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Iron Man 2 (2010)
2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
A sequel that surpasses expectations, 1 May 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Being a huge fan of Robert Downey Jr., I naturally want to see everything that he is in. When I found out that he was Iron Man, I was intrigued and excited. I loved the first movie and eagerly anticipated the second one. When it came out, I was worried it would not live up to my expectations.

I needn't have worried; the movie surpassed my expectation. To be honest, I didn't know what to expect. I just wanted the relationship between Stark and Potts to develop more. I liked that there were links to other Avenger characters, such as the mention of New Mexico and a drawing of the Tesseract. At the time, of course, I didn't make the connection because I hadn't seen any of the other Avenger movies. Now that I have, I look for the hints that are cleverly placed in all films.

Robert Downey Jr. once again shines as Tony Stark. You see his vulnerability in this one when he realizes that the palladium heart he uses to stay alive is also what is killing him. Downey, of course, makes Tony real. He makes mistakes and then tries to recover from them. He is arrogant and egotistical, humble and scared. Downey allows Tony to show all of these emotions without making him a caricature. He really is one of the greatest actors of his generation.

Returning as Pepper Potts is Gwyneth Paltrow. As in the first film, Potts does not have a lot to do but still needs to be rescued. Paltrow plays Potts well; at one point I wanted to throw something at her for the way she treats Tony. I get that she's irritated by his behavior, but the fact that he's trying to make amends should count for something yet she doesn't think so. Paltrow is perfect.

Don Cheadle takes over the role of Colonel James Rhodes from Terrance Howard. I really wanted to hate Cheadle; Howard was so perfect as Rhodey. However, Cheadle did a great job and at times, I forgot that Howard didn't return to the sequel. We get to see Cheadle suit up in this one as War Machine and I loved when both he and Stark teamed up for battle.

Academy Award winner Mickey Rourke is Ivan Vankov, a Russian determined to get revenge on Tony for what Howard Stark did to his father. Rourke is convincing as Vankov, carrying the Russian accent perfectly and makes you believe that he really is Vankov. One interesting thing to note is that the beautiful bird that was in the film was at the request of Rourke. He wanted Vankov to have a human side and have love for something, and so the bird was added into the film. This was a risky move that works. Although you know that he's up to no good, you can't help but like him when he requests that his bird is with him when he works.

The rest of the cast is rounded out with Sam Rockwell, Scarlett Johansson, Clark Gregg and Samuel L. Jackson. Of course, each is wonderful in their roles. It was nice to see Jackson and Gregg return as their characters from S.H.I.E.L.D. and introduce us to Johansson as well. There's a bit of a hint as to who she really is early in the film when she takes Happy down in a boxing move, but you have a tendency to forget that until her alter ego of Natasha Romanov is revealed.

Graphics play a huge part in this movie and rightfully so. Tony is an innovator and a step ahead of modern technology. It makes me hope that everything he uses will eventually be in every household in the world. Audi also makes a guest appearance when Tony drives a few of his cars in the film.

Many people were worried that Iron Man 2 wouldn't be as good as the first one, but those worries were quickly put to rest. For a sequel, it is everything it should be. Here's hoping the bar is raised even higher in Iron Man 3.

Prom (2011)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
One night can change everything, 28 April 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I never went to my high school prom. So normally I would avoid a movie with this title like the plague, but as I caught it on TV one night, my interest was piqued. After watching it, I discovered I really liked it. A cute movie about an important rite of passage: senior prom.

The movie stars Aimee Teegarden as Nova Prescott, your typical honor student. She's class president, valedictorian and has won hundreds of awards. She's also chair of the prom committee and is devastated when the decorations are ruined a few weeks before prom. Teegarden gives a believable portrayal of a snobbish good girl who opens her eyes and her heart to the rebel without a cause. She is also very pretty and you feel her pain when Jesse rejects her.

