19
Mar
15

Insurgent Review: Detergent

0320_01-InsurgentDOM

There’s nothing all that wrong with Insurgent. It’s actually a somewhat competent sequel in the Divergent series that doesn’t suffer middle chapter syndrome: there’s some action and the storyline moves. It’s just that… What were we talking about again?

Oh. And there you go.

Somehow, Insurgent is just not memorable. We’ve seen all of this before in Twilight, The Hunger Games, Mortal Instruments, Beautiful Creatures, The Maze Runner, The Running Man, and of course, Battle Royale. And by now, unless the young adult book adaptation movies do something drastic with their female heroines and post-apocalypse imaginings (or lack thereof), the genre is just about as burnt-out as the landscape in Mad Max.

In fact, I can barely bring myself to re-cap the last film, much less do a synopsis for this one. Frankly, I completely forgot Divergent and actually had to rent the film to watch again the night before the screening of its sequel. And once the lights went down and the screen lit up, I still did not have total recall. And no, I wasn’t drunk.

0320_02-HoleInWall

Here’s my best try: In the future, to keep the peace, a walled city kinda like the one in Attack on Titan or Mega City One in Dredd is broken into five factions of society. Or was it seven? I’m too lazy to look it up so we’ll just go with five, yes, five factions. Our heroine Tris, used to belong to the self-less, government-ruling Abnegation but when she hit puberty, she decided to join Dauntless, a group in charge of policing the city and they like to hoot and holler, get tattoos and run around a lot.

Oh, and Tris took a test that revealed she is a Divergent—she can fit into more than one faction. So by the first movie’s end, Tris’s parents died, and she, her brother Caleb, her new boyfriend Four, Four’s abusive father, and a kidnapped member of Dauntless played by Miles Teller are on the run. The new film opens with them taking shelter in Amity, a faction devoted to peace and love. Actually, I’m not sure what the difference is between Amity and Abnegation except Amity seems more hare krishna-like because they offer good tidings when they give you your plate at the buffet line.

You know, this is actually really (too) complicated. I forgot to mention Kate Winslet, leader of the smart people, Erudite, who wants to rule the city like Donald Sutherland in The Hunger Games. She needs Tris to unlock this box that looks like the Tesseract from The Avengers. Once unlocked, the box will reveal some sort of big thing. This all takes place in this room with tentacles that stab into Tris like the ones from The Matrix and Tris enters this simulation like the one in The Matrix and she does all these tasks and things explode slowly in a nice computer-y way like The Matrix and…

What were we talking about again?

0320_03-Kissing

I just don’t wanna type anymore. I’m tired. The actors, Buddha bless them, don’t seem to mind relentless cinematic thievery though. Teller plays the ruthless, kidnapped Dauntless baddie Peter with the proper sense of bullying and self-loathing. Ansel Elgort plays Tris’s conflicted brother Caleb. And Shailene Woodley plays Tris with a determined ambition to not be pegged as a Jennifer Lawrence wanna-be. (Interestingly enough, Woodley slept with Teller in The Spectacular Now. She also slept with Elgort in The Fault in Our Stars. At this rate, by the end of the decade, at least on screen, Woodley could possibly sleep with the rest of the series’ male cast.)

Oh and everybody in the theater squealed when Daniel Dae Kim popped up as the leader of Erudite. He conducted himself with great dignity. (Does anybody still watch Hawaii Five-0? Oh wait yeah…my mom.)

0320_04-DanielDaeKim

I think we’ve come to the point where we must simply acknowledge that these films were made from books that were made for young adults. Particularly young adults who haven’t seen many other movies. I think I’ll stop here. I’m tired of writing about it and to paraphrase the wise words imparted by Taylor Swift, I should just shake it off.

One more thing. They’re also planning to split the final book in the series, Allegiant, into two movies. Like Harry Potter. And The Hunger Games.

I’m trying to just breathe and relax. And shake it off.

