Rose McGowan

Phantoms

Year: 1998
Directed By: Joe Chappelle
Written By: Dean Koontz, novel and screenplay

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is also a movie I had the privilege of seeing on the big screen in the years I spent wandering from movie to movie in the theaters I grew up in. Just so happens I had read the book this movie was adapted from and that made it more special. This was a movie that I saw at a young age and it provided one of my first opportunities to compare a story in terms of film vs. book. It taught me a valuable lesson that would always remind me why reading books was always more fulfilling than watching films if you have the patience to do it.

First things first with this movie. I do and always have loved Rose McGowan as an actress and enjoy any opportunity to see her. Since Scream I have had a thing for the chick that would go on to be Cherry Darling. I love that she is in this movie and for me at least that makes it better. Her notoriety unfortunately came more from her personal life than it did her acting career but I was a fan long before she became the heroine in one of my favorite movies. In this movie she is nothing more than the moody teenage hot girl but it’s a part she was well suited for in 1998. There are more important parts to the cast, but almost twenty years later she is still the only one I really think about when it comes to this movie.

That is unjust however as it goes to the other actors. I am sure plenty have heard all about how “[Ben] Affleck was the bomb in Phantoms yo!” This was early in the game for Affleck, who would go on to have a career of many ups and downs. Currently on an up in his career it would be proper to simply concur with the notion that he “was the bomb” in this movie. Liev Schreiber played a really eerie and pervy side character/sort of villain. I think Schreiber is a good actor but it has always been hard for me to separate him from the character I saw him play in this movie. I was like 14 when I saw this movie and even younger when I read the book. Necrophilia was something I was innocently unaware of and the image of him touching the dead body left an uncomfortable impression on me. It’s a shame because he has achieved so much but no matter what I see him in my mind brings back that sick feeling he gave me in this movie.

Of course, the most important actor in this movie is Peter O’Toole. He played a significant and interesting part in the movie. A great actor notable for being nominated for the Best Actor award multiple times yet never winning. He was terrific in this movie, bringing all, if any, credibility this movie had as a film.

It’s been twenty years, or near enough to not matter, since I read the book this movie was based on. I remember that it was rather interesting and actually scared me despite myself. I didn’t like the movie as much, obviously, and there were casting issues I had problems with but don’t remember. That happens with all adaptations for readers though, sometimes we can’t separate from the characters we create in our minds. What I remember the most is simply how much more to the story there was in the book. I realized when I watched this for the first time that had I not read the book I may not have understood much of this as the story got started. There was a defining substance missing from this movie as it got started and as the scenes progressed. Like watching cliff notes to a larger story. It was interesting to see certain scenes on screen but far too much of the story was rushed through with no substance behind it. I remember how I felt after watching this movie and it’s a lesson that left an impression on me.

No movie, regardless how well done, can ever serve as a true adaptation to a book. Even when the greatest of efforts are made there is no way to simply convey the same kind of emotional impact you receive from letting the story build within your own mind. It takes patience to read, but patience can be the most rewarding thing there is when you apply it appropriately. I can’t remember much about the book this movie was based on after so long but I remember that it told a much more fulfilling story than the one I saw when I watched the adaptation on screen.

I meant to just write about a horror film when I sat down to do this post, it is Halloween season after all, but here I find myself doing something different all together. Now, what I mainly want to get across is the importance of reading and how film adaptations never measure up. The only exception I will accept is The Godfather (present your argument if you please), otherwise a book offers more than any movie can ever hope to. The Godfather was an incredible adaptation and one of my favorite books and movies of all time. Nevertheless even in that circumstance the book was much better than the film.

Reading is an art that has evolved and changed over the years. I for one still enjoy it the old fashion way, with either newspaper or physical book in hand. When you read the news you have to loudly flip those pages into place, the feeling of that is part of it. Same thing with a book, for me at least, the feeling of holding a book and turning those pages makes all the difference. Not to mention that by reading it you dive so much deeper into the story, and achieve such a higher level of understanding from different points of view.

I’m going to call this a so-so horror film, one that you really don’t appreciate unless you read the book. Otherwise it requires patience to get in to and then to follow through with. Affleck may be “the bomb yo” but this movie is still a rushed through version of a larger story. I want to note that there was a time I liked this movie despite the current mentality wherein which it has become a catalyst for my opportunity to push reading on people. That being said:

Read more books people. Do it the old fashioned way. Buy a book at a bookstore and use your imagination to let an author take you on a ride you will never forget. There are great movies based on books, but not a one of them can ever match up to what was put in print. I love movies most off all but I always try to make time for reading no matter the content. Be it A Brief History of Time or Game of Thrones, there are lessons to be learned and I prefer to learn them with book in hand and my mind building the story as I go. It’s a physical thing that drives the lesson or entertainment home. If you have made it this far you obviously aren’t opposed to reading. You should be spending this time with a real author. A writer who can make you question yourself and teach you something all in the same sentence. They are out there, and they are waiting to inspire you.

