The Last House on the Left (2009)
The Last House on the Left is a remake of Wes Craven’s directorial debut from 1972. 17-year-old Mari takes a trip with her parents to their family’s home in the mountains. During their first day there, Mari takes the family car to go into town to meet up with her friend Paige. One thing leads to another and the two girls end up being kidnapped, raped, and brutally tortured by a family of psychopaths running from the law. When a torrential rainstorm sweeps over the mountains, the psychotic family takes shelter from a couple who lets them in out of the storm. However, the unsuspecting crazy family does not realize that the couple who just gave them shelter is actual Mari’s parents.
The film would have been a pretty decent thriller if the director, Dennis Illiadis, had not stupidly and tactlessly made the rape and murder scene as gratuitous as he did. At one point during the scene I turned to my friend and told him, “This is not a movie and this is not filmmaking.” What I meant was that the direction of this 30-minute scene took no talent and no creativity whatsoever. The scene reminded me of the end of last year’s The Strangers. If you go back and read my review for that film you will see that I say the same thing about that film that I am saying about this one. Sorry for preaching but that way I see it, this world has enough brutality and sick people in it that we, as an audience, do not need to be reminded of the sick things that people do to each other in this world.
Horror movies like last month’s Friday the 13th are different and are nowhere near as unnecessarily voyeuristic as Last House or The Strangers. I know that many people love horror movies to be as realistic as possible these days but there is a line that cannot and should not be crossed. The Last House on the Left becomes all too real when the young girls are raped, stabbed, and shot. I have a strong stomach but I had to cover my eyes because it just became ridiculous. It may as well have been a snuff film.
Putting that long second act aside, the rest of the movie was pretty exciting. It was filled with mystery and awesome retribution from Mari’s father when he finds out he is harboring the very people who attacked his daughter. As was the case with The Strangers, I would give this movie a much better rating if it had not been as overly gratuitous as it was. The cast is subpar, the screenplay is subpar, and really there is nothing much about the movie I can applaud besides a scene when Mari’s father kills one of the bad guys. I give The Last House on the Left a C-.
Law Abiding Citizen
Law Abiding Citizen stars Gerard Butler as Clyde Shelton, a loving father whose wife and young daughter are murdered by two men. One of the murderers, Darby, gets a reduced sentence when he agrees to testify against his accomplice. Fast-forward ten years to when Darby is out of jail. Shelton is still pissed about his family’s murderer getting only a few years in prison and is equally mad at the lawyer (Jamie Foxx) who got Darby the reduced sentence. For the rest of the movie Shelton terrorizes the city of Chicago by exacting his revenge on Darby and the lawyers who let Darby off easy.
One of the most unique aspects was the number of ways Shelton got his revenge. He systematically murdered each person using intricate and extremely brutal tactics. The best part of the movie was the story and its edge-of-your-seat suspense. Personally, from scene to scene, I couldn’t wait to see what happened next. The film’s screenwriter, Kurt Wimmer, did a beautiful job keeping the audience’s feelings for Shelton in check. Half the time the audience is rooting for Jamie Foxx’s lawyer character to catch Shelton but the other half of the time the audience feels for Shelton and understands why he would want to get revenge for the murders of family members.
Considering Gerard Butler’s last couple performances have been forgettable and the fact that Jamie Foxx really hasn’t done much lately, the acting in this movie is actually quite good. Gerard Butler is a popular guy at the moment but if he keeps popping out mediocre movies like The Ugly Truth and Gamer at such a fast pace he may be in danger of overexposure. I give Law Abiding Citizen a B.
Live Free or Die Hard
“Yipee Ki Yay Mother…” what do you mean I can’t say f**ker? What idiot decided to make part 4 of one of the coolest action franchises ever PG-13? No worries, at least we still get to see John McClane blow stuff up one more time.
Of course, the “coolest action franchise” I am referring to is the Die Hard franchise. Live Free or Die Hard is the fourth film of the Die Hard movies. As awesomely spectacular as this fourth film was, it didn’t really feel like it fit with the other three movies. It was just as good as the previous three, it was just different. There are several reasons for this.
