Tag Archives: suspense

Prometheus: A step below greatness

Logan Marshall-Green, Noomi Rapace, and Michael Fassbender star in Prometheus. Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

It’s difficult not to become completely encapsulated in an epic horror/sci-fi the likes of Ridley Scott’s Alien from 1979. With the standards set from that film, any movie associated with it will be viewed under extreme scrutiny. Luckily, Prometheus separates itself from the original by focusing on the science and adds elements of horror to spice things up.

In Prometheus, a scientific discovery leads to a galactic exploration to find the origins of humanity. What they find when they reach their destination is nothing close to what they expected.

Ridley Scott, the once legendary director, has returned to where his major success had initialized with classics like Blade Runner. With the aid of writers Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindeloff, Scott takes us on a journey that explores man’s greatest mystery: Where do we come from? Both director and writers achieve an incredible level of thought provoking ideas and thrilling storytelling. However, they also left a lot of unexplored venues which will prevent this movie from reaching the stratospheric acclaim of its predecessor.

Casting for this movie hit an almost perfect score with an excellent ensemble of actors to portray the various archetypes. Michael Fassbender is yet again phenomenal in his role as the multi-layered, intriguing android. Alongside him, Noomi Rapace shows equal skill in manifesting her character’s emotions (very reminiscent of Sigourney Weaver in 1979). While the rest of the cast was great, Charlize Theron completely lacked everything that was required to make her performance memorable. Mind you, it is hard to be memorable when your character appeared to be tacked on haphazardly.

The cinematography is beautiful, but the musical score lacked atmosphere to really provide punch to crucial moments.

Scott’s use of the added 3rd dimension works phenomenally. The entire film viewed through 3D glasses delivered the most realistic “looking through a window” effect to date. Definitely worth the additional cost.

Bottom Line: No matter how great this film appears to be, the nagging flaws keep it from becoming an epic classic.

Grade B+

Runtime: 124 minutes
3D: Yes

Man on a Ledge: Blu Ray + DVD Review

Sam Worthington and Elizabeth Banks star in Man on a Ledge. Courtesy of eOne Entertainment

If you were wrongly accused of a crime and sentenced to 25 years in jail, how far would you go to prove your innocence and bring down the people who set you up? Nick Cassidy goes the ultimate distance venturing out onto a 21st storey ledge in order to prove his innocence.

Not without its faults, Man on a Ledge manages to provide a thrilling ride with its suspense and amazing cinematography.

With only a documentary under his belt, director Asger Leth alongside veteran cinematographer Paul Cameron (Man on Fire, Gone in Sixty Seconds) take us to dizzying heights and keep us on the edge of our seats for almost two hours as we watch the story unravel. The pace of the film is tight, but there are definitely a few unnecessary comedic relief moments that deserved a Karate chop in the editing room.

After years in the business, Australian born Sam Worthington’s acting is very hard to appreciate due to his very distracting and pitiful American accent. Elizabeth Banks, Ed Harris, Anthony Mackie and the rest of the cast range from decent to good.

In the Blu Ray + DVD combo pack, you get a solid presentation of the film both visually and orally. On top of that, there is an excellent “The Ledge” featurette that takes you behind the scenes to explain how they managed to film acrophobic (fear of heights) scenes. They’ve also included a feature length commentary with actress Elizabeth Banks.

Bottom Line: While not perfect, there’s still an adrenaline pumping ride worth experiencing in this home release.

Movie Grade B
Blu Ray Grade A

Runtime: Approx. 102 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1

Chernobyl Diaries: Worth the ride

OLIVIA TAYLOR DUDLEY as Natalie, JESSE McCARTNEY as Chris, JONATHAN SADOWSKI as Paul, DEVIN KELLEY as Amanda, DIMITRI DIATCHENKO as Uri, NATHAN PHILLIPS as Michael and INGRID BOLSÖ BERDAL as Zoe in Chernobyl Diaries. Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Twenty-six years ago, the catastrophic Chernobyl nuclear disaster struck the Western portion of the then U.S.S.R. and parts of Europe claiming thousands of lives and infecting even more with cancer. Almost three decades later, the man behind the hit Paranormal Activity creates a horror involving the remnants of the abandoned radioactive site. Are you game?

Chernobyl Diaries takes you along with six tourists who bravely, or foolishly, take an unofficial tour of the abandoned city. Things take a turn for the worse and they find more in the city than abandoned buildings and cars.

What is interesting about the movie is its attempted original concept from Oren Peli. Peli and two co-screenwriters pieced together a situation that makes you feel as if it could possibly happen. Sure things aren’t perfect, but their screenplay does provide a fun suspenseful scream-worthy ride.

Choosing first time director Bradley Parker (a visual effects artist for films like Fight Club) was a wise choice. Parker uses handheld camera work throughout the movie, but never gets carried away with shaking the camera resulting in a theatre full of observers suffering from motion sickness (hope the makers of the next Hunger Games movie are taking lessons).

Finding talent most people will not recognize has become a trademark for Peli’s movies. Considering what was asked of them, the cast did a fairly good job with the script and the amount of action involved.

In the end, this will not provide the fright-fest Paranormal Activity did, but it does take you on journey you’ll find unsettling the first time around. After that, you’ll find the replay value takes a dive off a towering cliff.

Bottom Line: Worth watching once if you’re in the mood for a creepy scare.

Grade B-

Runtime: 90 minutes
3D: No


Silent House: Nail biting suspense

Elizabeth Olsen is terrified in Silent House. Courtesy of Entertainment One

What would you do if you were locked in a house with a dark stranger, no electricity and no way out? Silent House is a remake of the Spanish film, La Casa Muda from 2010 that was inspired by true events.

What’s really interesting thing about this suspenseful movie is following the main characters around in real time through the use of single camera. No cuts are visible, unless you pay close attention. The effect really enhances the tension of the movie and keeps you engaged in this psychological story.

With super long takes, the actors had to stay in character and perform as if they were on stage (Just imagine shooting for 30 minutes and messing up in the last second). Elizabeth Olsen (Martha Marcy May Marlene), younger sister of the infamous Mary-Kate and Ashley duo, delivered a solid performance with the difficult task at hand. She handled her character’s emotional roller coaster with concrete realism, something I wish her two male co-stars could have done. Both Adam Trese and Eric Sheffer Stevens delivered heavy handed “B” movie acting, to be polite.

Never-the-less, the husband and wife directing team of Chris Kentis (Open Water) and Laura Lau kept the story tight and to the point making these distractions minimal.

Kentis’ and Lau’s only flaw was the lack of background information we were given about the characters. We don’t really know who they are, which leaves us feeling disconnected.

Bottom Line: It may not be perfect, but there’s a thrilling experience in here for anyone who can handle it.

Grade B

Runtime: 88 minutes
3D: No