[FILM] V Does DVD Releases (September)

Last weekend saw me attempt to plow through the September DVD releases of movies I didn’t have the chance to see when they were in theaters. World War Z was first on my list. I munched through an entire box of chocolates as I enjoyed this first installment of my movie bender weekend, while I watched people munch through other people in this surprisingly decent zombie apocalypse flick. Following that treat came the horror that was The Bling Ring. The three course meal was rounded off with the flaccid This Is The End. If this collection of movies was a Big Mac, World War Z would have been the tasty, slightly addictive secret sauce, The Bling Ring would have been the gherkin that people who aren’t weirdos pick off their burger with distaste, and This Is The End would be the limp shred of lettuce that they throw on to mislead you into thinking the Big Mac is somewhat good for you.*

World-War-Z

World War Z

In this fast-paced action adventure horror we meet Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt), a former United Nations investigator with a seriously high clearance. He has apparently been retired for a while when we’re introduced to him and his family, which consists of his capable wife (she’ll scream like a banshee when you attack her but she’ll be kicking you in the face while she’s doing it, I liked her straight away) and two young daughters. Within the first dozen minutes the mayhem begins as an infection breaks out around them while they sit in morning traffic on their way to school.

I enjoyed this almost immediate launch into the action. There was very little build up and no apparent warning that their day was about to go tits up. Despite the quickstart, I felt the ominous atmosphere, the tension in the air and eventually the fear of the hysterical and panicking mob. In this short time when the proverbial starts to hit the fan we begin to get a feel for the kind of man Gerry Lane is. He’s a caring, loving father, obviously, but he’s also highly resourceful, clever and determined to ensure his families’ safety. I don’t think it would be possible for me to dislike this character, and I felt Brad Pitt did a good job in helping me come to this conclusion.

Another Zeke in the Wall.

Another Zeke in the Wall.

This is not your typical zombie movie fare. Having survived the mayhem that heralds the end of humanity and succeeding in getting his family to safety, Lane is sent out on a mission to investigate the origins of the disease. The film then takes on a slightly disjointed feel, and afterward I learned that the entire final third of World War Z had been rewritten and re-filmed post-production. I haven’t read the book so I can’t compare, but apparently the ending differs greatly.

World War Z is not without its problems, and I can understand some of the issues that my fellow film bloggers have outlined. I did absolutely enjoy it though, despite the predictability in parts, and if you can manage to suspend your belief to a certain degree I think most people would find it an enjoyable, capable and original take on the zombie horror genre.

And INTRODUCING Matthew Fox as... PARAJUMPER.

And INTRODUCING Matthew Fox as… PARAJUMPER.

(I also found it hilarious that Matthew Fox only had two lines).

IMDB Rating: 7.1
Do I Agree?: Affirmative.

The Bling Ring

The Bling Ring

This would not be my type of movie at all. I didn’t think there’d be any snappy dialog, or that it would be clever or at all original, I knew there’d be no car chases or gun fights, invading aliens, rampaging mutants or zombie hordes. I have little to no interest in celebrity or fashion culture and I didn’t even know this was based on true events until I pressed play. Why would I watch it? I’m pretty sure it was because of all of the Copolla names attached. That, and I like Emma Watson. And shoes, there were lots of shoes. Mostly giant size eleven Paris Hilton monster shoes, but still, they were sparkly.

I have the exact same top, except mine cost €9 in Penney's.

I have the exact same top, except mine cost €9 in Penney’s.

To sum up how I felt throughout the entirety of this film with one word it would have to be uncomfortable. Watching those kids enter those houses uninvited and rifle through the female residents’ clothing felt sinister, it was an invasion, and I found myself inexplicably crossing my legs at regular intervals. If it was the director’s intention to ensure the viewer felt completely disassociated with these relatively unrelatable characters and this premise, then she most certainly succeeded.

