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591 reviews in total 
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The Road (2009/I)
3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
This Road is somewhat tedious, 11 March 2012

If you've ever driven across the Nevada desert on US Highway 50, the notorious "Loneliest Road in America," then you have some idea what to expect from this Road. Both are hundreds of miles of sameness, seemingly without end.

The notion for the film is worthy: post-Apocolyptic survival battle for a father and his young son. What sacrifices will the father make to protect his son from a savage, ruthless world? Will they have to betray their values and morality to survive? Who can they trust? (etc.) However, the film drives in neutral so much you wonder if there two survivalists will ever reach the end of the road. Or, if you will.

The characters are not likable, nor or they very believable. The father looks like a retro hippy, his son a crybaby who never stops whining. Through flashbacks that are useless to the story, we see the deceased wife; she fails to impress the audience for (apparently intended) schmaltz. She was just a jerk, actually. We also occasionally meet other people that the lead characters encounter in a series of vignettes on their quest. Some good, some evil, each to represent different types of survival strategy. About the only one that is memorable is an old man played by Robert Duvall. The veteran actor delivers a very poignant speech with dignity and emotion; easily the movie's standout moment. Another strength of the movie is the cinematography of deep hues and darkness that not only augments the tone of despair the story is trying to relate, but fits the post-Apocolyptic premise.

There aren't enough such moments as the Duvall scene. A pity, since it appears the director and cast really seem to be trying to offer us a touching picture of innocent victims of a chaotic world. Perhaps they tried too hard. Most characters become clichéd baboons filled with angst that the audience finds too annoying to care about. This story asks you to invest too much, and offers little pay-off. The deliberately dangling ending works, but most of the preceding portions of the film do not. I wouldn't go so negative on it as to say to detour away from "The Road" entirely, but be prepared with plenty of patience if you do see it.

Wild Women (1951)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Great camp for insomniacs, 4 March 2012

I'm hoping whoever was involved with this foolishness 60 years ago was just kidding. It takes "exploitation movie" to the outer limits. The outer limits of Africa, to be exact. There, a mysterious band of Amazon beauties frighten the bejeebies out of their neighboring tribes.

There's plenty of extraneous stock footage shot by some long-ago National Geographic safari tourists: I love that same hippo that floats by every few minutes in a river that is nowhere near the action taking place. There's also a curious chimp that is shown repeatedly watching something--I guess the Prehistoric women(?), as well as several other animals.

Some guy named Trent who, as a boy, saw a blonde siren up on a mountain, wants to find these ladies, and gets two other comic relief guys from Brooklyn to join in the quest.

The women are, like any women who have been cut off from civilization for generations, dressed in tailored leopard skin. They have their hair done in downtown Hollywood, carefully filed and polished nails, shave their arms and legs, and wear cool moccasins. Everybody has a spear and says, "huzzzzbennnndddd..." Also, the routine cat fights take place, and they worship something while dancing the Shake and Shimmy. How the Amazons got there in the first place is questioned, but never explained.

This is a must-see for anybody who wants to see a movie that makes you exclaim, "Did they really make a film like this?"

Tangled (2010)
0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Animated adaptation of Repunzel both funny and touching, 19 February 2012

One thing I've got to say about this movie before anything else: it spares us that post-millennial mentality of mocking any existing story a la Shrek, Robot Chicken, Simpsons, and so many others. It is faithful to the original story, even presenting elements of the original fairy tale that had been rendered obscure over time. It has respect for the source material, knowing it can stand on its own, without gimmickry.

It's truly a splendid mix of childhood fantasy, action, adventure, and comedy. It preserves the soul of the fairy tales's moral, by not watering down the scary and ruthless villains in animated movies or grossly overdoing them to the other direction. This gentle yet playfully mischievous rendering of Repunzel is truly the best I've ever seen. The fact the movie makes chose to title it Tangled even though it's a very faithful telling of Rapunzel suggests the intent to have a good laugh with it. And you do get the laughs but there are no shortage of dazzling and intensely emotional moments. The candle-light lantern bags vigil on the anniversary of the princess's disappearance is lyrical, impressive, and moving. It's magnificently presented and this scene is woven with purpose into the plot. Events that happen there serve as a stepping stone for the characters as they move toward the resolution of what is happening.

The villain is superior; the wicked "step mother"/kidnapper is threatening and deliciously evil; you can't wait to see her get her come-uppance. The gallant bad guy turned good guy/romantic interest couldn't have been better; very reminiscent of Aladdin who trail blazed that pattern.

Action moves, characters develop, the audience's emotions are touched. A fabulous story; and an expert job of adapting it for animation. Wonderful for kids, and has something for adults too. Recommended.

