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The Cinematic Katzenjammer: April 2012

Monday

April 30: Marathon Man

"A graduate history student is unwittingly caught in the middle of an international conspiracy involving stolen diamonds, an exiled Nazi war criminal, and a rogue government agent."

The most famous scene in Marathon Man is when Babe (Dustin Hoffman) is being tortured by the evil Dr. Szell, a Nazi dentist known for abusing his patients. Szell drills holes into Babe's teeth, demanding to know the information he believes Babe is keeping from him. The entire sequence makes you tongue your teeth, cringing at the thought of it happening to you. It also gives you another reason to hate your dentist and curse him every time he asks if you've been flossing. Now the thing with Marathon Man is that it's a movie with many scenes like this strung together. Once the action gets going, each scene is more suspenseful, concluding with a terrific finish. The only thing is the plot line that weaves itself through all of these scenes is confusing, undeveloped, and very lacking in the explanation department. But each scene is filmed so well, you easily forgive its flaws. 

Fghk Yhoo- translation- "Oh my f**king God. This hurts. So much. Stop it. Now."

When a film's plot fails on its delivery and you're left with answers to questions that never should have been raised, you need a lot to save the film. With Marathon Man, the savior to it all is the cast. Led by a young and extremely talented Dustin Hoffman, Roy Scheider (Jaws), and the legendary Lawrence Olivier, you really can't go wrong. Hoffman, as Babe, is believable as the everyday kind of guy who finds himself wrapped up in a whole lot of "oh shit" moments. Through this, you relate and sympathize with him. Scheider plays Babe's secret-agent-spy-super-man brother, who channels his inner James Bond and does a damn good job with the little screen time he has. He really should have had more scenes. Lastly, Olivier, who needs no introduction, is absolutely terrifying as the Nazi Szell and is a far departure from his ordinary Shakespearean leading man roles. 

Using the hidden blade decades before Assassins Creed

I won't go into details about the plot, as it's really unnecessary to not only explain, but attempt to understand. All that is important is that you know who to root for and share in the suspense and terror that consumes his life. Overall, I would definitely recommend Marathon Man, even with it's faults. It has an incredible cast, a haunting score, and great directing. In it's own way, it can go down as a classic. It also gives you that excuse you've been looking for to avoid getting that cavity filled. 

The Good:
superb cast led by the always amazing Dustin Hoffman and Lawrence Olivier
The Bad:
getting that copper taste in your mouth as you watch a man have his teeth drilled into 
The Ugly:
realizing New York City will never be what it was like in the 70s again

Overall: 7.8/10

Trailer:

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Sunday

April 29: Titan A.E.

"A young man learns that he has to find a hidden Earth ship before an enemy alien species does in order to secure the survival of humanity."

Titan A.E. is a very underrated movie in the visuals department. It has terrific animation that still looks pretty damn cool, even after 12 years. It's a good "bridge" film in that it uses both old-school and new-school animation techniques, combining hand drawn animation with CGI. Parts of the movie actually look real and the effects are certainly the best part of the film. The story is set far into the future where an alien race, known as the Drej, destroys Earth. Thousands of humans were able to flee the planet before it's demise and drift through space as laborers and thieves, always looked down upon by the other alien races. Cale Tucker (Matt Damon), a human whose father was involved with Earth's evacuation, discovers he holds the key to unlocking the secrets of a spaceship called the Titan, a spaceship said to have the power to create a new Earth, uniting all humans. Cale, along with his entourage of rather unique alien friends (and Drew Barrymore), travel through space to find the Titan before it falls into the hands of the Drej. 

How convenient that the aliens...
Were designed simply enough to be mass-produced as cheap little toys.

Titan A.E. completely bombed at the box office. With a budget of nearly $75 million, it was only able to rake in about half of that. I think a reason behind that is because Titan A.E.. was designed to be a kids a movie, when in reality it has very little elements a kid would not only understand, but enjoy. The plot is rather depressing when you think about it. Billions of people die and the only survivors become refugees in space, eking out what little they can. The aliens also speak in a foreign language and are subtitled. I don't know if it's just me, but I don't remember wanting to read a damn thing when I went to see a movie when I was 7 or 8. 

