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Mystery Tanked Matinee: Where the Movies Come to Drink! http://tankedmatinee.com Thu, 22 Jun 2017 20:33:43 +0000 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb Mindhunters (2004) http://tankedmatinee.com/reviews/mystery/item/2868-mindhunters-2004 http://tankedmatinee.com/reviews/mystery/item/2868-mindhunters-2004 Mindhunters (2004)

The Buzz:

A party of potential FBI profilers embark on a final test to make it into the Bureau, but of course it’s not a movie unless one of them is secretly a SERIAL KILLER! In a modern re-telling (well…kind of) of “12 Little Indians,” out group of…characters (not quite heroes) must figure out which one of them is the Puppet Master aka Bad Guy before their evil plan ends in all of their deaths.

 

Life of the Party:

There’s always something about mystery/thriller films that entrance the viewer. A classic “whodunit” will always please in one way or another, and Mindhunters will certainly keep you guessing.

 

Potential Hangovers:

Let’s get this out of the way now, Mindhunters is not a “good” movie. It is a movie of super-fast edits & cuts, and leaps of faith/plot/common-sense that hopes to outpace your mind fast enough that you don’t question it too closely.

Editing aside, the plot points of the film make no proper sense. Trying not to spoil too much, there’s a bit where the latest leap-of-faith depends on them finding blood under a victim’s fingernails, proving that they struggled with their attacker before they died. Only problem: WE JUST SAW THEM DIE WITH ABSOLUTELY ZERO FUCKING STRUGGLE! Literally zero fist-fights up until this point in the film, and yet we’re expected to just accept this plot point and move ahead. And there’s many other points like this throughout the film that we’re just expected to accept, but I’ll leave that for you to discover (if you really want) on your own.

But honestly the biggest sin of Mindhunters is its failure as a “thriller.” Mystery/thriller films like this depend on two reactions from the audience (in my non-experienced opinion). First, a reaction of “I never expected it to be (insert character name here)!” Second “I TOTALLY should have seen that coming because of (x,y,z)!” None of that applies here. At the final reveal, the reasons/evidence/whatever given for why “x” is the bad buy could literally apply to any character in the film, which completely negates both of the mandatory principles of a thriller. It leaves the ending feeling flat and unexciting, and left me feeling maybe a bit cheated. Which of course sets the film up for a second “out-of-left-field” ending, which the film decided not to take, meaning once the reveal takes place, you can completely tune out to no ill-effect.

 

The Vibe: Lazy Afternoon

Mindhunters is really more of a “background-noise” film, but without enough visual excitement to make it applicable to any sort of party setting. If you want to kill just shy of two hours and challenge yourself to figuring out the zero-sense ending before the ending, then this fits the bill. Otherwise, leave this one in the past.

P.S. Looking at IMDB, it’s almost certain that this is the film that killed Val Kimer’s career. Honestly I can’t find a single large-release since this that I recognized (except Deju Vu in ’06, which I don’t believe anyone counts as a success).

 

Plus/Minus:

+ Mystery!

-   Which makes no goddamn sense

+ One liners!

-   Which really haven’t been much fun since Hot Fuzz

]]>
ascalici@elon.edu (Enuncia) Mystery Mon, 15 Jun 2015 06:08:43 +0000
OLDBOY (2013) http://tankedmatinee.com/reviews/mystery/item/2820-oldboy-2013 http://tankedmatinee.com/reviews/mystery/item/2820-oldboy-2013 OLDBOY (2013)

The Buzz:

        Josh Brolin plays Joe Doucett, a man who wakes up one morning to find himself trapped in one small room. After being held captive for 20 years with no reason or contact from the outside world, he is suddenly released, and challenged to find out who imprisoned him, and why. A Spike Lee remake of the 2003 Korean classic by the same name.

 

Life of the Party:

        Overall, I really can't find any complaints about this Oldboy remake. I expected the film to absolutely suck (considering how short lived it was in the theaters around me), but overall it proved to be quite entertaining. Sharlto Copley (Elysium/District 9) turns in a pretty damn creepy performance as the antagonist, and Samuel L. Jackson pretty much plays Samuel L. Jackson with somehow worse hair than he had in Jackie Brown.

