This time last year I was at the Phoenix Film Festival. More specifically the International Horror and Sci-Fi Festival that happens during the Phoenix Film Festival. Sitting in a theater, drinking down over priced water and seeing movies I would have to wait a year or two before I had a chance to see them. Instead I’m in a mediocre Ramada Inn in Springfield, MO. Instead of watching The Live on the big screen for the first time I am woken up at night by an unusually loud air conditioner. Instead of sleeping in my own bed I have a bed that is somehow good and bad all at the same time. In essence it is quite a downer compared to what I could be doing. Still this doesn’t mean I can’t watch movies. If anything I watched more than usual. So here are a collection of things I watched. Some I already liked, some new finds, all better than scanning for hillbilly Home Depot.
The Man With The Iron Fists
At the end of 2011 I posted my top 6 most anticipated movies of 2012. For the most part all of them lived up to the hype. From the spaghetti western homage of Django Unchained to the super heroics of The Avengers most of them lived up to the hype. Did RZA’s directorial debut? Well, kind of. Starring the leader of the Wu Tang Clan The Man With The Iron Fists is a tale of deception, warring clans, and The Blacksmith in the middle of all the chaos. Despite its influx of new talent, for lack of a better term, the stand out performance comes from Russell Crowe as Jack Knife. After years of critically acclaimed roles in movies in movies like 3:10 To Yuma, Les Miserables and State of Play it is awesome to see him really cut loose and go over the top here. I also absolutely loved Byron Mann as the lead villain, Silver Lion. Just as over the top as Crowe and just as amusing. Another stand out point came from the soundtrack. Another stand out point comes from the soundtrack RZA was able to put together. Original tracks from Ghostface Killah, The Black Keys and Kanye West are melded seamlessly into 16th Century China. Lastly I couldn’t help but love the special effects in the movie. The practical effects were top notch and the CGI, while bad, was delightfully bad. A mix of effects that fit perfectly within this pseudo-Shaw Brothers homage.
Unfortunately there are some major flaws in the movie. The biggest to me was RZA as The Blacksmith. While I think he’s awesome as a comedic actor (Californication, Funny People) he isn’t so great when it comes to drama. At least not enough when it comes to carrying a movie. Of course it was on par with his co-stars for the most part. While it was awesome to see former WWE champion Dave Bautsita do kung fu he wasn’t exactly Daniel Day Lewis. I also found RZA’s directing to be lackluster at times. While we get some awesome shots of China his action directing left a lot to be desired. For me there were a few too many quick cuts in the editing and it killed the old school kung fu vibe for me. This is especially unfortunate because the action direction from Corey Yuen was good from what we could see clearly.
Now despite my gripes I know I’ll be interested in whatever RZA does next. While a very flawed film I found it to be a respectable directorial debut. It has enough bloody action and ambition to be a cult classic for years to come. RZA certainly has a passion for the genre and has a lot of potential. I think that if he continues to get some great cast to work with and a bit more seasoning he can be a top shelf action director.
Time for a quick flashback. It is 2009 and horror is in a weird place. While there are some highlights on the indie scene (Pontypool, Laid to Rest) most horror consists of sequels, remakes or poor Saw rip offs. At the end of summer, July 31st to be exact, comes The Collector. While derivative of Saw, even originally being a prequel for the series. Regardless The Collector was still quite a fun movie. Taking the Saw formula but taking out all of the pretentious “THIS IS A MIND BENDING TWIST” crap Saw became. A moderate success it spawned a sequel with last year’s The Collection. Surprisingly probably it is one of the better horror movies of last year. While not as good as V/H/S or as innovative as ABC’s of Death it’s probably one of the most fun horror movies of last year.
It is several years later and The Collector has grown in infamy. Kidnapping a girl named Emily seems to be the last straw when her father hires a group of mercenaries to find her. With an escaped Arkin they track her to the abandoned hotel from Hell. While not totally original plot wise it doesn’t have to be. What writers Dunstan and Melton realize is that while the plot needs to be serviceable it doesn’t have to be ground breaking. What we come for are the kills and Dunstan and Melton has that down to a T in The Collection. From the bloodiest rave since Blade to Arkin’s escape from the cage there’s something for the gore lover in all of us.
While Dunstan and Melton can be very hit (Feast) and miss (Piranha 3DD) I can’t deny what they have created with this series. A fun, if unoriginal, couple of movies to sit back and enjoy. Also it has Chett from the Weird Science TV show. I don’t know why but that tickled me to no end.
Supernatural: Season 8
While not technically a movie I did watch quite a few episodes of Supernatural so I figure it could count here. Now I have been a big fan of the show since season 2. Since its epic originally intended 5 seasons it has had its ups and downs. Currently it’s… eh. I think there are some cool ideas like Kevin as a prophet and closing the gates of hell. I also think Benny the reluctant vampire was a good addition to the show. Despite these additions it feels like the show is spinning its wheels more than anything. It has resorted to finding obscure characters to bring back for an episode where little is actually progressed in the over arcing story. It’s sad because when the show is good it can be just as entertaining as any other show. For the most part it is just a shell of what it could be. Now I’ve heard that series creator Eric Kripke has some sort of end game for the series. I think next season would be the perfect time to end the show.
So two movies and roughly 4 or 5 hours of Supernatural between a week of hating our team lead and drinking with co-workers. Despite being entertained Springfield, MO still sucks quite a bit.