Deliver Us From Evil (2014)

Deliver Us From EvilReleased: July 2, 2014. Directed by: Scott Derrickson. Starring: Eric Bana, Edgar Ramirez, Olivia Munn. Runtime: 118 min.

Director Scott Derrickson brings the same eerie style to his latest film “Deliver Us From Evil” as he did with “Sinister”, even though this is the more basic of the two, without the same heart-pounding effectiveness. Early on, the scares rely heavily on creepy crawlies and scares from hyperactive animals. This choice for atmosphere doesn’t enable any ability to differentiate itself from “The Silence of the Lambs”, until it gets into the story.

The competent mystery begins in Iraq with a small army group who find a cave with odd inscriptions. This leads to 1990s New York where the real-life Sergeant Ralph Sarchie resides. A passionate detective, Sarchie is deeply affected by the abuse of children – it is established early on. The mystery starts when a seemingly insane woman Jane (Olivia Horton) throws her two-year-old baby in the lion’s den at the local zoo. Sarchie is sent on an awry journey and first-hand encounters with malicious evil, and makes him want to find out why a woman with no previous criminal record just lost her mind.

Basic horror film scares can be found in this film: creepy crawlies, strange noises from the basement, weird static, children’s laughter, and children’s toys that come to life. Latin inscriptions might make you expect a basic exorcism film and the long-run, and that’s what is delivered. Some aspects of the mystery are intriguing, particularly the repetition of lyrics from a song by The Doors (“Shut the door, the damn door”). The film, running nearly two hours, is too long for something this basic and something that delivers only a few intense sequences and a creepy atmosphere.

What does set this apart is a sensitive performance from Eric Bana; as he truly captures the essence of Sarchie, who cares deeply for others, even if he is not the best at showing it. By being so dedicated to his community, he neglects to spend time with his family (Olivia Munn isn’t notable as his wife). This is an enjoyable aspect. This is a movie that’s about how people can be affected by secondary evil, and the effects it has on them. Sarchie has been deeply impacted by this kind-of evil, but is now experiencing a whole other type of evil, a primary evil that sometimes can’t be explained. Many of these concepts are brought up by a priest named Mendova (Edgar Ramirez), a heroin addict who found God.

One good thing about this film: This is Joel McHale’s first truly enjoyable film role. He’s been playing jerks since his days of TV’s “Community” and that’s the only place it has previously been effective. This time he plays a mildly likeable character, and perhaps action or horror films might be his calling in the movies.

Score: 63/100

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Blended (2014)

BlendedReleased: May 23, 2014. Directed by: Frank Coraci. Starring: Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore, Wendi McLendon-Covey. Runtime: 117 min.

Adam Sandler and co bring us a rom-com that’s heavy on the romance, light on the comedy. Six or seven good laughs throughout the feature is no impressive feat, but is okay for Sandler’s current streak, considering six laughs is around my personal combined tally for how many times I laughed during That’s My Boy, Jack and JillGrown Ups 2 and You Don’t Mess with the Zohan. You could say the film is funny on occasion. Sandler portrays Jim, a family guy with no wife and three daughters. He goes on an awful blind date with Lauren (Drew Barrymore), as his first attempt at dating since his wife passed. When Lauren’s best friend Jen (Wendi McLendon-Covey) breaks off her relationship with Jim’s boss, Lauren pounces at the opportunity to take her kids to Africa. Jim does too, and the trip is conveniently a getaway just for blended families! 

Blended is pretty much Just Go With It with a twist: the characters hate each other at first, but everyone’s still just bonding on vacation in an exotic place. Writers Ivan Menchell bring so many components of Sandler’s previous films to get Blended, which is a film that just steals from stronger movies. At least Sandler knows what works to still get work. Some of the laughs that hit are amusing song choices, at least when they’re not completely obvious. Before I get onto what jokes do work, I’ll say what doesn’t make this a family-friendly movie. There are so many sex jokes and some of this is just plain gross. Some of it’s even worse than a deer pissing on Sandler’s face in Grown Ups 2. Take this for example: A giraffe’s very long tongue goes down a character’s throat, practically, when a character is going in for the kiss. This abysmal attempt at comedy is cringe-worthy.  

