Thursday, April 12, 2012

Two 2011 movies

Back in January of this year I made a post featuring 2011 movies I still want to see. Since then I have seen four movies from that year, three of which were on my list (I didn't want to see Season of the Witch which I discussed earlier this month in my Four Bad Movies post, haha). In this post I'll talk about two movies. The other 2011 movie I saw was Oscar Best Picture winner The Artist which will get its own post.

Attack the Block
This British science fiction/horror movie had been on my radar since I first heard about it last summer so I'm glad I finally got a chance to see it. Attack the Block is about a group of teenagers who defend their South London home from alien attacks. As others have pointed, out shouldn't it be called Defend the Block?

The accents and area of Britain aren't the most universal, but I didn't really have any problems understanding what the characters were saying and at the very least got the general gist of it. While I wouldn't consider Attack the Block to be a comedy, it does have some humor which keeps the tone from getting too serious.

The kids in the gang are anti-heroes. We grow to like them as the movie progresses as we find out more about their situations and who they really are. The idea of teens fighting back against aliens/monsters harkens back to 50s Sci-Fi movies like The Blob and The Giant Gila Monster.

The acting isn't great overall but these are young actors who don't have a lot of experience. John Boyega did good job as Moses, the leader of the group, who resembles a young Denzel Washington. Jodie Whittaker put in a nice performance as a nurse named Sam who is a resident of the Block.
The best way I can describe the design of aliens is a cross between the xenomorphs of the Alien series and the white apes of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Barsoom book series. I quite liked the look of the aliens which are a solid mix of practical effects and CGI that works very well. I'd like to see more Hollywood movies go this route and incorporate practical effects along with CGI. Although Attack the Block had a low budget by Hollywood standards, it wasn't real cheap to make as it had an estimated $13 million (US Dollars) budget.

Another movie that I thought of while watching Attack the Block was Super 8, which also came out in 2011. Both movies involve kids and an alien threat but approach their stories in very different ways.
This is the first movie by director Joe Cornish and a nice debut. I'm already looking forward to his next film! Cornish did a good job with a low budget but maybe he'll have more to work with next time.

Hobo with a Shotgun
After Grindhouse came out in 2007 (a movie I still need to see) there was a contest for people to make their own fake trailers for grindhouse movies. The winner of the contest was a trailer called Hobo with a Shotgun which got made into its own movie!

Although Hobo with a Shotgun is a sleazy exploitation movie, there is suprisingly little nudity and sex in the movie with the main exception being one scene of topless women beating up a guy hanging from a ceiling!
I was blown away by the great performance by Rutger Hauer. Hauer is always great but I wasn't expecting great acting in a movie titled Hobo with a Shotgun! The unnamed Hobo an unknown who comes to a corrupt town looking for a new life but only finds crime, desperation, and murder. The Hobo is basically Batman or The Punisher but homeless and dirt poor. I am glad we are never given the hobo's back story as it would have ruined the mystery behind the character. Hauer holds the movie together and without him as the lead it would not have been as good or perhaps turned into a spoof. Hauer takes the character very seriously and against all odds makes it work. I had already seen the trailer for this movie before I watched it so i knew his monologue in the hospital but it was still fantastic. His role is where the movie really shines. The other actors in the movie aren't very good. Now I'm pretty sure they are supposed to be over the top because this is a throwback to exploitation movies, but (unlike the original fake trailer) Hauer plays it straight so I'm not sure what to think.

Unlike the similar movie Machete, Hobo doesn't have much fun in its approach and is brutal with a depressing tone even though both movies are doing a lot of the same things. When there is humor in Hobo its very dark humor. I haven't seen that many grindhouse movies so I don't know if that is what I should be expecting or not. Despite the violence and gore, most of the kills aren't very creative or interesting ( with one or two exceptions) and its gets repetitive fast. I am fine with intense violence but was more turned off by how grim things were with very little to lighten the mood. The makers of Hobo with a Shotgun seemed to have set out to make a dirty trashy little picture, and they certainly succeeded in doing just that. Exploitation and Grindhouse covers a lot of material and this is in the more extreme territory of stuff like Anthropophagus and Cannibal Holocaust (though not a cannibal movie but in terms of violence, gore, and tone).

"The Plague" were interesting villains.They basically served the Boba Fett type role of unknown badasses with cool costumes who get called upon by the big bad (the Drake) when he can't defeat the hero to seal the deal. There is a bizarre scene in their hideout where they have a squid creature in their box. It doesn't make any sense and is never explained. Perhaps this is a reference to something from a grindhouse movie that went straight over my head. Or maybe its there to show that this doesn't take place in our universe? But if that is the case I figured that one out long before I saw the octopus/tentacles/Cthulhu. Perhaps it was just meant to be random and funny but if so it just didn't fit in with the bleak tone.

Overall I still feel that the original trailer (and even the real trailer for this movie) works better as a short than as a full-length movie. The first trailer made for the contest was more tongue-in-cheek and humorous than the movie we actually got. While I liked this movie and it was decently made, it's not something I plan on watching again. I know that the point of the movie was to not hold anything and I give credit to Hobo with a Shotgun for making this type of movie with no apologies. Although the movie had a limited theatrical release I think it will gain a bit of a cult following. Hobo with a Shotgun certainly isn't for everyone and it went unrated in the US. If you can get past the violence and gore, are into grindhouse and exploitation flicks, or are a huge Rutger Hauer fan will probably like it. Otherwise this movie probably won't be your cup of tea, or should I say bag of blood in this case.

Similarly to Hobo with a Shotgun, Machete was based on a fake trailer in Grindhouse. Although I liked Machete better, I feel that Hobo with a Shotgun was closer to an original grindhouse film (or perhaps a Troma film as some people have mentioned though I have yet to see any of those) as it was set in 70s/80s, had a much lower budget, and didn't have celebrity cameos. That said, I haven't seen that many old school grindhouse/exploitation movies so I'm not really sure how close it is. Although its not directly related, my favorite movie along the lines of these is Black Dynamite. I wrote about it earlier on this blog but I loved how it was able to be a blaxploitation movie that looked like it was made in the 70s as well as being a parody and loving homage to them at the same time.

As I alluded to earlier my next post (after a special blogathon post) will be on The Artist. After that I will be doing a series of wrap-up post that feature three movies a piece. Most of these are randomly grouped just so I can catch up on the remaining movies I have seen since December. And in case you were wondering, one of these wrap-up will feature my thoughts on Machete!


  1. Yet to see either of these. Looking forward to Hobo with a Shotgun - I'm a massive Rutger Hauer fan and it's nice to see him given a leading role like this.

    Looking forward to the Machete review!

  2. Oh, then you'll love Rutger Hauer's performance here! I'm honestly surprised that he would accept a role like this, maybe he just wanted to be a lead again, but he did a fantastic job with it.

    I actually watched Machete before I saw Hobo with a Shotgun. My write-up for Machete will probably be shorter as I didn't take as many notes at the time and at this point simply want to get caught up so I can move ahead.