Insurgent is now playing in theaters everywhere.

20
Feb
15

Review: The DUFF

0220_01-TheDUFF-DOM

High school is rough. With age comes insight and perspective, so you can look back on your high school days and ask “Wow, were we . . . were things, really that dramatic when I was in high school?” Through the lens of The DUFF, it’s safe to say that though the lingo, clothes, and technology have changed, high school is still high school. You still have the popular kids, the jocks, bullying; it all just looks a little different, but it’s still there.

In case you haven’t visited Urban Dictionary lately, DUFF stands for ‘Designated Ugly Fat Friend’. However, the moniker doesn’t have to strictly adhere to the descriptors the acronym stands for. In broader terms it mainly refers to a situation where a less attractive and more approachable person (usually female, but can apply to either male or female) hangs out or is friends with two or more attractive people. Needless to say that when our main character Bianca is made aware of her situation, drama (of the high school nature) ensues.

I guess one question I initially had was how could a girl with popular friends not be comfortable with who she is? And an even potentially bigger question: does it really matter how you’re perceived? In high school, the answer is almost invariably YES. From the get-go Bianca our protagonist and is portrayed as very independent and very much her own person, but yet she lets the title of ‘The Duff’ to cause doubt in herself. With such a strong minded character, I didn’t get why she let it bother her. Was it just because of high school insecurity? I guess. We need something to move the story along right? Whatever the case may be, I’m always a sucker for high school movies and the struggles of the less popular class of students against the more popular kids at school.

0220_01-Girlfriends

This class struggle is deftly woven into the fabric of the film with the relationship between Bianca and Wesley. At first you might think that they’re the usual “childhood friends” where one grows up to be popular and the other not at all. Well, that’s sort of the case here, but The DUFF gives us some great setup for their friendship by showing us an old photo of Wes and Bianca taking a bath together as kids. You know the type of photo, those embarrassing ones of you that your parents took of you as a kid. It’s inserted into the film and paints us a more authentic history for them.

Being childhood friends, Bianca and Wesley are still pretty good friends in high school–though they both inhabit different social circles. Bianca is the independent, school newspaper editor with something to say who hangs out with two of the hottest girls at school. Wesley meanwhile seems like the stereotypical sex crazed jock–but with some sense of conscience and the right amount of doubt. You can tell he sort of wants to do the right thing (or at least thinks about it), but is held back by the high school social class system that demands the cool kids act like cool kids. Despite their baggage, Bianca and Wes’s friendship feels really developed and their chemistry is fun and playful.

0220_03-BiancaAndWes

A happy surprise is Ken Jeong who fits in surprisingly well in this film as the supportive teacher. He’s not playing the over the top character that we normally get (à la Mr Chow in the Hangover films) and is definitely dialed it back, but still serving up some pretty witty banter. Amazingly he is the inspirational teacher who thinks he’s cool, but in reality is not. Even though his character tries really hard to be cool, he doesn’t really succeed. It’s his attempt to be cool that really made me want to see more of him. When he delivers his lines you almost feel like you’re seeing a different side to Ken Jeong.

And that kind of leads into one of the great things about this movie: the dialogue. Some of the banter and one-liners are so sharp and so perfectly timed. I’d like to think people are this smart and quick in real life, but I don’t think that’s the case. However, almost every character in the film that has screen time has a quip that they get in or a hilarious comedic beat that they hit. Kudos to the screenwriters for giving us some very smart and very fun dialogue.

0220_04-RealityMedia

Focusing back on Bianca and her quest to un-DUFF herself, we do get the usual plot points that we’re all used to in these types of high school movies: friends stop being friends, our awkward protagonist going after the high school crush, our protagonist getting a makeover, and the always fun romantic comedy drama where one person realizes they have feelings for the other person–but at the wrong time. Though The DUFF has all of these tropes, it’s the way it tells them that kept me interested and laughing throughout the film.

