The Fly Deserves More Buzz

The Fly

The 1986 sci-fi horror The Fly may have attempted to sink into the venerated halls of cinematic glory, but that’s why reviewers like me are around. While it’s true the effects of older movies are a little more difficult to pull off and oriented more around makeup and gimmicks, newer movies tend to be CGI and nothing but. In this specific case, the makeup and costume effects make The Fly scary. But you get a healthy dose of sci-fi in there too, so best of both worlds, eh?

Seth Brundle and Veronica Quaife meet at a scientists’ social, where Seth says that he’s going to change the way the world works with a single invention. After fending off a little skepticism, he convinces Veronica to come over to his place and see it work. What he reveals is that he has three teleportation pods, and he dazzles her by teleporting her stocking. He tries to convince her to not write a story about him when he finds out she’s a journalist, but to no avail.

The FlyHer editor
, with whom she has shared a farcical romantic relationship with, dismisses the teleportation as a con-man’s lightshow. This allows Seth the opportunity to ask Veronica to write a novel on his work, to stay with him and watch as his teleportation progresses. That works.

Testing reveals that the Brundle telepods can only transport inanimate objects after a monkey is turned inside out and killed. Seth realizes that the computer is unable to teleport living beings because it doesn’t know how to. The Brundle analysis is that he needs to make the computer “crazy about the flesh,” a fairly cheesy 1980s sci-fi movie line.

A complication with Veronica’s editor arises, and she leaves to cut things off once and for all, something Seth misinterprets as being cheated on. In a drunken bout of anger, he goes through his telepods without her there. Little did he know, a fly snuck into the telepod with him and winds up teleported. Only, on the other side, the fly is gone. Where did it go? Why is Seth eating more sweets and gaining physical strength? And… what’s with the nasty acne and prickly new hairs?

The FlySeth Brundle has been fused with a fly. Slowly but surely, he is becoming… Brundlefly. And let me tell you, the costume/makeup effects are irreplaceable. The steady progression of Seth Brundle from man to fly-man is horrific and vivid. Pus to pimples, I personally guarantee that you’ll flinch when Veronica hugs Brundlefly after he throws up on a donut and his ear falls off. Yuck.

It’s a good movie, though I wouldn’t call it ahead of its time. It’s certainly fantastic for its time, but it doesn’t go above and beyond. If The Fly didn’t make Jeff Goldblum famous, it damn well made him more famous. He often winds up in a “quirky scientist type” role, and he plays it well. But what does someone else think?

James Berardinelli of ReelViews divided The Fly into three acts: The first is your average romance story with a dash of sci-fi. The second is the superhero story where Brundle discovers what abilities he has gained from being spliced with a fly. The third is the good old horror aspect, when Brundlefly is born. This description is apt to say the least, and the transitions between these acts are flawless. Read more here:

Let the Right One In: Come for the Blood, Stay for the Story

Let the Right One In

Let the Right One In is deceptive in many ways. I don’t mean that at a negative. It’s kind of like a movie party that you aren’t looking forward to, but then it turns out to be awesome. The title suggests that it’ll be about a survivor and his/her vampire friend surviving some sort of Nosferatu holocaust. Then, you read the description. Wait, what? It’s about a bullied boy meeting a troubled vampire girl and falling in love with her? That sounds corny and not horror-ish at all. Then, out of sheer curiosity, you watch the movie and stumble through the sweetest, saddest emotional trip you’ve ever experienced, all the while taking the gratuitous bloody violence in stride. That’s right, this is a love story that’s better, much better than Twilight. Stephanie Meyer, you can kiss the broadside of my a-

As I was saying, it’s a sweet and sad tale about a boy who falls in love. This boy’s name is Oskar, and he’s your atypical oddball bully victim. He has a morbid interest in death and accidents, and is picked on by a control-freak of a classmate. His life is okay, though. He lives with his divorced parents, moving from house to house cyclically. He’s got a small knife, and is planning to use it to stab his bully. Good times.

