Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? No, I-Robot meets Minority Report would be far more accurate. Surrogates is a sci-fi murder mystery starring one of my favorite action stars, Bruce "Yippee-ki-yay Motherfucker" Willis. From the very beginning of the film I knew this was a brilliant concept.

Let me give you the basic premise of this movie. In a futuristic version of modern day, people now live their lives through surrogate robots, essentially cyborg-like avatars that are customized to whatever specifications the operator wants. Originally designed to help the disabled, these machines are now commonplace in society,  allowing anyone to live as they wish they had been born. The entire premise is an interesting look at the potential future of my generation. Surrogates will keep you engaged, inquisitive, and staring at the overly smooth faces of all the robot versions of the actors.

Like most high-budget movies, the acting in this is spectacular, though it doesn't hurt that my main man, Mr. "Does-he-look-like-a-bitch" Ving Rhames is in it. With the proper suspension of disbelief, this flick made this viewer (at least) question where we as a society will be progressing if we continue to hide behind virtual versions of ourselves. This allegorical reference to online communication also contains enough twists and turns in the plot to keep you on your toes.

The graphics may not be "eye-popping", but they are definitely remarkable, and you will probably find yourself staring at the inhumanly smooth characters that abound in this film. I kept wondering if Bruce Willis found it eerie, looking at a 30-years-younger version of himself, when he watched the pre-screening.

If you're a fan of Sci-Fi, or at least out-there murder mysteries, give Surrogates a shot. I give it 8 out of 10, but it's a high 8. I'll probably be picking this one up at some point.


Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant

So not 15 minutes into this movie it dawns on me that this is probably based on a book. It also dawns on me that this book is probably meant for people 13-17 (give or take), and that this is probably a book in a series of books... for people 13-17. It is about now that it dawns on me that I will probably not see the rest of them.

Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant is an interesting concept for a movie (or book) but, unfortunately, it's an immature movie meant for an immature crowd. Now don't get me wrong, it was reasonably entertaining to watch, but it lacked any real flow to the movie. The plot was completely aimless, and though there was forward momentum, it didn't feel like that movement had a real purpose to it. Perhaps I would have appreciated it more being a fan of the books, but seeing that I'm not, I didn't. It was the standard good guys versus bad guys plot, with some interesting characters thrown into the mix and an open-ended-lack-of-conclusion that all the cool kids seem to be doing now days.

The cast was surprisingly all-star, with Chow Yun-Fat, Salma Hayek, and in a bizarre casting choice, John C. Reilly as the serious, mentoring vampiric boss. There are a few other appearances of well-known faces amongst the characters, but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get over John C. Reilly. For those of you who don't recognize the name (or are too damn lazy to click the wiki-link), you may know John C. Reilly from such films as Step Brothers, Talladega Nights, Walk Hard, and even more serious films like Chicago, Gangs of New York, and Days of Thunder. He's in a bunch others I don't care to list off, but as of late he has leaned towards the more "stupid-funny" comedies. Due to this type-casting, I couldn't take him seriously through out the entire movie. I just failed to picture him as this mysterious, and powerful vampire who has lived for hundreds of years and could impart the wisdom and guidance necessary to the future generations. Maybe I am stereotyping vampires, but he just didn't fit the role in my eyes, which distracted from the movie as a whole.

Everything else is, frankly, uneventful. Things happen, people change, and life goes on. You may come to care about certain characters, but basically this movie felt like something that would have been better suited as a television series on the Sci-fi channel or Fox network than a cinematic masterpiece. I chuckled a few times and enjoyed seeing the various stars in less serious roles, and for that I give this movie 6 out of 10. Not bad, but more for fans of the series.



Stepfather - 2009

Lemme start off by saying, I have never seen the original Stepfather in the 80's. I am approaching this movie as if it wasn't a remake because frankly, until I looked up the movie poster for this blog, I thought it -was- an original idea. Despite the fact that every time I looked at the main villain I saw Sean McNamara from Nip/Tuck (and then proceeded to wonder if he was the one who had given all the female characters of the cast nose jobs..), Dylan Wash did an excellent job.

The basic premise of the movie is boy meets girl. Girl falls in love. Boy hacks family apart. Lather, Rinse, Repeat. Despite the younger siblings having basically nonexistent roles in the movie, the rest of the supporting cast upholds their end of the bargain convincingly. There are no real twists or turns to this plot, so don't expect some off the wall secret to come spilling out at a climatic end that reveals that the whole family are really werewolves. The musical score isn't really there, but in a hack 'n slash "hand that rocks the cradle" like this one, you don't really need it. While you may find yourself wondering how blitheringly-blind the mother can be, there are enough moments to make you go "ooh, yeah, smart move! fight back!" as the family doesn't just roll over like the typical victims. Not a whole lot of gore, but enough violence to keep you interested. Plot and victim order leaves something to be desired, but not enough that you wonder why the hell you just watched that piece of crap afterwards.

This thriller might not make you want to watch it every week for months on end, but you won't mind watching it again a few days later to show your friends. Overall opinion? Rent it, don't buy it. You'll probably watch it when you flip by it on T.V. but I don't see anyone listing this in their top 50 thrillers of all time. 7 out of 10. Still better than some of the tripe they're pumping out now days. And I gave it an extra quarter of a point for not having Paris Hilton in it.



Tomie Vs. Tomie

I decided to kick off this blog with a cinematic condemnation of a favorite manga's latest incarnation. Junji Ito is a fantastic horror manga-ka, but the film adaptations of his works take some getting use to. Tomie is one of his most beloved, or feared perhaps, characters and the role of this terrifying temptress is coveted by many Japanese actresses. The most recent release, of what is now a long running series of films, falls flat once more. Now, don't get me wrong, this movie is much better than the last few installments in the series, but that doesn't make it a masterpiece.

Tomie vs. Tomie has a reasonably good use of camera angles and can build the mood up very nicely in certain areas (for fans of Japanese horror, that is), however it doesn't quite possess the necessary mystery that the first few movies grasped. The special effects could cause a slight skin-crawling feeling at certain times, but at others it made you almost laugh at how unrealistic the latex "decay" came across. (I spent a good chunk of the movie trying to figure out exactly what it was, convinced it was Swamp-Thing-Acne.)

The casting is reasonably well done, and the acting about par with most low budget Japanese horrors. You're going to have some people screaming in "anger", when really all they are doing is making loud-noises. The main actor isn't too hard on the eyes, and the actresses chosen to play Tomie were well thought out, reasonably matching, and perhaps to some less observant people (or with drunken blurry vision), identical. The plot was basic, with a few small twists at the end that, at least for fans of Tomie, might be interesting. The main redeeming quality of the film was the very end, which came to a slightly confusing but mostly interesting conclusion.

Unfortunately, there are too many real faults to this movie for the few higher notes to save it from failure in my eyes. What could have been an interesting premise on film ended up being nothing more than another droll Japanese horror that will fall into slight obscurity except to fans of the manga who will want to watch it for completions sake. There was no real depth to any of the characters, no real satisfying climatic confrontation, and absolutely no real graphic or psychological terror blended into the cinematography. Overall, I give it 4 out of 10, only because my love of Junji Ito is making me feel generous.