Movie Review: The Darkest Hour

Extraterrestrials have long been a part of the movie scene, but have now become even a greater part of the world of movies in more recent times with Cowboys & Aliens, Transformers, Attack the Block, etc. The creators of these types of movies have had to step up their game with respect to these creatures from another world as they are now so much in demand, and they need to deliver just what the audience needs in order to pull in the big bucks at the box office. This movie review will look at the thriller, The Darkest Hour, which is a story that tells of a number of young tourists that ended up being in Russia; Moscow to be exact; at the same time when aliens invaded. These aliens are invisible and come as tendrils of lights as well as wisps. They vaporize human beings as well as a dog quite easily in this thriller of a movie. These aliens are on earth in order to demolish our energies, and forget about trying to obliterate them, as our contemporary weapons cannot affect their existence in any way at all.

Having set this movie in Moscow than in the usual unoriginal locale of Los Angeles or New York, as well as making the aliens invisible, this thriller has set the pace for another level of those creatures from another planet, that we so love to hate. More importantly, it makes it very difficult for the young people in the move to escape these creatures or to try to fight back as well.

The stars of The Darkest Hour include Rachel Taylor, Emile Hirsch, Joel Kinnaman and Olivia Thirlby. It is directed by Chris Gorak and it was produced by Timur Bekmambetov. These aliens that are energy-based opens the discussion up to many questions; one such question being how exactly these types of aliens work, in direct relationship with the types of kinetic energy that they can take in.
Other than those prudent questions needing to be answered, this movie is seemingly a usual invasion of the aliens kind of a movie, complete with human characters that are two-dimensional in nature. It is very good technically though, with great visual effects, especially when the people in the movie are being disintegrated by these aliens and the visuals of Russia appearing to be a metropolis wasteland that is barren post-invasion is very convincing indeed.

The release date for the Darkest Hour is two days before Christmas; on December 23rd, 2011. It will open in the United States in both 2D as well as 3D theatres.

The Most Frightening Horror Scenes You’ll Ever See

Jaws

Jaws had two scenes that were scenes I would have to say were two of the most frightening scenes I had ever seen. The first opened the movie and the last was towards the end of the movie.

A young lady decides to go skinny-dipping with a friend however due to the friend being intoxicated he falls to sleep while attempting to shed his clothes.

Seconds later the young lady unfortunately discovers lurking nearby the reason most people are afraid to go in the ocean, a great white shark that will not only attack her but she will not live, as some do, to talk about it.

The music that we’ve come to recognize even many years after seeing the movie as the music from the movie Jaws along with the mounting suspense were very essential elements to this extremely terrifying scene. But what most people remember about that scene was the woman’s screams as she was being eaten alive, right before she was dragged under the water for the last time.

Robert Shaw’s character, Quint, shark hunter and more modern up to date version of Melville’s captain Ahab archetype also is devoured by the shark but his killing was nothing like what was previously seen in the movie. If you weren’t truly moved by seeing this man being dragged from the boat in the mouth of that monstrous sea creature, then you should have checked your pulse.

I still remember when the helpless man slides to the end of the boat where the shark waited with its mouth agape. As the man entered the mouth the shark the shark bites down into the midsection of the man with its razor-sharp teeth sending blood spewing from the man’s mouth.

Fortunately for him, the ordeal would be over very soon, but not before we, as an audience would see one of the most graphic and truly terrifying scenes ever put on film.

Poltergeist

There are so many truly disturbing things about the climatic sequence in this movie I truly don’t know where to start. For starters, Jo Beth Williams’ character slipped into their unfinished in-ground pool that was filled with muddy water and was suddenly surrounded by a horde of skeletons. If that wasn’t enough, what about the coffins that suddenly jutted to the surface filled with even more skeletons inside? If being surrounded by that much death doesn’t get to you then maybe you should again, check your pulse.

And considering the rate at which everything was happening during the sequence if you wanted to catch your breath Steven Spielberg made that all but impossible.

