Monthly Archives: March 2012

John Carter Movie Review

[John Carter
Directed by Andrew Stanton
Starring: Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, and Willem Dafoe
MPAA: PG-13 – For Intense Sequences of Violence and Action]

To give you a super brief, one-sentence summary on my thoughts on John Carter: I almost didn’t want to review this film, but I did anyway because the film’s backstory is more interesting than the actual movie itself. The movie itself is a serviceable and fun, but bland and generic sci-fi/fantasy yarn. The story in which it’s based on, however, is…well…

Here, the “Barsoom” series of pulpy sci-fi novels are about the exploits of a civil war veteran turned gold prospector named John Carter who is magically transported to Mars and becomes a hero thanks to gaining super-human strength from having his earth muscles working in Mars’s atmosphere. The novels were written by Edgar Rice Burroughs, who also created Tarzan, and they are some of the earliest and most influential examples of science fiction writing ever created. Wanna know when the first story of John Carter of Mars was published? 1912. Yes, 100 years ago. A freaking century ago.

To say that Burroughs’s work is the most influential piece of science fiction is a massive understatement. Without John Carter there would be no Lord of the Rings, no Avatar, no Harry Potter, no Superman, and…yes, no Star Wars. That’s how much the hand of John Carter can reach. 100 years and we are still ripping off of the things that ripped off of the things that ripped off of Burroughs’s original work. Damn. Just…damn.

So, considering how insanely influential and utterly freaking important this series is to modern fiction, why is it that we’ve only gotten a movie just now? Well, of course they couldn’t make a movie back in the ’10s through the ’60s because there was no CG to support the 9-foot tall green men with tusks and four arms. Many have tried making a film about John Carter throughout the ’70s and onward, but the projects fell through due to overblown budgets, script troubles, and other such things.

Finally, along came Andrew Stanton, hot off the success of working with Pixar as the director of two of their films (Finding Nemo and WALL-E to be exact, two of my favorite Pixar films ever) and decided to use his leverage to allow Disney to fund his dream project: Giving John Carter of Mars the cinematic adventure he deserves.

The rest is a painful examination of the idiocy of marketing executives. Originally titled John Carter of Mars, Disney chopped off the latter portion of the name in favor of the shorter and blander title of John Carter. This was because Disney previously distributed the animated mo-cap film Mars Needs Moms, which became one of their biggest flops, and they suddenly decided that using “Mars” in the title was some sort of cursed word that will turn away audiences. Right, because people would’ve seen Mars Needs Moms even if Mars wasn’t in the title, right? Disney then furthered to make the film look as utterly generic and bordering as possible in the marketing by highlighting the most groan-inducing cliche’d lines (“Our world is dying…”), refusing to acknowledge the fact that John Carter is on freaking Mars, and refusing to acknowledge in the marketing that it is based on, oh, the most influential science fiction story known to man. You could’ve at least thrown in a “Based on the MOST INFLUENTIAL SCIENCE FICTION STORY KNOWN TO MAN” on the posters! For Chrissakes….

Well, now the movie is finally out, and after 100 years, John Carter finally gets to be seen on the big screen, but is it the cinematic adventure he rightfully deserves?

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Okay, here’s why it’s hard to review John Carter. I can go on and on about how generic the whole thing is, but it will be for naught because the defense will be raised with people saying “Well, of course it’s generic! It’s the foundation of every other famous science fiction/fantasy story to come after it.” Which makes sense on a lot of levels, but I’ve never bought the whole “because they did it first” argument. Even if John Carter was the first to do it, doesn’t mean that a modern cinematic version of his story shouldn’t have any life or uniqueness to it.

