The Descent (2005)

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

One year after her husband and daughter are killed, extreme sports enthusiast Sarah reunites with some old friends for a weekend of spelunking in the Appalachians. When they get down into the cave, however, the tunnel collapses behind them, and, to make matters worse, the woman who suggested these caves, Juno, admits that she lied about where they were. They’re in an uncharted system, and no one knows where to find them. And as if being trapped underground with limited water, light and oxygen weren’t bad enough, it turns out that the women aren’t alone in these caves. There’s something else with them. Something… hungry.

The Descent is a primary example of the old saying, “it’s not the idea that counts, it’s how you tell it.” On paper, there’s nothing special about this movie. A group of people are trapped in a confined space, and there’s something supernatural coming after them. We’ve seen that premise done a thousand times before. But we haven’t seen it be done in caves, and with only women. Throw in some top-notch direction, and some nail-biting, pants-pissing tension, and you’ve got yourself a sleeper hit on your hands. I’m not lying when I say that, as soon as the characters enter the caves, the movie gets a hundred times better. You feel so claustrophobic while they’re down there that it’s not even funny. There’s one sequence in particular, where the characters have to get across this big gap, and are hanging from the ceiling, that had me holding my breath, it was that intense. As someone who’s gone spelunking, and swore to himself afterwards that he would never do so again, this film captures the feeling of being hundreds of feet underground, and unable to move, exceptionally well. If you want to watch an intense, visceral horror movie that has you on the edge of your seat, from the fifteen minute mark, basically to the end, give this flick a look.

That said, The Descent isn’t perfect. A large part of this has to do with the script. The characters just aren’t very interesting, or well-written. I’m not exaggerating when I say that the only way I was able to distinguish them from each other was their accents. And the writer/director, Neil Marshall, knows this. He’s stated in interviews that the reason he got such an international cast together–there are women in here from England, Scotland, Ireland, Australia and the Netherlands–was so that the audience would be able to tell them apart. In that respect, he succeeded, but the characters these women are playing really aren’t that well-defined. They’re all tough, sporty and take no shit. Which is refreshing in a horror film, since none of them are helpless victims, but not great if you’re trying to get to know them as people. We don’t know enough about these women to distinguish them from one another beyond their most superficial feature; their accents. We don’t know if they have jobs, if they’re married, have kids, significant others, or are into certain styles of music or cinema. As such, it becomes harder to care about them when they die. On top of this, some of the acting is a little bit shaky. The woman who plays Juno, Australian actress Natalie Mendoza, really can’t hold an American accent. There are points where she’s talking that she just goes full-blown Aussie, and it gets very distracting. In short, The Descent suffers from many of the flaws that other horror films have; poor acting and a weak script. But I’m not lying when I say that the film’s direction, it’s production design and all-around craftsmanship make up for that. It’s intense, engaging, and very well-made. If you’re a horror fan, don’t hesitate to give it a look.


Ring (Book Review)

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

Asakawa is an ambitious young reporter, who doesn’t give a crap about his family. Seriously. He wishes his wife and daughter would remain silent at all times, and when his niece, Tomoko, dies of mysterious, unknown causes, he barely bats an eye. Literally the only thing that gets him interested in the girl’s death is when a cab driver tells him that he saw a kid keel over the exact same date and time as she did, also of mysterious causes. This convinces Asakawa that there is a connection, and even a supernatural force responsible. (This is set during a time when Japanese society is obsessed with the occult). So he investigates, and finds that there is, indeed, a link between his niece and the boy who died on the street. Exactly one week prior to their deaths, they and two other students went to a cabin in the countryside, and watched a mysterious video. Asakawa watches this video as well, only to learn that he has seven days left to live. Terrified, Asakawa recruits his friend, Ryuji, a rapist who also happens to teach, to help him find the source of the curse, and hopefully, stop it before it’s too late.

Any horror fan worth their salt knows, and has watched, the Ring films, be it the 1998 Japanese original, or the American remake directed by Gore Verbinski. I certainly have, and yet I never knew that they were actually based off a novel by Koji Suzuki. Now, being a horror fan, and such a big admirer of the films, I decided to give the book a read, in the hopes that whatever it had might help me write a scary story of my own, something I’ve been trying to do for a while. Having read the book, however, all I can think is that we are extremely lucky to have the films in our lives, because this novel is not worth the time it took me to finish it.

