Friday the 13th
Despite their horrid reputation, slasher movies can be good. The original Halloween, for example. Some of Dario Argento’s films (especially Profondo Rosso/Deep Red). A Nightmare on Elm Street. There is nothing in their DNA that dictates that a slasher movie must suck.
I had some minor hope for Friday the 13th. I thought that maybe an iconic character, decent production values, and a desire on the part of the studio to relaunch the franchise might mean that they’d actually put some effort into making it at least an entertaining way to kill an hour-and-a-half and a couple of beers.
Wrong. The new Friday the 13th is about as cynical as movie-making gets. The people behind this disaster didn’t even try to make it watchable. They started with a script that an eighth-grader could have written, hired a bunch of generic physically attractive actors, then directed it with the skill level of a below-average TV movie.
They didn’t even use the infamous trademark “chi-chi-chi/ha-ha-ha” except for over the studio logo at the beginning, showing that they had about about as much respect for the franchise as they did for the audience.
I guess they figured that the name alone would cause enough stupid people to buy enough tickets opening weekend to make the movie profitable. I’m sorry to have been a help in proving them right.
Much better than Friday the 13th is Taken. Liam Neeson shines as Bryan Mills, a retired government agent prompted manically back into action when his daughter is kidnapped in Paris to be sold into sex slavery.
Taken is a terrific thriller that doesn’t waste a moment of its tightly-edited screen time. Its only drawback is indulging in the latest stupid fad of choppy editing in the action sequences. However, compared to the competition, Taken‘s offenses in this area are relatively minor–i.e., you can actually tell what’s going on. It’s much better in this regard than that awful James Bond movie I was subjected to a couple of months ago. In fact, I wish the team behind Taken had made Quantum of Solace instead of the jerks who did, from the writer, to the director, all the way down to the best boy. Taken is a rollicking good time, and highly recommended.
The Inglorious Bastards
This is the movie Quentin Tarantino is loosely remaking (as Inglorious Basterds for some reason).
The Inglorious Bastards is a shameless Italian rip-off of The Dirty Dozen. A bunch of US Army troublemakers in France find themselves out of the brig and on an Allied mission to steal the guidance system of the German V-2 rocket. This, of course, involves massive amounts of low-budget violence, as well as the most gratuitous nude scene in the history of motion pictures.
Either you like this sort of Euro-trash, or you don’t. As for me, I like it a lot. Sure, the characters are ridiculous stereotypes more suited to the ’70s than 1944 (angry black man, long-haired hippie dude). Sure, those characters are only slightly deeper than the ones in Friday the 13th. Sure, it’s pretty moronic. But any movie with both Bo Svenson and Fred “The Hammer” Williamson is hard not to love.
In addition to its other charms, The Inglorious Bastards has a rousing score that I hope Tarantino adapts for his version.