Friday, April 30, 2010


    In 1984, director Wes Craven brought to horror movies one of the most popular icons of the 1980's slasher genre to life with "A Nightmare on Elm Street" featuring the infamous sweater and fedora wearing, clawed villain Freddy Krueger! Spanning 7 (and a 1/2? i.e. "Freddy Vs. Jason"(2003) films, Freddy has been returning time and time again to haunt the dreams of helpless teenagers for years. Now, as horror/slasher films get a 21st century reboot with remakes like 2003's "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre", Rob Zombie's "Halloween" (2007) and 2009's "Friday the 13th", Freddy gets a CGI makeover alongside his companions Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers, and Leatherface! Directed by music video director Samuel Bayer 2010's remake of "Nightmare..." stars Jackie Earle Haley (Rorschach in "Watchmen" (2009) as the new Freddy Krueger! With an all new teenage cast of victims like Thomas Dekker ("Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles"), Kyle Gallner and Rooney Mara, the new "Nightmare..." hopes to keep a whole new generation of teenagers from falling asleep but sadly remains a mediocre version with one unique twist which brings a little more reality to the otherwise dream-like atmosphere. Unlike most new horror/slasher films which seem more realistic, "Nightmare..." is still grounded heavily in the supernatural/dreamworld of its predecessors. There is almost nothing new to the Freddy mythology except for a more believable origin story and deeper character whereas the original Freddy was simply an evil child-killer, the new Freddy is almost sympathetic, but in the end, he is nothing more than a pedophile with a fetish! The new Freddy is not so much after ALL the children on Elm Street, but rather only a select group of children from his past. I don't mean to spoil it, but the death of Freddy still comes at the ends of those disgruntled parents who seek justice in their own hands. One of which just happens to be Clancy Brown, who played The Kurgan in "Highlander" (1986) whose character name in coincidentally was Victor Kruger)! The latest "Nightmare..." is an entertaining and decent scare, but has almost none of the campy humor of the older films which made them fun to begin with. Whereas this version takes itself almost too seriously in bringing a monster who kills teenagers in their dreams believable. Kudos for effort and for Jackie Earle Haley's performance, but this "Nightmare..." remains just another cheap scare among the slew of remakes that keep trying to recapture the essence of those original movies that many of us grew up with the love of being scared and hiding under the covers repeating "It's only a movie!..."

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Why I HATE Remakes!

