Annabelle (2014)

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Director: John R. Leonetti
Writer: Gary Dauberman
Production Companies: New Line Cinema, Evergreen Media Group, RatPac-Dune Entertainment, Safran Company
Stars: Annabelle Wallis, Ward Horton, Tony Amendola, Alfre Woodard
Genre: Horror

What It’s About: After their home is invaded by satanic cult members, a new family begins to experience strange phenomena that seem to surround an antique doll in their possession. This movie precedes the events in The Conjuring.

How I Watched It: In the theater. Evening. With friends.

Thoughts: **Some Spoilers**
We kick things off with the same group of kids that appeared in the Annabelle segment of The Conjuring.  They’re telling the story of how they came to own the doll and some of the crazy things that have been happening since.

Then we delve into the history of the creeptastic doll. We have this happy little couple, Mia (Wallis) and John (Horton), with the missus knocked up. The couple has recently relocated to a new house, thanks to John’s new position at a local hospital. Mia is a doll collector, and had been searching for a doll like Annabelle for a long time.  John finds one, and gifts it to her one night.

That same night, crazed cult members (1 man, 1 woman) murder their next-door neighbors and come a-knockin’ at their house. An intense fight happens, ending with the two cult members dead. The woman is found in the nursery where the doll collection is on display–she’s holding Annabelle after committing suicide.

Welllllll, guess what?  The doll starts making weird shit happen to them. Sewing machines running by themselves, doors opening and closing, spontaneous fires….and unlike most ignorant families in the horror genre, the Gordon’s decide to throw out the creepy doll and GTFO. Hooray!  Huzzah! Good for them! Too bad the shit just followed them.

Let me just start by saying: I. Hate. Dolls.  Ever since growing up being scared senseless by movies like the Puppetmaster series and the Child’s Play series, I just…..NOPE.  I don’t know what it is about this particular horror subgenre that gets under my skin.  Maybe it’s the nostalgia–the thought of those beloved children’s toys coming to get you. Or maybe it’s because of that one TERRIFYING old doll that my Grandma has sitting in her spare room–the one with one wonky eye. Could be both.

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I’m cool…I’m cool…..BAH. GET OUT OF IT.

Now, one thing I will say for Annabelle, is that I think they tried TOO hard to make the doll creepy. The dolls appearance slowly degrades and becomes more dirty/scraped up as time passes. I know that’s sort of the norm, but I think it takes away something for me. Something about that pristine little doll staring into space all empty-eyed is much more terrifying that some banged up old P.O.S.

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Someone get me some sunglasses.

I dunno.  Dolls are just…intrinsically creepy. Some hit a little closer to home than others, though. That’s for sure.  As far as Annabelle is concerned…yeah.  The doll’s pretty unsettling, but I found myself being scared more by the things surrounding the doll.  You don’t really get a lot of doll-on-human evil action….well…because the doll’s not actually physically possessed. **COUGH**SPOILER**

I think the main character, Mia, does a fantastic job in this movie. Strange coincidence that her real name is Annabelle…..

Insert “Twilight Zone” music.

I really loved the character of Evelyn (Woodard). She quickly became that character that you just weren’t too sure about. She seemed so nice at first…but she gave off this air of uncertainty. That fine line was ridden very well. I love the role that she comes to play toward the end of the film.

My Rating: Huzzah!

I definitely enjoyed myself when I watched this. This one wasn’t directed by James Wan, but it definitely had the same feel. If you love/hate creepy doll movies, you should enjoy this one.

Where Can I Watch It?: This one’s still on the theater circuit!  Catch it while you can, or wait a few months until it comes to video. This one would be perfect to go see tonight on Halloween night!  🙂

 

 

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The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)

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Director: Marc Webb
Writers: Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Jeff Pinkner
Production Companies: Marvel Enterprises, Avi Arad Productions, Columbia Pictures, Matt Tolmach Productions
Stars: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx, Dane DeHaan
Genre: Action/ Adventure/ Super-Hero

How I Watched It: Alone in my apartment. Evening.

What It’s About: Spider-Man continues to battle super-villains and save the city.

Thoughts: Yeah….there are gonna be spoilers.

Well, at the beginning, we get more of a glimpse into what happened to Peter’s parents after they leave him at his Aunt and Uncle’s house.  It’s still fairly cryptic, but it’s revealed that they were definitely running from someone and attempting to hide something. Then we come back to present day and of course Spider-Man’s (Garfield) on the job. Some henchmen are trying to rob an OSCORP armored truck of some radioactive material. Wait…is that…Paul Giamatti?  With…a barbwire tattoo on his forehead? Alright. I can dig it. Oh!…and he’s Russian?!  Nice!  Peter ends up saving the day (duh) and manages to make it to his high school graduation just in the nick of time.

