WWW: Weekend Wrental Wreviews 36

Let's see what I saw this week for Weekend Wrental Wreviews in my 36th WWW:

1) Dragonball: Evolution:
I honestly don't know why I rented this movie. I was never a fan of the cartoons it was based upon, and only had a cursory knowledge of what it was all about. There are these orbs, and these people with spiky black hair that turns blonde when they power up from the orbs, going into something called a “Super Saiiyan” mode. And that was more or less the extent of my knowledge of the Dragonball franchise, beyond the names of a few characters. I'd occasionally catch the end credits of one of the cartoons, which was just the main guy Goku jogging on the back of a dragon. All in all, I probably didn't have enough knowledge of the story to see how badly the film screwed things up, and yet for a long hour and twenty-four minutes I couldn't escape the sense that they had everything wrong. The acting was terrible. The kid playing Goku, an Asian character, was caucasian(although his grandfather was Asian, as was the baby that played his character in a flashback). One character inexplicably turns out to be a were-ape that terrorized the world 2,000 years before he was born. A bike folds up and fits in a girl's back pocket. The story appears to take place in Asia but the kid goes to an American high school. Drawing blood allows one character to change her appearance to look like another. Absolutely nothing made sense. The story was very simplified and probably aimed at a younger audience, and I couldn't fathom what an actor of Chow Yun-Fat's caliber was doing here. I think they were all trying to act like they were in the cartoon, but animé doesn't translate well to live action. I had heard the movie was bad, so I have no one to blame but myself. I was hoping James Marsters might be good, but he was so unrecognizable in green alien make-up that anyone could have filled the role. He kind of reminded me of Frank Langella as Skeletor in that awful Masters of the Universe film. So there's a fair comparison, even though MOTU at least is entertainingly bad enough to attain a cult status on par with Flash Gordon. I don't see that happening with this Dragonball movie. Ever. Sometimes, I wonder if I rent bad movies because they're so easy to review. There must be some explanation...

2) Jennifer's Body:
Horror fans should absolutely love this film, and as desensitized as I've become to some things, even I got squeamish at a few scenes. Megan Fox basically plays a shallow, materialistic version of herself as a slutty cheerleader, while Amanda Seyfried plays her unlikely bookish friend. They were childhood friends, and despite becoming very different people socially by high school, “sandbox love never dies”, according to Seyfried's character. But then something happens, which I won't spoil here, that causes Megan Fox's titular character to get possessed by a demon, that can only sustain itself by consuming human flesh. She's the perfect predator really, as no teenage boy can resist being lured somewhere alone by someone that looks like Megan Fox, only to be devoured moments later when she sprouts razor sharp teeth. Seyfried, whom I'd never seen before this film, shines as the awkward but sweet, intellectual heroine figuring out that there's something very, very wrong with her best friend. Fox delivers some very funny lines and unique colloquialisms, thanks to the inimitable style of writer Diablo Cody. Adam Brody does a great job as the amoral leader of an emo band willing to make an offering to Satan in exchange for wealth and fame. It's a great metaphor for the changes we go through in high school, and how the bonds of friendship might change when we transition from the people we were to the people we're going to be. The film maintains a good balance between teen comedy and horror, and might become the Heathers of its generation. It has a very dark ending, that is somehow a feel-good ending as well, which is hard to explain. I had a sinister smile on my face as the ideal song rolled over the end credits, especially when a few more artistic scenes of vengeful justice appeared. This film won't be for everyone. Cody's Juno fans might not get past the gore, and gore fans might not get past the teen angst and emotional components of the film. Those who like both though, will find the film to be great.

3) Orphan:
“There's something wrong with Esther.” I thought I knew what to expect going in to this film. I had been underwhelmed by The Omen, and I wasn't in the mood for yet another evil demon child movie. Vera Farmiga and Peter Sarsgaard play young parents who have been through a terrible loss. They have two children, a healthy boy and a younger daughter who is healthy other than being mostly deaf. A third died in the womb, and nightmares still plague Farmiga's character, who also struggles with alcoholism. They decide to adopt another child, and welcome a precocious Russian girl into their hearts and homes. Isabelle Fuhrman does a phenomenal job in the role of Esther, pulling off some subtleties in her performance that make the twist at the end that much more satisfying and awesome. Once I figured out where this movie was going, I was glued to the screen to see how it would play out. Farmiga and Sarsgaard have great chemistry and a few steamy scenes, and the other young actors playing their kids do a great job as well. They react very realistically to the things Esther says and does, and find themselves in situations children wouldn't know how to handle. I recommend seeing this film without reading too much about it. All I really knew going in was that there was some kind of twist, and my own preconceptions from the trailer, which turned out to be very wrong. The root of true horror is psychological, and this one is all about ****ing with people's minds.

More reviews to follow next week after I've spun a few more discs!



Blogger b13 said...

Just saw Jennifer's Body and thought it was a cool flick.

Orphan was a total mind-f***. I figured it out about halfway through though.

No interest in DBZ :(

3/28/2010 9:58 PM  

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