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10 reviews in total 
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Haunt (2014)
19 out of 31 people found the following review useful:
Haunt? Should Have Called It Zzzzzzz..., 24 April 2014

I read about Haunt today in Fangoria Magazine and it really sounded like a cut above many of the genre films. Well, I looked it up, got my hands on a copy of it and sat down to see if it would give me some chills and thrills. No such luck.

For a ghost story that's complete with a haunted house, box that allows the living to communicate with the dead, and a pretty decent looking spirit, this is a complete snoozer. If I thought the first half was tedious and dull, the second half didn't really improve on that much.

A family moves into a house that has a history of several other family members dying there. How did they die? Why did they die? Why are the hauntings starting up again? Those questions are lost as viewers ask questions like do the parents actually have jobs or are they independently wealthy? The parents don't mind when a girl who shows up and starts bunking with their teenage son?

Truly, it's agony pointing out the plot holes because there are a huge number of them. There's a tiny bit of tension here and there, some of which is ruined by those lovely jarring scare noises when something happens on screen. It's just a sign of director who doesn't trust what he's putting in front of us to do the trick.

Simply put, don't waste your time. Haunt is a snoozer.

34 out of 46 people found the following review useful:
Not An Original Bone In This Substandard Sequel, 15 February 2009

I caught the first "Screamers" in the theater and enjoyed the heck out of it. Director Christian Duguay had the foresight to use some decent actors (Peter Weller chiefly among them), paid attention to fashioning a politically charged story and did his best to deliver a decent film. Hey, it wasn't perfect, but he succeeded more than not.

Now comes Sheldon Wilson who tries to make up for a ridiculous story with some interesting visuals. If you give bad actors some good dialogue or even good actors some bad dialogue, you sometimes get lucky. However, when you give bad actors some bad dialogue, riddle a plot with inconsistencies, gaping holes and a lack of any logic while making it all extremely easy to pick out every twist and turn to come, then you get "Screamers: The Hunting".

Things are still bad on Sirius 6B and when a distress signal is sent to Earth, the Alliance dispatches a few 20-somethings to seek out any survivors and bring them back home. Speeding their efforts is some sort of super storm that's going to wipe out all life on the planet, giving them a couple of days to complete their mission.

Along the way they'll meander around, discover some survivors, run, discover that Screamers have gotten aboard their ship (how, exactly, is never disclosed), run back to the survivors, get the majority of the survivors slaughtered, leave with someone meant to be a red herring (right), meander some more while looking for fuel cells and... Let's just leave it at lots of meandering, lots of banal dialogue, lots of bad acting and a thankless appearance by Lance Henrickson. Why didn't they put Henrickson in charge of the mission? The man has presence and the young crew members simply do not.

And the end? It's as predictable as the rest of the film. Oh, and don't forget to count how many times the characters mention the word "screamers". Screenwriter Miguel Tejada-Flores seems to think it's a really cool word and repeats it every opportunity he gets.

I was extremely excited to learn that somebody picked up the story again and moved forward with it. And after watching "Screamers: The Hunting", I think Sheldon Wilson owes fans of the original film an apology.

Comedy that doesn't lose any steam in the final reel!, 17 July 2001

I had no idea what to expect walking into a preview of "America's Sweethearts". Having finished it, the words "fantastic", "hysterical" and "unexpected" come to mind!

The plot is very simple; the Hollywood couple audiences have loved for years has broken up, their solo film projects have flopped and the final film they've made together may be their only hope of ever reaching the top once more. In order for the studio to make back their investment and save themselves, they take a course of action to stir the pot at a weekend screening of the film with all the critics and publicity they can muster.

John Cusack seemed an odd choice to me as one of the leads, but he plays the "husband still in love with his cheating wife" to comical perfection. Catherine Zeta-Jones is simply wonderful as the career-minded actress who believes that nobody loves her anymore while smiling to reporters and ordering her ever faithful sister around. In a unique bit of casting, Julia Roberts plays Zeta-Jones' sister in an almost low-key supporting performance. Zeta-Jones plays the beauty between them, but Roberts has the charm and she's flawless!

