[Movie Review] Scream 3

Scream 3Starring: Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox, David Arquette, Patrick Dempsey, Lance Henriksen
Director: Wes Craven
Genre: Horror
Cert: 18
Released: 2000

Hey, how cool is “Scream 3” gonna be!? I mean it’s following two pretty cracking prequels, it’s got Courtney and Neve in it and people die in big bloody messes. Well in a shocking twist, even more shocking than any the Scream movies have thrown at us, “Scream 3” has turned out to be complete and utter pants. And here’s why.

First a brief word about the story (the film doesn’t detail the relationships between the characters and I’m not going to either – maybe check out my reviews of “Scream” and “Scream 2”). It begins with Cotton Weary (Liev Schreiber) sitting in traffic on his cell phone. Cotton is now the successful host of TV chat show ‘100% Cotton’. I thought that was pretty cool.

Anyway, a familiar voice calls him and tells him that he is in his apartment and that his girlfriend is about to be killed unless Cotton tells him where Sidney (Campbell) is. Cotton chases home to try to rescue his girlfriend and that’s all I’ll say – this is excellent, the best part of the movie. It’s not giving too much away to say that a new killing spree has begun and Sidney, who is now hiding away on a remote ranch, is distraught when she hears. After she discovers that the killer knows where she is, she comes out of hiding and predictably hooks up with Dewey (Arquette) and Gale Weathers (Cox).

Meanwhile, the cast members of “Stab 3: Return to Woodsboro” are being killed one by one in the order they die in the movie (you may remember that “Stab” was the movie within “Scream 2” which was based on the storyline of “Scream”. Confused?). As an added twist though, with three versions of the script in print, no one knows which one the killer has read and therefore no one knows who the next target will be. In a further bit of intrigue, with each victim there is found a picture of Maureen Prescott from when she was younger. Now Maureen, for those who didn’t see “Scream” or have just plain forgotten, is the deceased mother of Sidney. She plays a key role in the storyline of the first movie. The killer is looking for Sidney and it’s up to her to track down him down before he finds her.

And that plot outline is as disjointed as this movie is. I can’t express how appalling this is. For a film series that was rightly noted for it’s humour, it’s tension and excellent plot development, this is dismal. Kevin Williamson (writer of the first two movies) is not on board for this one, and Ehren Kruger has taken up the writing reigns here. Sadly, although she was pretty much picking through the ashes anyway, she doesn’t distinguish herself in any way. We are introduced to the usual tired characters (Dewey, Weathers, Sidney), lose the best characters (Cotton, Randy) and discover a mixture of banal and irritating new ones.

The storyline is a shambles. It attempts to play on it’s genre (as the other movies did) by suggesting that since this is a movie trilogy, then this will be the worst example of carnage yet, with a bad guy who is impervious to pain. Sequel rules do not apply, apparently. We are also told that something from the past will return to shock the cast, and the audience. Of course this gives lazy script writers the ability to muck around with the storyline in order to try and squeeze more blood from this stone. It leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

We are treated to the return of Patrick Dempsey as Detective Mark Kincaid, for those who nostaligically recall his 80s ‘brat’ movies and Lance Henriksen (TVs “Millenium”) plays movie producer, John Milton. In addition we have appearances from Jenny McCarthy (oh, baby), Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia) and Kevin Smith (director of “Clerks”). Sadly, the most interesting part of the movie comes from spotting the cameo appearances, as the main cast are remarkably unremarkable.

It’s a real shame that “Scream 3” has turned out to be so poor. Where’s the subtlety? Why the slapstick? How come it’s not scary anymore? I saw the signs during “Scream 2” – maybe Wes should have realised that enough was enough. This is embarrassing.



[Movie Review] American Beauty

American BeautyStarring: Kevin Spacey, Annette Benning, Thora Birch, Wes Bentley, Peter Gallagher, Scott Bakula
Director: Sam Mendes
Genre: Comedy
Cert: 18
Released: 1999

Lester Burnham (Spacey) searches for some form of happiness in his life in “American Beauty”. He’s an average, middle-class American who has worked hard in his job for 14 years. The result of this hard work is a 42 year old man with a daughter who hates him (Thora Birch), a wife who nags him (Annette Benning), and a life that bores him.

