Halloween (2018)

October 31, 2018 by  
Filed under Movies

“Halloween” is now 40 years old, and every generation we’ve had since has had a sequel and remake or reboot of the series. Following “Halloween II” in 1981, there was another sequel that acted more like spin-off, “Halloween III: Season of the Witch” which wanted to re-start the series as an anthology. But it was essentially “re-booted” in 1988 with “Halloween IV: The Return of Michael Myers”. In the 1990’s, we got another “re-boot”/sequel with “Halloween: H20”. Then, there was a sequel to that, “Resurrection”…which…doesn’t need to exist at all.

The series was re-booted entirely and re-made with Rob Zombie’s “Halloween”, that re-imagined (RE: RE: RE:) the whole story, giving Michael Myers a backstory and made it a bit more sympathetic than many people wanted. Then THAT movie got a sequel, so we got another “Halloween 2”, which also…doesn’t need to exist at all (Zombie didn’t even want to do a sequel in the first place, much like his predecessor following “Halloween” in 1978).

Now, we have a bit of a mish-mash with “Halloween (2018)”. First, it’s the THIRD movie called “Halloween”, and it follows nearly exactly the same plot as the original and its reboot. And for this generation…I mean, how can we confuse them anymore than we have? You just have to call this “Halloween ’18” for the sake of sanity.

Speaking of sanity, we are introduced to Michael Myers in the present day, 40 years after “Halloween”. That’s right–none of the sequels/re-boots/spin-offs/re-makes exist at all in THIS “Halloween” Cineverse. Myers is being held at a hospital, where Doctor Sartain (Haluk Bilginer) has been observing and caring for Michael since Loomis’s death years ago. So in this world, Myers committed the “babysitter murders” (the original title of “Halloween”), and was committed to the institution. Now, however, he is being transferred to an actual prison to serve out the rest of his however many life terms. Two “podcast” journalists, Aaron (Jefferson Hall) and Dana (Rhian Rees), have been seeking him out for years, trying to get him to speak. They bring him his mask, and Aaron beckons passionately to say something until we are bolted into the opening credits.

There’s an interesting effect with the pumpkin in the credit sequence. We have a smashed or deflated pumpkin that gradually becomes full again, and the sequence ends with us peering into one of its lighted eyes. As if to say we are…resurrecting…the “Halloween” franchise all over again. So strap in!

The film mainly centers around Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) who has become a recluse even while raising a daughter, Karen (Judy Greer), who is now grown and has her own daughter, Allyson (Andi Matichak). The three of them are the nucleus of the narrative: but we are somewhat led to believe that the podcasters in the beginning and Dr. Sartain, are also going to play big parts. But more about that in a minute.

When Michael escapes (again…or…for the first time…again), Laurie becomes obsessed with killing him. In fact, that’s all she’s done since he’s been locked away. She’s been waiting for the moment he “comes back” so she can finish the job. She has been practicing firing guns, self-defense, everything that can make you ready to…kill someone. It’s also at this point that this “Halloween” starts looking a lot like all the other “Halloweens”.

And most of it looks like it’s on purpose. We are given many shots of recalls to not only other “Halloween” sequels, but the original “Halloween” as well. Most of it is visual, and many are allusions. But it begins to feel like this could literally be called “Halloween: Tribute”. Director David Gordon Green certainly wanted this to be a love letter to the series, while making his own movie–but in terms of “fan fiction”, sometimes this goes a little overboard.

There are sub-plots that go nowhere. There are scenes with unnecessary amounts of gore that even undermine what the original’s spirit was: killing scenes more implied than graphic. This has bludgeoning murder sequences that even Rob Zombie might flinch at. And I didn’t see the point. There are scenes merely set up to add to the body count, and they’re not all that interesting otherwise.

The film’s strength comes from its trio of heroines, and each one has their moment to shine. Allyson is caught in the teenage web of bad boyfriends and bad parties, but she still has time to help save the day in the end. Karen is trying to shake off bad memories of a childhood lost because her mom taught her to be afraid of basements and closets, awaiting the return of Michael.

But as the movie plays out like many of its sequels and re-boots, I just couldn’t help but think that this could have been done completely differently. Maybe Laurie becomes the villain in some way. After all, taking away her daughter’s childhood is pretty drastic. Maybe Karen grows up to be something dangerous.

Instead, we are given another version of “Halloween” and…yeah, it’s nice to see the music back in full form. It’s nice to see a GOOD Michael Myers-driven sequel. But other than that, it’s a pretty empty shell of its former self, and once again, out of the three movies called “Halloween”…the 1978 version is still the best. And maybe, the only one you ever really need to see in your life.

My rating: :?

