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The Big Bad (2011)
Really Bad, and not the fun campy kind of bad either
I am not really sure if the people who made this film thought that by shooting it out of focus it would seem more artistic or surreal, but all it does is just make it nauseating. I normally try to point out the good and the bad when I write a review but this one is pretty lopsided. So here goes.
The good: Not a thing I can think of.
The bad: The camera-work, the framing, the sound, the acting, the makeup, the special effects, the story.
The premise has a grain of what could have been made into a good horror movie. Werewolf falls in love with a normal woman who has a kid. Misjudges and accidentally kills her while changed. Daughter hunts him down only to find there is a hidden underground of werewolves who are also hunting him. That could go several different ways. She could have met up with the underground and helped them only to have them turn on her in the end. She could have found her stepfather, forgiven him, then fought by his side against the underground. She could have started a revolution in the underground. She could have hunted them all down and killed them indiscriminately becoming either a hero or a worse monster than the werewolves.
None of that happened though. The entire underground subplot was introduced then abandoned completely with no explanations. In fact many things in this movie have no explanation. Where on earth do you find clear liquid silver in an eye dropper bottle? Why did she have "you have 3 days left" written in her notebook when there was a full moon that night and at least two months had passed since her mother was killed based on Molly's story? Why did all the women in this movie look like they never took a shower, brushed their hair, or wore makeup except for the lead? Why bring up the werewolf biting Molly's son then not mention him ever again? Why did throwing water on her dissolve Annabelle like the wicked witch of the west in Wizard of Oz? If she put some of her silver supplement in the water it never showed it. How did she say her final line when all that was left of her was a scarf and some smoke?
This movie lacks any coherence at all. It's not scary, funny, interesting, or artistic. I would hope that half of it got cut and that created the problem rather than think that someone actually wrote a script like that.
And the werewolf special effects... We won't even go there. You can buy a better werewolf mask at the dollar store.
This movie is a complete waste of time. I couldn't in good conscience recommend it to anyone.
The Purge (2013)
Not very interesting
Having heard many positive reviews of the Purge I watched it expecting it to be a fairly straight forward family in peril fighting for their lives type movie, something along the lines of panic room. What took me aback about half way in as I got up to get a drink without bothering to pause it, was that it was actually rather boring. Let me break it down into the good the bad and the ugly.
On the positive side, the premise is interesting. Once a year the government suspends all law allowing people to murder rape steal and pillage. (makes you wonder if the insurance companies have anti-purge clauses like the current anti-terrorism clauses) A little background exposition via your friendly neighborhood TV set leads us to wonder if the purge really is for the mental health of the people allowing them to release pent up aggression and violence legally or if it is all an economic ploy to get rid of the poor and sell security systems, guns, and weapons to those who can afford it.
Also on a good note, the character of Charlie was interesting. He did seem morally conflicted about their lifestyle and the plight of the less fortunate and his spy camera doll was one creepy little critter, ingenious really.
Sadly we must now go to the bad. Other than the smallest glimmer from Charlie, the characters were totally unlikable. You don't get to know the homeless bloody stranger well enough to know if he is interesting or not. He just doesn't have many lines or many scenes revealing his character's personality or humanity. The father is a jerk who only shows a few redeeming characteristics way too far into the movie to make a difference. The mother is about as deep as a blow up kiddie pool. The daughter is supposed to be a moody angsty teen in lust with an older boy but again they just kind of throw all that out in a few expository lines from mom and dad. The neighbors are almost Stepford Wives creepy from the first time you meet them yet not really as creepy as the central family. There is also not one spark between any two characters in the entire movie. The parents don't even seem to like each other, let alone love each other. There is no feeling of warmth between either of them and the children, or between the siblings. Even when the daughter is fooling around with her boyfriend Henry, she seems about as engaged as someone watching the paint on the ceiling dry. The movie was also boring visually. Most of it takes place in what looks like a enormous rich house on the outside and looks like any boring suburban split level on the inside. Even the art on the wall and the furniture arrangements were so very, very middle class that the very idea of the neighbors feeling that they were uppity, just fell flat.
And now the ugly, and by that I mean the atrocious acting. The characters are flatter than a pancake, played with a sort of listless boredom that infects the viewer as well. The father comes across as plastic, the mother as bored. The daughter is completely unrealistic as a teen as is her boyfriend. The neighbors and the gang of rich thugs were as overblown and cliché as actors in a parody. They had no place in a serious movie at all. The acting was honestly about what you would expect in a high school play. I except the characters of Charlie and the bloody stranger from this criticism. Charlie seemed rather distant, but there seemed to be some potential there and the stranger as stated before wasn't on screen enough to judge. He seemed a fairly competent actor when he was so I suspect he may actually have some talent.
This movie was a complete and total waste of time. Most of the action is just gun shots in a dark room and over acting thugs. The characters are too poorly played to bring any drama into the script. I am not sure who failed this movie, the director, the casting company, the actors themselves.... but this movie as a whole fails completely. It is not entertaining.