There’s no doubt that “American Beauty” is a controversial movie. Themes of homosexuality, masturbation, drug use, underage sex and adultery are prevalent throughout the movie. But for some reason, it never becomes a vulgar experience, or a film that should offend. It is a black comedy, maybe even a tragicomedy.

The performances from pretty much the entire cast range from excellent to outstanding. Spacey of course was rewarded with the Best Actor oscar, and there was a nomination also for Annette Benning (Best Actress). Thora Birch is wonderful as the angry teenage daughter and her strange relationship with the equally impressive Wes Bentley is one of the movie’s great achievments.

It works so well becuase English director Sam Mendes does such an outstanding job in his directorial debut for which he was rewarded with the Best Director Oscar. Equally as important is Alan Ball’s wonderful (Oscar winning) screenplay. There are many moments where you can’t wait to hear what Spacey is going to say next and when he does deliver, it’s normally a suitably entertaining and biting comment.


[Album Review] "Risk" – Megadeth

Risk - MegadethAlbum Title: Risk
Artist: Megadeth
Year: 1999
Running Time: 51m 36s

Track listing: 1 Insomnia; 2 Prince of Darkness; 3 Enter the Arena; 4 Crush ‘Em; 5 Breadline; 6 The Doctor is Calling; 7 I’ll be There; 8 Wanderlust; 9 Ecstasy; 10 Seven; 11 Time: The Beginning; 12 Time: The End

Is ‘Risk’ a very misunderstood album?

Chances were that this record would get slated, and that’s exactly what’s happened. It’s a far cry from the power and anarchy of “Rust in Peace” or even the more measured angst of “Cryptic Writings”.

We start off very promisingly with an interesting slice of pseudo-industrial metal with an orchestral tinge – “Insomnia”. Any Megadeth bashers I play that track to are quite impressed. “Prince of Darkness” is a decent throwback to the Dave’s ‘dark side’, but still ends up sounding a little bit like a parody of Megadeth’s earlier work. Lyrically though it’s rather entertaining, and a little thought provoking, although not in the same vein of RIP or “Countdown to Exctinction”. The stadium anthem “Crush Em” is a fun rocker that suffers from it’s tight arrangement, but the thundering chrorus and babbling mid-section excels.

My favourite track on the album is probably the power-ballad “Breadline”. Never has a song sounded so little like Megadeth (up till now anyway!). Not much in the way of groundbreaking guitar or lyrical work here, but it’s a top notch radio-friendly track about a man who is about to lose everything. In one way it’s embarrasing to think about the band performing this on stage after “Holy Wars” or “Wake Up Dead”, but it ranks up there with their best music I think. I’d be interested to hear what the band think of the track.

“The Doctor is Calling” is a really lame and laborious 80s-esque rocker that has few redeeming features. “I’ll be There” is incredibly much worse – Dave gets a bit ‘Europe’ on us. Those two should have been left on the cutting room floor. A couple of, shall we say, ‘interesting’ cuts follow.

I actually like “Wanderlust”. A low-key build up leads us to the mid-tempo chorus which rocks pretty well. A touch of The Eagles for “Ecstasy”. Dave natters over an easy-listening riff, before the band go full pelt for the chorus – ‘the sin I bring called ecstasy’ – and then we’re back to the rather pleasant rhythm section again. Not bad.

“Seven” is just awful. The Black Crowes and Aerosmith would be shamed to record something like this. A terribly pointless jam with horrendus solo.

“Time: the Beginning” is another power ballad, but without the vivre of “Breadline”. Anaemic. “Time: the End” turns things up a bit. At least there are some riffs to speak of. This is a sound akin to “Cryptic Writings” or even “Countdown to Extinction”. Good way to end the record.

And there you have it. 3 complete abominations (“Seven”, “I’ll be There”, “The Doctor is Calling”), 3 rather good songs (“Insomnia”, “Crush Em”, “Breadline”), 2 worthy, interesting tracks (“Wanderlust”, “Ecstasy”) and the rest just sitting somewhere in the middle.

To answer my initial question, I do think “Risk” has suffered from some over-reaction. Certainly die-hard metal fans won’t like it, but this is a good record which deserves it’s place in Megadeth history like any other. I do hope the final record for Capitol though is a return to roots.