Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
Christopher Sirmons Haviland is a graduate of the University of North Texas RTVF program (BA in Radio, Television & Film, 1988). In March, 1990, he co-founded SHO Entertainment, an independent motion picture company, with Paul Sirmons. The original office was located at Universal Studios Florida, where Mr. Haviland watched a theme park literally grow around him. In 1994 the office moved to more private studios in the small town of Lake Helen, about an hour North of Orlando. In 1995 the company produced a pilot called "Women on Death Row" for a series called Death Row: True Stories, on which Mr. Haviland worked as a script consultant. The pilot aired only in foreign countries, and the series was not picked up.
In 1997, Mr. Haviland co-produced a feature film called The First of May, starring Julie Harris, Dan Byrd, Charles Nelson Reilly, Mickey Rooney, and the late Joe DiMaggio in a cameo role. This rated-G film, produced and directed by Mr. Haviland's cousin and business partner Paul Sirmons, was distributed at foreign theaters, HBO worldwide between 2000-2003, and is currently on DVD and continues to air on various cable stations. Mr. Haviland also worked as a Location Manager on the project. The First of May was listed in The Movie Mom's Guide to Family Movies and also mentioned in the biography DiMaggio: Setting the Record Straight. It received the Best of Fest Prize at the Chicago International Children's Film Festival, the Premier Film Award at the Heartland Film Festival (in Indianapolis), the Audience Choice Award for Dramatic Feature at Film Fest New Haven (in Connecticut), the Children's Jury Prize for Best Feature at the Alekino Children's Film Festival (in Poland), the Grand Prize Winner for Adelphi / Bravo Excellence in Independent Filmmaking at the Hollywood In The Rockies Film Festival (in Cripple Creek, Colorado), the Best Film Award in Feature Drama and Best Child Actor Performance (Dan Byrd) at the Burbank International Children's Film Festival (in Burbank, CA), the Award of Excellence by the Film Advisory Board, and the coveted Dove Award from the Dove Foundation. A clip of the film was shown at the Lifetime Achievement Award ceremony for Mickey Rooney at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, and it has been written up on Entertainment Tonight, MSNBC.com, and ABCnews.com (which featured a film clip). It received 5-stars from the News-Journal in Daytona Beach, Florida, and out-grossed all the other movies playing in a Daytona Beach 12 screen theater with only 2 shows four-walled a day. In June 2002, Florida governor Jeb Bush wrote: "The First of May underscores the extraordinary level of filmmaking talent and expertise found in Florida. I congratulate Paul and his team for a job well done and encourage Floridians to tune in to HBO next week to see this wonderful family film."
Some of Mr. Haviland's other film credits can be found here on IMDB.com.
As a screenwriter, Mr. Haviland has been a QuarterFinalist in the Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting (sponsored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences), a 2-time SemiFinalist in the Chesterfield Writer's Film Project, a SemiFinalist in the Maui Writers Conference National Screenwriting Competition, a QuarterFinalist in the New Century Writer Awards, a Finalist in the People's Picture Show, a Finalist in the AAA Screenplay Contest (sponsored by Creative Screenwriting Magazine), a QuarterFinalist in the 2002 Screenwriting Expo (sponsored by Screenwriting Magazine), and a Quarterfinalist in the Zoetrope Screenplay Competition.
Mr. Haviland's fantasy short story "Change" was published in the book Pronto! Writings From Rome (Triple Tree: Sept 2002), along with New York Times bestselling authors Terry Brooks, John Saul and Dorothy Allison. His short story "The Reality Division" was published in Bad Ass Faeries 2: Just Plain Bad (Marietta Publishing: May 2008 and Mundania Press: October 2009), which won the 2009 Eppie award.
Mr. Haviland met his Taiwanese wife on the internet. His award winning true love story (at http://haviland.us) has been featured in the Japanese magazine Hiragana Times and at the Australian site LoveStory.au, and he and his wife were interviewed on KGAB live radio in Cheyenne, WY. They have three young boys: Forest, Sky and River.
Mr. Haviland has also worked in internet industry, being among the start-up staffs of the networks that became About.com and Mail.com. He manages the Haviland Genealogical Organization (http://havilands.org) and is a member of The Alden Kindred of America.
