Black Snake Moan — Hills Have Eyes 2 — Beautiful Beast — movie reviews
Posted on July 19, 2007 by Chris Nelson
Yup, it’s review catch-up time again. Here are three more films that are worth mentioning, but not deserving of a full review.
Black Snake Moan . Samuel L. Jackson and Christina Ricci star in this tale of a young nymphomaniac and the god-fearing blues singer determined to set her on a path of righteousness. Directed by Craig Brewer, of Hustle and Flow, the film is easily one of the most original American efforts a major studio has put out in years. The film’s posters and trailer, featuring a chained Christina Ricci, generated a fair amount of interest in the mainstream circles, as well as a smattering of chidings by closed minded critics, focusing on exploitation of women, but for the most part the buzz was warranted. Despite its exploitation trappings, the film boasts some wonderful performances by Jackson and company, a surprisingly sweet love story, and some really kicking tunes. The film does fall apart a bit in its third act (man, I’m seeing a lot of pictures like that these days), dipping into the realm of sap and saccharine, but on the whole provides a solid entertainment. Take a chance and check it out (Note that this film’s soundtrack is actually worth a listen as well).
Hills Have Eyes 2 . This sequel to a remake/remake of sequel is a return to the days of profoundly mediocre sequel making. While far better than the original Hills Have Eyes part 2, whose story consisted primarily of flashbacks to the original Hills Have Eyes (including one from the dog), it remains vastly inferior to the previous remake. This time out the nuclear testing grounds to which the mutant cannibals call home are entered by a group of young military cadets for reconnaissance operations…or something. To be honest I wasn’t really paying attention. The characters are all paper thin soldier stereotypes, even down to the reluctant volunteer/war protestor. This character could have at least been used to infuse the tale with a bit of political subtext, but oh well. The mutants themselves look a bit lame…more silly than threatening. Plusses? The film has a couple inventive deaths, and the mutants’ hunting tactics make for at least a margin of tension. And the film has quite an attractive final girl, in the form of Jessica Stroup, but for the most part she comes across as a bit out of her element. Regardless, you’ll be seeing more of her in the remake of Prom Night and the upcoming April Fool’s Day. All in all, a completely mediocre horror film. If you’ve nothing else to watch, by all means go for it. Otherwise, there are many other better horror films to spend you time with.
Beautiful Beast . This one comes from Central Park Media’s cheapie Asia Pulp Cinema line, and stars none other than Kaori Shimamura, a leggy model with no real acting talent, so my expectations were understandably low. The basic plot of the film concerns a Chinese assassin, codenamed the Black Orchid, seeking vengeance in Japan for the death of her sister at the hands of Yakuza. The plot is clichéd skinemax fare, and is never really laid out that clearly. In fact, roughly an hour into the film I thought Shimamura had finished her job, but the thing went on for another half hour, only to end with her taking out a house of gangsters with gas-bombs and a pistol. I was so lost. That said, there’s a surprising amount of thought put into the camera work and editing, lending the film an odd mix of quasi-art and trash. Furthermore, some of the action sequences are actually pretty decent. The film would probably be of interest to Shimamura fans only, but if you have a spare seven bucks on you, it might be worth a pickup.
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