Monday, October 19, 2009

Law Abiding Citizen

Law Abiding CitizenRelease Date: October 16th, 2009

Click here for the Law Abiding Citizen Trailer.

When two men break into his house, kill his little girl, and rape and murder his wife, Clyde Shelton(Gerard Butler) is positive that the justice system will put both men behind bars and essentially on death row. However, when the police botch the forensics on the case, suddenly the evidence isn't conclusive. Clyde pleads with his attorney Nick Ross(Jamie Foxx) who has a 96% conviction rate to make things right but instead, Rice makes a deal with one of the criminals, Clarence Darby, who actually was responsible for the rape and murder. Darby agrees to testify against his partner who receives the death penalty while Darby gets off in three years.

Ten years later Rupert Ames, Darby's partner, is facing his penalty of death by lethal injection. Before he is injected, Ames states that he did not kill anybody and that the wrong man was dying that day. As Ames is lowered down, the chemicals are systematically injected into his body. Due to changes in the chemicals, Ames dies a horrific and painful death. Police discover that on one of the chemical bottles is etched "You can't escape fate", a phrase Darby said to Clyde when he was in his home and the same thing he said to Ross during his trial. Police find out where Darby lives and move into arrest him.

Darby escapes the police thanks to a mysterious phone call from a stranger who tells Darby to find a cop car with an officer inside that the stranger has incapacitated. Darby is then told to go to an abandoned warehouse. Once there, the police officer reveals himself to be Clyde who, through a clever device in his phony police gun, injects Darby with a toxin which paralyzes his whole body yet still allows him to feel pain. Clyde then straps Darby to a table and begins to slowly dismember him while he videotapes the act. The police find Darby, who had been cut into 25 pieces, in the warehouse which they discover belongs to Clyde. The police immediately go to Clyde's house and find him in his study naked and surrounded by books on engineering and law.

Rice comes to the prison where they are holding Clyde and interrogates him after complimenting him on taking care of Darby. Rice thinks he has a confession from Clyde until Clyde points out that none of what he said was a confession at all, at least not a confession that can be proven in court. While Rice is interrogating Clyde, the DVD of Clyde murdering Darby is sent to Rice's house. Rice's daughter Denise, thinking the DVD is the one of her Cello recital, watches the horrific murder. Clyde does, however, agree to making a real confession under the condition that an expensive, special mattress be put in his cell. After being ordered to do so, Rice agrees to have the mattress put in Clyde's room. When Clyde is in court the following day, he begins to throw multiple, obscure legal precedents at the judge, the same one who oversaw Clyde's case for his family, trying to get his confession and refusal for bail thrown out. As the judge is about to set bail, Clyde goes on a rant about how the judge was about to let him go, just like she did for Darby.

When Rice meets with Clyde the next day, Clyde confesses to killing Darby, even going into the gruesome detail of what tools he used. When Rice begins to leave again, Clyde begins to confess to another murder, the murder of Bill Reynolds, the attorney for Darby in his case.Clyde informs Rice that Reynolds is alive and that he will tell them where he is in exchange for an expensive steak dinner delivered at precisely 1:00 pm along with his iPod so he can listen to music. Despite his demand, the Warden of the prison intentionally lingers, giving Clyde his dinner at 1:08 pm. Clyde gives Rice a set of longitudes and latitudes and after a 15 minuet helicopter ride Rice lands in a field with Reynolds' briefcase. Rice and Detective Dunnigan(Colm Meaney) begin to dig finding a steel case with Reynolds inside, dead. Reynolds was hooked up to oxygen tanks which expired at precisely 1:15 pm. Reynolds would have survived had the warden been on time. While everybody is gone looking for Reynolds, Clyde takes the t-bone from his steak and stabs his cell mate in the neck multiple times, killing him, and placing Clyde in solitary confinement.

