Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Review warp-up: Eminem, Green Day, Up, Drag Me to Hell

For those on the fence, still trying to decide which electronic entertainment to consume, here's the latest batch of reviews in the world of movies and music.

Eminem: Relapse- Em' has been gone four years now, battling a drug addiction and keeping a low profile. While this time in exile has given the troubled rapper something new to talk about, I find myself almost longing for the days every single song had to do with his ex-wife, Kim, or his abusive mother. I guess you could call the drug problem a theme in Eminem's latest offering, Relapse. If that's the case, violence, misogyny and homophobia are also themes. The problem is, this no longer feels edgy. Instead, it comes off as a kid who used to be popular for coloring outside the lines desperately waving his arms around in need of attention. If you can get past the B.S., though, the album is okay. Not great, but I hated it less after further listens. The formula is bland (Chorus-chorus-verse-repeat) and the beats are mostly unoriginal, but songs like "We made you" and "Beautiful" help to wash away some of the monotony.

Green Day: 21st Century Breakdown- Green Day reinvented itself with American Idiot and continues to do so with 21st Century Breakdown. The lyrics ooze with punk ideals and clever jabs at society, government and the digital generation, but the sound is something more akin to classic American rock. It's an interesting mix and I for one dig it. This rock opera follows Christian and Gloria on a trek though middle America as they struggle to find their place in this world as the last remaining rebels of the "class of zero." The inclusion of a story tying the massive list of tracks together works well and the songs all flow together nicely, but while the music is mostly good, nothing here (save "21 guns") blew my mind. If you're an old school Green Day fan who hated American Idiot, this will make you hate them even more. If you enjoyed the change of pace from Idiot, however, you should feel likewise about this latest offering.

Drag Me to Hell- Sam Raimi's latest horror romp is easy to describe: gut-bustingly hilarious and stomach turningly grotesque movie awesomeness. It's basically Evil Dead for a new generation. It has all the slapstick horror and sweeping shots you would expect from a Raimi film, but it's more cohesive and has a story that probably took more than thirty minutes to write. Alison Lohman is glorious in her role as a cursed loan officer, reminiscent of the great Bruce Campbell in her reactions to the multi-colored $#!+ plowing into the proverbial fan. It's a very physical role and she handles it well, giving all the right subtleties at all the right moments and even underacts the role a bit, similar to what you would see in B movies of old. If you're tired of what passes for horror films these days and want to see something refreshingly familiar yet altogether new, drag yourself to a theater and get ready for a wonderful treat. As the credits started to roll, I actually forgave Raimi for Spider-Man 3. THAT'S how good it is.

Up- I'm not sure how they keep doing it, but Pixar has struck gold yet again with Up. The story is grand and fantastic, the cast is small but adequate, the music is sweeping and the writing is 100 percent top shelf. Grumpy old Carl Fredricksen is probably the creative team's best character yet; human and complex. Within ten minutes of watching the film, you know exactly who he is and what drives him. A quick montage with brilliant musical accompaniment manages character development most films can't muster in a full runtime. While the basic story is simple- Carl wants to get his house to Paradise Falls in South America and does so with the use of thousands of balloons- there are so many layers present you'll be wowed by the number of interconnecting plot points and references to moments you had nearly forgotten about. Up is a triumph highlighting Pixar at the top of its abilities and should be considered an early contestant for Movie of the Year. I loved it.

1 comment:

jess said...

best four minutes of film we will all see this summer? the first undialogued four of Up.