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Entries in Katie Cassidy (2)

Friday
Jul012011

Monte Carlo

I don’t see every new movie release. There are multiple screenings each week for a wide variety of films, some of which I am either unable to attend or not interested enough in to make the trip to the screening room. But for some strange reason, I decided to check out the new Selena Gomez film, Monte Carlo. What a mistake that turned out to be. Never have I been so uninterested in a movie to the point where I find it not even worth criticizing. Nothing would please me more than to just forget about it and move on with my life, but because I attended the screening, I am obligated to write a review. So with my apathy in consideration, read on.

Monte Carlo stars Gomez as Grace, a recent high school graduate who has been saving up for years to afford a trip to Paris. She is hoping her trip to the City of Love will take her mundane life and transform it into something magical. So she, along with stepsister Meg, played by Leighton Meester, and best friend Emma, played by Katie Cassidy, hop on a plane and head out. When they arrive, things don’t go as planned and they end up stumbling into a posh hotel where Grace is mistaken for British heiress, Cordelia, also played by Gomez. Although they know they shouldn’t, they put on a ruse and Grace begins to act like Cordelia. Supposedly funny things begin to happen.

It should be said right off the bat that Monte Carlo is a harmless movie. Sure, the three girls don’t face any repercussions for their outrageous actions, but they learn along the way and grow closer to each other as they wander about one of the most beautiful places in the world. It’s not going to, in any way, corrupt its target audience, all of whom I suppose will find enjoyment in it, though it’s hard to say because I’m not, and never have been, a 12 year old girl.

What makes the film so lousy is its strict adherence to formula. Its ambitions go no further than crafting a dream world about love for the young ladies in the audience already looking forward to their wedding days. The entire movie, more or less, is about finding love in Paris (and you know all three will find it by the end), but Paris, Je t’aime this isn’t. It’s unrealistic and cheesy, setting up impossible expectations that will undoubtedly crush those young girls when they get older and realize that relationships are a lot more difficult than the movies make them out to be.

Of course, being harmless doesn’t mean it’s any less stupid, and it treats its viewers the same. It’s one of those films that shows us an instantly recognizable landmark, in this case the Eiffel Tower, and then unnecessarily follows it with huge letters in the middle of the screen: “PARIS” it informs us. It’s a movie that tries to wow us with pretty clothes and jewelry rather than through plot development and emotional power. It even attempts to stir up dramatic tension through hilarious overreactions, like early on when Emma’s boyfriend breaks up with her because he doesn’t want her going to Paris for a whole week. Why, you ask? Who cares.

This film is not meant for me, I know that, but I don’t watch movies for others. I watch them as they are, regardless of demographic. My philosophy is just because a movie is meant for a specific audience doesn’t mean other audiences won’t like it (take last year’s delightful Ramona and Beezus, for example), but Monte Carlo is just dreadful. It’s not funny, romantic, or even interesting to look at, despite the lush backdrops the characters find themselves in.

Monte Carlo receives 1/5

Friday
Apr302010

A Nightmare on Elm Street

Sleep. It’s something we all need. After a long, hard day, nothing is better than plopping down on a bed and heading to dreamland. But what if you couldn’t fall asleep? What if somebody was haunting your dreams with the ability to kill you? That’s the premise that the Nightmare on Elm Street series has frightened us with for over 25 years. Now the series is getting the reboot with a fresh batch of victims and a new face, with Jackie Earle Haley taking over the role of Freddy Krueger from fan favorite Robert Englund, and, well, it’s not very good.

This Nightmare on Elm Street follows Nancy (Rooney Mara in the Heather Langenkamp role from the original). She’s a high school student who works at a diner and one night finds herself staring at the corpse of a friend who has just inexplicably died in his sleep. It turns out that she and fellow classmates Quentin (Kyle Gallner), Kris (Katie Cassidy) and Jesse (Thomas Dekker) have all been having the same nightmares involving a burnt, scarred, hideous man with knives on his fingers. It seems real to them and soon they find out that it is. They start to drop one by one in their sleep and must quickly find out what is happening before they find themselves asleep for good.

