Friday, July 12, 2013

Beowulf (2007)

Number Rolled: 91
Movie Name/Year: Beowulf (2007)
Genre: Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Length: 114 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Writer: Neil Gaiman, Roger Avary
Actors: Robin Wright, Anthony Hopkins, Sonje Fortag, Sharisse Baker-Bernard, Charlotte Salt, Julene Renee-Preciado, Greg Ellis, Rik Young, Sebastian Roche, Leslie Zemeckis, John Malkovich, Woody Schultz, Crispin Glover, Ray Winstone, Brendan Gleeson, Costas Mandylor, Chris Coppola, Angelina Jolie, Dominic Keating, Alison Lohman

A town held a celebration in their brand new mead hall. Singing, dancing and drinking drew the ire of a twisted and broken creature. After having their hall (and many of their people) completely demolished, they learned that the demon responsible was called Grendel. Knowing he could not kill the creature on his own, the king offered half his kingdoms gold to a hero that could save his land. It was not long before Beowulfs sail appeared in the distance.

I had the good fortune of seeing this movie in theaters. Not just any theater, but the kind you actually have to lean the chair back in order to see the entire screen. As awesome as that was, I feel like I missed some of the nuances that I was able to catch while watching it on my own television. Such as the way the animators made the snow sparkle slightly to make it look closer to real.

The characters movements were a little stiff but six years ago, when this movie first came out, the style seemed a lot more advanced. I remember being completely blown away by it, and I have to take that into account.

There’s nothing I can say about the story itself. It’s the kind of classic that has been used in English courses for a long time and will continue to be used in the future. The epic poem that spawned this movie certainly does not need my critique. I will say that I thought the script held as closely to the poem as it possibly could.

Pretty much, I thought “Beowulf” was amazing and I was particularly fond of the aesthetics involved with the non-human creatures.

Overall Opinion – 4/5

P.S. Robert Zemeckis also directed “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” and “Back to the Future.” 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Riese (2009)

Number Rolled: 83
Movie Name/Year: Riese (2009)
Genre: Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Length: 81 minutes
Rating: TV-14
Director: Kaleena Kiff, Nicolas Humphries
Writer: Eva Maria Peters, Alyssa Ciccarelli, Ryan Copple, Kaleena Kiff, Miguel Valdez-Lopez
Actors: Christine Chatelain, Amanda Tapping, Patrick Gilmore, Ben Cotton, Sharon Taylor, Alessandro Juliani, Bart Anderson, Richard Harmon, Ryan Grantham, Allison Mack, Ryan Robbins, Shauna Johannesen, Robin Nielsen, Leah Gibson, Gina Chiarelli, Peter Kelamis, Andrew Moxham, Travis Turner, Emilie Ullerup

Riese is a long lost princess on the run from a tyrant empress and a shady cult. If she could get the throne back she would be able to save her land from the iron grip of corruption, but first she has to figure out exactly what’s going on. With her wolf by her side, Riese goes from on the run to on the hunt in this web-series turned TV-show turned movie.

Normally, I shy away from adding episodes of television shows to my instant queue. After all, the point of this blog is to showcase the movies one can find on Netflix. This one escaped my filter mostly because it started out as a web-series. It’s common to find full seasons of web-series in movie-long formats. In other words: it was close enough.

As a movie, I don’t feel like it was very successful. The entire thing was narrated in such a way that the audience was given no credit. There were times when an expression or a line of the script made it clear why a character was or wasn’t doing something, but then would come the voice over redundantly telling me what I already knew. It was almost offensive. Passed that, steampunk is a very difficult genre to portray in film. If the director doesn’t go as far with sets and dress as steampunk demands, it winds up looking like a strange, somewhat awkward, mishmash of time periods.

Of course, these were all my thoughts before I did the research and found out it was a web-series. That changed my perception of what I watched. The narration became more excusable and the set-design became a matter of low budget instead of low imagination.

Even with my realization, I don’t find it nearly as successful as I think it could have been. If this was a book, however, I would pick it up in a second. The storyline was amazing. It could easily be a huge Hollywood kind of plot. It was in depth and very fulfilling. I did wish I learned more about certain things (like how Riese and her wolf came to be traveling partners), but there was so much right about it, that I can overlook that and accept it at face-value.

From the ending, this was obviously the first “chapter” of Riese. From what I can tell, the TV-show continued from the end and became “Riese: Kingdom Falling.” I’m going to be attempting to find the show somewhere, though I already know it’s not on Netflix.

Overall Opinion – 3.5/5

P.S. Based on a web-series of the same name.

Monday, July 8, 2013

The ABC’s of Death (2012)

Number Rolled: 88
Movie Name/Year: The ABC’s of Death (2012)
Genre: Horror
Length: 129 minutes
Rating: NR
Director: (in order of film) Nacho Vigalondo, Adrian Garcia Bogliano, Ernesto Diaz Espinoza, Marcel Sarmiento, Angela Bettis, Noboru Iguchi, Andrew Traucki, Thomas Cappelen Malling, Jorge Michel Grau, Yudai Yamaguchi, Anders Morgenthaler, Timo Tjahjanto, Ti West, Banjong Pisanthanakun, Helene Cattet, Simon Rumley, Adam Wingard, Srdjan Spasojevic, Jake West, Lee Hardcastle, Ben Wheatley, Kaare Andrews, Jon Schnepp, Xavier Gens, Jason Eisener, Yoshihiro Nishimura

---------!!Mild Spoilers Below This Line!! ---------

This is not my typical instant queue entry. “The ABC’s of Death” is an anthology featuring the work of twenty six different directors. The directors were each given a letter of the alphabet and told to make a short film based on a word of their choosing belonging to that letter. The short films are titled as follows:

                A – Apocalypse
                B – Bigfoot
                C – Cycle
                D – Dogfight
                E – Exterminate
                F – Fart
                G – Gravity
                H – Hydro-Electric Diffusion
                I – Ingrown
                J – Jidai-geki
                K – Klutz
                L – Libido
                M – Miscarriage
                N – Nuptials
                O – Orgasm
                P – Pressure
                Q – Quack
                R – Removed
                S – Speed
                T – Toilet
                U – Unearthed
                V – Vagitus
                W – WTF?
                X – XXL
                Y – Youngbuck
                Z – Zetsumetsu

There is so much “nope” in this movie, I cannot possibly even describe it all. I had to pause three times to go walk into the other room and cuddle my fiancĂ©e because I felt completely unclean. By the time I got to “O” I had actually dragged him out of bed to watch it with me because misery loves company and for about an hour after the movie was over, my face was stuck in a confused/disgusted look that I had to lubricate with a glass of wine to make go away.

I feel as though I need to pop my brain out and soak it in bleach for a couple of days. I can handle disturbing and I love horror films. These movies (most of them) crossed a line into something that makes me need to find some kind of innocence to purify myself with. I’m all about watching a few episodes of Sesame Street right now.

As far as I could tell there were four categories: horrible, WTF, Powerful and funny. Most of the videos fell into the first two. I did, however, enjoy four of them. “H” was a totally “WTF” film, but it was so hilarious that I was fine with that. “Q” was just completely hilarious – almost a palate cleanser. “R” was strange but abstractly powerful. Finally, “X” was so powerful that I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the screen. Everything else was pretty much crap.

I will never watch this movie again and I will never suggest it to anyone else. I would have given it a lower number, but I really did find the aforementioned four films not just watchable, but good.

Overall Opinion – 1.5/5

P.S. Some of the films are sub-titled, some in English and some have no dialog at all.