If the cooling temperatures didn’t tell you this yet, the lineup of new films opening this weekend confirms it: summer is officially over. All we have to check out this weekend are two horror films, the 3D extravaganza The Final Destination and Rob Zombie‘s Halloween II, plus Ang Lee‘s dramatic comedy, Taking Woodstock.
The Final Destination
After three films, with essentially the same plot, you would think that the Final Destination series had run its course. Apparently the producers don’t see it the same way though, probably because of the whopping wads of cash they’ve pulled in from the films, so here we are once again with a story about teenagers trying to escape their impending doom. The big difference? This time, they’re going to get their throats cut in 3D.
In The Final Destination, Bobby Campo plays Nick O’Bannon, a young guy who has a premonition that he and his friends are about to die courtesy of a fiery disaster at the local race track. Convincing his friends that they have to leave, they all make it out just in time before Nick’s premonition becomes reality.
As the series has shown us though, you can’t cheat death, and in the following days Nick has new premonitions showing him how each of his friends will die, unless he can find a way to save them. Mind you, he’s not such a good hero to start with, and his friends are slowly getting offed in the most freakish circumstances.
Moving into 3D this time, The Final Destination stars a relative assortment of unknowns, but that shouldn’t stop it from pulling in more big bucks. The one thing you can probably bet on in horror films like this is that it really doesn’t matter who you cast, people will still pay to see it. Add in some spectacular moments where death has its way, and you’ve got a million dollar money maker.
Needless to say, the reviewers are not being kind to the sequel.
“Whatever hints of originality lay in the series’ previous editions have been all but sucked out of this one,” Jordan Mintzer wrote for Variety.
If you’ve seen the other films, you probably don’t need to see this one, but if you add in the 3D gimmick even I’ll admit it – it does sound midly entertaining.
Ang Lee is what I can only think of as a hit-and-miss director. Sometimes he’s making a brilliant film like Sense and Sensibility, and other times he’s making films like the lame 2003 comic book adaptation, Hulk. So which is it this time? Is Taking Woodstock a hit or a miss, or is it something in between?
In his latest film, a dramatic comedy set in 1969, Demetri Martin stars as Elliot, an interior designer who is forced into leaving New York to help his family run their crumbling motel in the Catskills. With trouble on all sides including the imminent foreclosure of the property, Elliot finds one hope on the horizon. After a nearby town revokes the permits for a hippie music festival, Elliot thinks he can drum up business for the motel by bringing the event to the neighbouring farm. Little did he know that the festival would draw half a million people to the area while becoming a cultural touchstone for the era.
Lee is certainly the right director for a project like this. He can be a great director, especially when it comes to getting the best performances from his actors, but his flaw is that he seems to stumble over the interpretation of his stories, and their general delivery.
Critics are pretty evenly split on just how good Taking Woodstock really is, with Lou Lumenick of the New York Post coming in on the negative side of the debate.
“Taking Woodstock achieves an amazing feat: It turns the fabled music festival, a key cultural moment of the late 20th century, into an exceedingly lame, heavily clichéd, thumb-sucking bore,” he wrote.
Roger Moore of the Orlando Sentinel was much more positive about the film, calling it “a coming-of-age comedy that roams the backstage and the back-story and sees that epic concert through rose-colored glasses.”
Lastly this week, Rob Zombie is back in the director’s chair, returning to the Halloween franchise so Michael Myers can have one more go at offing some more teenagers. Once again Tyler Mane plays the iconic fiend, following the events of the first film directly and looking in on how Laurie (played by Scout Taylor-Compton) is doing after her ordeal.
Putting it simply, Zombie’s remakes are pale in comparison to the originals and this sequel is not bound to prove any different. That said, it is getting more favourable reviews than The Final Destination, so if you’re going to see a horror film in theatres this weekend, this is the one to catch.
At the very least, it got a good review from Brad Miska at the horror website Bloody Disgusting. “There’s just something about H2 that’s peculiar, odd & even intriguing. Maybe it’s the fact that Zombie made his movie instead of out movie, or maybe it’s the sheer simplicity & brutality of it all, but in the end I think hardcore horror fans will enjoy.”