“Cowboys & Aliens” As Simple As It Sounds

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 30, 2011 by flicksmix

Cowboys & Aliens. A genre mash-up nod to the good old fashioned Western and the futuristic Science Fiction.  Unfortunately the film is about as exciting as its title.  It’s neither catchy nor clever, but it is straightforward and simple. Cowboys & Aliens is okay.

THE GOOD STUFF

SUPPORTING CHARACTERS

Sam Rockwell, Adam Beach, and the ever-incredible Clancy Brown all stood out in their respective roles as Doc, Nat Colorado, and Meacham.  The film is full of flat characters, but these three have some life to them.

Doc doesn’t have the stoicism the other male characters do, making him much easier to identify with. He also gets props and sympathy early on for being the only one to defend himself against the town brat, and paying for it in humiliation.  Of all the characters in this film, Doc is the only one I cared enough about to root for.  His few seconds on camera immediately after the final fight were superb.

Nat is just a good guy. He’s been working hard for and honoring Woodrow Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford) his entire life, with no real gratitude or recognition. When that acknowledgment from Dolarhyde finally came, it mattered to me and I was glad for Nat.

Meacham was simply the most interesting character here.  Maybe I haven’t seen enough Westerns, but a man of the cloth preaching reason more often than religion, stitching wounds, and teaching a man how to fire a gun, was unexpected and fun.  Clancy Brown had all the best lines in the film and delivered them excellently.

MUSIC

It’s not my favorite; I’m not going to go out and buy the soundtrack or anything. It just suits the film well.  There’s cowboy music for the cowboys, alien music for the aliens, and a good mix of the two that I enjoyed during the final fight between the two.  The best part was that throughout the film none of it was too obtrusive.  I had to remind myself to listen to it rather than just take it in as part of the experience.  I appreciate that.

LANDSCAPE

I’ve never been one of those people who find the desert beautiful.  It’s dry, it’s mostly flat, it’s hot, and the colors are bland.  Nevertheless, they captured it well with all its subtleties and nuances.  One of the most memorable desert images comes near the beginning of the second act, as the hero Jake (Daniel Craig) rides along in a gorgeous sunrise.

ALIENS

I haven’t read the comic, but I expect credit for the alien design belongs there.  Either way, these creatures are very real and scary looking.  I wouldn’t want to meet one.  The look of alien species has always been a major factor in whether or not I like a Sci-Fi flick, and these don’t disappoint. They’re gross and slimy and huge and creepy and just humanoid enough to be fightable.

THE NOT-SO-GOOD STUFF

LEAD CHARACTERS

In a word, flat.  I understand that making a Western requires some tough, stoic, hard-faced characters, but there needs to be something beyond that to get an audience to engage with them.  By the time any of the leads show any emotion or heart, it’s too late – our opportunity to identify is long past.  Not that it matters much, since none of the leads really show any emotion at all.  Subtlety is one thing, but these characters aren’t subtle, they’re distant.

TOO MANY HANDS

Take a moment to look at the number of writers and producers involved in this flick. Too many.  This film feels like the poster child for what happens when you have so many minds working on one project: the life gets written and produced right out of it.

Those are really the only major gripes I have.  I am inclined to say too much simplicity was a problem as well, but I think that’s primarily because of the lack of interesting main characters and the dead feel of the film in general.  Anything else that sagged was a derivative of those core issues.  Outside of that I’d actually say the simplicity of the title, settings, action, characters, etc. suits the Western genre well – simpler feel for what we consider simpler times (sans aliens).

VERDICT: LIVE WITH IT

If this review is feeling a little lifeless to you, you’re not alone.  You may get the same feeling when you watch it.  If you’re looking for great cinema, don’t look here.  If you just want to see what happens when cowboys, outlaws, and Native Americans go up against aliens, this’ll do.

FAVORITE LINE:

“Don’t yank on it, it ain’t your pecker.” Meacham, when teaching Doc how to shoot.

FAVORITE IMAGE:

In the middle of the desert in the pouring rain, outside a small town full of shattered and withered dreams, is an upside down and broken white paddle-wheel boat bearing the name “Amazing Grace.”

