MY COUSIN RACHEL review

How is this movie rated PG-13?! It’s cousins having sex, getting married, and possibly killing each other! What the hell?! Fine, whatever! Different time period, different location!

So news to me, this is actually based on a book, which was adapted once before back in 1952. To my understanding though, the incest was heavily cut down to near-nonexistent. I guess that’s why this movie was made: to faithfully adapt the novel this was based on. But really… were we really clamoring for this? Oh well.

To be fair, before seeing this, I was only interested because… “My Cousin Rachel”… starring Rachel Weisz? There were jokes waiting to be made! But this was a serious and dark kind of story and cousin-on-cousin screwing aside, it didn’t look… awful per se. In fact, elements were intriguing. The movie was about this married couple and the husband passes away. Our main hero suspects that his cousin Rachel was responsible. However, upon meeting her, he becomes infatuated with her and begins to fall hard… though she doesn’t seem to share the same feelings. Yup! It’s that kind of movie! Hence, why I was actually pretty excited for this. I could always afford to see a bat-shit crazy movie like this.

Let’s take a look at the cast. Starring, we obviously have Weisz (DENIAL [2016], CONSTANTINE [2005], and THE MUMMY [1999]) and Sam Claflin (THEIR FINEST [2017], ME BEFORE YOU [2016], and PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES [2011], where he also played a character named Philip.). In support, we have Holliday Grainger (THE FINEST HOURS [2016], CINDERELLA [2015], and ANNA KARENINA [2012]) and Iain Glen (RESIDENT EVIL: THE FINAL CHAPTER [2017], EYE IN THE SKY [2016], and TV show GAME OF THRONES).

Now for behind the scenes. Writing and directing is Roger Michell, known for HYDE PARK ON HUDSON (2012), MORNING GLORY (2010), and NOTTING HILL (1999). Composing the score is Rael Jones, known for a ton of short films and documentaries. Finally, the cinematographer is Mike Eley, known for NANNY MCPHEE RETURNS (2010) and a ton of short films and documentaries.

Overall, I’m sadistically looking forward to this. I love a fun and insane movie, so bring it on! Sanity’s overrated anyway.

This is my honest opinion of: MY COUSIN RACHEL

(SUMMARY)

Philip (Sam Claflin) was an orphan, until his older cousin adopted him and raised him as his own. After traveling afar, the cousin met up with a mutual cousin of theirs named Rachel (Rachel Weisz). The two married and before long, the cousin fell ill and eventually died, but not before sending a cryptic letter that seemed like he was in trouble and it’s later decided by Philip that Rachel is responsible for his death. Soon, he receives word that Rachel is visiting and Philip intends to confront her. However, when he meets her for the first time, he is immediately struck by her beauty and becomes increasingly convinced that she may not be what he initially thought and the two strike up a benign relationship… until he starts to develop feelings for her.

(REVIEW)

Hmm… it’s about as bat-shit as I thought it’d be… and yet, it wasn’t. It’s kind of weird.

Here’s what I mean, the movie is almost ripe to be self-parody, but the movie treats its own subject matter like it’s the norm. Suddenly, the cringing isn’t as strong because everyone has a nonchalant attitude toward cousins marrying and having sex. Again, I emphasize that I understand different times periods and places, so certain taboos today may not have been so taboo… whenever this movie takes place. I think that’s one of my initial pet peeves with this movie: the year is never specified. I mean, there’s horse-drawn carriages and not a single motorized vehicle ever makes an appearance, so… presumably pre-1880’s? I have no idea, y’all. But I guess the exact date doesn’t quite matter.

Let’s get some of the positives out of the way. The acting is quite good. Weisz is amazing in anything that she does, so she’s a class act here. And was she really speaking Italian? There’s a scene where she was speaking to an Italian character and she looked damn comfortable speaking it. Any who, Rachel is this woman who is clearly grieving over her dead husband slash cousin, but she constantly conducts herself as a pleasant and self-sufficient individual. She even vehemently protests when Philip secretly gives her an allowance, claiming that it makes her look like a beggar and that she’s only there for his money, which isn’t the case. But she is a sweet woman who cares deeply for her cousin and eventually cares for him in all the wrong ways.

Philip is… another story entirely, and I quite honestly don’t know how to feel about him. At first, his actions and motivations seem like they make sense. Who wouldn’t have guessed from the ramblings from the cousin that Rachel was responsible for his death? However, from the moment he met Rachel, I’m somewhat lost. I know the implication is that Rachel is so damn attractive that he’s totally entranced by her beauty, therefore forgets to question the death of his cousin. So the story essentially loses focus because… THE POWER OF BONERS CANNOT BE DENIED!!!

