Texas Chainsaw

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I have always valued The Texas Chainsaw Massacre as one of my favourite horror movie franchises, even as not that high a piece of horror if each of them are taken individually. But, I might change the idea if I watch them again, but I don’t really have that much of information stored about the movies in this series any more, as that movie watching adventure happened too long ago, I didn’t complete watching the series nor did I watch any of the movies of the franchise more than once. I did search for the video game of the same name in vain though. One can’t stop oneself from remembering Leatherface though, as he is one of those classic slasher horror characters along with Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers, ChromeSkull, Jacob Goodnight, Ben Willis, Ghostface and Rusty Nail, not forgetting that there are others whom I keep myself from mentioning right now. One of the first of the large number of slasher horror movies which came to existence in the 1970s, this movie’s great grandfather still has a strong base right there.

I did miss the 2003 version of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and the 2006 prequel The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning. About the rest of the movies of the franchise, I couldn’t be sure, which is why I decided to watch this one. It was time to give Leatherface his due, for he has been kept waiting for long. This movie is a direct sequel to the first of the series, which was the most successful of the series. Not many slasher movies can boast of a critical rating that the original movie had succeeded in collecting, but our movie has a collection of the exact opposite type of reviews, the negative ones, almost interchanging the ratings of rottentomatoes from 91% to 19%, but let not that thing worry us as usual. We know what we are going to watch while going for a slasher horror movie. It is not a blend of intellectually superior greatness and spiritual enlightenment poured into a cup and mixed with everything highly logical and rational to the extreme point. A slasher film shall remain what it is and keep to its genre, and Texas Chainsaw 3D has undoubtedly done that.

As said earlier, we go back to the events of the 1974 movie which started it all. Before the movie starts there are some great visuals from what came to the franchise early, going on at the same time as the credits are rolling; a pretty good start to a franchise which is trying to pick itself up from within the ashes. The whole family of Leatherface is murdered by the locals as the house is burnt down in a quick attack. But a little baby belonging to the family is taken by one of the arsonists after killing her mother, and he raises her as his daughter with his wife who was not able to get pregnant. Heather Miller (Alexandra Daddario) has now grown up without any knowledge about her real existence, until she comes to know that her grandmother, Verna Carson (Marilyn Burns), has passed away and left all of her possession to her which leads her to the realization that she was adopted. Heather and her boyfriend Ryan (Tremaine Neverson), along with two other friends, Nikki (Tania Raymonde) and Kenny (Keram Malicki-Sánchez), decides to travel to Newt to find her roots and collect her inheritance. On the way, the group gives a lift to another man Darryl (Shaun Sipos) whom they mildly hit with their car at a petrol pump.

When they arrive at the place, the grandmother’s family lawyer, Farnsworth (Richard Riehle), reaches there and gives her the keys to the family mansion along with a letter from her grandmother. All of them are exicted about the grand property which she owns, and they look around the house, as Heather’s eyes strike a graveyard on one side of the house and says “Thank You” at her grandmother’s grave while others have some fun and decides to stay there during the night as it is an enormous and beautiful place. As the friends leave to get supplies for the nigh, Darryl decides to loot the house and get out there as soon as possible, but comes across Leatherface as he goes greedy and looks for the big price with a big key to the cellar, even as the fact remains that he could have easily gotten away with what he had already collected. The fact that he tried so hard to be killed by Leatherface remains the usual thing of horror movies. But, the most important thing is that he is dead and the killer is now on the loose, to be unleashed on the four friends. But they would know nothing about the same as they say cheers and enjoy the night, believing that the man had looted them and left already.

Kenny is the next one to die, impaled with a hook, and Heather is knocked out and taken to the domain of Leatherface in the cellar where he is seen to work on the corpse with a chainsaw and murders Kenny who was still alive with he same weapon of his choice. When the killer is distracted, she somehow manages to run outside followed by Leatherface. She jumps into an open grave in the graveyard and hides herself in one of the coffins only to be found out by the killer before being distracted by the two remaining live humans out there. But they don’t realize that she is in the coffin and neither do they know what kind of terror they are calling upon themselves, as they are chased by the same man with the chainsaw. Heather comes back with a van, but they fails to go out through the gate as it neither opens nor gets destroyed. Finally, when the gate opens, the killer is still after them, and as Leatherface manages to scratch two tires on a side with his chainsaw, the van gets out of control and goes upside down, and the chase begins there. Does Leatherface have a plan for them or does he have separate ones for his relative and the rest if he knows about it, that is something which is to be answered. And what would the former arsonists think about all of these?