The Exorcist

In my opinion much of Reagan’s possession that was portrayed on screen was if not frightening, it was certainly disturbing. But what disturbed me the most was when the young girl takes on the form of a contortionist “from hell” and walks down the steps basically bent over backwards. It doesn’t get anymore disturbing than that let me tell you.

Halloween

The scene when Laurie Strode, Jamie Lee Curtis’ character appears to be trapped in the closet and doomed to die at the hands of Michael Myers. The tension alone that John Carpenter was able to build during that exact moment made that scene one of the cornerstone scenes of the movie. Of course his signature musical score helped to inject a tremendous about a tension into that moment as well.

An American Werewolf in London

The opening sequence in of ” An American Werewolf in London “, Griffin Dun’s character “Jack” is torn to pieces by the werewolf. His terrifying screams as he is being mauled is sure to leave an indelible mark upon the psyche long after the sound enters the viewer’s hearing. The scene is one for the ages and arguably one of the most terrifying scenes ever put to film.

Psycho

Psycho was made before a time when there were as not as much killing in horror movies as there are today. In fact if I’m not mistaken there were three people killed in the movie but the most notable and frightening was the “shower scene”, where Janet Lee’s character was hacked to death by Norman Bates’ alter ego, “mother”.

And even though the scene was shot in black and white, as the rest of the most was, due to the director’s decision to lessen the shock value from people seeing so much blood that was shown in the scene, the scene was still very unsettling and undoubtedly one of the most well-known horror movie scenes in motion picture history.

Mirrors

In “Mirrors” Keifer Sutherland’s character’s sister played by Amy Smart was laying in the bathtub taking a bath and then suddenly something comes over her and she began placing both of her hands in her mouth. If you’ve seen the movie you know what comes next. She begins ripping her mouth from her lower jaw, which was a very disturbing sight.

A Nightmare on Elm Street

I would be remiss if I didn’t add “A Nightmare on Elm Street” to our list of some of the most frightening scenes ever put on film. Because whenever there is a horror movie where the killer (Freddy Krueger) wears a glove with razor- sharp blades on it, you undoubtedly will have a scene or two in the movie where someone will be sliced up pretty badly. And that is exactly what happened in our next scene.

Freddy Krueger decides to “crash the party” of a young couple that’s looking to “mix it up” under the sheets. Which is where the young lady found herself, under the sheets awaiting her friend who was in the bathroom.

In her anticipation of what was to come she suddenly realizes someone under the sheets with her, someone other than her friend. Before she knows what hit her, that someone, Freddy Krueger, tears her flesh to shreds, absolutely slaughtering her and peppering her bedroom walls with so much blood that the room looked as though some type of animal had been hacked to pieces in there. The scene was not only one of the best scenes in the movie it also was one of the most disturbing and frightening scenes I’ve every scene on screen.

If you managed to see any or possibly all of the movies I have recounted here, then you know how essential these scenes were to their respective movies. Not only were they “water cooler” scenes many of them for some people were very unsettling and for others very frightening.

LA Movie Studio Opens Door to Fans

Vist Los Angeles and you’re sure to come across movies being made — whether out in the street by your hotel or in one of several studios that are open for studio tours.

Today most of the studios are closed to the public except when audiences are needed for live shows or when the call goes out for extras to populate various movie scenes. But there are several that do allow tours, including some where the chances are good you’ll see a real movie star.

The granddaddy of movie studio tours has to be Universal Studios Hollywood, which now includes its movie studio tour as just one small part of a Disneyland-like theme park with elaborate rides and attractions all having something to do with the movies. Built along a hillside in Universal City, the theme park has grown over the years incorporating new attractions that match up with some of the hottest movies produced at Universal.

We first visited Universal more than 30 years ago so, on our recent visit to the park, the overall experience seemed much more of a complete entertainment package than when the tour was just a movie studio tour with few additional attractions. We had been back to the park in the 90’s but, even since then, this theme park has seemed to grow dramatically, adding new attractions on a regular basis to encourage visitors to return.

