Friday, February 25, 2011

Movie Review: "Drive Angry 3D"

Who knew 3-D (and Nicolas Cage) could still be so much fun? February has been saved!

Rated R for strong brutal violence throughout, grisly images, some graphic sexual content, nudity and pervasive language.
104 minutes
Summit Entertainment
**** out of 5

Article first published as Movie Review: Drive Angry 3D on Blogcritics.

And at the buzzer, February 2011 finally finds itself a winner at your local multiplex. Yes, it has been a dreadful month. With the likes of “Sanctum,” “The Roommate,” “Just Go With It,” “Gnomeo and Juliet,” “The Eagle,” that “Bieber” movie, “Big Momma 3” and “I Am Number Four,” we deserve a break! I have not seen “Hall Pass” but it doesn’t sound like I’ll be missing a lot even with my appreciatiation of the Farrelly Brothers. So without further ado, I present to you a film that finally deserves to have a big opening weekend before March pounces and that film happens to be none other than “Drive Angry 3D.”

Brought to us by the same team behind “My Bloody Valentine 3D” (director Patrick Lussier and writer Todd Farmer), these two have had their hands in quite a few other great films. As well as their fair share of bad. For every “Drive Angry” or “Valentine,” there’s also “Dracula 2000” (along with its two direct-to-video sequels), so I suppose Lussier was simply cutting his teeth before unleashing his two most recent ventures. As an editor, Lussier has worked mostly with Wes Craven with a dash of Guillermo del Toro for good measure. While he may be a better editor than director, he’s definitely getting better with each project.

Farmer is best known to horror fanboys for writing up genre offerings that have almost literally been one bad followed by one good (“Jason X,” “The Messengers,” “My Bloody Valentine,” “Messengers 2” and now “Drive Angry”). Hopefully this doesn’t mean that the team's next film, “Halloween III,” will be a disappointment. If it happens to be, don’t worry, they’re rebooting the ol’ Pinhead himself and finally getting a new “Hellraiser” feature off the ground. Seeming to have found their niche however, I suspect that their movies are going to get far more gruesome and inject those two now dire franchises with some new sparks.

Milton (Nicolas Cage) is out of Hell and hellbent on finding Jonah King (Billy Burke), the man who killed his daughter and is about to sacrifice Milton’s baby granddaughter come next full moon. Hot on Milton’s trail is the Devil’s “Accountant” (William Fichtner), aka the Grim Reaper, who’s not afraid to pose as an FBI agent while seducing horny waitresses for leads. Piper (Amber Heard, America’s hottest bisexual) has just quit her job and left her boyfriend Frank (Farmer himself, “reprising” his role from “Valentine”) and taken his car. With Milton, the Accountant, and Piper leaving a wake of bloody vengeance, mayhem, and carnage in their wake, it’s a race to Stillwater, Louisiana to save Milton’s granddaughter even if it means he finds himself back to whence he came.

As I mentioned, Lussier is really coming into his own here. While things may not have been as splattery as I expected, he still makes far better use out of the 3-D format than anyone in the studio game thinking that conversion is still a viable enterprise. Actually shooting in 3-D also gives the film the much needed authenticity the format deserves these days even if some of the effects look like they weren’t quite finished. Which of course only adds to the fun fitting the film right in alongside the exploitation throwbacks of “Grindhouse” and “Machete.”

The only thing dragging things down is a weird need to give anyone in the film some form of characterization which always puts the film in neutral, even if for only a few moments, and the devil worshiping aspects have their moments of taking themselves too seriously which come off more mean spirited than the fun we were just having in the prior scene. And the whole thing could've been trimmed by about ten minutes. But it is nice to have Crazy Cage on camera again even if Fichtner gets all the best one liners along with the bigger, better, funnier jokes. Although, if you thought the sex scene shoot out in “Shoot ‘Em Up: was hilarious, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. So sit down, buckle up, shut off your brain, and enjoy the show as “Drive Angry 3D” brings its own blood spattered checkered flag to the February finish line.

Photos courtesy Summit Entertainment

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