Vampires Suck – A Review by Film Nerd

Directors: Jason Friedberg, Aaron Seltzer

Cast: Jenn Proske, Matt Latner, Diedrich Bader, Chris Riggi, Ken Jeong

Synopsis: As the juvenile title suggests, this film is a spoof of the first two Twilight films.   Very much in the spirit of any Wayans brothers parody (minus actual Wayans brothers), this film is a childish mix of direct film satire and pop culture references.

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Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1

This is a (hopefully) spoiler free review of Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1.

Release date: 17/11/2011

Director: Bill Condon

Starring: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Billy Burke, Sarah Clarke, Ashley Greene, Peter Facinelli, Elizabeth Reaser, Nikki Reed, Booboo Stewart, Julia Jones, Martin Sheen.

 

 

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The Runaways – A Review by Film Nerd

Director: Floria Sigismondi

Cast: Kristen Stewart, Dakota Fanning, Michael Shannon, Stella Maeve, Scout Taylor-Compton, Alia Shawkat

Synopsis: This film is a biopic concerning the meteoric rise of the all-girl teenage rock group The Runaways, which continues right through to the just as rapid deterioration of the group.   It is based on a book written by lead singer Cherie Currie, , and produced by the still-popular guitarist Joan Jett.

A review by Film Nerd.

I bought this film on Blu-Ray many months ago, but only recently had the chance to sit down and watch it.   I was of two minds about whether I would enjoy this film.    I do not always enjoy biopics, despite how good word on the street about the film can be.   I was also not sure if the good things I had read were just a result of seeing Kristen Stewart playing anything but the vacuous Bella Swan, and despite being aware of Dakota Fanning’s talent, choosing this role seemed a forced decision to try to be seen as more adult now.

Despite these reservations, and many similarities to similar stories of dissolved bands, this film was well worth watching.   The Runaways had a much harder road to success than many similar bands, from the simple fact they had to earn credibility being the at the time absurd combination of female and good rock music.   As such, the early film explores the rock influences on the two leads lives.   Jett (Stewart) was a tomboy who loved rock, and would not be told she could not learn to play guitar unless it was in the feminine and classical arts.   She was the one whom sought out producer Kim Fowley (Shannon),  whom liked their sound and thought he could sell the gimmick of a girl band.   All they needed was a blonde…

Currie (Fanning, at an appropriate age for the role given Currie was 15 as these events started to unfurl) came from a troublesome home, and lived her love of David Bowie despite not necessarily fitting in with her peers as a result.   Jett and Fowley found her in a teenage nightclub, liked her look (and Fowley liked the jailbait angle), and gave her an audition.   The rest of the film predominantly focusses on the Jett/Currie relationship, which seems the wise choice, given the creative input for the film came from these exact two sources.   As such, blame is not foisted on any one party as to why the band fell apart.   More realistically, all the elements were there that would cause the splintering of personalities.   The world of rock in that era was all about drugs, and at that age and that amount of freedom, sex also becomes a factor.   This is most prominently displayed through Currie, who lost her innocence to this world, and performed on and off stage in an overtly sexual manner.

Given how heavy this subject matter is, the next most obvious query is how successfully Stewart and Fanning performed their roles.   I am delighted to say very impressively, to the point I will no longer write them off as the wooden one from Twilight and the big blue-eyed girl in I Am Sam.   Rather, they both disappeared into their roles, such that I was able to enter the world created on-screen without being distracted by knowing these actors former history.   Stewart I have heard has shown great talent elsewhere, so clearly she is constrained by her character in her more popular franchise, whereas Fanning is now getting comfortable in more mature roles, a process that started with some faltering in Push, but has now come full bloom.

The film does drag a little in the third act, given that Stewart and Fanning are not on the screen together for a lot of it to spark off of each other.   This is a very entertaining look at the story behind the push to get females recognised as credible performers in the rock industry, and as such I highly recommend it.   After all, Bride of  Film Nerd and I would never have met if it had not been for a female fronted metal band!!

4 stars (out of 5)

 

The Runaways on IMDB

The Runaways on Rotten Tomatoes

Trailer [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHpEJ749TRM]

 

Push (2009) – A Review by Film Nerd

Director: Paul McGuigan

Cast: Chris Evans, Dakota Fanning, Camilla Belle, Djimon Hounsou, Cliff Curtis, Ming-Na

Synopsis: Psychic powers are a known phenomenon in this future landscape, with the government tracking down every gifted individual to train as soldiers for the state.   Experiments are also performed on these individuals, with a drug being developed that boosts their abilities, yet subsequently kills the subject.   When the first patient to survive the treatment escapes, the hunt is on from the government and from some of the free psychics to get to her first.

A review by Film Nerd.