Ring is a boring, sexist, and thoroughly nonthreatening piece of work that I’m honestly kind of shocked was able to spawn such influential horror films. It’s pace is sluggish, it’s prose  is flat, the author spends far more time describing apartment complexes and hotel rooms than anything potentially scary, and its portrayal, and treatment, of women is appalling. What this book honestly reminded me of was the novel that Jaws was based off of. If you know anything about Jaws, you know that the film bears very little resemblance to the piece it takes its name from. Character’s ages are changed, romantic subplots are omitted, the ending is different, and there’s a whole bit with the mob that was cut out for time, and because it was really, really stupid. Basically, Steven Spielberg took the names, and the general premise of a shark eating people, and made his own movie. It appears that Hideo Nakata, who helmed the 1998 original, and Gore Verbinski, did the same with Ring. Here’s just a few differences between the book and movies. In the movies, the main character is a woman, a recently divorced mother of a young boy, whose ex-husband is a college professor. In the book, the main character is a man, who is married, and has a daughter. The movies open with two girls, one of them being the niece of the heroine, talking about the video curse, only to have an unseen force kill the niece and drive the friend insane. The book opens with the niece by herself, and features an almost pornographic description of her peeing before she gets murdered. In the movies, the heroine deduces that there’s something supernatural going on when she finds that three other people, all of whom were friends with her niece, died on the same night she did, and that their faces are now blotted out from photographs for some reason. In the book, the main character just jumps to the conclusion that there must be a curse afoot because two people, who were roughly the same age, died on the same night, and has to do a lot of investigating before he learns that the people who were killed were friends. I could go on, but you get the idea. The point I’m trying to make is that the Ring movies move much more quickly, and find ways of building up dread by getting to the scenes of horror sooner, and dwelling on those, as opposed to wasting our time with descriptions of the main character arguing with his editor, or talking to cab drivers.

But the biggest problem I have with the Ring novel is the fact that it is so unabashedly misogynistic. Now look, people have talked about how the Ring movies are, in their own way, kind of sexist, which is fair. The original film, especially, takes every possible chance to shame the heroine for having a life outside of motherhood, and portrays her as weak and emotional ,and needing to be slapped out of a stupor by her ex. But, trust me, those films are feminist manifestos compared to this book. The main character, and the novel itself, constantly complains about how women are nagging, overly sensitive, and far too concerned with their appearances. There’s that pornographic description of the niece peeing I mentioned earlier. And then there’s the not so small matter of the second most important character in the book, Ryuji, the man Asakawa enlists to help him find the source of the curse, being a rapist. And that’s not my opinion. That’s not me being an overly sensitive liberal who misinterpreted the prose. The book flat out calls him a rapist. It’s explained that the two men met when Ryuji gleefully told Asakawa that he’d raped a woman, and asked him not to tell. Asakawa didn’t, and they became best friends after that. And what makes this even more appalling is the fact that the novel takes every chance to highlight Ryuji’s positive features, such as his intelligence, charisma, and physical fitness. It literally glorifies him. Reading this book made me aware of something that I’ve been wanting to talk about on here for a while, and that’s the fact that Japanese society, particularly Japanese art, seems weirdly okay with rape. Now look, I don’t want any of my Japanese, or Japanese-American, readers to get the wrong impression. I don’t want anyone to think I’m saying that the Japanese are worse than us Americans, or that we, somehow, don’t have problems with sexism and sexual assault. We do. But one thing I can say for certain is that American artwork at least condemns rape. If you look at almost any American film, novel or TV show that includes sexual assault, you see that it is always portrayed as a horror; as something that should be reviled, and punished. In Japanese films, TV shows, particularly animes, and books, however, sexual assault is either brushed off, treated as a joke, or even glorified. Don’t believe me? Then ask yourself, why is it that so many animes, Naruto, Bleach, feature female characters getting groped, or having people look up their skirts? Why is it that so much Japanese pornography features women screaming “no” and “stop?” Why is it that, all throughout the 70s and 80s, the most popular genre of film in Japan was the pink, or sexploitation, movie, which almost exclusively featured women getting assaulted, and falling in love, with their rapists? This is not a new phenomenon. It goes all the way back to classic Japanese movies, like Rashoman, Life Of Oharu, and The Tale Of Ugetsu. Even modern, more seemingly gentle flicks, like Departures, which won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language film, features the main character forcing himself on his wife after a hard day at work. And this isn’t even getting into all the sex crimes that were committed during World War 2 by Japanese troops, such as the Rape of hundreds of thousands in Nanking, and the kidnap, and forced conscription into brothels of millions of “comfort women” from China, Korea, Indonesia and elsewhere. Having grown up with Japanese neighbors, and a Nissei step-grandfather, I could never wrap my brain around the idea of Japanese men committing such heinous sex crimes, even during times of war. But now, having read so much japanese literature, film, and TV, especially anime, I have to wonder if the constant portrayal of rape as being no big deal taught these men that it wasn’t anything to worry about. Ring is just one in a long line of books and films from Japan that don’t treat sexual assault with the care and insight that it should, and I find it repulsive in every way imaginable.

