Tag Archives: sequel

Movie Review: The Expendables 2 (2012)

So I keep hearing that The Expendables 2 is what the first film should have been.

My expectations for the first film were, unfortunately, slightly higher. That said, Expendables 2 is a vast improvement on its predecessor because it decided to have do more with fact that it features a whole bunch of high-profile action stars who aren’t afraid to poke fun at themselves. It’s has more characters, longer cameos, bigger explosions, upgraded fight scenes and a lot of great one liners. I wish it could have been a little more, but perhaps I’m asking for too much.

The story picks up not too long after the first one ended. Sty Stallone and Jason Statham are still leading their team of mercenaries, which includes other action heroes such as martial arts expert Jet Li, MMA fighter Randy Couture (Mr “You got a door? You got a gym!”), Ivan Drago aka Dolph Lundgren , and the guy I will always associate with White Chicks, Terry Crews. Of the original team, only Mickey Rourke dropped out.

This time, the team has two strange new additions: Liam Hemsworth (who is not an action star — yet — though his brother Chris is) as a sniper, and Chinese actress Yu Nan (selected probably because of her proficiency in English), who keeps up the Asian quotient on the squad after Jet Li jets off minutes into the film (he hadn’t planned on being in it but Stallone insisted).

I think the plot had something to do with baddies forcing poor villagers in Eastern Europe to help them mine plutonium, but no one really cares about plot in a film like this.

The Expendables 2 still contains “serious” scenes and “character development” scenes, but on the whole the film was more lighthearted than the first. The jokes are frequent, and unlike in the first film, much funnier, and the fight scenes are better choreographed. There are plenty of blown off limbs and exploding bodies but it’s all so intentionally over-the-top that no one would call it realistic violence.

There are three major positives worth mentioning about this film.

The first is the new villain, Jean-Claude Van Damme, who plays a guy creatively named…er, Vilain. Van Damme does a delicious villain and actually gets to perform some of his trademark Kickboxer movers, such as that flying roundhouse he loves so much. Van Damme is backed up by the familiar face of Scott Adkins, who has been in a bunch of supporting roles and B-grade action films over the years.

The second is the extended cameos of Willis and Arnie. The biggest disappointment of the first film was that they appeared for about 5 seconds together and did nothing. This time, the trio finally get together and get their hands dirty. Even though it’s not for very long, it’s still better than nothing, and they even get to shoot witty remarks at each other. It was fun.

The third is the much-talked about appearance of Chuck Norris, who has somehow grown to legendary status thanks to those never-ending internet jokes. Chuck lives up to those jokes and even tells a few of his own. His presence is the brightest highlight of the entire film, and it’s a shame he couldn’t have gotten more screen time. I would pay to watch a Chuck Norris spin-off where all he does is live up to his legend.

What you should have noticed by now is that none of the three positives involve Stallone’s team of mercenaries. That’s because they still kind of sucked. The biggest culprit is still Stallone himself, who must be the lamest of them all by keeping a “straight face”  (okay, I see that’s a term grossly inappropriate for him) throughout the entire film. He remains jacked up on steroids, human growth hormones or whatever Lance Armstrong has been taking, but he exhibits no charm and no skill other than growling incoherently (I think he’s still saying “Adriannnnn!”), running in over-sized platform boots and squinting through those two pellets he calls eyes. But hey, it’s his movie and his idea, so he still has to be “the man” by default. I wanted more Rambo and Rocky, less whatever his name is in the film.

Statham has two good scenes where he gets to strut his stuff, but Crews, Lundgren and Couture fade into the background and practically do nothing. Hemsworth and Yu Nan don’t do a whole lot other actors couldn’t have done either. It’s disappointing and a waste of an opportunity.

I also didn’t get all the pointless talking that was supposedly aimed at character development. They were boring, and no one can tell what Stallone is trying to say anyway.

Ultimately, the film was still a solid piece of entertainment and plenty of popcorn fun. Kudos for improving on the first one and providing a blueprint for that inevitable third movie. It’s possible they may have already exhausted all they can do with this franchise but I suppose as long as there are new action stars to add people will still flock to watch it — me included.

3.5 stars out of 5

 

Movie Review: The Amazing Spider-Man (2D) (2012)

 

I have mixed feelings about The Amazing Spider-Man, the reboot of the Sam Raimi franchise which began in 2002 and ended just five years ago. On the one hand, it is a spectacular action film with cool special effects that is arguably more faithful to the comics (Spider-Man’s web, for instance, was invented by Peter Parker rather than biological), but on the other it felt too similar to the 2002 film.

