Final Destination 5

New Line Cinema

Rated R for profanity and gruesome violence.

 

Premonition Dooms Colleagues In High Body-Count Horror Flick

Fair warning: Final Destination 5 is a relentlessly-gruesome horror flick of no redeeming value which splatters loads of blood and guts virtually right in your face courtesy of the genre’s best 3-D special effects since Piranha. Provided you have a strong stomach and an appetite for such gratuitous gore, this bloody affair does knock off its characters in shocking, scream-inducing fashion.

As the film unfolds, we are introduced to 25 employees of Presage Paper Corporation preparing to spend the weekend together at a corporate retreat. Among the motley ensemble is Sam (Nicholas D’Agosto) who is considering leaving the company to pursue his dream of becoming a chef in Paris where he has just been offered an internship at a 5-star restaurant.

Because of his recent poor sales numbers, he is encouraged to quit by his best friend, Peter (Miles Fisher), although that possibility doesn’t sit well with his girlfriend, Molly (Emma Bell). In fact, she breaks up with Sam just before they all board the bus. Also of consequence are intern Candice (Ellen Wroe); blind as a bat Olivia (Jacqueline MacInnes Wood); womanizer Isaac (P.J. Byrne); assistant plant manager Nathan (Arlen Escarpata); and their hard-boiled boss Dennis (David Koechner).

En route to the getaway, the bus becomes stuck on a suspension bridge undergoing construction repairs. Sam suddenly has an ominous premonition and alerts his colleagues. They jump up and scramble to safety before wires start snapping, the roadway disappears and the bus and other cars plummet into the river below.

86 people die in the freak accident, including 17 from Presage Paper, although the aforementioned 8 miraculously manage to escape. However, at the memorial service, an uninvited, shadowy figure (Tony Todd) among the mourners eerily warns the survivors in a creepy whisper that “Death doesn’t like to be cheated.”

The grieving octet reluctantly returns to the office to stare at the empty cubicles of the dearly departed while awaiting grisly fates as each is knocked-off one-by-one in the order of Sam’s prescient vision. There isn’t much of a plot to what ensues, but plenty of senseless vivisection to satiate the bloodlust demographic.

Death takes no holiday!

Very Good (3 stars).

Running time: 92 minutes.

 

Amigo

Variance Films

Rated R for violence and profanity.

Character-Driven Drama Recounts Rise Of American Imperialism In The Philippines

You can always count on writer/director John Sayles to produce a socially-relevant film, whether a hilarious comedy à la The Brother From Another Planet, or relatively sober sagas such as Matewan, The Secret Of Roan Inish, Sunshine State or Honeydripper, to name a few. The two-time, Oscar-nominee’s (for Lonestar and Passion Fish) latest offering is no exception, with the inveterate iconoclast tackling yet another intriguing subject in novel fashion.

Set in 1900, Amigo is a character-driven drama unfolding against the backdrop of the Philippine-American War. Shot on location, the film effectively highlights how this ostensibly unprovoked military engagement marked the United States’ emergence as an imperial power.

Rather than drive home that point via victorious battle sequences like a typical war flick, the story telescopes rather tightly on the treatment of a group of indigenous peoples by a garrison of troops led by a no-nonsense Army Colonel (Chris Cooper). The soldiers under Colonel Hardacre’s command have been assigned the task of holding a Filipino peasant village while flushing out any guerillas that might be lurking in the vicinity.

The mission proves easier said than done, despite the town mayor’s (Joel Torre) assurances of full cooperation. For it soon becomes hard for the locals to understand exactly how they’ve been freed by the GIs once martial law is declared and they’re forced to work the farmland not for themselves but for the benefit of the exploitative invaders.

Mayor Rafael especially finds himself on the horn of a dilemma, after observing the bloody brand of justice being dispensed on the spot to anyone even just suspected of being a traitor to the American cause. He ends up between a rock and a hard place because his brother, Simon (Ronnie Lazaro), is a rebel still at large who organizes raids around the region against the occupiers and their collaborators.

