Hollywood loves to look for new angles on public domain fairy tales and intellectual properties. They’re always looking for a platform for a brand new franchise, and they either go the horror route or the action route. If one fails, they automatically revert to the other a few years later. “Cinderella” and “Snow White” have been brought to the big and small screen as pseudo-horror movies and action bonanzas, with varying degrees of success. The one fairy tale that hasn’t dodged the massive overhaul for a new generation is “Hansel and Gretel.”
“Old Hag Syndrome” is a state of paralysis where the sleeper usually awakens completely frozen, but conscious and is convinced a supernatural entity is among them and is sitting on their chest. This is where the origin of creatures like the Succubus stems from. Scott Somers is a seemingly normal man married to a beautiful wife named Marie, but every night he awakens to see his wife standing at the window and muttering to herself. Convinced she’s sleepwalking, Scott awakens yet again in the middle of the night, but this time incapable of movement.
It is a shame that “The Haunted Mansion” has the Eddie Murphy taint all over it. I think there’s a good movie to be made about “The Haunted Mansion” and it doesn’t involve the same old Eddie Murphy tropes we’ve seen in the past fifteen years. Eddie Murphy is once again a dopey work a day man who babbles to himself, and is so self involved he can’t notice his family is right in front of him. It’s the same goofy plot points that count as conflict in Eddie Murphy movies these days. Murphy is one note yet again as workaholic dad Jim Evers, a dopey real estate agent impossibly married to a beautiful woman who is, as always, put upon and ever patient toward his priorities of choosing work over family. When Jim’s wife Sara is called to an old mansion to oversee the property, Jim tags along hoping to garner a sale.
Jorge kidnaps Isabel and keeps her in his basement hoping that some conditioning and Stendhal Syndrome will make her his. Through torture and punishment, he tries to break her. The brutal story brought to the screen here is written by Marco Tarditi Ortega and directed by Diego Cohen. Together they create a kidnapping story where the victim is brutalized, violated, and tortured in many varied ways. The film brings an imaginative array of ways to make someone suffer and bleed. The way it is shot is relentless, keeping the camera directly on what is happening to victim Isabel at the hands of her captor Jorge who is a medical doctor, giving him better knowledge on how to make her suffer without killing her.
Fred Zinnemann’s classic Western is an absolute masterpiece that continues to hold its place as my favorite Western of all time. It’s a marvel of cinema, and a wonderful dramatic thriller set in the old West and ponders on the question of what happens when the helpers need help. It’s also a stunning albeit cynical glimpse at the ultimate summary of a hero and how they can sometimes be cast aside by those that they’ve protected for so many years. Gary Cooper’s role as Will Kane is absolutely pitch perfect, especially when it pertains to his role as a man desperately seeking help in staring down imminent death and settling score that will meet him at the end of his day, no matter what he does.
Health and happiness conscious people have found a way to live forever and without despair. In this utopian future, Tuan Kirie is an investigator for the health agency. As she breaks the rules at her outpost position, she is brought back to Japan where a sudden wave of suicides happens as she arrives. Tuan Kirie is dispatched to investigate these and she takes advantage of this to investigate her past as well.
All I have to say is thank goodness “Hardcore Henry” bombed, even after its unique publicity campaign. I’d really hate to have five other movies out there in theaters trying to copy this wretched movie’s formula. “Hardcore Henry” isn’t even really a movie, as it has no narrative, zero characterization, and is essentially just a series of cut scenes from a video game meant to evoke the fantasies of fourteen year old boys with rage issues. The plot, I use the term loosely, feels like a concept for an NES game in 1991, where LJN saw “Robocop” and decided to create their own clone. “Hardcore Henry” is essentially like watching someone play a video game.
At first it’s a novelty then it becomes incredibly monotonous. Even with director Ilya Naishuller putting our hero through the wringer as he pulls out people’s intestines, battles a flame throwing assassin, and watches soldiers bounce from grenade explosions, I was bored by it all. It’s not so much that the movie is so fast and relentlessly loud, but it’s too fast to the point where the running, chasing, fighting and explosions become so repetitive. I eventually began to grow so accustomed to exploding heads, and bodies being thrown off buildings, that I was wishing for one moment where characters would sit down and explain something, or discuss a bit of exposition that didn’t sound like video game instructions.
To make the events so dull and miserable, character Henry conveniently has no voice, making him easily the most paper thin action hero in movie history. Without a personality, emotions, a voice, or even occasional glimpses at his face and reactions, all we’re left with is a stale attempt to turn the viewer in to some sort of avatar for an action hero who is indestructible and blowing people up left and right without consequence. It doesn’t help that the movie seems to realize it has no story of substance and leans heavily on long drawn out action and weak moments of suspense. The further Henry flees from the super secret cyborg making organization led by the albino psychic mutant guy, the less sense the movie makes.
We all know the minute we see the group of undead cyborgs that Henry will have to fight them all at the same time to get to the final boss of the movie, so why should we even care about why they were invented, and what threats they serve? “Hardcore Henry” is a miserable, and tedious gimmick that feels like cut scenes from a stale Sega CD beat em up game, spliced together to form a limp cinematic experience. It’s a cheap, shallow gimmick that I’m glad failed, and it’s one I hope never catches on.
The Blu-Ray release comes with a Digital Copy. We’re given four deleted scenes emphasizing Henry’s battles, and a twelve minute fan chat with supporting actor Sharlto Copley and Writer/Director Ilya Naishuller, both of whom answer fan questions. Finally there are two audio commentaries. There’s one with Director and Producer Ilya Naishuller who covers the movie in very fine detail including the pacing, visual effects and much more. The second audio commentary features Director and Producer Ilya Naishuller and Star and Executive Producer Sharlto Copley, both of whom cover the same line of insight and details from the first commentary, with Copley adding his own interplay.
Director Taika Waititi has a keen and admirable understanding of humanity as well as the relationship with death and loss we have every waking moment of our life. Whether it’s a gory horror comedy like “What We Do in the Shadows” or a family drama like “Hunt for the Wilderpeople,” Waititi is never above examining our everlasting relationship with death that begins when we’re very young. “Hunt for the Wilderpeople” is destined to be a classic drama comedy that pits two men against the wilderness in their efforts to make sense of life and come to terms with death.