The recent release of John Carpenter’s first theatrical feature in ten years, THE WARD, left many film goers crying deja vu! So similar to the more mainstream SHUTTER ISLAND, many wondered if perhaps Carpenter was working from the same script. According to Carpenter, he had no idea at the time he was making the same film as production overlapped and, at the recent FRIGHT NIGHT FILM FEST convention in Kentucky, urged fans not to even bother seeing his entry.
Now, now John. It really isn’t all that bad. Let’s give you a nice glass of warm milk and see you off to bed. Here is a comparative summary of the two films and we’ll let YOU decide which is best. Of course I’ll tell you which one I prefer but first things first…
THE WARD – Directed by John Carpenter
SHUTTER ISLAND – Directed by Martin Scorsese
THE WARD – Features an inmate at a 1960′s mental hospital seeking answers regarding missing patients.
SHUTTER ISLAND – Features an investigator at a 1950′s mental hospital seeking answers regarding a missing patient.
THE WARD – Features an innovative psychiatrist who approaches health care differently than the norm.
SHUTTER ISLAND – Features an innovative psychiatrist who approaches health care differently than the norm.
THE WARD – Limited budget features familiar faces but no big name celebrities.
SHUTTER ISLAND – Boasts bigger budget and A-list celebs such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Kingsley, Michelle Williams, and Max von Sydow.
THE WARD – Inmates are attractive teen gals
SHUTTER ISLAND – Inmates = yuk!
SHUTTER ISLAND – Patients questioned aren’t helpful and clearly hiding something.
THE WARD – Main character can’t escape THE WARD despite numerous attempts.
SHUTTER ISLAND – Main character can’t leave SHUTTER ISLAND despite attempts.
THE WARD – features a scene with the characters listening to a phonograph while go-go dancing – soon interspersed with horrific images of a walking corpse!
SHUTTER ISLAND – Features a scene with the characters listening to a phonograph amid scenes of the real-life horrors of a Nazi death camp.
THE WARD – Lead female character (played by Amber Heard) seems more suited in 2011 and is not totally convincing as a child of the 60′s.
SHUTTER ISLAND – DiCaprio’s New England accent is not only unconvincing, its cringe-worthy!
I am not going to give away the twist endings here but, suffice it to say, they are VERY similar. SHUTTER ISLAND is more like a psychological thriller and waking nightmare not unlike JACOB’S LADDER. There is beautiful cinematography heavy with symbolism and flashback scenes that may, or may not, represent reality. The ending in SHUTTER ISLAND had more impact than THE WARD but this film is more artistic than terrifying. In contrast, THE WARD, is much more of a true horror film. It features a rotting corpse committing murders on the inmates one by one and was easier to follow. I can’t see myself ever watching SHUTTER ISLAND again, but THE WARD is worth a spot in your collection!
So let me summarize: BOTH films have merit but, if you are wondering which to choose, I’d go with THE WARD all the way!
…despite what John Carpenter says!
Oh man, I just returned from seeing SHARK NIGHT 3D and need to swallow two aspirin with a whiskey chaser! Now, mind you, I didn’t walk into this film expecting GONE WITH THE WIND but, after viewing the trailer, was hoping for a fun film like last year’s PIRANHA 3D. Instead of laughter and entertainment, I can only compare this experience to being stabbed to death with a butter knife; long, drawn out….and PAINFUL!
A group of buff college kids spend a weekend at a friend’s Louisiana estate. Its the perfect party pad overlooking a salt water lake and complete with private pool, drinking games, and nobody over the age of 25. The proud owner is an attractive gal named Sara (Sara Paxton) who shies away from boys in favor of bonding with her pet dog instead. Of course her behavior is later explained as we are introduced to some of the local yokels who give hillbillies a bad name. These folks, are anything but your typical country bumpkins. Somehow they’ve managed to not only obtain some of the most expensive and state-of-the-art technology imaginable, but also acquire a legion of hungry pet sharks to do their bidding.
The boys have themselves quite the assortment of man-eaters with even tiny “cookie-cutter sharks” getting a shot at big screen mayhem. It isn’t long before the happy go lucky gang starts becoming fish food, leading to some of the most ridiculous scenes imaginable. To say these CGI fish are aggressive would be a gross understatement. These sharks seem to be everywhere at once and travel at such super sonic speeds you half expect to see smoke coming out of their dorsal fins. Of course, I fully expected this based on the trailer and it was not my main source of contention.
