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Review Suspiria (2018): Pretentious remake that missed the point completely!

genre: drama, fantasy, horror

It took me a long time to actually watch the remake, but I finally did. I wished I could say I liked it. But I don't. What makes it worse is that quite a lot of people are full of praise. Calling it an artistic masterpiece and more of that BS. These are the same people who didn't like the original and can't see any artistic value in that one. Just the opening scene of the original oozes style, substance and more importantly, dread. The film in itself is easily one of the most creative horror films in existence. And yes, it's a very flawed film. However, what it lacks in certain qualities it redeems itself with kinetic thrills, ambiance and soundtrack. This remake doesn't even come close. I was under the impression that Argento himself was involved with this project. As it turns out, he is not, which is odd, but here is a snippet regarding his thoughts.

Argento himself was decidedly not a fan of the 2018 iteration: in early 2019, the 81-year-old filmmaker went on the record to state, via Radio Rai 1's Un Giorno da Pecora, “… [It] did not excite me, it betrayed the spirit of the original film: There is no fear, there is no music. The film has not satisfied me so much.”

I think even in his criticism, Dario is very nice. I certainly agree with his assessment but want to add that not even for what director Luca Guadagnino was going for, the film fails. It's very clear he wants to put more focus on the history elements and the tragedies that have transpired and using Susie (Dakota Johnson) as a conduit for good instead of the victim she was in the original. While I understand the need to change up the story and perspective, this simply doesn't make any sense. Especially since the pay-off for this is laughable.

There is a lot of distraction and misdirecting going on. In a film like this is to be expected, only not if it detracts from the main plot. Both Swindon and Luca thought it would be cool to have Swindon appear as an old man. The minute I saw this man, I was wondering about him. Then it dawned on me that this man was performed by Tilda. Why? Apparently, for the fun of it. That is all well and good if it actually improves on the film. Not if it completely pulls you away from the main plot. 

Tilda also plays Mother Markos. Again, why? You guessed it, for the fun of it. It's so stupendous, I don't even know what to say about that other than the fact I completely lost interest. I stuck with it since I did want to experience some horror, only to be confronted with some visuals that can be interpreted as shocking or daring but actually did very little to put real fear into you. 

The biggest problem of the remake that it pretends to be intelligent while it's not. In no way does it challenge you. Even the symbolism of the dances are ripped off from Black Swan. Actually, the film goes out of their way to explain to you what is going on. It blatantly tells you what the dance company and even the rituals are about. It's one of the most vital and pivotal elements in the original that never gets explained. At least not until the very end, and even then there isn't a single person who downright explains it to you. The original is quite abstract and leaves more up to the imagination of the viewer. Argento was going for absolute terror and dread, and does accomplish that for the most part. This remake is just boring. Or, as Mrs. P. states, absolute torture. In no way does this film do anything worthwhile. Other than a dance sequence in the finale that again proves that director Luca didn't understand the original.

You are better off watching the original and the other Mother films in the trilogy. So do check the reviews for those.

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Chrichtonsworld Reviews COMING SOON

Listed here are titles I have seen lately but have not been able to write reviews for. It is my intention to write full reviews at my earliest convenience. But for the time being, I will share my (brief) thoughts on them.

- The Pope's Exorcist (2023)
This film might not offer that many surprises, but is incredibly entertaining nonetheless because of Russel Crowe's performance. A fine example of what can be accomplished due to sheer acting power!

- Scream VI (2023)
At this point, the Scream films have become parody films in the same vein as the in joke Stab and the Scary Film franchise yet still manages to out some creative spins into the slasher genre. The true terror and dread is gone, but one can't deny that this was a lot of fun.

- Champions (2023)
Very effective feel good film with Woody Harrelson. Nothing more, nothing less.

- Weird: The Al Yankovic Story (2022)
I get it. This is a parody on biopics. Some jokes really work well and will have you laughing hard. But some of them don't and will suck the life out of you. 

- Run Sweetheart Run (2020)
Ella Balinska proves she can carry films on her own. I was also very impressed how she was able to show the terror inflicted upon her. It's quite odd that this film flew under the radar since it's a neat little horrorfilm.

- Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023)
What is this? Sure Ant-Man is featured in the title but for the rest he seems like a side character in his own film. All focus is on the female characters, in particular, Cassie Lang. I have nothing against the actress. I actually really liked her in Freaky. But not at the expense of Scott Lang. And that is exactly what happens. Above all, the action and spectacle is boring.

