Friday, March 17, 2017

Franchise Run-Through - Leprechaun

So today's a new day and time for a new write-up here, and due to the timeframe, there's no better way to go about doing this than the Leprechaun series. So grab your Lucky Charms, down your favorite green ale and celebrate St. Patricks' Day with this mischievous little devil.

Like always, we go to the beginning and start with the original. Despite its 1993 release date, the original was actually shot in 1991 and is most notable as being the debut film performance of Jennifer Aniston before she found fame on Friends. Beyond that, the film is also noteworthy as the first in-studio project of its production company, Trimark Pictures, to be released theatrically which had previously done theatrical releases of other independent work. Due to the continued need for reshoots to add more gore in order to appeal to older viewers as well as an issue the cereal brand Lucky Charms that needed to be removed after they grew upset over the film including the brand, the film finally came out early in 1993 and signalled the start of the franchise which came out in yearly increments for the first four installments and then carries on into several other entries later on for years to come.

So, there isn't a whole lot of behind-the-scenes trivia here on the production side, and while it will always be known as Aniston's launching pad no matter how hard she tries to deny it, there's little else to be found here regarding the series. One of the more important elements in the series, though, is that it helped to foster the rebirth of the urban horror motives later on in the early 2000s due to the final two sequels really enhancing those elements and putting the creature into those environments to somewhat different success as we shall see shortly. However, before we get there we again need to take a quick trip through the history of how I saw these. Now, it is a little bit of a random order, as I went from the original first to Back 2 tha Hood, then part 2, part 4, then the first in the Hood and then part 3 and topped off with Origins which I saw for the first time specifically for this write-up.

And with that, time to set these off:

There was some good stuff to this one. It really manages to get a nice amount of suspense featured here in some of the attack sequences in the house as the singular location setting and relentlessness it goes after them makes for quite a fun time here, from the battles in the living room to the outside chase into the woods in a demented hide-n-seek game being played in the woods and the cheesy goodness featured in the mental home which manages to really get quite fun here. By introducing that cheesy nature with his constant quips and limericks, there's a lot of good times to be had here which does tend to really lower some of the later attempts at suspense with them stuck in the house attempting to figure out his intentions. The change in tone isn't a huge detriment in here which is a nice plus as the fact that there's plenty to like without a whole lot of flaws makes it a really solid effort. (9/10)

Leprechaun 2

This was a decidedly enjoyable if somewhat lackluster effort. The biggest plus here is the fine mind-games he plays on the victims, with the hallucinations and games he plays out in the real world coming across rather nicely in delivering some solid action as well as the utterly fun tormenting done when she's captured. The word-play games, the endless inescapable tunnel routes that hold her there and the way he constantly appears when she least expects it makes for a lot of great fun throughout here, and combined with the rest of the goofiness present gives this some solid positives. The new weakness introduced into the mythology doesn't make much sense as it's not tied into their history at all, there's little about the need for putting the curse on the girl in order to get her into this situation which makes sense and the final resolution fails to follow through any of the usual methods featured here, but there's still plenty of positives to be found here. (8.5/10)

Leprechaun 3

There's quite a lot to really like about this one. The reintroduction of more suspenseful stalking is a big plus, from the opening resurrection in the pawn shop to the hospital set-ups and the different sequences down in the casino all come off rather nicely, but the fact that there's still plenty of utterly cheesy antics throughout here. The new Leprechaun powers introduced here are utterly fun and silly, the way the coin continually passes to everybody around them gives this a rather fun atmosphere and so many of the kills here are just utterly goofy and silly that it really can't be taken seriously which expands on these elements even further from the previous efforts. The down-on-his-luck storyline in the first half is way too bland and doesn't really make it interesting while keeping the kills and the leprechaun off-screen which drags the pacing off, and some of the differences of tone between the cheese and the suspenseful makes it a tad jarring at times, but otherwise this one comes off rather fun. (8.75/10)