An excellent drama wish there were more
This is one of the best television dramas I have ever watched. I sincerely wish there were more episodes. The acting is superb. The characters are believable and well fleshed out, even the seemingly unimportant ones come across as real. This show evokes emotion and makes you care deeply what happens next. It also beautifully filmed. The locations and sets are rich and engaging, the use of light and sound to evoke mood masterful. The attention to even small details is astounding.
I cannot fathom why this show did not have a long and rich run. I believe if its creators were to revive it for American audiences it would be a smash hit.
A Haunting at Silver Falls (2013)
exceedingly boring (mild spoilers)
apologies, the contains spoiler box was not working so I put it in the title and on the first line.
This movie was incredibly ordinary. It was neither good nor bad, just there. It's the kind of movie you would watch on TV if there wasn't anything else on.
The acting is acceptable, not great but okay. The guardians come across as wooden, the main character as vacuous, and the romance factor utterly flat.
There are several events in the movie that are very difficult to buy even when you are very good at suspending disbelief. Some of the worst: A psychiatrist who sees patients in his kitchen and asks his son to stay in the room while having a session. A cop who brings a file on teen suicides who all claimed to have seen ghosts to said psychiatrist's house, drops it on a table, then leaves. A prison system that would allow teenage girls to talk to a man on death row about to be executed for murdering his daughters because a psychiatrist thought it might be therapeutic. There are other things but those are the most glaring.
The ghosts are the kind we've seen a million times lately thanks to current cgi technology. The pasty white girls with scraggly hair who move in jerky frame edits and occasionally shake their heads very fast for no apparent reason.
It's okay, good enough to watch all the way through if you have nothing better to do. I'd recommend you skip it and rent or stream a good movie and wait until it shows up on Fox or ScyFy.
Under the Dome (2013)
I've watched the first three episodes but to be honest I'm not exactly on the edge of my seat waiting for the fourth. There are just too many negatives against the series for me to really get into it. Here are the biggest ones to help you decide whether or not to watch the show.
1) It deviates way too much from the book. I know they said ahead of time that it was based on the book not a direct interpretation, but man come on.
2) Missing and combined characters. Major characters are missing or combined into one. Sammy Bushey and little Walter are gone, as are Junior's buddies who raped her including Carter a major character. Ollie, the most likable kid in the whole story and his whole family are missing. Brenda is gone or possibly combined into Julia. All of the original deputies are already killed off except Linda. No Gina either. Apparently for the TV show they decided to keep a fully stocked and personnelled hospital. All of Joe's friends except Benny are gone and they made Norrie an out of towner passing through Trouble is she looks old enough to be his mom ... who also has been edited out. They left her on the other side when the dome came down. Thurston Marshal and his teeny bopper gal pal have been exchanged for a same sex mixed race couple who are the parents of the aforementioned Norrie. The list goes on.
3) Major personality changes in characters. Dodie far from being a drugged out torturer of Bratz dolls is a tech in the radio station who has the amazing ability to turn a dial and get info from outside the dome since unlike in the book they cannot hear through it and have no internet or outside news or radio feed or phone reception. "Chef" Bushey has been changed to a respectable radio host instead of a drug addled quasi religious zealot and his radio station is rock not gospel. Junior, one of the most pivotal characters in the book has been changed from a serial killer to a spurned guy who went nuts and locked his girlfriend in a bomb shelter. I don't know if they wanted to make him more sympathetic or what but they failed. Barbie, the main character of the book is no longer a good guy. He is a debt collector who doesn't hesitate to murder a man who threatens him and bury his body in the woods.
4) The acting and characterization. The acting is soap opera quality, far too melodramatic and occasionally stilted. The exception is the character of Julia Shumway. The rest are pretty weak. The characters are also very flat and undeveloped. It's hard to care for any of them.
5) Not enough drama to be dramatic or action to be exciting. Directors have still not quite grasped that slice of life moments are inherently boring. There are too many long scenes of talking heads going blah blah blah. Politics are not interesting, speculation is not interesting, motivational speeches are not interesting. Most of the action in the whole show took place in the first half hour setting a mood that was not maintained. In the absence of action they should have filled the time with drama or even romance. They did not.
It may get better as time goes on. I don't know if I will be able to stick with it until then though. My advice is read the book, forget the TV series.
Evil Dead (2013)
A pretty average horror movie
First of all, I'll address this movie on its own merit without taking into account its cult classic predecessor.
The acting in this one was decent though nothing special. The pacing and effects were just okay. The plot was very straight forward, no twists or surprises. There were a few really large detractors for me. The relationships between the friends seemed forced. The dead dog puppet looked so fake I almost laughed. The contraption David rigs up to defibrillate his sister back to life is completely ludicrous. All those things can be overlooked though if your expectations are not too high to begin with. It's one of those movies I would watch on late night TV if nothing better was on.
To compare it to the original Evil Dead:
There is absolutely no humor in this one at all. There are only two very thin homages to the original at the end. None of these characters have anywhere near the on screen charisma that Bruce Campbell's Ash had. The basic reason for the friends to be at the cabin and their staying when things get weird is much better in the new movie. The tree rape is in the new movie though significantly changed and very brief.