2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Throws out the old show's endearing hokiness; substitutes weak dialog and slapstick, 19 February 2012

Just barely funny in a few scenes, with a hackneyed script that lacks the soul of the classic kids' TV show. First of all, it's like somebody took the fabric of the original and dissected it. "Let's change Holly from Will's daughter to his colleague and gf." As the movie drags on, this change serves no purpose and is in the way. Leave Holly as a little girl; and leave Will as her brother, too. The new Will is a bumbling oaf who has converted a trailer junkyard to a penny-ante amusement park attraction. The operation has nobody visiting, and when you see it, you'll know why. I think this whole desert place was supposed to be funny, but even Cha-Ka isn't laughing.

Rick turns on his time machine device aboard the water ride there, which takes them "sideways through time?" and they are in the Land of the Lost. Home to Sleestack, Grumpy the T-Rex, that little Cha-Ka guy, and others There's some running around, some skull-duggery involving the Sleestacks, and a lame fight with Grumpy. I wish he ate Rick and spat him out. The slapstick approach to spotlight Farrell just doesn't work--a fond portrayel for nostalgia fans approach would have been so much better.

One of Will Farrell's worst, and he really needs to turn the tide on these duds soon. Time to get a new agent, or you might just be working at that desert roadside amusement park for the rest of your life, Will.

I hear some really LOUD crickets tonight...., 19 February 2012

I love Bert I. Gordon flicks. He used the same shoestring budgets as his contemporary, the legendary Ed Wood, did. However, he seemed to have a knack for pressing the cheese into something pretty tasty. Not Oscar brilliance, mind you: just good old amusing chaos.

Some grasshoppers get a hold of radioactive feed. As usual, soon giant 1950's bugs with voracious appetites go on a vicious hunt for McHuman Combo-Plates. The couple making out while they listen to rockabilly are the oft-seen first victims in a remote place, but many will soon join them, as the (real) town of Ludlow, IL mysteriously disappears. Fresh from exterminating ants in "Them!", Peter Graves comes to the rescue, telling Generals how to eradicate the infestation. Meanwhile, the hoppers have ideas of their own, as they swarm north towards Chicago.

The battle scenes are hysterical: shooting the big bugs off of skyscrapers is one of my fondest memories of childhood late night rerun movie watching. The way they slide off, with antennae flapping is extremely hilarious yet oddly scary in some way. Finally a way to re-enact a biblical extermination of locusts is devised.

Filmed in delightfully cheap ways, this movie is worth re-watching again and again in its naive but enthusiastic approach at classic drive-in horror/sci-fi.

2012: Ice Age (2011) (V)
Laughably stupid, 19 February 2012

I'm not sure: was this supposed to be ridiculous? I couldn't say that it achieves even on that level.

At the outset, Fred Flintstone's clone is sitting in traffic ignoring a cop who is screaming at him. The oblivious fool is gabbing on a cell phone with some guy in a helicopter. The other guy is watching a glacier disintegrate, and giving Flintstone the play-by-play. Why? The scriptwriters decided not to explain this. Then Flintstone starts driving fast to get away from the glacier. I guess. Meanwhile, his emo teen son who loves playing with laptops, GPS's and other tech stuff whines like a two-year-old from the passenger seat.

Flintstone's other kid is a piece of work, too. She's a college renegade, horsing around at at Times Square with some kid wearing leather. Flintstone's wife (not Wilma; some blonde) joins Fred and Emo-boy in driving on icy rides south to the Big Apple to find her. That's it for plot.

Temps are dropping fast, as is the mentality level of this flick. Icy roads everywhere, and one obstacle after another in the path of the intrepid family as they navigate through the same traffic jam and "what are we going to do now?" situations over and over. Most of the time you can't see anything, but even when you can see what's going on, it makes no sense anyway. I'm still trying to figure out the "guy steals the RV, and sinks into ice quicksand" bit or whatever that was supposed to be.

The military "declares war on the glacier," (actual quote from the film) firing everything they had, from bullets to nukes, lol. Massive snow explosions, cheap special effects, paper doll cut-out characters, and a story bankrupt of continuity and purpose: it almost seemed to be a satire of Michael Bay movies. Look especially for the knuckle-headed scene involving the Statue of Liberty: too silly to describe.

SyFy channel silliness. Gotta love it.

Halloween (1978)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Iconic slasher killer mixed with old school horror, 26 November 2011

This horror classic is a grand example of how a great, low budget movie with production flaws can be so entertaining that nobody cares about those flaws. In some ways, the amateurish approach of flicks like this is even a plus, since no one asks a movie like this to make sense anyway.