But when I was at home, it was all about mother f**king Animorphs

I would, with some hesitance, recommend Titan A.E.. Visually, it's amazing and it is something I actually wouldn't mind paying a little extra to see in 3D. However, the film never finds its audience, jumping all around the place. It starts off as a dramatic sci-fi movie where everyone dies, then tries to turn everything around with quirky aliens for the kids. You don't go from the Holocaust to playing with action figures, do you?

The Good:
terrific special effects that blend the old and the new
The Bad:
a depressing plot point sugar coated with alien friends and Matt Damon
The Ugly:
seeing how one film can tank an entire animation studio 

Overall: 5.2/10

Trailer:

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Saturday

April 28: Everything Must Go

"When an alcoholic relapses, causing him to lose his wife and his job, he holds a yard sale on his front lawn in an attempt to start over. A new neighbor might be the key to his return to form."

Will Ferrell can act. He's much more than a man-child obsessed with being naked in everything he makes. Everything Must Go is a fine example of his acting ability and is a refreshing look at the man himself. The movie tells the story of Nick (Ferrell) who loses his job and comes home to find his wife has left all of his belongings on their front lawn, only to realize she's left him as well. As he struggles to figure out what to do, he makes friends with two neighbors. Kenny (Christopher Jordan Wallace), a teenage boy with a good head on his shoulders and Samantha (Rebecca Hall), a pregnant woman who moves in across the street. Through his relationships with these two and the rest of his community, Nick is able to reevaluate his life and move on. 

Rebecca Hall is sexy. That is all. 

Everything Must Go is a good movie. However, it never exceeds into the realm of greatness. It's an intangible feeling you can't quite explain as the movie never amazes you but just leaves you with a smile. The acting is by far the best part of the film. Ferrell becomes Nick, never overplaying the part or trying hard for a laugh. He's human and relatable and you sympathize with him and the struggles he goes through. Ferrell and Wallace have incredible chemistry and newcomer Wallace is actually able to keep up with Ferrell on every level. Rebecca Hall is beautiful as Samantha, and her fragility and tenderness are on full display. She has her own problems to deal with and, together with Nick, they help each other work it out. 

I lied, that wasn't all. Here's another.

I would recommend Everything Must Go. It's a refreshing look at Ferrell, who lately has become a little stale with sub-par comedies (Land of the Lost, The Other Guys). He shows he has more talent than just making us laugh and/or cringe and that he could actually have a solid dramatic career ahead of him. Everything Must Go is a heart-warming story that doesn't leave you in tears or with a sore side from laughing, but happy. It's sweet, it's relatable, and you can't help but like it to some extent.

The Good:
Will Ferrell showing he's much more than Ron Ricky Bobby Burgandy
The Bad:
needed more interaction between the main characters
The Ugly:
a sad part of the film showing the low-points of being an alcoholic and how miserable one can become when denied their addiction

Overall: 7.3/10

Trailer:

Official Website Here

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Friday

April 27: Dead Man's Shoes

"A disaffected soldier returns to his hometown to get even with the thugs who brutalized his mentally-challenged brother years ago"

Dead Man's Shoes is a terrific revenge flick. Paddy Considine, who I would watch in anything, plays Richard, a former soldier who comes back to his quiet little town seeking revenge. While he was away, a bunch of low-life drug dealers would continually bully and torture his brother. Dead Man's Shoes shows him tracking them down, haunting and scaring them, and finally killing them one by one. Directed by Shane Meadows, who made one of my favorite movies- This is England, captures the beauty of the British countryside while showcasing the violence that hides behind the walls of a small community. 

And it's pretty creepy. 