Overall The Duff kind of surprised me. Going in I thought I was going to get some pretty standard high school faire just updated for 2015. Though the story was nothing we haven’t seen before, there was enough of a slant to the characters and situations to make them different enough to feel a little more real and original. And the comedy–definitely one of the highlights. As the The DUFF went on I found myself enjoying the film more and more. Good high school flicks get me every time.

The DUFF is now playing in theaters everywhere.

3.5/5 stars // rated PG-13 // 1hr 41min

13
Feb
15

Review: Kingsman: The Secret Service

"On the other side of this mirror is Mr Gray's red room."

“On the other side of this mirror is Mr Gray’s red room.”

For 40 years James Bond ruled the spy genre until the franchise was rebooted. Part of the reason–Austin Powers. Mike Myers satirized nearly every spy film convention in the book with his ‘International Man of Mystery.’ Enter Daniel Craig and a more “grittier” and “realistic” Bond. If Austin Powers was the satirical commentary to the first 40 years of Bond, then Kingsman: The Secret Service is the Austin Powers to the next generation of Bond films.

Kingsman stars Colin Firth as Galahad, one of the top agents in Kingsman, a private intelligence organization not beholden to any government. Early in the film the Kingsman, looking to fill an opening in their ranks, put a set of recruits through a series to test to see if any of them have what it takes to be the next Kingsman. One of the recruits is Eggsy, British newcomer Taron Egerton, whose character shows a lot of promise, but is undisciplined and rough around the edges. Overshadowing the initiation of these would be future Kingsman is the maniacal world dominating plans of tech mogul Valentine, played ever so colorfully by Samuel L. Jackson.

Where does he get those wonderful suits?

Where does he get those wonderful suits?

As a film Kingsman hits the sweet spot between realistic spy movie and satirical comedy. Director Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class) melds his comedic and action oriented sensibilities into a spy film that is fun, action packed, damn funny, but also not so silly where it’s completely bonkers and unbelievable. Yes, it mocks the old Bond with those tropes that caused the aforementioned reboot (lighters that are grenades and umbrellas that shoot a myriad of projectiles). At the end of the day, Kingsman is smarter than that. It knows what kind of movie it’s trying to be and revels in it.

One of the things I love is the meta-ness of the film. At several points both Galahad and Valentine make reference to spy movies as if they’re not in one. The exchange is fun because they’re talking around typical spy movie tropes and how they won’t fall into them. You know them: the villain telling the captured spy his plans, the civil banter between adversaries who both know the real identity of the other. Call me a movie geek, but I ate all of that up.

"English . . . do you speak it?"

“English . . . do you speak it?”

Speaking of Valentine, he is definitely one of the highlights of the film. Samuel L Jackson has played many roles throughout his career; many of them good, many bad. Valentine has to be in the top 10. It’s not that he’s the most evil character Jackson has played that makes him such a good villain. It is more of his unique sense of embodying madness that makes him such a great bad guy. Granted, his character is portrayed as a genius and the richest man in the world so that attitude is warranted; but his simplistic reasoning plays right into his megalomania. The icing on the cake has to be the lisp that Valentine has. Usually something like this would be really gimmicky. Thankfully Jackson has some good direction supported by great dialogue that makes speaking with the lisp not so overdone. Save for not being too strong of a guy (and a fear of blood), Valentine is a pretty unique villain.

I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about Valentine’s left hand woman and bodyguard, Gazelle. In classic Bond henchmen fashion, Gazelle lives up to her name because she has prosthetic blades for legs. But, the twist here is that they’re actual blades…Like sharp blades that can slice things. In one of the early scenes in the film Gazelle kills a man by literally slicing him in two. While totally implausible (and in some instances even a little corny), within the context of the film combined with the way her character is presented, you buy in to the fact that she is one badass chick. 

Just keep swimin'.

Just keep swimin’.

