Review: 1922 (2017)

“I believe that there’s another man inside of every man. A stranger. A conniving man.”
– Wilfred James

SYNOPSIS: A simple yet proud farmer in the year 1922 conspires to murder his wife for financial gain, convincing his teenage son to participate. – via IMDB

So, in keeping up with 2017 being Stephen King’s year, I had to check out some more offerings. I quite enjoyed It, and heard good things about the Netflix offerings, so I figured I may as well check it out. 1922 is engaging, one can absolutely not deny that. It is a slow burn, which might irritate some, but I thought it was the right pacing to set the right tone for this film, because the story is not a fast, crazy horror. It is a psychological slow burn that creeps up on you and takes you down.

First off, while the world might not love Thomas Jane, I quite enjoy him, and I think he is pretty awesome for King adaptations, so I was pleased to see him return for yet another outing. He plays Wilfred James, a farmer who is quite taken with his lands, and to watch him move from simple farmer, father, husband to some greedy man is wonderful, as Jane handles the shift well.

1922 has some solid pacing working in its favour, too, as this is not a story that should be told in a rush. It is a deliberate setting with a deliberate outcome, and is not a mile a minute story. The slow burn totally worked for me, but I know not everyone is sold on it. The story is rather fascinating, too. Not revolutionary, that’s for sure, but engrossing nonetheless. There were some rather intense section to sit through, too.

I think that 1922 is a solid outing and worth the watch. You get a chilling look into James’s mind, his greed for the land and his manipulating and conniving was quite something to watch. His refusal to accept the repercussions was intense, and to see what his horrendous plans did to his son and to his family is something else. 1922 is a dark tale that slowly sets itself out before you, one that gets under your skin. Well worth the watch.

Rapid Review: Before I Wake (2016)

before i wake poster

“I don’t like to sleep.”
– Cody

SYNOPSIS: A young couple adopt an orphaned child whose dreams – and nightmares – manifest physically as he sleeps. – via IMDB

before i wake
GRADE 5You know, I quite like Mike Flanagan’s work. It isn’t all phenomenal, but it is usually entertaining, and tries to be a little more than your average film. I just wish that he had been allowed to maintain the original name of this (Somnia) as it fits with his other work. Moving on to the movie itself, I thought it was okay. I was interested, at any rate. The concept was cool, but the implementation was a little messy, if we are being honest. I was pleased to see Thomas Jane here, and I thought he was the only truly rational character in the whole movie, and he was really nice. His relationship with Cody was sweet and it was heartbreaking. An aspect that I didn’t like at all, however, was their son Shawn dying in the bathtub. This was never really explained, and for a child of that age it shouldn’t have happened. I understand the family’s flashbacks of how it happened could just be in their heads, and not how it happened, but still, some clarity would have been great. It should not have peeved me so much, but so much of the movie hinges on this having happened to their family. The performances were alright, but not brilliant for the most part, but they all came through and made this a decent watch. You can definitely tell Flanagan was given a bigger budget for effects here, and it doesn’t look bad. The movie has the feeling of a dark fantasy meets horror, and it balances the two effectively, but at the end of the day, the movie feels like it didn’t go all out to deliver. There was so much untapped potential here, and ultimately the movie just felt like a rather hollow experience all round. A right mixed bag – some stuff was good, other stuff was just not.