Guys, don’t read this book. It’s boring, it’s slow, and it’s beyond sexist. If you want to see this book’s central premise done right, watch either of the films. They’re faster, scarier, and considerably better at representing women. Then again, that’s not a very high bar to clear.

Ghost Stories (2018)

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

Phillip Goodman has spent his life investigating the paranormal; all in the hopes of proving that there is nothing to this world beyond what we can see, hear and feel. But, one day, he is contacted by a mentor, and fellow skeptic, Dr. Cameron, who claims that he has come across three cases that cannot be explained through science, and is starting to doubt his life’s work. He begs Goodman to prove him wrong, to find evidence that the cases are all hoaxes, and Goodman agrees, setting out to investigate the three alleged incidents. These include a Night Watchman who was haunted by a girl in an abandoned asylum, a teenager who was attacked by a monster out in the woods, and a financier who was visited by both a poltergeist and the ghost of his dead wife. Goodman is confident that all three cases can be explained through science. As the investigation progresses, however, he becomes less and less sure of this, and more and more skeptical of his own sanity.

Guys, when it comes to movies, I’m a jaded person. I’ve seen, read, and listened to so much about cinema that, most of the time, when I go in to see a movie, I know exactly how it’s going to pan out. Nowhere is this more true than with horror films. The tropes, tricks and trademarks are so well-documented, and have been so thoroughly satirized, that its really hard for me to get scared by them anymore. Even with good horror movies, like Get Out and It Follows, I find myself more engaged by these films than frightened by them. What I’m trying to say is, I don’t scare easily, and when a film comes around that really and truly chills me, it’s special. It’s amazing.  And this film, Ghost Stories, is both of those things. This is the first film I’ve seen, in a very long time, that really and truly frightened me. Everything about it, from the moody cinematography, to the use of music and sound effects, is unnerving. Watching this movie reminded me of those nights when I was a kid, alone in my parent’s house, and even the slightest peep would terrify me. The Asylum sequence, especially, gave me the willies. If you love horror movies, if you’re jaded, and want to watch something truly unsettling, give this flick a look. It is absolutely worth your time.

Now, that said, this movie is still a movie, and therefore suffers from flaws, as all movies do. The biggest one, easily, is the ending. I won’t spoil it, but, I’m not exaggerating when I say that it almost ruined the whole experience for me. It’s barely built up to, completely changes the tone of the rest of the film, and more or less betrays what the picture has been saying so far; that there are some things in life that can’t be explained. And unlike most films that start off well, but have bad conclusions, you can’t just say, “well, the ending sucked, but I can just enjoy the first half by itself,” because this ending completely changes that first half. Still, the acting, cinematography, editing and genuinely frightening tone of this film definitely make it worth a watch. Just go in expecting a stupid ending.

Audition (1999)

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

Aoyama is a middle-aged widower who has spent the past 7 years in mourning. One day, his son, Shigehiko, tells him that he looks old, and should start dating again. Distraught, Aoyama goes to his friend, Yoshikawa, for advice, and Yoshikawa, believing that the current dating scene is too complex for Aoyama to navigate, devises a scheme to get his pal laid. This involves Yoshikawa, who is a film producer, setting up a phony audition wherein young women will come in and try out for the “part” of Aoyama’s wife. They won’t know what’s going on, and Aoyama can pick whichever one meets all of his criteria. In so doing, Aoyama comes across Asami, a shy, but well-spoken former ballerina whose apparent emotional depth is fascinating to him. As he grows closer to her, however, he starts to uncover some disturbing facts about her past, and realizes that maybe she’s not who she says she is.

