Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Movies in review

I recently had the chance to catch Zombie Land, Paranormal Activity , and The Informant between work and school, so thought I'd give my thoughts in this Halloween season review.

The Informant!

I'll start out with The Informant as it obviously isn't a scary movie but I saw it and enjoyed it so I thought I'd give my 2 cents on it anyway. The latest from Steven Soderbergh (Ocean's Eleven series) and Starring Matt Damon. The film felt something between a drama and a comedy. Much like the Ocean's Eleven series (which I enjoyed quite a bit) I felt like I could just sit back and enjoy myself. It's the kind of comedy I like to call Anti-Ferrell, people don't have to be screaming or kicking eachother in the balls or taking their clothes off to make the audience laugh. The humor was very dry at times but not so dry as to leave me dehydrated. All of the humor and enjoyment of this movie is very character driven, mainly by the part of Matt Damon as Mark Whitacre. I don't want to get too far into the plot because there are a few twists and turns that made the story interesting.
The story follows Mark Whitacre, a rising star at the ADM (Archer Daniels Midland) company in Illinois, as he goes from employee to whistle blower for the FBI. ADM and it's top executives (as well as Whitacre himself) had been pricefixing a chemical used in... well alot of things called lysine. Not being used to this sort of thing Mark akwardly fumbles through each of his wire tap sessions including at times trying to fix a clicking recording device while in the room with those he is recording.
The character of Whitacre actually makes this movie most interesting. His inner monologues were always interesting and realistic alot of the times I have found myself thinking alot of things that are along the same lines of what was going through his mind. He's a likable character but the whole time I fould myself asking "can I trust this guy?" because you never know if he is actually lying or not until near the end, even though you are watching the story from his perspective which I found really interesting.
Overall I'd recomend if you haven't seen this film to check it out. Matt Damon delivers another good performance and the movie on the whole was very enjoyable to me. If you have the time and the money to spare check it out I bet it'll be coming to second run theaters really soon so you can catch it at a discount.


I love Zombie movies. I don't know why I do I just do. From the 3 original Romero "Of the Dead" movies (Night Dawn and Day) to Peter Jackson's Brain Dead (Dead Alive) to Edgar Wright's Shaun of the Dead as long as it is a good zombie movie I will like it. Luckily in the case of Zombie Land it IS a good Zombie movie. If I had to describe this movie I'd almost have to say it's Shaun of the Dead in the style of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (movie)
The story follows Jesse Eisenberg (Adventureland, Cursed, The Villiage), who goes by the name Columbus (as his character is from Columbus Ohio), who is traveling alone trying to survive "Zombieland" and get back to Columbus Ohio to see if his family is alright. He has developed a set of Rules to follow to survive in Zombieland. I thought it was really cool the way when he listed off a rule or if one of the rules applied the text would pop up and interact with the background.
Columbus meets up with Woody Harrelson's character Tallahasse. Tallahesse is awesome. Not much else needs to be said other than Tallahasse is a really cool guy he kills zombies and doesn't afraid of anything. Tallahasse doesn't take anything to seriously as long as it isn't affecting him directly, he even Inspired Columbus' 32nd rule Enjoy the Little Things, not to be confused with rule 34 which this movie thankfully avoids (though I will say Emma Stone *Jules from Superbad* is pretty hot). Tallahasse's one mission in this movie is pretty much to get a Twinky. They travel together and come across Emma Stone (Wichita) and Abigail Breslin (Little Rock) who are pretty conniving characters at first but still likable. Their mission eventually becomes getting to "Pacific Playland" a theme park that was rumored to be free of the Zombie outbreak.
I'll say as a comedy this movie is top notch in my book. I haven't laughed so hard since the Hangover (though the Hangover was funnier IMO). They physical comedy was good and even the written character driven comedy was well done. The movie had me pulled in throughout and I actually ended up caring about each of the characters. I didn't want to see any of them get hurt which actually lead to some good tense moments.
I think in general most people would like this movie even at full price. I recommend it highly to any who haven't seen it yet. It's just a nice feel good zombie movie. Plus not only does it have and awesome Celebrity cameo (whom it is I will not mention here but it is an awesome cameo) but it also have probably my favorite opening credits sequence since Watchmen (i really liked that one)

