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: :?

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

August 7, 2011 by  
Filed under Movies

Look out, Hollywood! The apes are back! But where’s Estella Warren? Hm? Where are you?? She’s gone…it’s all gone. It’s all been re-booted. In the totally original genre called “re-booting” franchises that was handled with brilliance like in “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (which would have been a hated movie by me if I could have just stayed awake throughout it)…or wait, I think that was just a remake. This is a true re-boot. It’s like “Star Trek”; except, it’s different. There’s no Captain Kirk, for one thing.

So let me tell you the plot because it’s OMG so totally WeSoMEZZ (I just made that up; think it can become a meme?)

It’s about this guy (James Franco, who holds a record of being miscast in films; I think his streak is up to 5 now or something) who wants to treat his dad (the Harry-less John Lithgow, who trades Sasquatch for a chimp) for Alzheimer’s disease by creating a retrovirus called “113” and tests it on apes. The result? The chimps have a heightened intelligence. This is pretty amazing, of course. But it doesn’t impress his boss, played as standard as possible by David Oyelowo (say that five times fast! starting…now!), and so the project is scrapped. Well, there is a test subject that he takes home with him, named Caesar (named after the dressing), and this is no ordinary chimp–it’s a CGI! (Chimp Graphic Interface). Forgive the cheap joke.

Well, Caesar is quite limber and intelligent, and the film spends a few reels showing something that’s very akin to cut-scenes in a video game as we see Caesar grow up and become more intelligent; meanwhile, Dear Old Dad is given a dose of the medicine as well, and it actually works. Unfortunately, it doesn’t last forever…and he replases eventually. Meanwhile, the guy, Will, develops a relationship with a doctor named…oh…you know? I don’t remember. Why? Because she serves no purpose other than to say a few things to Will about how careful he should be. And they kiss at some point. Finally! The film lapses through about 8 years–this girl knows how to hold out.

Also, Caesar starts to really emo out. He gets lonely and sad, and wonders if he’s just considered a pet (which he is), and winds up taking out his self-loathing on a neighbor (who gets a few shots taken at him…but not enough payoff). He is sent to a little…monkey prison, where he is tormented by Draco Malfoy (well, Tom Felton, the guy who played him) to the point where Emo Caesar starts to really get peeved. He befriends the apes in the prison, and they basically break out and wreak havoc.

And that’s actually where this movie is so disappointing! Here you’ve got a pretty entertaining premise, and Andy Serkis is so good as a CGI actor that he’s basically a human special effect…possibly the best ever. But they go so by the book, standard, garden variety, no violence and no real tension…it’s not that it’s boring, it’s just that it’s so sterile! This movie could have had a lot of fun with itself, or gone the complete opposite direction and make it a real bloodbath. Apes just killing and pillaging and whatnot.

Instead, the movie feels like some kind of weird kid’s movie, which isáconfusing because kids would probably be scared to death of these chimps once they turn, and I gotta believe zoos better be aware that kids need to be told that A) the chimps in the zoo are not computer generated and B) not going to suddenly go America all over your ass.

Yes, the apes hold our attention more than the cardboard cut out human characters; but they’re also given very formulaic personalities that never really lets them breathe…so we get something that could be maybe enjoyed at a Drive-In; but it could have been a really fun movie if it wasn’t so Studio-tweaked.

I wanted to have fun with the movie; but it just didn’t let you in. It looks good, the CGI is well used, and the emo factor is fantastic–all Caesar is missing are the bangs. And maybe a Twitter account. But this movie just doesn’t explore any of the amazing possibilities (like Apes using Twitter) that it had, so we’re left with a very banal and standard action film that’s so synthetic that we can’t connect with any of it.

I can only hope the sequels do something more; but I highly doubt that’ll happen.

Maybe they could at least use LinkedIn though…

My rating: :(