Film Review: Sin City (2005)

Also known as: Frank Miller’s Sin City
Release Date: March 28th, 2005 (Mann National Theater premiere)
Directed by: Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino
Written by: Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez
Based on: Sin City by Frank Miller
Music by: John Debney, Graeme Revell, Robert Rodriguez
Cast: Jessica Alba, Benicio del Toro, Brittany Murphy, Clive Owen, Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis, Elijah Wood, Alexis Bledel, Powers Boothe, Rosario Dawson, Michael Clarke Duncan, Carla Gugino, Josh Hartnett, Rutger Hauer, Jaime King, Michael Madsen, Nick Offerman, Marley Shelton, Nick Stahl, Tommy Flanagan, Devon Aoki, Rick Gomez, Frank Miller (cameo), Robert Rodriguez (cameo)

Troublemaker Studios, Dimension Films, Miramax, 124 Minutes, 147 Minutes (unrated recut)

Review:

“Most people think Marv is crazy. He just had the rotten luck of being born in the wrong century. He’d be right at home on some ancient battlefield swinging an axe into somebody’s face. Or in a Roman arena, taking his sword to other gladiators like him. They woulda tossed him girls like Nancy back then.” – Dwight

When Sin City came out, it was a bit of a phenomenon. Well, at least with fans of comic books and especially those who love the work of Frank Miller.

I haven’t watched this in a really long time and I wanted to revisit it after spending a lot of time delving into classic film-noir, which this picture takes some major visual cues from. Well, the original comic this was based on used a lot of noir visual flair, so it was only natural that this film adaptation followed suit.

As an overall cohesive story, the film doesn’t work that well. I get that it is a linked anthology with overlapping characters but it feels like it is just running all over the place. Frankly, this would work better as a television show where all of these characters could be better developed and jumping around with the narrative would just seem more organic.

This is still a cool movie with cool characters but sometimes they feel more like caricatures of pulp comic and noir archetypes. There isn’t really any time to get to know anyone beyond what’s on the immediate surface. Nancy and Hartigan are the only characters with any sort of meaningful backstory and even then, it is pretty skeletal and doesn’t have the meat it needs to really connect in an emotional way.

The film is highly stylized and while it looks cool, it almost works against it, as the grit and violence almost becomes too comic book-y. But this is supposed to be the comic stories coming to life and it represents that with its visual style. And I like the visual style but this is still a live action motion picture and it sort of forgets that.

I’m not saying it can’t have immense and incredible style but it needs to have a better balance between what would exist on a black and white comic book page and what works best for the medium of film. Being that this is the first film to sort of use this visual technique, I think people looked past its faults. I also think that once it was done here, the initial surprise and awe was gone, which is why no one cared much when the sequel came out and why the visual flare didn’t work to hide the faults of Frank Miller’s very similar film, The Spirit.

Additionally, sometimes the comic book elements seem very heavy handed and forced. The scene where Marv escapes the SWAT team may work in the comics but it felt bizarre and goofy in the movie. It would have been more effective if it was toned down and reworked, as opposed to Miller and Rodriguez trying to copy the comic panel by panel. This never works well, which was also why 2009’s The Watchmen had a lot of problems. Personally, I’d rather just stick to the comics if the filmmakers want to just recreate everything panel to shot.

Another problem with directly adapting comics is that the dialogue that works in one medium sometimes sounds terrible in another. Some lines when delivered on screen were cringe worthy moments. Still, I mostly liked everyone’s performance in this despite the sometimes questionable direction and script.

Sin City didn’t blow my mind like it did when I first saw it thirteen years ago. That’s fine. It is still pretty damn good and enjoyable but at first glance, way back in the day, I probably would have given this a nine out of ten rating. But at its core, it just isn’t that good of a film, even if it caused me to fanboy out in 2005.

Rating: 7.25/10
Pairs well with: Sin City: A Dame to Kill For and The Spirit.

Film Review: The Descent (2005)

Also known as: The Dark (original script title), Crawlspace (working title)
Release Date: March 11th, 2005 (Brussels International Festival of Fantasy Films)
Directed by: Neil Marshall
Written by: Neil Marshall
Music by: David Julyan
Cast: Shauna Macdonald, Natalie Mendoza, Alex Reid, Saskia Mulder, MyAnna Buring, Nora-Jane Noone

Celador Films, Northmen Productions, Pathé, Lionsgate, 99 Minutes, 100 Minutes (Original Unrated Cut)

Review:

“The noise she’s making, she’ll bring every one of those things down on her head.” – Rebecca

I’ve been a horror fan my entire life. However, I never felt the urge to see this. It seemed like it would just be about a bunch of thrill seeking women lost in dark claustrophobic caves getting picked off by a bunch of unimaginative inbred mutants that have a taste for people meat.

