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At least it's better than the first, 17 March 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I caught this for the first time in years as part of Syfy's Saint Patrick's Day movie marathon today and despite expecting the absolute worst, I was somewhat surprised that it remains mildly entertaining. It's still a poor movie for sure, but perhaps not quite as bad as its reputation. If nothing else, Leprechaun 2 is an improvement upon the first. Director Rodman Flender opens the picture well enough with a prologue that takes place in Ireland. The prologue and the opening credits sequence are goofy, fun, ridiculous, and unfortunately, also the best part of the entire film. Once the two teenage protagonists are introduced, the next 75 minutes or so never measure up to what came before it. From seeing Rodman Flender's much more enjoyable later work like Idle Hands, it's hard to tell just how much of Leprechaun 2 is supposed to be intentionally bad. Warwick Davis is creepy as the evil leprechaun (though the make-up on his face looks like Play-Doh), but the rest of the performances are so wooden that I wouldn't be surprised if Flender wanted the acting to be bad as part of the "B" movie tradition.As with the first Leprechaun flick, the characters are annoying which makes it hard to really care for any of them. The story itself is decent even without a whole lot of logic to the proceedings. What hurts the flick more than anything is the poor effects. Whether it's the fact that the film is almost twenty years old or the film didn't have the budget it probably needed, everything looks super cheap, so much so that I find it hard to believe this received a theatrical release. Scenes that could have been cool or scary end up laughable and groan-worthy. The big scenes that don't rely on special effect are rather well done. The bar scenes and the go-cart scenes are the most entertaining to watch, mainly since they are the few parts that show some creativity. Despite the many flaws, Leprechaun 2 is still better than it could have been considering that it's a sequel that was produced and released a mere year after the original. Besides, any movie that features random appearances by both Tony Cox (of Bad Santa fame) and Michael McDonald has at least a little value to it. Recommended for Saint Patrick's Day viewing only. 3/10

3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Absolutely terrible, 31 October 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter has one of the most absurd concepts of all time. The entire plot is goofy, dumb, and almost impossible to get behind. Yet somehow the novel managed to be an interesting if not entirely successful story that was way better than it could have been. It was also written very cinematically so it wasn't hard to imagine how a solid adaptation could have been produced. Unfortunately, the resulting film version is such a colossal mess that it's almost indescribable, mainly due some mind-bogglingly atrocious editing. The editing is amongst the worst I've ever seen in a studio production. Every scene is borderline incoherent as if the entire picture was cut together in a matter of days. I don't know if director Timur Bekmambetov had the right to final cut so I'll avoid placing blame on any one particular person. However, it would not surprise me at all if the director eventually reveals that the movie was released not completely finished. It's the only possible explanation for why everything is astonishingly sloppy. Each scene seems to be truncated to the shortest length possible, resulting in an extremely, extremely rushed pace. I doubt there are more than a few scenes that last more than a minute, making the entire film seem like one disjointed montage. Characters appear in scenes and disappear within seconds (this is especially true with Alan Tudyk's Stephen Douglas, who is probably on screen for 75 seconds at most). Even usually solid performers like Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Mary Todd Lincoln and Jimmi Simpson as Joshua Speed are reduced to probably less than ten minutes of screen time despite the fact that they are supposedly two of the most important characters in the story. Needless to say that because of the disastrous editing, there is not a single cast member that is able to leave much of any impression, including Benjamin Walker himself as Abe Lincoln. Unfortunately, the poor editing choices also sabotage the action sequences. Looking like the worst possible version of a Zach Snyder movie, each "action" scene is filled with non-stop slow motion/fast motion nonsense, too much emphasis on over-stylization, and more instances of horrible CGI than any movie in recent memory. All this renders the scenes completely ineffective with barely a moment of genuine excitement despite all the vampire-slaying on display. Those hoping for gore will be disappointed to know that despite being R-rated, there is hardly any blood and the blood that is visible looks less convincing and scary than cough syrup. Honestly, there isn't anything very positive that can be said about the flick. As an adaptation, it's unfaithful and lifeless. It also doesn't fit into a particular genre: it doesn't even try to be scary enough to count as a horror pic, it's too inert to be considered an action-adventure, and the tone is so humorless that in no way can it be considered a comedy. While Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is not the worst I've ever seen, it's certainly one of the very worst of 2012 and definitely not recommended. 2/10

