31 Days of Horror Part II: Day 28 – The Collection (2012)

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Director: Marcus Dunstan

Cast: Josh Stewart, Emma Fitzpatrick, Christopher McDonald, Randall Archer, Lee Tergesen

Screenplay: Patrick Melton, Marcus Dunstan

82 mins. Rated R for strong bloody violence, grisly images, language and brief nudity.

 

The 2009 film The Collector was written as a prequel to Saw, but when the producers vetoed that option, it became The Collector. While The Collector had its moments, it had just as many faults. Director Marcus Dunstan seems to have learned from his mistakes for the 2012 sequel The Collection, a highly stylized game of cat and mouse which sees Arkin (Josh Stewart, Interstellar, Transcendence) escaping from the clutches of The Collector (Randall Archer). Immediately after, Arkin is enlisted by Lucello (Lee Tergesen, Monster, Red Tails) and his boss Mr. Peters (Christopher McDonald, Requiem for a Dream, About Last Night) to find Peters’ daughter Elena (Emma Fitzpatrick, The Social Network, Before We Go), the Collector’s newest claim. When they get to the slasher’s lair, they discover that the Collector has a few more tricks in store for them.

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I’m not going to tell you that The Collection is a perfect horror film. It has faults, but it takes a major step up from its predecessor. Arkin has become a much more likable lead, having evolved from his criminal ways. The addition of equally likable Elena and Lucello, we have several characters that we care about. We want to see them live. When they fall into danger, I genuinely wanted them to survive.

I enjoyed the Collector’s background and the extensive look at how he operates as a serial killer, and though I agree that his lair and the traps he sets seem almost like he has second sight, but if you can suspend your disbelief enough, you can find fun here.

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The Collection won’t be for everyone. The film has a lot of detractors, but fans of the original will find a lot to like. Its creative team has evolved in the three years between the films, and it looks good for future endeavors.

 

3.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

For more 31 Days of Horror, click here.

For my review of Marcus Dunstan’s The Collector, click here.

Hot Tub Time Machine 2 (2015)

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Director: Steve Pink

Cast: Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson, Clark Duke, Adam Scott, Chevy Chase

Screenplay: Josh Heald

93 mins. Rated R for crude sexual content and language throughout, graphic nudity, drug use and some violence.

 

After being pushed back each year, 2015 finally saw the release of the anticipated sequel Hot Tub Time Machine 2. Was it worth it?

Left to right: Clark Duke is Jacob, Rob Corddry is Lou, and Craig Robinson is Nick in HOT TUB TIME MACHINE 2, from Paramount Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures. 

After changing the future by fixing the past, Lou (TV’s Children Hospital, Sex Tape), Nick (Craig Robinson, This is the End, Get on Up), and Jacob (Clark Duke, TV’s Greek, A Merry Friggin’ Christmas) have been living the good life. That is, until Lou is attacked at a party and his friends are forced to travel through time to save him. The plot only gets more convoluted as it goes.

Hot Tub Time Machine is one of my all-time favorite comedies. I was absolutely shocked by how enjoyable the film ended up being. Hot Tub Time Machine 2 didn’t give the same reaction. This film took everything great from the first film and inverted it into something upsetting. First of all, the loss of John Cusack, who would’ve cost more money but would’ve been worth it. The way he was written out is all the more upsetting as they just sort of don’t know where he is but there are all clues that point him out as a possible villain. It just doesn’t make sense in the context of the story. John Cusack does return in a two-second cameo in the unrated version but it doesn’t help.

Without Cusack, we end up with a story led by Rob Corddry’s Lou, a wholly unlikable character. The only reason he works in the first film is that Cusack’s Adam is the more likable lead. Even Craig Robinson comes off as a less-likable person, which I thought was impossible.

As far as new characters go, Adam Jr. (Adam Scott, TV’s Parks and Recreation, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty) is the underutilized son of John Cusack’s character that we meet in the future. The timeline is confusingly placed here and only furthers the unlikable way we view Adam Sr. The normally comedic Adam Scott in the role is wasted as his character comes off as too stupid to be funny. He doesn’t get the opportunity to flex his acting chops.

It’s hard to blame these actors because of the horribly confusing and ever-increasingly-convoluted screenplay. This is some bad writing put forth into a bad movie. Director Steve Pink (Accepted, About Last Night) seems to have lost what little good ability he had since the original film.

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Hot Tub Time Machine 2 has a few moments that feel like they are about to redeem the film, but each time it happens, the film falls back into the minutiae of regrettable choices that serve to demean the film and leave one with a horrible taste in the mouth. Do with that what you will.

