Shimmer Lake

Studies have shown that reviews that feature “Lake” in the title end up being better than expected when writing said review.

Of course, my only review before this was the movie Flakes, which was, I admit, better than I imagined it would be. It was quirky, off beat.

Shimmer Lake, it has plenty of quirky actors in it, but I am not sure how off beat it will end up being. I did go in with low expectations, despite the Lake theory, and as you can see, hey, it was better than I imagined.

Interviews
There was less sexual tension in this movie than I imagined as well. Look at that gap between police officers!

Shimmer Lake is also a story told in reverse. Similar to Memento, sure, but it is on a day by day basis. We start our story on Friday, and we see how the entirety of Friday plays out, then we see Thursday, all the way to Tuesday.

Because you see, on Tuesday, there was a bank robbery. And this is a small town, Shimmer Lake, so everybody knows everybody, and heck, a lot of them are related. Like or Sheriff Zeke (Benjamin Walker), whose brother, Andy (Rainn Wilson), a lawyer, just helped rob a bank on Tuesday. Andy worked with two other locals (Wyatt Russell, Mark Rendall) robbed a bank when it had a well known surplus, and Zeke was shot in the theft.

And now they are still about the town, Zeke is sure of it.

We just have to figure out how all the players are involved, which of course is revealed slowly while telling us backwards. We also have a judge (John Michael Higgins), a couple of FBI helpers (Rob Corddry, Ron Livingston), the deputy (Adam Pally), and the wife of a robber (Stephanie Sigman), and somehow one or more of them are involved.

And don’t worry, the lake is not the answer to the mystery.

Table
Blueprints and alcohol are the best items to help with a bank robbery.

About three fourths of the way into this movie, I wondered why it was being told in reverse. It didn’t seem to be adding really anything extra to the story. It seemed to be Memento-ing because people liked Memento.

But of course by the end it all became a bit more clear. And yes, Shimmer Lake is a film that will be better the second go around. I don’t know if I will ever really watch it a second time, but I would like to see what clues give it all away and make this story tick.

It was a bit hard to label this movie, because there are a lot of actors who are mostly in comedy films filling out the roster, and I think that adds a strange aesthetic to the whole film. I am calling it a Dark Comedy in that regard, because it is normally comic actors acting serious, in events that are larger than life.

Shimmer Lake isn’t a film that is reinventing the wheel or adding something entirely new to the industry. But it does try to stand out and, as I implied earlier, ends up being a better ride than expected.

3 out of 4.

The Choice

Oh hey look, a Nicholas Sparks film. There have been ten of these before The Choice, and most people would start to wonder if he has any originality left in the tank.

Every single one of them are about romance. Most of them are about a death or a tragedy and bringing the unlikely couple together. Some of them do feature twists and interesting angles I have never considered. I still like The Notebook and I thought Dear John was quite clever, but still not living up to its potential.

And I didn’t see The Choice when it came out to theaters. I didn’t even see it when it hit DVD. His 11th attempt at a movie didn’t even try to advertise itself that much. Were there posters? Were there trailers? Is there another of his movies coming out this year?

I have no idea, they sort of just show up and we have to accept them.

Couple
Look at the happy couple. I wonder what Sparks will do to fuck it all up.

Gabby (Teresa Palmer) is a medical student, living with her dog, in the most romantic place in the world, Wilmington, NC. She has her own small place, despite being seriously involved with her boyfriend, Ryan (Tom Welling). Ryan is already a doctor, Gabby needs to still pass her exams, so she picks a quiet place to be alone to study without distractions.

Until she finds out her neighbor is playboy Travis (Benjamin Walker). He likes to party, sleep around, has a pseudo girlfriend (Alexandra Daddario), and he loves to blast his music at night.

And then Gabby’s dog gets pregnant, so she blames it on Travis’ dog. She goes to the vet angry and hey look, Travis works there, a vet himself, son of the head vet (Tom Wilkinson). And Travis’ dog is fixed! Oh ho ho, how silly.

Anyways, needless to say, they both fall in love, ruin each others relationships, and despite the starting of their relationship being over 2/3 of the film, none of what I said involves the titular Choice and it will just eventually show up. Also starring Maggie Grace!

Dog
Cold beer. Red shorts. Lazy dog. This man loves to party!

The Choice ends up being like a lot of Sparks stories, except somehow feeling overall trashier and dumber than most.

