Saturday, October 31, 2015

Jurassic World (2015)

Today has been a busy day. In fact, between the Nightmares Zombie 5K and trick or treating, it has been even busier than a usual Halloween for us. In between these two events, I decided to kick back and watch a film I had been looking forward to: 2015s Jurassic World.

Plot/ A new theme park is built on the original site of Jurassic Park. Everything is going well until the parks newest attraction--a genetically modified giant stealth killing machine--escapes containment and goes on a killing spree.

While I was not a huge fan of the first two sequels in the Jurassic Park series, I had hoped that this one would be different. Unfortunately, although it was entertaining and kept me somewhat interested, the storyline was rather predictable, and nowhere near as impressive as the classic Steven Spielberg film. The dinosaurs were interesting and the idea of genetic splicing and developing new species is something that is a lot more relevant today than when the original came out; it is definitely something that people should file away in the back of their minds. A typical creature feature, this movie does feature many action sequences and there are some interesting scenes where they do a great job at taking viewers back to the original. Unfortunately, most of the characters are flat or unlikable, the ending is predictable, and some of the scenes feel a touch disjointed or out of place. In the end, this was a solid creature feature that has some extremely interesting moments. Yes, it never rises to the level of its source material, but it is one of the better entries in the franchise. Give it a shot!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992)

Every once in a while I become frustrated when plans go awry. Today was one of those, as I thought I finished a large portion of my children’s book writing assignment, only to discover that the piece I chose to create my adaptation from sat outside the criteria (who knew, we could not use Edgar Allan Poe’s, A Dream Within a Dream, and adapt it into a children’s book). In an attempt to relieve some of those frustrations, I decided to take a trip into the mind of David Lynch, with his 1992 entry Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me.

Plot/ A young FBI agent disappears while investigating a murder miles from Twin Peaks that may be related to the future murder of Laura Palmer; the last week of the life of Laura Palmer is chronicled.

It has been a while since I ventured into Twin Peaks, and for some reason, it started to call to me tonight. Instead of grabbing the box set, I decided to dive into Fire Walk With Me again, and again I was left amazed. I am a huge fan of David Lynch, and Fire Walk With Me is a perfect example why. Every time I watch it (or any other Lynch film in my collection), I see something new and it makes everything a little clearer. In fact, that ideal to me, sits at the heart of this, one of his most underrated films. Open your eyes and let your intuitions take over, and everything will clear. Fire Walk With Me has an outstanding cast, an interesting and dark storyline, along with the trademark dark atmosphere, outstanding soundtrack, and tight cinematography. Yes, like many other films by Lynch, you have to pay attention to the details, or you will likely miss something and unfortunately, that leaves out a large portion of movie watchers today. If you can pay attention to the details, you should love it. In the end, this may be one of the most dark and stylish films in the Lynch catalog, and is a movie that must be seen. If you have not seen it, check it out (especially with a return to Twin Peaks on the horizon).

Monday, October 26, 2015

Dead Within (2014)

After spending most of the weekend making last minute adjustments to and then launching Wisdom From Beyond, it was really nice to have a night where I could relax (although my latest class has started worrying me). While I understand that this will likely be my only light day with parades, meetings, a football game, and a zombie run on Saturday, at least I had some time to work on some fun stuff. As I did, I decided to watch 2014s Dead Within; a movie that definitely helped set a mood.

Plot/ Six months after the outbreak, a man and woman have survived by isolating themselves in a remote cabin. Starved for resources, they must confront the horrors that threaten them from outside and from within.

As usual, I had no idea what to expect and went into this completely blind. I am glad I did, as this was much better than I expected from reading the synopsis, and it was not the zombie flick that I figured was coming my way. More of a psychological horror than true horror flick, this one is more about atmosphere and tension than anything else. Plus, it definitely outlines how much fear plays a role in psychosis and terror. The acting is solid, the characters are believable, and the overall message can resonate with viewers. Yes, it is not a gorefest and anyone expecting a zombie movie will likely be disappointed, but that is his or her loss.  In the end, this was much better than I imagined and a movie that I am glad I watched. If you have not seen it, give it a shot!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Wisdom From Beyond - A Lovecraft Themed Transmedia Journey

Uncle, what did you do? Did you accidently summon Nyarlathotep, the faithful servant of Azathoth, who rose to power during the reign of the evil pharaoh Nephren-Ka? In my research into this mysterious stone, that is the only thing that would make sense when comparing the information to your somewhat incoherent ramblings in your journals. Yes, you had to have awakened the Crawling Chaos, but how?

This is an opening paragraph on one of the blog posts from Wisdom From Beyond. Wisdom From Beyond was an extremely detailed transmedia project that my group built for class and has created a tremendous journey into the world of H.P. Lovecraft. This immersive, interactive, transmedia story based on H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Haunter of the Dark,” was designed and produced by students of Full Sail University's Creative Writing for Entertainment BFA program and I am proud to say that I was the project manager for this story.