It is exactly what I thought it would be.

It’s not that the core of the premise is bad, it’s just derivative and been done to death in dozens of different ways. There is nothing about this movie that gives it its own unique twist or makes it different. The only major difference is that they’re all women and they’re in a really tight cave. All the setting says to me is that someone had to come up with a horror movie that cost absolutely nothing to make outside of renting camera and sound equipment and having to buy lunch for a the unknown stars of the picture.

The movie isn’t exciting, it isn’t well thought out, there’s nothing that reels you in and frankly, the boring ass monsters don’t even show up for a really long time. When the big shock of the first monster’s appearance happens, it was a shot that was already in every trailer for this film and thus, already spoiled.

The Descent tries to be suspenseful but it’s attempts just didn’t work. Really, I was more interested in seeing the girls try to work their way out of a cavern that they’re trapped in than watching them have a murder party with the slimy cave dwellers that looked too much like the Flukeman from The X-Files. I’d rather just have a Flukeman movie, that shit would be awesome. Well, maybe not now but if they made it in the ’90s.

This isn’t terrible but it isn’t good or memorable. It’s in this weird boring limbo and I don’t think that I’ll ever be interested in watching it again, let alone its sequel.

Rating: 4.75/10
Pairs well with: I would assume The Descent 2 but I’ve never seen it.

TV Review: G.I. Joe: Sigma 6 (2005-2006)

Original Run: September 10th, 2005 – October 28th, 2006
Directed by: Kobun Shizuno
Written by: Masaki Wachi, John Touhey
Based on: G.I. Joe by Hasbro
Music by: Russell Velazquez, John Siegler
Cast: Eric Stuart, Michael Sinterniklaas, Scott Rayow

4Kids TV, G4, The Hub, 26 Episodes, 22 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

If G.I. Joe, a great franchise, was rebooted into a show for really young Millennial kids with mediocre anime and obnoxious techno blaring at every turn, than this would be that show.

It’s friggin’ terrible. Seriously, it’s one of the most atrocious things I have ever seen with the G.I. Joe brand on it. Sure, maybe the DiC TV series from 1989 is a hair bit worse but this is just as unwatchable. Granted, the art style is actually much better than the DiC stuff but it isn’t what I would call good anime.

I hate the character design, I don’t like the CGI bits, which there are a lot of, and the people chosen for this much smaller Joe team are baffling choices. Sure, you need Duke, Scarlett and Snake Eyes but that’s about it. The rest of the Joe characters here seem like they were just picked randomly. Granted, I’ve always liked Tunnel Rat but he’s hardly iconic and his reinvention here is dogshit. I mean, the first thing you even see him do is eat a cockroach off of a sewer pipe.

Additionally, the Cobra characters are fairly decent choices but none of them have the presence of the old school G.I. Joe cartoon from the Marvel/Sunbow era. Destro and the Baroness are the first two that you see and they just don’t have charisma and seem like poorly crafted caricatures of their old school counterparts.

I really wanted to give this a shot, as it’s no secret that I’ve been on a massive G.I. Joe kick lately. I’ve been reading through the entirety of the IDW Publishing G.I. Joe comics and I recently revisited the original animated show. Sigma 6, sadly, didn’t come close to the quality of the two things I just referenced, however.

I can’t in good conscience recommend this to anyone. Not even a six year-old boy obsessed with anime, Americana and obnoxious nose bleeding techno.

All that being said, this must be put through the Cinespiria Shitometer. The results read, “Type 5 Stool: Soft blobs with clear-cut edges (passed easily).”

Rating: 3/10
Pairs well with: Banging your head against the bar in an obnoxious techno club in Estonia.

Film Review: The Devil’s Rejects (2005)

Also known as: House of 1000 Corpses 2, House of 2000 Corpses (working titles)
Release Date: July 22nd, 2005
Directed by: Rob Zombie
Written by: Rob Zombie
Music by: Tyler Bates
Cast: Sid Haig, Bill Moseley, Sheri Moon, Matthew McGrory, Ken Foree, William Forsythe, Leslie Easterbrook, E. G. Daily, Geoffrey Lewis, Priscilla Barnes, Kate Norby, Lew Temple, Danny Trejo, Diamond Dallas Page, Brian Posehn, Michael Berryman, P.J. Soles, Deborah Van Valkenburgh, Mary Woronov, Tyler Mane, Tom Towles (cameo)

Cinelamda, Lionsgate, 109 Minutes

Review:

“I am the devil, and I am here to do the devil’s work.” – Otis Driftwood

This was a film that I had in constant rotation for a few years after it came out. It has been quite a long time since I’ve seen it, however.