Rice, along with District Attorney Cantrell(Bruce McGill), meet a CIA operative who informs the two men that Clyde is a "brain" with the CIA. Clyde creates complex tools and gadgets and figures out ways of killing high profile and untouchable targets without even being near them. The operative tells Rice and Cantrell that if Clyde wants them dead then they are already dead and the only way to stop him is to walk into his cell right now and put a bullet in his head. When Rice confronts Clyde again, he tells him that this isn't about revenge, but that it is about the failure of the justice system and Rice's personal failure at keeping his word. While still behind bars, Clyde manages to keep killing people associated with his family's trial, including the judge who Clyde killed with her own cell phone. Clyde tells Rice that if he isn't set free with all charges dropped by 6:00 am then he is going to kill everybody in the DA's office.

All of the office workers congregate at the prison, intensely awaiting for 6:00 am to come. When the time comes and goes, everybody begins to leave thinking it was all a hoax. While in the parking lot, multiple car bombs explode killing most of the DA office workers, including Rice's assistant Sarah Lowell(Leslie Bibb). Puzzled about how Clyde is still committing murders from behind bars, Rice suggests that Clyde has an accomplice. While leaving the funeral of Sarah and the other staff members, a remote army drone armed with anti-tank weaponry opens fire on the SUV carrying DA Cantrell. Shot multiple times and bleeding, Cantrell is still alive until the drone fires a rocket at the car, blowing it up and killing Cantrell.

After the funeral and the attack on DA Cantrell, Rice receives an e-mail from a friend of Sarah. The e-mail reveals the location of a piece of property Clyde owns which is right next to the prison where he is being held. Rice and Dunnigan investigate the building and find that there is a tunnel system dug under the prison to each of the solitary confinement cells, including the one Clyde is in, revealing that the murder of his cell mate was not random at all and that Clyde wanted to be in solitary. Rice discovers that Clyde didn't have an accomplice at all, but that he could leave the prison anytime he wanted to. Rice and Dunnigan discover that Clyde, dressed as a janitor, has placed a bomb under city hall and plans on blowing up the mayor and senior officers of the police force.

After planting the bomb, Clyde returns to his cell fining Rice waiting for him. Clyde offers Rice one final deal, which he refuses. Clyde congratulates him telling him that was one of the main points of his actions. Rice calmly tells Shelton that if he detonates the bomb that he will have to live with the consequences. After considering it for a while, Clyde decides to detonate the bomb at which point Rice runs out and locks Clyde's cell door while Dunnigan blocks his escape route. Shelton then realizes that the bomb is under his bed and he is engulfed in flames as he looks at a bracelet his daughter made for him the night she was killed.

Psychological thrillers can be hard to do, especially if the bad guy and his ways are not creative or unique. To make a truly good psychological thriller, you have to keep the audience guessing the entire move and that is exactly what Law Abiding Citizen did. How do you catch a murderer when he is already in jail?

Gerard Butler brings out one of his best performances since 300 playing the distraught father and husband who has been cheated by the system of justice. Butler does what any father would do if his family was destroyed and the man who did it went free, he seeks revenge. The best part about this movie was the fact that Butler was killing the people essentially responsible for letting the man who killed his daughter go free from inside his prison cell. And the way he killed them was also very entertaining. Everything from changing the chemicals in a lethal injection machine to bullets in cell phones is what truly made this psychological thriller stand out from the rest.

Butler gave a very powerful performance and I really loved how he transitioned from loving father and husband to intense and psycho-killer. I also liked the way he played his role. He was so much smarter than everybody and it seemed like he didn't care about what he was doing. The scene where he captures and tortures Darby was truly intense and chilling. I also liked how the film pointed out some monumental flaws in how our justice system works and how easy it is for some people to get away with some of the things they do. Jamie Foxx gave a pretty good performance as the power hungry attorney that let the murderer nearly go free. Foxx, who has been won many many awards and been nominated for countless more almost always steps up and gives a strong performance. There was also a nice supporting cast in this film including Leslie Bibb, Colm Meaney and Bruce McGill, all of which gave good performances.

This movie truly did make you think the entire time. That is one thing I enjoy about movies, if they make you think. If you can watch a movie and figure out the end 10 minuets into it then you've wasted your time and money. This film never gave you enough to put the pieces together until the very end. It blended suspense, action, creativity and drama all together in a film that is very good. Another great thing about this movie was the direction in which it was made. A lot of films these days try too hard to tailor make themselves perfect for the crowd. This film did what it did according to how it wanted to do it. It seemed like it was made they way the director wanted to make it and if audiences like it then they like it but it wasn't going to water down any part of the film to be like the critics and other people wanted it to be. I like that aspect in films, making them how they want to be made and not how everybody else wants them to be.