There is no logic whatsoever to the Michael Myers that we see in this film. One moment he's just a human whack job; the next, some kind of paranormal entity that defines evil and malevolence. For example: how did he learn to drive if he was institutionalized since the age of six? If he magically learned it because he's supernatural, then why does he need a car in the first place? Can't he just "beam up" like he does in the clothesline scene? Guns and other weapons stop him; then, he gets up like nothing happened. The great thing about this flick is that it doesn't matter. John Carpenter fashions the character in such a way that he has a dual-nature, making him that much more frightening. The iconic killer's mask and the simplistic but spooky theme song identified with him add even more.

The movie's flaws are all small problems, and so easily overlooked. Since most horror films don't bother to try to make sense, we're all used to this formulaic approach, anyway. Carpenter knows his audience well; just make them squirm and squeal. To no surprise, the characters go through all the clichéd motions of doing just the dumbest thing at the worst time. Except for Donald Pleasance who is superb, and Jamie Lee Curtis, who is fair, the acting is some of the most laughably forced mugging ever. At least, it's the worst anyone will ever see in such a popular film as this one is. The lines they utter are pretty unrealistic, as well. Some scenes are dragged out deliberately to crank up the fear factor, but end up being way too long to maintain it. One example of this type of scene involves a laundry room and then proceeds to go absolutely nowhere.

Not a genius work like Night of the Living Dead, which was made on an even more shoestring budget. However, it is definitely entertaining in the same way, and succeeds in what it set out to do: just give some hair raising chills and scares. With the less than creative title, that's all you should expect from this. From that point of view, it's a scary classic that every horror fan should watch and re-watch about 500 times.

"Tin Man" (2007)
Stands on its own well; doesn't really need the Oz references, 18 September 2011

Nobody dares re-make the 1939 Wizard of Oz classic directly, but there have been several loose adaptations of it. Whether they be "re-maginings" or sequels, they keep on showing up every once in a while, and are almost invariably much darker than the original. This movie follows that pattern.

This time the Tin Man is an Indy Jones type cop, the Cowardly Lion looks almost the same but he's a psychic/mystic. The scarecrow looks like a copy of Michael Jackson's version in "The Whiz." Dorothy is now an adult known by her initials, DG. Other characters of the famous story are also re-imagined; it looks as though the adventure/fantasy has been given a make-over to be a sci-fi adventure.

What strikes me first about this movie is how it is strong enough to stand on its own as an original concept, but seems preoccupied with referencing the Oz story. It doesn't appear to really be necessary, except as a novelty. It's as if the director is whispering loudly, "Can you catch all the references to Oz?" If anything, it's a bit distracting.

The MJ clone is the only cast weakness, a poor comic relief that just gets on your nerves. Other than him, the acting is actually top-notch, with Zooey Deschanel providing a wonderful centerpiece as heroine DG, who is trying to prevent a cataclysmic disaster at the hands of her sister, who is now the misguided Queen of the realm. Some of the Queen's overstated tyrannical bantering sounds cliché, but the director is to blame for that, not the actress.

Overall, a pretty well-executed production. The Oz connection only seems to be for name recognition to get you to watch it in the first place. The story preserves only trace elements of Oz, and really is an adventure all its own. Worth a watch.

0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Hope this movie doesn't have a double, 18 September 2011

Weak. Illogical plot lapses, inept attempts at weird scares, and a waste of Drew Barrymore. She was slumming it to appear in this one.

Her acting isn't bad, even at that lean part of her career she could take the least of characters and make the most of it. Such is the case with this dud. Basically, Drew's character is a nut-job who thinks she's got a ghostly apparition following her around. The only ones who believe are a NY shrink and her new bf in LA. Or is it a doppleganger? Is something else actually going on? Does anybody care? About five minutes in, the film clumsilly makes the answers all too obvious.

Things take the predictable horror movie turns: repeated sightings, terror, a few bodies and blood, etc., until the producers got tired of looping around in circles and give a ridiculously nonsensical ending. Yes, it's a understandable end as to what happens, but it's also incomprehensible that a script writer would pen such a moronic ending.

6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Tries too hard to laugh at itself, 18 September 2011

SyFy channel's latest gigantic monster movie self-mocking flick, but below-average even for the folks like me who enjoy the kitschy fun of this nonsense.

The shark that butt heads with the big octy a couple of years back has returned (be expecting SyFy to revisit the octy soon, too I would guess), but this time his foe is a big old croc called Crocosaurus. A couple of name actors from '80's and '90's TV shows are in it, and they play the camp as well as possible (the Doc from Voyager and Steve Urkel), but the movie just doesn't have the comic kick to it that's necessary. The lead monsters give it the old college try too, but even the big guys fall victim to a messed up script. I did like the work of the FBI lady, but she was stuck with an overly cliché (but not humorous) character, as was everyone.

Had a few moments, but barely watchable even as a joke.

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