That rebel is Jesse Richter, played by Thomas McDonell. Giving the "who cares?" image, McDonell is perfect as Jesse. He wears the typical leather jacket, drives a motorcycle and doesn't care what others think about him…except for Nova. We see him slowly change during the course of the movie and begin caring about prom and the young class president. One of my favorite scenes is when he first sees her in her prom dress. The look on his face is of a man in love. McDonell is perfect in this role and my favorite in the film.

With the exception of these two leads, the rest of the movie is made up of a plethora of different characters. There's the sophomore boy, Lucas, who is in love with his classmate Simone, who wants to go to prom with the biggest jock in school. He, in turn, is a player and courts another woman at the same time. There's the "forever" couple that have been together since junior high, Mei and Justin. Mei has just accepted an offer to attend Parson's for design in the fall, despite her boyfriend believing they are going to the University of Michigan. One person I really enjoyed was Rolo, who goes through the whole movie claiming that his date will be coming to prom, but us never seeing her. While I knew what the ending to that story would be, it was nonetheless enjoyable to watch.

Do not think that this movie does not contain adults; it does and strong role models as well. Jesse's mother is a no-nonsense woman who makes him see the light near the end of the film. Nova's parents want what is best for her and when her father thinks she'll make a decision she'll regret, he intervenes. "I know you thought you were doing what's best for me, but tonight could have been one of those great things," Nova tells him after. While not necessarily right in his assumptions, you can understand why her father did what he did. He is not portrayed as the bad guy in this film, or as a laughable character. He is portrayed as a loving father who wants what is best for his little girl.

Special effects in this movie are minimal; but in a story like this, you do not need a lot of graphics. The dresses worn by the girls at prom were beautiful, but a few looked too conservative for high school. However, this being a Disney film, that was probably a requirement. Another nice change of pace is the lack of swearing that so often accompanies high school students. Again, being a Disney film, swearing is not allowed.

While not the best movie in the world, I found myself quite entertained throughout it and eagerly anticipated the next time I would see it. If you are sick of the typical movie produced in Hollywood today, give Prom a chance. A nice movie without a political message, you will be thinking about it after it is done.

Dread (2009)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Dread the dread, 6 April 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I am not a rabid horror fan. I like horror movies, but most of the ones that come out do not interest me. So when I saw that Twilight star Jackson Rathbone had made a horror movie (during the high point of Twilight's popularity), I knew I had to see it regardless. I give it 6 out of 10 mainly due to the ending.

Dread is about college students who find out about people's innermost fears. One young man, Quaid, saw his parents killed when he was a kid and he's thoroughly messed up for life (understandably). He is obsessed with this project and with getting his way. Shaun Evans stars as Quaid and brings a craziness to the role. You can see his descent into madness after he stops taking his medication. At first, his obsession is small, but as he begins to hurt his friends, you realize he's completely gone. Excellent.

Jackson Rathbone is Stephen, a film student needing a thesis project. He agrees to go along with Quaid and does a fear study, believing that it is just a school project. Rathbone is perfect as Stephen. He is completely convincing as a naive man who realizes Quaid's sociopath tendencies, albeit a little too late. At the climax, when Rathbone goes to Quaid's house near the end, you can tell that he himself has descended into madness. There is a reason why Rathbone is making his mark in the film industry; he has the talent.

Laura Donnelly played Abby, my favorite character in the film. Abby felt discriminated against her entire life because she has a full birthmark on the right-hand side of her body. She hates it and believes it is why she is not beautiful (I beg to differ). During her segment of the fear study, she says that she realized in kindergarten that her birthmark was something to be ashamed of and every time she meets someone new, she returns to that fateful day. She also has a crush on Stephen and believes his rejection of her is because of the birthmark, when it actually is not. We never really find out what happens to her after she tries to remove the birthmark near the end of the film, and I wish we had.

Cheryl Fromm is played by Hanne Steen. Cheryl is also a film student who partners with Stephen to work on the fear study. Steen was very convincing, especially when we learn why she can't stand to look at a piece of meat. I did not find her as attractive as Donnelly, however. She did very well when locked in a room in Quaid's home, although we also never find out what happens to her. I have my assumptions, but it would have been nice to have a concrete answer.

