I never thought I would see the day when a remake ends up being as entertaining and well-made as the original. Especially when it’s a remake of such a classic as John Carpenter’s 1978 Halloween. For the last few years there had be much speculation as to what the next Michael Myers flick would be about. There were rumors swirling that it was just going to be another sequel (part 9 to be exact). Other buzz said he was going to be solely prequel. They had already decided on a title for a prequel, Halloween: The Missing Years. There was so much hype surrounding the next Halloween film that even JFK director, Oliver Stone, was attached to direct at one point. Bottom line, no one really knew what the next film was going to be about but one thing was certain, there was going to be another Halloween film.
Fast-forward to rocker/director Rob Zombie taking the helm of the newest installment of the Halloween franchise. Actually, franchise isn’t really the correct word. Reinvention is more appropriate. Zombie decided he didn’t want to be known as the guy that directed Halloween 9. He’d always been a fan of the original but he always wanted to know more about how and why Michael Myers became the notorious serial killer everyone came to know as “The Shape.” Sure the 1978 original is a classic but the great thing about this remake was that Rob Zombie wanted the audience to feel like this was more than just another mindless slasher flick.
For those of you who have no idea what Halloween is or who Michael Myers is (or maybe you are just too scared to see any of the first eight films), here’s the scope. Michael Myers became known to world as one of the most horrific and prolific silver screen serial killers when he murdered his sister on Halloween night when he was just 10 years old. He was sent to an asylum but on Halloween night 15 years later he broke out to finish the job on his other sister he had left alive. For the next seven Halloween films, he spends Michael Myers spent his time getting stabbed, burned, shot, and decapitated all while still managing to stay alive to kill for another year.
Rob Zombie felt like this idea had been played out long ago but he wanted to bring Myers back to the big screen. How does he do it? He takes on the enormously demanding job of remaking the original classic. The interesting thing that Zombie does is break the film down into two segments. The first half of the film is really a prequel why the second half is a remake. However, the one main thing he does differently with this updated version of Halloween is take the first half of the film to show how Michael Myers became a demented killer. In fact, the audience doesn’t even see Myers as an adult until well into the movie. The first half of the film surrounds Michael as a 10 year old boy going though the hardships of school bullies and family abuse. The original film barely touches on the night that he kills his sister. This Halloween, Zombie takes the audience though a step by step gorefest of what really happened that infamous night. Fast-forward to the future when he breaks out of the asylum and begins his killing spree in search of his baby sister he had left alive 15 years earlier.
Halloween’s cast is bland and extremely forgettable. The one character that really stands out the most, however, is Michael Myers himself. In all the previous Halloweens Michael Myers was portrayed as just a mindless, heartless killing machine. Zombie didn’t like that so he decided to hire a real actor to portray Myers instead of the just another stunt double that had played him in the past. Since everyone knows that Michael Myers never speaks a single word, Zombie wanted someone to play the part that could portray all of Myers’ thought and emotion through movement and gesture. Michael Myers is played by Tyler Mane. You might remember him as Sabretooth from X-Men.
The one other thing made Rob Zombie’s version of Halloween was his decision to keep most of the original music in the film, even the haunting opening theme. I give Halloween an A.
Halloween II (2009)
Halloween II is the tenth movie in the Halloween series but is the second one created by shock rocker turned filmmaker, Rob Zombie. The horror franchise tells the story of Michael Myers. As a child Myers murdered his sister and then spent the next fifteen years locked away in a mental institution. Then on Halloween night, he broke out and headed for his old home town, Haddonfield, Illinois, to find his sister he left all those many years before. Along the way, he went on a murderous rampage.
The original Halloween from 1978 was perfect and will always remain a classic of the horror genre. Unfortunately, the film spawned several sequels ranging from mediocre (Halloween: H20) to downright awful (Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers). It wasn’t until 2007 that Rob Zombie, director of such cult favorites as The Devil’s Rejects, decided to create a half remake, half prequel of the ‘78 original. Fans viewed this updated version as a great installment, or at least compared to the numerous sequels. Personally, I thought it was the best Halloween since the original.
