Pitch Black is Riddick-ulous

Pitch Black

Gosh I love puns. Don’t you?

Since I saw The Chronicles of Riddick before I saw Pitch Black, I guess you could say my perspective is a little warped, but bear with me. As far as simplicity goes, the first one tends to be the stronger. Pitch Black occurs entirely in one area, with a very rudimentary theme; surviving a malevolent force. This shifts once, which changes the entire tone of the movie from “oh dear” to “oh shit.”

Space Transport Vessel Hunter-Gratzner carries forty cryo-sleeping subjects, until debris from the tail of a comet breaches the hull and causes the ship to awaken the crew. The captain is killed by these debris, leaving the docking pilot, Carolyn Fry, to attempt to guide the ship to safety. To her (and everyone else’s) dismay, they’ve been knocked into the atmosphere of a nearby planet and have begun a crash course. This is a major point in the movie, as Fry attempts to detach the passenger potion of the ship in order to level it out and land properly. The navigator pilot prevents this, then subsequently dies.

FPitch Blackollowing the harsh sliding crash, the survivors emerge. Carolyn, Abu “Imam” al-Walid, three younger men on a religious pilgrimage (escorted by Imam), stowaway teen Jack, antiques dealer Paris P. Ogilvie, settlers John Ezekiel and Sharon Montgomery, and two other enigmatic individuals. The first is William J. Johns, an armed man who is currently keeping Richard B. Riddick, convicted murder and experienced escapist, in custody. Despite Johns’s extraordinary efforts to subdue his prisoner, Riddick manages to escape, following the group secretly as they scout for water.

Tensions rise as Ezekiel accidentally shoots another survivor, thinking he’s Riddick, and is suddenly pulled into a hole after attempting to bury the body. Riddick shows up at Ezekiel’s place of death, and is seen standing over bloodstained sand. He’s soon recaptured. He warns Fry that there are bigger things to be worried about than an escaped convict. After she dives into the cave Ezekiel was pulled into and nearly gets eaten by winged, dark-loving creatures, she realizes that Riddick isn’t as full of shit as Johns made him out to be.

Pitch BlackAfter everyone starts trusting Riddick, things get a bit hectic. He reveals to Fry that Johns is just a morphine addicted mercenary scumbag who wants Riddick alive so he can bring him to a prison and get a huge payout. More tension. They discover a ship in an abandoned settlement, and find that the last activity took place twenty two years ago. To make matters worse, every twenty two years, there’s a global eclipse. A little convenient? Yes, but this is a science fiction movie. Murphy’s Law makes things more fun, doesn’t it? Remember those dark-loving hungry flying things that ate Zeke? Now you see what the rest of the movie’s about.

Hate to leave you at such a critical spot, but I don’t want to spoil everything. The main focus of this movie is Riddick and Fry, really. Fry struggles with priorities; herself or the others that she tried to kill in order to land the ship. Riddick doesn’t really struggle with anything. He’s just an enigmatic, “is he an asshole/is he a good guy” badass all throughout. Even after seeing The Chronicles of Riddick and Pitch Black, I still couldn’t tell you whether or not Riddick’s a selfish ass. All I know is, Vin Diesel makes both of those films a joy to watch. Truly.

Whoa. Never thought I’d be linking to Roger Ebert’s site. There’re a stark few Pitch Black reviews out there, and surprisingly, not many of them are positive. I suppose I must agree that a planet with three suns apparently populated solely by nocturnal creatures is a little silly as a concept. I also agree that this movie could have focused a little more on the alien nature of the planet instead of the high-tension human conflict, however. However, Riddick is the egotistical badass center of attention, and we wouldn’t very well be able to pay him his deserved attention if we were busy being wowed by a well-thought-out species of desert aliens, eh? I’ll leave it up to you to decide if I’m being sarcastic. Right-o, here’s the link: http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20000218/REVIEWS/2180304/1023

You’d Have to Be Nuts to Like The Crazies

The CraziesOkay, so this movie kinda sucks in several areas. I’ll admit that much before I even get into the whole critical review aspect of it. It falls into the category of “Movies You’d Watch When You Can’t Think of Anything Else.” Its uniqueness comes entirely from the fact that it’s a zombie movie without zombies. Does that sound impressive? Then you’re easily impressed. Zing!

The basis behind this government-plays-god apocalypse is that the government was transporting a settlement destabilization bio-weapon to be incinerated, and their plane goes down. Into a small town’s water source. So, the government decides to quarantine the place and systematically kill everyone who’s infected. When that inevitably fails because they don’t inform their soldiers what to expect, they decide to just nuke the site and quarantine whatever areas the survivors escape to.

Because the government has infinite money to spend on this kind of thing, and they can do that without alerting the rest of the country that they just used a nuclear bomb to cover up one of their oopsies. No, that’s okay. Go ahead. Say it out loud. Repeat after me: “What. A load. Of bull fricken’ horse shit.” Doesn’t it feel so right?

The CraziesWell… crap. That’s the entire macro-plot. I guess I could describe the micro-plot with all the “deep characters” and “rich development,” because that would help to further convince you only to watch this movie ironically. Okay fine! Micro-plot ahoy.

David’s the sheriff, and Judy’s his doctor wife. One day while David’s watching a baseball game, he sees Rory, the town drunk, come onto the field with a shotgun in his hands. Rory behaves very strangely, as if he’s not aware of where he is, and then begins to act aggressively, forcing David to shoot and kill him. This kicks off the series of morbid and strange events that occur in the little town, such as a man burning his house down with his wife and son inside.