Directed by Jon Favreau, written and produced by too many people to name.

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Jackie Earle Haley Returns to Film

Posted in Movies with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 30, 2010 by flicksmix

Found out earlier today that Jackie Earle Haley is returning to film in “Dance of the Mirlitons” as a “subtly sadistic Russian ballet instructor of the highest order.”  Sounds amusing, and like something that could showcase his talents in a fun way.
Very happy to see him returning to the film world. I realize he just recently had a (sadly) limited turn on the big screen with “Louis” in August, but since that was actually shot several years ago this will be his first new film project since “A Nightmare on Elm Street.”
Welcome back, Mr. Haley! Very much looking forward to this film.
Haley can currently be seen on Fox‘s Human Target airing Wednesday nights.

Buffy Reborn

Posted in Movies, TV shows with tags , , , , , , , on November 29, 2010 by flicksmix

So it’s been announced that a new Buffy the Vampire Slayer is in the works.  Not so fast.  Despite the jumping for joy most Buffy fans wanted to do when they heard (myself included), this is unfortunately not a film version of the oh-so-popular, influential, smart, funny, action-packed show that helped evolve television series’ into the more respectable and thoughtful pieces of entertainment they’ve come to be sometimes.

Nope.  Instead, we the audience will apparently be getting a new and refreshed take on the story of the original BtVS movie.Not so much interested in the jumping up and down for joy anymore, are ya?  Of course you might be thinking, “hey, that’s okay, as long as Joss Whedon is doing it it’ll be great!”  Think again.  No Joss Whedon this time around.I think the above is about the same look I got on my face when I found all this out.

But you know what?  Then I let it go.  Yes, there’s a lot about this that makes me want to cry “shenanigans!”  On the other hand, the only movie I’d want to see that’s based off the television series would be a continuation of the show, which Joss is/was doing in comic form.  (Sorry to the major fans; I don’t know if past or present tense is appropriate because I can’t do comic books.  Watchmen was the only one I ever got through, and that’s, well, Watchmen.)  As far as I’m concerned, a continuation would mean the same characters played by the same actors, with the same creator at the helm.  Take away any of those elements and that’s just sacrilege, so in that respect Warner Bros. is doing it right by taking it back to the beginning and re-imagining, rebooting, whatever.

Also, though the fan in me would still like to see Joss doing this movie,  he already made Buffy the awesomeness that she was in TV form.  A true re-imagining of the story would probably need a new imagination to create it.  One could argue that he was able to make two totally different Buffy’s between the original film and series, but let’s not kid ourselves: the original Buffy movie was taken too much out of Joss’ hands for we plebeians to know how much that Buffy matched TV Buffy.  And frankly I’m satisfied and pleased with the TV Buffy as she was.  I’d rather watch the show over and over again (which I do)  than see Joss take a potential step backwards by starting the whole thing over in film form.

I don’t condone the fact that Warner Bros. is doing this movie.  It hasn’t even been a full twenty years since the original movie came out, and since it didn’t do very well this whole thing rings of little more than a desire to cash in on the recent resurgence of vampirephilia (sarcastic thank you to the Twilight series).  Nonetheless, if they’re going to do it, I think I’d rather see something brand new that we can try to sink our teeth into, and that’s what they’re doing.  Truthfully I don’t care whether it does well or not.  I’m just glad that since they’re not bringing TV Buffy back to life, they’re giving her a totally new one.

Would be nice if they’d at least gotten the Whedon stamp of approval, though.  He is the expert and the genius behind it all.  But as he said, no legal grounds for him to do anything about it.  I agree that Buffy needs a reboot just about as much as Batman does. 😉  Actually, seeing Batman in his creative hands is something I’d certainly pay money for…

RED Gets my Green

Posted in Movies with tags , , , , , , , , on November 27, 2010 by flicksmix

The situation in my household is probably like many others, at least with regard to one thing: money. There’s not a lot of it left over after rent, miscellaneous bills, gas, food, etc.

