Sunday, October 23, 2016

Batman: Arkham Knight


   I've played every Batman Arkham game from the debut title, and each one has been an overall solid experience. We're at a point in gaming consumerism where almost all games are good. That's the absolute baseline here. Go ahead and look up a list of the most disappointing games of the PS3/X-Box 360 generation. Most of the games on the list are at worst, mediocre. They aren't disappointing because they're terrible games (usually), they're disappointing because, well, they didn't meet the overhyped expectations. My point is, the Batman Arkham series has a general standard of quality, and comparing a new title to previous ones is usually just a moot point- picking nits, and such.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Mortal Kombat X


   When I buy a new game, I decide within just a couple hours whether it's going to be one I can't put down, or if it's going to be one I never pick up again. Games like Crysis 3, Vanquish, Resident Evil 6, and Dark Void are just a handful of games like this. Point being, I don't wait til I've beaten a game to review it. It should be apparent whether or not it's worth playing and is good or not, within five or so hours of gameplay. At this point, I've sunk at least ten hours into Mortal Kombat X, with little doubt it was going to be anything but excellent, and still my expectations were exceeded.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Kite


   To someone who hasn't seen over two thousand movies, Kite might seem groundbreaking and innovative. Unfortunately, I'm not that guy. I'm the guy who has seen over two thousand movies. Kite feels like the bastard child produced from a marriage of Leon The Professional, Dredd, and some cut-rate Neill Blomkamp flick. Except, it's not as fun as any of those movies, and this is coming from a guy who doesn't really even like Neill Blomkamp's movies. Kite has a young girl who's been brainwashed into her current state as a stone cold assassin, who's out to kill the man who murdered her father. Real original, right?

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Ju-On: The Grudge


   Ju-On is a J-Horror flick with two restless fingers on the piano keys, trying to add spooky atmosphere to a movie that is chronically un-scary. How this movie ever got popular enough to be remade in America is well beyond me. I don't like movies that rely solely on jump scares, but I have a little bit more respect for them now. A good jump scare has to at least... you know, make you jump. The "jump scares" in Ju-On are mind numbingly anti-climactic to the point where they're not startling or creepy or scary. Even worse? This is the kind of scare tactic the movie is hopelessly married to.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Dark Water


   Returning to my J-Horror binge, I decided to pop in Dark Water, a movie I'd heard excellent things about. Ultimately, I don't feel like this is a horror movie, and that's my biggest beef with it. It's occasionally creepy, and the climax is spooky, but if anything it's more of a psychological drama. I was tempted to say 'thriller' instead of 'drama', but Dark Water is entirely unconcerned with delivering thrills of any kind. It's a drama, and an exceptionally well made one, but I can't really imagine thing movie scaring anyone outside of the most sensitive of viewers, and even then only in one or two moments. Does this mean Dark Water is a bad movie? Certainly not.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

The Darkness


   You know, I was on board with this movie until the last act. And, not that it was a bad last act, but once it arrived, I realized something. EVERYTHING this movie does, the original Poltergeist did better. When a movie contributes virtually nothing to it's genre, and never rises above 'adequate', what do we do with it? Even it's unique imagery feels like something that's been done before, although I can't quite place my finger on where. The Darkness isn't a bad movie by any means, but it's a stale entry in a genre that's been flooded by safe, predictable, formulaic and ultimately tame fare. The Darkness should've been so much better.

The Monster Squad


   Taking a break from the bizarre and grisly stylings of the J-horror genre for more conventional spookiness, I decided to finally pop in The Monster Squad. A movie that, by all means, I should've seen ages ago. It's right up my alley, halfway between The Lost Boys and The Goonies, and a massive love letter to the classic Universal monster movies. I've also had the movie on blu ray for two years and never watched it. Tsk tsk. Bad Joseph. Get it together, man. As I expected, I really liked the movie, but even more enjoyable was seeing my little brothers' reactions to it. That's what really made The Monster Squad a blast.

Hair Extensions


   You know that any movie that starts with a line like "My nose hair has been growing so fast lately!" is going to be memorable, for better or worse. In the case of Hair Extensions, or "Exte", it's definitely for the better. Director Sion Sono is a name I'm becoming quite familiar with, not realizing at first that at least three more movies on my immediate to-watch list were directed by him as well, I'm well on my way to being a sold-out fan. Exte shows the right way to do absurdist, over-the-top, horror. Unlike Uzumaki, Exte takes a strange and unlikely premise and runs with it, all the way. Whereas Uzumaki was about a town haunted by spirals, Exte- like it's name implies, is very much about... hair.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Noroi: The Curse


   I sat in stunned silence for at least a full minute after this movie was over. I had to collect my thoughts, and calm down. Noroi: The Curse is one of the most effective and affecting horror movies I've ever seen. As simple as that. It's easily the best J-horror movie I've seen to date, and probably the best horror movie I've seen in years. One of surprisingly few that not only lives up to it's hype, but surpasses it. The movie was made in the style of a documentary, like something you're likely to see as a Sunday night special on a cable channel dedicated to mysteries and the like. Make no mistake though... this movie is anything but pedestrian.

