Series Review: Supernatural Season 5 (2009)

Credit: CW Television Network

They say the Supernatural fandom is mostly insane, sometimes creepy. They say that the overt obsession have quite regularly frightened both cast and crew. This is all true.

While it sounds unsettling, what it really means for the show is an undying viewership that has kept it going all these years. Such successful ratings are rare for a horror series, and credit is largely due to the charismatic Winchesters who make every second of the ghost-busting journey worthwhile.

It has been years, and the brothers have come far from where their father’s journal pointed to. Facing infinite demons both physical and their own, they have seen hunters kill without blinking and bloodthirsty demons act on good conscience.

The new season had been an equally intriguing one, with Lucifer hounding the brothers for souls and such. The finale slows down with Chuck’s chapter on the Impala, an honorary lead on the show. Endings are never easy and Kripke knows. He reaches straight for the heartstrings (how dare he), and brings us back to where it began – family – as past memories of the Winchesters flash on screen.

Great shows seldom grace the small screens, much less manage to stay off the cancellation danger radar. But Supernatural, like the Winchesters, is resilient and has survived for a good five years. The writing isn’t always the best, but it never fails to entertain, interest and touch the heart. Constant intrigue follows the strong plots that invoke thoughts on questions like how we define morality.

With tears and sacrifice, Swan Song would have been a perfect ending even if the series was never coming back. Though by god, we will miss it. From the endless movie references, hail to Led Zeppelin moments… And how can we forget its amazing catalogue of classic rock from Kansas to Warrant?

Of course, the fans are “always gonna bitch”. Somewhere, some time, we will always be hearing shouts of “Damn it, Kripke!” as the credits roll. But hell, with this satisfying finale, this might just be one of those quieter Thursday nights.

Movie Review: The Descent Part II (2009)

The Descent: Part II
Credit: Lionsgate / Oliver Upton

Sarah Carter (Shauna Macdonald), the sole survivor of a cave expedition accident, is forced to return to the scene of the crime in search of the other missing girls. Only that it was never an accident, even if no one believes her.

The Descent: Part II is a direct sequel that nobody asked for, without the strengths of the previous film. From expository dialogue to weak characterisation, it struggles with typical clichés and falls back on poor imitations of its predecessor.

While first-time director Jon Harris makes clear attempts at an effective atmosphere, there are rarely any real moments of thrills in the slow-moving b-movie. After all, blood for the sake of blood gets old quickly, especially for a horror veteran.

On at least four counts, a crawler predictably jumps from within the dark. Jump scares strung together do not a horror film make, much less those within expectations.

Pacing issues meant the plot barely progresses even if the hour has. Seemingly forced into existence, The Descent sequel suffers the usual problems of part-twos in the genre – lazy plot lines that borders on illogical, and the thorough lack of originality that fails to entertain.


Movie Review: Kick-Ass (2010)

Credit: Lionsgate / Daniel Smith

At some point in our lives, we all want to be a superhero. All everyday people need is an overnight spark of brilliance, or idiocy, to ignite their inner vigilante. Dave Lizewski makes it happen and finds his alter-ego in Kick-ass, though the true superhero seems to be Lizewski himself.

Soon, he finds out he isn’t alone and fiction pours onto the streets with suit against suit in blood-splattered battles. It isn’t all glory, as the inexperienced crime fighters get their fair share of battle scars. The band of teens are as clueless as the young ones often are, and as believable as heroes get. These heroes (and villains) are not bred-hybrids or experimentations-gone-wrong, but real people donning suits in the real world.

Enter Macready’s feisty little girl Hit-Girl, played by a hilarious and incredibly foul-mouthed Chloe Grace Moretz. The constant scene stealer may leave your jaw hanging, but hell does she make an impression. The youngest of the crew exhausts the lexicon of every possible curse and swear, and doesn’t forget to get the job done.

The stylised but graphic violence slashes its way through sharp comebacks in the form of witty one-liners. The humour ensues in witty monologues, interspersed with an amount of pop culture references that will make Quentin Tarantino proud.

All the things I’d never do. Like learn to drive or see what me and Katie’s kids would look like or find out what happened on Lost. And if you’re reassuring yourself that I’m going to make it through this since I’m talking to you now, quit being such a smart-ass! Hell dude, you never seen Sin City? Sunset Boulevard? American Beauty?

– Dave Lizewski

Kick-ass is vulgar, over-the-top, and well, pretty kick-ass. In the recent stream of dark serious Hollywood superhero flicks, the (sort of) light-hearted fun entertainment is definitely a welcome change.

If you enjoyed this, queue Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim Vs the World on your list. Then again if you prefer your comic-book violence without the gore, Iron Man 2 (with RDJ, Mickey Rourke and Sam Rockwell) is up next. There will be dancing.


Movie Review: Shutter Island (2010)

Frequent collaborators Martin Scorsese and Leonardo Dicaprio have delivered an impressive melange of masterpieces. From Boston-set crime drama The Departed to real-life biography The Aviator, their varied body of works finds unity in reverberating realism and powerful performances.

The team-up greets excitement as they take on Dennis Lehane’s neo-noir Shutter Island. The titular remote enclave seats the hospital for the criminally insane, where US Marshals Teddy Daniels (Dicaprio) and Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo) investigate the disappearance of a patient.

They soon uncover a more sinister conspiracy at work as covert experiments take place at the ominous lighthouse. As with asylum-set thrillers, the threat of lobotomies or the mere prevalence of surgical contraptions never fail to unease. Secret wards reinforce claustrophobia on an isolated island, made ominous by the cold and grey of the aged fort.

Horror draws an intimate connection to the past of Teddy Daniels, who seems to struggle under the weight of his past. The death of his wife is as intriguing as it is, evocative. His interspersing war-time visions contribute anxiety, multiplying clues shroud the mystery in thickened fog. Tension fills the air as haunting imagery contorts reality.

Unrestrained in its bleak darkness, Shutter Island surrounds its residents with a lasting sense of paranoia. All of which pays off in its steady pace towards a powerful end, harrowing in a single line.


Movie Review: Taking Woodstock (2009)

Elliot Tiber has just moved to White Lake, choosing family over his ambitions. With his new acquaintance Michael Lang, he is about to bring in the giant Woodstock Festival, in place of his initially planned music event. The venture for money soon becomes a junction of hatred, as the townspeople express disapproval of the disruption by the hippie influx.

A fairly interesting starting point meets a befitting cast in Taking Woodstock. Serious with a touch of dry comedy, Demetri Martin was perfect for the role of Tiber. Yet despite a good lead, Ang Lee’s new film somehow fell short of expectations.

From the beginning, excitement quickly flatlines with little humour. Inadequate cause for empathy for any of the characters made dull a festival that meant so much to a generation.

Lacking a certain focus, the story seemed like a simple narration of ordinary events too forthright to compel. Out of the experiences from the novel by the real Elliot Tiber, Ang Lee chose the less interesting bit of the book to adapt.

I would have loved to see Elliot meet Marlon Brando and Truman Capote, the Stonewall riots, and its eventual liberation. Yet the film just wasn’t as brilliant as it should’ve been.

Neither as trippy nor warming as its promotional poster suggests, this almost too light-hearted dramedy definitely lacks vibrancy, despite its colours.