- Evil Dead Rise (2023)
When Bruce Campbell claimed this next part in the franchise was going to be awesome, I believed him. Then I saw a YouTube video of a fan being rather angry and was expressing his dismay and disappointment concerning the film after he just had watched it. Bruce mocked him. Something he often does, but usually for fun and to counter the opinion. Unfortunately, this is the first time I have to disagree with him. Evil Dead Rise is atrocious. The first ten minutes are good, but then everything goes downhill. Even reboot Evil Dead (2013) is vastly superior to this crap.

- Invitation to a Murder (2023)
Agatha Christie type of murder mystery where Miranda Green (Mischa Barton) becomes a master sleuth in the same vein as Hercule Poirot. I don't know if this is to become a film series but I for one welcome it.

- Mafia Mamma (2023)
Honestly, this doesn't deserve a full review. It's easily one of the worst comedies ever made. The only reason I could stomach this was because of Monica Belluci. 

- Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves (2023)
Never played the board game but am familiar with the cartoon which is referenced to in the film. Fun and exciting adventure while it lasts.

- The Super Mario Bros. Movie (2023)
Incredibly generic and average. I kept waiting for this film to display the huge fun factor that is part of this video game franchise. It pops up here and there, but is severely undermined by castrating Mario. He can't do anything for a long time. He was always the one who save the princess and saved the world. But now, he is a loser who has to be inspired by Princess Peach to go above and beyond. It's utterly ridiculous.

- The vidiot from UHF a.k.a. UHF (1989)
Perhaps some of the jokes and parodies are a little dated. Then again, some of the jokes are ruthless and unapologetic. A wonderful comedy that is superior to the fake biopic.

- The Invitation (2022)
Incredibly pointless and boring vampire film.

- Army of Darkness (1992)
A Sam Raimi classic. This film might feel different compared to the first two Evil Dead films but make no mistake this definitely is the third part in the franchise. Little less horror but still very weird and fun.

- The Mother (2023)
Jennifer Lopez kicking ass a la John Wick? She wished. It's generic and very forgettable.

- Sisu (2023)
From the writer / director who gave us Rare Exports and Big Game, Sisu is a complete disappointment. It starts out well, but then dissolves into a giant boring mess. I can't take anyone seriously who have claimed that this film is like John Wick with Nazi's. It's not. All the action is boring and bland. 

- To Catch a Killer (2023)
Somewhere underneath, there is a strong thriller present. Unfortunately, they have forgotten to put in terror and dread. Instead, you get a drama where none of the characters have any development. Real shame. But for the most part it's decent.

- Don't Be Afraid of the Dark (2010)
One real terrifying scare is not enough to make this worth your while. The dread and creepiness is completely absent. I'm really starting to wonder whether Guillermo del Toro understands horror.

- Stargate (1994)
Old school science fiction adventure that is quite bold and epic. This started one of my most beloved franchises.

- Encino Man (1992)
Believe it or not. This one is worth it because of Pauly Shore. He is the one who provides the most laughs. That being said, this comedy hasn't aged well. 

- Avatar: The Way of Water (2022)
I wasn't really waiting for a sequel to Avatar. I absolutely loved it back when I first saw it in the cinema. How couldn't I? The 3D was beyond what I had experienced before. Unfortunately, I didn't feel the need to watch the sequel in the cinema. Now, after having watched it, I can say that I am a fool. Not only is this sequel better than the original, it actually has turned me into a believer. I was so involved with the characters and the world and didn't want the adventure to end. James Cameron has delivered a true cinematic experience. I can only imagine what the 3D must have been like!

- A House on the Bayou (2021)
Decent enough. But doesn't really scare or terrify you. This almost feels like a lost tale of The Twilight Zone.

- Robots (2023)
I laughed a couple of times. But it soon becomes apparent that the film doesn't delve deep enough into the themes that are touched upon. Especially these days, a more critical look at humans and their humanity would have been welcome.

- The Infernal Machine (2022)
Leaves you guessing for a long time. But it fails to deliver in the end. Guy Pearce is solid as always.

- The Canonball Run (1981)
Old school comedy featuring several actors and celebrities who will make it worth your while.
Next to the cars, there are quite a few hot women present that also increase the fun factor.

- American Animals (2018)
Easily one of the most boring and pointless heist films ever made. At first, it seemed quite clever and sophisticated. Only to find out that the heist itself was not as advertised. In fact, it was pretty sad to witness how pathetic the thieves were. Especially in relation to the librarian. 