An aspect of the film that keeps things fresh is the initiation process that Kingsman puts their potential recruits through. Rather than train them, they test them by giving them real challenges that show what kind of people they really are. In one of their first tests, the recruits’ sleeping quarters quickly fills up with water. While this challenge not only tests how they react under pressure as well as their survival skills, the ultimate lesson they need to learn is that in order to be a Kingsman, they need to learn how to work as a team. After each test, someone is dropped from the program and as the film progresses, so does the degree of difficulty of their challenges. While their teamwork is tested time and again, other aspects of being a spy are tested as well: how they act under duress, can they pull the trigger when they need to, can they overcome their most basic fears. While in some instances the results of the trials are a little predictable, they’re still fun and intense nonetheless.

Should you find yourself watching Kingsman this weekend, just know this, you’re going to see a very fun, action-oriented, smart, and hilarious spy movie. Just the cheekiness of the characters had me laughing and fully invested. I guess that’s what I appreciated most about the film, the characters are all very well written and very well spoken. Never at any point did I think the film went over the top. While a lot of the situations in the film are unbelievable that isn’t the point. It’s not realistic, it’s fun. We have Daniel Craig and the new James Bond if we want a “real” and “gritty” spy movie. For a fun movie that pokes fun at the spy genre, we have Kingsman.

Cinematic Scene: Are we going to fight?

“Cinematic Scene” is an effort to bring to light some of the more technically creative and/or emotionally charged scenes in the film. This more technical analysis of the film lives at the end of each review as a way to discuss these noteworthy scenes. Whether it’s fancy camera work, brilliant use of special effects, or heart wrenching acting; I will pick one notable scene from the film that you should pay attention to.

What really sets the tone for the film is this scene where Galahad dispatches a group of thugs in a pub who have been tormenting Eggsy. If you’ve seen the trailer then you know which scene I’m referring to. It’s the one where Colin Firth flips a switch and takes down this group of thugs. The scene is very well choreographed to be sure, but the editing and the way the camera moves around the room to follow the action really keeps you in the moment and gives the impression that Galahad’s actions are as equally calculated as the camera movements. Yes, we know from the onset Galahad is going to take care of them–it’s the fight sequence itself and the way Galahad weaves through the fight that make the scene mesmerizing to watch.

Kingsman: The Secret Service is now playing in theaters everywhere.

4.5/5 stars // rated R // 2hr 9min

06
Feb
15

Jupiter Ascending Review: The Wachowskis Descending

"Is it just me or is the left shark out of sync?"

“Is it just me or is the left shark out of sync?”

Jupiter Ascending is the latest sci-fi, CGI-filled behemoth from the Wachowskis and sadly, it is their most uninspired effort yet.

One way or another, you still gotta give it up to the sibling writers/directors. From Bound to Cloud Atlas, they’ve dedicated themselves to trying to show us something neato on the screen. Even their unfairly reviled entries, The Matrix Revolutions and Speed Racer, are overly-knocked on bits of screen sumptuousness; in this video game era, they still manage to give us pretty things. If anything, they range from a bit derivative to very derivative, but then again, at this point with big budget studio popcorners, who isn’t? Yet, as fascinating as Jupiter is to occasionally look at, it is obvious that we have seen everything before and for once, the Wachowskis have managed to rip off even themselves.

Mila Kunis is Jupiter, a hard-working janitor who wishes for something greater. She’s also the most beautiful performer to ever be filmed scrubbing a toilet. One day, her cousin comes up with a scheme to sell her eggs and while in the operating room, she discovers aliens are trying to kill her.

"I shall declare this the House of Strep Throat."

“I shall declare this the House of Strep Throat.”

Luckily, Channing Tatum, a human/werewolf soldier of fortune hybrid, comes roller-blading in on anti-gravity boots and spirits her away to his ex-collegue Stinger’s safehouse. (Stinger is played by Sean Bean, who instantly makes us worry for his character’s life.) Soon Jupiter discovers that she is the genetic reincarnation of universal royalty and that there is a whole new world (or worlds) other than our own. Faster than you can say “Neo-Morpheus,” she finds herself in space, trapped between three competing siblings who all what to use her to continue their reins of power, along with their mysterious immortality. (The secret of their longevity is also the second major plot point the Wachowskis rip off from themselves.)

