The Game (1997)


Discovering the Object of the Game IS the Object of the Game.

The Game (1997)Quite some time ago, my friend Fabio gave me a small novel’s worth of review requests.  Thus far I’ve completed few of them, if any.  But I recently decided to endeavor to complete more of my review requests as I had become too lax with them, and Fabio’s name just came up again.  It took me a few weeks to look through the list he presented me with, and I finally selected today’s movie.  I don’t know why he selected it, and I don’t know much about the movie that couldn’t be gathered looking at the front of the DVD, but let’s find out what I thought about The Game, written by John Brancato and Michael Ferris, directed by David Fincher, and starring Michael Douglas, Sean Penn, Deborah Kara Unger, James Rebhorn, Peter Donat, Carroll Baker, Anna Katarina, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Charles Martinet, and Mark Boone Junior.

Nicholas Van Orton (Michael Douglas) is rich, and every bit the dick that can accompany that amount of money.  He’s celebrating his 48th birthday, though I don’t know if you could call it celebration the way he does it.  Plus, his father was 48 when he committed suicide, so he’s got that goin’ for him.  His estranged brother, Conrad (Sean Penn), contacts him about getting together for lunch, and at lunch he gives him his birthday present: a voucher for a “game” at Consumer Recreation Services (CRS).  Nicholas begrudgingly agrees to call them after Conrad insists that it will change his life.  After a lengthy application process, Van Orton’s game begins.  He finds a wooden clown in his driveway with a key in its mouth, and then the TV tells him that his game is starting, but gives him no more information than that.  Part of the point of the game is to find out the point of the game, after all.

It took me a little while to warm up to this movie, but I did enjoy it when it all came together.  It winds up being pretty thrilling and mysterious, but it gets started pretty slow and uneventful.  Hell, Nicholas’ application process felt like we were watching it in real time, and they filmed HIM complaining about it.  At this point, I could just see them making the trailer for this movie.  THRILL as Michael Douglas fills out paperwork.  DELIGHT as the lead on his pencil breaks!  KILL YOURSELF as he looks at pictures!  But then the game got started and the movie became more of a mystery and a thriller than paperwork.  But I never thought the movie was quite that mysterious.  Once the concept of the game was introduced, I was already instantly suspicious of everyone.  The harder they tried to make me think someone was safe, the less I believed it.  The part with Nicholas’ brother Conrad did surprise me at the end of the movie, and then it surprised me again shortly after, but I didn’t actually like it.  The ending just felt weird and unsatisfying after the build up to it.  It felt like the writer had a great idea for the movie but forgot he had to end it.  But the rest of the movie still had enough thrills to make the movie worth the watch.  I know one thing for sure: I would punch my sister right in her stupid face if she tried to pull this shit on me.  At first it was harmless enough, being just a series of elaborate pranks like hiding a clown in the driveway, changing the lock on a briefcase, ruining a shirt, but when they got into the part  with getting shot at, getting drugged, thinking I killed people, then I’m a little pissed off with this stupid game.  I also don’t know how it would benefit me beyond making my life more interesting than watching movies and writing stuff all day for a couple of days, but he did seem like less of a dick by the end of the movie.

Also (just a random thought) don’t they act like it’s the fall that kills them and not the impact?  So if (HYPOTHETICALLY) someone were to jump off of a roof thinking they were committing suicide, wouldn’t their heart have stopped by the time they hit a safety net?  Hypothetically, of course.  And how would someone figure out exactly which random point on the roof he would jump off in order to set up a safety net?  And how do blanks break a champagne bottle?  Y’know what?  This isn’t the time or place for my random, non-sequitur thoughts.  Let’s move on.

The performances in the movie were all great.  Michael Douglas did a really good job.  He started out all Wall Street and ends up all Falling Down.  I had nearly no problems with his performance.  One problem was that he didn’t punch his brother (and maybe even Deborah Kara Unger) right in their faces.  The other is that he’s supposed to be this high-powered investment banker, but he signs the CRS contract without even reading it?  Deborah Kara Unger did a good job too.  She was pretty difficult to figure out.  I was always suspicious of her, but she seemed to walk the line between trust and not, and I was never sure which way to go.  I was positive how I felt about her around the time she was acting like Douglas got her fired when she spilled a drink all over his expensive suit.  He didn’t get you fired; you deserved to get fired all on your own!  Not only did you spill on him, but you called him an asshole in earshot of the customer and your boss, and he wasn’t even acting that angry.  Most people would flip out much more over much less.  But perhaps that’s just the perspective of someone that’s worked retail for far too long.  Also, I understand her not wanting to get out of the elevator first if she wasn’t wearing underwear, but she doesn’t want to grab his hand to get out because there’s grease on it?  Fine then, bitch!  You stay there with your clean hands.  You can sit and admire how clean they are while waiting for someone to find you, and you can eat your fingers like Werner Herzog in Jack Reacher when you get hungry.  Also, Mark Boone Junior (the Shady Private Investigator) looks a lot like Ariel Castro.  …Just sayin’…