First off, it has been 12 years since Bruce Willis’ iconic rogue character, John McClane, has graced the big screen. Bruce Willis was 40 years old when he starred in Die Hard with a Vengeance (1995). Even then that is still pushing the envelope to be a big budget, high octane action star. So to see him come out 12 years later when he is 52 (!) and make a fourth film, is just crazy. Alas, even after being well over the hill (he hit that point when he made Vengeance), he was able to show the world that he can still kick bad guy butt!
The other factor that makes this Die Hard film different from the others is the fact that it is PG-13. Unfortunately, this made it virtually impossible for McClane to deliver the famous line that he gives in every one of the previous R-rated Die Hard films. However, this seems to be the only aspect of the film that was affected by the new rating. Don’t worry, there is still plenty of McClane’s other signature: blowing stuff up and killing dozens of bad guys single-handedly.
Lastly, and possibly the biggest difference, is the head terrorist. The script for Live Free or Die Hard was being written and rewritten for years. Die hard Die Hard fans (hahaha) will remember that the main terrorist in the first three films was from a foreign country. In Live Free or Die Hard, however, the terrorist was American born. The key reason for this is because of one singular event that has happened since the last Die Hard film: 9/11. After 9/11, the filmmakers knew that they had to change to script.
I know that normally I give a lengthy synopsis of the film but there really is not any reason to do that with this film. I you a going to see this movie mainly for the story then there is something seriously wrong with you. If you really need me to explain the story to you here it is: our hero John McClane is back in Washington, D.C. and, what a surprise, he blows stuff up and kills the bad guys in awesome, creative ways. I give Live Free or Die Hard an A-. “Yippee Ki Yay!”
The Love Guru
I was afraid this would happen. I had a hunch that not only was this not going to be a good movie but that it was going to make diddlysquat at the box office. The movie itself was pretty darn disappointing as well. Honestly, I attribute all of this solely to Mike Myers’ sense of humor. Maybe a little bit of it to the storyline.
In The Love Guru, Mike Myers plays, well, a love guru named Pitka who all his life has been competing with a fellow love guru to be the #1 guru in the world. Not surprisingly, Pitka is now middle-aged who is still #2. One day, his agent (I didn’t know Indian gurus had agents) informs Pitka that he could get a slot as a guest on Oprah if he can get superstar hockey player, Darren Roanoke, back together with his wife in time for his team to win the Stanley Cup. Normally, I would give a long, detailed synopsis of the film but The Love Guru is a pretty straight forward film.
The Love Guru pretty much tries to do for love gurus what Austin Powers did for international spies. The only difference was that the Austin Powers films were fresh and original. The humor used in those films clearly did not hold up in The Love Guru. Even Verne Troyer (who played Mini Me in the Austin Powers series) is in this film was the bitter coach of the hockey team. No offense Verne, but you were much funnier when your only line was “eeeeeeeeeee!” as you hung from the rafters in Dr. Evil’s lair. The always captivating Jessica Alba stars as the owner of the hockey team who Pitka falls in love with. Unfortunately, even Alba’s beauty couldn’t save her in this movie. Shockingly, my favorite parts of the film were the ones with former N Syncer, Justin Timberlake. He plays for the rival hockey team and is the man who Roanoke’s wife gets with after she leaves her husband. I couldn’t stop laughing during a scene when Timberlake is dancing hilariously at a Celine Dion concert.
I could say that I was upset or surprised by the way this film turned out but honestly, I’m really not. Personally, I think this movie just proves one of two things: that Mike Myers’ humor is outdated or that he has just been out of the spotlight for so long that audiences have moved on to other comedians like Steve Carell and Seth Rogen. The only movies that Myers has been in over the past six years are the Shrek movies. This means that the last time Mike Myers actually showed his face on the big screen was in Austin Powers in Goldmember way back in 2002. I am 23 years old so I grew up enjoying Myers’ films. But what about the younger generation and the teenagers who were only 7 years old when the film Austin Powers was released in 97 and Wayne’s World in 92 when an 18 year old today would have only been 2 years old! Basically, I am saying that Myers’ humor seems to have only been effective with audiences who grew up watching him in the 90s.
The Love Guru was released the same day that Get Smart, starring Steve Carell, was released. That weekend, my friend and I debated over who we thought would be the bigger box office draw, Myers or Carell. At weekend’s end, Carell and the cast of Get Smart had blown Myers out of the water.
Sorry, Mike, but you might be done. I give The Love Guru a D.