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The Visit (2015)
Finally a good M Night movie
A brother and a sister visit their grandparents, all the while video taping the experience, and going through some very uncomfortable and unexpected events. Mom has sent them to visit, as they have virtually alienated themselves from her, but still want to see the kids. At first, everything is great, but when night comes...really weird things start to happen. Although the story is simple, and there is nothing earth-shattering here, it works just fine. Character's self-filmed movies, like this one, don't always work, but this was done in a clever way, with angles and shots that shine more often than not. All actors are pretty good, even the sometimes grating Oxenbould playing Tyler. Deanna Dunagan must have studied some kind of insanity manual to do this, she's very good.
Creepy, funny and with a neat twist. There's a real hilariously sick, or sickly hilarious scene that will haunt you for weeks if you're a germaphobe.
The Avengers (2012)
So, which part did you like?
Ah, comic superheroes. I used to read The Avengers as a kid. It wasn't my favorite comic, but I really got into the story-lines that ranged from simple single villain battles to country-wide political issues. Teamwork was of the utmost importance, and although most of the characters had their own comic series, it dove into some meaningful character studies itself, too.
As for the movie, you couldn't really ask for much more. It's got everything that an action/fantasy, hell even comedy lover would want and then some. Assembling a team, saving the world against evil while trying to cope with each other is just a lot of fun to watch! Each hero had some interesting story to them. You've got the bulk, brawn, & cooped up anger of the Hulk, the out of time sturdy super soldier Captain America, The playboy genius/joker Iron-Man, the arrogant but powerful & other-worldly Thor & the Russian Shield Agent Black Widow. But not Hawkeye. Nobody liked Hawkeye so let's skip him.
Tom Hiddleston is better than he should be as bad-guy Loki. He and Agent Coulson, played by Clark Gregg somehow became fan favorites. I understand Loki, he's a bit of a tragic figure. He's been damaged emotionally and physiologically by others, & good example of evil. But I don't understand Agent Coulson. I mean, I liked the guy but he has FAN SITES, by golly.
Director Joss Whedon was perfect for this, he's a comic book lover, & well established in epic like storytelling for TV shows. And I haven't even mentioned Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury.
Does the movie have flaws? Sure! But so does every other movie, including The Dark Knight, which had far, far more head scratches & dumb plot holes than I could count.
Regardless, this is a must see movie for all fans of the genre.
Pacific Rim (2013)
32 Reasons Why You Need To See "Pacific Rim"
Brings back child-hood memories of Godzilla Vs. xxx & Ray Harryhausen stop motion model animation & Tokusatsu!
Cool martial arts scene.
The visuals are imaginative & incredible without almost no bad CGI in sight.
Humans conquering problems through teamwork, made up of diversity.
The monsters are big, huge, GIAGANTIC, & scary as hell.
Estimated Damage to NY in "The Avengers"=$160 Billion. "Man of Steel's" Metropolis= $700 Billion. "Pacific Rim's" several continents= In the trillions (still being calculated as of July 2013)
Has drama & romance scenes that never get in the way of the action.
Draws from several genres of monsters, yet the final creatures are original.
Cool costumes that have detailed battle-reflected scratches and grime.
Charlie Day doing Charlie from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, but on smart pills.
Idris Elba' character Stacker Pentecost saying the coolest 6-word line about an apocalypse ever.
Tom Cruise was NOT chosen for the role of Stacker Pentecost.
Yes, that is Ellen McLain, voice of GLaDOS from the video game Portal that you'll hear.
Awesome fighting sequences on land, sea & air.
Each special weapon Jaeger has it's own cool feature.
A very likable, personable protagonist played by Charlie Hunnam.
A beautiful, leading woman, Rinko Kikuchi, that's never exposed as a sexed-up dumb, kitten(you know, like Star Trek's obvious bra & panties scene or Transformer's Megan Fox bending over a car)
Some represented countries working together: China, Russia, USA, Australia, & Japan.
The 3D is actually good.
Good clichés, not bad ones.
Great use of color saturation.
Whether you love or hate Guillermo del Toro, you have to admire his flexibility: Horror, Superhero-action, Drama, & Fantasy. This is him at his nerdiest best with Sci-Fi Action/Adventure.
Cool during-credits sequence.
Best sequence of setting off a Newton's Balls (or Newton's Cradle) accessory in a movie put to film.
A live action Japanese Mech-warrior anime? YES PLEASE.
Over 2 hours long for maximum entertainment.
