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Sister Wives (2010– )
2/10
Kody feeding his gargantuan ego
8 August 2016
There is coming a new monument to the United States, similar in theme and design to Mount Rushmore, that of the oracle of wisdom Kody Brown. His carved image will, as always, be surrounded by the lesser images of four women all fawning over him like lemmings.

In the arena of the genre of so called "reality" TV, there is a vast wasteland of garbage and idiocy. However, some of these reality TV shows manage to slither into sewers and crevices even lower than the rest. Sister Wives, featuring Kody Brown the holy oracle of polygamy along with his patriarchal empire, is the epitome of moronic reality shows.

If this sloppy mess of distressed emotions and constant social conflict was meant to put polygamy in a good light, it fails miserably. Kody can make up phrases like "multiple marriage" to legitimize his world of confusion," but the reactions of his four wives (one legal and three he calls "spiritual") belie his false pretense of harmony and success. And multiple marriage means exactly the same thing that polygamy does.

Nothing is ever calm in the four neighboring households "on the cul- de-sac" that defines Kody's realm. None of his kids seem happy, and one by one are moving as far from him as they can get. The women are griping all the time, and of course, instead of blaming his royal highness they stage childish cat fights among themselves to increase his ego of having women fighting over him. Listening to their carefully prepared speech is irritating too; you can just see Kody's disheveled hair and squinty eyes staring at them threateningly while they talk.

One could go on and on about how trashy these people and their arrangement are. Suffice it to say there are many other TV channels you could be watching instead of these imbeciles.
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1/10
Her big fat loud obnoxious mouth needs to be sealed shut
22 July 2016
I don't normally write comments about TV shows, but this garbage demands to be trashed.

We see a loud goof with delusions of grandeur sitting on a couch constantly talking about herself. Then we're shown some footage of her doing something stupid as she tells us how wonderful she is. The empress of her own imagination, Whitney, pontificates about how nobody should shame her, even as she mocks, ridicules, and argues with everyone around her. She thinks she is in a relationship, but the guy is obviously using her. Her ex co-owns a house and co-habitates with her. No, I'm not kidding.

She has a weight problem, weighing over 350 lbs., especially dangerous since she is dancer who ignores the weight and does intense dance practices. She lies to herself about the seriousness of her situation, and ignores all medical advice. She is a terrible role model, even though she has appointed herself as a Joan of Arc of morbidly obese people.

There is no reason to watch this show, and no reason for TLC to run it.
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Monsters (2010)
3/10
Even the monsters were bored by these dull lead characters
22 July 2016
The creatures in this movie remind me of Bigfoot and Nessie. Somebody's always talking about seeing them, and showing grainy picture of a shadow to prove the encounter. But, for some reason, these giants are shy and like to wander around in the dark where nobody ever sees them clearly.

With a title like Monsters, and an elaborate backstory about these things revealed through narration, you would expect to eventually see what these things are. It's common practice in this type of movie to conceal what they look like for a while, and let them be scary as an unknown threat, but the audience expects to see them at some point. This movie just teases you by hiding their appearance way too long for its own good.

After a while, the movie forgets all about the creatures, and bores you to death with a goofy couple who are not interesting or sympathetic. They're just annoying and tiresome to look at. Neither one has positive attributes, and you wish the creatures would show up just to squish them. They talk and talk about essentially nothing, and you never learn anything about them, nor do you ever care.

So we see the two bozos get themselves into stupid contrived situations that bring them into danger, but they must have bored the monsters too, because you still don't get to see them. Scene after scene of this dysfunctional couple, but little else ever happens. To make it worse, Every single pointless thing they do is dragged out.

The ending is a dud, too, although from the way it's shot, it's obvious the writer and director thought they had revealed something groundbreaking to you. They don't. Unless you like "so bad they're good" type movies to poke fun at, avoid this one.
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3/10
Nice concept, bungled execution
28 March 2016
What if that infamous asteroid of 66 million years ago zoomed right on by this planet on into space? What if that K-T extinction event never took place? What if dinosaurs were still around; would they still dominate the world?