After Zombie’s Halloween remake broke all previous Labor Day weekend box office records, he now is back with another near perfect installment. Halloween II picks up exactly where the first one left off. Laurie Strode, Myers’ sister is taken to the hospital after battling her brother. At the end of the first Halloween, audiences were lead to believe that the never-dying Myers had finally been beaten but as we find out in this movie, he has once again survived to kill another day. For the duration of the movie, Michael is once again deadest on creating a family reunion while killing everyone who stands in his way.
The beauty of this movie is that it is not just another typical Halloween movie where Michael Myers goes around killing people while the lead actress runs away screaming. In Halloween II, Rob Zombie does a great job delving into the minds of both Michael Myers and Laurie Strode. Throughout the movie, Michael has visions of his deceased mother and a younger version of himself telling him he must bring Laurie “home” so they can be a family again. All the while, audiences a given a disturbing look into Laurie’s mind and how the previous Halloween’s events psychologically screwed her up. Not many, if any, horror movie sequels show the damaging effects a killer can have on his survivors. This movie shows those effects not only in Laurie but also her friend Annie Brackett, who barely survived the first film. The first movie, both girls were carefree and just living the lives of normal teenagers. After Michael’s night of terror, these girls are anything but carefree.
One of the most important aspects of a slasher movie is the killer’s costume. After the original Halloween in 1978, Michael Myers always looked tame. Sometimes, he even looked as though he had taken his jumpsuit to the drycleaners. In some of them, it even looked as though he had combed the hair on his mask. That is definitely not the case in Rob Zombie’s Halloween 1 or 2. The mask is ripped the shreds and the hair tasseled and mangled. Including the original Halloween and Rob Zombie’s remake, Halloween II definitely has the scariest Michael Myers to date.
Unfortunately, much to the dismay of this writer, Rob Zombie has already vowed not to do a third Halloween film. However, Dimension Films is now developing Halloween 3D, but without Rob Zombie. Considering how superb Rob Zombie’s Halloween movies are, I find it hard to believe even 3D can top what Zombie has accomplished. Many people will say that Halloween II is a horrendous movie and it is just terrible for our society. The thing to remember is that Rob Zombie made this movie for people who actually want to be scared and mortified. That is the whole reason for seeing a Halloween movie. Halloween II does not try to be anything else than what it set out to be, which is a great horror movie. I give Halloween II an A.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
There is no denying Harry Potter and his friend are getting too old for their roles. The one good thing about them getting older is that the three main actors, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint, have each improved their acting abilities immensely, well maybe not Daniel Radcliffe.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince begins by sending our young heroes, once again, back to Hogwarts. Not long after returning to Hogwarts School Harry finds a book whose previous owner was someone named The Half-Blood Prince. As Harry searches to find out who the Half-Blood Prince was, he also learns more about Voldemort.
As was the case with the previous five films, the computer graphics are as superb as anything I have seen before and with each film comes better, newer technology and ways to make things look and feel as real as possible. Another note about the look of the film is how dark it is. I have only ever read the second and third Harry Potter books but from what I can tell, it seems as though each film keeps getting darker and darker. This was most likely done purposefully since the first two films portrayed Harry, Hermione, and Ron as young, innocent children attending a magical school with not a care in the world. As the series went on, more bad guys were introduced and Harry Potter became increasingly more conflicted with each new and tough decision he had to make.
The acting in HP6 is definitely better. However, as I said earlier, Daniel Radcliffe still has not quite learned how to act believably. Throughout the 2½ hour movie many moments arise that require emotional, believable acting. While Watson and Grint are able to successfully portray their characters, Radcliffe, as usual, falls short. Some of my favorite scenes, though, were that ones that included Professor Severus Snape (Alan Rickman) and Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter). They provided just the right amount of evil qualities to be hated but entertaining enough to keep the audience liking them to adequately justify giving them lots of screen time.
