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Trick 'r Treat (2007)
Crash meets Creepshow
Ambition ruins movies. Period. Horror films suffer the same fate, so many try to scare the living daylights out of you or attempt to add a new spin to an old (and overused) genre. Masked men, torture, etc... I've been tired of the same old tricks for years, but Michael Dougherty's little horror anthology was a nice treat.
This movie plays into the very essence of Halloween itself. Everything about Halloween plays a part. From Jack-O-Lanterns, to candy, to ghost stories, to the creepy old person living in the run down house with the mean dog. All the stuff works into the plot. To watch this film is to enjoy Halloween itself. I won't divulge the plots of each but, the film presents to you 4 tales of terror, each interwoven into another (unlike the piece by piece style of "Creepshow" some may not like this, however) You see characters from each plot in the background of the others. Speaking of background, the cinematography was wonderful and (having watched this in the summer) made me long for a breath of crisp, cool, autumn air.
Everything in this movie is good. The big actors don't out shine the kids, neither story is more essential or larger than the others, the director doesn't try to make this anything more than what it is. So with the ambition gone, you are left with a better product that sadly was confined to DVD but is easily obtainable (I got my copy free with another purchase)
Enjoy this movie around Halloween or if you're just in the mood for a bit of spooky fun. But skip the popcorn and sit down with some candy corn instead.
Classic Michael Bay
If there is one thing Michael Bay is good at, it is the spectacle. If you're hungry for big explosions, robot-on-robot battle scenes, sprinkled in with shots of the lovely Carly played by Rosie Huntington-Whiteley- you'll receive your fill and then some. The primary cast from the previous two films returns, with the exception of Mikaela, Megan Fox's role, who (all sex appeal aside) was easily replaced as by the aforementioned Ms. Huntington-Whiteley. New additions to the cast include Frances McDormand, who was overly qualified for her one-note part as the Secretary of Defense. John Malkovich is excellent in his limited role as Shia LaBeouf's new boss, Bruce Brazos. (I have a sneaking suspicion that the part was written for him specifically) Patrick Dempsey does well as Dylan Gould, Carly's rich and handsome boss and for Shia LaBeouf, competition for her affection. Special acknowledgment goes to Alan Tudyk as Dutch, Simmons' (John Turturro) special assistant, who nails every scene he gets. The primary Autobots and Decepticons return, with some new looks and some new additions here and there to each side.
Critics will pan this movie for this reason. All special effects aside, the plot is only an excuse for the action that occurs. The characters (new or old) are not very compelling and I felt more emotionally for the 'bots more than anyone else. I didn't seem to care about the human casualties because most of them are pretty damn useless. But listen critics, this is strictly clap your hands and smile stuff, this is the equivalent of Michael Bay jingling car keys in front of us and (just admit it) we love it. It puzzles me why Frances McDormand got into this, she's been part of so many gourmet movies, why would she be part of this greasy cheeseburger of a movie? I think it's because she's the same us- we love junk food every now and then. So when you see this flick, sit back and relax, and enjoy it for what it is. Oh, and bring extra napkins- at 2 hours and 37 minutes running time- this is a big helping.
African Cats (2011)
More than you expect!
We often think of African wildlife documentaries as being dry, reiterated, or just clips of either cute baby animals or slow motion shots of the predator striking at it's prey. All under the dry narration of Sir David Attenborough or someone trying to sound like him. This is different.
The theme of "African Cats" is one of a mother's love, the setting is on a stretch of Kenya divided by a great river where on one side we are shown a lioness and her cubs as members of the ruling pride, on the other a mother cheetah and her cubs as she attempts to raise her young as a single mother. Each situation has it's benefits and it's disadvantages.
All of this wonderful story telling occurs amidst the beautiful scenery of Africa and all under the perfect narration of Samuel L. Jackson whose voice matches the inflection and emotion of every scene reminiscent of the work of the late John Facenda of NFL Films.
The movie does not try to out-do its predecessors and be more than it is, it stays to it's story and it's themes and makes for a wonderful film for anyone. From the kid who loves animals, to the casual film goer who enjoys a good story. 6 out of 10, check it out.
The Skulls (2000)
Could've been worse...
The Skulls is a decent mystery/drama that has some intensity, keeps you interested, and moves well enough. But in the end though, you feel like there should have been, well... more. It has a similar feel to "Enemy of the State" but fails to strike you at home, for the struggle comes to the privileged membership of an elite college, and not to the ordinary man (although they do their best to make Joshua Jackson seem as normal as possible) The acting is fair, bordering on good. Paul Walker, does his part justice and the veterans of this cast- William Petersen (in one of his last films before CSI) and Craig T. Nelson both give the film credibility but the characters are restrained as to not overshadow the youngsters. Leslie Bibb is somewhat limited as her character's dialogue and use is at times asinine. Director Rob Cohen built a movie exactly for the PG-13 rating, using actors mostly known for TV teenage dramas, he does not over complicate things for the sake of the age group it's aimed for. Still, when all is said and done, the fact that it played it safe made certain that this movie did not fall on it's face. If there is one thing I take away from this movie, it has a classic last line delivered by William Petersen- but you're gonna have to watch it to find out.