Movie Review: The Lazarus Effect

lazarus effect onesheet
TwitView: Fantastic setup, believable characters, and genuine chills all get hobbled by a lack of a satisfying ending and a screenplay that’s all over the place.  It’s as if the director was running out of film and said “yeah, one last gotcha scene and it’s a wrap.”  C-

It’s no secret that I’m a horror movie junkie.  So when The Lazarus Effect hit the screening rounds, I jumped at it.  And enjoyed a good part of it…until it got lost in it’s own storyline and cheaped out by pulling the usual “gotcha!” ending that has been beaten to death popular since the 90s.  Pity, as there’s some genuinely unique and well executed moments in this film.

This film got my interest with a killer trailer, and the promise of more from the folks that brought us Insidious, The Purge, and Paranormal Activity.  And by “folks”, I mean the producer.  Director David Gelb has done good documentary work (protip: catch the wonderful Jiro Dreams of Sushi on Netflix.  You’re welcome.)  However, The Lazarus Effect is his first dramatic effort, and it’s a mess, jumping from scene to scene, subplot to subplot.  I’m betting Gelb would have been okay, if he’d had a strong screenplay to rely on, but Luke Dawson and Jeremy Slater are newbies as well, which makes for a hodgepodge of abrupt scene shifts, dangling subplots and unanswered questions.  Luckily they’ve got real talent in front of the screen, and that helps save this film from sinking into total dreck.

What I loved best about this film is Olivia Wilde; she looks like she’s enjoying the hell out of this film.  Her performance is top-notch, as if someone forgot to tell her than a horror film doesn’t exactly need great performances.  She delivers one though, and it elevates the film.  In fact, all the performers here do good work.  Especially Evan Peters — my favorite Quicksilver (sorry, Aaron T-J) — is a hoot as the too-smart-and-cool-for-this-room Clay, and Donald Glover as the passed-over-in-love Niko.  Glover’s comedic work is excellent, but he has strong dramatic chops too, if this is any indication.

I did love the start of this film thought.  The Lazarus Effect not only dives into the idea of bringing folks back from the dead — paging Dr. Frankenstein! — it also digs into the life of the person whose life will be upended by these experiments.  And by upended I mean she dies, is brought to life, and then gets amped by…demons?  Herself?  The serum?  There are no answers, no hints or deeper thoughts beyond “hey, lets’ use the black sclera contacts on Olivia — she’d look spooky!”  She does, no doubt.  And her terror at what she’s becoming is palpable, and a refreshing change of pace from the usual add-water-and-stir instant baddie.  But as soon as her eyes go full black, it’s all dropped by the wayside.  Forget trying to make sense out of what happened to her, it’s the Blinking Lights And Telekinesis Show y’all!

Once folks start dying, all thoughts to keeping this up to the level of films like The Purge and Paranormal Activity get thrown by the wayside.  What I would have liked to have seen was more about Zoe’s past.  Her nightmares, and the truth/history behind them.  Was there more to them than the simple fact that a child could only do so much?  Did Zoe have a hidden bit of evil in her from all those years ago?  Was she a Bad Seed that had done much to try to get over her past, or was she in the wrong place at the wrong time?  But her past is brought to viewers as a tantalizing idea of where the film will go…and then it’s used as a prop, nothing more.  Same goes for the Evil Corporate People who come in midpoint.  Who are they?  Are they up to no good?  Who cares — they’re introduced, and never heard from again.  That sound you hear is another good idea dying.  Digging into character motivation would have had me rooting for these characters to survive, but even though a few delicious tidbits of backstory are thrown to the audience — tidbits that could have been used to build deaths that really mattered — when it’s time to die these folks are nothing but telekinesis fodder.  Bye-bye…

The Lazarus Effect ticks me off more than it should, and that’s because this film showed great promise at the start.  But with a main cast of 5 the kills aren’t big enough (or gory enough; most deaths are off-screen or cut-aways) for the gore crowd, and the screenplay isn’t cerebral enough for the thinking-horror fan.  Add muddled storytelling and a feeling that this film dragged on much longer than it’s scant 83 minute run time, and The Lazarus Effect is a movie that’s big on promise and short on delivery.

MOVIE REVIEW: Hot Tub Time Machine 2

HTTM2

Having just watched Hot Tub Time Machine for the first time on Tuesday, I am pretty sure my opinion of Hot Tub Time Machine 2 is going to be different than most. Typically, my passion for a film does not come in the first viewing. It comes in the 2nd, 3rd or in some cases the 1,000th viewing. With that said, Hot Tub Time Machine 2 was, in my humble opinion, one of the rare films that actually improved from the first.

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Movie Review: Kingsman: The Secret Service

kingsman-secret-service

Not knowing the source material for the Kingsman: The Secret Service and it being February, I went into this film not expecting much, What I got was a decent action movie, no more no less. Unfortunately this film did not feel like a comic movie nor a spy movie…it felt like a by-the-numbers action film, which is not a bad thing. It’s just that it could be so much more.