What work best are some cameos and bit roles. Shaquille O’Neal shows up in a not that funny cameo, because his acting is as strong as his free throwing ability. Terry Crews constantly shows up to sing a song about blended families and whatever else is on the caricature’s mind. He is funny at first, but the film gets a bit desperate to use him so many times during the film. It’s somehow amusing on a minor level throughout, even after his signature titty dance. It’s partly due to his energy, and partly due to the fact that the film gets boring and energy is welcome. I’ll keep the most amusing cameo under wraps. 

It seems to me that Sandler is trying to get laughs by channeling aspects of his comedies that have worked in the past. I counted seven occasions where characters channel aspects from his other films. I guess if it works, many people won’t notice – but those who do, it’s going to seem a bit lazy. Sandler brings slapstick humour and adult-oriented jokes that get the bigger laughs, while parents will think “As if this looked family-friendly.” Kevin Nealon portrays one half of a strange Canadian couple. He channels his character from Happy Gilmore at times. His wife is a bimbo named Ginger; a character who doesn’t get one laugh. She shimmies a lot, which makes Lauren’s eldest son Brandon horny. 

He’s a walking joke; as he resembles Frodo, he’s a masturbating fiend, and he calls his mom hot on two occasions – which might be a subconscious reason for his hostility against Jim. I detect an Oedipus complex. Lauren’s other son Tyler is a temperamental kid who might only have few lonely brain cells left, due to the amount of times his mother hits his head on walls in one week’s span. Barrymore can’t save this because she gets only about two laughs. Her chemistry with Sandler is only able to give audiences so much enjoyment because it’s gotten old. It also doesn’t help that they don’t like each other for the first half. Wendi McLendon-Covey is cast in a lame sidekick role where she can’t exhibit much talent, and Joel McHale portrays Lauren’s ex. He’s been largely unfunny in every film I’ve seen him in thus far. I think he’s funny on TV’s Community, but now that it’s been cancelled – he needs to be picking stronger roles to star in, now more than ever. His schtick seems to be asshole characters, but he’s just not funny as them. 

Bella Thorne’s character Hilary is a tomboy who only sportswear and is nicknamed Larry by her father. Can you tell he wanted a boy? She experiences an ugly duckling arc, which isn’t believable because even with that hideous curly bowl cut wig, she’s still mildly pretty. Put some extensions on her and slap on some make-up, and wow, she now has confidence because no one will mistake her for a boy or an ugly lesbian! The song choices for her transformation are obvious and just not that funny. Sandler’s middle daughter Espn (idiotically named after his favourite network ESPN) has a strange arc: She carries on conversations with her dead mom. Emma Fuhrmann’s performance helps it ring true occasionally, and it adds sincerity to the film, but it’s weird throughout. I guess there’s a big problem when the weird girl’s arc is the strongest. 

Elsewhere, there is sporadic sweetness in the film – but the film’s attempt to tackle realities of today’s day and age are forgettable, and the writers stretch it when they attempt to show that even in nature, families are blended. (A tiger and lion proceed to eat a baby hippo.) For Blended, predictable is fiercely boring and all the extraneous crap makes this run at nearly two hours. Films like these just shouldn’t be that long, unless it’s entertaining.

Score: 45/100

Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World review.

Spy Kids: All the Time in the World (2D TV Screening)

Release Date: August 19, 2011

Director: Robert Rodriguez

Stars: Jessica Alba, Jeremy Piven, Joel McHale

Runtime: 89 min

Tagline: Saving the world is their idea of family time.

 

Robert Rodriguez: Director, often great screen writer, some of his best work  includes Sin CityGrindhouse, Planet Terror, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, those sort of darkly atmospheric flicks. He has also entertained children and adults alike with the first two Spy Kids films – they’re sort of like the James Bond for kids. Though, he also is capable of inducing torturous films for adults, that pass itself as entertainment – and even some kids may not enjoy. The prime example is The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl. I’ll give him that Spy Kids 3-D was bearable in most areas, but it wasn’t anything special. This film is just one of those movies where you can say confidently: “Oh, this crap is just terrible.”