Dread is based on the short story by Clive Barker. When they made the movie, they changed the ending. I know that Hollywood is famous for this, but I wish they had kept the original ending. I think it would have been more fitting to the story. With the ending that we are given, we see some good acting from Rathbone and Steen.

This is another movie that does not rely on effects too much to tell a story. However, there is blood so if you are squeamish, you may want to avoid this. Unlike other horror movies, I did not find the blood count to be too bad in this one. In some films, I believe they go for shock value and try for as much blood and gore as possible. While it is present in Dread, there are only a few scenes that show it.

This movie was effective for me in regards to thinking about your innermost fears. I know mine came to the surface while watching this film, along with a few others. It takes courage to admit what scares you the most, and even more courage to face the demon head-on. This film looks at both those aspects.

I do not know if I will add Dread to my collection as I did not like it that much. However, I am glad that I saw it to show support to Rathbone. As long as Twilight fans continue to support their actors, Rathbone will have a long career ahead of him. Regardless, I will be eagerly watching him.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Angels Indeed, 6 April 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I will admit, I wanted to see this movie only for Jackson Rathbone. But because of my interest in him, I discovered a cute movie. Cowgirls 'n Angels is about a 12-year-old girl named Ida who joins a touring rodeo company called the Sweethearts in order to find her estranged father. Along the way, she learns about responsibility and the value of friendship.

Bailee Madison stars as Ida Stanton. She gives a great performance as a girl on her own, not respecting authority who finds friendship where she least expects it. James Cromwell is the owner of the Sweethearts, a female rodeo touring company. I loved Cromwell in this role. He was authoritative when he had to be but also makes time for the girls. You can tell that he loves the Sweethearts with everything he's got.

Alicia Witt is Elaine, Ida's mother. Elaine believes that all people involved with the rodeo are "lowlifes" because her husband was one. She forbids Ida to participate at first, and then changes her mind at the thought of money. Although I liked Witt in this role, I wish that she had more to do. She doesn't really ever understand Ida's desire to know her father, yet does a great job trying to keep her from meeting him. She allows Ida to be a part of the Sweethearts, but I don't believe she ever really understands her daughter.

Dora Madison Burge is Kansas, one of the Sweetheart riders. She is instantly nice to Ida and the two form a bond. Burge shined when she had to make a decision about whether to stay with the Sweethearts or pursue love when it comes calling. Although I did not agree with her decision, I enjoyed watching her in this role and looking at her profile on IMDb, she is in hot demand.

Jackson Rathbone is Justin, Kansas's boyfriend. Rathbone is originally from Texas, so it was no problem for him to speak with his Western accent. Although Justin does not have a lot to do in this film, every time he was on the screen, I smiled. Rathbone brings sweetness to Justin that makes you understand why Kansas chooses him over the rodeo. And with his cowboy hat and beard, Rathbone was very attractive. And I literally swooned when he tipped his cowboy hat.

The rest of the cast also excelled in their roles. I did not find one person out of place and believed that the mean girls really were mean and the men that they met along the way were genuine cowboys. The acting was not over the top from anyone and I hope to see everyone in future roles.

One thing I liked about this movie (besides the horses of course) was that it did not rely on special effects to enhance the story. While some movies nowadays spend millions on effects to make a poor story spectacular, Cowgirls 'n Angels relied on the plot and the acting itself to attract the audience. And of course, horses help too. I was nervous watching the film, worried that a horse would get hurt.

Overall, Cowgirls 'n Angels was pretty good. There were times when I wanted to smack Ida for being so difficult and other times when I wanted to run off with Justin. A simple story with a message, I hope to see this movie again.

An outstanding guest performance, 5 March 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Whoever said Jackson Rathbone can't act has NEVER seen his performance on Criminal Minds. It is an outstanding piece of acting and Rathbone is convincing as Adam Jackson. When he becomes Amanda, his split-personality, his whole demeanor changes. Not only does his voice get higher, but he walks like a woman. Men tend to walk from the shoulders and women walk from the hips. As Amanda, his hips were moving. And there was something about his eyes. They were so expressive, I felt that it really WAS Amanda in there. Rathbone has impressed me in his other work that he's done, but my favorite so far is this episode titled "Conflicted."