At this point, we are just left with watching the pretty, shape-shifting spaceships firing at each other as well as Tatum flying around shooting and stabbing various beings ranging from simple humans, giant bipedal komodo dragons straight out of Halo, and little green men who look like vicious extras from Close Encounters. (Incidentally, for a movie that looks so pretty, Tatum’s waist seems a bit puffy. Perhaps he was in some sort of “bulking” phase for Magic Mike XXL.)

Gleaming the cube!

Gleaming the cube!

Best Actor Oscar nominee Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything) plays one of the villainous monarchs and he speaks with a whisper and occasional scream that is more goofy than threatening. And there’s also these anti-gravity boots that move like roller-blades which— Oops. That’s been mentioned already.

Actually there really isn’t anything else worth mentioning about Jupiter Ascending. No wonder it was released in February. For their next project, the Wachowskis should work with a script of adapted material. They seem to do better ripping other people off and that would just cut out the middle man.

Jupiter Ascending is now playing in theaters everywhere.

07
Jan
15

Most Anticipated Films of 2014 (That Have Yet to Come Out)

“Do you have eyes on this?” Bradley Cooper scopes out the last crop of films from last year that you haven’t had a chance to see yet.

“Do you have eyes on this?” Bradley Cooper scopes out the last crop of films from 2014 year that you haven’t had a chance to see yet.

Critics nationwide came out with their ‘Best of 2014’ lists all last month. Even friends of the Project, Anderson Le with HIFF and Myong Choi of Frolic, posted their favorite films of 2014. As such is life in Hawaii, we’re not done with 2014 movies just yet. While the big studio films have all come out, there are still a number of smaller, independent features that have yet to make their way onto Hawaii screens.

And this is the reason why I’m not yet ready to close the book on 2014. We’ve still got so much more movies to watch! I mean really, what do we have to look forward to in January? Liam Neeson’s very particular set of skills for a third time (Taken 3)? Hell, even Hollywood doesn’t come out with their ‘Best of’ list for another seven weeks (the Oscars are on February 22). So, read up on what’s still coming down the pike for 2014 and try to check some of these films out in the cold dark winter for the multiplex that is the month of January.

Selma

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With Dr Martin Luther King Jr Day right around the corner, it’s no coincidence that the Dr King biopic, Selma expands nationwide this week after it’s limited release in select cities on December 25th. Selma is a chronicle of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s campaign to secure equal voting rights via an epic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965. David Oyelowo (Interstellar, Jack Reacher) is receiving a ton of accolades for his performance as Dr. King and is being heavily talked about as an Oscar nominee. Same goes for director Ava DuVernay who is garnering acclaim for craftsmanship of an amazing film that’s getting Best Picture buzz.

Website // Trailer
Release in Hawaii: Friday, January 9th

Inherent Vice

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If high brow art house is for you, then Inherent Vice is right up your alley. Based on the novel of the same name by Thomas Pynchon, Vice is directed by Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights, The Master). I’m not really that much of a fan of PT Anderson, but critics seem to eat up his films every time they come out. Boogie Nights is the film I enjoy most from him, but his last film The Master definitely left me scratching my head. A lot of early reviews of Vice I’ve read say the film is very well shot and very well put together, but a bit confusing if you haven’t read the book. And then there’s Joaquin Phoenix. The usually stalwart actor’s performance in Vice hasn’t generated any talk for Oscar.

