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War - Were they trying to kill the franchise??
I was excited to go watch this installment having really enjoyed the previous two movies. Seeing it, however, was quite disappointing. The visuals were fine, as expected, and the acting was as good as ever. The story, however, seemed to crawl, and the anti-American anti-military, and anti-Christian references removed any remaining enjoyment. Instead of seeing things from both perspectives, as we did in the previous two movies, it's all from the viewpoint of the apes, and humans are seen as evil, and mostly shallow. No deep human characters in the entire film, no perspective of the humans; just flat villains about which the apes have to worry. There are some references to the old film series, which fans will notice, and an amusing few places, but the political theming and dragging storyline make this one far under par.
Escape Plan (2013)
Excellent Action flick for fans of the genre
For real action fans, and fans of Stallone and Schwarzenegger, this film delivers. The story is new, with a well executed plot, and excellent direction. The main actors both give the great performances we have come to expect from them, and the supporting cast is quite good as well, with Caviezel and Neill showing their quality as actors. You get plenty of action, without all the cheap thrills so many of the recent "action" movies toss in to draw crowds. A real action film doesn't need to depend on such tactics, and draws instead on a solid story, great actors, and good action scenes. There is plenty to keep you on the edge of your seat here. This is the real deal, and well worth the big screen price. So get your ticket, grab some popcorn, and sit back and enjoy the ride!
Star Trek: Into Darkness (2013)
Keep them coming, JJ!
As a lifetime Trek fan (I pretty much cut teeth on the series), I could not be happier with the latest installment, and look forward to many more! Pine, Quinto, Urban and the rest of the cast bring the old, familiar characters back to life, with skill, humor, and all the little quirks we all know and love. The sets are excellent, the effects amazing, and the storyline is pure, 100% Trek. I can't really say much about the story, without giving things away, but I can't imagine anyone being disappointed. If you loved the original series, you should love this newest film. Well worth the big screen cost, AND the DVD. The direction was flawless. Two movies in, and it seems Abrams has broken any potential "curse" that some believed haunted the first set of films. Everything about Into Darkness is true to the characters, and to the heart of Star Trek.
Beyond Loch Ness (2008)
Highly enjoyable Monster Movie!
I have been a fan of monster movies/creature features all my life, and am frequently frustrated at the abysmal quality offered so frequently. In this case, I was NOT disappointed, and found the movie quite enjoyable. Loch Ness Terror (as it was titled on the DVD rental) is worth the watch. The actors aren't big names, and sometimes, that's not a bad thing. Brian Krause delivers an effective and convincing performance as a tough cryptozoologist on the trail of the aquatic monster, Niall Matter plays a very convincing small town guy, and the rest of the cast is equally realistic. Not one role was poorly done; all were most believable and convincing. The scenery throughout is breathtaking. The plot is well-ordered, and enjoyable. As a bonus, the characters aren't all the usual foolish clowns we so often see, that make you long for them to be victims. These seem instead like real people, mostly likable, and amazingly capable of coherent thought. Then there is the beast herself. Nessie is quite scary in appearance, and even if the effects aren't top of the line, they are convincing enough for a lower budget film. There is a little gore (though not excessive), as would be expected in a monster movie. If you enjoy creature features, you should like this one. If you want a movie with stupid characters, too much gory FX, poor humor, and overused plot elements, you might be disappointed. If you want an enjoyable monster movie, with an actual plot and realistic characters, get the popcorn and drink ready, and sit back and enjoy. Even my NOT-a-big-fan-of-monster-movies husband liked this one. All I have left to do now is look for more from these people. Well done!
The Last Stand (2013)
The Last Stand should be first on your must-see list!
One of the top names in action again brings us a top notch action movie! Arnold delivers the great performance you expect from such a seasoned star, and the supporting cast really sells the characters they play. The small town set is believable, and portrayed so that you can actually care about them. The bad guys are just the sort that you want to see brought down (as they should be. The scenes flow smoothly, the locations are realistic, and the action is outstanding. Add in the rest of the ingredients - chase scenes, shooting, stunts, a dash of humor - and you have all you need for a fun evening at the movies. 80's action fans will love this one. Even the soundtrack was great; not one single thing that made me say, "Now why did they have to use that song?" See it on the big screen, and bring it home when it hits disc. Did the first, and plan to do the second. A must for any action collection.
Satan's Little Helper (2004)
One of the stupidest horror movies ever!
I can appreciate movies that blend horror and comedy, and some of my favorite horror films are of that sort. This is NOT one of those.
The characters are so utterly lacking in any redeeming qualities, not to mention any brains at all, that you can't care about them in the slightest. After watching this movie, I had to issue an apology to all of the horror characters I have called "stupid" over the years, for doing those things we know will get them killed. At least they would have, had they lived, LEARNED from the error! Not these people! After a very short time, you find yourself almost hoping they will all die, and quickly, so that the movie will be over.
The acting is pretty lame as well. No real sentiment from anyone, no noticeable emotion at all from that very odd child. The only one that wasn't a bad actor is the bad guy, who never speaks. No acting isn't bad acting, after all.
