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Ignore the numbering, it's really in no particular order.
Ghost in the Shell (2017)
top notch action sci fi
Let me just say for starters that this is a real review written by someone who actually watched the movie, and someone who has actually watched the original Ghost in the Shell movie several times before the live action movie came out, along with Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence and Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex: Solid State society. The live action movie delves even deeper into the story lines in the Ghost in the Shell franchise, and combines elements from all the stories to create a fantastic action sci-fi that is both intellectually and visually stunning.
I'm typing this qualifier because the majority of the other reviews about this movie look like outrage reviews written by people who didn't even see the movie and are just abusing IMDb's review system to promote their own political viewpoints. They aren't interested in actually seeing the movie or giving a thoughtful review about it. They are only here to trash it and this is why IMDb took down the forums in the first place. I know my review will probably get a bunch of thumbs down because people only care if I agree with them rather than whether I wrote a good review or not.
With that out of the way, the accusations of white washing are dubious at best. The Major in the anime was in a white looking cybernetic body even though she had a Japanese name. I base this opinion on the fact that in the original movie there are characters drawn specifically to look Asian and if the Major were Asian then she would be drawn that way. The creator of Ghost in the Shell has come forward to say that he was impressed by both Scarlett Johansson's casting and her acting abilities. If she's good enough for the creator of this movie then who is anyone else to keep arguing against her?
The argument that a character having a Japanese name means that character is Asian is also questionable. I went to school with Asian Americans with white names either because they were adopted or because their families had fully assimilated into American culture. If I were to make a movie about one of them, should I cast a white person to play them simply because they have a white name?
For those who haven't seen it or are discouraged from seeing it because of other people's bullying: I suggest that you don't let anyone else stop you from seeing this movie or enjoying it. I had concerns that it might not be good because there are elements of animation that just aren't translatable to live action. I am pleased to say that I was wrong and this movie took my breath away with both visuals and a story line that delves into who the Puppetmaster is and what his motivations are. After seeing this movie I am interested in finding the television series that goes along with the movies I already have. If a movie can make people interested in the source material then it's done it's job IMO.
Scarlett Johansson made an excellent Major. I could tell she worked hard and studied the original movie closely to mirror the Major's mannerisms and behavior. As for the complaints that the movie didn't delve deep enough into philosophical things, I don't think the original movies did much of that either. Nothing was ever fully explained and the viewer was left to puzzle out their own answers. These are the kind of movies that you have to watch with your brain engaged rather than being passively entertained. The movies aren't meant to be a replacement for formal study of existential philosophy. They are meant to pose a hypothetical scenario with hypothetical reasons behind it and the viewer is supposed to draw their own conclusions.
I do have a few complaints about this movie, but they are fairly trivial considering the movie as a whole. This review is getting long and I only have a thousand words so I won't go into my own complaints that aren't really relevant. Overall though this movie is worth putting money down to see and that's what matters.
The Lonely Ones (2006)
low class trash
Full disclosure: I specialize in reviewing movies that are low budget and in unusual niche genres, and I am willing to give a low budget film a 10 if they've put effort into the final product. So when I give a film 1 star, it's for a pretty good reason.
I am going to be one of the unpopular "haters" and give this movie one star. I simply cannot bring myself to give it any more than that. This movie makes the same mistakes Grave Encounters and other low budget movies make by trying to appeal to the "cool teens are self-righteous buttholes" sclock. No, I don't think your characters are cool and no, it doesn't make your movie hip and interesting. It makes you look like like a backwards dolt who can't write actual characters, so instead you make them as offensive as possible thinking the rest of us won't notice. Dropping the b-word bomb every two minutes does not make me think you're awesome.
This movie is sadly sexist, racist, and unbelievably boring. The black characters are among the first to die. Really? I thought we'd gotten past the 1990s but I guess not.
The movie actually could have been good since the actors weren't half bad. While the premise is fairly creative with the untapped ghoul genre, the overall end product fails to deliver anything but annoyance.
My advice: re-make this movie as a found footage film (you could write a character that has a dedicated and monetized YouTube channel and sets up cameras to create a silly moment compilation to post online - giving a reason for the cameras to be rolling) no b-word bombs (grow up already), and ditch the Terminator type "hunter" character. Write a script with less characters that have more maturity, because being able to take characters seriously is the key to creating suspenseful scenes. Since the sentimental scenes weren't half bad, you could keep those in and make it like a weekend "couple's retreat" or something. Making the ghouls talk takes the scariness away. Keep them silent and more menacing. As far as the 1988 split screen disaster, just leave it out. And don't put into idiot words like "sororitutes" which is just offensive.
In conclusion, with whatever you do next, stop creating obnoxious butthole content and I'll give your movie more stars. Deal?
The Other (1972)
strange but intriguing story
Great acting, a unique story line, and excellent character development earns this movie 10 stars easily.
