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The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
Nothing New To Offer
Okay, this definitely had effort put in it, which is more than you can say for other bad movies. This was, indeed, a bad movie (and I do mean baaaaaad), but at the same time, it wasn't god-awful. The acting wasn't horrible, the screenplay wasn't terrible, and the killers weren't cheesy or over-the-top. But it was still bad. The villains are a good place to start. The problem with most post-Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1970's version) villains is that they are Leatherface with a different mask. This includes everyone from 1977's The Hills Have Eyes to Friday the 13th to Halloween. This version of the Texas Chain Saw Massacre, while being fundamentally faithful to the original villain, could have attempted a more creative villain. The other villains had little in common with the original. They were not extremely poorly written, but there was not enough to them to make them their own characters, unlike in the original. (I would like to take this moment to point out the fact that I am not just bashing this movie for being unlike the original. I did actually see the remake before the original.) The list of clichés was increased beyond what was established in the original. Which I hated. It made the film become extremely predictable, which lowered the scare factor substantially. There were several character alterations in this film and I have mixed feelings about them. In the original, the hitchhiker was a member of the family that attempted to kill the travelers. In this one, the hitchhiker was a victim who commits suicide in the van. I was not a fan of this change because I felt like this change was made only to increase the gore in the movie rather than for any significant plot movements. However, I did appreciate the fact that there was a police officer who was a member of the family. Even as its own movie (disregarding the original version entirely) this remake has nothing new to offer to the audiences. The characters are stereotypical and the actors are relatively wooden, if not terrible actors. There is little action worth watching and not much happens that is outside the audience's expectation. This isn't the worst movie ever made. It isn't even the worst remake ever made. But it is still a very bad movie. 4/10
Dante's Peak (1997)
There Is No Suspense
Dante's Peak is a below average disaster movie that benefits from the great on screen personalities from Pierce Brosnan and Linda Hamilton, but suffers from... virtually everything else.
Actually, I'll begin by saying that the everything regarding the erupting volcano looked really cool (except for all of the miniature cars that had no one in it and were obvious models). From the prophylactic clouds to the running lava to the way the earthquake sequences were shot, the erupting volcano looked really cool.
But it only *looked* cool. This film is so incredibly predictable that there is no suspense throughout this movie whatsoever. The audience gets a good taste of every conceivable archetype that could appear. A boss who's underplaying everything and acts as the films "villain," an expert no one will listen to, the stubborn old woman who won't leave her home even when it's three minutes away from burning down, the token children who are already one inch away from death...
And the scientific inaccuracies are astounding, which includes a truck that *drives* *over* *lava*. If cars could do that as easily as it was in that particular scene, there wouldn't be much need in leaving, would there? Nothing unpredictable happens in the film. All of the good guys live, anyone who was "bad" or "stubborn" dies.
The highlight of the film was Pierce Brosnan, who seems to be too good to even be in the film. He doesn't give what I would consider to be a "powerhouse" performance, but compared to all of the other relatively lazy acting that appears in the film, it's easy to view his performance as being exceptionally awesome.
At the end of the day, Dante's Peak is nothing special. There's little to offer audiences, and there's no original thoughts in this movie.
The Bucket List (2007)
I Am Rarely So Displeased
The Bucket List was an astonishing disappointment for me. Casual viewers may be pleased, but anyone searching for in-depth filmmaking or any kind of emotional response that goes beyond the guiltless emotional milking of the subject matter will be genuinely let down.
That's what really made me mad about this movie. The filmmakers seemed to believe that as long as they promoted the idea behind this picture--two men living out their greatest dreams before they die--they didn't even have to try.
Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson very rarely give bad performances, however, and this movie was no different. The best decision the filmmakers made was the casting decisions of Freeman and Nicholson, two actors guaranteed to give one hundred percent every time. They make the film worth watching, but they can't save the film from being completely forgettable for me.
The director, as I said before, seemed like he wasn't even really trying. He gives us hardly any time to watch these two magnificent actors get to know each other before thrusting them into airplanes and racecars. The movie feels like a horrible cut and paste job as we are simply moved from one location to another with very little time to become acquainted with what's going on in each scene. It's like the the director said "Screw it; it's inspiring, and don't try to deny it." I felt no emotional connection to these characters. They were just haphazardly moving through the picture with little to no direction being put into the scenes they were in.
I was told prior to going to this movie that it was suppose to be a comedy, but I never really laughed during this movie. There were a couple of jokes, but nothing out of the ordinary. And I couldn't help but wonder why I was suppose to find this subject matter funny to begin with. Two old men are dying. Yes, very funny.
The screenplay is equally half-baked. I think that there was virtually no effort put into this picture. The actors showed effort, sure. But the director, screenwriter, and even editor all seemed to not really care how the scenes were put together. Again, they were just overly reliant on the subject matter to sell the film.