Unfortunately, the lack of money means I don’t frequent the movie theater. I love it, truly, but it’s just so darn expensive. Thankfully I have been going more often the last two years or so. In the theater recently-ish I’ve seen Watchmen, Zombieland, Avatar, Shutter Island, Inception, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1. All good stuff. Really, if I’m going full disclosure then I’ve also seen the latest Resident Evil, but let’s just move right along…

The point is my Pop came to visit a few weeks ago, and being the very loving and generous man that he is, he took me to the movies (Yay!!!). What did we see? You guessed it: RED.

What does RED stand for?

Retired Extremely Dangerous.

They’re so not kidding.

WHAT KICKED THE MOST @$$

First, oh, three minutes of the film

I knew nothing, NOTHING, about this movie when my Pop selected it, but I kid you not, the opening shot of this film had me thinking “this could be pretty good.” The music, the framing, the set design, the character’s face all flow to create a mood that I can see and feel easily.

The next shot shows more character movement and more set design/props, and now I’m thinking “I’m gonna like this.”

The third shot shows just a little bit more – stairs, he’s walking down them, interior decoration the same, music lighthearted…and there it is! Without a word of dialog I know everything I need to know at this point: this man is alone, he’s pleasant, he’s straightforward, he’s kinda boxed in and bored, and it’s going to be funny because the music and his movements say so.

And that’s when my film-trained brain shut off and I sat back to enjoy the ride, because right then I’m thinking “I’m gonna love this!” And I totally did.

Acting/Characters

With only one exception (Wilkes), I was sold on every character in this film. Not in a serious, this-is-reality-on-screen kind of way, but they were all convincing within the story world. Marvin (John Malkovich) is a joy to watch with his cute pink stuffed pig and paranoia.

Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker) is how I imagine any lonely, quirky, chill dreamer who wants some major excitement would be – well okay, not really, but it works for me. Besides, it plays really well with Frank (Bruce Willis), who is as quiet and loveable as he is useful with a vacuum or a gun (or just bullets and a frying pan, or a grenade, or fisticuffs, or…).

Helen Mirren is stately and refined and she kills people, Dear, and Morgan Freeman does just like Morgan Freeman does, and…

I could go on. But I won’t. Better to see the film.

Transitions

What I mean by transitions are the movements of the main characters from place to place. The film lets me know where they are because it plasters a huge fake postcard on screen with the location’s name on it (New York, New Orleans, New Hampshire…just kidding, not New Hampshire). Besides letting me know where the characters are in a fun way, this is also great because it clearly signals that the flick is not taking itself too seriously. It always takes some guts to break suspension of disbelief like that in a film when you really need to be involved with the characters. To do so usually means either brilliance or idiocy. This one’s brilliance.

Music

A lot of the music included in this film is very apparent. You hear it come on, you hear it the whole time it plays, and you hear it turn off. Under most circumstances, it drives me nuts when a film’s musical soundtrack draws attention to itself like that. I much prefer it to be a bit more subtle – to more clearly support and enhance what’s on screen, rather than seeming to compete with it. In RED, however, I thought it appropriate. Not only does it maintain the attitude of not taking the film too seriously, but in a lot of cases the song selections are amusingly fitting.

My favorite here is the inclusion of the Meters’ “Cissy Strut.” Its appropriately placed for what’s going on in the film in general, but where it really makes me love it is when the music stops, and Victoria (Mirren) gives her pseudonym as “Mrs. Brown.” This is awesome because the first time I ever heard “Cissy Strut” was when it was featured in Quentin Tarantino’s film entitled – what else? – Jackie Brown. Was this a nod to Tarantino and/or miss Jackie? Couldn’t say, but nonetheless, this little bit was just fun.

Dialog

In most of the movies I’ve seen where you’ve got some seriously bad@$$ government agents, the dialog tends toward the serious, heavy, dramatic. Not always or even often the case in RED; the dialog is very light and amusing and, well, young. There’s a sort of stereotype that more ‘mature’ adults are a bit serious, stuffy, and dry, but RED exploits that stereotype with great humor by making its characters the opposite. In a lot of ways they remind of teenagers or young adults, which is fun to see in a group of highly skilled and dangerous retirees.