This movie could have had some greater fun with such a premise, but sacrifices creativity for time-worn animated movie clichés. The hero and his family are just a human family in dinosaur bodies, and don't shine any exposition on this modified Earth. Humans? Yes, they're here but developing slowly. They are primitive quadrupeds that can, but rarely bother to, walk as bi-peds.

The story is just a perils of Pauline type thing, with predators and other natural disasters afflicting the heroes every so often. Oh, and humans act like dogs in this world, for whatever reason. Some characters die grotesque deaths at random times, just not a pleasant story. In the end, not much is accomplished, so all these deaths are for nothing, just like the story.

Could have been a lot better; not sure why they settled for this.
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Judas (2004 TV Movie)
3/10
Dude, where's the gospel?
28 March 2016
Jesus appears to be a surfer who's searching for but can't find the beach to go hang ten. Judas, dressed in black, is an emo who wants to get like totally rad against the Romans and hang ten all over their face. The rest of the cast are card board cut-outs; it's hard to figure out who is playing whom.

The movie appears to be well meaning, but it just goes all wrong. First of all, it takes all its source material from forgotten scripture, the Gospel of Gnarly. The writers come up with stuff that doesn't fit with known scripture, and to say the writer took poetic license is being nice. Jesus comes across as confused, wimpy, and suffering from severe sleep deprivation. Judas just yells and screams at him, so that they can launch a military campaign of two men to overthrow the Roman Empire.

Judas is always mad, and it makes no sense that Jesus would have called this guy as an apostle in the first place. From then on they bicker, with Jesus always sounding like a 1st grade teacher, and Judas sounding like a cross between Fred Flintstone and General George Patton. The fact that the acting is weak makes these awkward characterizations even more bizarre. Events from the passion are tossed and turned, out of context, and out of logical chronology.

This should only be viewed as a novelty, as a case study of just how far a story can stray from source material.
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Little Boy (2015)
7/10
Nice approach to a familiar theme
4 December 2015
This movie was a new approach at story telling. I can't remember off hand any other movie that was structured like this.

It certainly works. The story is told through the titular little boy who is literally just that: a child who is small for his age to the extent his parents take him to a doctor to see if something is wrong. He is small in size, but not in dreams, hope, or faith. His father has marched off to fight in World War II, and the builds upon his heart felt wish of his father's safe and swift return.

Much of the action is allegorical, and the story does need to be told that way. However, the flip side of that coin is that some of the ideas are heavy handed and intrusive. One example is little boy's interaction with a Japanese man, to address the interment controversy which in turn looks at the atmosphere of bigotry that caused it. This aspect of the story is the film's strongest sub-plot, but there are a few minor problems on how it was utilized. The interpretation of the child calling upon spiritual powers was overdone, and inaccurate which undermined what the movie was meant to say.

Excellent acting and a well devised script. The characters are involving, and the story contains all the faith and optimism that it is meant to convey. Ultimately, the concept of the movie works well, and the ending supports it.
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Frosty Returns (1992 TV Short)
2/10
Frosty melted by hot air
4 December 2015
Don't be fooled into thinking this slush has anything to do with the classic children's Christmas special. In fact, the word Christmas is avoided like the plague, along with almost anything that is connected with Christmas. No Rudolph, no Santa, no Nativity, no Christmas tree; nothing.

The holiday referenced? Winter Festival, whatever that is. In the story, it looks like a company picnic thing where a few small carnival booths are erected to take your money in those impossible skill games. Snow is the only thing in the story, and the only source of conflict. Adults hate it. Misled kids hate it. The evil clichéd big business guy really really hates it.

So the corporate guy wants to melt all the snow with some aerosol thing, and nobody in the town even cares, except for Frosty and some girl who thinks she's a magician, and her brother. That's it. Oh and Johnathon Winters is there as some little midget that flies around on snowflakes. What he is supposed to be is never explained and never makes sense.

