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5748 reviews in total 
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problematic origins story, 22 August 2015
4/10

In 1442, the Turks enslaved 1000 boys from Transylvania and used as Janissary troops. Prince Vlad was one of those boys and his ruthless exploits would earn his nickname Vlad the Impaler (Luke Evans). He would eventually rule Transylvania peacefully as a vassal to the Ottoman empire. Mehmed II (Dominic Cooper) is marching on Venice and demands 1000 boys from Transylvania. Vlad keeps his vow to his wife Mirena (Sarah Gadon) and battles the Turks rather than send his son. Vlad goes to Broke Tooth Mountain to seek help from the Master Vampire (Charles Dance). After Vlad drinks the Vampire's blood, he gets his supernatural powers. If he resists drinking human blood for 3 days, he would return to be human. If he drinks, he would be a vampire forever and could be called upon to help his maker one day.

There is too much exposition. It saps away much of the tension from the beginning. It starts off lifeless and tired. The 3 days rule is problematic for a number of reasons. It would be more compelling to straight-up exchange his soul for his kingdom. Instead, he's renting out his soul which is less compelling.

Giving the origins of Dracula a movie has some good potential. Luke Evans does a commendable job. Dracula fighting the Turks could have been another 300. This is nowhere near as good. The battles are neither fun nor suspenseful. Dracula is almost Superman and should easily defeat the Turks by himself.

That leads to the question of Vlad's illogical strategy. Why is he going back to his family and his people when he hungers for human blood? Why isn't he out hunting Turks from sunset to dawn? Why doesn't he just battle the Turks by himself? Why doesn't he go find Mehmed as soon as possible? Vlad's incomprehensible lack of strategy weakens this movie to its core.

Annabelle (2014/I)
scariest thing is the sewing machine, 21 August 2015
4/10

It's 1969 and the Manson family is in the news. Dr. John Gordon (Ward Horton) and his pregnant wife Mia (Annabelle Wallis) move into a Santa Monica house. He buys a vintage doll for her collection. They are attacked by a Higgins cult couple. The police arrives just in time. Strange things happen and the kitchen burns. They decide to throw out the doll and move to an apartment in Pasadena with their daughter Leah. Somehow the doll is in one of the boxes and Mia decides to keep it. Strange things continue to happen. Father Perez (Tony Amendola) and Evelyn (Alfre Woodard) try to help the young family.

The last half of the movie is a struggle. At least the first half has the sewing machine. They're able to squeeze some tension from that prop. The gimmick is that Annabelle needs someone to voluntarily give up their soul. It makes the victim a pretty weak character. Essentially it preys on the weak and vulnerable. It's not scary. It's kinda pathetic. The movie relies too much on things moving in the background and other less than effective scare tactics. It adds nothing original.

Brokeback Desert, 21 August 2015
7/10

It's 1959 Reno, Nevada. Vivian Bell (Helen Shaver) is an English Lit professor at Columbia in NYC. She comes to stay at a ranch owned by Frances Parker to establish residency in Nevada for a quickie divorce. She's been married to another professor for 12 years in a professional marriage. She's willing to give him everything. Cay Rivvers (Patricia Charbonneau) is a wild child who lives at the ranch as Frances' surrogate daughter. She's relatively open as a lesbian considering the times but she still gets hit on by men. She finds herself falling for the newly arrived older woman.

It's not necessarily the most dramatic or the most well made lesbian movie. The lack of drama is a triumph in itself. This time, lesbianism doesn't end in tragic deaths or finding a man or insanity. It also has an amazing lesbian love scene and not just for its eroticism. These characters are compelling and shockingly normal played by two terrific actresses. Their relationship doesn't destroy them but actually leaves them fulfilled.

desperate to be quirky and poignant, 21 August 2015
4/10

Jason Lair (Josh Lucas) is a single dad to Zach and living with his grandfather Henry (Michael Caine). Katrina (Glenne Headly) is their live-in maid. Then they are interrupted by the arrival of Jason's long absent dad Turner (Christopher Walken). When Jason was 2, he lost his mother in a crash and Turner disappeared into addiction. The sickly Henry is happy to see his son before he dies while Jason is bitter with his arrival. Henry and Zach is at the KFC where Henry type out elaborately planned notes as his will. He dies at the KFC and Jason is forced on a winding trip with his father as dictated by Henry.

This is so desperate to be quirky and poignant that it really achieves neither thing. I hated Glenne Headly's quirky undecipherable accent. I hate the use of KFC. In real life, I love me some KFC. I love the old recipe. I love the new recipe. There is nothing better than some KFC as a treat. The over-use of KFC in this movie reeks of desperation. Maybe Jordan Roberts thinks this is great quirky fun. It is not enough to just show the KFC logo. It is not funny on its own. The first part is a tired depressed muddle.

Walken and Lucas are perfectly good actors. They have some good father son moments. The material is not usually up to par. The kid contributes very little but he's very young. There are some good moments but it's not enough.

Lolita (1997)
the anti-Kubrick Lolita, 21 August 2015
5/10

As a 14 year old in 1921 Cannes France, Humbert fell in love with older Annabelle but she dies from Typhus. In 1947, Humbert Humbert (Jeremy Irons) starts a professor job in New England. He rents a room from Charlotte Haze (Melanie Griffith) who has a flirtatious 14 year old daughter Lolita (Dominique Swain). Humbert ends up marrying dislikeful Charlotte to stay close to Lolita. Charlotte discovers Humbert's secret lust for Lolita and gets killed by a car. Humbert drives Lolita on a road trip but lies to her about her mother. There is always Clare Quilty (Frank Langella) around.

