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0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Definitely doesn't live up to Tim Burton's best (in the slightest)., 5 October 2016


Tim Burton's new dark fantasy adventure, based on the 2011 young adult novel (of the same name) by Ransom Riggs. Burton directed the film, and Jane Goldman (a frequent writing collaborator of director Matthew Vaughn) wrote the screenplay. It tells the story of a boy that travels to a mysterious orphanage (on a Welsh island), after his grandfather is horrifically killed, that's filled with peculiar (but very gifted) children. The film stars Eva Green, Asa Butterfield, Ella Purnell, Samuel L. Jackson, Chris O'Dowd, Terence Stamp, Judi Dench and Allison Janney. It's received mixed reviews from critics, and it underperformed at the Box Office (due to it's $110 million budget). I enjoyed it, but it definitely doesn't live up to Tim Burton's best (in the slightest).

Jake's grandfather, Abraham (Stamp), has been telling Jacob (Butterfield) stories about a magical place, filled with kids with special powers, since he was a very young boy. He also told him about vicious monsters with tentacles, that Abraham had to fight (as a child), and a beautiful headmistress, named Miss Peregrine (Green), that watched over the gifted children. Miss Peregrine is a Ymbryne, according to Abraham (in his stories), which can change into a bird and control time. The children's powers ranged from turning invisible, to controlling air. After Abraham is mysteriously (and very violently) killed, Jake (who's now 16-years- old) travels to the mysterious place, on an island off the coast of Wales, with his father Franklin (O'Dowd). Once there, Jacob learns that the stories are all true!

The movie (like all of Tim Burton's work) is visually stunning, and quite beautiful to watch. There might be a little too much CGI, for some people's tastes, but I still enjoyed it. The film is very dark, violent (especially for a kids' movie) and weird (like all of Tim Burton's films); and that's why I liked it as well. It's also got plenty of action, and fascinating characters. While the performances are all good (especially the always amazing Eva Green), the characters are slightly underdeveloped though; and the drama is a bit forced (and lacking any true emotion). The story is also a little too complicated, and somewhat hard to follow. It's far from a perfect movie, but it is entertaining; it's definitely better than Burton's last couple films.

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Masterminds (2016/I)
The script might have read a lot funnier, but most of the delivery just doesn't work., 5 October 2016

'MASTERMINDS': Three Stars (Out of Five)

A heist comedy based on the actual events of the Loomis Fargo robbery (in 1997, North Carolina). The film was directed by Jared Hess (of 'NAPOLEON DYNAMITE' fame); and it was written by Chris Bowman, Hubbel Palmer and Emily Spivey. It stars Zach Galifianakis, Kristen Wiig, Owen Wilson, Jason Sudeikis, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Mary Elizabeth Ellis, Jon Daly, Devin Ratray and Ken Marino (that includes three-fourths of the new 'GHOSTBUSTERS' cast). The movie bombed at the Box Office, and it got mostly poor reviews from critics. Given all of the talent involved, I found it to be pretty disappointing.

David Ghantt (Galifianakis) is an unhappy armored truck driver. He's sick of his job, and about to marry a woman he doesn't love (McKinnon). The only thing that excites him, in his boring life, is his flirtatious coworker Kelly Campbell (Wiig). David has a huge crush on Kelly, and would pretty much do anything she asked him to. So when her, and her criminal friends, ask him to rob the company he works for, David can't say no.

The movie is sweet, mildly amusing, and sporadically funny. I love almost all of the actors involved (especially Sudeikis), and their characters are all mostly likable (even the bad guys). I don't think Galifianakis makes a good leading man though, he's much better in supporting roles, and the movie probably would have been better with it's original lead (Jim Carrey). Still, it's not Galifianakis's fault either. Hess is a talented (and very quirky) director, but he missed the mark here. The script might have read a lot funnier, but most of the delivery just doesn't work.

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2 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
One of the most memorable films I've probably ever seen!, 5 October 2016

'NEON DEMON': Five Stars (Out of Five)

Nicolas Winding Refn's newest masterpiece, about a young aspiring model trying to make it in L.A.'s blood thirsty modeling world. Refn directed and co-wrote the movie; with Mary Laws and Polly Stenham. It stars Elle Fanning, Jena Malone, Bella Heathcote, Abbey Lee, Karl Glusman, Christina Hendricks, Desmond Harrington, Alessandro Nivola and Keanu Reeves. The film received very polarizing reviews from critics (like nearly all of Refn's movies do), and it was a bomb at the Box Office (also like nearly all of his other films). I loved it!