Right now he's probably at the movies.
The World's End (2013)
Normally I really enjoy movies written by Simon Pegg. I especially liked Shaun of the Dead and Paul. This movie really stumbled.
Remember that scene in Shaun of the Dead in which they decide the best thing to do is head toward a pub and defend themselves from the zombie horde from there? This movie makes that idea its central theme, changing the zombies into some sort of alien robots, and multiplying the pubs. That's it.
Paul had me laughing out loud every minute or two, and I never get tired of watching it. The World's End gave me just a couple of chuckles throughout the film. And I almost nodded off several times.
The setup before the robots appeared was too long and tedious, and after the robots appeared I couldn't quite understand why our characters kept running from pub to pub. And worse, I didn't much care.
It just wasn't silly enough, witty enough, or clever enough to hold my attention.
The Lone Ranger (2013)
$215 million just doesn't buy what it used to...
While there has been a lot of hype around The Lone Ranger being a major box office bomb, let's set the facts straight. As of the date of this review, it's made over $87 million. What we saw on screen couldn't have been worth more than $50 million at best, and I'm being polite. Deserts, cowboys on horseback, some trains... We've seen it all before. And it made $87 million. Not bad considering the plotting wasn't great and Tonto being over-baked to a crisp.
So why all the hype about it being a bomb? Because the studio proudly reported that they spent $215 million to make this movie.
WHAT??? Did they cut a massive special effects extravaganza out of the movie somewhere? How did they manage to spend $215 million on this? Where's the production value? They put a lot of work into the train SFX, especially train crash SFX, but I'm still not seeing $215 million worth. I'm not even seeing $100 million worth. I'm not even seeing $50 million worth.
But let's get back to the story.
There are two problems with the plotting and characterization of this movie. 1) Tonto is mentally unstable, rather than a loyal and brave guide for The Lone Ranger as he was intended to be. 2) The Lone Ranger didn't seem to have any outstanding skills, and wasn't even very sure of himself or what he should do. I expected them to dial up The Lone Ranger into an Indiana Jones type of character. I wanted to see him as a sharp-shooter who gets knocked down over and over but keeps coming back until he achieves his goal. 3) Silver, the horse, was turned into a sort of semi-mystical spirit creature, apparently capable of doing a few things horses normally can't do. I didn't much like introducing magic into world of The Lone Ranger. Why not throw some aliens in while we're at it? The movie wasn't completely without merit, but all in all, ho hum.
And $215 million dollars??
The Conjuring (2013)
Much better horror than the usual fare
There has been a lot of horror in the past 5 years. A lot of it seems to be in love with the "found footage" format which frankly is getting very tiring. I'm happy to see that not everyone thinks horror has to have a shaky first-person camera.
James Wan is a terrific horror director with very good instincts. He is old-school. I never caught Saw in a theater, because I'm not usually attracted to horrors that aren't fantasy (slasher-based horrors), with the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre being a rare exception. But when I did catch up to Saw I was struck by its wonderful suspense and plot twisting. I am surprised, however, that Wan's directing career took a long hiatus. It seems to be firing up better now.
Like the rest of Wan's work, The Conjuring has strong character and plot building, and careful camera work. I've seen so many horror movies that nothing really scares me anymore, and yet Wan's Insidious chilled me in a few scenes, so I was really looking forward to The Conjuring. While I didn't feel it was quite as scary for me as Insidious, it has its moments. Sure got some screams out of the audience! And that's what's fun about seeing horrors at the theater anyway.
The Conjuring is alleged to be based on a true story, and I really liked the attention Wan gave not just to the victims but to the investigators, weaving the personal lives of two families around the events in a classic haunted house.
I will always be looking out for another James Wan movie to see!
The Wolverine (2013)
Worth seeing for a deep dive into Wolverine
I appreciated this movie on a number of levels. For one, it tried to be different from its predecessors by not getting carried away by spectacle. I like epic super-hero movies but they don't all have to be that way. Sometimes they just need a little quiet time, to reflect on who they are and where they are going. For another, it maintained continuity with both X-Men Origins: Wolverine and X-Men III: The Last Stand, so that we don't feel like the filmmakers are re-inventing the character and thumbing what other directors have done with him.