Expect over an hour of deleted scenes edited out of the movie for the DVD/Blu-ray release with alternate endings.
Boeing CH-47 Chinook helicopters doing incredible & probably impossible tricks with Jaegers.
ELBOW ROCKET PUNCH!!!
Done for less budget than Transformers: Dark of the Moon and still winds up looking better.
Funny scenes are funny.
À l'intérieur (2007)
Gory but a disappointing mess
A pregnant woman is being stalked & tormented in her house by a woman who wants her baby, and wants it OUT as soon as possible.
After hearing all the praise that Inside got, I was really looking forward to it. I've really been getting into some French horror lately, Irreversible being one of my faves, hell, I even really got into the love it or hate it High Tension. But this... really disappointed me. Aside from Béatrice Dalle's performance as the killer with a love for scissors, and lots of gore, there's almost nothing here! Alysson Paradis who plays the pregnant Sarah, is just not a very interesting character. We are supposed to feel sorry for her because she just lost her husband in a car accident, but I just wasn't feeling it. Since her character was scripted to be emotionally distant from everyone, including her friends, so are we distanced from her. Scenes are stretched out a bit longer then they should, resulting in nothing interesting happening & even becoming repetitive. For a horror movie, it wasn't scary, as the suspense is negated the further you go. I thought perhaps the ending would resolve something, but it didn't. There's just no real mystery here as to who the woman is if you even give it a second thought. There was no surprise, message or interesting conclusion to talk about after it's done. It's just... done. Sure, you're left with questions that the movie will not answer, but it has no reason to because the plot really turns out to be very thin.
More bad stuff include scene after scene where we continue to see a bad CGI of a baby being shifted around with silly emotions, bumbling idiot police & a completely ridiculous scene with one of the cops who does something unbelievably stupid with his captive & another REALLY weird scene with a circuit breaker which even the directors didn't know wtf was going on. Don't get me started.
Now, if you're just watching the movie for the sheer shock value, by all means go for it. There's plenty of blood & gore to go around. I do love my gory flicks, but why this movie tries to aim for something more serious when it's clearly just a mediocre gratuitous gore movie and why it's critically praised by some as the second coming of all horror films is beyond me.
Saw 3D (2010)
Saw ends the series with a bang, a rip, & a buzz.
To those that have grown to love and hate the Saw series, here it is. The final Saw. How much you will like the end of the series depends on how you go in thinking about it. Here's some advice: Don't think about it so much and watch the movie. Also, stop expecting it to change. It won't.
In this one, a self-help motivational speaker is a survivor of Jigsaw's traps, and launches a book to promote helping others. But there are secrets to be uncovered from both him and the others involved from the previous installments, and will be pitted against, you guessed it: traps.
There's a whole lot of death here. A LOT. The body count registers more then any of the others, as far as I can tell. Hoffman himself is as dangerous as any trap. Most of the traps are OK, but there is one in particular that takes place in a junkyard garage that is gruesomely well done. The 3D effects? It was fine. Rather then doing a quick conversion, the producers actually implemented the 3D effects from the start. Some were very well done, others were very minor and simple, but at least not overdone. Still, I could have seen the movie in 2D and given it the same rating.
What makes Saw so appealing to me is the fact that the writers go that extra mile to tie up loose ends, filling in details of the past. It's obvious that they are making it up as they go along, and if you do wind up thinking too hard about it, it's absurd. Thinking back, so are most horror series movies. As usual, it's best to have seen the previous Saws in order to understand what is going on. Sure, this 7th Saw has its share of problems: a few too many unnecessary flashbacks, not enough screen time for the two big returning actors (John & Dr. Gordon) & timing issues. (The clock shows only 5 seconds left, why are they still working on it 20 seconds later??!)Another bothersome thing to me is that somewhere along the way, they tossed out "teaching the wrong-doer a lesson" and moved into "just kill anyone in the way" in order to progress the story. I think it could have worked without that, and it gave a bad feeling somewhere in the pit of my intestinal tract. But in the end, these are minor issues. You go see a movie like Saw to see who's the backstabber, how did he/she do it, and is person X going to make it out alive, not for sentimental crap. Those that continue to want to see a different movie, or a Saw that is aiming for an Oscar are in for a big disappointment. If after Saw 4 you were tired of it, don't be silly. Stop watching it and stop wasting your time.
