Film Review: A Christmas Story (1983)

Release Date: November 18th, 1983
Directed by: Bob Clark
Written by: Jean Shepherd, Leigh Brown, Bob Clark
Based on: In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash by Jean Shepherd
Music by: Carl Zittrer, Paul Zaza
Cast: Melinda Dillon, Darren McGavin, Peter Billingsley, Ian Petrella, Scott Schwartz, R.D. Robb, Zack Ward, Jean Shepherd (voice)

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 94 Minutes

Review:

“You’ll shoot your eye out!” – everyone in the movie that isn’t Ralphie

This is one of those reviews where my opinion is in contrast to the majority.

I’m just not fond of this movie. It’s not a bad motion picture but I certainly don’t have the spot in my heart for it like the millions of people that feel the urge to sit down and watch this for 24 hours straight every Christmas. Full disclosure, my whole family does that and I’m usually off in the corner staring at my phone.

But that being said, I have seen this movie more than any other because it just plays and plays on my family’s television through our annual Christmas Eve party, Christmas morning and during gift giving time. I mean, it’s just a staple. We actually barely pay attention to it at this point except for the younger ones. But everyone in my family still deems its existence in our lives to be necessary.

Give me ScroogedDie HardDie Hard 2Gremlins, Krampus or hell, this director’s other Christmas classic, Black Christmas. Okay, maybe these film selections aren’t safe for child eyes but I’m not the one having kids. And if I did, they’d see Gremlins at the same age I did: five years-old.

Anyway, this is a cute film but nothing about it is exceptional or worthy of the strange acclaim that it has now. I only consider it a classic because it’s just labeled that and for some reason, it resonates with so many people. But I also think that’s just people succumbing to the power of nostalgia. Plus, I don’t get the nostalgia bug for it because even though it came out when I was a kid, it was a bomb in the theater and only gained traction later on television. The kids that found the film were younger than me and I was probably making out with girls by that time. Eventually, I just saw it on TV. And then it was on all the damn time.

It’s a fair picture. There’s nothing great or off putting about it. It just sort of exists to me. It has a few funny moments but the comedy isn’t superb, by any means. Honestly, the movie is kind of slow and a bit drab. It has a few scenes that have become iconic but overall, watching more than ten minutes at a time, bores me to tears.

But I get that I’m the oddball, here. I just feel like there are so many holiday films better than this one. This feels dated, incredibly overplayed and probably needs to be replaced as the big Christmas marathon movie.

I’d have no problem with Home Alone being on 24/7 on December 25th.

Rating: 6/10
Pairs well with: other mediocre Christmas “classics”.

Film Review: Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004)

Also known as: Resident Evil 2, Resident Evil 2: Apocalypse, Resident Evil: Nemesis (working titles)
Release Date: August 23rd, 2004 (Tokyo premiere)
Directed by: Alexander Witt
Written by: Paul W.S. Anderson
Based on: Resident Evil by Capcom
Music by: Jeff Danna
Cast: Milla Jovovich, Sienna Guillory, Oded Fehr, Thomas Kretschmann, Jared Harris, Mike Epps, Iain Glen, Zack Ward

Constantin Film, Impact Pictures, 94 Minutes

Review:

“We’re assets, Nicholai. Expendable assets… and we’ve just been expended” – Carlos Olivera

Since I’ve never actually watched these films in their entirety, I figured that I’d work my way through them. The first movie wasn’t great but it was an enjoyable way to spend 100 minutes. I assumed each entry in the series would take a step down but I actually like this film a bit more than the first one.

To start, the story is better, more interesting and more fleshed out. You understand what’s happening at a deeper level and Alice is coming into her own, remembering her past. Also, she has been modified genetically to essentially be a super soldier.

The special effects, while not perfect, are better than what we got in the first movie. The CGI is more fine tuned and the director was smart enough to keep some of the imperfections obscured in darkness and shadow. The Lickers looked better because they weren’t in brightly lit rooms but instead, confronted our heroes in a dark old church.

Additionally, the urban setting was much more interesting than seeing the heroes fight zombies and dogs in a generic looking lab.

Best of all, we get the Nemesis character. He looked pretty f’n good considering the budget, the difficulty in the design and the weak effects of the previous chapter in this series. I thought the big fight between Alice and Nemesis was actually quite good and a throwback to grittier late ’80s/early ’90s sci-fi action movies. It had a lot of near-cringe CGI work but the practical effects were nice to see and worked well.

