World War Z (2013)

World War ZRelease Date: June 21, 2013

Director: Marc Forster

Stars: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, Daniella Kertesz

Runtime: 116 min

The zombie sub-genre is a successful one. (And The Walking Dead shows it’s wildly successful on television, as well.) We saw that with Warm Bodies earlier this year, that brought about a unique film to the the zombie sub-genre. World War Z is a more straight-forward zombie movie that doesn’t try to reinvent anything. Apparently movie-goers don’t tire of watching zombies or the world end, either, as this is the second zombie movie and umpteenth apocalyptic flick of 2013.

United Nations employee Gerry Lane traverses the world in a race against time to stop the Zombie pandemic that is toppling armies and governments, and threatening to destroy humanity itself.

World War Z mashes genres of action, drama and horror together in this zombie feature that’s a little more in the vain of 2007’s I Am Legend  and less TV’s The Walking Dead. If your favourite part of any zombie movie is all of the blood, you’ll be sorely disappointed. The only blood presented are in the form of cuts and bites from the zombies, for the most part. Even when the zombies are shot, there’s hardly a realistic shot of blood – mostly because the majority of the zombies are CGI-animated. It is never, ever gory.

Half of the kills even happen off-screen. That could take half of the fun out of the movie for fans of people getting mauled by zombies. The movie is surprisingly human. That isn’t saying that the zombies themselves are human, even if some have senses of humour. Some tease their victims by clacking their teeth together like Pac Men. It’s funny, yet menacing. Anyway, the human part of this is in Brad Pitt’s character. He, Gerry Lane, is an average UN worker, who others think could play a critical role in stopping this epidemic. His motivations are driven by his family. He wants to find a cure, or at least something to save some of the human population, as quickly as he can so he can keep his family from turning into those monsters. I really like Brad Pitt’s honesty in his portrayal.

One might get the vibe from the trailer that all of of the zombies will be in the form of CGI. Thankfully, that is not the case and there are quite a few humans actually playing the zombies. This movie probably does hold the record for tallest CGI-zombie doggie pile. Generally, the visuals are decent. Some of the movie suffers from shaky cam, which just shouldn’t be present in a big budget movie – because, really, one would think they could pay for cinematographers without Parkinson’s disease. The majority of the scenes are in the dark, and a lot of the camerawork is generally busy. A few scenes, generally near the beginning at the start of the hectic epidemic, are eye sores. I don’t see how 3D visual effects would add anything to the movie; it might even make the movie more excruciating to the eyes.

The story’s a good one, as far as ‘find the cure’ movies go. This film is adapted from the book of the same name written by Max Brooks. I have not read the book, so I cannot comment on any similarities or big differences. All I can say is, it’s a story that plays well on the screen. I like that Drew Goddard has a hand in the screenplay; because he has talent. It’s a traditional ‘find the cure’ type of film, that doesn’t become complicated. If you do miss a few lines of critical dialogue, however, you might be out of the loop for a few minutes. Director Marc Forster brings his A-game, but he could be more aware that his movie suffers from shaky cam. It doesn’t add to the experience at all. Nor would the 3D; but this is the film industry, so they want to make money.

The make-up for the zombies is good, at least those who are human. I wouldn’t exactly call this a horror movie. You might jump once or twice, but not constantly. There is a constant tense and suspenseful atmosphere. You’ll appreciate how the screenplay keeps you guessing (but it’ll be less predictable if you haven’t read the book – I’d assume). The cast is good. James Badge Dale and David Morse are memorable in petite roles. Mireille Enos has been appearing on the small screen since 1994, but this is only her second movie role. Nonetheless, she performs well. Even if her character makes a few unfortunate decisions, that don’t exactly affect her.

The entire feature won’t stand out prominently in memory by the end of the year, but there’s one particular air plane scene that is good, intense fun; if not entirely realistic. This movie isn’t exactly a good horror movie, per se, but it does have scary aspects. It’s mostly just an effective actioner. I also like how it is character-driven and is never boring. For a big-budget action movie, the cinematography is too shaky. I wasn’t anticipating this heavily – so it’s a nice surprise.

75/100

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The Green Mile (1999)

The Green MileThe Green Mile

Release Date: December 10, 1999

Director: Frank Darabont

Stars: Tom Hanks, Michael Clarke Duncan, David Morse

Runtime: 189 min

Tagline: Miracles do happen

Did you knowOriginally set in 1932, the timeframe was bumped to 1935 so the movie Top Hat could be featured.

The lives of guards on Death Row are affected by one of their charges: a black man accused of child murder and rape, yet who has a mysterious gift.

The Green Mile follows one of the most miraculous stories of fantasy and mystery to ever be told. It’s filled with fantastic performances, awesome characters, a great story, great direction and superb writing.

