AI element is done alright. Set in another circumstance, maybe it would have done better. 

That’s it for this double feature!
I feel like Child’s Play franchise (at least the four that I’ve watched so far) is not really my cup of tea. The first movie does well and then the next 3 are all pretty much at the same level of rather indifference

What are your thoughts on the Child’s Play franchise? What’s your favorite movie of this franchise?

Double Feature: Pet Sematary (2019) & Snowpiercer (2013)

As we put the holidays behind us, the normal double feature is back in action. This time, we’re catching up with some 2010s movie. The first film is this year’s Pet Sematary remake of the adaptation. The second is 2013’s Snowpiercer which has been on my to-watch list for much longer than I had intended. Let’s check it out!

Pet Sematary (2019)

Pet Sematary 2019

Director: Kevin Kolsch, Dennis Widmyer

Cast: Jason Clarke, Amy Seimetz, John Lithgow, Jete Laurence, Obssa Ahmed, Alyssa Brooke Levine

Dr. Louis Creed and his wife, Rachel, relocate from Boston to rural Maine with their two young children. The couple soon discover a mysterious burial ground hidden deep in the woods near their new home.  – IMDB

I’ve never read the source material or seen the 1989 Pet Sematary adaptation so I am basing this review solely on my feeling towards the story interpreted here and how it was executed.

Pet Sematary is an interesting one to talk about. On one hand, Stephen King stories are always quite an intriguing entry to discover as his storytelling skills are quite extraordinary especially with the execution of a story to its characters to the premise. This one is about bringing back the dead and how it all starts with a Pet Sematary and the burial of a cat. The story itself is a lot of fun and remains in that dark and creepy phase because any horror watcher, even the not so seasoned, knows that black cats are bad and bringing back the dead is not a good thing. There’s a lot of playing with bad omens in this story and yet the characters go right ahead to take its viewers into this creepy place as the neighbor takes a new resident of the city deep in the forest. At the same time, simply the different rituals of pet burials at the beginning are enough to bring a little chill down the spine with some creepy kids and scary masks.

While Pet Sematary does build a decent horror atmosphere, it isn’t doing a lot of difference. There are some rather predictable scares, jumpscares and whatnot. Its more expected to happen. At the same time, other than a rather convincing John Lithgow playing the neighbor and the daughter working out rather well, I’m not a huge fan of any of the other cast as Jason Clarke doesn’t stand out of a first choice for this role. He isn’t bad but then, its the normal horror film acting here.

Horror movies are so overused in all its genres that sometimes its hard to find that place of being unique. There’s a good story here and I would assume that it all goes to the strength of the source material and an alright execution. It’d be interesting to hear what others would think of this one: those who can compare to the source material or the first film adaptation.

Snowpiercer (2013)

Snowpiercer

Director (and co-screenplay): Bong Joon Ho

Cast: Chris Evans, Jamie Bell, Tilda Swinton, Kang-ho Song, Ed Harris, John Hurt, Octavia Spencer, Ko Asung, Ewen Bremner, Alison Pill, Luke Pasqualino, Vlad Ivanov

In a future where a failed climate-change experiment has killed all life except for the lucky few who boarded the Snowpiercer, a train that travels around the globe, a new class system emerges. – IMDB

Snowpiercer sets its story in a future where the world has frozen over and the only survivors live on the train. As the lowest class tries to break forward to the leader at the front of the train, the different sections that the group pass through has its somewhat subtle hints on classes and are a big highlight in this story. I’m not sure why South Koreans seem to thrive on movies set in fighting through enclosed spaces especially on trains (like Train to Busan), but its definitely a great setting. Snowpiercer isn’t just a great setting in its claustrophobic and tight spaces where it does all its action, but its also a story packed with a lot of twist whether its group of characters or its plot twists and the different surprises that it delivers. Its visually very nice as each shot is framed very well, using all its elements and different areas having their different colors and such. Whether its pacing and execution, Snowpiercer does a fabulous job at delivering a good deal of drama, action and thrills.