While I cannot speak about how closely the movie followed the book, I can say that the movie includes enough stuff to make sure people like me who have never read the book will be able to follow along with the story. Honestly, I was not really a fan of the last three Potter films but this one was actually very well done. It is by far the darkest and slowest but that is because it takes a newer approach to the series by pushing the action out of the way to make room for more of the actual story. I give Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince a solid B.
The Heartbreak Kid (2007)
Well, maybe Ben Stiller is done. I thought his comedic ability and love of laughter may have been diminishing over the past few years. After seeing The Heartbreak Kid I think I may have been, unfortunately, spot on. Ben Stiller’s last film, Night at the Museum, was entertaining but it nowhere near lived up to the standard that Stiller had set with many of his past films. His latest film is no exception. The Heartbreak Kid was entertaining but not even close to being as outrageously hilarious as Stiller’s older films such as Zoolander and Meet the Parents.
The Heartbreak Kid is a remake of the 1972 film with the same title starring Charles Grodin and Cybill Shepherd. This 2007 remake stars Ben Stiller as Eddie Cantrow, a 40 year old man who has never been married and is now feeling the pressure to find a wife ASAP. One day, he meets the beautiful blonde, Lila, played by Malin Akerman. You might remember her as the gorgeous naked blonde who tries to seduce Harold and Kumar in Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle. After a brief courtship, Eddie decides that Lila is the perfect woman and the two of them get married. However, once on their honeymoon in Cabo, things begin to go horribly wrong. As luck would have it, Lila is nothing like the perfect woman that Eddie thought she was. Eddie ends up meeting another woman while on his honeymoon who he ends up falling in love with. Obviously, chaos and hilarity ensues.
Like I said, The Heartbreak Kid is entertaining but it had the potential to be so much better for a number of reasons. In addition to Ben Stiller’s comedic talent not being what it used to be, the whole concept of the film seemed to be played out long ago: Boy meets girl, boys falls in love with girl, boy realizes he loves someone else instead (or visa-versa with the girl being the one falling in and out of love).
One of the biggest problems I had with the film was the constant, unnecessary vulgarity. Unless making a gangster movie or something along those lines, I have never understood why Hollywood finds in essential to include mindless vulgarity into a film every few minutes. When I refer vulgarity, I don’t just mean using nasty language. I am also referring to the unnecessary addition of nudity to films that would be just as entertaining and effective without it. Just so I am clear, I don’t mid curse words or nudity (especially when it is someone as attractive as Malin Akerman). It’s just when it is overused or thrown into the film needlessly that irks me. Besides all of this, I am sure Hollywood knows that if they left out all the needless vulgarity and nudity than they could make their films more accessible to a wider audience and therefore would make much more money.
Bottom-line is, The Heartbreak Kid was plenty enjoyable but it didn’t utilize all the elements to create an even better film. The Heartbreak Kid doesn’t warrant anything better than a C+.
He's Just Not That Into You
He’s Just Not That Into You is based upon the book by Greg Behrendt. It tells the story of a number of different couples who are, in one way or another, connected. In the film, Oscar-winner Jennifer Connelly is married to Bradley Cooper. Their marriage is on the rocks and Cooper only makes the situation worse by reluctantly having an affair with Scarlett Johansson. Johansson, however, has an admirer, Kevin Connelly (“Entourage”) whom she unknowingly strings along mercilessly. Kevin Connelly tries to forget about her by going out on a blind date with Ginnifer Goodwin. Goodwin is the most distressed of them all because she begins stalking Connelly after just the one date. However, he did not seem the see the sparks she did because, everybody now, “He’s just not that into her!” So, looking for advice, Goodwin turns to Connelly’s friend, Justin Long, for guidance. Also, somehow a long-term relationship between Jennifer Aniston and Ben Affleck comes into play.
Confused? I was too. Throughout this unnecessarily long movie I had to keep reminding myself who was dating who, what guy was sleeping with which girl, and what guy was making which girl cry (this time). Honestly, it seemed as though most of the actors were not fully invested in the film. More often than not, during a big emotional scene, the performances would fall short of believable. In fact, the best performances of the movie came from those who are not big name stars. Bradley Cooper, Ginnifer Goodwin, and Kevin Connelly all gave fairly decent performances.