This movie was introspective. Wolverine knows basically where he came from now. He joined Professor X but obviously didn't stick around the school. He suffers from chronic nightmares. And he suffers from a sense of purposelessness, which is what leads a lot of people to MDD (major depressive disorder) and suicide. But Wolverine doesn't age (at least not like most people), and heals so quickly that he's very hard to kill. What to do? The movie helps to reset him, to remind them that his fate is tied to a purpose. He just needs to stop moping around about his condition and own it.
Some of the action sequences are tremendous, especially the train. You don't have to knock down skyscrapers to have a breathtaking fight scene.
Hugh Jackman takes his role very seriously. He always trains for the part, and his physique is really killer now. Unlike other actors like Christian Bale, who give up interest in playing the same super-hero, Jackman has no problem returning to the role over and over and building something new out of it. He'll be back again for X-Men: Days of Future Past. He is the only actor to appear in all of the X-Men movies playing Wolverine, with only a few seconds in X-Men First Class (which itself was a great film, but with continuity problems otherwise), and it helps to tie the franchise together. (Days of Future Past is rumored to try to fix some of the continuity errors, but we'll see.) I am to the point that I want to see a Hugh Jackman movie, no matter what it is. He's arrived as a great action star.
Dreadfully unoriginal with MIB series as precedent
The movie might have been a little above average had the Men in Black and Ghostbusters movies never been made, but it wasn't quite as funny as either of those science fiction comedies.
This was no fault of the actors. Jeff Bridges always surprises me with his acting range.
But it's as though the the script was written by fanboys of MIB and Ghostbusters who wanted to do the same thing with their own characters.
The following points can describe both MIB and RIPD:
* A hidden company with a cool acronym recruits people to hunt down weird creatures. * An old, seasoned creature-hunter pairs up with an upstart rookie and sparks fly as they track clues toward a serious event about to take place. * Creatures are hiding amongst us an agency that hides "in plain sight" is tasked with controlling them.
Now let's look at similarities with Ghostbusters:
* A heroic group is tasked with capturing dead creatures. * Dead creatures are trying to take over our dimension, and it may spell doom for mankind. * Special technology is used to eliminate dead creatures.
All three are comedies, deal with some ridiculous but popular fantasy elements (ghosts, aliens), and have an entourage protagonist (a team rather than a single person).
RIPD tried to be funny within its niche, and managed to accomplish a chuckle here and there, but the rip-off of its predecessors was painful.
One might argue that rip-offs are normal in Hollywood fare. After all, how many modern zombie movies are basically inspired by Night of the Living Dead (which itself was probably inspired by Richard Matheson's I Am Legend, a book written 14 years earlier and struck the same basic theme and plot points)? But MIB cornered a particular style that RIPD so obviously copied, right down to the acronym itself, that it's hard to look past it.
All that aside, the movie was barely entertaining, and really not worth modern ticket prices. It'll be largely forgotten in a few years, and you'll be lucky to find the Blu-ray discs in the $1 bargain barrel at Best Buy.
Pacific Rim (2013)
Sappiness dragged down an otherwise cool concept
Ever since the original Gojira in 1954, a serious movie about a giant monster tearing down our civilized world, I've been hungry for an epic movie with the same treatment.
The wait goes on. And the reason is because the subject matter is rarely taken seriously. In fact movies of this ilk are intentionally goofy or tongue-in-cheek, and Pacific Rim is well within that range. It's as if the storytellers feel that there is no way to treat the subject matter in a serious way. After all, it's ridiculous to have giant monsters rise out of the sea and knock down buildings, right? So why not make movies about it that are just as ridiculous?
Really bad thinking.
All of the Godzilla movies made by Toho since the 1954 movie were dumbed down, made for kids. The Roland Emmerich Godzilla in 1998 was full of ham. Cloverfield was serious, but the found-footage hyper-POV format killed the epic, global flavor that I wanted.
I had high hopes for Pacific Rim, but I was very disappointed. The scientists really killed it. They were so ridiculous I was embarrassed every time they had a scene.