     I LOVE movies! I have always loved movies! I am a huge Fanboy and I admit it! I may not be Harry Knowles, but I still consider myself a big nerd. I am the epitome of Weird Al Yankovic's song "White & Nerdy", no kidding! Ask anybody, I'm a comic book collecting, "Star Wars" quoting, "Harry Potter" hating NERD! I have been reviewing movies on my own website since 2000 and I am a college graduate, so I can safely say I know a thing or two. And what I DO know is, I HATE remakes! Why does Hollywood consistently and persistently subject the movie going crowd with remakes, "re-imagining's" and pathetic adaptations of the films we know and love with remake after remake of those very movies we have watched for years! Nowhere do these remake atrocities happen more often than in the genre of horror and science-fiction. Aliens, Zombies, Vampires and Werewolves are prime targets for the remake. Heaven forbid Hollywood would even attempt to remake the real classics! Would they even dare to touch those timeless classics like "Citizen Kane", "Ben-Hur", "Gone with the Wind", "The Wizard of Oz", or even "The Godfather"? Don't put it past them, I bet they would try if given the chance! Unfortunately, that doesn't stop them from remaking those classic horror and sci-fi films, perfect examples being "The Day the Earth Stood Still", "War of the Worlds", "The Omen" and even "Psycho"!
     After several decades it seems like those classic movies are up for grabs as Hollywood runs out of original ideas and says "Hey, lets remake something!" I'm never surprised when some ambitious (or foolish) director or producer (i.e. Gus Van Sant) takes it upon themselves to remake a movie and thinks they can improve upon (if that's even possible). What gall, what arrogance, what an idiot! To think, that they can take a classic, loved and watched by millions for over 50 years can possibly remake a movie and try to outdo those moviemakers who without them, they wouldn't even exist. If there was no Akira Kurosawa or Alfred Hitchcock, there'd be no George Lucas or Steven Spielberg! Without John Ford or Victor Flemming, there would be no Francis Ford Coppola or Martin Scorsese!  The filmmakers of today, now rolling around in their pile of millions of dollars, owe a lot to those original innovators who made the film industry what it is today and influenced countless others to pursue the motion picture! And now, even with all the fancy-ass computer (CGI) graphics and 3D technology (Thanks a lot James Cameron!) Has technology replaced plot and story, has the shaky-cam replaced the steady-cam? When was real acting replaced by motion-capture?!
     After all this ranting, I feel I must address the newest addition to the revolting remake, and this movie is "The Clash of the Titans" (2010)! What would Ray Harryhausen think about this latest disaster? (and yes, he's still alive!) The original "Clash of the Titans" (1981) was always one of my favorite movies, I grew up watching it along with the original "Star Wars" (NOT the screwed up "Special Editions", Greedo shoots first, my ass!) and many others! I loved "Clash of the Titans" because it included two of my favorite things: mythology and monsters! Just the classic image itself is enough to induce awe, Perseus, riding atop Pegasus with Medusa's head in his hand as he confronts the Kraken, awesome! The original was pure fantasy-adventure with a solid story, a logical quest with some classy talent with actors like Laurence Olivier as Zeus and Burgess Meredith as Ammon. With Harry Hamlin, a relatively unknown new star, playing Perseus, it didn't bring him much fame. But what really made the original truly amazing was the special visual effects works of Ray Harryhausen, which would be one of the last films he created effects for. Harryhausen was already famous for his work in stop-motion animation and creatures during the '50's, 60's and '70's with such films as "Jason and the Argonauts" (1963) and "The Golden Voyage of Sinbad" (1974) back then when special effects was truly art and took talent and painstaking work by hand, and NO computers! But really, the thing that sets it apart was that "Clash of the Titans" was FUN! Adventure! Excitement! ("a Jedi craves not these things" That's what it was all about. Nowadays we rationalize the special effects with they did the best they could with what they had or at that time that was state of the art but now...who cares! You can't base the lasting ability of movies like that or even the original Star Wars Trilogy (before the revamped edition!)
     The new REMAKE of "Clash..." leaves much to be desired. I admit when I first heard about it, I was excited, I thought maybe it could be good. I saw the trailer and knew without a doubt it was gonna be a huge special effects movie, that's fine. I'm guilty of occasionally liking the big special effects movies. Take "Avatar", I loved it, I plan on buying the Blu-ray/DVD! But, I had my doubts though. I was interested in the director: Louis Leterrier, who directed "The Incredible Hulk" (2008) and "The Transporter" (2002), Great! On the plus side, Liam Neeson is Zeus! Great! Ralph Fiennes is Hades, great, only one problem: Hades wasn't in the original. That was strike one! Strike Two: Sam Worthington, why is he in everything now! He was just in THE BIGGE$T movie of all time "Avatar" like three months ago, when did he find the time to do another big, 3D, CG special effects, action movie! Ok, Strike 3! The BIG problem: The Mythology. For those who didn't pay attention in school when we studied Greek Mythology, you failed! And apparently so did Louis Leterrier. The mythology is so screwed up that it completely destroys the story and Perseus' origin even. Sure the original didn't get everything right (namely Pegasus), but the biggest gripe being that they made Perseus' mother Danae the wife of Acrisius who originally was his daughter?! WTF? AND they have
Acrisius turned into Calibos, one of the villains. Why? Are they even trying, do they even care? Does anybody care? Apparently not! I could go on forever so I'll just say why does Hollywood have to sacrifice a fun adventure with CG/3D BS!?

