Posts Tagged ‘Captain America: Civil War’

A bit of background before I start this review: in case you didn’t know, or you’ve never read my third list of haunted locations I want to visit, the Winchester Mansion, known today as the Winchester Mystery House, is quite real. It was first started in 1884, but was continually worked on and added onto, around the clock, for nearly forty years. Sarah Winchester, the widow of the owner of the Winchester Rifle Company, believed that the spirits of those killed by her husband’s company’s rifles were after her family and had previously killed her husband and infant daughter. On the advice of a medium, she moved out to California and started building a house that doubled as a maze, meant to confuse the spirits who were after her family. She kept adding onto the house until her death, after which work completely ceased. The house is now a national landmark, and is reputedly haunted to the brim. It is this house, its mistress, and its hauntings that this movie is based on.

Everyone got that? Good.

Winchester follows Jason Clarke as a troubled psychiatrist who is sent by the Winchester Rifle Company to evaluate Mrs. Winchester’s mental state to see if she’s still fit to be a majority shareholder. Mrs. Winchester, played by Helen Mirren, allows the psychiatrist into her home at the same time as a powerful and angry spirit arrives. Together, they must confront this spirit before it kills every member of the Winchester family, and then some.

I went with a friend to see this film. I don’t know what my friend was expecting, but I was hoping, based on the trailer and what the film is based on, that it would be decent at least. At the end, we both agreed it wasn’t that.

Winchester suffers from a number of issues. One of the biggest issues is script. The film’s story is underwhelming, bogged down in exposition and with a villain who, while in concept sounds cool, in execution seems kind of boring. The villain actually reminds me of people’s reactions to Helmut Zemo in Captain America: Civil War. This is a character that’s supposed to be powerful and menacing, but for a lot of audience members (not me, though), the character’s film treatment was not intimidating and lacked menace. For me, Winchester’s villain was like that.

Another issue is the scares. There are a few good jumpscares and creepy imagery, but other than that, the movie isn’t that scary. It tries to build atmosphere, but it doesn’t go as far as it could to build an atmosphere. In other films, we’d see ghost children running in the background, shadows threatening to attack a character before someone walks in and interrupts. Stuff in other films that works very effectively. If we had more of that, the film might actually be a little scary.

I also didn’t care for Jason Clarke’s performance. He’s never been my favorite actor, but this time he was just terrible. Half the time he just mumbled his lines. After the film I just looked at my friend and I was like, “Would it have killed him to speak up?”

But the biggest thing going against the film, at least in my opinion, is the house itself. Or rather, the lack of the house. The actual Winchester Mystery House is a gargantuan structure: four stories, 161 rooms, two bathrooms, seventeen chimneys, two basements, three elevators. Stairs going nowhere, doors that open onto sheer drops, skylights and windows, etc. Even fake bathrooms. An entire maze of a house. But we wouldn’t know it, based on how little we see. A few key hallways and rooms, and some stairs for the arthritic, but barely anything else. If you never saw one set of stairs or a few key exterior shots, you would never know that the house was as huge and confusing as it is. I know the film didn’t have a huge budget, but come on! If you’re going to make a film about a giant maze-house, utilize the maze-house! You could probably make for a more exciting climax if you did that!

Did the film have any good points? Well, Helen Mirren as Sarah Winchester was actually kind of badass. She’s portrayed as this strong woman who works through her grief by battling the supernatural every day, and she doesn’t care what you think of that. It’s pretty cool. That, and the costumes and rooms, what rooms we see, anyway, look true to the time and are absolutely beautiful.

But that’s it. It’s not exactly awful, but it’s not very good either. It’s just below average.

On a scale of 1 to 5, I’m giving Winchester a 1.5. There’s a lot of potential in the concept, but this film definitely did not live up to it, producing an unremarkable period piece trying to be a good horror film. So if you’re looking to be scared, I suggest skipping this one entirely. It’s all bark, and absolutely no bite.

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(Again, slight spoilers on this one, so be careful going own. You may learn something you were hoping to be surprised about)

Well, we’re back. I’m listing the five greatest villains I’ve seen throughout the past year. Will your favorite appear on the list? Who will win the number one spot? And will I use a real person or one of my own villains (no on both of those)? Let’s dive in!

Also, check out #10-6 if you haven’t already.

5. The Society (Red RisingĀ trilogy)

The society pyramid

Big thanks to Kat Impossible for introducing me to this series and getting me hooked on it.

Now, if you’re not familiar with this trilogy, let me explain the premise: imagine about 700-1000 years in our future, mankind has evolved and divided itself into colors: Blue, Green, White, Pink, Red, Obsidian, etc. And on the very top are the god-kings, the Golds, who use the system they helped create to become rich and powerful.

