Saturday, October 2, 2010

Movie Review: The Shaft

The Shaft
Rated R
3 Slimes
Copyright Artisan Home Entertainment 2001

THE CHARACTERS

Mark Newman: A mechanic working for METEOR who is assign to work on the elevators in the Millennium Building. He is afraid of heights, so I have no clue why he is in this line of work.

Jennifer Evans: Naomi Watts! A newspaper reporter who is investigating the Millennium Building incidents and is obviously the girl Mark will be hooking up with at the end. Wouldn’t be the first time a killer something help bring a couple together.

Jeffery: Mark’s partner and friend at METEOR, who doesn’t seem to really care much about the incidents going on at the building. Like any good partner and friend of the main character, he is killed by the elevator.

Lt. McBain: The officer in charge of the incidents happening at the Millennium Building. I’m not sure why, but I think he has a personal grudge against elevators for some reason.

Gunter Steinberg: Michael Ironside! He created the organic computer chip that he used to test on the elevators of the Millennium Building. Like any good mad scientist, he is killed by it towards the end of the film.

LESSONS LEARNED
+ Elevators are soundproof.
+ Elevators can be used as saunas.
+ Elevators are enemies of blind men and security guards everywhere.
+ Elevators have vacuum suction abilities
+ Elevators play peek-a-boo with little girls.
+ Elevators are the first step in a brand new mechanical revolution.
+ Security guards in tall skyscrapers will spy on people.
+ Roller-skaters in NYC are idiots.
+ Swat has no training against elevators.

STUFF TO WATCH FOR
9 min – Isn’t that apartment building from Ghostbusters?
11 min – Great you jinxed it.
27 min – This is what happens when you don't use that cane.
34 min – Look like someone lost their taxidermy dog.
36 min – Sir, a man had his head cut off by an elevator. How can you not suggest a malfunction with these elevators?
44 min – I didn’t know Ron Perlman owned an elevator repair company.
49 min – How can a movie about a killer elevator suddenly become so implausible?
54 min – People hire the weirdest day care employees.
63 min – Hey, I could buy the ghost angle!
70 min – Hmm… I can’t be sure, but it looks like that red paint.
73 min – The man is right. You can’t ask a mad scientist about organic computer chips in a public place and not look like an idiot.
80 min – I think we are breaking the weight limit on that elevator.
85 min – Dude, why do you even need to hide? You work for METEOR!
88 min 25 sec – FREEZE FRAME! GMC sponsors this movie!
98 min – RANDOM ACTS OF VIOLENCE AGAINST AN ELEVATOR!
103 min – RANDOM ACTS OF VIOLENCE AGAINST A COMPUTER CHIP!
105 min – After all of that, you want to do it an elevator of all places?

NOTABLE QUOTES
Mitchell: We live in a vertical world. If you can't trust the elevators, what the f**k can you trust?

Mark Newman: Nine people out of ten make it out of an elevator alive.

Jennifer Evans: I think that elevator is haunted.
Mark Newman: [Shrugging] Sure, why not?

THE PLOT

Here’s an interesting movie if I have ever seen one! It’s a film about killer elevators, but not only that folks, it’s a remake of a German 1982 film called De Lift. The movies are even directed by the same director, Dick Maas. I’m not sure how to response to this and the fact we are dealing with a movie about vicious elevators, but let’s venture forth into this film regardless.

Our film begins in New York City at the Millennium Building, a fake skyscraper with 102 floors. I love see someone walk all those stairs. Lighting strikes the building and there is a power surge, which causes some problem with the elevators. As such, the elevator doors nearly crush a security guard, but they only smash the guy’s flashlight.

The following day, we see the building open and a bunch of pregnant women entering an elevator after finishing a pregnancy class. As the elevator is descending, it comes to a strange and abrupt halt on the 22nd floor. While trap in the elevator, the heat starts rising (Can elevator do that?) and two of the women instantly go into labor. Maintenance tries to open the elevator, but it refuses to open up until the elevator then decides to finish coming down to the first floor.

METEOR elevator company sends Mark Newman and Jeffery to investigate and the fix problem, but their initial report finds nothing wrong. Well all those eerie and strange angle shots of the elevator after they leave say differently. Oh yeah, not to mention a blind man falls through an empty elevator shaft on the 91st floor along with his seeing eye-dog.  Next time, make sure there is something there before stepping in.

At night, two security guards investigate an elevator that is moving up and down by itself. On the 40th floor, the door opens and reveals the empty shaft. One of the guards looks into the empty shaft and the elevator doors trap his head in between them, which then allows the elevator to come crashing down and decapitating him.

With the latest incident, the building closes down all three of the express elevators and calls in Mark and Jeffery to look into the elevators again. Mark is met by Jennifer Evans, a reporter who is investigating the incidents happening in the building. He blows off her, but not before saying, ‘9 out of 10 people make it out an elevator alive.” I would like to question where he actually got that statistic from.

The mechanics again state that the elevators are perfectly safe, but really, we all know they aren’t. As such, we see two roller skaters cruisin’ through NYC traffic and cut through the underground parking ramp. One of them gets separated from the other and crashes in front of an elevator. Then in perhaps the most bizarre moment of the movie; the elevator opens up, brightly glowing on the inside; and literally sucks him in! Since when do elevators have ability to suck people into them and have a heavenly glow? This moment sort of looks like that scene in Poltergeist where the little girl is sucked into her closet.