16-year-old Jesse (Fanning) moves to Los Angeles with dreams of becoming a famous model. Her parents passed away, and she's having to make it in the big city alone. Once there, she meets an aspiring photographer, named Dean (Glusman), who takes pictures of her, for her portfolio, and begins to date her. Everyone Jesse meets sees something special in her (in her appearance that is), and she has no problems getting modeling gigs. This causes a lot of jealousy among the other models, which makes it a very dangerous business for Jesse to fit into. As the film shows us, the modeling world is extremely cutthroat; and people will eat each other alive just to make it (figuratively, and perhaps literally).

The movie, like all of Refn's films, is definitely not for everyone; it's the type of flick that most people will either love or hate (that's why it's reviews are so polarizing). I loved it. It's definitely disturbing, gross, messed up, bizarre, and completely insane; but I love all of those things (in movies, that is). It's stylistically awesome; and it's filled with mesmerizing visuals, and an awesome soundtrack (which is very nostalgic, 80s sounding electronic music). The film is reminiscent of David Lynch's 80's work (but better); and it also feels like a much darker (and more messed up) 'BLACK SWAN' (but better). The movie also has great (and very insightful) commentary on the looks obsessed society we all live in; which is a topic I'm very much interested in (having always been made fun of for my unique appearance). It's something that a lot of people deny, but nearly everyone is guilty of (either in a knowing, or unconscious way). I don't buy that Elle Fanning is the most beautiful woman around (she's not my type, besides the fact that she's way too young), but she plays the part well. Jena Malone, Bella Heathcote and Abbey Lee are all scene-stealers though; and I read that Malone helped Refn improvise a lot of the film, including one really messed up sex scene. Of course Refn's direction, and his co-written script, are masterful as well. It's one of the most memorable films I've probably ever seen!

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Not enough character development to really care about the characters, but technically well made., 4 October 2016

'DEEPWATER HORIZON': Three and a Half Stars (Out of Five)

The new disaster flick about the 2010 Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explosion (which also caused a humongous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico); the catastrophe is the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history (which also killed 11 workers, and injured 17 more). The movie stars Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell, Gina Rodriguez, Dylan O'Brien, John Malkovich, Kate Hudson and Ethan Suplee. It was directed by Peter Berg; who's also teamed with Wahlberg on the 2013 war film 'LONE SURVIVOR', and the upcoming historical disaster flick 'PATRIOTS DAY'. The script was written by Matthew Sand and Matthew Michael Carnahan; it was based on the The New York Times' article 'Deepwater Horizon's Final Hours' (written by David Barstow, David S. Rohde and Stephanie Saul). Due to it's $156 million budget, the film is a pretty big disappointment at the Box Office; but it has done well with critics. I'd say it's about as good a film as I expected it to be.

The true story takes place on April 20, 2010; on the oil rig Deepwater Horizon (about 40 miles from the Louisiana coast). The drilling unit was owned by Transocean, and drilling for BP. The blowout, and explosion (on the rig that day), caused it to burn and sink; and release thousands of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. This film focuses on some of the 120 crew members, that were on board; including Mike Williams (Wahlberg), Jimmy Harrell (Russell), Andrea Fleytas (Rodriguez) and Caleb Holloway (O'Brien).

The film is technically impressive, and it's well made. Berg is a talented director, at making this type of movie, and Wahlberg and Russell are great at acting in them. Although the performances are good, I don't think there's enough character development to really care about the characters. So the movie is not nearly as emotional as it wants to be. I also think spending $156 million on a film like this is ridiculous; how did the producers ever think they were going to make their money back?! It is intense, and suspenseful though.

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I'd never want to sit through watching it again., 3 October 2016

'LOVE & FRIENDSHIP': Three Stars (Out of Five)

A period comedy, based on Jane Austen's 1794 novel 'Lady Susan' (with a borrowed title from her 1790 juvenile story 'Love and Friendship'). The movie is about a beautiful young widow, that's trying to find rich husbands, for her daughter and herself, in the 1790s. It stars Kate Beckinsale, Chloe Sevigny, Morfydd Clark, Tom Bennett, Xavier Samuel and Stephen Fry. It was written and directed by Whit Stillman; who's also helmed other female empowered comedies, like 2011's 'DAMSELS IN DISTRESS' and 1998's 'THE LAST DAYS OF DISCO' (which also starred Beckinsale and Sevigny). The movie has received almost unanimously positive reviews from critics, and it's been a modest hit at the Box Office as well. I found it to be mildly amusing.

Lady Susan Vernon (Beckinsale) is a stunningly beautiful, and quite clever, woman, who's husband recently passed away (at a fairly young age). When rumors start to spread around, about her recent sexual activities, Lady Susan moves herself, and her daughter Frederica (Clark), into her in-laws' estate. While there, she relentlessly attempts to find rich husbands, for both her daughter and herself. More rumors arise, about the extremely cunning widow.

