Thursday, July 30, 2015

Film Review: Out of the Dark (1995)

Out of the Dark (Review)
China/1995
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"My face actually hurts from how much I laughed and smiled."

When spirits haunt an apartment building, Leo (Stephen Chow), an institutionalized ghostbuster, steps in to exorcise the haunting...

Out of the Dark follows Leo and his helpful plant, Ah Kwan (Karen Mok), an apartment tenant drawn to Leo, and the building's security staff. Of course, in order to really exorcise the building of malevolent spirits, Leo must train his allies in the complex art of ghostbusting. This includes conquering your fears, like the handling of timed explosives, and teaching the basic knowledge of ghosts. (Did you know ghosts are afraid of cows?) And, of course, all of this training leads up to the actual execution — absolute hilarity. The film ends on a high note — it keeps its momentum up by keeping it simple yet effective.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Film Review: Hellraiser: Revelations (2011)

Hellraiser: Revelations (Review)
United States/2011
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...riddled with crippling issues and it never rebounds."

Doucehbags Steven Craven (Nick Eversman) and Nico Bradley (Jay Gillespie) stumble upon a strange puzzle box while visiting Tijuana for some misadventures...

Hellraiser: Revelations hops between present and past. In the past, Steven and Nico traveled to Tijuana for some sexual misadventures. Nico gets into some trouble when his "date" turns up dead while Steven slept. They gloss over that issue and eventually find themselves in a murky strip club. A man gives them the puzzle box promising the ultimate pain and, of course, Nico opens it and unleashes the Cenobites. Fast forward to the present, one year after these events, Steven and Nico have gone missing. The Craven and Bradley families join for a dinner and eventually discuss the bizarre disappearances. Steven miraculously stumbles back and the family begin to piece together the mystery. The ending aimed for something very dark, but it really wasn't satisfying; it feels like it comes out of nowhere and doesn't really leave an impact.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Film Review: Serpico (1973)

Serpico (Review)
United States/1973
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"... anchored by Pacino's wonderful leading performance, the amazing music, and Lumet's superb direction."

The story of Frank Serpico (Al Pacino), an honest cop in a corrupt system...

Serpico follows the titular character through several key moments in his career. The film begins with the end, then formally introduces us to Frank "Paco" Serpico during his graduation. As a regular beat cop, Serpico excels in every assignment — including those collars taken by his lazy peers. He soon finds himself as a plainclothes officer. His enjoyment is short-lived as he finds corruption running rampant. Even worse, he can't seem to find where it ends — there's always a higher-up with a lower moral system. As for the worst of the worst, Serpico must face the peers he's turned against during his everyday job — his life. Although we know how it ends from the beginning, at least partially, Serpico delivers a grand conclusion.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Film Review: Creep (2014)

Creep (Review)
United States/2014
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...a refreshing and entertaining installment in the found-footage horror genre — a glimmer of hope."

Aaron (Patrick Brice), a videographer, is hired by Josef (Mark Duplass) for some seemingly simple freelance work...

Creep is a fairly simple found-footage film — fortunately, not another supernatural installment. Instead, Creep follows Aaron and Josef. Aaron is paid $1000 to follow and film Josef for the day. Josef, suffering from a terminal brain tumor, wants to record several messages for his unborn son. Aaron immediately notices Josef's eccentric characteristics, but finds himself willing to aid and assist. However, Aaron finds Josef is much creepier than initially suspected. The film leads to a sinister and sly final act and a decent ending. Knowing the producers and genre, you sort of know what to expect. (Spoiler: endless sequels!)

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Film Review: Manhunter (1986)

Manhunter (Review)
United States/1986
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...an engaging investigation, a sweaty-palmed thriller, and a disturbing psychological experience."

Former FBI criminal profiler Will Graham (William Petersen) comes out of retirement to investigate a killer known as The Tooth Fairy...

Manhunter follows Will Graham, an out-of-retirement criminal profiler with a complex past. With the ability to essentially enter a criminal's psyche, Will Graham begins to delve into the Tooth Fairy's methods and thought pattern — the who, what, where, and, most importantly, why. In order to do so effectively, Graham utilizes his old adversary, the cannibalistic serial killer, Dr. Hannibal Lecktor (Brian Cox). And, of course, he must stop The Tooth Fairy before the next full moon, which is when he'll strike again. With the clock ticking and his fickle mind cracking, Will Graham races to stop the notorious serial killer. The film leads to a great ending — the style was superb, but there were some issues with the logic.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Film Review: Sleepaway Camp 3: Teenage Wasteland (1989)

Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland (Review)
United States/1989
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...far from perfect, but it's certainly enjoyable."

After murdering a young woman on her way to camp, serial killer Angela Baker (Pamela Springsteen) assumes her identity and takes her place at Camp New Horizon...