Audition is a very important movie to me. Not only is it my favorite horror film of all time, but it’s also the first screenplay I ever wrote. Seriously. When I was fifteen, I spent a summer penning an English language adaptation of the story, in the hopes of learning how to write screenplays. With hindsight, this probably wasn’t the best film to use as a learning tool, seeing as how it has an extremely unusual structure, but still. It was instrumental in my development as a filmmaker. And I’m not the only one. Despite being made for a minuscule budget, and not even having a wide theatrical release when it came out back in 1999, Audition has acquired a huge following over the years, and has influenced several mainstream horror directors, including James Wan, Eli Roth, and the Soskia Sisters. Quentin Tarantino even listed it as one of the 20 best films that came out since he started making movies. And when you watch it, you can understand why. This is a hauntingly beautiful film. The camerawork, the use of color and music, and the acting are superb. And like the best horror films, it’s not just focused on getting the audience to jump. As a matter of fact, part of what makes Audition so unique is how, for the first half; it’s not a horror movie at all. There are no jump scares. There’s no creepy music. Nothing about it leaves you feeling spooked or uneasy. The whole thing comes off as a quiet, slow, even somewhat cheesy romance. Which is why many people have pushed the theory that the latter half of the film, where things get considerably darker and more horrific, is actually an elaborate dream sequence; a manifestation of Aoyama’s guilt over having deceived Asami. This theory is supported by the fact that the midpoint of the film, the moment where it moves from romance to horror, involves Aoyama and Asami falling asleep in each other’s arms. Now it’s worth mentioning that the film’s director, Takashi Miike, has denied this theory, stating that everything that happens in the second half is real, but that doesn’t matter. Art, by virtue of being art, can be interpreted in multiple ways, besides the author’s original intention, and, even if what Miike says is true, that doesn’t change the fact that this is a truly haunting horror film. It sticks with you, long after you’ve finished watching it. It gets you to think, and question your own views, not just of gender, but reality itself. And for that, I’ve got to give it props.

Now, as important as Audition is to me, I have somewhat of a love/hate relationship with it. A large part of this has to do with the fact that no one can agree on whether or not it can be described as feminist. On the one hand, people have argued that it shows a sexist man, Aoyama, getting punished for his sins by a woman. On the other hand, people have pointed out how the woman dishing out the punishment, Asami, is a creepy, psychotic murderer, and not at all someone for girls to look up to. It’s also worth mentioning that the novel this was based off of, which I have read, is unambiguously misogynistic, and is much more interested in exploring the gaps between generations than addressing systemic sexism. And, as I’ve said before on this blog, many of Takashi Miike’s other films have been criticized for their inclusion of rape, and other forms of violence against women. So when you take all that into consideration, it’s hard to see this as any kind of women power manifesto. And yet, I can’t unequivocally call it sexist, because there are a ton of good messages about gender, and the way we view relationships, in this film. As a matter of fact, I actually think this movie has gotten better, and considerably more relevant, over the years. Not only do it’s explorations of men in positions of power using that power to sexually exploit women feel extremely poignant in the era of #MeToo, but the whole conceit of this film, the audition, speaks to our modern culture of online dating. Aoyama uses the fake casting call to pick someone who meets all his criteria for what a perfect spouse is. But, the truth is, we do that whenever we go onto OkCUpid, or Tinder, or any other dating app, and insert our preferred age range, body type, or ethnicity into the search bar. All of us try to find the perfect partner, and use whatever means are available, to shrink the dating pool. And, very often, we are shallow, and are cruel, when we do that. And the worst part is, we aren’t necessarily trying to be. Most people, if you ask them, will tell you that sexism is bad. But that doesn’t change the fact that many men, and even some women, exhibit sexist behavior when viewing potential partners. The film captures this quite well. Aoyama, at his heart, is not a bad man. He’s a good father, and was always faithful to his wife. He’s just lonely, and has a very specific idea of what his ideal partner is. Is that idea unrealistic, and degrading to most women? Sure. And if you buy into the dream theory, which I, personally, do, then he knows this. All the horrific, and bizarre visions he has are manifestations of his guilt over having lied to a woman that wants nothing but to please him. And as creepy as Asami is in the latter half, none of what she does is her fault. She is a byproduct of a sexist, misogynistic society that has constantly belittled, abused, and told her that she needs to be better; she needs to be a man’s idea of perfection. Of course she snapped. Any sane person would. And yet, society continues to tell women to strive for perfection, and tells men that they are entitled to it, and, the truth is, it’s poisonous. And the film knows that. Everything about the first half, the slow pace, the cheesy romantic music, the fact that their whole relationship is built on lies, is there to show us how artificial, and unrealistic such expectations are. So when that second half hits, we fully understand how toxic, how truly harmful these expectations men have for women, are.

