The Midnight After

Greetings Loved Ones! Liu Is The Name, And Views Are My Game.

What can I say about The Midnight After? Well, It’s directed by a guy named “Fruit,” and written by a guy named “Pizza.” As bizarre as that statement sounds, its both completely true, and the best, and only way, to describe the rich insanity that is this motion picture.

The story of seventeen people boarding a bus, and emerging from a tunnel to find themselves completely alone, the movie boasts an interesting premise, and absolutely nothing else. It’s marketed as a satirical horror-comedy, but it isn’t scary. Or funny. Now, admittedly, my limited knowledge of Cantonese might be why I don’t get most of the humor. After all, certain jokes only make sense in certain languages. And perhaps there are certain things that I, as an American, don’t get that would be obvious to Hong Kongers. But none of that excuses poor storytelling, and this film is rife with it. Various plot threads, like one dude’s supposed disappearance for six years, the importance of David Bowie’s Space Odity, and the inexplicable appearance of Japanese men wearing gas masks, get introduced, only to be dropped without ever being explored. And while the cardinal rule of screenwriting is “show, don’t tell,” it’s never a good idea to “show without telling.” That’s what this film does. It shows quirky characters in an odd situation. But the situation itself is never explained, and much of these character’s arcs remain incomplete. And as if that weren’t bad enough, this movie is boring. I’m talking DULL! About 20 minutes in, I checked out completely. Never has a movie lost me so early.

But beyond its narrative shortcomings, the movie also fails from a technical standpoint. What I mean by that is, there’s some weird editing in this picture. There are several points in the film where characters will flashback to scenes which have already happened, but, in these flashbacks, we’re shown the characters doing things we didn’t see them do the first time. And it’s not like in Oceans Eleven, where things look different because the characters were deceiving us. These flashbacks have them doing stuff that just didn’t happen before. It makes no sense, and comes off as sloppy and out of place.

Guys, all I can say is, DON’T WATCH THIS MOVIE. It’s dull. It’s pretentious. It’s a 5 out of 10.

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Train To Busan

Greetings Loved Ones! Liu Is The Name, And Views Are My Game.

It’s late October, and the world is full of darkness and monsters. (Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to bring up the election). In all seriousness, though, I’ve decided, in the spirit of Halloween, to take the next few days to review several horror films. And what better picture to start this mini-horror-marathon off with than the Korean zombie flick that’s been sweeping the globe; Train To Busan?

The story of an absent father, Seok-woo, taking his daughter on a trip just as a zombie outbreak occurs, Train To Busan is a fun, fast-paced thrill-ride that never lets up. I can honestly say that I was never bored while I was watching it, and even though I don’t normally care for zombie flicks, I left the film feeling deeply satisfied. A large part of my enjoyment derived from that quick pacing I mentioned. This truly is a fast-moving film, with no extranious scenes, and some really cool action sequences. And the acting is also really good. My favorite character, by far, is this tough, working class dude named Sang-hwa, played by American MMA fighter Ma Dong-seok. He’s got a lot of charisma, and there are some really awesome scenes where he puts on gloves and just goes to town on the zombies. It’s really fun to watch.

And that, I think, is the best way to describe this movie; fun. Because, let’s be clear, this is not a ground-breaking work of art. It’s well-paced, well-acted and well-shot. But, truth be told, the movie doesn’t go beyond the standard conventions of the zombie genre. The characters aren’t given much personality beyond whatever horror movie archetype they represent–little girl, pregnant woman, absent father, jerky businessman, etc. And if you’re not into zombie flicks, or can’t stomach a lot of blood and guts, this film’s not for you, because it has a lot of those latter two things.

But, at the same time, I don’t think any of those things I mentioned really undermine the film as a whole. They’re just characteristics of the movie’s genre, and I’ll bet most people who went into this picture were expecting them.

So, in the end, Train To Busan is a fun, well-paced zombie flick with some good acting and some good set pieces. It’s a solid 8 out of 10. Give it a look.