Hide and Seek (2005)

Hide and SeekHide and Seek

Release Date: January 28, 2005

Director: John Polson

Stars: Robert De Niro, Dakota Fanning, Famke Janssen

Runtime: 101 min

Tagline: Come out come out whatever you are

Plot: As a widower tries to piece together his life in the wake of his wife’s suicide, his daughter finds solace — at first — in her imaginary friend.

Hide and Seek is too mediocre to star Robert De Niro, but he and Dakota Fanning make it tolerable. One doesn’t really know if it’s a ghost story or just an eerie stalker story, all we know it’s psychological and it tries very hard to be creepy. The flashback dream sequence that De Niro has often is strange, and the party has a cool production like Titanic and even The Shining. This tries hard to please its audience, so much so it has four alternate endings on its DVD. If you don’t like the original ending, you’ll probably like at least one of the four other ones…

The movie is slightly bland and forgettable and sort of just moves along at a slow pace, and the town-folk are rather strange. Elisabeth Shue’s character doesn’t do much for the story, except make the mysterious imaginary friend called “Charlie” angry, making the little Emily angry, in turn. The movie does get saved by a memorable third act, but everything preceding it, is dark, often creepy, but overall boring. The ending is a good surprise, and the movie keeps you guessing.

There are a few okay scares, especially when lights flash on and off. The performances are just adequate, but the talented actors aren’t utilized well. The thing is, the characters are bland and sort-of uninteresting. They’re so lifeless that they couldn’t even care for a cat they might or might not own. The storytelling doesn’t bother to tell us if the cat is a family pet, if it’s a stray, or if it comes with the house. (I’d rather a pool if anything comes with my new house. I’m allergic to cats.) The cinematography is cool and it’s shot in an interesting fashion. The movie isn’t great and overall, it isn’t memorable; but it is eerie enough to (probably) put me on-edge if I ever play hide-n-go-seek again.

52/100

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Chasing Mavericks (2012)

Chasing Mavericks 

Release Date: October 26, 2012

Directors: Michael Apted, Curtis Hanson

Stars: Jonny Weston, Gerard Butler, Elisabeth Shue

Runtime: 120 min

Tagline: Legends Start Somewhere

Chasing Mavericks brings the audience knowledge of the life story of Jay Moriarity. The year is 1994, and the location is Santa Cruz, California. 15-year old Jay Moriarity has always loved surfing, and has idolized local legend Frosty Hesson since childhood. When Jay hitches a ride on the roof of Frosty’s van, he finds out that the myth of the Mavericks surf break, one of the biggest waves on Earth, is very real. He gets it in his aspiring stubborn head that he must ride this wave, and Frosty offers to teach him to survive it.

A lot of the content in C.M., is material that you’ve probably seen about ten times before, and the story feels simply between average and a bit above average. It’s just that unfortunately average true underdog story, who just wants to beat the odds and come out a winner, with just a little determination and heart. Despite its average story , it still does offer an enjoyable experience and a story that someone could easily like a lot, or even love.

The true story is pretty nice, and it’s all about following one’s dreams and just aspire to become something, or some such bogus bullsh*t. If you do know Jay’s story and everything before you see it, it isn’t necesssary to check this one out. Unless you’re really curious, but if you know beforehand, it may not be as enjoyable. It also might be a rewarding experience for you if you went in knowing as little about his story as possible, and go in without many expectations at all. It’s just some really nice scenery and a fairly average tale.

Jay knows what it is like to be independent, as he has grown up (for the most part) without his father, and his mother works a lot. He finds a fatherly figure within Frosty, and it really is nice to watch their relationship grow over the course of the feature. Jay also learns great lessons of how to observe, and lessons of fear from Frosty. The chemistry created between the two is great. Also, the chemistry created between Jay and Kim is too, great. At times, the relationship between Jay and his best friend Blond, feels, oddly enough, awkward.

The beginning with Jay younger and Kim younger and Frosty younger, almost makes it feel like a whole different plot. That goes on for about fifteen minutes, but then it jumps ahead seven years to 1994, where the majority of the film is set. I didn’t like how that was done.

The acting is good, and the main performers bring good chops to the table. I haven’t seen a lot of Jonny Weston or Leven Rambin. Well, I’ve seen Rambin in her small role in The Hunger Games, but that’s about it. There is also some incredible scenery and fine cinematography offered.

As far as surfing films go, this one was great. I’ve never been a huge fan of surfing, but I did enjoy this more than Soul Surfer. In that one, they really just chewed (really feasted) the scenery. Speaking of S.S., the success of that probably inspired Fox to make a surfing flick, for young Moriarity, for the 2012 Fall season.

The great thing about Jay and Frosty’s relationship is that it doesn’t feel like a teacher-student relationship, but a true friendship.
The climactic surf sequence is fairly quickly paced, but others just drag on; and at times the relationships that build on the land are greater than those draining surf sequences.