The plot is a very loose retelling of the first novel of the “Barsoom” series, A Princess of Mars, in which Civil War vet John Carter (Taylor Kitsch of Friday Night Lights) is magically transported to Mars and learns that, because his Earth muscles act differently in Mars’s atmosphere, he has superhuman strength and can jump really far distances. This becomes useful when he learns that the planet is in danger, and he must save its princess (Lynn Collins) so that it isn’t overtaken by sinister forces. And to do so, he must go through a series of events that manage to be equal parts bland and predictable, but also needlessly complicated and incomprehensible.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad movie at all. Like I said before, it’s inoffensive, serviceable, light fun. But I really do think it could’ve been better, even if it the source material has become generic as time raged on because it’s become such a template for these kinds of stories. My main problem is that not enough life and energy has been injected into it. As generic as John Carter is, the material is still strange enough to lead into some pulpy fun. If the film had embraced how ridiculous it is, and took full advantage of every idea and genre in its disposal (It’s equal parts sci-fi, fantasy, and even a bit of Western), John Carter could’ve been something more. But considering how mainstream movie-going audiences are totally against the weird and whimsical (They did reject Scott Pilgrim after all), the entire thing is played out as straight-faced as humanly possible, which isn’t the right fit.

But even worse is the pacing. When it isn’t just action on top of action drizzled with more actiony action-action, it is going through the motions with boring dialogue, transparent characters, and formulaic plot lines. And when it isn’t doing that, the viewer is bombarded with needlessly complicated exposition that is meant to give the sense of a rich mythology (and I’m sure it’s a rich mythology) but just makes things even more incomprehensible.

Hell, the final 10 minutes is an almost completely unnecessary diversion that complicates things just for the sole purpose of acknowledging the movie’s principal framing device (The movie uses Burroughs as a character, who learns of John’s adventures are decides to write a book about them, natch) that had no reason being there in the first place other than to provide fan-service. We don’t need an explanation for how Carter got to Mars, we don’t need to know the political situation going on with the red-skins, if I want to know that stuff and I’m interested enough to want to know it, then I’ll read the books that are able to explain all of that rich mythology without having it feel like it breaks up the action. There are some thrilling moments in John Carter, but there are also moments that bored me to tears.

But speaking of the thrilling moments, there are some really good action sequences in this movie. Not enough to justify the rest of the movie, but they are remarkably well-directed. My favorite one was a scene where John just goes ballistic on an entire army of Tharks–the green, 9-foot tall, 4-armed aliens–and basically becomes a one-man army. But there were even some non-action moments that I liked, such as the scene where John is getting used to Mars’s atmosphere, which looks almost like a scene of ballet when accompanied with the appropriate music (and indeed, it is accompanied with appropriate music in this film).

Part of what makes these scenes work is, believe it or not, Michael Giacchino’s score. Giacchino is one of the best composers working in film today, having done music for most of Pixar’s works (Including the tear-inducing waltz from the opening of Up) as well as music for a lot of JJ Abrams’s projects (The Williams-inspired score of Super 8 and the emotional music for LOST). He works wonders again in this film, creating an epic score that helps elevate the material somewhat.

But it’s all held back of course by many of the things that I mentioned earlier, as well as some poor casting. Okay, there is really only one miscast in the whole bunch, but it’s the most important one of all: John Freaking Carter. Taylor Kitsch is fine enough as an action hero, but fails to give John Carter any semblance of a personality and is especially unconvincing in the Earth-set scenes that take place in the late 1800s. Lynn Collins fares better, and it’s nice to have a Princess character who can actually fend for herself, but is still equally transparent. And then everyone else, including the voice of Willem Dafoe as one of the Tharks, is practically non-existent.

All in all, even though I wasn’t really expecting too much out of this, even with the legacy of John Carter behind it, I wanted it to be better. I love Andrew Stanton’s work at Pixar, I wanted to support his “dream project”, and there was potential here for a genuinely good film, but it didn’t come together properly.

Final Verdict: John Carter looks nice, and it gets the job done when it comes to thrilling action. Unfortunately, none of that can save the generic storytelling, messy exposition, poor pacing, and wooden acting.