Peppered throughout the film are “intense” dramatic scenes, usually played between the male characters. In one scene, two GQ looking guys are having a cry-fest that made me shudder in my seat. When one of them learns that his girlfriend has just been killed, the two men bawl as he yells, “You don’t understand!!! She was the ONLY thing in my life that mattered!!!” Seriously? After it was revealed in the first scene that you’re not only graduating from college but are on the fast track to becoming a millionaire sportsman? The majority of the movie revolves around the characters trying to get help and away from their paradise-turned-prison. Apparently that lush mansion of theirs has everything… but a telephone!
The most ridiculous source of drama, however, revolved around the mysterious Sara and one the of the scarred locals, Dennis. After she thanks her “ex” and sends two of her pals off with him and his crony (who redefines bad oral hygiene) to get help, she sits on the dock and reveals all to one of her potential suitors. I’m telling you, after she gets through sharing her history with Dennis (in a back-story so convoluted you’d expect to see it on a daytime soap opera), you want to literally smack her upside the head for gleefully sending her friends with him!
At this point I was texting my co-blogger and revealing my desire to walk out of the theater. My only obstacle was my bringing my young, shark-obsessed son along with me who loved every minute. So I stayed to the end, even enduring one of the villains’ monologues regarding the motivation for their actions. For this I have but four letters; OMFG!
As for the 3D there were some good underwater scenes with the seaweed appearing close enough for you to reach out and grab it. There were also a few explosions that worked well with the format. Unfortunately, all the parlor tricks up Hollywood’s sleeve couldn’t make this movie even remotely watchable! Save your money (and your sanity) and avoid this one at all costs!
LORD OF THE RINGS meets PAN’S LABYRINTH in the latest Guillermo Del Torror film I just returned from seeing – DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK. This is a remake of the 1973 film of the same name and was released last Friday. Let me say for the record that I am not as against the idea of remakes as my co-blogger is. I am absolutely offended by “shot for shot” remakes such as the 1998 PSYCHO abomination, but feel that, as long as a movie is original in its execution ( if not its concept), that’s not such a bad thing. Movies like John Carpenter’s THE THING, Rob Zombie’s HALLOWEEN, and the latest PLANET OF THE APES are all examples of movies that can stand alone without marring the good name of its originals.
I went to a matinee with an audience of nine (three couples and three singles including myself) who were all about middle-aged. This wasn’t too surprising as most of the theater-going high school and college aged kids are now back in school. Katie Holmes stars as the proverbial step-mom to an unhappy little girl sent to live with her father (Guy Pearce who plays Katie’s boyfriend) in their Rhode Island mansion. The couple are amidst renovating the historical building before the arrival of the little girl, played by Bailee Madison.
The girl is clearly miserable and believes that she is unwanted. In this the child is completely justified and Holmes ends up being more of a real parent than her biological ones. Rather than get roped into the drama, I found it oddly amusing. With the sight of a self-absorbed husband, mysterious dark-haired, little girl, and Katie Holmes running around acting like the only “normal” one, this could have easily been packaged as a “Tom Cruise family reality show” and I’d have bought it (monsters, included).
Ah, yes, the monsters…
The mansion proves an ideal locale for the child to try and escape her real world, leading her to release a horde of CGI gnome-like creatures that soon run amok. These creatures are not scary and, despite the innovative special effects techniques of today, lack the creepiness factor found in the original. As the title implies, the monsters thrive on darkness and this film provides them with plenty of it, even when there’s lots of opportunities for the characters to illuminate.
In fact, much of the film will leave you scratching your head, not the least of which is why they feel the need to stay at that house even after the adults get wind that there is a problem. Horror hounds will be disappointed by the relatively low body count and the monsters would have been better off staying somewhere with the lights off – if not for their own protection than certainly so we viewers didn’t have to see so much of them!
As I left the theater, one of the couples from the audience walked out behind me. “Oh, I am so sorry about that,” said the woman. “Oh, don’t worry about it, ” her partner replied. “You didn’t know it was going to suck.”