Tag Archives: zombie movies

Movie Review: Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead

I would like to preface this review by saying I never expected Dead Snow to be a good movie. Something I do to relax and calm my nerves is watch a bad movie and hate on it, which Netflix is the perfect avenue for. I brought up a zombie movie I did not expect it to be good. Dead Snow was a rare exception on Netflix, at least these days. It was a truly good film.

Good, not great. Looking back on it and skimming over the review I did for Dead Snow, something I continually hammered on was director Tommy Wirkola’s lack of direction and the film’s immobility for most of the first half. There was some suspense and there was a little pull on me to stick with it, but I think that pull may have been my want to see a movie at the time and not a pull from Wirkola.

However, I’ve seen Dead Snow twice which means it has some draw to it and I think that draw is that it’s too fun of a movie to not show your friends. It drags, it can be incompetent material at times and it’s certainly not to be taken seriously but it adequately meets the standard of fun.

So I was pumped for Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead. Despite its flaws as a film, I have fond memories of Dead Snow and while I had no idea how the film’s story would transition into a sequel, this was a film I was okay with having a sequel. There are so many sequels these days that are made purely for the dough and not for the story. This was a film that was made for the fun it gave the crew that made it and the fans who watched it. It only made $1.9 million at the box office.

Yes, Dead Snow is a foreign film, made in Norway, so you should probably take that into consideration, but I applaud the efforts. Money was not the top goal here and I truly appreciate that. Nice to see we’re not all obsessed with gold like those Nazi zombies in Dead Snow.

Watching Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead with my roommate and good friend, Jon and some guys around the dorm was a blast and carried so much more weight for me than its predecessor.

For one, Wirkola decided to loosen the reins on this script and just let it flow. The way the dialogue was written, I don’t think Wirkola needed to do much here.

The reason I say that is because Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead is more comedy than any zombie movie I have ever seen, including Zombieland. This movie is a gut-buster in more ways than one. Dark humor is a mainstay. Wirkola loves having people lose their intestines so enjoy some of that. Like for real, I think there’s an intestine obsession going on here. Trying saying that three times fast.

The costumes and visual effects took a step up in this film, as did the tempo and entertainment value.

The plot is out there and it’s a go-with-it element. If you’ve been reading this for a while, you know I hate go-with-it elements but when utilized in comedies, it doesn’t bug me as much. Yes, this story is pretty ridiculous on quite a few levels but if you’re willing to accept them for what they are, you can have a real blast with this film.

The comedy writing is phenomenal and the actors do a pretty good job of dropping their lines into our greedy, give-me-more hands. With that said, this film isn’t all a party. Action sequences are taken seriously even if some of the kills in this film are exceedingly preposterous. Not saying that some of these kills would or would not happen, but the creativity this film offers with our zombie-executions is remarkable. It kept me laughing the whole way through.

The amount of time that these actors invested into this film can be demonstrated not by their performances but by the way they handle these roles. The timing is perfect. No joke fell flat. If anything, it felt like each one was on an escalator. After each one, we found ourselves holding our breath in anticipation of the next one. Then the dominoes of our self-control would come crumbling down after yet another brilliantly-executed gag.

Yet, there was something that Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead was missing and it took me a couple minutes following the film to realize what it was. What Wirkola’s sequel is missing is not uncommon. Nearly every comedy I watch is missing it because when screenwriters go to the drawing board, this isn’t the first, second or third thing that comes to their minds. The thing that’s missing is a takeaway, a life lesson.

A quick example of what I mean by life lesson can be demonstrated in a speech in Step Brothers.

Yeah, I’ll own up to it. I just used a Will Ferrell film to demonstrate what I love in comedies. Sometimes his films really miss the mark, but Step Brothers was not one of them.

At the infamous Catalina Wine Mixer, we get a speech that indirectly says, grow up, but never forget your childhood. I’m talking about the “don’t lose your dinosaur” speech.

If you haven’t seen Step Brothers yet, shame on you sir/madam. Shame on you.