Definitely worth watching for film fans, 28 October 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I saw this for the first time today on the Biography Channel and although it may not be as deep or entertaining as some of the other documentaries on John Carpenter's horror classic, I still found it to be an engaging and worthwhile watch. Being a two-hour special (about 90 minutes without commercials), this is a relatively short look at the HALLOWEEN legacy, focusing almost exclusively on the making of the first movie back in 1978. Almost everyone from the original cast is interviewed and there is not a single boring speaker in the bunch. Jamie Lee Curtis is the best of all as she talks honestly about her insecurity starring in her first movie, her thoughts on the sequels, and her general dislike of horror movies. Director John Carpenter is equally as blunt, admitting that many of his creative decisions were made based on how little time there was to shoot the film and owning up to the fact he never had any real interest in the series after the first installment. While it's always good to hear Carpenter talk about his work, he makes it pretty obvious here how tired he is of talking about the series for over thirty years at this point. As the director who started it all, it's slightly sad that he comes across as the person with the least amount of enthusiasm for discussing it. Other than that, the only minor complaint I have is that this being a made-for-cable production, some of the film clips that are shown are obviously censored which begs the question as to why the clips were even chosen to be shown in the first place. Those small quibbles aside, this is well done documentary that both horror fans and fans of film history should definitely enjoy. 8/10

8 out of 17 people found the following review useful:
Funniest movie of the year!, 6 September 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In the 1990s, Adam Sandler starred in three of the funniest, most juvenile comedies of all time: Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore, and Big Daddy. Despite being destroyed by critics, all three of these movies went on to gain big cult followings and, in my opinion, hold up extremely well today. In the decade that followed, Sandler went on to produce films through Happy Madison Productions at a rapid rate, generally one or more a year. The quality of these varied, but the worst ones were those that simply tried to replicate either story beats or gags from his hits from the 90s. With this year's That's My Boy, Sandler went in a direction none of his previous Happy Madison Productions had gone before: a definitely not-for-the-kids, hard R-rated comedy. Even if this may have contributed to the poor box office performance of That's My Boy, it also made it the funniest movie of the year and Sandler's best work in over ten years. That's My Boy isn't rated R simply for a few F-bombs or a few crude comments, it's rated R for pretty much everything (except violence). This is an audaciously dirty flick, one that opens by pushing the envelope and never lets up. In the first ten minutes alone, the filmmakers basically declare war on good taste and do their best to go for the filthy at almost every opportunity from that point on. It's almost as if Sandler and friends kept a huge notebook of gags they knew were too out there for their previous PG-13 efforts and decided to put every single one of them into this. Had these jokes not been funny, this could have been terrible to sit through and indeed some people may not enjoy it at all, but I personally found most of it hilarious. While some may argue that this is more of a gross-out exercise than a legitimate piece of cinema, director Sean Anders at least tries to make the audience have a mild emotional connection to the main characters and, to me, is rather successful. These aren't complex characters, but they are fun and interesting even if they aren't 100% likable all the time. Sandler has never been funnier and despite talking in a typical goofy Sandler voice, makes Donny his most memorable character in quite some time (I love the open beer in almost every scene). What makes Sandler's performance really work is that no matter how absurd or mean the character may be at times, his love for his son is still believable within the context of the film and not something that is shoe-horned into the story to give it some heart. As his son, Andy Samberg is able to hold his own and gives his best comedic performance to date. The two have a really entertaining chemistry as father and son even though their age difference isn't that huge (it's explained). The inspired pairing of Sandler and Samberg, along with the excellent fast-paced direction from Anders, make this the funniest movie I've seen in years. The story can be picked apart if analyzed deep enough and everyone can attack it on the grounds that it is stupid, but I had a great time with it. There are few things better than being provided with solid laughs for a little bit and with that mindset, That's My Boy delivered for me. 9/10

The quintessential Nicolas Cage action film, 28 August 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

There are few actors as entertaining as Nicolas Cage. Whether he is in a drama, comedy, thriller or a comic book movie, Nicolas Cage never disappoints. Most of his performances are great while a few are simply "out there." Drive Angry is the the quintessential Cage action movie for fans. It provides non-stop, over-the-top ridiculousness with hilarious one-liners, absurd set pieces, and a straightforward yet awesome plot. In some respects, it can be viewed as a great double feature with any of the Ghost Rider flicks as both involve Cage driving like a madman and Hell as major plot points, but Drive Angry is far more adult in nature than any of the Ghost Rider movies. Cage plays a character who goes by the name of John Milton (get it?) but that's about as clever as the writing gets. That's not a complaint, this is just not an intellectual film. Most of the running time is made up of gun-play, car chases, and tongue-in-cheek humor. It must be said that Drive Angry makes the best use of 3D out of any other 3D movie of the past five years. I have watched both the 3D version and the 2D version with the 3D version being slightly more amusing as it really embraced the gimmicky nature of 3D. In 2D, Drive Angry is still enjoyable but loses a bit of its replay value. One of the reasons Drive Angry is better than expected is that it doesn't rely on Hollywood formula like it could have. It would be super easy and cliché for Cage to end up in a romantic relationship with leading lady Amber Heard, but screenwriters Patrick Lussier (who also directed) and Todd Farmer don't go for the predictable and the result is a much more interesting and surprisingly touching relationship. Unfortunately, these character beats are far more intriguing than some of the action sequences that, while cool and certainly well directed, occasionally become repetitive. The filmmakers redeem themselves with one of the best endings of all time, one that I wouldn't even dare spoil. It is with that ending that is becomes disappointing that a sequel will never be produced as I'm sure Farmer and Lussier had more story ideas about John Milton that now will never be put to film due to the poor box office performance of Drive Angry in the U.S. upon it release. While Drive Angry may not be perfect, it is well deserving of its growing cult status. 6/10