The Game was an interesting movie that ended a little weak, but had enough thrills throughout to keep itself interesting.  The story was decent up until the ending, even if it didn’t make that much sense, and the movie kept me interested even if I never felt it was that mysterious.  And the performances were all pretty great.  I’d say this movie was worth renting at least.  The Game gets “Think of it as a great vacation, except you don’t go to it.  It comes to you” out of “There goes a thousand dollars.”

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Silent Hill: Revelation 3D (2012)


Everyone Has a Different Nightmare in Silent Hill. I Am Theirs.

Silent Hill: Revelation 3D (2012)I really wanted to see today’s movie, but not out of anything positive. I saw the first movie and thought it was okay, but definitely saw how people would think it was awful. I think I just have a special place in my heart for mindless crap. Plus, it’s based on a video game, and that makes up the rest of my heart. Then they made a sequel. And generally, when you add video game movie, sequel, sequel to a movie that wasn’t that great, and 3D, you’re looking at a terrible movie. I wouldn’t see this movie in theaters lest I think that I should just give in and see it in 3D, so I waited. Now it’s out on DVD, so I rented it that I might bring you my review of Silent Hill: Revelation 3D (in 2D), written and directed by Michael J. Bassett, and starring Adelaide Clemens, Erin Pitt, Kit Harington, Sean Bean, Carrie-Anne Moss, Malcolm McDowell, Martin Donovan, Deborah Kara Unger, Radha Mitchell, and Roberto Campanella.

Have you played Silent Hill 3? Then you’ve played this movie, pretty much. Heather Mason / Sharon Da Silva (Adelaide Clemens) is a nearly 18-year-old girl who moves from town to town with her adoptive father Christopher Da Silva (Sean Bean), on the run from the law because Chris killed a man in self-defense once. Heather has nightmares (whether she’s awake or not) about going to a town called Silent Hill that is filled with lots of icky creatures that are trying to kill her. She reluctantly (and quickly) befriends a boy named Vincent Cooper (Kit Harington), who drives her home after one of these episodes becomes a little too real and ends with a private investigator named Douglas Cartland (Martin Donovan) getting killed. When she returns home, she finds that her father has been kidnaped, and the abductors have left a note telling her to come to Silent Hill. Vincent agrees to drive her and the two head off to Silent Hill to find out the truth about her past.

This movie is not good times, but I would like to focus on giving credit where credit is due. So that part of this will be short. But this movie did capture a decent amount of Silent Hill … by mainly just taking the same story and putting it on film. On the other hand, I’ve never really been a fan of Silent Hill, so I still didn’t like it. But the parts of the movie I didn’t like weren’t really Silent Hill’s fault as much as it was bad writing. Like all the super sweaty exposition in the movie. It’s nice to not waste a lot of time with the backstory, but making sure we’re up to speed by having the characters talk in exposition that they would never say in real life is awkward. Things like, “This present is for you, my soon-to-be-18-year-old daughter!” I mean, that’s how I introduce most of my soon-to-be-30-year-old friends, but I acknowledge that I’m a weirdo. Another thing I didn’t get along with in the movie was the relationship between Heather and Vincent, and more specifically how quickly it developed. This girl is supposed to be really good at being solitary, and even has a whole speech developed for it, but they become super close friends in a matter of hours. When she has a secret, Vincent says, “It’s okay, you can tell me.” Yeah? Our six hour friendship has developed that level of trust already? Close enough to drive me across multiple state lines to save my father, who you have never met? Oh, well I guess that’s a thing too. I’m a pretty nice guy, and I’m willing to help out people to a degree, and I also acknowledge that this Heather chick is really cute, but this bitch had better put out if she wants a ride to anywhere more than a 20 minute drive away. There are other cute chicks around, and most of them don’t require 8 hours of driving and getting involved with a dangerous cult. Most of the dialogue is problematic as well. Like when Heather acts befuddled when Vincent tells her that his grandfather was locked up for seeing monsters walking around during the day. Yeah, Heather, his mom is the crazy one. That’s what normal people do. And when the cops bust in to Heather’s house and refer to the “Come to Silent Hill” message on the wall as “probable cause” in the death of the private investigator earlier. Do you know what that means? Are you suggesting that the detective guy busted into the house and wrote on Heather’s wall, and that’s why Heather followed him to a mall and killed him? That’s what “cause” means. This would be considered a “clue” at best. Also a bummer in this movie is the ending. The climax to the movie and the way Heather defeats Alessa is by hugging her for a few seconds, and then it’s over. There’s a little more to the movie after that, but hugging is not the battle I was looking for. Can you imagine that as a boss battle in the video game?