Website // Trailer
Release in Hawaii: Friday, January 9th

A Most Violent Year

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I first heard about A Most Violent Year near the beginning of the festival season back in September. Year is the third feature film from director J.C. Chandor, whose first film Margin Call was nominated for Best Original Screenplay and whose second feature All is Lost garnered a lot of critical acclaim, most notably for Robert Redford’s solo (and for the most part speechless) performance in the film. With a lot of clout generated from his first two films, I’m definitely interested to see what Chandor has cooked up for his third go around. In Year, Chandor is working with acting power houses Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis, Drive) and Jessica Chastain (Interstellar, Zero Dark Thirty) and focuses on a couple in 1981 New York City who try to protect their business and family during the most dangerous year in the city’s history.

Website // Trailer
Expands Nationwide: Friday, January 30th

Cake

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I literally knew nothing about Cake until it started popping up on Top 10 lists and projected Oscar contenders in early December. The reason . . . a lot of critics say that Jennifer Aniston’s performance in the film is Oscar worthy. The way her performance is being described is enough for me to want to check out the film. Luckily, the film also stars Anna Kendrick, Felicity Huffman, William H. Macey, and Sam Worthington–a pretty solid cast to round out a small independent drama and definitely not a bad option to check out late in the month.

Website // Trailer
Expands Nationwide: Friday, January 23rd

American Sniper

0107_05-AmericanSniper

And finally, the movie everyone was asking me about during Christmas . . . American Sniper. A lot of people are excited for this film and if you’ve seen the first trailer for the film, then you already know how tense of a film this will be. If you haven’t, do yourself a favor and check it out. You’ll definitely get sucked in by the trailer alone. Not only does the film look great, but Bradley Cooper is generating some buzz for his performance in the film and Clint Eastwood is also getting some attention for his direction. Thankfully, we won’t have too much longer to wait.

Website // Trailer
Expands Nationwide: Friday, January 16th

—-

January isn’t just a cold dark time in winter, it’s also a cold dark time in the multiplexes as Hollywood waits for the stars to align to release their next big tentpole. With that in mind it’s also the perfect time to catch up on these films from 2014 that have yet to be released as well as other great films from last year that you still like to catch up with. For myself, you can add Only Lovers Left Alive, Nightcrawler, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Laggies, and Beyond the Lights as films from 2014 that I still need to catch up with.

2014 over with? Hardly. Preparation for your Oscar ballot starts now!

What films from last year do you still have to catch up with?

20
Nov
14

Hunger Games Mockingjay Pt 1 REVIEW: These Foolish Games

"You saw me on Letterman. I'll walk out. Don't make me."

“You saw me on Letterman. I’ll walk out. Don’t make me.”

Okay fine, I’m not the hugest fan of the series but seriously, while watching The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1, I was bored. Like, bored out of my skull. And I was in a preview screening so security guards were watching and I couldn’t pull out my phone lest they think I was trying to pirate the film.

Already these movies (and books) weren’t exactly cheerful affairs but with the lack of a Battle Royale in this installment, things are really, really dour. After seeing her do “Live and Let Die” in American Hustle, slinking around as Mystique and calling off her own interview with David Letterman, poor Jennifer Lawrence seems to have outgrown her role as Katniss Everdeen. She’s definitely no Kristen Stewart—J-Law looks like she’s absolutely busting at the seems to do something, anything. Alas, most of her time is spent looking morose and dejected, something K-Stew had no trouble doing.

Granted, the adapted screenplay doesn’t give her much opportunity since it basically cut the final source material in half. Even more so than The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 though, Mockingjay suffers from being a project comprised of only a first and second act. And unlike Peter Jackson, nothing entertaining is made up just to fill in space.

This is Sutherland's only scene in the movie.

This is Sutherland’s only scene in the movie.

Katniss wakes up on a rebel airship and spends the rest of the time trying to decide whether she wants to become a propaganda instrument against the evil Capitol and it’s equally evil President Snow (Donald Sutherland). She also worries a lot about her buddy Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), who got left behind in the previous film and is now in the hands of Snow, and losing weight very quickly. Hopefully his skinniness was CGI cause poor Hutcherson looks positively anorexic.

