Toronto After Dark 2011: Monster Brawl Review

This review for the first Toronto After Dark Movie, Monster Brawl will likely be a fairly short review as I was not a fan of the movie and I feel that it really plays less like a movie and more like a pay per view event – the entire film is told in the language of character profiles, sports statistics and eventual the actual tournament matches with play by play commentary. I know this was what director Jesse T. Cook was going for, the film is an experiment as much as anything else, but I really felt the result was a tad hollow as a movie. We have announcers, Dave Foley and Art Hindle who are the high point for the film introducing and commentating each match. Prior to each match we get a short clip that details a bit of history about each of the monsters and that is it.

Lets first look at some of the good points of the movie. The costume design is extremely well done. Each of the monsters look perfect. The costumes are all done with practical effects and everyone from The Mummy to Frankenstein act, move and look like they should. Secondly, there are a few good jokes and puns throughout the movie. Most of these come from Hindle and Foley but there are a few jokes from the introduction clips and also the smack-down hyperbolic speeches that the monsters give that are quite funny, particularly if you grew up on the cartoonish rhetoric of the WWF. Third, there are a few good kills and having Lance Henrikson doing the Mortal Kombat FATAL-VICTORY voice was more amusing than it ought to be and puts Monster Brawl in as much territory as a Arcade up-right fighting game as it is mired in sports language. Somehow without being actually present on-screen Henrikson (in all his gravelly glory) is one of the films chief assets. Finally, while I have my complaints about the lack of an audience at the pay per view the wrestling set the graveyard is quite well done.

Would you like to know more…?

New “Red Riding” Trailer [Disappointed]

As I mentioned in the comments section when the first trailer for this film was released a couple of months ago, the visuals are very handsome. I still basically agree with those sentiments, but this trailer is so full of terrible it kind of overshadows any of those interesting ideas. Even the potential for an interesting twist isn’t really enough for me to shrug off the fact that basically this looks like Twilight all over again with the way the brooding Pattinson look-a-likes wander the village (“If you love her… you’ll let her go” **eyes roll**). For some that sounds like an amazing concept. For me, it sounds like a way to completely destroy what would otherwise be an interesting and update take on the classic fairy tale. And what is with that music(?)… ugh!

With Amanda Seyfried in the lead, the film also stars Gary Oldman, Lukas Haas, Virginia Madsen, Billy Burke, Shiloh Fernandez, and Julie Christie. You can see them all on March 11th.


First trailer for Catherine Hardwicke’s “Red Riding Hood”

Red Riding Hood

I was aware that Catherine Hardwicke’s Red Riding Hood was going to provide a fresh approach to the classic story but I didn’t really give it much thought beyond that. It’s probably best that I didn’t because had I thought about it or read some of the descriptions floating around, I may have been disappointed by the trailer but as it stands, I’m just a little… surprised.

Set in a medieval forest, the film stars Amanda Seyfried as Valerie, a young woman (in a red riding hood) in love with Peter (Shiloh Fernandez) an orphaned woodcutter, but her parents want her to marry the wealthy Henry (Max Irons). Valerie and Peter plan to run away together but when Valerie’s sister is taken by the werewolf that stalks the woods surrounding the village, their plans are thwarted. So how does the awesome Gary Oldman fit into this picture? He’s the priest/werewolf hunter the town calls on to rid them of the beast. Other notables along for the ride include Lukas Haas, Julie Christie, Virginia Madsen and the fabulous Billy Burke (apparently Hardwicke likes Burke as much as I do).

The trailer features quite a few interesting tidbits, including more than a handful of host of Seyfried looking startled which concerns me a little but then, it’s a trailer and I generally like Seyfried so I’m happy to chalk that up to editing. The most striking aspect of this trailer are the visuals. Now, Hardwicke is recognized for her sense of aesthetic (likely stemming from her previous work as a production designer) but I’m thrilled to see that she’s paired up with award winning cinematographer Mandy Walker who also shot Baz Luhrmann’s gorgeous Australia (review) (and was glaringly overlooked for an Oscar nomination).

I have to admit I’m not expecting much from this story but my inner girl is thrilled by what she sees: supernatural overtones, period, romance. Oh yes, this has my name written all over it.

Red Riding Hood opens March 11, 2011.

Trailer is tucked under the seats but it’s also worth a look in HD over at Apple.

Would you like to know more…?

Cinecast Episode 155 – Nards

Episode 155:
Wherein some of us try (really try!) to be positive about the clumsily derailed attempt at retro-love for The Wolfman character and story; it just does not seem to come out that way. The new film, with its two directors, two screenwriters and final schizophrenic outcome prove our undoing after 40 minutes of back and forth.

As a palette cleanser, we do get into quite the love-fest for anything and everything Akira Kurosawa. Especially a new brand-spanking, crisp-looking print of Rashomon, which is on tour right now. We have got some great DVD releases to mention this week as well as a teaser conversation on the micro-trend of film makers tackling movies that relate to the workings of the internet. And for those wanting to get their Cthulu, Steampunk and Serial-Killer geekery on, there is some discussion on China Meiville, Brian Michael Bendis and Marc Andreyko, specifically Perdido Street Station and Torso. Enjoy!

Thanks for listening and be sure to leave your own thoughts/lists in the comment section below!

Click the Audio Icon below to listen in:

show content

show content

To download the show directly, paste the following URL into your favorite downloader:


Would you like to know more…?