Sleepaway Camp 3: Teenage Wasteland begins with this ridiculous introduction: Angela Baker driving a large garbage truck for no apparent reason, running down a young girl named Maria — who just so happens to be going to camp — then taking her identity. From there, Angela joins Camp New Horizon — a camp of sharing and caring between the different social classes. Of course, being the Angel of Death, Angela begins killing those she deems naughty — and there are plenty of naughty campers this time around. Using an arsenal of makeshift weapons, Angela creates, well, a teenage wasteland. It all leads to a satisfying conclusion — I chuckled.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Film Review: Kickboxer (1989)

Kickboxer (Review)
United States/1989
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...Kickboxer manages to thoroughly entertain through its action, charm, and humor..."

When his brother is paralyzed in a kickboxing match, Kurt Sloane (Jean-Claude Van Damme) must learn the art of Muay Thai to avenge him...

Kickboxer follows Kurt Sloane. Kurt is an aspiring fighter and the brother and cornerman of American kickboxing champion Eric Sloane (Dennis Alexio). Searching for new challenges, Kurt and Eric travel to Thailand where Eric challenges local champion Tong Po (Michel Qissi) to a fight. Tong Po ruthlessly defeats Eric. Lusting for vengeance, Kurt seeks training from Xian (Dennis Chan), a locally-famous trainer. Reluctant at first, Xian agrees and the training begins. Queue the epic training montages and inspirational music. The film leads to a great final battle. The ending was a bit strange, though; considering everything that happened leading up, it felt odd watching such a joyous and abrupt ending.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Film Review: Scary Movie (2000)

Scary Movie (Review)
United States/2000
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"I laughed out loud, I chuckled, I smiled, and I had a great time."

A group of high school students are terrorized by a masked serial killer in this spoof of 90s slashers.

Scary Movie follows high school students Cindy Campbell (Anna Faris), Bobby (Jon Abrahams), Brenda (Regina Hall), Ray (Shawn Wayans), Greg (Lochlyn Munro), and Buffy (Shannon Elizabeth) — with an occasional appearance from Brenda's out-of-the-loop, stoner brother, Shorty (Marlon Wayans). Our masked serial killer begins picking them off one-by-one, while Cindy tries to convince everyone the past has come back for them. Of course, she gets pummeled more than once for it. Otherwise, there's not much more to say about the plot — really, that's about it. It leads to a fun, gushing climax and a decent ending.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Film Review: Brotherhood of Blades (2014)

Brotherhood of Blades (Review)
China/2014
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...the film excels in its splendid action, individual character development, and strong acting."

A rising emperor commands three lowly Imperial Assassins to find and kill Wei Zhong Xian, a eunuch removed from power... but still clinging to his influence and riches.

Brotherhood of Blades follows Imperial Assassins Shen Lian (Chang Chen), Lu Jian Xing (Wang Qianyuan), and Jin Yi Chuan (Ethan Li). These elite officers are ordered to kill Wei. While on their mission, Shen Lian falls victim to his dreams and aspirations — dreams of leaving poverty and buying the freedom of the courtesan he seemingly adores. Without telling his brothers, Shen Lian spares Wei and accepts a large sum of money in exchange. To his utter dismay, he finds he's lured himself and his unsuspecting brothers into a conspiracy of massive proportions. The film leads to an action-packed final act and a suitable ending; considering this is a film about brotherhood, you can probably guess the last frame before the credits roll.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Video Game Review: Silent Hill (PS1)

Silent Hill (PS1/PSP)
Publisher: Konami
Developer: Konami
Genre: Psychological Horror
Platform Played For Review: PSP

"If you love horror games, this is a must-play."

The plot begins with Harry driving his daughter Cheryl to Silent Hill for a vacation. Before arriving, Harry is forced to swerve and dodge a young girl on the road. Consequently, the car crashes. Harry awakens in a diner without his daughter...

Silent Hill is a psychological survival-horror video game. The plot follows Harry in Silent Hill as he attempts to find his daughter. Harry immediately finds Silent Hill is a small, fog-covered town filled with malicious, nightmarish creatures. Along the way, he'll also meet a set of peculiar characters across the town. Off the bat, he'll met police officer Cybil Bennett in the diner, nurse Lisa Garland at the hospital, and Dahlia Gillespie at a church. The farther Harry delves into Silent Hill, the closer he gets to finding Cheryl – the more creatures and horrendous events he uncovers. Silent Hill is a game with multiple endings. I won't beat around the bush, I got the bad ending during my recent play-through – I actually liked it quite a bit, too. The story can be a little confusing and convoluted, but the sense of mystery is wonderful.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Film Review: Death Warrant (1990)

Death Warrant (Review)
United States/1990
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...one of Van Damme's better films."

After gunning down a notorious killer, Detective Louis Burke (Jean-Claude Van Damme) is sent undercover into a prison to solve a string of murders...

Death Warrant follows Burke as he infiltrates this prison. The prison, of course, is filled with violent criminals, which makes Burke's job that much more difficult. Regardless, Burke finds himself with some helpful allies after pummeling some petty thugs and exchanging some cash; he also finds some help in Amanda Beckett (Cynthia Gibb), a lawyer playing Burke's wife during the operation. The further the pair delve into the mystery, the deeper they get into a system-wide conspiracy — the more Burke has to fight, too. Without spoiling much, the film leads to an epic climax; sure, it's farfetched, but it's also pretty bad ass. The ending was cheesy, but that was to be expected.