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
A funny mix between "Scrubs" and Ace Ventura, 13 August 2012

At this point in time, almost every single idea for a sitcom has been done. This is especially true of workplace sitcoms. There have been countless sitcoms about pretty much every occupation imaginable that would lend itself to big laughs. To my surprise, "Animal Practice" manages to be at least slightly original since, at least to my knowledge, there has never been a sitcom about an animal hospital before. Even more surprising is that "Animal Practice" is actually quite funny. One would expect the pilot to be filled with non-stop slapstick gags and jokes about animals' bodily functions. This easily could have been filled with endless amounts of low brow humor and been a chore to sit through. Thankfully, there is no slapstick or bodily humor to be found in this first episode. While there are many jokes about a particular monkey that may strike some viewers as gimmicky, most of the humor is character based. While it's true that some of the characters may come across as typical wacky sitcom characters, it seems that they will be more developed in later episodes. At least all the characters are funny and none of them are grating like most sitcom characters. Justin Kirk is fantastic as the lead, providing the same charm and great delivery he provides as Uncle Andy on "Weeds" only without the sleaziness. Tyler Labine is also highly amusing as one of Kirk's co-workers, playing a very different type from the characters that he played on "Reaper" and "Sons of Tucson". The scenes that Kirk and Labine share together in the pilot are the highlights as the two have fun chemistry that will hopefully continue to be put to good use in future episodes. While it's an entirely possible that "Animal Practice" could turn into more of a generic sitcom as the season progresses, right now it stands as an entertaining mix between "Scrubs" and the Ace Ventura movies. Recommended. 8/10

Virtuality (2009) (TV)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
One of the best pilots of the past decade!, 11 August 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

As anyone who has watched enough television would know, pilots are always a mixed bag. Some pilots are great, some are bad, and some are just plain odd. However, very few are as fascinating as Virtuality. Produced by Battlestar Gallatica showrunner Ronald D. Moore and directed by the sometimes great Peter Berg, Virtuality was made in 2009 as a potential series for the Fox Network. For reasons that are unknown, Fox made the decision to not pick the show up for a series but still aired what was done as a pilot movie. It was later released on DVD with no bonus features or any indication of what the future of the series held. Having watched the DVD for the first time tonight, I was amazed at just how well thought out and realized the production was for a pilot. Despite obvious loose ends, this is something that could have been re-worked as either a mini-series or television series. I don't know what the budget was for the pilot, but there was nothing about the pilot that looked cheap. The special effects, set design, and cinematography all looked as good, if not better, than most feature films released by major studios. This is clearly the best thing Peter Berg has ever directed, about on par with Very Bad Things. Although certainly not a dark comedy like Very Bad Things was, Virtuality also focuses on the dark side of human nature and does it well without seeming preachy or overly philosophical. In the beginning, the idea that entire ship is being recorded for a reality television show is pushed a bit too hard. The reality television set up could have been done in a minute instead of five to ten minutes, but the idea that reality television is exploitive and brings out the worst in people is handled with a lot more subtly than one might expect. If I had to guess, the commentary on reality television probably alienated Fox, the network that has aired some of the most notorious reality shows of all time which led to the decision not to produce Virtuality as a series. As it stands, Virtuality remains one of the best pilots of the past decade, a visually impressive and smart science fiction gem that will likely develop a small cult following one day. 8/10

