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The Innkeepers (2011)
Not much to see...good characters though
This movie felt like it wanted to try and be the Shining, but just couldn't pull it off. There really isn't that much too it. The "scares" are minimal and pretty ineffective. It never really seems to get to anywhere.
The only thing that saved this movie was the two main characters. Think about people working in pretty much a dead end job at a closing down hotel. I think the two nailed it - both with how they handled the guests to how they had their own quirks and routines. There is a mom with her kid at the hotel who they should have expanded upon - the situation she's in, I actually felt the most empathy towards her.
Overall, not too great, but better than most of the limited-release (aka almost straight to DVD) movies out there.
Looks great - story is nothing special
I'll admit, I watched this because it had Antje Traue and I had just seen Man of Steel. I didn't know much more than IMDb's brief description going in, but set in space sounded good to me.
Overall it's not a bad film. It looks amazing. The set pieces for me really worked. Darkened hallways I guess all look alike after a while, but you really got the feeling of a very large ship.
Yes, there is a twist or two, and you can see at least one of them miles away. Overall the story in not that bad, and it would be interesting seeing more tales set in this universe. But it is nothing that hasn't really been done before either. The bad guys are pretty generic. I actually think it would have been a better film without them.
The biggest issue to me was the sound. You have some loud noises when things happen, and the bad guys are pretty noisy. And then the main character talks in a gravelly whisper for much of the time. It was very hard to understand what was being said for a lot of the movie, at least to me.
Probably a little bit better than Event Horizon.
Red Dawn (2012)
I will admit the original was something I loved. I went into this with an open mind, and was eager to look for references to the original.
My take-away was instead of them concentrating on the characters, they decided to re-film scenes from the original, throw them together in a random order with a lot of fast-paced edits.
It sort of worked. There are some departures and change-ups which were a surprise. There were some unique moments and a few laughs, but for the most part I just didn't care. This did not feel like a sweeping epic or engrossing story. It was an invasion, a montage, and a bunch of action shots.
The Korean army had three identifiable characters and ran the town like the Marx brothers. A scout troop could have held them off.
If you want a vapid action movie, this is it.
The Ward (2010)
Horrible...no wait, not too bad
As a horror movie, this fails. All the jumps are telegraphed far in advance. You can pretty much go 3..2..1...jump-scene. The acting comes and goes. It would be interesting to watch it again to see what I think of the acting. It wasn't horrible, but just uneven.
I usually don't pay much attention to camera work, but after a few "found footage" movies, it caught my eye. I thought it was shot well...some shots here and there.
As for the story, which is what I care more about than visuals. At first I was wondering why I was watching all of it. It seemed it couldn't tell what it wanted to be...but in the third act it REALLY delivered.
Surprisingly, there really wasn't much in the way of gratuitous gore, and even though there is a shower scene that goes on way longer than it should have, no nudity either - so kudos to John Carpenter for not sleezing it up.
Chernobyl Diaries (2012)
Not what expected, but passable
Based on the trailers, it appeared to look like your typical haunted nuclear disaster town story. However, that was not the case. A weaker movie would have worked in some way for the girls tops to come off, but instead the characters seemed somewhat realistic, at least until everything got going, then the average IQ dropped pretty low as is typical. The acting wasn't as bad as I expected, in fact there were some good performances instead of the usual "oh..something bad happened, let me scream".
The opening credits may make you think it is a found footage style movie. Thankfully it is not. There is only a small bit of found footage and it is worked in very well.
Anyone who has seen a movie with something after you will find this very familiar. The backdrop of the movie does make it something special. The ghost story would have worked much better with it. If you like Wrong Turn and stuff like that, this will be right up your alley. If not, then the first bit of them exploring whatever it was that stood in for Pripyat is still haunting to look at.
Dark Shadows (2012)
A quirky story
Based on all the previews, one would think that this was a remake of Love at First Bite - a fish-out-of-water comedy, with Barnabas coming to terms with 1972. These trailer scenes probably make up 80% of those jokes for the movie. It is not a comedy that the trailers would leave you to believe.
Overall it is a quirky retelling of some of the elements from the original series. I did enjoy it for what it was. You do have to go in with the expectation that this is a Burton/Depp film. Johnny seems to play one character for Burton - pauses in his speech, some weird walking movements, and lots of hand waving. A little more of a darker side would have fit this film perfectly.
While the rest of the cast does a good job (Michelle is great as a matriarch) the biggest problem I had is that characters appear when needed and then go away for long spells. I had almost forgotten that Victoria was a role she was off screen so much. Same with a few of the other supporting characters.
Don't expect anything super serious or super funny.
Zombies! Zombies! Zombies! (2008)
Funny and decent low budget flick
I love zombie movies and they are always hit or miss. This one started out as a miss, but quickly turned into a decent movie. Good production unlike most, and understandable sound. Too many of these low budget releases try to use the camera mic for the dialog and fail. It is full of funny lines, reoccurring jokes, and references to other films. Some of the acting is stronger than others - but for the most part is a little wooden in the delivery. The main characters do a decent job delivering. The visuals range from weak to funny to decent. Overall if you don't expect something that changes your life, it's worth watching. And if nothing else, pretty girls to watch (however some of the worst fx are the plastic surgeries on some).
Tung ngaan (2010)
Not bad, has it's moments
I usually like the Pang Brothers so gave this a shot. It was better than a lot of works that get over here, but not exceptional. The story was not that convoluted that it could not be followed. It was a straight-forward ghost story with some redemption - nothing surprising for fans of The Eye.
Originally this was done in 3-D and you can tell some of the scenes were designed to take advantage of that, but it was not too over-the-top about it. It works quite well in 2D.
Some of the acting feels a little weak, but it is not bad enough to be distracting. A few tense moments where they don't go for an obvious scare, even after a large build-up. Refreshing that not everything is predictable.
The Descent: Part 2 (2009)
Pretty torn as to like or hate it
As a big fan of the first one, I was happy to finally get to see this. I figured a new team down in the cave, not a direct followup. I saw the original ending of the 1st which left Sarah in the cave, so that had me confused for a bit until I remembered the US ending had her getting out.
The first one was a mental journey that had you feeling like you were in that cave. The sequel had a bit of that, but it seemed they wanted to see how much blood they could squirt out instead.
The characters are so vanilla - cave leader, cave girl, guy who makes sex comments at girl, gruff old lawman, younger law-person. I think that some of the crawlers got more development. They seemed to be too interested in working in a couple one-liners, and trying to go for a tough girl lead.
Overall it wasn't bad, but the ending was, well...just plain stupid. Nor reasoning behind it, just out there to get you talking about WTF? Combine that with plot holes you could drive a truck through and you're kinda left wondering if it was good or not.
A good non-Hollywood zombie comedy
I didn't know what to expect going into this other than Zombies. I was really surprised. A lot of people have compared it to Shaun of the Dead, and there is some definite homage there. No offense to the actors in this, but they just aren't Simon Pegg. There are really no scares that I remember, but the effects themselves are not that bad (remember - non Hollywood!) I really laughed a lot at this flick. Some of it was at corniness, some was some good humor. At one point I did think that this would be a good candidate for an (over the top) Americanized version of Shaun of the Dead. It really picks on so many aspects of culture.
The lead actress really did a good job, as did the two playing Lance and Tom. I think "Lance" gets some of the best lines and has some good comedic timing.
As long as you don't mind a little poking fun at yourself and are not looking for the next over-the-top, over-polished Hollywood turd, this is a very enjoyable movie.