Archive for January, 2008

29 Jan 2008

Untraceable

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untrace.jpg“Untraceable”fails to bring any new excitement to the clichéd thriller genre, even with a twisted concept. Diane Lane (“Killshot”) stars as Jennifer Marsh, a single mother and experienced FBI agent. Her job is to hunt down Internet predators by pretending to be the victims they prey on.

Jennifer works at night so she can spend the day with her daughter, letting her lead a simple life. But after a mysterious tip to visit a disturbing Web site called “Killwithme.com,”her life becomes more complicated.

On her first visit to the site, Jennifer witnesses the torture and eventual death of a kitten. At the bottom of the page, a message explains every hit the Web site gets helps the victim die quicker.

Jennifer reports the site to her superiors, but is told to worry more about humans.

A week passes and Jennifer cannot get the haunting image of the cat from her head. She returns to the site to find that the site’s creator has another victim. This time she finds a suffering human.

Now with the full support of the FBI, Jennifer uses all of her resources to find this Internet fiend. What she doesn’t know is that the killer is also using all of his resources to find her.

The plot is clever but plays out like a child wrote the screenplay. With multiple scenes directly imitating moments from other thrillers such as “Saw”and “The Watcher,”the audience is more likely to get an eerie feeling from déjà vu rather than from the movie itself.

Even with its predictability, the film is still entertaining to watch. The incredibly talented and surprisingly still sexy Lane shines in her role. No matter what the situation, she always seems to be one step ahead, continually convincing the audience that she is not afraid of her daunting opponent.

On the other hand, the film’s villain is as frightening as a baby penguin. While his methods of torture are cringe-worthy, the movie could have benefited more with an intimidating adversary instead of a stereotypical computer geek.

Director Gregory Hoblit used many other filming techniques to stylize a typically dull movie. Hoblit seemed to use a blue tint over the camera to add a dark and dreary feel to the film. Since the film was shot in the already overcast town of Portland, Ore., the blue gave the landscape an overall creepy mystique.

“Untraceable”is the perfect leave-your-brain-at-the-door thriller that is better to watch in the comfort of your own home.

‘Untraceable’
Release Date: Jan. 25
Director: Gregory Hoblit
Starring: Diane Lane, Billy Burke, Colin Hanks, Joseph Cross, Mary Beth Hurt
Genre: Crime, thriller
Rating: R for violence, torture and language
Grade: C+

22 Jan 2008

Cloverfield

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AE Cloverfield

Out of the many loose ends “Cloverfield”leaves open, the biggest question that arises is “why was the film not as clever as its marketing?”

When May 22 begins, the only thing on Lily’s, Hud’s and Jason’s minds is the upcoming surprise good-bye party for their brother and friend Rob. Once night falls, the booze starts flowing, a handheld camera is rolling and the only thing that seems to be wrong is Rob’s attitude towards longtime friend Beth.

After a not-so-private argument between the two, the party’s cheer slowly fades to gossip, which is quickly replaced by an overwhelming panic caused by a seemingly sudden, thunderous earthquake. From there, the party quickly dissipates and Rob and company find themselves in the middle of a crumbling New York City. Now on the run from an unknown beast, the group fights through the chaos to find an escape from the city they love.

Going into “Cloverfield”is like going to the neighbor’s haunted house. Unsuspected thrills and monsters are to be expected upon entering, but once the short journey is through, most wonder why they waited in line so long for something that unexceptional.

The film’s main focus is to make the audience feel as if they were with the main characters living the nightmare.

While the shaky camera adds to the realistic effect, it is ultimately the film’s downfall. The most obvious flaw is not that the battery never seems to go down, but the fact that the camera takes more hits than Muhammad Ali ever did and still never breaks.

As the helpless military tirelessly and inefficiently attacks the giant creature, the viewers are left with only short glimpses of the action. Instead, the camera frantically follows the clichéd survivors in peril.

The film offers little back story and the expected plot twist. The actors do what they can to bring life to the story, but ultimately fail to bring any originality.

Although a constant somber tone persists throughout the film, Hud stands out by adding the occasional joke. One of his better lines comes when he says, “Wouldn’t it suck if there were flaming hobos down here?”while the group walks through a pitch-black, rat-infested subway canal.

Officially, “Cloverfield”is considered an Action/Horror, but fails to live up to the second half of its title. The movie does have the occasional “jump out of your seat”moments, but overall, it worked better as a thriller.

The monster is unnerving at times, but the audience rarely gets the chance to see enough of the horrific special effects creation to be truly terrified.

With an abrupt cliff-hanger ending, “Cloverfield”ends in a whimper instead of a roar. While this film may not satisfy, there is hope that another story with another group could add a better perspective of the Cloverfield world.

‘Cloverfield’
Release Date: Jan. 18
Director: Matt Reeves
Starring: Michael Stahl-David, Mike Vogel, Odette Yustman, Lizzy Caplan, Jessica Lucas, T. J. Miller
Genre: Action, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Rating: PG-13 for violence, terror and disturbing images
Grade: C-

Promoting a product via word of mouth instead of the normal billboards and TV spots. Often uses clues to drive early adopters into a frenzy of searches in the digital and physical world.

As Bob Felten, an advertising professor, put it: it’s marketing by “word of mouse.”

Some cases of viral marketing

  • 1999 “The Blair Witch Project”: posters and other ads promoted it as a documentary. Producers pushed the campaign so much that IMDB.com listed the actors as “missing, presumed dead.”The $22,000 movie pulled in $248 million worldwide.
  • 2002 “The Ring”: unmarked videotapes were left in concert parking lots across the West Coast. The tapes played the disturbing film which, according to “The Ring,”would lead to the viewer’s death in seven days. The $48 million movie pulled in $249 million worldwide.
  • 2005 “The Ring Two”: producers took the death-call a step further. People could enter friends into a sneak preview contest. At the beginning of the sneak peek, the death video would play. Seconds later, the viewer would get a phone call with a creepy voice whispering “Seven days…”
  • While the budget wasn’t released, the movie made $161 million worldwide.
  • 2008 “The Dark Knight”: The sequel to “Batman Begins”forced die-hard fans to venture outdoors in Web-rooted scavenger hunts, ultimately revealing the re-imagined Joker. The movie comes out this summer.