Reviews written by
Terry Roehrig II

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164 reviews in total 
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The Tenant (2010)
5 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
A 90 minute movie with a 45 minute back story? I don't think so., 16 August 2011
2/10

I have to admit... horror movies are one of my favorite genres of movies. Monsters, ghosts, spooky creepy things, you name it. I love a good horror movie that will either shock the hell out of you or scare the pants right off ya. This is not one of those movies. It's more of a drama and then it turns into a suspense/thriller towards the end. The writer/director tried too hard with this movie, it bit off way too much more than it could chew.

The movie starts out with some couple looking for a place to have sex. They find a place, but it turns out that it's not the place for them. The movie takes us back 28 years earlier and shows us that it's an asylum. Inside, we meet Dr. Newman (Molnar) and his assistant/nurse, Ms. Tinsley (Boykin). Turns out that Dr. Newman is doing some top secret DNA genetics testings or whatnot and has to put his research on hold, because his girlfriend, Olivia (Chris) is pregnant with twins. Ms. Tinsley doesn't take too kindly to this news because well... she's a little obsessive. So she injects the test serum into Olivia during one of her regular check-ups and voilà! new test subject. When Olivia is about to give birth, the female baby comes out just fine, but the boy seems to have some strange side effects from the testing and we have some sort of mutant baby/killing machine on our hands. Flash forward back to present day and some people in a van break down in front of the asylum during a heavy thunderstorm. They all get out and seek solace in the asylum. From there, it turns into a Scooby-Doo caricature where they are all running in and out of different rooms with the monstrous creature directly behind them, again and again and again...

I can appreciate a good horror story with a complex plot and extensive background story. Some of the movie monster greats have some awesome back stories and rich history. This particular movie monster had 43 minutes of back story until we get to meet the people in the van who break down in front of the asylum. Are you kidding me? We know more about the evil doctor, nurse and pregnant woman than we do about the people in the van. Aren't you supposed to care about the characters you see on screen? As far as I was concerned, the beast could have killed everyone in the van in 10 minutes flat and I wouldn't have cared any less. You cannot make a 90-minute movie and have 45 minutes of it be back story, sorry -- not that I wanted this movie to be any longer, mind you... I could barely make it through this dud once.

This thing has some of the worst acting I've ever seen. Not only that, but the dialog that gets uttered is absolutely ridiculous. No, forget ridiculous -- this movie wishes it were ridiculous, at least you can have some fun with ridiculous. The last 40 minutes are the hardest part to watch just because of the actions and conversations that are going on. Lose one of the kids in the big scary, dark asylum? Ah, who cares. Big, scary beast just rip out your friend's throat right in front of you --- what are you going to do? Oh, lets just crouch down by our friend and ask them if they're alright without even wondering if the beast is going to try and attack you next. Dare I mention the girl who puts together the most obscurest of puzzle pieces and just comes right out and says... "Oh, that thing must be my brother." What?! Then she proceeds to tell a story about how Ms. Tinsley came to her house and told her mother stories about the asylum... oh, so you didn't think about this before you entered the spooky, old, rundown asylum? That's just some of several examples of just how awful this film is. There is some decent gore, but nothing to write home about. It's in the last part, though, the gore in the first part may want to make you turn it off, because the decapitated heads the doctor is working on look like rubber masks.

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Final Grade: D-

3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Final Destination 5 is the fitting end to the franchise!, 14 August 2011
7/10

When you're going to the theater to watch part 5 of a series, there are some certain things you shouldn't have to worry about. It's part 5, for goodness sake! If you've seen the rest of the series, then go ahead and partake in this one because it's more of the same. Grisly, outrageous deaths and Rube Goldberg-like series of events happening leading up to said grisly deaths. They say that there is nothing new to the series, but I have to adamantly disagree with that statement because this summer, death has come full circle, my dear readers.

