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Top 10 Movie Monsters

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Whether you’re following vast, deep footprints through destruction and carnage, searching for a safe zone, or staring down a snarling, drooling, gargantuan beast face-to-face. Nothing beats the sheer adrenaline, fear, and conscientious clarity that comes with outrunning, out-thinking, and hopefully beating the best movie monsters. Sure, there will undoubtedly be casualties and the emergence of this immense life-form could possibly spell the end of civilization as we know it. But, in all honesty, how awesome would it be to take down one of these mothers? But I digress…

For the record, I am not including monsters based off of existing creatures. This means that “Jurassic Park,” “Jaws,” and “King Kong” will all be excluded from the list. However, this mention is somewhat of a shout-out to each films ability to create truly terrifying, malicious beasts out of prehistoric or current beings.

So, without further ado, let’s get into it!

 

10: “Super 8” alien life form (J.J Abrams, 2011). I know that a lot of you will disagree with this choice. I know the film might have been a bit to nostalgic or cliche for some, but I absolutely adore this J.J Abrams flick for precisely those reasons…oh, and the monster!

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9: “Ghostbusters” Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man (Ivan Reitman, 1984).  I know it’s a little wimpy, kind-of funny, but it is still a lot of fun and unnerving…down-right disturbing actually.

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8: “Monsters” alien life form (Gareth Edwards, 2010).  I know most of you won’t agree with this choice, most of you probably haven’t even seen the film. But it is low-budget, science-fiction brilliance and the aliens are just astounding and atmospheric.

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7: “Pacific Rim” Kaiju (Guillermo Del Toro, 2013).  I know it is a bit recent and that some didn’t enjoy the film. However, there is no denying the coolness of the Kaiju.

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6: “The Fly” Brundlefly (David Cronenberg, 1986). Okay, it may not be as monstrous or destructive as the other creatures on this list. Nonetheless, Brundlefly is quite possibly the most petrifying.

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5: “The Thing” (John Carpenter, 1982). I don’t really know what to say about this one. The Thing is a sick, twisted, malicious being that doesn’t stop until everyone and everything is dead.

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4: “Cloverfield” alien life form (Matt Reeves, 2008). The scene where one of the main protagonists is consumed by this foul being still haunts my dreams to this very day.

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3: “The Host” mutated amphibious life form (Joon-ho Bong, 2006). An outstanding monster flick that tackles more than its fair share of questionable subject matter. “The Host” has a misunderstood, agile monster at its centre, but make no mistake, it is badass.

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2: “Godzilla” I am not going to put a specific film or director on this one, seeing as the franchise continues to rejuvenate. This is the ultimate, timeless, gigantic monster. The only surprise here is that you all expected it to be at number 1.

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1: “Alien” franchise, Xenomorph. Hands down my all time favourite movie monster. The Xenomorph embodies everything a movie monster should be and so much more.

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Okay all, that’ll do it for this week’s edition of the top 10. I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed compiling it. As always, if you feel I’ve overlooked a monster or listed one that shouldn’t have been ranked, please comment below. Have a great weekend!

Pacific Rim (2013)

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Although it may ask the viewer to acquiesce a fair amount of inconsistencies and genre cliches. “Pacific Rim” ultimately rewards its audience with jaw-dropping visuals, bone-shattering action, and evoking genuine childlike wonder. It is somewhat of a let down that we are treated to only a small taste of what makes Guillermo Del Toro the revered visionary he is today. Nonetheless, without the aforementioned creator working behind the scenes. “Pacific Rim” would have undoubtedly fallen victim to the bombastic, over-driven destruction that has plagued and doomed countless others in the genre. While I didn’t expect the catchy slogan “Go big or go extinct” to be the film’s structural criteria. Luckily for Del Toro and crew, you can’t get much bigger than 250 foot robot assassins piloted by humans duking it out with genetically-engineered alien war-machines in an intergalactic battle. Powered by Del Toro’s youthful inspiration and wide-eyed ambition, “Pacific Rim” is literally a summer smash.

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In the near future, extraterrestrials dubbed “Kaiju” enter through a portal in a crevasse deep beneath the Pacific Ocean and begin destroying Earth’s major cities. To combat these monsters, humans create massive weapons known as “Jaegers” which are humanoid fighting machines that stand roughly 250 feet tall. These “Jaegers” are controlled by two pilots simultaneously through a neural link that allows each co-pilot access to inner thoughts, memories, and reactions. Soon, the human race begin to take the upper-hand, but are quickly knocked back down by bigger, more complex “Kaiju” and must find a way to close the portal between worlds.

