Both movies I saw on Thursday exceeded my expectations, and both for the same reason. I was expecting, in both the case of A Chinese Tall Story and Frostbiten, movies that would take themselves very seriously. I was pleasantly surprised.
A Chinese Tall Story wasn't the pompous, confused mess I was expecting it to be. Instead we are presented with a clear, easy to follow story, well-defined characters and a slew of often cheesy but always entertaining CG shots. And those CG shots don't pretend to be anything but. In one instance in particular you see a ton of explosions, and then the explosions freeze and the camera spins around, matrix-style. Well that spin reveals, in fact places emphasis on, an age-old CG trick of pasting 2D explosions facing the camera to increase render efficiency. As the camera turns you clearly see that the explosions are flat. They don't care. Neither do I. The tone is light-hearted and comedic, despite the epic nature of the tale. The design is imaginative. It may try to go everywhere at once, flirting with fantasy, science-fiction and epic battles, but it does so in style and without ever becoming confused. This movie has been a charm to discover, and I highly recommend it. 8.5 out of 10 with a butt-factor of 0.5.
Moving on to Frostbiten. Again my expectations were that this would be scary and serious. It was mostly wacky and didn't take itself seriously at all. Frostbiten could be described as a mix of Argento's Demons and Meet the Parents. Put one vampire in a room of druken carefree teenagers and you quickly end up with a room of druken carefree vampires. And also nothing ruins your first meeting of the in-laws like slowly turning into a vampire during dinner. The latter is especially funny. One particularly clever twist, as the movie takes place in northern Sweden, nighttime actually lasts several months, making this the ideal playground for vampires. Funny, clever, gore is on the average side of average, and it's not that scary. But I don't believe it was meant to be. 7 out of 10 with a butt-factor of 1.