Silent Hill: Revelation 3D has a lot of things working against it from the get go. It's based on a video game franchise that debuted in 1999 has been milked for sequels ever since (the current total of Silent Hill games is nine) and the movie itself is a sequel to the disappointingly dumb 2006 film directed by Christophe Gans. What's more the bitter aftertaste of Resident Evil: Retribution is still lingering in the mouths of survival horror movie/gamers and although they have entirely different plots and take place in totally different universes that's not necessarily enough to take the edge off for weary viewers.
It would take a dazzling director with a stellar cast and a first-rate script to overcome those sorts of obstacles and Silent Hill doesn't have any of those things. Writer/director Michael J. Bassett is obviously fond of both video games and horror (his previous movies include Solomon Kane and Deathwatch) the cast is decent with some exceptions and the script… well it's better than Resident Evil. If anything we can give Bassett credit for his enthusiasm. You really can't win when you try and make a video game movie no matter how many hours you spent playing Doom as a teen. Whether that's at the hands of the studios or the creative teams themselves isn't clear; it's simply a nut that hasn't been cracked yet.
The good news is that you don't really need a grasp on the video game or previous movie's narrative to follow the Revelation's plot. Harry (Sean Bean) has been lying to his daughter Heather (Adelaide Clemens) for a very long time. He's convinced her that her dreams about a terrible place called Silent Hill are the longstanding effects of a car crash that killed her mother and that they have to move around and take on new identities all the time because he killed a prowler in self-defense. Heather has other problems like the occasional hallucinations about a terrible alternate universe that's populated by monsters and industrial junk and flickering lights. One minute she'll be doing something normal and then suddenly the walls are burning down to the rafters and something with a butt for a face is shambling towards her. It's a raw deal.
Heather's first day at her new school is not that great; she meets a cute guy named Vincent (Kit Harington) who wants to be buddies but she makes it clear she's pretty bad ass and not one to pal around since she'll just be leaving town again anyway. When she comes home from school her dad has disappeared and the living room is a huge mess. If she wasn't clear on what to do next someone used his blood to write "COME TO SILENT HILL" on the wall with a funky sigil next to it which matches this weird object she's had since she was little. Luckily Vincent has a car and more than a few troubling secrets of his own underneath those glossy brown curls. He offers to drive her and off they go. Typical chitchat between them is about the nature of reality and dreams and Vincent's batty grandfather who's locked up in an insane asylum.
This is where things get really convoluted. Silent Hill is indeed a terrible place where ash falls from the sky during the day and horrible things come out to menace any townsperson dumb enough to be out at night. It's an eerie world that comes close to the truly terrifying Silent Hill games on occasion. After a while though it's mostly just Heather and occasionally Vincent running around in what seems like mazes of rusty bloody walls with the occasional gruesome monster popping out to halfheartedly menace them.
There's a dash of The Wicker Man here with the requisite creepy sacrificial cult and some Hellraiser-esque torture thrown in but it stops short of being a full-blown Clive Barker nightmare. There is some gore and disturbing images but the choice to use practical effects for almost all of the monsters is far more impressive in theory. Those monsters look okay from afar but rubbery up close whereas the only CGI monster is an impressive spidery thing made up of doll parts. The use of strobe lights and other effects is absolutely maddening especially in conjunction with the 3D which is mostly used for cheap gimmicks like splashing blood at the viewer.
There's something oddly satisfying about the way that the movie follows the trajectory of a video game; it's even laid out like a video game universe with different goals and bosses at each location. The problem is that what is believable or acceptable in a video game doesn't necessarily translate to a movie — in a game you're busy solving puzzles and killing monsters and it's easier to overlook kitchen-sink plots. Even though the movie doesn't completely hew to the game's story it's got the same mentality that more is better when it's really just more. And the more that's piled on the more ridiculous it gets. When everything is at a fever pitch that kind of weirdness becomes a baseline and nothing is shocking. Unlike in the games there's just one ending no matter how you play it.
"Sorry if my snoring bothered you."
Those are not the first words I'd expect out of the mouth of someone who got up on a Friday morning to catch the 10:30 AM screening of a new movie but that is more or less what the fellow who'd been sitting behind me said as I passed him on my way out. I'd heard him snoring over the constant rat-a-tat-tat of bullets and butt-kicking being doled out by Milla Jovovich et al in this latest iteration of the never-ending Resident Evil series (this time in IMAX 3D) but I figured maybe I was hearing things. Nope he was asleep.
I used to play Resident Evil on my ancient PlayStation when it first came out. It scared the crap out of me. I enjoyed the first two movies — hey they included the skinless zombie dogs! — but I lost interest soon after that. How many times can you make the zombie apocalypse exciting? How many different skintight outfits can Jovovich wear while killing grotesque creatures who shoot evil grasping tentacles out of their mouths? Why should we care about all the blood and guts when we know the people we're supposed to be emotionally invested in will never die? We don't.