A few performers do what they can with what little they have. Elizabeth Banks still manages to be a diva as Effie, the fashionable emcee of The Hunger Games, even though she is now a political refugee in a jump suit. Donald Sutherland appears to be having a good time overacting with his Satanic line readings, but he’s hardly in the movie so he barely registers.

They wish their agents got them more money.

They wish their agents got them more money.

But esteemed actors like Julianne Moore, as the powerful leader of the resistance, is just going through the firm-jawed motions. The saddest though, is Philip Seymour Hoffman. As a member of the leadership committee, he just meekly agrees or disagrees with Moore. Tragic how this is the last role he will ever play.

But then it all must come down to tragedy with this bleak, dystopian series. Even the cinematography has a gray grain so thick that it almost blurs the scenery. Fans, of course, will not care. And considering that the fan base are pre-programmed admirers of the novels, they should be satisfied with this additional entry of loose-ended angst. Other audience members dragged into the theaters against their will might want to make sure their phones are fully charged prior. There’s a new version of Candy Crush to help pass the time.

The Hunger Games – Mockingjay Part 1 is now playing in theaters everywhere.

06
Nov
14

HIFF 2014: The Babadook

"Mommy, that's an Alexander Wang!"

“Mommy, that’s an Alexander Wang!”

Rye’s Take

Australia”s The Babadook has proven that the domestic ghost film has officially run its course all over the planet.

There was an intriguing premise here. A children’s book mysteriously appears on a boy’s shelf and his mother reads it to him. It turns out to be a boogeyman story and for a while, there is genuine tension between the sleep deprived, hard-working single mom and the precocious, possibly sociopathic boy. (He creates a dart-shooting crossbow and a shoulder mounted catapult.) The book has possibly “called” the monster known as The Babadook and unexplainable loud banging on furniture begins.

As the film reaches it’s end though, logic and story holes increasingly take over. As a climax to the mysterious shenanigans going on in the very-gray painted house, there is a roach infestation, an unnecessary tooth-pulling scene and derivative black vomit—all were not previously mentioned as in the Babadook legend—as well as a deceased husband/father that may or may not have something to do with the hauntings. Even worse, things get unintentionally hilarious due to one character’s attempt at fighting back with homemade booby-traps against the horror, which calls to mind Home Alone.

Let’s just hope there isn’t a sequel. The Babadook Part Doo?

Lady, who does your decorating? David Lynch?!

Lady, who does your decorating? David Lynch?!

Yoda’s Take

As a fan of the /Filmcast movie podcast, one of it’s hosts David Chen, proclaimed The Babadook as one of his favorite films of the year during the summer. From the way he was going on about it, it sounded pretty intriguing. Well, at the time I didn’t think I would ever get to see it since it sounded like an obscure foreign film that would never play anywhere near me. And then low and behold when the HIFF schedule came out . . . The Babadook was on there. Needless to say I had to check it out.

Having seen both The Conjuring and Annabelle, I was a little let down by The Babadook. /Filmcast hype aside, The Babadook carries the same premise that the aforementioned Hollywood movies do; as such, a lot of what I think makes The Babadook a decent horror movie was really old hat for me upon viewing. While atmospherically it was very chilling and a little scary at times, because I had seen the same convention in The Conjuring and Annabelle, I wasn’t as scared as I probably would have been had I not seen those other two movies.

What didn’t help my disposition on the film was that the kid in it was pretty damn annoying. I don’t know if it was the way his character was written, the nature of his behavior due to the storyline, or just the fact that he’s actually annoying in real life, but it really grinded on me. Half the time I was like, “who lets their kids act like that?”

Overall The Babadook is a decent enough horror film that I’m sure horror fans will appreciate, if just for the amount of tension and suspense that is built from situations in the film. If you’re at the festival and up for a late night scare, then The Babadook will definitely fit the bill.

The Babadook screens one final time tonight (11/7) at 9pm at Regal Dole Cinemas as part of the Hawaii International Film Festival.




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