I found the film to be pretty boring, at first, as I often do with this type of period drama (or comedy). It does get more entertaining, and funny, as it goes along though. Beckinsale is once again gorgeous to watch, and she also gives a good performance too. Bennett is a scene-stealer, and hilarious as well. The movie definitely has it's strengths, but I'd never want to sit through watching it again.

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Buddymoon (2016)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
I can't believe how much David Giuntoli reminds me of Bradley Cooper!, 3 October 2016

'BUDDYMOON': Four Stars (Out of Five)

An indie comedy about a former child star hiking through the mountains of Oregon, with his best friend; a trek inspired by the Lewis and Clark Expedition. The film stars David Giuntoli and Flula Borg, and it was directed by Alex Simmons (in his feature film directorial debut). The script was written by Giuntoli, Borg and Simmons as well; and the trio also co-produced the movie. The film has received a limited theatrical release, in indie theaters, and it's gotten mostly positive reviews from critics. I found it to be pretty funny, and somewhat charming as well.

David (Giuntoli) is a struggling actor, that's never been able to escape the notoriety of a cheesy sitcom he did as a kid. David is about to be married, and he's also preparing for a film role, he hopes to get, as the famous American explorer William Clark. His fiancé, Frankie (Jeanne Syquia), leaves him, just days before their wedding. His best friend, and would-be best man, Flula (Borg), then visits David to cheer him up. Flula convinces David that the two must go on David's honeymoon trip, that he had planned for him and Frankie; a hike through the remote mountains of Oregon, just like Lewis and Clark did.

Being from Oregon myself, I love the visuals in this film; and I also love all of the educational info, on them and the Lewis and Clark Expedition. The two lead performances are both fantastic, and I can't believe how much Giuntoli reminds me of Bradley Cooper. Borg is a bit too much, at times, but he's mostly hilarious. I don't know how much of the script was improvised, it seems like a lot, but it is a great idea for a movie as well. The film is a nicely put together little indie flick!

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0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Severely disappointed, but my expectations were probably too high though., 1 October 2016

'BLAIR WITCH': Three Stars (Out of Five)

Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett's reboot/sequel to the 1999 found footage blockbuster 'THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT'. It's the third installment in the horror film franchise, and it's a direct sequel to the original movie. Wingard directed the film, and Barrett wrote the screenplay. The duo have also teamed up (performing the same duties) on other indie genre hits; like 'V/H/S', 'V/H/S 2', 'YOU'RE NEXT' and 'THE GUEST'. Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez (the original movie's creators) served as executive producers on the film. It stars James Allen McCune, Callie Hernandez, Corbin Reid, Brandon Scott, Wes Robinson and Valorie Curry. The story centers around the sibling of the main character from the original movie. He discovers a new video of his missing sister (20 years after the events of the first film), and heads into the woods, with his friends, looking for her. The movie has received mostly poor reviews from critics, and it's bombed at the Box Office. I was severely disappointed.

James Donahue (McCune) finds video of his sister, Heather (played by Heather Donahue, in the original film), who disappeared 20 years earlier; in the woods near Burkittsville. She was investigating the legend of the Blair Witch, with her friends, when she vanished (as anyone who's seen the original movie knows). Based on this new evidence, James decides to venture into the woods to find her; with two of his friends (Reid and Scott). A film student (Hernandez) wishing to film the search, and the couple that uploaded the discovered video (Robinson and Curry), also join him on his journey.

I loved the original movie (when it came out); I thought it was brilliantly made, and scary. I'm also a huge fan of Wingard and Barrett; I've loved most of their films (especially 'THE GUEST', and the 'V/H/S' movies). So I really thought I'd enjoy this reboot, but I didn't. I was bored, almost the entire time, and there were times when I could barely stay awake. I didn't like any of the characters (or the actors playing them), and I didn't find anything they did (or what was happening to them) interesting or scary. It's all been done before, in much better ways. I hate to dis this movie, because I really wanted to like it, but it's a major letdown. With that said, it's not horrible; and my expectations were probably too high.

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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
This director could be someone to watch for, when she has a little more money to work with., 1 October 2016

'THE EVIL GENE': Two and a Half Stars (Out of Five)

Low-budget B-horror movie; about a rare genetic defect, that's causing psychotic violent outbreaks in the inmates at a special prison. An FBI agent, with psychological problems of his own, is sent in to investigate. The film was written, co-produced and directed by (first time filmmaker) Kathryn F. Taylor. It stars Richard Speight Jr., Cameron Richardson and Lindsey Ginter. The movie is very noticeably low-budget B-movie material, and it's not a lot of fun, but it does have it's moments.

