Movie Reviews 9

Unbreakable (2000)
I think I love movies that have comics as a centerpiece more than movies made based on comic characters themselves. One reason may be due to the fact that they’re aren’t that many out there. “Chasing Amy” and the underrated “Comic Book Villains” and come to mind. In a way, “American Splendor” is as much a movie about comics as it is a movie about Harvey Pekar. But M. Night Shiyamalan’s “Unbreakable” is a cut above them all. It dares to blend the concept of action heroes and villains in a story that is also about the comic medium itself. Even better is how effectively Shiyamalan blurs the distinction and delivers a kick ass movie at the same time. I hate talking about the Unbreakable movie at all as it’s one of those movies that has to be seen to be appreciated. Any attempt to describe the story inevitably gives away too much. I don’t need mention that it stars Bruce Willis and Samuel Jackson in what I consider to be their best performances. It’s a film about nuance more so than an action movie, and yet at the end, you realize you’ve been treated to a great comics inspired movie.

Death Race 2000 (1975)
Vintage Roger Corman. One of his finest B-movie masterpieces. A sanctioned national race in which the racers not only race against the clock but can make points by killing people along the way. David Carradine is the crowd favorite legendary Frankenstein (so named because of his disfigurement from prior race mishaps) pitted against a handful of other teams, each sporting wacky killer cars. His arch rival is played by none other than a pre-Rocky Sylvester Stallone who’ll stop at nothing to win the race. But there are rebels intent on overthrowing the puppet government who try to sabotage the already insane race. Based on a rated scale system of points (higher scores for hitting women and children) we see hospital personnel parking the elderly and infirm out onto the streets in the hope that the racers will solve their bed shortages. Classic dialogue go hand in hand with 70’s leisure suits. Everyone should watch this movie at least once in their lifetime. I’m not going anywhere near last year’s supposed “Death Race” remake. They’re just no way it can live up.

The Fourth Kind (2009)
I’ve come to the realization that the fake ‘documentary’ style of horror movies just doesn’t do it for me. Years ago the hype surrounding “Blair Witch” left a sour taste in my mouth after I finally got to see it. I couldn’t fathom what all the fuss was about. I didn’t ‘buy in’ to the concept. I felt it was more laughable than scare inducing. I shrugged it off and here we are, a decade later, and I start hearing good reviews for the alien abduction movie “The Fourth Kind”. Worse than just posing itself as an acted documentary, the movie also shifts from the re-enacted scenes to supposed ‘actual’ coverage and interviews. Of course whenever the supposed ‘real’ footage is filmed, the film fades out or records static. More annoying is when this does not happen, but the good stuff is always just off the screen, or the only part of the film that happens to be out of focus. It’s a silly mind game that just comes out as old hat, childish and lame.

Behind the Mask: The rise of Leslie Vernon (2006)
This movie wasn’t anything like I thought it was going to be. A documentary crew follows an up and coming serial killer as he reveals the tricks of the trade. We follow him as he stalks his intended prey, sets up the attacks and even follow him as he executes his plans, all the while being filmed and interviewed. I didn’t think too much of the silly premise at first but was also curious to see how it would play out. But there was too much silliness for my tastes so that by the time it came around to the (quite obvious) turnaround on the film crew itself, I didn’t care much. Actually found myself nodding off.

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