Most of what I remember is that I love the characters of Captain Spaulding and Otis and that they made it a fun experience. Granted, I recently revisited House of 1000 Corpses, so I was reminded of my appreciation for these characters. But they are played by Sid Haig and Bill Moseley, so why wouldn’t they be fantastic?

In the years since this was released, I was disappointed every single time that Rob Zombie made a new movie. Each one seemed to get worse and he showed himself to be a one trick pony. In fact, I gave up and I think I’ve missed a couple of his pictures now.

That being said, this is Rob Zombie’s best movie, as I assume that even the last couple don’t measure up, based off of what I’ve read about them.

This takes the world of House of 1000 Corpses, a decent homage to slashers and the “creepy family in the woods” shtick, and turns it into something else entirely. Where the first film feels like a combination of Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Friday the 13th, this film is more like Natural Born Killers. This takes the three main characters from the crazy killer family and puts them on the run from the law. And the law is led by a cop that turns out to be just as insane as the killers.

The most interesting thing about this picture is that it flips the script on the bad guys. The ones who tortured and murdered countless people end up in the victim’s chair when the sadistic cop finally has them in his possession. The hunters become the hunted and really, this is a film full of nothing but shitty people doing shitty things to one another. But it is still a neat little experiment to experience.

Sid Haig and Bill Moseley really take their game to a whole new level here and both were fantastic, charismatic and entertaining. Unfortunately, Sheri Moon, Rob Zombie’s wife that he always puts front in center in all of his movies, is pretty terrible. She sort of just exists to be some psychotic eye candy that spends more time showing her butt to the camera than doing anything worthwhile. I’ve also always found her voice to be annoying. Sorry, she just sticks out like a sore thumb in the worst way possible in everything that she is in. This film is no different.

One things this film does well, is it utilizes a lot of old school horror legends in good ways. The characters played by Ken Foree and Michael Berryman are entertaining and add a lot of depth to the film, as just following the three main characters starts to wear thin. Foree really comes in at the right time, diverting some attention away.

The film also has a cool bounty hunter duo played by Danny Trejo and Dallas Page. I liked them a lot and actually wish they got some sort of spin off. They had good chemistry, were enjoyable in their roles and probably have some other stories worth telling.

The most impressive performance, however, was by William Forsythe, who played the psycho sheriff hell bent on revenge against the killer family that murdered his brother in the previous movie. Forsythe was sick and twisted but had a badge and police force to back him up.

The Devil’s Rejects is far from a perfect film but it is better than House of 1000 Corpses and certainly a lot more polished than that film was.

Apparently a sequel is coming, even though the family gets gunned down in the final moments. I’m not looking forward to it though, as this was a good ending to the story and Zombie’s track record since this picture has been terrible.

Rating: 7.5/10
Pairs well with: Its predecessor House of 1000 Corpses.

TV Review: Doctor Who – The Ninth Doctor Era (2005)

Original Run: March 26th, 2005 – June 18th, 2005
Created by: Sydney Newman, C. E. Webber, Donald Wilson
Directed by: various
Written by: various
Music by: various, Murray Gold (since 2005)
Cast: Christopher Eccleston, Billie Piper, John Barrowman, Camille Coduri, Noel Clarke, Bruno Langley

BBC, 13 Episodes, 45 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

It has been a while since I’ve watched the Eccleston era of Doctor Who but I wanted to go back and start with the 2005 revival series from the beginning.

This is certainly the best place to start with modern Who but the beginning of any Doctor’s run is still a decent starting place. However, Eccleston’s debut is more pivotal than David Tennant’s, as it helps to establish Rose Tyler and her friends and family into the Doctor Who mythos, as they do carry over into the show when Tennant takes the reins from Eccleston.

The show starts off with a bang and features an episode with the evil Autons, a classic Who alien race that was always cool to see on screen but have not returned to the show since that first episode of the revival series.

The show then goes on to reacquaint us with what Doctor Who is and how the Time Lord operates in this vast universe, throughout all of time and space.

We meet new aliens but we also get reacquainted with the Daleks in three episodes. The first of which, being titled just Dalek. Still, to this day, it is one of the best episodes of the revived Doctor Who series.

Apart from Rose Tyler and her family of characters, we also get to meet Captain Jack Harkness, played by John Barrowman, who would also play Merlyn in Arrow and other CW shows revolving around DC Comics heroes. Harkness was so popular, actually, that he would get his own spin off show, Torchwood. Harkness is also one of those characters that fans have been clamoring for the producers to bring back. In this season of the show, Harkness is at his best.

All in all, this is a pretty good revival of the long running show. This season isn’t as good as what was to come with David Tennant (the Tenth Doctor) but it was a good foundation for the iconic series to return. Sadly, Eccleston left after these thirteen episodes but that also gave us Tennant, so I can’t be completely broken up about it.