Family Dynamic

This team of retired elite agents has a strong family-type bond. The film demonstrates very well why it is that none of them has an actual family, but it also shows that in place of it they formed their own sort of family unit instead. It’s both a little funny and sweet that they all have Frank’s back in his quest for romance, considering that they’re in the midst of trying to save their lives. This family unit may be a bit unorthodox and dysfunctional, but it’s sincere and trusting, and probably as close as any of these characters dared to get to another person.

This film is a hands-down LOVE IT

There are four members in my immediate family, plus my husband makes five. We are all of different tastes, so finding a film that we all enjoy is nigh-impossible. But RED did it.

As mentioned, I don’t really go to the theater all that often, because of the cost. But for RED, I went once with my Pop, once with my husband, and once with my sister. My Pop even saw it a second time when he took my Mom to see it. It’s almost unheard of that my Mom would go to the theater, and it’s even harder to believe that she would enjoy the experience, but enjoy it she did.

For those that like numbers, that’s a total of eight tickets purchased among five people to see this movie at the movies. That comes out to $80+, total enjoyment every time, no regrets.

RED got my GREEN, and it was worth every penny and every minute.

I know the timing on this post totally sucks because RED isn’t showing anymore. Currently the projected DVD release in the US is 01/25/2011. Two months. Worth the wait.

RED was skillfully directed by Robert Schwentke.

A Nightmare on Elm Street: Playing Devil’s Advocate (sort of)

Posted in Movies with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 29, 2010 by flicksmix

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2010

Theatrical release 4/30/10, DVD release 10/5/10

In honor of Halloween, the clear place to start is with the new Nightmare on Elm Street, out on DVD this month. It stars Jackie Earle Haley (if you don’t know who he is, you’re missing out so go look him up) as Freddy, and Rooney Mara (Lisbeth Salander in the forthcoming Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) as Nancy. Directed by Samuel Bayer.

It’s safe to say that, critically speaking, almost nobody likes this movie – and it’s possible I’m being overly kind by throwing that “almost” in there. However, it’s important to note that critics have a general distaste for the genre, so the fact that they don’t like it is neither surprising nor terribly relevant if you’re a fan.

But then, even most of the blogs and online chatter from fans is vehemently negative and a bit dismissive.  So I’m going to play Devil’s Advocate by treating this film like it deserves some respect and thoughtful attention.  Because it does.  Any film that generates as much passionate noise as this one has earned at least that.

So who should consider watching this movie in the first place? There are a few groups: open-minded Freddy/NOES fans, slasher fans, horror fans, JEH fans, folks curious about Rooney Mara or Kyle Gallner, die hard cinephiles who watch everything, and sadists. If you don’t fall into one (preferably at least two) of these categories, it’s probably not for you. And please note that I said open-minded fans, because that’s imperative. If you’re one of those people uber dedicated to Wes Craven’s version, or can’t see anyone besides Robert Englund as Freddy, don’t do it. The two pieces are like night and day (or dream and nightmare).  There’s no shame in your love for what came first, so stick with the classic and skip the reboot. Also, the Twilight obsessed can pass; almost all of Kellan Lutz’s few moments on screen are in the trailers. But you’ll probably watch it anyway, because that’s how you roll. More power to you for your dedication.

Below I’ve gone through the parts of the film that stood out to me, for better or worse. If you don’t want detail, just read the list. If you like a little detail, click on the topic and read as much or little as you want.

LIKED

Opening credits

Overall Look

Subtle homage to horror

Music

Subtle homage to original NOES

Dream sequences

Darker tone

New Freddy

Makeup

DIDN’T LIKE

Truth “revealed”

One-liners

Cheesy slasher gore

Characters (Freddy aside)

Backstory as monologue

UNDECIDED ABOUT

Blatant “homage”

Freddy burning scene

Unburned Freddy

Mind function after murder

IMPORTANT TO NOTE

Scary? Not really, but creepy and squirmy, particularly the dialog between Freddy and Nancy. There are some jumpy moments, and some suspense while waiting for Freddy’s inevitable appearance in a dream.

T&A? No

Sex? Strong sexual content, but no sex

FINAL THOUGHTS

It feels like there are two different films in this reboot, neither one complete. Despite some of its debatable content in the first two acts, I was really along for the ride, pretty impressed overall, and excited for the climax. Then when I got to act three it just felt like the whole thing fell apart, as if I was watching something completely different.

