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Movie Reviews (4/8/15)

Movie: Birth Of The Living Dead (2013)
Rating: *** out of *****
Notes: This is a thorough documentary on the story behind the conception, production, and aftermath of the iconic film, "Night Of The Living Dead" in 1968. The majority of the film includes clips and talking heads along with dramatic stills because it was such a low-budget indie at the time that there is little in the way of archival or making-of footage to be had. We get George Romero himself, historians, and production people telling us interesting anecdotes, such as how the cast was made of local Pittsburgh residents, and how the film is in the public domain because they forgot to put the little trademark notice on the title. There's also a tribute snippet to the late actor who played the film's first zombie in the graveyard scene after the credits. As old as it is, scenes from the black & white original are presented without censor, so you'll still get an eyeful of old-school gore and even nudity. Best targeted at genre fans.

Movie: Eva (2011)
Rating: ****1/2 out of *****
Notes: A surprisingly good sci-fi drama from Spain, it tells the story of a scientist in a near future where robotics technology has become predominant. His task of programming the first "free" humanoid robot is complicated when the school he's working at also employs the friends he left behind years ago, now married, and their daughter whom he wishes to base the robot's personality on. The world he lives in is exactly like our own - no wild cityscapes or dystopian ruins - yet the robots are integrated very smoothly, both via live and impressive CG FX for a euro film, as if it was the most natural thing in the world for them to be about, and their appealing designs and are similarly soothing, even when they're clearly faked. I'm reminded of the automaton in "Robot & Frank" who was clearly a person in a suit, but wasn't distracting because the story took precedence. The same occurs here as the man's interest in the daughter borders on stalking, and the family grows more resistant to his proximity, not to mention his eyes on the wife. While the twist is nearly obvious from the outset and the resolution is lifted straight from classic literature, it's done so and creatively adapted beautifully, with limited schmaltz. I often felt like this resided in the same universe and could've acted as a prequel to (the first half of) Spielberg's "A.I."

Movie: Kingsman (2014)
Rating: ***1/2 out of *****
Notes: In a nod to just about every spy film and TV show ever made, this dapper and classy action/adventure leans more heavily towards the tenor of its director's earlier works than it does the espionage genre. This in no way reduces the enjoyment, but it feels more like "Kick-Ass" then it does "Skyfall". In fact, the last third of the film takes a decided turn towards "Austin Powers" which clashes a bit with the seriousness of its preceding material. A hard-luck kid in Britain is invited to join the Kingsmen, a secret organization of gentlemen super-agents, currently tasked with stopping an internet billionaire from committing genocide. Michael Caine, Colin Firth, Samuel Jackson, and even an unrecognizable cameo from Mark Hammill keeps things flowing professionally. Billed as a comedy, it's only as funny as the Roger Moore Bond films were "comedies," lacking any direct hijinks. In fact, several scenes are amazingly violent, particularly one impressively-choreographed series of long-takes that result in a body-count near 80. The jarring swings from ultraviolent to humorous to parodic make the film uneven, but the amount of homages and its rapid pacing won't allow a viewer to let their guard down during its 2+ hour runtime. Intended as the start of a franchise, I'm not sure how they'll maintain the tone seeing as the most charismatic characters are offed before the credits. It's still great, meaty fun as an origin story, even if they butchered the original comic.

Next: G.B.F., Rush, Mr. Nobody


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 10th, 2015 11:54 pm (UTC)
Eva I haven't seen yet, and very much want to, so I'll skip your review for now, if I may. ^_^ (And I also missed Chappie, though, that said, the local cinema's a very bog-standard multiplex, so, not really much reason to see a film there than merely waiting and enjoying a far better selection of drinks and snacks)

Kingsman I haven't seen - I'm not quite sure it'd be my cup of tea, as I didn't find Kick-Ass nearly as much fun as I'd thought I would, for a similar confusion of humor and violence.

Mr Nobody I remain stuck early on - I began watching it on a train ride a while back, and haven't yet resumed it. I was, however, quite thoroughly engaged - I simply don't watch all that many films these days, especially without company, and the roomie tends not to be one for "slower" productions.
Apr. 11th, 2015 04:51 am (UTC)
Erf, "Mr. Nobody" is an understated affair? I tend to fall asleep during those. Sounded more engaging...

One look at the reviews relegated "Chappie" to the rental queue. Looks like Blomkamp is turning out to be a one-hit wonder. I'm starting to dread what he'll do with the "Alien" franchise, tho I can't imagine it can be wrecked more than it already is. Maybe that's why he got it...

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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