Transparency is huge these days. What with a corrupt Canadian government constantly trying to sneak their own crooked schemes into giant omnibus bills or the world's largest corporations hoping to operate above the law, there is a growing need for everyone to play with all their cards on the table. Which is why a film like Zombeavers is such a breath of fresh air.
Personally, I've long been a fan of movies where the plot is also the title (call it the Snakes on a Plane effect) but Zombeavers transcends those simple, transparent expectations — it's actually really awesome.
The set-up is as you'd expect, six college kids drive out of cell range to a semi-secluded lake cottage for a weekend of sex, partying and relationship drama. Despite taking an early interest in the nearby beaver dam and lodge the unsuspecting students don't realize the local beavers have been exposed to some sort of mutating toxic waste. Then things get amazing.
While the acting is about what you'd expect (super B-Grade) the writing and pacing of Zombeavers is actually very on-point, this is no Sharknado. Writers Al Kaplan, Jon Kaplan and Jordin Rubin (who also directs) fill their flick with subtle humour (the redneck who whistles "Another One Bites the Dust" while checking his beaver traps) and ace dialogue with more than a few fun "beaver" entendres.
It's still B-Grade to the core (Beavers cut the phone lines!) but there is real fear here and the incredible climactic twist elevates Zombeavers from a one-note joke film to probably the best monster movie of the year. If you like watching animatronic beavers tear apart a cast of characters who deserve it... Zombeavers is the download of the week and certainly a perfect way to get your team amped for the upcoming 72 Hour Filmmaker Showdown contest at the World Ski & Snowboard festival.
Slim pickings for new films at the Whistler Village 8 however. Get Hard stars Will Ferrell as a big-shot Wall Street type wrongly convicted of embezzlement (not enough transparency) and given 30 days to get his affairs in order before being shipped to San Quentin.
Scared shitless, Ferrell hires the only black guy he knows, car-wash owner Kevin Hart, to teach him how to "get hard" enough to survive in the joint. Problem is, Hart is a hard-working nice guy family man with not an ounce of gangsterism in him, but he needs the money. What follows is a flurry of racist stereotypes (with only some handled with decent satire and humour) and a whole lot of prison rape jokes. Avoiding prison rape is the driving force of this entire story, actually. That, and racism.
Directed by Etan Cohen (Tropic Thunder) this one is probably not for everyone and despite a few good back-and-forths between its stars, Get Hard never gets hard enough to really take us there.
Also opening (in 3D and 2D) Home, the latest Dreamworks cartoon about an alien outcast named Oh (voiced by Big Bang Theory's Jim Parsons) who befriends a little girl named Tip (voiced by Rihanna!!) just in time for a great big culture-clash, fish-out-water, road trip adventure full of technicolour blob-dancing and a "just be yourself" message.
Based on a popular kid's novel, Home feels like a mashup of everything from Lilo and Stitch to ET and the whole thing comes off feeling a bit forced. Nice to see a heroine of colour though and Rihanna does quite well in her animated voice debut (a bit raspy maybe but even kids' movies need that sex appeal these days.) Parsons alien-mangling of the English language on the other hand, quickly becomes irritating. While it's certainly good enough for preschoolers (they will watch anything, ever see Toopy and Binoo?) the characters, story arc and humour don't hold up to adult (or even Grade 3) scrutiny. Home is probably best watched at home.
Speaking of which, Big Hero 6 is available on PPV and download this week. It's a much smarter animated flick from Disney about a young boy and his robot who must solve a mystery and save the day in a super-cool future of robotics and mixed cultures. Unbroken, Angelina Jolie's epic drama about Olympic runner-turned-POW Louis Zamperini is also available and if you are feeling flush you can buy Miley Cyrus' Bangerz concert video on iTunes for a mellow 28 bucks. You know Miley is bringing all sorts of transparency to the screen, mostly in her outfits.