HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: LIFE AFTER BETH

CAST

Aubrey Plaza (Scott Pilgrim vs The World)
Dane DeHaan (The Amazing Spider-Man 2)
John C. Reilly (Guardians of The Galaxy)
Molly Shannon (Wet Hot American Summer)
Cheryl Hines (Waitress)
Paul Reiser (Aliens)
Matthew Gray Gubler (500 Days of Summer)
Anna Kendrick (The Voices)

After his girlfriend Beth Slocum (Aubrey Plaza) dies, Zach Orfman (Dane DeHaan) is left devastated. He begins to spend time with Beth’s parents Maury (John C. Reilly) and Geenie (Molly Shannon) as a source of comfort. Zach confesses to Maury that he and Beth were having problems in their relationship; Maury advises him not to let the end of the relationship define it.
The Slocums stop contacting Zach. Confused, he goes to their house and sees Beth through a window. Zach yells at the Slocums to let him in but his brother Kyle, a security officer, escorts him off the premises. At home, Zach’s manic demeanor and strange comments that Beth is alive causes his parents, Judy and Noah, to worry. That night, Zach breaks in and discovers that Beth’s parents have been hiding her. A heated argument ensues before Zach storms off. Later, he goes to Beth’s grave and sees a large hole in its place. He confronts Geenie and Maury with this and they explain that, after the funeral, Beth suddenly reappeared, seemingly alive and well. Beth’s parents are reluctant to let her leave the house, especially during daytime, and refuse to tell her that she died. When Zach takes Beth on a daytime date in the park, she gets blisters on her face, apparently from the sun. Maury bans Zach from the Slocum house and seeing Beth, but Zach continues to sneak in.
Zach starts to notice people around town acting similarly to Beth, who has grown increasingly violent and has mood swings; he also discovers smooth jazz can calm her down. He also notes that Beth and people like her are stronger now than when they were living humans. Zach brings Beth to her grave and informs her of her death and resurrection, then tries to break up with her, only for her to angrily run off with his car. Zach walks home and discovers his family members shocked by the sudden reappearance of his dead grandfather. Maury picks up Zach and tells him that Beth is extremely upset, insisting that Zach tell her that he lied about her death and promise to be with her forever; Zach reluctantly agrees.
Zach’s attempts to talk to Beth fail. When she eats a bystander, he drives away, with her in the car. Maury catches them, knocks Zach unconscious, and takes Beth. Once he has recovered, Zach heads home, and finds a stranger inside the house and burnt bodies in the backyard. Believing his family dead, Zach packs his bags, and prepares to leave the state. However, he changes his mind and drives back to the Slocum house.
He finds the house is in disarray, with Geenie and Beth in the kitchen. Tied to a stove, Beth has become a full-fledged, bloodthirsty zombie, having eaten Maury and bitten off Geenie’s hand. Zach convinces Geenie to leave, then calms Beth by promising to hike with her like she always asked him to. They run into Kyle, who has gone hunting zombies. He reveals that their parents are still alive, having escaped to a safehouse. Kyle gives Zach his handgun, reminding him that Beth is suffering. On their hike, Zach and Beth stop by a cliff. He tearfully apologizes to her for never doing the things she wanted when she was still alive. They say “I love you” to each other, and Zach shoots her in the head.

Zach is reunited with his family at the safehouse, along with a traumatized Erica (Anna Kendrick), who was forced to kill her own grandmother. The survivors make plans to leave town but, suddenly, the power returns and a TV news story shows things inexplicably going back to normal. Zach visits the graves of Beth and Maury, leaving Beth’s scarf on her tombstone, and a knight chess piece on Maury’s. Zach’s mom picks him up in her car, with Erica in the backseat. Zach invites Erica for dinner and she accepts, smiling as they drive off.

This was an interesting take on the zombie genre. There were numerous humorous moments in this dark comedy as well as missed opportunities. Aubrey played the zombie aspect with decaying brain function very well.