The one big star in the movie whose acting I did admire was Ben Affleck’s (go figure). In the movie, Affleck plays Aniston’s boyfriend of seven years. However, the couple has one major dilemma. Aniston wants to get married but Affleck does not. He loves Aniston as much as is humanly possible but he just sees society’s obsession with marriage as pointless and overrated. Affleck does a great job showing how much he truly loves Aniston while still letting her know he does not feel they ever need to get married.
Perhaps one of the reasons why I, personally, was not fully impressed by the film was because of the casting of certain actors. Justin Long (Dodgeball, Live Free or Die Hard) has really taken off and started making a name for himself over the past few years but I cannot help but worry that although he is semi-popular now, he is going to start getting on people’s nerves very soon. I enjoyed his acting the first few times I saw him but now it seems as though he may be well on his way to quickly wearing out his welcome in Hollywood. The same thing goes for Scarlett Johansson. The only difference is, she is already a step ahead of Justin Long. With Justin Long, I still enjoy watching him act but I anticipate bad feelings toward him in the near future. With Scarlett Johansson, I am already bored with her. I did not fully realize it until this movie but Johansson, seriously, is kind of a bad actress. I realize now that the only reason she has even made it this far is because of her good looks. I am sorry to say it, but Scarlett, you and Justin Long need to stop right now.
The movie tries to be clever but it just never quite reaches that point. The whole 129-minute movie strings you along to a mediocre ending. From what I have been told, the book on which this movie is based is pretty funny and gives useful dating advice. Unfortunately, the movie is neither funny nor useful. I give He’s Just Not That Into You a C+.
For those who have already seen Hollywoodland would probably agree with me when I say that if Adrien Brody doesn’t get an Oscar nomination for Best Actor this year then I don’t know who will. On the other hand, it is still to earlier to make any concrete predictions considering that the fall and earlier winter season is known as the season that brings Oscar hopefuls.
Hollywoodland tries to unravel the famous death of the man who played Superman on television from 1952-58, George Reeves. The film shows George Reeves’ (Ben Affleck) rise and fall from stardom, how the burden of playing such an iconic superhero tarnished his future chances of ever being a real actor, and of course, the mysterious death that followed a career that merely had him appealing to little children. The lead character of the film, however, isn’t George Reeves. Rather, it is a private detective, Louis Simo (Adrien Brody), who drives the movie. He is hired by the mother of George Reeves who asks him to reopen the case on her son. The LAPD had closed the case after ruling it a suicide. Reeves’ mother thought differently.
One of the downsides to the film is that there is no resolve with regards to Mr. Reeves’ death. But of course there couldn’t be could there? To this day, his death still remains a subject of interest within the Hollywood community. First time feature length director, Allen Coulter, portrays the events of the night of his death like Oliver Stone did with JFK. Just as in JFK, Hollywoodland goes over the different possibilities of what could have happened that night and the different conspiracies that could have plagued Reeves’ life.
The absolute greatest strength of the film was not the story, setting, or costumes but it was the acting the kept me drawn into the film. Ben Affleck was, well, same old Ben Affleck. He contributed no new acting traits to the role of George Reeves. Diane Lane is always showing her talent of being a great performer so there was nothing new there. The aspect of the film that stood out the most in my mind was realizing just how much Adrien Brody has grown as an actor. Who knew that the quirky baseball player from Angels in the Outfield would one day beat out such seasoned veterans such as Michael Caine, Nicolas Cage, Daniel Day-Lewis, and even Jack Nicholson for an Academy Award? To me, this performance by Adrien Brody as Louis Simo was quite possibly better than his already exquisite performance in The Pianist, the film that earned him his Oscar.
Bottom line is, this was a descent film. If you have any interest in the story of George Reeves or just old age Hollywood, I would recommend this film. If you are looking for a typical mystery that actually has a resolution, I would recommend something else. I give Hollywoodland a C.