As in nearly every movie he's in, Paddy Considine steals the show. He's terrifying as Richard, hell bent on avenging his brother. He does very violent things but you continually want to see him succeed. As Richard continues his rampage, the film combines flashbacks to what happened to his brother. As these flashbacks become more disturbing, Richard's acts of violence become more gruesome. It's a great way to the tell the story and as everything unfolds, you understand how Richard becomes the monster you see. His transformation is heart-wrenching, because you know he's conflicted with what he's doing, but he's driven by revenge and that's an animal you can't contain. 

And we all know if revenge were an animal it'd be the platypus. Mammal? Bird? BEAST.

I would highly recommend Dead Man's Shoes. It's a simple story told insanely well, with an incredible actor in the lead role. It has very bloody moments, with very realistic violence, and can be rather disturbing. The flashbacks with the abuse put on Richard's brother can also be pretty hard to watch. The film leaves you questioning how far you would go for revenge and if the acts Richard does could be justified and forgiven. It shows you how evil some people can be, especially to those who cannot defend themselves. 

The Good:
a dark story filmed with the perfect blend of beauty and horror
The Better:
seeing revenge unfold against those who committed such heinous acts
The Best:
Paddy Considine, incredible as always. When will this guy get the break he needs to be the big star he deserves?

Overall: 8.7/10

Trailer:

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Thursday

April 26: Gulliver's Travels

"Travel writer Lemuel Gulliver takes an assignment in Bermuda, but ends up on the island of Liliput, where he towers over its tiny citizens."

   Gulliver's Travels a is stupid movie. It's boring, unimaginative, ridiculous and completely lacking in humor. It's shocking to see the talent of Jack Black, Jason Segel, Emily Blunt, Billy Connolly, Chris O'Dowd and Amanda Peet in such a piece of shit film. You'd think with a cast like that, the film would be at least somewhat enjoyable. It's not. At all. It has the cliches of every horrible kid's movie (nut shots and butt jokes) and even ends with a completely out of place dance number to a song no child would even know. Gulliver's Travels is a prime example of how "family" films are one of the greatest downfalls of the movie world and what some actors will do for money. 


Similar to how some people with money do things to be an "actress"

     I won't even take long explaining the plot. Jack Black is given a boat, travels to the Bermuda Triangle, gets shipwrecked, discovers he is in a land of tiny people, and becomes their hero. There's also a subplot love story between Segel and Blunt that seemingly only exists to give an already shallow story more substance. That's really all that happens. The rest is shitty special effects and stale humor. The only remotely decent thing about the film is Chris O'Dowd (Bridesmaids), who plays the villain with an "I-Know-This-Is-Bad-But-Let's-Have-Fun-With-It" attitude. 

Just a lot of people looking up with, I'd assume, a lot of sore necks

  Skip Gulliver's Travels and leave it completely alone. I only watched it because it was on TV, I was bored, and I figured something mindless would be easier to watch and review. I really would like my 85 minutes back as well as the respect I lost for the amazing Jason Segel and the gorgeous Emily Blunt. Here's hoping that they are a billion times better in The Five-Year Engagement together (if not, at least we get more Alison Brie). 

The Bad:
talented people in a shitty, horrible mess
The Ugly:
a dance number you think you'd only see in musicals or animated movies with talking animals
The Awful:
the ENTIRE movie

Overall: 1.2/10

Trailer:

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Wednesday

April 25: The Rules of Attraction


"The incredibly spoiled and overprivileged students of Camden College are a backdrop for an unusual love triangle between a drug dealer, a virgin and a bisexual classmate."

   The Rules of Attraction is one of the those movies that should be much better than it is. It's directed and written by Roger Avary, who also wrote Pulp Fiction and is based on a book by Bret Easton Ellis, who wrote American Psycho. The film is certainly a combination of the two, with multiple stories coming together in the end, a massive amount of drug use and sex, and violent inner monologues that lead us to believe everyone is insane. Yet even with the orgy of cocaine and explicit college hormones, The Rules of Attraction is really not that good. It's a film that follows a handful of beautiful people, all incredibly unlikable, and their beautiful problems. Oh, and they're all rich and spoiled. You end up hating every single one of them and you could give a shit what happens to them in the end. 