I've also seen comments on how flipping back and forth from one story line and character to another is confusing. The previous Saw did this too. Well, I was never lost. It was easy to follow, and it made it all the more exciting. Seriously, if you can't handle fast-paced action sequences, slightly complex multiple story lines, and huge amounts of blood, go watch something slow and boring like Paranormal Activia, or whatever the hell it's called. Yes, director Kevin Greutert wanted to do PA2, but why? I do recommend Saw 7 over it.
The Crazies (2010)
The Crazies works, but just barely...
A small town in Iowa gets infected with a toxin that makes people crazy enough to kill each other. Town sheriff and wifey try to survive.
I really wanted to like 'The Crazies' a bit more. I like zombie/infected movies in general, even the cheesy ones, and of course Romero's ones, including the 1973 The Crazies, which this is a remake of. But The Crazies is in a long line of these types of movies that are popping up way too much, such as The Happening. Replace the nature part with government/scientist/terrorist group, etc., and you pretty much have filled about 5-10 years worth of these types of movies with little variety. (28 Days Later remains one of my 'recent' favorites) Sure, it had it's share of good parts, such as some folks strapped to gurneys while an infected walks around with a pitchfork. It's well produced, and director Breck Eisner seems to hold it together well, amid the small amount of movies he's made. Timothy Olyphant was good as the sheriff, but someone needs to beat him with an 'old' stick until he looks his age. But I guess I was looking for a bit more of this survival horror movie, maybe a better ending? I was a little disappointed with the cheese at the end, considering the movie takes itself seriously.
The Last Airbender (2010)
Not fantastic, but not terrible.
For those that don't know what the story is about, The Last Airbender is taken from an animation TV series on Nickelodeon. An Airbender is a person capable of using a power to control elements, such as wind and fire. The young protagonist, Aang, ran away because of the pressures of being an Airbender, and goes into a state of suspended animation. He is unfrozen by 2 others, Ktara & Sokka, but after he wakes up, finds he has been out for a long time. Since then, the Fire Nation has disrupted peace, launching a plot to stop Air Nomads so that they may rule over them and the rest of the world. It's up to the Airbender to help restore peace.
SO let's start with the bad: The movie just didn't have enough to make it great by any means. Much of the dialog was stiff, as was some of the acting. For a kid's movie, it was humorless. I saw the movie in 2D, but I heard that the 3D was awful, as it was originally intended to be a 2D. Don't try to compare it to other good movies such as perhaps Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings. And of course, it will never be able to replace 61 episodes that made up the TV series, because much of the characterization and story line is missing. The same can be said of countless other comic book and TV series adaptations.
The good: The action was well-done for a PG rated movie, as were the special effects. Scenery, good cam angles, and the general mythology behind the story were spot-on. I would at least compare it to some lite kung fu movies. Without, umm... any Asians.
But there are two different types of people who hate this movie so much that they ridiculously give it a rating of 'one': 'Professional' critics that hate M. Night Shyamalan, and 34 year old geek fans of The Last Airbender TV series that still live with their parents, and probably have yet to see the movie. Oh, and lets add a third one: all those that give me a 'No' to "Was the above review useful to you?", although they are probably one and the same. Just a few glances at some comments here and in other sites like IMDb show some comments like "This movie sucked because it wasn't like the TV series". I also thought it was funny that low ratings were coming in far before the movie was released. Among some of the criticism was that the characters were boring, & didn't have enough background to them. So what? You all REALLY expected a so-so TV series to take off in an Oscar-winning performance on the big screen? Please. Shyamalan may no longer be the "it's a twist!" director we kind of fell in love with 10 years ago, but the hate felt for him after The Village & The Lady in The Water has gone on too long.
So what should be your expectations of it? You should go see the movie as an action/adventure, some sword and sorcery w/martial arts. It is NOT the epic, fun-filled family film it wants to be, sure, but to call it the worst movie of the summer? Please. You know what family films were bad? Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel. The Karate Kid remake. The Last Song. Marmaduke. Anything in 2008-2010 with the word "Twilight" in the title. I would rather see Airbender 3 times then a second more of those movies. Seriously, if you're that anal about movies, just wait for it on Netflix or something.
OK mix of Event Horizon & Aliens
Pandorum isn't going to win anyone over with deep, insightful messages, clever dialog or originality. It can be confusing, the protagonist falls down WAY too much (about 5 times before the first hour)and the rest of the cast of characters (the exception of Dennis Quaid) are as interesting as unpopped popcorn kernels. Action scenes are filmed to close or too dark. The twist ending will either make the story a bit more interesting, or make you roll your eyes up to the theater ceiling, where you will notice that it's not as well constructed as you thought it would be and are a bit mystified as to where the money for your movie ticket, soda and candy goes to.