This film is based on the Stephen King novel of the same name. It combines crime, drama, mystery and fantasy and makes it one of the best features I’ve ever seen. The good majority of the characters are Death Row inmates, so there is a good helping of crime in this, as each of those inmates did a horrendous crime to get in there. However, a good percentage of the inmates’ fatal sins are never exposed. The purpose of this is for when the inmates take a seat in Old Sparky, the Green Mile’s infamous electric chair, we must get emotional. We wouldn’t get as emotional as we do with a select few characters if we actually knew they were convicted rapists, like one character is revealed as in the source novel. One of the primary characters, John Coffey (“like the drink, only not spelled the same”), is actually accused of child murder and rape. There’s great emotional depth in the feature, and it’s surprising how emotional an audience can get about a few inmates dying for their sins. Both the mystery and the fantasy interlap with each other, because the real mystery is what Coffey’s gift is exactly, and what his purpose is in the dark world.

Stephen King is the one to write the original novel, and he is a great person to analyze the darkness of the world, and the darkness that fill the hearts of some people. This brings in the concept of the world only being a dark home, with people who kill others for joy, or killers who use little girls’ love to kill each other with. This is a story of some inmates who can actually feel remorse, and die for others.

Michael Clarke Duncan is the best he has ever been as John Coffey. He may be a giant, but he is such a tender soul with a heart as big as a semi-truck. The fact that this brute of a man is afraid of the dark reminds me that the world is a scary place, and he is just as vulnerable to the dangers of the universe as much as Mr. Jingles may be. Even though Coffey is in no certain danger of being squashed by Percy Wetmore.

Percy is one of the most despicable characters of the feature, but he is really a fascinating character, who is well-performed by Doug Hutchison. Percy is established as a young, ignorant man who thinks he is the only one in the world with connections, and he doesn’t understand that there are consequences with every action, something he learns the hard way. He is also hungry for power, but power is earned and not given freely. He is a young person who really, for some reason or another, wants to see a death up close. This adds a disturbing aspect to the feature, but a very necessary one. It all goes in the expertly mended mix of genres and concepts.

One of the meanest cats around town, among the prisoners, is Wild Bill (played by Sam Rockwell, who seems like he had a hell of a time). He is a sort-of comic relief, but he is also a character that is critical to the story development. Much like Percy, he is the sort of character that you might hate, but you can’t help but appreciate.

Tom Hanks delivers a solid performance as Paul Edgecomb with the help of others in the cast: David Morse as Brutus, Bonnie Hunt as Paul’s wife, James Cromwell, Michael Jeter as Eduard Delacroix, Sam Rockwell and Doug Hutchison as the despicable Percy Wetmore. However, no one is better than Michael Clarke Duncan. Duncan is in his finest hour with his performance as the tender John Coffey, a giant, uneducated black man who has seen too much darkness in the world.

A vast majority of the film is set in the prison, with only ones’ home life expressed are Paul’s and the warden, Hal Moores’. It actually works for it. There are amazing characters all-around, even Percy, one of the most despicable characters in all of cinema. With fine pacing as well as characters you’ll find yourself so enveloped with, this film is equal parts beautiful, emotional, and extremely engaging.

The direction is great, Darabont wonderfully brings King’s novel to life. He may have left a few things out, but he stayed faithful to the key elements. And, often enough, the reason Darabont left a few things out was to allow us to feel emotional if anything happened to them. Darabont writes in all sorts of hidden elements, even adding onto King’s novel. These changes aren’t nearly as severe as Kubrick’s to King’s The Shining, so it’s great he stayed so faithful to such a mesmerising and spell-binding story.

In a nutshell: The Green Mile is my favourite film. It is profound, disturbing, charming, engaging, sad, and funny. These amazing performers bring the characters of King’s novel to life; characters as small as the little circus mouse, Mr. Jingles, to as big as John Coffey himself.

Oh, my favourite part of my favourite film is very, very hard to choose, but that scene where John is watching his first “flicka show”, Top Hat, is up there because it’s just so charming.

100/100

Also, check out this “brief discussion” of the film I had with Joe over at his blog, Two Dude Review. This discussion really does prove it’s a movie that’s difficult to stop talking about!

Celebrity Birthdays: October 8 – 14

Chevy Chase (October 8)

Happy 69th birthday to Chevy Chase who is probably best known for his role in National Lampoon’s Vacation films as Clark Griswold. He’s also well known for his improvisational role of Ty Webb in 1980’s Caddyshack. Nowadays he appears on the NBC comedy TV Series Community, as the racist, clueless, offensive, rich and often hilarious Pierce Hawthorne. What’s your favourite Chevy Chase movie or TV role, and favourite movie featuring him? My favourite roles portrayed by Chase are Ty Webb in Caddyshack, and his role as Pierce Hawthorne, on Community,  is a close second. My favourite films featuring Chase are 1) Caddyshack as Ty Webb and; 2) Hot Tub Time Machine as the hysterical Repairman and;  3) Snow Day as Tom Brandston, the weatherman.Though, I’ve only seen four of his films. The fourth is Zoom, but frankly, who truly enjoys that one? I’d count one of the Vacation films, but I can’t remember which one I’d seen…

Matt Damon (October 8)

Happy 42nd birthday to Matt Damon, star of The Bourne trilogy, Good Will Hunting, and The Departed. I won’t go into what my favourite Damon flicks are because I haven’t seen a lot of his work to judge. But what I have seen him in, I can say that he evidently has great talent.

