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A Step Up from the First AVP.
After the travesty that was Alien vs Predator, I wasn't really expecting much from Aliens vs Predator: Requiem. In all honesty, I was expecting more of the same. The last film had a lot of in-excusable flaws, (which I won't go into detail about here. This is, after all, a review of AVP: R, not AVP.) and not to say that this film isn't flawed, but it is a big step in the right direction for this franchise.
In Aliens vs Predator: Requiem, the Brothers Strause pick up the ball that Paul W.S. Anderson fumbled with the last film. The raw, gory, effects are here, which were sorely missing in AVP. The Aliens are in the shadows again; not out in plain sight and harsh light, as in the original. The Predator(s) actually look right in AVP:R; instead of the bulky, NFL-linebacker-like look in AVP, the Preds in AVP:R look like they're supposed to; lean, sleek, and stealthy.
As I said before, the Aliens in this film lurk in the shadows, like they're supposed to. In the glimpses you do see of them, they look great. Going back to the ridged-head-design from Jim Cameron's Aliens was a very nice touch and a treat for the fans of the franchise.
To put it bluntly, 99.9% of the special effects in this film are perfect.
The fights between the title creatures are perhaps the film's greatest improvement over AVP. Instead of being derived from something you'd see on a pro-wrestling program, here the creatures are allowed to shine in all their glory. To put it simply: Everything you wanted in the first film, action-wise, is here.
At the end of the day, the best thing that AVP:R does is show how incompetent of a director that Paul W.S. Anderson is. The Brothers Strause vastly improved what was, seemingly, a sinking ship.
I said before that the film is not without it's flaws. The story and characters within aren't all that great; On one end, you have standard, teenie-fare. On the other, you have a family drama. (Which is obviously derived, and a nod/homage, to the Newt/Ripley relationship from Aliens). Along the way, these two story lines cross; interwoven with the aforementioned, and very awesome, Alien/Predator carnage.
Previously, I mentioned that 99.9% of the special effects were perfect. It would be wrong not to mention the .1% that was slightly off. The CGI in this film isn't terrible, but one or two flubs may catch your eye.
Another thing that I've noticed is that the transfer on the DVD is really dark (and, from what I've heard, it was also dark in theaters.) and it's hard to see what's going on in a few spots. For some reason, I don't consider this a technical glitch. If it was merely a glitch, I'm thinking that they would have fixed it for the DVD release. The most plausible answer would be that cinematographer Daniel Pearl lit the film a bit too dark.
As for the acting, overall, it's pretty good. However, the only real stand-out performances are from John Ortiz (previously seen in Michael Mann's Miami Vice), who plays the not-so-sure-of-himself town Sheriff, and Ian Whyte as The Predator. (Who also portrayed the Predator(s)in the first AVP.) The story is very basic. A couple of lose ends aren't tied up but, overall, this film delivers and is a very fun watch.
Plane Dead (2007)
About what you'd expect...
An obvious cash-in on the *Insert Monster Here* On A Plane gimmick, Flight Of The Living Dead is about what you'd expect it to be.
The film has little or no plot, which is what you'd expect from a film of this type. Although, it is fun in parts, I must say. The Zombie-action is particularly entertaining. Once the film picks up, it never stops; the pacing is solid.
The practical special effects are pretty good, but the CGI is terrible and distracting.
The ending seems to leave the film open to a sequel. Let's hope that doesn't come to fruition.
If you're a die-hard fan of the zombie sub-genre of horror films, I'd recommend it to you; it's worth at least one watch. However, if you're just an avid fan of the genre, leave it on the shelf.
Freddy vs. Jason (2003)
An Insult To Both Franchises.
Perhaps no other horror film in history, at least in the Slasher sub-genre, was as anticipated as Freddy vs Jason. After spending years in development hell, the film was unleashed onto the public in August of 2003. Oh boy....
First, let me say that I am a huge fan of both franchises. I was raised on these films, and although some of them in both series', hit below the mark in many areas (Jason X, Freddy's Dead, etc.) none of them reached the lows that Freddy vs Jason plummeted to.
First, the film really doesn't have the feel of either series. Instead of the stark visuals and above average cinematography that we're used to seeing from the Friday the 13th and A Nightmare On Elm Street films, Freddy vs Jason looks like something you'd see in a direct-to-video release.
Next, the acting in this film is absolutely dreadful. I know some would say that neither series was known for it's Oscar caliber performances, but never has it been this bad. Plus, even if the acting was up to par, we wouldn't care, because none of the characters are likable... AT ALL.
Of course, what would Friday the 13th and A Nightmare On Elm Street be without their respected patriarchs Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger? Neither are given justice in this film. Jason seems to have changed ethnicity between films, and the Freddy-mythology that even the lesser-quality Freddy sequels was built on has been drastically altered.
Who could forget the trademarks of these films: The special effects? Well, in this one, Jason looks like a seven-foot homeless person who, thanks to a particularly robotic and stiff performance by Ken Kirzinger (who should not be mentioned in the same sentence as Kane Hodder and Ted White) does nothing more than stand on his mark and slowly swing his machete, which even seems to grow by several feet between scenes.
The Freddy make-up in this one isn't consistent either. It looks like a paint by numbers project which not even Robert Englund can bring to life.
The writing is also particularly bad. Many scripts for FVJ were rejected. The question is: Why wasn't this one thrown into the fire with the previously rejected scripts? It's THAT bad. Characters spout exposition in nearly every scene, Jason disappears for a good 30 minutes (without explanation), and the dialog is brutal. ("Freddy died by fire, Jason by water; how can we use that?") See what I mean? The film is more of a spoof on the genre than a full-fledged entry.
The title is also misleading. This film is not really Freddy vs Jason, but Freddy and Jason vs Teenagers. Only in the last 20 minutes do the title characters fight, and it doesn't really pay off. To say that this film is anti-climactic would be an understatement.
As fan of these films, I find this movie insulting to both the previous films, and the fans as well. As bad as some of the other sequels may be, this one takes the cake as the worst in both series'.
1/10, although I'd give it a 0 if I could.
Welcome to the Jungle (2007)
Cannibal Holocaust meets The Blair Witch Project in a fine film from the director of The Punisher.
While not the best film in the "handi-cam, first-person-POV" sub-genre of horror films, Welcome to the Jungle certainly takes it's place in the oft-hated "shaky-cam/documentary" wing of horror.
Jonathan Hensleigh, director of 2004's The Punisher, and writer of such films as Armageddon, Die Hard With A Vengeance, and The Saint, presents to us a first-hand, documentary-style account of a group of 20-somethings who venture into the jungles of New Guinea in search of the long-lost Michael Rockefeller.
The good: Great cinematography, great directing, beautiful scenery, and a compelling story. This film is very reminiscent of the Blair Witch Project, only more polished and less shaky. It takes the best elements of The Blair Witch Project and pushes them slightly further. In this writer's opinion, it draws a bit more from BWP than Cannibal Holocaust, although both of those aforementioned films' influences are very apparent.
The bad: You don't really care for the characters. Some of their actions are questionable, and while you care more for the "good" couple than you do for the drunken, drugged, "bad" couple; all four of the principal-characters come off as greedy, yuppie, crybabies.
While some reviewers will say that the film is boring in it's first half, I wouldn't go so far as to make that claim. The film does a good job of building up to it's final scenes. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that the first half is kind of compelling. The way the characters interact with each other is really entertaining to watch, especially when they turn on each other and split up.
Overall, this film is really good. It's miles ahead of the usual DTV crap that you're accustomed to, especially from Dimension Extreme.