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The Dead One (2007)
Slow starting comic book adaptation...
1st watched 11/26/2014 4 out of 10(Dir-Brian Cox): Slow starting comic book adaptation stars Wilmer Valderrama(from TV's "That 70's Show") as a young man chosen to bring back an old Aztec religion and ends up turning into a healing superhero-like deceased man after his vehicle collides with a tree bringing his demise and bringing his spirit into the current world 1 year later. Valderrama's character is promising by the end of the movie, but unfortunately it takes that long to see the potential and then the movie is over. The film starts with an elderly man dying and presenting to the young version of the main character the fact that he expects him to be the one to bring back the old time religion. There is a lot of hokeyness to this premise explaining that the Aztecs were killed off and will supposedly return to prominence in the future after three days of rain while the sun is shining. During Valderrama's ghostlike return to the world he begins hearing weird voices in his head and starts healing others despite the negative voices wanting him to kill those who might stop the inevitable from happening(the current priests). So what we have is kind of a spirit-world bad vs. evil going on. Valderrama is fine in this character but the timidness early on kind of makes the movie boring. The evil spirit then starts killing the priests initially thru Valderrama's character and then takes over an elderly woman and a confrontation occurs late in the movie. The confrontation is interesting which makes you think there could be an interesting follow-up movie but I don't think this is going to happen. The movie is un-eventful although not horrible, but isn't well made enough for anyone to take notice. I liked seeing Valderrama breaking out of his comedic sissy-like character to tackle a fuller character and he did well considering the lack of depth he was given. This fair at best movie will probably not give him too many other opportunities, unfortunately.
My Tutor (1983)
Boring, titillating teen perversion movie...
1st watched 11/8/2014 -- 2 out of 10(Dir-George Bowers): Boring, titillating teen perversion movie about a young highschool student , played by Matt Luttanzi, who can't pass French class and is hired a tutor to retake an exam so he can go to Yale. The tutor, played by Caren Kaye, is well known as one of the best in the field, and the father -- played by Kevin McCarthy -- will have nothing but success, so hired her for the task. The student watches the teacher during her nightly nude swims and, of course, starts getting different ideas about her. The teacher is having troubles in her love life and eventually pulls the younger student into a relationship(which happens very quickly after a few of the swims). It's hard calling this film, a teen sex comedy, because there are very few laughs and very few attempted laughs. The student friends including a very young Cristin Glover invoke a couple of these with their antics early on trying to get laid, but nothing much else humorwise occurs besides this. The movie then must rely on the relationship between the tutor and student, which is mostly about a teenage libido and a middle-aged forgotten woman getting plenty of attention(including sex). The student actually learns somehow gain some cohona's, and fights against his father's wishes as he wants to goto UCLA for Astronomy not Yale. At this point we really don't care much about the real lives of these people --- and this makes the movie a failure. The movie really didn't try to do much and it succeeded in that, I guess, and it probably made some money for the filmmakers --- so bravo to them, but the movie is pretty much a waste of the viewer's 1 and 1/2 hours.
Confusing, amateurish production...
1st watched 11/1/2014 2 out of 10(Dir-Kermit Christman & Del Tenney): Confusing, amateurish production revolves around a late descendant of Edgar Allen Poe, played by Katherine Heigl, meeting another supposed descendant who is also a writer, played by Jeremy London. These two folk get involved with each other then all goes haywire. The plot actually is a lot more complicated than this so I'll try to break it down. This writer sees visions of "Edgar Allen" as he tries to write a novel and break away from his roots. His agent has the last name of "Usher", which is the family that had it against the Poe's as shown in the first scene where an Usher kills a Poe. If you are confused now it gets worse as the movie goes forward. Some murders start happening in the local area as we are introduced to a variety of characters who either have the "hots" for Heigl's character or there is some other reason that they could possibly be the murderer. And then, of course, we have the writer Ethan Poe who is also a suspect because of his past and his eccentricity. So do we care about the Poe vs. distant cousin romance or the murder mystery or neither I take neither. I don't know if the fault of the movie is the original story or the adaptation or the director's, but it doesn't come across like anyone really had a handle on what they wanted to do with the material. London, unfortunately is handed a role that is inconsistent from scene to scene and he hams it up pretty good. Heigl seems extremely unsure of herself early in the movie, but gets better as it progresses. The story starts as a mystery/romance but changes to a psycho horror movie before the end. It would be interesting to know the progression and history of this film's production because it has two directors, two actors that are involved in the writing of the movie, and comes across like a TV movie at times with fadeouts like it's going to a commercial. The bottom line is the confusion turns the viewer away from the film pretty early on so pass this one up unless you just have to see Heigl in an early film.
Lame tennis movie...