Film Review: The Dukes of Hazzard (2005)

Release Date: August 5th, 2005
Directed by: Jay Chandrasekhar
Written by: John O’Brien, Jonathan L. Davis
Based on: characters created by Gy Waldron
Music by: Nathan Barr
Cast: Johnny Knoxville, Seann William Scott, Jessica Simpson, Burt Reynolds, Willie Nelson, David Koechner, M. C. Gainey, Lynda Carter, James Roday, Joe Don Baker

Village Roadshow Pictures, Warner Bros., 104 Minutes

Review:

“Derp, derp, derp, (expletive) derp!” – Everyone in the film

Man, what a pile of absolute shit this was.

Okay, let me say that I wasn’t expecting much, which is probably why I waited twelve years to watch a film based off of a television show I used to love. This also features some actors I like, so I was expecting, at the very least, something a bit better than total shit. But no, this is total shit.

The story is just a jumbled mess of scenes that are fairly nonsensical and for the most part, don’t advance the plot. This is just a film about gags and every now and then, we are reminded of some sort of narrative framework that is supposed to pull all this together. However, Knoxville’s Jackass movies have more of a unified narrative than this movie.

The film brings together Johnny Knoxville and Seann William Scott, two guys who have amused me in the past and who should have been pretty good together. However, with such a bad script and nearly non-existent direction, The Dukes of Hazzard makes Joe Dirt 2 look like 2001: A Space Odyssey.

I mean, this film’s script is so bad, that I wouldn’t even give it to Kim Jung Un to use as toilet paper. It’s the worst script I’ve seen that has actually gone before the camera in a really long time. Burt Reynolds and Willie Nelson should have been smarter than to have been in this fully loaded shit sandwich with a side of shitato salad and a 20 oz. cup Diet Dr. Shitter. Strangely, Nelson came back for a direct-to-video sequel.

This movie was one of the most painful experiences of my life. I tried to just focus on the beauty of Jessica Simpson but then she kept talking and I was reminded that this is a girl that doesn’t know the difference between tuna and chicken.

Of course this has to go through the Cinespiria Shitometer. The results read, “Type 3 Stool: Like a sausage but with cracks on its surface.”

Film Review: Walk the Line (2005)

Release Date: September 4th, 2005 (Telluride Film Festival)
Directed by: James Mangold
Written by: Gill Dennis, James Mangold
Based on: Man In Black: His Own Story In His Own Words and Cash: The Autobiography by Johnny Cash
Music by: T Bone Burnett
Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon, Ginnifer Goodwin, Robert Patrick, Dallas Roberts

Fox 2000 Pictures, 20th Century Fox, 136 Minutes (theatrical cut), 153 Minutes (extended cut)

Review:

“You wear black ’cause you can’t find anything else to wear? You found your sound ’cause you can’t play no better? You just tried to kiss me because “it just happened?” You should try take credit for something every once in a while, John.” – June Carter

I’ve been a big fan of Johnny Cash since the age I first sprouted ears. That being said, I hadn’t seen this film until recently. Reason being, there were a ton of musical legend biopics popping up in the early 2000s and whether they were critical successes or not, I was pretty burnt out on them.

To be honest, I’m kind of glad that I waited, as I saw this at the right time, when I needed to. Plus, being a good distance away from the slew of other biopics that were in abundance back then, allowed me to appreciate this better than I would have in 2005. Also, my knowledge on old country and rockabilly is richer than it was in 2005, so I was really drawn in to all the other famous characters worked into this picture’s narrative.

Besides just being a really good movie, Walk the Line really gave me an understanding of who June Carter was and why Johnny loved her. The film gave me an appreciation and a respect for her that I didn’t have before. I have to give a lot of the credit for that to Reese Witherspoon, who won an Academy Award for her performance here and deservedly so. She also held her own musically and her performance of “Juke Box Blues” was energetic and awesome. Her duets with Joaquin Phoenix were quite amazing, as well.

Speaking of which, Phoenix truly knocks it out of the park with his performance as Johnny Cash. He had the voice, the mannerisms and exuded the presence of Cash. His covers of Cash’s songs were also well done and more than convincing. One thing that really worked extraordinarily well in this movie were the live performances. Everyone involved in this picture created musical magic.

The film was directed by James Mangold, who most recently directed Hugh Jackman’s swan song as Wolverine, the stupendous Logan. From his work on this film, I can see why Mangold was given the reins to helm two Wolverine films, both of which were really good.

Walk the Line isn’t a perfect movie but it is a solid biopic that is only enhanced by the talent of its stars, its director and its stellar musical performances.