- Air (2023)
At first, I thought this was going to be a rather dull and predictable film. Then I realized, that Nike was struggling. I had no idea this was the case. It's fun to see Matt Damon's character to lure in Michael Jordan and co so that Nike could turn into the corporate giant of today.

- Possessor (2020)
Total failure. I wasn't invested nor was I impressed with the body horror. The lack of real story and character development is what has me stumped the most. What am I supposed to be getting from this film? Am I supposed to care for the evil assassins who not only murder their targets but at the same time ruin the lives of their loved ones?

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Mini reviews Balle perdue a.k.a. Lost Bullet (2020) and Balle Perdue 2 a.k.a. Lost Bullet 2 (2022)

genre: crime, action

Lost Bullet had the promise of an early Luc Besson production, with lots of slick, cool action and hints of humour. Instead, it's a serious crime film with some action but nothing to write home about.

It's not bad. However, not fulfilling the promise of the kick ass Mad Max like action is a real missed opportunity. There is a reason I mentioned Luc Besson. While one could argue that he is very Hollywood. it's undeniable that he brought his own unique and distinctive style that has rarely been copied. Besson had inspired other French directors to do the same. Writer / Director Guillaume Pierret unfortunately didn't get the memo. 

I think while watching the film, you can sense that a lot more could have been done, that it gets stuck following the usual tropes. It could be that the action wasn't memorable due to low budget. Although, that should never be an excuse. 

It looks like Guillaume Pierret took the criticism to heart and improved on the original. Lost Bullet 2 probably is the film he had intended. It might still have some flaws of the original, it does deliver on the action front. But it also has a far more compelling narrative. 

Lino played by Alban Lenoir needs to continue what he has started in the original. This time he goes a step further with delivering true justice. But as expected, he is met with a lot of resistance from both the good cops and the corrupted ones. Stéfi Celma as Julia is now in charge of the drug crime squad. I hardly remember her character, since I think her role was quite small in the original. Now, she is a force to be reckoned with. I really liked the way she carried herself and would like to see more of Celma in future projects in similar roles.

If you enjoyed the first, you will definitely like this sequel. If you didn't like it, I can honestly say that it's very likely you will enjoy this one. It's more focused, action packed and fun! 

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Reviews Young Guns (1988) and Young Guns II (1990)

genre: action, drama, western

After almost 25 years, I decided to revisit Young Guns and Young Guns II. Young Guns II was a film I had watched many times after the initial viewing. The original, not that often. And while most of the cast did return, the two films are quite different. Although they do have things in common.

The original, takes more time to set up the regulators, consisting of Brat Pack actors and some other big names. One of them is William H. Bonney a.k.a. Billy the Kid, played by Emilio Estevez. It's important because it explains why they are riding together. What isn't explained why other members like Doc Scurlock, Chavez, Charlie and Dirty Steve remain by his side when they soon find out that Billy the Kid is absolutely crazy. Billy himself considers them pals which to him is sacred. That might be, but Billy causes more trouble for them than that he solves. I wished the characters had more depth to them so that we would get a better idea why they were still prepared to follow Billy. I mean, after the death of their boss / caretaker John Tunstall it makes sense that they want revenge for his murder. But that doesn't explain why they would opt for the outlaw way. 

I do have to state that I don't know enough about Billy the Kid and the other cowboys. So I don't really know how much of the story is true. It doesn't really matter, although it does seem that you are required to know some of the history, since the films skips quite a few events while rarely pointing out how much time has passed. It gives the film a bit of uneven pacing. At times, the film seems to be dragging, since it basically goes from one event to another without meaningful dialogue or conversations. The action sequences are solid and thrilling enough, but do miss an emotional component.

Overall, the film hasn't aged well. And I believe that has to do with the fact that it lacks story and distinctive style. For a one time watch, it certainly will entertain, but for multiple viewings it falls short.

Enter Young Guns II. This is the one I am really fond of. It has several memorable quotes and lines, more stylish and dramatic scenes, a musical score to die for and a brilliant Emilio Estevez who gives us the immensely likeable but insane Billy the Kid. 