Yet, I cannot not say Pandorum was bad. It delivered exactly what I expected: a horror sci-fi in a claustrophobic spacecraft with Dennis Quaid doing something questionable. Really, it's what I've been waiting for.
The movie starts off with a bang with crew member Bower (Ben Foster) waking up, not knowing who he is, all disoriented, & not knowing what his mission is supposed to be. Then another member, lieutenant Payton, (played by Dennis Quaid) wakes up, but no better with the memory. Still, they are determined to turn this ship back on, as things don't look good with it. But where are the other people? What the heck happened and what are those crazy & scary looking things with teeth? Eventually, Bower meets up with more survivors. But as I already mentioned, you can't invest your thinking into the characters too much to care about them, because everyone comes off as a bit crazy. So we put our focus on Bower and Payton, the only folks who seem to know what might be going on and how to fix it. The storyline does take you one mysterious step at a time, allowing you to figure out what is happening. The title "Pandorum" refers to some kind of space madness that occurs to some folks who wind up thinking that the mission is cursed and go nuts.
Still, if you liked Aliens, Event Horizon, or other similar movies, you'll likely enjoy Pandorum.
Law Abiding Citizen (2009)
Cool, but what does it really show in the end?
No, I'm not telling you what happens in the end. Relax.
So main guy Clyde, played very well by Butler, goes up against society and it's justice system because his family was murdered and one of the murderers goes free. He takes 10 years to develop a plan, and he's going to involve his original lawyer, Nick Rice, played by Foxx. Nick made a shady deal that allowed the criminals to have soft sentences. Somehow, Clyde orchestrates a series of murders, all from his prison cell, and no one can figure out how he does it. At first, Clyde goes after the bad guys, but it's soon revealed that he had a lot more in mind, such as government officials.
What works here is Gerard Butler. He looks like he is enjoying himself as he sits back and watches his plan unfold, teaching people "lessons". Sort of reminds me of Saw in that respect. What doesn't work is Foxx, or at least the script of his character. We know that he has acting chops, he played so well in 'Ray', but there's no way he convinces me as a D.A., simply because there are just too many things someone of his intelligence would never do. The movie eventually gets a bit out there in the "real" department because this infection of things that are improbable start affecting other things too. Since the movie is taking itself seriously, I have to come to the conclusion that it wants you to believe everything here is on the ball. I'm not sure if I enjoyed how it eventually ended, either. What did we all learn from it? How could anyone have taken the actions and words of something similar to a terrorist to heart as a comfortable life lesson? Unfortunately, we first like Clyde a lot, sympathize with him, then we are forced to hate him. You know how Charles Bronson, Rambo, or any other "I'm gonna get you" character is still somewhat likable in the end? Not here.
But let me not hit too hard because I still enjoyed the revenge-but-something-bigger-than-that based story. Some of the scenes were clever, and it did have some cool AH HA! moments. Just don't think about it too much.
Saw VI (2009)
Way better than it should be
The sixth Saw is a damn good movie. Go see it.
That is all.
Still here? Need more to convince you, huh? Well, this is the best Saw since the 2nd, or perhaps since the first. Once again, it fills gaps in the story, works like a smooth, well oiled machine, & has clever, deadly traps. Surprises here are numerous, opening up twists in the middle of the story, not just the end. Less crime scene investigation, and more character based dilemma, which is good, because it was getting a bit grating watching a cop show with Saw 4 and 5. And yes, the gore is still there, still quite bloody, but somehow never overdoing it.
The story? What can I say that won't ruin the movie? How about that this is the first Saw to really stick it to what's happening with current events? Health care companies be damned.
Saw has managed to create some copies, such as 2008's Untraceable, & this year's Law Abiding Citizen. None of these movies applied logic. Implausibility is the word of the day. If anything in Saw happened in real life, it would have ended with none of the victims learning anything, winding up going to therapy for the rest of their lives. But seriously, if you go to watch a movie with that in mind, you're never going to enjoy yourself. Saw 6 can stand on it's own, requires a little knowledge of the past, sure, but not completely necessary. It took me by surprise because sequels aren't supposed to be good at all.
Oh yeah, before I forget, Tobin Bell has the absolute best lines here regarding health, patients and insurance. Don't miss that scene with him at the HMO office. Take a good look at the name of the company, too, for a good laugh.