Any good script also needs a great cast to deliver those great performances. In this case, the casting is right on point. With Chris Evans as the main character Curtis who leads the operation but doesn’t want to be considered a leader to his right hand man Edgar (Jamie Bell) and the no-nonsense mom who wants to find her son back, Tanya (Octavia Spencer) with a powerful presence of a disabled man, Gilliam (John Hurt). Along the way, they pick up the security mastermind of the train to help them escape, Namgong Minsoo (Kang ho Song) and daughter with some odd powers Yona (Ko Asung). As I mention Kang-ho Song which is a fave of this director specifically, Song is a great actor who has a huge range of acting capabilities as seen in another South Korean film I had seen previously called A Taxi Driver (review) The dynamic of this group brings a lot to the table as their personality does contrast each other and adds to their characters. Each having their own depth and further character development as the story moves along.

On the other side, the villainous side are a lot of lesser known group of characters or perhaps well reflected in the whole concept of the top tier always being less people with just more resources. In the forefront, defending the leader of this train is Mason, played spectacularly by Tilda Swinton. Along the way, they have a little cameo performance from a school teacher on the train by Alison Pill which doesn’t do a lot but has its moment. Finally, at the front of the train comes the leader Wilford who is played by Ed Harris. The band of villains might seem small but there are some great ones mentioned here and then there is the more assassin type who just never dies. I think if anything, the unrelenting bad guys or even sidekick always seems to be the most annoying to watch, probably, my only minor issue with this movie.

That’s it for this Double Feature!
Have you seen 2019’s Pet Sematary and/or Snowpiercer? Thoughts?

Fantasia Festival 2019: Door Lock (2018)

Door Lock (2018)

Door Lock

Director (and co-writer): Kwon Lee

Cast: Hyo-jin Kong, Sung-oh Kim, Ye-won Kim

Door Lock is a 2018 South Korean thriller about a woman who suspects that someone is trying to break into her apartment and tries to figure out who it is.

Door Lock is the South Korean remake of 2011 film Sleep Tight except taking it from the other perspective. If you haven’t seen Sleep Tight, you probably want to see it after this one, mostly because then the thrills of figuring out who is the bad guy will be taken away. At the same time, if you have seen it, then this one might just be an exercise of watching the story from a different angle set in a different city. Falling into the category of never having seen the original, Door Lock is a mystery thriller mixed a different twist on the home invasion genre.

Starting with the opening scene of a woman going home to her apartment and being attacked suddenly, Door Lock quickly changes to a woman who wakes up and has a certain routine that has set herself in almost an compulsive way so the little changes automatically spark her attention. Despite her safety precautions of moving to a big building with better security and installing an electronic door lock, she still feels unsafe however one night, she is woken up by the sound of someone trying to break into her apartment frantically. Except her suspicions aren’t enough to keep the police to investigate further so she decides to take matters into her own hands.

Door Lock isn’t exactly a new idea and in the thriller department, it really takes noticing that one clue and that one dialogue in the movie to already have suspicions of the invader. However, there is some nice execution here. Right from the beginning, there is a sense of being followed as the camera will move from different angles and through surveillance cameras and from ceiling shots. Its quite creative and adds to the unsettling feeling of being observed. The sounds aren’t overpowering as well. It raises as the scene intensifies but also takes the care to focus on the little sounds in the surrounding like the clock ticking for example and isolating onto the everyday sounds amplified. There’s one scene that the soundtrack done really well where it follows two characters and there is a contrast on the soundtracks playing which was unique. The audience also gets a lot of the insider information, know more than the main character which works especially as the quick reveal of what is going on which leaves the rest of the story to question who, why and how.

In South Korean films, there’s always a notion about things being too slow because of its lengthy run time. In this case, it actually is the opposite. Its shorter run time actually deters it a little. It does give it a good pacing and the plot moves forward fairly quickly however there’s a lot of shallow characters especially the main girl who only gets caught in all the mess but feels never gives enough to be invested in her safety to begin with. Plus, the predictable misdirection to suspect other characters are fairly easy to see through as well. Perhaps the one thing that gets to be taken away from this is the concept of safety in the society and the false pretenses of it whether its the people around our everyday lives to the bigger buildings feeling more secure or the fancy gadgets to ensure safety all seems to have the loopholes that can be broken especially because they are also involving humans who might not all have the right intentions.

