Sometimes it’s a dilemma: what DVD should you rent or what movie should you stream or order-on-demand? Do you want a date flick, an action caper, or a goofy comedy? Weekly Surge is here to help with our reviews of recent at-home movie releases, which we’ve watched from the comfort of that favorite recliner.
We haven’t seen a movie directed by Guillermo del Toro since 2008, but he’s produced what seems like a dozen. The wait will soon be over in July when he releases his new potential blockbuster, “Pacific Rim.” Until then, we keep watching whatever flimsy horror/fantasy film he attaches his name to. Only this time, it’s not quite like that. This time, director Andrés Muschietti channels del Toro in this little horror flick about family. There are elements of the fantastic. There are jump scares. There are pretty good performances from Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister from HBO’s “Game of Thrones”) and Jessica Chastain (Oscar nominated for “Zero Dark Thirty”). The effects are ghostly and frightening. There are moments where the actors don’t bring it like they’re capable of, and it isn’t a del Toro journey into the far reaches of imagination. But it’s a damn good effort for Muschietti’s first feature film – worth a watch.
“The Man with the Iron Fists”
There’s no denying RZA has mad skills when it comes to soundtracks. These skills allow him to write and remix songs that add an explosive cinematic effect and aid in the tension building of movies. More than one of Quentin Tarantino’s films have benefited from RZA dropping the right music at the right time. And perhaps RZA is the most driven force of the Wu-Tang Clan – he wrote, directed and starred in this ode to Kung-Fu theater. Tarantino’s protégé, Eli Roth, produces and he spent an expansive amount of time honing the script with RZA. It didn’t help. From beginning to end, every scene is hammy and overdone and downright dumb and it just goes on and on and on and on. Russell Crowe tried to save it, but the problems with the corny script are too much. Lucy Liu tried too, but she gets crushed under the weight of woeful filmmaking. Don’t get pummeled watching this one – pass.
“John Dies at the End”
Let’s talk about writer/director Don Coscarelli. He’s a dude responsible for his share of cult classics. The guy brought you a flying orb of death in the “Phantasm” series. He made a hybrid of Doctor Doolittle and Conan in the loincloth-clad “The Beastmaster.” This gentleman gave the world the cinematic gem of “Bubba Ho-Tep,” where Elvis is hiding in a retirement home and fighting mummies. The source material for this film was originally written by David Wong, a senior editor at Cracked.com. Wong wrote it as a Web-serial, which turned into a book, which Coscarelli turned into this future cult classic. A movie about a drug called, “soy sauce,” and an alien invasion and time travel and two college dropouts. We don’t know how they roped Paul Giamatti into costarring, but he does and he adds credibility. It’s weird, but it’s not so weird that it’s confusing. Instead, it’s entertaining, but who knows why. It’s a B-movie. But in this case, the B stands for both bizarre and badass – worth a watch...we guess.
Derrick Bracey, for Weekly Surge