Griff Krenshaw (Speight Jr.) is an FBI agent struggling with depression and haunting memories from his past. His newest assignment is to investigate the murder of the head researcher at a special correctional facility. The inmates there are having psychotic mental breakdowns, due to a rare gene they possess, and the deceased researcher was doing special experiments on them. While Krenshaw investigates the crime, he also starts to go a little mad himself.

As I started to watch this movie, I really wasn't interested in it; it seemed really amateurish, and quite bad. As I kept watching it though, I was more entertained. The film does have some cool style to it, and a few memorable moments. The acting is mostly atrocious, but the lead isn't bad. I also think this director could be someone to watch for, when she has a little more money to work with.

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Snowden (2016)
2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Gives some great insight into one of the most respected, and hated, political figures in U.S. history., 1 October 2016

'SNOWDEN': Four Stars (Out of Five)

The new political thriller biopic, based on the life of Edward Snowden. It was directed and co-written (with Kieran Fitzgerald) by Oliver Stone. The script is based on the books 'The Snowden Files', by Luke Harding, and 'Time of the Octopus', by Anatoly Kucherena. It stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt (in the title role), Shailene Woodley, Rhys Ifans, Melissa Leo, Zachary Quinto, Tom Wilkinson, Scott Eastwood, Ben Schnetzer, Timoghty Olyphant, Logan Marshall-Green, Lakeith Lee Stanfield and Nicolas Cage. The film has received mostly positive reviews from critics, and it's performed moderately well at the Box Office. I liked it, but I definitely expected a little more from it.

The movie follows the life of Edward Snowden (Gordon-Levitt); from his time first serving his country (in the U.S. military), until he was labeled a traitor, by some, and a national hero, by others. We see Edward meet his girlfriend, Lindsay Mills (Woodley), and we also see them struggle through a hard relationship (which was mostly due to the troubles of his job). We see the conservative computer professional join the CIA, while profoundly loving his country, and then feel deeply betrayed by it. We then (of course) see him leak classified information, from the NSA, and distribute it to the press; becoming one of the world's most wanted (and admired) men.

The film gives some great insight into the life of one of the most respected, and hated, political figures in U.S. history. I, for one, think he's a hero; and I enjoyed learning more about him. The performances are all good (especially Gordon-Levitt and Woodley), and the movie is always fascinating to watch. It does feel a little unbalanced though, and I was hoping for just a little more emotional depth; the setup is definitely there for it. The film is well made, but it's definitely not as interesting, or compelling, as the 2014 documentary about Edward Snowden 'CITIZENFOUR' (now that's a great film).

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Despite all it's strengths, it left me wanting a little more., 1 October 2016

'THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN': Four Stars (Out of Five)

Director Antoine Fuqua's remake of the classic 1960 western, of the same name; which was in turn a remake of the 1954 Japanese epic 'SEVEN SAMURAI'. It once again tells the story of seven outcast gunmen, that band together to defend a poor town from a ruthless industrialist. The script was written by Richard Wenk (a veteran action film director, of movies like 'THE EXPENDABLES 2' and 'THE EQUALIZER') and Nic Pizzolatto (who also created the popular TV series 'TRUE DETECTIVE', and wrote all of it's episodes); it's based on a screenplay by the great Akira Kurosawa, Shinobu Hashimoto and Hideo Oguni. The film stars Denzel Washington (in his third collaboration with Fuqua), Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke (in his third collaboration with Fuqua as well), Byung-hun Lee, Manuel Garcia- Rulfo, Vincent D'Onofrio, Martin Sensmeier, Haley Bennett and Peter Sarsgaard. It's received mostly positive reviews from critics (although not great ones) and it's done pretty well at the Box Office (but not great). I think it's a fairly good western remake (but not a great one).

The movie is set in 1879, in a small mining town called Rose Creek. The town is taken over by a corrupt businessman, named Bartholomew Bogue (Sarsgaard), and his men; and when some of the townspeople try standing up against him, they're slaughtered. Emma Cullen (Bennett), who's husband (Matt Bomer) was murdered, rides to the closest town, with her friend Teddy Q (Luke Grimes), looking for help. They're they meet a warrant officer named Sam Chisolm (Washington). When Cullen offers Chisolm a lot of money, and informs him that Bogue is the culprit, he reluctantly agrees to help her. Chisolm then sets out in finding six other gunmen to help him.

The movie is entertaining, full of colorful characters (and good performances), and it also has some pretty spectacular actions scenes; one shootout is really intense (and well done). The movie is definitely entertaining; there's a few slow moments, but there's not too much really to complain about. Still, despite all it's strengths, it left me wanting a little more. It's definitely not a classic, like either of the films it's based on (or 'THREE AMIGOS'), but it is a pretty good western flick.

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