Well, it’s Award Season – Golden Globes, Academy Awards, BAFTA, SAG Awards, the Razzies – you name it, people are giving out awards. But we here at the Movie Mangle would like to do something less traditional. Like many average Joe’s, I haven’t seen all (or most) of the nominated movies this year. So while I will be losing the Academy Awards bingo, I want to bestow my OWN awards for the movies that impacted me last year (not the tooth that impacted me last year – that jerk gets NO award!). Ladies and gents, I present to you… the Mangle Awards!
#1 WORST MOVIE WITH BEST POTENTIAL: “Escape From Tomorrow”
You’ve probably heard of this one – a filmmaker wrote a “script,” had his actors memorize and rehearse, then snuck his whole sound and film team in to shoot it all in Disney World. Theoretically, this could be really cool. (In fact, a short film titled “Missing In The Mansion” did the same thing and was very fun!) But no.
It starts off fine, a story about a 40-something father of two who gets fired on the morning that he brings his family to Disneyland, then following his point of view as he does creepy things like stalking some underage French girls around the park. The whole point of the movie is to subvert the idea of Disney perfection and showing the juxtaposition between the seeming innocence of Disney and the realities of how adults think and behave.
But then it goes off the rails. The main character starts seeing trippy, LSD-like things happen around him and there’s some stupidity about a “cat flu” going around, so the movie becomes surreal, but then tries to hold on to some kind of reality and never achieves the kind of connection that even a David Lynch movie has. A waste of time.
#2 BEST TRANSFORMERS MOVIE: “Pacific Rim”
If only Guillermo del Toro had been brought on for the first TRANSFORMERS movie, I might still be watching its‘ copious sequels. But instead, we wait a decade or so to watch PACIFIC RIM – or, as I’m sure it was pitched – “Transformers meets Godzilla.”
I’ve heard a lot of people whine about how the effects were great but they were disappointed in the lack of characters and development. I disagree. In fact, I went in expecting ROCK ‘EM SOCK ‘EM MONSTERS AND ROBOTS and instead found some pretty solid emotional and character grounding….. plus some pretty spectacular rock ‘em sock ‘em monsters and robots! PACIFIC RIM made a monster movie better than past GODZILLA’S and CLOVERFIELD and beat TRANSFORMERS in the giant robot department. Personally, I can’t wait for the sequel.
#3 BEST DOCUMENTARY DIRECTED BY DAVE GROHL: “Sound City”
I love music documentaries, especially when they involve “behind-the-scenes” of an album. Of the handful of music docs I saw last year, my two faves were “A BAND CALLED DEATH” (You should definitely check that one out, btw) and “SOUND CITY.” The latter is Nirvana and Foo Fighters member Dave Grohl’s directorial debut.
Sound City was a recording studio in the Valley that had incredible acoustics, an incomparable soundboard, and history of recording some of the biggest records and bands of the past few decades: Nirvana, Fleetwood Mac, Nine Inch Nails, Rick Springfield, etc. Alas, it went out of business. But before it did, Dave Grohl bought the fabled soundboard, installed it in his own state-of-the-art home studio, and made this killer documentary. And THEN, he invited some of the more prestigious people who ever recorded at Sound City and had them come record some tracks at his studio.
Seriously, this is worth watching for a thirty-second Paul McCartney moment alone.
**bonus awesome: Sound City is available right now on Amazon Instant Video, FREE to Prime members… just sayin***<Click here to watch Sound City for FREE on Amazon>
#4 BEST UNDER THE RADAR SURPRISE: “Trance”
I vaguely remember the previews for this one. Vaguely. But an acquaintance from work (at Stan’s Donuts N’ Firearms) had a digital copy that he was selling for the low low price of “stop blackmailing my wife” so I checked it out. And it’s GREAT!
Danny Boyle directs this thriller about an art heist and the hypnotist (James McAvoy) hired to figure out what happened to it. Smart, tight, and featuring an equally smart and tight (and naked!) Rosario Dawson, this is one of the handful of psychological thrillers that does a really good job of keeping the ending a surprise. With great performances and a fun twisty story, I recommend TRANCE to everybody. (I have a digital copy if you want to borrow it. Plus some nice blackmail material if you wish to peruse.)