Let the Right One InAnd then, Eli moves into the apartment just next to his. The audience isn’t kept unaware of her state for very long. The moment she settles, you see an older gentleman blocking the window with cardboard and posters. This older gentleman is also responsible for murdering people in secluded areas, slitting their throats, and draining their blood into a plastic container. It seems he’s stricken with the foulest of fortunes, because as you’ll see in the film, he is nearly found out each time he tries to harvest.

In the middle of all this, Oskar and Eli have a few exchanges. They meet in the snow courtyard in front of their homes, and talk a little. Eli expresses that she can’t be Oskar’s friend, but ends up accepting a Rubik’s cube from him and solving it. It becomes increasingly obvious that Oskar adores her, and after her ward suffers from a terrible accident, she begins to reciprocate.

The core of the antagonistic force in this movie lies with the bullies and the townsfolk. Bullies to Oskar, townsfolk to Eli, obviously. Eli can’t help herself when she needs to feed, so she is forced to pick off the townsfolk, bit by bit. Oskar, thanks to some encouragement from Eli, stands up to his bullies. He whacks the leader in he ear with a stick and causes his eardrum to burst. As such, they want revenge, just as the townsfolk want revenge on Eli for murdering their friends.

Let the Right One InIt isn’t the plot that makes the movie, in my opinion. It’s the curiosity. Oskar is so curious about Eli, and once he discovers that she’s a vampire, that curiosity skyrockets. He discovers the little nuances of being a vampire from her. He offers her candy, which makes her throw up. He asks her to come into his apartment without being invited, and she begins to bleed from every orifice. Even skin pores. There’s more, plot-wise and nuance-wise, but I’m cutting off here. Let the Right One In is too good a movie to spoil. The conclusion is perfect, and I wouldn’t want to take that away from you.

Let the Right One in addresses vampirism in a classic yet new way. Interview with a Vampire shows you what happens when a vampire is stuck as a child but wants to be an adult. Twilight shows you what happens if you write while you’re drunk and horny (zing). Let the Right One In shows what happens when a child vampire interacts with someone of their visual age. End result? You heard it in the intro; A deeply emotional, immersive movie that keeps you wondering until the very end, and maybe even after that. Fair warning, though. Things get bloody intense.

Brian’s Film Review Blog also has plenty of positive things to say about Let the Right One In. If you’re into vampire subculture, you need to see it. It’s too sweet a story to pass up. I will agree with Brian that the momentary flash of vampire groin is a bit much, but it’s not exactly human, so there’s no need to actually get your knickers in a knot about it. All the same, it can be offensive if interpreted as dirty instead of a curiosity. I’m not sure whether or not beheading is as offensive, so I’ll just let you know that there’s a beheading. Here’s the link:

Vanilla Sky Cruisin’ for a Bruisin’

Vanilla Sky
Holy hell I’m reviewing a Tom Cruise movie. What’s the world coming to? Oh, wait. It has Cameron Diaz? And Penelope Cruz? Well, damn. Guess this review’s gonna happen. It’s not quite a romantic comedy, but it does have humor. It’s almost a tragedy, but it has a happy ending. Vanilla Sky is a movie of mixed messages and strange twists, so hold on to your hats.

This is a story of David Aames, a man who seems like he has it all. His father was the CEO of a publishing company, and left a grand 51% of it to his son. The other 49% is owned by a group of seven directors referred to as the “Seven Dwarves,” who want to take the company for themselves. They don’t really play too much of a role aside from distant characterization of David.

On David’s birthday, his friend Brian Shelby brings a girl to the party. Her name is Sofia Serrano, and she and David hit it off while completely ignoring Brian. Julianna Gianni, David’s long standing casual-sex friend, crashes the party and sees him with Sofia. David notices and asks Sofia to stay near him so he won’t get confronted, and they wind up flirting all the way to her house. They don’t “get down to business,” instead spending the entire night talking.

Vanilla SkySo, next morning, Julianna shows up in front of David’s house as he’s getting ready to leave for work. She guilt trips him into the car, then becomes increasingly agitated as she reveals just how obsessed she is with him. David tries to calm her down by saying he loves her, but that just causes her to swerve the car off a bridge and nearly kill the both of them. By nearly, I mean she kills herself only. David survives with severe injuries to his head and arm.

