The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and Django Unchained are riding high at the top of the US box office charts and as the movie industry lurches slowly into the new year, it’s likely that they’ll remain there. After all, an unsolicited addition to the Texas Chainsaw collection is hardly going to have the pulling power to shift some of the biggest movies of last year off the top of that chart.
That, however, is one of the biggest movies of the week: Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D. That’s right. An extra dimension has been added to the Texas Chainsaw Massacre story. No, we’re not sure why, either. The phrase “let’s leave well alone, shall we?” springs to mind. The horror genre was just fine and dandy with the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the other Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning and Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation and... okay all you need to know is that there are already seven of these movies.. but hey, now we have one in 3D, so that, presumably, you can fear not only for the safety of the characters onscreen, but also for the integrity of your own eyeballs, as chainsaw after chainsaw comes flying out of the screen and straight towards your face.
In a classic game of paper, scissors, stone, it becomes quickly apparent that ‘chainsaw’ beats ‘wooden door’ as good old Leatherface wreaks havoc with his favourite power tool once more. Unsurprisingly, it has been met with a tired response, with one reviewer on Rotten Tomatoes describing the film as a “giant turd of a movie.” So, probably not bound for big bucks box office success, then. Bound to divide audiences this one. Divide them between ‘Don’t really like it’ and ‘Really don’t like it,’ that is.
In the wake of "Reservoir Dogs," "Pulp Fiction" and "Jackie Brown," film buffs have come to expect intrepid sub-Hollywood scavenger Quentin Tarantino to bowl us over with ingenious, amped-up, style-blending B-movie off-shoots made with a quantum leap of depth and cinematic panache.
Influenced by cut-rate, under-the-counter samurai imports, spaghetti Westerns and popcorn-munching exploitation flicks of bygone eras, the writer-director's two-part revenge saga "Kill Bill" ("Volume 2" is due in February) has sexy, gritty, droll, deluxe Tarantino élan coming out its ears -- and absurdly grisly dam-bursts of stage blood spurting from other violently severed body parts in ambitious marathon swordfight scenes. But while the picture oozes style (and blood), it comes up short on substance -- which is what has always set Tarantino's grindhouse homages head and shoulders above the pulp pictures that inform them.
Choreographed by both kung-fu genius Yuen Wo-Ping ("The Matrix" movies, "Charlie's Angels," "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," etc.) and Japanese Kenjutsu legend Sonny Chiba (who plays an eccentric master sword-maker in the film), these focal-point fights are the culmination of a plot about a sultry, strong-willed former assassin (Uma Thurman) who was left for dead when her employer -- possibly peeved by her resignation, although "Volume 1" is vague on that point -- turned her wedding into a massacre.
Continue reading: Kill Bill: Volume 1 Review
Everything the kinetic, colorful, superficially violent "Kill Bill: Volume 1" lacked in depth and character is remedied tenfold in Quentin Tarantino's stunning, cunning conclusion to his epic revenge fantasy.
Gone are the absurdist bloodbaths and the superficial grindhouse storytelling, and in their stead the wily writer-director transitions (with masterfully effortless cinematic aplomb) into a character- and dialogue-driven feast of substance and surprises -- which is, nonetheless, still punctuated by spectacularly stylish swordplay.
After a winking mock-noir prologue of recap narration, Tarantino opens "Volume 2" with a parched black-and-white flashback to the wedding rehearsal (glimpsed throughout last year's installment) at which The Bride (Uma Thurman), an unnamed and incognito former assassin trying to go straight, was brutally gunned down (along with everyone in attendance) by her former compatriots.
Continue reading: Kill Bill: Volume 2 Review
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