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Similar to J.J Abrams “Super 8,” Guillermo Del Toro’s “Pacific Rim” was conceived upon childhood nostalgia and a yearning to rebirth the creature feature. Having rekindled a long-dormant fascination with classical foreign monster films. Del Toro and crew set out to instill that feeling of childish giddiness into a generation who’ve been rotted with endless pedestrian and vapid blockbusters. And as far as big-budget action-thrillers go, you’ll find none better than “Pacific Rim.” Establishing new heroes with timeless qualities that get the job done or die trying, a slew of immense, godly fighting robots equipped with inventive, resourceful weapons, and a plethora of monstrous, grotesque extraterrestrials. It might be a tad predictable, even stereotypical. Yet, “Pacific Rim” is a breath of fresh, rejuvenating air into a faltering genre that was failing to inspire and bewilder.

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It’s easy to see that in any other filmmakers hands, at least a majority of them, “Pacific Rim” would have faced a rather swift extinction so to speak. That being said, it would have been nice to see Del Toro infuse a bit more of what makes his previous releases so compelling. While there are tiny bits of his repertoire sprinkled throughout “Pacific Rim’s” rather modest (roughly) two-hour runtime (only when stacked up against the films scale). One can’t help but feel that it lacked his ambience and atmosphere, the unwavering human element. Undoubtedly, we are subjected to the brilliant diversity and growth of Del Toro as a filmmaker and it is astounding to say the least. I just can’t help but conclude that “Pacific Rim” would have been infinitely better if Del Toro took an extra half-hour, added his usual artistic detail and firmly grounded this flick. However, it’s still one hell of a ride.

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Now, inevitably, more than a few will draw comparisons between “Pacific Rim” and the “Transformers” franchise, amongst other big-budget action blunders. But don’t mistake my clamouring for typical Del Toro as a sign of skeletal, visual, and sympathetic weakness. It’s actually quite the opposite. What sets “Pacific Rim” apart from these brain-dead blockbusters is its strength in the aforementioned categories. I’m simply stating that Del Toro could have done it better, it’s still phenomenal in every sense of the word. The visuals are stunning, Oscar worthy and the story’s progressive form, formidable characters, and connectivity is sturdy enough to stand on its own. “Pacific Rim” is essentially pleasing to all cinematic senses. If you find yourself unable to enjoy it, odds are your inner-child suffocated under your pretentiousness a while ago.

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As for the film itself, you’ll find no shortage of witty humour, deceptively charismatic and humanized characters, and of course gargantuan battle weapons built by two rival races deconstructing one another using any means necessary. Still, what makes “Pacific Rim” so utterly admirable and atypical is its ability to separate from what is slowly becoming a modern convention. Amongst the abundance of comic book films that depict superheroes struggling with their own mortality and moral obligation. “Pacific Rim” reinstates the solidified, courageous, head-held-high heroes who live and feed off of the battle, albeit somewhat cockily. Not to mention, Del Toro and crew make excellent use of the underdog premise and play it out flawlessly. However, most importantly, “Pacific Rim” portrays belief in humanity, something cinema has gotten away from.

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Now, not just anyone can control these immense Jaegers or understand the Kaiju and that’s why “Pacific Rim” has such a diverse, talented, and somewhat obscure cast. Starring Idris Elba, Charlie Day, Ron Perlman, Charlie Hunnam, and Rinko Kikuchi, this crew of tenacious, at times ruthless individuals is not to be trifled with.

Out of everyone cast in this film, Charlie Day struck me as an odd, risky choice. Having only seen the actor in various comedies, a high-profile role in a serious action-flick seemed like the last place he’d be effective. Well, I was wrong. He does a fantastic job providing some much-needed comic relief and even surprised me with his capabilities a few times. Idris Elba is as intimidating as ever and continues to be one of the most underrated actors currently in cinema. Adding his usual style, suave, and dramatic flare to a rather limiting role. Ron Perlman, although sparsely used, still manages to steal every scene he’s in and he’s as hypnotic as ever. Carlie Hunnam definitely stole the show, for me anyway, and that’s due in large part to his chemistry with Rinko Kikuchi. The two really know how to give and take, while remaining independent enough to stand-out on their own.

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One of the most decedent pieces of eye-candy I’ve ever witnessed, “Pacific Rim” is exactly what you thought it’d be…loads of fun.

Pacific Rim: 8 out of 10.