Try as he might there are only so many ways for writer/director Paul W.S. Anderson to give the Resident Evil series fresh new layers for each new movie. The Umbrella Corporation is the big bad. They were playing with biological weapons and somehow there was an accident that let one of the viruses loose... and boom you've got a zombie apocalypse on your hands. Our heroine is Alice played by Milla Jovovich and there is a rotating cast of characters who help her fight the good fight against the hordes of brain-eaters and whatever is left of the Umbrella Corporation that's now after her. There are some parallels to the video game series but Paul W.S. Anderson (a gamer himself) has taken lots of liberties with the basic plot over the years. While Anderson's flashy style is especially suited to these types of movies there's not enough plot to make it work.
We don't go to video game movies for plot of course but there has to be something to hold onto; otherwise why would we care if our protagonist were in danger? Anderson tries some neat tricks to snap us back to attention like bringing back characters that were killed in previous movies and throwing in a cloning subplot that calls into question some of the characters' true identities but it's still hard to get worked up about anything onscreen. However it ultimately sidesteps any deeper ideas that might take our attention away from all the guns. And there are so many guns and explosions and elegant butt-kickings doled out by Milla and her pals (or former pals in the case of Michelle Rodriguez's character Rain) that they blend together.
It is especially difficult to work up any interest in the story because it's a franchise and no matter how many times the stars or director might say they're not that interested in doing another everyone is just waiting to see how much money this will make before deciding to go forward. There is no question how franchise movies will end; there will be no derring-do on the part of the writer or director to actually kill off a beloved character permanently. At one point it seemed like Anderson was going to pull the old "And then she woke up!" trick which would have been bold both because it's such a hackneyed idea that it would make writing professors' heads explode all over the world but also because it would have required Anderson to play in a different universe and expand his repertoire a bit. Alas like Alice and Anderson himself we just can't seem to escape this rabbit hole.
The God of Legion secular Hollywood’s latest Biblically-inspired action flick is old-school an angry spiteful Almighty with a penchant for Old Testament theatrics. Fed up with humanity’s decadent warmongering ways He’s decided to pull the plug on the whole crazy experiment and start over from scratch.
Fortunately for us the God of Legion is also a rather lazy fellow. Instead of doing the apocalyptic work himself and wiping us out with a giant flood which worked perfectly well last time He opts to delegate the task to His army of angels — a questionable strategy that starts to fall apart when the archangel charged with leading the planned extermination Michael (Paul Bettany) refuses to comply.
Michael who unlike his boss still harbors affection for our sorry species abandons his post and descends to earth where inside the swollen belly of Charlie (Adrianne Palicki) an unwed mother-to-be working as a waitress in an out-of-the-way diner sits humanity’s lone hope for survival. Why is this particular baby so important? Is it the one destined to lead us to victory over Skynet? Heaven knows — Legion reveals little details its script devoid of actual scripture. What is clear is that God’s celestial hitmen want the kid whacked before it’s born.
But Michael won’t let humanity fall without a fight. Armed with a Waco-sized arsenal of assault weapons he hunkers down with the diner’s patrons a largely superfluous collection of thinly-sketched caricatures from various demographic groups led by Dennis Quaid as the diner’s grizzled owner Tyrese Gibson as a hip-hop hustler and Lucas Black as a simple-minded country boy.
Together they mount a heroic final stand against hordes of angels who’ve taken possession of “weak-willed” humans turning kindly old grandmas and mild-mannered ice cream vendors into snarling ravenous foul-mouthed beasts. They descend upon the ramshackle diner in a series of full-frontal assaults commanded by the archangel Gabriel (Kevin Durand) the George Pickett of End of Days generals.
Beneath its superficial religious facade Legion is really just a run-of-the-mill zombie flick a Biblical I Am Legend. Bettany an actor accustomed to smaller dramatic roles in films like A Beautiful Mind and The Da Vinci Code looks perfectly at ease in his first major action role wielding machine guns and bowie knives with equal aplomb. Conversely first-time director Scott Stewart a former visual effects artist does little to prove himself worthy of such a promotion serving up some impressive CGI work but not much else worthy of note.
The Writers Guild of America bestowed their awards night Saturday with Julian Fellowes winning best original screenplay for Gosford Park and Akiva Goldsman winning best adapted screenplay for A Beautiful Mind. With the Academy Awards only a few weeks away, critics wonder if the WGA awards will have any bearing on Oscar voters.
The creative mind behind the Pink Panther movies, Blake Edwards, won the WGA's lifetime achievement award. Though best known for his directorial skills (Victor/Victoria, Breakfast at Tiffany's), the 79-year-old Edwards said, "I still consider myself first, last and always a writer."