Also, Pacific Rim is as much about giant fighting robots as about the giant monsters. The movie began by summarizing an entire history wherein these creatures attacked us, with a few glimpses of them, and jumped forward to begin our story when we already were at war with them using giant robots. It rubs me the wrong way to tell stories in this manner, but I keep an open mind on a case-by-case basis. District 9 used that format, wherein it started long after the aliens have already arrived, rather than chronicling the arrival itself. But I was fine with it. But in Pacific Rim I felt like I was watching a sequel to a movie that was never made.
The battles between robot and monster were very hard to see. There was always darkness, pouring rain, splashing ocean water... I felt like I rarely got a good view of the monsters.
But all of that I would have forgiven if they had expunged it of sappy scientists acting like cocaine addicts and spouting things that made no sense.
I look forward to Gareth Edwards' Godzilla treatment next year to see if he finally breaks the trend.
World War Z (2013)
It was worth seeing, but was it worth making?
When I first saw the trailers for World War Z, I thought, "Seriously? More zombies?" Just when I thought the genre had been done to death. I figured the TV series The Walking Dead pretty much capped it. Can't get much better than that for a zombies-are-taking-over-the-world scenario, not because there is anything about the zombies that hasn't been done before, but because The Walking Dead is a very well scripted survival series with an excellent cast playing well developed characters.
I honestly had not read the novel on which this movie was based, itself a sequel. And I was quite surprised that there was a bidding war over the rights to it. Could it be really that different from everything else? Well, it's not remarkably different. There is nothing particularly unique about these zombies, or in the story. They have their own particular spin, and set of rules. They bite, and that spreads some kind of disease. Seen that before. They're quick. Seen that before too, but I think this is the most tireless I've ever seen them portrayed.
But they aren't technically zombies... That is, you don't have to die first, and they don't seem to be "eating" people, just biting them. It's more like a super-virus with zombie-like characteristics, infecting people extremely fast (within seconds), while they are still alive. Once zombified, the victim exerts energy that would make the world's greatest athletes jealous. They are fast, tireless, feel no pain or emotion, somewhat strong, and really hard to "kill." There is also a way to walk among the zombies without being attacked, which is slightly unique. In some zombie movies you just have to act like a zombie, or disguise yourself with zombie stench, but World War Z introduced its own take.
At any rate, it's a fast-moving plot with several visually spectacular sequences. Brad Pitt carries the film.
As a writer myself, I think the screenplay missed the opportunity to vastly increase tension. They should have kept his family on the bring of danger. Instead, his family was given relative safety. I wouldn't have done that. There is nothing more stressful to a father and husband than to put his children and wife in danger and keep him from helping them. This would have been much more suspenseful and emotionally engaging.
As it it was, it was a fun movie to watch, and while it didn't "redefine" the subgenre, it moved the needle a little bit by creating EXTREME zombie energy. (These guys are DESPERATE to bite people! They remind me of army ants blended with killer bees.) So it was worth seeing, but I have to wonder why it was worth making? Did the genre really need this? Was it worth the risk for Plan B (Pitt's company) to win the bidding war? Not so sure.
For Pitt's sake I hope it does well enough for him but I would sure like to sunset the zombie subgenre because I'm getting fairly tired of it.
The Purge (2013)
Questionable psychology, contrived plot, repetitive thrills
I almost never give any movies less than 5 stars unless the filmmakers clearly dismiss the art and science of movie storytelling (such as what you might find from the likes of Charles Band, Ed Wood, or Troma). Movies in which the filmmakers are trying but fail will get something from 4-6 stars from me.
Reviewers who give even movies like this "1 star" are abusing the rating system. To think that there could be no movies worse than this is ridiculous. Just watch the SyFy channel's original monster movies, like Mansquito. I dare you. The Purge does not rate at THAT level.
The Purge has a provocative idea: what if one day a year there was almost no law enforcement, so people were allowed to steal, commit violence, murder, rape, etc, without any police or legal interference? The movie takes that a step further and suggests that our culture evolves to promote this behavior as somehow patriotic, as it supposedly helped to rid our nation of violence for the rest of the year.
There are some precedents in history for barbaric annual festivals of this kind, but not to the effect that they created peace for the rest of the year.
The problem with the movie is that it misunderstands human psychology. The idea is that we all have a violent nature, and that violence in any culture can be attributed to our need to vent that nature, as if it were pressure building up in us like a tea kettle. This is not the case.
