Movie Reviews, 11/9/11

I wasn’t feeling awesome this week, and I went to a convention in Kansas City that took up most of my weekend, so I only watched 7 movies. I may be addicted to media.

Final Destination 2: Buckets of Blood

No, that’s not really the subtitle, but that’s what my friends and I called it when it first came out. Upon rewatching it, I gotta say, that name is still totally valid. Some of the kills in this installment are pretty spectacularly gory. I remember liking this installment of the series last time I watched it, but I had forgotten how cool the connections to the first movie are. I love the first movie, and this is a crazy-solid sequel.

5 out of 5

Final Destination 3

The third flick was the first in the series that I hadn’t previously seen, and I gotta say, this one’s not too shabby. While the characters in this movie aren’t directly related to the previous films, the basic concept is the same. There’s nothing new or different here, and the slight mystery is pretty lame, but overall, it’s a perfectly decent movie. Nothing wrong with it, but it doesn’t bring anything new to the table.

3 out of 5

The Final Destination (a.k.a. 4)

And then there’s this one. In addition to adding nothing to the franchise but bad 3-D effects, this is just a plain shitty movie. Some of the characters don’t even have proper names. There’s one survivor who’s seriously credit simply as “racist”. I really don’t want to talk anymore about this turd, so let’s move on.

1 out of 5

Card Subject To Change

I loves me some professional wrestling. Even more than that, I loves me some wrasslin’ documentaries. I’ve particularly been impressed with all of the docs that WWE has produced the last few years. However, nothing makes me happier than finding a documentary that focuses on an aspect of professional wrestling that’s totally new to me. This one follows a small indie promotion in the Northeast, and the wrestlers, new and old, that come through it. They spotlight a few legends, including the amazing Kevin Sullivan, Sabu, and Kamala, as well as some up and comers I’d never heard of until now. I wish the focus had been a little tighter on the promotion side of things, but I still enjoyed this one a lot, and I hope I can find more like it.

4 out of 5

Lipstick & Dynamite, Piss & Vinegar: The First Ladies of Wrestling

Another wrestling doc! As these reviews go on, you’ll notice that I get stuck on themes and genres pretty often. This look into the early days of pro wrestling in The States through the eyes of the first, and biggest female wrestlers was pretty damned fascinating. I really had no idea how restrictive things were in those early days, and hearing it from these ladies, each of whom is an awesome character, is highly entertaining. The one big downside of this one for me was a lack of actual match footage. There was a little here and there, but not nearly enough for my tastes. Not my favorite movie of the week, but certainly the one with the longest title.

3 out of 5

Copyright Criminals

Yep, it was a pretty documentary heavy week in general. I’m a huge hip hop fan, and the business behind the music completely amazes me. This doc focuses on the practice of sampling, and the legality of it. I’m pretty much all for sampling, as long as permission is acquired, credit is given, and residuals are paid, but that’s not everyone’s stance. Copyright Criminals does an excellent job of finding a balance in its interviews between folks both for and against the practice. It also provides a wide array of personalities, and doesn’t get bogged down in the culture aspects that trip a lot of hip hop documentaries. If you like Copyright Criminals, I also highly recommend RiP! A Remix Manifesto.

4 out of 5

Square Grouper

I’m a huge, HUGE fan of the documentary Cocaine Cowboys. When I first saw it, I was completely transfixed. It was the most flashy, frenetic doc I’d ever seen that was still incredibly informative and well structured. I wasn’t quite as big a fan of Cocaine Cowboys 2, but I was still really impressed with the look and feel of director Billy Corben’s movies. So, when I saw Square Grouper on the shelf for rent, I knew I had to see it.

Before I get into this one, I have to warn you that this review jumps around a lot. It thought about doing a much longer form review, and I still may. For now though, you’ll just have to deal with this string of fairly random thoughts. Square Grouper has an interesting structure. It’s divided into three distinct sections each relating to the Florida marijuana trade of the 70s and 80s. The first deals with the Zion Coptic Church, and is easily the least interesting. I think that this stemmed from my own personal biases regarding religion more than anything. Like the rest of the movie, this first section is well constructed, and incredibly well shot, but it leaned a little to heavily on archive footage. The other two sections deal more directly with the smuggling operations that I was really hoping to see in this flick, and I found them far more entertaining. I kind of wish that the filmmakers had figured out a way to mix all three stories together into one narrative. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t know how they could have done that, but I think it may have helped the overall product. Still, all in all a very entertaining documentary with some of the best looking interview shots I’ve ever seen.

4 out of 5 (3 for the first chapter, 5 each for the last two)


Movie Reviews, 11/1/11

Pulling John

I was very impressed with Pulling John, a documentary about the world of professional arm wrestling, the 25 year reign of it’s World Champion, John Breznk, and the young competitors gunning for him. The characters, including Breznk himself, are all pretty interesting. My favorite had to be Alexey Voyevoda (Don’t click that link if you don’t want any spoilers, btw), a massive Russian who seems to be the calmest guy in the world. The dynamic personality difference between Voeyvoda and the other main contender for Breznk’s crown, Travis Bagent, really adds to the tension and drama of the film. All in all, this movie did what any good documentary should do, and made me want to delve further into the  subject matter as soon as it was over.

4 out of 5

Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings

Wow. This movie was not good. There was some pretty terrible acting, laughable dialog, and god awful make up and prosthetics. There was one kind of interesting moment in the whole movie, and that’s seriously the only good thing I can say about this flick.

1 out of 5

Attack The Block

This movie, on the other hand, was friggin’ great. I had heard a lot of people complain about the massive use of UK slang, but I really didn’t find it that distracting. Yeah, obviously I didn’t understand every single thing that was said, but I caught the gist of it, and still found every aspect of it to be thoroughly enjoyable. It’s hella fun, with great characters, cool monsters, and enough diverging and intersecting plotlines to keep it all very engaging.

5 out of 5

StageFright: Aquarius

Check out that poster. I love old painted horror posters.

Jeremy and I have been watching a ton of Slasher movies the last few months as research for an upcoming project (more on that as it develops). This is one that, like most, Jeremy had already seen before. I, however, went into this one for the first time. I was a little disappointed that a horror movie taking place in a theater didn’t take more advantage of its surroundings, some of the prop rooms, and stage rigging did make for some cool back drops though. The only thing that really plagued this movie was some massive amounts of over-acting, however, that could be explained by the ever apparent pretentiousness of all of the characters. I liked this one, didn’t love it by any means, but it was definitely passable.

3 out of 5

Final Destination

This is another movie that Jeremy and I watched in a research capacity (not that we didn’t enjoy it, of course). While I’ve seen the first 2 Final Destinations before, I haven’t seen any of the later installments. Now, we’re marathoning through the whole series in the next week or two.

I remember the first time I saw this when it came out, and it kind of blew my mind. It was during the glut of teen horror movies that followed the success of Scream, but it really stood out from the pack for me. The high concept of the flick intrigued me right off the bat. The paranoia of an ethereal killer that’s really just a force of nature, and the fight against “the design” are pulled off pretty perfectly as far as I’m concerned. I find myself actually excited to continue, and finally finish this series.

5 out of 5