 

Potential Hangovers:

        That last paragraph is not short out of laziness. I meant what I said, there's no stand-out complaints or problems with this Oldboy remake. I think the biggest problem with it was that I had already seen the 2003 Korean version, which I absolutely love as one of my top films! Doing remakes is tricky, because you have to balance keeping to the source material to keep the fans happy, but have enough surprises that the fans can't call every plot twist and turn in advance. The 2013 version pretty much sticks to the source material 100%, with some changes to make it distinctly more American (more fight scenes and the like). But in the end, I knew exactly what was going to happen; sure the remake came at the conclusion slightly differently than the original, but even with the little changes I called the twist at about the 30 minute mark.

        So in the end, if you've seen the 2003 Korean Oldboy, then the 2013 Oldboy will do you no favors. And if you haven't seen either, then I say you should really watch the Korean version. It has substantially more atmosphere, more emotion, and is frankly just a more effective piece of filmmaking.

 

The Vibe: Lazy Afternoon

        Really the only way I can easily recommend this version is if you haven't seen either film, and the thought of a foreign film just fills you with disgust. I mean, you're completely and utterly wrong, but a story this good deserves to be seen, and so you might as well experience it in some manner. Use it to kill a few hours on a day off, but make sure you pay attention (especially towards the end).

 

Plus/Minus:

+ In all fairness not a bad film

- But the original is just plain better

 

Drinking Game Ideas:

~ Drink when someone in the film drinks

~ Drink whenever someone eats a dumpling

~ Drink when someone gets stabbed/cut/similar

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ascalici@elon.edu (Enuncia) Mystery Fri, 04 Jul 2014 18:07:25 +0000
THE FROZEN GROUND (2013) http://tankedmatinee.com/reviews/mystery/item/366-the-frozen-ground-2013 http://tankedmatinee.com/reviews/mystery/item/366-the-frozen-ground-2013 THE FROZEN GROUND (2013)

The Buzz:

        The true(ish) story of the serial killer Robert Hansen. A young prostitute escapes the clutches of a man who murders young women, setting off a chain of events that eventually led to the killer's capture by the Alaskan State Troopers. Starring Nicholas Cage, John Cusack, and Vanessa Hudgens.    

Life of the Party:

        So, if you're anything like me, you probably saw those first two names and started to have some doubts. But I'm here to tell you to go ahead and dispel them; Cage and Cusack turn out a pretty good crime-thriller. The story is intriguing, even if I don't know just how “based on true events” the film is

 

Potential Hangovers:

        The first paragraph is not that short and...amateur (?) out of laziness. There's just not a lot to say about The Frozen Ground. Nothing is spectacular, heart-wrenching, or even different. It's just a run-of-the-mill crime-thriller.

        Also these kinds of films thrive primarily, in my opinion anyway, on suspense, and/or mystery. The Frozen Ground has a real lack of either. The “whodunit” is revealed almost right away, and the rest becomes more of a procedural drama on how they caught the guy, combined with the drama of the young woman's life who escaped the killer in the first place.

 

The Vibe: Casual Gathering, Solo Experience

        Don't get me wrong, The Frozen Ground is a good movie; it's very well put together, and there's always a crowd for real-crime thrillers. Just don't expect the moon out of it. Watch it with friends in a small-group movie night (so you can pay attention), or alone to kill sometime on an afternoon off.

 

Plus/Minus:

+ Good story, even if we don't know how “true” it is

+ Very well produced movie

+/- Not a bad/boring film, just not stellar

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ascalici@elon.edu (Enuncia) Mystery Fri, 18 Apr 2014 12:00:00 +0000
SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED (2012) http://tankedmatinee.com/reviews/mystery/item/339-safety-not-guaranteed-2012 http://tankedmatinee.com/reviews/mystery/item/339-safety-not-guaranteed-2012 SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED (2012)

     We truly have reached an interesting time when mildly popular internet memes are enough to inspire entire films. The ad depicted on the poster actually did run in Backwoods Home Magazine back in 1997 (Spoilers: It was a gag written by a staff member) and many years later was rediscovered as one of those mildly interesting bits of weirdness that floats around online imageboards. The suggestion of supernatural adventures lurking just outside the periphery of normal life was just mildly interesting enough to inspire writer/producer Derek Connolly and director Colin Trevorrow to create this movie, about a crew of journalists who track down the ad's mysterious author and try to determine whether he's completely mad, or a genuine mad scientist.