Hank Azaria breaks new ground in yet another hilarious role as the Latino lover who stole Zeta-Jones away from Cusack. There's never a dull moment when Hank is on screen and it's a scream! Billy Crystal, who also co-wrote and produced the film, brings both the reality of Hollywood to the film as well as the brilliant personality we've all come to love and enjoy. The supporting cast were nearly perfect as well.

If it sounds like I'm dishing out the compliments for this film, I am. It's wonderful, humorous, has a number of unexpected moments and doesn't lose any steam in the final reel.

Deep Core (2000)
8 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
Some Fun Entertainment With Average CGI, 26 June 2001

Alright then, we've got Craig Sheffer playing the creator of a mobile drilling machine that causes a major worldwide countdown to disaster. Of course, he walked off the job a year or so earlier fearing that his creation might be used as a weapon. He was right. It's the potential for that disaster thing I just mentioned which brings our would-be hero back to save the day. If this sounds remotely like so many other films out there, it probably is.

This is B movie territory, folks, but it's a FUN ride! Sheffer gets to dig down 120 miles into the Earth and place 5 nuclear bombs that will create a chain effect that stops the planet from tearing itself apart...while also saving valuable budget money by not showing too many disasters on the surface (always visible because the camera shakes before we get some cheesy CGI effects).

Along for the ride is James Russo, Wil Wheaton (giving a better performance than in "Python") and Terry Farrell (Dax from "Star Trek: Deep Space 9"). What the film isn't able to entertain you with visually because of what I'm assuming is a modest budget, it more than makes up for in dialogue and acting. There are a few techno-babble bits here and there, but these guys (and gal) are enjoying themselves and provide some welcome laughter. Forget the other Government stiffs. They kind of pad the film a bit and aren't nearly as fun to watch.

It's especially nice to see Sheffer in a more heroic role after "Hellraiser: Inferno" and Wheaton still has a smile that will make you melt. If you can overlook some really fake CGI effects and just take the movie for what it's supposed to be, entertainment, then you could do a lot worse than give "Deep Core" a try.

We're All Flawed, 18 June 2001

For some reason and I cannot remember why, I thought "Pay It Forward" was a comedy. A few minutes into the film and I was grabbing the DVD case wondering if I was just in a bad mood or if the film was something other than what I'd first imagined.

I'll admit to having some preconceived notions about the characters in the beginning. I thought Helen Hunt was replaying the same role from "As Good As It Gets" and that Kevin Spacey was going to be the friendly Jr. High School teacher with a spectacle of a story behind the burns on his body to say nothing about Haley Joel Osment being the epitome of innocence and childhood perfection. Wrong, folks, on all counts.

Helen Hunt is nothing like any of her previous roles at all. She's flawed in the worst ways; alcoholic, waitress in a girlie bar, the kind who brings back the ex because she keeps falling for the line "I've changed" and is unable to give her son much attention. I thought Kevin Spacey's backstory would be something HUGE and, well, Hollywoodish, because, hey, he's Kevin Spacey and we have come to expect great things from him. His character, however, is just as flawed as Helen Hunts and his story is both sad and realistic in the most unHollywoodish kind of way. Osment gives another outstanding performance that only solidifies his abilities and place in cinema. They're all playing very real people here and their lives aren't pretty.

When Haley Joel Osment is given an assignment from his teacher to find some way to change the world, he ignores the smaller goals his peers set their sights on and goes for the heart and root of the people with the biggest problems he can find; his mother, his teacher and his best friend.

Supporting the main cast are Jon Bon Jovi in a small but menacing role as Helen Hunt's ex, Angie Dickinson with a surprise link that brings the story full circle and Jay Mohr, who sets the film in motion in a rather confusing beginning.

Nobody is perfect in this film and it needs to be that way. The ending looked like a stereotypical wrap-up and then quite suddenly it wasn't. Yes, you'll be grabbing for Kleenex throughout parts of "Pay It Forward". Ignore rumors the actors were trying for Oscars. Just watch it and allow the flawed part of all of us to breathe a sigh of relief that we're not alone.

