Archive for October 3, 2014

Annabelle – Review

Posted: October 3, 2014 by MichaelSmithNC in All, Movie Review, Movies, Trailers
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John and Mia are a young Catholic couple in California that are starting out their lives together in the late 1960s. John is a med student about to start his residency and his wife Mia is an expectant mother. One night their home is invaded by members of a satanic cult bent on killing someone. While the cultists are killed by police before they can do any apparent harm, they manage to leave behind something that is far worse than any physical harm they could have inflicted.

Annabelle is a spin-off / prequel to the super successful horror hit of 2013, The Conjuring. The story is written by Gary Dauberman and directed by John Leonetti and stars a couple of TV actors in Annabelle Wallis and Ward Horton. Also appearing in supporting roles are Alfre Woodard and Tony Amendola.

The movie is a thinly veiled attempt to capitalize on the huge financial success of The Conjuring. Sadly, it is nowhere near the movie that its predecessor is. That being said, it wasn’t a bad movie; it just didn’t live up to my preconceived expectations.

For the first 45 minutes of the 98 minute movie I was genuinely uncomfortable in my seat. Each scene brought something unnerving to the table; whether it was the imagery of Mia sewing with her fingers much too close to the movimg needle of the sewing machine, the way the camera focused on the doll and you expecting it to move, or the various regular household sounds that were distorted into something sinister. It was scary in a way that made you feel like Leonetti, the director, was using a scalpel to slowly cut away at your defenses to really “get” you later on.

At about the halfway point in the movie something goes horribly wrong and Leonetti abandons his scalpel and goes for a machete. From that point on, the “scares” stop being scary. The scenes that should be thrilling or exciting feel more like the filmmaker trying too hard to be shocking. The great uses of sound and imagery that made the first half of the movie great are all but abandoned.

In the end, the movie that had such potential ends up being, “just another demon/possession movie.” You have you a witless victim, her doting husband, the Catholic priest, and the helpful expert. Of course the priest has a bad day and the witless victim makes every clichéd mistake that has ever been made. No real surprises in the story telling at all but I guess, all things considered, it could have been worse.

If you feel like you simply have to see this movie, take a step back and look at the $25 you were about to spend to see it in the theatres and think of some other way you could use it. You will only need about $1.50 to see it in Redbox in about 6 weeks.

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Seven, Fight Club, Panic Room, Zodiac, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Social Network, and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo are all spoken of as movies that are well worth seeing for their stories. All of them feature plotlines that appear to be straight-forward and otherwise uneventful when thought of in the scope of movies that have been made. What makes them different and noteworthy? The short answer… David Fincher calling the shots.

The last time we saw a movie directed by Fincher was back in 2011 when The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo made its big screen debut. Since that time, he has done a couple of TV endeavors and even a music video, but nothing truly worthy of his pedigree. That all changes now.

Fincher has brought another work of genius to the table for us all to marvel at and drool over. His newest offering, Gone Girl, is a wickedly smart adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s New York Times Best Seller of the same name. Gone Girl is the story of a relationship that goes bad in the worst possible way and how we as a society can hang onto the lies that reside in appearances and accept them as truth.

Some would say that making a movie from a novel as compelling and complicated as Gone Girl would not really translate well to the big screen. For one, the level of detail needed would be hard to capture on screen. Second, the complicated nature of the story would have to be confusing. Finally, the “twists” in the story are too widely known to really keep audiences engaged.

Fincher not only overcomes those issues, but he does it in a way that leaves you wanting more. Even after sitting through the full two and half hour runtime. His take on the “unreliable narration” that is so critical to the story is done in a way that will truly keep you guessing about what is real and what is not. Gone Girl is truly some of his very best work.

The cast of this soon to be classic consisted of Ben Affleck in the center-piece role of Nick Dunne with Rosamund Pike as his wife Amy. The supporting cast of Tyler Perry, Neil Patrick Harris, Carrie Coon and Kim Dickens filled out a group of actors that all lived up to the hype that has surrounded this movie.

Seeing the performance that Affleck gives under the direction of Fincher makes you really question if that really is the same guy that starred in duds like; Jersey Girl, Gigli, Daredevil, and the many others that have poisoned his acting reputation.

As the story unfolds, Affleck goes from aloof, to incriminated, and even to victimized, all with a screen presence that has you really guessing about his character. The mystery surrounding Nick Dunne is masterfully held by Affleck all the way until the truth is fully revealed. The range of emotion that he demonstrates with his facial expressions alone gave me a new found appreciation for him. Affleck has to be considered one of the top contenders for the Best Performance awards during the upcoming awards season.

If Affleck is going to be given a nod for Best Performance, then Rosamund Pike has to also receive some serious consideration for Best Supporting Actress. Her performance was equal parts; sexy, demented, and endearing. She perfectly brought to life the character that Gillian Flynn introduced to us in the novel back in 2012.

Tyler Perry and Neil Patrick Harris are both able to shed their more commonly known comedic characters of Madea and Barney to really contribute to the story in a meaningful way. Rarely can you say that an actor with less than 10 minutes of screen time can play a pivotal role, Perry and NPH can say it with pride.

Overall, during a time when superheroes and guys with “special sets of skills” seem to be filling up the theatres, it is very refreshing to see a movie, like Gone Girl, come along and be truly different. What this film brings to the table has been missing for quite a while, intelligence and originality. I can only hope that Hollywood will take a long hard look at what Flynn, Fincher and Affleck have done and do the best they can to follow-suit.