SMALL SPOILER ALERT.

This isn’t a large spoiler because it doesn’t spoil a key element of the film, so read with much risk.

Somehow, the fact that the Mavericks is real is leaked, and citizens around the area come, right during the final surf sequence when Jay wants to ride the huge wave that’s coming. Some watch, and some amateur surfers want to try out the waves. Even some boats go out. For me, I hate how the filmmakers execute this. It really takes a number on my attention, because Jay is supposed to be the focal point, but at times I’m really distracted by all those boats in the water. It’s mostly bothersome to me because the filmmakers really don’t have to follow the story to the letter. They should have just left out the boats, then I’d be content.

END OF SMALL SPOILER ALERT.

This is the real Jay Moriarity.

There isn’t a lot of humour offered, but the few jokes are pretty funny. There’s some poignancy here and there, but most of it can be pretty inspiring.

Gerard Butler (he also is Executive Producer), Jonny Weston, Elisabeth Shue, Abigail Spencer, Leven Rambin, Devin Crittenden and Taylor Handley star.

Sometimes, Chasing Mavericks feels just a bit too average. There’s some nice humour, cinematography, and great scenery. Sometimes some scenes drag on, but the better scenes certainly outweigh those poor ones. It’s worth checking out if you want to check out a nice inspirational story, but that’s about the only big thing that makes C.M. stand out so vibrantly.

70/100

House at the End of the Street (2012)

House at the End of the Street

Release Date: September 21, 2012

Director: Mark Tonderai

Stars: Jennifer Lawrence, Elisabeth Shue, Max Thieriot

Runtime: 101 min

Tagline: Fear reaches out… for the girl next door.

It saddens me that my favourite part of this was the Argo trailer before the movie…

Elissa (Jennifer Lawrence) and her mother Sarah (Elisabeth Shue) have just moved out to the country. They are able to rent their home for such a low price because of the gruesome events that took place four years ago down the street. A small girl, Carrie-Anne, killed her parents in the middle of the night and it is believed she later drowned that evening, but her body was never recovered. The surviving son, Ryan (Max Thieriot), still lives in the house as a way to hold onto a memory of his parents. He was actually at a senile Aunt’s house during the time of the murders. Elissa soon strikes up a relationship with Ryan, and learns that the local horror story is far from over.

I liked the concept, but at times it really just bore me and lost my attention. Jennifer Lawrence is good in her role, as much as she can be for a horror film. The performances aren’t that special, but some characters are effectively creepy.

The execution of the film is poor and it feels dragged out in some spots. The scares are pretty good, but some are far between. The character of Ryan is pretty interesting, he’s living at a house where his parents were murdered as a way to hold onto them – despite the actual horrific memory it really is. His character is nonetheless well developed, even though some questions for his character are unanswered by the end of it all. His character is really the only one they spent a lot of time developing, so all of the others were pretty forgettable. Especially Lawrence’s character, she’s just another dumb horror girl protagonist.

The country setting was pretty nice, but average for the whole local town legend horror killer story type-thing. It was actually filmed here in my hometown of Ottawa, Ontario, but it really didn’t look like it. It’s sort of cool either way.

The twist was pretty good, what’s a good horror movie without a decent twist? The twist is pretty pleasant and shocking at the time, but as the film drags on, it just gets more and more ridiculous. It does make for a fairly memorable ending though.

The camerawork really felt eye-straining in areas. Especially when some of the shots were seen from the point of view of one of the primary characters – the visuals really hurt my eyes and the colors and the shakiness of the camera were really quite irritating. I mean it was unique camerawork in some areas, but all of it didn’t exactly work out in the film’s favour.

Lawrence’s character really does all of the things you’re not supposed to do in a horror movie, but really which horror protagonist doesn’t? They’re written to be stupid so they can lengthen the film and torture me even more!

I give props to Jonathan Mostow for coming up with the cool story, but David Loucka didn’t write the best screenplay I’ve seen.

Jennifer Lawrence, Elisabeth Shue, Max Thieriot, Gil Bellows, Eva Link, Allie MacDonald and Nolan Gerard Funk star in this film. Oh, and Joy Tanner, the mother from that Family channel show Life with Derek.

House at the End of the Street (boy, that’s a mouthful) is a great concept and story that got butchered with a poor screenplay and lousy execution. The twist is pleasant and lame, and the film overstayed its welcome for me. The whole visuals and trying-to-scare-you-but-it-doesn’t-really-work situations made it lame in some areas. Watch it if you’re really interested. It’s generally a decent horror experience that doesn’t offer a lot of memorable material, so you won’t miss much of any cinema chatter if you skip this one.

55/100

– Daniel Prinn