Guys, what can I say? Audition isn’t just a great horror film. It’s a great film. Not only is it well acted and superbly shot, but it really gets under your skin, and forces you to confront the worst aspects of yourself, like the best movies do.

A Quiet Place (2018)

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

The world has been overrun by monsters. The creatures are blind, but have incredibly sensitive hearing. If you make any sound at all, they will find you, and kill you. Now, a little over a year into the invasion, a family survives by living a completely sound-free lifestyle. They communicate through sign language, use their hands when eating, and cover the footpaths around their house with sand. A year back, their youngest son was killed when he played with an electronic rocket toy. Now, they mourn his loss, and do their best to survive. And… that’s about it.

A Quiet Place is a movie I was very excited to see. First of all, it’s got a great concept; monsters that track you through sound, so you can’t ever make any noise. So much tension can be wrung out of that premise alone. On top of this, I was glad to see another comedian, John Krasinski, getting the chance to direct a horror movie. Jordan Peele did that last year with Get Out, and it totally worked. It was also cool to see Krasinski and his actual wife, Emily Blunt, playing a couple in a movie together. And, having watched the picture, I can tell you, they are easily the best part of the film. They’re the most experienced performers, and their chemistry is effortless. The child actors who play their kids are also very good, and definitely deserve credit for their work. And, technically, this film is competently crafted, with the editing, sound design and cinematography all working fine. So why, then, did I walk out of the theater not loving this film?

It all comes down to the fact that this movie is not a movie. It’s an idea. In my review for Downsizing, I talked about how some films get made just because their central concept is super original, even if the filmmakers don’t have a complete story mapped out when they start shooting. A Quiet Place has an interesting idea, a world where everyone needs to be silent because if they make noise, they’ll die, but not much else. You don’t really know anything about the main family, I don’t even think we learned their names, and they don’t really want anything concrete. They’re just kind of surviving. Yes, in real life, people don’t constantly pursue solid, tangible things, like lost arks, or the meaning of the word rosebud, and just kind of mosey along, but this is a movie. Characters need solid, tangible things to achieve, otherwise we’re just kind of watching them shuffle along, aimlessly, for two hours. And that’s a large part of this movie; watching this family just live their lives, but without sound. Now, granted, every now and then, someone will drop something, or something will break, and then the creatures will show up, and it’ll be super intense. Those sequences are awesome. It’s just, the rest of the time, not much is happening, and, honestly, the main family is kind of boring. As I said, we know next to nothing about them.  They don’t really have personalities. And while you could make the argument that thats’ the point, they’re meant to be a broad stand-in for every family in peril, you can have characters in monster movies with distinct quirks. Case and point; Bong Joon-Ho’s The Host. All the various members of the Park family are extremely unique, and distinct from one another. The Aunt, Doona Bae, is a super-competitive olympic archer, the Father, Song Kang-Ho, is a lazy, neglectful pothead, the Uncle, Park Hae-Il, is an alcoholic, disillusioned former student radical, etc. They have personalities. You can tell them apart. I couldn’t tell you anything about the family in A Quiet Place, other than that the daughter is deaf.  That’s not good.

Still, the film’s interesting central premise, strong performances, and intense scenes of suspense do elevate it, slightly, above other “idea” movies. Did I love it? No. Will I ever go to see it again? Probably not. But if you want to go to the theaters, and watch some intense, well-staged suspense scenes, maybe give it a look. As for me, I’ll never think about it again.

The Cloverfield Paradox (2018)

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

In the future, Earth is running dangerously low on fuel. So, in a last ditch effort to come up with a clean, alternative energy source, the world’s governments create a giant particle accelerator, and shoot it up in space, where it can be tested without fear of damaging the Earth. Unfortunately, when the particle accelerator does eventually function, the crew of said space station find themselves transported to a parallel dimension. And back on Earth, the particle accelerator’s explosion opens up a portal, releasing giant, Godzilla-like monsters, which begin wreaking havoc. Will the crew get home? Will they find a way to undo all the damage that they’ve caused? Well, you’ll just have to watch the movie to find out.