Friday, April 16, 2010


    With a name like "Kick-Ass", you know it's going to be a wild ride! When the theatre down the street is so fearful of our overly conservative media and society they can't even display the full name on the marquee, only as "Kick-A!", yeah, this is gonna be good! Based on the recent Icon comic book series by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr., "Kick-Ass" is one of the most controversial and brutal comic titles ever. Independent film producers Marv Films releases a movie adaptation of "Kick-Ass" in one of the most faithful comic adaptations I've ever seen. Both the comic's and the movies prologue are almost exactly identical, dialogue and all. Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson), high school, student and comic book fan aspires to be a real life superhero, donning a makeshift disguise he becomes Kick-Ass and on his first attempt to fight crime, literally gets his ass kicked! After a few months of rehabilitation and several metal implants he resumes his alter-ego and finds he is not alone. Also with the father and daughter duo Big Daddy (Nicholas Cage) and Hit-Girl (Chloe Moretz) along with Red-Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) begin a popular trend of costumed crime-fighters who try to end organized crime like Crime Boss Frank D'Amico (Mark Strong). Soon, they find out that crime fighting is not like in the comic-books as Kick-Ass becomes a target because of his own want for publicity and Big Daddy's and Hit-Girl's own quest for vengeance proves they bit off more than they could chew! With an intense and ultra-violent experience mixed with awkward humor and comic book-like atmosphere "Kick-Ass" is one of the best comic book movies in a long time and proves to be successful without big-budget Hollywood or multi-million dollar studios. "Kick-Ass" definitely Kicks Ass!

Friday, April 2, 2010


    2010 is definitely the year of the remake, and as we are starting to see many do not hold up well to their originals. Case and point: "Clash of the Titans". Like any good fan-boy, I was awaiting this movie with great anticipation. As Sam Worthington has seen two back-to-back successes with "Terminator: Salvation" and of course "Avatar", although both huge special effects movies, it would seem that the third would invariably be "the charm", not likely. It's amusing to note that these three movies have been released within less than a years time in order to maximize Worthington's screen presence and supposed popularity. We are soon realizing that he is very quickly wearing out this popularity. I realize that while I enjoyed "Avatar" immensely, much of what I loved about it really had nothing to do with his performance and also a lot of it really isn't him anyway.
    With "Clash of the Titans" we have the perfect combination of my two favorite things: mythology and monsters! I loved the 1981 original which I grew up with and although it hasn't yet been 30 years (as is the average duration between many originals and remakes) since the original it seems almost too soon to release a remake. But, with the advancement of CGI special effects and the recent reemergence of the 3D movie, director Louis Leterrier ("The Incredible Hulk"(2008) tries to bring this epic mythological tale back to life. The problem lies in the most basic elements of the original movie and the mythology itself. The mythology is wrong, the story is boring, and even the reason for the quest is construed. But for those of us who actually care about story and plot the rest of those dullards who are consistently wowed by computer-generated monsters and over-blown battle sequences, they are missing the point. The whole character of Perseus played by Worthington is almost a polar opposite of the original and completely off-model of the original mythological hero. Take away the armor and we have another angry, anti-hero! His origins and motivations are completely different and has no resemblance of what he should be! Even the gods and monsters themselves are unimpressive. The only impressive performance comes from Liam Neeson who plays Zeus, but even his performance is lessened to a very few scenes in which he has very few lines and shows off a ridiculously blinding suit of silver armor. The so-called "villain" in the movie is the god of the underworld Hades, played by Ralph Fiennes who becomes a cartoonish, over-melodramatic generic bad-guy. The one thing I was looking forward to in this movie is the quintessential monster, the Kraken! The new Kraken is so-over done and has so little screen time in the climax it barely leaves an impression. The Kraken from the "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies seems a lot better than this one. All in all, this "Clash..." was so disappointing, it left me drained and with a big headache (or was that from the 3D glasses?)