The Devil’s Backbone (2001)

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A devilishly atmospheric and eerily haunting ghost story set in an isolated part of Spain. The Devil’s Backbone is a dreary tale bursting with morals and fantastical elements. With a slew of highly entrancing visuals, loveable characters, and a transient apparition seeking peace. The Devil’s Backbone is a prime example of truly frightening horror without the surplus of gore that seems to be plaguing modern entries into the genre. Brilliantly capturing the essence of innocence and wisdom of maturity. This spooky plot is equally as heartwarming and grounded as it is petrifying. Co-written and directed by cinematic poet Guillermo del Toro. The Devil’s Backbone contains the dynamic lyricism, airy imagery, and reasonable amount of violence that you’d except from this master of chills and thrills. It might prove too subtle for some…nevertheless, this outstanding achievement is an instant horror classic.

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One day, Carlos (Tielve) unknowingly is taken to an orphanage after being left behind by his parents. Upon befriending the children at the home, Carlos begins to see an apparition. As the children play and somewhat misbehave, Carlos has his first brush with Jacinto (Noriega), the orphanage’s groundskeeper who is rough and unruly with the kids. One night, the children recall the tale of a former orphan at the home named Santi (Valverde), who they claim wanders the building. After Carlos and the children discover a terrifying secret surrounding the orphanage and its employees. The children must find a way to uncover and correct the crimes committed at the orphanage.

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The very moment the ominous voice-over begins and the run-down orphanage becomes illuminated by a low-hanging moon. An endless shiver and persistent goosebumps submerge the viewer’s body. This is a testament to The Devil’s Backbone’s complete immersion, from start to finish, of both the physical and mental aspects of its viewers existence. Since his first release Cronos to the more popular Pans Labyrinth, Guillermo del Toro has been able to strike this startling experience into his audience. Which is precisely the reason why del Toro has grown into such a revered filmmaker. It’s not only his prowess to evoke, and then control those emotions he so willingly extracted that makes del Toro so effective. He concocts these stories that somehow transcend the screen and stay afloat in the viewers mind for years without caving under their own insignificance. After you’ve witnessed a del Toro film, it’s near impossible to forget them.

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With such an emphasis on the believability of innocence and terror. The Devil’s Backbone needed a young, diligent cast to convey these indescribable instincts. Leading the way is Fernando Tielve, Junio Valverde, and Eduardo Noriega. This is Tielve’s first role in cinema and from his performance, one would never have guessed. Tielve, unquestionably connects with the viewer and astoundingly exudes a never-ending drive to fulfill a meaningful, fortuitous life. Junio Valverde, who remarkable portrays an unsettled phantom, swiftly moves across rickety hallways and sweetly bursts with undying energy. As for Noriega, his take on a ruthless, misogynistic, ferocious sociopath is as sublime as one who sums these qualities can be. Nevertheless, The Devil’s Backbone’s ensemble matches del Toro’s wit and ideals stride for stride.

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Having garnered numerous mentions on lists comprised of the best horror films, not only of the decade, but all time. The Devil’s Backbone is a must see for all horror enthusiasts. Finding that eloquent balance of fear and empathy, del Toro discredits the naysayers with the subtle screamer that is The Devil’s Backbone. Set to be inducted into the Criterion Collection on July 30, 2013. It appears that this is the final proof of the staggering emotional power and vividly beautiful nightmare that is The Devil’s Backbone.

The Devil’s Backbone: 8.5 out of 10.

Mama (2013)

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Aside from a shaky final act. Mama benefits from its brilliant use of sentimentality and scraping gore in exchange for exhilarating thrills and unbearable tension. Leading its viewers on a chilling chase through a haunting fairytale, Mama is surprisingly heartfelt and loaded with dread. I suppose it shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone that Mama is a level above most of the trivial, uninspired entries into the horror/thriller genre. When Guillermo Del Toro lends his name to any film, he must see genuine merit. Although his track record should speak itself, needless to say, I trust him completely. Mama features Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain and a pair of terrifyingly adorable children, as they face a supernatural provider. Even with a finale that appears rather contrived. Mama manages to pull it all together for an enjoyable ride filled with paced scares and that’s not entirely cold blooded.

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After a man kills several of his business partners and his estranged wife, he returns home to grab his kids and flee. When he speeds down a snowy road in the middle of a forest, the car slides off the road and into a tree. Upon finding a remote, deserted cabin, the man decides to take his own life as well as his kids. However, before he can pull the trigger he is murdered by a paranormal entity. Five years later, Lucas (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), the brother of the deceased murderer, and AnnaBel (Chastain) continue their search for the missing children. One day, they receive an alarming phone call that the search team they had hired found the kids. Although in deplorable conditions, the children are eventually able to return home with Lucas and Annabel. However, soon after the living arrangements are sorted out, strange events begin to take place.

