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Movie Reviews: "Drag Me to Hell" and "Up"

Drag Me To Hell
Reviewed by: John Devore
Directed by: Sam Raimi

The Skinny: If there's one lesson this horror movie teaches, it's never deny a loan extension to a gypsy crone. Making amends for his universally reviled superhero train wreck Spider-Man 3, Sam Raimi returns to his roots and rustles up a fright flick about an ambitious farm girl (a perky and game Alison Lohman) who decides to screw over a kindly old woman…who then curses our hero. The curse is simple—three days of spooky, supernatural harassment and then demons drag you to hell. Seriously. It's right there in the title.

The Good: Don't let the PG-13 rating throw you: there might not be alot of gore, but there are disturbingly enormous amounts of just about every other bodily fluid. Equal parts 80's horror movie montage, and antidote to torture porn and the turgid ghost stories that plague contemporary horror, Drag Me To Hell is a rip-snorting nail-biter that you will take seriously, even as the flick refuses to take itself seriously. The special effects, camera work, and the aforementioned effluvia all combine into one freaky-ass circus of WTF.

The Bad: Some of you might think the movie is corny, or too tongue in cheek, or hell, maybe you're eagerly awaiting Saw 8 or 7, because you love the predictability of a convoluted death trap. You might be one of these people. If you are, you suck.

Tantalizing Tidbit: You will know fear…of dentures.

Theater, DVD or TNT in Five Years: Definitely the theater. There are enough jumps, jolts, and freaky unexpected twists that it's almost a requirement it be seen in a packed theater of shrieking people. And take a date. It's not a gross-out flick, it's just straight up scary. She will love it.

Reviewed by: Krista Soriano
Directed by: Pete Docter and Bob Peterson

The Skinny: Seventy-eight year old Carl Frederickson (voiced by Ed Asner) has two things to live for after his wife and childhood-adventure-mate Ellie passes away: to save their house from being torn down by construction and to fulfill their life-long dream of moving to the mythic Paradise Falls. He ties thousands of balloons to the house, heads south and teams up with an unlikely friend for an adventure slightly off the agenda.

The Good: It's Pixar, a studio that makes producing brilliant movies look simple, so right off the bat we expected an adorable, feel-good film with easy laughs and stunning eye-candy graphics. Up goes, well, above and beyond. Especially in the wake of Pixar's charming Wall-E, a movie about a huffy old man who ties balloons to his house doesn't exactly sound like the bar breaker. But if not compelling, the premise is definitely original: Our hero is elderly, and he attempts to use weird science to achieve his goal. In his way is an unwanted passenger, the overly helpful Russell (Jordan Nagai), and more maliciously, vindictive explorer Charles Muntz (Christopher Plummer), who has spent decades trying to capture the bird no one believes he saw. Each of them have their own story, and Pixar never sacrifices their character development just for a happy ending. It's why we get so easily emotionally invested in them and the situations that arise. Prepare to cover your mouth in suspense and blink back the tears because the sentiment in Up is unsurprisingly too much to handle. Oh, and you'll want to take Dug the retriever and his high-tech talking collar home with you.

The Bad: Not much to say here. Watching Up in 3D is nice but unnecessary.

Head's Up: If you think the little kid is fat, wait until you see how big the old guy's head is. In one scene that's clearly not to scale, Pixar completely disregarded proportions when Carl and Russell are trying to climb up into the floating house above them. Oh, CG animation… It's Pixar's own fault that we're so greedy for perfection.

Theater, DVD, or TNT in Five Years? The movie is beautiful. See it in theaters.