Yes, I am a Twilight fan and watched Criminal Minds for Rathbone. But, I know good acting when I see it and Rathbone nailed this episode. I am surprised he didn't receive an Emmy nomination for guest actor as it was that good. Rathbone is an up-and-coming actor. We'll see more of him in the future.

Thor (2011)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Earth never knew what hit it, 1 October 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I have to admit, I only became interested in seeing Thor because of The Avengers. I remember sitting in the theater thinking "that Thor guy is kind of hot." Well, after the movie was over, I knew that I had to see Thor and learn more about the leading actor.

In Thor, the God of Thunder is set to inherit the throne from his father when the castle is attacked by the Frost Giants. In retaliation, Thor and his brother travel to their realm and a fight breaks out. Lives are lost on both sides. As punishment for his actions, Thor's father Odin strips the future king of his title and all honors bestowed on him. He then banishes Thor to Earth.

Thor is now mortal, wandering around Earth but still thinking he is a god. He befriends Jane Foster; a beautiful scientist who is immediately attracted to him. Thor gets into some trouble, but always makes sure to place Jane out of harm's way. When Thor's mischievous brother Loki assumes the throne and lies to Thor about their father's death, Thor sacrifices himself to keep Jane safe during a showdown. This heroic act brings his powers back and Thor returns to Asgard to battle his brother.

Chris Hemsworth stars in the title role. Did I say he was "kind of" hot? My mistake. He's incredibly hot. Not only did I enjoy the visual of him, I enjoyed his portrayal of Thor as well. Hemsworth shines as the God of Thunder. He plays him arrogant, self-obsessive and rude…then he changes. We see Thor become sweet and understand that simply killing an entire race just because you want to is wrong. This is brilliantly done as Hemsworth makes Thor likable.

Jane is portrayed by Oscar winner Natalie Portman. Jane is the reason why Thor cares for Earth; he believes there is good on the planet and swears to protect it. Portman shows much emotion as Jane, such as when she thinks Thor has died or when chasing satellites and other scientific things. While her emotions are there, Portman herself has little to do throughout the movie besides running around and drooling over Thor's body.

Tom Hiddleston is Loki, the God of Mischief. One thing that I liked about Hiddleston's portrayal is that he makes Loki sympathetic. I could tell that Loki really did care for his family and wanted his father's approval; he just went about it the wrong way. Hiddleston's descent into madness is brilliantly subtle. You see his change when he realizes he's adopted, then when he takes the throne, then drunk with power. You see even more of that descent into madness in The Avengers. And while he fights his brother, I believed that he would lay his weapon down if Thor would have treated him as his equal. Hiddleston was one of my favorites of this film.

Sir Anthony Hopkins plays the King of Asgard, Odin. This supporting part should have been bigger, but he spends half of it in "Odin sleep." However, if he hadn't been in this, Loki would have had no reason to assume the throne. Hopkins is great at trying to convince Loki that he loves him, even though Loki refuses to believe it. And I liked when Odin snapped Thor's ego back into place when he banishes him to Earth.

Darcy Lewis is played by Kat Dennings. While I have no problem with Dennings, I thought Darcy was completely pointless in the film. Her character was a bit annoying and did not move the plot at all. Had Darcy been eliminated, the story would have continued on. She was not a vital part.

The effects in this movie are alone enough of a reason to see it. Practically all of Asgard is computer generated and the Rainbow Bridge is phenomenal. I especially enjoyed the battle between Thor and Loki, seeing the different effects used with the scepter and the hammer and the effect to create multiple Lokis. Another great graphic is the castle itself; it made me believe that gods really lived there.

Thor is not a great movie; it will not win any Oscars. However, it was fun to watch and a great introduction to a character that gets screen time in The Avengers. I have heard that a sequel to Thor is in the works. I hope that the major characters return, but most especially Loki. He deserves another chance to shine.