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What seems to be a disconcerting trend occurring far too often with modern horror is the inability to concoct a suitable ending. While it is somewhat of a letdown that Mama can’t complete its abundantly unnerving and effective story with a more satisfying closing. It isn’t as abhorrently unpleasant or confusingly atrocious like some recent, unwatchable films.

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Following up a year in which saw her receive an Oscar nomination for The Help and deservedly earn another in Zero Dark Thirty. It seems a rather unusual choice for an actress of such a high caliber to take the lead in a paranormal horror. Nonetheless, Jessica Chastain doesn’t take anything for granted and continues her push for cinematic dominance in Mama. Besides the obvious change in outward appearance for the role. Chastain has an abrupt shift in her attitude in personality and guides it along very well. Watching her portray a woman struggle to earn parenthood while trying to keep her aspirations afloat will warm your bones. It may not live up to her more accomplished, respected roles, but it’s enough to showcase her talent once again and allow Chastain to explore her diversity.

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For actresses of such young ages and at relatively early stages in their respective careers. Isabelle Nelisse and Megan Charpentier are thrust into a terrifying film with horrid scenarios. Being able to stand their ground when faced against a monstrous entity, let alone the flawless Jessica Chastain is something to brag about.

It’s gratifying to see that some film makers are taking notice of what’s happening beyond their own pane on other sides of the oceans. Mama infuses some of the more skin crawling elements of foreign horror films like A Tale of Two Sisters and Del Toro’s own The Devil’s Backbone. Not only does Mama pay homage to the truly unsettling facets of foreign horror, but also injects a staggering amount of emotion. Appearing to use them as some sort of muse.

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With a cast that performs outstandingly, terrifying scares, and a heartwarming core, Mama delivers on most of its promises.

Mama: 7 out of 10.

Top 10 Most Anticipated Films of 2013

All right, now, not to be confused with last week’s “Top 10 Films of 2013 Predicted.” This week’s Top 10 will consist of the 10 most wanted films set for release in 2013. Judged by budget, publicity, and overall excitement stemming from the general public, this Top 10 will feature, in a general sense, crowd pleasers. Without any further ado, let’s begin.

Honourable Mentions: Anchorman 2, Monsters University, The Wolverine, Elysium, Sin City 2, Kick Ass 2, Evil Dead.

10: Thor: The Dark World. The hotly anticipated follow up to 2011’s smash hit Thor. This soon to be blockbuster stars Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Idris Elba, Tom Hiddleston, and Anthony Hopkins.

9: The Great Gatsby. From visionary director Baz Luhrmann and starring a plethora of stars such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan. and Jason Clarke. The Great Gatsby seems primed for stardom.

8: The Green Inferno, V/H/S 2, and The Conjuring. This is for all of you who need your horror fix, a lot like us. Coming from modern horror master such as James Wan, Eli Roth, and Adam Wingard. This trio of frightening delights is sure to leave your pants wet and in need of a wash.

The Conjuring Trailer:

V/H/S 2 Trailer:

The Green Inferno: First official picture.

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7: This is the End and The World’s End. Here to get you prepared for the apocalypse are these two doomsday comedies. Brought to you by the guys behind Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. The World’s End reunites Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and Edgar Wright. Also starring Martin Freeman, The World’s End looks like to become another cult favourite. As for This is the End, starring a multitude of comedies best such as Seth Rogen, James Franco, and Jonah Hill. This hilarious heavyweight film should be interesting to say the least.

This is the End: Red Band Trailer.

The World’s End:

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6: World War Z. Brad Pitt, Zombies, and based off of Max Brooks highly addicting novel, need I say more?

5: Iron Man 3. The Third entry into the Iron Man trilogy. It features an army of iron men and Ben Kingsley as a villain. Your argument is invalid.

4: Pacific Rim. Directed by Guillermo Del Toro and starring Idris Elba. This monster vs man picture features the use of gigantic robots controlled by humans battling humongous aliens, I’m sold.

3: Man of Steel. Produced by Christopher Nolan and starring Michael Shannon as General Zod. Man of Steel is the highly anticipated reboot of the Superman franchise.

2: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. The follow up to An Unexpected Journey. Peter Jackson’s The Desolation of Smaug should be a much improved film and appease those disappointed by the first.

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1: Star Trek Into Darkness. I have nothing to say, I am beyond words with anticipation. Just enjoy the trailer.