Friday, 22 November 2013

Movie Review: Coraline

Adapted of the book of the same name by Neil Gaiman, Coraline is a small wonder made of small wonders.

The story revolves around Coraline, whose parents just moved into the  Pink Palace, an old apartment building in the middle of nowhere. Her parents, both authors of a gardening book are pushing near their deadline and none of the other eccentric inhabitants care to or can remember her name correctly, so her life right now is not exactly great. Then however she receives a strange doll that looks like herself and a small door opens itself to another world. There she is greeted by her other mother, her other father, her other everything. And all is so much better there, beautiful, interesting, magical...
ooor is iiiit?

Well, of course it´s not, it´s a scary movie.

While not really scary for adults, it the movie still does not shy away from creepy imagery or heavy themes. It presents a good blend of funny, suspenseful, creepy and calm moments. The story feels surprisingly authentic for having such phantastic themes. The motivations and feelings of Coraline and her parents are understandeable and relateable. The other neighbors (apart from Mr Bobinski maybe) seem like people one might actually know. It captures the view of a child and parent equally well. And even the antagonist is more than just "evil", at least in my opinion, though one can see it like that. There is a bit more complexity to it that is briefly touched upon, but not explained.
The story is not "easy", there is no "so this is what we learned today, folks!" It does provide questions without them being distracting and it can be interpreted without interpretation being necessary to understand the story.

The movie looks gorgeous and the differences between the one and the other world follow an internal logic, not so much dictated by the symbolism that a lot of other movies present (you know... someone is seen next to a cross and the audience knows that it´s supposed to be a jesus-analogy or something like that, which is not bad altogether, just a bit overused sometimes). And it´s one of those movies that you can watch over and over again and see something new again. Claymation is an impressive art by itself and it´s used masterfully here. The soundtrack is so good that I found myself listening to the ost on a regular basis for fun, which I barely do. It´s spooky, beautiful and fits extremely well.

One great tidbit is this: There is a female, believeable main character, several people of color, people of all ages, thin, fat, beautiful, ugly, bitchy, awkward, conservative, even "slutty"... and those characteristics don´t reflect on how bad or good a person they are. The movie, even though it has a rather small cast, has great diversity and not one unmemorable character design. And it pulls it off with elegance, in the sense that you only start to notice when you actually stop and think about it. Bravo.

There are a few small downsides: The movie tends to move too fast sometimes and there is one big plothole towards the end in my opinion, which i´ll put into the [ ] in white, so you can highlight if you want to read the spoiler: [Why didn´t the parents get tipped off that they had been away for so long when they were freed from the snow ball, when even the groceries were mouldy? And if they weren´t really away, why was there snow on their coats? Either they were away or they weren´t it´s not one of those situations where one can assume that both is possible.] The main character too I found rather unsympathetic when first watching it... but maybe that was the point. Also I personally just don´t  like headstrong characters. Altogether those are minor problem in an otherwise awesome movie.

And that´s it: It´s an awesome movie, not "an awesome movie for kids". It´s an awesome movie. Period.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Movie Review: Evil Dead (2013)

Let´s start off by saying the things that are the most obvious:
No, it is not like Evil Dead 2 or Army of Darkness
No, it does not need to be
Yes, it orients itself more on the first Evil Dead
No, it is not directed by Sam Raimi
Is it good?

How the hell do you define "good" in a Horror movie anyway?
Doesn´t a Horror movie betray it´s own purpose when you feel good (after) watching it?

It advertised itself as "the most terrifying movie you will ever see"
it certainly was not the most terrifying movie I´ll ever see
but it sure as hell wasn´t pleasant, either.

The problem is that I am probably not the best person to talk about this movie. 
It´s a very gorey movie. It was very gross and yes, it was disturbing.
I don´t like those things in a Horror movie.
But for a splatter movie it was pretty much the best it could be... for me.

The plot is quick to summarize: A few tweens drive to a shack in the woods to party, have sex and get killed by a monster. Wait, no. Sorry, that sequence of words is ingraved into my brain after watching one too many horror flicks. No, actually the story of Evil Dead (2013) is a bit more interesting: 
See, they drive to a shack in the woods because one of the girls is a drug addict and they plan to make a cold detoxification. From the get-go it´s also pretty obvious that some things happened in the past and that there is some unresolved tension between them. Soon after one of them discovers the necronomicon and - reading a page out loud - summons a demon, who will bring the apocalypse as soon as he has feasted on five souls. And thus begins a game of "and then there were none" with lots and lots of self- and regular mutilation.

The good:
* The effects were VERY effective, apart from maybe one or two scenes, what happened on screen made me sick to my stomach or made me cover my nethers (those who know the scene know what i mean)
* The lady playing the demon was awesome. She was so good in fact that only after the movie I did remember that she was playing two different roles and that the demon was in fact not played by a different person.
* I did not hate the characters, nor did I find them particularly interesting, BUT: The way the group started to play off each other, their resignation, despair and anger when facing the cold intoxification really got to me. It was a realistic portrayal in my opinion and the premise alone would mak for a fascinating film on its own.

The bad:
* Good GOD the brother character. He was very, very frustrating to watch. He was exactly the wrong blend of gutless and gutsy. 
* Resulting from the above: The thing with the grave. Errr... no. No, suspension of disbelief went ooout daaa window. I know that it´s a Horror movie and logic does not need to apply, but still nope. I can believe anything the demon does, cause the demon is magic. But that? No. That´s just bullshit. Nice bullshit. But still bullshit.
* The sexual... things... Which is weird to critizise, because I am pretty certain that it´s there JUST to make the viewer uncomfortable. But still, it only happened to the girls and... argh, i don´t know. It does make sense from the perspective of the demon to do nasty stuff, but I... just can´t not put it on the bad list. I would have to write an entirely different entry for this particular can of worms, just bear with me here, this review is long enough as it is.

So all in all: It was an interesting experience, to say the least. I am still not entirely sure what I should think about this movie and I think that´s actually a good thing. It makes me rethink the parameter by which I consider a Horror Movie good or bad and it is an interesting thought to be had:
Does it make sense to critize a movie for being disturbing?

As it is obvious: I would not watch it again.
Should you watch it?
Reading the above I´m sure you already know.

- Nekromantenhase

PS: Concerning the stinger:  (¬▂¬) *shrugs* eeehhh...