 

 

Life of the Party (Positives):
     This movie was specifically created as a vehicle for lead actress Aubrey Plaza, who is famous for the Parks and Recreation TV series and widely beloved for her somehow endearing image of quirkily acerbic disillusionment - she's sortof like Jennifer Lawrence if she'd had all the color drained out of her by Murky and Lurky.

 Awesome, only a month into 2014 and I can already scratch "Rainbow Brite" off of

my obscure reference bingo card!

 

     Ms. Plaza is very charmingly Daria-esque as the similarly-named Darius, who doesn't seem to like most things in general, but has her own motivations to want Kenneth, the aspiring time-traveler, to be telling the truth, even while her coworkers tease her for forging a friendship with an obvious crackpot. The movie isn't just about Darius, however, as each character in the ensemble is well-developed, naturally portrayed, and goes through a clear arc over time. Also interesting, and appropriate for a movie about time-travel. is that every character is in some way living in a time other than the present, either by fixating on the future, wishing to undo past mistakes, or trying to recapture a time in his life that's passed by. Even aside from the sci-fi elements and conspiracy theories, Safety Not Guaranteed is an excellent, heartfelt character study that uses time travel as a theme as well as a plot device - it's not quite as elegent as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind or a Wes Anderson movie, but it's reminiscent of them.


     That said, this movie is still a pretty cool and creative mystery about investigating a man who may or may not actually have a time machine. Though it's far more of a lighthearted comedy than Lunopolis, it has similar moments of tension and confusion, partially because neither the characters nor the audience are ever completely sure if Kenneth is completely delusional and potentially dangerous, or if he actually is on the verge of a physics-defying discovery, and therefore actually being hunted by government agents, and therefore potentially dangerous. The truth is not revealed until the very end of the movie, and I won't spoil it, but the story is put together so well that either conclusion would have been perfectly plausible and perfectly satisfying, which is an achievement in screenwriting. It also contains a few neat ideas about causality and parellel universes, which make the time travel-loving nerd in me happy.

He MUST be a time traveler. I mean, what kind of dork would wear a denim jacket post-2000?

 

Potential Hangovers (Negatives):
     I have trouble thinking of any major weaknesses with this film, as it was an entirely pleasant experience for me, though it's admittedly not a crazy drinking film. There are occasional scenes where the cinematography goes all shakey-cam, which I know some people find annoying, but this is usually to emphasize the tension and frenetic energy of a dramatic scene or conversation, so it seems appropriate. There were a few plot points that cropped up and then were just never mentioned again, and the ending is a bit abrupt, as I would have liked to see more of how the experience affected each of the characters. Then again, the ending also helps to preserve the mystery that pervades the story, so I guess it's alright.


The Atmosphere (Date Night, Solo Viewing):
     This movie is atmospheric, funny, intriguing, and very romantic, making it excellent for viewing on a quiet night either alone or with a companion. There's something about it that not only fills the mind with excitingly twisty time-travel concepts, but also just promotes a general sense of well-being in the viewer. I guess uplifting is the right word for it. Safety Not Guaranteed is an uplifting experience, and definitely deserves to be toasted with just a drink or two so you can pay close enough attention.