That is all. If you liked this review, you can follow me on the Twitter-machine @Enigma6667 so you won’t ever miss a single review from me and read some of my general ramblings on movies, games, and other such things.

See ya next time. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to jump very high to save the princess. Damn you, King Koopa!

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Silent House Movie Review

[Silent House
Directed by Chris Kentis and Laura Lau
Starring: Elizabeth Olsen, Adam Trese, and Eric Sheffer Stevens
MPAA: R – For Disturbing Violent Content and Terror]

I don’t know what it is about one-shot takes that give movie-nerds such as myself a raging hard-on. To do something totally elaborate and cool-looking in a single take is, and let’s not kid ourselves here, the director’s way of totally showing off how technically skilled and awesome he/she is. But god damnit, I’m willing to let the director show off like that because it’s really, really cool. That being said, there are still ways to make a one-shot take that makes sense on a thematic level, or just use it as a storytelling device. But, what if someone claimed that they can make an entire movie in one, single take.

Silent House is a simple, chilly tale of horror. A young woman (The always loveable Elizabeth Olsen) moves back into her childhood home with her father (Adam Trese) and Uncle (Eric Sheffer Stevens), who are both helping her renovate it after it’s taken a cruel beating from being abandoned and abused for so long. It isn’t long until things start going bump in the darkness, someone assaults her father and leaves him unconscious, and poor Olsen is trapped in the house with mysterious men out to kill her. Now she has to find a way out before–WAIT A MINUTE! It’s been 20 minutes into the movie and the camera hasn’t cut!

That’s right, Silent House claims to have been shot entirely in one, long, continuous take. This isn’t something really new. The film itself is a remake of a film from Uruguay that used this same technique called La Casa Muda a.k.a. The Silent House. Plus there was a movie called PVC-1 about a woman with a bomb strapped to her neck from Columbia that used the technique as well. But it’s still an enticing (and difficult to pull-off) gimmick that could be used to enhance the atmosphere. Hell, one of the reasons why many people consider horror games to be scarier than horror films is how they immerse the player into its atmosphere by keeping you attached to everything the character is doing in real time. So to make a straight-up horror film that is “real terror in real time” makes sense.

But does Silent House employ its gimmick effectively? Short answer: No. Long answer: No, and shut up.

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Longer answer: Silent House isn’t bad by any means, but it contains many bad elements. The movie, as a whole, is kind of a mixed bag. Even without the gimmick of the continuous take, the atmosphere is really strong thanks to a very clever setting. The house that the characters are renovating is entirely pitch black inside, even in the day time, because of the wood-boards replacing the windows and a power outage.

The thing that’s disappointing however, is that despite having a clever gimmick and a very strong atmosphere, the film doesn’t manage to be all that scary most of the time. A little creepy, yes, but not enough to make you tense and on the edge of your seat every second of the way through. All the pieces for a great, short and sweet horror film are here and the movie is a bit of a failure at just being scary.

As for the one-shot take, yes it’s cool to behold, but I strongly doubt that the marketing is being truthful. Indeed, it feels like it was all shot in real time, but that doesn’t mean it was all done in one long, continuous shot. There are many scenes where the whole place goes dark or the camera shakes until the image is an incomprehensible series of blurs, which could be utilized to cunningly sneak a cut in. Not to say that it matters, since it still feels like a real-time movie, but it’s still something to take note of.

For about 90% of the film’s short 88 minute run time, nothing about Silent House really grabbed me. There were some slightly effective moments, and I appreciated the slow-build of its tension, but they didn’t culminate into something that truly affected me…

…That is until a scene in a billiards room. At that point, I was hooked. I won’t spoil what happens, but it is at that point that I think the film finally takes full advantage of its atmosphere. It is also at this point that the film stops pretending to be a home-invasion thriller and reveals itself to be something else entirely. I was starting to get hooked, and I was ready to give myself over to the movie. And just like that, it all takes a nose-dive in the final 5-10 minutes.

