Tuesday, May 02, 2006

"Silent Hill Review"

Hmmm... why does it seem like I only review horror movies? I don't even consider myself a horror movie aficionado. Maybe it's because they're often so bad that they piss me off enough to make me write something up about them. Or Maybe its because I feel compelled to warn others not to waste their time or money on them. No, wait, those were my motives for reviewing the "The Transporter"... a horror of a movie more than a horror movie, but still, it's scary that it got a sequel. What the fuck was I talking about? Oh, horror movies... Silent Hill. Right.

Before release, many of the gaming websites who are usually cynical about game-to-movie adaptations were opining that Silent Hill could actually be pretty good. The trailer looked very Silent Hill-y. The script writer, Roger Avery, was a huge gamer who was so hardcare that he even restored old Atari arcade uprights as a hobby. It had a decent director in Chris Gans (also a gamer.) And most importantly, Uwe Boll had nothing to do with it. The game community just ate it up. Who can blame them? They were starved for a even a decent game-to-silverscreen flick.

Then came the first sign of trouble: no advanced screening for reviewers. That's never a good sign. Personally, I never like to read reviews of movies that I plan to see. So it didn't really bother me that I couldn't use movie reviews to gauge my expectations. When I heard that there were no advanced sceenings, it was more of a "Oh, shit. That better not mean it's gonna suck!" reaction. Even still, I went to go see it with the not-so-high hopes that it would be the best video game movie yet. And you know what? I'm not so sure that it wasn't.

Most of my friends hated it. Then again, most of my friends are idiots. Now I'm not going to say that Silent Hill was a great movie, but it doesn't take much to take the Best Video Game Movie Ever crown. C'mon... what it's up against? Mortal Kombat? Tomb Raider? Resident Evil? It's not like those movies are in danger of ever making the AFI top 100 movies of all time. Honestly, I don't know what my friends were expecting out of Silent Hill. A direct game-to-movie script? *MORE* gore? Bare breasts? Hmmm... honestly, there's never too much tittage in horror movies as far as I'm concerned. I mean, if you've already got the R rating... Right? Right.

So what things did I like? Well, first of all, I liked the mood. It 'felt' like Silent Hill. I also liked how they explained the fogginess and how the town was evacuated so quickly. I've only played through Silent Hill 2 so maybe some people were more bothered by the lack of strict adherence to the game script, but I didn't mind it. If you're trying to condense hours upon hours of gameplay into a 2 hour movie, you're gonna need to change some shit around, and I think Avery did a decent job of it while Gans did a good job of visualizing it for us.

And what didn't I like? The worst thing about the movie, for me, was that even though it was way long for a horror flick, that they wussed out and summed up the 'why?' in a spoken 15 minute segment. It felt to me like they were telling the story, and then they ran out of time so they just broke down and hand fed us the reasoning for everything so that they could get to the climactic boss battle at the end. It would probably have been better as a Kill Bill-ish Vol 1/Vol 2 deal. Though I'm sure that was not an option as far as Hollywood business goes.

Also, while I liked Avery's handling of the setting, his dialogue sucked. I absolutely hate hearing the audience laugh during horror movies, but some of the dialogue in Slient Hill was so absurd that I could totally understand why the audience was chuckling in some places.

Overall, I liked Silent Hill. And it seems like most gamers liked it. It was just the critics that hated the shit out of it (and my stupid friends.) Kotaku had a post on how movie review sites like MetaCritic and Rotten Tomatoes had complied overwhelmingly negative critics' reveiws for the movie while the user ratings on those same sites were overwhelmingly positive. Even on IMDB, Silent Hill has earned, up to this point, a respectable 6.7 out of 10 rating. If you're wondering if you've missed anything by not playing the games. Probably not. Like I said, I only played through one of the four Silent Hill games myself.

My Rating: 7.5 x better than The Transporter.

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