Film Review: Texas Chainsaw (2013)

Also known as: Texas Chainsaw 3D (original theatrical title)
Release Date: January 3rd, 2013 (Belgrade premiere)
Directed by: John Luessenhop
Written by: Adam Marcus, Debra Sullivan, Kirsten Elms, Stephen Susco
Based on: characters by Kim Henkel, Tobe Hooper
Music by: John Frizzell
Cast: Alexandra Daddario, Dan Yeager, Tremaine ‘Trey Songz’ Neverson, Tania Raymonde, Thom Barry, Paul Rae, Bill Moseley, Scott Eastwood, Richard Riehle, Gunnar Hansen, Marilyn Burns, John Dugan

Mainline Pictures, Millennium Films, Lionsgate, 92 Minutes

Review:

“Family’s a messy business. Ain’t nothing thicker than blood.” – Darryl

This film was created to be a direct sequel to the 1974 original. There would then be a prequel film released in 2017, which established a new “trilogy” with these two 2010s bookends sandwiching the original. Granted, I don’t think anyone on the planet considers this “trilogy” to be their canon.

These new attempts at reviving the Texas Chainsaw Massacre were significantly worse than the two 2000s movies. Although, they are better than the worst sequels of the original four flicks.

Anyway, it should be apparent that this franchise has become a total clusterfuck. I also recently read that there is another reboot in the works. Whatever… keeping up with these constantly rebooted horror franchises is fucking exhausting.

There’s really only one redeeming thing about this movie and that’s Alexandra Daddario, who looks absolutely gorgeous. Seriously, this may be the best she’s looked but I also really like the goth/emo edge her character has.

Beyond that, it’s probably worth mentioning that Tania Raymonde was pretty hot in this too. But then, that’s obviously what the producers were going for and it’s been a major selling point of slasher-y type horror films since the ’70s.

The only sequence I really like in this movie is the opening. This actually features some cameos by previous Texas Chainsaw actors, most specifically Bill Moseley. After the opening, though, everything spirals downward into the second worse storyline in franchise history, which has only been outdone by the film that followed.

So Daddario inherits the killer family’s mansion and with it, Leatherface. Although Daddario and Leatherface have no idea that they’re blood relatives until the last five minutes of the movie and then suddenly they’re the tag team champions of west Texas, killing an evil politician, his cop son and their inbred minion.

In the end, Daddario decides, “Ah… fuck it… I might as well live in the psycho killer house and make meals for my homicidal maniac cousin that spent the whole film trying to kill me and succeeded at killing all my friends.”

Seriously, fuck this movie.

Rating: 4.5/10

Film Review: Pacific Rim: Uprising (2018)

Also known as: Pacific Rim 2, Solar Rim (alternate titles), Pacific Rim: Maelstrom (working title)
Release Date: March 15th, 2018 (Vue West End premiere)
Directed by: Steven S. DeKnight
Written by: Emily Carmichael, Kira Snyder, Steven S. DeKnight, T.S. Nowlin
Based on: characters by Travis Beacham
Music by: Lorne Balfe
Cast: John Boyega, Scott Eastwood, Jing Tian, Cailee Spaeny, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day, Burn Gorman, Adria Arjona, Zhang Jin

Legendary Pictures, UpperRoom Entertainment Limited, DDY, Universal Pictures, 111 Minutes

Review:

This sequel has been a long time coming. It has been in development since the original came out and was a surprise success in the summer of ’13. Guillermo del Toro was slated to direct it, as he did the first one. However, as time rolled on, he left the project to work on other movies. He still produced the film, though.

I liked the original, even if I don’t feel like it holds up with repeated viewings. I had high hopes that this one would at least be an entertaining popcorn movie. I did have some skepticism, however, as the trailers didn’t due much to peak my interest. Nevertheless, I wanted to give it a fair shot because I have been a fan of kaiju pictures since I discovered them as a small child.

To be completely honest, this film that I had some low expectations for, ended up being better than its predecessor. I don’t think that most people will feel the same way but the issues I had with the first movie were mostly fixed with this chapter.

My biggest complaint about the first Pacific Rim is that everything looked generic. Jaegers looked similar and didn’t have exciting designs, all the kaiju were pretty boring and redundant minus a few alterations and every battle was at night giving more visual pizzazz to the cityscapes than the actual titans battling. I liked Pacific Rim but it was pretty unimaginative from a guy as creative as Guillermo del Toro.

Another problem with the first movie, is that it is too basic from a narrative standpoint. Monsters show up, man makes robots, robots smash monsters. Sure, there are a few side plot threads too but it’s a simple movie.

Lastly, the final battle was some shitty underwater thing and the big bad boss at the end wasn’t really that cool.

In this new film, all of these issues are corrected.

The Jaegers have much cooler and unique designs, color schemes and are mostly seen during daylight hours. Also, their enemies don’t just consist of generic kaiju. Our hero Jaegers fight an evil Jaeger, as well as Jaeger/kaiju hybrids and in the end, three powerful kaiju that form into one incredibly massive kaiju like some sort of reptilian Voltron.

The plot was also more layered, had twists and surprises and wasn’t a predictable experience. There were new threats that were unexpected, a main villain twist that was awesome and the mythos was expanded on and enriched by new concepts and developments.

The final battle was beautifully done with a much better final monster than the previous outing. Sure, it is a CGI festival but it is all out in the open, takes place in Tokyo like a proper kaiju movie, moves on to Mt. Fuji and has a pretty incredible final blow to the giant creature.

Pacific Rim: Uprising feels like an anime come to life in the best way possible. It’s over the top, ridiculous and incredible in its scope and scale. But it feels right. And it is f’n fun.

I found myself caring about this cast much more than the one of the previous film. John Boyega and Scott Eastwood were a better macho duo than Charlie Hunnam and Rob Kazinsky from the first film. They had more personality, better charisma and didn’t seem like generic muscle heads mindlessly locking horns, huffing and puffing, to prove who was more alpha whenever there were onlookers.

One aspect of this film that I loved was that regular people are now building their own Jaegers. The girl in the film built a small but very cool and effective Jaeger. Actually, it is my favorite robot from this film series. I hope that this is a concept that is explored more in a sequel. Having hundreds of patched together, homemade Jaegers running into battle would be a cool sight.

I already know that my opinion of liking this more than the original will not be a popular one. People love Guillermo del Toro like they they love Joss Whedon: with blind, undying faith because they created something really, really good once.

This film is also heavy on action… real heavy. People will say it’s a soulless imitation of that “auteur” del Toro’s original vision. Well, even with being action heavy, it has more narrative depth and more creativity crammed into that soullessness than the original film.

There is destruction on a massive scale, lots of battles and once you get to the first big action sequence, the film does not really let up on the high octane intensity. But that is exactly what this film is supposed to be. It’s a friggin’ kaiju movie. It also has giant robots. You don’t go to see these things for anything but entertainment and because it pairs well with a giant bucket of popcorn and a giant bucket of soda pop.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: Pacific Rim, the 2014 American Godzilla remake, Kong: Skull Island.