Guys, this is it. This is what all the Zhang Ziyi reviews I’ve been posting have been leading up to; the release of her new film, The Cloverfield Paradox. I’ve been waiting for this movie for well over a year, seeing as it was supposed to come out last February, but kept getting delayed, and, let me tell you, when it hit Netflix last night, I was pumped. I was ready. I wanted so badly for this to be good; for it to be a welcome return of my favorite actress to the American big screen. But when I finished watching it, I was left feeling vastly disappointed. Not only does this movie waste Zhang Ziyi, and it’s incredibly talented cast, which includes so many international stars, like Daniel Bruhl, Aksel Hennie, and Chris O’Dowd, but it flat out doesn’t make any sense.

But before I launch into my many criticisms, I do want to be fair, and list some positives. First of all, it looks amazing. The camerawork, the production design, and the special effects are all top-notch. In addition to this, while the characters these actors are playing are flat and one note, the actors themselves all give great performances. And, finally, the film is never boring. It moves at a very quick pace, and so much crazy shit happens, like when a guy’s arm gets bitten off by a wall, and then it shows up again, seemingly sentient, that you can’t help but keep watching, hoping to find answers.

Unfortunately, the questions are all you have, and when the movie ends, you wind up feeling kind of cheated. As I said, crazy shit happens in this picture, and seemingly for no reason. What I mean by that is, characters die in this movie who just didn’t have to. And it’s not like in most horror films where it’s their own stupidity that finishes them off. “Don’t go in the basement! There’s a monster down there.” No. In this movie, characters will just be living their lives, doing their thing, when the screenwriters will suddenly decide, “you know what? We can’t have more than one survivor. Let’s off this character in a completely nonsensical, arbitrary way.” Aksel Hennie, for instance, somehow gets a bunch of space worms, and the ship’s GPS, stuck inside him, which causes him to explode. How did they get there? How was he able to live so long with those things inside him? No explanation. Likewise, Zhang Ziyi gets killed off when she goes into a room to fix something, does, and then, out of nowhere, the room floods. And it’s not like we see the pipes leaking before this happens. She just goes in, fixes something, and then, out of nowhere, there’s water. It really pisses me off when characters die for no reason, and she and Aksel Hennie most certainly do. And speaking of the characters, they are beyond one note. With the exception of the main protagonist, played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw, we know nothing about them. We don’t know if they have families. We don’t know if they have jobs back on Earth. We don’t know what their tastes in movies, music, food or literature are. They are literally just bodies to be disposed of. This is especially true of Zhang Ziyi’s character. In addition to not knowing any of her back-story, she is also shown as being incapable of speaking English. Yeah. All her dialogue is in Mandarin, and, sometimes, there aren’t even subtitles when she speaks. Why? In real life, Zhang Ziyi is fluent in English. Just watch Memoirs of a Geisha, Horsemen, and all the interviews she’s given to American press. Her English is perfect, so the “it was to make it easier for her to act,” excuse, doesn’t hold water. Having her only speak Mandarin was a bad directorial choice for multiple reasons. On top of playing into a racist stereotype that Asian people can’t speak English–Why do none of the European characters only speak German or Russian , huh?–it distances her from the audience. Not only do you not know anything about her past or personality, but, unless you speak Mandarin, you won’t understand a single word she’s saying. So she’s twice removed from the viewers. As a result, you don’t care about her at all, even when she dies. And that’s terrible. Zhang Ziyi is the only reason I wanted to see this piece of shit to begin with, and she’s totally wasted. AAAAAAH!

Guys, don’t watch The Cloverfield Paradox. If you’re a fan of the franchise, or space horror, you might get a kick out of this, but not me. I want characters who are compelling, a plot that makes sense, and for talented actors to not be wasted. I’m so sorry Ms. Zhang. You deserved a better script. Hopefully, I’ll get the chance to write you one someday, but, until then, I guess this is all we’ve got. And that’s a damn shame.

Underrated Directors Who Should Totally Helm A Blockbuster

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

Directors; to many casual film goers, they are the driving force behind all aspects of a movie. And while those of us who actually work in film, writing scripts, editing footage, mixing sound and so on, know that this isn’t true, it is true that directors can have a huge influence on a picture’s look, tone, and style. And that look and style can attract audiences, and make the pictures better as a whole. Now there are certain directors whose look and style have become well known to the public–the Spielbergs, the Burtons, the Tarantinos–but there are others whose talent is clear when you watch their films but, for whatever reason, they and their work have remained out of the spotlight. I’d like to remedy that today. Here is my list of awesome, underrated directors who should totally helm a blockbuster. Why a blockbuster? Because that’s what most people see, and, if we’re being honest with ourselves, it’s the only way most of us will ever hear about these artists.

