Mike Elliott

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WarGames: The Dead Code Review


Good
Even I have trouble believing that the proto-cyberpunk classic WarGames is a whopping 25 years old. What kid didn't want an IMSAI 8080 back in the day so he could change his grades... and get a girlfriend like mega-hottie Ally Sheedy? Oh, and save the world while he's at it.

Director Stuart Gillard dutifully follows up the still-precient original with another installment of WarGames. It's not quite a sequel, not quite a remake... though it ostensibly continues the story not of David Lightman (Matthew Broderick in the original), but rather of whatever happened to the W.O.P.R. (aka Joshua) and its creator, Stephen Falken.

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The Devil's Rejects Review


Excellent
House of 1000 Corpses, the last song on Rob Zombie's 2001 album The Sinister Urge, also served as the title track to the metal frontman-turned-filmmaker's 2003 directorial debut, but the cut's country twang-inflected ghoulishness would have made a more apt musical accompaniment for Zombie's The Devil's Rejects. Less a sequel than a spiritual follow-up, the director's latest revisits House's serial-killing Firefly clan as they're cast into the backwater dustbowls of rural America by a sheriff (William Forsythe) intent on exacting vigilante revenge for the murder of his brother. A gritty Western-via-grindhouse modern exploitation flick imbued with the ferocity of independent '70s horror, Zombie's splatterfest wisely alters virtually everything (narratively, stylistically, thematically) that characterized his campy, cartoonish and awkward first film. And from its coarse, graphic visual aesthetic, profusion of classic Southern rock tunes, and portrait of unrepentant mayhem, his film reverentially exults in the deranged spirit and impulsive, unpredictable energy of seminal genre masterpieces The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and The Hills Have Eyes.

The Devil's Rejects diverges from its predecessor beginning with its opening frames, in which the depiction of the Firefly residence - no longer a remote, forest-shrouded funhouse of horrors but, rather, a dilapidated structure situated in a stretch of open land - speaks to the film's rejection of atmospheric claustrophobia in favor of wide-open anarchy. A fascination with rampant disorder certainly fuels the tour de force intro sequence, a bullet-strewn siege on the Firefly home by Sheriff Wydell (Forsythe) and an army of police officers heightened by Zombie's sly use of freeze frames, Sergio Leone-esque close-ups, and The Allman Brothers' "Midnight Rider." Exhibiting a directorial maturity devoid of his former MTV-ish gimmickry (no hyper-edited montages with varying film stocks or bludgeoning industrial heavy metal here), the director orchestrates the chaotic events with feverish abandon, his shaky handheld camera set-ups and scraggly, sun-bleached cinematography (courtesy of Phil Parmet) placing us directly inside the carnage. By the time murderous siblings Otis (Bill Moseley) and Baby (Sheri Moon) escape their now overrun home to seek shelter in the rotting, blindingly white desert, Zombie has demonstrated a newfound adeptness at lacing nasty action with a breakneck thrust and vicious wit.

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Attraction Review


OK
They almost had me, but then they blew it. Attraction, a direct-to-video release that purports to turn the tables on the stalker movie, never quite makes it, despite a promising cast and an interesting twist.

As the story goes, Matthew (Matthew Settle) just can't get over his ex-girlfriend Liz (Gretchen Mol), which sees him drinking heavily and attempting to beat down Liz's door in the hopes of getting her back. (Never mind that Matthew's job is being a radio psychologist...) Fortunately, Liz's friend Corey (Samantha Mathis) enters his life, and maybe Matthew will be able to move on, right? Alas, he continues stalking Liz while he's banging her friend. And to throw another twist on you, Matthew's co-worker Garrett (Tom Everett Scott), decides he now loves Liz, and he's going to return the favor by stalking Matthew and Corey.

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All I Want Review


Weak
This one lost me. A bizarre concoction of Wonder Boys, Spanking the Monkey, Singles, and, I dunno, Moulin Rouge, this film obviously confused the hell out of its studio to the point where they couldn't give it a real release, despite having Frodo himself (Elijah Wood) in the starring role and pop starlet Mandy Moore at his side.

Here's the gist: Jones Dillon (Wood) is a college drop-out at age 17 (already?) and decides to "learn about life" by living in a kooky apartment house with kooky people in it. His neighbors include two chicks: Jane (Franka Potente), a pissy photographer, and Lisa (Moore), an aspiring actress. Who will Jones fall in love with? And more importantly, will this teach him that life is not really learned about through living in a kooky apartment complex? Hey, Jones likes to type an an old style typewriter and drink wine straight from the bottle, so we know he's serious. Isn't he?

Continue reading: All I Want Review

Route 9 Review


Good
An awful lot better than it should be, Route 9 is a made-for-cable ripoff of A Simple Plan, but it succeeds remarkably well. Perfectly suited for late night TV watching.
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WarGames: The Dead Code Movie Review

WarGames: The Dead Code Movie Review

Even I have trouble believing that the proto-cyberpunk classic WarGames is a whopping 25 years...

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