Visitors to the park are now greeted with a choice of parking, lower priced parking that requires a little walking and premium parking that is closer to the park. We chose the former because we need the exercise – but, alas, the park has installed an elaborate 21st Century system of escalators to whisk visitors all over the hilly terrain both from the parking lot, and from the theme park down to the actual movie lot.

One of the highlights of our Universal visit was a discovery we made: the Front of the Line Pass. It is a bit pricey – at $99.95 it’s about double what you’ll pay if you buy a regular pass online – but it totally changes the experience. Instead of waiting in long, hot lines all day (typical of most Southern California theme parks) we were quickly zipping between the best attractions, never standing in line more than five minutes. We felt we saw everything we wanted to see in one day, but were not nearly as exhausted as we might have been standing in lines that each appeared to be 45 minutes to an hour long.

The Front of the Line Pass is a great invention and is perfect for middle-agers who no longer want to spend hours in theme park lines.

Most rides at Universal are relatively tame – not quite the kiddie-land variety, but something less than the roller coasters at Six Flags. Hydraulic rides like Back to the Future have been popular for many years, and guests also really like the moderate thrill rides and roller coaster in the Revenge of the Mummy as well as the Jurassic Park ride, which includes an 85-foot drop.

We were especially impressed with the Waterworld show, which apparently is doing a lot better than the movie ever did. A group of actors and stunt persons puts on a show filled with acrobatic feats and pyrotechnics climaxed by an almost full-scale airplane startling spectators by landing in the water right in front of their seats.

There are numerous rides, attractions, top-notch shows – everything to keep you busy for much longer than a day. But don’t forget to take the studio tour – the thing that got all of this started decades ago. The tour is still conducted on the famous trams that snake their way through the Universal back lot. The trams have been updated to offer TV commentary by stars like Whoopi Goldberg, but the experience was much the same as it was back in the 70’s – only the TV shows and movies have changed. Longtime attractions like the original Psycho house are still there, but now the tour includes a stop on Wysteria Lane to see the Desperate Housewives. You can still see where Spartacus was filmed, but now you also drive right through the plane crash scene from War of the Worlds. A new Fast and Furious demonstration adds another thrill with two race cars hurtling toward the tram through the magic of hydraulics.

Universal Studios is one of the best and easiest ways to get a close-up view of L.A. movie-making, but there are many other fascinating locations around town. For example, the Paramount Ranch in Agoura Hills was home to productions like Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman, the Flintstones: Viva Rock Vegas and numerous TV series. And, did you know that you can visit a Culver City industrial area that was once the “Forty Acre Back lot,” the former location of Mayberry where all the outdoor scenes on the Andy Griffith Show were filmed?

In addition, there are still other interesting studio tours you can take:

Warner Brothers Studios, Burbank – We enjoyed this two-hour tour which we took a few years back. Visitors are escorted in groups of 12 through the Warner Brothers lot, with stops along the way at television and movie sets. All of the sets and props here are real and not just for the benefit of the tourists. Visitors get to see the costume department as well as the mill that creates the sets. Since numerous productions are ongoing at any given time, you may have a better chance here of seeing a star – we didn’t, but it was fun seeing the actual sets for shows like Friends. Phone 818-972-TOUR.

Sony Pictures Studios, Culver City — this is the home of amazing Hollywood history, and was the place where they made the Wizard of Oz. It’s the former MGM Studios and offers a walking tour of the studio’s back lot, sets, sound stages and historic scenery. In more recent years, the studio is where Men in Black and Spiderman were filmed, and where shows like Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune are taped. Phone 323-520-TOUR.

NBC TV Studio Tour, Burbank – These studios are where many a live television show has been taped, including the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. The guided walking tour takes you into the warehouses where costumes and props are stored, control room areas and the tour gives you a great overview of how network television is produced. Phone 818-840-3537.

AT A GLANCE

WHERE: Universal Studios Hollywood is located in Universal City, just north of downtown Los Angeles. The theme park is easily accessed using Highway 101 North. General parking will cost you $10, while you’ll pay twice that for preferred parking.

