HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 2 (2015)
Harmless sequel to the surprisingly fun Hotel Transylvania finds Mavis (Selena Gomez) and Johnny (Andy Samberg) married and expecting their first child. Drac (Adam Sandler) couldn’t be more excited to have a new little monster in the house till Dennis (Asher Blinkoff) is born appearing quite human. While Mavis and Johnny consider moving to L.A. so Dennis can be in more human surroundings, Dracula and his friends are determined to bring out the little monster in his young grandson.
Directed by Genndy Tartakovsky and written by star Sandler and Robert Smigel, sequel is an OK follow-up that is amusing enough at times, but doesn’t quite have the first flick’s sense of fun. A lot of the jokes and routines are replayed from last time around and it doesn’t seem as energetic. The vocal performances are all fun, including Mel Brooks as Dracula’s estranged father Vlad, but the script just isn’t quite as clever as the original flick. Kids will probably like it just fine, but it just feels like there is something missing this time amidst the messages about being accepted for who you are.
SLEEP TIGHT (2011)
Sleep Tight is a unnerving flick from Jaume Balagueró from the REC series that should have been far more disturbing considering it’s premise. The story from Alberto Marini’s script has building concierge Cesar (Luis Tosar) secretly stalking pretty tenant Clara (Marta Etura) and doing things to create tension in her life. Cesar is a twisted and very unhappy man who wants to share his misery with others. Her targets poor Clara and sneaks into her room, hiding under her bed only to pop out and knock her out each night while she sleeps. He takes advantage of her physically and adds things to her make-up to give her a rash and even fills her apartment with cockroach eggs…all with the pretty girl unaware.
Another flick that just seems to be missing something. While Cesar’s activities are certainly disturbing, the film has a very laid-back approach that seems to keep it from being as terrifying as it should be. Cesar seems to get away with a lot and it gets a little far-fetched and the fact that we never really get a solid explanation as to why he picks Clara and chooses to torment a woman who is continually sweet to him, remains a mystery. It needed a bit more depth to really give it some intensity. The performances are good with Tosar being appropriately creepy and Etur being a very likable and sweet girl, so we do feel bad for her. The flick just needed a heavier atmosphere and a little more intensity to make it really click.
SPRING BREAKERS (2013)
Spring Breakers is a hard movie to review since it’s also hard to really nail down what the whole point of it is. We get 4 girls, the virginal Christian good girl, Faith (Selena Gomez) and her three friends the restless and volatile Candy (Vanessa Hudgens), Brittany (Ashley Benson) and tag-along Cotty (Rachel Korine). The 4 are all bored with school and desperate to go to Florida for Spring Break but, don’t have the money. Brittany and Candy hatch a plan to rob a local restaurant to get the cash to go and while good girl Faith is horrified, she goes to Florida on the stolen money with them anyway. What follows is a quick decent into decadence and drugs which lands all 4 in jail. But, the girls are bailed out by a charismatic gangster rapper and drug dealer named, Alien (James Franco) who continues their downward spiral into moral disintegration. I have no problem watching a story about characters getting pulled into a life of crime and moral decay but, there has to be some point by the time our story ends. Spring Breakers through all it’s candy-colored, neon cinematography and music video style editing doesn’t seem to make one. Was the film a warning against such a moral decline or the lure of such a decadent life of indulgence?… or was it glorifying and reveling in it? The film was never clear. Writer/ Director Harmony Korine (wrote Kids, directed Gummo) gives us an interesting start with 4 seemingly normal college girls bored with their existence and lured by the gold and glory of the ‘Gangsta’ lifestyle but, the tale doesn’t go anywhere. The film’s moral center, Faith, leaves and goes home when she gets frightened by Alien and his gang of thugs and thus leaves her friends without a voice of reason and therefor they keep willingly getting deeper into a life of crime robbing their fellow Spring Breakers with Alien and challenging a rival drug lord. Again this would be interesting if it made a point by the time the credits roll but, it doesn’t. There is no lesson learned or statement made. Our lovely ladies pay little or no price for their actions and seem little affected by those around them who do. It’s like drugs, robbery and murder are all just part of the Spring Break fun and that’s that. So if there was a point or moral to this music video style crime thriller, it is too well buried under all the shots of the neon bathed Miami streets and the endless scenes of our nubile stars drugging, rolling around in money and with each other, to see it. On a positive note the cast are all very good with Franco giving a really strong performance as the Scarface wannabe Alien and Hudgens and Benson conveying the frustration of bored youth and then the euphoria of their adrenaline charged release through their newfound ‘Gansta’ lifestyle. Gomez nails the good girl going along for the ride very well and does especially well at presenting her terror as things get too deep for her to tolerate. The week link is Korine’s Cotty who seems to take a back seat to a lot of the action till a close call sends her home too. Her character was almost not needed as she seems to disappear from time to time to let Hudgens, Benson and Franco take center stage. Being director Harmony Korine’s wife, her role seems to be exactly that, of giving the wife a role in the film that doesn’t require her to actually get involved in the debauchery. All in all, I found Spring Breakers interesting and the photography of it’s beautiful leading ladies quite alluring but, it would have been a much better movie had there been an actual point to all that transpires. Having seen and enjoyed Gummo I do find Harmony Korine’s work interesting and he is not a conventional filmmaker but, even a maverick has to have a purpose.
2 and 1/2 naughty neon nymphs!