Now I’m not entirely sure if the rest of the movie is either that brilliant or that unfocused, but here’s what I’m getting out of this. Bare with me, this might get more convoluted than the movie intended. While Philip is being all hypnotized by Rachel, I feel like the way the movie’s shot and written is trying to keep the audience distanced from anyone’s particular point of view. I feel like we’re supposed to know that Philip’s infatuation is moronic and the audience is expected to maintain our suspicions of Rachel and make the deductions ourselves. I suppose that’s where most of the fun of the movie came in for me, which is odd to say because this movie isn’t meant to be “fun.” I honestly didn’t know what to make of Rachel. She seemed pleasant enough, but any really good murderer would be charismatic and unassuming, but it’s not like she doesn’t feed us suspicions. She’s incredibly persistent when it comes to serving tea to Philip. Kind of makes you wonder certain things. You keep your caffeinated horse piss to yourself, lady! Actually, I’m a “soak it with honey” kind of guy, but no one cares about that. My little theory that I went into could entirely be me grasping at straws, finding something good to say about it, but it’s entirely possible that this movie abandons its murder-mystery premise in lieu of an icky cousin-cousin romance, then dear God, what kind of sick novel was this? In order to preserve my sanity, I’m going with my theory.

I’m honestly trying to come up with a legit problem with the movie. I feel like the unfocused stuff that I mentioned earlier does feel like an issue and even my excuses for why that is feel like I’m just apologizing for the film in some way. On the other hand, that does feel like the point of the film. On the other other hand, does that mean this story is pure shock value? Throwing in an uncomfortable scenario for the audience to cringe at as opposed to actually making educated and logical guesses as to whether or not Rachel killed her husband?

I’m sure I’m missing something. This has to be a popular book for it to be adapted to the big screen twice. But honestly… yeah, this wasn’t something I could get into. And I wanted to this to be grotesquely enjoyable. Instead, I felt more confused than anything else. I can’t pretend that this was the worst thing in the world because I do enjoy the lead actors very much. I also can’t deny the gorgeous costumes and I do find my mind remembering the cinematography quite a bit, as well as the ending being deliciously nuts. However, this movie wasn’t what I thought it was going to be. It’s not the worst watch, but I think it’d help audiences interested in seeing it to not go in expecting a one-hundred percent bat-shit insane movie that would get a cult following like I did. I’d say unless you’re a die-hard fan of Weisz, save this for a either a discount theater viewing, or better yet, a rental. It’s not the strongest recommendation, I certainly don’t see myself revisiting the film, but I won’t pretend to have gotten nothing out of it.

My honest rating for MY COUSIN RACHEL: 3/5

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RESIDENT EVIL: THE FINAL CHAPTER review

Ha! “Final Chapter” my ass.

Alright, so here goes. The Resident Evil movies are based on the hit video game franchise of the same name. While I could probably go on and on about that, this is about the movies. Having said that, I feel like it’s best to talk a little about the games. Resident Evil was a survival horror classic back in 1996. While the game wasn’t taken nearly as seriously as it is today and had some camp to it, it was still a game that delivered on some great and iconic scares. It’s sequels would prove to be the better outings, providing great and creatively disturbing enemies, memorable and bad-ass characters, and all around became gaming sensations. What you should take away from this is that Resident Evil the most of the games were survival horror. The films on the other hand…

Now I won’t lie, back in 2002, when RESIDENT EVIL (2002) came out, I wanted to see it. At the time, I hadn’t been too familiar with the games. It looked like it’d be a cool zombie film. I saw it and I loved it. Mind you, I was thirteen years old, so I didn’t have the same taste in films that I do now. This movie put Milla Jovovich on the map for me and most audiences out there. But the more of the games I played, the more I realized what a creative wasteland the films really were. The games were loaded with tons of mutated monsters that left you with nightmares. Granted, the licker was an awesome addition to the movies, but the franchise practically uses those things as a crutch for not utilizing the other many monsters that Resident Evil was known for. For reasons due to budget or stupidity, who can say? The Nemesis was a good guy in APOCALYPSE (2004), the tyrant wasn’t nearly as intimidating or scary as it should have been in EXTINCTION (2007), the clones were unceremoniously killed off in AFTERLIFE (2010), RETRIBUTION (2012) was the worst of them and fell into the same stupidity that UNDERWORLD: AWAKENING (2012) did by thinking that having a big-ass version of their iconic monster would be enough to be fresh, and now… this. In fact, the best thing about the Resident Evil films is their marketing. I love their trailers. They’re so much fun and so creative.