REVIEW: LAWLESS

CAST

Tom Hardy (Legend)
Shia LaBeouf (Transformers)
Jessica Chastain (A Most Violent Year)
Gary Oldman (Robocop)
Jason Clarke (Dawn of The Planet of The Apes)
Guy Pearce (Prometheus)
Mia Wasikowska (Alice In wonderland)
Dane DeHaan (Life After beth)
Lew Temple (Waitress)
Noah Taylor (Powers)

Shia LaBeouf and Mia Wasikowska in Lawless (2012)In 1931, the Bondurant brothers—Forrest, Howard, and Jack—are running a successful moonshine business in the Piedmont region of Virginia. The brothers use their gas station and restaurant as a front for their illegal manufacturing business with the assistance of Jack’s disabled friend and engineer, Cricket. Jack witnesses infamous mobster Floyd Banner shoot dead a rival in broad daylight.Shia LaBeouf in Lawless (2012)Jack returns to the gas station, where Forrest hires dancer Maggie as a waitress. Shortly afterward, the gas station is visited by newly arrived U.S. Marshal Charley Rakes, accompanied by the Virginia state’s attorney Mason Wardell, the sheriff, and the sheriff’s deputy. Rakes demands a cut of profits from all bootleggers within the county, including Forrest, who refuses and threatens to kill Rakes if he returns. Forrest implores his fellow bootleggers to unite against Rakes, but they refuse.Tom Hardy in Lawless (2012)Meanwhile, Jack lusts after Bertha, daughter of the local Brethren preacher. He attends their church service drunk, embarrassing himself but piquing her interest. Jack walks in on a visit from Rakes to Cricket’s house, and is beaten by him as a message to his brothers. That night, Forrest beats and throws out two customers who had been harassing and threatening Maggie. After Maggie resigns and leaves, Forrest is ambushed by the two men, who slit his throat. Maggie returns looking for Forrest but is beaten and raped by the men. She decides to keep the assault from Forrest. While Forrest recovers at a hospital, Jack decides to cross the county line with Cricket to sell their remaining liquor. They too are ambushed by the mobsters, led by Banner, but are spared when Jack reveals he is a Bondurant, whom Banner admires for their stance against Rakes. Banner reveals to Jack the address of his brother’s assailants, who were previous employees of his and currently work for Rakes.Shia LaBeouf in Lawless (2012)Forrest and Howard later find, torture and kill the men and send one of their testicles to Rakes. Banner becomes a regular client of the brothers, who have expanded their operation with multiple large stills deep in the woods, increasing its profitability. Jack continues to court Bertha. Maggie decides to return to Chicago, but Forrest convinces her to stay and provides her with a spare room. They develop a romantic relationship. On a day trip, Jack decides to show Bertha the brothers’ secret operation, but they are followed and ambushed by Rakes and his men. Howard, Jack, Cricket and Bertha all flee. The police take Bertha home but leave Cricket to Rakes, who murders him.Tom Hardy and Jessica Chastain in Lawless (2012)After Cricket’s funeral, the sheriff of Franklin County warns the Bondurants that Rakes and his men are blockading the bridge out of town, with Wardell calling in Prohibition agents to shut down the county’s moonshine businesses. Jack speeds off in Cricket’s car to confront Rakes. Howard and Forrest quickly follow to provide backup for Jack, to Maggie’s chagrin. She reveals she had delivered him to the hospital after the attack and Forrest deduces that she had been assaulted as well. Jack arrives at the bridge but is wounded by Rakes. Howard and Forrest arrive and a shootout ensues, with Forrest and his driver also shot by Rakes. A large convoy of bootleggers then join the shootout on the brothers’ side. Rakes is about to finish off the wounded Forrest but is shot in the leg by Sheriff Hodges in an effort to halt the bloodshed. Rakes shoots Forrest several more times before trying to escape. Jack and Howard confront Rakes and execute him together.Shia LaBeouf and Mia Wasikowska in Lawless (2012)Following the end of Prohibition in 1933, Wardell is arrested on corruption charges while the Bondurants are all married — Jack to Bertha, Forrest to Maggie, and Howard to a Martinsville woman — and working in legitimate occupations. During a festive reunion at Jack’s house sometime later, Forrest drunkenly ambles to a frozen lake and falls into the freezing water. Although he drags himself out, he later dies of pneumonia, putting to rest the legend of his invincibility.Tom Hardy and Jessica Chastain in Lawless (2012)Overall this is a well acted and slightly over violent action drama with a good story.