Review: The Twilight Saga: New Moon


Director: Chris Weitz (The Golden Compass, About a Boy, American Pie)
Screenplay: Melissa Rosenberg, Stephenie Meyer (novel)
Producer: Wyck Godfrey
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Ashley Greene, Peter Facinelli, Elizabeth Reaser, Kellan Lutz, Nikki Reed, Jackson Rathbone, Edi Gathegi, Rachelle Lafevre, Billy Burke, Charlie Bewley, Jamie Campbell Bower, Daniel Cudmore, Christopher Heyerdahl, Dakota Fanning, Cameron Bright, Noot Seer, Michael Sheen, Graham Greene, Tinsel Korey
MPAA Rating: PG13
Running time: 130 min.

For months the anticipation has been building. After the success of Twilight (our review), it’s not too much of a surprise. The first film in the saga captured fans and non-fans alike and in a whirlwind year, everyone seems to have caught “Twilight Fever” in one way or another. Fans love to share their love and haters their hate but nothing will take down the building monsoon. From the beginning, The Twilight Saga: New Moon was fighting an uphill battle. The change of directors caused a wave of panic and anger amongst fans. There’s also the little fact that Edward, one of (if not the) franchise’s biggest draw, is missing from most of the source material. It couldn’t have been an easy decision for director Chris Weitz to come on board with so many obstacles laid out before him but the burning question is: did he succeed? Does the film live up to expectation? In a single word no, but not for lack of trying.

NewMoonMovieStillNew Moon picks up where Twilight left off. Bella and Edward are together and happy but it doesn’t last long. The story starts, in essence, on Bella’s birthday and while at the Cullen’s celebrating the event (an event Bella is not at all happy about), she cuts her finger, causing Jasper, one of Edward’s brothers, to come flying across the room in a blood frenzy. Edward, upset that he can’t keep Bella safe even from his family, leaves Forks throwing the young woman into a catatonic state from which she eventually breaks only out of pity for what it’s doing to her father. She finds solace in her friendship with Jacob and the two form a bond that borders on romance but never quite crosses the line. But all is not well as well as it seems on the surface for Victoria, one of the rogue vampires from the first film, is on the hunt for Bella. The closeness of threat has stirred a long dormant gene in some of the boys in Jacob’s tribe, including himself, turning them into wolves in order to protect their people. A number of events snowball into a final climax which has Bella traveling to Italy to save Edward from death at the hands of the Volturi, a coven which guards the laws that keep vampires secret from humans.

Would you like to know more…?

Hello Wolfman!

The Wolf Man Movie Still

They keep telling us that a new wolfman film is on the way, one that shows great promise but until this trailer, I was starting to think they were pulling our leg and then this trailer comes along and boom! All of a sudden it’s clear that the reason for the release date shuffle is to monopolize boxoffice rather than any worry that the film sucks.

Directed by Oscar winning visual effects expert Joe Johnston (he has also directed Hidalgo, October Sky and Jumanji), The Wolf Man plays out a little like Dracula.

Benicio Del Toro is Lawrence Talbot, a man who is bitten by a werewolf and is, subsequently, turned into one himself. Emily Blunt is Gwen Conliffe, his romantic interest and the woman who runs away from the monster Talbot turns into while Hugo Weaving plays Aberline, a detective trying to sort out what exactly is going on. The film also includes Anthony Hopkins Talbot’s father, a man who, I assume, holds the key to all the secrets.

Aside from the fact that the film stars a great cast, the reason to see this is for the werewolf transformations. Though there may not be a whole lot of love for Underworld, one of the things the film did well was the werewolf transformations and aside from Gingersnaps, it’s been a few decades since John Landis amazed us with his work. Johnston obviously knows what he’s doing and the trailer suggest that this project doesn’t simply look nice, it also features some pretty spiffy effects.

The Wolf Man opens on February 10, 2010.

Would you like to know more…?

Twilight Saga Eclipsed by More Rumours

Eclipse Movie HeaderFor all the perceived blandness of Twilight (our review) the other entries into the franchise are picking up steam and attention. And who can blame the media for the craziness? The first film generated buzz, particularly leading up to the release, but nothing of the proportions we’re seeing with Twilight Saga: New Moon. The franchise is everywhere from blogs to newspapers and there’s no one to blame for the growing fandom. The “Twilight” universe seems to be impervious to the downward trending economy and everything about the books, movies, actors and characters seems to be a hot commodity.

But alas, I’m already off track. The reason for the post is to encapsulate a number of recent happenings with the franchise. The first was a comment, from the horse’s mouth no less, that Drew Barrymore would not be directing the third instalment (and my favourite), in the franchise Twilight Saga: Eclipse. I’d previously commented on a rumour that Juan Antonio Bayona was in talks to direct the movie and now speculation abounds that David Slade, of Hard Candy and 30 Days of Night fame, has also been chatted up about possibly directing. I’m starting to think that regardless of what anyone outside the fandom might think, this franchise is really starting to get intriguing. Sure, rumours are just rumours but the fact that both Bayona and Slade are even being mentioned in the same breath as “Twilight” suggest, to me at least, that the studio is really pushing to open the movies up to more than just the teen market. And that excites me to no end.

If, I know there are some of you out there, you secretly (or not so secretly) care about the currently in production Twilight Saga: New Moon, the studio has release the first “official” image of the so-called “Wolf Pack”. As with the marketing material for Twilight, I’m under whelmed by the overly glossy and obviously photoshoped image but judge for yourself.

And just to rub it in, looks like I wasn’t far off on the “Breaking Dawn” speculation. There’s talk that there will be a film adaptation of the fourth book and considering the amount of attention the franchise is getting, I would bet that it’s as good as ready to go. I’m just hoping that we’re not all getting our hopes up for disappointment.