I had high expectations for The Amazing Spider-Man, and it’s not just because I am a much bigger fan of the two new lead stars, Andrew Garfield (Eduardo Saverin from The Social Network) and Emma Stone, than the original duo of Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst. And it’s not because the film is directed by Marc Webb, who was at the helm of one of my favourite movies, 500 Days of Summer. It’s simply because I think Spider-Man is a cool superhero and an interesting character. And because the reboot of the Batman franchise with Christian Bale has been so ridiculously awesome and different to the Michael Keaton/Val Kilmer/George Clooney one that I expected a completely new spin on the character and story.

Unfortunately, The Amazing Spider-Man is not all that different to the film made 10 years ago. Yes, there are some major differences in the story, such as a new love interest (Stone plays Gwen Stacy — who was played by Bryce Dallas Howard in Spider-Man 3) and a new villain, The Lizard, played by Rhys Ifans. Both are actually upgrades on Kirsten Dunst’s Mary Jane Watson and Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin. Yes, this one also has a slightly more in-depth origin story that is linked back to Peter Parker’s parents (though more will probably be revealed in the inevitable sequel). But a lot of the plot points were virtually identical (without giving anything away), begging the question of why they needed to reboot the franchise in the first place.

If you haven’t seen the 2002 version or it’s not fresh in your mind, then you will probably have a great time. For some reason, I still remember a lot of it vividly, and as a result I kept getting a sense of deja vu. I know a lot of it was inevitable because they are core plot points in the Spider-Man origins story, but it certainly sucked the freshness out of it. I never got that feeling watching Batman Begins, which was a genuine “reboot” in every sense of the word.

On the bright side, The Amazing Spider-Man is exciting. The action sequences are clearer and more fluid than they were 10 years ago, and also very creative in the way they play out. I didn’t watch the 3D version but I suppose 3D effects could have enhanced certain scenes.

Rhys Ifans makes a wonderful, tormented semi-villain, and Dennis Leary has great presence as the city’s police chief. And how awesome is it to have Martin Sheen and Sally Field playing the uncle and aunt?

The new Peter Parker, Andrew Garfield, is more likable than Tobey Maguire. Interestingly, I thought Garfield looked pretty good for a high school student, but he’s actually 28, and a year older than Maguire when the latter played Spider-Man in 2002. I did have a slight problem with the character in that he wasn’t exactly geeky or nerdy enough. He’s thin, but taller and lankier than Maguire and also rides a skateboard. And it didn’t take much for Gwen Stacy to fall for him. It didn’t really make a whole lot of sense for him to be bullied or ignored by girls at the start of the film.

Emma Stone is also quite good as Gwen. Strong personality with just the right amount of feistiness and teenage angst. Funnily enough, I thought she looked too old to be a high school student, even though she’s five years younger than Garfield at 23.

The weakest link, though, had to be Irrfan Khan as an employee of Oscorp. He was plain bad and unintentionally hilarious at times.

I had a couple of other issues with the film’s editing and tonal imbalance, but these are relatively minor. Even though the film was more detailed than the 2002 version overall, at times I felt they rushed a few key scenes, while others might have been dragged out longer than necessary. And at 136 minutes it was, as usual, about 15 minutes too long. And am I being anal when I say the music score of the ordinarily dependable James Horner was occasionally distracting?

So at the end of the day, if Tobey Maguire’s 2002 version of Spider-Man is still fresh in your mind, chances are you won’t be wowed by this film. For me personally, The Amazing Spider-Man, while spectacular at times and very enjoyable in its own right, was not quite “amazing.”

3.25 stars out of 5

Movie Review: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011)

This was one of my most anticipated movies of the Christmas/New Year period but I was too busy being a new dad to have an opportunity to check it out. I know not everyone agrees with what Guy Ritchie has done to the beloved detective but I quite liked Robert Downey Jr’s version of the character in the original film: a neurotic, slightly disturbed, fist-fighting action hero — who happens to solve a crime or two along the way.

Well I finally got a chance to watch it recently, and as it turned out, the sequel was pretty much more of the same. That’s not necessarily a bad thing if you enjoyed the shenanigans of the first film, but personally, I was looking forward to more evolution in both Holmes and Jude Law’s Dr Watson.

In Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Sherlock investigates a series of murders and dodgy stuff he believes is connected to some sinister professor, as his trusty sidekick Watson prepares for his wedding to his long-time girlfriend Mary. The plot is actually rather convoluted, though that doesn’t really matter because the strength of the film again lies in Ritchie’s fast-paced action and Holmes’s personality quirks and one-liners. Rachel McAdams has a smaller role in this sequel and the main female role is given to the original girl with the dragon tattoo, Noomi Rapace, who plays a rather thankless gypsy.

Ritchie is a slick director, so you know you’re in for a high quality piece of entertainment. A couple of the action sequences (especially the one on the train) were done exceptionally well and the comedic timing was superb. If you’ve seen the original then you’ll have a fair idea of what to expect, and you’ll know that much of the film’s charm comes from the chemistry between Downey Jr and Law, a dirty, squabbling, scrappy odd couple that gets into all sorts of strife but always comes out on top.

My problem with A Game of Shadows is that it was too similar to the original. The story was different but the “feel” was virtually identical. It was terrific the first time round but another 129 minutes of it had me wanting something different. For instance, Holmes’s “prediction” of future events where time would fast forward (and slow down) as he talks about what he aims to do as he does it — that was cool in the first film and the first time he did it in the sequel — but by the fourth or fifth time I was desperate for something else.

I also would have preferred to see Holmes’s crime-solving genius in action, rather than always having it revealed in what I like to call “Aha!” moments, which inevitably occur just when you think Holmes and Watson have been beaten. I think it is more impressive if the audience is also presented with all the facts before having Holmes show us how he solved the mystery on the spot, rather than showing us all his elaborate prep work in hindsight through crafty flashbacks.

At the end of the day, A Game of Shadows is very solid entertainment that is every bit as good as the original. But personally, I wished it could have been more — or at least more different. For a sequel it was enough, but if there is a third film in the series the same formula won’t be able to cut it again.

3.5 stars out of 5

Movie Review: Wrath of the Titans (2D) (2012)

 

For some reason, my memory of the predecessor, Clash of the Titans, was that it sucked. But when I checked my review of it I realised I actually said I quiet enjoyed it and gave it 3.5 stars. Beats me.

Either way, I am certain that the sequel, Wrath of the Titans, is better.

The second film begins 10 years after the first, where demigod and son of Zeus, Perseus (Sam Worthington, with long curly hair), is now a fisherman intent on raising his young son and wants nothing to do with the conflicts of the gods. But of course, he doesn’t get a chance because the gods are always angry with each other and he has to, once again, become the world’s saviour. It made little sense to me considering all the gods are kinda related to each other (or maybe that makes perfect sense) but I went along for the ride anyway.

Maybe it’s my bias towards Greek mythology, but I thought Wrath of the Titans was pretty awesome. It’s clichéd and predictable, but still — I couldn’t get enough of the mythological monsters and the spectacular battle scenes, of which there were plenty. There’s no Medusa or Kraken this time, but you do get to see Perseus take on a Chimera, Cyclops and a Minotaur, among others. From what I could recall of the first film I thought the fight scenes were better executed and more epic this time around.

The storyline, like the original, still doesn’t quite click, but I felt it had improved and was a lot more engaging. It was definitely less confusing and convoluted. I believe one of the main reasons is because the film is wrapped up in a manageable 99 minutes, whereas the original was far too long at 118.

I also firmly believe (without any proof whatsoever), that the makers of this second film (which was directed by Jonathan Liebesman, who last did Battle: Los Angeles) got a lot of ideas from the sensational God of War III on the PS3. Seriously – everything from the creature designs to the way the battles played out reminded me so much of the video game that it cannot be merely a coincidence.

Sam Worthington is still a little “meh” but he does a good enough job as the hero Perseus. Nothing wrong with him but a bunch of Hollywood actors could have pulled off the role just as well, if not better.

Other returners include Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes as Zeus and Hades, respectively, but Alexa Davalos is replaced by Rosamund Pike as Andromeda and Tamer Hassan is substituted by Edgar Ramirez as Ares. All are better than they were in the original.

Newcomers include Toby Kebbell as Agenor (whom for a very long time I thought was named “Vaginal”) and Bill Nighy as Hephaestus. Both are solid and provide upgrades over supporting characters from the first film.

So as you might have guessed, I thought Wrath of the Titans was better than Clash of the Titans. It had better action sequences, improved special effects, stronger characters and plot, and accomplished more in less time. Another reason could be because I watched the original in clunky 3D and the sequel in 2D, the way the films were supposed to be.

I know the film hasn’t gotten the best reviews but I hope they go ahead with the planned third instalment.

4 stars out of 5!