Overall, Door Lock is a decent thriller (from the opinion of someone who has never seen the original Spanish film). It has a few flaws to it but also has some tension and is fairly well-paced. Its cinematography and background sound design and soundtrack does it a lot of favors to build the atmosphere. Even if the characters are fairly shallow, the message it conveys is an important one.

Double Feature: Colossal (2016) & Flatliners (2017)

Time for a little non-Valentine’s Day double feature. Its been a little bit of an overloaded day. But I’m falling behind and really want to catch up. We can all take a little break from the marathon and on lovey-dovey films for a while. Plus, Colossal and Flatliners have been sitting for a week or two in my queue and I really wanted to get it out of the way. I am slowly also catching up with 2017 movies whenever they are available. Colossal is on Netflix so let’s check these two out!

Colossal (2016)

colossal

Director (and writer): Nacho Vigalondo

Cast: Anne Hathaway, Jason Sudeikis, Dan Stevens, Austin Stowell, Tim Blake Nelson

Gloria is an out-of-work party girl forced to leave her life in New York City and move back home. When reports surface that a giant creature is destroying Seoul, she gradually comes to the realization that she is somehow connected to this phenomenon. – IMDB

I heard so many great things about Colossal before I sat down to watch it and still didn’t really know what it was all about. However, I’m a fan of Anne Hathaway and it looked pretty fun so here we are. Nacho Vigalondo is an odd director to say the least. He writes these scripts that go in one direction and then take a sudden change in direction, particularly in tone, super fast. I felt that way about Open Windows (review) and I feel that way about Colossal. However, Colossal is an pretty incredible movie. As I think about it more, the more I feel that this movie was done so well. In the beginning, Anne Hathaway’s Gloria is somewhat of a wreck and she meets Oscar, played by Jason Sudeikis back in her hometown and they become friends along with a few of his buddies. Everything is fine and dandy as they get her settled in as she tries to rekindle her romance with Tim (Dan Stevens) to prove that she’s taking control of her own life. At the same time, they soon realize that there is a monster terrorizing Seoul and its one that has returned after many years before which she soon learns is linked to her.

Colossal relies a lot on surprising its audience with the unknown factors and taking it those twists it shows. As crazy as the ideas here are, it works really well together. The tone shift works to the advantage of the film. The main cast is truly focused on Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis and boy, do they deliver in spades. That is probably the best part of the film as we watch these two characters develop as the story unfolds. Its truly quite awesome! The uniqueness of the story and the elements it puts together is just pure fun.

Flatliners (2017)

flatliners

Director: Niels Arden Oplev

Cast: Ellen Page, Diego Luna, Nina Dobrev, James Norton, Kiersey Clemons, Kiefer Sutherland

Five medical students, obsessed by what lies beyond the confines of life, embark on a daring experiment: by stopping their hearts for short periods, each triggers a near-death experience – giving them a firsthand account of the afterlife. – IMDB

Before I start, I guess its good to note that I haven’t seen the original yet therefore I have no comparison to how this remake or reboot or whatever you call it, is. With that said, Flatliners is one of those movies that makes you feel a little let down. On one hand, I’m pretty happy with the cast themselves. Ellen Page and Diego Luna should be a seller already. Add in some TV stardom from Nina Dobrev who is slowly moving into more films in 2017 with XXX: The Return of Xander Cage early in the year and some other films here and there before that, she just seems to need the right movie to show off that she’s more than Elena from The Vampire Diaries. The idea and concept behind Flatliners is a really neat idea. The idea of encountering death and facing something that shouldn’t be crossed as they treaded darker and darker into some kind of limbo as they tested the boundaries. It was all very clever in the beginning. And that is exactly the problem here, the plot dies out so fast. It just starts going downhill because the movie loses its objective and its momentum and seems to fall flat as the cycle of them reviving each other was pushing further to the boundaries but the cycle was always the same over and over again.