#5 BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT SINCE INDIANA JONES 4: “Man Of Steel”
This movie was so bad it made me angry.
It’s a lot of non-linear storytelling that doesn’t reveal anything so much as simply stop the narrative dead several times. Characters make ridiculous decisions that as an audience member I cannot relate to (See: Clark’s father’s death), they have blase reactions to monumental happenings (see: Clark’s MOM’s reaction to aliens wrecking her home), and we’re supposed to simply understand who people are by them TELLING us their caricature type (see: Lois’s first scene) so that we don’t have to see people interact and learn about them. Hence, we don’t care. At all.
And good thing, too! Because once we’re halfway through the movie, everything and everyone in Metropolis and Smallville is completely destroyed with no thought to life or property. BUT Superman cares for us humans SO MUCH!!! (When and where does he do this? Oh, right: never. He just says it but then lets people die and destroys buildings thoughtlessly.)
This is where I point out that the only person who has ever made a good Superman movie was Richard Donner. In the exact same scenario (Zod and alien supercohorts attack and destroy Metropolis), Superman reveals his WEAKNESS: caring so much for people’s lives that he spends most of his time PROTECTING them rather than FIGHTING the enemy. (And yes, that was Richard Donner’s movie – I don’t care who’s name is on the credit card in Superman 2.) We get to see Clark slowly grow up and deal with his problems and see his connection to his parents in realtime and feel for him in the first SUPERMAN movie. Here, the same beats are played out, but even though the CGI is great and could pull us into more character development, it’s simply a sight gag in Hack Snyder’s hands.
Oh, and Superman needs to have a love affair with Lois. Right. So add that checkmark and make sure that they kiss at the end of the movie. Why? Because “Superman loves Lois Lane.” Says so in the comics. Check. Got it. Ignore the fact that they have, oh, ZERO chemistry or moments of intimacy in the movie.
MAN OF STEEL had some great design elements and could have been a really good ten minute film.
I wish it had been.
#6 BEST ANNIVERSARY RE-RELEASE: “The Wizard Of Oz in 3D IMAX”
And it was fantastic. I’m not a fan of 3D most of the time and I find it to be a money-grab more often than not, but the depth and clarity of the picture (you could see the SEAMS in the clothing and baldcaps!) for this was incredible. And the movie itself?
Come on, I’m not even going to review it. If you’re not a fan of The Wizard of Oz…. something’s wrong.
And there you have it! Matt’s Mangle Awards for 2013. Let me know if I missed any great or unique movies by commenting below and I’ll see you at the Oscar Bingo game!
PS. As always, if you like what you see we really appreciate your positive reinforcement. Please share your thoughts and send to a friend. Cheers!
Well here it is folks… with just days to go before the great hour of witching, we give you the greatest Treat of them all… not one, but TWO super scary Halloween Mangles to delight your funnybone, and tickle your shivers! (I think that’s a thing) In any case, we polled our fans on Facebook to choose the very best of Movie Mangle to present this spooky season, and they chose wisely: The Exorcist, decades old STILL chills even the stoutest souls… and our Universal Movie Monsters special, which reminds one and all of the true meaning of Halloween. So settle in with some hot cider and a pillow case full of fun size tasties, and prepare to enjoy the first ever Halloween Mangle Double Feature! (mwaahahaaaahaaa!)
HAPPY HALLOWEEN, EVERYBODY!
In honor of the Fall (my favorite time of year), let’s look at my Top 6 Halloween Movies that can get you into the nostalgic Halloween spirit or simply scare the bejeezus out of you. If you like any of these movies, click on the image to watch it on Amazon streaming video – Trick or treat!
#1: It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
Yes, yes, fine, fine, it’s not really a “movie” and it’s certainly not terrifying, but THE GREAT PUMPKIN is not only an enduring classic with a story and characters that stand the test of time, but the Vince Guaraldi soundtrack conjures the feel of a chilly autumn afternoon jumping into a pile of raked leaves, going for a haunted hayride and drinking hot apple cider, and seeing your neighborhood transform into a spooky, jack o’lantern-lit netherworld. I got a rock.