This movie offers some good scenes here and there but more or less doesn’t measure up to what it was based on. I think if you are looking for something scary during this Halloween weekend you can definitely do better than this one.

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Planet Terror

Year: 2007
Directed By: Robert Rodriguez
Written By: Robert Rodriguez

RYAN’S REVIEW

When this movie came out on DVD I bought it on the spot having not yet seen it. I watched it frequently after getting it and often fell asleep with it on. This movie goes back to menu when it’s over and that song plays over and over again if you don’t turn off your television. I have slept many a night with that song playing nonstop like a personal soundtrack through my dreams. It has been burned into a brain in such a way that when I am old and everything else is gone I will probably hum the tune from this film. I love the song and every single time I pop in the DVD I get this funny feeling from that music. It sucks me in and pulls something inside of me to the surface. That score, as much as anything else, is what makes this an awesome movie for me.

Another obvious thing that makes this movie awesome is the intro. Let me pose a question for anybody reading this now. Is there anything hotter than Rose McGowan in the opening scene of this movie? She is as sexy as any woman I have ever seen, barring my wife of course, dancing on stage to the music by Robert Rodriguez. I don’t understand why she has had such a limited career in acting over the years. I can’t really find any flaw in her talent and she is hot enough to pull off plenty of roles but for some reason she has been limited to films, more or less like this one. This was an intentional B movie and it was fitting for her being cast as she is mainly a B actress. I don’t understand why though. I think she is awesome in this movie and she portrays one of my favorite heroines of all time.

You can say whatever you want about Rose McGowan, but she is a badass as Cherry Darling. Not only is her opening dance scene smoking hot but when she gets her new leg she is an utter badass. I love when she launches herself over the wall and starts mowing down the infected soldiers while utilizing her dance moves. In a movie like this is doesn’t really matter how reasonable it is for a go-go dancer to suddenly become such a badass.  All that matters is what is and this just so happens to be really freakin cool.

I have written many times throughout this blog that when Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino collaborated on these Grindhouse films that Rodriguez proved to be the better filmmaker. Tarantino made what amounted to a 2 hour chick flick with a thrill ride at the end in his half of the collaboration, Death Proof. With this film Rodriguez not only made an awesome film, he did it all himself. He wrote this film, directed it, produced it, edited it, and even wrote the music for the film. It may have been an intentionally campy B movie but with this film he showcased a hell of a lot of talent. It’s one of the reasons I consider him such an incredible filmmaker. One thing Rodriguez never forgets as a filmmaker is the cool factor. I’ve always been a proponent of the cool factor in any movie. If it’s not cool then what good is it? You can just about guarantee that when Rodriguez gets behind camera what he produces will look cool. It may come out as overkill and sometimes even silly but it will be cool and you can take that to the bank.

This movie, if nothing else, is cool and that all starts with the cast. Rodriguez always gets a good group of latino actors into all his films but acting side by side with them are always A list actors. In the part of his misunderstood Latino badass he cast Freddy Rodriguez, no relation. He may have looked silly riding that tiny motorcycle at one point in the film but he fought with the ferocity of a samurai when wielding his butterfly knives in the hospital on his way to save Cherry. In the bad guy roles he has A list actors Bruce Willis and Josh Brolin. Now I have mentioned before I didn’t understand what rock Josh Brolin suddenly crawled out from under but it was right around the time this movie came out he did so. After doing nothing really noteworthy since 1985 in The Goonies he burst onto the map in 2007 with five films, this among them. Bruce Willis is an actor welcome in just about anything. I remember when I saw him in the G.I. JOE sequel I felt like these days he would do just about anything for the paycheck but movies since have proved he’s still got it. I hate what he continues to do with the Die Hard franchise but I could never honestly criticize Willis. He has been an awesome actor as long as I have been alive.

I love that Michael Biehn is in this movie. It’s one of the reasons it stands out to me. I have always been a fan of the original Kyle Reese and I have never understood why his career didn’t take off in other ways. He is part of one of my favorite parts in this movie. When the surviving group arrives at the BBQ joint his deputy, played by cult icon Tom Savini, asks him if he’s sure about this. In his hand Savini shakes a box label “All or Nothing Box.” When Biehn confirms Savini dumps the box full of badges on the hood of the car while Biehn tells everyone they have now been deputized. I love the concept of the “all or nothing box” and how obvious it is utilized in this movie. After arming all of them he walks up the hill and tells them, “don’t shoot each other, don’t shoot yourselves, and most importantly (he turns to face them) don’t shoot me!” Such an awesome actor how is it that Michael Biehn didn’t do more with his career? I don’t know the answer to that so if anybody does know please enlighten me, and I will not accept that he just isn’t a good actor when so many others made it and he didn’t.