There are no pacing issues in this one. In fact, the film moves quite fast yet spends just enough time to make you root for Billy and co without detracting from the main narrative. Like the first, there is not that much to the story. But it does feel there is more at stake regarding the hunt for Billy and his gang. Especially since former friend, Pat Garret, has turned against them. William Peterson, gives the much-needed depth and maturity to the character who would be responsible for the death of Billy the Kid. Young Guns II depends on you knowing this historic fact as it plays around with this notion and wants to put doubt to that legendary tale. I also have to mention Jenny Wright as Jane Greathouse. She wasn't in the original, but the boys are familiar with her and her profession. She turns out to be quite pivotal and essential, since through her some criticism is offered against the new wild west. 

The action in the original was bloodier, but I found the action in this sequel far more enjoyable and memorable. It's because of the style and energy infused by director Geoff Murphy. He also makes you more invested in them. It could also be that there is more humour in this film. Don't get me wrong, it was present in the original, although that one took itself a little too seriously. The comic relief in that film felt like filler. In here, it emphasizes how crazy the outlaws are. 

To me, Geoff Murphy, has found the right balance between violence, comedy and drama. Add to that the stellar musical score, and you will understand why I regard this sequel the superior of the two. I would even go so far as to call this a classic.

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Review 65 (2023): An immensely forgettable action adventure!

genre: science fiction, adventure, drama

65 has such an interesting premise that could and should have made a remarkable film. But it's not. It actually is pretty boring, even with its short length.

I went into this blindly, not knowing what the 65 stood for until they released that notion quite quickly. In fact, they even spoil that in the poster and trailer. But it's a nice twist and would have totally worked in favour of the film had they not spoil it. Still, even then, the film would have been a little problematic. You see, the world that is presented represents monsters that act and behave very differently from what we know. All of them are shown as evil and relentless predators. That simply wasn't the case. Just look at how predators behave in general. If they aren't hungry, or don't feel threatened, nothing will happen. Yet, this film keeps on insisting that you will constantly be haunted. 

To make matters worse, this is almost the only narrative that is going on. Sure, you get a little background, but it's so minimal and lacking you start to wonder if you should care or not. I did a little, but solely because of the performances and some of the action sequences. It also doesn't help that the writers of A Quiet Place point out they aren't a fan of meaningful dialogue. Preferably, they want their characters not to talk at all. How do they achieve this in the film? Well, the little girl Adam Driver's character finds speaks a different language than he does. And since his translation device is broken, they don't understand each other completely. I am aware that they probably put this element in to create tension and some paranoia, but if that was the goal, they should have used a male actor of the same age as Adam Driver. Then the threat could have come from both sides. 

A film around 90 minutes shouldn't be feeling like a drag. Still, it does. Don't get me wrong. I enjoyed some of the action sequences. But they could have been better had they shown us something realistic and truly terrifying. Every day I find out something creepy concerning bugs and animal on this planet. They should have done proper research to give their film more credibility. As it stands now, it's an immensely forgettable action adventure. Real shame if you ask me, since this did have the potential to be more memorable.

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Review Catwoman (2004): Halle Berry's sexiness is what make this worth your time!

genre: action, adventure, crime, comic book, fantasy

Thus far, there hasn't been a single (official) live action adaptation of Catwoman that has done justice to the character. Don't get me wrong, Michelle Pfeifer is easily one of my favourites, but the fact that her character got revived by cats and therefore is some kind of supernatural phenomenon, rubs me the wrong way. 

In this adaptation, they found it necessary to amp up these elements even further. Patience Phillips (played by Halle Berry) gets revived by Egyptian Mau cats (messengers of Goddess Bast) but gets reborn with special abilities. And if that wasn't enough, her Catwoman personality is vastly more sexual and free (claimed in the film). Mind you, it's one of the elements that remains entertaining, as Halle Berry definitely is super sexy in this film. 

Halle Berry had won a Razzie award for being the worst actress. But I don't think that is fair. It's not her fault that her Catwoman is different from the comic book character. For the most part, she does her best with what she is given, and the overall result is not that bad. Besides, she showed she had a good sense of humour by actually picking up the award in person. That takes a lot of guts. And to be fair without her incredible sexiness the film would be infinitely worse. Like I said, her performance is one of the elements that remains to be entertaining. Everything else though is bad. Like real bad. The action, the stunts, the story, the villains, the romance, nothing seems to work. The story is far too simple. And only Patience seems to have some depths to her. The villain is very disappointing. I won't spoil who it is, but it's very obvious from the start. The villain might be despicable. However, is not that proactive nor that evil. 

Actually, most events lack dread and urgency. Catwoman for the most part is quite light. Still, the comic book character who has no powers is very skilled, intelligent and should be considered dangerous. In this film though, Catwoman is more naughty and fun than threatening. It completely destroys the sense of suspense and tension that could have made the film compelling. That being said, Halle Berry's sexiness can't be understated, it truly is the one element that made it worthwhile for me.