The concept for this film is very clever.   Further from the above synopsis, the psychic abilities on display differ from individual to individual.   You have “watchers”, who have the ability to see the future, however this future is not set, and may even be altered by them telling others what they have seen.   This is the ability of young Cassie (Fanning, in a role that she is clearly trying to shed her child star image, in addition to her presence with the Twilight saga and The Runaways).   You have “movers”, that have telekinesis, as played by the always amazing Chris Evans.   There are also “pushers”, that are able to implant an idea in someone’s head, as represented by Camilla Belle, or “patient zero” who survived being injected with the ability boosting drug, and also represented by Hounsou, the government thug on their tail.

So the concept is well worth investing time in, and the script itself is also quite intriguing.   The plot moves along, and the challenges our heroes have to face are quite reasonable, and even quite thrilling, well within context of the world that has been established.   In this way it is very possible to sit down and enjoy the film in a suspense of disbelief, as the film does have its own internal logic.   Despite this, on first viewing I considered the film just okay, and not brilliant.   Perhaps this is due to the fact that there was one too many twists and turns, a few too many misdirections, to help keep all the threads together.   Also, despite powerful acting turns from Evans and Hounsou, a very honest performance from Fanning, and great supporting turns from both Curtis and Ming-Na, Belle does let the side down somewhat.   This is disappointing, as some of the most pivotal plot advancements rest on her shoulders, and these I found subsequently left a bit flat.

I am also glad however that I did not sit down and finish this review immediately after my first viewing.   I have always found that films that have an intelligent and intriguing story do stick with me for days after the viewing, as I try to unravel more of how the tapestry all fits together.   Push has certainly left me in this position, and I am appreciating the film a lot more in hindsight then I did initially on my living room couch.   I maintain the film is not flawless, but I also think it is very ambitious, and well worth a look for anyone who enjoys films that need a bit of unravelling, give this a look.   You will enjoy it, just as long as you don’t expect another Inception (which admittedly would be a much less interesting film if there had been a few “pushers” running around!!).

3.5 stars out of 5

 

Push on IMDB

Push on Rotten Tomatoes

Trailer [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=afT1fAwSr-Q]

 

Jennifer’s Body – Uncut

Director: Karyn Kusama

Cast: Megan Fox, Amanda Seyfried, Johnny Simmons, Adam Brody, J.K. Simmons

Synopsis: The story of Jennifer, all-round popular girl, cheerleader and, um… demon.   Need I say more?

A review by Film Nerd.

I started watching this film in that pure prospect of not knowing what to expect.   After all, this is a film penned by Diablo Cody, whose debut script was the stand out feature Juno.   However it is also a film headlined by Megan Fox.   Sure the camera loves her, but as an audience, I have not been a big fan of her acting.   She was after all one of many dire elements in Transformers 2.   Add to this the fact that this film has suffered from straight to DVD (or in my case, Blu Ray) hell.

I think that fate was a little bit unfair.    Especially given the fact that there is a cavalcade of lesser horror flicks that make it to the big screen.   It also seems to me silly that they did this, given that the vampire genre is the current in thing.   This is not Twilight though, and I only say that with the greatest delight.   Cody’s script is definitely the star of this film, taking your regular horror conventions in big doses, but there is an energy and a dialogue that make it feel somehow fresh.

Megan Fox may headline, but it is not her film.   More screen time is dedicated to our narrator, Seyfried’s “Needy”.   Okay, it is an appalling character name that also acts as descriptor combo, but this girl has talent.   This role is a far cry from dancing up and down piers singing Abba songs.   Before Jennifer became a vampire, Needy was her best friend since childhood, and she treads that fine line between despair and horror at what is becoming of her  “BFF”.   Fox I will admit gives a better performance than I am used to seeing from her, perhaps being freed from Michael Bay’s direction, but it is still patchy.   When she does slip, it is to the detriment of the film, and for me it took me out of the narrative a bit at times.   A pity, as when she does pull off the role, there is some hint of talent there.   Hopefully with some maturity and experience, she can foster this further in future.   Little need be said about the rest of the cast.   They are all adequate in small roles, though the focus is rarely taken from the leading pair.

I have not discussed much plot, and that is for the pure reason there is no need to.   We have seen it all before.   So in many respects this is a film for the journey, for the jolts, the dialogue and the visuals.   After viewing though, there is nothing of real meat to take away with you though.   So it really is a horror film then!   I watched the extended cut, and not having seen the theatrical cut, can’t comment on what was added and whether it was a benefit though.   There can’t have been too much cut though, as this version still runs at well under 2 hours.

So yep, this went straight to DVD, but if you are a horror fan, or a fan of paranormal fiction, it is worth while you take a look.   If there is one final recommendation I can make for this film though, it is simply this… Jennifer’s Body may be Megan Fox with patchy acting, but at least it doesn’t “sparkle”.

3 stars (out of a possible 5)

Jennifer’s Body on IMDB

Jennifer’s Body on Rotten Tomatoes

Trailer [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LCSzYioSeT0]