4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Great interpretation of a classic!, 18 September 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I loved everything about this movie. The acting, the effects, the story; it was a magical ride. I was saddened to hear that this movie was panned when I found it quite entertaining. I think some people get too caught up in original stories and can't let interpretations happen. I liked how they tied the original story into this new adaptation. The huntsman, the apple, the dwarfs are all there; this just creates a different angle.

Kristen Stewart stars in the title role of Snow White. A fan of hers since Twilight, I was eager to see her in a completely different role. While she did display some of her classic deer-in-the-headlights look, she did also show emotion and empathy throughout the film. Some would say she is unattractive, but I find her to be. I thought she was quite beautiful in this, most especially when she wore her white dress.

Chris Hemsworth is the Huntsman. I have only recently discovered this man, having seen The Avengers, and am in love. He is not only attractive; he is a good actor too. As the Huntsman, he does not get to portray a wide variety of emotions, but the ones he does portray were realistic. The Huntsman is angry that his wife has died and wants to join her. He provokes fights because he doesn't care about anyone or anything. He is sent on the mission to bring Snow White to the queen and along the way he begins to warm up to her. His intentions change along with his feelings and Hemsworth shows this. By the end, you are convinced that he is in love with her. Hemsworth does this beautifully.

Charlize Theron is Queen Ravenna and is brilliant in the part. Although I wanted to see SWATH for the budding romance, I was instantly drawn to the queen. I couldn't help smiling when she was on screen as she is the quintessential villain. Theron plays her evilly, yet with empathy. You actually understand why she is the way she is, and in a way, you want her to win. She is perfect when yelling orders (which she does quite frequently) and her scene where she felt her brother's pain was excellent. It is easy to see why this Oscar-winning actress was desired for this role. She emulates the queen perfectly. If someone did not like Stewart or Hemsworth, that person should see this movie for Theron alone. It would be interesting to see a prequel regarding the queen's life prior to Snow White.

Bob Hoskins is almost unrecognizable as Muir, one of the dwarfs. I had no idea it was him until the end credits. His line "you have eyes, Huntsman, but you do not see" wraps up the then-budding relationship of Snow White and the Huntsman. He knew that she was the king's daughter, but he was unaware just how powerful she would be. I believe this is one of the reasons why he fell in love with her. Hoskins' character, of course, already knew it, even though he could not physically see it.

Sam Claflin shines as William. I was not a fan of the love triangle that was emerging in the story; I solely wanted Snow White with the Huntsman. But then I started thinking of how much fun that could be. The two of them could battle for her affections and cause some very comedic moments. In this story, the romance with both of them is pretty subtle; you would miss it if you weren't looking. The only real indication is that William kisses Snow White when he thinks she's dead.

The biggest stars of this movie are the special effects. I was quite blown away by the way they made the queen get to Snow White and how they portrayed the mirror. The music complements nicely and I want to add the soundtrack to my collection. For the most part, it is all instrumental, but the songs that aren't fit perfectly.

In the original story, Snow White's spell is broken by the kiss from a handsome prince. In Snow White and the Huntsman, the spell is broken another way. I loved this because I was rooting for the Huntsman and this gesture proved that HE was her one true love.

My only complaint with this movie regards the white horse that Snow White rides. When he drops into the mud and not able to go on, we are not shown what happened to the horse in the Dark Forest. Perhaps we are to think that he is magic and disappeared right after Snow White ran away. After all, he was just sitting on the beach waiting patiently for her after she escaped the castle. But we don't know that for a fact. I would have liked the horse to have appeared in a scene later, showing the audience that he was okay and letting Snow White know she was the one to "heal the land."

Snow White and the Huntsman is not the best movie of all time, but it is a good time. I enjoyed it and will recommend it to people. It is a new twist on a classic tale and one that can be taken into interesting territory if played right. The end of the movie hints at a sequel and I am excited to see what that will bring. No doubt there will be more depth to the budding relationship between the two leads. Regardless of where they go, they have a franchise on their hands. Snow White and the Huntsman is a fun ride.