Silent House ends with one of the most poorly executed twist endings I’ve seen in recent memory. Not only does it make very little sense, but even worse: It’s predictable and obvious. The movie literally gave away everything about what the twist could potentially be with just one–and I repeat, ONE–conversation with a mysterious character in the beginning of the film that gives off some of the most painfully obvious foreshadowing I’ve ever seen in a film.

I haven’t seen the original Spanish film, La Casa Muda, so I dunno whether to blame this on the original source material or a lazy Hollywood rewrite, but either way it sucks, sucks, sucks.

If there is one saving grace for the movie, it’s Elizabeth Olsen. If you’ve read my recent reviews and top 10 lists from last year, you would know that Elizabeth Olsen, the younger sister of the original Olsen twins, debuted in a film called Martha Marcy May Marlene that I absolutely adored. You would also know that Elizabeth Olsen gave my favorite performance of 2011. Her ability to convey so much information with just her (lovely) facial expressions is the gift of a true star, and while Silent House is definitely a step back from Martha Marcy, it’s still a good enough showcase of Olsen’s talents. Considering it is all shot in one take, and we’ll be looking at Olsen for 99% of the film, she really sells the fear and dread that this movie is lacking in, and she does all this with her great use of visual, facial acting, just like last time.

She almost saves the film, but unfortunately, it still isn’t enough.

Final Verdict: It has a nice atmosphere, very good one-take camerawork, and it is yet another showcase for Elizabeth Olsen’s star power. But Silent House, even with its central gimmick, is too generic, too predictable, and too hollow to provide a genuinely satisfying experience.

That is all. If you liked this review, you can follow me on the Twitter-machine @Enigma6667 so you won’t ever miss a single review from me and read some of my general ramblings on movies, games, and other such things.

See ya next time. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to stare at Elizabeth Olsen’s face some more.

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Take Shelter Movie Review

[Take Shelter
Written & Directed By Jeff Nichols
Starring: Michael Shannon, Jessica Chastain, and Kathy Baker
MPAA: R – For Some Language]

“True! –nervous –very, very dreadfully nervous I had been and am; but why will you say that I am mad? The disease had sharpened my senses –not destroyed –not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing acute. I heard all things in the heaven and in the earth. I heard many things in hell. How, then, am I mad? Hearken! and observe how healthily –how calmly I can tell you the whole story.” ~Edgar Allen Poe’s Tell-Tale Heart

As I’ve stated in my We Need To Talk About Kevin review, the horror genre has been going through a transformative period. While we still have solid schlock here and there, a majority of the best horror movies recently don’t really count as horror since they’ve been melding together with more high-brow fair. Martha Marcy May Marlene, Black Swan, We Need To Talk About Kevin are all horror masterpieces and they’re less about the horror elements and more about character studies about terrifying characters.

It’s gotten to the point that today’s movie, Take Shelter isn’t even really a horror movie in the slightest despite having a premise that could’ve easily fallen prey to the cliches of psychological thrillers about people going crazy. If anything, it’s more of a domestic drama than anything else and it’s better for it. Take Shelter is quite possibly the most criminally overlooked movie of last year that you’d be remiss to not see.

Take Shelter is the story of Curtis LaForche (Michael Shannon), a man who has everything he needs to live a happy life: A beautiful, loving wife (Jessica Chastain), an innocent daughter, a job that pays for what he needs, and just enough time to have a drink with his buddies. As is typical in the world of movies, however, Curtis’s perfect life begins to shatter.

He begins having dreams of a terrible storm coming. This isn’t just any storm, however. It’s apocalyptic. The rain looks like motor oil, the birds start exhibiting swarm behavior, people start going crazy and attacking Curtis. The dreams become so intense that Curtis starts to see them more as visions than anything else. Realizing that his family may be in danger of the oncoming storm, Curtis decides to renovate the tornado shelter in his yard. But as the dreams keep getting more and more intense, Curtis becomes more and more desperate to rebuild the shelter to the point that his expenses are dwindling and his relationship with his family becomes more and more unstable.