Hats off to Mimi Leder and a cast who were up to the challenge. It was a depressing journey, but one I wouldn't have missed for anything.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Lessons to be learned from an odd mix, 18 June 2001

Let me just get this out of the way right now and say that "D&D" was an entertaining film, but nothing more than that. Instead of making its own mark and leading the pack in this kind of a fantasy picture, the writers and director relied a little too heavily on other films to steer their own.

Jeremy Irons is the baddie who wants all the power and to rule the fantasy kingdom. Why Irons accepted this role I'll never know. Bruce Payne aids the baddie and appears to still be in character mode from "Highlander: Endgame". Payne is definitely much more fun to watch than Irons, though. There's just something about his intensity...

Some have said that the Empress is reminiscent of the one in "Star Wars--The Phantom Mess", but I was reminded a bit more of "The Neverending Story" minus her riding a dragon in battle. Whatever. It's really unimportant. I have to say that Justin Whalin makes a dashing hero and plays his part rather well. He's a cutie and it's easy to see why Zoe McLellan stays so close to him on their quest to find some scepter that controls the red dragons...and will save their kingdom or something like that. That plotpoint ends up taking a back seat anyway, so just enjoy the visuals. Marlon Wayons does his best as the wimpy sidekick who screams a lot, way too much like Chris Tucker did in "The Fifth Element".

Beyond the cast, one would have hoped for a little bit more magic to be seen on screen from mage-in-training McLellan. Instead, she gets to fume and scream a bit herself as well as take on a few henchmen. Whalin gets to appear heroic by having sword fights and going through a death maze (ala "Spacehunter" or "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade"). There was one particular point in the middle of the film when Payne is advancing on Wayans and the music changes and I swear that I thought Darth Vader was going to make a cameo. Still, while eye and ear-candy, it doesn't amount to a whole lot and everything the main characters do becomes somewhat pointless by the end of the film.

Speaking of the end of the film, I had to listen to the commentary track on the DVD just to understand what the heck happened. I rather liked the element of tragedy in the story only to be let during the last few seconds with the promise of a sequel (that's what the commentary said) that probably won't see the light of day. If they do, however, I hope they take a good long look at what was bland and borrowed in this film and not repeat those mistakes in the next.

I'll be watching.

2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Coulda shoulda didn't..., 18 June 2001

For being categorized in the genre of "Action/Thriller", there wasn't a great deal of action nor was there anything particularly thrilling about this film.

I went into it with no expectations save for being entertained. As it was, I kept pushing the "Display" on my DVD player to see how much longer I had to endure this.

Claire Danes, Giovanni Ribisi and Omar Epps are extremely watchable and gifted actors. "The Mod Squad" offers them nothing to work with. On a story level, their origins are glossed over, the rocky relationship with their Captain (though stereotypical of so many Hollywood films) isn't even close to being fleshed out even a little and we (as the audience) have no reason to believe they even care why they're trying to solve the mystery presented in the film. I certainly didn't care and just kept watching to see how Ribisi would further destroy Epps' car in the little bit of comic relief someone thought to write in.

The technical aspects of the film are a disaster. The editing is simply poor and the action sequences appear to have been directed after a very heavy lunch when the crew would have better spent their time taking a nap.

This film could have been about angst and action, should have been better planned out and directed by someone who had a notion of how to handle the material, but alas it just wasn't.

Don't waste your time.

36 out of 41 people found the following review useful:
Like Gold To A 12-Year-Old, 7 May 2001

Back when I was 12, renting this movie was like popping in the end-all be-all of science fiction, especially since I didn't get to see it at the theater! The credits were funky, the heroic Elmer Bernstein score was sweeping, the dialogue was amusing and the plot was something every 12-year-old boy only wishes he could take part in. After all, what could be more fun than taking your android companion on a simple mission to retrieve 3 female survivors from a destroyed outer space pleasure cruise ship who land on a planet nobody is supposed to go anywhere near? I was game!

