Tag Archives: murder

Killing Them Softly: Potential slaughtered by director

Brad Pitt, Scoot McNairy, Ben Mendelsohn, James Gandolfini, Richard Jenkins, and Ray Liotta star in Killing Them Softly. Courtesy of Alliance Films

Amazing movies have that uncanny ability to feel as if time just flew by. I’m sure we’ve all experienced a movie that seems intriguing on the surface but in execution falls short forcing us to check our watches every five seconds. Sadly, Killing Them Softly is one of these films.

Not all is lost as there are some positives in Andrew Dominik’s (The Assassination of Jesse James) latest film.

In Killing Them Softly, a couple of young knuckleheads rob a mob protected poker game only to find themselves hunted by a hired enforcer.

The adapted story has a great deal of promise, but Andrew Dominik’s direction seems to belay the entire film’s plot. Subtlety is clearly not one of Dominik’s strengths as he endlessly beats us over the head with the political speeches of Bush and Obama in an attempt to provide poignant social commentary. It just doesn’t work.

The cast is solid with Brad Pitt, Scoot McNairy (Argo), Ben Mendelsohn, and James Gandolfini putting forth a great combination of dramatic and comedic performances.

The brutally, vivid violence was given a great deal of thought behind shooting at interesting angles and variable framerates.

In the end, the slow pace and lack of tension throughout most of the film forces the audience to nitpick on the faults rather than rejoice in the otherwise thought-provoking story.

Bottom Line: Not worth a trip to the theatre. However, there’s enough potential to give this a chance as a cheap rental.

Grade C

Runtime: 97 minutes
3D: No

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter: A fun historical fantasy ride

Benjamin Walker and Dominic Cooper star in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

What are the first words that come to mind when “vampire” and “movie” are mentioned together these days? Any of these ring a bell: Bad writing, awful acting, glittering nonsense, ridiculous romance? None of these words will be uttered after you’ve watched Timur Bekmametov’s Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.

Mixing fiction with history, this movie follows “Honest” Abe’s vengeful quest to rid the USA of vampires.

Going into this movie, it’s hard to wrap your mind around such a fantastical concept. Luckily, director Timur Bekmametov (Wanted) and novelist/screenwriter Seth Grahame-Smith (Dark Shadows) pull off the adventure with style.

Audiences will be equally satisfied if they’re looking for either a killing spree or a solid story. Both writer and director balance the bountiful violence and important character development to make this an entertaining film, and not just a blood bath.

Surprisingly, there are also terrific performances to be found with the cast. No actor felt out of place, with Benjamin Walker leading the way as the 16th president. Walker’s performance commands your attention with his portrayal of a great man dealing with loss, love and leading a nation through civil war.

There is a multitude of incredible fantasy-based action choreography to sink your teeth into. However, the CGI can vary from seamless to distracting at times.

You’ll want to take the 3D journey that not only provides depth to the picture, but also a lot of non-distracting, in-your-face moments as well.

Bottom Line: Take the fictitious ride with one of the greatest leaders the world has ever known and you’ll get more than your money’s worth.

Grade B+

Runtime: 105 minutes
3D: Yes

Madison County: DVD Review

Eric England’s latest horror is Madison County. Courtesy of eOne Entertainment

Do you remember that crazy time in your life when you enjoyed killing people and nothing could stop you – Not even five whopping blows to the head with a shovel? Ah, the ridiculous moments never cease when filmmakers think, “This time, nobody will notice these nonsensical, unexplainable, super-human-like events.” It was blisteringly apparent Writer/director Eric England clearly thought this when he was making Madison County.

This Texas Chainsaw Massacre wannabe tells the story of a group of teenage friends who trek out to interview an author who has information on a bizarre set of murders which an entire town appears to be involved in.

Eric England’s screenplay needs a lot of work. It reeks of plagiarism from past films and follows many of the thoughtless characteristics that infects the audience with the ever tiring eye-rolling syndrome. Then there is his direction, which serves only to spook those who scare (extremely) easily.

The positive that can be drawn out of the entire affair are the performances that felt more natural than corny. Jonna Sotomura, Natalie Sheetz, Matt Mercer and Colley Bailey did a commendable job with their characters considering the handicapped source material.

For fans of the Screamfest 2011 sellout movie, the home release delivers solid picture and audio quality. On top of that, there are a couple of special features to enjoy, including the Q & A from Screamfest! and Audio Commentary featuring Writer/Producer/Director Eric England, Producer Daniel F. Dunn and Actor/Producer Ace Marrero.

Bottom Line: You won’t find anything scary in this movie unless you’re frequently frightened by your own shadow. At least the home release delivers what it should.

Movie Grade D
Blu Ray Grade B-

Runtime: 81 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Joanna Sotomura is terrified in Madison County