2 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Our TRUE American Heroes, 8 March 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

There's a lot of negativity about the acting in this movie; people are saying that the SEALS are wooden and do not show emotion. To that I say, they are not actors, they are military men. They are not trained to show emotion. They are not trained to be actors. There are no acting classes in boot camp. These are actual Navy SEALS doing a movie. And while the storyline is fiction, the film itself is based on real acts of valor that these men do every day. It did not matter to me if their performances were wooden (and personally, I did not think so). I saw the film for what it was: a pro-military, pro-American movie proudly made by our heroes. And I was proud to be an American while watching it. I cannot get this movie out of my head.

Had Act of Valor not been about our heroes in fatigues, I probably would have given it a miss. There's a huge body count and a lot of action to entertain the male sex, but generally not me. However, since I have seen this movie twice and will many more times, I must say that the violence did not bother me as much as I thought. This could be because this is what the SEALS deal with every day and I felt that I got a first-hand look at a day in the life. Either that or my preferences are changing.

I thought everyone in the movie was fabulous in their roles, including the SEALS. There were times when we laughed and times when we cried out. There were also times when we just cried. The plot kept me engaged and graphics were good. To me, it felt comparable to a high-priced Spielberg movie. The action was wonderfully paced; just when you thought it was safe, something new popped up. It was hard to decipher between the two main SEALS in the movie, but that did not detract from my enjoyment. Be sure to bring your tissues as I guarantee you will tear up at the end. I overheard some men say as we left that they had the sniffles too. And the touching tribute to the SEALS that have died in the line of duty will cause a permanent lump in your throat.

One interesting note is that their names do appear in the credits; however you only see their title and last name. This is no doubt for their safety. And here on IMDb, you do not see them listed at all. I think that was a smart move; I would have been fine if they had not listed their names at all during the end credits. Perhaps they wanted a bit of glory.

The title song of the movie is Keith Urban's "For You" and it fits perfectly. The more times I hear this song, the more I tear up. The rest of the soundtrack is just as good and includes artists like Trace Adkins, Wynonna Judd and Lady Antebellum. The score is also attention-grabbing and dramatic.

I enjoyed everything about this movie and am eagerly looking forward to having it in my collection. For those who love America, you will enjoy this film. Act of Valor is not Top Gun, nor does it pretend to be. See this for what it is; a film made by TRUE patriots who risk their lives every day to protect our freedom. Damn Few.

Love & Distrust (2010) (V)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Likable and Tolerable, 20 September 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Unlike other reviewers of this film, I will not whine about how "bad" it is or ask for my money back. While I agree this is not the best film, it is not the worst. It is a series of five vignettes all tied together under two crucial elements: love and distrust. While the plots of the short stories don't have a direct link, they all share this common ground.

'The Summer House' stars Robert Pattinson in a five minute role. He is a lovelorn boy who desperately wants to get back with his former girlfriend. As with most one-acts, it makes no sense whatsoever. While his performance is good, the rest of the story revolves around the moon landing. I was wondering what the point of the summer house was; why didn't it just focus solely on the moon landing and not on the ended relationship? 'Blue Poles' stars Sam Worthington. He is riding with a woman that he picked up on the road. She is rude to him and he tells her he wants to see the blue poles. They sleep together and she leaves him the next day. Another case of a one-act making absolutely no sense, I found this to be the least intriguing of the five.

'Grasshopper' stars James Franco. He is a young executive who meets this woman on a train. She wears heavy makeup and hooker-like clothing; no doubt a prostitute. He is intrigued by her, but at the same time cautious. He tries to befriend her but she doesn't want that. They both end up in the same motel, right next to each other. A tragedy occurs the next morning and Franco leaves the town he's in, never forgetting her.