This film had some really great potential, and there are elements of it that I applaud. I get the distinct sense that the parties involved in the film’s creation had a vision and passion for the project, and I always love that. Unfortunately I also suspect that some of that vision and passion got compromised and over-thought, and what was left is more than a little lacking. They clearly worked hard to maintain parts of the Nightmare on Elm Street and Freddy I knew and loved, yet put equal and opposing effort into making them new. If they had picked one or the other, they probably would have found more people willing to embrace this reboot. Instead, they alienated everyone. The viewers who wanted to see a serious Freddy got a serious let-down right when it mattered most, and the viewers who wanted the campy Freddy were strung along for over an hour before he showed up – and were probably still disappointed, because I have to say that aspect is better suited to Englund’s Freddy.

I understand that Jackie Earle Haley and Rooney Mara are already signed up for more of these, if they’re produced. I’m all for that, but here’s my two cents:

  1. Stick with the serious, and throw out the jokes. As mentioned, the funny Freddy is still effective; it’s the scary Freddy that needs life.
  2. Keep to the horror, ditch the typical slasher fare. If watching the third act of this film has taught me anything, it’s that “serious” and “slasher” do not go together.

VERDICT: LIVE WITH IT

The potential this film showed saved it from a “Lament It,” and the things it did well deserve much more than a “Leave It.”

If you’re in one of those viewer categories listed and you’re curious, go ahead and take a stab at it (yuck, yuck, yuck).   Realistically, if you’re curious at all I’d say give it a try no matter what your tastes, ’cause if you’re curious, there’s something about it that seems appealing.  I suggest going in with intent to appreciate certain aspects of the film, rather than to enjoy it as a whole. It’s probably best to borrow it from a friend or Netflix it – I think for most people this is a film to watch once for the experience, not to have around for multiple viewings.  Then of course there are people like me who have seen it four times and counting.

Dream well.

FAVORITES

Line

“You smell different.” – Freddy Krueger

Character

Do you really have to ask? Freddy, of course!

Scene

Snow dream

Image

Micro-nap transition from drugstore to boiler room

LEAST FAVORITES

Line

Sadly, a lot to choose from here, but ultimately a tie between “why don’t we hang out?” and “how’s this for a wet dream?” – Freddy Krueger

Character

Kris’ mom

Scene

Kris and her mom in the dining room. The dialog is painful, the acting unconvincing, and chemistry between the actors is completely absent. Thankfully it’s a short exchange.

Image

Pulling scissors out of eyeball. Well done, I must admit, but as mentioned it feels like that style of gore is incongruous with the rest of the film.

Thanks for reading!

LIKED

Opening credits

Exquisite! One of the best parts of the whole film; it’s a story in itself. Bayer makes fantastic use of his music video background here. Very visually interesting, a good presentation of the film’s mood, beautifully shot and edited, the music is perfect – it all works to set the tone very well, and even has flickers of meaning. This is poetry.

Overall Look

No matter how debatable the content may be, this film is rich to look at. The set designs are intricate and distinct, the shadows are used to great effect, and almost every shot is beautiful. I’d almost call it criminal that not a single review I’ve read even mentions this.

Subtle homage to horror

I revel in the way it conjures images from some other horror films, intentionally or not.

The young version of Kris looks more than a little Carol Anne in Poltergeist.

Kris’ attic, with its windows and wooden interior, is vaguely reminiscent of the upstairs room with the windows (eyes?) in The Amityville Horror.

Quentin’s first dream starts with an image of a leafless tree on the horizon, much like the tree in The Ring.

And last but not least, as Quentin and Nancy are driving along and Freddy runs them off the road, the surroundings brought to mind the party scene in a cornfield from none other than Freddy vs. Jason.


Music

The score is ominous, creepy, appropriately dark, and powerful. On occasion it uses the same music as from the original, but it’s certainly a new interpretation. Overall it’s a little like the music from The Dark Knight, which is also wonderful. It can be somewhat repetitive when listening to it as an album, but well done nonetheless. It does a good job at enhancing certain scenes without being too overt or distracting.