The opening shot of Lolita is way too thirsty. The sprinklers getting her wet is completely over the top. It reeks of desperation from trying to top Kubrick. It's like a bad teenie porno. Melanie Griffith is an inferior Charlotte. Her character is smaller and less interesting as a minor role in this film. In another anti-Kubrick move, Quilty is reduced back to his original size. Jeremy Irons and Dominique Swain take up most of the space in this over 2 hours movie for better or worst. Dominique does a nice job. Jeremy Iron is a great actor as always.

My biggest problem is that his character is constantly the victim in this version. He is superb in convincing the validity of his love for Lolita. Jeremy Iron does this sympathetic weakness. He does the same thing in 'Damage' but in this case, it's very off-putting. It goes beyond the fear of discovery. While it may be more true to the intention, it makes it a harder thing to watch. I always wonder what the movie would be like from Lolita's point of view. By the last act, I got very tired of Humbert and his patheticness. At that point, I found his narration like fingernails on the chalkboard. The movie is already too long and I couldn't wait for it to be over.

Millennium (1989)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
interesting sci-fi idea executed poorly, 20 August 2015
6/10

In 1989, a passenger plane crashes and NTSB investigator Bill Smith (Kris Kristofferson) gets the case. Theoretical physicist professor Dr. Arnold Mayer shows unusual interest in the crash. The cockpit tape has a mysterious declaration "They're dead! All of them! They're burned up!" There are watches going backwards. Bill is approached by mysterious Louise Baltimore (Cheryl Ladd). They spend the night together but she disappears. He finds a mysterious device that stuns him. Then Louise and two women in strange outfits grab the device, jump through a portal and disappears.

The sci-fi concept and the story is actually quite interesting. The execution leaves a lot to be desired but the movie is still extremely memorable. The acting is below average. Kristofferson is stiff at the best of times and Cheryl Ladd is no award winner. The pacing is slow. This feels like a 70s movie despite being made in 89. The future design has some funky campy elements. The time travel idea is still interesting which makes the movie watchable.

Millennium (1989)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
interesting sci-fi idea executed poorly, 20 August 2015
6/10

In 1989, a passenger plane crashes and NTSB investigator Bill Smith (Kris Kristofferson) gets the case. Theoretical physicist professor Dr. Arnold Mayer shows unusual interest in the crash. The cockpit tape has a mysterious declaration "They're dead! All of them! They're burned up!" There are watches going backwards. Bill is approached by mysterious Louise Baltimore (Cheryl Ladd). They spend the night together but she disappears. He finds a mysterious device that stuns him. Then Louise and two women in strange outfits grab the device, jump through a portal and disappears.

The sci-fi concept and the story is actually quite interesting. The execution leaves a lot to be desired but the movie is still extremely memorable. The acting is below average. Kristofferson is stiff at the best of times and Cheryl Ladd is no award winner. The pacing is slow. This feels like a 70s movie despite being made in 89. The future design has some funky campy elements. The time travel idea is still interesting which makes the movie watchable.

Cheaters (2000) (TV)
conflicted morality, 20 August 2015
6/10

It's 1994 in a run-down Chicago public high school. Dr. Gerard Plecki (Jeff Daniels) is the hopeful teacher organizing the Academic Decathlon team. The only student who shows up is the plucky Jolie Fitch (Jena Malone). She helps him recruit a ragtag group of diamonds in the rough. They get fifth and advance to state. However, they also see how far behind they are from the favorites. A couple of kids steal a copy of the state test and the group faces a true dilemma.

It's interesting to see the story through the eyes of the cheaters. The characters make convincing arguments but it's also obvious that they are going down the wrong path. This conflicted morality makes this a difficult watch. Jeff Daniels is the senior presence and Jena Malone makes this compelling. The production isn't the highest quality but it works for a TV movie.

OK groundhog day idea, 20 August 2015
5/10

Brian (Frank Whaley) is a lone scientist working on short term time travel back 20 minutes in a government super collider in Texas. Frank (James Belushi) is a petty criminal looking to sell stolen advanced computer chips. He's a loudmouth angry husband to Rayanne (Shannon Whirry). They pick up hitchhiker Karen (Kylie Travis). Frank kills Rayanne thinking she cheated on him. Karen escapes to the lab where she is accidentally sent back in time. Only things go much worst and she has to do it again.

The story is way too convenient. It's action galore but it feels very manufactured. Part of that is the crazy cartoon character that Belushi is playing. If he could dial back the crazy, his character could actually be more intense. The idea is interesting but the execution is too wild.

"Skins" (2007)
great risqué teen drama, 20 August 2015
9/10

This British TV show follows a group of teens for 2 series and then replaces the cast for the next 2 series. It takes on risky subject matters. There are lots sex, drugs and everything else. I also really like the show setting different characters as the lead in many of the episodes. It's a very innovative and risky approach to a TV series. The cast is mostly compelling with some great young up-and-comers.

The first two series are led by the bold popular Tony Stonem (Nicholas Hoult). The best character is the eccentric and damaged Cassie Ainsworth (Hannah Murray). There is also the silent and mercurial Effy Stonem (Kaya Scodelario).

The second two series are led by Eff and her talkative innocent friend Panda. The most interesting characters are probably the twins Katie (Megan Prescott) and Emily Fitch (Kathryn Prescott). Their relationship is somewhat outside the norm for TV and has loads of drama. James Cook (Jack O'Connell) is the lead male.

The third two series started off with the sexually ambiguous Franky Fitzgerald (Dakota Blue Richards) and her rocky relationship with queen bee Mini McGuinness. Franky is befriended first by nice Grace Blood. Franky's character changed a bit too much for my taste. Also the lost of Grace disconnects the two halves.

The seventh series revisits Effy Stonem, Cassie Ainsworth and James Cook after they left school.


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