8 out of 14 people found the following review useful:
Way funnier than the reviews would imply, 4 August 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Director Jay Chandrasekhar is responsible for some of the funniest movies of the past ten years with Super Troopers, Club Dread, and Beerfest all becoming well deserved cult favorites. However, none of those pictures ever received overwhelmingly positive reviews from critics and his latest is no exception. With a title like The Babymakers, there is no way that this film is going to ever be considered anything approaching high art. Still, the horrendous reviews and low ratings that this movie has received is, in my opinion, not exactly fair. While the story may be thin and not every joke works perfectly, The Babymakers mostly succeeds in doing what it sets out to do in providing low-brow laughs. Chandrasekhar knows how to stage raunchy gags and does it well without any scenes becoming completely over-the-top or too cartoonish. There is a version of this flick that could have been of sitcom quality yet Chandrasekhar is able to keep things semi-grounded in reality which helps sell the overall premise. Also helping is that leads Paul Schneider and Olivia Munn have nice chemistry together and seem to know exactly the type of film they are making. I know Munn gets a lot of criticism from internet critics, but she gives a solid performance here that may silence some of those critics. Screenwriters Peter Gaulke (co-writer of Strange Wilderness, one of the funniest dumber-than-dumb comedies ever) and Gerry Swallow's script is better than expected even if it isn't the deepest piece of cinema ever written. The script's strongest asset is that it tackles the issue of infertility without treating the lead character as a joke or a punchline. Other characters may make jokes at his expense, but the audience is never made to feel like it should be laughing at the character. Even so, the character of Tommy is never developed to the point he probably should be. For example, little is said about what Tommy does for a living, something that should have been emphasized given the fact that the need for money plays a large part in the story. Had the characters been developed slightly more, this could have been one of the better comedies to come out in years. It's the fact that the movie is so funny that it's easy to forgive the fact that the story and characters aren't exactly 100% there. As it is, it's certainly worth a watch and funnier than most R-rated comedies that have come out in the past few years even if it isn't on par with Chandrasekhar's Super Troopers or Club Dread. 7/10

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Solid series that wasn't given the chance it deserved, 22 April 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Out of all the major networks, Fox is perhaps the most notorious for canceling shows as quickly as possible. To make a list of all the shows that Fox has swiftly and ultimately prematurely yanked from the air in just the past five years would take forever, but television fans surely already know what some of them are. "Breaking In" is the latest show that can be added to that list as despite being picked up for a second season, Fox has decided to cancel the show after airing only five episodes from Season Two. I'm not going to argue that "Breaking In" was an absolutely perfect show---there were a few times when it was definitely inconsistent---but it was always at least distinctively different from any other network comedy. The premise itself always seemed like a comedic version of "Leverage" but never felt like a rip-off of that show. Christian Slater (who was also a producer on the series) was great in a role that perfectly suited his sense of humor and charisma. Though Slater was the most recognizable name in the cast, "Breaking In" was truly an ensemble where each cast member got to shine and had individual episodes that allowed them to add some depth to their admittedly wacky characters. Doing away with the standard annoying sitcom laugh track and clichés, most of the humor from "Breaking In" came from the characters' antics and unique (but never super forced) pop culture references. However, these two sources of humor may also have been stumbling blocks for certain viewers. As both characters and the pop culture jokes were a bit on the geeky side, the show was never going to be the single most accessible sitcom on the air. Yet the show was far more accessible than a sitcom like "Community" and could have easily found more viewers had it been given more of a push. Attempts to gain a wider audience in the second season by adding Megan Mullally to the cast and changing the show from more of a workplace sitcom than a series about pulling off heists may have turned some fans off, though I still found plenty to laugh at in what was aired of Season Two. "Breaking In" always seemed like it would have been a better fit for a cable channel like Comedy Central or USA. As it stands, "Breaking In" may develop a cult following if it is able to get a DVD release. It's obvious that everyone involved were really trying to make a good-natured show that people would enjoy and it would be a shame if people weren't allowed to see the finished unaired episodes. 8/10

6 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Better than most Syfy original programming, 27 March 2012

The movies that premiere on the Syfy Channel generally range from bad to absolutely unwatchable. This should come as no surprise since these films have typically super low budgets and have drastically short shooting schedules, leaving little chance for them to be well put together. However, a decent film occasionally makes its way onto the air and Leprechaun's Revenge is one of those rare cases where the results of the minuscule budget and rushed production schedule doesn't destroy the end result. While Leprechaun's Revenge still seems like a movie that would have greatly benefited from having more time spent on it, the final cut is much better than the schlocky title implies. The first thirty minutes or so are actually engaging. The opening scene is fairly creepy, the tone is set up perfectly, and its clear from the beginning that the protagonist isn't a stereotypical horror movie moron. Yet for whatever reason, the premise stops being effective after a while and the sense of rhythm that was established in the first half seems off in the second half(which I suspect was due to aforementioned time constraints and budgetary problems). Still, Leprechaun's Revenge remains a great flick to watch on St. Patrick's Day with a bunch of friends and it is certainly more entertaining than 90% of all the other Syfy originals. The cast is solid, the effects are reasonably cool, and there is a sense of humor to the proceedings that's hard not to enjoy.

Note: To clear up any confusion, Leprechaun's Revenge is in no way related to the endless series of Warwick Davis horror pictures. If I had to guess, Syfy was hoping for people to assume a vague relation in order to get viewers to tune in.

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