Reading this synopsis, it sounds almost like a hybrid of Melancholia and Repulsion. The impending threat of a horrible disaster that will wipe out anything and everything that you hold dear to you mixed with the bat-shit hallucinations and mind-fuckery of a psychological thriller. But Take Shelter isn’t as operatic as Melancholia, and it isn’t a horror film like Repulsion or Black Swan. As mentioned before, it’s more of a domestic drama than anything else.

The thing with psychological thrillers is that they’re about the melding between fantasy and reality to the point that both the protagonist and the viewer can’t tell which is really which. Take Shelter isn’t about that, however. In fact, it’s actually pretty obvious which segments are dream and which are reality. In fact, one feature that I found refreshing is that for the first 2 thirds of the movie, there’s a part of Curtis seems almost fully aware of the fact that he’s going crazy. He even seeks help at a free clinic, though you can probably guess how the results of that go.

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What Take Shelter is more concerned about is how Curtis’s psychosis affects his familial life. The ultimate dilemma of the movie isn’t how Curtis will be able to distinguish between reality and his imagination, rather it’s more along the lines of: What will he lose as a part of this? Will his wife still love him? Will his friends still be by his side? Can he even pay for his own house when all this is over? Will it even end?

It is this that gives Take Shelter more stakes than the average psychological thriller. We truly do care about what becomes of Curtis’s psyche, and we are rooting for him to pull through. And if that isn’t enough, then it should be worth noting that Michael Shannon gives the best performance of his career. To say that he was robbed of an Oscar this year is a major understatement. It’s a powerful and showy role, but at the same time the intensity is quiet and unnerving rather than in your face and bombastic. He keeps his emotions subdued, like he just knows that any outburst could destroy his family. And when the inevitable outburst does come, it’s totally earned and absolutely terrifying.

But perhaps even better is Jessica Chastain as Curtis’s wife Sam. Chastain has to be one of the biggest break-out stars I’ve ever seen, just in terms of sheer veracity in how she just came out of freaking nowhere. A year ago, we had no idea who she was. Then, after playing the ethereal, angelic mother in Terrence Malick’s magnum opus The Tree of Life, she just, all of a sudden, started popping up in every movie whether it be mainstream (The Help and The Debt) or independent (Ralph Fiennes’ modern interpretation of Coriolanus, and now this). I don’t know how her agent did it, but I don’t care because I’d love to see more of her. Chastain is exceptionally talented at bringing a warmth and loving grace to just about every role I’ve seen her in. Except while The Tree of Life had her playing the personification of an archetype, she has more range to work with in Take Shelter. While this is definitely Shannon’s movie, Chastain is also a marvel to behold.

Jeff Nichols’s direction is wonderful. It’s subtle, but not too subtle like his previous film Shotgun Stories, which I personally found to be boring and uninvolving. He layers the film with a thick atmosphere that provides this false sense of calm. You know that feeling you get when you’re sitting in your house during a thunder storm, and it sounds calm and soothing despite the gloom and dread. Well, imagine that, except whenever you look out the window, you can see a tornado slowly getting closer to your house, and you can’t get out. That’s the atmosphere of Take Shelter. Beautifully shot, filled with quiet dread, the threat of an impending disaster just waiting to happen.

The pacing is also of my favorite kind. The film moves at a steady, slow clip but it’s never, ever boring. This allows you to lose yourself in the film’s world, it’s characters, and their struggles. Nothing is ever rushed, everything keeps building on itself like bricks and cement so that the foundation the movie stands on is strong and firm.