 

2/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

For my review of Steve Pink’s Hot Tub Time Machine, click here.

 

[Happy 15th Birthday!] Requiem for a Dream (2000)

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Director: Darren Aronofsky

Cast: Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly, Marlon Wayans, Christopher McDonald

Screenplay: Hubert Selby Jr., Darren Aronofsky

102 mins. Rated R for intense depictions of drug addiction, graphic sexuality, strong language and some violence.

  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Actress in a Leading Role (Ellen Burstyn)

iMDB Top 250: #90 (as of 1/24/2016)

Damn, this is a tough movie to watch. Warning: This isn’t a movie that will make you happy.

Sara Goldfarb (Ellen Burstyn, Interstellar, Draft Day) just found out that she is going to be on television. Her son, Harry (Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club, Mr. Nobody), an addict, is about to make some primo money selling drugs. His friend Tyrone (Marlon Wayans, White Chicks, A Haunted House 2) just wants to be a good kid. Harry’s girlfriend Marion (Jennifer Connelly, A Beautiful Mind, Winter’s Tale), wants to design clothing. Each has dreams of becoming better than they are, but unfortunately for them, they are all addicts slowly falling deeper and deeper into their delusions of happiness in this film from director Darren Aronofsky (Pi, Noah).

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Damn, I’ve seen Requiem for a Dream a couple times now, and it doesn’t get any easier, but this is a work of pure art that almost requires itself to be seen. It isn’t an easy film, and no one is walking out happy, but if you want a truer depiction of addiction, you will not find it anywhere else.

Ellen Burstyn is pure magic as Sara, the matriarch who needs to cut her addiction to fatty foods and in the process finds a new vice. Jared Leto is a kid with one foot in the grave who keeps slipping deeper and deeper into it. Jennifer Connelly’s Marion has so much drive but can’t seem to break out of her chains.

Christopher McDonald (Happy Gilmore, About Last Night) was perfect casting as Tappy Tibbons, a TV personality trying to sell his new books to the masses. He is unnerving and terrifying and everything he needs to be to those who need him.

Aronofsky’s film is jarring and painful to watch, mostly because it is a visual drug trip happening in real time. When the characters shoot up, you shoot up. When the characters make love, you make love. When the characters lose all self-respect, guess what. So do you. It isn’t easy, but it is real.

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The dreamlike qualities combined with the realism about vices and the drugs that surround us all make Requiem for a Dream one of the most painful experiences in film history. That’s about as complimentary I make it sound. It is stunning and gruesome and works perfectly at everything it tries to be. If you can, see this film.

5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

For my review of Darren Aronofsky’s Noah, click here.

Hot Tube Time Machine (2010)

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Director: Steve Pink

Cast: John Cusack, Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson, Clark Duke, Crispin Glover, Lizzy Caplan, Chevy Chase

Screenplay: Josh Heald, Sean Anders, John Morris

101 mins. Rated R for strong crude and sexual content, nudity, drug use and pervasive language.

 

Okay, so John Cusack (Being John Malkovitch, Drive Hard) signed on to this film immediately after hearing the title, but then again, wouldn’t you?

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Hot Tub Time Machine tells the story of three friends who have grown apart. Adam (Cusack) has just become single and alone…again, Nick (Craig Robinson, This is the End, Get on Up) works at his dead-end job and dreams of being a famous musician, and Lou (Rob Corddry, TV’s Childrens Hospital, Muppets Most Wanted) is a drunk loser…still. But after a near-fatal accident, the three friends decide to relive their glory days at Kodiak Valley, they, along with Adam’s nephew Jacob (TV’s Greek, A Merry Friggin’ Christmas), come across a malfunctioning hot tub that sends them back in time to the 1980s where they have the chance to right their wrongs, or mess their entire future up.

First of all, the opening credits. This is how you open a film. It sets the tone with a goofy montage of people partying in hot tubs. Simple, yet perfect. The entire opening sets the stage for this film perfectly. You know exactly what you are getting into.

John Cusack is the perfect guy to carry this film. A staple of 80s pop culture himself, Cusack’s helpless romantic Adam thinks he can fix his broken relationship to his Great White Buffalo (long-lost love), but he can’t see his own strengths.

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Really, this film is nearly flawless as a piece of comedy gold. There are two jokes that fall flat at the beginning, but this film’s references to masterpieces  like Better Off Dead…, Back to the Future, and The Karate Kid come off great and feature a group of actors not fighting for themselves but servicing the group and the film, a hilarious screenplay from Josh Heald, Sean Anders, and John Morris added to the well-stylized direction of Steve Pink (Accepted, About Last Night) are what makes Hot Tub Time Machine near-perfection. If you haven’t seen it, see it. This just might be the Great White Buffalo you’ve been waiting for.