They buy and use enough cocaine to support a small Colombian family. 

   The Rules of Attraction is clearly an outlet for teen actors hoping to avoid being type-cast as good little kids. James Van Der Beek plays the main character Sean Bateman (Yes, Patrick's brother) and is kind of a complete douche bag. He sells drugs, f**ks plenty of women, masturbates a lot, and is even in a gay fantasy of another character. He's definitely not Dawson anymore. Jessica Biel plays Lara, a whore who's far from her 7th Heaven character. She gets drunk, wanders into the boy's dorm, and gets gang-banged by the entire football team. She also snorts enough cocaine to make her nose bleed. This is pretty much the entire movie. Throw in a few more characters, more drugs and more sex, as well as multiple story-lines aching to be "romantic", and you get The Rules of Attraction.

Okay, The Beek is kind of badass. 

   Now even though the story's sloppy and the characters are not the most appealing, The Rules of Attraction does have its moments. There's a party that introduces all the characters and after each one enters, the scene reverses and kicks over to another character. The way this is all done is great and certainly an interesting opening, but it all goes downhill from there. The entire movie becomes full of itself and turns into that guy you went to college with that drove a nice car, had all the parties, laid all the girls, and was an absolute douche bag about it. It all just ends up getting under your skin and you really start to hate it. I would not recommend The Rules of Attraction

The Good:
although a horrible character, James Van Der Beek is pretty cool and the film has a terrific opening
The Bad:
characters you want to see die with first world, rich people problems
The Ugly:
realizing it is set in the same universe as American Psycho and is nowhere near as good

Overall: 4.0/10

Trailer:

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Tuesday

April 24: Into the Sun

"When a government official is killed, an American operative with experience in the Yakuza culture is brought into investigate."

   This film brings a few firsts to the blog. It's my first "commissioned" review and it's my first Steven Seagal movie, and I don't know what I'm more excited about. So, at the request of Metal Thug (whose site is in the works, but will certainly be awesome), I present to you the manliness, the wannabe Japanese-ness, and the ponytail-ness of Steven Seagal in Into the Sun.

He ate James Bond for breakfast. 

   The plot for Into the Sun raises a lot of questions. Steven Seagal plays Travis, a former U.S operative. He is brought in by the FBI to help figure out who murdered a Japanese official in Tokyo, because of his "extensive" experience with the Yakuza. Apparently the U.S now gets involved in even the smallest of foreign affairs and Steven Seagal, an American, is a leading Yakuza expert. Yes, in Tokyo there are no local residents who know anything about the Yakuza. Nope. None. No one. I suppose this is where the argument for "suspending your disbelief" comes in to play when watching a movie like this. It also doesn't help that the film severely lacks in subtitles (at least the version I watched), so on the few occasions Seagal decides to speak Japanese (because he can), you have absolutely no idea what's going on. 

However, this man can tell one hell of a story with his eyes.

   Along with the lack of subtitles, there is a big lack of Seagal kicking the ass he's known for. The first hour or so of Into the Sun tries to build up a story about the Yakuza teaming up with Chinese criminals to create a global drug empire. This is a Seagal flick people! Who the hell needs a story? There is also a minor subplot about Travis falling in love with a very young Japanese girl. He also hints that he may be a virgin? But I'll just assume Seagal has had so much sex he's actually looped back to being a virgin again. The film does end with a somewhat exciting fight scene when Seagal and company arrive at the temple that is home to the Yakuza. Sword fights shed blood throughout the place and Seagal even uses chopsticks to kill a man. While he's in Japan why not indulge in a little culture? 

Making them look like tiny little swords is clearly encouraging murder. 