#2: The Haunting
I watched Robert Wise’s 1963 B&W classic THE HAUNTING when I was in high school and I didn’t sleep that night. As the years progressed, far more terrifying things have kept me awake at night (relationships, election results, money issues and someone playing Rebecca Black’s “Friday” over and over in my courtyard), but THE HAUNTING remains the finest ghost movie I have ever seen. A psychologist studies Hill House (a supposedly haunted, but definitely ill-fated house with a rich history of insanity, murder and death) by gathering a group of like-minded people who’ve had some previous experience with the supernatural and spending a few night there, taking notes and experimenting. The cinematography and art direction of Hill House alone are enough to induce nightmares, but the terrific cast and great script are what really make it work. No special effects or CGI here, THE HAUNTING is a masterful study in psychological fear, use of sound and cinematography, and is a Halloween night staple.
#3: The Eye
On the other end of the spectrum is THE EYE (the 2002 Pang Brothers original, not the Jessica Alba remake). While you’ll probably have to read the subtitles, THE EYE is one of the scarier movies you’ll see. A young blind woman has surgery to finally give her sight and the results are miraculous – not only can she see everything perfectly for the first time in her life, but she can also see ghosts. Lots of them. And they’re drawn to her. And it’s terrifying. THE EYE is deeply unsettling with fantastic effects used so subtly that the tension mounts and continues throughout the film and doesn’t stop….. well, until about a week later, if you’re anything like me.
#4: The Descent
What 2005’s THE DESCENT lacks in ghosts, it more than makes up for in claustrophobia. A group of female friends (some with some tragic shared history) go spelunking and find themselves trapped with…. something. The Us Against The Monsters aspect of THE DESCENT is fine and creates some great moments, but the secrets, lies and claustrophobic imminent danger of the main storyline are what truly makes it scary. I forced a friend of mine to watch this one and even though he watched it on his computer on a plane surrounded by people, he still doesn’t forgive me for putting him through it.
Stephen King has had a lot of movies made of his books and about half of them are good. On the one hand you have THE SHINING, CARRIE, and SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION…. but on the other you have SLEEPWALKERS, SILVER BULLET, and MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE. But one of the more recent entries, 1408, is one of my favorites. I love haunted house movies, but a haunted HOTEL ROOM? That’s new. And scary. The great thing about the hauntings in 1408 is it’s less about the history of the place and the ghosts and more about the psychological aspects of staying in the room. Room 1408 at the Dolphin Hotel in New York City has had many many murders and suicides. In fact, no one has lasted longer than an hour without checking out of the hotel, going insane, or killing themselves. But when Mike Enslin (a ghost hunter who
has come to not believe in anything, much less ghosts) checks in to review it for his new book, it’s not the creepy unknown that’s scary – it’s his own horrifying past and fears. Loaded with CGI but used to terrifying effect, 1408 is one of the best SK adaptations out there and is super-fun Halloween viewing.
#6: Trick R’Treat
And finally, TRICK R’ TREAT. I was considering HALLOWEEN or WAIT UNTIL DARK or the ORPHANAGE, but while those are great horror films, TRICK R’ TREAT is one of those halloween movies that really captures the spirit of Halloween. A collection of short stories all tied together on the same Halloween night, TRICK R’ TREAT tells the stories of a high school principal (Dylan Baker) who may be a serial killer, a hot co-ed (Anna Paquin) dressed as Red Riding Hood out with her friends who vow to find her someone to take her virginity, a prank goes horribly wrong, and a former bus driver (Brian Cox) is visited by a very special trick or treater. Not a truly scary horror film, this movie does an amazing job of capturing the mood of Halloween – in the same way that THE GREAT PUMPKIN makes me nostalgic for the wind rustling though the dead leaves as dusk falls, so TRICK R’ TREAT brings a more mature and more threatening mood to the night.
So pour some apple cider, break open the candy corn, snuggle up in a warm blanket and enjoy some great creepy movies this Halloween! But be sure to leave a bucket of candy on your front porch! You wouldn’t want the trick or treaters to miss out… and make you pay for it later that night…
What do you think, did I leave out any of your favorite Halloween movies?