And it really is easy to hate these children. And you have to remember, they are just children. Vacuous, spoiled, narcissistic, materialistic, troubled children. After I did some research on the real, original Bling Ring I found that the delinquents in the film are actually portrayed as being younger than their real life counterparts, and when you couple this with the obvious youthful obsessions with social media, celebrity and the desire to acquire “stuff” it makes sense, and it’s a message the production manages to get across loud and clear.

Constant Facebook selfies are their eventual undoing.

Constant Facebook selfies are their eventual undoing.

I’ve since read quite a few reviews and the common consensus seems to be that it wasn’t exciting enough, that the robberies were boring. I’m going to break it to you, breaking and entering and robbing someone’s house isn’t glamorous. The things you might be taking could be, but the process is not. Their MO was simple. They’d simply walk up to the gaff of a celebrity, knowing that said celebrity had advertised their absence via social media and just tried all of the doors. They were unlocked. What are you expecting? A group of teenagers dressed in black catsuits and armed with grappling hooks and glass cutters? Please. If you want Hollywood-style heists with decent acting and no pesky teens watch The Score or Ocean’s Eleven.

Not to mention the fact that many reviewers’ issues seem to be more with the underage drinking and casual drug abuse. Underage clubbing < residential theft of three million dollars. Get your priorities straight. This film was about abhorring a particular lifestyle, not sneaking into clubs with fake IDs. Hey, I did that plenty when I was a teenager, and I turned out okay, never robbed anyone. I still do it, although now I’m too old rather than too young. LOL.

Anyway, rant over. Yes The Bling Ring could have been interesting (it wasn’t) and yes it could have been these young actors’ time to shine (they didn’t). Watson did a solid job I suppose and Leslie Mann as her flaky, “The Secret” spouting mother was a good choice. All of that aside, it was wholly unremarkable, with the exception of the fact that Paris Hilton actually allowed them to film the robbery reenactments in her real home. Nuts.

IMDB Rating: 5.8
Do I Agree?: No, this was worse than mediocre. On a good day I might give it a 3. I haven’t decided if this is a good day yet.

this-is-the-end

This Is The End

When I first saw the trailer for this in the cinema I audibly groaned. These types of meta movies normally do not appeal to me, as I find them a contrived self-service to the egos of the actors, even if I actually like said actors. Having been a fan of Rogen & Co. since Freaks & Geeks I did feel as though I should give it a shot, and with enjoyable comedies like Superbad and Knocked Up under their belts it deserved a couple of hours of my time.

I was happy to be wrong about one thing. They weren’t exactly playing themselves, they were playing exaggerated, extreme versions of themselves, with certain unattractive traits of their characters being brought to the fore and laid bare for the entertainment of the audience. I was pleased with this aspect of the movie, and I was impressed to find out that much of the film was improvised. The Milkyway scenes in particular were hilarious, and without wanting to give too much away, there are a few sequences that follow which prove that the cast really are friends in real life, and as such feel comfortable enough to do and say quite unbelievable things to and with each other.

Sinkhole de Mayo.

Sinkhole de Mayo.

Unfortunately that is pretty much where my praise for This Is The End, well, ends. The majority of the film is spent with the gang holed up in Franco’s mega-house, while outside the rapture/apocalypse reigns. I understand the budget constraints they were under, but as a result of the limiting setting at times I felt quite bored, and with a wait of about twenty minutes in between jokes I found myself wishing for them all to go outside and just die.

New-found appreciation for Channing Tatum.

New-found appreciation for Channing Tatum.

Things eventually get moving (after lots of rape jokes), but at that stage they’d lost my undivided attention. I can appreciate what they were trying to achieve with this, but it just falls short in my opinion. It would have made a great comic but for me, This Is The End just didn’t work on the big screen. There were a couple of stand out, lulzy performances; Jonah Hill and Craig Robinson proving to be the most likely to coax an amused smile from me. The end sequence drew a genuine laugh out loud moment though, admittedly for nostalgic reasons (if you’re my age or older you’ll definitely appreciate it).