   Into the Sun is just too big of a mess to thoroughly enjoy. The film jumps from English to Japanese constantly, the story is lacking (when you want the action), and it just doesn't pack the punch Mr. Seagal used to have. Into the Sun was made in 2005 but feels extremely dated, making you think Seagal is much younger than he is. In all honesty, he's looking kind of old.  Sure he still has his one liners and can kill everyone in a room, but his ponytail is showing some signs of graying. The film does have its moments, more towards the end, and has a pretty good soundtrack with some songs written and performed by Seagal himself. The man is clearly talented in that he kicks ass, loves ladies, plays guitar, speaks Japanese, knows karate, and has great hair. I don't think he'll ever stop surprising people but I wish the quality of the surprise was like it used to be. 

The Good:
realizing that every single person involved in crime in Japan must carry a katana for impromptu fight sequences (this is not only good, it's awesome)
The Bad:
a messy plot that tries too hard to be some drug/gangster epic
The Ugly:
a movie that can't decide if it wants to be in English or in Japanese and a lack of subtitles

Overall: 4.2/10

Trailer:

Bonus: Seagal's song that's featured in end credits

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Monday

April 23: Pleasantville

"Two 1990's teenagers find themselves in a 1950's sitcom where their influence begins to profoundly change that complacent world."

   I watched Pleasantville a long time ago and remembered thinking it just had a cool premise and a great cast. After re-watching it, I realize it is much more than that, as it is a rather heavy drama with a hell of a lot of symbolism (I think?). The story involves David (Tobey Maguire) and his sister Jennifer (Reese Witherspoon) magically being teleported inside a 50's style, Leave it to Beaver-like TV show called Pleasantville. In the little town, everything is perfect. The basketball team never misses a shot, the lawns are always green, wives always have meals ready for their husbands when they get home from work, and it never rains. David is a huge fan of the show and knows everything about its residents while his sister, Jennifer, could care less about it and gets into trouble on her own. Through her "introduction of sin", the town begins to change.


Oh my God the cherry is red! The damn thing is red!? Do you see this people!?

   So yeah, that's what happens. The black and white town begins to change color as more and more people start having sex and giving blow jobs at Lover's Lane. The effects used to showcase the changing colors are incredible. One scene stands out, where David and a date of his are driving through a park, and pink blossoms fall from the trees. It had to have taken a hell of a lot of editing to make it all look so good and it certainly pays off. Along with the effects, Pleasantville has an incredible set that is built like an old TV show's and has the vibe of Back to the Future. The entire design of the movie is great and helps make a rather ridiculous premise all the more believable. 

No Doc Brown, but plenty of Jeff Daniels

   I would definitely recommend Pleasantville as it is much more than it seems. The symbolism is heavy and certainly up to your own interpretation. I was able to see clear parallelisms between the film and the book of Genesis in the Bible, but when I read more about the film online I found some to believe the movie to be anti-religion. Either way, the symbolism is not distracting and at it's heart, Pleasantville has a great story with just as good characters. The film is a good reminder of how times have changed, for the worse, but that love, imagination, sex, and friendship will always be important on Main Street. 

The Good:
great acting from a pre-Spider-Man Tobey Maguire and Reese Witherspoon before she was Legally Blonde
The Better:
an idea that could have gone off the wall, bat-shit stupid that actually works and avoids the disaster
The Best:
great special effects in a drama... kind of like if Wolverine starred in Homeward Bound

Overall: 8.0/10

Trailer:

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Sunday

April 22: Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon

"The next great psycho horror slasher has given a documentary crew exclusive access to his life as he plans his reign of terror over the sleepy town of Glen Echo."

   Behind the Mask is a funny little movie. In a world where classic horror icons co-exist (Michael Myers, Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees), a man named Leslie Vernon attempts to follow in their footsteps and become the next horror icon. He gives a documentary crew an inside look into his world and how he's gradually setting up his own little massacre in a quiet, unsuspecting town. The film mixes elements from Scream and Halloween, and has as much laughs as it does blood. The film is a tongue and cheek play on the entire horror genre. As Vernon prepares for his kills, he talks about good cardio (so he can continually chase his victims through the woods without getting winded) and how picking the group of teenagers he will kill is the most important part of it all. He talks about the victims needing healthy libidos, "variety" among the group and, most importantly, a virgin girl to become the "survivor girl" who he can continually haunt for years to come. 

