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6 reviews in total 
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3 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
Stupefyingly dull, 14 June 2011

After having slogged through Joe Swanberg's unwatchable "Hannah Takes the Stairs" a couple of years back, you can probably imagine I was not that thrilled when I saw his name at the start of this film. I decided to keep an open mind and sallied forth anyway. The results were, unfortunately, about what I expected.

As with "Hannah", this is a largely improvised movie that seemingly goes nowhere—at ten miles an hour at that. The plot involves the characters working on a play with tribulations that spill over into their real lives but it's about as interesting as watching an actual play rehearsal. The movie has very little actual story and I simply could not get involved with this at all.

Maybe it's me; maybe I don't get the whole "Mumblecore" genre of films about twenty-somethings but at just an hour and a quarter, it was an ordeal to sit through, even on TV at home. How does one do a movie with improvised dialog? Watch "A Mighty Wind", "Waiting for Guffman" or any one of the Christopher Guest-directed movies. That's how you do it, folks.

Mr. Swanberg, this is the last film of yours I will be wasting my time with. I applaud young filmmakers willing to take chances but you've got to engage your audience if you want to keep them awake and coming back for more.

Crocodile (2000) (V)
Could have been better, 24 March 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Possible spoilers here! I'm giving this a five rating based mostly on the good faith of director Tobe Hooper. He's made some wonderful movies in the past and I know he still has a few good ones in there still. But this was rather disappointing. A bigger budget would have helped since most of the crocodile sequences are clearly a plastic-looking model being pulled through the water.

The plot involves eight pinheads who go to get good and drunk on spring break. They stay on a houseboat in a lake where a large crocodile (supposedly over a hundred years old) lives. Mayhem ensues when the croc's eggs are destroyed by a couple of yahoos who have no other connection to the plot other than to destroy the eggs and become dinner for the croc.

One of the movie's real faults is that some of the characters are just so damned obnoxious you just want them to be eaten and out of the film already. (Duncan especially!) Also the old guy who informs everyone about the crocodile and its habits who spits tobacco (at least I assume it's tobacco) after delivering every other line. This guy spits and spits and spits! Okay, we get it already. Thank you.

On the plus side the women are all cute in their bikinis and it is refreshing to see that most of the crocodile effects are on-set physical effects rather than CGI (which is used minimally here). But still in some shots it's just painfully obvious a floating puppet is used for the crocodile.

A subplot about one of the characters betraying one of the women actually gives this more depth than you'd expect from a low-budget creature movie.

That said, it's actually still better than most drivel that airs on Sci-Fi Channel (where this turned up recently I noticed) and there are a few really good "jump" moments.

Please try again, Mr. Hooper. I still think you're a good horror director.

Grizzly Rage (2007) (TV)
More Sci-Fi Channel fun!, 25 February 2009

While watching the DVD of this film, I kept going back to the same thought, "This looks like something that would air on the Sci-Fi Channel." Darned if I wasn't right! "Produced in association with Sci-Fi Pictures" appears prominently in the end credits, and it certainly explains the dreky parts of the movie. The current score on IMDb is exactly right! (2.3 when I submitted this.)

As the DVD box explains, "teenagers" head out into the woods, only to encounter repeated attacks by a mammoth bear. Sorry folks, but most of the cast looks like their high school years were quite a long time ago. A quick fact-check indicates that the cast was between 19 and 24 when making the film, and there's a huge difference between high school and college age.

Anyway, the movie suffers from a serious case of Idiot Plot Syndrome which, according to Roger Ebert, the problems in the film would have been solved within a few minutes if all the characters weren't idiots. Film's low budget doesn't help—notice that in each scene the bear never appears in the same shot with the actors! A typical set up is a shot of bear growling, cut to a shot of a terrified actor, then another shot of bear growling again. This bear growls and growls and growls (hey, those are the money shots, right?)

Characters behave so stupidly you can't help but feel they deserve their fate. Found myself mostly looking at my watch wondering when the bear would finally just eat them all and be done with it. That and the fact that Kate Todd is smoking hot! Even when she's covered in dirt and grime she looks great and is the only reason I sat through this thing. Let's hope she moves on to other (and better) things.

Plot devices are introduced but then immediately discarded. Barrels of toxic waste near a body of water are shown then immediately forgotten about. They do not tie into the movie at all. A creepy old cabin provides a safe hiding place for our heroes, but do they use it? Of course not, because by then the damn bear would have moved on and the movie would have ended with their eventual rescue.

Despite the "not rated" message on the box, this film would be hard-pressed to obtain a PG13 rating. Some effects are so cheap, animated blood is spattered on the screen during various bear attacks! Honest to God! People, you need to spend money to make money.

Long time B-movie specialist David DeCoteau cranked this one out. I'm not at all surprised that given his output it was made on the cheap, but c'mon man! Believable characters, motivation and logic don't cost a thing.

3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Really bad CGI dinosaurs!, 5 August 2008

With nothing better to do I decided to check out "Aztec Rex" (as it was being billed) for the hell of it.

The silly story might have played better if the dinosaur effects were convincing. They actually looked like animatics (those rough designs that artists later use to finish the CGI effects, adding more details, smoother movements, etc.) Absolutely awful-looking dinosaurs, which is the only reason you'd probably want to sit through this anyway.

The one redeeming factor was the lovely Dichen Lachman as Ayacoatl. She kept my interest; if only the budget had been ramped up and some convincing dinosaurs could have been used.

Disappointing. At least the cast and crew got a free trip to Hawaii, where the movie was filmed.

20 out of 38 people found the following review useful:
Talk, talk, talk!, 27 September 2007

What's the cheapest way to make a movie? Have two actors in a room talk to each other. That seems to be the case with "Hannah Takes the Stairs", an ultra-low budget film making the rounds in the art house theatres.

The film is rather claustrophobic since most of the action takes place in just a few rooms, with what appears to be the occasional "stolen shot" outside. I say stolen because filming permits in a big city are rather expensive and the outdoor set ups have a "quick, get the shot and get out before the cops see us" feel to them (these shots only run a few seconds, which is the main indication).

The characters talk about their lives and work, talk some more, have sex, talk some more, talk, talk, etc. The occasional nude scene keeps the audience awake, but with no real story to propel the film along I found it to be quite a snoozer.

Not too surprisingly, all dialog was improvised—-and it shows. Scenes ramble on for quite some time and even though the film is less than an hour-and-a-half, it seems quite longer.

Filmmakers, please write a script and actually have a plot. Without it, the most attractive actors and locations in the world aren't worth much if you can't keep your audience interested.

11 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
Not much happening here., 18 October 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Young woman travels to Florida to make it as a singer. Does anything to get ahead. Stabs everyone in the back in the process. Nothing really new; you've seen it all before. Stereotypes abound, too (the gay landlord named George Michaels (how's that for originality?), all those in the music industry are scum, record label owns you body and soul once you sign on the dotted line, etc.

Not much to recommend it except that 1) it's short (75 minutes) and 2) the women are all cute and look great in tight skirts. Guys if you're expecting nudity, there's not much here. Best look elsewhere. Acting is so-so, but not much character development really torpedoes it's chances.