The Unborn (2009)


Jumby Wants to be Born Now.

My coworker Shannon seems to be a horror movie aficionado.  I’m fairly sure she has seen every horror movie Netflix has to offer.  So when October comes around, I have come to rely on her for at least one solid recommendation.  She seems to be a nice person so I always have to remind her first that I don’t necessarily want a fun movie, but want to MAKE FUN OF a movie because she always leads with something good, but once you get past that she can deliver the good stuff.  Or the bad stuff.  So she claimed today’s movie would be good to make fun of, but then I saw it was written and directed by David S. Goyer, who wrote the Nolan Batman trilogy and Dark City.  This can’t be right!  This is supposed to be a bad movie!  Then I saw he also wrote Batman v. Superman and BOTH Ghost Rider movies.  …This has potential…  And if nothing else, the poster for the movie was mainly just a hot chick’s butt, so it’s got that going for it.  This movie is The Unborn, written and directed by David S. Goyer, and starring Odette Yustman, Meagan Good, Gary Oldman, Carla Gugino, Jane Alexander, James Remar, and Idris Elba.

A super-hot lady named Casey (Yustman) starts going crazy and having strange visions of dogs wearing masks and mittens.  Then a little boy smashes a mirror on her face and makes her eye change color.  Somehow, this leads her to find out she was to be a twin but her brother didn’t survive.  She finds her Auschwitz survivor grandma (Alexander) who was also a twin, but Nazi’s made her brother into a babadook.  …No wait, it’s a dybbuk.  And that’s a Jewish demon, so her brother starts acting like a real dyb-bag until she kills him.  The evil demon thingie wanted to be reborn as Casey’s brother but was instead unborn.  Now it’s after her.

Shannon comes through again!  I wouldn’t say this was necessarily a bad movie, but it certainly wasn’t good.  I wasn’t pained by watching it, but I feel like I spent most of it fairly confused.  The movie contained a lot of superstitions that it just acted like everyone knew and were totally normal.  Did you know that newborns aren’t supposed to see their own reflections or they’ll die?  Yeah, me neither.  Nor, I assume, did millions of parents who don’t go around smashing every mirror in their house when they get the plus sign on that pregnancy test.  Want to know what else isn’t a thing?  The name “Jumby.”  Right before he smashes Casey in the face with a mirror, the creepy little kid tells her that “Jumby wants to be born now.”  I would then say that I hope that “Jumby” is never born because he won’t last long with a name like that.  And then Casey finds out that that’s the nickname her parents gave her twin brother and she somehow didn’t stop in the middle of her freak out to say, “I can’t believe you never told me I had a twin…wait…Jumby?  Did he die in utero because of all the drugs you guys were doing during the pregnancy to come up with that name?”  And what sort of drugs was her grandma on when she said, “What is a twin but another kind of mirror?”  …Well, grandma, a twin is lots of things.  A person. One that shares a lot of your genetic code.  Of all the things a twin could be, a reflective piece of glass would not make my list.  I kind of get what you’re saying because they may look alike, but not all twins do look alike and even the ones that do are not mirrors.  But I guess old grandma didn’t get herself in an old folk’s home by having full control of her faculties.  Anyway, the movie ends with an exorcism that goes poorly.  The dybbuk shows up and starts slinging people around the room like a little hurricane.  At this point, I agree with Casey when she says they have to finish the ceremony.  I don’t really understand her luck that the first piece of paper she grabbed at her feet as the book was blowing around the room just happened to be the page she needed.  This movie wouldn’t have happened if she was prone to such good fortune.

As always, a horror movie not making a lot of sense isn’t my top concern so long as they can make that up by being scary.  Unfortunately, this movie didn’t really do that either.  Mostly clichés and jump scares.  I guess I should’ve guessed it would be cliché from the thumbnail, but I kept getting distracted by Odette Yustman’s butt and couldn’t see the rest of the picture.  But she was standing in front of a bathroom vanity mirror that had her reflection and another mirror… sorry, her twin (I get those confused all the time).  But isn’t the bathroom vanity mirror in a horror movie one of the most played out and cliché things ever at this point?  You know exactly what they’re going to do with it eventually so the only suspense involved with it is wondering when.  I guess you could say they broke from cliché a little in the movie in that the black friend of Casey was not the first one to die, but I also felt no remorse for her when she did.  She’s supposed to be really superstitious but then she’s at home all alone and the power goes off and she hears a knock at the door but can’t see anyone when she looks outside so she opens the damned door?  She deserved to get stabbed by that little kid for that.  Also, you can’t take a little kid in a fight?  Maybe she’s just too nice, but I wish that little kid would try to stab me.  I would whoop that ass so hard!  Even if he did stab me in the gut first, I still think I could lay a beating on a little kid.  One thing I would say for this movie in the scares department is a good amount of the creatures they had were pretty creepy.  The dog with the mask or its head turned upside down and the old man later were both pretty well done.  And then I also have a burning question that this movie left me with: if an infant dies do the paramedics really bring in the full-sized human stretcher to bring it out?  I’m not suggesting they use a shoe box or something, but it seems like a waste of space.