The only part of the movie that really stuck out to me as being genuine was toward the end, concerning the joke about Nicholson's coffee and they are able to cross "Laugh until you cry" off their bucket list. Everything else just seemed to revolve around visiting places, which is nice, but it's not like they really did anything when they got there. There was just so little about this movie that seemed genuine.
Everything had to be forced or fabricated. I am rarely so displeased with a motion picture. But my biggest problem with The Bucket List is how forgettable it was. I saw this in theatres when it came out. For a couple months after that, there was some talk about the picture. But all of that died down very quickly and it wasn't really brought up anymore after that, and I even completely forgot about it. I think that because there was so much Hollywood bullshit thrown at the audience from this picture that it ends up leaving no real lasting impact on them. It's nothing new, really. The message is just "live life to the fullest before you die," which can be found in pretty much every other movie made before this one, but was never quite as literal as here. Clichéd, half-a**ed, forgettable, and completely unmoving, this is not a movie I recommend for anyone looking for any kind deep meaning from a movie.
The Robots Were Astonishingly Bland
I found myself liking the first third of Transformers and being completely disengaged with the film after that.
I think that the best choice Michael Bay has made in his entire film career was putting Shia LaBeouf in the lead role of this film. I'm not going to swear to this, but I felt like he was improvising at least half of his dialogue. Which is great, because the screenplay was not very interesting at all. I found myself enjoying everything that LaBeouf's characters said more than any other part of the movie. He's funny, quirky, and, surprisingly, a decent actor. I first saw his work in Holes and then again in Disturbia. I must say that I feel like LaBeouf is on his way to making some really excellent work in the future.
Megan Fox, on the other hand, was less than satisfying. Everyone has been talking about how pretty she is and, yes, I think that's the only reason she was in the film. Her character was completely unnecessary to the story and could have been taken out entirely. But, instead, the audience gets about a thousand shots of her "looking hot" and very few shots of her actually doing anything important with the story. Still, even though I don't think she's a very good actress, I had to admit that her acting was still much better than Liv Tyler's in Armageddon or Kate Beckinsale's in Pearl Harbor. She's not a *bad* actress, but she doesn't offer any meat to the story beyond being a love interest for LaBeouf's character.
As for the character development in general, I didn't see any. Unsurprisingly. I didn't expect any, and I didn't get any. But, here's my biggest issue with that: these robots should be interesting. But they aren't. These robots probably make up for most of my criticism with this film. The special effects were really good (*really* good), but the robots were astonishingly bland. And I thought they looked ugly. Believe it or not, I thought there was *too* *much* detail to them. There were so many chunks of metal sticking off of them that it made them all hard to recognize. Yes, that was a big complaint I had with the film. Except for two of the robots, they all looked the same! I had no idea what robots I should be rooting for during the fight scenes. I felt like they all were Megatron fighting Megatron. The only two robots I could recognize were the yellow one and Optimus Prime. And that's only because they were different colors from the other robots. I mean, this was not a very good-*looking* film. That surprised me, because Bay's films are at least fairly decent with the art direction, but not here. The colors were too saturated in some places, but not when it came to the robots. And, like I said, all the robots looked the same to me.
And I wasn't very impressed with the action sequences either. I felt like there wasn't enough coherence to it. It was a lot of stomping around and not a whole lot of anything else. And the action starts about halfway through the movie and doesn't stop until the film's over. The rest of the characters in this movie, apart from LaBeouf and the robots, didn't really serve a purpose for the story. There were a few characters who I didn't even know why they were getting screen time. The movie dips in and out of the main plot line at a ridiculous rate. There's an interrogation scene for two characters. I was confused because I had no idea what purpose they were serving. I didn't know why the scene was even in the film.
If I had to sum up Transformers, it would be that there was a lot of decent effects surrounding incoherent action sequences, ugly robots that looked the same, useless characters, little plot, cheap dialogue, and not much else. This is Michael Bay's best film, but that's not saying much since I hated his other films.
The Proposal (2009)
Nothing Special At All
In my review of The Break-Up, I expressed my frustration at modern romantic comedies. This one is that exactly. I mean, this movie feels like the stereotypical romantic comedy. More formulaic than just about any film that I've ever seen.
After awhile, I started getting the same feeling that I did when I saw Prom Night: I was calling out what was going to happen next thirty minutes before it happened. It got quite annoying. There's a scene for an obvious setup for a gag in which Bullock and Reynolds end up in the same room without seeing each other and both get naked to take a shower. It's such an obvious setup for "hilarious misunderstanding" that I wanted to turn off the film. And the film is *so* predictable. They force themselves with each other but then *gasp!* they start falling for each other. I mean, *who* could have seen *that* coming?!