Leprechaun 4: In Space

This is one of the greatest efforts in the series. The film's at its best with the total adherence to the cheese, offering up not only the action with the introduction of the laser guns and the technology present in the time-period makes for the perfect world-building with the now side-splitting jokes, quips and limericks that are in play with the way the film goes out. The high amount of action doesn't hurt it and there's even more throughout here, from the opening rescue that springs this on to the garbage container shootout, the Marines encountering the creature in the underground tunnel makes for a nice sequence and the big battle in the cargo hold while he's now become gigantic is the perfect cream of the cheesy crop here and really enhances this one rather nicely. The CGI doesn't look that great, and the cheesiness doesn't for a second make for a threatening or even suspenseful tale here, but that's beside the point here as this one's charms come through much higher. (9.25/10)

Leprechaun in the Hood

This one here wasn't that bad and had enough going for it to be entertaining. Going full-bore into the cheesy storyline here is quite nice, as the transposition of an Irish Leprechaun into an urban, predominantly Africa-American neighborhood makes so little sense on its own yet still makes for a nice mixture of cheesy action and some thrilling moments. The first encounter in the subway station is a great way to start this, the rampant encounters in the ghetto are rather fun and the big encounter in the church gives this some really impressive moments. The film's biggest issue is the way it stops the plot dead in order to get the rap-battles out, as the gangster talk and lifestyle shown here are irritating to sit through and don't really move this along at all, the allusions to the lifestyle are innocuous if you're not a fan and they keep the creature off-screen for a large part of these scenes which isn't a big plus here. It has some decent moments, but there are some big flaws as well. (7/10)

Leprechaun: Back 2 tha Hood

This was a far better sequel than expected. One of the major improvements here is the comfortable manner of integration this has with the urban setting, as there's little here that feels at odds with the rest of the franchise. Dropping the hip-hop lifestyle in favor of a more universal story that at times feels like a remake of the original in terms of the creature seeking revenge for the perceived crime against him, not only feels like part of the other entries but gives this one quite a lot of action. From the rampage through the party to the stalking in the house, the car chase to escape the city and the big final confrontation in the abandoned lot, these all make for quite a series of highlights that feel quite in line with the rest of the action in the series, and along with some great kills and bloodshed offers a lot of positive here. The biggest issue is the change in the characters' motivations, as the dropping his tricks or wish-corrupting in favor of an ordinary supernatural villain is a little weaker of a villain than what it should be. It's really the biggest issue against this one. (9/10)

Leprechaun: Origins

This one here is quite the odd and rather confusing entry. There's a lot that works here, from the strong influx of local history and folklore into the storyline which gives this one a rather nice and enjoyable feel, the action of the creatures' attacks are quite fun especially in the first cabin sequence and the finale in the house and that also results in some nice brutality in the kills which are exceptionally graphic in tone and execution. Still, the fact that the storyline goes all over the place in terms of motivation for the creature, a thing of folklore that needs to be placated or a simple-minded beast out for specific items they have on them gives this a herky-jerky storyline which manages to leave this feeling like it's not even a part of the franchise as it has no real tie-ins to what's going on. Coupled with a disappointing and even infuriating creature which looks rather cheap and impossible to make-out with the quick-cut editing. These here hold it back but it's still got some positives overall. (8.5/10)

And so now we come to the ranking part:
1. Leprechaun 4: In Space (9.25)
2. Leprechaun (9)
3. Leprechaun: Back 2 tha Hood (9)
4. Leprechaun 3 (8.75)
5. Leprechaun 2 (8.5)
6. Leprechaun: Origins (8.5)
7. Leprechaun in the Hood (7)

So, there we go with another run-through of a different franchise. A little controversial, but it's my thoughts on this series and one that I hold due to the series' rather fun and enjoyable outpouring of cheese that really appeals to me. Lighten up and have some fun with these films, you may find yourself enjoying them like I do. Thanks for stopping by and see you next time.