The set isn't terrible, but it isn't anything special, either. Costuming is the ONLY area that wasn't horrible. Some of that was actually pretty decent. The guys will like the older sister's getup, and the villain's costume is really rather creepy. So, one star for costuming.
The plot? If I could find it, I could discuss it. If you have read the basic outline, you got the entire plot already.
Perhaps this was supposed to be some sort of social statement. If so, I recommend some therapy for some people, because, wow..... If there was a town as far gone as that, the human race would be extinct! I was hoping for something a little campy, but entertaining, like Trick 'r Treat, for example. Or something creepy, with humor, like some of the better horror (The Lost Boys, An American Werewolf in London, Lake Placid, etc.). What I got was a waste of time. We only watched the entire thing to see if there would be a cool plot twist to redeem the story. It would have been better to turn it off and pick another movie. The only good thing about this was it was streaming on Netflix, so I didn't loses any rental fees, just time.
Red Riding Hood (2011)
Well done fun - twisted fairy tale for the grown-ups.
This was actually far better than I expected. The acting was believable, with the characters, not the actors, being the focus. Plenty of personal interaction to make you like the characters (or not), a setting that should tickle the fancy of any fairy tale fan, and enough mystery to keep you guessing right till the end. Not many movies these days can manage that, but this one did.
We have some bigger name actors doing their usual great work, and some lesser known names filling in their roles very nicely. Madsen, Burke and Haas all deliver, without taking away from the story by making themselves the center of attention, and Oldman does a convincing job of a crusading slayer of evil creatures.
The set is perfect, with just the right touch of "magical" needed in a fairy tale, without going overboard. Thatched roofs, narrow twisting streets, and snowy forested hillsides all add up for a beautiful yet eerie setting; just what we want for a fairy tale.
The writing and directing combined to give us a more grown-up look at an old classic story, without the usual Hollywood errors of depending on overdone special effects and too much fake blood. Red Riding Hood isn't supposed to be a gore fest, but a head game. We all know the classic tale, and the fun is in the mystery and the surprise. What we end up with is a classic "who done it" from a well loved story, and it's quite enjoyable.
If you want a gore fest, or a lot of sex, this isn't your movie, but if you want something fun, a twist on a classic, sit back and enjoy.
Enjoyable, fun, but I miss Gore
Johnny Depp, as always, delivers a great performance as our beloved Captain Jack Sparrow. The rest of the cast was also great. Beautiful scenery, interesting plot, and plenty of humor, as we have all come to expect. The music, needless to say, was of superb quality, as always with Hans Zimmer. However, I could not help but notice that the direction was a little less sharp that with the previous three films. For part five, and I truly hope there IS a part five, can we bring back Gore Verbinski? With the previous three, there was a magic formula, and he was a part of that. There were scenes that, while good, could have been even better. All in all, recommended for all POTC fans.
Low budget, low quality
Starts VERY slowly, with a lot of wasted time on scenery passing a car. Virtually no background on the characters, and what little we do hear is very vague, and less than informative. The main characters do manage to portray a little emotion from time to time, but with next to nothing to support it, the effort is almost wasted. The plot, such as it is, is weak, and doesn't progress far enough, or fast enough, to hold the attention of viewers. The "action" is almost nonexistent, the possibilities for suspense wasted or ignored, and the resolution as dull as the rest of the film. Add to this at least three real goofs: at one point a crew member can be seen ducking behind the main characters. Soon after, a camera, microphone, or some piece of equipment is seen to the right. A little later, there are repeated shots with some sort of wire or cable across part of a dock, where nothing of the sort should be. I could deal with low budget, and even such goofs, if there was more meat to the story. All in all, it was like watching something put together for a school project. With a better storyline, and a little more attention to detail, the producers might come up with something worthwhile.
The Expendables (2010)
True Action Classic!
One of the absolute BEST action films I have seen in a long time! Once again, Sly has given us the real deal. Great characters, tons of action, good setting. If you are, as I am, a fan of the 80's action movies, you will LOVE this one. None of the dark feel you see so much of these days, but plenty of speed, bullets, fighting, and great good and bad guys all over. Very refreshing change! Hope some others in Hollywood will take a hint, and get us back to movies we can love.
Stallone is looking great, and the cast he put together is phenomenal. Big names, that know what the genre is really about, and they do not disappoint. Plus, the whole idea of having more seasoned actors, and not relying on some new pretty face is wonderful. Youth doesn't automatically make one good, and older can mean far better. Can't wait to add the DVD to my action collection, and hope Sly has more in the works for us. Far too few of this quality being made these days. Top notch movie, in every way.
Piranha 3D (2010)
Too much blood and T&A, no suspense or good action.
To start, I must say that some of the acting was good, as I expected it would be. Christopher Lloyd was, as always, fantastic, and Elisabeth Shue, Ving Rhames, and Jerry O'Connell were also good. The kids (Proulx and Ryan) were awesome. The performances by young McQueen and Szohr were far better than the script warranted. These actors, and some others, saved what could have been an abysmal failure. Most of the rest of the acting was mediocre at best.