+ Aubrey Plaza is really charming, I can see why the internet likes her so much
+ Subtle character development throughout an intriguing investigation
+ Exudes an upbeat, positive mood punctuated by a few deliciously tense moments
- Some elements of the story get dropped abruptly

]]>
alanedomain@gmail.com (Alex Lane) Mystery Fri, 31 Jan 2014 03:17:52 +0000
RED LIGHTS (2012) http://tankedmatinee.com/reviews/mystery/item/298-red-lights-2012 http://tankedmatinee.com/reviews/mystery/item/298-red-lights-2012 RED LIGHTS (2012)

The Buzz:

        A psychologist and her team, who specialize in exposing phony psychics and miracle-healers, suddenly have their work cut out for them when a renowned psychic comes out of retirement.

 

Life of the Party:

        Red Lights is a very well executed mystery-thriller with a pretty great cast. Robert DeNiro plays Simon Silver, the aging psychic who may have a darker side (if the stories are to be believed). Arrayed against him are Sigourney Weaver, a psychologist who seeks to expose fake healers and miracle men, and Scarecrow I mean Cillian Murphy, who plays her sidekick and confidant. There's also a few of "o hey that guy" actors in the film that some audience members will appreciate.

        What this movie does really well is setting a dark, tense mood that keeps the audience guessing whether or not DeNiro is the real deal right up until the climax of the film. And the climax comes from so far out of left-field that it actually took me a moment to figure out what the hell was going on, and from there much of the earlier parts of the movie suddenly clicked, meaning Red Lights achieves that rare feat for a thriller film; watching the film a second time to find all the hints that led to the reveal can be just as fun as seeing it for the first time.

 

Potential Hangovers:

        If I had to find a fault in this film, it would have to be that for some it can come off as perhaps a bit slow. This is not a taught, adrenalin filled thriller; Red Lights is more of a slow burn to a huge climax at the end. I for one enjoy this kind of film, but if your movie-night party is looking for excitement and action, look elsewhere.

 

The Vibe: Casual Gathering, Solo Experience

        Red Lights could certainly be enjoyed with a group of friends, with the caveat that everyone can be quiet and actually pay attention to the film. Without that you could miss some major points, which will lead to you being utterly baffled by the ending. Fans of mystery films, as well as paranormal investigation films will find something to enjoy, and this movie comes with my own high recommendations.

 

Plus/Minus:

+ Well executed mystery-thriller

+ Great cast

+ An ending that I can about guarantee you won't see coming

]]>
ascalici@elon.edu (Enuncia) Mystery Fri, 15 Nov 2013 16:16:06 +0000
SAW (2004) http://tankedmatinee.com/reviews/mystery/item/297-saw-2004 http://tankedmatinee.com/reviews/mystery/item/297-saw-2004 SAW (2004)

SAW (2004)

 

THE BUZZ (HA!)

 

     Danny Glover and the Dread Pirate Roberts star in a psychological horror film about a manipulating serial killer who forces people to solve or escape punishing traps in order to learn something about themselves. I won't say much more about the plot, because much like the movie Se7en, this is the type of film that, the less you know about it, the better. It was based on an indie short that all took place in one gross bathroom, but the full-length film has a far more elaborate plot. This franchise unfortunately suffered a bit of Land Before Time syndrome, and it's a shame that a movie this good shares a name with the rest of them.

 

 THE LIFE OF THE PARTY

 

     You probably have heard about the Saw movies coming out every year. There are more of them now than there are Star Wars movies; almost all of them are terrible, and they sully the name of this one. If you're into psychological horror or crime films, this one is a stellar example. It's well acted, gritty, well-shot, and mind bending. There are all sorts of minor details that later become relevant, and this movie doesn't have a twist; it has, like, six. The later entries in the series start to be only about gruesome violence, but this one is mainly brutal due to the subject matter. Yes, it can be tough on the squeamish, but it actually isn't torture porn, even though it's credited with inventing the genre. It's a very well-crafted film made by someone who cared. You can't say the same about most of the sequels, although I actually really enjoyed Saw 2 for different reasons. Oh, and the theme song is fantastically chilling.