This new version will never be the cult classic the original was because it doesn't stand out in any way from the tons of other horror movies with the same premise. All in all it's just average.
Not a very good movie
There were quite a few strikes against this movie from the beginning. First, the acting is not very good over all. No one really stank but no one was very good either. It rather reminded me of the level of acting you see in a high school play. Secondly, the sound was a problem. There is not very much background music in the movie and many of the shots seem kind of flat sounding as if they were shot in a padded warehouse or something. Even the street scenes are oddly empty sound- wise. There is a lack of motor vehicle sounds, animal sounds, people sounds, even the wind is missing. Third, the baby/monster looked ridiculously unbelievable. It looked like a wooden or plastic dummy being jerked along on strings or in some cases just thrown at people. It's face never even moves. Fourth, the dead rats that are left everywhere are laughably fake looking. You can buy more realistic ones at Walmart near Halloween. Fourth, the plot was beyond predictable there was no mystery, no twist at all. It laid everything on the table from the first scene. I usually try to find some good in any movie I watch. Oddly enough, the only I can think of to say in a positive manner is that Sara Malukal Lane, the main character, has truly lovely breasts. I am a straight female with no interest in girls at all, but I could not help but notice how perfectly shaped and placed they are. Showing them a couple of times was probably the best decision the director made in this movie. Other than that, it is an utter waste of time.
G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013)
I can't believe I am saying this since I am a huge GI Joe fan... but this movie is just kind of boring.
I loved the first movie and had high hopes for this one even though I knew most of the cast of the first movie weren't returning. It just did not deliver. The acting was good, no problem there. The visuals were well done and the special effects were alright. It had plenty of fights and best of all Storm Shadow came over to the good side at least temporarily, something that didn't happen for years and years in the comics. Snake Eyes, Jinx, and Storm Shadow were fantastic. Their relationships came across as complex and their emotions deeply suppressed but real. There is no reason this should not have been a fantastic movie but it wasn't.
No one thing failed, but as a whole it failed. Some things I can put my finger on:
Too much time was spent early on revealing that Roadblock and Duke had a deep friendship both on and off duty.
Too much time was spent on a couple of missions at the beginning of the movie. The only reason for them seemed to be to show that the Joes were a military team and that Snake Eyes was away for some reason unknown to them. These scenes were filled with jerky camera fighting and creeping through dark industrial settings and while these are both super popular movie devices at the moment they are old and stale to audiences.
It took too long for the surviving Joes to escape the desert establish a base of operations and gather allies. It was just one long boring stretch from the firefight in the dessert with the occasional jump to what the three ninjas were doing to keep you from wandering off or dozing off totally.
The fight scenes were too long and tedious, especially the factory scenes previously mentioned and the climax fight between Roadblock and Firefly.
There were way too many dialogs that were obviously meant to explain things but were unnecessary, Zartan was the worst offender going on about how he was enjoying being president, how the president was still needed, how the nanomites made him immune to injury, he even took eternity when threatening the nuclear powers of the world. Others were guilty of explaining things to death too, but he was the worst.
The ending was good but it just took too long to get there. Maybe if they had spent more time on the ninjas' story line it would have flowed better. I think the editor is the one who dropped the ball on this movie. I am disappointed.
Sightings: Heartland Ghost (2002)
Much better than most ghost hunters meet more than they expect movies
I actually thought this movie was far better than most of the others like it, even those made more recently.
Since the success of Ghost Hunters and Paranormal Activity the movie industry has been churning out tons of movies where paranormal investigators - some skeptics some believers - have gone into a supposedly haunted locale to prove or debunk the claims only to run up against real supernatural events. Most of them go the unfortunate route of trying to look like found footage. Most rely on annoying night vision shots to build suspense and sadly, most use the same tired old clichéd activity and sudden jump scenes to achieve their scares. Worst of all the acting is generally horrible in these films with characters that are flat and unlikable. They could all go back and learn a lesson from this movie.
This movie relies on a strong back story to support the events going on in the haunted house. The events themselves are really interesting. Toys levitating, vivid dreams, automatic(ish) drawing. The acting was very good, particularly Beau Bridges character and the actor playing the psychic, Allen. They were perfect in their roles and the rest of the cast supported them wonderfully. The ghosts when seen were spooky yet real looking instead of the overdone white faced, bug eyed, ratty hair ghosts that are so prevalent today.
I truly enjoyed this movie.
They Wait (2007)
A Good Solid Horror Movie
This movie is a very entertaining ghost story. It really deserves a higher rating than it has got on here. The acting is good even if the mom does come across as a little hysterical at times. The story is well developed and the characters well fleshed out. Shanghai provides an interesting backdrop to the story. The production quality is very good and special effects used sparingly to great effect. It really isn't anything new, but that is not always a bad thing.
If you like ghost stories or just horror movies in general, you will find this one satisfying and worth the time.
Please disregard the low rating this movie has. Apparently there is a lot of hatred for Uwe Boll and even though he was not director, he was listed in the credits and a herd of haters went through and gave everything related to him a 1 whether they had watched it or not.