As Wolfe, the man motivated to rescue the three maidens for some big time "megacredits", Peter Strauss is fantastically watchable. I don't know what it is about him as an actor, but he does try to bring some sense and sensibility to a pretty generic role. Joining this little adventure is Niki, played by a very young Molly Ringwald. Sure, she's annoying and a pain-in-Wolfe's rear end, but who else could you see playing her from that time period? One of the cast members of "The Facts Of Life"? Also included in the cast is Andrea Marcovicci (too bad her part wasn't a bit longer), Ernie Hudson (who always manages to bring some intensity to his roles whether in a good or "not so good" film) and Michael Ironside as Overdog (the opposite of "Underdog"?), the baddie.

Yes, the film consists of a whole lotta cheese; the dialogue borders on laughable (especially by the dwellers on the planet), the special effects don't quite live up to expectations and the plot revolves around a bunch of set pieces that don't seem to make for a consistent story.

Still, you know what? This movie holds a very special place in my heart. Let's face it, folks, they don't make them like this anymore. There's no fart jokes, no nudity, no sex and very little language. What's more, Peter Strauss gets some very funny moments! Upon finally rescuing the three screaming women from Overdog, a frustrated Wolfe shouts at them "Will you PLEASE shut up? I'm trying to rescue you!"

Haven't we all had a moment when we've wanted to say this very same thing?

8 out of 10

2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Film could have been a stand-alone, but was sequel instead., 3 May 2001

"Gen X Cops" was an fun blend of drama, comedy, action and technology. I was disappointed to see that only a couple of the original cast members came back for the sequel, especially since it was the group of them that helped make the first film so appealing.

The plot of Gen Y (an armed American robot is kidnapped by its creator/programmer and used to commit chaos and revenge etc etc etc) and consequent subplots are really second to the action. There's quite a bit of humorous dialogue between the two Hong Kong partners, though the character of Alien truly does overact in a number of scenes and his use of English slang is overdone. For the most part, though, this is an action movie with an emphasis on technology not to be taken too seriously and is quite a departure from the first film. I think it might have worked just as well as a movie on its own instead of a sequel, but I didn't finance it.

The special effects are amusing (some well done and some not quite so well done), the action sequences are well choreographed and the new cast members hold their own, especially Edison. He's cute, got some good moves and I'm looking forward to seeing more of him in future films. What in the world was a blonde Paul Rudd doing here though???

Don't expect the most serious film in the world. Just sit back, relax, be amazed, cringe and wait to see what the next sequel brings us!

(7 out of 10)

Bishonen (1998)
4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Beautiful, Tragic and Moving, 4 May 2000

I picked "Bishonen" up on DVD a few months ago when I was in Hong Kong and just finally got around to watching it last night. I'm not quite sure what I was expecting, but it exceeded whatever those expectations were.

More than anything else, I was very moved by the story insomuch as how it unfolded and how the actors carried the film in both their physical motions (basically how they carried themselves) and simple raw emotions (love, lust, revulsion).

The film was not glossy, but rather chose an almost realistic if not surreal background which complimented it incredibly. Much of it flowed quite smoothly and served to captivate the audience as much as the actors themselves.

Those of you wondering about the plot now that I've got all that out of the way, a male prostitute is roaming the streets of Hong Kong one day and exchanges looks with another young man who is shopping with someone who might be his girlfriend. For the next hour and 40 minutes, the relationship between the two men develop, expand to include other characters (another male prostitute, a Pop singer, a rather unusual photographer) and ultimately explore how are ultimately involved with each other.

This film doesn't exploit gay sex by showing needless amounts of it nor does it reduce it along the way. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The DVD comes with Director's Commentary (of which I unfortunately don't understand a word of), Cast Information, Production Information, an interview with the director, some post card still shots, a photo collage and a couple of short films. The Video CD (if anyone is interested) also contains a film cell.

My Rating is an 8