 

5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

February 2014 Preview

I want to put this out there right now. I have not seen these films. I haven’t. The ides of this preview is more of a way to tell you about the upcoming films this month, offer photos or trailer info, and help you make the best decision possible about what you want to see this month and what can probably wait until home video or Netflix.

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The Lego Movie:

Emmet, an ordinary everyday Lego figure, is mistaken for the Special (an all-powerful Master Builder) and receives help from a cadre of Lego creations to stop the Evil Lord Business from gluing the Lego world together. I had reservations about this film, and I still do. You are probably asking the same thing I was. “How do you make Legos into a movie?” I’m still not sure how, but I trust the work of Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the co-directors of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and 21 Jump Street. These guys understand comedy, and they understand story. I think we have limitless opportunities within the Lego-verse to pull stories from, and I have excitement to find out what has been created.

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The Monuments Men:

A group of men in World War II are tasked with retrieving stolen art from the Nazis and returning them to their owners. Okay, I like this cast. I don’t think this film can carry us for two hours. I like George Clooney, but he picks some weird projects as a director and his abilites have not proven to me that he is a guarantee.

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Vampire Academy:

Based on the 2007 novel, Rose is a human/vampire hybrid known as a Dhampir. That’s about it. Vampires are dead. No pun intended. They have just been done to death. There I go again. Probably won’t be good. I don’t care to see it at all.

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RoboCop:

This is a remake of the 80s cult classic about Alex Murphy, a great cop gunned down in his prime and rebuilt as RoboCop, a perfect law-enforcement machine. There have probably been some minor changes, but I just don’t think a remake was the right way to go. Can’t we just get a good sequel instead of telling the same story?

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About Last Night:

Another remake from the 80s, this one a romantic comedy. Just see the original, this one doesn’t look to entice anyone.

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Endless Love:

Holy crap, another remake from the 80s. Don’t spend you money on this one. Rent the original. Please.

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Winter’s Tale:

Based on the novel. Don’t know much, but I am enticed. I can’t even explain the plot really, so just check the trailer. Looks to be a love story that I think will bring the fellas in as well.

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Pompeii:

Paul W.S. Anderson is perhaps the king of the forgettable action film. The only thing people really remember him for is Resident Evil, and even that series has dried up from unoriginality. This one looks entertaining, but ask yourself, “Why release it in February? Wouldn’t it make for a better summer release?” Good question, class. My guess is, this film isn’t worthy of a summer release, so it has been dumped off early in the year to provide less similar competition and hopefully earn back money most likely lost elsewhere.

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3 Days to Kill:

This looks like a failed attempt to strike gold twice in the same way that Taken did five years ago. Aging Action Superstar! This film will be forgotten.

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In Secret:

I went ahead and watched the trailer for this film, as I know nothing about it. Another story of forbidden love, murder, and over-drama. Rent it.

Here’s the trailer for you:

Vengeance

Vengeance:

Vengeance is literally a movie about…wait for it…Vengeance. Didn’t see much story here. Watched the trailer. Still no story here. Skip it.

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Son of God:

Do not pay money for this film. Rent it at the very most, but understand this going in. This film is made up of scenes from the miniseries event The Bible with deleted scenes from the miniseries. Let’s not expect a whole lot. I liked The Bible, but I will not spend ten bucks for what is a ripoff.

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Welcome to Yesterday:

Welcome to Yesterday seems like a found-footage Butterfly Effect, and that is because it is. These movies about teenagers encountering something cray-cray appeal to very few, so be cautious if you really really want to see this.

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Non-Stop:

I want to hate this movie because it feels like it could be an attempt at getting Taken again as I mentioned earlier. I want to hate it, but I just can’t. Liam Neeson doesn’t do a crazy-ton of action movies, so I tend to lean on his good graces when he does one. I think this will be fun. There, I said it.

There you have it, February 2014 in Preview Form, let’s cover this again.

Best Bets: The Lego Movie, Winter’s Tale, Non-Stop.

Likely Misses: Vampire Academy, About Last Night, Endless Love, 3 Days to Kill, Pompeii, Veangeance, Son of God, Welcome to Yesterday.

Up in the Air: The Monuments Men, RoboCop.

I gave you the tools. Use them. And tell me what you think. Is there anything I missed?

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