Flatliners seems to forget which genre it wants to embrace. On one hand, it has moments of thriller/horror elements but those never last long enough other than jump scares to make it feel very effective. The dark limbo world they go to worked for a while until it was very predictable to see what was going to happen next. The characters also didn’t have much development. Sure, there was a slight understanding of their personal dark secrets but its all very on the surface because the rest of the time when they were dying or reviving each other, they were drowning in their liberated mind drinking and partying with less and less clothes on. If thats what an added knowledge means, then maybe this experimental revelation might be a little wasted on this group of medical students.

I really wanted to like Flatliners and it started out pretty strong. I only wished it had managed to keep that momentum and develop their characters more. In general , it all dials down to their execution. This was quite the disappointing movie unfortunately.

Horror Marathon: IT (2017)

If you missed yesterday’s review of the 1990 miniseries IT, you can read it HERE.

IT is easily one of my most anticipated movies of 2017. The images and the atmosphere and seeing the Bill Skarsgard transformation was all really captivating. It may be the horror genre of films I’ve chosen lately but I’ve been struggling to be truly frightened by a film and seeing as I have a deep-rooted fear of clowns, this seemed like one that would do the trick.

IT (2017)

IT 2017

Director: Andy Muschietti

Cast: Bill Skarsgard, Jaeden Lieberher, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer, Wyatt Oleff, Nicolas Hamilton, Owen Teague, Stephen Bogaert

A group of bullied kids band together when a shapeshifting demon, taking the appearance of a clown, begins hunting children. – IMDB

IT is everything that you can imagine it to be. It does atmosphere and the horror really well. IT himself portrayed by Bill Skarsgard and his eye tricks are downright creepy. This movie is the IT that I had expected from the 1990 miniseries. However, with that said, I have to say that IT also suffered from a great PR team. Maybe not so great and also why I usually try to stay away from horror movie trailers because a lot of the effective scares were shown off in the trailers making all the scares rather expected with a few exceptions. Still, the experience of watching IT was a tense thriller with horror elements. And that hits my soft spot because I love movies that gives me a lot of thrill and has me anxious and tense.

IT 2017

For this remake, I can’t do this write-up without first talking about Pennywise. The 2017 Pennywise finds a balance between the friendly clown and striking all those horror elements perfectly. Bill Skarsgard has had some supporting roles here and there, even for myself, as I looked through his filmography, those roles didn’t quite leave any impressions because it wasn’t significant enough. The only one I know him from is as one of the main characters in Netflix Original Hemlock Grove and that show is plenty odd. I have a love hate relationship with it on various elements and thats why I haven’t finished the final season yet. However, my impressions of Bill Skarsgard stems from there. I think he is a fine looking guy so its hard to imagine him as Pennywise and actually pulling off this role so remarkably that we can forget the man is behind all this makeup and that is the most impressive. Ten out of ten for Pennywise!

IT

When the film finished, we had a huge discussion about this and 1990 miniseries. It was a long one so maybe I’ll finally do the adaptation, remake and source material idea that I never followed through with (yet). One of the main talks was about how the kids were played. Both has a commendable cast and very convincing portrayals of their respective roles. In short, my husband enjoyed the 1990 version of the kids and I thought these kids did a great job. In fact, The Losers had a lot more individuality in this one. You can really tell them apart as they accentuated how these characters are supposed to be. Perhaps having just seen Stranger Things helped and didn’t for Finn Wolfhard as it got confusing with the bike scene however he did a great job at being Richie Tozier especially with his speedtalking and the accentuating his fears. The Eddie character stood out especially with all his concerns and fears which had some comic relief in various parts. In general, there was a decent balance of action, thrills and a little humor. However, whenever Pennywise showed up in whatever form was always creepy and tense. The star of the Losers is Sophia Lillis playing Beverly Marsh. She was so convincing and fantastic. It was a lot of fun to watch her.