While every human has the capacity for violence, this is quite different from having a drive to be violent, even if the situation presents itself. There are some interesting studies on mob behavior, which has a bizarre counter-active effect on typical individual personality and behavior. And I think there is a genetic disposition toward competition, which is what drives people to love sports. And there are some who have a desire to hunt, which is mainly an echo from the millions of years of human survival strategy, especially before we learned how to farm. But it is not correct to presuppose that most humans would choose to go out and commit extreme recreational violence and harm against others, even murder, just to support a national holiday or purge themselves of some instinctive pressure to be violent.
Cultures that exhibit wanton violence are the result of being taught that violence is expected or required of them from a very early age. Vikings and Spartans are well known examples of such societies. A misguided and hateful culture can steer collective human behavior for some time before it is "normalized." Surely the Nazis have shown how dangerous this can be.
But without cultural pressure, humans have a high capacity for feeling shame. I think more than any other organism, possibly in Earth's history, humans indulge in a sort of psychological self-flagellation, a self-loathing that extends not just to one's self but one's gender, one's country, even one's race. I am hearing people complaining that humans are evil rubbish, comparing us to viruses (which is ironic considering how successful viruses are, and how most viruses are harmless and some have even contributed to the evolutionary advancement of life), and that we deserve to be "wiped out" before we "destroy the planet." People with these feelings might envision a movie like this as being completely accurate. In fact, they prove the movie is not - because self shame would neutralize self-indulgent violence toward others. Most humans who are not sociopathic also have a tendency toward high empathy, not only to other humans but to other creatures. This also tilts the balance toward non-violence.
The movie, as shown in the trailers, attempted to demonstrate a family that did not choose to participate in this festival. They hunkered down to ride out the storm. But the point of the movie seems to be that a majority of people seem to choose violence because they feel it helps them and helps society for the rest of the year. Not just violence but weird, psychotic behavior.
(If you wait to the credits you'll hear the suggestion that Dallas, Texas has the highest number of participants. A thinly veiled political stab?) I am growing ever-so-tired of Hollywood's cock-eyed perception that the "upper class" is made up of unsympathetic, selfish, elitist bigots. It's almost as tiresome as the idea that the military is nothing but a legal mob of evil warmongers, and that our democratic republic is a group of rights-violating conspirators intending to take advantage of the "underprivileged." These clichés are overused and their logic is unimpressive. At least The Purge chose main characters who were among that so-called "upper-class" who do not behave that way. Had they been some poor family fighting to survive attacks by the rich, I would have dropped the movie to four stars... Maybe three.
Shoving all that aside and looking at it as a popcorn movie, there are other problems. The plot was too contrived, and full of thriller clichés.
Example: do you remember a moment from any movie in which an important character is about to be killed by a bad guy, but suddenly the bad guy is killed in the last second, saving our hero's life? I'll bet you've seen that dozens of times over the last 20 years, right? Well in The Purge you'll see it not once, not twice, but at least three times! Even a new untested screenwriter shouldn't be making mistakes like that.
I could go on. The point is: this movie is made up of gratuitous well-worn thrills based on a spurious psychology.
I would pass on this one.
The Internship (2013)
Cute, fun, a little tedious
With Bathroom Humor Comedies (Adam Sandler movies, The Hangover, etc) and RomComs being the usual comedic fair at the box office these days, it's refreshing to find a comedy that stands outside of that tiresome trend.
The Internship was a cute movie that certainly has its chuckles. Google is actually a very odd work environment, and the movie makes good points about the depressed state of our modern employment climate for young and old alike. I think the movie tried a little TOO hard to polarize a traditional salesman with the high tech digital age, and some of the Vince Vaughn joke sequences seemed to get a bit tedious. But he played it so seriously that the overall effect was still amusing.
The Vaughn / Wilson pair were VERY sufficiently embarrassing with their overzealous attempts at being team players in projects they didn't understand, and as I have worked deep in the internet business since 1996 I cringed harder than the Google interns who tried to cope with them. I was already a Director level manager in the internet when Google was just being founded, so I've watched the company grow from the ground up, and eventually sponge up the mega-companies that produced my primary worktools (such as Doubleclick). Having been interviewed for management level jobs at Google I can vouch that they can crawl up your ying-yang about your academic record, even if it's from the 80's and you have over a decade of real quality experience to replace it. I've been interviewed by Facebook, Yahoo and Amazon too, and only Facebook can take after Google in this way. It creates the perception of being the Mensa Society of the digital world - pretentious, exclusive, and only for IQ's higher than 170.
