Note: I’m writing this immediately after seeing the just-released fifth Scream film. I make passing mention of it, but I do take care to not discuss crucial plot points. There are no spoilers for the new one here. I promise.
Fans of the 90s horror franchise Scream are taking a stroll down memory lane this week with the release of… Scream. It’s the fifth one, but they’ve done away with the conventional numbering of sequels which may or may not have a meta in-film explanation, no spoiler (it does, kinda). I’ll refer to it as Scream 5 throughout this post, because I’m talking about the franchise, so it’ll get confusing to talk about the individual films without distinguishing between them.
Starring Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette and Emma Roberts
The Scream franchise is an inherently difficult franchise to review. Beyond being horror films, they’re finely crafted satire with only the subtlest of winks to let you know they’re in on the joke. As a franchise, it knowingly exploits the rules and clichés of the genre, yet gleefully lives within those rules. Which is why the original is a classic, and this new installment lives up to the legacy.
It’s been 15 years since the original Woodsboro murders (Scream), and Sidney Prescott (Campbell) has become a self-help guru on a book tour that brings her back to Woodsboro. This also brings back Ghostface, now tormenting her teenage cousin, Jill (Roberts). Sidney teams up with Sheriff Dewey and his wife Gale (Arquette and Cox) to find the killer.
What became key in making this 4th installment work, 11 years after the 3rd, is the return of the principal players. Director Craven, writer Kevin Williamson and the 3 surviving cast members (not that Jamie Kennedy is dead, but Randy is). They understood the true spirit of the franchise, and brought that into it, while guiding it through a whole new set of characters to be put through the ringer.
I had heard of the false starts to this film, and as the movie started, I got a little worried that they would detract from the film, and devolve it into standard horror schlock. But Craven, Williamson and the various cameo cast members deftly maneuver the trope minefield to bring us up-to-date on not only what’s happened in the past 10 years in the characters lives, but also the state of horror. But again, while they highlight the problems with horror, they execute everything with surgical precision, and lives up to the originals spirit, and is a near-perfect horror film.
The faults of the film are few, and actually add to the film. The characters tend to be annoying archetypes (as they are throughout the genre), but the biggest issue unfortunately can’t be overlooked. It’s the ending. Fret not, no spoilers will be contained on this page. But I felt they took it a step further than they really needed to. Not that it hindered or ruined the film. It just felt extraneous.
Otherwise, kudos. One of the first thoroughly enjoyable films of the year.
And if I were to rank the Scream films, it would go 1, 4, 2, 3.
Directed by Carlos Saldanha
Featuring the voices of Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathaway, Jamie Foxx and George Lopez.
I like what studios are doing with animated flicks, they’re making them fun and adventurous to keep adults entertained right along with the kids. But other aspects of the film are suffering for it.
The last known male blue macaw ends up in Minnesota after being smuggled from Brazil. Now fully domesticated, a bird specialist looks to return him to Rio de Janeiro so he can mate with the last known female blue macaw.
First of all, it’s a fun movie. One of the best things as a reviewer is to hear the response to the film of the target audience. There was a kid behind me who kept exclaiming that they loved this movie and they were having a lot of fun. So there is that. But from a more… matured perspective, it’s more mindless fun.
Pixar is still the gold standard for animation, in my estimation. They create a perfect fusion of great plot, great story, great characters and mind-blowing animation. The other production houses seem content with having great animation, interesting enough characters and just a mindlessly fun flick. And that’s where Fox steps in with Rio.
I’m with them, it’s a fun adventure, but I don’t feel challenged by it. I’m not walking away from the movie with a feeling like anything was accomplished. Fox is also good at casting big names to pad the pedigree of the film. The weakest link in the film is Jesse Eisenberg as Blu. He needs to stick to real life acting, voice acting is not his specialty. Everyone else is passable, particularly the seasoned comedians, but there’s a lack of heart to their performances.
In the end, it’s a fun movie, the kids are going to love it, but it’s not a truly engaging film.
Building on yesterday’s entry, the movies I’m looking forward to in the second quarter of 2011, April to June.
Super – I’m a fan of James Gunn, I like off book superhero stories (Kick Ass, Defendor) and a good strong cast including Rainn Wilson (who’s much better than what Dwight has become), Ellen Page and Nathan Fillion make this one of my most anticipated films of the year.
Scream 4 – Say what you will about Wes Craven’s last picture (the so-so at best My Soul To Take), the man’s a legend, and the Scream trilogy is one of the best and most consistent horror franchises. I’m looking forward to this with cautious optimism. Can it call back to true satirical spirit of the original, or will it cave in to the constructs of the genre like the third? We’ll find out in April.
Your Highness – I think the best way to describe this is… Why not? James Franco and Natalie Portman are terrific actors, Danny McBride has been a great second fiddle for the past few years, why not make a raunchy Medieval comedy. Could go either way, but chances are good.
Thor – I applaud Marvel’s ambition in rolling out their heavy weights as one big franchise. Iron Man 2 was troubled, but still good, same with The Incredible Hulk. With a strong cast, a great director, and a relative unknown in the lead, this teeters on the brink, but I think it’ll be well received.
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides – I think this is what the third movie should have been, instead of one film spread out over two movies. A singular, stand alone narrative. The only thing that truly worries me is Rob Marshall replacing Gore Verbinski in the director’s chair.
The Hangover II – When The Hangover came out, it was one of those films where everything came together to be a truly funny movie, that didn’t hold back, and certainly didn’t take the easy way out. Can the crew catch lightning in a bottle again? With everyone on board for a second venture, this time to Thailand, let’s hope so.
X-Men: First Class – The third film and Origins: Wolverine were disappointments, but with fresh eyes and talent, here’s hoping they can revive the franchise. Especially with James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender as Professor X and Magneto, respectively.
Super 8 – The new J.J. Abrams film is shrouded in mystery, but should we expect anything less from Abrams? After Cloverfield, Star Trek and “Lost,” I’ll follow him anywhere.
Cars 2 – Cars is perhaps my least favourite Pixar film (not that it’s bad, just… not as good) and probably the least deserving of a sequel. Should we be worried that their production slate features only one (Brave) original film, of three (the other being Monsters, Inc. 2) to be released between now and the end of 2012? I hope not, but it doesn’t inspire optimism. But Pixar has a proven track record, and they won’t jump in without making sure the story is worth it, first.