While the franchise should be respected for being as successful as they have been, going strong fifteen years now. Few video game adaptations ever even get a sequel (Uwe Boll’s movies don’t count), so it’s hard to deny the impact the movies made. However, the ultimate downside is that they’re just not Resident Evil. They’re zombie action movies that carry the Resident Evil title. There’s no sense of urgency or danger, so they’re not survival-horror, the characters are stock, and the trademark characters don’t have the personalities of their video game counterparts, it’s just a complete mess. They’re entertaining messes, that can’t be denied, I will always have fond memories of making fun of them and enjoying their over-the-top nature, but should the franchise end, I’d be grateful and wouldn’t miss it. Maybe it’ll pave the way for a more faithful adaptation in the future. A little Peruvian boy can dream, can’t he?

Let’s take a look at this cast. Obviously, Jovovich (ZOOLANDER 2 [2016], THE THREE MUSKETEERS [2011], and THE FIFTH ELEMENT [1997]) returns as Alice. I’ve never had a problem with Jovovich as an actress. I think she’s fine for the roles that she takes and even the few dramatic roles under her belt are well-executed. I mean, she’s no Sigourney Weaver, but she’s perfectly serviceable. If she’s in a movie, I’m usually interested. Fellow Resident Evil alum, Ali Larter (OBSESSED [2009], LEGALLY BLONDE [2001], and TV show HEROES) also returns as Claire Redfield, probably the only other truly awesome element to these dumb movies. If I thought well of Jovovich, I think even more of Larter. I think she’s one of those actresses that is a recognized face, but for whatever reason, despite her beauty and talent, she’s not more famous and on demand, which is a shame to me. And surprising return to the franchise is Iain Glen (RESIDENT EVIL: APOCALYPSE and EXTINCTION, and TV show GAME OF THRONES). My guess, his character is another clone. Bad screenwriting will probably call him a twin. Finally, new to the franchise is Ruby Rose (XXX: RETURN OF XANDER CAGE [2017] and TV show ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK). Should be interesting.

Now for behind the scenes. Directing for the fourth time this franchise (he didn’t direct APOCALYPSE or EXTINCTION), and writing for the sixth for this last ride is Paul W.S. Anderson, known for POMPEII (2014), AVP: ALIEN VS. PREDATOR (2004), and MORTAL KOMBAT (1999). Composing the music is Paul Haslinger, known for most of the Underworld films with the exceptions of EVOLUTION (2006) and BLOOD WARS (2017), CRANK (2006), and SHOOT ‘EM UP (2007). Finally, the cinematographer is Glen MacPherson, known for POMPEII (2014), the last two Resident Evil films, and RAMBO (2008).

Overall, I guess I’m a little excited to see this movie… but maybe just so the franchise can officially end. I’m expecting some over-the-top action, a bad script, but an all around stupid-fun movie.

This is my honest opinion of: RESIDENT EVIL: THE FINAL CHAPTER

(SUMMARY)

Alice (Milla Jovovich) has narrowly survived after being betrayed by Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts). Taking shelter in a building, she’s contacted by an old adversary: the Red Queen (Ever Anderson). The Red Queen wants to end the infection of the T-Virus by informing Alice that Umbrella developed an airborne anti-virus that will kill everything that’s infected, including Alice. Despite her lack of trust in the computer, she agrees to help by returning to Raccoon City, specifically The Hive, where the anti-virus is being kept. Along the way, she is met with another old adversary, Dr. Isaacs (Iain Glen), and an old friend, Claire Redfield (Ali Larter) and her team to combat the undead and Umbrella.

(REVIEW)

Yeah, it’s about what you’d expect to see… and maybe less.

So something to take note, and this isn’t spoiling anything, you never learn the ultimate fate of Angie Ashford, Chris Redfield, Jill Valentine, K-Mart, or any of the surviving cast of RETRIBUTION. They don’t even get a reference.

So here we go, yes, above all else, the movie is action-packed and pretty entertaining. I never found myself bored, so anyone can take comfort in knowing that. Miraculously, there’s not a single licker to be found, and for that, I’m grateful. Milla Jovovich and Ali Larter continue to kick ass, and Glen is gleefully over-the-top and ridiculous.

But that’s about the only thing you can say about the movie.

