Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Arachnophobia





To say I have a fear of spiders would be an understatement. Unlike some though my fear isn't paralyzing, I just want to see the little things dead. So needless to say when I saw that Arachnophobia was on Netflix, I was a little hesitant to give it a watch. I have seen bits and pieces of the film before, but never the entire thing in one sitting. I decided to give it a go and see how far I could make it.

Plot: A large spider from the jungles of South America is accidentally transported in a crate with a dead body to America where it mates with a local spider. Soon after, the residents of a small California town begin to die as the result of spider bites from the deadly spider offspring. It's up to a couple of doctors with the help of an insect exterminator to annihilate these eight legged freaks before they take over the entire town.

The plot is as ridiculous as it sounds, but its so over the top that it works. In the same way that “Jaws” made us afraid to go into the ocean, Arachnophobia taps into the common fear of spiders for its scares. While the film is more in the vein of “Gremlins”, with its thrills being mixed with humor, it's still a scary tale at heart. I can honestly say though, while this film did feature spiders, they are featured in a way that really doesn't make them all that terrifying. It's a classic man vs nature story that was done well in the early 90's, before it became the common route to go with B movies

The acting here is the real bright spot of the film. Not only do you have the always outstanding Jeff Daniels, but you also have the consistently great John Goodman. Both men were perfect for their roles, and brought more life into the film. My only gripe with Goodman's performance was that he seemed to be channeling Bill Murray's character from “Caddyshack” a little too much. Other actors in this film include the underrated Julian Sands, Harley Jane Kozak and Stuart Pankin.

So you may say “how could someone with a fear of spiders watch a movie about spiders? “ well that's one of the funny things about this movie. It has jump scares and plenty of scary scenes, but the acting and comedy offsets it to the point where the spiders aren't so frightening. As I said, this film is in the same vein as Gremlins, where it's supposed to be scary but because of how its pulled off it's more fun than frightening. It's a rare thing when you can see something you don't like being the central focus of a film, but due to the nature of the film find yourself not even being bothered by it.

So all in all, I can say that I found this film to be enjoyable. Sure it dealt with a creepy crawly antagonist, but it was done in such a way that it more makes you feel glad to be alive at the end. Really, isn't that why we watch horror films in the first place? The rush of adrenaline from the danger and then the ultimate feeling of being alive at the end is what makes these films fun.

Verdict: 4 spider jump scares out of 5

Monday, March 2, 2015

Pulp Fiction



Alright, I'll admit it, until this past weekend I had never seen Pulp Fiction. It was on my list of movies to watch, but I never got around to it. I had heard so much about the film in discussions with friends and others on the internet that I finally decided to set aside a few hours and watch it. Was it as groundbreaking of a film to me in 2015 as it was to cinema viewers in 1994? Lets take a look.

Plot Summary:  Jules Winnfield and Vincent Vega are two hitmen who are out to retrieve a suitcase stolen from their employer, mob boss Marsellus Wallace. Wallace has also asked Vincent to take his wife Mia out a few days later when Wallace himself will be out of town. Butch Coolidge is an aging boxer who is paid by Wallace to lose his next fight. The lives of these seemingly unrelated people are woven together comprising of a series of funny, bizarre and uncalled-for incidents. 

When I read the summary, I thought I knew what to expect. What I got was not only some of the best storytelling I've seen in a movie, but also took me on a roller coaster of laughs, shocking moments and wondering what the hell was going on. This is the kind of story that has loosely connected segments in that you could have all of the scenes be separate shorts and still work, but are woven together so neatly that it enhances the enjoyment when viewed in the film.

The acting here is great all around. I'm usually not a fan of John Travolta, but here he worked well, especially with Samuel L Jackson. The other actors in the film include Bruce Willis, Ving Rhames, Uma Thurman, Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth and even the films director Quentin Tarantino. I can safely say that I enjoyed every performance, and it didn't matter if the actor was on screen for one minute or 30, they all delivered. This is one of the few films that I have seen that had no wasted screen time with the performances.

One of my favorite parts about watching this film is that while it has very grim situations, it's never too dark. It's the kind of movie you can put on after a long day and have it lift your spirits. It has situations where they are so tense, but seconds later you cant help but laugh.

Overall I can say this is a great film, one that makes me feel sad that I didn't watch it sooner. This is a film that has so many moments that standout and too many quotable lines to count. Everything about this film was enjoyable, from the scenery, the actions on screen and even the conversations between characters.

Verdict: Must see movie.

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