I love the choice to add in “All I Have To Do Is Dream,” performed by the Everly Brothers. It plays during the film, and the end credits. On both occasions it is expertly timed and totally made me chuckle.

Subtle homage to original NOES

The music, as mentioned briefly above, does an excellent job of showing reverence to the original while taking on new life for the reboot.

Visually, there are two nods in the third act that I enjoyed:

1) In the original, as Nancy runs upstairs she finds her progress hampered as her feet get stuck in some sludgy gooey stuff. In this film, she is running down the hall and ends up plunging into a pool of blood instead. Altered presentation of the same idea, and that’s what I enjoy about it.

2) Just a few beats later in the new film, the same pool of blood rushes through Nancy’s bedroom ceiling, and she falls out onto her bed. This is kind of a flip-flop of Johnny Depp’s death scene in the original – the bed opens up and he is sucked inside, then the pool of blood comes rushing out onto the ceiling. This is a great, creative way of tapping into the original but maintaining attention on the new. Well done.


Dream sequences

General consensus seems to be that Bayer should have done more to explore the dreamscape. Forget that noise; I don’t agree in the least that the arguably ordinary nature of the dreams is due to a lack of creativity or vision. In fact, quite the opposite, I suspect this is a very careful and guided choice.

One of the major fear factors Bayer tries to utilize is the uncertainty of whether or not a character is dreaming; they don’t know, and sometimes I don’t either. Occasionally I realize a character is dreaming at the same time he/she does, and that’s just cool. It would be lost if the dreams started out too sensationally.

Also, it’s arguably more true to the story to keep the scope of the dreams limited to the characters’ past and present surroundings. Freddy asserts that it is their memories that fuel him, so it makes sense that he would keep the locations/occurrences specific and clear enough to bring those memories out. He’s fueling the memories that in turn fuel him. The dream world is his; he makes it what he chooses to serve his purpose. Going outside of their experiences would not serve his purpose.

The only down side here is that while they tell me through dialog that the memories give him power, they don’t show me. One would think his strength would grow as the teens remember more and more, but it doesn’t. In that regard, nothing really changes, so this assertion is not demonstrated. Still, a good idea.

Darker tone

Taking this story back to its darker and more serious roots was a good call. If I want a campy Freddy to laugh at, and with, the previous films still take care of that effectively. I agree with filmmakers and cast members that the original NOES was of a more serious tone than the rest, but because it’s rather dated now it doesn’t have the same impact. This film updates the scarier version of Freddy, which I loved, and presents it for a newer viewing generation, which a remake should always do.

My only gripe here is that things seem to get lightened quite a bit in the third act, where the traditional Freddy one-liners and slasher gore come out with force. That feels like a full 180 degrees from the first three quarters of the film. Until then, the darker tone suits the story well.

New Freddy

Hand-in-hand with the darker film tone comes slashing a darker and creepier Freddy. He’s always been a sadistic bastard, but here they (mostly) trade out the campy jokester for a depraved and vicious predator. This Freddy is not about fun. He’s about pleasure. He finds torturing and mangling his victims sickeningly stimulating. His movements, vocal inflections and paralanguage, timing, and sexual nature work well with the serious tone to give this Freddy a chilling new edge.

Makeup

I am one of those that thinks the makeup for Freddy’s face is excellent. There is a lot of debate online over this, and I would find that surprising except I know there’s nothing everyone will ever agree on (not even taxes).

The primary complaints are that it looks too plastic, and that it seems to inhibit any emotional expression. As far as the plastic look goes, I guess I can see how one might make that argument, but I’m not convinced. All I’ve read, almost from day one, is how hard they worked to ground Freddy’s new face in reality. Having never seen an actual burn victim, and not having the heart to look for images, I accept (with admitted ignorance) that they were successful. It looks convincing enough for me.