Uzumaki


   On the heels of Pulse, I decided to dig into more J-horror. This weird flick was just one of many I have lined up, I do hope the others are better than this one though. While I liked Pulse for it's atmosphere and using loneliness and technology as it's fundamental themes, I feel like Uzumaki doesn't have any of that going on under the hood. It's an absurdist flick about a small town that's plagued by... spirals. I didn't mean for that to sound so cynical, but there's really no way to describe this movie with a straight face. It's spirals! Not 'strange symbols', 'spiral-like ghosts', or a 'spiral cult'- the main thing in this movie is literally just spirals. I'm not kidding.

Pulse


   I love J-horror movies. In general I've always found foreign horror flicks to be uniquely interesting. They provide insight into the commonly accessible fears prevalent in a country or of a specific time in that country. Japan, for instance, certainly has a long standing relationship with ghosts. Whether they're crawling out of a TV, or embodying a small white-skinned child, it's a pretty common and popular theme. This 2001 thriller is no exception. Pulse is another entry into this genre, but instead of VHS tapes, or missed phone calls, the inciting object in question is... the internet.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Murder Party


   According to IMDb, this little gem of a movie was filmed with no money. I realize that's probably not entirely accurate, someone had to have cash here and there, but to make something like this without a significant budget whatsoever? That's the real feat here! Murder Party hums on the kind of energy you'd find in a Tarantino movie, but has the guts and creativity of an original Evil Dead flick. Many comparisons can be drawn between Murder Party and The Evil Dead, but none more important than the shining testament of what a bunch of friends can do when they set their hearts on making a movie. Murder Party is a crazy good time.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Kickboxer: Vengeance


   Not even October and all it's required horror movie watching could keep me away from some good old fashioned DTV action trash. Kickboxer: Vengeance as a cut rate remake of the 80's 'classic', Kickboxer, might be easy to dismiss out of hand, or would've been if not for the pedigree of the talent involved. First of all Jean Claude Van Damme the man himself is back, but in the role of the trainer. The obligatory Miyagi type. I'm cool with this. As Tong Po we've got Dave Bautista. An actor/role match made in heaven (or hell in this case) if I ever saw one. And, in the lead role is Alain Moussi, who has been in- wait... who? Yeah, my thoughts exactly.

31


   This has a lot of abysmal reviews online, and I mean... I get it, but I don't agree. People just love their hyperbole. That, and I'm a pretty undemanding and open-minded moviegoer. 31 is Rob Zombie's latest film, and despite popular opinion it's not his worst. Nor is it his best. It just is what it is. Zombie has his own style, and I respect that. Not everyone's going to like his style, but he sticks to it. I like it, personally, even if don't always like his movies. I liked House of 1000 Corpses, and The Devil's Rejects. I was rather indifferent about The Lords of Salem, but I guess I can say I liked 31. Which is somewhat disappointing because I really wanted to love it.

Drag Me to Hell


   I realize I'm already about four days late into the October horror movie fest that the universe is currently in the throes of, but fear not, I'll catch up soon enough. And, what better way to start than with a Sam Raimi flick? Granted, it's a PG-13, post-Evil Dead trilogy, horror flick made in 2009 but still. Raimi and Co. go for broke with this movie, making it as gross and as spooky as possible. Moreover, the story's unwavering (and obvious) commitment to it's initial promise is respectable. Drag Me to Hell isn't a great movie, but it's a fun one. It has enough over the top shlock and classic jump scares to warrant a look if you haven't by now.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Ratchet & Clank


   Yet another movie with a mixed to weak reception that should honestly be wholeheartedly embraced, not just by gamers, or fans, but by any audience who loves a good space faring romp. I've been a fan of Ratchet & Clank since their debut title on the PS2. Admittedly, I've only played about four of their games, but each one was excellent. I just finished a revisit of Up Your Arsenal today, so I was in the perfect mood to finally pop this in and see how it was. And, you know what? I really liked it. Ratchet & Clank isn't perfect, but few films are and this one hits all the right notes.

Tale of Tales


   Tale of Tales lives up to it's name, providing audiences with a series of three fresh fairy tales of the ultra grim variety. The concept of a fairy tale has certainly evolved over the past hundred years. Nowadays, and for a long time now, the term 'fairy tale' has been synonymous with Disney movies like Peter Pan, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty. Simplistic stories of good vs. evil, light vs. dark- and so on. But, this movie reminds viewers that fairy tales used to be dark, complex, and challenging stories that might not always have a happy ending.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Warcraft


   I should start by saying I'm not a fan of the games. I realize this movie had clicked with a fair number of people who've never played the games, but I'm not one of them. The movie starts off with an army of Orcs leaving their world to come to another, better world. In this new world, Azeroth, we're taken to scenes unfolding in various cities or kingdoms all with their names conveniently (and pointlessly) on the screen to let us know where we are. Why are some scenes taking place in Stormwind and others in Ironforge or Karazhan? (names I actually had to look up) Seconds later, we're in another new city, with another name that I won't remember in five minutes.