He spends a lot of time alone, dealing with intense headaches brought about by the pieces of metal holding his skull together, before he decides to take over his company once more. One night, David goes to a club with Brian and Sofia, getting drunker than usual. Sofia seems to be distant from him, resulting in a fight. David passes out drunk in a gutter, then wakes up to Sofia telling him that she’ll stay with him if he cleans up his act. He finds a team to surgically reconstruct his face, and then patches things up with Sofia, making his life nearly perfect.

Then he starts hallucinating. His face somehow returns to its deformed state, and Sofia starts spontaneously appearing as Julianna. During one encounter, he beats the living hell out of her and gets arrested. In an attempt to obtain proof that Julianna is impersonating Sofia, he breaks into Sofia’s house, only to find that all pictures of her have Julianna in them instead. Julianna, thinking he’s a home intruder, attacks him. She initially insists that she’s Sofia, then leaves the room and returns AS Sofia. They start to get down and dirty, and right in the middle, Sofia turns back into Julianna. David smothers her with a pillow, then pulls it up to reveal Sofia’s face. Whoops. Confusing.

Vanilla SkyNow the even more confusing part comes in. David sees an infomercial for a company called “Life Extension,” a cryogenics organization, and his psychologist, Dr. McCabe, thinks there might be a connection. David is escorted to the building, discovering that he has signed on as a client, and has opted for an extra feature called Lucid Dream.

I’ll have to leave you off there. There are SO many twists after this point, so many that it exceeds my spoiler density threshold. There are only two things to worry about regarding this movie: Tom Cruise’s overacting, and the seemingly deus ex machina conclusion. Though not necessarily something I’d normally watch, I got a kick out of Vanilla Sky. Easy to follow and enjoy, if not a little obnoxious due to the Cruise.

Joshua Tyler of CinemaBlend gives an overwhelmingly positive review of Vanilla Sky, calling it a high point in Tom Cruise’s acting career. I would have to agree with him; just because I told you to worry about Tommy boy’s overacting doesn’t mean it’s god-awful. Just a little hard to stomach, if you’re not too familiar with how the guy functions. Anyway, here’s the link. Read up and enjoy:

Sailor Moon, The Movie: Promise of the Rose is Your Childhood

Sailor Moon: Promise of the Rose1990’s kids will know this one. Oh yeah. This is a 1993 anime classic film based off of an awesome and deceptively cutesy TV series. Don’t think that it being based off a TV series makes it bad, though. It’s freakin’ Sailor Moon, The Movie: Promise of the Rose. How could that be bad in ANY way? Let’s crack open a bottle of plot and see how it goes down.

Darien, the true identity of the hero Tuxedo Mask, Sailor Moon’s love interest, is first seen to be giving a gift to another boy. A rose, accepted with great affection and the promise of the perfect flower. Darien had just lost his parents, and didn’t want to see his only friend go. The problem was, Fiore was an alien, and couldn’t stay on Earth too long because the air would eventually kill him. He left Darien, fully intending to find the perfect flower to return to Earth with, but ended up stumbling upon something very foul indeed. But more on that in a moment.

In the modern day, Darien, Serena, and the rest of the Sailor Scouts are out at a flower shop, browsing and having a good time. This is a shoujo, I should remind you. If I don’t succeed, the movie will remind you eighty times before it ends. It’s only sixty minutes, but it’s more than capable of melting your brain with love. I digress. A rain of flower petals interrupts the group as they’re leaving, and out of nowhere, a red-haired guy appears and approaches Darien. He seems pleasant enough, until he shoves Serena away when she tries to break him and Darien up. They were getting kinda… close. Darien realizes that it’s Fiore, the same boy from his childhood, and this unnerves him a bit. Something changed. Something bad.

Sailor Moon: Promise of the RoseSoon after, a plant monster attacks Tokyo with a cluster of vines in order to drain the populace’s life energy. The Sailor Scouts respond immediately, obliterating the flower-freak and saving the day… That is, until Fiore appears in his alien form and claims that he is responsible for the attack. But why would such a benevolent person stage such a horrid attack? Perhaps the dark flower on his chest should offer a reason.