The performances were pretty hit-and-miss in this movie.  The most surprising ones were Gary Oldman, Idris Elba, and Carla Gugino.  Not because they put on their career-defining, tour-de-force performances in this movie by a long shot, but more that they agreed to do the movie AND seemed to actually give about 10% more effort than the paycheck was probably worth.  Odette Yustman was the star of the movie in that she got the most screen time, and she did exactly what she needed to.  She was hot, she walked around in her underwear and made sure no one left this movie without knowing she has a nice butt.  And she screamed occasionally.  Otherwise, her performance and a lot of the other ones in the movie were good sometimes and very bad on others.  She probably did about as good as she could with the material, I suppose.  I mean, her character was written to make a really big deal about getting hit in the face by a kid with a mirror when talking to her friends, but never really bothered to bring up that she hatched an icky-looking bug out of an egg that morning.  I mean, shitty little kids hit people with things all the time.  It’s not every day that something other than egg comes out of an egg.  I also found it curious how profusely she thanked her boyfriend for accompanying her to the doctor.  She only had a minor scratch on her face really, but she WAS hit in the face so hard with a mirror that her eye was changing color.  Feels like going to the doctor with her would just be part of being a concerned boyfriend.  As I mentioned before, I did not get why she was so freaked out that she had a twin that died in utero.  Granted, it wouldn’t be great that the parents never thought to mention it, but I still feel like my reaction as an adult to receiving that information would be more along the lines of, “Oh…that’s interesting, I guess…”  I also wouldn’t jump to the conclusion that losing this twin was the reason my mom killed herself.  I mean, it was probably quite the bummer at first, but this movie showed that the mom killed herself when Casey was at least 9 or 10.  Seems like she probably would’ve moved past that by then.  I would at least give this movie credit that it seemed to write the character of the super-hot chick well on a couple of occasions.  Like when she took that book to Gary Oldman and asked if he could translate it for her.  …You want me to translate a thousand page religious manuscript for you?  “Could you?  That’d be great!  You’re such a sweetheart!”  That seems like a hot chick thing to do.  …I’d probably have done it for her too…  It also seems like a hot chick thing to do that when she’s told what to do to take the dybbuk’s power away, she only half-asses it.  Your grandma told you to break the mirrors in your house, burn the pieces, and bury them.  Why do all the mirrors in your house still have shards around the edges and pieces in a pile under them on the mantle?  Good enough, eh?

The Unborn was not particularly well-written and didn’t often stand up to logic, the performances were pretty hit-and-miss, and it was more cliché than it was scary.  The best parts of it are a couple of the creepy creatures and Odette Yustman’s butt. But I feel like you can get every piece of the enjoyment of those things from the movie poster I am attaching to this review.  So there’s not going to be much enjoyment to be gotten out of this movie, but I would say this would be a good candidate to watch at home with friends just to make fun of.  The Unborn gets “It’s not safe to be around me” out of “Am I going to be falling forever?”

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Watchmen (2009)


Never Compromise.  Not Even in the Face of Armageddon.

I have finally reached my goal of one review per day for an entire year.  I will be taking a week off to rest before I decide what I’m going to be doing next, but you can rest assured that I will still be writing reviews for as long as I’m able to keep myself motivated.  During the course of my first year, I’ve reviewed many movies of all different types of genres, but I think my nerdiness has come out in many of my reviews and let you all know that one of my favorite types of movie is the comic book movie.  When I did my favorite movies from each genre, I intentionally skipped the comic book movie because there are three movies that I have decided are my top three favorite, but I have not yet been able to confidently say I prefer one to another.  I reviewed Avengers while it was in theaters, which is the same time it joined the list.  Later, I reviewed the Dark Knight as its sequel was coming out, and it held its ground.  But no one asked me to do the third, and an opportune time would not be presenting itself in the near future as there’s no sequel or prequel coming to this movie anytime soon.  And so I decided that I would review the third movie as my anniversary present to myself.  This movie is Watchmen, based on a comic book by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, written by David Hayter and Alex Tse, directed by Zack Snyder, and starring Billy Crudup, Matthew Goode, Malin Akerman, Patrick Wilson, Jackie Earle Haley, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Carla Gugino, Stephen McHattie, Matt Frewer, Laura Mennell, Robert Wisden, and Danny Woodburn.

October 12th, 1985.  A comedian died in New York.  Well, more specifically the Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), a retired masked crime fighter is thrown out of a window by an unknown assailant.  Another costumed crime fighter operating outside of the law named Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley) goes to investigate and jumps to the conclusion that someone is trying to kill his comrades, so he sets about warning them.  He goes first to his former partner, Daniel Dreiberg, formerly the second Nite Owl (Patrick Wilson), and then goes to the nearly omnipotent Dr. Manhattan (Billy Crudup) and his lover, Laurie Jupiter, the second Silk Spectre (Malin Akerman).  All of them think Rorschach is just being paranoid, but Dan decides to relay the message to Adrian Veidt, formerly Ozymandias (Matthew Goode), who shares the skepticism of the others.  Rorschach is unconvinced and continues his investigation while Dr. Manhattan and Veidt focus on trying to stave off nuclear war with their free energy solution.

