Reviews written by registered user
|834 reviews in total|
1st watched 4/12/2015 7 out of 10(Dir-Charley Randazzo): Well put together rock documentary about the rise of the band Kansas. The movie goes quickly and gives out a lot of information about the band's beginnings all the way up to their popularity "peak", which was the "Point of Know Return" album. As un-pretentious as the band is --- that is how the documentary is, you get what you get nothing more, nothing less. Although there is a little self-promoting at the end otherwise they use other folk like Brian May of Queen and Garth Brooks to promote the band instead of themselves. The movie is no more than a bunch of people talking about the progression of the band(including all the original members), but the director makes the conversations flow easily from one to the next, and there is no wasted film-time. Some music is played, but only enough to make you want to listen to the recordings the documentaries primary focus is the evolution from small house band to sold-out major stadium rock legends. After 40 years since the band's beginning the original members are brought back for this filming(which is a small miracle in itself). The "Miracles out of Nowhere" title refer to them being from rural Kansas and hitting the big time. The story isn't a whole lot different than other bands except for the previous fact. Their breaks came as other band's breaks come from a record executive giving them a chance which in this case is Don Kirshner. He patiently waits during the release of the first 4 albums promoting them and the providing the money, until their big breakthrough album "Leftoverture." A must for fans of the band, and for those who are interested in how this group came about. Concise to the point filmmaking excels in the case of this story.
1st watched 2/14/2015 5 out of 10(Dir-The Wachowski's): Action-filled just miss movie from the famed Wachowski's. This story is about a young earth girl, played by Mila Kunis, who lives a plain life cleaning houses, but is destined for bigger things in the universe at large. A queen on another planet dies who happens to be Jupiter's(Mila's character) mom and they know about her legitimacy to the kingdom so one group wants her dead while another is trying to protect her so she can gain her right to the throne. These two sides are led by brother's(one bad and one good). The good side hires a hunter to rescue her and this hunter initially is focused on the task in an un-emotional way, but Mila's character is obviously attracted to him. The bad side sends creatures who are trying to kill her. There are a couple funny scenes where Jupiter attempts to break thru unsuccessfully with the hunter, but it's a movie so you can expect what eventually will happen. The sets and the graphic designs are the real stars in the movie, and --- in my opinion is why the movie doesn't quite make the mark. The hunter eventually successfully brings Jupiter back to her planet where she is to be crowned and in a sarcastic and tongue-in-cheek scene she goes thru planetary red tape mimicking our government(this is the best scene of the movie). The rest of the movie infuses very little humor, and a lot of mind-blowing action where the hunter rescues Jupiter over and over again. It all works towards an "awe" moment occurring in the last 15 minutes, but by this point the viewer doesn't really care. The ending almost pushes the movie over, but not enough when you realize how you got to this point, unfortunately. Nice attempt at a different type of movie, but there is not quite enough character building and too much video-game type action. Not a bad movie to watch, but not one you'll want to view more than once.
1st watched 9/1/2014 -- 3 out of 10(Dir-Jerry Warren):70 minute version Boring and lame teenage zombie movie with some really wacky performances from some of the teens and very stoic performances from the adults. The movie starts as some kids from a local malt shop set out to do some water-skiing, and have a picnic at a nearby small island. As they investigate the area -- they come upon a strange group of men appearing "doped or dead" according to one of the kids. Their boat is stolen so they go to a lone house on the island to question the inhabitants about the disappearance and come across a stoic woman, played by Katherine Victor, who denied knowing about this, and then all the kids get captured to be used as experiments for her zombie-inducing gas that eventually will be used on all Americans. The pacing of this movie is what makes it boring with a soundtrack that doesn't match the movie's pace. The sound effects are very canned especially when the boat is searching for the kids(same sound no matter what the boat is doing---very funny stuff). This movie was obviously trying to capture on a trend(monsters with teens), but fails miserably, and there really is only one real monster, if you can call him one, Ivan -- the helper zombie and possibly a late appearance by a man in a gorilla suit. There is a sub-theme of foreigners(who don't sound foreign) trying to "control" all Americans with this gas(which was probably shocking at the time), but it's done so badly that it doesn't get noticed much. Pretty much this is a movie to avoid -- so do so.
1st watched 1/31/2015, 2 out of 10(Dir-Pat Townsend): Pretty bad teen exploitation movie about a group of girls who are given a beach house to use while an uncle is away so, of course, the parties start and never really cease. The niece, who actually is given the place, is the tamest of the group, but her friends are the party animals who kind of take over by bringing in the booze, marijuana, and of course, the boys. There a couple of subplots that try to bring in humor but neither of them do a very good job of it. The first involves a bumbling gardener who finds himself hurting himself over and over again as he peeks in on the festivities. The other story involves a pirate-like ship holding bags of weed, and being chased by a coast guard group who are far from perfect. Then we have your typical will boy get girl scenario between Debra Blee's tamer character and James Daughton's semi-nice guy. Will they ever hook up ?? Do we care ?? There is plenty of nudity, boob and ass shaking but very little plot that we care about. The only thing that kept me from giving this the lowest of the scale is the quality of some of the girls especially Jeana Tomasina who can be seen on some of the rock videos from the decade and is a knockout. It's kind of lame when this is the only redeeming quality to a movie, but this is the case. I'm pretty sure Crown International made some money from these low-budget teen teasers because there are plenty of them. Most of them have very little to give to the movie world though, and this is no exception. Avoid this unless you want to see Miss Tomasina in all her glory.