Exploring a plethora of themes of Shakespearean proportions ranging from loyalty and betrayal, to power and greed, to love and passion, Amigo employs an intimate approach to deliver a thought-provoking message about U.S. foreign policy while simultaneously suggesting parallels with the country’s recent rationalizations of preemptive aggression. A cinematic history lesson connecting the dots between Manifest Destiny and The Bush Doctrine.

Excellent (3.5 stars).

In English and Tagalog with subtitles.

Running time: 124 minutes.

 

OPENING THIS WEEK

 

Kam’s Kapsules:

Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun

 

For movies opening August 19, 2011

 

Conan The Barbarian (R for nudity, profanity and gory violence). 3-D re-launch of the Arnold Schwarzenegger franchise features Jason Momoa in the title role of a fantasy adventure set in the mythical Hyborian Age about a wanton warrior out for revenge after the murder of his father (Ron Perlman) and the plundering and pillaging of his decimated village. With Rose McGowan, Stephen Lang and Said Taghmaoui.

 

Fright Night (Unrated). 3-D remake of the 1985 horror comedy about a high school senior (Anton Yelchin) who enlists the assistance of a Las Vegas magician (Victor Tennant) to help make the new next-door neighbor (Colin Farell) he suspects of being a vampire disappear. With Toni Colette, Imogen Poots and Christopher Mintz-Plasse.

 

Spy Kids: All The Time In The World (PG for mild action and rude humor). 4-D adventure—the first in the franchise featuring scratch-n-sniff ”aromascope”—finds a pair of precocious pint-sized twins (Rowan Blanchard and Mason Cook) outfitted with state-of-the-art gadgetry squaring-off against a nefarious nemesis (Jeremy Piven) bent on world domination. Ensemble includes Alexa Vega, Daryl Sabara, Jessica Alba, Antonio Banderas, Danny Trejo, George Lopez, Ricky Gervais and Tony Shalhoub.

 

5 Days Of War (R for gruesome atrocities, graphic violence and pervasive profanity). Fact-based drama revolving around an American journalist (Rupert Friend) and a local cameraman (Richard Coyle) who get caught in the crossfire while covering the Russian invasion of Georgia in 2008. With Heather Graham, Val Kilmer, Dean Cain and Emmanuelle Chriqui.

 

Darwin (Unrated). Survival-of-the-fittest documentary about the resilient denizens of Darwin, population 35, a windswept, desert ghost town located in Death Valley, California, without any municipal government, schools or houses of worship in the wake of the demise of the once-prospering metropolis’ mining business.

 

Flypaper (Unrated). Romantic comedy about a customer (Patrick Dempsey) who tries to protect the teller (Ashley Judd) he has a secret crush on when the bank where she works is robbed by two gangs at once. Cast includes Mekhi Phifer, Tim Blake Nelson, Octavia Spencer and Jeffrey Tambor.

 

Griff The Invisible (Unrated). Superhero saga about a nerdy office clerk-turned-crime-fighting vigilante (Ryan Kwanten) who falls head over heels for his brother’s (Patrick Brammall) gorgeous girlfriend (Maeve Dermody), a sympathetic scientist sharing his vision. Cast includes Marshall Napier, Heather Mitchell and Anthony Phelan.

 

Mozart’s Sister (Unrated). Historical biopic set in 1762 examining the early years in the life of Mozart’s older sister, Anna-Maria (Marie Feret), a classical music prodigy in her own right. With David Moreau as Wolfgang. (In French with subtitles.)

 

One Day (PG-13 for profanity, substance abuse, violence, sexuality and partial nudity). Flashback flick about a couple (Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess) reminiscing about the evolution of their relationship over the years on every July 15th, starting with the one-night stand they shared on that day on the eve of their college graduation back in 1988. With Romola Garai, Rafe Spall and Patricia Clarkson.

 

Programming The Nation? (Unrated). Mind control expose‘ touting the paranoid conspiracy theory that the mass media have been saturated with subliminal messages since the ‘50s. With appearances by Noam Chomsky, Amy Goodman, Congressman Dennis Kucinich and Jerry Mander, author of Four Arguments For The Elimination Of Television.

 

Summer Pasture (Unrated). Tibetan documentary chronicling the efforts of a family of nomads to adjust to the governmental pressures of rapid modernization pushing them off their ancestral grasslands. (In Tibetan with subtitles.)

 

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