The Last Witch Hunter (2015)

The Last Witch Hunter
Director: Breck Eisner
Writer: Cory Goodman, Matt Sazama, Burk Sharpless
Cast: Vin Diesel, Rose Leslie, Elijah Wood, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, Rena Owen, Julie Engelbrecht, Michael Caine, Joseph Gilgun, Isaach De Bankolé
Seen on: 4.11.2015

Plot:
Many, many, many years ago Kaulder (Vin Diesel) killed the Witch Queen (Julie Engelbrecht) who cursed him with immortality in the process. Ever since Kaulder has worked as a witch hunter. Now he is the last of his kind and most of the remaining witches live normal lives and stick to the rules. But then things start to go very wrong, starting with the murder of Kaulder’s scribe, advisor and friend, the 36th Dolan (Michael Caine). It appears that the Witch Queen isn’t quite as dead as Kaulder thought. Together with witch Chloe (Rose Leslie) and the 37th Dolan (Elijah Wood), Kaulder takes up the fight again.

I didn’t expect The Last Witch Hunter to actually be a good film, but I thought it would be an entertaining schlockfest. Unfortunately, the film aimed higher than that and ends up in the boring, disappointing middleground: not really bad, but not much good either.

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Cooties (2014)

Cooties
Director: Jonathan Milott, Cary Murnion
Writer: Leigh Whannell, Ian Brennan
Cast: Elijah Wood, Rainn Wilson, Alison Pill, Jack McBrayer, Leigh Whannell, Nasim Pedrad, Ian Brennan, Jorge Garcia, Matt Jones, Peter Kwong
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 19.9.2015
[Review by cornholio.]

Plot:
Clint (Elijah Wood) has reached a low point in his life. He had to move back in with his mother and instead of working on his novel, he has to start earning money working as a teacher. Things seem to be looking up when he realizes that Lucy (Alison Pill) is working with him. But that hope is quickly squashed: Lucy has a boyfriend, Coach Wade (Rainn Wilson). Oh, and the children in the school are turning into bloodthirsty zombies, which is also not really great.

Cooties was a thoroughly entertaining film, pretty much the epitome of a horror comedy. It has excellent pacing, a suitingly black sense of humor and an infectious energy (no pun intended) (or maybe I did?).

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Re-Watch: Sin City (2005)

Sin City
Director: Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez, (Quentin Tarantino)
Writer: Frank Miller
Based on: Frank Miller’s comics
Cast: Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis, Clive Owen, Jessica AlbaElijah Wood, Rosario Dawson, Benicio Del Toro, Powers Boothe, Michael Clarke DuncanRutger Hauer, Michael Madsen, Devon AokiJosh Hartnett, Alexis BledelJaime King, Carla Gugino, Brittany Murphy, Nick Offerman, Nick Stahl

Plot:
Basin City is called Sin City for a reason. A town full of crooked politicians, even more crooked cops, murderers, sex workers and pretty much everyone who was thrown out everywhere else. After the last good cop Hartigan (Bruce Willis) saved Nancy (Jessica Alba) from a pedophile and Senator’s son (Nick Stahl), he had to take the fall for it. But now he is out of prison and full of worry for Nancy’s continued safety. Nancy works as a stripper in a local club. At that same club, Shelly (Brittany Murphy) works as a waitress and she’s freshly in love with Dwight (Clive Owen). But her ex Jackie (Benicio Del Toro) is not done with her yet and Dwight suddenly finds himself in over his head in the part of town run by the sex workers. One of them (Jaime King) was just murdered – while Marv (Mickey Rourke) slept next to her no less. Now Marv is determined to find her killer and to exact vengeance.

I remember when I first saw Sin City – I was completely blown away by it (back then I was also a rather unaware baby-feminist, so I barely noticed the incredible sexism). Now I look at it with a more critical eye, but it’s still an awesome film.