WHAT: Universal Studios Hollywood offers the most complete experience of any movie studio tour – a major theme park and a tour through the actual working areas of Universal Studios.

WHEN: Year-round. Wear sunscreen and be prepared for summertime temperatures to be quite warm in the California sun.

WHY: While the Universal Studios tour is the most slickly produced of the movie studio tours – which is not necessarily an advantage – it offers a major theme park right next door. Any trip to Universal Studios Hollywood is as much about visiting the theme park as the movie studio.

HOW: For more information on Universal Studios Hollywood, phone 1-800-UNIVERSAL or visit http://www.universalstudioshollywood.com.

X Men Origins – Wolverine Review and What’s Next From the X Men Movie Scene?

X Men – what a fabulous concept. Haven’t we all wanted to possess superhuman powers? I know I have. As I didn’t see this movie in the cinema, I couldn’t wait to rent my personal copy when X Men Origins: Wolverine came out on September the 15th this year. Since the beginning of the original X Men hit in 2000, there have been an array of predefining films building story upon story. You could say that sequels never really live up to the first ever film. I decided to take up the task of casting my critical beady eye over the recent release. Was it worth the wait? This is what I found….

One of the striking successes of this film and the others has been the ability of the producers to consistently produce the same technical levels for a film with super quality and great pictures. Without this it just wouldn’t feel the same and sometimes I feel we do not credit the shows producers enough for this element of production.

Let’s cut to the chase now. What was the story? Hugh Jackman returned to the big screen in the role that made him the star – Wolverine . Anyone with a fascination for Wolverine would have loved discovering all about his past as I did. The opening montage took us on a film of his contribution to the American war through the decades. The story starts with a young Wolverine as James Howlett. His hidden skeletons included being witness to the murder of his father at the hands of another man claiming to be his ‘real’ dad. Then as Logan, he and his brother Victor find out that they possess superhuman powers combined with an intense rage that will ultimately provide them both with the source of strength that they need to fight in combat. They both have razor sharp claws to boot. They become embroiled in military combat.

Then enter another player in the field,Stryker. In this film he sheds light on his connection to Wolverine.Stryker actively recruits mutants to his team to carry out orders from the US military. The team comprises of individuals with unusual powers. Such powers included master marksman, an electricity master, a strong man, a teleporter, expert swordsmen not to mention the sharp nails of Vistor and steely razor-sharp claws of Logan. Logan is reluctant to battle particularly when an African village is massacred. Logan quits and spends the next years in the Canadian Rockies working as a lumberjack.

As luck would have it when you’re making a blockbuster, Logan was never going to live happily ever after. Big brother Vistor turns up. He’d been killing off members from the old unit and when their confrontation ends in tragedy, Logan sees red. Stryker makes him a deal to become part of his new team again in return for bringing his brother Victor down. An offer he could just simply not say no to. This would involve a risky process in which Logan’s bones would be bonded with adamantium, this would turn him into Wolverine for us adoring fans.

This simple but dramatic story of revenge is what X Men Origins: Wolverine is all about. We learn more about his character traits again. A tale of where he has a great sense of uneasiness as to who he is, conflict rages.
I give this film a grand 9/10. Why? It filled me with plenty of emotion, all different types; it was fast paced and well grafted together. So, now that I’ve seen that, I want to see the next but what is it going to be?

Rumours are rife and David Goyer who has been tasked to write and direct Magneto, said ” that Fox are trying to decide if making a young X Men film makes the most sense now”.

In the meantime why not enjoy a great film trailer of X Men Origins: Wolverine at the x men toys site just enough to stimulate your imagination on a journey into a world where you either fight, die or survive. This fast paced trailer will just wet your appetite for more…..

Whatever is decided, I just cannot wait for another super brilliant sequel to hit our screens and provide us with another opportunity to savour more from the X Men.

So it sounds like there’s a face-off between Deadpool, Magneto and First Class at Fox right now. Who do you think will win and get the green light first? Where do you place your bet? Could it also be about Storm? We sure as hell could do with a strong woman taking centre stage. Let us know who you want to see next on the big screen and why?