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Oz the Great and Powerful (2013)
The Great and Terrible
Visuals: Great // Script, Acting, Jokes: Terrible
"I am Oz the Great and Terrible". That's what the wizard says in the 1939 classic (and the book before it) when Dorothy & gang come before his throne.
This movie just has a terrible script. Terrible lead actor (Oh if only Johnny Depp or Robert Downey Jr had said Yes!). Mediocre acting from others -- except Rachael Weisz - more Brits please! and fewer American TV ensemble actors from shows about troubled teens.
The CGI/special effects are wonderful. I nearly plugged in my earbuds and put a white noise track on my MP3 player. So I wouldn't have to listen to the terrible script/acting and could just concentrate on the pretty pictures.
Every joke went over like a lead balloon -- not a lovely hot air balloon. No one in my theater laughed at one of them. Even the cute animal sidekick (here voiced by a white actor, in a surprising turn) just fails to be cute or funny enough. (And I liked Zach Braff in Scrubs).
Four Lions (2010)
If you want to see Cumberbatch, forget it
I got this from the library as Benedict Cumberbatch was listed as being in it and I'm a big fan. But I'll just save you the time: He only appears briefly right at the end (as an inept police negotiator), has around 5 lines, and like everyone else in this movie is saying unfunny things that we're meant to think are funny.
About the verbal humor: It's like they had a software program that just mixed references to private parts and threw in "donkey" or "dog" occasionally. It got to sound very formulaic.
The writers' names look Anglo-Saxon to me. So I think 4 white guys wrote a movie about 4 Pakistani guys who want to be jihadists. The fact that they are bumbling and wear silly costumes is meant to be "humorous". I'd say the fact that they plan to blow up themselves and others is ugly. That's all.
Every single character in the movie is stupid or mentally impaired. The main character is intelligent, but no rationale is given as to why this British-born man wants to do this extreme action and leave his loving family.
Allow me to spoil it for you further: They DO all succeed in blowing themselves up -- mostly by accident. And it appears they take innocent people and some animals out with them. The main character leaves behind his doting wife and child.
To sum up: Very little Cumberbatch & lots of racist, uncomfortable humor & people and animals being exploded in unfunny ways.
Dark Shadows (2012)
Definition of Moribund: "In terminal decline; lacking vitality or vigor." That's this movie. Don't believe the trailers -- they made it look very witty and fast-paced. Instead it is slow and dull.
Why don't they get the people who make the trailers to make the movie? Trailers are always fast-paced and funny and make the movies look terrific. I think there are jokes in the trailers that are not IN this movie! Why would you remove jokes from a movie that has too few?
Johnny Depp tries his hardest, as he always does. But the script is just flat. Sad to see that Tim Burton has demoted his girlfriend, Helena Bonham Carter, to "older character lady" role. Women in their 20s get the romantic leads. (Is Johnny not aging?)
Also story steals a bit from Twilight. So we've seen it all before.
And this movie was aimed at me -- I'm a woman and I'm into comedy. I expected to have a good time. I didn't. It just never got funny. A lot of "almost funny" scenes. A few chuckles. But we deserve better than that.
A great cast wasted. The heroine is unlikeable. I don't understand how you write a script for yourself and make yourself unlikeable from every aspect.
Her big "blow-up" scene (intended to be hilarious) just makes you cringe. Shut up and be gracious for your friend, the bride's, sake. Don't make it all about you.
The only actor who got good laughs from the audience was Melissa McCarthy ("Mike & Molly").
But her character is another head-scratcher. She seems to be a butch lesbian. Yet lusts after men. So many things just didn't make sense about this movie. And you get distracted thinking "Why does the Wisconsin highway patrol officer have a British accent?" "Is that rich lady a bitch or not?" "Why is that lesbian coming onto that man?" "Just what is the main character's problem? Is she mentally ill?" None of this is helpful to a comedy.
What a blah movie. There's really nothing exciting or interesting happening here.
Where's the circus freaks, the father and son with tails, the fluke, the guy who crawled thru narrow vents to attack Scully? Where's the incestuous hillbillies who keep their half-a-mom on a trolley under the bed?
Seriously guys, *this* is what we've been waiting all these years for? You had many years to write a script and *this* is all you came up with? Was Darin Morgan not available to help you?
This is the most uninteresting story. If it had made it to an "X-Files" episode, we would have forgotten it already. No aliens, no freaks. The villains are barely seen and not really that scary.
The first chase doesn't start till an hour in. The big "freaky-deaky" moment isn't for 1:20 (and it ain't that freaky. They really pulled their punches.) The rest of the movie is padded with Mulder whining at Scully and Scully whining back.
Mulder: "I believe" Scully: "I don't believe".
Multiply that by about 20 times.
The subplots just peter out and go nowhere. No satisfying ending. It's all a wash of beige.
Save your money and maybe buy or rent a boxed set of "X-Files" on DVD. Far more entertaining.
Dumb & Unfunny
I think even if you were high as a kite you couldn't find much to laugh at in this movie. Rarely heard a chuckle from the audience I was with.
Gross-out shock moments are substituted for actual funny stuff. They're not the same thing, guys. "Hey look at this shocking thing! And here's another shocking thing! Not actually funny -- but it was gross, right?"
