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46 reviews in total 
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Tried too hard, 2 March 2017

And let the puns commence!

Seriously, this had the makings of a very funny film. Aubrey Plaza (so great in "Safety Not Guaranteed") and the rest? Girl power going for the crotch and all that.

It might have been a funnier script, but the director didn't trust the material. It seemed like every gag (so to speak) was forced, and every punch line was like being beaten over the head with a pig's bladder.

Some of the best comedy happens in the viewer's own imagination, but rather than allow for some subtlety and let us create the final image or reaction for ourselves, the director zoomed in on the mugging faces of the actors, just in case we didn't realize this was a FUNNY MOMENT.

Too bad. You want some great comedy that still has a lot of heart, check out "Safety Not Guaranteed." This one you can give a pass.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Love the characters but Season Four is limping along, 16 January 2017

First three seasons got 9 out of 10 stars from the wife and me. We didn't watch for the Whodunit, but for the interplay between the characters, particularly Morse and Thursday. The restrained Englishness of the tough (in many surprising ways) father figure of Roger Allum's Thursday as he mentored the younger Morse was compelling and emotionally honest. That, along with the battles by Morse to remain ethically principled and true to himself as he sought to bring order to the world were great, great stuff.

In the first two episodes of Season Four, the creative team seems to have forgotten where their real strengths lie. Both episodes focused very strongly on the mystery/problem, and gave us very, very little by way of the much more engaging personal interactions between the many characters. Hope they find their way back to what made the series great in the remaining episodes.

14 out of 20 people found the following review useful:
"Father Knows Best" for the aging Hippie Generation, 1 January 2017

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

If you're in the mood for some hippie porn, this is the movie for you. (Unavoidable spoilers to follow.) Hunky Viggo Mortensen plays another superhero, this time the uber-sensitive dad raising his six kids (ages ranging from about 8 to 18 years old) out in the woods in a blissful natural state. Not only does he home school them into reading the classics (Dostoevsky), books on Quantum physics and string theory (even quizzing them), but they jam on guitars around the campfire. But wait, there's more! Superdad is also so awesome, he's a master of the wild, teaching the kids to camouflage themselves and move so quietly they can take down a full grown deer with just a knife, before they go home to discuss "Power to the people" and "Stick it to the man" (no exaggeration, a trite term used twice in the movie).

There is some alleged drama, when bipolar mom commits suicide and her strait-laced parents don't want Superdad at the funeral. Then there follows that most-beloved Indie-film trope, "the road trip" because Hippie Father Knows Best, the desires of other people be damned.

Of course, there's no explanation about how he learned to speak six languages, be the forest-master, and know about music and string theory? Nope, no need to explain it, because in Hippie Porn, just being against the Man and the System is enough. No logical story required and you certainly won't find one here.

5 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
Sadly afflicted, 1 October 2016

With a bad case of the stupids and the obvious.

This is a strangely schizophrenic series. On one hand, you have the actors, evenly divided into solid professionals (John Scarfe and Christopher Heyerdahl, about the only two) and then then adequate just up from community theater types (Vanessa Helsing, token black kid, interchangeable surviving chicks, among others).

It's hard to tell if the problem is simply bad writing (Vanessa Helsing varies from badass to whimpering weenie, depending on how much they need to pad the story), bad direction (well, have to keep this review short, but the lyrical songs that underline emotional moments are mainly risible), or bad acting (where to start?).

In some ways, it's too bad this is so shoddy in so many ways, because the Marine played by John Scarfe feels compelling, honest, and real, as does the good-natured, mute giant played by Heyerdahl. You could make a fairly interesting series out of those those. Unfortunately, they're stuck in this derivative, stumbling, and incredibly obvious piece of hackwork.

1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Like a 2 hour episode of "24," with less action, 23 September 2016

First Bourne was fine, and Matt Damon did a very respectable job.

But, man, every damn one of the films afterwards had the same story, which is this used by this one (with the addition of the Outrage du Jour about government wanting to spy on us via social media):





I mean, for goodness' sakes. Is there no other governmental organization in the world other than the CIA that does, you know, yukky things? Per KGB archives ("The Sword and the Shield"), KGB had assassination squads, infiltrated journalists, peace groups, and even governments (FDR's admin was riddled with Reds). Is it somehow beyond the ken of Greenglass and Damon that somebody other than the US government could be participating in heinous, nay, murderous activities?

Cooties (2014)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
What a PC POS, 28 January 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Wow, this "comedy" was unwatchable almost from the start, but I gutted it out (as it were) for about 40 minutes before turning it off and begging the gods to send ravens to pluck out my eyes so that I'd never have to watch something so execrable again.

Yeah, I wasn't impressed.