This movie is going to fly under the radar for some of you people out there and you may not pick this film up until it comes out on DVD, but I suggest that you go see it now because it is definitely a different film and one that will surely please that inner psycho in us all. If you like movies that are creative, slightly gruesome and ones that make you think and keep you guessing then you should definitely give Law Abiding Citizen a shot.

I give Law Abiding Citizen 9 deadly steak bones out of 10

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


ZombielandRelease Date: October 2nd, 2009

Click here for the Zombieland Trailer.

Columbus(Jesse Eisenberg) is a college student living in Austin, Texas when the world is suddenly turned into a post-apocalyptic, zombie infested wasteland due a virulent form of human adapted mad cow disease. Columbus isn't the bravest person and typically spent his time alone in his apartment playing World of Warcraft. He has stayed alive in what he calls "Zombieland" because of his lack of friends and attachments as well as not having a close relationship with his parents. Columbus has also stayed alive thanks to a set list of rules he created for survival. Columbus is trying to make his way back to Columbus, Ohio where his parents live, hoping to find them still alive. On his way there he runs into Tallahassee(Woody Harrelson). Tallahassee is a renegade outlaw searching the country for the last remaining Twinkies in the world. Tallahassee, like Columbus, doesn't like to form attachments and insists that the two call each other by their home town names, Tallahassee and Columbus, instead of their actual names.

Tallahassee dislikes Columbus almost instantly, finding his safety and list of rules ridiculous and annoying. The two make their way to a grocery store so Tallahassee can look for Twinkies. While in the store they find three very obese zombies which they quickly dispose of. Tallahassee becomes angered when he can not find any Twinkies and decides to check in the back store room. While back there he finds two sisters, Wichita(Emma Stone) and Little Rock(Abigail Breslin). Wichita tells Tallahassee and Columbus that her little sister Little Rock was bitten by a zombie and that they have decided to put her out of her misery. Wichita asks Tallahassee to do it but decides that she wants to do it herself. When Tallahassee gives her his gun, she turns it on him and Columbus revealing that her and Little Rock were conning them. They take Tallahassee's car and all of their guns and supplies and leave.

Columbus and Tallahassee leave the grocery store and soon find a Hummer H2 loaded with automatic weapons, shotguns and loads of ammunition. They take the truck and go after Wichita and Little Rock hoping to get back their things. The two spot their stolen car broken down on the road but end up getting conned again by the two girls who this time take Columbus and Tallahassee prisoner. Tallahassee manages to grab his gun back from Little Rock and after an intense stand-off with Wichita, Columbus manages to convince the group that it would be better if they all worked together to survive.

Wichita and Little Rock are on their way to an amusement park in California called Pacific Playland. According to rumor, the place is supposed to be zombie free and safe to go to. During the drive, Wichita informs Columbus that Columbus, Ohio has been completely overrun and destroyed by zombies. Wichita sees that Columbus is upset and gives him a chance to leave and make his way to wherever he wants to go, but Columbus starts to fall for Wichita, essentially one of the last females on earth, and decides to stay with the group. As they make their way to Pacific Playland, the group decides to pass through Hollywood and look at the mansions of all the celebrities. Looking for a place to stay, Tallahassee takes the group to the mansion of his favorite actor, Bill Murray. While staying in the house, Tallahassee teaches Little Rock how to shoot better while Columbus and Wichita share a bottle of wine and begin to express feeling for one another. Realizing this, Wichita leaves with Little Rock for Pacific Playland, going back to their old way of not trusting anybody but each other as a means of survival.