But even if the Golds are the ones who benefit most from this system, and even if there plenty of Golds who alone would qualify for this list (I’m looking at you, Jackal!), none of them on their own are the true villains. If you ask me, the Society as a whole–one that enslaves some of its citizens, and kills others in order for the strongest to survive and rule–is the true villain. It’s a system that takes the very essence of humanity and destroys it for the sake of economic power and prosperity, where those who are compliant can get power even if they’re not Golds or any of the other High Colors. The Society molds the monsters it creates, and the people who fight against it, all at once.

For that reason, I’m nominating an entire civilization for #5 on this list.

And if you haven’t read this series, I highly recommend you do. The characters are awesome, you never see where the story will go, and it constantly finds ways to surprise you and keep you reading. I highly recommend it for anyone who has a thing for science fiction, or just good stories in general.

4. James Patrick Marsh (American Horror Story: Hotel)

I said in my review that AHS: Hotel was my favorite season of the series so far, and March was a big part of that. Played by perennial series mainstay Evan Peters and based partially on real-life serial killer HH Holmes, March is a serial killer who builds the Hotel Cortez to be the ultimate murder palace. After his early death, he mentors other killers as a ghost, inviting people to stop in his hotel to learn the art of murder from him, and even doing a few kills here and there as well.

There are so many reasons to love him as a villain. For one, he’s just so much fun! He’s like Walt Disney turned into a murderer, full of old-fashioned charm and bravado. He’s literally the sort of person you would want to meet in a bar and have a drink with. Whenever March appears on screen, he steals the scene, and no one seems to have more fun with him than Peters himself, who looks like he’s having so much fun playing this murderous hotelier.

Another good reason to like this guy is that everything that happens in the show, you can trace back to him. Even when he was alive, a lot of his actions tended to have far-reaching effects, some of which are felt in the modern-day events of the season. I love a villain who only needs to flip a single domino and then sits back to watch the chaos unfold, and March does it with just a few words and a charming smile. His spot on this list is well-deserved.

3. Whitney Frost (Marvel’s Agent Carter)

Season 2’s villainess is definitely a unique woman, and that’s why she’s so high up on the list. An actress who moonlights as a world-class genius physicist for her husband’s company, Whitney has always been told that, as a woman, her value is in her looks, not in her brains, and is upset when her film roles start to dry up because she’s considered “old” (though if you ask me, her best days are still ahead of her). Because of that, she helps to develop, study, and eventually become one with a strange and destructive substance known as zero matter, which allows her to break down and absorb the people and objects around her. After that, she starts using zero matter to gain power, creating even more so that she can become even stronger.

What’s interesting is how she’s such a contrast from series’ lead Peggy Carter, and yet so very similar. Both are women, very pretty women, and because it’s still a male-dominated age, men continually underestimate them and think they’re better off as secretaries or housewives. However, Peggy proves herself time and time again by taking on the cases and getting the bad guys, while Whitney uses crime, her looks and brains, and zero matter as a way of gaining power in order to validate herself. She’s kind of a dark Agent Carter, in a way, and her evolution through the season and her war with Peggy Carter make for a fascinating battle of the beauties. For that, I give her #3 on this list.

2. HelmutĀ Zemo (Captain America: Civil War)

The penultimate entry on our list is another Marvel villain, this time Baron Zemo’s film portrayal in Captain America: Civil War. Now, I know that the film version, portrayed by Daniel Bruhl, is extremely different from the comic book version. The thing is, I don’t read the comic books (too many continuities and canons to keep track of), so I really have only this version to go on.

And what a version it is. He goes to great lengths and does such elaborate things to carry out his plan. And what is his plan? Simple: to manipulate the Avengers so as to fracture them. And he does it! He breaks the Avengers apart with more fireworks than any boy band could muster, and he almost gets away with it! In fact he does, he just gets captured at the end. This probably makes him the most effective villain in the MCU, and definitely worthy of the Number Two spot on this list.

And he does it all because his family was murdered in Age of Ultron. That’s anger and dedication mixed with patience and intelligence. Seriously, the #2 spot is definitely deserved.

1. The Dread Doctors (Teen Wolf)

Teen Wolf has produced three members of this esteemed list, including last year’s #1 spot. And this year, without a doubt, goes to Season 5’s villains, the well-named Dread Doctors, who I knew as soon as I saw them were going to be somewhere high up on this list.

A group of long-lived mad scientists who have taken the supernatural powers of the world and bent them to their own purposes, they produce hybrids of humans and the various creatures that the show’s famous for. A mix of steampunk fashion, Dr. Frankenstein, Venice plague doctors, Darth Vader, and a few other things, they take teens from Beacon Hills and experiment on them. And all for a very sinister purpose.

Creepy, ephemeral, and willing to go to any lengths to reach their goals. I seriously wish I’d created the Dread Doctors before the show did (or wrote the novel about the Dread Doctors that appears in the show). They deserve the #1 spot, and if you haven’t already, I seriously think you should go online and find some footage on them. You might get some nightmares from it, but it’s definitely worth the risk.

 

That’s this year’s list. But tell me, what did you think? Did you enjoy the list? Any entrees you disagree with? Who do you think should’ve made the list? Let’s discuss.