 

POTENTIAL HANGOVERS

 

     This movie is goddamned unrelenting. There is no respite, no comic relief, no happy ending. Nothing but dark-filtered torment the entire time. This can very understandably be a huge turn-off for a lot of people. It isn't a campy, ironic gorefest. It's stuff like a dude sawing his own leg off with a dull hacksaw. That can be hard to watch. Secondly, this is a movie you really need to focus on. If you put it on in the background, you'll lose about 80% of what makes this movie good, and you'll run the risk of thinking the movie is just a bunch of angry people talking in disgusting environments. It really needs attention to be fully appreciated.

 

THE ATMOSPHERE: Deep Thoughts, Solo Experience

 

     This is absolutely a movie to drink to (as I believe most horror movies are), but it isn't a movie to get drunk to. It's exhausting to watch and excellent to discuss. However, it really isn't something you should put on for big groups. A lot of really important details are in the dialogue, and the delivery is really emphatic. But give it a chance. I know I pre-judged the franchise due to its interminable attraction to LOL TRAPS over substance (Saw IV's catchphrase was literally “It's a trap.”), but the one that started it all got huge for a reason. It's a legitimately strong horror movie; the type that actually sticks with you. Give it a chance and I know you'll agree.

 

Drink:

 

Once when you see blood.

Twice when they do a fast cut.

(Hard mode) Take a shot for each “I want to play a game.”

]]>
boman.james@gmail.com (JHBoman) Mystery Fri, 15 Nov 2013 15:29:59 +0000
LUNOPOLIS (2009) http://tankedmatinee.com/reviews/mystery/item/249-lunopolis-2009 http://tankedmatinee.com/reviews/mystery/item/249-lunopolis-2009 LUNOPOLIS (2009)

The Buzz:

     When discussing mockumentaries, most people think about This Is Spinal Tap, Waiting for Guffman, and other films that apply documentary-style filmmaking to fictional, comedic situations, often with the actors at least semi-improvising their performances to keep everything organic. Lunopolis takes the exact same techniques, but applies them to a dark science fiction story, combining “found footage” with “expert interviews” to delve into the mysterious “true story” of a “time-traveling secret society that lives on the moon.” It's like Chariots of the Gods, but with a much more interesting conspiracy and some shakey-cam action scenes mixed in. The end result is a surprisingly suspenseful film, with great performances from all the actors and plenty of fascinating theories that will stick with you, despite the fact that they're entirely made up.

 

 

Dude, this is the most complicated bong I have ever seen...

 

Life of the Party (Positives):

     The found footage film is one of my favorite moviemaking sub-genres. I was in middle school when Blair Witch Project came out, and even though I watched it on video in broad daylight, rather than in a dark theater, that movie creeped me out like no other horror movie ever had. There’s something about the naturalistic cinematography that immerses you so much more than usual – with a classically-shot movie, the bad thing is obviously happening to some other guy, but when you’re observing the story from that character’s actual perspective, you become a part of the action and experience it much more viscerally. This effect is why Quarantine and Cloverfield are two of my favorite movies as well.

     Whereas all those movies used the found-footage style to tell a story about being stalked by monsters, Lunopolis is a little more down to earth (no pun intended), instead using it to add a gritty, organic feel to a classic “men in black” conspiracy story. Although the antagonists are all ordinary people, simply the black-suited agents of the mysterious Church of Lunology (an extremely obvious parallel to Scientology), the filming style and performances help to build a high level of suspense within very mundane circumstances. Early on, the characters explore an abandoned warehouse, and although the only threats are worn out machinery and sinister shadows, the limited perspective of the camera and the natural deliveries of every “wait, what the fuck was that?” makes the sequence surprisingly tense. Later, we get a car-chase that’s ludicrously simple by action-movie standards, and yet you feel far more excitement because you’re watching from the actual backseat of the escaping vehicle. Putting the camera right there as a member of the cast makes the audience feel like one of the heroes, intensifying every emotion in a unique way.