Sigourney Weaver (October 8)

Happy 63rd birthday to Mrs. Sigourney Weaver. Weaver is sort of just an extraordinary Queen of Science Fiction/Horror. She is the star of the Alien series as Ellen Ripley. Unfortunately, I have not seen those films at all yet. She has also been in Ghostbusters and Avatar. I’ve only seen three of her films that she has a primary role in, and they are ranked: 1) Holes as Warden Walker; 2) Avatar as Grace and; 3) Ghostbusters as Dana Barrett.

David Morse (October 11)

Happy 59th birthday to David Morse, who is best known for The Green Mile, Contact, The Hurt Locker and The Rock. He’s a great and diverse actor that can be creepy in films like Disturbia and touching in films like The Green Mile. I really love the work that I have seen him in. He has been nominated for two Primetime Emmys for his work in the TV miniseries John Adams and House. My favourite films featuring him are: 1) The Green Mile, as Brutus ‘Brutal’ Howell; 2) Disturbia as the creepy Mr. Turner and; 3) The Hurt Locker as Colonel Reed (who got about two minutes of screen time).

Hugh Jackman (October 12)

Happy 44th birthday to Hugh Jackman, an Australian born actor who is best known for his role in The Prestige and as Logan/Wolverine in the X-Men series. My favourite role is him in The Prestige. That’s really the only stuff I’ve seen him in.

Sacha Baron Cohen (October 13)

Happy 41st birthday to Sacha Baron Cohen, who is the creator of great characters such as Borat, Ali G, most recently Aladeen from The Dictator, and then there was Bruno. He is often very hysterical, and has even gotten an Oscar nomination for Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay for Borat. My favourite Cohen character is definitely, without any question, Borat. He’s freaking hysterical. My favourite films featuring Cohen are: 1) Borat, where he played the titular character and; 2) Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, where he played Jean Girard and; 3) Madagascar where he voices the hilarious Madagascar lemur, King Julien.

Other Birthdays: Oct. 10, Aimee Teegarden (23). Oct. 11, Michelle Trachtenberg (27). Oct. 11, Joan Cusack (50). Oct. 12, Josh Hutcherson (20). Oct. 14, Roger Moore (85). Oct. 14, Mia Wasikowska (23).

So, what do you guys think of one of my newest features? And who is your favourite actor/actress on this talented list?

My reviews of films they have starred in: 

Sigourney Weaver: Holes (2003)

David Morse: Disturbia  (2007)

Joan Cusack: The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)

Josh Hutcherson: The Hunger Games (2012)

Disturbia – A film review by Daniel Prinn – A film kind of reminiscent of Rear Window; bonus review.

Disturbia

Release Date: April 13, 2007

Director: D.J. Caruso

Stars: Shia LaBeouf, David Morse, Carrie-Anne Moss

Runtime: 105 min

Tagline: Every killer lives next door to someone.

A lot of people say this flick is like Hitchcock’s Rear Window, but when I was watching that film – I didn’t think of this one once. Well, after thinking about it; there are definitely some reminiscent themes, but it does posses new themes as well (like the teen romance thing), and the suspected killer in this film is much more haunting than the suspected killer of Rear Window (as in Rear Window, the suspected killer only has few lines of dialogue). If compared, R.W. is most definitely the more original piece, but for entertainment value I’d say they’re near in the same league, as this has a most interesting modern touch to it. They are both special in their own ways.

After Kale (Shia LaBeouf)  loses his father, he has become emotionally unstable. A year later, when there is an incident at school, it lands Kale under a court-ordered house arrest. When Kale is running out of ideas of things to do, he resorts to spying on the neighbours – and takes a special interest in a neighbour, Robert Turner (David Morse), whom he begins to suspect of being a serial killer.

The originality of the film isn’t the best, as a lot of the things of the film have been done before, but it really is a great thriller. The thrills and scares are big, and it is thoroughly entertaining and too has its fair share of comical moments. The cast really does an incredible job, from the young acting talents to the great performances by David Morse and Carrie-Anne Moss. Also, as occasionally predictable as the film may be, I was still thoroughly entertained by it all.

The film stars Shia LaBeouf, David Morse, Carrie-Anne Moss, Sarah Roemer, Aaron Yoo, Jose Pablo Cantillo, and Matt Craven, with Viola Davis.

I might be overselling the film so I guess I’ll say this, it gets predictable at times and the pacing feels off in some areas, so just don’t expect Oscar gold, but I think it’s great for a watch, it’s quality entertainment.

The character development of the film is really grand, and I really like the plot as well. It’s one of my favourite thrillers (well it is definitely one of the films that pop into my head first, as it was my first thriller/horror experience in a theatre); but not for its terms of originality, but for its pure entertainment value.

 90/100