Talk about an irresistible title just not delivering. Despite a couple of good performances, this movie was a chore to sit through. First of all, I am not one of those “gay automatically equals funny no matter what” people. If you are, you might find the nonstop catty banter between our five lead queens entertaining. I, however, found it grating, especially for the half hour where this flaming chit chat was THE ONLY THING HAPPENING! The comedy scenes, particularly the “speech impediment on the phone” bit, were terrible. My main issue with this flick was the faux grindhouse crap. If you look at my top 10 for the year, you’ll see that I love this style when it’s done well. It’s kinda like sushi. Done well, it’s amazing. Done badly, it makes you wanna vomit. The easiest way to do it badly is to just shoot digitally and then add in a ton of lines, fake grain, burned film and missing reel gags, and other faux 70s/80s touches. It comes across as artificial and irritating. When my top 10 of the year comes out, you’ll see multiple examples of how to do this subgenre right. TOTWK is a good example of how NOT to do a neo-exploitation flick. One thing I will give it credit for is that the filmmakers stood their ground when GLADD got their panties in a bunch over the flick. Any movie that takes the piss out of any of the special interest entitlement groups can’t be all bad.
Rednecks have stocked a lake with sharks, fitted the sharks with cameras, and are luring college students to the lake so they can broadcast the shark attacks on the internet. A man has his arm bitten off, and 20 minutes later he’s Rambo-ing into the water with a harpoon, using his dripping stump as bait. A great white is roaring and snatching a sea-do out of the air. With content this incredibly ludicrous, how could I not love this flick? After all, I love Syfy originals, which this movie had a lot in common with. Well, there are two big differences. First, you know what to expect from a Syfy flick, but this was actually a big budget Hollywood theatrical release. I expect more from a flick I have to hand over 15 dollars (gotta tack on the extra 3D ) to see. Second, Syfy originals have no illusions about what they are, and therefore don’t take themselves seriously. Shark Night thought it was freakin’ Jaws or something. Took itself WAY too seriously. What really got to me was that it failed to deliver on the one thing it needed to work. Why do you watch shark attack movies? Right, to watch the sharks shred people. Why do you watch idiotic B movies? Right, tits and gore. It certainly isn’t for the bad CGI sharks! This movie, being PG-13, couldn’t have any of that. Actually, it did have the bad CGI sharks. If it had been gory or sleazy, it might have been fun enough to pull this off. Basically, it’s Piranha 3D minus any of what made that flick enjoyable. It’s not even so bad it’s good. Let this one sink and go watch Sharktopus again instead.
I have no problem with action flicks. In fact, I don’t have a problem with big, dumb, loud action flicks. Sometimes you just want to watch shit blowing up. I’m cool with that. In other words, I’m not going to crucify this flick for the bad acting and mindless, cliché plot. Hell, I’m not even going to harp on its reliance on crappy CGI, and you all know how much I hate that. What I am going to bust this film’s balls over is the fact that there is, to the best of my recollection, not a single static or fluid shot in the entire film. Third person shaky cam without a thematic justification is a cancer eating away at the art of cinematography, and this film was the year’s worst offender. It looked like it was shot by a bobble head doll with Parkinsons and edited by an epileptic crackhead. It’s non stop shaking camera, lens flares, flash pans, split second edits, and bad framing. Here’s a little test. Take any random scene from any movie and play it on frame by frame slow motion. If, in more than 1/3 of those stills you can’t tell what the hell you’re looking at, then whoever shot and directed that movie have no idea what they’re doing and should never be allowed near a film set again. Such is the case with Battle: Los Angeles. The shooting style renders this flick unwatchable. There was even talk of releasing this in 3D. I think my head would have exploded. The fact that it made over 200 million worldwide makes me weep for the film industry.
I’m going to call my congressman and see if I can get him to introduce a constitutional amendment that would forbid Paul Bettany and Scott Stewart from ever making a movie together again under penalty of death. I’m not normally one for asking the law to intervene, but Priest ended wide open for a sequel. Preemptive measures are needed.
The last abomination this duo unleashed, Legion, was number two on this list last year. That film was barely saved from number one by a film that took a big, steaming dump on the legacy of a beloved franchise. The more things change the more they stay the same, huh? This movie had a very interesting setting; a dysopian wild west. That could have been cool, but they did nothing with it. The internal struggle of a man of the cloth who enjoys killing is referenced specifically, but never explored. That could have been cool too, but again they did nothing with it. What they did do was give us the worst CGI monsters since I am Legend, the talkiest action flick since, well…Legion, and some of the most blatant Matrix rip-off action sequences since House of the Dead. Bullet time and slow-mo spinkicks were novel at the time (well not really if you were a fan of Hong Kong cinema) but hasn’t it run its course? Apparently not.
