The Element of Surprise
I haven’t been this shocked by a movie literally ever. I mean in Inception my mind was slightly warped when I walked out and Memento raised my eyebrows, but I was thoroughly shocked after this one.
I partially attribute this to the fact I didn’t read any reviews before I saw it, (in an attempt to remain at least a tiny bit unbiased) but even so The Cabin In The Woods is a unique hybridization of film canon that deserves your attention.
I would describe it categorically as a cross between horror, suspense, satirical comedy and action. It has each of these elements in balance throughout the film and the end product is unique to say the least.
The title, the previews, and even the film posters all seem to point to one thing: cheesy commercial horror flick, the kind of movie that features blood and boobs in equal proportion without any substance to justify it. However this first-glance impression of the film could not be more incomplete.
I wouldn’t say the plot has twist but rather is just wonderfully perverse right from the beginning. You spend as much time trying to figure out what the hell is going on as you do rooting for the main characters.
Without divulging anything too juicy I’ll try and lay it out for you.
A group of college-aged kids decides to spend a weekend away from the world at a isolated log cabin somewhere in Appalachia. As soon as they arrive you understand that they are not meant to survive.
The film is experienced through two main perspectives, the victims, and the coordinated and exceptionally cast team of professionals that are tasked with killing the victims. Why they are doing and the story that lies behind this cabin are what really make the film tick.
The character actors cast in this film are spot on. Without any big names (except for an extremely brief cameo from the burnt out Sigourney Weaver) Director Drew Goddard crafted a suspenseful and unique masterpiece that can satisfy an incredibly diverse audience.
Although not being a household name Goddard has made quite a career for himself, and it is because of his very unique and expressive style of film making. Goddard was the director of TV suspense phenomenon Lost as well as the head-ache inducing Cloverfield. I mean say what you want about Cloverfield but it still exhibited some fresh perspective, and it showed Goddard had enough sack to bend the rules.
If you liked Shaun of The Dead, Saw and its various film cousins, Underworld, or a film that mimics the suspense of a film like Inception (minus the A-list actors) this is a film you would enjoy.
I give this one a solid A. It earned an 8.0 on IMDB and a shocking 92% (which is still rising) on RottenTomatoes. If you don’t want to listen to me listen to them.
Hollywood has gotten stuck in an incredibly repetitive and commercialized vein of film making it makes me sick. The Cabin in the Woods breaks the mold and delivers a bit of everything, leaving the audience with only this thought “I don’t know what in the name of sweet cheeba just happened to me, but I liked it… a lot”
Rotten Tomatoes: 85%
My Grade: C+
21 Jump Street – Film Review
Commercial Comedy Lives up to Expectation
Watching 21 Jumps Street’s previews was literally exactly like watching the movie. When I saw the preview I laughed, thought to myself man that’s probably solid and did not give it a moments’ thought after that.
Any movie with Jonah Hill is worth at least a few laughs (Knocked Up, Get Him To The Greek, Superbad, etc.) and this one is no different. Channing Tatum even avoids being the stereotype he usually and that’s also worth some recognition.
The film is based off the TV show 21 Jump Street that spanned from the late 80’s to early 90’s, but the only difference between the two is that the original had an actor with some serious chops in Johnny Depp. (Depp makes a pretty awesome cameo, just btw.)
Both the show and the film center around 2 reject cops that got kicked off active duty. However, because they looked so young they were selected to work under cover as high school students in the attempt to bust up a drug ring.
Having acted in Dear John, both G.I. Joe films and Step Up within in the past 6 years Channing Tatum Is generally all over the place. No one can deny the guy is good looking but his acting this film (and in general) makes it obvious that he is only a pretty face.
Playing the same jock-ass (jock-ass = jock + badass) in all of his films Tatum is really just a six-pack with a limited emotional spectrum. Although when a director (wisely) doesn’t ask Tatum to be anything more than a chiseled jock-ass he can be passable, like in the context of 21 Jump Street.
Tatum’s counterpart Jonah Hill supplies the same handful of laughs we always expect. His most recent film before this dynamic duo attempt with Tatum was The Sitter, which delivered just about the same amount of chuckles.
I honestly struggled to decide how to write this review. Never has a film been so incredibly close to what I thought it would be like after seeing the preview. It was predictable and started a little slowly which is atypical of a good comedy, but it still delivered some laughs so it wasn’t altogether a waste.
However If debating whether or not to go see it, maybe wait till you go home for the summer and watch on mom and dads cable subscription.
The only true comedy came from well-known character actors Rob Riggle and Chris Parnell. These guys have been the glue in blockbuster comedies such as Anchor Man, Step Brothers, and Hot Rod.
Although it hurts me to talk a little shnizz on Jonah Hill, at this point he is just trying too hard. He is a very funny man, don’t get me wrong, but if he keeps making B- comedies like 21 Jump Street his loyal fans will be relegated to re –runs of Knocked Up and Super Bad.
My review to this point has been a bit disparaging, and I think my disappointment stems from the hype. The previews were funny, I had heard it was funny from my friends (who are idiots, a fact I often forget) and I was pretty pumped for it. Unfortunately the hype and previews turned out to be the best part of the film.
Jonah Hill was funny, Channing Tatum avoided being cheesy, women were hot… but that is about it.
If you want to see a formulaic comedy on a day when you’re stuck sick at home this would be the one. I’m not saying its bad, its just not good enough for me to give a shit.
IMDB Score: 6.6/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 69%
Directed by: Brett Ratner
By Ben Dauber
Every year as Thanksgiving rolls around a handful of family films seem to be released in an attempt to grab our attention as we sit at grandma’s house the day before the big meal. It’s a film that everyone can watch. It usually has a love story and some family directed emotional appeals, but most of all it has some cheap laughs and a happy ending (that even though it embarrasses me to admit it) makes you feel a little warm and fuzzy on the inside.
Tower Heist securely falls into this category, more gimmick and flash than actual substance the film is entertaining up to a point. And as far as the family/holiday film genre goes it is a solid but not excellent entry.
The cast is comprised of past-their-prime comic icons, and despite playing the same characters they play in every movie Stiller and Murphy still manage to get their fair share of laughs. Ben Stiller is again the neurotic and constantly underestimated hero of the film who is complimented by the brash and extroverted humor of Eddie Murphy.
Even though the style of humor is nothing new the duo still deliver enough entertainment to push the film through its less interesting points. Where I feel the film excelled is in putting a twist on some of the basics as well as bolstering the two stars with a strong supporting cast.
The film centers around the hardworking staff of The Tower condominium complex that houses New York’s ultra-wealthy. Stiller is the manager of this relatable gang of misfits, and it is he that spearheads the heist when they find out their pensions have been defrauded by the excellently evil Arthur Shaw (played by Alan Alda).
Stiller then patches together a band of golden-hearted misfits which help him plan the impossible robbery of Shaw’s penthouse in order to get the working folks of The Tower their money back. With the help of small-time criminal and child hood friend Eddie Murphy the rag tag crew goes through an entertaining series of criminal training exercises.
Without telling you too much about the film (because it is the surprise and single use only comic ploys that make it worth watching) it undoubtedly has the classic Hollywood happy ending we all expected.
A cinematic achievement it is not, but there is something to be said for a film that you can watch with mom and dad without blushing that is still somewhat worth your time. Unless you plan on entertaining your family I may not spend the money to see it in theaters, however if you get the stomach flu and run out of sick-day Netflix options you could do much worse than Tower Heist.