Review: The Punisher (2004)

the punisher movie poster

“How is he still alive? I don’t know, Quentin, I wasn’t there. Why is he still alive? Now that’s an interesting question. Maybe he’s still alive because he was meant to suffer more, I don’t know. But how can we make him suffer if we can’t find him?”
– Howard Saint

Undercover FBI agent and former U.S. Army Delta Force operator Frank Castle (Thomas Jane) in involved in a sting operation of an arms deal that results in the death of Bobby Saint (James Carpinello). Castle returns to his wife, Maria Elizabeth Castle (Samantha Mathis), and his son, Will (Marcus Johns).They are moving one last time, and Castle has officially retired. For a family reunion, they get together in Peurto Rico. Crime kingpin Howard Saint (John Travolta) is infuriated about the death of his son, and enlists his right hand man, Quentin Glass (Will Patton) to start looking into who was involved with his son’s passing. He also instructs Glass to settle the score with Castle after he figures out he was responsible for Bobby’s death. His wife, Livia (Laura Harring), requests that they kill his entire family to even out the playing field.

the punisher 2004 frank shootout
“Howard Saint! You took everything from me!” – Frank Castle

Gunmen invade the Peurto Rico reunion and begin to slaughter the family at random. Castle loses his entire family, though is wife attempted to get away with their son, though Glass and Bobby Saint’s twin brother, John Saint (James Carpinello), butcher them on the pier. Castle arrives too late, and they think that they have killed him, too. The local fisherman Candelaria (Veryl Jones) assists Castle to his former health, though the man is now burning on a revenge mission, and rises to become The Punisher. A simple sting gone wrong has now turned into two feuding families. Castle is on his own, and returns to Tampa, Florida, to settle the score. He moves into an apartment building and meets his three odd neighbours – Spacker Dave (Ben Foster) the pierced up computer delinquent, Bumpo (John Pinette) the overweight gourmet chef and Joan (Rebecca Romijn), the waitress with dreadful taste in men.

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“I leave this as a declaration of intent, so no one will be confused. One: “Si vis pacem, para bellum.” – If you want peace, prepare for war.” – Frank Castle

Castle sets his sights on Mickey Duka (Eddie Jemison) and turns him on the Saint family. He becomes his inside man and feeds him all the information that he needs to start his vengeance plan. Castle rebuffs almost all the attempts that are made by his neighbours of friendship. He no longer feels that he has the time for it. Slowly but surely, Castle sets the ball in motion that will be his revenge against Howard Saint. Castle is angered that the city has done nothing in terms of judicial fronts to avenge his family and hold somebody accountable, and the news soon reaches Howard Saint’s ears that Castle is yet among them. He is even angrier to learn that Castle seems to be foiling all his assassination attempts.

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“He looks so weak. Is he going to die?” – Spacker Dave

Howard Saint wants Castle exterminated immediately, and starts calling in all external help. Frank Castle wants Howard Saint to suffer for the atrocities that he rained down on his family, and is intent on making it happen. Mickey Duka is in the thick of it all, his dislike for the Saints fuelling him on like nothing else could. Castle’s betrayal drives him to push harder and faster at the Saints, crippling their money-laundering business and knocking their reputation down a few notches. Will Howard Saint succeed in crushing Castle, or will Castle win out his right to exercise his revenge upon the man responsible for shredding his life to pieces?

I would award The Punisher an 8/10. Yes, that highly. I went through so much crap just to finally watch this! I ordered it the other day, it arrived, I popped it in, and then it was that silly sequel in the box, I had to return and exchange it and everything and then finally I could watch it. This was one of my favourite movies concerning punishment and vengeance ever. Punishment, justice, whatever you want to call it. It was exceedingly wretched to watch his entire family get butchered because one son was killed in the midst of a sting. Thomas Jane was cast very well for his role as Frank Castle, I think he nailed it. People complain about his acting, but I think he is a lot better than people give him credit for. I know that traditionally there shouldn’t really be humour in the Punisher comic books, but I don’t feel that the humour was overkill in here. It was woven in between scenes, but it must also be remembered that it is black humour. I also enjoyed the score for the film. John Travolta was excellent as mobster Howard Saint; he was very good to watch. This film was perfect to show that vigilante anger, frustration and the search for true justice when the system fails you, and I believe it was executed well. I know the reviews were very mixed for this, but I am on the “it was good” side. I enjoyed it the first time that I watched it when I was younger, and nothing has changed for me.