I’m unfamiliar with Marley Shelton, and still haven’t seen her in anything else since this movie, but she is great as the nurse with her three little friends. I used to have a poster hanging in my home of her character Dr. Block holding up a syringe, mascara running down from her wild looking eyes, with the tag line “just a little prick.” I loved that poster but Amber won’t let me display it in our home anymore and I to agree it’s probably a bit much for our young children. I still have it though and one way or another it will one day have its place on display again.

I love how aggressive this movie is. It’s aggressive in so many ways. It is aggressively exaggerated and aggressively obvious at times. I think it is interesting to look back at a movie like this in 2007 and hear the big bad guy, Bruce Willis, claim to have been the soldier who killed Osama Bin Laden. Of course we know now that not only was he not dead in 2007 but he somehow continued to live his lavish lifestyle while alluding capture for more than a decade. My main point is that this movie now stands in an interesting place historically as it represents a time when we had no idea what had become of the world’s greatest enemy. The number one villain in American history had been unaccounted for for so long that a movie like this aggressively puts forth one of the many theories to what had to have happened. It represents American thinking in such an interesting way. The idea that he had simply gotten away wasn’t considered or accepted by the public as the great almighty United States would never allow such a man to escape punishment. We know now that not only did he do just that but he lived unencumbered for longer than anyone thought was possible.

I feel compelled to wrap this up now but I could never say enough about this movie. I’m not even satisfied with everything I have covered so far but have let it sit to long. It’s time to release it into the world. There is more to say about this movie though, and I encourage any film fan out there to see it. See it to compare the styles and abilities of Tarantino vs. Rodriguez. See it to learn the kind of thing the American public had about Osama Bin Laden 6 years after 9/11. See it because it is a cool movie that is fun to sit back and enjoy. It would be easy to pass of the Grindhouse films as a camp and nothing significant but that would be wrong. These movies are special because there is so much to get out of them. So much to enjoy about them. This is one of my favorite movies ever and I suggest it to all but the faint of heart that I simply don’t think could handle it.

One more thing because I can’t deal with the fact that I didn’t fit it in. Naveen Andrews is awesome in this movie and Hollywood needs more of this guy. I liked what he brought to the role and he has one of the coolest deaths in the film. Bound to spark argument, I am no a fan of Lost. I think J.J. Abrams is a terrific filmmaker but also a wizard when it comes to duping people into watching something like mindless zombies. Lost equals the carrot on a stick Abrams held in front of the American public for years before he could get his hands onto bigger and better things. I watched three seasons of it and to this day consider every hour of every episode I watch wasted and spitefully hold a grudge for the time I lost. I have had people argue with me about the show till they were blue in the face but as I am to understand the ending was just as vague as everything else on the show. You don’t put f-ing polar bears in the jungle and make the audience wonder why for years with no reason why, motherf-ing YEARS! My question to anybody is, “how is that good enough for you?” To this day I am still puzzled by the people who talk about how great it was. Nevertheless I consider J.J. Abrams to be quite capable and look forward to what he does with Star Wars.

NEXT MOVIE: Platoon (1986)

Death Proof

Year: 2007
Directed By: Quentin Tarantino
Written By: Quentin Tarantino

RYAN’S REVIEW

I really liked what Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez did with the Grindhouse Films.  I think it was a great idea.  Two exciting filmmakers collaborating to make something that isn’t seen anymore, the double feature.  Both films are deliberately filmed to mimic 1970s film quality; with a real gritty appearance and occasional jumps in the scenes that indicate the film was built poorly when put together for projection at the theater. Once upon a time I worked a side job in a movie theater, building movies and setting them up on a projector Tyler Durden style.  So I especially like the projection problems inserted into both films. Planet Terror is even missing an entire reel and segment of the film.