For anyone who is confused about the movie and needs someone to explain/spoil it for them, here it is: A little boy named Niles is a gifted psychic who is able to predict the weather and the gender of babies when they are born. His grandmother Ada teaches him a trick called "The Game" where he is able to project his mind into other people and even animals.
The movie starts about three to five months after Nile's twin brother Holland dies by accident by falling into a dry well. Since Holland was the proverbial "evil twin," his soul cannot move forward to Heaven. Thus, his spirit remains a haunting presence in the house and surrounding grounds of his family's residence.
Tragedies begin to happen around the farm pointing at Holland as the culprit. How can he perpetrate the crimes (including putting a baby inside a bottle) if he is dead? The answer is simple: "The Game" works both ways - when a person is able to transfer their mind into another being, a ghost can transmit their own mind into living people. Holland possesses Niles by transferring his mind into the mind of his twin brother that's still alive.
Babushka, or Grandmother Ada finds out too late that "The Game" is dangerous and tries to stop Niles from playing it. Niles is afraid of losing his brother if he stops playing, since that is the only way he is able to still communicate with his brother. The movie doesn't make it clear whether or not he actually stops, only that the spirit of Holland continues to possess Niles and compels him to murder people.
If you like movies that are psychological and weird, watch this one! I saw this when I was younger and did not understand it. I recently re-watched it and realized what was going on. An amazing movie all around.
The Ninth Gate (1999)
requires symbolic literacy
This movie is superbly made puzzle and most people won't "get it" because they are hung up about the idea of the Devil (and their own preconceptions of the Devil).
The movie is dualistic in it's character development, telling a story of two paths (Balkan and Corso's) and how vastly different they are when they converge at the end of the story. Balkan is still driven by passion and obsession, whereas Corso learns that knowledge can have greater value than money. The difference is obvious and yet most people don't seem to notice it. Balkan starts out as a high handed, sanctimonious Satanist yet becomes more pathological (and out of control) in his desire to summon The Devil, Corso becomes more thoughtful and genuinely interested in the puzzle of the engravings that speak to achieving a higher plane of consciousness.
There is symbolism through the movie that takes the viewer on a journey with Corso (the Tarot's Fool). There is plenty of esoteric analysis available on the Internet if you google the terms "Tarot" and "Ninth Gate" and "engravings." If you aren't already somewhat familiar with occultism, it's probably going to go over your head. Googling "Cathars" is also helpful.
I think if I were to give an overall summary of what this movie is trying to say, is that freedom and personal power don't come from self-delusion or worshiping Satan. The Ninth Gate portrays Satanism as a personal and intellectual failure on the part of so-called spiritual rebels that can't see past their own impulses and ego. The lesson of the movie is that enlightenment comes from within and a willingness to let go of attachments to the physical world. The Ninth Gate is almost like Buddhism in this respect.
The Steve Wilkos Show (2007)
an abusive show
Steve Wilkos will no doubt appeal to barbarians who think violence and aggression are going to solve society's problems. No, it will not.
Watching Steve Wilkos scream at the top of his lungs, throw chairs, and treat people like garbage might make you feel better, but he's just feeding into the cycle of violence in this country.
This is not to say that I am thrilled with the kind of people he has on his show. The problem is, Steve's methods of dealing with them are unhealthy and flawed. Steve's methods of dealing with constructive criticism is also ridiculous. His basic response to anyone to anyone who finds something wrong with his abusive behavior is to say "If you aren't with me, you're against me and you're with the criminals." This is fundamentally stupid because most reasonably intelligent people can see flaws in both Steve and the crappy people he finds to put on his show.
I'm also not thrilled with the idea of taking lie detector tests as total gospel. For the most part I trust lie detectors but they can be wrong. Steve never, EVER considers the idea that sometimes his test results might be wrong. I have no reason to believe that the lie detectors are done in a professional manner considering the very UNPROFESSIONAL manner of his show. I just read a review where one of Steve's former guests were allegedly kept up all day and all night and literally starved in their own hotel room. That will affect the lie detector test how? Think about it.
There is much more to this show than meets the eye and whatever is going on behind the scenes is not good. I think the show is exploitative and Steve has no regard for potentially ruining people's lives.
really really good
I'm a fan of low budget and indie movies that make the most of what they have and live up to it's fullest potential. Absentia is one of those movies where great acting, directing, and minimal special affects brings together a psychological and existential horror unlike anything else I've ever seen.
While not inspired directly by a story from Lovecraft, the movie is Lovecraftian in it's storytelling and supernatural concepts. This movie is more Lovecraft than many self-proclaimed Lovecraft movies and that is saying something.
I don't scare easily but I found myself on the edge of my seat waiting for what would happen next. I am really surprised that there are people who don't like this movie or think it's boring. I guess it's boring if you're used to psycho-slasher flicks that substitute gore for good storytelling.