Well, the movie doesn’t come up with anything to hold its base facing the wind from the critics. Among the two things that do have a say, the first one is about Dan Yeager as Leatherface, who was as menacing as the human skin mask wearing, chainsaw holding murderer. Even as it seemed going down the drains in the beginning, he has held his head high, as the serial killer of ages. The other thing is the performance of Alexandra Daddario as Heather Miller, who evolved between her own existence of working at a slaughterhouse to being in a slaughterhouse of humans created by his own cousin, making some strange choices which reiterates her existence not as the victim, but more as the youngest member of a bloodline which has that gory history of ages. Being one of the most gorgeous choices for a horror movie protagonist, she shares her beautiful presence blended with the terror that her one last relative unleashes, and she herself realizes and to an extent, embraces. After watching Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief and its sequel Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, the first thought would be that she could be nobody other than Annabeth Chase, the daughter of the Goddess of Wisdom, Athena – but time changes and here she is the cousin of Leatherface, the Master of Pain; the Legend of Horror; for she has that kinship with her once again.

Texas Chainsaw is no super movie in any way, and its effects are not far lasting, as it thrives too much on blood and gore. Other than that, it has the legendary villain and Alexandra Daddario’s dynamic character which she perfects, to support its cause. It is to be noted that Alexandra Daddario has come up with great performance in the lead roles for the two of her movies which were released here. Still, both of these characters suffer from the way they have chosen to continue the story from the original. There are moments which make sure that this movie stay on top, but there is no regular flow in its environment which ensures that this would go on to make the world of terror rise and clap. The movie makes an attempt to turn the tide in favour of Leatherface, and his cousin Heather against most of what is left in her world. But its success is only marginal, and both of them remains on the other side, the dark one. But with its graphic violence and the elements of surprise and shocks which are injected at regular intervals, this movie keeps itself on level with what the audience is supposed to expect. It also sets the path for a sequel it is to be seen if such a thing can make it to the theatres.

Release date: 4th January 2013
Running time: 92 minutes
Directed by: John Luessenhop
Starring: Alexandra Daddario, Dan Yeager, Tania Raymonde, Tremaine Neverson, Thom Barry, Paul Rae, Bill Moseley

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Percy Jackson II

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In an overwhelming desire to find myself fair about this movie, I have to confess that I watched The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones right after watching this – it was a back-to-back movie adventure separated only by the desire to have lunch and the need to travel from one mall to the other. If you don’t need to know more about it, and the two movies in relation to each other, you are free to skip the first two paragraphs, an offer of escape from comparisons which includes this paragraph. In a simple comparison of no great intellect, our reviewed movie is more of a follower of the Harry Potter pattern, with a world for the demigods away from the original world, with its major base on magic and the individual and collective inner strength and righteousness which they exhibit while facing big powers; but the second movie has more similarities with Twilight, with a female protagonist who is just a boring ordinary girl who is introduced into another world which is hidden among the known human world and is once again caught in a triangular love between herself and two other guys, both belonging to different species.

So the other fantasy movie of the day has a good amount of Constantine, Underworld and surely, the most of dominant of them all, Twilight. To make it look more of a formidable power, it has added the horror elements, and there was demons, vampires and werewolves, the three creatures whom we never thought would come along in herds in the same movie, an absurd improvement on Underworld and Twilight which has surely backfired, despite of the presence of the lovely leading actress who can act incredibly well, Lily Collins who has done a great job. But with a little visual effects, horror and action, the movie runs out of gas. It is there that Percy Jackson scores. The two movies were released on the same day here, along with We’re the Millers, and the advantage would surely go with Sea of Monsters, as it doesn’t come with an “A” certificate unlike the others, and it is in 3D. The theatres seem to have realized the same too, as they have put more shows for the movie, and it is the only English movie in more than one theatres this week.

Even as it is difficult to set aside the great performance of the beautiful Lily Collins, lets leave the absurdity which was the half-baked bad mixture of all the fantasy works ever produced, which was The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, and move on to the movie of the week, which is Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters. Our movie doesn’t deal with forbidden love and has no apples or people with bad tooth unless they are monsters. May be that should be reserved for Twilight copies, and there might be a time when the apples begin to keep the viewers away rather than the doctors. The best thing about Percy Jackson is that it sticks to the basics. It takes the legends from the Greek Mythology, but it maintains a formula which is not at all ambiguous and more true to the core. It doesn’t rely on anything strange or unnecessary to give temporary satisfaction with any teenage fantasy which doesn’t go well with the plot and the flow of the story. It doesn’t try to give pleasure to anyone suffering from the withdrawal symptoms, which is mostly a Twilight withdrawal rather than from the intellectually superior Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter series.

Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman) no longer seems to have the popularity that he might have had with him getting back the lightning bolt, saving both the Olympus and the world, and such great stuff which were to become legends. Clarisse La Rue (Leven Rambin) is his constant rival to glory, as she beats him in almost all the competitions. As Luke Castellan (Jake Abel), announces his plans to destroy Mount Olympus by bringing back Kronos from Tartarus and sends a mechanical bull to attack the demi-god camp after poisoning Thalia Grace (Paloma Kwiatkowski) who is the tree which defends the camp with a magic forcefield. Even as Annabeth Chase (Alexandra Daddario) is the one who finds out that the Golden Fleece could heal and restore the tree, Clarisse is sent to retrieve the artefact much to the dismay of Percy, Annabeth and Grover Underwood (Brandon T. Jackson). But the trio decides to follow the team led by Clarisse, and they are joined by Percy’s half-brother Tyson (Douglas Smith), who is a cyclops. They also have one prophecy and a group of rogue half-bloods supported by a Manticore, and one big cyclops guarding the fleece to deal with.

With no denial of credit to one Lily Collins who had tried in vain to restore order among chaos and absurdity in the other fantasy movie, lets move into our characters. Logan Lerman leads the team as Percy Jackson, a demigod and the son of the God of Ocean, Poseidon. He was there in the 2011 version of The Three Musketeers, and here is he is again, and it surely seems to be a familiar territory for him. It is a honest performance from all angles. Brandon T. Jackson as Grover Underwood makes sure that there is no dull moment in the movie, along with Douglas Smith as Tyson the Cyclops. Most of the funny moments of the movie are from these two, and they are really good, and never inappropriate. Alexandra Daddario plays Annabeth Chase, the demigod daughter of Athena, the Godess of Wisdom, and this is one supporting character that you will remember for a long time, despite of the romantic angle kept away in the movie completely. She does have that look too, of that intensity which is kept in check by the heavenly wisdom. She was that good in Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief too, and continues the good work.

Leven Rambin is Clarisse La Rue, the arrogant, hot-tempered daughter of the war God, Ares – always looking for combat, and at at the same time finding Percy a threat to her supremacy. After seeing her in The Hunger Games as the District 1 tribute, and the strong contender Glimmer, there was a certainty, that she was going to be great in such roles, and here she is, leading a group of undead who served her father Ares. As the story progresses, her character turns out to be more dynamic, along with adding to the funny as well as the action elements of the movie. There is the suiting depiction of the contrast between the daughter of this God of War and the Goddess of Wisdom. There is no point where the two are similar, and being the daughter of the great War God, she shares nothing in common with all the others out there, with Paloma Kwiatkowski’s Thalia Grace, of the demigod daughter of Zeus still pending. Jake Abel’s Luke Castellan, the demigod son of Hermes is a continuation of what was there in the first part of the movie. Nathan Fillion’s Hermes is a short, but effective presence which stays throughout the movie.

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters has taken over at a time when the book-based fantasy novels are on the decline. The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones has proved to follow the path of The Host, and clearly stay with Twilight. The Harry Potter series have finished and Lord of the Rings and Narnia are taking a slow path. There is the need for something similar to fill in, and here is Percy Jackson. With its superior and appropriate 3D effects and the well done action sequences supported by the visual imagery, there is no loss of moments spent for watching this movie. There are also the funny lines, but it denies itself a big chance to take some risks, as it follows the conventional path, never to stray away from it. But, there is a huge amount of honesty in this path which is without any ambiguity, and there is absolutely no attempt to complicate things. The whole thing is kept simple, and as the endoskeleton comes from the Greek Mythology and a little bit of the Harry Potter series, this is a bankable movie which most of the critics need to stop overthinking. It is time to have some fun and at the same time, recollect those days of learning the Greek Mythology.

Release date: 7th August 2013 (United States); 30th August 2013 (India)
Running time: 107 minutes
Directed by: Thor Freudenthal
Starring: Logan Lerman, Alexandra Daddario, Leven Rambin, Brandon T. Jackson, Paloma Kwiatkowski, Jake Abel, Stanley Tucci, Nathan Fillion, Douglas Smith, Anthony Head, Robert Maillet, Derek Mears, Aleks Paunovic, Missi Pyle, Yvette Nicole Brown, Mary Birdsong

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.