Columbus, realizing he loves Wichita, decides to go after the two girls, convincing Tallahassee to go with him. When they arrive at the amusement park, Wichita and Little Rock turn on all the rides and lights which unintentionally attracts the attention of every nearby zombie. Wichita and Little Rock try to flee the park but have to jump out of their car which had been overrun by zombies. They make their way to a drop tower ride which temporarily keeps them out of harms way. Their ammunition is running low and zombies have begun climbing onto the ride. Columbus and Tallahassee and Columbus arrive and Tallahassee manages to lure almost all of the zombies towards him as Columbus goes after Wichita and Little Rock. As Columbus arrives at the drop tower he is faced with his worst fear of all time, a zombie clown. Realizing the sister's lives are at stake, Columbus overcomes his fears and kills the clown, saving Wichita and Little Rock. In the meantime, Tallahassee had locked himself in a small game booth and single-handedly taken out the remaining zombies.

After the battle, Tallahassee and Columbus scour a fried Twinkie stand for Tallahassee's last joy in life, a Twinkie. As the two scour the stand they hear a noise behind a door and the two blast the door to see two rats run out. While investigating the store room Tallahassee realizes that they had shot the last box of Twinkies and filled the treats with buck shots. Tallahassee grows furious and the two leave the store when Wichita and Little Rock drive up. Little Rock pops out of the car's sunroof and tosses a Twinkie at Tallahassee, who gets teary-eyed and smiles at Little Rock. After this. Columbus realizes that this is the only family he needs and the four leave Pacific Playland together.

If you know anything about me, you know that I absolutely love zombie movies, games and basically anything that has to do with zombies. So naturally, when I saw that a new zombie movie was coming out I was naturally excited. I have seen zombie movies take different paths over the years, some going for the traditional horror feel like George A Romero's Dawn of the Dead or by going the way of comedy zombie films like Edgar Wright's Shaun of the Dead. Making a good zombie movie, whether it be funny or scary, can be a tricky business. It is very hard to scare audiences today and it is equally hard to make them genuinely laugh with the film instead of at it. But Zombieland is one of those rare gems that is a truly unique and enjoyable film.

There were so many aspects of the film to enjoy that it is hard to begin. Probably one of the funniest things about the film was the list of survival rules created by the character of Columbus. It wasn't just the rules themselves that were funny, it was how they were incorporated into the movie. The rules were narrated by Columbus but also appeared in the background either on the ground or on the backs of truck beds etc... Along with the rules was the actual character of Columbus. Jesse Eisenberg did a fantastic job in the role. His character actually made you stop and think "how in the world did a kid like this survive?". And just when you start to wonder that, one of his survival rules, that actually makes sense, comes into play and shows you how he has survived. But I really liked the character of Columbus. I found him to be an unorthodox hero which was actually quite refreshing in the zombie apocalypse.

Then we come to Tallahassee. Tallahassee was, without a doubt, the key funny man in this movie. Woody Harrelson hasn't done a real big movie in a while and he definitely picked a good one to comeback with. This is probably his best work since Natural Born Killers. He was nearly flawless in his presentation and truly made a character that everybody will love. He was practically a mirror opposite of Columbus, which made their exploits together that much more funny. I loved his carefree attitude, like it was nothing that the world was overrun with flesh eating zombies. Wichita, played by the ever gorgeous Emma Stone, was a character I had trouble liking at first. It was definitely they way the character was written and not about the acting. Stone did a terrific job in her role as well. Her character, at first, was annoying and I actually hated her for what she did to Columbus and Tallahassee. But I grew more attached to her as the movie went on. The same goes for Little Rock, played by Abigail Breslin. She was the innocence of the film although she wasn't very innocent living in a zombie apocalypse. However, she did show how she has matured in her acting career from films like Signs and Raising Helen which she did at a much younger age.

The plot was interesting, although there wasn't much to it. Basically just a group of people doing their best to survive. But it was the little things that made the movie as good as it was. It is first and foremost a comedy but it did a nice job of adding in parts that startled you or made you jump a little bit. It was almost like the perfect blend. This movie could have gone the opposite way and been a complete disaster however it put all the right pieces into place and turned out to be one fantastic move. Seeing this will definitely be a very fun and enjoyable time at the cinema. The acting was fantastic, the plot was original and the movie was just overall a big, laugh out loud, gory funfest.