What I liked the most about Take Shelter is that it isn’t just about a guy going crazy. There’s more subtext to the film that is going on. The fact that the movie plays out more like a domestic drama is more deliberate than you’d think. The threat of the storm represents Curtis’s fears of familial problems, and in trying to avoid them, he brings them onto himself. It’s the ultimate Oedipal, self-fulfilling prophecy. There is no running away from the things you can’t control, the forces of nature included.

All this leads to an incredible climax and a fascinatingly open-ended conclusion. Without spoiling anything, the climactic scene with Shannon and his family having to make a decision is powerful, gripping, and incredibly emotional. It was equal parts suspenseful and heart-breaking, a combination that you don’t see often.

The ending however, is fantastic but has its flaws. While I did like the open-endedness of the film’s conclusion, there’s a fundamental problem with it: You can really only properly interpret it one way. If you interpret it “the correct way” then it makes sense and it’s beautiful and poignant. Great! But, if you take the ending literally and at face-value, then it makes no sense. The reason why Martha Marcy May Marlene’s even more ambiguous ending works so well is because you can interpret it either way and no matter which way you see it, you are still left in that same limbo that Elizabeth Olsen’s character is in: Hanging in the air unaware of which is which. Take Shelter’s ending is powerful, but only if you look at it in the right angle.

Regardless, this is a film that more people need to see. Not only is it one of the most criminally overlooked films of 2011, it’s one of the best as well.

Final Verdict: Hauntingly subtle, flawlessly acted, poignant, and atmospheric. Take Shelter is a seamless blend of drama and psychological dread that will not only leave you on the edge of your seat, but with food for thought and emotional undercurrents that will stay with you long after seeing it.

That is all. If you liked this review, you can read more on this website as well as follow me on the Twitter-machine @Enigma6667 so that you will never miss a review from me and read some other general ramblings on movies, games, and the like.

See ya next time. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to start digging. Why the hell aren’t there any tornado shelters in Los Angeles?

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Julia’s Eyes Movie Review

[Julia’s Eyes
Directed by Guillem Morales
Starring: Belén Rueda, Lluís Homar, and Pablo Derqui
MPAA: NR – Contains Violence, Brief Language & Nudity, and Some Disturbing Images]

[This Review Contains Very Mild Spoilers]

If you were to talk to me last year, the phrase “Produced by Guillermo Del Toro” would’ve inspired excitement and giddy bursts of glee like no other. Now, however, it’s been a little hard to be excited after having seen Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, which ended up being one of the most disappointing movies of last year. So I was skeptical about going into Julia’s Eyes, because it was another one of those “Produced By” Del Toro projects that he didn’t have full creative control over. It could go either way, it could be masterful and terrifying like The Orphanage was, or boring and forgettable like Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark.

After having finally seen it, however, I’m happy to report that while Julia’s Eyes is no Orphanage, it’s a damn good, solid horror movie with enough inventive twists and techniqus up its sleeve to keep you involved the whole way through.

Julia’s Eyes already has a good thing going for it in that it stars the wonderful Belén Rueda, who also starred in the Del Toro produced The Orphanage, which I’ve already expressed my love for. She plays the titular Julia, who learns in the beginning of the film that her twin sister had killed herself after suffering through a horrible degenerative eye disease that left her blind. As Julia further investigates, however, she starts to think that, surprise surprise, her sister was actually murdered. So she starts chasing a trail of clues to catch the murderer, only to discover that she is suffering through the same degenerative eye disease that could leave her totally blind before even catching the killer.

If Alfred Hitchcock took hold of his premise back in his heyday, he would’ve ran wild with it. The film is a healthy mixture of a Halloween style stalker movie with elements of Nancy Drew mystery all wrapped around a psychological thriller for good measure. And it also helps that each element is intriguing. There are some nice suspenseful moments of realizing that the killer could be in the very same room as Julia, you’re actually invested in learning who the killer is and his motives, and the gimmick of having the lead going near-blind works really well.

