Archive for October, 2006
Director: James Gunn
Seems to me that most recent horror movies are either gory or funny, rarely both. Sure, there might be an occasional joke or light-hearted moment in between chainsaw attacks, or there might be an extremely bloody death followed by laughter, but it’s rare to find a film that isn’t afraid to be gory and a lot of fun. Thankfully, Slither is a very funny splatter film that doesn’t pull any punches.
Director James Gunn knows horror films. Along with Zack Snyder he helped create the better-than-average Dawn of the Dead remake in 2004 and Slither is dripping with references to classic slasher/gore films like Shivers and Night of the Living Dead. This film is essentially three horror films in one: alien invasion, parasite attack and zombie nightmare. I personally would’ve liked to have seen more zombies, but seeing juicy slugs crawling into a bathtub makes up for it (almost).
The gore and special effects in Slither are very well done. Though relatively low-budget, the film never looks it. The acting is very good as well. Nathan Fillion proves he can be a charming leading man and Gregg Henry is lots of over-the-top fun as the foul-mouthed mayor.
I’m surprised there aren’t more movies like this: smart, gory, lots of fun. The last one I can remember is Shaun of the Dead. Slither is a film for horror fans, plain and simple. I’m looking forward to Gunn’s next horror film, whatever it might be.Colin Le Sueur
Macau/Hong Kong 2005
Director: Wilson Yip
SPL is a strange hybrid film: part cop drama, part martial arts action, part Kitano-esque reflection on violence. The film is a bit unfocused at times, clunky dramatic moments built around violent action sequences (directed by Donnie Yen). Some of the acting is pretty poor, as well; for instance, one character’s death grimace is comically contorted. That said, the stunning action sequences overshadow the film’s weaker moments, making for an exciting and memorable film.
The morality in the film is surprisingly complex. The villain is more than a twisted gangster and the cops are more than squeaky-clean crusaders. This aspect helps to raise the film above standard gangster fare.
I’m mostly used to seeing Sammo Hung as Jackie Chan’s bumbling sidekick, often as the comic relief. In SPL, however, he’s in full-on villian mode, presenting a commanding on-screen figure. There are two fight sequences that really show off his power and skill.
Donnie Yen’s equally as impressive, serving both as star and ‘action sequence director.’ Minimal wirework, old-school martial arts mixed with cop action works surprisingly well.
While not the revolution in HK filmmaking that many people see it as, SPL is entertaining and (somewhat) thought-provoking, worth seeing for any fan of the genre.Colin Le Sueur
Director: John Moore
When I saw some footage from the new version of The Omen, I was impressed. Tense and sharply edited, the short segment I saw suggested that this remake could possibly live up to the 1976 original. Unfortunately, it turns out the rest of the film is not nearly as interesting or involving.
Everything in The Omen seems familiar, partly because this is the 4th Omen film and partly because most of this film is a shot-by-shot re-creation of the original. There’s no real passion or originality here. Granted, there are some interesting sequences, in particular the various death scenes, but for the most part The Omen fails to impress.
For a film with such a strong cast, the acting is not spectacular. Julia Stiles seems to sleepwalk through most of the film and Michael Gambon is wasted in a 5 minute cameo. Pete Postlethwaite is excellent, as always, and David Thewlis delivers in a good supporting role. Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick as Damien is underwhelming, though most of his performance consists of empy glowering.
Ultimately, this remake is irrelevant. The original Omen was so strong and influential that this version would’ve had to do something spectacular to even measure up. Unfortunately, The Omen (2006) is overly familiar and uninspired.Colin Le Sueur
Director: Prachya Pinkaew
In their followup to the incredible Ong-bak, director Pinkaew and Tony Jaa have created two very different experiences in the same film. A lot of Tom Yum Goong is boring, amateurish and pointless. What little plot there is makes no sense (something about rescuing an elephant family from an evil Sydney-based Thai corporate empire) and most of the English-speaking actors (there’s a surprising amount of English in the film) are laughably bad. There would have to be something extraordinary about Tom Yum Goong to justify the careers of everyone involved. Thankfully, there’s Tony Jaa and his mind-blowing action sequences.
Everything unintentionally funny and embarrassing about the film is forgotten as soon as Jaa’s action sequences begin. Even more impressive than those seen in Ong-bak, Jaa takes the naturalistic martial arts film into a new plane. I’m amazed that a human being can do the stunts that Jaa pulls off. The fight direction is also excellent; there’s a spectacular single-shot action sequence that looks so effortless and professional it makes the non-action sequences of the film look all the more worse.
I’m looking forward to seeing Tony Jaa and his action choreography in more films; with the right director and script behind him, Jaa’s potential is limitless. As it stands, Tom Yum Goong is an amazing-looking film and worth sitting through the awful filler between fight sequences.Colin Le Sueur