     The plot scenes, which are derived from the (fictional) escapades of two independent filmmakers, are then paired with interviews conducted by the (fictional) director of the film. These segments are just like any “ancient mysteries” show you'd see on History Channel, spotlighting a variety of scientists, historians, religious scholars, and UFO theorists, each with their own unique mannerisms and their own books to promote, which was a subtle but very charming touch. While these interviews provide a break from the action, they're also a very natural way to provide required exposition to the audience, supported by artists' renderings in a dark, gritty style that maintains the movie's sinister tone. The fact that Lunopolis looks, sounds, and behaves at all times like an actual documentary makes it far more immersive and engaging than most sci-fi films, which often rely on visual effects more than mood. Although the ideas presented are fantastical, it's still very easy to forget that you're not watching a real documentary.

 

Potential Hangovers (Negatives):

     If anything does kill the immersion and realism of Lunopolis, it would actually be the visual effects - there’s no escaping the fact that this is a lower-budget film, and occasionally that budget does rear its “only after I’d had a few beers” head. Though effects shots are few and far between, most of them stand out as pretty fake-looking, such as a radioactive plot device with a green glow that looks hastily Photoshopped on, and one scene involving a CGI flying car that’s a sublime mix of dramatic and completely ludicrous. Ultimately this is a very minor gripe, as you don’t watch this movie for the sake of its effects, but it is a distraction from the otherwise perfect depiction of supposedly real events.

Moonglish, motherfucker, do you speak it?!

 

The Vibe – Deep Thoughts, Date Night:

     Lunopolis is fantastic for anybody who enjoys conspiracy theories, edgy documentaries, found-footage horror, or just old-school science fiction. Although the big plot twist at the end is kindof easy to predict, the epilogue still gives you plenty to think about afterward, as any good documentary should. This is a movie that can really draw you in, especially if watched in a dark, quiet setting, so it’s best enjoyed either alone or in a small group, and would be perfect for a spooky date night. You won’t want to be very intoxicated for this film, considering that the story is twisty and confusing enough sober, and if you’re too buzzed, you might miss something cool. That said, the drinking game below could be quite fun with the right group of sci-fi/conspiracy buffs, so it’s up to you.

 

+ Atmospheric found-footage action with totally believable performances and staging

+ Interesting alternate history theories from a colorful “panel of experts”

+ Cool art direction to maintain the bleak and dangerous mood throughout

+ Feels like you’re watching a real documentary about moon-men, as crazy as that sounds

- Low-budget effects can pull you out of the moment by not looking quite real enough

 

Drinking Game Suggestions:

~Drink every time they say or show anything to do with the moon. You really don’t need any other rules than this, seriously. This script has more Moons in it than a Korean phonebook.

 

Alex “Philosophic_Al” Lane is a contributor for Tanked Matinee as a sinister means of controlling the global populace on behalf of the Bilderberg Group and their extra-dimensional reptilian overlords. Look for new video reviews from him starting in September 2013.

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alanedomain@gmail.com (Alex Lane) Mystery Fri, 09 Aug 2013 14:36:40 +0000
THE SHADOW (1994) http://tankedmatinee.com/reviews/mystery/item/155-the-shadow-1994 http://tankedmatinee.com/reviews/mystery/item/155-the-shadow-1994 THE SHADOW (1994)


If you remember the early '90s (and if you don't, get off my lawn!), it was a time before every other summer blockbuster was about superheroes. The Christopher Reeve Superman series was but a distant, hokey memory, and Tim Burton's Batman was the only comic book property with any mass appeal. The Shadow is a film adaptation of the enigmatic detective with hypnotic powers from the 1930s, the character who originally inspired the creation of Batman, and it offers more of the dark, psychological, character-driven superhero action that audiences loved in the Burton movies.

...And everybody seems to really hate it, but I have no idea why. The Shadow boasts an impressive cast, sleek design, and high-quality effects, and is set during a fascinating and stylish period of American history. As long as you don't go in expecting just a "run of the mill" comic book movie, The Shadow has quite a lot to offer.

 

 Life of the Party (Positives):

Superhero movies rise and fall based on the casting of the hero himself, and the titular character here is portrayed by Alec Baldwin, back when he was a suave leading man, rather than the self-parodying comedic actor he is now. It takes a good actor to properly play a character with multiple personas, but Baldwin pulls off the gravitas and coolness of The Shadow, as well as the charm of his alias, millionaire playboy Lamont Cranston, very well. His Shadow certainly has more menace to him than his '90s contemporary, Michael Keaton's Batman, but without going as over the top as, say, Christian Bale's Batman.

