THE FILM YAP » alison lohman We Never Shut Up About Movies Mon, 20 Oct 2014 04:12:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Heroes of the Zeroes: Big Fish Wed, 03 Feb 2010 05:01:07 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films from 2000 to 2009.

“Big Fish”
Rated PG-13

No one expected giants, werewolves and conjoined twins to be grace notes in a Tim Burton film. But 2003’s “Big Fish” — Burton’s finest yet, setting aside ‘80s-youth nostalgia — found fantastic elements in the great unknown of everyday existence, where even the biggest dreamers sometimes find all they need in the smallest ponds.

Reliant more on powerful familial emotions than wacky splendor, “Big Fish” tread as close to our real world as Burton could — a melancholy dissection of paternal distance and never truly knowing how many lives those we love can truly affect.

“Fish” also had some of The Zeroes’ most inspired dead-ringer casting for aging characters — Alison Lohman to Jessica Lange, for starters, and Ewan McGregor to Albert Finney as Edward Bloom — the tall tale-telling father to a skeptical son (Billy Crudup) visiting home as Edward’s health fails.

Edward’s fanciful flashbacks — including a town with a manicured lawn where Main Street should be — make up much of “Big Fish.” But Burton relays them with the similarly quizzical characterization of a winking grandfather — Edward’s probably fooling, but a nugget of truth is probably deeply embedded somewhere within.

As far-reaching as Edward’s adventures seemed to be, the comforts of home, love, family and friendship ran as constants, and the embellishments he loaned them only made them funnier, weirder, sweeter.

“Big Fish’s” immensely moving finale never somberly dwelled on a death that we all perceived. Instead, it extolled, and expounded upon, the virtues of a generous life, lived openly and lived well.

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Gamer Tue, 19 Jan 2010 05:12:58 +0000 Continue reading ]]> “Gamer,” the latest attempt to meld video games with movies, starts out with a cool, compelling premise. And then it devolves into a bunch of hyper-fast action scenes, maudlin emotions and exploitative imperatives.

The filmmakers, the same team behind the “Crank” movies, seem to have their own peculiar formula. It’s like a marriage of 1970s exploitation movies and modern, ultra-hip music video style.

The set-up is that the world is slowly being taken over by video games — literally. Gerard Butler stars as Kable, the star of a combat game that billions of people watch on pay-per-view. The only twist is that he’s a real person, playing against other live would-be soldiers. They’re being controlled by players, who can determine whether they live or die.

The heavy is Ken Castle (Michael C. Hall), the gaming wizard who devised the system, and played by Hall as a Ted Turner spoof, only younger and crazier. He wants to use his nefarious code to turn the brains of everyone on the planet into easily-manipulated hardware.

The computer-animation-assisted action scenes have a nice kinetic feel. But whenever these video-game avatars try to emote like real humans, I wanted to hit the Off switch.

Extras cover a pretty wide range of material, although the ratio of substance to hype is pretty low.

The DVD has a 16-minute featurette that’s essentially a commercial for Red, a new type of digital camera. Co-writers/directors Brian Taylor and Mark Neveldine team up with supporting stars Amber Valletta, Alison Lohman and Terry Crews for a rambling commentary track of dubious value.

There’s also a making-of documentary that’s nearly as long as the movie itself, though not much more entertaining.

In addition to these features, the Blu-ray version also comes with Cheat Codes, additional scene-specific audio and video commentary, and I-Con Mode, an “interactive time-shifting multi-dimensional exploration” of “Gamer.”

It’s notable that star Butler is almost totally absent from these extras — although he does moon the camera at the end of the making-of feature. I’d say that’s about how much regard this movie has for its audience.

Movie: 2 stars
Extras: 2 stars

Read Nick Rogers’ review of “Gamer” here.

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Drag Me To Hell Tue, 13 Oct 2009 04:07:26 +0000 Continue reading ]]>
Your average popcorn-munching movie-goer probably only knows Sam Raimi as the director of the “Spider-Man” blockbusters. Hardcore horror fans realize that Raimi honed his filmmaking skills doing “wet work” with cheapie gross-out flicks like the “Evil Dead” series.

For this neglected latter group, his newest movie, “Drag Me to Hell,” is like love letter and a bouquet of roses — dripping in blood, that is.

Alison Lohman (who’s 30 but looks 16) plays Christine Brown, a bank loan officer who gets hit with a nasty gypsy curse when she refuses to grant an extension on the foreclosure of a one-eyed old crone’s (Lorna Raver) house.

Soon Christine is being haunted by shadowy tormentors who bust up her home and smack her around. In one nasty bit, a fly forces its way down her throat while she’s asleep, only to reemerge at an inopportune time (still buzzing around) while she’s lunching with her beau’s (Justin Long) snooty parents.

Raimi (who also co-wrote the script with brother Ivan) blends the humorous and the horrendous to generally enjoyable effect, although there are times — such as a big séance scene — when the movie takes itself so seriously, you keep expecting hysterics to break out that never arrive.

Video extras are pretty skimpy. The DVD and Blu-ray both come with the theatrical and unrated version (which amps up the goo in several key scenes) and a 30-minute series of video diaries that touch on various elements of production. The most entertaining is learning how stunt coordinators rigged Lohman with a special nose tube for the scene where she spews blood all over her boss. (Who among us hasn’t had that dream?)

The Blu-ray version also comes with a digital copy of the film for uploading to a portable video device.

I’ll say this for “Drag Me to Hell”: It has one of the coolest endings of any movie I’ve seen this year.

Movie: 3.5 Yaps
Extras: 2 Yaps

Read Nick Rogers’ review of “Drag Me to Hell” here.

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