Regarding the impression that there is too much makeup to allow Freddy any facial expression, I flatly disagree. I have a hunch that people are mistaking a lack of emotion with a lack of being able to see Freddy’s face clearly. It is certainly true that the makeup obscures many of the facial features we rely on to interpret expression, but I think that’s a direct result of the intent to make him look like a genuine burn victim. Combine that lack of facial definition, then, with the fact that Freddy keeps to the shadows in most of the film, and it might be easy to walk away thinking there was no emotion. However, in my viewings I saw anger, rage, surprise, cruelty, intent, and even pleasure. Those are just what I remember off the top of my head, and that’s a commendable range for an actor whose entire head is enclosed in prosthetics.

I also appreciate the more typical makeup in this film. I primarily note the makeup on Kris at the funeral – she has been crying, and the eyeliner is running. Though this seems a little odd, because any female knows to wear waterproof if she’s going to a funeral (or watching Steel Magnolias), it’s still pretty cool that they attempted to bring such reality to it.

Likewise, Gwen (Nancy’s mother) looks very natural.

The teens even look appropriately exhausted and messed up for their circumstances. Yes, for the most part they look very emo, but they also act that way, so at least there’s some consistency.

DIDN’T LIKE


Truth “revealed”

In Freddy’s burning scene/dream, the still-alive Krueger screams his innocence of any crime to the mob of parents outside. His sincere protests and extreme fear allowed me a flicker of identification, and contemplation of his innocence, just as he suffers his horrible fate. This is compounded by the discovery moments later that the parents torched him with no real proof of his alleged crimes. So did he do it, or not?

Though my mind did entertain the notion of Fred Krueger’s innocence, it only did so to justify sympathizing with his character. Freddy’s behavior towards the teens has already implied his guilt by this point. Thus, when the truth comes out in the “magic cave,” it is merely a confirmation of what I already knew. Unfortunately the scene plays like it’s supposed to be a reveal, which is not only tedious for the time it takes, but also makes me feel like my intelligence as an audience member has been insulted.

Moreover, while Freddy’s guilt is merely a confirmation for me, it’s more like news for Nancy. This is a major emotional turning point, and I should be on this ride with her right now. I’m not. Instead, I’m busy berating myself for ever even considering that Freddy might be innocent, and dealing with the sick feeling in my stomach because I did. One could argue Nancy is doing the same, but it seems more likely she’s dealing with the realization of what she experienced.  My attention is also drifting from her because, if I’ve just been slapped in the face (however unsurprisingly) for identifying with one character (Freddy), the last thing I’m going to do at this moment is repeat the mistake with a different one (Nancy).  As such, I have no hope of feeling for Nancy in what she’s going through, and so I embark on the rest of the story as a dispassionate viewer, when I should be rooting and caring for the heroine.

If I had to guess one part of the movie that really lost a lot of people, I’d bet it’s this one.

One-liners

For all the assertions they made that they were making a more serious Freddy, they certainly revert to the Freddy of old in a lot of the third act. “How’s this for a wet dream?” Really? Gag me. I might be able to tolerate it by itself, but it comes so soon after the horrid “why don’t we hang out?” that I don’t have time to recover. Just kill me now.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the old Freddy, but this Freddy is not the same guy. These lines are out of place and make a mockery out of the serious tone they adopted.

Cheesy slasher gore

One might expect a lot of gore in this film, but for most of it there isn’t much. Then they throw some of it in, again in the last act. Yucky scissor-eyeball gunk, bone-snapping sounds after a throat slicing. These things are not out of place in a slasher movie, but they feel incongruous because, for the most part, the reboot feels like they were going for horror over slasher. The two really don’t mix well.

Characters (Freddy aside)

I’ve read a lot of complaints about the melancholy, emo nature of the teen characters. Actually, I don’t have a problem with that. Considering the generally unhappy nature of teens anyway, the emo movement, the characters’ pasts, and their current predicament, their dispositions are pretty believable. However, what does bother me is the lack of depth. The story progresses, but none of the characters evolve. There’s no real access point to identify with anyone, so it’s just a bunch of kids run around trying to save their own skins. I’m not sure if that’s a result of the acting (sometimes questionable) or dialog (often painful) or both, but either way it’s a major missed connection with the audience.

