Aftershock

discs strike back2

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Strike Back: The Complete Second Season Michael Stonebridge (Philip Winchester) and Damien Scott (Sullivan Stapleton) weren’t always best of friends, and while they still argue on occasion they’ve also learned that they can trust each other when the bullets start flying. Their latest adventure finds the duo along with their new commander (Rhona Mitra) running and gunning their way across Africa in search of stolen nuclear triggers. Technically the series’ third season, this is Cinemax’s second as the producing entity, and they continue to show why no one even talks about that initial UK season any more. They also continue to show that a TV show can actually best many a lesser action movie in nearly every aspect. The acting and cast here are solid, the cinematography is theater-worthy, and the action sequences are impossibly great for a television series. They also impress with their awareness of both weaponry and tactics that add to the feeling of legitimacy. Hell, Cinemax even ensures the show maintains their high (or low?) standards when it comes to T&A. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Commentaries]

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commentary aftershock

Eli Roth is best known as a director of small, gory horror films like Cabin Fever and Hostel, and for giving a memorably bad performance in Inglourious Basterds. Needless to say, the announcement that he would be producing, co-writing and starring in a Chilean disaster picture was met with both interest and uncertainty. I first saw Aftershock at the Stanley Film Fest a few months ago, and I was happily surprised by just how fun and thrilling the damn thing ended up being. It’s exploitation-lite and comes packed with an unexpected amount of humor and subversive scripting too. Roth joins director Nicolás López as the two friends do the commentary while thousands of miles apart, Roth in L.A. and López in Chilé. López makes it clear that he was in no way trying to make the official film of Chilé’s recent earthquake saying “we wanted to make a fun, roller coaster ride mwovie where an earthquake happens in Chilé, but it’s not about our real earthquake.” He succeeded. See what else they had to say in the commentary track for Nicolás López’s Aftershock.

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review aftershock

Sometimes, despite your best intentions, you’ll walk into a movie with negative preconceptions instead of an open mind. It happens to the best of us, and while I can honestly say it’s an extreme rarity for me personally I’m still more than a little ashamed on the occasions where it happens. The most recent example, and probably the first since the Robin Williams/John Travolta travesty Old Dogs, is a new disaster thriller co-written/produced by and starring Eli Roth. His films have never done much for me, his acting even in small roles seemed on par with Quentin Tarantino’s and to make matters worse I’d heard few positive things about the movie. In fact, the most common term used to describe it was “rapey.” So yeah, my expectations were fairly low. But then something wonderful happened. I was happily proven wrong.

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news stanley film fest

I’m on record as saying that there seem to be too many damn movie festivals these days, and that’s coming from someone who loves movie festivals. Mainstays like Sundance and SXSW co-exist alongside smaller, local fests in just about every city in America, and there’s barely a week in the calendar year without one or the other. They’ve become more ubiquitous than unique, and you’d think I would be the last person to celebrate yet another one being added to the mix. But here I am. Celebrating. The Stanley Film Fest is brand new this year, and it immediately gets right what so many others get wrong. Location. The horror film fest takes place entirely at the historic Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, CO, which in addition to being a beautiful yet creepy locale is also the hotel that inspired Stephen King’s “The Shining.” Their inaugural fest promises to be a fantastically fun affair complete with parties, a horror-themed brunch, a ghost tour and more. Of course the most important element of a film fest is the film selection, and this one is no slouch. The opening and closing night films are Ethan Hawke’s new thriller The Purge and the Eli Roth vehicle Aftershock, respectively. In between are a lively mix of hotly anticipated follow ups from the directors of Rabies, Dead Snow and The Midnight Meat Train, thrilling changes of pace from Mark Duplass and Elijah Wood, a long overdue big screen showing of All the Boys Love Mandy […]

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Aftershock

Normally when pretty young people are getting tortured and mutilated in a horror movie it’s because they’ve run afoul of some sort of creature, spirit, or at least a mass-murdering psycho who’s developed a unique gimmick. The things doing all of the killing are just fantastical enough, just far enough apart from reality, that you can disengage your moral compass and have a good time watching the slaughter. Director Nicolás López’s new film, Aftershock, takes a different approach. It takes an earthquake, the sort of natural calamity that would usually be the jumping off point for a disaster movie, and uses it as its big scary monster. In the process, he’s made a movie in a sub genre that feels unique and fresh next to recent horror offerings: a disaster horror. The basic story of this one seems to be that Eli Roth is some dopey American bro looking for a good time down in Chile. His problems start when his ogling of scantily clad ladies at the local nightclub gets cut short by an Earthquake. Suddenly lighting rigs are collapsing on dancers, shards of glass are cutting up people at the bar, and the whole place is turned into a gory splatter fest. That isn’t the end of the horror that López and Roth have in store for us, though.