Paranormal Activity

Ok I have talked alot of shit about Horror movies, they are my least favorite genre and it is not because I get scared or hate blood and gore no no that isn't it at all. It is because of how far the genre has fallen. It was around the 80s when characters stopped becoming compelling and interesting and just started turning into fodder. Wasted sacks of meat that everyone in the audience wants to see killed. Movies like the latest in the string of Friday the 13th movies, or the Final Destination, or Rob Zombie's Halloweens or any Eli Roth movie or the Saws you don't care about the characters for the most part, you go to watch people die in horrible ways. Now that isn't to say some of those movies aren't decent it just means they aren't scary. You don't believe the characters and you damn sure don't care if they live or die and for the most part these movies are just there to shoot gore in your face, again not scary just disgusting. That is why Drag Me to Hell was such a breath of fresh air to me, it delivered a character I could care about someone who I wanted to prevail at the end, not to mention it blended fairly tense moments with good old Sam Raimi "Evil Dead" humor. I loved that movie the only problem... again it wasn't very scary.
This is where Paranormal Activity comes in. Not only does it have characters I can like respect and relate to in Micah and Katie but it has got to be the scariest movie I've seen in well over a decade. The best part is it doesn't try to scare you by throwing blood at you or using a CG monster, it uses sound, plays with everything that you can't see while exposing how vulnerable the two main players are. You'd never think the sound of a foot step would be so creepy but trust me the tension builds fast.
The story goes as follows: Micah and Katie are living together and Micah recently bought a camera to capture some of the paranormal activity that he and Katie had been experiencing lately. As the film progresses you learn more about the thing that is haunting them as the thing becomes more and more aggressive. Most of the tension is built up during the night when the camera is set on a tripod at the end of their room and you see what goes on at night while they are asleep. Even that in itself is a psychologically creepy thing. They sleep through a lot of stuff so it makes you wonder "what exactly is going on around me while I'm sleeping?". The whole movie just builds up until the climax right at the end which I am here or there on. I sometimes wonder how it could have been done differently but in the end I think it was a good ending to the movie.
The scares in this movie and tension all come from the atmosphere that just gets built up after you get sucked into the lives of Micah and Katie. It was a very powerful use of the "shot on video" style better than Blair Witch I'd say even though that was pretty much the original and of course much better than movies like Diary of the Dead (sorry George), Quarantine, and Cloverfield (I thought it was pretty good for a monster movie).
If you are looking for an actual scare in theaters this Halloween season I couldn't recommend this movie enough. It's one of those movies that almost needs to be seen in theaters with a bunch of people to be appreciated properly, when you can hear the girl 3 rows back from you hyperventalating you know you got the right crowd.

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  1. After my 19 year old sister saw Paranormal Activity she still can't sleep at night. I think that it must be one hell of a movie if it scared her.

  2. i hope your right lani,one of the reasons i hate horror movies is cause they suck at scaring me.i saw the commercial for p.a. and thought,yes.they didnt show to much of the movie and they didnt give you a summary of what to expect like some movies do.they just told you it was scary and showed reaction shots of audience members.if this movie fails at scaring me ill just give up,trying.

  3. You should see Law Abiding Citizen. I think you'll like it. ^^

  4. Could you review Trick 'r Treat? It's a recent movie, just came out straight to dvd (don't let it fool you) and was curious on what someone who thinks critically about movies like you do would think of it. So you know it when you see it besides the 'r instead of or, if it's has a kid on the cover with a smiling beady eyed potato sack over his head, that's it.

  5. Lani! Thanks for info! I do agree with you on ZOmbieland, it was Hillarious yet sentimental in a weird sort of way. And since you said Paranormal Activities was scary, which, in my opinion, is really rare in a movie, you got me motivated to watch it! ~コラル

  6. Paranormal activity was absolutely terrifying. I saw it last night and I'm still freaked out! Then again, I don't actually like horror movies at all. I can't believe my friends talked me into seeing it...

    Apparently the US release has a different ending to the UK one, so if you ever get the chance you should check it out and compare. My friend thought the UK ending was much scarier.

  7. I completely agree with you about how horror movies aren't really scary anymore. I don't like Zombie movies but I did like Zombieland. My dad is addicted to zombie movies, he'll watch anything with a zombie in it.