The parental characters don’t need too much attention, save one thing that’s really minor but gets my dander up. Nancy asks Gwen a couple of questions. Gwen fibs. Later, Nancy finds out the truth and tells Gwen to stop lying to her. Gwen protests over and over again that she was not lying; she just didn’t want Nancy to remember. Yeah, well, answering something untruthfully is STILL LYING! No matter the reason, the word’s definition is pretty darn clear, and her protests to the contrary are intolerable.

However, much as that irks me, I must concede that this exchange seems very believable as a real-life scenario. What can I say? Pet peeve.

Backstory as monologue

I wish they would have done away with Gwen’s monologue here as she conveys what happened at the school. It might just be there because that’s how the audience and Nancy find out what happened in the original. However, the original was low budget, so they did what they could with what they had. This film didn’t have that problem, so revealing some major backstory in this way feels uninspired; it was disappointing.

On the other hand, the series of shots they use to show what happened as well was appreciated. The filmmakers deserve props for playing show and tell this time, not just tell.

UNDECIDED ABOUT


Blatant “homage”

I’m pretty torn about the more obvious bits taken from the original:

Kris’/Tina’s death scene,

Freddy in the wall over a sleeping Nancy,



and of course the bathtub moment.

There are probably more, but these are what I recall. These parts serve their purpose in that, as a fan of the original, it gives me some enjoyment to see them again. On the other hand, everyone clearly put a lot of effort into making this a different film, and I embrace it as such, so seeing these blatant tributes is jarring and distracting. However, since they did repeat these images from Wes Craven’s version, I’m very glad they decided to change the scenes up a bit. That was a good choice, as it just reminds me of the original instead of completely redirecting focus to it.

Freddy burning scene

I actually loved watching this scene in all viewings. It moves well, it’s interesting and well shot, and best of all they showed me what happened to Freddy instead of telling me in another monologue. However, I think there’s an error here. It is supposed to be Quentin’s dream that I’m watching, yet while the scene moves back and forth between the interior and exterior, Quentin remains standing outside. In all the other dream sequences the film sticks with the dreamer, so changing that up here seems inconsistent. It’s true that this dream is altogether different from any other, so the same rules don’t strictly apply, but I can’t shake the feeling that this particular incongruity was more of an oversight than a choice.

I also love the end of the dream, when Freddy runs out in flames and his burning face is in close-up.

It really drags me into Freddy’s experience, and this whole sequence gives me a moment to sympathize with him. That makes for a strong, visceral reaction later when all things come to light. This is a real credit to Bayer, because the truth is not the least bit surprising.

Unburned Freddy

I like that we get to see the unburned Freddy and his interaction with the kids, but there is something that just feels a little off about the voice. It has a bit of a drawl and some really heavy Rs. I can’t say why, but it just doesn’t work for me. Perhaps it’s because it’s so different from the way all the other characters speak. However, it’s consistent with burned Freddy’s speech, which is very creepy and effective.

Mind function after murder

During several dream sequences, Freddy’s victims are shown strung up, bloodied and butchered practically beyond recognition. However, the damage to these characters’ bodies in their death scenes is not nearly so extensive. Why the discrepancy? Freddy explains: after he’s made the killing strike, their minds continue functioning for seven minutes, so he’s still able to slice and dice them in their nightmares for a good amount of time after they’re dead. This is a great and new concept that gives Freddy a lot more scare power. The filmmakers could have done a lot with it, and I don’t just mean gore. Unfortunately, they didn’t.

If the idea had been presented early, I might have ended up cringing for a bit after every death scene, knowing the torture the victims are going through. Instead, it’s not conveyed until the opportunity for real impact is gone. Admittedly the story’s structure doesn’t easily lend itself to bringing this up earlier, but I still wish they’d given it more direct attention.

In addition, the first time they show the victims hanging like that I have no idea what happened. It’s very obvious the bodies are in worse shape than when last seen, but I don’t know why. Thus, my reaction is more of confusion than shock/horror. The confusion doesn’t last long, because Freddy explains within a couple of minutes, but it still takes me out of the film at a time when I’m supposed to be absorbed.

This unfulfilled potential almost stings. It could have added a new and interesting dimension, but instead it’s addressed so briefly I doubt most viewers would notice it at all. Major bummer.

***Please note that none of the images contained herein belong to me.  No copyright infringement is intended.***