At its inception in 1984, A Nightmare on Elm Street was original and terrifying. Freddy Krueger wasn’t simply a psycho who you could outrun and escape from. He was in your head as you slept and if he cut you in there, you were cut in real life. It was a slasher done right. But as the years went on, and the movie studios pumped out more and more sequels, Freddy became a joke. The terror he once instilled in viewers vanished and was taken over by nutty one-liners that slowly diminished the character until he became irrelevant with Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare in 1991. It wasn’t until Wes Craven, who helmed the original, returned in 1994 with New Nightmare that people began to once again see the intense fear Freddy could bring.

Craven took a character that had become so marketed that children were walking around with Freddy dolls and somehow made him scary again. He is the only person that has ever seen the true potential in the character (as he should be since he created him). This remake, as promising as the trailers made it out to be, only reinforces that statement.

This is not the Freddy I want to see. It tries to balance the scary Freddy with the jokester and it doesn’t work. It becomes an uneven mishmash of two parts that never fit solidly into place to begin with. Although I’m sure there were a few quips in the original, Freddy was more subdued. His rhetoric never became so jocular that you stopped taking him seriously. He remained frightening through the conclusion. Here, the film sets up a scene for fright and sometimes succeeds, but it’s usually followed by some stupid pun that effectively sucks all of the tension away.

It’s trying to be fun, but then again, Freddy isn’t fun. He’s a child molester and murderer. He’s not a character to root for. This isn’t Friday the 13th. You don’t want to see the monster win, but this film sure tries to make you think you do.

In fact, for the entire movie it almost forces you to. Unless you’re familiar with the mythology of the character (and if you aren’t, I suggest stopping reading now because spoilers follow), you won’t know that he was a sick human until the end. He is not taken to trial and let off on a technicality as in the original. Here he is simply burnt alive by the town’s adults over the speculation that he may have molested their kids. Nothing was ever proven and the film makes you think that he’s really just doing this for revenge. In a way, it's twisted justification.

But the film’s biggest flaw is its rapid pacing. At a brisk 95 minutes, A Nightmare on Elm Street flies to its end, but tries to force in as many nightmare scenes as possible, resulting in far too much screen time for the monster. A new approach to dreams in this remake comes in the form of “micro-naps,” a phase insomniacs get to when they haven’t had sleep where they start to dream when they’re awake (which believe it or not, is actually real). Because of this, the film jumps from the dream world to reality and back as quickly as you can take in breaths. It has little downtime and shows Freddy too much.

And as the best horror films have taught us, the scariest monsters are the ones that are hidden. When one is shown often, it becomes the star of the movie and distracts from the eeriness that the character is supposed to emit. When Freddy is first seen, it’s from behind and from the chest down. You see only his claw as he slides the blades together. This is in the opening scene of the movie and is a great way to introduce the character. It establishes his presence while still maintaining the mystery behind him. This is ruined about a minute later where he is fully shown and dispatches his first victim. His frightening allure was gone before the title card even appeared.

This is no fault of Jackie Earle Haley, mind you, who is quite good in his first outing as Freddy. If there was going to be anybody to take the beloved place of Robert Englund and do it well, it was going to be Haley. He takes the character and reinvigorates him. He plays him in a way that promises dread and is hampered only by the screenplay which doesn’t allow him to reach it.

The look of the film is also very good. The visuals, especially for a horror film, are stunning. The director, Samuel Bayer, most known for his music video work with bands such as Green Day, Metallica and the Smashing Pumpkins, makes this thing look good. He brings his unique visual style and lays it all on the table, delivering along with Haley that desired sense of dread that is, again, hampered by the lackluster screenplay.

The idea of not being able to fall asleep and having no escape if you do is still scary to this day. It taps into a state of being that everyone regardless of age, gender, race or class experiences. With this amazing premise and a terrifying villain, I find it kind of shocking how easily this film misses the mark. It does some things well, but most things not and fails to bring back the scary Freddy I’ve pined for since 1994. Lower those high hopes now kiddies, because A Nightmare on Elm Street is bound to disappoint.

A Nightmare on Elm Street receives 2/5