First of all, continuity is thrown out the window almost as soon as the movie starts from the last one. In the final minutes of RETRIBUTION, Wesker forces Alice to get her powers back and stands with her and the other survivors against an army of undead and B.O.W’s. But most outlets are saying that this movie takes place immediately after RETRIBUTION. So then in the span of what we the audience can only assume to be the next morning, the hordes of zombies is gone and only one B.O.W. is left, and only Alice is alive… with no powers. All we’re told is that Wesker betrayed her and “pretended” to give her powers back. Um… why? What did that accomplish? And how did he betray her? None of this explained. By the way, I usually try to be passive-aggressive when saying someone is a bad writer, but I’m just going to come out and say it; Anderson is a terrible writer. It’s like the guy has no passion for the very movies that he’s writing. He can’t bridge events worth a damn, he doesn’t develop a single character, even Alice (Seriously, from her humble beginnings in the original, do you really get the sense that she’s a different person?), and is wishy-washy on other elements of his stories (Does Alice have powers, does she not have powers.).

It’s like he has his ideas, but doesn’t care to put them into a cohesive narrative. And I know what most of you are thinking. “It’s a dumb zombie-action movie, it’s not meant to be taken that seriously” and sure, I get that and in retrospect, I don’t. But I suppose I’m getting sick of sub-par video game adaptations and would love to see this genre evolve and Anderson’s take doesn’t look like he cares to progress. Fine if that’s your thing, and once upon a time it was mine, but not so much anymore. If mindless entertainment is all that I wanted, I could watch THE EXPENDABLES (2010). I prefer my video game adaptations taken a little more seriously. Movies like this ground the genre to a halt or set it back.

Ugh, sorry about the rant. I’ll try to keep it more focused.

Aside from Alice getting no development, have a bunch of characters that are completely useless. You also have this one character that highly distrusts Alice when they meet and keeps mentioning how they’re all going to regret letting her into their camp. He has no reason to hate her this passionately. Plus, he dies later on pretty unceremoniously. You don’t remember his name. Hell, the predictability of who is going to get axed off is almost embarrassingly predictable.

***SPOILERS***

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Wesker. God damn, Wesker was about the coolest villain the movies offered from the games and more or less got the man’s sliminess and calculated awesomeness down. I enjoyed Robert’s portrayal of the man, but… shit, what a wasted character in this movie. I mean, what does he really do in this? He sits on his ass and barks orders at a computer hologram in the form of a nine-year-old girl. He doesn’t throw his glasses at anyone, he doesn’t use his own super-speed or strength, none of that. Most useless villain.

Also, Rose got horribly jipped in this. For an actress whose career is skyrocketing into the stratosphere, this role should have been her first film outing. Having been in both XXX: RETURN OF XANDER CAGE and being a highly talked-about character in ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK, this role was atrociously limited for someone of her caliber. Hell, I don’t even recall her character’s name getting mentioned.

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***END SPOILERS***

So… is there anything that I can say made me happy about this? Well, I already mentioned that I do like Jovovich and Larter.  I can appreciate some diverse use of B.O.W’s. You have RESIDENT EVIL 5’s popokarimu, kinda. Still looks a bit off from the video game version, but it’s freaky lookin’, so I’ll take it. There’s also this creature that Alice fights within the Hive that is vaguely similar to an Iron Maiden from Resident Evil 4, though it is significantly faster in nature and has eyes, but is by far one of the freakiest monsters to come out of the films. The action scenes are pretty cool and occasionally lend to some awesome visuals, from a zombie army to a waterfall of fire.

Even as far as a “final chapter” is concerned, this could have been a lot better and could have been a lot more awesome. Instead, we get no answers to some pretty big questions regarding previously introduced characters, plot-holes, tons of scenes that end up going nowhere or serve no purpose other than having an action scene, and characters that serve no purpose other than to die or be useless, or both. But I can’t deny that I enjoy Jovovich, Larter, and Glen, and despite how pointless some of those actions scenes could be, it’s hard not to be entertained by them. But on the whole, this wasn’t a very good movie and a disappointing end to a franchise that probably should have ended long ago. But if it’s ending now, then… probably good riddance. I will continue to look forward to Jovovich and Larter’s future endeavors, but I think Anderson should take a step away from adapting any more beloved video games. If you’re a fan of the franchise, I still don’t really recommend it, but if you’re anything like me, and you’ve invested so much time into these films, then you’re probably going to see it anyway no matter who says what. The best recommendation I can offer you folks is to keep your expectations way low.

My honest rating for RESIDENT EVIL: THE FINAL CHAPTER: a weak 3/5

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