1. Bong Joon-Ho.

  • What They’ve Done: The Host, Snowpiercer, Okja.
  • What I’d Like Them To Do: A Star Wars Movie.

Perhaps the best-known filmmaker on this list, Bong Joon-Ho is one of my all-time favorite directors, and a household name back in his native Korea. And yet, despite all his critical and commercial success in Asia, he remains relatively unknown in the West. Film nerds have probably watched a few of his flicks, but the vast majority of audiences aren’t familiar with his sumptuous visuals, dark humor, sudden shifts in tone, and biting social commentary, all of which make him ideal to helm a Star Wars movie. Just watch The Host, see how he shoots action, writes villainous characters, and uses creature effects, and tell me you couldn’t see him directing an episode in a galaxy far, far away.

2. Jaume Collet-Serra.

  • What They’ve Done: Non-Stop, The Shallows, Orphan.
  • What I’d Like Them To Do: A MIssion Impossible Movie.

Best known for his many collaborations with Liam Neeson, Spanish director Jaume Collet Serra has a habit of taking silly genre scripts, and turning them into much better films than they have any right to be. Seriously. If you take a hard look at the plots of any of his features–Unknown, Non-Stop, Orphan–they don’t really hold up. But the films themselves are so well-acted, so beautifully shot, and so viscerally entertaining that you don’t really care. Which makes him an ideal match for the Mission Impossible franchise, which, let’s be honest, isn’t  really famous for having the most believable story lines, but whose insane action set pieces more than make up for that. And let’s not forget, several of Collet-Serra’s flicks, like Unknown, have espionage elements to them. So it’s not altogether out of his wheelhouse.

3. Wes Ball.

  • What They’ve Done: The Maze Runner Trilogy.
  • What I’d Like Them To Do: A Fast & Furious Movie.

Say what you like about the Maze Runner films–I, personally, am not a huge fan–they have amazing action sequences. Even these movies’ harshest critics agree that the chases, the fight scenes, and the stunt work are incredible, and that the director, Wes Ball, has a good eye for action. So what better franchise to put him in than the Fast & Furious, which we all can agree is extremely light on story, but very heavy on amazing set pieces? I have no doubt whatsoever that Mr. Ball could concoct some truly bonkers action scenes, and give this series’ fans the high octane thrills they crave.

4. Mike Flanagan.

  • What They’ve Done: Oculus, Hush, Gerald’s Game.
  • What I’d Like Them To Do: A Batman Movie.

One of this generations true horror masters, Mike Flanagan’s films work, not just because they’re beautifully shot, and possess ghosts and serial killers, but because of their fascinating explorations of their characters’ pasts and psyches. Gerald’s Game and Oculus are all about people revisiting childhood trauma, and trying to work through it. And if there’s one blockbuster franchise that relishes horror, and childhood trauma, it’s Batman. He’s a tormented character, who just can’t let his past go, and several of his rogues, the Joker, Scarecrow, Two Face, are horrifying manifestations of various mental illnesses. So who better to helm a Batman film than a horror master with an interest in dissecting the minds of damaged people? Well, okay, I’m sure there are loads of filmmakers who’d be totally great for Batman, but Mike Flanagan is at the top of my list.

5. Takashi Miike.

  • What They’ve Done: 13 Assassins, Audition, Ichi The Killer.
  • What I’d Like Them To Do: A Predator Movie.

A prolific and controversial director, whose work I’ve written about before, Takashi Miike is perfectly suited for the Predator franchise. Why? Because just like John McTiernan’s 1987 classic, which began as action, and ended as horror, many of Miike’s films blend genres and tones. Several of his features, like Yakuza Apocalypse and Ichi The Killer, synthesize elements of thrillers and horror. Many more, like Fudoh: The New Generation, Blade Of The Immortal, and Terra Formers, include insane, stylized characters with insane, stylized weapons i.e. the exact kind of fighters that the Predators would want to hunt. And, as if this needs mentioning, Miike is superb at crafting creative, bloody fight sequences, which are precisely what this franchise thrives off of.