Sam (D'Agosto) is going on a business retreat with his salespeople colleagues. There's Molly (Bell), the girlfriend that literally just broke up with him, Peter (Fisher), his best friend, Candice (Wroe), Peter's girlfriend and the office intern/gymnast, Olivia (Wood), the office slut who has poor vision, Isaac (Bryne), the horny tech support guy, Nathan (Escarpeta), the college grad who jumped leaps and bounds ahead of everyone else down in the factory division and Dennis (Koechner), the office manager/douche. As is to be expected in this franchise, Sam gets a vision of the suspension bridge collapsing and tons of people die in glorious fashion. He panics, leaves the bus and people follow. Those eight people to be exact. Once they are off the bridge, they are interrogated by a dumber-than-dirt detective (Vance) and the coroner (Todd) is all cryptic at the funeral. Turns out that death doesn't like to be cheated -- as if we didn't know... now can we get to some ultra-gory, double-bloody, extra head-squishing, hold the nudity deaths, please? Ask and ye shall receive, my friends.

That's why I watch the Final Destination movies: the opening accident/deaths and then the puzzle-like combinations that lead to one of the characters that cheated death's demise. It can be lacking in the story and character development to me because lets face it, I'm not getting attached to any of these characters any time soon because unlike them... I know their fate. Or so I thought. See, Final Destination 5 does have a twist to it. It turns out that if one of the survivors kills anybody off while death is looking for them, then they get to take that person's life. Nice... it puts a new spin on it so that a once good character might just lose his/her mind in deciding if that's what they want to do -- how badly would you want to live?

I have to admit something. I watched this movie in 3D. After what seemed to be the World's longest opening credit sequence known to man (where every single name is broken on a sheet of glass with some object: a chair, a ladder, a hammer, a crane, etc etc -- and then the glass comes flying at you over and over and over.... and you get the point), I was ready to throw down my 3D glasses and walk out. I felt like this was some sort of scientific 3D experiment where the only effect was just to cheese me off.

Long story short, Final Destination 5 delivers exactly what it promises and much more! Special bonus to all the fans out there that have seen all of the Final Destination movies -- you're in for a treat. You don't need to watch the previous four to enjoy this one, but the twist at the end does reward the viewer who has. Midway through the movie, I thought to myself how cool it would be if they wound up doing something -- and the screenplay writer did not disappoint because they wound up doing what I thought would be a perfect and fitting end to the franchise -- even though I knew it was coming, I enjoyed it immensely.... now if only they didn't have those nagging loopholes because of it.

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Final Grade: B

1 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
'30 Minutes or Less' delivers the goods!, 14 August 2011
8/10

The trailers make this film out to be a very simplistic film. They would have you believe that the only reason they are kidnapping the pizza guy and strapping a bomb to his chest is so that he'll rob a bank for them to get them some cash. There's more toppings on the pie than that in this movie and it is very funny --- is it worth going to the theaters to see? Why not... you could do much worse..

I enjoyed the way 30 Minutes or Less opens. First we're given the Nick/Chet storyline and then we're given the Dwayne/Travis storyline. Nick (Eisenberg) is a twenty-something year old pizza delivery guy. His roommate is Chet (Ansari), a newly promoted to full-time teacher. Nick is in love with Chet's twin sister, Kate (Vadsaria), but Chet doesn't know it. When this information is found out, their friendship looks to be on the skids. Dwayne (McBride) is a spoiled rich kid. His father, known only as The Major (Ward), won a state lottery years ago and is burning through the cash at an alarming rate. Dwayne concocts a scheme with his best friend, Travis (Swardson). Together, they conspire together and plan to hire a hit-man to kill The Major so they have the rest of the lottery winnings... but a hit-man costs around $100,000. That's when inspiration strikes. Nick goes to deliver his final pizza of the night and wakes up to find the ticking vest around his chest. Panicked, Nick goes to his old buddy in the middle of a class and begs for his forgiveness and his help.