Mothers of gods do not count

    Behind the Mask is a smart comedy for the most part and then a bloody good slasher flick for the rest. Nathan Baesel, in his film debut, plays Leslie Vernon. He has great charisma and charm and his serial killer alter ego is not what you'd expect. He reminds me a little bit of Norman Bates in Psycho, as the everyday nice guy with one hell of a dark secret. It's only when the filmmakers following him learn more about him that his darkness is revealed. When one of his early "hauntings" of his target survivor girl goes wrong and is interrupted by a former psychiatrist of his, Vernon becomes hysterical; happy as hell to see that he finally has an "Ahab", a man willing to do whatever it takes to see his downfall. It is an idea we're accustomed to seeing but never had a name for and is a clever little addition to the film. 

It's a little creepy as well. 

   Overall, I would definitely recommend Behind the Mask. It's a fresh look at an increasingly unoriginal genre that turns the tables on the whole slasher story. It's an almost behind-the-scenes making of a special feature starring a new horror icon, detailing the setup as well as the execution. The film works off cliches we've come to know in this particular genre and makes them its own strengths. While for the most part Behind the Mask is entertaining, it does suffer from cheap production values. There is also not enough blood and gore to call it a true slasher film and the killing part, oddly enough, could have been built on much more. Even with all of that, it's a great buildup to a possible new franchise and I'd much rather watch more of this then another Saw or Paranormal Activity

The Good:
a smart comedy about the horror genre
The Bad:
poor pacing in some parts with a handful of really boring scenes
The Ugly:
cheap-ish production value that seems to be the cause of the lack of blood and gore

Overall: 7.1/10

Trailer:

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Saturday

April 21: The Darkest Hour

"In Moscow, five young people lead the charge against an alien race who have attacked Earth via our power supply."


   I absolutely love apocaflicks (yes, I just coined that term). 28 Days Later, Children of Men, and Dawn of the Dead being some of my favorite movies, I have a strange fascination with the end of the world. Be it with aliens in War of the Worlds, zombies in 28 Days Later, a virus in Outbreak, or simply mankind itself in The Road, seeing how it all ends is disturbing, emotional, and really entertaining. The Darkest Hour is another one of these movies but I am very sad to say it is nowhere near worthy of being put on the same list as the previously mentioned films. First advertised as an almost 28 Days Later with aliens in Russia, The Darkest Hour was immediately on my radar. Right before it was released in theaters I learned it would not be screened for critics, which is always a horrible sign for the quality of a movie. Then more reviews came in, nearly all terrible, so I decided to wait until the DVD release to watch it. I am very glad I waited but very disappointed I actually watched it. It's that bad.


When a movie has a cat covered in Christmas lights to warn you of the presence of aliens, it's time to move on.

   The Darkest Hour's story is kind of cool? Aliens come to earth seeking our natural resources (minerals, metals, etc) that they use for food. They are invisible, or something, because of electro-magnetic fields or what not. That part's poorly explained and everyone accepts the scientific jumbo as though it's a widely known fact. The aliens have attacked the entire planet and in Moscow, a group of twenty somethings find themselves at the front line of the "war" and fight to survive. The aliens, who look like fiery Neopets (when they're actually visible), zap humans and living things, turning them to an ashy mess. The survivors find out that a submarine is in the Moscow River and realize it's their only chance of getting out of the city. They band up with a group of militant Russian soldiers and make their way across the city. 


See the Neopet? The little critter belongs to Satan. 


   The most confusing part of The Darkest Hour is the cast. Emile Hirsch, who was amazing in Into the Wild and then completely dropped off the radar (blame Speed Racer), plays the main character, Sean. Why Hirsch agreed to the role, I have no idea. Trying to survive along with him is Olivia Thirbly, another young up-and-comer who is much more talented than the movies she picks. I was hoping that the two of them would save the movie for me and make it the least bit watchable, but I was wrong. The characters they play, along with the rest of the cast, are so underdeveloped and stupid that you could give a rat's ass about them. Oh, someone dies? Who was that? Oh yeah, him. Meh. 
The "hot" chick from Down Under is so annoying, she'll actually make you hate the Australian accent.