1st watched 10/19/2014 -- 2 out of 10(Dir-Steve Carver): Lame tennis movie where a ragtag band of college student try to be fun-loving, win at tennis, and stop the authorities from closing down the program at Los Angeles University. From the beginning --- this movie shows it's weaknesses in storytelling and consistent character flow right away after the first couple of scenes. A president, played by Christopher Lee, wants a winning championship sports program at the college because of a long drought and convinces the sports director to use the tennis team to get to this end. In the very next scene, the director is trying to fire the tennis coach, played by Richard Roundtree, but gives his group one more chance to win it all. The best player, named the Kid, first has to be re-instated after a boatload of offenses. The complete team consists of a dumb muscle man, a pleasing youngun, the Kid, a Mexican, a Prince-like impersonator who likes to go drag on the court, and a Texas betting wiz named "Tex", of course. This group is going to win a Championship?? In my highschool days of playing on a team I never saw any athletes that played tennis like this bunch. So anyway, the Kid -- actually turns out to be the most normal one of the group?? and eventually becomes attracted to a girl, played by Marsika Hargitay of "Law and Order" in a very early role. The group attend a couple of risqué things like wet t-shirt contests and then play a whole 2 team matches in Las Vegas for a small college championship competition. This movie is pretty much a waste of time, even though for some reason -- you are routing for the group in the matches before the end of the movie. The lack of character consistency and the story are the real losers in the movie including you -- if you watch this movie.
Quaint little piece about a sheltered French girl...
1st watched 10/11/2014 7 out of 10(Dir=Jean-Pierre Jeunet): Quaint little piece about a sheltered French girl named Amelie, played by Audrey Toutou, who attempts to turn her dreamlike life into reality through following a path of doing good deeds after finding a young boy's memory box behind a wall in her room. Her good deeds start happening after she delivers the memory box to the grown-up person --- who then pursues his ignored daughter and grandson. The complexity of this story and it's characters are actually too much to discuss in this short review but I'll do my best. Her adventures start as a young child who loses her mother and is left with a father who does not relate to people, and therefore keeps her locked up as well until she is able to move away. She then tries to pursue life and love despite her faults and this movie portrays this journey. She works as a waitress in a local bar and is helped in this journey by an elderly painter who lives in her building. A mishmash of characters are introduced telling us their likes and dislikes showing us the director has a backstory for everyone of them. The one that Amelie eventually pursues is a man who has supposedly had the opposite experience in life by having too many people in it. He keeps a scrapbook of folks who take pictures in airport picture kiosk's and is obsessed with this. Her positive approach to branching out also benefits her in a personal way as she changes herself also -- before the end of the movie. This is more of a light comedy than a deep serious piece, but there is definitely meaning behind it the film. The dreamlike approach taken by the filmmaker makes it so you never know what's going to happen next and this is part of the joy in the film. This is a definite gem that should be treasured by moviegoer's throughout the world and hopefully opens the world up to this kind of cinema.
Left Behind (2014)
Effective biblical end of the world action/drama...
1st watched 10/10/2014 6 out of 10(Dir-Vic Armstrong): Effective biblical end of the world action/drama does a good job of showing us why the book that this is based on was so well received. The story starts in an airport where a daughter is returning home to visit a father, who is having a birthday, but has to work an only gets a brief exchange instead. Nicolas Cage plays the father -- who is a pilot and clearly has alterior motives for taking this flight as he intends to hookup with a young stewardess at their destination. The daughter then meets the other main character whom she takes a liking to, and then also boards Cage's characters' plane. Once in the air a strange occurrence happens where some of the people disappear including the co-pilot leaving only their clothes behind them. We find out later that this same occurrence is happening throughout the world and is the cause of expected chaos in the air and on the ground. The acting and the representation of this event is believable and this is where the movie pulls off what could be a very silly plot. Cage's character later determines that believer's of Christ are those that are disappearing based on information he received from his wife --- who is a believer and has disappeared. For the most part this movie accomplishes it's task of being a thriller and an attempt at spiritual awakening. Cage is very good as he tries to put the pieces together to figure out what is going on. This 2nd version of the book does a much better job than the first although the ending seems unlikely and done for dramatic benefits. The movie completes itself, but also voices that this is "just a beginning" which could lead to sequels if it does well
the authors have provided many stories if they want to do this, but we will see.
Goofy back in time teen sex comedy attempt...
1st watched 9/13/2014 3 out of 10 (Dir-David Oliver): *review based on 85 minute VHS version* Goofy back in time teen sex comedy attempt about a high school student, played by Daniel Roebuck, who is fond of the prehistoric times but looked at as a geek to the girls. The class takes a field trip to a mine and the combination of a glowing crystal and a mistaken government missile test hitting the cave amazingly transports the student Rex to the cave people times. A sexy young cave girl, played by Cindy Ann Thompson, wakes him up the next morning and he spends the next half hour of the movie trying to have sex with her while they teach each other their languages. There are a couple of slightly funny scenes one particular one where the cave men try to destroy a flashlight, and a slight chuckle occurs when Rex asks the cavegirl to sit on his face - juvenile humor, of course, but brought an unexpected response from me. We get to see plenty of Cindy Ann's gorgeous body, but besides this there isn't much else worthwhile to get from this movie. It is a blatant attempt by Crown Pictures to pander to the teen audience even though the movie is Rated "R" with the theatrical trailer showing all of the nude scenes!! This is typical of the 80's where the titillation takes center stage and the movie falls flat on it's face
skip this one unless you're interested in Cindy Ann.