The first act has a lot of set up, so it does move at a slower pace than the rest of the film, but once it gets going, there's no stopping it. It's a wild and hectic ride once the bomb vest is attached to Jesse Eisenberg. I loved how the film presented some problems that I was thinking of myself, yet I didn't care to think beyond the problem, but the film does and takes everything to a whole new level once that problem is resolved. They just keep throwing one scenario after another at the main characters, never really giving them a chance to settle into their surroundings. A funny moment does come precisely at one of these scenes when they are at home desperately trying to figure out just what they are going to do, disconnect it or call the police? Cut his arms off or pray that google search has something useful?

The action and the jokes fly fast and furious on this one. All of the actors involved bring their A-game here and stepping up noticeably is Aziz Ansari (TV's Parks and Recreation). It's as much a buddy comedy as it is an action/comedy. The actors play off each other so well, you would think that they all hang out together on the weekends and tease each other about who did who's mother. A very funny scene in particular was the actual bank robbery, don't worry, these guys are professionals, they've seen Point Break, because that movie is practically a how-to guide on how to rob banks.

Even the ending was very satisfying will all questions answered and not a single loose end to be had.. gotta love the foreshadowing the writers and director had in mind for the ending and Aziz even gets to spout off one more one-liner before the end credits. Be sure to stick around after the credits for another hilarious bonus scene.

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Final Grade: B+

Super (2010/I)
2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
A very fun superhero w/o powers dark comedy! Very bizarre!, 14 August 2011
8/10

An everyday nobody dresses up and fights crime in his neighborhood because it's 'the right thing to do' in Super, a very dark comedy directed by James Gunn (Slither). I guarantee you that this movie will be unlike almost anything you've ever seen before. Coming out of nowhere with it's zany randomness, I enjoyed every WTF-moment and had one hell of a good time just trying to figure out where this movie was going next.

Frank D'Arbo (Wilson) can count on one hand how many perfect moments he has had in his life. Two. One of them was marrying his wife, Sarah (Tyler), a former drug addict turned clean just for him. Out of the blue one day, a very nice man named Jacques (Bacon) comes to Frank's house, looking for Sarah. Frank doesn't know where she is at, but he feels obliged to welcome the man into his home and cook him some breakfast. The man leaves after complimenting Frank on his egg-cooking abilities... five days later, Sarah is gone, too. She has packed up and moved on. As it turns out, that nice man isn't so nice after all, he's keeping Sarah on the needle and always with him. After failed attempts at confronting Jacques at his place of business and telling a cop (Henry) that Sarah's been kidnapped... Frank takes matters into his own hands after watching The Holy Avenger (Fillion) on TV and having a vision of himself being touched on the brain by the fingertip of God (Zombie) himself. He gets some supplies and even gets some inside knowledge from Libby (Page), who works down at the corner comic book shop. Once he's finished with his crime-fighting outfit, he's known only as The Crimson Bolt. His main mission is to get his wife back from the evil drug lords, but first he has to train... and what better way to do that than some local thugs on the street? When Libby finally catches on to what Frank is up to, she confronts him and becomes his kid sidekick, Boltie. Together, The Crimson Bolt and Boltie tell crime to, "Shut up!"

This movie will, no doubt, go over a lot of people's heads. Yes, it sounds similar to other movies where people with no powers dress up as superheros and try to tackle crime themselves (Kick-Ass, Defendor) but there's something deeper here than what's on the surface. Here, let me be frank about Frank -- he's a nutjob. Not only does he attack dope pushers and child molesters, but he also attacks people with a pipe wrench that butt in line. His world view is certainly askew. His best intentions may be at heart, but Frank hasn't exactly been treated nice his whole life. What may be considered just plain rude to some people, he treats as if it were a crime. And yes, he is a lovable, likable character. Compared to the rest of the characters in this film, Frank is the purest of them all -- sure, he has his own wrongdoings, but his are minimal to what's being done around him.