Apparently ABC News president David Westin was one of the last to know his network was in talks with David Letterman in an attempt to woo the Late Show host from CBS to ABC, Reuters reports. While talks began in January, Westin only found out two days ago, after receiving a call from a New York Times reporter.
Academy Award winner Shirley Jones, best known for her motherly role in The Partridge Family, has filed for divorce from husband Marty Ingles, The Associated Press reports. Jones cited irreconcilable differences with her husband of 25 years.
Paul McCartney is stopping in Las Vegas as part of his "Driving USA" tour. The MGM Grand's Grand Arena will host the April 5-6 concerts that will replace the cancelled heavyweight boxing match between Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis. Tickets for McCartney's show go on sale Monday for $350, $250 and $125.
Linda Tripp, infamous for her involvement in the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal during former President Bill Clinton's White House administration, is being treated for breast cancer, her attorneys said Friday. No other details were given regarding her condition, Reuters reports.
Ted Danson, who helped found the American Ocean's Campaign, announced Thursday the group will partner with, and adopt the name of, Oceana, the AP reports. Both groups serve as environmental guardians of the seas, fighting pollution and overfishing.
The Miss America Organization (MAO) announced the resignation of its chief executive, Robert Renneisen, Friday, two weeks after the reigning Miss America Kate Harman complained of mistreatment by the Renneisen staff, Reuters reports. In a statement, the former casino exec Renneisen said of the MAO, "It is clear that we differ in our definition of success..." It seems his idea to create the world's first Miss America slot machine didn't go over too well.
England's Prince Edward and his wife Sophie have decided to become full-time royals--for a time, anyway. Giving up their film and public relations careers to support the Queen during her Golden Jubilee may still be lucrative, though. Reuters reports the couple may be paid 250,000 pounds for their complete royal attention. Buckingham Palace would not comment on the issue.
Hollywood's going vertical and bi-coastal, it seems. According to Reuters, Studio City New York--a 140,000 square foot, 15-story building-dedicated to film and TV studios and entertainment industry office space--will be erected on New York's 11th Avenue between 44th and 45th streets. Construction is scheduled to begin by the end of this year, and the building will take two years and $375 billion to be completed.
A Buffalo, N.Y., grand jury indicted rapper and aspiring actor DMX on a charge of failing to appear at Cheektowaga Town Court to begin serving jail time for a traffic conviction last year, The Associated Press reports. DMX belatedly served 13 days at the Erie County Correctional Facility after he pleaded guilty to a charge of driving without a license. He will be arraigned within the two weeks.
Mexican pop star Gloria Trevi, now in a Brazilian jail and awaiting extradition to Mexico to face charges of sexual abuse, wants to be placed under house arrest. Her request comes after the Brazilian Supreme Court refused to suspend her extradition, Reuters reports. Trevi, who has been in jail for 18 months, is wanted in Mexico for allegedly helping others to entice young girls into becoming sex slaves for her manager, Sergio Andrade.
You know you've made it when people can walk all over you on Hollywood Boulevard. Sandra Bullock, Al Pacino, Regis Philbin, Rodney Dangerfield, Martin Landau, producer Dino De Laurentiis, Ozzy Osbourne and Queen will receive stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2002, AP reports.
R.E.M. will turn the Simpsons into shiny, happy people when the rock band travels next week from Athens, Ga., to Los Angeles to lend their voices to an upcoming episode of the Fox animated series, Rolling Stone magazine reports. Michael Stipe, Peter Buck and Mike Mills join other such rockers as Paul McCartney, the Who, Aerosmith and Spinal Tap who have inexplicably found themselves waylaid in the Simpsons' hometown of Springfield.
Former Partridge Family idol David Cassidy is offering $50,000 for the return of a ring that he received from his father, actor Jack Cassidy, Launch.com reports. The ring bears the Cassidy family crest. Cassidy said he either lost the ring during his current tour--his first in more than 10 years--or that it was taken from a dressing room.
Live, from New York, it's … Monday afternoon. Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels is developing an daily afternoon talk show for NBC to run in the 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. time period, Reuters reports.
Ugly Betty wants to go Hollywood. The network behind the hit telenovela, known in its native Colombia as Betty La Fea, is shopping around for a buyer to turn the show into an American soap opera. The telenovela, which followed the joys and tribulations of a mousy office worker, ended its recent U.S. run on the Spanish-language network Telemundo.
After flopping with What's the Worst That Could Happen?, Martin Lawrence could use a hit. And 20th Century Fox thinks it has one in Lawrence's Black Knight. Fox has moved the time-hopping comedy--about a medieval theme park worker who somehow ends up in 14th-century England--from early 2002 to Nov. 21 of this year for the Thanksgiving holiday.