1st watched 1/17/2015 3 out of 10(Edited by Mike Stanley): Strangely edited together movie splicing pieces of "The Night of the Living Dead" from George Romero and "Carnival of Souls" by Herk Harvey. It's really not even fun for fans of the original films because the stories really don't go together very well. It starts with the warning of radiation bringing corpses back from the dead and then we switch to the heroine from "Carnival" coming out of the water. The movie jumps back and forth between scenes of the two movies not keeping anything in the same chronological order. For example we are not told until the very end that shooting a ghoul(those risen from the dead) in the head kills them for good, but right before this the hero from "Night" is seen killing a couple of the recently dead by doing this very thing. There are more of these badly ordered scenarios which make me wonder what the editor, Mike Stanley, was trying to do here. There appear to be a couple of different zombies in the "Night" sequences which may have been the folk from Showcase films trying to get into a movie, but I don't know this for sure and if they did it -- it's well done and doesn't deter from the scenes. So, all in all, we primarily have a badly put together mixing of the two films with nothing making really any sense, and to add insult they change the ending. It is very difficult to write a review of this type of endeavor when you are a person who enjoyed each of the original films. This makes me biased towards re-working either of them therefore my review is tinted with this. This movie is a novelty at best, and I suppose may be interesting to figure out what the actual intent was in this new splicing, but unfortunately the results are not satisfactory, in my opinion.
1st watched 1/4/2015 -- 6 out of 10(Dir-John Landis): Effective horror-comedy with an abrupt ending that leaves the viewer wondering why the Director, John Landis, closed out the story the way he did. The movie is about a couple of American friends vacationing in England who are attacked by an animal, killing one and wounding the other. The locals know something strange is going on in their area, but don't do what's necessary to keep them out of trouble. They do however get there soon enough to save David, played by David Naughton. If this was a werewolf that attacked them -- the legend is that if you survive you will turn into one at the next full moon, and this is David's fear. The doctor and nurse that initially take care of him get involved in a couple of different ways. The nurse, played by Jenny Agutter, takes him in and starts a romance. The doctor eventually tries to find out what actually happened as the authorities say they were attacked by a human lunatic not an animal. The movie is scary and funny(with most of the humor coming from Griffin Dunne, who plays David's dead friend who keeps showing up in a degrading state trying to get him to kill himself before he kills others and to send him to his final resting place). Rick Baker's makeup takes center stage especially during the initial transformation scene where David turns into a werewolf. The gruesomeness is a little overused and is a slight negative to the movie, in my opinion, but the movie keeps your interest until the final 15 minutes where it finishes way too quickly. The movie is unique in it's ability to fuse many genre's into one movie somewhat successfully. Landis appeared to either run out of money, or just didn't have a more dramatic ending prepared(to it's fault) but still the movie was worthwhile.
1st watched 12/6/2014 -- 5 out of 10(Dir-Stanley Kubrick): Sprawling inconsistent epic movie directed by Stanley Kubrick with a very good performance by executive producer Kirk Douglas as Spartacus and good cinematography, but a story that has it's good parts and bad parts but not enough of the good to carry it over the top. The story is about a slave in Italy who starts an uprising that eventually rises up to fight against Rome itself. Douglas portrays the main character with passion and a performance where the camera just placed on his face tells his character's story. Jean Simmons portrays another slave that tweaks his romantic interests at a gladiator training facility, which he is transferred to after being bought by Peter Ustinov's character, that trains slaves and treats them like Gods until they are transferred to another facility where they have to fight to their death's for entertainment purposes for Roman citizens. Laurence Olivier's character, who is a wealthy influential person, visits the facility and forces the caretaker to prematurely do a couple of fights to the death including Spartacus. He survives, of course, but then starts the uprising upon hearing that Simmon's character is being sent to another location. This is where the film doesn't do a good job, in my opinion, because it makes it look like it all started over a lover's spat when obviously Spartacus had a bigger idea in mind. Douglas and Simmons carry on a very powerful screen romance but this overpowers the bigger story. He then commands the slave army to try and accomplish the task of freeing all the slaves in the whole of Italy. The political complexities in Rome and the conflict between the Roman characters actually slows down the movie. Olivier's character's motivations are never explored so the conflict between him and Spartacus is not a watchable piece of entertainment. There are some wonderful moments of cinematography especially the initial fight between the Romans and the slaves but these small moments don't sustain a full 3 hours plus. Not a worthless piece of entertainment, but not good enough to keep your full interest throughout the whole length of this long epic.
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.
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.
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.
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