If you like comedies, zombies, action, gore, post-apocalyptic scenarios and just all around fun movies, then you can not go without seeing this film. It truly is one of the best films of the year so "its time to nut up or shut up" and go see this film. I give Zombieland 10 Epic Quests for Twinkies out of 10.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Halloween 2

Release Date: August 28th, 2009

Click here for the Halloween 2 Trailer.

Following the Halloween massacre in Haddonfield, Sheriff Brackett(Brad Dourif) finds Laurie Strode(Scout Taylor-Compton) walking down the street covered in blood and in a state of shock after having shot the crazed murderer Michael Myers(Tyler Mane). Sheriff Brackett takes Laurie to the hospital along with her friend Annie Brackett(Danielle Harris) and Dr. Loomis(Malcolm McDowell), both of which suffered terrible injuries from Michael. Michael's presumably dead body is loaded into a coroner's van and begins to be transported to a nearby morgue. While in transition, the van hits a cow, destroying the vehicle and waking up Michael, who escapes the van and kills one of the coroners. Michael then has a vision of his dead mother, Deborah Myers(Sheri Moon Zombie), who tells him that it is time to bring his sister home, and Michael sets out for Haddonfield.

While in the hospital, Laurie wakes up confused and goes to find Annie. A nurse finds her and leads her to her room. Laurie goes looking for the nurse later who comes out with a large cut in her face. Michael then appears behind her and brutally stabs her in the back multiple times before going after Laurie. Laurie attempts to escape the hospital, passing by the mass of bodies and blood Michael has left in his wake. Laurie makes her way to a guards station outside and hides only for Michael to find her and begin breaking down the walls with an ax. As Michael reaches out to grab Laurie, she abruptly wakes up, realizing that it was all a dream.

It is one year after the murders in Haddonfield and Laurie is living with Annie and her dad, Sheriff Brackett. Dr. Loomis, another survivor of the last year's events, has taken the tragedy of what Michael did and turned it into a book while going on tour to promote it. Michael's body has been missing since the night of the crash but is still presumed to be dead by everybody. Laurie hasn't been the same, attending therapy to deal with her nightmares and lack of sleep. As Michael makes his way back to her, Laurie begins having visions of Michael's murders, placing herself in his position and substituting his victims with close friends of her own. Aside from the murders, Laurie also begins having visions of Deborah Myers and a young Michael that mirror Michael's own visions.

While out touring his book, Dr. Loomis has been taking hits from the public who are accusing him of exploiting the deaths of all the people Michael killed and even going as far as blaming Loomis for their deaths. Upon release of his book, Laurie discovers a grim truth that she never knew before. Laurie finds out that she isn't actually Laurie Strode, but is instead Angel Myers, Michael Myers' younger sister. After finding out the truth about her past, Laurie decides that she wants to go to a party with her friends, Mya(Brea Grant) and Harley(Angela Trimbur), and get drunk to forget about what she just learned. While at the party, Michael shows up and finds Harley in the back of a van and kills her and the boy she was with. Michael then leaves and goes to Annie's house, killing the police officer out front and then finding Annie and brutally stabbing her multiple times.

Laurie then returns home to Annie's house with Mya. When the two go inside, they see the destruction in the house and rush upstairs to find Annie lying on the bathroom floor dying. Laurie tells Mya to go outside and call the police. As she does, Michael murders her and then heads upstairs to find Laurie. Laurie escapes Michael once again and flags down a passing motorist who stops to help her. In doing so Michael throws the man through the windshield of the car, killing him and then flips the car over, knocking Laurie unconscious. Sheriff Brackett hears about the call to the police from his house and rushes over there to find Mya and Annie both dead. He then gets a tip about a person seeing Michael carrying Laurie's unconscious body to an abandoned barn where he has been holding up.

Sheriff Brackett, along with the police force surround the barn and try to get Michael to give up. When nothing is working Dr. Loomis shows up and runs into the barn in hopes of convincing Michael to let Laurie go. Laurie believes that the younger Michael is holding her down when in reality there is nobody there. As Dr. Loomis tries to reason with Michael, Michael grabs Loomis and begins slashing his face and stabbing him in the chest repeatedly. As he steps in front of the window with Loomis' body in hand, Sheriff Brackett shoots Michael twice who falls over onto some old farming equipment impaling himself through the chest. Laurie, now released by her vision, crawls over to Michael and tells him she loves him before taking his knife and stabbing him multiple times in the chest and once in the face. Laurie then runs out of the barn wearing Michael's mask. The scene then transitions to Laurie sitting in a psychiatric ward, grinning at a vision of Deborah, dressed in white with a white horse, the same vision Michael used to have.