That is not really the case, strictly speaking, but there is a culture there of self-importance that the movie bounced our heroes off of, and it worked for some laughs.
All in all it was an enjoyable matinée break, but I probably won't be getting it on Blu-ray.
Mermaids: The Body Found (2011)
questionable Mockumentary ethics
This mockumentary was successful enough to inspire a recently released sequel: "Mermaids: The New Evidence," a talkshow followup featuring various pseudo "viral videos" and "leaked videos" of incidents that help to support the myth.
This is a fictional documentary special about the story of a scientist and his team stumbling upon "evidence" supporting the "Aquatic Ape" theory, which purports that a branch of ancient human returned to the ocean, and that we are a near-branch of those creatures that still carry apparent aquatic features.
The idea is provocative because it is not at all outside the realm of scientific feasibility for ancient humans to have returned to the oceans, just as the ancestors of whales and dolphins did. But just because it's a feasible notion, that doesn't mean we need to consider that it may have happened. The problem is that aquatic mammals are air-breathers, and therefore need to surface with at least enough frequency that, with the ever-growing human population, it's extremely unlikely for them to escape direct evidence that they are alive. There is nothing in the fossil record supporting such creatures either. And finally, there is no reason any government around the world would want to suppress evidence of such creatures, any more than a new species of land primate or a new species of dolphin.
I must digress for a moment, so that this kind of program is placed in context.
Animal Planet, like any non-premium television channel, is in the business of advertising. That is how they make most of their revenues, and all content in between the commercials is a sales gimmick to attract an audience to watch the advertising. Even a news broadcast is a gimmick, though it runs by a certain code that at least pretends to be objective, and is further governed by laws such as "freedom of the press." Therefore, any television content can be manipulated to maximize interest in it, either by creative editing, creative writing, or creative visuals, or any combination thereof. It is folly to see television as a reflection of reality. It is not at all the same as personal experience. But television producers and the technology at their disposal are getting more and more clever at blurring the line between entertainment and reality. The precocious radio / television / film actor / producer, Orson Welles, created a live radio play in 1938 inspired by H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds that came across as a news broadcast, and accidentally tricked lots of people into a panic thinking Martians were really invading. This demonstrated the power of mass media vs the gullibility of humans to confuse what they see and hear on media with reality.
Mermaids: The Body Found, and Mermaids: The New Evidence, explore the same territory by mixing various known scientific paradigms with fake interviews, fake footage, labeled live action reenactments, and CGI dramatizations. The network's interest is simply in ratings. But what of the producers? I believe one motivation of the producers is simply to find a creative way to protest military testing in the ocean that can harm marine life, in particularly sonar testing which many believe is proved to link to the mass beaching of marine mammals. The producers needed to find a way to draw mass interest in their protest. So they devised a gimmick to propose that there could be very important undiscovered life in the ocean that is being damaged by this testing.
However I feel they crossed the line, and may have shot themselves in the foot. For one thing, by creating a fake documentary and passing it off as a real one, it creates distrust that anything in the show has any basis in fact at all. Call it the "cry wolf" syndrome.
Secondly, and more importantly, in their fake documentary they create an atmosphere of animosity toward our government - claiming that our government and military agencies stole evidence, harassed witnesses, and interfered with their programming. It is one thing to scream "fire" when this kind of thing happens for real, and to protest testing that may be very damaging to the environment. But to make up government "cover-ups" and pretend it's real, and distribute that on a channel that passes itself off as an educational outlet for all ages, is in my opinion unethical, irritating, and dangerous.
If my pre-teen kids watch this show along side genuine nature programming, they can walk away feeling angry toward our government for something it isn't doing - covering up evidence of something important. Or they could walk away not believing the entire thing - dismissing something the military may be doing that it should not be.
While one can argue that a mockumentary like this challenges our youngsters to think critically, teaching them to discern what is real and what is not, I tend to think it actually does quite the opposite.