Eventually, the place is quarantined and people are tested for infection. Those who show signs of infection are sent to the high school for holding and testing, while those who aren’t are immediately transported out of town. That was the plan, at least. The infected break apart the military operation and start killing everyone. Though David and his deputy Russel were separated from Judy, who was taken to the high school (feverish due to her pregnancy), they are soon reunited. Several others tag along with the crew, but they all wind up dying, so who cares about them.

The CraziesThey fight off a few infected people at a time, sometimes facing traps or shootouts or knife fights, barely managing to survive each time. By the end, the Crazies have killed everyone but- suprise! David and Judy! You know, the two main characters. Judy’s all “Oh my god I’m so scared I can’t do this we’re gonna die,” then David, being all manly and goddamned annoying, says, “Well, I’ll sit here and die with you if that’s what you want, because it seems like that’s what you want.” I hate them both.

They steal a semi-truck and the nuke flings it about a quarter mile, spinning and tumbling. They escape with a few cuts. They don’t get blinded by the explosion when they look directly at it. They don’t suffer any radiation poisoning. Then they go to a big city and spread the infection there, as I said.

This movie isn’t very good. I’d go so far as to say that I didn’t like it. Still, it’s something to watch if you’re not a huge critic and don’t mind lowering your standards a bit. Might be worth it in the end, but that depends how much you love the zombie genre. And that’s all I have to say about that.

Silent Hill: Actually Pretty Loud

Silent HillPoint of shame, it’s a movie based off a video game, and I have not played the video game.  On the bright side, that means I have a neutral perspective on the movie, and can provide to you all the unbiased truths that a fan or dissident of the games could not. So, with that out of the way, let’s dissect the ashy corpse of Silent Hill! Yeah!

This particular movie has what I like to call a view threshold. Depending on how many times you’ve seen the movie, it can have one or many of several impacts. Silent Hill specifically has three thresholds. Creepy (I don’t care how jaded you are, those babies are scary shit, man), badass (Pyramid goddamned Head), and preachy. On average… I’d say the first two views are creepy, the next three are badass, and from then on out it becomes annoyingly preachy. I’ll give a little plot rundown so you can better understand me.

Rose is the blondie of the movie. She’s not a dimbulb, thank god, and she even manages to pull off a moment of utter badass. Her adopted daughter, Sharon, has strange dreams about a place called Silent Hill. This is a ghost town with a history stained by death from a disastrous fire. A car accident on the way there knocks the both of them out, and when consciousness returns, Rose finds herself alone. A police officer who had been tailing her wound up in the ashy realm with her, so they both of them are stuck finding the way out. The bad news is, every once so often, an alarm goes off that seems to plunge Silent Hill into a nightmare.

Silent HillI know this is all very abridged, but for the sake of my view threshold explanation and my issue with the movie’s preaching, here we go. Alessa is the darker side of Sharon, and a long time ago, Alessa was burned as a witch by a fanatical religious group based in Silent Hill. She survived, and her hatred allowed her to thrive, consuming her, the fanatics, and the whole of Silent Hill, burying it deeply within a place disconnected from the real world. Through faith, the fanatics kept the church a safe place from Alessa’s anger. But, as the viewer will see, things don’t go so well.

So, with that under your belt, I’ll explain the three thresholds. Threshold number one: creepy. First time in nightmare mode, things get really freaky. I actually quite like the visual effects implemented in this movie. Very good at evoking certain eerie emotions with very dark and complex visual aspects. However, as the nature of repetition goes, the scares lose their thrill twice in.

Second threshold, badassery. This is all on Pyramid Head and Rose’s exposition to the fanatics about the deluded depth of their devotion. Say that last part ten times fast? If and when you stop being creeped out by the ghostly pale nurse mannequins, the fist-sized beetles, and of course the wretched burnt up tweaked out babies, it all starts to look pretty awesome.

Silent HillFinally, what you’ve been waiting for since the beginning: The preachy part. Silent Hill’s got some serious anti-religious sentiment in there, I can tell you that much. Of course, to remain speculatively allegorical, the religious fanatics are made out to be excessive in all ways. Brainwashed, bloodthirsty, and without reason nor mercy. Rose plays the iconoclast that would save them from their delusion, and she does this by killing them all horribly. Alessa rode into the church through Rose’s body and exacted revenge on all the cultists by murdering them with barbed wire. Yeah, that’s all fine, but what bothers me the most is all the goddamned talking. They talk, talk, talk and talk. Preaching, shouting, so on, so forth. You can’t un-notice it. Good news is, it takes a few views to start noticing. Or, you’ll start seeing it right off the bat because of this review.

That’s that! As I said, the movie’s really shock and show. Not a lot to it. Doesn’t mean it’s a bad movie, by any means. So go out, get it, watch it, and remember the number one rule: lights off. Enjoy.

Movie Review: The Crazies

“The Crazies” is a zombie movie with a twist. The twist is that there are no zombies. The monsters are just people who have gone homicidal after being exposed to a biological weapon that was accidentally released into a small farming community. They are killed reasonably easily and don’t come back to life afterward. Of course they are hiding around every corner, and the dwindling group of survivors never seem to catch on to the fact that they should be careful when going into dark rooms. Surprise! Another zombie. Ok, another “crazy.”

“The Crazies” is not original or particularly scary, but does have a gross-out and gore factor that will help some ignore the horribly stupid plot holes. Why would the military dispose of a dangerous biological warfare agent by flying it over populated farming communities with large bodies of drinking water, so they could incinerate it? Is dropping a nuclear bomb on a US city really an effective means of cover up?

Directed by George Romero, who is responsible for the classic “Dawn of the Dead,” this movie is a formulaic sleepwalk to some box office cash. Stuck between the crazy homicidal non-zombies and the ruthless military tasked with the clean-up of the situation, the band of would-be survivors are picked off one by one in a most predictable manner. The would-be drama never connects. The characters never develop. Don’t waste your time.