'Pennies' was an intriguing look at a woman's desperation to do anything for her daughter. Starring Amy Adams, she receives a phone call reminding her that she owes money and that they have her daughter. Throughout the day, Adams' character waits tables and has enough money by the time limit when a robber comes in and takes it all away again. 'Pennies' is a takeoff of the song "Pennies from Heaven," in which good things can happen from people you least expect it. Throughout the short, Adams' character realizes that people are kind at heart.

'Auto Motives' is about what goes on in peoples' cars. A man tries to pick up women on the streets of New York while a woman in a limo laments about her divorce. The best part of this vignette was Robert Downey Jr breaking into James Cameron's house and stealing his Camaro. Downey's screen time is five minutes, but it is five minutes well spent.

I rented this movie because I am a Pattinson and Downey fan and their names drew me in. However, after seeing it, I can honestly say my favorite vignette was 'Grasshopper.' By far the most serious and depressing, it is also the best written. Franco shines in this role and his co-star, Rachel Miner, reminds me of Kirsten Dunst. While I enjoyed Downey and Pattinson, of course, Franco's performance outshined all of them.

I am glad that I saw this, but it isn't one I will add to my collection.

0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
The best horror movie I've ever seen, 7 October 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Paranormal Activity is a scary movie. It's not a "how much blood and gore can we incorporate into this movie and get the death count up to one hundred movie." No, it's psychologically scary and therefore is more affective.

I've seen many horror movies that focus on murder and blood (Halloween, Scream, Bleed), that becomes boring after awhile. You lose count of who dies and I generally find that by the end, I don't care at all. Paranormal Activity stayed with me after it was over because my mind was replaying what I had seen. It made me wonder if the paranormal really does exist and for once, I wasn't completely denying that fact.

I first became interested in this movie when I saw Eclipse. The trailer for Paranormal Activity 2 was shown and my interest was piqued. I rented the first, not really knowing what to expect, and was pleased to see it was a low-budget film shot in a director's house. He hired four actors for the film and did not use many special effects. Movies like this are always a gem to find when they work. And it does.

Here is the plot: Micah and Katie have dated for awhile and decide to live together. It wasn't until after they moved in together that she revealed a secret: she has a demon following her. They hire an expert to check the house out for any signs that it is haunted. The expert says yes, it is and the demon wants Katie.

Throughout the movie, you see things happen, mainly at night, to let the viewer know that the demon is alive and well. A door opens and closes by itself, a sheet is drawn back on the couple sleeping in bed, lights turn on and off in a hallway. It's little things like these that are the scariest.

As the movie progresses, more and more things happen and the demon becomes more and more angry. A picture of the couple is smashed with the crack over Micah's face, Katie is pulled out of bed by the demon and Micah has to rescue her, etc. It all leads up to the shocking and unexpected conclusion.

This film pays homage to The Blair Witch Project in that it's shot with a small camera and is documented. Also, the characters are annoying at times. At several points throughout the film, I found myself wishing that Katie would either shut up or be killed by the demon. She really got on my nerves. I could understand her stress and frustration throughout the film, but the way she was acting was completely childish.

That's not to say that the actress herself didn't do a good job. She did. In fact, both of the leads did. I found myself drawn into the story more and their talent is what made the ending so shocking for me. That and the fact that Micah is absolutely gorgeous. I kept wishing he'd dump Katie and go in search to find me. I felt that I would be a better girlfriend than Katie was. And I'm not being stalked by a demon.

The setting is modern-day, in southern California. The house is too huge for Micah's salary and Katie's student status, but what do you expect in Hollywood? In movies, people without money are the ones with the biggest homes. As it is filmed with a hand-held camera, graphics are minimal and there is a bluish hue when filming at night. It does not detract at all; rather remind you that this is a "documentary" and "regular people" going about their lives.

The sequel is what interested me in this movie and now I plan to trek to the theater to see it when it opens in a few weeks. But before I do that, I will rent this again to re-familiarize myself with the characters and pick up on things I might have missed the first time. I hope Paranormal Activity 2 is just as good as the first one. If so, a franchise will be born and two young actors will quickly climb to the A list. And who knows? Maybe there is a hint of truth to the film.

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