So yes, there is no denying Catwoman is bad. But it just has enough entertainment for a one time viewing. 

Also check:

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Filmography Hiroyuki Sanada

Listed here are all the titles Hiroyuki Sanada was involved in as an actor in film productions. (It has to be noted that he also has been very active in television, but the chance for to track down those titles are very limited, so I can't do reviews of them.)

1966 Game of Chance
1967 Game of Chance 2
1967 Game of Chance 3: Lullaby for My Son
1969 Abashiri Prison: Drifter at the Edge of the World
1970 Legacy of Honor
1970 Brutal Tales of Chivalry 7
1974 The Executioner
1978 Shogun's Samurai
1978 Message from Space
1979 Sanada Yukimura no Bōryaku
1979 G.I. Samurai
1979 Tonda Couple
1981 Samurai Reincarnation
1981 Roaring Fire
1981 The Kamikaze Adventurer
1981 The Blazing Valiant
1982 Lovers Lost
1982 Fall Guy
1982 Ninja Wars
1983 Kabamaru the Ninja
1983 Legend of the Eight Samurai
1984 The Street of Desire
1984 Kōtarō Makaritōru!
1984 Mahjong hōrōki
1985 The Dagger of Kamui
1986 House on Fire
1986 Inuji ni Seshi Mono
1986 Cabaret
1987 Sure Death 4: Revenge
1988 Kaitō Ruby
1989 Who Do I Choose?
1990 Yellow Fangs
1990 Let's Go to the Hospital
1990 Tugumi
1992 Succession
1992 Let's Go to the Hospital 2
1993 We Are Not Alone
1993 Nemuranai Machi: Shinjuku Same
1994 Uneasy Encounters
1994 Hero Interview
1994 Crest of Betrayal
1995 Sharaku
1995 East Meets West
1995 Emergency Call
1998 Ring
1998 Spiral
1998 Murder on D Street
1998 Tadon to Chikuwa
1999 Ring 2
2000 First Love
2001 Minna no Ie
2001 Round About Midnight
2001 Onmyōji
2002 Vengeance for Sale
2002 The Twilight Samurai
2005 Aegis
2005 The White Countess
2007 Sunshine
2007 Rush Hour 3
2008 Speed Racer
2009 The City of Your Final Destination
2012 Tenchi: The Samurai Astronomer
2013 The Railway Man
2018 The Catcher Was a Spy
2020 Minamata

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Review Noroi a.k.a. Noroi The Curse (2005) : Creepy but not scary!

genre: horror, mystery, thriller

A documentary filmmaker explores seemingly unrelated paranormal incidents. We are witness to this filmmaker and his investigation into the strange events that have occurred. While this is obviously a film, it easily could have been a real documentary where you, the viewer, will see what he and his cameraman will see. So when the approaches people, they in general will be nice and polite to him. I was surprised how helpful some people were. There are occasions where they easily could have declined. It's also very nice that you don't get sound cues. Things just happen, and most of the time events are quite low-key. Until you get confronted with some truths.

I have to say that from the second the investigation starts, I was on board. Until the very end. It does take a while for the horror elements to ramp up, but they are very present. One thing you will have to realize is that what you the viewer sees is the way a documentary would be shown on TV. So there isn't a single time when you get to see the main character have a real dialogue between him and his camera man. It's something at adds a realistic tension. But at the same time, not experiencing what the main character is going through detracts a little. It's a little too objective. Not once is discussed whether he is a sceptic or whether he is a believer. One could argue that gives this film it's strength. However, I do believe that people in real life definitely would freak out far more. I also think that the filmmaker makes a few mistakes. At one point, it becomes very clear that he needs to follow up on a discovery he has done. Instead of being on it like one should, he moves on to other leads. Of course, pretty pragmatic, still, a little foolish since it is quite obvious that the previous lead is an important one. 

Gradually, things and events become weirder and creepier. I was waiting and waiting for the conclusion to hit me in my face, and it never did. What was supposed to scare the hell out of me was very tame. Because, for whatever reason, they still want you to be able to explain the "supernatural" elements as scientific facts. And that would have worked had they gone over the top just a little. The finale was begging for some true horror, and in that regard it fails to bring you a satisfying conclusion to the slow but compelling investigation. A real shame if you ask me!

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