Archive for the Horror Category

Gantz movie review

Posted in 3.5 Stars, Foreign, Horror, Japan, New Movie, Review, Sci-Fi with tags , , , , , , , on January 23, 2011 by russellsreviews

After the successful live-action adaptations of Death Note, Detroit Metal City, and 20th Century Boys its becoming more common for Japanese film studios to take a chance on a mature manga/anime series. Gantz is the newest one by creator Hiroya Oku. However, Gantz is a much different beast than all the others before it. Its not that the manga isn’t as deep, but it goes to some very dark and intense places for it’s characters. Does the Gantz movie pull any punches or stay true and risk loosing a broader audience?

Kei is a underachieving teenager simply waiting for his train to arrive. A drunken man stumbles and falls on the tracks and everyone, including Kei, just stares and being curious to see what happens next. The only person who decides to help turns out to be Kei’s childhood friend, Kato. With the pressure of seeing his friend, Kei drops down to help raise the drunken man back on the platform only for them to be ones crushed by the oncoming train. Kei and Kato immediately find themselves with other killed strangers in a small locked white apartment with a giant black ball in the center room. Are they really dead? Where are they? How did they get there? More importantly why are they there?

That’s as far as I want to go as a set up, because the main draw of the series for me is seeing these mysteries played out and never know whats going to happen next to the characters. From the very first time I watch the anime of Gantz I felt that the story could translate very well to the big screen and would no doubt blow the sci-fi genre craze wide open if the the action was done well. The only problem is the original Gantz goes to some disturbing limits. This will ultimately be the deciding factor if you will enjoy the film or not if your a fan. To be honest there were parts of Gantz that went to far in my opinion. I know the main character did some really nasty immature stuff and part of showing all that sex and violence was for you to see how far Kei grows as a human being, but it was borderline too far  sometimes and crossed over to being simply there for shock value and to get the very same people Kei is growing out of to watch the show. The Gantz movie rolled back the unnecessary sex and made Kei into much more likable guy from the start. Gantz might have pulled back a little too much in some areas that hurt it from being near perfect, but in this reviewer mind it also helped making it a more balanced movie. If you were one of the fans of the Gantz manga that liked it only for how messed it up it got sometimes you will feel jipped. Fans should not worry about the action side of the film. All scenes are very close to the original and are surprisingly good.

For those that know nothing of Gantz are in for a real treat. You have a lot of the fat trimmed out for a more streamlined version and are in for something totally fresh and interesting. A fair warning though. The version shown in American theaters is dubbed and dubbed very bad in some emotional scenes that did twist some powerful scenes into unintentionally funny ones. Some fans will predictably cry foul, but a lot will walk away feeling pretty satisfied and will be excited to see what the sequel might bring.



Drag me to Hell Review

Posted in 3.5 Stars, Horror, New Movie, Review, Uncategorized on June 12, 2009 by russellsreviews

First let me say that I’m a huge Sam Raimi fan. I loved all of his movies and would consider him one of my favorite directors. He can work in any work in genre and takes it to the next level. Sam also has been responsible for some of the best sequels ever made in Evil Dead 2, Army of Darkness,  and of course Spider-man 2. Way before he starting doing higher budget flicks he made a living with very low budget horror film series called Evil Dead. It took Sam 17 years, but finally he takes another shot at horror with Drag me to Hell. Knowing that just like those films Sam Raimi and his brother Ivan wrote and directed Drag me to Hell, needless to say I had high hopes and expectations for this film. So can he deliver on the same level as Evil Dead after all these years?

grave pic

Christine is a loan officer with opportunity for promotion for in her bank, but her manager thinks she is weak and unable of making tough choices. When a old gyspy lady Mrs. Ganush asks for an extension for her mortgage for a third time Christine sees this has her chance to prove herself and denies her. Only Christine picked the wrong person to show a backbone too. Ganush then gruesomely attacks her in the parking lot and curses her to damnation. Anyway, the plot in horror movies have never been their strong point, they simply rely on cheap thrills and scary jumps. That’s really what makes Sam Raimi horror movies stand out. He is so self aware of this he never really takes his horror too seriously. He makes these movies almost in way that its making fun of itself enough to be smart and campy, but yet not too much to be a comedy or loose its shock value. Sam shows this also by showing the old universal logo at the beginning of the film almost saying yeah you know whats coming.

Unfortunately, Drag me to Hell doesn’t do this as well as his previous films. It still has style and the camera turning and zooms that you love as a Raimi fan, but it looks like maybe Raimi is a tad rusty. The freights are good, but it feels like maybe Raimi was holding back a little of the craziness or camp to fit the PG-13 rating. This all could come down to why you like horror movies to begin with. Sam Raimi’s scary movies are scary and creepy, but didn’t resort to the old something behind you bang! play loud music then throw in gore. His horror is loony, crazy, and if it has gore its so over the top its funny. Their so weird in a cool way even though you might dislike horror you enjoy them anyway for other reasons. You finally see a lot of this in later part of the film, but since the movie is only about 90 mins. long you wish you had a little more of it. Some of lines from Christine are something Ash from Evil Dead might have even said. For most of the other parts of the film its just a better than run of the mill horror films you can see anytime.

Under any other director Drag me to Hell probably would have been average, but only through the style and dark humor is worth seeing. If you go see it with your expectations a little lowered I have no doubt you will enjoy it. Even though the film didn’t live up to the hype, its still a good film. It’s not a slasher flick or like any of those nasty gore fests most horror movies are nowadays that I hate. The biggest praise Drag me to Hell has is that its a horror movie thats more classic and fun than whats been out in years. I won’t say welcome back to horror that most critics say about Raimi, because I think he is extremely talented visionary and hope he doesn’t get trapped in one genre. Now lets hope Sam Raimi’s next horror film is Evil Dead 4.