The visuals could have been far better. Beautiful blue water, clear skies, and so forth, but instead we had to watch a virtual parade of topless coeds. Now, I am sure some young guys won't mind this, but what about the rest of us? I wanted a creature feature, not a soft porn film with some critters tossed in for interest. Some of what occurred had no place in a regular theater at all.
The story and direction started off fairly well, but soon deteriorated. Loved the Dreyfuss scene (and his character's choice in music), and the basic idea of how the fish got into the lake in the first place. However, beyond the basics, that was virtually ignored for the rest of the movie, which was spent on gratuitous nudity, gore, and overuse of the 3-D technology. I had hoped, since the 80's, we would have outgrown that sort of thing. Plus, many of the scenes looked far too familiar to any seasoned viewer of this sort of movie. Time that could have been spent building suspense was wasted on cheap thrills.
Overall, this could have been a LOT better. Sadly, the creators of this movie chose titillation over substance. When the movie relies too much on that, there is a problem. The worst part is that some viewers seem to like this, and even expect it. Such lowered standards mean we all get less quality in the movies. Give me Jaws, or Lake Placid, or the original Piranha, any day over this. As a long-time fan of creature features, I found this one a huge disappointment. First time in awhile I was strongly tempted to demand my money back.
The Invisible (2007)
original, with layers of meaning
Thoroughly enjoyed this one. The basic premise offers one explanation for the title, but a closer look at the characters offers yet another, deeper meaning. This one is best watched with an eye to the things we often do not see, the people we overlook, and the blessings we don't recognize. Fantastic work in every respect.
Justin Chatwin and Margarita Levieva are fantastic in their roles, and director David S. Goyer used their talents well to bring out the characters. The writing is superb, and the settings are the perfect backdrop for this moving and mysterious drama. This is one of the better films I have seen in recent years, and should not be under-appreciated.
Lost Boys: The Tribe (2008)
A sequel that really grabs you by the neck!
I was quite happy to find that my initial excitement in seeing a sequel wasn't unfounded. The hook, of course, was the return of Corey Feldman as the quirky but awesome Edgar Frog. Everything the fans could expect, he delivers. The rest of the cast played their roles well, though I have to say I prefer the wacky grandfather in the original over the annoying aunt. Angus Sutherland was a surprise; I didn't check out the cast beforehand, and I have to say that he played his role in a style all his own. Clearly, talent runs in the family.
The action was fast, with plenty of thrills and bloody chills, in much the style of the classic original, but vamped up enough for younger viewers to relate. The vampires are rebellious, sexy, and buckets of trouble, and thus make the appeal of their life very strong.
The one thing I wasn't as thrilled with was the soundtrack. I much prefer the original Cry Little Sister (mainly due to the fantastic vocals), and the rest of the music, to me at least, lacked the heart we got the first time around. My only other complaint is the lack of any real mystery to the story line. Beyond one initial shocker, it seems as though we know who everyone is far too quickly. If there is a third, remember, a woman likes a little mystery from creatures of the night.
Fun for the Whole Family
I took the kids to see this one, and they all thoroughly enjoyed themselves (even the teenager!). Personally, I got a kick out of the story; with all the twists and turns, you never know what is coming next, or where it will all lead. There are realistic personal situations for our favorite veggies to deal with, plenty of action to keep things moving along, and all the laughs and silliness that we have come to expect from Veggie Tales. The moral was there, of course, presented so wonderfully and cleverly that even the secular audience grasp and appreciate the lesson. Once again, Big Idea has served us up a delightful tale for the entire family, that children of all ages can see with no worries by their parents.
I Am Legend (2007)
Actor Will Smith has, once again, delivered an exceptional performance, bringing to life the character Robert Neville, alone in NYC after a disaster, trying to save the world with only a dog for companionship. We are drawn into his world, his routines, his recreation, and his fears, in this chilling setting of the familiar gone horribly askew. He brings to life the trials of this man, showing us every strength and weakness, every hope and fear, every joy and sorrow. The direction is superb, and the supporting cast does a wonderful job. The setting is all too believable, and the special effects and make-up are very high quality, making us able to believe that all we are seeing is real. Overall excellent film, actually deserving of awards.
Cloverfield was Excellent!
Not since Alien have I seen such a great preview; just enough info to tantalize, without ruining the movie as so many do these days. Cloverfield delivers, too; plenty of suspense, chills, and action, with believable characters and realistic drama that truly moves you. Michael Stahl-David and the rest of the cast impressed me with their abilities to show us characters, not actors, as I was drawn into their interactions, and their reactions as the chaos began. The point of view, that of the video camera, could be tedious and trite, but great direction by Matt Reeves makes it highly believable, and the varied camera angles throughout the action scenes add a wonderfully unsettled feel to the unfolding drama. As a long-time creature feature fan, I highly recommend this film. Just leave the kids at home, please. Any younger than mature teens could be very frightened.