I hate 3D. I don’t understand this new trend towards being super impressed by it when I remember seeing Captain EO in 3D when I was a child. This stuff has been around for a while, and it didn’t help tell a story back then either. I didn’t need to see this movie in 3D to be annoyed by it. I thought people stopped doing the cheesy, obvious 3D things like hitting a paddle ball at the camera to show off what 3D could do right after that became a joke. This movie does that jokey 3D stuff to try to be scary. They fail. It remains goofy. The rest of the look of the movie was fine. It looks vaguely Silent Hill and nothing seemed very poorly realized. The first movie captured an atmosphere much better than this movie did, but this one did fine enough.

The greater majority of the performances were underwhelming. Adelaide Clemens did a fairly good job of it, though. She was cute, looked an awful lot like Michelle Williams, and did a fine enough job in the movie. Her character was dumb as a post, but she can’t be blamed for that. I do get to wondering what Malcolm McDowell thinks when agreeing to make a movie. I would say he’s an inarguably great actor, but he does choose some less than fantastic movies to be in every now and then.

Silent Hill: Revelation 3D was not good times. It was nice that it seemed to respect the game that gave it life, but bad that it wasn’t scary, wasn’t particularly interesting, and was full to the brim with sweaty, unconvincing dialogue. Some of that can be blamed on the performances, but I think most was in the writing. And, as a hater of 3D, I found myself annoyed by how many corny plays they made towards using the 3D. I was pretty much annoyed by the entire movie. I can’t recommend it. It has potential as fodder for mockery, but not much else. Silent Hill: Revelation 3D gets “I don’t think I like my reality” out of “The darkness is coming. It’s safer to be inside.”

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White Noise (2005)


The Spirits Don’t Want You Here

You know what this is.  It’s the October Horror-thon.  We’re coming to a close on both October and the Horror-thon, so one might assume I’d be picking only my favorite horror movies to finish ‘er up.  Not the case, it turns out.  Not to say I hate today’s movie, but I also wouldn’t call it my favorite.  This movie is White Noise, directed by Geoffrey Sax, and starring Michael Keaton, Ian McNeice, Deborah Kara Unger, and Chandra West.

Jonathan Rivers (Michael “I’m Batman” Keaton) is a successful architect who lives with his wife Anna (Chandra West), at least until she stops with the living.  Shortly into the movie we get Jon back into the dating game by having his wife go missing and then be found dead by a VAN DOWN BY THE RIVER.  I don’t know if there was a van, but it seems like she slipped on some rocks and died.  Jon does not take it very well.  In the middle of his grieving period, a big fat dude by the name of Raymond Price (Ian McNeice) waddles over to him and tells him that he’s been in contact with his dead wife.  Jon tells him to fuck off, but Raymond gives him a card in case he changes his mind.  He does and Raymond introduces Jon to the wonders of Electronic Voice Phenomena, or EVP.  EVP also apparently means being able to see people in fuzzy TV screens like watching porn back in the day.  Shortly after that, Raymond is found dead, but strangely not from a heart attack or choking on a watermelon.  Raymond invests an ungodly amount of money into lots of EVP monitoring technology and starts receiving messages that he finds can lead him to people that will die soon and not people that have already dead.  He believes that Anna is trying to help him save people and will most likely never find out that he was mistaken in a violent and goofy way.