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The standard plot of a horror film today is to have a group of people partying for thirty minutes, followed by a descent into chaos and mayhem, either by creatures or madman. Aftershock follows that formula exactly. The movie does almost nothing to be unique, but it doesn’t stop the film from being a wonderfully enjoyable mess. With this being the first time Eli Roth and Nicolas Lopez have written together, it’s clear that Roth had a lot of input as the film plays very much like how Hostel and Cabin Fever did. It establishes early the idea of the holiday excursion, all the fun our gang is having and the character dynamics to expect. There’s the outsider, Gringo (Eli Roth), the fun loving crazy guy, Pollo (Nicolas Martinez), and the depressed best friend who just won’t stop talking about his ex-girlfriend, Ariel (Ariel Levy).  While out enjoying the country’s hospitality, they meet a trio of ladies who persuade the men to visit a more authentic part of Chile. While on that side of the country, at yet another (authentic) party/club, there is a massive earthquake. Hoping the worst is over, the group finds a way out of the club only to find that the town has become completely devastated and anarchy has taken over in the blink of an eye. As they try to find safety from the madness, aftershock after aftershock ravage the city.

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Unless you happen to be from Chile, you might not have ever heard of director Nicolas Lopez. But chances are you soon will. After creating the top grossing Chilean films in both 2010 and 2011 with Que Pena Tu Vida and Que Pena Tu Boda, the director is next moving on to helm Aftershock, the newest film from Eli Roth. This one is a disaster movie that Roth and Lopez wrote together, and that Roth will be starring in. Apparently the idea for the film came to Lopez after his country was hit with a pretty bad earthquake back in 2010, but it’s got some of Roth’s horror sensibility in there as well. The story is largely about dangerous patients that escape an insane asylum after the quake. If horror fans have any sort of issue with getting some Lopez mixed in with their Roth, then maybe this awesome quote from the director will assuage your fears: “I was a fan of Cabin Fever and Hostel, and I love that we’re mixing our sensibility. People will be shocked when they see this movie. It’s nothing that you could expect. I want this to be my Robocop.” Anybody who doesn’t think their career is complete until they’ve made their Robocop is okay with me. Roth thinks he’s pretty okay too. When talking about his collaborator he said, “He has the incredible combination of commercial sensibility with an artistic eye, and what he has done here in Chile with their film industry […]

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This Week in DVD

Let’s just get this out of the way right now. You probably won’t agree with my placement of one or more of the three films in the AVOID section below. And that’s okay. If you like an actor or filmmaker behind one of the films then definitely check it out for yourself. Just know that they’re not good movies. All three of them actually came close to joining the RENT category but for every one thing that worked ten others failed miserably. The directors behind them (Jake Kasdan, Kevin Smith, Chris Weitz) have made far better films in the past, and they’ll probably go on to make more going forward. But these are their bumps in the road, and they should probably be saved for cable. As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Aftershock China’s Tangshan earthquake killed 240,000 people in 1976, and from that disaster comes this affecting and emotionally powerful tale of loss, guilt, and forgiveness. A building collapse traps two twins, a boy and a girl, beneath a concrete slab. Saving one means killing the other, and their mother is forced with making a heart-wrenching choice… “Save my son.” Unbeknownst to her though, the little girl survives and never forget her mother’s words. Now thirty years later a second earthquake draws that adult daughter back to China to help the victims and confront the mother who left her for dead. The film skips what would have been a couple […]

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published: 11.21.2014
D
published: 11.21.2014
B+
published: 11.19.2014
C+
published: 11.19.2014
B-, C


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