As for the performances, they were nothing special at all. I thought Reynolds did okay, but his character was entirely uninteresting to me. As for Bullock, she was bad. She wasn't Kristen-Stewart-bad, but she was still worse than I've ever seen her before. She just seems so lazy with it, as if she didn't really care about the picture. Sandra Bullock played an executive type character who will be kicked back to Canada from whence she came, so she must marry to stay in the country and with her job.
But here was a *huge* problem I had with the movie: why did that guy *care* if they were really in love or not? A marriage is a marriage, dude, so calm down. It's not like they were forging the marriage, so what is going to matter if she just does it to stay in the USA? I did not like The Proposal much at all. Of course, I liked Betty White, but that's because she was Betty White. And even she was subjected to some really lame setups.
The Proposal wasn't total crap, but it's devotion to formula is what made me so frustrated by it. It might have had some potential if the filmmakers had bothered to do anything new with the film, but they didn't bother. No effort put into story, so no effort by me to be entertained.
Clash of the Titans (2010)
No Effort At All Had Been Put Into It
A severe disappointment. To be honest, I could only expect this one to be a movie with "great visuals, but weak story," but I was unprepared for just how bad this movie was.
My first huge complaint with this movie is with Sam Worthington and the character he plays. Worthington seems to be making a point to play overly bland characters. In Avatar, he played a character who's part could have been covered by anyone--literally anyone, with the movie's CGI his role could have been filled by an ape--and Worthington didn't bring anything to the table. In Clash of the Titans, he brings less than nothing to the table. His performance is so wooden and his character is so bland, that I was more interested in Medusa, who has no lines and is only in fifteen minutes of the movie, than his character, Perseus. I couldn't get over how bland his character was; I just kept thinking to myself "Wow. I didn't realize Perseus was so boring." But Worthington wasn't the only bland character in this movie. Liam Neeson (Schindler's List, Star Wars I, Batman Begins) and Ralph Fiennes (Schindler's List, Harry Potter 4 & 5, Red Dragon) I can usually trust to give great performances and were the main reasons I decided to give this picture a chance. To my great astonishment, not only do both actors portray boring characters, but both actors are just so bad. Liam Neeson keeps putting weird inflections into everything he says and Ralph Fiennes plays half of the movie with this annoying hoarse voice and sounding like he wants to get up a fur ball.
And then there's the movie's dialogue. Again, I wasn't looking for anything particularly phenomenal; just competence. The dialogue was so stilted and so bad that I was hoping that the last hour of the movie would be played in silence. It wasn't the worse dialogue I've ever heard; if it had that probably would have been fun to listen to. The dialogue was just so mediocre--as though no effort at all had been put into it--that it really gave me pain to listen to it.
Usually in these kinds of films, they can make up for a lot of their short comings with good action. Not in Clash of the Titans. The action scenes are thrown haphazardly together and sometimes you can't even tell what's going on because the director made the awful choice of using shaky-cam while filming the intense action sequences. I felt like I was watching Cloverfield again, but in Cloverfield you were supposed to not know exactly what was going on, but you did get enough information to know. Here, you get nothing. At one point, Perseus jumps out of a giant scorpion's back. I guess I missed how he got in there in the first place because that part utterly confused me.
The one scene in the movie that I really did like was the fight with Medusa. Not only was the director actually able to balance the action scenes right, but the character of Medusa was really fun to watch. Other than that, there really wasn't anything else in the movie that grasped my attention that well. A lot of the scenes were directed poorly and some of them served absolutely no purpose. And some characters are treated the same way. There are two characters who--I think--were meant to be our comedy relief. But they get hardly any screen time, leave halfway through the movie, and make one 4 second appearance toward the end of the film, but aren't mentioned after that. They did seem like some vaguely interesting characters, claiming they knew exactly how to kill such creatures as centaurs. I would have liked to get to know more about them, but they're hardly given any time on screen after that.
Clash of the Titans was an interesting experience with some pretty cool visuals, but the direction, acting, screenplay, and characters were so badly conceived that the film ends up leaving no impression of any kind on the audience, except, perhaps, that this was a complete waste of time.
Edward Zwick Is Not A Skilled Director
There is little to nothing that distinguishes Defiance from every other WWII and Holocaust film I have ever seen. Less than that, in fact. It rips off greater films and offers nothing new to the table.
But the performances in Defiance were worthy of attention. Daniel Craig and Liev Schreiber play a pair of brothers who have decided to not be part of the body count left in the wake of the Nazis' decimation. Their performances are strong and come from a pair of actors who have given a lot into their roles. And I would say that most of the actors in this film follow that, in spite of the little characterization given out of the screenplay written by Clayton Frohman and Edward Zwick. I refuse to believe that the story from which they based their screenplay had such poor character development. I wanted to know something about the characters who were fighting for their lives, but we got very little of that. And what we did get was unsatisfactory. This was a film that was far more interested in giving the "uplifting message" rather than giving audiences a decent story.