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Movie Review — The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge out of Water

SpongebobTwitview: fun for kids & grownup fans of the original series.  Sometimes too silly, but it’s all in good fun. Will probably spawn a hipster drinking game. Grade: B

Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?  And how does that pineapple never suffer from decomposition?  Oh who cares — it’s SpongeBob y’all!  And he’s got all of his buddies (Patrick, Gary, Sandy, Squidward, Mr. Krabs) and even his rival Sheldon Plankton (as well as Plankton’s computer wife, Karen) are here.  It’s the usual Krabby Patty eating good times, with Plankton trying to steal the secret recipe for the Krabby Patty…until a pirate named Burger Beard (Antonio Banderas, totally game for the goofy) enters the scene and makes off with the secret recipe!  Whatever will Bikini Bottom do without Krabby Patties?  And how will our hero get the recipe back and save the day?

Well, first off: Bikini Bottom devolves into a hilarious Mad Max wasteland in the span of 5 seconds without their beloved patties.  Seeing Mr. Krabs in leather is worth the price of admission for any fan of the show.  Second: that’s cheating y’all.  But suffice it to say that the trailer gives you more than a hint.  And when things go from animated to live-action, Banderas gets to pull out all the stops, which is exactly what’s needed when he’s playing against a group of juvenile animated invertebrates.  And Sandy.  (Spoiler alert: Sandy’s transformation to live-action is kinda awesome.)

What’s good?  The fun, the obvious tongue-in-cheek that makes the TV series enjoyable for all ages, and the gorgeous live-action CGI  SpongeBob gang is perfect.

What’s meh?  Sometimes the jokes can go on a bit too long, and be a bit too silly.  Then again I’m not an 8-year-old kid who’d probably love the overly goofy.  There are a few extremely weird bits too, as if the creators were looking towards the stoned teens and undergrads who would ultimately watch this on Netflix.  Space porpoises, crazy kalidoscope Dr. Who-like time travel sequences, and a few almost sexy beach jokes feel slightly off-kilter, but perhaps that feeling of WTHuh? is what they’re going for.

So should you see it or not?  If you’ve got kids that are dying for a movie day, why not?  It’s fun and goofy, and anything aimed towards the adults will most likely sail over their heads (or can be easily blown off by us oldsters).  If you’re a fan of the series that remembers it when?  Why not?  Is it worth the 3D expense?  Well, not so much; the original series was 2D, so going that route won’t be a problem here.  But if you’ve got the clams to spare, it’ll make the action sequences a bit more eye-popping.  Now I want a Krabby Patty…

Movie Screening: Fifty Shades Of Gray (WED 02.11.15 – 7:30PM)

Have you been waiting for this one?  You know we at Geek for e have!  Will they give the book justice, how close is their ‘R’ take on the sexuality.  Is the bondage scene I read going to play out on screen as thematically as it did in my head when I was reading it?  So many questions.  We’re so very fortunate the studios have invited us, and now we’re inviting you.  15 of you.  That’s right a mere 15 winners this time (and that whole thing about getting there early?  this is one time you don’t want to mess with that!).  No code, just your best Christian or Anastasia (or both).  Details below the synopsis geeky faithful.

Can it deliver?  Man, we sure hope so.

Can it deliver? Man, we sure hope so.

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ROE Promo: The Loft (2015) – 4 Pairs Of Tix

ROE – What the heck is that?  It means ‘run of engagement’ which means if you win, you can take the ticket we give you to any participating theater (AMC Baltimore Cinemas in this case) and they will exchange your pass for (2) actual tickets to the movie.  Is there a catch?  Of course there is: you can only use the passes Monday through Thursday (no weekends, sorry!)  Also, run of engagement means just that – when the film leaves the chains theaters, the promo is no longer active.

So how do you get one of these 4 magic ROE tickets we have?  Very simply – solve the mathematical riddle below the movie details and post your response on our Facebook page under the post that brought you here.  We’ll pick 4 winners at random (so it wont matter if you cheat to get the answer).  Winners will be chosen and notified by SUN 02.01.15.  Your bar-coded ticket will be emailed to you (assuming we can Facebook message you – which YOU need to make sure is turned on for us).  Now on to the details of this killer new thriller!

A bunch of guys stash a party pad away from their wives and lives..this isn't going to end well for them.

A bunch of guys stash a party pad away from their wives and lives..this isn’t going to end well for them.

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Movie Review: Mr. Turner

mr turner

TwitView: a beautiful look at a beastly man.  Pope’s cinematography is glorious, and Spall’s lived-in performance is a wonder. A-

I enjoy art, but I don’t know much about it other than what I like to look at, and what I don’t.  The art of J.M.W. Turner is alive with color, shadows and emotion.  But Turner himself was a hard man to stomach, if the film Mr. Turner is to be believed. [And it seems as though he may have been much colder and brutish than this film allows.]  For folks like me who are new to the particulars of this artist, Wikipedia sums up his massive contribution to the art world nicely:

“Turner was considered a controversial figure in his day, but is now regarded as the artist who elevated landscape painting to an eminence rivalling history painting…. He is commonly known as ‘the painter of light’ and his work is regarded as a Romantic preface to Impressionism.”

Unfortunately, while his work is undeniably beautiful, the life he lived was anything but.  A libertine, he cared little for rules of the day, or “proper decorum”.  And director Mike Leigh shies away from none of it, giving us a look at a man who may have been a brute, but created beauty.

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