IT 2017

IT 2017 has some parts that stayed more true to the source material (and I’ve read the majority of what happens here) and does the parts the miniseries couldn’t. At the same time, they did make some changes that still made it effective. Changing up what the original or source material had never bothers me as long as it adds to it and still makes sense. In here, it does make sense. IT is made up by a lot of moments however, there is still a strong feeling of the bond they have created in The Losers. There are some nice effects and the atmosphere works really well. Pennywise is creepy and fantastic. Its a mostly tense movie. If you have avoided the trailers up till now, continue to do so, so that this movie becomes much more effective with each of the build up to the tense moments feeling fresh. Other than that, sit back and be thrilled by IT. It may have gotten a little overhyped by its PR and the trailers revealed too much but the film itself hit all the right notes for me. There were some parts that slowed down a little but it picked right up in the next scene so it never quite feels like it lingers.

Overall, IT packs the perfect horror thriller experience. Yet again, Stephen King has created some great characters and in this, we get a much more deeper look at the hints of how Pennywise came to be. We get to see his lair, which is captivatingly much different in a good way. The Losers are great because they feel like they are their own individuals and bring a certain something of their own skills to the table. My favorite is Sophia Lillis who plays Beverly. Now, I’m just sitting around wondering who will be cast for Part 2 and their adult roles. Its one I’m looking forward to a lot!

Have you seen the remake of IT?

Ghost in the Shell (2017)

My goal this year was that if I could go see all 10 movies in my 2017 anticipated list, I’d be pretty happy. Now, of course, this year is a mammoth of a year with a ton of great looking movies, however, I do have to say this movie remake is one that I’ve never been more on the fence about but we do love the anime quite a bit and the trailer looks pretty decent so we decided to head out. Hopefully, it will be decent. Ghost in the Shell was great and honestly, last year was the first time I finally saw it.

Let’s check it out!

Ghost in the Shell (2017)

ghost in the shell 2017

Director: Rupert Sanders

Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Pilou Asbaek, Takeshi Kitano, Juliette Binoche, Michael Pitt, Chin Han

In the near future, Major is the first of her kind: A human saved from a terrible crash, who is cyber-enhanced to be a perfect soldier devoted to stopping the world’s most dangerous criminals. –IMDB

If you would like to hear a quick discussion review over at That Moment In, you can find it below:

Now for my own full review below:

When Ghost in the Shell opens, its hard to not be drawn in by its appealing visuals. One of the biggest strengths also lie in this wonderment of the neo-Hong Kong that has been created visually. Some of the most appealing scenes are replicated almost as beautiful in their own way as the animated feature showed. It is colorful and a little dark and extremely technologically advanced. There is no doubt that the visuals steal the entire show. There is also a very pretty score that accompanies it to elevate the emotions and the story and even the suspense. Those two factors are absolutely my favorite part of Ghost in the Shell. Going back to creating the futuristic Hong Kong, I think the best compliment from myself who has been to Hong Kong many times, is that there were many moments and locations and settings that reminded me of the city be it residential or architecture.

Ghost in the Shell

However, Ghost in the Shell does fall short a little in various places. For myself, I felt that the way that Scarlett Johansson portrayed Major, who is the first of her kind “ghost” who is composed of a mechanical body but powered by a human brain, emphasizes heavily on overacting as simple as her walking motions seem more robotic. There’s something that seems so abrupt and blunt in her character. Perhaps the best word is that the story is now deducted to a more simple basis and is more straight forward with less between the lines moments that will make you think too much. Most answers will be revealed by the finale and that is something that is very different. It might not be just the character of Major that lacks depth or character development in some ways. There are still moments and bonds in the story that are apparent and that work well. Characters such as Batou played by Pilou Asbaek, Aramaki played by Takeshi Kitano and Dr. Ouelet played by Juliette Binoche definitely were memorable characters which decent arcs.