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Kaze tachinu [The Wind Rises] (2013)

Kaze tachinu
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Writer: Hayao Miyazaki
Based on: his own manga which in turn is based on Tatsuo Hori‘s short story The Wind Has Risen about plane designer Jiro Horikoshi
Cast: [Japanese:] Hideaki Anno, Hidetoshi Nishijima, Miori Takimoto, Mansai Nomura; [English:] Joseph Gordon-Levitt, John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Martin Short, Stanley Tucci, Mandy Patinkin, Mae Whitman, Werner Herzog, Jennifer Grey, William H. Macy, Darren Criss, Elijah Wood

Plot:
Jiro (Hideaki Anno) loves airplanes. He would like to fly one, but unfortunately his eyesight is too bad to become a pilot. Instead he decides to become a plane designer, after designer Giovanni Battista Caproni (Mansai Nomura) speaks to him in a dream. Years later his dream is coming true, but World War 2 is also on the horizon, which poses the question whether it is ethical to design war planes.

I was really excited for a new Miyazaki film, despite the fact that Ponyo wasn’t all that good. I was hoping that the chiefly positive reviews were right. I’m sorry to say that I was really disappointed though. Maybe he really should have quit already.

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The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Director: Peter Jackson
Writer: Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson, Guillermo del Toro
Based on: J. R. R. Tolkien’s novel, and other books of his
Prequel to: The Lord of the Rings
Cast: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Ken Stott, Graham McTavish, William Kircher, James Nesbitt, Stephen Hunter, Dean O’Gorman, Aidan Turner, John Callen, Peter Hambleton, Jed Brophy, Mark Hadlow, Adam Brown, Ian Holm, Elijah Wood, Hugo Weaving, Cate Blanchett, Christopher Lee, Andy Serkis, Sylvester McCoy, Barry Humphries, Lee Pace, Manu Bennett, Bret McKenzie, Benedict Cumberbatch

Plot:
Many, many years ago, there were dwarves living in Erebor, amassing huge riches until they were attacked by the dragon Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch). They lost their mountains, their gold and were scattered in many directions. Now Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) last descendant of Erebor’s king, is ready to get it all back. So he put together a group of loyal dwarves, but asks the wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) to find a 14th member for their party. Gandalf recruits the hobbit Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman). Bilbo is reluctant – as a hobbit, he generally doesn’t think much of adventures or leaving home at all – but he is finally convinces and so all of them set off for a great adventure. An adventure that proves more dangerous and connected to more things than initially assumed.

For practically anybody of about my age (and of a nerdy/geeky persuasion), the Lord of the Rings films were more than just movies – they were events that opened me and my friends up to many things, but especially to the intricacies of internet fandom and all that entails. It seems clear that 10 years later the Hobbit can’t quite reach that status anymore. But An Unexpected Journey is a film that I enjoyed for the most part.

The_Hobbit _An_Unexpected_Journey

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Re-Watch: The Faculty (1998)

The Faculty
Director: Robert Rodriguez
Writer: Kevin Williamson
Cast: Elijah Wood, Clea DuVall, Josh Hartnett, Laura Harris, Shawn Hatosy, Jordana Brewster, Robert Patrick, Salma Hayek, Famke Janssen, Jon Stewart, Piper Laurie, Christopher McDonald, Bebe Neuwirth, Usher Raymond, Daniel von Bargen

Plot:
Something weird is going on in Herrington High School, Ohio. Even weirder than the usual high school occurrences, that is: aliens are slowly taking over the teachers, starting with the football coach (Robert Patrick). But a group of teenagers notice that something weird is going on: nerdy Casey (Elijah Wood), gothy Stokely (Clea DuVall), jock Stan (Shawn Hatosy), cheerleader Delilah (Jordana Brewster), bad boy Zeke (Josh Hartnett) and country girl Marybeth (Laura Harris) get thrown together by circumstances and decide to fight.

I think I saw The Faculty the first time when I was 14, maybe 15. Until then I hadn’t had much contact with horror in general (though I probably had read a Stephen King novel or two), but I knew high school movies. And in its combination of High School and Horror, The Faculty proved to be my gateway drug into the entire horror genre (arguably also because I was madly in love with Josh Hartnett’s Zeke afterwards). I love it for that. But also as a movie in its own right, it’s pretty damn awesome.

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