WolfCop (2014) – Review

As seen on CinemaParadiso.

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Let me begin by saying that Teen Wolf is one of my favourite television shows, and comes from one of the best movies the 80s has to offer. As per the natural reaction, when hearing the name WolfCop, immediate thoughts do not go to ‘award winning’ and ‘influential’, but that does not mean you will not enjoy yourself. This film is a perfect mix of comedy and horror, and is the next in line of popular B-Grade films.

The film follows Lou, an alcoholic policeman who has a habit of making a mess of things. While he is used to waking up in unfamiliar places, when he begins to become hirsute, even he knows there is something strange happening. With turning into a werewolf just part of a bigger, scarier, story, Lou will need to figure out how to save the day, and hopefully become a better man.

The story is interesting, but has trouble working as a full-length feature. Lowell Dean (the director) had won a trailer contest that gave him $1 million USD to make the film, but it probably would have been better as a slightly-longer short film. Parts of the story were fleshed-out, while others were only granted a short screen-time before we were moved along.

B-Grade films have been rising in popularity over the last couple of years – including Sharknado and Piranha – and WolfCop is definitely set to be one of them. It does not try to be anything more than what it is, and allows the audience to escape their lives for two hours and have some entertainment.

The actors are not A-listers, but they play the characters well. When it comes to films, personally, I like it better when I am not seeing the same actors over and over again. Even though this film is far from realistic, not knowing the actors makes it more believable.

Creating a mix of genres is where a lot of films fail. WolfCop was not too bad. Its horror was more gory than scary, but some lines can get a chuckle.

The filming style/technique of WolfCop is also notable. While other feature films are spending millions of dollars on computer-generated imagery, Dean instead used practical effects. This not only let them work on a much-lower budget, but also allowed the team to have greater control over the production.

The reviews have been quite mixed. There are always going to be those that do not appreciate a B-Grade movie for what it is, and mock it for its style. But for those that see these types of movies for what they are, they will understand how brilliant it is.

Obviously this is not a film suitable for kids, and there are many out there that do not like horror and gore. Me, I am in the latter category, but for everyone else, this is sure to be a mindless and enjoyable film.

2 out of 5 stars

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The Longest Week (2014) – Review

As seen on CinemaParadiso.


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What is it about attractive, rich, men who refuse to grow up that entertain us so much? These characters have run wild on Film (from Arthur Bach in Arthur to Tony Stark in Iron Man) and Television (Joey Tribbiani in Friends and Barney Stinson in How I Met Your Mother), increasing in popularity especially in the recent years. The Longest Week attempts to make us root for characters we would hate in real life, but while the comedy aspects hits their mark, the film unfortunately lacks in the more dramatic moments.

Conrad Valmont (Jason Bateman) lives the ultimate life of luxury. He wakes up in his lavish Manhattan Hotel, dresses in only the best clothes, and spends his days doing absolutely anything he wants. The only problem is that his parents will no longer fund his aimless existence. Within a single week, Conrad no longer has a home, no longer has money, and no longer has his wonderful life. His writing career barely lifts off the ground, and he resorts to ‘bunking’ with his best friend Dylan Tate. And, just when he thinks it cannot get any worse, he finds himself in love with Dylan’s girlfriend.

The Longest Week’s cast-list boasts quite a few talented names. Jason Bateman has really surged in popularity since his role as Michael Bluth in Arrested Development (2003-2006, then 2013). He has gone from film to film, even taking jobs behind the camera, but has not been able to find the same success. I have only recently heard the name ‘Billy Crudup’ – who plays Conrad’s friend in the film – yet now it seems his name is everywhere. He has already been in three films this year, where he never played the same type of character twice. Unfortunately, though the cast are known for their ability to deliver great performances, they struggled with the script to make the characters work.

The cinematic style Peter Glanz offered for this film appears to borrow greatly from other filmmakers. While he is skilled enough to make them work, once again, it is the heart underneath that lacks, and his filmic attempts ring fake. The dialogue is shockingly cliché at times, and the characters don’t manage to progress, just exist.

As many others have pointed out, The Longest Week is essentially a film about rich people with petty problems. For some projects, this works, but it needs to have heart. This film never established that vital element, and instead it works more to alienate the audience.

The film has been waiting to be released since its completion back in 2012, and the fact it was finally dumped into cinemas clearly is not a sign of confidence.

As with all movies, opinions are subjective, and what reviewers denounce, will always find some enjoyment from some cinemagoers.

2 out of 5 stars

Blood Ties (2013) – Review

As seen on CinemaParadiso.


 

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Film adaptations of novels are not known for being well received by audiences, and remakes are even less successful, rarely worth the cost of the cinema ticket. Blood Ties suffers both of these. It is a French-American crime thriller, directed by Guillaume Canet, but even its talented cast cannot compensate for the shortfalls.

The story takes place in 1974, when Chris Pierzynski (played by Clive Owen) is released from prison. He has been serving nine years for murder, and is ready to turn his life around. But despite his good intentions and new relationship with Natalie (Mila Kunis – who would have thought she would be the one from That 70’s Show that would make it big?), the lures of old habits overcome him, and he returns to his criminal ways. If that was not bad enough, his brother Frank (Billy Crudup, who also stars in the amazing upcoming film Rudderless) is a New York cop. The conflict between the brothers tears are their sister Marie (Lili Taylor), and their sick father Leon (James Caan), who just want the two to get along. It is not until Frank is arresting a man named Anthony Scarfo (Matthias Schoenaerts) that he is re-united with his ex-girlfriend Vanessa (Zoe Saldana), who is currently married to Anthony and have a daughter together. Of course, Vanessa now wants to get a divorce, and she and Frank rekindle their relationship, much to the ire of Anthony. Anthony tries to kill Frank, and it is up to Chris to protect his brother, at whatever the cost.

If it wasn’t for the talented cast, this movie would be a complete write-off. The story seems simple enough, and something seen in films many times, but it is how the actors make us feel for these particular characters that keep you watching. The essence of New York in the 70s is done well, with costume, scenery and minute details doing a lot more than other era-specific films have done.

Despite interesting set-ups and moments when all aspects of production work in harmony, the film becomes stagnant. The two-hour running time shows the lack of character development, except for the two lead characters. While this development is obviously important, you lose the reality of the film, and see how everything happens just for Chris and Frank’s progress. If you’re not the type to read into films too much, than this might not be an issue for you. The film will certainly entertain many viewers, but isn’t award-worthy.

Blood Ties has received mixed reviews, most rating it around 50 out of 100. Use of violence, swearing, sexual conduct and drug use will restrict its audience, and is a surprising job choice for some of the cast. The film reportedly had a production cost of $25,500,000, an astounding sum of money and all the more reason to be disappointed in the finished product. As with every film, every viewer is different, but for me, even the vast amount of swearing in the trailer was enough.

2 out of 5 stars