Lake Mungo (2008)
could have been so much better
I really wanted to like this movie, but I almost fell asleep halfway through it. That hasn't happened to me since the Europa Report, which is saying something. This movie had great acting, great atmosphere, and an overall genuine feel to it. Sadly, it just didn't live up to it's own potential.
There's a lot that could have made this movie better: 1. Shorten the time to about an hour which is typical for a documentary style special. A lot of it could have been cut out for brevity's's sake.
2. Allow the ghost photos of the teenage girl to be real. I thought it was a real cop out and a major interruption to the story when it was revealed that the brother was faking the pictures. The end of the movie would have been more satisfying had the ghost pictures built up to the big reveal later.
3. Nobody needed to know about a teenage girl's sex life. Nobody needed to see some old pervert taking advantage of his babysitter. I thought that was tacky and unnecessary to the overall storyline. FYI, if you needed to see that then you have issues beyond what a message board can help with.
4. Expand the psychic's role in the storyline. The trick with the tapes was original and could have played a bigger role overall.
5. Make the girl's death more meaningful than a spontaneous drowning. Tie it into a local legend or something.
best one to finish it all
I am a fan of the series, and I thought this movie is cool. I'm not thrilled with the added CGI affects but the spirit photography was a clever spin the franchise needed to wrap up and be done with.
I am not thrilled about the timeline, either. The movie series is already complicated enough without adding in yet another twist and turn in a sequence of events that is difficult to keep up with. Die hard fans will have to open their notebooks or set up another corkboard with yarn to figure out how character A got to point Z without the fabric of the Universe collapsing.
Overall, though, it was a really good movie. I'm not sure why everyone else rated it so low. I'm going to assume that the low ratings are from people who hate the series, to which I would ask them, if you hate it then why are you watching it? People have been complaining about this series since the third movie, and still they are watching it. I guess it can't be that bad then, hmm?
The Collingswood Story (2002)
outdated, clichéd, and ridiculously boring
I am normally more generous with found footage and indie movies, but this one is pretty bad. I want you to think back to all the old junior high horror paperbacks, eighties horror movies, and urban legends you've heard about. Take a bit from each one, put them together and you've got this movie - it's nothing but standard fare haunted house storytelling with the narcissistic element of being the star of your own webcam show.
It's really too bad, since some real effort was put toward making this movie. I could tell that the actors and director were personally invested in this movie. This movie is not 100% bad, but the slow moving plot and pointless personal drama make it nearly unbearable to watch. The webcam idea is great for found footage, but the fake computer screen was a terrible idea. None of the characters were well written or likable in this movie. The dialogue was written very poorly.
If I could say anything positive about this, it would be that there is no shaky camera footage to make me sick. The last ten minutes or so was suspenseful and genuinely scary. There were good sound effects and ambiance sequences were kept at a minimum.
Other than that, I really didn't enjoy it at all. I'm a fan of low budget and found footage movies, and I saw this because of all the high ratings. I thought I'd found a gem of a movie to pass on. Sadly, that's just not the case.
My Sweet Audrina (2016)
another botched job from lifetime
I really wanted to give this movie more than five stars, but it appears that Lifetime isn't interested in doing V.C. Andrews books right to earn a higher rating.
Lifetime needs to learn to ask fans what is important about these books before making them. If they can't even get the character's hair color right, then why are they bothering at all? This is a serious question. Color symbolism was important to V.C. Andrews books, which they would know if they had read the books and taken them seriously enough to write a script to reflect it.
There's so much wrong with this movie, I can't even. But I'll try.
1. Damien was ruthless, cruel, and a charming psychopath. The movie implies he is a creepy child molester which is stupid. They would know this if they read the book.
2. Arden was much more of a selfish, demanding dick in the book. He had his good qualities but deep down inside he was only concerned about himself and his own guilt ridden psychological complex. The movie makes him look like god's gift to Audrina, which he wasn't.
3. Billie Lowe is missing.
4. Sylvia is missing.
5. Mercy Mary teatimes were missing.
6. Audrina's hair color was missing. It was a point of her identity in the book and tied her to her mother.
7. Vera's hair color and eye color was missing. Vera's eye color was supposed to betray her true father - Damian.
8. Ellsbeth was portrayed as a milquetoast pushover. Yes, Ellsbeth stayed at Whitefern because she was still in love with Damian. However, in the book her personality was much more disciplined and stuffy. She was nowhere near as nice in the movie.
9. The ending was mixed up and made no sense. The chronological order of events were switched around.
10. The rapists in the book were Audrina's classmates, not 18 year old teenage boys.
There are excellent visuals and atmospheric qualities of this movie that were overshadowed by the hack job the script writer gave to V.C. Andrews book.