Without a doubt, this movie has some of the most bizarre and whacked-out imagery of any other movie you'll see this year. We get to take a peek inside Frank's head when the cop comes to his door, we get to experience some of his visions (from Jesus sitting on his wall to hearing the voice of God when he meets Sarah) and how he views certain situations that would certainly differ from the average person.

I loved every single crazy frame of this movie with the exception of Ellen Page as Libby/Boltie. Her performance was so manic and high- strung, it made me feel as if something were going to come out from behind my couch and attack me. I didn't feel that the character needed to be this extreme. I understand her excitement and pure giddiness when it came to crime-fighting, however, she acted more like an 8-year-old than a 22-year-old. I'm not sure if her part was written like that or if she felt the need to add it to her character... whatever the reason, it distracted me from enjoying her character. Although, when she dressed up as Boltie and got all gooshy, you didn't hear one single negative comment come out of me -- just sit back and enjoy the show.

The movie is not what you think it is -- it's a very dark comedy with some really messed up stuff in it and the entire cast (with the exception of Page) just makes the story pop. If you think you know where the movie is headed, take another look, because chances are you don't.

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Final Grade: B+

Choose (2011/II)
3 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
'Choose' not to watch this....you'll be thanking me later., 14 August 2011
3/10

This is one of those movies that I used to stock in my video store because it had a good story on the back and has great cover art. Looks like it's going to be a really good movie, right? Right... but you really shouldn't judge a book by it's cover, however that's what over 80% of my customers did and a lot of people still do. I wouldn't help matters by almost always giving them false hope, they'd ask me, "How's this one?" and I'd have to lie and say I haven't seen it. Of course, I seen it, it's crap, but I wasn't going to tell them that -- if I told them what I really thought about movies, I wouldn't get my return on investment. But now I've got my own website and I can tell everyone what I really do think about movies and this one is just under average. It's worth a viewing, why not... I've seen worse.

The movie instantly grabs our attention by showing us some sick, demented psycho who has taken a family hostage. He's got the parents all gagged and tied up by the time the young daughter reaches the top of the stairs. Once she discovers them, the psychopath makes her choose: kill the mother or kill the father? She has 60 seconds to decide. If she can't choose which one should be murdered, then the killer will off them both. After that ordeal is over (and yes, things do get resolved) we meet our movie's heroine, Fiona Wagner (Winnick). She's in college studying journalism and her father, Tom (Pollak), is the local sheriff. It seems more and more of these types of murders are going around and young Fiona wants to get involved, but father Tom forbids it. What are rules if not for breaking, right? After receiving some creepy IMs and photos of the next murder, Fiona eventually goes to her father and they work on the mystery together. If you want to call it a mystery, that is. The movie chugs along pretty quickly after the first act and by the time we reach the final act, we're introduced to Doctor Ronald Pendleton (Dern in a 'what-the-hell-were-you-thinking'? role), a psychologist who just so happened to do a study on dun-dun-dun choice psychology at a local juvenile detention. It all winds down to a conclusion that might leave you scratching your head at first, but it does make sense, it just makes you fit together one single piece of the puzzle yourself at the end.

The story isn't fresh at all. Jigsaw from the Saw franchise has already beaten the dead horse to a bloody pulp when it comes to a 'make-your- decision' type of thrill ride. I have to admit that this killer did do it differently in that he personally stalked each victim and made them choose, plus he had personal reasons for his actions, unlike Jigsaw who was just an overseer and took it upon himself to right injustices. That still doesn't change the fact that we've seen this done (several times from the Saw franchise and several times from Saw knock-offs) before and lets face it, better. It also doesn't help matters that the police force is dumber than a sack of doorknobs when it comes to solving the mystery of just who this guy is. After going through (literally) an entire box of VHS tapes with potential candidates for serial-killer-of-the-year, they come across (the very last) one that just has to be the killer. You don't think the good doctor that conducted all of those taped interviews would remember something like that when the police came to his house? How dumb do your characters have to be in order for your screenplay to reach the resolution? Sorry...they may be that stupid, but you can't fool me. No one would forget an interview such as that one.

