Cinema Psycho

"You know what? You have a losing personality." – Manhattan

My Awesome Movie Weekend: Cabin, Lockout and The Raid Get the Party Started

Posted by CinemaPsycho on April 15, 2012

Not that I’m entirely surprised, but I find it sad that all the talk online today is about how this weekend’s “newcomers” couldn’t beat Hunger Games at the boxoffice. I for one never expected them to – clearly Hunger Games is a phenomenon that’s going to last for awhile (at least until the summer movie season starts). What’s disappointing is that no one seems to be talking about the movies themselves – it’s as if their value is suddenly diminished because they didn’t claim the #1 spot. Yeah, I know, what else is new, right?

I’m particularly disappointed by this reductive talk because I for one had an absolute blast at the movies this weekend. This was one of those rare weekends where the stars aligned (or something) and several movies that I wanted to see badly actually opened in theaters nationwide. Now, when I was younger, we used to have weekends like that all the time. It used to be that we couldn’t even keep up with all of the damn movies we wanted to see in theaters (particularly in the 80’s, when there was a boom of genre films) and there was good new product out every single week. We relied on video and cable just to catch up with theatrical releases, not because the movies we wanted to see were often in very limited release or sent straight to home viewing. These days, however, I will sometimes go weeks at a time without going to the theater because there’s simply nothing there that I find worth my time. And when I do go to the theater, it’s usually to see one particular film that weekend, not two or even three.

Since I’m always complaining about the lack of decent fare at the local multiplex, I thought I should celebrate the fact that there are three very good, original (not remakes or sequels or based on children’s books) movies currently playing nationwide right now. I’m sure most of you already know this, of course – but I think it’s worth pointing out anyway. This is an excellent time to go to the movies and prove to the studios and theater chains that you want to see quality original genre movies. Whether you like horror, sci-fi, action or some combination of the above, you can’t go wrong with any of these three films. I’m not going to write full reviews or post spoilers here (mainly because you should see them for yourselves) – I just want to discuss these films a little bit and tell you why you shouldn’t wait for Netflix or Redbox or even cable to see them.

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I think most horror fans already are aware of Cabin in the Woods by now, at least those who read online reviews and pay attention to movie news. The history of the film is a relatively complicated one – it was one of the movies made by MGM before they went bankrupt a couple of years ago, and it was stuck in limbo for what seemed like forever until Lionsgate finally picked it up last year. Most movies that sit on the shelf for that long eventually find their way to “straight-to-video purgatory” and some just don’t get released at all (hey LG, any chance you might pick up All the Boys Love Mandy Lane?), but Lionsgate clearly recognized its quality and saw fit to give it that long-awaited theatrical release. Kudos to them, because Cabin absolutely lives up to the hype. I don’t even want to get into the plot or the satirical commentary on what Roger Ebert calls “Dead Teenager Movies” – just know that if you’re any kind of horror fan, even a casual one, this is a movie you should see as soon as humanly possible. Director/co-writer Drew Goddard and producer/co-writer Joss Whedon have come up with the kind of game-changer that will make you wonder, “why didn’t anyone think of this before?” Unlike most long-delayed films, Cabin doesn’t have that “five minutes ago” feel to it – it absolutely feels like right fucking now in the best possible ways. I’m sure some horror fans will find it too “meta” for their taste and the inevitable backlash will ensue. I don’t really care, and neither should you. Cabin in the Woods is just too damn good to pass up.

Similarly, the Luc Besson production Lockout won’t be for everybody – just for those who appreciate a good cheesy slice of 80’s-style sci-fi/action. It’s basically Escape From New York, Die Hard and Fortress thrown in a big crazy blender, and if its derivative nature bothers you, you probably won’t be susceptible to its B-plus movie charms. But if you’re like me and your reaction to the trailer was “I think I’m in love with that movie”, then you don’t need me to convince you. I wouldn’t say it’s the greatest movie ever made, but it is a lot of old-school crazy fun. If you’re going to steal, steal from the best, right?

Then there’s the Indonesian action film The Raid, which has been in limited release for a few weeks now but Sony Classics has expanded to 881 theaters nationwide. Thank you, Sony Classics! The online hype for this has been massive, and I’m thrilled to report that if it’s action you want, The Raid definitely delivers. Director Gareth Evans and star Iko Uwais are clearly the next big thing in action films, and this relatively simple story of a police unit taking down a drug lord’s apartment building turns into sheer eye-popping insanity. If it’s plot and character development you want, this isn’t the movie for you. If, however, you want to see awesome non-stop action performed by skilled stuntmen without shaky-cam, ADD editing or CGI, The Raid is your movie. It’s a bracing reminder of how action films should be done. Some critics have asked what the point is – well, the point is to place the audience right in the middle of an intense and brutal situation, and the result is an incredible cinematic experience. If that’s not what you want a movie to be, well, can’t help you there. But action fans will enjoy the hell out of it. I can’t wait to see what Evans does next.

So, there you have it. You can’t go wrong with any of these films. As far as I’m concerned, this has been one of those weekends that film fans dream of, and if you missed it, you can still catch up! For once the place to be isn’t a film festival or a movie marathon but your local cineplex, and I sincerely hope you all enjoy it. Weekends like this are pretty rare now, but we should appreciate them when they do come around. Have fun, and I’ll talk to you later.

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