I pretty much enjoyed the first H&K movie -- but this was so inferior. NPH's brief cameo is enjoyable -- but that ends in a "huh?" way.
Rob Corddry works hard, but doesn't have much to work with. And Kal Penn and John Cho are in their mid-30s and really don't pass for stoner kids anymore.
Don't waste your money.
Smart People (2008)
The laughs are few and far between and the characters just wander about drinking too much, staring into space or being rude and their story lines don't amount to anything. And they're all unlikeable.
Ellen Page was the bright spot -- but her character doesn't have enough to do and her story arc doesn't really resolve. Ditto Thomas Haden Church.
Dennis Quaid is unattractive and unappealing and I couldn't believe Sarah Jessica Parker's doctor character would waste a moment of her time with him. He's doughy, sloppy, zoned out, self-absorbed and rude. And his family is a mess. What's the attraction? Can't she find a handsome doctor her own age? She should go work at Seattle Grace.
SJP is like a far duller version of Carrie Bradshaw (but still wearing her bra during sex! Yeah, that's comfortable.) The dialog is not actually smart -- it's about boring pompous twits TALKING about how they're smart.
Then somebody gets pregnant and that supposedly "fixes" everything.
Just rent "Juno". Far smarter people (and writing) there.
Prom Night (2008)
Save your money
and rent a GOOD horror movie. It's like the writer had never seen a horror movie before and didn't realize every single thing he wrote was clichéd and hackneyed and has been parodied to perfection in movies like "Scream" and "Scary Movie".
In between the scary bits is the most BANAL and BORING dialog ever written. Stupid "we're going to the prom" junk. I wanted to claw my ears off. Honestly, "The Hills" has better dialog.
There really was no need to make this movie. Leading lady is uninteresting and I kept thinking "Her? Really? Guy is obsessed with her? Really?"
All the characters act in stupid ways, including the police. (Cover the place in teams of 2! Front and back! Not one sleepy cop sitting in his car with the window rolled down just waiting for his throat to be slashed.)
The serial killer just swans about murdering everyone he wants without the least bit of problem. No resistance from victims (or doors). Nobody has any protection or the least idea of fighting back (or flipping the security lock on the hotel room door). The people are like mentally disabled sheep.
By the by, if you're a gore fan, you'll be disappointed too. All the killing is kept offscreen and is -- ahem -- tastefully done. (So boo hoo for you!)
None of the killings is the least bit interesting. Most of the time they've already happened by the time we find out.
The only cliché missing was the cat that always pops out in this kind of movies. "Oh kitty! You scared me! I thought you were the killer -- AIIEEEE!"
And then at the end when it's time for the killer to die -- well, let's just say it's the easiest and most obvious choice. Snore.
The audience was jeering and talking back to the screen throughout. It was too dumb to believe and not really scary enough. Don't encourage this kind of lazy film-making.
(Oh, and by the way -- no crowning of a prom king or queen. No tiara. No bucket of blood.)
So save your money and rent "Carrie" or "Friday the 13th" or "Halloween" or "Scream" or "Scary Movie" (any of them) to get a good scare with some original twists.
Drillbit Taylor (2008)
Another inventive comedy from the Apatow crew
I love IMDb.com. I just came here (after seeing the movie) and saw that John Hughes (using a pseudonym) was one of the writers of this movie. That makes sense, because the movie covers the awkwardness, danger and constant potential for life-ruining humiliation that is freshman year high school. Being "skinny, scared and lonely", as Drillbit Taylor puts it.
One of the other writers is the awesome Seth Rogen, co-writer & co-star of "Superbad" and co-star of "Knocked Up".
Owen Wilson is funny, sexy and heartwarming in this role. The trio of geeky lads who hire Owen as their protector are all played by wonderful young actors. The Apatow organization seems to have a genius for finding great and funny teen actors. I was especially impressed by Alex Frost (he plays the bully) who I think has stardom in his future.
The small roles of the film are filled by standup comics and "The Daily Show" alumni. Good talent all around.
The movie is not perfect. It's front-loaded -- meaning the first half has so many laughs you can't hear all the lines for the laughter. Then it suddenly slows down in the second half. It's still interesting -- just not as funny. And when you get to the violent fighting, that dries up the laughs.
Overall though, any film from the Apatow organization is going to be 6 times funnier and more inventive than the average movie comedy out there. So go have some laughs.
Left me Nauseous & Headachey
I'm deducting 2 stars for how ill this movie made me.
Why did NO one warn me that the ENTIRE film was shaky, hand-held video? (I thought it would just be the opening party scene.)
"The Blair Witch Project" did the same thing to me.
THE X-FILES EXPLANATION: About 40 minutes into every X-Files episode, there was a kind of an explanation for that week's monster. (Something) might have happened to (create/release) this sort of a (monster/disease)!"
The same thing happens here 40 minutes in. Pay attention, cuz it's the only sort of explanation you're going to get.
(But I have a sneaking suspicion this is the monster that's been stomping around "Lost" island for the last few years!)
I'm left wondering:
Why does anyone live in Manhattan anymore? It's always being attacked by gigantic Godzilla-like monsters, Muslim extremists, tsunamis, aliens in spaceships, killer viruses, zombies, Donald Trump...