Tag Archives: middle of the road

Vanishing on 7th Street

I had a strong desire to see this movie when it came out, but if I saw every movie I wanted to when it came out, I would be poor. Thank you, Netflix. Anways, Vanishing on 7th Street had its ups and downs for me as I was watching it. To classify it as a thriller over a horror movie would be accurate, as it didn’t have too many bumps or jumps.

Something’s wrong… is it my acting?

There is one scene that may frighten you (I was wearing headphones and sitting too close to my computer), but overall there really only is one. Supernaturally it’s interesting, but the plot left something to be desired.

Let me explain. When I watch a horror movie, by the end, 9 times out of 10, I want the horror to be delved into or explained. To leave it open ended leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I want the origin story of the evil force at least. Where did these beings come from? Why are they here? Why do they need to frighten and kill? What will they do?

Little Ani, you did your job.

This movie didn’t give any of that. In a series of postulations, Vanishing on 7th Street entered in with this ungodly being/s that took away probably 99% of the world’s population. Paul (John Leguizamo) is just chilling up in his projection room, minding his own business, with his head-lamp on. Everyone in the mall disappears and nobody knows why. Cue Chris Bosh the actor and the scariest moment in the film. We head over to Rosemary (Thandie Newton) and her search for her baby, Manny. Then hit up Luke (Hayden Christensen), the lead actor in this horror shin-dig and you have yourself 3 of the last 4 people remaining in… Detroit? I have no idea…

After three days of darkness and people being taken away, you already knew after the first scene that anyone with a

That rave was a bit too redonk…

portable light was going to survive. It was self evident. What you didn’t realize is how fast Hayden Christensen would adapt and become a hardened badass about the whole thing. None of them know what the hell is going on, but they will for damn sure survive longer than I’ve seen anyone in a supernatural thriller. Go get ’em.

The acting wasn’t bad overall. I usually rag on Hayden Christensen for his ruining Star Wars, but he did his job well in this one. He was the brutal survivor everyone needs on their team in this one, and rightly

Probably shouldn’t crouch by all that gas…

so. Thandie Newton was the beautifully tragic character that has to, of course, hold onto her religion in order to survive. (There’s always one in every bunch…) And then there’s John Leguizamo. He needs to stick to just doing Sid in Ice Age, because his acting wasn’t contributing anything in this live action. Jacob Latimore, he was a pretty damn good child actor in this one. Bravo.

So without much explanation of delving into the topic, Brad Anderson skirts around the issue that every horror film should explain/explore at the end. Sure everyone in a movie can die, but you have to then have some sort of closing argument for why it all happened. In the

That plane be tankin’.

world of Hollywood, people don’t feel comfortable with unexplained evil for evil’s sake. There has to be a motive, a reason. If all you can come up with is Roanoke Island, you are sorely mistaken. And Brad Andersen directed The Machinist for Sweet Baby Ray’s sake! A hit and a miss, this movie holds the middle of the road for all the promise it held, and not giving away anything in the end. 6.2 out of 10.

Advertisements

100 Feet

It’s not every day you see Famke Janssen under house arrest for killing her husband. And it’s not every day that you see a vindictive poltergeist wreaking havoc all over her life for killing him. In this version of what I would consider Jennifer Lopez’s “Enough” gone wrong, Famke Janssen is haunted by her husband she killed in self defense. There are some frightening scenes and I really enjoyed the way that the jumpy scenes are strewn throughout without warning, not just built up until the end. With a minimal cast and quality acting, this was a horror movie that was unfortunate that I hadn’t seen sooner.

Marnie Watson (Janssen) is a newly paroled felon who has just been released from prison and given house arrest in her house. This is the very house that she killed her husband in in self defense. A little twists is that her husband was a police officer, and the partner cop to the man who will stalkingly watch her for the rest of the film, Officer Shanks

Famke Janssen, terrorized all over again.

(Bobby Cannavale). I was semi-impressed with Cannavale’s performance in this film, only because it wasn’t a stretch for him to play a hardened Brooklyn cop. He’s a character actor and it’s all good.

So Famke’s ass gets locked up with a house arrest anklet that only allows her to go within a 100 foot radius in her own house. If she leaves the confines of the house, the alarm will set off and she has only seconds to return to the barrier. This is a problem because parts of her huge and nicely furnished house are off limits to her, including the basement. Plot device, anyone? So Marnie returns to a semi-life of normalcy and goes about buying groceries, cleaning house, ad finding anything she can do to keep busy.

The face of a wife beater…

It’s not any help that the entire neighborhood doesn’t believe that she fought in self defense to save herself. Looked down upon by everyone, only one delivery boy, Joey (Ed Westwick) finds no problem with her. Attempting to be her friend, Marnie copes with a life of solitude. Until her husband starts attacking her from beyond the grave. In a series of scenes that bust up her and her house, Marnie starts reliving all the horrible beatings her husband gave her in life. And this time around, Marnie has had enough of this poltergeist B.S. She’ll fight back at any cost necessary. Without being able to leave her house, this plot restricts her from running away. It’s time to kill again.

I really liked the simplistic plot of this film. It was a creative idea, although I’m not sure they would lock her up in the same house she killed in, as poetically justified it may seem. There are some great haunting scenes in the movie involving a lot of things breaking (including some bones). Ed Westwick plays a reasonably real character in this film, although he’s a straight tool for his work on Gossip Girl. I’d say this is one of his better works. Hauntings and devilish exorcisms and demons are more my style when it comes to horror, so this movie was right up my alley. There’s a great kill scene in the movie, and, although the CG effects in this movie are a bit Syfy channel middle of the road, it doesn’t detract from the whole overall

I know I’ve been stalking you for a while now, but did you know you look like that read headed wench from X-men?

experience of the movie. It’s brutal, and it does the job of performing as a threatening and horrifying film (didn’t scare me much, but all the same, the lights were on).