The acting is mediocre at best. Kevin Pollak does what he can with the weak script as does Winnick, who plays his daughter. There is nothing special about any of the acting found in this movie whatsoever. Add in some dark cinematography that makes it difficult to see what's going on some of the times and you're left with a hollow shell of a movie that tries (but fails miserably) to deliver any real scares or 'a-ha!' moments. Plus the ending on top of the ending was unnecessary. It tries to shock you with one final jolt, but after the first ending gave my throat scoffing fits, I wasn't shocked or left in awe. It was more... aw, why did I watch this again?

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Final Grade: D+

1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Movie with a powerful positive message... but kind of slow., 14 August 2011
5/10

Based on the tragic true story of Bethany Hamilton who lost an arm in a shark attack while surfing one day. She defied all the odds and came back strong and still fulfilled her dreams of becoming an international surfing champion. If there ever was a true underdog story, it is Bethany Hamilton's. This film shows her struggle and how she overcame adversity.

Not too much of a back story here. Bethany Hamilton (played by AnnaSophia Robb) is your average teenage girl growing up on the island of Hawaii. She lives with her parents, Cheri (Hunt) and Tom (Quaid) and her two brothers, Noah (Thomas) and Timmy (Brochu). She's got a best friend, Alana (Nicholson). She competes in surfing competitions and her biggest competitor is by far, Malina Birch (Balmores). She's such a normal teen that she even blows off commitments she makes with her friend Sarah (Underwood) to help out victims of natural disasters in other countries because she got sponsored in a big surfing tournament. One day, while out swimming/surfing with Alana, her brother and Alana's dad, Holt (Sorbo) -- along comes a shark and chomp! -- off goes her left arm. From there, we see how she lets it affect her at first, watch as she goes through many stages of loss, all the way to where she almost gives up and throws everything away and eventually comes to terms and right on cue comes the emotionally swelling music that fills all of our hearts as we cheer and applaud her courage and determination.

It's basic screen writing 101, folks. You seriously can't screw up a story like this. One, it's true and two, who doesn't just love Bethany Hamilton? She's every parents dream. Talented and humble to boot. Even when she wins, she still congratulates all the other competitors and wants them to join her on the center pedestal to relish in the limelight. Sure, she has a bit of a wild side, she sneaks out of the house to do some night surfing -- but even then it's pretty tame stuff compared to what other girls in the city are doing when they sneak out late at night. So, when it happens to a person like this... we all ask... why her? What did she do to deserve this? Nothing. Bad things sometimes happen to good people. The film doesn't just focus on Bethany's struggles, it also focuses on her family's, mainly Cheri and Tom. When Bethany has that "all is lost" feeling, the movie sets it's sights on her prior commitments to friends from before the attack and she gets in touch with herself and God by volunteering her time to help others less fortunate than her -- in this case, tsunami victims. It's not until then that she realizes what she has to do.

There are no spoilers to be given here. I could give you a play-by-play and you'd still want to watch the movie. The film does not have anything new to offer in the 'underdog' department, but is it supposed to? It just comes with a positive underlying message that anybody can do anything as long they have the ability to dream it and work very, very hard to do it. It's not like she just stood right back up and did it alone, either. She had the support of her family and others. So, sure, it gets a little trite and cliché and forgive me for saying so, but boring -- it's not a totally awful thing though, it's just a movie for earlier in the day and not late at night while channel surfing (sorry, couldn't resist). If not for the positive influences the movie so painlessly bludgeons us with, watch it for the underrated performances of Robb, Quaid and Hunt, the amazingly lush scenery and some pretty cool surfing camera shots.

