REVIEW: NINJAS VS. VAMPIRES (2010)

Sadly, I have not had the pleasure of seeing director Justin Timpane’s (Ninjas vs. Zombies) prior entry in the “Ninjas vs. _____” title series, but I won’t lose any sleep over it. I am sure the film was probably decent, but comedic entries in the horror-action genre are just not my cup of tea, generally speaking. I find that movies that do not intend to be funny which contain elements of action and horror generally are funnier to me than films that intend to be funny, littered with witty puns and slapstick humor here and there. One of the rare cases involving a horror-comedy that was intended to contain loads of humor and actually turned out to be extremely hilarious was Shaun of the Dead. I genuinely laughed out-loud while viewing that film. Unfortunately, for Timpane’s Ninjas vs. Vampires,  I did not. That is not to say that Nvs.V was an awful film, I just did not find it very funny.

So, what did I find entertaining about Nvs.V? For starters, the story that revolves around a group of vampires feeding on the normal, everyday folks of the town they have decided to call their home in was nothing new, but who cares? The film reminded me of so many other vampire tales but even that didn’t matter. How many ways can you rework a classic tale of vampires swarming down upon a town and needing to feed on humans? Yeah, they did it in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Blade, John Carpenter’s Vampires, many of the Dracula films, The Lost Boys, Fright Night, etc…The plot was all the same on a general level, but as to the specifics, things either got creative or dull. In the case of Nvs.V, things actually got fairly creative. Thank goodness it got creative because I was not really feeling the comedic elements of the film. In fact, the jokes were just about to get extremely tedious.

Aaron (Jay Saunders), a young and aspiring filmmaker who evidently carries a digital camcorder around everywhere he goes, is out with a childhood best friend, Alex (Devon Marie Burt), who just so happens to be the girl of his dreams. Aaron finally musters up enough courage to lay it all on the line and tell her exactly how he feels. In doing so, he bombs. Horribly. Alex tells him, basically, that he is a big pussy for not sharing his feelings about her with her when they began to develop and is angered at the fact that they are best friends just because he is in love with her and wants to spend every minutes with her all the time failing to be honest with her and express his actual thoughts in regards to her. Oh, and he has her whole vivid reaction on camera so that he can relive the disastrous moment over-and-over again.

Moments following these events, vampires appear out of nowhere and start to attack the two. Moments after this, a group of ninjas with a vampire just materialize out of nowhere and save the two by attacking the vampires with their ninja skills. Alex is taken home by the group and can’t remember a damn thing leading up to the events and Aaron is left at the scene, completely astonished at what just occurred.

The film is actually pretty decent as far as low-budgeted affairs go, but what totally irks me and brings to movie down levels of praise and admiration is the atrocious CGI effects that is rampant throughout the film. In particular, all the CGI blood whenever someone was sliced or had a body part chopped off was done horribly. The scenes where the witch transported the ninjas was about the only effect that was passably executed. Just imagine watching a film whose story can only really be told with believable special effects, such as the Underworld series, and then having laughable effects at every given turn. With a low-budget horror film, bad organic effects can be left to slip by if the film capitalizes on its schloky-ness, but a film that wants the fight scenes and CGI to complement the unique powers and ways the characters kill off their adversaries, it does not do anything to further the fantasy elements in the movie and make them seem believable. In fact, I believe it only hurts the movie in the long run.

Aside from the crappy CGI, I actually dug the film. The fight scenes had pretty decent Martial Arts choreography and it looked like the actors may have some backgrounds in fighting and using weapons. In fact, the fight scenes were the shining point throughout the whole film. Also another piece of the film I really thought worked out well was the cast. The acting in Avs.V was pretty decent. At times, I did roll my eyes at some of the deliveries given by specific members of the cast, but as a whole, the acting was far better than the quality of the CGI.

Our plot, which revolves around the evil vampires trying to take over the whole world and ruling the planet..blah…blah…blah, really is nothing new as far as vampires and horror movies go, but the film’s journey was somewhat amusing and, at least, entertaining until the film’s surmise. I guess Nvs.V is one of those films that I did not hate, but I did not really like all that much. The film was tolerable. I think that is the correct word that aptly describes my thoughts on the film.

Manson, one of the cooler looking characters in the film

I tolerated the crappy CGI effects that were predominant throughout the whole film. I tolerated the generic-looking costumes some of the evil vampires wore during the film. I also had to excuse the fact that at times the whole vampire posse had characters that looked like they were either extras in a WWE wrestling match or were pre-CGI versions of villains from the Mortal Kombat films. I am sure the Halloween costume shop was happy when the crew walked in and cleaned out their store for props, costumes, and masks for the film. Sadly, I could not get past the budget of this film and the shoddy screen effects used…and the screen effects are used very often.

The good points in the film, aside from the entertaining fight scenes, was the overall structure of the film. Timpane knows how to piece together a film and keep the flow moving along pretty decently. Granted, there were some moments where scenes of dialogue dragged, but overall the pace was set nicely. Aaron (Saunders) sometimes had way too much dialogue and laid the camp on a bit too heavy, but he carried the weight of film and was one of the most believable characters in it. I felt as if Saunders was the only actor in the film that had any charisma and likeability to his character. I really could care less about any of the others performances.

Director Justin Timpane

Justin Timpane has a pretty bright future as a director and writer and I think once he can get some more money to finance a film with a bit more of a budget, he will create some pretty interesting and enjoyable pieces of work. With each film made, he will probably be improving his craft and turn out some cool films. Keep an eye out for Justin Timpane because I am sure we will be seeing much more of him.

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