   The Darkest Hour is a mess. With more holes in its plot than a block of Swiss cheese riddled with bullets (who shoots cheese?), it completely fails to entertain the audience. Sure, it has decent special effects and it's nice to see annoying characters die, but when you're supposed to root for mankind, you should at least be allowed to cheer for likable, well-developed characters. The dialogue is piss-poor and so many lines uttered by these one demensional "heroes" are so bad. Luckily, the entire piece of poo is only 89 minutes long. Here's hoping they don't make a sequel. Yes, the film alludes to one...


The Bad:
horrible dialogue from forgettable characters
The Ugly:
seeing Emile Hirsch in a role he should never have even considered accepting
The Awful:
actually thinking this film could have been amazing, when it is so far from that


Overall: 2.1/10


Trailer:


Official Website Here

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Friday

April 20: Into the Abyss

"Conversations with death row inmate Michael Perry and those affected by his crime serve as an examination of why people - and the state - kill."


   Werner Herzog is one hell of a filmmaker. He could make 90 minutes of watching grass grow a beautiful, meaningful experience, venturing into the very depths of our souls and minds. With Grizzly Man, Little Dieter Needs to Fly and Cave of Forgotten Dreams, he explores mortality, nature, and our very existence. With Into the Abyss, he revisits those themes as well as delving into the ethics of right and wrong, and if taking one life for another can be justified. The way Herzog presents his points, in all his films, is mesmerizing and almost creepy. He pries into the lives of all his "subjects" to an extent you might find inappropriate, but he pulls it off like an ancient German wizard. 

If you stare into his eyes long enough, you can see the meaning of life. 

      Into the Abyss tells the story of Michael Perry, a man convicted of killing a fifty year old woman just to steal a car. He was also believed to be involved in the murders of two others, who his accomplice, Jason Burkett, was found guilty for. Each man maintains his innocence and blames the other for the deaths. Perry received a death sentence while Burkett received a lesser life sentence. The film goes into the crimes in great detail, incorporating interviews with Perry, Burkett, and all those affected by the murders. The conversations with Perry are eight days before he's set to be put to death. He's a terrifying man, not because of how he looks or sounds, but because he's nonchalant about the whole ordeal, even smiling and cracking jokes. He has a darkness about him that lingers throughout the entirety of the film and makes it all the more eerie. 

This is a man that brutally murdered a woman in her own home. 

    Michael Perry alone does not make the film what it is. Herzog interviews family members of the victims and each conversation is heart-wrenching. None of those murdered were bad people and discussing their lives with family members paints Perry as a greater villain. One of the most memorable interviews is with Fred Allen, a former prison worker who was actually in charge of putting criminals to death. His explanations of what happened are disturbing, as you never really think about those behind the scenes when it comes to execution in the judicial system. After over 120 executions, the job haunted him and he actually quit, giving up his pension. With all the interviews, Herzog carefully brings up the morality of the death penalty, never stating if it is wrong or right but simply starting the discussion. 


   Into the Abyss is a haunting film. Clearly a Herzog film, it's both beautiful and terrifying. It presents many ideas to think upon that will stick with you for awhile. It's both a presentation of evil and its effects on people, as well as a behind the scenes look at what happens from the crime scene to the execution and the aftermath of it all. I would recommend the film but know it is not for everyone. Herzog films are an acquired taste and even his best can come across as a little bizarre. 

The Good:
a beautiful tale told with reverence and curiosity by an unflinching director
The Bad:
the whole thing is depressing as there is no happy ending to murder
The Ugly:
seeing evil in someone you would not expect to see it in, and realizing anyone could be susceptible to darkness

Overall: 8.2/10

Trailer:

Official Website Here

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