Thursday, September 3, 2009

Inside Man 2

Genre: Crime/Drama/Thriller
Premise: Following the events of the first film, professional thief Dalton Russell begins another cat and mouse game with Detective Keith Frazier.
Writer: Russell Gewirtz

You ain't winning any awards for this one, Denzel

Inside Man was really really good. It was an interesting look at heist movies. Unfortunately for everyone, it also happened to make money. Why is that a problem? Simple, Hollywood is quickly running out of ideas so they need to churn out sequels to every money maker they have. Few of these films are actually worth revisiting.

Inside Man 2 takes an interesting route. Instead of trying to rehash the events that made the first film so great, they go the direct sequel route. It's an interesting choice. Not necessarily a good one, as their really wasn't any need for a continuation.

Anyway, we open with thief Dalton Russell in jail. Keith Frazier, who dons a sling around his arm, is questioning him about the events that have unfolded. What are these events you ask? Well, one week prior, a jewel heist went down. Det. Keith Frazier is at the helm of this investigation, along with familiar face Bill Mitchell. The bank robbery from the first film has had a lasting effect on the detective. Strangely enough, Dalton Russell himself offers the detective his assistant, as he's head of security for this area. (Remember, Frazier has never seen Dalton's face) Over the course of the film, these two form a bond as they take on the case. We're left to wonder why the hell Dalton is doing all of this.

It's not exactly exciting. It may not be a rehash, but that doesn't make it any less unnecessary. The cleverness of the first film has washed away, and we're left with a cop drama for the first half, and bland thriller the last half. It's all got a been-there-done-that feel to it.

The script faces other downfalls. The dialogue being one of them. Most of it was used to let the readers know what exactly was going on, and it seemed so forced. Not to mention the characters feel like mere shadows of their former selves. And the twist ending isn't exactly to write home about either.

Gewirtz does manage to bring in everyone back from the first film. I don't know what that's supposed to mean, but I figured I'd throw that in there. Jodie Foster's not up to much lately, so she'll probably sign back on...

Now I'm just rambling. There's really not much to say about this script. I give Gewirtz props for trying something new, but in the end it is completely unnecessary. That's probably it's main fault and why I'm looking into all of it's negatives instead of praising the few positives it has. IMDB lists Terry George as the screenwriter and Russell Gewirtz for characters, so maybe they totally scrapped this idea. And maybe I really am looking into the negatives to much, because somehow it managed to keep my interest. So this one ends up leaving me puzzled. So many things working against it, yet I managed to stay mildly entertained, much like I felt for Valentine's Day. So I guess I'll give it the same rating...

[] Somebody should be fired
[] Bad
[x] Mediocre
[] Worth the read
[] Great
[] Amazing

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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Cabin in the Woods

Genre: Horror
Premise: A twisted and unusual take on the familiar "cabin in the woods" formula. Comes out next February.
Writers: Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard

One of the many great posters for "The Cabin in the Woods"

If there's one genre that has the least respect at the moment, it's horror. Hollywood churns out dozens of horror films a year, and you'll be lucky to find one that's actually good. So I was very excited to pick up this script. I'm a fan of Whedon, and after Cloverfield, Goddard was definitely on my radar. So what did I think?

The Cabin in the Woods starts off with five friends. Whedon and Goddard are going for a horror parody here. So it's pretty cliche', but it works and there's a purpose for it that I won't spoil. Anyway, there's Curt the "jock"; Jules, his girlfriend, the "whore"; Holden, the "scholar"; Marty, the "fool"; and Dana, the "virgin". They're all headed toward's Curt's cousins lakehouse. Which is, you guessed it, a cabin in the woods. Along the way they stop for gas, que creepy and disgusting clerk who warns them about the cabin, but of course they ignore him.

While this is happening we meet a bunch of people in some sort of lab. We don't know what they're up to, but it involves our main characters. Once our heroes reach the cabin, we find out that these people are a part of some mysterious corporation who purposefully brought this group of people to the cabin to die. This is where things get complicated. This corporation, whatever they are, have been planning this for a while. There is also some type of magical force that looms around the cabin that the corporation uses to do it's killing.

Our heroes make their way to the cabin's basement. Unfortunately, this is all part of the corporation's plan. Inside the basement there are an assortment of random items. We find out that whichever of these items our heroes pick, triggers how they will die. They unknowingly pick a diary. The diary is of a girl named Patience Buckner who lived in the house a century ago. This is a sick family, and we even get a tip of some sort of torture chamber. Then there's a Latin passage, that stoner Marty warns everyone not to read. You can guess what happens next. That's right, lead heroine Dana reads this Latin phrase aloud and we cut to the woods where a zombified Buckner family rises from the ground, looking for something to kill.

Through security cameras, the employees of the corporation watch as our main characters are picked off one by one. When our heroes finally get an upperhand on the zombies, the employees screw things up even more. It's really a great concept. There's no hope for our characters, so we're left wondering what their next move will be. We're also wondering why this organization has to kill people, and how the hell do they have the power to make creatures carry out their wishes. (even though our heroes face zombies, we are told of all the other sinister options that could have been their fate.)

And then we have out ending. I won't spoil it for you, but it will definitely draw a line. You're either going to love it or hate it. Me? I wasn't that big of a fan. I thought it didn't mesh well at all with the rest of the script, and was just one big WTF moment.

There is one thing I really really liked that Whedon and Goddard incorporated into the script. In your average horror movie, the characters are so stupid, they get themselves into situations that they basically deserve to be killed off. In this movie, our characters have been drugged by the organization, and it makes them get into sticky situations. For instance, after finding out about the zombies outside, Curt runs in and tells everyone to lock the doors and windows, and that they need to stick together. All the labrats need to do is release some gas to alter his judgement, and everyone agrees it'd be best if they all split up.

Overall, I really liked Cabin in the Woods up until the final act. Before that point was a great horror movie that parodies itself and had a great mystery surrounding it. I was just not a fan of the ending. It left a lot of questions, and was just to much of a WTF moment that didn't mesh with the rest of the script. But overlooking that, it was smart, great dialogue, some actual scares, and great characters. Whedon and Goddard knew what they were doing and what they wanted, but I'm worried the ending may be a little too out there for people who aren't already fans of their work.

[] Somebody should be fired
[] Bad
[] Mediocre
[x] Worth the read
[] Great
[] Amazing

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