Serena’s cats, Artemis and Luna, explain this one. The Kisenian Blossom is the most evil flower in existence, latching onto those with weak hearts and filling them with hatred and anger. One by one, she sucks planets dry of life energy to increase her own power, then destroys them and leaves. She cannot do this alone, however. Fiore’s heart was weak, and as such she sunk her claws into him and instilled him with vengeance against the human race for causing Darien’s loneliness.

During the fight between Fiore and the Sailor Scouts, Darien takes a dive for Serena and is critically injured. Since all the other Scouts have had their asses beaten, no one can stop Fiore as he grabs the dying Darien and spirits him away in a whirlwind of flower petals. Where did they go?

Sailor Moon: Promise of the RoseArtemis and Luna have this one, too. Apparently, he’s on a meteor. A meteor filled with the Kisenian Blossom’s plants is quickly descending to Earth, where it will open up and sprinkle the surface of the planet with dark seeds. In the end, the Earth would be reduced to a dead rock, and the Kisenian Blossom would move on. How can the Sailor Scouts hope to stop this evil meteor? How can Darien break his friend free of the dark blossom’s influence?

I’m not going to tell you. Watch the movie! It’s great! It’s overly dramatic, weepy, mushy, violent, flashy, and it really helps redefine the genre known as “Magical Girl.” I mean, seriously. You’re missing out if you haven’t seen this. What’s that, you said? Too girly? Don’t like the fact that the Scouts get naked when they transform? What, it’s not like you can see anything, pervy. I won’t tell you again. This is a classic of classic anime movies, and you won’t regret snapping this up on VHS (if you’ve got it) or DVD (if you want it) and giving it a good view. Remember! Only 60 minutes!

Is my opinion crap? I don’t think it is, but juuust in case you do, here’s the AnimeCritic’s take on Sailor Moon: Promise of the Rose. It’s also called Sailor Moon R the Movie, in case you’re wondering.

The Illusionist is Illuminating

The IllusionistBetween The Prestige and The Illusionist, I’d have to say that the latter wins out every time. It’s not that I prefer Edward Norton to Christian Bale (which I totally do), it’s just that I think the twists in The Illusionist were far superior, in regards to both plot and the performance magic aspects. In The Prestige, you have two magicians squabbling constantly because one “accidentally” killed the wife of the other. The whole thing becomes a story of vengeance, which can get rather redundant. Plus The Prestige has Scarlett Johanssen, and I hate her. I really do. You should as well.

The Illusionist is a love story about Eisenhower, the son of a cabinetmaker and Sophie, a duchess; a mix of classes that could never happen in the turn-of-the-century Vienna time period. In his youth, Eisenhower encountered a traveling magician that showed him a few tricks before vanishing, along with the tree he sat under.

That spurred the lad to pursue a life of magic as well, in hopes that he could make such amazing things happen. Sophie meets him during one of his father’s transactions, and they share some innocent interactions of their own. Eisenhower makes her a special puzzle locket that, when properly twisted, opens to reveal a picture of him. This romantic daydream doesn’t last long, though, as Sophie’s family wouldn’t have her associating with lesser classes.

The IllusionistThe bulk of the story comes from Eisenhower’s scheme. Long after their childhood encounter, Eisenhower meets Sophie again at one of his performances, only to discover that she’s to be married to Prince Leopold. Supposedly, Leopold was known for his abusive tendencies towards women, and for taking the crueler aspects of dictatorship to heart. He planned to overthrow his aging father and usurp the throne for himself, a means to be rid of the hopes of democracy.

Chief Inspector Uhl is ordered by Leopold to follow Eisenhower and Sophie, as he suspects they’re romantically involved. When Uhl confirms this, Leopold gets incredibly drunk and confronts Sophie, who after a struggle is found on the edge of a lake with a slash wound on her neck. Eisenhower’s plot begins.

Stricken with sorrow and loss, Eisenhower begins a new kind of performance, one in which he begins to contact the dead, or so it would seem. During a performance in which Leopold watches disguised, Eisenhower raises the spirit of Sophie herself, who says her killer is in the hall with her. It is after Leopold orders the illusionist’s arrest that Eisenhower simply vanishes.