Ghost in the Shell

As someone who isn’t very familiar with the original manga or the animated feature released in the 90s, I looked at this one from a more standalone point of view. Obviously, there were scenes that were so memorable from the animated movie that I remembered and was done well here. I’ll go more in depth for a comparison soon in the new segment I’m working on after I take a look at the manga but as a standalone, there is something about making a story that is more linear and straight forward like this one which makes it easier to digest for a new audience and for those like myself who aren’t incredibly in love with the source material or the original movie. The visuals and score are beautiful and suitable for what they are trying to tell. Everything on the surface works really well even if it wasn’t quite the in depth experience that perhaps the source material had wanted to put together. The story could have more between the lines aspects however as an action popcorn flick, the action sequences are done well and flow smooth.

Ghost in the Shell

Overall, Ghost in the Shell is a relatively good action popcorn flick. It brings in beautiful visuals and a moving score accompanied with a linear story and a decent cast who pulls off a good homage to the animated movie. There are some odd story choices here that justify why we have the whole “whitewash” aspect especially casting Scarlett Johansson and the answer might be acceptable to some (like my husband) or odd to others (like myself). However, the action scenes are done well and the story, while could use some depth, was pretty good although a little slow in the beginning. Between me and you, I fell asleep for 15 minutes somewhere in the first half, so blame it on a late showing or that it was slow because I haven’t figured out which it is yet but it did happen. As a standalone, it works well enough and a good movie experience.

Have you seen Ghost in the Shell? What did you think of it?
Are you a fan of the manga and/or animated movie?

Halloween Marathon Finale: Evil Dead (2013)

Its the Halloween Finale!!! We’ve made it to the end and what else to end it with but the final movie in the featured franchise(s), right? It is time for the 2013 remake of Evil Dead. I’m not sure if we can call it a remake but, I guess its rather a modernized version of it all. Wait, I’m getting ahead of myself! I went into this one with a tad bit of fear and rather anticipating it because after seeing Don’t Breathe (review HERE) this past summer at Fantasia Festival, I was having high hopes for Fede Alvarez doing this one and Jane Levy being in this as well. It sure sounds like a good start and I had a warning about it being disgusting at some parts. With all that in mind, its time to jump in!

Evil Dead (2013)

Evil Dead

Director: Fede Alvarez

Cast: Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Jessica Lucas, Lou Taylor Pucci, Elizabeth Blackmore

Five friends head to a remote cabin, where the discovery of a Book of the Dead leads them to unwittingly summon up demons living in the nearby woods.-IMDB

Some of you lovers of the original Evil Dead are probably going to judge me but I had a lot of fun and fear watching this version of Evil Dead. Maybe I’m just more modernized. It was good that they paid quite a bit of respect to the original by keeping a lot of the iconic scenes and moments. The roles are generally visible in this cast as compared to the original. There are some other different imagery and actually some of the roles seem to be supersized to help solve the mystery a little quicker. What I do like is that it was still a rather quick watch. My guess by memory (which I could be wrong) is that it was about a hundred minutes in length and that is the rare formula but one that works well for film. Much different from the original, this one felt like it built atmosphere better and it had a better backstory than just some friends going out to a secluded cabin for no reason. Kudos for the cabin looking basically exactly the same as the original. It is these key things that should remain intact especially when it doesn’t matter how modernized society gets compared to the wilderness. Back to the reason, they are there to help one of them go cold turkey and get rid of her drug addiction and makes a pact that no matter how much she wants to leave, they have to commit to keeping her there and staying. It also helps that the relationships of the characters are developed here and we can sense a tension between the brother who left a while back and the sister who is the reason they are all here and the backdrop of what they set and the dilemma of the situation as it grows and seeing what decisions they will make.

Evil Dead 2013

After a whole franchise of the three previous movies and reading through the comments of what made this series memorable, it is fairly obvious that this remake might not seem completely holding that same campiness that built its reputation. However, something about this Evil Dead gets part of it right. Most of it I brushed over up there. The main thing is the atmosphere. Fede Alvarez builds a rather good atmosphere. He never rushes the story. Everyone wants to see the remake have similarities to the original and in fact, guilty as charged, when the violence and death started, it was an automatic expression to see if what went down in the woods would happen in this one or whether a Bruce Campbell character would come up and have to take up the courage to cut off their evil hand, especially when we already know that the possessed girl in the basement still pops her head out as the door is chained shut which also is the only scene I knew about before even seeing the original or this one. Maybe they don’t hold the same vibe because this one still is rather serious but rightfully so because the atmosphere in this one is set up differently while keeping the brutal violence and gore paired up with a lot of creepy moments. (That could be because I’m an amateur at horror and I get scared really easily.)