Movie Review: Columbiana (2011)

Apparently, allegedly, supposedly, Columbiana was originally envisioned as a sequel to The Professional (otherwise known as Leon), you know, Natalie Portman’s debut as a pre-pubescent assassin wannabe who is rescued and taken in by a super lone assassin played by Jean Reno.  It’s kind of got cult classic status now and is a personal favourite of mine.

But let’s face it, even though it will get the fanboys all hot under the collar, the idea of a grown up Natalie Portman who has fulfilled her dream of becoming an assassin was always going to suck and piss all over the legacy of the original film.

And so I’m glad they didn’t go down that route.  Instead, Columbiana as a similar premise, except with Zoe Saldana (Avatar, Star Trek, The Losers) in the lead role as a little girl who is determined to become an assassin after her family is wiped out by drug lords in Columbia and she escapes to America to live with her uncle.  Fast forward a few years and Saldana has become the real deal — a super svelte, sexy, kick-ass assassin who is intent on tracking down and annihilating all those involved in her family’s demise.

As an action film, Columbiana does produce some thrills and clever ideas.  Saldana looks the part and, because the film is co-produced and co-written by Luc Besson (the man behind The Professional), the style is slick and has that unique “Besson feel” to it — I’m thinking classics like The Fifth Element, Nikita, Taken, Taxi — all films he has been involved with in some capacity).  The gun fights, hand-to-hand combat and in especially the chase scenes are all done extremely well.

That said, when all said and done, Columbiana will likely go down as one of the more forgettable Besson-related films.  There’s just nothing in this film that feels fresh or special, and the storytelling by director Olivier Megaton (Transporter 3 — and said to be at the helm of the much anticipated Taken 2) leaves a lot to be desired.  It was choppy and uneven and simply not engaging.  I actually got a bit bored during the slower scenes.

But I will say that I found the action-packed scenes of Columbiana enjoyable when I was watching it.  As a Zoe Saldana vehicle and popcorn movie, it delivers, but don’t go in expecting a whole lot more.

2.75 stars out of 5

Movie Review: Tomorrow, When the War Began (2010)

To be honest, I had never heard of the bestselling Tomorrow series (total of 7 bookss) by John Marsden until the film of the first book, Tomorrow, When the War Began, started making waves in the headlines.  I was intrigued by the teaser poster, which has a girl with her back turned, looking out into the vast, empty plains.  It gave me the feeling that this was going to be a promising blockbuster, and I was utterly shocked when I discovered that it was Australian.

Anyway, I went and checked it out over the weekend, harbouring some moderate expectations.  And I am glad to say, at a basic level, the film delivered — an intriguing story, teenage angst, and a fair amount of action.  While it was clearly not at the level of most Hollywood blockbusters, with a budget of just $20 million, I think Tomorrow, When the War Began was a solid domestic effort.

For those who aren’t familiar with the story, it’s about a bunch of teenagers from a small Australian country town that decide to go camping, and while they are away, Australia is invaded by an unknown foreign enemy.  How will they respond?  Will they hide, or will they fight back?  (I think we all know the answer).

The film is written and directed by Stuart Beattie, who worked on 30 Days of Night, GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra, Australia and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. As Marsden’s book was first published in 1993, several changes were required to make this a ‘modern’ adaptation.  I haven’t read the book yet (recently bought a copy), but from what I have heard the film is quite faithful to the original source.

What I enjoyed about the movie was that it was, for the most part, pretty entertaining.  There’s nothing like a story about a bunch of average youngsters of various backgrounds and personalities who find themselves tossed into a perilous situation and must band together to overcome their prejudices and weaknesses in order to give themselves a chance to become heroes.  We’ve seen it done before plenty of times, but for me, it never gets old, as long as it is well executed.

Yes, most of the stuff that happens in the film beggars belief, but it didn’t bother me at all.  I accepted the gaps in logic and just went along for the ride.  Even though there were very few surprises throughout the film, I still found many sequences to be tense and exciting.

And of course, we’ve got quite a cast of stereotypical characters — the strong, independent protagonist Ellie (Caitlin Stasey), the naive but loyal best friend Corrie (Rachel Hurd-Wood), the local bad boy Homer (Deniz Akdeniz) the wimpy jock Kevin (Lincoln Lewis), the dumb blonde Fi (Phoebe Tonkin), the token hardworking Asian Lee (Chris Pang), the token religious freak Robyn (Ashleigh Cummings), and the token stoner Chris (Andy Ryan).