And nothing shows that more than the extremely obvious similarities between this film and Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan, two vastly superior films. There is even a moment during one of the battle scenes in which the commanding character has a bomb go off by his head and the film starts going in slow motion. That scene is almost a shot-by-shot rip off of Saving Private Ryan.
The one part of the film that truly impressed me was the music. I loved the soundtrack of this film. The music was easily the best part of the movie, and I wish the rest had matched that. But it didn't. Director Edward Zwick is not a skilled director. When he is not stealing material from Steven Spielberg's films, he is taking inspirational speech scenes directly from Braveheart, even putting in the extra effort in allowing the commander to ride a horse during the speech, even though I'm pretty sure the character does not ride the horse for the rest of the picture.
Does Defiance have anything to offer audiences? Not in the slightest. Are there qualities of this movie worthy of attention? Not really. Does this movie do anything to truly make itself its own film with its own story? Unsatisfactorily, no.
Pocahontas is very possibly Disney's worst creation. This movie has two (count them: two) redeeming qualities. 1: The music is pretty cool. Not astounding, not amazing (it doesn't even come close to The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, or even freaking Aladdin), but pretty cool. 2: The animation is nice to watch. Again, not astounding, not amazing (nowhere near as cool as The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, or freaking Aladdin), but it is a high point of the film. Other than that, it blows.
The biggest problem with the movie is that it pretty much takes US history and Native American history and rapes it. Pocahontas, instead of being like 13, is a full 18. Why? So she can have a love affair (something too often milked by Disney) with John Smith, whom is basically worshipped in this movie. Granted, I don't think historical accuracy should make or break a film, but here, it's WAY off. It's like if a movie depicted George Washington with superhuman strength. We kill Native Americans for gold, Pocahontas and John Smith communicate through freaking *magic*, and coastal Virginia is abundant in cliffs. Cliffs!
And it's also saying something if I didn't even find this movie very entertaining when I was younger. Not because of the historical inaccuracies, but because it's just stupid. The characters are bland as sh*t, all of the parts concerning magic are nonsensical, and the storyline is wholly undeserving of its "epic" depiction. I put the word "epic" in quotes because even though they did try to make it look epic, at the end of the day, it just didn't happen.
So, Pocahontas's biggest problem is that it's stupid. I feel like the filmmakers never bothered to read any history or anything about this subject. At all. And the characters are dull, the voice actors aren't really all that interesting, and the dialogue is pretty much worthless. Not Disney's best endeavor. Very possibly Disney's worst.
I asked the library for Halloween. I expected the original. I got the remake. I hate the library for that now.
The first forty-five minutes of the film were honestly not that bad. I kind of enjoyed watching young Michael Meyers kill his family and slip into madness. I mean, it was nothing brilliant by any stretch of the imagination, but if the movie had continued along this path, it might have been at least tolerable. But the movie starts slipping drastically into extremely-sucky territory once the kid stops talking and grows up.
We also enter cliché land just as quickly. I think the most clichéd moment was when Meyers went back to his old house to retrieve the mask the audience recognizes as synonymous with the character.
Then we had the annoyance of watching a bunch of teens die while having sex. And I'm talking every teenager who has sex in this movie dies within the next five minutes. Tops.
The ending got me the most. I don't want to give away what happens, so I'll just say that Meyers should have died, but turns out he didn't and started a chase scene that continued for the next twenty minutes. I wish I was making that up. A twenty minute chase scene.
Of course, he doesn't kill the final girl. Yes, they even include the final girl into the list of clichés. I'd worry about giving that away, but I don't think anyone would be surprised.
This movie was terrible. Absolutely terrible. As soon as I see the original, I will review that. Maybe it will be better.
Prom Night (2008)
Predictable And Not Scary
This movie is as frightening and stale as left over cabbage. The acting isn't too bad... But the screenplay is terrible, clichéd, and predictable. I could literally call out what would happen before it happened. 30 minutes ahead of time.
The killer was actually a fairly interesting (if rather pointless) character. The emphasis could have been more on him instead of Snow's character. Although, that still would not have been nearly enough to save this monstrosity of a motion picture.
Its biggest problem, besides being predictable and not scary, was that the story line was completely uninteresting. I didn't give a rat's ass if these characters lived or died anyway. I guess that's what makes this a slasher film.
There's absolutely nothing to this movie. A bunch of horny teens go dancing in a hotel on prom night. A guy with a knife comes along and kills some of them. End of story.
This movie is awful and one of the worst movies I had the displeasure of seeing in theatres.