This Is The End

June 17, 2013 by  
Filed under Movies

I’m going to start this review by saying that if you don’t enjoy the presence of actors Seth Rogen, Danny McBride, Jonah Hill or James Franco, you may want to steer clear of this movie. The film could be considered a vanity project since they’re playing fictional versions of themselves–but that’s the whole fun of it.

And fun is the best word to describe this movie if you do like these actors; and in this case, obviously I do. I like that they laugh at themselves, and make fun of each other. I like that the other main character of the film, Jay Baruchel (probably a bit lesser known than the other main actors), has no issue saying he doesn’t like these guys. This is a movie that doesn’t take itself that seriously. For a movie revolving around the apocalypse of mankind, that’s a pretty big gamble. But it works if you don’t believe in that kind of thing happening.

So the story is fairly simple: Jay is coming to LA to visit his best buddy, Seth, for a weekend. They haven’t seen each other in a while and deep down, they’re both afraid that they’re losing touch with each other. Jay doesn’t like staying in LA; Seth is comfortable in the lifestyle. He’s taken to partying with his “new” friends including Franco, Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, and Craig Robinson among others. When Jay and Seth first see each other, it’s a great reunion. Seth shows him around his new apartment, they smoke weed and watch 3D TV and just play around. But then, Seth drops that he wants to go to this mega house party hosted by James Franco. Jay admits he’s not really a fan of James and doesn’t think he likes him either. He doesn’t know most of the other people and the ones he does know, such as Jonah Hill, he also admits he doesn’t like nor does he think they like him. Seth thinks it’s even more important to go to the party in order to bury the hatchet and start over and Jay will see that everything will work out and they’ll all be friends together.

When they first get to the house, the party is well in progress. Franco calls Jay by another name indicating he doesn’t know him, and Jonah Hill is overly friendly to Jay, which makes Jay think he’s just overcompensating and being phony. Seth promises “Jonah is just that nice”. Other guests include Aziz Ansari, Mindy Kaling, Jason Segel, and just about everyone who’s been in a comedy film in the past 10 years…and, Rihanna. Things are going smoothly at the party until Jay runs out of cigarettes and decides to take a walk to a store to buy some more. He gets Seth to go with him and they leave the party, while Jay once again reinforces that he isn’t really into the party.

At the store, something happens. It’s like an earthquake, but then blue beams shoot out of the sky grabbing hold of people and “sucking” them up into the sky. Both Jay and Seth are blown away by this, and when they get back to the party, they can’t believe that no one has noticed anything strange has happened.

But then, an earthquake-like rumble happens again at the party and the guests go outside. Massive sinkholes swallow some of the guests, and Michael Cera is impaled by a street light. After the commotion, there are only a few people left from the party:

James, Jonah, Craig, Jay, and Seth. They decide to bunker in the house and ration everything in the house while waiting to be rescued. Then, there’s a complication. Unbeknownst to James, he had an unexpected guest who passed out in the bathtub: Danny McBride. McBride is unaware of the goingson of any earthquakes and decides to make a large breakfast using a lot of the supplies, and even goes as far as to use the bottled water they have to wash his feet and face.

It’s pretty evident early on that Franco’s not a fan of McBride, and he becomes a source of tension between the crew. Not only that, but Emma Watson appears from outside as another sole survivor from the party. After a misunderstanding about what she thinks these guys may do to her, she runs away. The men are left with each other and very few supplies, and have to go on a water mission to the basement at some point in order to replenish.

Jay is the only one who is convinced it’s the apocalypse. Everyone else thinks it’s just earthquakes. But then, they see demons. Jonah Hill has a rather…interesting encounter with one that leaves him possessed; and by the end, they all know that their souls are doomed or saved based on how good they are to each other and others.

I would say anyone who considers themselves to be a Christian would be appalled by this film; but the movie’s not really for that audience. It’s so full of raunchy and off-color humor that no one devout would even begin to consider going to see it. But if you’re willing to accept that this is a joke, and a cute little tale about friendship and what it means to sacrifice yourself for others, then none of that stuff will bother you.

The demons actually look pretty good. I can’t imagine a lot of thought went into the actual apocalyptic part of the film, and toward the end, some of the movie drags a bit. This is really more of a vehicle for the actors. But there are some very big laughs and the movie moves along otherwise at a very good pace.

There’s nothing earth shattering about this movie that would elevate it above it being just your average comedy; but since you are watching the earth literally shatter, you can at least look at it this way: if you’re going to watch a movie about the end of the world, it may as well be entertaining. Because if the apocalypse does happen, I have a feeling it won’t feel as funny in real life. Just a hunch.

My rating: :-)