Basically, the whole reason Step Brothers gets so many point from me (I haven’t written a review on this yet but when I do, I think my score will surprise you) is because it understood that life can’t be all about laughs. It isn’t. That’s not how life works. Life gets serious more often than it gets funny and while we watch comedies to distract us from the stresses of our lives, we need to be given some confidence as well, something that gives us that boost of motivation to want to go back out there and weather the storm. Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead is missing that.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.  

90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (American BeautyGone GirlMulanGuardians of the GalaxyDawn of the Planet of the Apes)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (The Cable GuyThe Cabin in the WoodsTears of the SunEdge of TomorrowThe Amazing Spider-Man 2)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too.(SnowpiercerThe FamilyWhen the Game Stands TallBlack Hawk DownRed Dawn(2012))

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (TwistedParkerHouse at the End of the StreetThe RavenDead Snow)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (RageZoolanderThe Expendables 3HomefrontG.I. Joe: Retaliation)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (ErasedI, FrankensteinThe Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1Teenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesBilly Madison)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (CenturionPlanet of the ApesStonadosRedemptionPride and Prejudice)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (The ColonyIn the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege TaleThe GreyX-Men: Days of Future PastThor: The Dark World)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (SabotageGallowwalkersTucker & Dale vs. EvilSafeWatchmen)

My score for Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead: 72.

You’ll find brand new fire in this installment and it’s a jolly good time, but absence of the reflection element, as well as any real character depth, does make this a journey without a compass. Dead Snow: Red vs. Dead still comes highly recommended from me. It is sure to tickle your funny bone at some point.

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Movie Review: Dawn of the Dead

I saw part of the remake of Dawn of the Dead before on TV but I never saw the original. My friend Sean and I watched it the other day.

Director George Romero is one of the most famous names in horror movies and his zombie movies were huge box office hits. Dawn of the Dead was made on a budget of $650,000 and made an incredible $55,000,000 at the box office. Filmed in the Pittsburgh area, specifically Monroeville Mall, it also has a local touch to it.

The movie is slow to start but a large portion of that is because the movie explains what zombies are as well as the basics to killing them. The concept of zombies was not widely known at the time so this was necessary for audiences back then. I know plenty about zombies so while I found it boring and unnecessary, it was definitely relevant for people back then so I’m not taking points off for that.

The character development could have been better but it’s not bad.  Because there are only four main characters, development has to be there or the movie suffers, and Romero does a good job for the most part with the characters. I didn’t feel like I got to know who Francine was at all, but I didn’t care for her character much in the first place. Nonetheless some more character exploration would have been nice.

The effects could also have been better but for a movie made in 1978, they’re acceptable.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog,  I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.

 90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (Iron Man 3World War Z42Just Go With It)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (Man of SteelMonster-In-LawWhite House DownJobsThe Truman Show)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (SharknadoThe Usual Suspects21 Jump StreetEscape Plan, Captain America: The First Avenger)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (Pacific RimThe Long Kiss Goodnight)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (Road to PerditionTotal RecallDodgeball: A True Underdog StoryAlong Came PollyAliens)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (Patriot GamesThe Great GatsbyPitch BlackAlien)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30’s ironically define the 1930’s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (The ContractPride and Prejudice)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (The Sum of All Fears)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (Midnight CowboyDark FuryAlien 3)

My score for Dawn of the Dead: 75.

This was a groundbreaking movie for the zombie genre and Romero’s work in doing so cannot be overstated. The special effects could have used some work and some of the decisions the characters make are very questionable. The entertainment factor could have been better as well because while I didn’t hate this movie by any means, I also didn’t love it.

*SPOILER ALERT* IF YOU DON’T WANT THE MOVIE SPOILED, STOP READING!!!

*SPOILER’S EDITION*

Roger is an idiot in this movie and despite police training, does not show professional competence in the field nor does he grasp the severity of the situation until he’s bitten and realizes he’s going to die. I really didn’t care what happened to him.

According to Romero, zombies still have their memories when they die, something I don’t agree with but that is a zombie facts argument not a slam against the movie. However, when Stephen dies, he immediately heads to the fake door that the group put up so that intruders wouldn’t be able to get to their residence. Zombies have no brains so that coupled with there’s no way a zombie could think that fast causes problems for me. Roger gets bitten and doesn’t turn for like a week even though I’m pretty sure the widely held belief on the turning period is 24 hours.

