Thursday, May 20, 2010

Movie Reviews: Cirque Du Freak & Survival of the Dead

In addition to the Saturday night triple-feature, I enjoyed a few other movies with Mrs. Troublemaker over the course of my vacation. Here are some quick thoughts on two of them:

Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant

I liked this movie quite a lot. John C. Reilly needs to get away from playing retards for a while, because he was very good in this and I would love to see him playing more varied characters. Reilly’s chemistry with Willem Dafoe’s character is just great. I could have watched those two interact for hours. The only person in the whole movie who wasn’t great was the main character, which is unfortunate but doesn’t kill the movie.

Cirque is a visually striking movie. Everything is extremely vibrant and detailed. It is very Burton-esque without seeming like another rip-off.

This is just a fun movie that feels very different from all of the other young adult-oriented movies that have come out. I love the Harry Potter franchise, but attempts at cloning it tend to fail miserably. Cirque is something very different and original. Sadly, the film didn’t perform very well at the box office and received mixed reviews at best, so it is doubtful we’ll ever see the story completed on the silver screen.

I recommend the movie. I enjoyed it, even though it did drag in a couple of places; and it made me curious to read the books it is based upon. I also really want to watch Shadow of the Vampire again.

3 out of 5 Horrifyingly Large Spiders

George Romero’s Survival of the Dead

Well this movie was just fucking stupid.

Night of the Living Dead is obviously wonderful and a classic. Dawn of the Dead is easily my favorite of Romero’s zombie flicks. Day of the Dead is boring as fuck but not offensively bad – you can still make your way through it every couple of years. Land of the Dead was okay but not great. What blemished that one was the asinine pro-zombie message that started at the end of Night and kind of flourished throughout Day. That bit at the end where one of the main characters exchanges loving glances with the black guy zombie is one of the most retarded things I have ever seen in a movie.

I thoroughly enjoyed Diary of the Dead. It felt like a return to hardcore zombie action and had very little of the “Zombies are people, too!” nonsense.

Survival of the Dead starts off with promise. We are introduced to a crazy old Scot who supports the outlandish notion that all zombies must die. He is in the process of trying to rid his once peaceful island of the undead when another crazy old Scot shows up and stops him. You see, Crazy Old Scot #2 believes zombies should be loved and cared for and taught peace and blah, blah, blah. Also, he first believes they can be cured (which is fucking retarded because they are dead, not sick) and then believes they can be trained for jobs; like delivering the mail and picking fucking tomatoes (which does not even require an explanation of how it is retarded). It’s utterly ridiculous bullshit. The thing is, Romero sort of presents it as such; which gave me some hope for the future of the Dead franchise. Crazy Old Scot #1’s daughter keeps Crazy Old Scot #2 from killing her father and we move right along.

Our next set of morally ambiguous characters are the renegade National Guard douchebags that robbed the kids’ RV in Diary of the Dead. The only real issue initially was that the lead actor looked like Paul Blackthorne, which left me spending the whole movie wishing he was Paul Blackthorne. The lead is accompanied by three other characters of varying degrees of douchiness, one of whom is a LESBIAN! We know this thanks to a very classy scene where she is masturbating in front of two of the guys in the unit and declines their assistance.

Just one instance of this movie’s level of stupid comes when LATINO Guardsperson is swimming to a ferry. There are zombies underwater, reaching for him and eventually impeding his progress. It is made clear that they are standing on the bottom. Despite having what has been explicitly established as no more than eight feet of water, our heroes depart on the ferry. Later, as they approach the island that the bulk of the film takes place on, they have to stop nearly a mile from the shore because the water is too shallow for the ferry.


So anyway, after LESBIAN Guardsperson finishes herself off, our heroes end up meeting Crazy Old Scot #1. Another subtle clue to LESBIAN Guardsperson’s sexual preference is when, upon discovering Crazy Old Scot #1 has a daughter, she remarks lasciviously that she’d like to meet her.

Eventually Crazy Old Scot #2 decides that he cannot cure or train the undead, so he wants to try and change their diet. Again, this is blatantly asinine.

One thing I will give Survival of the Dead credit for is looking like a real movie. While the contents may have been pure SyFy, the presentation was very professional. There was one glaring instance of amateur weirdness, though. During Crazy Old Scot #2’s Important Monologue, Romero uses this wide shot where you can’t quite tell that he’s actually talking. As a matter of fact, it almost looks like a still shot. It is very strange and it actually happens twice.

I’m not going to go any further into Survival of the Dead because I just don’t want to. Kind of like Iron Man 2, you’re going to see this movie if you want to, regardless of my opinion. It isn’t horrible – there is plenty of gory zombie goodness; it’s just a stupid movie with stupid characters. By the end of the flick Romero appears to have returned to the side of the zombie lovers, which is just dumb.

2 out of 5 Extremely Tall Underwater Zombies

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