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Final Grade: B

Rio (2011)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Not the best animated movie out there, but it is colorful!, 14 August 2011
5/10

G-rated cartoons are mainly for the kids. The writers try to put in some humor for the adults that are taking them to the theater or throw some jokes that only they would understand in order to watch the DVD with them at home. Unfortunately, Rio doesn't have a lot for the grown up kids, just plenty of silliness for the kiddies and that's not a bad thing...it just makes it harder for the parents to sit down and watch.

The movie starts (with absolutely zero warning and tested my ability to not hit the off button) straight away into a musical number. Usually with most animated movies, that's one of my biggest gripes... unnecessary musical numbers, forced into the dialog where characters just break into song for no good reason than they just need a song put in so the producers can snag a Best Original Song nomination come Academy Award™ time. A macaw (Eisenberg) falls out of his tree whilst shaking his tail feathers and is caught by some smugglers and shipped off to Moose Lake, Minnesota. A local girl, Linda (Mann) finds his box, accidentally thrown from a van, and decides to keep him, take care of him and name him Blu. Fast forward several years later and we see Linda and Blu living their (somewhat pampered) lives in Moose Lake and is one day, greeted by a man named Tulio (Santoro) claiming to be a bird expert. He needs Blu and Linda to travel to Rio de Janeiro so that Blu can mate with the only other bird of Blu's species, a female blue macaw named Jewel (Hathaway). Once there, Blu meets and makes nice with Jewel while Tulio and Linda do some sight-seeing in Rio. What can go wrong? Well, I'll tell you what can go wrong. Some bird smugglers can come along and ruin your entire vacation. When Tulio and Linda find out that Blu and Jewel have been bird-napped, it's off to the races to find out all the particulars.

Rio is not a bad movie... it's just not all that entertaining. Yeah, sure, it's colorful and vivid, but that only holds my interest for so long. I need some more story and better dialog to thoroughly enjoy it. It's fine for the kids and it hits its target audience just fine, the small ones will be more than entertained. I would think the cut-off age for Rio is about 10-years-old. I don't really see any kids older than that enjoying this movie. It's not like I totally hated Rio. I enjoyed Jemaine Clement as Nigel, an extremely psychotic cockatoo who I'm surprised to find this side of a G-rated flick. I was kind of taken aback almost every time he was on screen and revelled in his delicious cuckoo-ness, yes I even enjoyed his musical number, how about that? Maybe I'm just spoiled when it comes to animated productions because of Shrek, Toy Story and Despicable Me. I've seen what they can do and I'm sorry, but Rio just doesn't have what it takes to compete with the likes of these. Yes I am comparing it to other animated films, that's because Rio doesn't have a wing to stand on (that's the kind of puns you're in for least you decide to watch Rio). If it sounds unprofessional of me to do so, keep this in mind, I'm not a professional. This is just my personal opinion of a cartoon movie about talking monkeys, dogs and birds.

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Final Grade: C+

10 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
One of the year's very best! J.K. Simmons gives a pitch-perfect performance!, 5 August 2011
9/10

I'm so glad to have been able to see this movie. Most of you will know J.K. Simmons as Jonah Jameson from the Spider-Man movies, although his list of work is impressive. I haven't heard of Lou Taylor Pucci before and now because of this film, I'll keep my eye out for him. This movie works because of the performances and heartfelt emotions you will feel throughout. With a very easygoing approach, the characters suck you into their lives and will have you feeling practically everything they are displaying on the screen.