If you are unfamiliar with transmedia writing, that is OK. It is a rather new literary form that sets out to create Alternative Reality Games (ARGs), using multiple storytelling techniques and platforms. In our case, we used Blogger, Pinterest, YouTube, Twitter, Google+, and Gmail to accomplish our goal. In the end, I feel that we created something that is creative, entertaining, modern, and most importantly, stays true to the source mythos. Honestly, if you are a fan of Lovecraft, you should enjoy it.

I would love to hear your feedback on the project, especially the content. I honestly have fallen in love with this type of storytelling and am considering venturing into my own project. If you want to get started follow this link to the first YouTube video and follow the prompts left inside the videos, descriptions, and blog.

Almost Mercy (2015)

With today being the final day in my transmedia class, I can finally turn in the final portion of the group project and make Wisdom From Beyond go live. Of course, that is a little depressing as well, working as a group allowed the project to grow to a much larger scale, and took the storyline to a new level. While working on stuff last night, I decided to go a different direction with my movie selection, 2015s Almost Mercy.

Plot/ Jackson and Emily aren't like the other kids; they are two burgeoning sociopaths on the brink of total meltdown. Ticking time bombs seeking revenge. Who will unravel first?

While not a straightforward horror flick, Almost Mercy succeeds in taking on a simplistic approach and crafting a horrific tale. Most importantly, the movie tackles some very controversial topics in a way that makes them standout in a comedic manner that really sinks in. The characters are tremendous and the performances to bring hem to life were solid, the storyline was intriguing, and the mix of black comedy/horror was perfect. Of course, there were a few clich├ęd and incoherent moments, and the twist ending was somewhat predictable, but those minor flaws can be found in every movie, and do not detract from the overall feel and impact of this film. In the end, this movie is a unique look into some dark topics that should be addressed. More of a dark comedy than horror movie, this movie must be seen. Check it out!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead (2015)

Tonight was busy (as most Wednesdays are) with both homework deadlines and a Nightmares softball game. Yet, with this being the Halloween season, there is always time for some horror. After some thought, I decided on a zombie flick for the evening: Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead (2015).

Plot/ Barry is a talented mechanic and family man whose life is torn apart on the eve of a zombie apocalypse. His sister, Brooke, is kidnapped by a sinister team of gas-mask wearing soldiers and experimented on by a psychotic doctor. While Brooke plans her escape Barry goes out on the road to find her & teams up with Benny, a fellow survivor - together they must arm themselves and prepare to battle their way through hordes of flesh-eating monsters in a harsh Australian bush.

Recently, I have been staying far away from the zombie genre, as many of the films that have been coming out lately seem tired and played out. Fortunately, I am glad that I picked this one, because it took an interesting route outside of the box and created something rather original. While this is not a perfect movie by any means, it does have an outstanding mix of action, creativity, and a decent mixture of effects. Sure, there is not much in the way of character development and there may be too many unanswered questions, but those flaws are easily overlooked. In the end, this was an intriguing zombie entry, and a movie that was a lot more entertaining than I expected when I turned it on. This one is definitely worth watching.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Cop Car (2015)

With some horror and Sci-fi filling up my last few days as I worked on my class project, I decided that I needed to check out something different. After some searching, I decided on something a lot different than usual, the 2015 drama/thriller Cop Car.

Plot/ A pair of ten-year-olds find an abandoned cop car in a field. When they take it for a joyride, it seems like they could kill themselves at any moment. But things only get worse when the small town sheriff goes looking for his missing car. The kids find themselves in the center of a deadly game of cat and mouse they don't understand and the only way out is to go as fast as their cop car can take them.

This was a movie that I had never heard of, and one that I am glad that I took a shot on. Yes, it is not my typical genre, but sometimes it is a good thing to step outside of the comfort zone. In this case, I am glad I did. Cop Car has an interesting make-up with a minimal cast that combines action with some interesting twists and an outstanding ending. The performances are solid, the tension/tone builds throughout the movie, and it is rather entertaining. However, the decision to build tension throughout the film works, yet, it also causes the early portions to crawl. Couple that with some predictable moments, and you have the main reason this one will not stick with you forever. Is it worth watching? Absolutely, but I would not run out and buy it, it is good, but not quite at that level.

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Lazarus Effect (2015)

Three weeks down in transmedia class and I finalized the Copy Deck for the group project, now all that is left is putting it all together. It should definitely be fun. Anytime I can submerge myself into the world of H.P. Lovecraft, I jump at the opportunity and I look forward to seeing how this comes out. While working on it last night, I decided to kick back and watch The Lazarus Effect (2015) as I contemplated what order the fictional blog, Wisdom From Beyond, should be populated.

Plot/ When the dean of their university learns of their underground experiments, their project is unexpectedly shut down and their materials confiscated. Frank, Zoe and their team take matters into their own hands, launching a rogue attempt to recreate their experiment, during which things go terribly wrong and one of their own, Zoe, is horrifically killed. Fueled by terror and grief, Frank pushes them to do the unthinkable: attempt to resurrect their first human test subject.

