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Movie Review: Priest (3D) (2011) September 1, 2011

Posted by pacejmiller in Movie Reviews, Reviews.
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In the space of a few months, Priest went from one of my most anticipated movies of the year to just another film at the cinema.  Happens when the film’s release is delayed by three and a half months in Australia and the reviews are ‘unkind’ at best.

Nonetheless, I tried to keep an open mind about this film loosely based on a Korean comic of the same name, about an alternate world where priests are kick-ass vampire killers in an eternal human-vampire holy war.  The initial teaser trailers I saw over a year ago looked extremely promising — pure horror action, a stylish visual feast and one of my favourite actors, Paul Bettany.

But unfortunately, the critics that saw the film before me were right.  Priest just didn’t have it.  Nice to look at, sure, but it’s the perfect example of a failed comic book adaptation.  A great premise bogged down by a contrived plot, boring characters, poor dialogue and an unnecessary seriousness.  At just 87 minutes, Priest felt overlong, but at the same time strangely incomplete.  The result is an aesthetically pleasing, slick, occasionally frightening/exciting film that is ultimately forgettable and never comes close to living up to its potential.

Bettany did the best he could here, and is clearly the bright spot in an otherwise weak line up.  Karl Urban, Maggie Q and Cam Gigandet were all merely serviceable co-stars and uninteresting characters.

If there is something the film did do right, it’s the freakish vampires, who looked more like the mutated beasts from Resident Evil than Edward Cullen.  Not surprising, considering director Scott Stewart started his career in visual effects and previously directed Bettany in another supernatural action/horror, Legion, which involved angels and demons and has a similar feel.  The creatures in that film were pretty scary too.  Sadly, neither film was particularly good.  On the whole, Priest is probably better than Legion, but I personally thought the best parts of Legion were far better than the best parts of Priest.

I’d say Priest deserves some consideration as a DVD rental, especially when put up against straight-to-DVD films on the shelves, but in all honesty it could have and should have been so much more.

2 stars out of 5

PS: Shockingly, Priest has been released exclusively on 3D over here (at least from what I can gather).  Needless to say, as a post-production conversion, it was no more than another pointless money grabbing exercise.

10 Movies That Make Men Want to Work Out June 18, 2011

Posted by pacejmiller in Blogging, Entertainment, Exercise, Misc, Movie Reviews, Reviews.
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I say this with an unblemished record of heterosexuality (not that there’s anything wrong with that).  Have you ever watched a movie that made you want to go work out afterwards?

I have.  Well, I’ve never actually gone out and done it, but real men would have.

What I have noticed is that these films usually feature men who were either previously unknown to mainstream audiences and/or have undergone amazing physical transformations.  For example, Arnie or Stallone films rarely have that ‘Wow’ factor because they’ve always looked that way, and in any case from my research it seems looking ‘cut’ is generally preferred to looking ‘buffed’.  Anyway, it’s no surprise that the Internets is filled with guides on how to transform your body to replicate the following movie stars.

Without further ado, these are what I think are the 10 films that have inspired more meatheads than any other.

(click on ‘more’ to read on)

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Movie Review: Easy A (2010) August 26, 2010

Posted by pacejmiller in Movie Reviews.
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I went to see another preview screening last night, one I had extremely low expectations for — Easy A.  Even though it was showing at a mainstream cinema, I thought the turn out was going to be relatively small.  Boy was I wrong!  The cinema was packed out with people lining up way in advance to see this Will Gluck-directed teen comedy, featuring an all-star cast headed by the up-and-coming Emma Stone (I last saw her in Zombieland).  Luckily, with my (ahem) press credentials, I avoided the crowd and the security check.

My first instinct was that Easy A was going to be another hopeless teen flick that’s stupid, vulgar, and not particularly funny.  Wrong again.  As it turned out, Easy A was, suprisingly, a rare teen flick that’s actually funny and clever!

Emma Stone plays Olive, a super-nice, witty and “normal” high school girl who one day decides to lie about a sexual encounter to her best friend.  And before she knows it, the school rumour mill turns Olive into the local skank.  As her life spirals out of control, Olive begins to see the parallels between her life and that of Hester Prynne in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s literary classic, The Scarlet Letter (hence the “A” in Easy A).  I know it doesn’t sound all that great but don’t let that put you off.

Easy A‘s impressive all-star cast is led by Emma Stone, who carries the film from start to finish as the immensely likable and endearing Olive.  If this film takes off she’s going to be huge.  Amanda Bynes plays her arch-nemesis, the ultra-religious Marianne (with Cam Gigandet from Twilight as her dim-witted boyfriend), while Penn Badgley plays the too-nice, always-around Woodchuck Todd (it was worth putting up with him just for the Gossip Girl reference) and Dan Byrd (from The Hills Have Eyes) is Brandon, the obvious closet homosexual.  Others include Thomas Haden Church as the wonderful teacher, Lisa Kudrow as the guidance counsellor, and Malcolm McDowell as the principal.  But it’s Olive’s quirky parents, played by Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson, that absolutely steal the show with their crazy antics.

My problems with Easy A are relatively minor.  First of all, it’s hard to buy Emma Stone (as pretty and sassy and witty as she is in this film) as just an “ordinary” girl who was virtually invisible at her school before gossip made her notorious.  Why the heck would she not have been a superstar at school?  Secondly, it doesn’t really make sense that someone as sensible and intelligent as her would ever want to perpetuate vicious rumours in order to become more “popular” amongst her peers.  And thirdly, there were times when she was simply too nice to be believable.  But if you can overlook those things, Easy A is a stand-out teen comedy in almost every other way.

Easy A is a throwback (or even a homage) to those classic 80s films made by John Hughes, such as Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club and Ferris Beuller’s Day Off (there are numerous references to them throughout the film).  There’s a huge cast of characters, mostly caricatures but at least with interesting quirks.  The story is compelling but grounded and at least semi-plausible.  It’s funny without being outrageously hilarious or over-the-top.  And there’s a social message about high school life (in this case, how gossip can get out of hand) that adds a dash of poignancy to the whole affair.  It doesn’t quite reach “classic” status, or at least not yet, but considering the crap teen comedies that have been churned out in recent years, Easy A is a refreshing, pleasant surprise.

3.75 stars out of 5

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