Anyways, the guy is sucked in and spat out the elevator on the 86 floor, which shots him over the balcony edge on that floor. I guess it didn’t like the taste of that guy. So with that little incident, Mark hears about it on the news, which reports it as a tragic suicide because of eye witnesses. How dumb are these eyewitnesses? The guy literally flew out of the elevator, through a window, and then smashes through a metal grate surrounding the balcony. How can a person alone smash through a metal gate? Even the police officer in charge of the case, Lt. McBain, finds all of this hard to believe.

Mark heads to the scene and talks to Jennifer, also on the scene get information, about what happened. She shows him security footage from a video tape she got of what happened to the skater and points out that from the time he got in the elevator and was spat out, it only took 2 seconds! Shocked by this discovery, he takes the footage over to Jeffery, who refuses to look at it for whatever reason.

The two decide to investigate and take a look into the man who created the building’s elevators and the mechanics behind it, a Gunter Steinberg. The two of them research the projects he worked on in the past and come on across an interesting one about where he had created ‘organic, reproducing computer chips.’ To sum up all the silly science used to explain the chips, they became too dangerous to use after they began to have a mind of their own when used in machines. As such, they believe Steinberg used one of the chips on the elevators and now they are killing machines.  That doesn't explain what the lighting bolt did at the beginning of the movie though.

The next day, Jeffery’s body is discovered after crashing through the top door of one of the elevators. Lt. McBain, believing he has figured out the case now, assumes that Jeffery is the one behind all the accidents happening in the building and says that because he is dead now, the elevators should be safe to use now. Great, bring on the massive slaughter of life now!

With the elevators opened now, people begin piling in to use them. Since it’s so damn obvious, one of the elevators goes haywire and zooming up the building at extreme speeds, which rips off the floor of it and causes everyone to fall to their deaths. Yep, those elevators sure are safe Lt. McBain, aren’t they? With this crazy event, the president himself has to shut down the entire building and call in the FBI to handle everything.

Jennifer and Mark are forced to sneak into the building to check out their computer chip theory, but to do so; Jennifer has to sneak in Mark while she is disguised as a METEOR employee. Ah, why? He works for METEOR so why does he need to hide? Since she isn’t an employee, she is easily found out and taken into custody while Mark manages to sneak into the building. Through a series of silly Solid Snake style sneaking around, he reaches the top of the elevator shaft and discovers the organic chip, which looks like a bunch of shredded Styrofoam with pinkish red glow to it.

Mark stabs it a couple of times with a screwdriver and that causes one of the elevators to burst into flames! Don’t look at me; I’m just reporting what I’m seeing! Then that elevator comes crashing down and nearly slices him in half, like a unfortunate swat member. Steinberg comes into the building to destroy the chip himself before everyone finds it and traces it back to him. Unfortunately for him, two of the higher ranking members in charge recognize him on footage and realize what’s going. To explain, the organic computer chip was originally a government project, but was stopped since it was too dangerous and Steinberg was relieved of duty because of it. So apparently, Steinberg decided to continue the experiment using the elevators here.

Mark, having grabbed one of the stinger missile launchers brought in by the swat team, decides to blow up the organic chip to finish the job. However, Steinberg appears and threatens him with a gun. I have no clue how he climbed 65 floors in less than a few minutes. The officers appear to stop him, but he and Mark are grabbed by the elevator shaft cables and pulled in. Luckily, Mark blows up the computer chip and manages to save himself. Steinberg, on the other hand, is killed by the cables.

After a day or so in hospital, Mark is released and Jennifer goes to pick them up. On the way down, the elevator they are taking comes to a stop, having been stopped when Mark pressed the emergency stop button. He hit the button so he can sleep with Jennifer… right there in the elevator… and she agrees to it. Where did this romance come from? The movie ends with the two of them bonking as the screen goes black while “Love in a Elevator” plays in the background.

I hate to disappoint anyone who was hoping for me to tear this movie a new one, but the film wasn't that bad. Hey, I’m just surprised as you. I can’t say if the movie is superior to the original, but it is a decent little b-movie flick. The soundtrack is alright, there’s a good balance of how much elevators are shown and how much they kill people so we don’t get sick of seeing them or get bored waiting to see them, I like the reason for why the elevators are killers, the science isn’t too insulting, and the acting for the main leads is decent (Though pretty much else everyone pulls in a forgettable, but not terrible performance).

For what is bad about the film, I think the script is suffering from a bunch of unnecessary things that could have been cut out. There are a few pointless scenes or moments that aren’t important, like the fight Mark gets into at the beginning or Jennifer tricking the swat officers. They don’t add anything to the characters or have an impact later on. A few characters introduced are also completely pointless and serve no importance later on, like Lt. McBain. The movie also has things that are really not needed and only seem to exist to make sure this film is rated R, like the obsessive amounts of swearing or a nude scene at the very beginning that has nothing to do with anything. Finally, a couple of death scenes are bad since they don’t make much sense. If the elevators can suck people into it, why don't they do that more often and frankly, how does that even work? Is it even possible for the floor of an elevator to rip off if it’s going too fast? How can elevators make themselves heat up anyways?

Regardless, this is actually a movie that maybe worth a watch for b-movie fans or people who are just interested in seeing when elevators go bad. It’s probably the best killer elevator movie out there, but then again, what’s its competition?

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