Zombies of Mora Tau (1957)
Idiotic plot holes and storyline...
1st watched 9/28/2014 -- 2 out of 10(Dir-Edward Cahn): Idiotic plot holes and storyline make this one of the worst zombie movies I've seen -- especially since it was put out by a major studio. Basically the movie put's Hollywood hotties with a paranoid old woman in the hunt for treasure in Africa that happens to be guarded by the living dead. The living dead in this movie are composed of the original treasure hunters that died in their quest and now are forever in the position to make sure no "live" people get to it. The old woman -- played by Gene Roth -- knows this fact and is the wife of one of the original. She stays in this locale while her dead husband roams --- hoping that the loot is found and destroyed --- reversing the curse and bringing the zombies to their final resting place. The movie is predictable, slow-moving and is hard to get thru even at it's measly 69 minutes!! The acting is fine but the screenplay makes the players do too many idiotic things, and the finale doesn't even make any sense. Gregg Palmer and Autumn Russell play the main couple stars destined for each other if they don't get killed by the zombies. Allison Hayes is the buxom typical adversary that all of these type of movies have to have. This movie is a waste of money by the studio apparently trying to capitalize on the zombie fad. Clearly made studio sets make up where the zombie's lie that's supposed to be a cave (this is hilarious). The print I watched is very clean so Columbia studios must have used their money to keep this film alive -- for some reason. I see very little merit in this movie -- maybe it was the studio's very early attempt at the genre so they restored it for historical reasons. More money wasted on an extreme mess -- skip this one.
War and Peace (1956)
Despite it's faults -- this adaptation of the classic novel by Leo Tolstoy leaves the viewer thinking....
1st watched 9/21/2014 --- 6 out of 10(Dir-King Vidor): Despite it's faults -- this adaptation of the classic novel by Leo Tolstoy leaves the viewer thinking about "war and peace" and the advantages and disadvantages of both. Henry Fonda is wonderful as the outside observer and main character in the story that see's love, hate, war and peace -- gobbles it all up and fights his way thru it. Audrey Hepburn is the young vivacious love interest for a few of the characters, who also has to live thru the ups and downs from the female side. Mel Ferrer plays a military man who initially joins up to get away from his current wife, and then eventually makes it his "primary" focus in life despite the allure from female characters including Natasha, Hepburn's character. The middle section of the movie -- where the love triangle takes center stage -- seemed unnecessary and was hard to get thru, making the movie longer than it needed to be. The other fault is some editing issues where the movie seems to move forward too quickly in time especially in a very early scene after Fonda's character wins an inheritance. The ending also seems to have been given a Hollywood treatment that is expected in this era of filmmaking. Fonda's characters' dilemma seems to eventually get back to center stage where he questions, "why war", "what is the necessity of it" as he observes first-hand a battle and eventually becomes a prisoner. His perceptions change throughout the movie as a real person's would experiencing what he did. King Vidor attempts to recreate this enormous novel of importance and fails in some ways, but succeeds in others. I now would like to read the novel to see the differences and I think this is a positive thing -- as far as the movie sparking this interest. A worthy movie despite not being perfect, so view this forgotten film if you get the chance.
The She Beast (1966)
So so horror movie...
1st watched 8/28/2014 -- 3 out of 10(Dir-Mike Reeves): So so horror movie about a resurrected witch causing problems in modern day Transylvania kind of bores the viewer and creates a lot of improbable occurrences in the course of the movie. The movie starts with a count recalling an incident from a long time ago where a pre-determined witch is placed on a piece of equipment called "The Chair" where she is impaled and dipped multiple times in a local lake before expiring(one of the most elaborate & gruesome penalties portrayed on film for sure). Of course, the She Beast, is rather gruesome also in this foreign production and obviously portrayed by a man(late in the film you get a look at the legs and you can tell). We are then presented with a young couple newlywedding in Transylvania(of all places), who eventually are driven off the road into the lake putting to rest the female(apparently). The male then hooks up with the count -- who we find out is the famous killer of Dracula, Van Helsing, and attempts to exercise the witch out of the newly deceased bride before she kills everyone in town. Mel Welles -- from a "Little Shop of Horrors" fame -- plays a drunkard, bumbling, extremely moral-less hotel manager who gets in the midst of everything. Initially, the husband, gets rather annoyed when Helsing suggests that what's happened is this exorcism, but eventually believes it. Barbara Steele & John Karlson play the husband and wife team that are just a pawn for this inevitable semi-shockfest. The movie was supposedly an Italian/Yugoslavian production but it was obviously intended for English-speaking audiences and is somewhat light really compared to the stuff that comes out nowadays, but was probably pretty rough back then. Despite this -- the movie just doesn't pull you in, and is pretty slow midway thru so the shock doesn't really do anything. A definite miss in this genre, bypass it.