Conclusion: 'Empire State' falls a little short of being a recommended movie, but with some solid performances and decent direction, it's certainly worth at least one viewing. The fact that it's a period piece and based on an actual event adds to the movie's appeal. It's not the kind of title you'd expect to find 'The Rock' in, but it's one of his better (albeit brief) performances. Give it a rent.
Conclusion: 'Red State' is a tense, creepy, but at times clunky and underdeveloped film. While the movie as a whole doesn't ever completely gel, Smith's foray into "horror" is neither a total disaster nor a rousing success –- but the uneven experience is always an entertaining and disturbing ride. Despite its low budget, the film actually features strong video and audio presentations.
Excerpt: Like its main character, Red State is both flawed and intensely watchable. Much has been made about Kevin Smith's change in genre for this film, but in Michael Parks’ Abin Cooper, he finds the ultimate blowhard; like Randal Graves and Brodie Bruce before him, the preacher speaks with a fiery and confident determination, using volume and tone of voice to pave over gaps in logic.
Excerpt: The final 30-minutes of action portrayed in Red State rank amongst the years best, not because of the gunfight itself, but its meaning. An anti-gay, doomsday-believing religious cult sits almost casually as they fire off rounds towards approaching ATF agents. Both sides are disturbingly trigger happy, and the fate of innocent children seems decided by all. Even victims, teenagers lured with the promise of a little sexual deviance, are stuck in the cross-fire.
Excerpt: The film isn’t billed as Kevin Smith’s Red State. It’s just Red State , but Kevin Smith is an independent counterculture auteur diva so to speak. It’s pretty widely thought that Kevin Smith has a cool and honest and don’t-give-a-crap attitude. Kevin Smith is a brand, but he knows he’s not a mainstream big blockbuster brand. He is indie.
Excerpt: When Kevin Smith’s Red State debuted at Sundance, much of the deafening buzz around the screening centered on the writer-director’s attention-grabbing plan to bypass the studio system entirely by distributing the film himself. Smith is a master of self-promotion, but the audaciousness of his Red State business strategy couldn’t help but obscure the audaciousness of the film itself.
Excerpt: "This isn't funny any more!" one of the boys yells, over and over again, about twenty minutes into Kevin Smith's Red State . "This isn't funny any more!" He's talking about the events on screen, of course, which have seen a rather depressing online sex rendezvous turn into a drugged kidnapping.
Conclusion: I'll be honest: I frankly don't know quite what to make of Red State . While certain aspects struck me as bizarrely funny, and other elements certainly shocked and disturbed me, the film as a whole felt like an uneven mishmash that never was able to congeal (coagulate?) into something cohesive. I was especially struck by how odd the ending is, as if Smith suddenly realized he had no funds and was on his last day of shooting and needed to just wrap things up, pronto.