If you are a horror fiend like me, you will have seen many interpretations of this story since you started into the genre. Personally, most horror has become somewhat predictable to me, and I have accepted that aspect of the films. That was definitely the case with this one. On one hand, it was predictable, but there were also some interesting facets that made it a lot more entertaining than many of its predecessors. The performances were solid, the cinematography worked and most importantly, as a PG-13 entry it makes it a great Halloween treat for the entire family. Yes, I would have loved something darker, but sometimes I just embrace watching something with the daughters. Of course, between the predictability and the uneven storyline, there were some head scratching moments that if streamlined could have made the flick even better. In the end, this was much better than I expected it to be, and was an entertaining homage to the classic Frankenstein narrative. If you are looking for something to get the Halloween juices flowing for the entire family, give it a shot. This one will at least make you thank a little bit.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Unfriended (2014)

As I continued to plug away on my group project last night, mentally preparing for a long day of softball (in the snow flurries), I decided to venture into the found footage arena for some entertainment. While I usually stay clear, this film caught my eye as it featured many of the elements that would be used in my current class, transmedia writing. What was the movie? It was the 2014 innovative found footage entry Unfriended.

Plot/ A group of online chat room friends find themselves haunted by a mysterious, supernatural force using the account of their dead friend.

It has been a while since I have seen a found footage flick that actually kept me interested. In this case, this movie definitely delivered on creating something innovative inside a tired genre. This movie kept me interested and added some realism that I could relate to having teenaged daughters. In many ways, this movie has a lot to like, with an interesting storyline, some decent performances, and just enough unknown and mystery to make you stay interested. Yes, the characters were somewhat flat, and some of the scares missed their mark, but for a lower budgeted flick, this one worked. In the end, if you were tired of the found footage genre and thought that it had run its course, you should definitely check this one out. You will be surprised. Is it a perfect movie? No, but it is an original take on a dying genre. Give it a shot!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Sphere (1998)

As I continue to push through this transmedia project that is a modern adaption of the H.P. Lovecraft classic Haunter of the Dark, I find myself spending more time on it than I ever imagined I would. In doing so, I have been spending time a lot of time with a variety of movies on as background inspiration. The last flick I watched was the 1998 Sci-Fi/Mystery/Thriller Sphere.

Plot/ 1000 feet below the ocean, navy divers discover an object half-a-mile long. A crack team of scientists is deployed to the site in Deep-sea Habitats. What they find boggles the mind as they discover a perfect metal sphere. What is the secret behind the sphere? Will they survive the mysterious 'manifestations'? Who or what is creating these? They may never live to find out.

This was a difficult movie to review. I watched it again the other night after not seeing it for over a decade, and honestly, I found it better than I thought. As was the case the first time I watched it, this is really the tale of two different movies: a first and a second half. The beginning is awesome and touches on some intriguing topics and is entertaining. Unfortunately, with all the promise, the unlikable characters and uneven performances make it difficult to truly digest everything that they were trying to say within the movie. Personally, I liked it because it made me think, and presented some ideas that have always captivated me in a way that was both entertaining and challenging. Of course, this Sci-Fi thriller is not for everyone, but it is definitely worth watching.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Nightmare (2015)

This has been an interesting month between college and softball and being the project manager for my groups assigned transmedia project has been a challenge. Hopefully, it turns out as good as I imagine it will. Needing a touch of a break tonight, I decided to kick back and watch a documentary and The Nightmare (2015) fit the bill.

Plot/ A look at a frightening condition that plagues thousands; sleep paralysis.

At first, I could not place whether this was a documentary or a mockumentary, soon the realism of the subject matter came through, and the subject captivated me. Luckily, I do not suffer from sleep paralysis, but I know some people who do. For them, this condition is almost debilitating. One of the things that drew me in was that talk of the shadow people, and how similar the stories were. These stories match what I have heard from friends that suffer from this. Yes, this is not a perfect documentary, as some of the visuals being better than others, but that is easily overlooked if you are interested in the subject matter. In the end, this documentary is worth watching and is an informative look at a subject that is often overlooked or dismissed.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Creep (2014)

As I continue to try to squeeze in some movies as I countdown the days until Halloween, there are going to be times that my selections are not the greatest. Last night, was one of those nights. Next up for review from last night is the 2014 micro-budget flick Creep.

Plot/ When a videographer answers a Craigslist ad for a one-day job in a remote mountain town; he finds his client is not at all what he initially seems.

For months, I had skipped this one on Netflix because something felt odd about it. Unfortunately, I did not stick to my initial misgivings and decided to watch it, something that caused some painful times. While there was some originality for the found footage genre inside this low budget debut, there is no way that I could call this a horror film. In fact, I found the movie dull and predictable, with excessively much dialogue involved. Yes, the stripped down combination of writers, actors, and characters was interesting to see and worked well within the simple confines of the flick, but that does not do much to save it in the end. For me, there were many better choices available and I should have selected one of them. Fortunately, you have the chance to pass.