Most of the time, I’m a tool.

The one thing that will either disappoint you or make you laugh will be the end of the film. There’s some strange confrontation and a ridiculous explosion of an ending that would give Michael Bay a boner. It ruins the whole otherworldly feel of the movie and gives rise to a really dumb explanation of why he’s haunting her and how to stop him. Everything is resolved and, in a really sloppy style for a poltergeist, Shanks believes her and gives her the happy ending she wanted from the beginning. It just really comes down to the sub-par dialogue at the end and that explosion. I can’t get over how that ruined the movie.

But, from beginning to middle, this movie was well executed. It has the right amount of horror and plot, jumpy scenes and furthering events. Famke Janssen did her job (not as Phoenix from X-men, obviously) and gave the woman in peril role new meaning. She fought back with a butch attitude I wasn’t entirely expecting. She doesn’t frighten away like most women do in films and really sticks it to her husband in the film. There’s a real in your face attitude about this horror movie and that made it a breath of fresh air. It’s only the ending that takes down the rating. I’ll give this little horror film a 6.2 out of 10.

Janssen won’t back down easily.


Jet Li’s Fearless

In what was meant to be Jet Li’s last Wushu epic, Jet Li busts out all the big guns for this film. Although he has made other films that feature his style of martial arts, it goes without saying that movies like The Warlords, The Forbidden Kingdom, and the Expendables (soon to be followed by a second) aren’t exactly focused around Li’s stunt action coordination or anything of the sort. I would argue that War, the movie with Jason Statham that followed this film, was a bit focused on Li’s destructive power of those around him, although the movie questions his identity. In either case, it wasn’t meant to be Jet Li’s last film, just his last display of his martial art’s competence.

In this film, based loosely on Huo Yuanija’s life as a martial artist, this movie follows Jet Li as Huo and his fights to bring back honor and national pride to a broken country. With the Western imperialism and Japanese pressure, Huo fights those foreign invaders in symbolic battles that show off the strength of pride that the Chinese people hold. If it came down to Jet Li’s acting to represent honor for China in this film, it may not hold as much meaning. I was just a bit thrown off by Jet Li’s acting in this movie. It seemed forced and comical at times, but it didn’t matter when he closed his mouth and pounced on some ass with his destructive moves.

Jet Li at his finest.

The movie starts off at a martial arts display tournament in which Huo must defeat 4 competitors from 4 different countries. Using weapons and hand-to-hand combat, Huo fights back the attackers in order to defend his country. Before the fourth battle commences, a flashback to Huo’s life before takes place. For 2/3’s of the movie. Huo remembers when he was a child, being instructed by his father Huo Endi (Colin Chou) and how honorable he was. His father would take him downtown to the battles that took place in raised rings between fighters in the town. In this particular fight, Huo’s father is defeated and Huo finds his resolve to never be fearful and always to win and gain honor.

You’ve impressed me.

This mentality almost becomes Huo’s downfall when he won’t allow the attacking of one of his disciples to be delegated in a civil, non-violent manner. Quin Lei (Chen Zhihui) the rival martial arts master defies Huo and his newly found hubris and fights to the death versus him. With his ruthless manner, something not encouraged by his father, Huo kills Lei and retreats into the countryside to really reevaluate just what it means to participate in martial arts. (I left something out there, watch to find out.) Learning mercy and the righteous path, Huo finds himself in a position to fight for the honor of China.

This film has a lot of moving parts that really present a historical piece that is actually one of my favorite genres. Huo is a real person, and these events of his life weave a very compelling story. The fact that he fights for the honor of China at the end is a stab at those countries that would dare impose themselves on others, as the fights suggest. The tribute at the end to the dojos that are dedicated to Huo and his principles is a nice ending for the film and the events that

Some of my favorite weapons fighting.

transpire.

The fight scenes in this movie are really what stand out though. The rings that these men fight in are very stylistically stunning. Especially the fight between Huo and the man who beat his father’s son, is ridonkulous. The poles and camera angles that effortlessly flow through the fight scene really caught me by surprise. I always knew that Jet Li was a phenomenal fighter and stunt actor, but this movie really pulled out all the stops. His penchant for stunts and choreography, especially the weapon related fights show a lot of discipline and knowledge that I admire. Not being a martial arts expert myself, I’ve seen enough martial arts and have read up enough about it to know Jet Li has got his shit in order.

This big white dude shows up far too often in martial arts films…

The success this film had and the amount of good reviews it is given are just, but I felt, as some others have, that the film had its down moments that kinda left it at middle of the road. Yes, it didn’t have the acting oomph that would’ve elevated it to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, but it was well above some of the straight to DVD martial arts films that’re out there. The story itself is inspiring and films like this are what make me wanna be a director. I’d equate it to a Cinderella Man type of film with the action and drama equalling each other out.

I am now psyched to hear that there are two other versions of the film, two of them depicting a more developed love/rejuvenation plot with Michelle Yeoh and a THAI BOXING SCENE. I wish they had included that in the theatrical version. My favorite form of fighting is Thai Boxing/Muay-Thai fighting. It’s one of the only forms that could take out Jet Li and I guess that’s why they were afraid to include it. I would still love to see a fight between Tony Jaa and Jet Li. Hell, Tony Jaa and anyone. Other than getting a bit of a boner over these martial arts masters, I thought this movie was very positively geared towards the Chinese community that Jet Li and director Ronny Yu were representing. It’s a great

Thank you Jet Li and Ronny Yu, for making a movie China can be proud of.

message to all those action stars from non-Asian countries. Back the hell off, we have pride, and that pride will stomp all over you. That message and this film deserves a 8.1 out of 10.