Fright Night


Viewed – 23 February 2012  Blu-ray

I was a big fan of the original Fright Night, which if I am correct starred William Ragsdale, Chris Sarandon and the late Roddy McDowall.  It was a great concept, that of a kid who is obsessed with a TV show hosted by vampire hunter Peter Vincent (McDowell) and then finds out his new neighbour is a vampire.  So naturally, as with Hollywood’s growing trend for remaking classic horror movies of late, we come to this … and to be honest, I quite liked the idea of revisiting these characters.

Anton Yelchin plays school kid Charley Brewster, currently dating the hot girl and leaving his nerdy past behind him, by ignoring former best friend Ed (the wonderful Christopher Mintz-Plasse) who is convinced that Charley’s new next door neighbour Gerry (Colin Farrell) is a vampire.  Of course this turns out to be true, and before long Charley is turning to renowned magician and vampire expert Peter Vincent (David Tennant) for help.  This sticks fairly close to the original story (no shock as its penned by Tom Holland, who wrote the original) but deviates in several areas, perhaps to make it more up to date by having Peter Vincent as a Vegas magician than a TV show host, and by having the character of Ed the paranoid vampire obsessive.  Charley is portrayed somewhat more heroic than in the past, which surprised me, as this pretty much makes David Tennant’s character pointless, who as a result seemed mostly in the way.  Thankfully Farrell delivers the goods as charismatic vampire Gerry, and although much of his actions are a little stupid (such as killing two teen guys in a car in the middle of the neighbourhood) and with no actual depth (he’s a vampire – that’s it), he still made for a great villain down to pure screen-presence.  Christopher Mintz-Plasse naturally steals the show every time he appears, and he continues to be one of my favourite young comedy actors.  I didn’t like how quickly Gerry was accused of being a vampire though, and a throwaway line connecting him to Peter Vincent was clearly tacked on.  Thankfully such shortcomings are masked well with quality vampire effects, lots of blood and several memorable lines (watch out for the reference to Ebay).

Overall then, this was an enjoyable ‘tribute’ to one of the best horror movies of the 80s, and even if the script has its limitations and some of the casting doesn’t exactly nail it – I still had a good time.

Verdict:  3 /5

Kick-Ass


Viewed – 31 March 2010  Cinema

To say I have been looking forward to this one would be an understatement.  Ever since hype generated from the 2009 comic-con, the teaser trailer, and quite simply, the concept alone – I have been wanting to see this for a long time.  Following the story of nerdy teenager Dave Lizewski who has always had an ambition to be a costumed superhero, one day he finally plucks up the courage to realise his dream and orders a suitably eye-catching costume over the internet.  Of course as you can imagine, the idea of a real teenager becoming a superhero, with no particular powers, just cast-iron balls and a yearning to be noticed (he’s invisible to the opposite sex, it seems) is going to be met with guffaws by anyone who comes into contact with him, as is quickly shown when he tries to take on a couple of petty muggers and comes (very much) worse off.  Yet he is not the only wannabe crime fighter at large, and after becoming an internet sensation he attracts the attention of two real costumed heroes, namely the pint-sized Hit Girl and her mentor Big Daddy, a seriously bad-ass Father and Daughter duo with a grudge against the local mob outfit. 

Matthew Vaughan’s incredibly imaginative movie seems like one of those ideas you can’t believe nobody has done before.  These heroes aren’t in an alternative world, where the villains are caricatures and every scrap ends with a comical one-liner and a cheer from the audience – this is the real world, with real dangers, and these guys are up against it with the possibility of getting themselves easily killed at any moment.  It’s refreshing, and insanely cool, helped immeasurably by a stellar cast including seasoned bad guy Mark Strong and a brilliantly complex Nicholas Cage.  But let’s be honest here, it’s the younger end of the cast that shine the most, with newcomer Aaron Johnson carrying the movie as the gutsy but naive Dave / Kick-Ass with some dead-pan narration along the way.  Also on hand is nerdy favourite Christopher Mintz-Plasse as the mob boss’s under-appreciated son.  Yet all these are completely overshadowed by the wonderful Chloe Moretz as the brilliant Hit-Girl / Mindy, a whirlwind of expletives and violence cooler than a truck load of Neo’s.  She also has a knack of delivering lines that would shock you if you wasn’t laughing so hard.

In addition to the perfect casting, a script that sparkles with brilliant dialogue and some great moments including a superb (if over the top) finally, is a soundtrack of perfectly chosen tunes that enhance every action sequence, which in themselves are choreographed expertly showing that Matthew Vaughan & Co can deliver more than just soppy fantasies (Stardust) and luke-warm mob movies (Layer Cake) to hold their heads high amongst the best of ’em.

An incredibly fun movie and an easy contender for movie of the year.

Verdict:  5 /5