Monster Camp (2007)

Monster Camp (2007)

Starring Shane Macomber, Dave Overman, Paul Vorvick, Fern Zimmerman, Rebecca McNamee

Directed by Cullen Hoback

Expectations: Moderate. I hope this isn’t just more of the same.


Monster Camp takes another, slightly different look at the world of live action role-playing (LARP). The inhabitants of this world are just as enthralled and engrossed in the fictional world they are populating, but they go about it in a wholly different way than the fellows from Darkon. In the grand scheme of things they really aren’t all that different, but the nerd in me has to come out and say, “No, actually they are fundamentally different.” Before watching Darkon and Monster Camp I had a limited knowledge of this very distinct subculture, but I’m familiar enough with the overall genre through a strong love of computer role-playing games. Due to this, I won’t be able to really boil it down for those firmly entrenched in the LARP forest, but I’ll do my best.

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Uncle Jasper reviews: Mil Mascaras vs. the Aztec Mummy (2007)

Mil Mascaras vs. the Aztec Mummy (2007)

Starring  Mil Máscaras, Jeffrey Uhlmann, Willard E. Pugh, Richard Lynch, Gary Ambrosia, Kurt Rennin Mirtsching, Melissa Osborn, Marco Lanzagorta, El Hijo del Santo, Blue Demon Jr.

Directed By Jeff Burr, Chip Gubera


 

Wait… what?!?!

That was my initial reaction after hearing that Mil Mascaras vs. the Aztec Mummy was a film that even existed. This is the 21st century. What crazy-ass, pagan-tinged astronomical event caused a Lucha Libre film to sneak out of the collective cinematic well in the year 2007? That alone would have been enough to set my head spinning, but Mil Mascaras vs. the Aztec Mummy is an English language film!… made not in the crowded alleys of Mexico City, but by a bunch of stuffy engineering students from Columbia University… in Missouri! That sounds about as Mexican as a stiff Earl Grey with a stack of crumpets.

With that much working against it, I had virtually no hope for this film. None whatsoever. But preconceived notions are a bitch, and can really rob you of some of life’s best moments if you let them get in the way. Not only is Mil Mascaras vs. the Aztec Mummy one of the best lucha films I have ever seen, but it is one of the greatest examples of cinematic homage ever produced. Directors Jeff Burr and Chip Gubera have forged one of the most passionate love letters to a cinematic sub genre I have ever seen. Their knowledge and familiarity with the genre shines through in virtually every frame. These guys are true fans who have picked up on every subtle nuance and convention in lucha cinema and simply ran with them… often times to insanely amusing extremes.

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Like Stars on Earth (2007)

Like Stars on Earth [Taare Zameen Par (तारे ज़मीन पर)] (2007)

Starring Darsheel Safary, Aamir Khan, Tisca Chopra, Vipin Sharma, Sachet Engineer, Tanay Chheda, M.K. Raina

Directed by Aamir Khan

Expectations: Moderate.


I’ve had this DVD sitting on my shelf for about two months. I kept putting it off because of its long runtime (165 min.) but when I finally put it in I found myself pleasantly surprised. The film slowly builds, introducing you to its world and by the end I was in love. It is incredibly multi-faceted but never feels stretched or forced. At its heart it is an uplifting drama, but it’s also a musical that features sequences of claymation, traditional animation and even a bit of 3d animation.

The film seeks to tell the story of Ishaan, a young boy who is having trouble keeping himself focused in school. He tends to look out the window and daydream more than actually study. He is an imaginative boy and the many forms of animation and art impart this to the viewer. The film reflects the colorful Indian culture beautifully, from flowing fabrics to intense watercolor paintings. Overall, the film is well-shot and nice to look at. There isn’t anything about the cinematography that stands out all that much, but it does have a general high quality.

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Uncle Jasper reviews: [REC] (2007)

Starring Manuela Velasco, Javier Botet, Manuel Bronchud, Martha Carbonell, Claudia Font, Vicente Gil

Directed by Jaume Balagueró & Paco Plaza


On all accounts I should not have liked this movie. I am not a fan of the whole shaky camcorder pseudo-documentary horror genre. I am an old-school Romero zombie fan who still can’t justify a world where fast “infected zombies” have a place. I guess that makes REC all the more amazing.  I was a doubter, but Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza proved me wrong and demonstrated that if done right, shaky-cam filmmaking not only has a place, but can really up the ante in terms of genuine horror.

Something has to be said of the pacing and the way REC uses it to great effect. The movie starts off slow, and borderline mundane. A pretty, young news reporter, Angela and her cameraman Pablo are filming a “Cops” type TV series with a group of fire fighters. Realizing that her assignment is less exciting than it appears, she desperately tries to drum up some kind of interest and goes into great detail reporting on exciting aspects of the fire fighter’s lives such as empty briefing rooms, what they eat for dinner, and how big their suits are. Even when the fire fighters get what seems like a routine call and shit starts to go south, the film gets very interesting, yet the pacing still leaves plenty of time to react and wrap your head around the situation.

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Mini-Review: Battle for Terra (2007/2009)

Battle for Terra (2009)
Originally released as Terra in 2007 outside the US

Starring Evan Rachel Wood, Brian Cox, James Garner, Chris Evans, Danny Glover, Amanda Peet, David Cross, Justin Long, Dennis Quaid, Luke Wilson

Directed by Aristomenis Tsirbas

Expectations: Low. I’m not too fond of 3D animation, but I love sci-fi.


I’m a huge science fiction fan. This is a blessing and a curse. In the case of Battle for Terra, it’s a bit of both. There’s nothing wrong with the film, it’s pretty good. As a long-time sci-fi fan though, there isn’t anything in this film that’s particularly new or unexplored within the genre. It is very similar to Avatar in that way. What makes this more enjoyable than Avatar is Terra‘s 84-minute runtime. It doesn’t over stay its welcome.

The film opens by introducing an alien culture living in a tree-like structure floating above the clouds. The inhabitants of the city look like ants, but they don’t have legs and they float around as well. It’s sci-fi, just go with it. One day, a mysterious ship covers the sun and some villagers get abducted. A rebellious child named Mala (Evan Rachel Wood) investigates the situation and we’re off.

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