Oh man do I love this movie.  And I was also extremely shocked to find out that this is not an entirely popular opinion.  Both the critic and the audience reviews on Rotten Tomatoes are sitting around the 65% range.  I don’t get that.  Watchmen is not really your ordinary comic book movie.  It’s got less action that you’d typically expect to find, but I feel that it’s a lot smarter and has a much better story.  That is mostly thanks to Alan Moore since the movie seems to be pretty much a shot for shot adaptation of his original story.  From what I gathered, his original comic book was a much more powerful political statement when he originally made it, but I hadn’t read that by the time I saw this movie.  I just knew that it was a greatly lauded comic book that they were turning into a movie, and the movie blew me away.  I feel that I may have benefited from not having read the comic book when I saw the movie because the great reveals at the end of the movie were not spoiled for me.  The huge reveal involving Adrian Veidt was great, and even the smaller, more personal one involving Laurie was extremely powerful.  There were a couple of other things to say about the movie, but I feel they deserve a ::SPOILER ALERT:: so that the reveals won’t be ruined for you, and will allow you to enjoy it the same way I did.  I thought it was a fantastic twist that Veidt gives a speech like a Bond villain to Rorschach and Nite Owl that makes you think they’ll still have time to stop it, and the twist comes when Veidt was smart enough to know that this was a possibility, so he had set his plan into motion 35 minutes prior.  I would say that there was a part to his plan that I never really got behind.  I don’t know why it was necessary that Dr. Manhattan take the heat for what Veidt did for the plan to work.  I actually kind of understood (without condoning) why they killed so many people to bring peace to the world, but I feel like the same thing would happen whether it was Veidt taking the heat or Dr. Manhattan, which would make it unnecessary for my favorite character, Rorschach, to die.  But it was a minor issue I took with the movie and didn’t really disturb my enjoyment.  ::END SPOILERS::

I think the direction of the movie won me over before the story did.  The quality of the story sunk in towards the end, but the quality of the direction was able to win me over very early on.  It’s really a visual delight, and the music is also a big win.  I was on board to a great degree from the opening fight between the Comedian and the unknown assailant, which was a great fight scene with music that worked well with the scene while being in contrast to what was happening.  The opening credit sequence was also fantastic.  It tells the story of the decline of the superhero and places them into real, historic situations, and they back that up with strong visuals and a great Bob Dylan song.  They include the sailor kiss from the famous photograph, the Comedian shoots JFK, the hippie chick putting the flower in the gun barrel, the moon landing, and even that famous Rage Against the Machine album cover.  …I’m being told that this was actually a real occurrence and not just an album cover…  But the look and the soundtrack of the move kept my attention all the way through.  Even if the story of the movie was no good, I would’ve been on board with the movie from these things alone.  The movie didn’t have that many fights, but the ones they had were fantastic.  The highlights include Dan and Laurie beating down some gang members, Nite Owl and Silk Spectre beating down some prisoners, and Rorschach fighting his way out of Moloch’s apartment.  All of them were really brutal and awesome.  The fight with Hollis Mason and the gang members towards the end of the movie was also fantastic and emotional.  I would say it was a little corny and tasteless for the Nite Owl’s hovercraft to blow its fiery load just as the Nite Owl himself did.  I also thought it was funny to try to see all of the things that were on Veidt’s various TV screens towards the end of the movie.  I was able to catch a glimpse of what appeared to be porn, a scene from Rambo, and that wacky Fed Ex commercial.  I don’t know if there was significance to any of that, but I found it interesting to try to pick them out.

The performances in the movie were all wins for me.  Jackie Earle Haley was the best one for me.  I thought Rorschach was friggin’ awesome.  His narration in the movie made me imagine what it would sound like for Christian Bale’s Batman to narrate a Max Payne game.  Generally morose, and always raspy.  But Rorschach was a total badass throughout the movie.  The story of what made Rorschach was great, the story of what made him more brutal was even better, and I particularly loved all of his interactions with Big Figure in jail.  And, on top of his badassdom, he also had a great scene at the end that got me a little choked up for him.  Also, do you know what I’ve always felt was sadly missing from other comic book movies like Avengers and the Dark Knight?  Tits!  And the only thing that would make that better is if they belonged to Malin Akerman.  SCORE!  She is so hot.  …And that’s all I have to say about her.  She did a good job and everything, but I have a one track mind.  Matthew Goode did a great job as well, but the only thing that amused me enough to take note of about him was how heroic he was when the guy was trying to kill him and he first ducked behind the businessmen before taking the guy down.

I love Watchmen.  The story is brilliant and the adaptation of it is fantastic, powered along by amazing visuals and a great soundtrack.  The performances are also pretty fantastic, with Jackie Earle Haley leading the bunch in my opinion, but everyone doing their thing very well.  And at least one of those performances brought a great set of boobs, and that’s alright by me.  I think this is a fantastic movie and I don’t understand the concept of anyone not liking it, but apparently it happens so watch this movie skeptically.  But do watch this movie.  Watchmen gets “A pretty butterfly” out of “I’m not locked in here with you.  You’re locked in here with ME!”

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