The IllusionistLater on, we discover that Uhl has both found evidence that Leopold was linked to Sophie’s murder, and that Leopold was planning on claiming the Austro-Hungarian throne for his own. The Emperor’s army soon arrives to remedy the situation, but not before something very interesting happens.

This is where I cut off, unfortunately. What I like about this movie is that the grand, twisted, enigmatic plot all comes together in the end, which means my synopsis can be much fuller without giving away any essential spoiler information. I guarantee that if you do see The Illusionist, the ending will pull it all the threads of event together into an intertwined ball of whoa and applaud. Better than Christian Bale’s magic thing, anyway… Don’t watch this after seeing Fight Club, though. Only suggestion.

Inception vs Shutter Island: Same Protagonist, Almost Different Plot

InceptionYou’re lucky I decided to be mature about this and title it the way I did. If I hadn’t had that moment of clarity, the title would be “Incraption vs Shitter Island.” But it’s Inception vs Shutter Island, so yeah.

I think it was definitely a mistake to see Shutter Island before seeing Inception. Maybe seeing both of them was a mistake in itself. A lot of people say Leonardo DiCaprio is an excellent actor, but these two movies sorta sucked the agreement out of me. While it is true that these are the only Leo DiCaprio movies I’ve seen and my perspective is rather limited, I do believe I’m justified when I say he plays the same character in both. Tweaks and twists here and there, but overall annoyingly similar.

Shutter Island: Leo plays a delusional mental patient who thinks he’s a detective investigating an institution for the absence of another patient. He keeps hallucinating and seeing his wife, his children, and other horrifying images on the hunt, but keeps these things to himself. He starts to catch on to a self-made conspiracy in which he’s part of a big experimental brain surgery scandal, only to find out that it was just the head psychiatrist trying to make him confront reality be seeing the falsehood in his own delusions. It turns out his wife was crazy and killed his kids, then he went crazy and killed her. Kind of a let-down ending. I’m not spoiling anything important.

InceptionInception: Leo plays a man who’s wanted for the murder of his own wife because she went crazy and set it up to look like he did it. As it turns out, he actually did. He used Inception and dream-sharing to plant an idea in her head that her world wasn’t real, and she needed to kill herself to wake up. He did this to get the both of them out of subconsciousness, which was a good reason enough, but he sort of botched it. Anyway, throughout the movie, projections of his wife constantly appear and ruin all the plans he tries to make because he’s in denial and wracked with guilt. Sound similar? Yeah. You bet it does. In the conclusion, he has a catharsis and admits to the projected her what he did. And she gets mad, he still feels bad about it, and the ending is ambiguous.

You see the point I’m trying to make, though, right? That Inception and Shutter Island are basically two movies in which Leo plays a crazy, haunted fella who accidentally kills his crazy wife? Because it’s a little obnoxious to have to listen to him bitch and moan about his dark and brooding past, or have it bitched and moaned to him. Redundant, don’t you know.

The sci-fi aspect of Inception was rather intriguing, though, as were the musical scores used throughout. I must admit, I was both pleased and disappointed with the ways they bent and shaped the subconscious. I know Leo is used to playing in rather realistic movies, so throwing in anything truly subconscious, namely flight, really strange images, weapons, whatever, wouldn’t exactly be up his alley. Which is a shame, because if you think about it, using the dreaming mind to its fullest, nonrealistic extent would have made the movie so much more interesting.

InceptionYes, they were trying to be convincingly realistic to a guy so they could break into his mind and do some Inception. But as Eames so indelicately put it, “You mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger.” In context, he was talking about his grenade launcher versus Arthur’s classy assault rifle, but my point still stands. They could have had laser guns. Just saying. Just saying that the movie came off as an action thriller with some vague aspects of subconsciousness in it. Kinda like the dreaming part was essential though still thrown in there to make everything fancier.

Well, Shutter Island sure ate up a fair bit of this review. I think it’s safe to say that those looking to be impressed (or the easily impressed) will be impressed by both of these movies. Inception more so than Shutter Island, because the latter has a bit of an anti-climactic ending, though I personally found it to be rather satisfying. You can watch them if you want, but for the love of everything, only watch one. If you see both, you’ll be plagued by the exact same general disliking of Leo DiCaprio that I’ve described.