IMDB Rating: 7.1
Do I Agree?: Hells no. I’ll give it a 5 purely for the last five minutes and fact that I got to see Rihanna die.

*Apologies for the excessive food analogies, I was very hungry when I wrote this.

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Categories: Film, Review

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32 replies

  1. Some more top reviews from you there V (although I’m now quite hungry). ‘World War Z’ is a probable rent/pay per view (poor ol’ Matthew Fox haha), ‘Bling Ring’ is a nuh uh to the uh huh (a confident “no”) and ‘This is the End’ a drunken possibility – if at the very least for the fact I have a friend who is the spitting image of (and assures me he isn’t) Seth Rogen!

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    • Thanks Chris! Completely agree, WWZ is a good rental, The Bling Ring is a no-go, and This Is The End would be a good idea to watch with friends and a few drinks, or something else if that’s what you’re into! Having a buddy who is the spit of Seth Rogen is as good of an excuse as any to watch. :D

      Like

  2. I was OK with the chocolate reference. Unless it’s a Snickers bar, chocolate is more of a girl thing. Unfortunately, the Big Mac reference hit home and I fell off the diet wagon for the day. Oh well, there’s always tomorrow.

    Great reviews. Fortunately, I haven’t seen the last two, but I enjoyed World War Z. My all time favorite zombie-type movie is “I am Legend” with Will Smith. Although the scene with his dog is always uncomfortable for me. I love dogs.

    Trivia note – I was a teenager when they filmed the cult favorite zombie film, “Night of the Living Dead.” The filming was done in Pittsburgh and I grew up nearby. One of the minor roles in the film was a Pittsburgh news reporter and it was played by Bill Cardille an actual Pittsburgh television celebrity on WIIC, channel 11. He also hosted a Saturday night TV show called “Chiller Theater” that I never missed. I have his autograph in a scrap book somewhere, probably buried in the attic.

    I wrote a guest blog about vampires and Chiller Theater for T. Michelle Nelson, a paranormal romance writer whose Lilly Drake novels are GREAT. I wrote the post late at night when I was suffering from sleep deprivation, so It’s not my best work, but it does have its moments.

    http://www.tmichellenelson.com/1/post/2013/04/northern-exposure-by-jf-owen.html

    Keep up the great reviews Vee. We all love to read them.

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    • Ah, crap! Sorry do be the one day undoing of your diet mate! Big Macs are crafty mistresses :(. Although you can totally blame me for it, I accept full responsibility.

      That was a great story, I have to say, I really enjoyed your tale of tenacity in the face of youthful sci-fi obsession. I can most certainly relate. Thank you for the link, I feel the need to check out the Lilly Drake novels now as a result. Here’s hoping the novels are half as interesting as your own!

      Thanks for stopping by JF, appreciate it as always!

      Like

  3. World War Z was a good zombie movie. I never bothered with the other two and i’m not going to bother watching them now. Nice Reviews :]

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  4. Nice stuff. Read an article that gave me a lot of detail about the real life heist team, and they did sound unpleasant so your review strikes many chords. Reading your first review can really see why World War Z divided so many people. And your warning for the third film is useful and will avoid.

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    • Hey Alex, glad to hear it was useful! Definitely agree that the real life (as well as they on screen portrayal) Ring were extremely unpleasant. It’s very hard to relate to anything they did, unless of course you are of a similar mindset, and I’m happy to find that most of us aren’t. This Is The End is subjective, humour-wise, I know of a few people who thoroughly enjoyed it, so it really does depend on what you as an individual might find funny. It was too hit and miss for me though to recommend. Thanks for the comment, it’s good to meet you!