I’m afraid this is the lesser of the two films by comparison.  I will discuss Planet Terror when we get to it but I think it is superior in every way to this film. I think this movie feels more like a chick flick than anything else for a long time. I don’t even know what category to place it in and only tentatively place it in horror because that’s what I think it is supposed to be. We have only seen the first thirty minutes of the movie at this point and I am bored out of my mind! These girls have done nothing but talked and drank for a painfully long time now.  The best part so far is Rose McGowan, but only because I am a really big fan of hers.  She has a much better role in Planet Terror, naturally.  Sydney Poitier’s hair is worth mentioning, it’s exceptional. I had really strong feelings about Tarantino around the time this film came out and subsequently began using it as part of my argument that he was washed up and an overrated director. I feel differently now, Inglourious Basterds was such an incredible movie I have had to bite my tongue on the matter and eat some of my words.  40 minutes and still this movie is boring me to death, the Vanessa Ferlito lap dance doesn’t do it for me and that is literally the only thing that has happened so far.

I need to explain my position on Tarantino.  A good friend of mine and I argued over the guy relentlessly and to no end years ago, until the day I had to call him and admit that I was wrong.  Like many young movie fans I was a huge Tarantino fan growing up.  I idolized him because I too wanted to grow up and be a filmmaker.  Like Tarantino did when he was young, I too worked at a video rental store, and I occasionally wrote stories I hoped to one day make into movies.  I think Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction are two of the greatest movies ever and they will be remembered forever.  I also liked Jackie Brown although it was not as well received. I am a big fan of the two movies Tarantino sold in order to make his first film, True Romance and Natural Born Killerseven though they are very similar stories. I considered Tarantino to be an exceptional and creative writer and for years looked forward to his next film. His last movie was in 1997 so I went all through high school and into college waiting for his next movie.  Which of course was Kill Bill: Volume 1 in 2003.  I was disappointed, and to this day can’t figure out what everybody liked so much about it. I wasn’t just disappointed, I hated it. I hated it so much I began to hate and despise Tarantino because of it. I waited six years, and in six years that was the best this creative and brilliant filmmaker could come up with? Kill Bill was just a plot thread from Pulp Fiction. When Vincent Vega (John Travolta) takes out Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman) she tells him she once starred in a pilot called Fox Force Five about five women assassins. That is Kill Bill, and maybe I’m alone but I expected more from Tarantino. I held out my final decision on the film until Volume 2 came out but found that one to be even worse and with less action. I started to consider Tarantino the Marilyn Manson of filmmakers, because he just wanted to shock and awe people. What was the point of Uma Thurman’s character being used sexually while in a coma if he isn’t just out to shock and sicken us with depravity. It wasn’t relevant to the plot, it was just inserted in there just for the hell of it. It made me think of Tarantino as the child on the playground turning his eyelids inside out just to gross people out. I am all for depravity in movies when used appropriately and effectively but when it is pointless it doesn’t have the same effect. When Death Proof came out in 2007 it did not do much to change my impression because Rodriguez’s movie was so much better.  I had little hope for Inglourious Basterds, especially when I had found out it was a remake and because he had also taken several years to make this film as well.  I was wrong though, that movie was a masterpiece and I feel I must eventually revisit Kill Bill because of it.

I have tried really hard to look at this movie with a fresh eye and see if it could win me over this time but it hasn’t. I am bored out of my freaking mind! We have watched 82 minutes so far and I’d wager there was 5 minutes of action and about 70 minutes of relentless and pointless girl talk.  Albeit that 5 minutes of action isn’t bad, and Kurt Russell does a fairly decent job playing the creepy and demented Stuntman Mike. 90 minutes and these women still won’t shut up! I can’t in good conscience recommend this to film to anybody because it’s just so boring.  If you want to spend all night hearing a bunch of girls talk about nothing relevant to the plot by all means check this one out but otherwise just watch the trailer. Zoe Bell is really great in the end, I love how aggressively she attacks Kurt Russell with the metal pipe. The end is rather exciting actually, if I were you I would fast forward to the good parts and save yourself an hour and twenty minutes of your time.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I used to thoroughly enjoy this movie. I say “used to” because after watching it for the blog, I was really bored most of the time. I am about a 50/50 lover of Quentin Tarantino. Sometimes, I am really impressed with him and other times I am honestly disgusted or bored. I loved, loved Inglorious Bastards, but hated, hated all of the Kill Bill movies. Tarantino has such a distinct style. He is obsessed with dialog. He puts extra conversations into his movies wherever there is a possible space and this holds so true for this film. I guess what drives me insane the most about it in this film is that it is mostly between women, and what does Tarantino truly know about the conversations of women? He loves to go off onto tangents into other stories, like “The other night I had a date with this guy..” and then spends about 15 minutes about a story that has absolutely nothing to do with original story line. That drives me crazy. I can take a little bit, but Tarantino likes to pack it in there to the fullest.

My favorite parts of this movie are the Kurt Russell parts.The ending is the best part of the entire movie and if you are going to watch it, I wold recommend watching the end of the movie, nothing else matters.

NEXT MOVIE: Death to Smoochy (2002)