Sunday, February 15, 2009

REVIEW: Friday the 13th/ The International...

Alright, so this has been a really hectic weekend, however, I did get a chance to see two new films this weekend, both of which reminded me that sometimes the beginning of the year doesn't have to always suck. That said, I'm just going into my brief thoughts on it, so here we go, with Friday the 13th...

Here's the synopsis...

Young friends Whitney (Amanda Righetti), Mike (Nick Mennell), Richie (Ben Feldman), Amanda (America Olivio), and Wade (Jonathan Sadowski) end up missing in the woods near the abandoned Camp Crystal Lake (made famous by the original 1980 film), after allowing their curiosity to get the better of them and visiting the site where a psychopathic killer resides. Six weeks later, Trent (Travis Van Winkle) invites friends Jenna (Danielle Panabaker), Bree (Julianna Guill), Chewie (Aaron Yoo), Chelsea (Willa Ford), Lawrence (Arlen Escarpta), and Nolan (Ryan Hansen) to his father's cabin on Crystal Lake for a weekend of sex, booze, pot smoking, and water skiing. However their seemingly fun weekend soon escalates into a nightmare after lone traveler Clay (Jared Padalecki) shows up looking for his missing sister Whitney. The police have searched with no luck, and Clay is now searching alone. Local citizens have advised Clay not to go into those woods, because anyone who shows up missing is already dead, and he is wasting his time. During his search, one of the students, Jenna, decides to help Clay find his sister, and they go into the woods. They find the abandoned Camp Crystal Lake and search the dilapidated camp house for any signs of his sister. They soon find themselves face to hockey-mask with evil reborn, reimagined, and rebooted, and his name is Jason Vorhees. (Thanks to IMDB for this and the synopsis for The International.)

First off, I love Tool Academy. It's just fun to see the lives of bras be completely destroyed. However, when they enter my films, I will go Chris Brown (critically, not literally) on the film. The characters, or more so the script that this film is based around is quite possibly the most awkward and just horribly written films I've seen in a long time, probably since Space Chimps. That all said, it's really rewarding to see people get what makes the films they make theirs.

This is the newest film from Marcus Nispel and the Michael Bay led crew behind the remake of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and the attention to what made the original so good that they gave to TCM, they did the exact same for Friday the 13th. It's a B-grade film, with lots of kills and nudity, something that made 80's horror films just that, 80's horror films. While they really aren't my cup of tea, this preaches right to the choir of Hot Topic laden people that made the original such a cult hit.

Also, something David Cronenberg has said, is that true horror comes from a level of sympathy for the characters. While there isn't to many people to be sympathetic for in the film, the duo you follow near the end, and the reason behind them searching the woods, is rather touching, and makes the ending that much better.

You have all of the Friday the 13th staples, and one other thing that really made this film work for me was the opening. It's about a good 20 minutes of a group of what seem like college kids, and while it plays heavily into the plot, after the final thing happens, and the banner saying Friday the 13th comes up, you know you are in for a ride, and honestly, I haven't seen a reaction come from a title screen like this one maybe ever.

It's a horribly written and acted horror film that didn't work totally for me, but seen with a packed, and I mean packed theatre, I couldn't help but kind of get sucked into it a little bit. Horrifically schlocky, but fun. Rent it with some friends.

FRIDAY THE 13TH - 5/10

Now onto The International...

In The International, Interpol Agent Louis Salinger and Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Eleanor Whitman are determined to bring to justice one of the world's most powerful banks. Uncovering illegal activities including money laundering, arms trading, and the destabilization of governments, Salinger and Whitman's investigation takes them from Berlin to Milan to New York and to Istanbul. Finding themselves in a high-stakes chase across the globe, their relentless tenacity puts their own lives at risk as the bank will stop at nothing - even murder - to continue financing terror and war.

This is the newest film from Perfume/Run Lola, Run director, Tom Tykwer, and is a bold step out from the senses that the man so perfectly dwells in. It stars Clive Owen and Naomi Watts, both of which are quite solid in the film.

The true star of this film for me however was Tykwer and his direction. There are some really breathtaking shots, particularly the shooting of a political figure and a shoot out in the Guggenheim, that are just a couple of really solid set pieces. It's a conspiracy film, with a lot of reflection on modern affairs, and none of it was really done heavy handed. The script is really well written, and all the roles are done quite well. The cinematography from Frank Griebe is solid too, but there are quite a few flaws.

Where as a film like Michael Clayton delves into a less action oriented film, the conspiracy and unfolding of the said conspiracy, and the the resulting film, is so much more compelling. There are a few solid action set pieces, but they seem so over the top, and the plot really doesn't fit the scope or type of film that it wanted to be. Also, I don't think I've seen a more annoying or aggressively overt score in quite a long time. The ultimate flaw for a thriller is the amount of times I check my watch, if at all, and you could have pasted my phone to my forehead.

A solid thriller, that plot wise and direction wise were a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde of mediocrity. Again, rent it, if Tykwer interests you. Second thought, rent Cache or Michael Clayton instead.

THE INTERNATIONAL - 5/10

Sorry for the short reviews. I wanted to get these out as soon as I could, and with my busy weekend (vaction and seeing Candide, check the review of that tomorrow) I didn't have much time.

Come back later for more news and notes.

Go see something good!

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