Evil Dead 2013

The cast in this one is actually quite decent as well. I already told you where I saw Jane Levy. She doesn’t disappoint as Mia as she fights the pain of getting rid of the addiction but also brings in the question of making what she sees and experiences a reasonable doubt that her friends and brother has at what she tells them because it could well be a hallucination or a story she concocted to get out of the pain. Her character actually gets quite impressive and wow to the transformation. That really is all I can say. Aside from that, Jessica Lucas is the second familiar face here and that is because she’s been in Melrose Place and Cloverfield and I think, 90210. (Yeah, I watch a lot of teen shows.) I actually like her as an actress so she did alright for her role here. We can’t really get out of talking about characters without looking at the main guy who plays David, Mia’s brother and portrayed by Shiloh Fernandez. Looking at his filmography, the only other place I saw him was in The East (also a film that I love a lot, review HERE). David was a rather tough character and in the end, it is hard to say whether we do root for him. He kind of is the new Bruce Campbell but maybe not. The core of teens in the secluded cabin and horror always builds up these typical groups and to be honest, it wasn’t all the different here. In fact, the characters still make some rather stupid decisions.

Evil Dead 2013

The main discussion of remakes is really what makes it important. For those new to the franchise, this is a fresh start without having to know the past but having the fans appreciate the little bits of detail that give a nod/homage to the original. Evil Dead does well on this front. With fresh eyes, perhaps it is still worth it because it is different. For those who has seen the original, the main thing is whether those changes were really good. As I mentioned countless times, the atmosphere is the winner here whether its the gloomy and creepy woods or the house or even the transformations and how it all went down. The opening helped the story develop before just dropping friends into the scene. It also was good to take into consideration the book deciphering and making it something they could discover and piece together on their own. However, there is an unfair amount of time for these characters. We know who is the main characters here and it makes it effective for us to care about them but with five people in the house and everyone having to eventually be involved (and you know and expect it even before it happens), its hard to care for characters when they aren’t always apparent. The particular person I mean goes mostly to the very disposable character that plays David’s girlfriend who actually in this remake has a pretty brutal outcome and nods to a rather entertaining and important scene from the original trilogy and yet, while it was quite a bit of impact to see that scene happen, it didn’t make us care as much because the character essentially meant less. It is these little things that happen that perhaps may not shine as much for those who liked the original. I’m just guessing here because some of you who read the review of the original Evil Dead know that I wasn’t particularly raving about it. I much preferred Evil Dead 2 and especially Army of Darkness over it. Some of those scenes really just flashed in a thought like that and whether it was as effective as its original moment. I’m guessing the feeling is going to be different for everyone.

Overall, this version of Evil Dead is one I liked quite a bit. It gave me the creeps and it was rather gory at parts. It did a great job at building a ominous atmosphere and the characters and backstory here actually have a little more depth and gives the situation and the characters a little more meat. It doesn’t have the same tone as the original for the most part and focuses a lot on the suspense and gore but the pacing is better here. On top of that, it is respectful to the original by keeping the location and many scenes similar and to the fans, perhaps that might mean something (even if it is a backlash at how it might not be done right). For the most part, Evil Dead was done right and it was a gory, creepy and rather intriguing horror to watch especially how they changed it up or kept it the same. Some of those decisions are good or bad for the movie but in the end, I think it merited more wins than questionable fails. For that, Evil Dead is definitely a win in my book even if its not perfect.

Have you seen Evil Dead? Did you like it? 

This marks the end of the Halloween marathon/month! Thanks so much for dropping by!
To see a full rundown of this month’s marathon reviews, you can find it under Movies on the above menu.