First of all, one of our two characters is in a committed relationship. He might not 100% entirely get her needs, but she is the one who starts fooling around with our main guy, with her boyfriend away for business reasons. In fact even after this, she still gets engaged to her boyfriend. So Gabby doesn’t really feel like a great gal. And Travis doesn’t look or seem to fit the charm that people say about him in this film. I don’t see it, and I can fully admit to understanding the charm of charismatic men.

Their chemistry isn’t super apparent either, so they have to hide it behind montages. And once again, the main crux of the movie, what is the choice and why, doesn’t happen until way late late late into the film. So much of the film is about their initial meeting and relationship (Sparks’ bread and butter), they have to rush the prequel to the choice into another montage showing them getting married and having kids.

Now this choice has no emotional context for us. It is jarring seeing them older (while looking identical of course), but suddenly kids. And of course “The Choice” ISN’T A FUCKING CHOICE AT ALL. He doesn’t make a choice, he keeps things the same as they were, and of fucking course he would. They hype up this god damn choice, so when it happens, I was just sitting there annoyed because it offered no additional tension.

This movie needed to take place with them already married with a family. Throw in some SMALL flashbacks if you want to show how they met, but let us really get to see them being in love and how their lives are before anything bad can effect it. But then Sparks couldn’t have enough romance in it.

This is a romance film that they didn’t know how to make different or tragic. The last act feels stapled on, isn’t heartfelt, and the whole thing becomes a waste of time.

0 out of 4.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

History is written by the victors, definitely something you’ve heard before. If not get some education, damn it.

But it is true. Just like dead men tell no tales. Undead men can tell tales, however.

Alternative histories are usually exciting to watch, as you watch events you know definitely occurred, with other questionable events spliced in between. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is no different. What this movie is, is a ‘biography’ of the secret life of Honest Abe, as he protected America both from itself and from the blood sucking swarm of the night.

Wood Chipper
Training is best when it is also practical.

Abe Lincoln (Benjamin Walker) grew up in Indiana, with his parents on a plantation. But when his black friend’s family was being sent to the slave trade, despite being free citizens, Abe put himself in harm’s way to protect his friend Will Johnson (Anthony Mackie). This caused his dad to get upset with the plantation owner, Jack Barts (Marton Csokas), who then threatened the Lincoln family if they left his services. Which they did.

But that is a shame, because Jack Barts is totally a vampire, who got his revenge on Abe’s mother that night, and pushing Abe to enact revenge. Nine years later, he tries. And motherfucking Jack Barts is a vampire! And doesn’t die! No worries, mysterious stranger Henry Sturges (Dominic Cooper) saves him, and after some time, agrees to train Abe in the art of vampire hunting. But only if he ignores his revenge, and is willing to listen to everything he says. Sure.

But then after training he moves to Springfield, to study up being a “lawyer”. Ends up finding a job at a local store run by Joshua Speed (Jimmi Simpson) and falling head over heels in love with a Mary Todd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). During his vampire killing duties, he develops relationships with people (oh no!) and even becomes more politically involved. Gotta stop the slave trade. Real people. And its run by vampires in the South to eat from.

But if he were to stop the slave trade, the vampires would no longer be satiated and move more north. He’d be putting a hex on the entirety of America if he were to give equal rights to people. Hell, that’d probably cause the vampires to join the South in war. Lead by the head vampire, Adam (Rufus Sewall), will Honest Abe be able to stop slavery, end the vampire threat in America, and maintain his presidential life style all at the same time?

Wtf Kick
“Bitch tryin’ to kick me? Don’t you know who I am? I’m a muthhafuckin Vampire Hunter!”

Alright, so obviously this is kind of a dumb movie. You know vampires aren’t real, and you know this didn’t happen. But hey, if it was well done and had good action scenes, probably worth it. Why not, right?

Well unfortunately, as a budget saving measure I guess, the action scenes were lacking in luster. They had good ideas, but making them work with CGI? Ehh. Half of the fight scenes, you cannot tell what is going on. Either general blurryness, lots of dust, or fire. Fuck that noise. Movies have proven they can do intense fight scenes and make all of it easy to see. Some movies don’t want to put in that effort, and gimp out when it comes to them. So that is a negative for the movie.

Somewhat slow plot at times, and historical time frame that doesn’t seem consistent with reality. Other things that bug me. But doesn’t change the fact that the idea for the movie was an interesting one, just a poor execution at some of the parts that really mattered.

2 out of 4.