Bigfoot: The Lost Coast Tapes (2012)
★★ / ★★★★
Sean (Drew Rausch) steps out of the bank with $75,000 in his bag. This money is for a man named Drybeck (Frank Ashmore) who claims to have the body of a dead Bigfoot, a giant mammal believed to be a cross between truth and folklore in many cultures, reported to have been spotted over fifty thousand times over the past century. Sean and his crew, Darryl the cameraman (Rich McDonald), Robyn the producer (Ashley Wood), and Kevin the sound technician (Noah Weisberg), wish to make a hit television show from their experience so they drive from sunny Los Angeles to foggy Northwestern California to meet with the man.
For what it is, “Bigfoot: The Lost Coast Tapes” is able construct a mystery by allowing its material to simmer, like allowing the audience to think about what might be outside that is capable of making unusually loud thudding and scratching noises but not to a point where we actually see the legendary creature up close. In a way, it is the correct decision but at the same time one cannot be blamed for feeling robbed when it comes to its execution.
One of the picture’s main problems is the control of the camera. No, I’m not about to talk about how it shakes violently while characters run away from perceived danger because those bits are actually enjoyable. What is concerning is that it does not seem to know when to hold its place in order to amplify the tension that is already on the script.
One example is the scene around a campfire. Sean asks Drybeck to tell his best Bigfoot encounter. Instead of the camera focusing on the face of the old man so we can observe the little emotions that surface from the recollection, it jumps back and forth between the storyteller and the listeners. This does not work for several reasons. First, we lose the connection with Drybeck. For those who believe that there is some kind of truth to the folklore, the power of the man’s story is lessened. For those who doubt, it becomes near impossible for us to make an uninterrupted assessment as to whether his experience holds weight. Half of the time I was amused by the crew members’ reactions.
Ashmore does a convincing job playing a man who claims to have had more than handful of encounters with a few sasquatch. His gruff and mysterious voice brings Brian Cox to mind: gruff but mysterious, gentle but with a certain level of danger just beneath the surface. He elevates the material even when he simply sits or stands in one place. It is all the more reason for the camera to fixate its attention on his character because he is the conduit between the strangers from the city and whatever is living in those woods.
Directed by Corey Grant, “Bigfoot: The Lost Coast Tapes” is almost a solid entertainment because of its sense of humor and good ideas, but it narrowly misses the mark because it isn’t as thrilling or mysterious as some of the stories involving Bigfoot sightings. A third of its material feels stretched so the pacing lags especially toward the end. However, it has a very interesting ending that leaves me asking questions, in a good way, more than demanding for answers.
Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, The (2008)
★ / ★★★★
When I read this film’s scathing reviews (to say the least), I thought people were just being way too hard on it so I still wanted to watch it. Despite people’s advice (and insistence) to stay as far away from this movie as possible, I still hoped that I would like it even just a little bit because I love the first two “Mummy” installments (they reminded me of the spirit of the “Indiana Jones” franchise). This time around, I’d have to agree with everyone else; this is as bad as they say it is. First of all, they replaced my favorite actor from the franchise: Rachel Weisz. I thought she was perfect as Evelyn O’Connell because she excels at being bookish-smart and rarely depending on chance in order to reach some sort of success. It means that she’s perfect for Brendan Fraser’s character, Rick O’Connell, because he’s too goofy for his own good (which often leads him to trouble) and only depends on luck in order to get the upper hand. Maria Bello, Weisz’s replacement, interprets the character so differently, I felt like she was Rick O’Connell’s unwelcome second wife. She’s one dimensional, not that strong, and lacks charisma. Not to mention she doesn’t have chemistry with Frasier. Moreover, even though Luke Ford as Alex O’Connell is nice to look at, I didn’t find him as witty and as plucky as the younger Alex O’Connell (Freddie Boath) back in “The Mummy Returns.” In fact, I found Ford as interesting as an inert plank leaning against a wall. Brendar Frasier, despite his best efforts and fun energy, was sidelined. To me, the focus of this film was the conflict between Michelle Yeoh and Jet Li’s characters. Not only did the camera spend too much time on them (even though I really liked their martial arts scenes), the story is really about a thousand year old thirst for power and revenge. And somehow, Frasier and the gang managed to get tangled in its maelstrom. As for the film’s pacing, it didn’t really get interesting up until the forty-minute mark. In fact, I was kind of getting sleepy which is not a good sign because I love action-adventure films. I love watching characters travel from one place to another, seeing exotic locales, and winning at the end of the day. In this film, I didn’t really care about the characters because I never thought they were in any real danger. I literally rolled my eyes from when the Yetis appeared up until the end. Just when I thought that’s the worst of it, a dragon appeared… and then a giant monster that could bring down planes. In a nutshell, it just got too ridiculous. As much as I love the “Mummy” franchise, I’d have to urge everyone to skip this one and see something else–something that truly captures how it’s like to go on an adventure.