One complaint though is the fighting style, which uses a lot of Hong Kong style wire work. While I get that Alice is an acrobatic super solider, it looks hokey in spots and my brain just can’t accept the shoddy physics. While it doesn’t bother me in Hong Kong cinema, because it is very much the Hong Kong style, it is a visual distraction that pulls me out of the movie in regards to its use here and in other Resident Evil movies.

But I didn’t watch these expecting any sort of perfection. I watched these to have some fun and to finally give this franchise the respect that maybe it deserves just on its ability to stay relevant, to pop out constant sequels and for being the highest grossing film franchise based on a video game property.

Anyway, I enjoyed this and being two films deep, this series is still engaging. Maybe I’ll be surprised and continue to enjoy the four other sequels after this one.

Rating: 6.5/10
Pairs well with: the other Resident Evil films, as well as other horror video game films from the same era: the Silent Hill series and Doom.

Film Review: Freddy vs. Jason (2003)

Release Date: August 15th, 2003
Directed by: Ronny Yu
Written by: Damian Shannon, Mark Swift
Based on: characters created by Wes Craven, characters created by Victor Miller
Music by: Graeme Revell
Cast: Robert Englund, Monica Keena, Kelly Rowland, Jason Ritter, Chris Marquette, Lochlyn Munro, Ken Kirzinger, Katharine Isabelle, Zack Ward, Brendan Fletcher

New Line Cinema, Crystal Lake Entertainment, 97 Minutes

Review:

I have now reviewed all of the Friday the 13th and A Nightmare On Elm Street films, excluding remakes. I have finally gotten to the end of the ride, where the big main event that everyone always wanted to see, finally happened. The showdown of the immortals! Freddy vs. Jason!

For some reason, this film disappointed fans of both franchises. I’ve never really been sure why, other than complaints about the use of CGI having less of an effect than the practical effects of the 1980s used in Freddy’s dream sequences. Yeah, it does feel less organic visually but the spirit is still there and the emotional tone was perfect.

The plot is pretty well done, as it brings together both of these worlds and merges them into one thing. Freddy Krueger gets into Jason’s mind while he is wandering Hell and poses as his mother, telling Jason to go to Springwood to start killing the teenage population. If the teens live in fear, Freddy can manifest in their minds once again. Pretty good setup and it created an interesting scenario that saw Jason stalking teens in Freddy’s neighborhood.

I wasn’t a fan of Kane Hodder not being cast as Jason Voorhees. Ken Kirzinger did a solid job as Jason but the character was missing those Hodder mannerisms that became iconic over his four film run as the character.

Robert Englund was fantastic as Krueger, especially after a nine year hiatus following the more serious New Nightmare. This was Freddy back at his comedic and sinister best. And even though he only has one kill in this entire movie, the comedic effect of Jason beating him to the punch with kills was entertaining and added a cool dynamic to these horror icons’ relationship.

Monica Keena is fucking gorgeous in this movie and she was a good lead. She overacted in some scenes and screamed ridiculously too often but she was one of the better teenage characters out of any of these films. Jason Ritter was okay but it was cool seeing John Ritter’s kid get a shot in Hollywood. Kelly Rowland was atrocious as Kia, the nerd kid was boring and the rest of the supporting cast were ripoffs of popular actors of the time, most notably a poor man’s Jack Black and a horrible wannabe Jay from Jay & Silent Bob fame. Also, there was a heroic deputy that knew about Jason Voorhees. His character was a wasted opportunity where they could have brought back Tommy Jarvis from the fourth, fifth and sixth Friday the 13th films. It would’ve been cool to see Jason finally get his revenge on Tommy.

I don’t think that Ronny Yu was the best choice for director. He wasn’t bad but some of the action sequences were too Hong Kong and just felt weird and out of place. There were lots of shots where things would go into a strange slow motion pace with the visuals blurred and obscured – probably to hide things and keep the budget down. It wasn’t a style consistent with either film series and it became distracting.

As far as the Freddy vs. Jason battle, it happens twice in the film: once in the dream world and another in the real world. The ending is also open ended and ambiguous. You could argue that either monster won and in the end, they both survive anyway.

Unfortunately, there were no sequels after this for a joint film or solo films for either monster. Years later they both got remade with inferior films. It’d be nice to see them get a good reinvention in the future or to just pick up these films where Freddy vs. Jason left off. Although, Robert Englund says he will never play Freddy Krueger again, as he is a lot older than he was when he started in 1984.