I didn’t have a big problem with the characters themselves, but it pains me to say that the acting from the young cast was somewhat uneven.  Without naming names, I will simply say that some of the acting was cringeworthy (though the majority of it was passable).  Again, I can’t discuss the book as I haven’t read it yet, but I would put some of the blame on the dialogue.  Corny?  Yes.  Realistic?  Not even close.  The interactions between some of the characters also felt strained and unnatural.  I could see what they were aiming for but they couldn’t quite pull it off.

So that was my impression of Tomorrow, When the War Began.  A solid Aussie action flick (gosh there are so few of them), but ultimately nothing special.  Nevertheless, the film has been doing very well across Australia and New Zealand, which means sequels could be forthcoming.  If so, let’s hope they can turn it up another notch.

3.5 stars out of 5

(A couple of nice touches in the film were the little jokes about the book and the subtle references to Australia’s invasive past)

Movie Review: Sherlock Holmes (2009)

I admit I don’t know a whole lot about the Sherlock Holmes created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  I may have read a few story books or seen a couple of TV shows about the super sleuth as a child, but on the whole my memory is pretty fuzzy.

Accordingly, when I watched the new film Sherlock Holmes directed by Guy Ritchie, I didn’t have a pre-conceived notion of how the character was supposed to behave.  I understand a lot of old school fans may be quite appalled at the way Sir Conan’s creation has been butchered in this ‘re-invention’ (in the same way I was devastated with what Hollywood did with Astro Boy), but I didn’t have such a problem.

With that in mind, I quite liked it!  That’s saying a lot because I haven’t liked a Guy Ritchie film since Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (and I didn’t even like that very much).

(Read the rest of the review by clicking on ‘More…’)

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Movie Review: Avatar (2009)

How do you follow up the highest grossing movie of all time?

Spend 15 years and more than $230 million dollars to make a technologically groundbreaking blockbuster!  Well, that’s exactly what James Cameron did with his latest sci-fi action masterpiece: Avatar.

In one word, Avatar is a ‘spectacle’.  Do yourself a favour and watch this movie in 3D because it is an unbelievable experience.  While I wouldn’t go as far as to say that the special effects were entirely ‘photo-realistic’, it was pretty darn close.  My wife thought some of the computer-generated characters and creatures were partly built with models and make-up (as opposed to 100% CGI), and I’m sure she wasn’t the only one.  The computer-generated alien world was stunningly beautiful, and at times it was impossible to tell whether it was real or not (because some of it was real and filmed in New Zealand).

Without giving away too much of the plot, Avatar is set in a futuristic world on a distant planet called Pandora.  The title is apt but I won’t say anything more than that.  I was very disappointed with the previews, which, as always, gave away waaaaay too much.  Avoid them like the plague.  The film is predictable enough as it is without a start-to-finish synopsis of the entire storyline.  And besides, it really kills the ‘wow’ factor.

Avatar is the first genuine 3D film that I’ve seen.  The purpose of the 3D is to enhance the movie experience, not to act as a gimmick.  In movies like The Final Destination 3D or My Blood Valentine 3D, the 3D was all about making things fly at you at every opportunity, and it gets old quickly.  But in Avatar, it’s there to bring an amazing fantasy world to life, and it really works.  You become immersed in it.  You start to believe it is real.  The excitement becomes more exciting.  The thrills become more thrilling.  The characters become more believable.  It works.

New Aussie superstar Sam Worthington plays the lead character Jake Sully, and it’s easy to see why Cameron picked him (and recommended him for Terminator Salvation) out of thousands of ‘unknowns’ at the time.  He has this unassuming quality about him – an easygoing, down-to-earth disposition that makes it easy for you to root for him.  The rest of the cast is also solid – Sigourney Weaver, Zoe Saldana, Michelle Rodriguez, Giovanni Ribisi and Stephen Lang as the imposing Colonel Miles Quaritch.  Each hold their own, though at the end of the day none manage to steal Worthington’s thunder.

I believe the critics have been less harsh with Avatar than they were with Titanic, though there are certain to be cynics out there.  Yes, it’s easy to point to the character designs and say they are a rip-off of the Smurfs (!).  Yes, the dialogue and jokes are cheesy (though some of it is intentionally tongue-in-cheek), it has stock-standard secondary characters, and the plot is entirely predictable.  And yes, it has the audacity to contain thinly-veiled but uninspiring messages about the environment, nature, and political greed (in particular American arrogance and self-righteousness).