Your almost guaranteed tip-off that a film is going to be creatively lazy and kool-kidz masturbatory media is when it has a "Christian" character is who is a complete caricature or, even more originally, a hypocrite (yuck, yuck, just like all the kool-kidz know they are). This particular piece of cut-and-paste mastery of the "everybody knows" tropes featured the Christian woman teacher as a gun-lovin', rape-fearin', foul-mouthed harridan. Wow, there's a character we've never seen before.

Then there were the other sparkling bits o' wit, like the obnoxious, abusive school kid named "Patriot" who was born on September 11 and when he turned 18 is going to become a Marine so he could kick some "towel-head ass."

Oh, Noel Coward just wishes he had the faintest hint of the skill of the screenwriter of this vomitous collection of left-wing goodthink clichés about the Un-Kool Kidz.

Do not waste your time, and don't even have pity for Elijah Wood, who somehow was convinced to appear in this festering cinematic abomination.

36 out of 75 people found the following review useful:
No Oscar for DiCaprio, 3 January 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

After viewing this movie, one realizes this film will be remembered more for one harrowing scene (the well-known Grizzly Bear attack) and the way it was made, rather than for the quality of the story or filmic experience itself.

DiCaprio, as Hugh Glass, does an adequate job, although 2/3's of his acting involves emoting-through-wheezing. For that alone, almost any competent actor with a range greater than Adam Sandler could have done the part. We get brief glimpses of interesting characters (Domhnall Gleason's Army Lieutenant for one) and way too many scenes of a one- dimensional antagonist, Tom Hardy's Fitzgerald. And the film could have been 20 minutes shorter by eliminating long, meditative (or creatively masturbatory) shots of trees.

Already dining out on the "we shot in only natural light! Shot over nine months in the miserably cold outdoors," the film-makers seem unaware that a difficult production with good actors does not necessarily a great movie make. Just ask the folks who made (or un-made, depending on who you ask) "The Island of Dr. Moreau." Tough shoot...apparently a terrible movie.

"The Revenant" isn't terrible, but it's nowhere near great.

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Almost instantly forgettable, 14 December 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

They had about 60 minutes worth of story, and padded it out with long shootouts.

And more long shootouts through what looked like drywall.

Which should have ended the "standoff" in about 3 minutes, with the folks on the other side of the drywall dead.

Then they padded some more, by (tiniest of SPOILER) giving us an interminable (and terribly acted) scene full of meaningful glares in a moving vehicle. Stretching the scene out, even more, with freeze frames and supplying us with the names of the disposable bad guys. Names that had no importance or meaning to the rest of the film. At all.

Which is too bad, really, as I have a suspicion that Scott Adkins might actually be able to pull off a good leading role if he had an actual script to work with. And perhaps an actual director who wasn't trying to channel Sergio Leone meets Shaw Brothers.

Had the potential to be a decent, gut-bucket B-movie, but the delusions of being better than it was defeated everyone involved.

5 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
A waste of time, 8 December 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The show felt incredibly padded and I feel incredibly ripped off. Most episodic shows need to extend their story lines by a series of forced misunderstandings, missed clues, etc. But, jeepers, I think they had story enough for maybe five hours here, not 13, which necessitates making characters endure a lot of moral/character conflict only for the purpose of prolonging the "drama." What it actually does, though, is make the characters appear frankly stupid when they act contrary to their nature.

SPOILER: When Special Ops dude is watching Killgrave from his car, knowing he's a menace, why doesn't Special Ops Dude take Killgrave out from a distance. Hell, even kneecapping him would have worked. But he doesn't. (Episode 7 of 13).

SPOILER: Jessica Jones, standing (of her own freewill) in front of Killgrave, not 18 inches away. She's supper strong. She's super fast. Why not a quick punch to his throat. End of problem, for the most part. But,again, as it is Ep7 of 13, that would end the show too quickly.

"Dramatically convenient stupidity." Avoid it in your own writing.

Last Shift (2014/I)
18 out of 32 people found the following review useful:
Competent and Creepy without being cheap, 19 September 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Clearly, a low budget film. Good film-makers, when confronted with a lack of funds, will compensate with a lot of creativity. "Last Shift" falls squarely into this category. The film makes good use of their locale, and builds an air of dread that slowly begins to pay off.

One nice touch is the use of quiet to build tension. In a few places, the music becomes intrusive, but a lot of the creepiness is in odd sounds (with nice use of the 5.1 surround mix). Only once or twice did they go for the "booga booga coming out at you out of a dark place" shtick.

I thought the lead actress was very believable through most of the film. If the film faltered anywhere, it was nearer the end, when the lead character began to respond in more typical "illogical victim," but one could almost understand that given the psychological state of that character.

SPOILER The only major way this film let me down as at the end.

They had to go for "the twist," and in this case... was "evil wins," which I find is something I don't care to spend nearly two hours of my life watching. Otherwise, very solid effort, making an authentically spooky and fairly original film on very little money.

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