Director Guillem Morales does a good job at making a nice, chilly atmosphere that isn’t as overtly stylized and exaggerated as Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark but still grounded enough to give the film a sense of realism. But what really makes the movie work is, much like The Orphanage, Belén Rueda’s performance. In both films, she does a remarkable job at presenting us with a strong female character that shows fierce determination and resourcefulness amidst her situation.

There were also some stylistic touches that I thought were really interesting. Now, this isn’t really a huge spoiler but I’m still going to give you a little spoiler warning in case you’re that interested.

There comes a point where Julia goes completely blind for a while and must wear bandages around her face to make sure her eye surgery is successful. When this happens, director Guillem Morales uses some clever techniques to put you in as much of the same mindset as the blind Julia without, well, showing us a dark and muddied screen the whole time. He shoots everything in over the shoulder shots so that when Julia is talking to someone, we can never see his/her face at all.

This adds a layer of subtle tension as you’re unaware of who she can even be talking to, whether it’s the killer or not, or even if it’s in her head. Morales also amps up the sound effects for things such as phones ringing, keys clanging, and doors slamming to make the viewer more disoriented. I wouldn’t say he takes full advantage of the gimmick, but I’m glad that Morales didn’t try to overdo the cleverness of these techniques and keep the focus on Julia. It also helps that Belén Rueda totally sells you on her plight. Being stalked by a man you can never see? There aren’t that many things I can think of that are equally terrifying.

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For the first two thirds, Julia’s Eyes is about as solid a horror film as you can get. Good characters, great performances, nice atmosphere, clever gimmicks. It doesn’t really shake your world and it isn’t the scariest thing ever, but I couldn’t find any major flaws with it other than “it could’ve been better”.

Then the final act kicks in, and this is where the movie is both at its best and its worst. There are some tense set-pieces that really ratchet up the suspense and lead to a wholly satisfying climax. However, it is also in this portion of the film that the revelations on who the killer is are brought up, leading to a twist that is about as unpredictable and surprising as the sun rising. Oh, it’s not a bad twist by any means. At the very least, it’s kinda clever and it does make sense. It’s just that they throw around way too many hints and too many obvious red herrings to try and desperately throw you off, but only make it even more predictable.

But whatever, I’m still down for this movie, I’m still along for the ride. And THEN we get a second twist that explains the killer’s motives, and while it is a little more surprising, it almost ruins the movie because it makes the plot needlessly convoluted and confusing. The way they reveal it is a bit too quick and I got disoriented trying to wrap my head around it whilst other things started to happen in the movie. Granted, I still prefer that over my arch-nemesis screenwriting mechanic, a.k.a. the long 10-minute conversation that explains everything in thorough, boring detail.

Another thing I couldn’t quite get was that (okay, another mild spoiler here) the killer apparently has this “thing” where he can be “invisible”. Not invisible in the same sense as, say, you can’t see a ghost even though it’s right in front of you, but that he is…uh, really good at hiding in the shadows and not being noticed…I guess. The movie doesn’t explain this well enough that you can really buy into it. It would’ve made more sense if there was a supernatural element to the movie, but the film is completely grounded in reality so it doesn’t really make sense how he’s able to do what he does.

All these flaws I just mentioned don’t ruin the movie, but they are a glaring distraction from an otherwise solidly executed thriller.

Final Verdict: Despite an over-complicated plot, Julia’s Eyes is a stylish, engaging thriller with enough gimmicks to keep you interested and anchored by a strong performance from Belén Rueda. It doesn’t quite reach the terrifying highs of The Orphanage, but if you want a solid, suspenseful rental of a movie, you can’t really go wrong with Julia’s Eyes.

That is all. If you liked this review, you can read more on this site as well as follow me on the Twitter-machine @Enigma6667 so you don’t miss a single review from me as well as other ramblings about movies and games.

See ya next time. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to donate money to the “Del Toro At the Mountains of Madness Charity”. That man deserves it. Bye!

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