Henry (Simmons) and Helen (Saymour) Sawyer receive a telephone call from the hospital. It appears that their son, Gabriel (Pucci) has turned up. He looks dazed and confused when they arrive to see him. The doctor (Adsit) informs them that Gabriel has a brain tumor and once they remove it, he will lose a good chunk of his brain that supplies the ability to form new memories and will give him what appears to be amnesia. Henry takes the news pretty hard because he threw Gabriel out of the house more than twenty years ago. It eats up at him and even gets him fired from his job because even though he's there, he's not really there. With the medical bills starting to pile up, Helen goes to work and tells Henry to go visit with Gabriel. As Henry starts to bond with his son, he starts doing some research and sees that their might be a connection to Gabriel's memories and music. After reading a column written by Dianne Daley (Ormond), a musical therapist, he tracks her down and informs her that he read her article. "Oh, so you're the one who read it," she jokes. The light bits of humor they have in the film are very important because it is a very somber story and humor is always used to alleviate tension, which the film does masterfully. She gets started straight away with Gabriel and has one breakthrough after another in getting Gabriel to open up by playing old records. It seems he doesn't remember the music as much as he remembers what he was doing and/or thinking the first time he heard the music. It opens up all kinds of new doors to Henry, who can finally talk to his son about what happened that night twenty years ago. Throw in a little side story about a very sweet cafeteria worked named Celia (Maestro) who Gabriel has a crush on, Henry going out of his way to get Gabriel the surprise of his lifetime and one of the best soundtracks in motion pictures and you've got an excellent film that just speaks to you on so many levels.

This movie is as funny as it is heart-breaking. The writer, the director and the actors all did outstanding jobs on this film. I loved all of the humor that was put into this film. And it wasn't unintentional humor, it was perfectly choreographed to show us that there's so much more to tragedy than all the pain and suffering. Yes, there are some moments in the film where tears will well up and you think you might lose it at any moment, but something will happen or someone will say something or even better yet, the music will play and it will reel you back in so you can function without blubbering at the same time. The acting is superb in this one. J.K. Simmons gives a pitch-perfect performance as the father who regrets his actions two decades ago. The film is also partly told in flashbacks, so we get a nice comparison of what and who each man was and how they treated each other and how they came to be where they are now.

Yes, it is an independent film and the budget wasn't all that huge, but as I've said before, you don't need a lot of money, special effects or explosions to tell a good story. With some films we expect it (big budget action pictures), with other films (such as this one), all it needed was the story and the performances. Once you have those, the rest is just filler. One thing that did distract me a bit from Pucci's performance was his amazingly bad fake beard -- what did the producers do.... join a Beard-of-the-Month Club or something? Give me something at least tolerable, for crying out loud. Fake wookie beard aside, I loved The Music Never Stopped. I urge everyone to see this film, easily one of the year's very best.

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Final Grade: A-

The Coffin (2008)
2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
A very strange custom sets the story for some strange happenings..., 5 August 2011
4/10

This is a foreign film and with foreign films, I prefer the subtitles over the dubbed versions. Dubbed versions most always suck because it will look like the entire movie is out of sync. So, if you don't like to read, then either get the dubbed version or stay away completely. I don't mind to read, I even go as far as putting English subtitles on English-speaking movies so I don't miss anything when the dialog gets quiet. Foreign horror films are usually more scary than American horror films and it's why we adapt them (or try our best to) for us.

Let me just get straight to the plot of this one. We have a runaway bride, who is harboring a secret, who sees a Thai ritual on TV. The ritual goes something like this -- you lie down in the coffin for an undisclosed amount of time and when they bring you out of the coffin, whatever it is you were praying for or asking for, it happens. Most people are going for themselves, like the runaway bride. Others are going for someone they love, people in comas, people with cancer, etc etc. The only thing is... once they're brought out... strange phenomenons start to happen, like hallucinations and scary ghost-like figures appearing out of the blue (for some reason, the director really loved the color blue while filming this one). The story actually follows two different people, the runaway bride and the other guy. They both do the whole burial thing for there own reasons. After they can't take all the weirdness that is happening to them (separately, it's sort of like watching two films on the same subject), they seek help and go to a historian about the Thai ritual and eventually they meet up and realize they have the same problem. In order to break the curse, they have to be buried again and so-forth...