The rest of the cast is great as well, including Ian McKellan and Tim Curry as rival nuclear physicists (because you can't have a pulp story without SCIENCE!), Penelope Ann Miller as the charming love interest, and multiple award-winner John Lone as the villainous Shiwan Khan, who possesses mental powers equal to The Shadow's.

These powers seem to consist almost entirely of hypnotising people via film noir eye-lighting and having a ridiculously cool speaking voice - Lone's by virtue of his Chinese opera background, and Baldwin's by just sounding like he gargles with whiskey and drywall screws every morning - but there are some neat visual effects in this movie as well. Considering that the computer graphics are from the early '90s, they hold up pretty nicely today, and yet the effects are there solely to build atmosphere and support the mystery plotline, they don't make the movie, like in modern superhero cinema. The majority of the battles between hero and villain are through taught conversation rather than fisticuffs, as the two men try to psyche each other out like a verbal poker match. Overall, The Shadow has an interesting story, a great cast, and sleek presentation, so why do people think it's bad?

 

Potential Hangovers (Negatives):

It's difficult to argue against the fact that this movie is a little bit corny. Shiwan Khan is meant to be a literal barbarian conquerer that has invaded polite society, and as much as I love traditional Mongol costuming, it does look a bit ridiculous to have your villain and his henchman running through New York City decked out in furs and lamellar and carrying swords. This is probably a holdover from the pulp era, when contemporary social mores dictated that the easiest way to make a character villainous was to make him as "ethnic" as possible (see Flash Gordon for another example of "Asian = Evil"). It's not like the depiction of the villains is an offensive caricature, but it's no less silly than if they were British and constantly dressed like Arthurian knights. This is slightly redeemed during one scene where Khan kills a random extra for making fun of his outfit, but it's still a distraction. Since the rest of the setting is very grounded in reality (aside from the supernatural element, of course), the bad guys seem hilariously out of place.

If anything makes The Shadow come off as cheesy, it would be the comic relief moments. As an example, during the last act of the film the hero and villain are finally facing off with each other in a spectacular setting, with epic cinematography and action, and then we cut away to two bumbling side characters chasing a rolling plot device through various hallways like in Scooby Doo, ruining the momentum of the climax. The pulp genre is meant to be entertainingly unpretentious, but the more light-hearted moments just seem to cheapen the dark ambiance and drama of the serious plotline. This is a movie that actually could have been helped by toning it down just a bit. Except for Tim Curry's part, of course, he can be as hammy as he likes.

The Vibe - Casual Gathering

The Shadow is a different kind of comic book movie, where atmosphere and mystery are at the forefront instead of fight scenes and explosions. It's tempting to call this a supehero film for people who don't like superheroes, but the camp factor hampers that just a bit. If you can get over the occasional cornball moment here and there, it's a very interesting depiction of an older style of superhero, and is best paired with relaxed company and a few dry martinis. The film is so pretty in its depiction of '30s New York that it could almost make a good date movie, but only if your partner is just as nerdy as you are.

+ Moody, atmospheric superhero movie akin to the early Batman movies
+ Very solid cast of interesting actors, who take the pulpy script entirely seriously
+ Cool visuals help build the mood but are a garnish, not the main course
+ The dagger from The Golden Child cameos in his first speaking role!
- The comedic elements play up the camp factor, which isn't always helpful to the drama

 

Drinking Game Suggestions:

~Drink whenever the characters drink (aka the "Mad Men" rule)

~Drink whenever someone gets hypnotized

~Drink whenever Khan or Margot changes into a different magnificent gown

Length: 108 minutes

 

Alex "Philosophic_Al" Lane is Creative Director of Tanked Matinee, a champion of underappreciated movies, and producer of The Film Philosophy Show, when he isn't busy knowing what evil lurks in the hearts of men. He also totally got laid once because he was cosplaying as The Shadow, no joke.