Marissa Wilson (Jessica Alba) has been married to Wilbur Wilson (Joel McHale) for about a year now, and they have had one baby together. There’s a nuisance for Marissa: Wilbur’s twins. Cecil (Mason Cook) isn’t all bad, but the real trouble is the daughter, the pranking Rebecca (Rowan Blanchard). She has a sore spot for her [Marissa] because Rebecca thinks she’s trying to replace her real mother, and most of all – she thinks Marissa is hiding something. She is correct, Marissa is a retired OSS agent. After the Timekeeper escapes from prison, he threatens the world with an upcoming apocalypse. He’ll do this by speeding up time to the point where there isn’t any time left in the day. Marissa is called back to action to stop the Timekeeper, and her new family is tossed into the mix in the process.

This film is predictable from the get go, or at least when you meet the central characters. I don’t know how good the 3D was, but it was fairly obvious what could have been in 3D – and it didn’t look like it would have made any good 3D effects.

The film bares the same message as the first three: family is the most important thing. The first three did this well, so this film is just so unnecessary. Also, the fact that family comes first is practically just generally believed to be true.

Some good things about it… I guess it offers a fairly nice sense of nostalgia. Some of the gadgets are sort of cool, but they weren’t as cool as in the other films. Alexa Vega’s cameo was good, but she has gotten a bit too old to play her character.

It was nice to see Danny Trejo in this, in his extremely brief cameo as Uncle Machete, but I didn’t care for it very much. Nor did I care for the extended cameo by Daryl Sabara as Juni. He just didn’t work very well.

The story is just really stupid. Who cares about this guy taking over the world? Did Rob Rodriguez not learn anything from having Sylvester Stallone play numerous roles? The villain is just so ridiculous.

The film is just rather unbearable, the acting is horrid and the attempts at comedy or any sentimental moments fail miserably. How this did not get nominated for a Razzie, I have no idea.

Alexa Vega was really the only person in this film I could tolerate. All the other performers are awful, and the children are mighty annoying. The performers do horribly: Jessica Alba, Joel McHale, Jeremy Piven, Rowan Blanchard, Mason Cook and Daryl Sabara. Though, the voice work from Ricky Gervais as the sarcastic mechanical dog, Argonaut, was decent.

Spy Kids 4 is a completely unneeded sequel that offers no entertainment value, has a stupid plot, and should not be seen by anyone who appreciates a good movie. Watch it only if you’re curious to see how bad it really is.

25/100

Ted (2012)

Ted

Release Date: June 29, 2012

Director: Seth MacFarlane

Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Seth MacFarlane (Voice)

Runtime: 106 min

Seth MacFarlane hits the big screen with Ted, and it’s actually rather good.

The film opens in a small Boston town on Christmas Eve 1985, where John Bennett is having a rather difficult time making friends. On Christmas morning, he receives a teddy bear, which he grows highly attached to. He makes a wish that Ted would come to life, and voila! he does.

Then the film skips to when John is thirty-five years old, living with his girlfriend of four years, Lori, and still his thunder buddy, Ted.  The film is about John, Ted and Lori’s relationship – and Lori is starting to get really fed up with Ted, and he has to try to receive a taste of the real world.

The movie actually has many laughs. It’s definitely funnier than you might think a buddy movie could ever be about an immature grown man’s relationship with his real life teddy bear, which consists of much pot smoking and movie watching.

When there are laughs, they’re really big; granted, the film does have some dull areas, as it suffers from maintaining comedic momentum throughout the entire feature (the most laughs are at the beginning and near the end). The factor of MacFarlane’s comfort zone being a 22-minute slot (as he created Family Guy, American Dad, and The Cleveland Show) should definitely be considered as a factor for the lack of momentum. The film also suffers from having numerous antagonists, but I can look over that.

The film is actually quite the fun ride, has great quotes, laughs, pop culture references, a great voice-over narration (by the British voice styling of Patrick Stewart at the beginning and end of the film), and even when it is at its dull areas of the feature, it isn’t completely boring.

It also stars Joel McHale as Rex (who is just painfully unfunny) Lori’s horny boss, Giovanni Ribisi as the crazed Donny, and Patrick Warburton as the drunken co-worker, Guy.

The character of Ted is actually really funny and intriguing, the on-screen chemistry is grand, and it’s a comedy that should be cherished – as it is one of the funniest films of 2012 thus far.

88/100