REVIEW: THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2

CAST

Andrew Garfield (The Social Network)
Emma Stone (Easy A)
Jamie Foxx (Ray)
Dane DeHaan (Life After beth)
Colm Feore (Thor)
Felicity Jones (Rogue One)
Paul Giamatti (Sideways)
Sally Field (Lincoln)
Embeth Davidtz (Army of Darkness)
Campbell Scott (The Exorcism of Emily Rose)
Marton Csokas (The Equalizer)
Sarah Gadon (Dracula Untold)
Skyler Gisondo (Vacation)
Stan Lee (Guardians of The Galaxy Vol 2)
Chris Cooper (The Bourne Identity)
Denis Leary (Rescue Me)
Martin Sheen (The West Wing)
Michael Massee (Flashforward)
Max Charles (American Sniper)
B.J. Novak (Saving Mr. Banks)
J.D. Walsh (Two and a Half Men)

In 2000, Oscorp scientist Richard Parker records a video message to explain his disappearance. Later, he and his wife, Mary, are aboard a private jet hijacked by a man sent to assassinate Richard. The plane crashes, killing both Richard and Mary, after he uploads the video.Fourteen years later, Richard’s son Peter continues to fight crime as Spider-Man. He pursues and apprehends Aleksei Sytsevich. Later, Peter meets with Gwen at their high school graduation ceremony and, insisting he keep his vow to her father, ends their relationship. Peter’s childhood friend, Harry Osborn, returns to Manhattan to see his terminally-ill father, Norman, CEO of OsCorp. Norman explains his illness is genetic, and Harry is at the age where it first develops. Norman gives Harry a small device he claims contains his life’s work. The next day, Norman dies and Harry is appointed the new OsCorp CEO.While working in an OsCorp laboratory, electrical engineer Max Dillon shocks himself by accident and falls into a tank of genetically-engineered electric eels. They attack him, and he mutates into a living electric generator. Meanwhile, Peter attempts to maintain a friendship with Gwen, but she reveals that she may move to England for schooling. Before they can discuss it, Dillon wanders into Times Square, accidentally causing a blackout, and is stopped by Peter after a battle. Dillon is taken to Ravencroft Institute, where he is studied by German scientist Dr. Kafka. Meanwhile, the first symptoms of Harry’s illness are showing, and he uses the device Norman gave him to deduce that Spider-Man’s blood could help save him. He asks Peter, who has been selling photos of Spider-Man to the Daily Bugle, to aid him in finding Spider-Man. Peter refuses, unsure of what effects the transfusion would have. Although he later comes to Harry as Spider-Man, he still refuses, and Harry develops an intense hatred towards Spider-Man. The OsCorp board-members, in particular the vice-president, Donald Menken, frame Harry for covering up Dillon’s accident, remove him as CEO, overthrow him and take control of Oscorp. Harry’s assistant, Felicia Hardy, informs him of equipment that could help him, so he makes a deal with Dillon, who now calls himself “Electro,” to get him back inside the OsCorp building. There he finds a suit of armour and other equipment made by Norman, as well as venom from the now-destroyed genetically-altered spiders. The venom accelerates Harry’s illness and transforms him into a goblin-like creature, but the suit’s built-in emergency protocol restores his health and cures his disease.Peter uses information left by his father to locate the video message in an abandoned subway station’s hidden lab. Richard explains he had to leave because he refused to cooperate with Norman’s biogenetic weaponization plans. Peter then hears a voicemail from Gwen, telling him she was offered the British scholarship and is heading to the airport earlier than expected. He manages to catch her and professes his love for her, and, vowing to go wherever she goes, they agree to go to England together. Electro causes another blackout, and Peter heads off to fight him as Spider-Man. Gwen follows, and together they restore power and overload Electro’s body, killing him.The transformed Harry, who now calls himself “Green Goblin”, arrives equipped with Norman’s armor and weaponry. Upon seeing Gwen, he deduces Spider-Man’s secret identity and, swearing revenge for being refused the blood transfusion, kidnaps her and takes her to the top of a clock tower. Peter manages to defeat the Green Goblin, but his webbing breaks during the battle and Gwen falls to her death. Peter, depressed and distraught, mourns over Gwen’s death and ends his career as Spider-Man. Five months later, Harry is coping with the aftereffects of his transformation while incarcerated at Ravencroft. His associate, Gustav Fiers, visits Harry and the pair discuss forming their own team. Harry orders Fiers to start with Sytsevich. Later an unknown team of men break Sytsevich out of prison. Equipped with electromechanical suit armor, Sytsevich calls himself the Rhino and rampages through the streets. Peter, inspired by Gwen’s graduation speech, resumes his role as Spider-Man and confronts him.The Amazing Spider-Man 2 nearly earns an honest emotional response over this pairing. The writing could be better, but Garfield and Stone do an excellent job selling their roles and this movie. I am a big fan of Stone, and she elevates Garfield’s already solid performance. Webb does not quite find the balance between this drama and spectacle, and the film understandably includes a number of rollicking action sequences. The visual effects are strong, but the bullet-time slow motion feels a bit stale. There is a lot of flash to these bits, but not much substance. This is an entertaining film that could be better.