I actually kind of like this movie.  I say it that way because it has about a 9% on Rotten Tomatoes.  I think that’s a bit harsh.  While probably not making it within my top 20 horror movies, I think there’s a lot to like about this movie.  Since it’s October Horror-thon time, let’s talk scares.  I think this movie has a good couple.  It’s vaguely creepy but mostly relies on startles for it’s thrills.  And though I generally don’t like that kind of nonsense, I give this movie a pass.  I’m beginning to think that my affections towards horror movies is not so much about how it gets it’s scares, but the subject matter.  I can face it: I like ghosts.  I’ve also come to realize that this is completely irrational because it’s far more likely that I’ll get killed by a serial killer than a ghost.  But it is what it is.  The story of this movie is also pretty good.  It’s basically just a movie to introduce the general public to the EVP stuff, though it completely misinforms them simultaneously by having that include video in something with the word “voice” in it.  But I also feel that the movie is a good message about letting go.  Jon wouldn’t have gotten himself into such trouble if he had not been able to let go of his wife after she died.  Just to hear her voice again, he bought TV’s, computers, audio devices, a total nerd paradise of a room that he wasted on snowstorms and white noise.  On the other hand, he saved a couple lives with his obsession, so it’s hard to say if the message was worth getting.  I would, however, say that the ending did not sit right by me.  ::SPOILER ALERT::  He gets killed by 3 ghosts that had been telling a serial killer to kill random women, such as Jon’s wife.  Making the 3 ghosts suddenly able to kill people seemed to me like they wrote themselves into a corner and just threw it together to finish the movie off.  ::END SPOILER::

I also kind of liked the performances in this movie.  Michael Keaton had a much more emotional performance than I’ve ever seen him deliver, but since I had only seen him play Batman and Beetlejuice, I guess that makes sense.  But he did play the grieving widower very well.  Chandra West died pretty quickly, so not much to say about her.  Deborah Kara Unger didn’t really make much of an impression on me in this movie for some reason, and Ian McNeice only made an impression on the couch … ’cause he’s fat.  Actually he was decent, but I couldn’t deny a fat joke.  I almost feel bad.

My diagnosis?  Eh, I admit you can probably skip the movie.  But I like ghosts, so I dug on it.  If you like ghosts, check it out.  I won’t promise you’ll like it, but I will promise you’ll be an hour and a half older afterwards.  And Michael Keaton does put on a good performance that deserves to be seen.  I gives this movie “I’m Batman!” out of “Oops, wrong movie.”

Hey, peeps.  Why not rate and comment on this as a favor to good ole Robert, eh?  And tell your friends!  Lets make me famous!

Silent Hill (2006)


Fire Doesn’t Cleanse. It Blackens!

More October Horror-thon madness, comin’ atcha! Little girls are creepy. Let’s stick with that theme. Today’s movie is a movie I actually saw with a girl. SO THERE! I told you I’m not gay, Mom! …cough… This movie is both a horror movie AND generally my least favorite type of movie: a video game port. Generally a video game does not translate into a quality film, and only two movies come to mind as being watchable video game flicks. One is Hitman, the other is this movie, Silent Hill. Silent Hill is directed by Christophe Gans and stars Radha Mitchell, Jodelle Ferland, Sean Bean, Laurie Holden, Deborah Kara Unger, Alice Krige, and Kim Coates.

Rose (Radha Mitchell) and Christopher Da Silva (Sean Bean) are having a few problems with their adopted daughter Sharon (Jodelle Ferland). That problem? She likes to sleepwalk in the middle of the night down past busy highways and stop in front of treacherous cliffs, yelling the name of the town “Silent Hill”. Rose has had enough of having to wake up in the middle of the night and doesn’t want to take MY approach of tying the daughter to her bed at night. Is that illegal? Well okay. Then I’d kill her with a hammer. …What? Anyways, Rose’s idea is to take her daughter to Silent Hill, behind the back of her disapproving husband. On her way there, officer Cybil Bennett (Laurie Holden), or as I call her, Dyke Cop, attempts to pull Rose of Sharon … I mean Rose AND Sharon (does anyone else get that reference?), but Rose decides, for reasons unbeknownst to us, that she must try to lose the cop. She’s done nothing wrong and Dyke Cop only became interested because Sharon freaked out around the cop. But it’s her actual daughter so she had nothing to worry about … unless she was holding some coke or something. Well this all would have been avoided if she’d just used her head, but she didn’t. She jets off in her car towards Silent Hill, smashing through a fence with reckless abandon, but crashes on the side of the road when a creepy lady walks in front of her car. When she wakes up, everything looks all foggy and creepy and she’s in Silent Hill … without her daughter. Sharon’s run off. Rose goes in to town to find her, but finds it completely abandoned. Apparently there was a coal fire a long time ago that’s still burning underground and is creating the ash in the sky. While exploring, a siren rings out and the world turns all dark and creepy. Then Rose is attacked by these 4 foot tall creepy baby-like things that look like they’ve been burnt to blackness. They disappear when the siren rings out again. Then she goes back to her car and Dyke Cop arrests her, but an armless creature spits black acid stuff at her and Rose escapes while Dyke Cop deals with the Smog. Rose continues her search for Sharon and tries to discover the mysteries of Silent Hill. It probably would’ve been safer to just play the video games.