It’s got some flaws, but for being the first zombie movie, it’s pretty good.

 

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Movie Review: World War Z

My brother and I have been looking forward to this apocalyptic zombie flick for a while now so to say I was expecting a lot from this film would be a true statement.

You’re thrown right into the action with this film. Director Marc Foster wasted no time discussing an elaborate back story or giving us an in-depth personality evaluation of the family. Foster knew the audience didn’t need this so he simplified it by basically saying, “Hey, here’s a family and the father, Gerry Lane (Pitt), he’s ex-military. And action!”

After leading his family to a navy aircraft carrier, the captain tells Lane he needs him to find a cure. When Lane refuses, the captain says “you search or you and your family are getting kicked off.” Obviously we can guess what Lane chooses to do, but this choice leads into a character connection with the audience.

It’s very important that a character connection is opened with the audience so early, because similar to After Earth, no one is in this film very long aside from Brad Pitt. Everyone around him seems to die or leave. This can be a major problem if you can’t relate to the main character, but Pitt does such a great job with this role that I’d be surprised if you didn’t connect with him. It takes a great actor to basically carry a movie on his shoulders, but Pitt made it look easy.

The action scenes are pretty intense and that’s without blood and guts being all over the screen. That’s a testament to how good these scenes were, not a testament to the constant criticism of “no blood/guts, not a good zombie movie”. My adrenaline was pumping throughout.

The movie was very suspenseful. At some points I was at the edge of my seat and at other points my hands were in front of my mouth because I was unsure what would happen next. After each moment I would breathe a sigh of relief, only to be startled by something I never saw coming.

I will warn you that the zombies in this movie are not slow like in the typical zombie flick. They are incredibly fast, so fast that at times I will admit I was questioning myself how Brad Pitt was outrunning them when on-screen it looked like he was barely jogging. While I think zombies would be slow if a zombie apocalypse were to occur, it didn’t bother me too much that the filmmakers decided to change things up a bit. Sometimes spicing things up leads to great new ideas and audiences are always looking for something new.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog,  I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.

 90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (Iron Man 3)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (Star Trek Into DarknessNow You See MeMan of SteelMonster-In-Law)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (Oblivion)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one.

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (The HobbitAfter EarthRoad to Perdition)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this.

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30’s ironically define the 1930’s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (The Contract, Pride and Prejudice)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow.

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.”

My score for World War Z: 91.

Despite going against the grain of popular zombie movies, World War Z kept me entertained throughout. Brad Pitt was as good as ever and took the burden of being the star actor, supporting actor(because there isn’t really anybody else) and producer of this film like a boss. The filmmakers brought a new idea for a zombie movie to the big screen and I loved it.

*SPOILER ALERT* IF YOU DON’T WANT THE MOVIE SPOILED, STOP READING!!!

*SPOILER’S EDITION*

Real quick, I’d like to reiterate how suspenseful this movie really was. Like at the end, let’s be honest people, Gerry Lane sucks at walking! Kicking over Mountain Dew cans in the middle of an empty floor and later on stepping on all the big pieces of glass! I wanted to jump out of my seat and start screaming at him I was so into this movie.

My only complaint with this movie occurs during Lane’s visit to Jerusalem. The city is entirely safe with giant walls protecting the whole city. Life in Jerusalem is just as it was before the outbreak. However, some people have the great idea of turning on a microphone and singing their lungs out. What?! Haven’t any of these people read about basic zombie survival tips? I don’t know if this movie was meant to be like no one knew anything about zombies prior to the outbreak or not, but for a second let’s assume that’s the case. It took the zombies at least a minute and a half to pile onto each other climbing that wall. Why didn’t Lane say something? You think he would have noticed the obnoxious singing while trying to hold an important conversation. This scene was necessary to move the plot forward so it wasn’t a huge deal to me, but I was still like, “Wow, Israel, you guys make huge walls around your city because you’re smart as hell and then get swarmed by zombies because you’re dumb as hell.”

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