We run into Gwen Stacy (Stone) again. She’s so damn adorable. I wish I could hate her, but I can’t. Anyway, we get more of Peter and Gwen’s amazing on-screen chemistry (go figure since they’re a real-life couple).  Here’s a new thing: now Peter sees Gwen’s dead father (Denis Leary) all the time!  Creepy.  He’s not a zombie or anything….more of a…guilt ghost.  If you remember from the last film, he promised her father that he would stay away from her so that she would be safe.  He obviously broke that promise.
So, broken promise = Guilt Ghost Dad.

Ghost Dad

Guilt-Free Ghost Dad

Then of course, we have to have a villain. While Spidey is out stopping Paul Giamatti from stealing plutonium, he happens to save this dorky analyst-lookin’ fella who’s running around with blueprints.  This guy’s name is Max Dillon (Fox), and guess what you guys? Can you guess who the villain’s gonna be?  THIS GUY.  It’s not hard to figure out, but still fun nonetheless.  This fella works for OSCORP in the electrical engineering department. After Ryan from The Office….er…B.J. Novak is a complete dick to him, he goes and tries to fix some…electrical things all by his lonesome.  Well…we can see where this is going. He ends up getting electrocuted.  But to be fair, he then gets dropped into a vat of electric eels. I can safely say that I didn’t anticipate that.  He is then transformed into Electro. He’s pretty cool, if I do say so myself.

You know what’s better than the actual villain, though? HIS MUSIC. Oh. My. Glob.  Let me just gush about this soundtrack for a second. The music in this film is done by Hans Zimmer…BRILLIANT GENIUS AWESOME PERSON.  However…this time around, he had assistance from a group that came to call themselves The Magnificent Six (which is a Transformers reference. I didn’t know that off-hand, because I’m not that cool….but ya know…trivia). This group consists of Pharrell Williams, Johnny Marr (of The Smiths, Modest Mouse), Michael Einziger (of Incubus), Junkie XL, Andrew Kawczynski, and Steve Mazzaroritten. Ummmmm….YES. These guys make a sandwich of Hans Zimmer’s amazing orchestrations and badass electro music.  It. Is. Perfect.  The music throughout the rest of the film is amazing too, but man…those scenes with Electro just really stand out. So good. Okay. Done gushing.

There’s also a running story line with Harry Osborn (DeHaan). Harry is Peter’s best friend, even though they’re somewhat estranged. Peter comes to his aid when Harry’s father, Norman, passes away. Harry has discovered that he has the same genetic disorder as his father, and that he is slowly dying.  So, OF COURSE HE BECOMES A VILLAIN. We know that Norman was previously known as the Green Goblin….so guess what? Harry’s taking over the reigns, baby! The Green Goblin isn’t introduced into the story until much later in the movie, so I believe that he’ll play some sort of a role in the third installment of the series.  This Green Goblin, though.  I really like the look of him. He looks green with illness, but it works. I really look forward to seeing more of Dane DeHaan as this villain–kid’s got talent.

ULTIMATE SPOILER ALERT: Peter defeats Electro with the help of Gwen…and just when you think it’s over…Green Goblin flies right into the fight. He is bound and determined to hurt Peter in whatever way he can, so of course he swoops of Gwen and drops her from the sky. Peter snags her with his web, but in his continuing battle with Green Goblin, his web gets cut and she falls. Then we get this super slow-motion moment when Peter trying to reach through all of these falling gears with his web to reach her and save her from falling to her death.  AND HE GETS HER…or….wait.  Gwen? …… Gwennnnn?  NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. Apparently he stops her just shy of her splatting into a goopy mess…but she still hit her head or something.  It’s not terribly clear…but we know that she’s dead. 😥

I really loved Stone in that character, and I’m so sad to see her go….but…I appreciate that fact that they let a main character go. I’m a realist, I suppose. I always thought it was sort of silly that one man could save EVERY PERSON. There has to be collateral damage, but we just aren’t seing it. They show it to us in full-force. Annnnnd it’s depressing. Andrew Garfield breaks my heart when he’s sad. At least he didn’t go into full-out Emo-Spidey Mode.

No offense, Sam Raimi. I'll always love you.

No offense, Sam Raimi. I’ll always love you.

Then at the end of the film, we see Harry Osborn in Ravencroft Mental Institution, talking to someone named Mr. Fierce? I haven’t read the comics, so I’m not “in the know” on that one. DON’T TELL ME. Anyway, this mysterious guy is “getting a team” together for Harry. The first of which, is…Paul Giamatti!  Hey!  That came full circle!  He’s Rhino…so…he’s basically a mecha-Rhino with machine guns. Alright. He draws Spider-Man back out after he’d been on a bit of a hiatus since Gwen’s death. There’s this really adorable moment where a kid in a Spider-Man costume walks out there like Tank Man.

Tank Man

Tank Man

Annnnd we end in the midst of that fight.

My Rating: Huzzah!

I thought this movie was a blast. It may have a running time of almost two and a half hours, but it just flew by. Time flies when you’re having fun, right?  Not sure why this was received with such poor reviews. Y’all can suck it.

Where Can I Watch It?: You can catch this one on Amazon Instant or go pick up a copy at your favorite rental place.