But none of that really matters.  Don’t look too far for a deeper meaning when watching Avatar – just enjoy it for what it is – an awesome, utterly spectacular movie experience.  The action sequences, especially the lengthy final climax, are sure to go down as some of the greatest ever.  Despite being almost 3 hours long, I never once looked at my watch – my trusty yardstick for how enjoyable a film truly is.

Just days into its release, Avatar is doing exceptionally well, and may lead to the development of planned sequels, though I’m not sure that’s such a great idea.  That being said, I am already planning a second helping of Avatar – this time, of course, on IMAX!

4.5 stars out of 5!

Movie Review: Paranormal Activity (2009)

paranormal_activity_poster

Paranormal Activity is the latest ‘is it real or not?’, low-budget horror movie pieced together with supposed amateur home video footage.  Think The Blair Witch Project for haunted houses.

While I liked the overall idea and it’s by no means a terrible film, Paranormal Activity didn’t really do it for me.  Maybe I just wasn’t in the mood to be scared.  It did have its moments, but certainly isn’t the ‘scariest’ or ‘most terrifying’ movie of all time (or even the year) as it has been hyped up to be.

The footage begins when young couple Micah and Katie, living together in a fairly nice suburban house, decide to get a video camera to capture the paranormal activity they have been experiencing.  There is a bit of a back story and you get to know the characters are little through footage of their daily lives, but I found these to be time fillers than any real effort to allow the audience to get to know, and perhaps even care about, these people.

Like The Blair Witch Project, the tension in Paranormal Activity is built up slowly and gradually, with the intent of blowing the audience away with a ripper of an ending.  However, even at only 86 minutes, it felt like nothing was happening for a really long time.  A few bumps in the night, a few eerie things here and there, but for the most part they seemed like relatively minor incidents that were met with overreaction.  I understand director and writer Oren Peli’s intention to build an atmospheric film that utilises dread rather than cheap scares, but I spent much of the movie wishing something would actually happen.  I will say, though, that there were a couple of pretty cool things that happened towards the end, but unfortunately the final sequences weren’t as chilling as I had hoped.**

The film’s biggest problem, from which most of its other problems stemmed, was the restrictive nature of its format.  Of course, as the audience, you only get to see what has recorded by the inhabitants of the house.  But that raises some very difficult obstacles.  How much can you reasonably expect someone who is being terrified by demons to tape everything that happens to them?  Do you go the realistic route and miss out on some of the action?  Or do you come up with forced excuses to make them take the video camera everywhere and record everything?  Either way, the film suffers.

To its credit, Paranormal Activity tries to reach some sort of balance between the two extremes.  As the inhabitants actually set out to capture and document the haunting, a camera is set up in the bedroom and runs throughout the night, and that is when most of the creepy stuff happens.  In my opinion, that was by far the cleverest idea in the film.  Every time the bedroom cam is set up and the residents to go bed, I start to swell up with anticipation as the clock fast forwards to when ‘stuff’ happens.  Occasionally, they venture out of the bedroom in hand-held mode, but thankfully the footage is not as shaky or nauseating as it could have been.

However, what this system also means is that some scenes are left to your imagination because you can’t see what is going on – sometimes that may be more frightening, but that’s not always the case in this movie.  It also means that at least one of the characters has to be a totally unreasonable prick so the camera can be kept running, but it gets to the point where it becomes a stretch.  With this type of film format, you just have to take the good with the bad.

Paranormal Activity also suffers from a few other issues.  This kind of film thrives on the gullibility of the audience.  The more you believe it is real, the scarier it becomes.  The problem is, while both leads were adequate, there were a couple of occasions where they felt unnatural.  Could be the dialogue or the acting, but I wasn’t convinced I was watching authentic footage.  One of the reasons why The Blair Witch Project was so successful was because it misled people into believing that the footage was real.  The film was presented and marketed as authentic.  10 years later, this has become a lot more difficult to accomplish, and as a result Paranormal Activity doesn’t have quite the same impact as its predecessor.

In the end, Paranormal Activity is a film worth watching simply because it is fresh and not done very often.  And to be fair, it also has some solid, atmospheric moments.  That said, lower your expectations if you want to be genuinely frightened.

3 stars out of 5!

** Apparently there are at least 3 alternative endings for this film, and I don’t quite think the one released in the cinemas is the best one.  See here for more details.

PS: a sequel is already in the works thanks to the success of the film, which is already the most successful independent film ever in terms of return on investment.  Let’s just hope the sequel is at least watchable, unlike that dreadful sequel to Blair Witch which I still rank up there as one of the worst sequels of all time.