I remember not caring for this movie when I first saw it, but have come to kind of enjoy the movie in the ensuing viewings. When I first saw it, I knew nothing about Silent Hill that I didn’t learn in the short demo I had played for the original game, and maybe a couple other pieces of information I had gleaned from magazines. But I’ve learned much more since the invention of Wikipedia and my favorite thing about this movie is that it totally captures the spirit and atmosphere of the game. I don’t know the stories that well, but it apparently takes heavily from the stories of Silent Hill 1, 2, and 3. Even the Sharon/Alessa character comes from the first Silent Hill, and the story seems similar (though I only glanced at it on Wikipedia). Also, Rose tends to have very little on hand to light her way through the evil side of Silent Hill – at first a lighter and later a shitty flashlight – which is a big thing in the games. She also has to run from fights often (as she’s scarcely ever armed), she has to squeeze through tight slots to move on, she has to pick up drawings from her kid, and she has to cut over-sized pictures to find things behind them, all things from the game. Even the music is heavily reminiscent of the games. And, of course, they had to put the most well-known Silent Hill character in this, Pyramid Head! He is such a badass in this. He tears a chick’s skin off by her tits! He literally grabs a handful of her chest, squeezes, and pulls, then flings the floppy skin mess at Rose.

As I said, the entire time in Silent Hill is creepy. Hell, right before Silent Hill, Rose stops at a place that is a combination diner, gas station, AND body-piercing establishment. That is creepy to me. And unsanitary. But once they get to Silent Hill, much as in the games, the town shifts between two different types of creepy. Day time Silent Hill is foggy with ash and quiet, which is always pretty creepy. Night time Silent Hill is probably one of the lower levels of Hell by the look of it. The creatures are really creepy. Them little burn babies are wrong on so many levels, and the Smog is disgusting. And what makes them so creepy? I’m pretty sure there’s a real person in those costumes, if I remember the “Making Of” properly. That is one uncomfortable contortionist. When we reach the school and go into the bathroom, there is a very creepy corpse I called Barb Wire Colin who later animates into a very creepy moving corpse. And the death of the cult leader was heavily reminiscent of a certain type of Japanese anime and I totally called it when I was watching. I saw on the movie’s Wikipedia page that it was inspired by a movie called Urotsukidoji, a movie I have seen and thought of as I watched the scene. The cult leader basically gets fucked by barbed wire and then torn in half, which is totally reminiscent of all that tentacle rape the Japanese anime likes to do.

The performances could be kind of hit and miss with me, but they were all at least passable. Radha Mitchell puts on a more emotional performance than a video game movie tends to get. Laurie Holden as Dyke Cop was annoying and nosy in the beginning, but then became a hero by the end. I was sad that she had to die for it, but it’s a very Silent Hill-esque thing to do. And how often do you get to see a woman dressed up like the T-1000? Alice Krige was totally creepy as the cult leader and pulled that off nicely. And Deborah Kara Unger played the crazy old hag mother of Alessa very well. They actually made her an ugly old hag for most of the movie, even though she’s actually an attractive lady. The little girl didn’t really do it for me though. Most of her time as Sharon she kind of acts like she has a mental deficiency of some sort. She has a few creepy moments as Alessa, like when she skipped around and danced in the blood raining down from the cult leader, but the part where she holds out her arms and says “Look at me, I’m burning” seemed like that line should have been a place holder for a GOOD line.

For another negative, I will have to spoil a bit. So ::SPOILER ALERT:: but I didn’t understand the ending at all, and even Wikipedia didn’t really offer an explanation. I understood what happened in Silent Hill, but right after, when Rose and Sharon return to Sean Bean and they’re in the same house but when we’re on them it’s still foggy and colorless but on him it’s colorful and real, and they don’t see each other but they kind of know each other are there, I don’t get it. I assume that Dyke Cop, Rose, and Sharon died when they crashed in the beginning and they’re ghosts now, but then that kind of takes the drama out of the movie because they were already dead and there’s no drama or suspense. A bad or confusing ending can take you out of a movie. ::END SPOILER::

Altogether a pretty solid flick and a nice addition to the Silent Hill franchise. They’re supposed to be making a sequel and, of course, it’s going to be 3D. I hope it just gets better and 3D can go fuck itself. But this movie is worth a watch, though you can probably get by just renting it. I give this movie a “Mother needs more food” out of “Mother is God in the eyes of a child.”

And, as always, please rate, comment, and/or like this post and others. It may help me get better.