Where do you begin when a movie is as bad as this one? I'm all for doing a remake of a cult classic like Halloween but when you take pretty much everything that was good about the original and completely screw it up the tail pipe then we have a problem. Rob Zombie makes his 4th directorial debut with this sequel to his 2007 remake of Halloween. With a list of negatives as big as mine is for this movie, it's kind of hard to know where to begin.

My first problem with this movie was the depiction of Michael Myers himself. Tyler Mane reprises his role as the iconic killer and he definitely had the potential of being a truly epic Myers. Mane, who towers at 6ft 9in tall and weighs roughly 275lbs, was definitely an intimidating and and truly scary looking the first movie that is. The way he was portrayed in this film was less than stellar. First off, he forgoes the traditional blue jumpsuit, which became iconic in the original films, for an old, dirty jacket and hoodie combo. Mane was also seen sprouting a rather large viking-like beard which protruded from underneath his mask. The mask was another problem I had with the movie. In the originals, Myers never, under any circumstances, took off his mask. The whole concept of wondering what his face looked like was one of the key factors that made him terrifying. However, Zombie decided it would be a good idea to only have Myers putting on his mask when he was ready to kill somebody and then leaving it off the rest of the time. This completely ruins the effect of Michael Myers. By showing his face, though it is blurred by the massive beard, you humanize the character and thus, make him less terrifying.

There is also the fact that Michael Myers decided to make noises when he killed people. Aside from the mask, the other particularly scary thing about the character was his complete silence. No sounds were ever heard from him except for the occasional breathing. But alas, Zombie decided to change that aspect of Myers as well, having him grunt and growl while stabbing and murdering his victims. The silence was truly scary and the noises Zombie decided to have Myers make again, deterred away from the scariness of the character. And then there is the character of young Laurie Strode, played by Scout Taylor-Compton. In the first film, Laurie was this sweet, pretty, innocent girl who everybody liked. The kind of girl "you can bring home to mom". But Zombie decided to screw her up as well. In this film, Laurie changed from the good girl everybody loved to a grungy, punky, dread locked dirty-looking girl who was the complete opposite of everything she was in the first film. I can see where Zombie was trying to go, making her seem really messed up by the events, but it didn't seem to work.

Then there was the cursing. I don't care if a movie has cursing in it. I believe that in a lot of cases it actually sets the tone and is essentially to the overall feel. But there is, in any case, a line where it goes from sensible to just down right ridiculous and unnecessary and Zombie didn't just cross the line, he leaped over it in a fit of joy. One of the most prevalent scenes with over-used cursing was when the coroner's van hit the cow. The driver was killed instantly but the other man survived. He survived and then preceded to drop the "f-bomb" probably in excess of 40 times in a row with no other dialogue in between. The whole movie was filled with unnecessary cursing which made the experience feel stupid and childish.

As the list grows, another problem I had was the weird visions of his mother that Michael experienced. The visions seemed like they would best fit in some of the other Zombie flicks like House of 1000 Corpses or The Devil's Rejects. But in this movie they seemed very out of place and kind of dumb. There is also the fact that Laurie's character experienced some of the same visions. They just didn't fit in a Michael Myers film.

The gore was immense and the violence intense but neither were enough to save this film. It's surprising because Zombie's first remake of the original Halloween was truly a great movie. It was different but not to the extent of destroying everything that was great about the originals. This sequel seemed like it sought out to do just that, destroy everything we loved about Michael Myers. I would recommend you stay away from this movie. The only possible way I could justify spending money on this is if you got it from one of the Red Box things, at least then you only wasted a dollar on it. But this movie is bad. That is why it is getting the lowest rating I have ever given on Zack's Movie Reel.

I give Halloween 2 3 Crazy, Murdering Uncles out of 10.