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alanedomain@gmail.com (Alex Lane) Mystery Thu, 07 Mar 2013 22:30:38 +0000
EYE SEE YOU (2002) http://tankedmatinee.com/reviews/mystery/item/103-eye-see-you-2002 http://tankedmatinee.com/reviews/mystery/item/103-eye-see-you-2002 EYE SEE YOU (2002)

The Buzz:

     After his wife is murdered by a brutal serial killer, a FBI agent (played by Sylvester Stallone) spirals into a deep depression, and eventually ends up at a rehabilitation center in the middle of nowhere. But very quickly things take a turn for the worse, as the staff and patients are picked off one-by-one. Now it's up to Stallone to catch the killer as a storm sets in a cuts them off from the outside world.

Life of the Party:

     Eye See You is pretty much what you expect from a Stallone film. It follows the same vein as your typical “Ten Little Indians” story, and if you know how movies work, you'll spot the main plot twist almost immediately, and identify the bad-guy as soon as he's introduced. If you watch Eye See You, you're watching it for Stallone playing the character of Stallone, and little else.

 

Two guesses which of these people actually survive this

Potential Hangovers:

     Eye See You probably isn't going to make anyone's Top 10 anytime soon for a variety of reasons. The story is pretty much copied from about a dozen other similar films. Nothing will shock you, and nothing about it is truly memorable. It's another one of those movies that just sort of “happens,” and then you move on to something else.

 

Seriously, I don't understand who actively decides to fuck with this man

The Vibe:

     If I had to recommend a setting for Eye See You, it'd have to be as part of a general movie night, and probably far enough back in the setlist for everyone to have had several drinks by the time it starts; the libations and commentary from friends will help the movie pass along. If you're a Stallone fan, and are fully aware of what to expect, then Eye See You has some potential to be enjoyable, but I doubt anyone will watch it more than once.

 

Plus/Minus:

+ Stallone plays Stallone very well

- Not a lot of substance

- Will not surprise you in any ways, unfortunate for a “thriller”

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ascalici@elon.edu (Enuncia) Mystery Fri, 08 Feb 2013 03:16:39 +0000
SE7EN (1995) http://tankedmatinee.com/reviews/mystery/item/42-review-shot-se7en http://tankedmatinee.com/reviews/mystery/item/42-review-shot-se7en SE7EN (1995)

The Buzz:

     Morgan Freeman plays Detective Somerset, who has one week left till retirement, and is shackled with training his out-of-town replacement (Brad Pitt). But he might have to put retirement on hold, as there's a new serial killer on the loose, who is murdering his victims in bizarre enactments of the seven deadly sins. Time is running out, as the police have no clues, no suspects, and the killer is approaching his seventh masterpiece.

 

Life of the Party:

     This is one of your classic crime/serial killer mystery thrillers. It has an A-list cast, and an A-list budget. It is dark and disturbing in a number of ways, and maintains that ever evasive sense of suspense that can make or break such a film. The movie draws you into the murderer's madness, and gives you a look into true evil (in a 1990's sort of way).

 

Potential Hangovers:

     Not everyone likes dark, gruesome murder flicks. My main problem with this movie is the same problem I have with all such films; it's really only good once. When you watch it for the first time, and have no idea what to expect, the ending can truly shock and surprise you. Once you've seen it however, all the mystery is gone, everything is expected, and it just ceases to entertain like it's supposed to. Sure it's still a good, well-done movie, but you'd probably enjoy something else a lot more.

 

The Vibe:

     Se7en is best viewed solo or with a small group, where at least one person hasn't seen the film. This is not a “party movie,” as you need to pay attention to what's going on to understand the film. Heavy drinking is also not encouraged, for the same reasons (though I did find some pretty intense drinking games for the film online, perhaps for that inevitable second viewing?).

 

Plus/Minus:

+ Dark and suspenseful

- Well, at least the first time

+ Quality made film

- Not everyone can take disturbing scenes

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ascalici@elon.edu (Enuncia) Mystery Tue, 22 May 2012 19:54:18 +0000