There are actually a lot of moments in this one that made me jump. Sure, they were cheap shots, but these guys are good at it! They were all genuine and caught me completely off guard. Nothing to give me nightmares or make me screaming for mommy, but I did jump nonetheless. The pacing does seem to drag on and on in some scenes but it's all the more fun when they slow a movie completely down to an almost dead stop and then RAWR! The music is hauntingly beautiful and the make-up was almost on par as a Hollywood production. Their use of CGI with the fire was downright laughable, however and killed what was supposed to be an intense scene. The way the movie was shot made me seem it was done by an amateur -- I'm not sure of the guy's credentials, but some scenes were extremely red, others very blue and a lot very dark. The dialog was (or seemed to me anyway) very bad. Perhaps the subtitles weren't all that great, but even if they were half wrong, then the dialog still half sucked. I couldn't imagine the subs would be 100% wrong.

There you have it. It will make you jump in some places, but overall, I can't recommend it because it moves at a snail's pace and chances are you'll mix the characters up a lot like I did and have to sit there and go.... now wait.....is that the one who......or is she the one that...... OK, now....who this and what is he talking about? But, don't fret, because Hollywood's well of creativity will most likely be hitting a dry spell soon and they'll remake this one and tone down all the scary parts, slap a PG-13 rating on it, mass market it and spoon feed it to America.

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Final Grade: C-

Stake Land (2010)
4 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
Very well done action/horror movie!, 4 August 2011
8/10

Finally a movie about vampires comes along that's not overly cheesy or has them shimmering like they just got a lap dance from a $2 pole dancer down at Hooterville. I wouldn't classify this one as a horror movie though -- it's more horror/action than anything else. I didn't find anything scary in this film, but it certainly was chock full of vampire-hunting sequences that will keep you entertained throughout.

Martin (Paolo) sees his entire family wiped out by a vampire. It's a good thing that Mister (Damici) just happened to be along at the same time. Martin's father uses his dying breath to tell Mister to save Martin. From there, Martin narrates the story. He tells us about Mister, where they are headed (New Eden aka Canada) and what it's like for him out there on the road and dealing with such grown-up responsibilities without really having any kind of childhood. Mister is tough, but he's fair. Mister teaches Martin how to survive, constantly giving him tips and quizs on what to do if something happens. Mister also teaches him about all the different kinds of vampires out there and what to expect from them should they attack. While traveling, they come across a town that's blocked off -- it's on lock down. Proving themselves to be vampire hunters, the townsfolk let them in and they relax for what little time they have within the city limits. After getting some necessary supplies (they use vampire teeth as a form of currency), they continue their journey north and come across some guys chasing a nun, Sister (McGillis). Mister doesn't take too kindly to this and offs the guys and saves Sister. After another stop in another town, they come across a pregnant hitcher named Belle (Harris) and take her in as well. Later on, a cult called The Brotherhood (who worships the vampires and calls them the children of the salvation) reveal that they're after Mister for killing two of their men, one of them being kin to the wacko cult leader, Jebedia (Cerveris). The movie continues from there with many obstacles standing in their way and not knowing just who to trust exactly is what makes this movie succeed. It keeps you involved the entire way through.

It's not a dialog-heavy movie and it doesn't bore you to death with too much back story and details. It's as simple as they come, really. Boy loses family, vampire hunter takes him in and they have to fight their way North to Canada. I like the fact that the film used good old fashioned regular vampires -- ones that die in sunlight and when they get staked through the heart. It made the whole premise seem more plausible and it didn't have any goofy subplot where one of the vamps fall in love with a human malarkey.

Everyone involved did a very nice job, there wasn't a rotten apple among them. The film was shot very well and didn't get too dark during the night scenes (annoys me when I can't see what the hell is going on). If anything were to be changed about the film, I'd work on delivering a more powerful ending than the one that was presented. As it stands now, it works and I'm content with it... however, it could have been better. A lot of people will probably poo-poo the ending because it doesn't answer all the questions, but some questions don't really need to be answered. I can fill in some of the blanks, just don't ask me to fill in all of them -- I sat down to watch a movie, not a Mad-Lib.

More reviews at www.soveryterry.com

Final Grade: B+


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