The heavy handed anti-religion message only plays for the first five minutes before the “ok ok we get it” sets in. The plot is predictable even though a lot of the plot points make absolutely no sense. Paul Bettany does his best to channel John Wayne but ends up spending the whole movie looking like he’s trying to remain stoic while wearing sandpaper briefs. His gunslinger sidekick is just stupid and unnecessary. They had a pretty decent animated prologue and put shaky cam in it. Shaky cam in animation! I’m not kidding. Did I mention how bad the CGI “vampires” are? Basically aside from some of the visuals of the city and desert landscapes there is nothing in this film that was done well. It was better than Legion; but that’s like saying being stabbed 4 times in the eye with a rusty icepick is better than 5.
I thought the Hellraiser series had gotten as low as it could go. The first two were brilliant, the second two were damn good, and everything that followed was crap. To paraphrase a classic Pinhead line, however; “Down the dark 75 minutes of Revelations, even Deader will seem like a memory of Hellraiser 2.”
When I head there was a new Hellraiser coming out, I was not enthused. When I heard that Doug Bradley wasn’t playing Pinhead, I struggled to maintain an open mind. If he agreed to Hellworld but wouldn’t do this one, I should have known what was coming. When Clive Barker said in no uncertain terms that he disowned this flick, the true dread set in. I was right. This flick is terrible. It looks like a bunch of out of work, semi-professional, and slightly less than semi-talented filmmakers and actors were sitting around bored and someone asked “what should we do tonight?” and decided to make a Hellraiser movie. The story goes that Stephen and Nico head off to Tijuana, drink tequila, find the puzzlebox, kill hookers, and disappear. One year later their families get together, one of the boys mysteriously shows up, and all hell breaks loose.
The acting in this flick is laughable. When Stephen is doing the wide-eyed trance-talking bit by the pool, I dare you not to crack up. When he goes into crazy mode near the end, it’s even worse. The moment when skinless Nico pops out of the mattress and says, in a Keanu Reeves “Bill and Ted” voice “Her blood brought me back” and pauses dramatically for 10 seconds is classic. It looks like he couldn’t remember his line after 10 seconds so he just started gnawing on the hooker. The families are vapid and have less personality than the puzzle box itself. What do you do with boring characters like that? You have them spend half of the damn movie just talking of course! They’re all incredibly stupid to boot. A found video camera holds the story of what happened to your sons, but you would rather wonder and debate than watch it? When things start going all “hellified” around them, they come up with the most idiotic explanations possible. There’s really not an interesting character in the flick, and unfortunately that includes Pinhead.
Pinhead this time around is played by…oh who the hell cares what his name is? He doesn’t have the air of dignified menace or the stage presence to do the character justice. He plays it too energetic and stereotypically evil. What makes Pinhead work is the cold detachment he displays. This guy plays him like a Bond villain. He even constructs a mini-me. Sounds stupid? It is. He doesn’t look right either. He looks like someone wearing a pinhead Halloween costume cobbled together from stuff they found at Hot Topic and Party City. The crisp lines that portrayed the strict order and almost regal manner of the Black Pope are replaced with something a 13 year old My Chemical Romance fan might try on their face. I’ve seen much better Pinheads at Dragon-Con. The great Pinhead one liners are gone. Even in the crappier sequels Pinhead always at least got a few great lines. In this one he sounds like a bad goth poet. I’m going to stop talking about Pinhead now before I break something.
Anyway, the story rehashes the “skinless hedonistic fiend back from hell needs you to kill for him” deal from the first two, while throwing in a lame home invasion plot and the obligatory found footage sequences. There are so many things that scream “rushed and lazy filmmaking” here. Pinhead apparently lives in the puzzle box now. He wanders around a room with chains making goofy faces while listening to the conversation from the room the box is in. It’s just like the bottle in I Dream of Genie. What the hell? There’s a scene where a character looks up “cenobite” in the dictionary. That’s the best exposition you could think of? The “teenage” daughter is at least in her mid 20’s. Why are there Asian hookers in Tijuana? The “twist” ending is just plain dumbfounding and, horror of all horrors, sets up yet another sequel.
In all fairness, there are two things I liked about this flick. They brought the twisted sexuality aspect of the mythos back; albeit in a hamfisted way. We even get a momentary incestuous make out/feel up. At least they tried to be deviant. The gore is practical and looks pretty decent for the most part. Had Doug Bradley returned, the movie had more development and shooting time than the reported two weeks, and the script been seriously reworked, this could have been decent. As it stands, the two bright spots are not enough to justify the agony sitting through this movie. This movie’s sucktitude will be legendary even in the Hellraiser series. It has such fail to show you. Sorry, I couldn’t resist. Ok I’m gonna paraphrase one more quote here, but it’s not Pinhead. It’s Dave Chapelle as Rick James. I wish I had more hands, so I could give this movie four severed thumbs down! Hellraiser: Revelations, you are the worst horror movie of 2011. Congratulations.