Sunday Short Reviews

Every Sunday, Gill delves into his archive of over 800 movie reviews and randomly selects three for your enjoyment! Here are this week’s…

John Dies at the End
Don Coscarelli brings his trademark camp/horror hybrid style to this hilarious and trippy adaptation of the book by David Wong. David and John are users of the strange drug called “Soy Sauce” – a substance that allows you to see into the future, the past, and even the afterlife – and they use the abilities granted to them by the sauce to fight ghosts, among other things. The film has all the weirdness and humour of the novel, although it cuts out the middle 100 pages or so, and the opening sequence before the title even appears is absolutely terrific. With a bigger budget, this could have be one of the best films of all time, but considering the small scale and the strength of the writing, I think everyone involved did an awesome job. You can feel the enthusiasm when you watch this movie, and I had a great time watching it. If you enjoyed it, be sure to read the source material.
3.5 out of 5

All Superheroes Must Die
I view Jason Trost as a kind of modern cult film hero. Between his hilarious The Warriors-meets-Dance Dance Revolution film The FP and All Superheroes Must Die, you can tell that he has an extreme passion for making movies, regardless of how much money he can raise for them. All Superheroes Must Die has a great premise that really plays to the film’s strengths: four superheroes wake up in an abandoned town to discover that they’ve lost their powers. It turns out their old nemesis, Rickshaw (played by James Remar), has decided to turn the town into a series of tests for the heroes, as they must rush from waypoint to waypoint freeing innocent civilians from death traps as part of Rickshaw’s sinister game. It plays like Saw meets Kick-Ass, and a lot rests on the performances of the four leads. Well, I’m pleased to report that they all do a good job with what their given, and the interplay between the characters, depicting the heroes as humans at their cores, is the best part about the movie. Well, besides the costumes. This isn’t high art, but for fans of cult cinema, superhero movies and the Saw films, this will be a heck of a lot of fun.
3.25 out of 5

Zero Dark Thirty
With The Hurt Locker, Kathryn Bigelow made a name for herself as the go-to filmmaker for depictions of modern warfare, imbuing her soldier characters with realistic personalities and life that’s sadly absent from a lot of war films. She also knows how to ratchet up the tension over the course of a scene, and both of these praise-worthy elements are on display in Zero Dark Thirty. Unfortunately, I found many parts of the movie to be a bit flat and dry, or perhaps they were trying to be a little too nuanced and as a result seemed to lack subtext entirely. The story of the hunt for Bin Laden does make for compelling viewing material, though, as anyone who has lived during the past decade can attest, and as the credits rolled, I definitely began to question just how accurate the events of the film were. Unfortunately, I found that Bigelow’s desire to remain apolitical in her depiction of the events leading to Bin Laden’s capture hampered the film somewhat. I understand the need to allow the viewers to draw their own conclusions, but ultimately I kind of felt like the movie lacked any kind of message. Actually, I don’t know if it ever even attempted to have one. That being said, Zero Dark Thirty is brilliantly constructed, with great cinematography and a particularly tense raid sequence in the final act. I preferred The Hurt Locker to Zero Dark Thirty, but regardless of my preferences, I still think Kathryn Bigelow is a powerhouse director, and I can’t wait to see what she does next.
3.75 out of 5

See you next Sunday for three more thrilling short reviews!

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