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  5. Good post!! I actually laughed my ass off during This is the End and I normally don’t like anything those guys do…

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  6. hahah!! wow, that is one incredible intro! I love it V!! Although I was a fan of This Is The End, I am now rejoicing in our mutual hatred for The Bling Cringe. Few times in a theater have I actually yelled at the screen, but here was another instance!! :D

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    • Thanks Tom! :D

      Yes, I too DEFINITELY wanted to yell during The Bling Cringe (as you so rightly dubbed it!) but I tempered my responses to excessive eye-rolling and obnoxious tutting noises, because I’m a wimp.

      Like

  7. Great reviews! Agree mostly on World War Z. It ended up being better than I was expecting after I’d heard it had nothing to do with the book (I loved the book). Decent enough movie on its own, though. :-) Have been wanting to see The Bling Ring as I liked Lost in Translation but it’s had very mixed reviews. Hmm… :-/ This Is The End was fun enough but not one I’d ever re-watch. Was a bit average. Looking forward to further DVD reviews from you. :-)

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    • Thank you my dear! I haven’t read WWZ, after watching the movie and reading reviews I found that pretty much everyone said the book was by far superior, so it’s definitely going on the reading list. I liked Lost in Translation myself and had high hopes for Coppola but The Bling Ring falls seriously short IMO. Agree totally on This Is The End, it’s fun but a one time only watch. ;)

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  8. Ooof! I’d put World War Z at the bottom of that pile, Bling Ring at the top, and This Is The End in the middle.

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    • You must tell me why at once! Or link me to your reviews. I must know!

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      • I’ve only reviewed World War Z so far, here: http://bananasaboutmovies.com/2013/11/04/world-war-z-review/

        I found it a bit, I dunno, boring for a zombie movie? I’ve not read the book it’s based on yet, but from what I’ve heard, it has a ton of cool ideas in it that would’ve made a great zombie film. Instead, we got a load of CGI zombies clambering up a wall, which I thought looked a bit daft. I mean, if they’re gonna use the book’s title, why not use any of the ideas? Having said that, I haven’t read it yet, so will have to see just how cool those ideas are!

        As for the other two, I’m hoping to get some reviews up for them soon!

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        • I too have heard that the book is an interesting one and definitely worth the read. I’ll have to add it to my list now because throughout the film you can actually see a few decent ideas and their potential is never fully realised.

          You wrote a great review for it and I can’t disagree with a few of your points and observations but I guess it just comes down to the fact that I enjoyed it more, perhaps because it was slightly unusual. Also, the Jessica Fletcher of zombie movies… :D

          I’m dying to read your review on The Bling Ring. I totally hated it! This is the End was a decent enough flick for me, nothing to write home about but enjoyable in parts.

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  9. Hey, V. I’ve never read the book, so I just judged “World War Z” as it was — and I liked it. Then again, I’m partial to zombie flicks, way back when VHS was king.

    As for “Parajumper” Matthew Fox: that seemed so outrageous that I did some investigation online. As you mentioned, many parts of the movie was re-written. The original script had Fox with a meaty role, for this movie and the sequels. Fox was supposed to guard Gerry’s family after they get kicked out of the ship, and Fox turns predator on the wife, forcing her to be his sex slave in exchange for his protection. Pitt winds up in Russia battling the undead hordes along with his new, Israeli, female ally; and the sequel would have Pitt taking a ship to find his family.

    After the re-writes and re-shoots, there wasn’t much left of Fox.

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    • Wow. I didn’t know that. I’d heard about the last minute changes and the post-production rewrites but I had no idea just how much of a change it had been, and how much of Fox was cut. That’s pretty massive. I’d say he was seriously pissed off, LOL.

      That is very hardcore though. I’m assuming the same thing happened in the books too. That’s on my to read list at the moment, I’m hoping to get around to it soon. Pretty much everyone I know who has both read the book and seen the film has said that the book is far superior. Sounds like a very dark, but a sort of realistic story when you consider the circumstances.

      Anyway, thanks a million for the info, always love this kind of trivia!

      Like

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