Frosty doesn't look or act the same, as he did in the original, and the story line has absolutely no connection to the events and characters of the original. He's as afraid to mention Christmas as everybody else is, and doesn't really have much to do except whine.

The writing has no warmth, no humor, no heart. The story (what there is of it) never engages and brings no emotional response when resolved. The animation is cheap and ugly. The characters are poorly developed, if at all.

There was a much better sequel to the original Frosty called Frosty's Winter Wonderland, where he meets the love of his life and gets married. See that instead. Hopefully, the network that carries Frosty will start airing that sequel with it, and melt this one down.
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8/10
Entertaining and very rewatchable
20 August 2015
OK, it was made with a budget that even in 1959 would have been just barely enough to take your girl friend out for a root beer float at the local hamburger joint. It's not Oscar material, but it's one of those B-movies that entertains way over what its budget would suggest it can.

Camp value, yes. Moments that beg for MST3K jokes, yes. But there's a flair to this thing that just keeps your interest. It has that drive-in craziness feel, and breezes along its merry b-movie way with a plot that's easy to go with. The actors make the most of the script they're given, and there's enough chase scenes, fight scenes, and attack scenes that things are never boring.

The fact that it's filmed in b/w really seems to help the atmosphere, as does the claustrophobic situation of the characters being trapped in a house with the monsters trying to get in at them. I love the "walking in trash cans" scene, it's a weird mix of laughable yet creative. Ken Curtis's cowardly Jerry is totally different from his Festus on Gunsmoke, and he carries it off pretty well. Throw in some dedicated scientists who have unwittingly unleashed a monstrous terror, and the titular savagely-fanged creatures that look like feral dogs with an attitude, and this movie just gets away with all its goofiness.

But what stands out for me about this is that I've watched it so many times, and still enjoy it. I know the lines better than the characters do, but still the goofy energy level of this thing just never wears out. Among b-movies, this one has a unique personality, and is worth a look.
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7/10
"We have found a love beyond all computations!"
29 June 2015
"Did he kill Rodan and Godzilla?" "He couldn't! They're too tough!"

That's a small sample of the many memorable lines from this very watchable (and re-watchable) Japanese monster classic. Whether the dialog was written corny intentionally, or was a result of translation flaws; some of the lines are of the "you've got to hear it to believe it" variety.

It's from the era when Godzilla and Rodan were no longer mindless automatons that wrecked Tokyo just for the fun of it, but now heroic rubber-suited good guys that do good stuff. There's hostile aliens, plotting spies, the Japanese army, astronauts, and a pretty femme fatale.

Planet X, a planet populated by people who all wear sunglasses, seeks help from us. They have a bad monster, you see, called Monster Zero (AKA King Ghidara) who wrecks stuff. They want Godzilla and Rodan to beat him up. After they do this and Godzilla is doing jumping-jacks to celebrate, Planet X launches an attack to conquer and colonize Earth.

Lots of camp factor. You won't believe the secret weapon the humans find, and what its power is. The scene where two guys use it to escape aliens is hilarious. Look for the reaction of the guard that Nick Adams grabs. Adams, astronaut, is the lone American helping the Japanese save Earth, and he hams it up with some great speeches and good old overacting. The big monsters have two well choreographed fights, and the evil characters are as fun as the good guys with weird lines. Spies were all the rage in 60's movies, and you'll fund them here.

"We have found a love beyond all computations!" lol, one of my favorite movie lines ever.
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4/10
Ummmm, OK
15 June 2015
This is a film great for riffing MST3K style (although I don't believe they ever ran this). It doesn't really seem to be taking itself very seriously, and almost plays like the cast & crew made it as an inside joke.

The early part of the story shows some enthusiastic astronomers trying to contact extra terrestrial life with radio signals, and this scene is played straight. When they finally do establish contact with somebody out there, however, things get weird and silly in a hurry.

They are abducted to some alien fort long-since abandoned except by a robot that bounces and shakes around a lot when it moves. One of the oddest monsters appears, and it all reminded me of a Dr. Who episode that was on a very low budget. Soon the abductees, including not one but two comedy relief characters, learn that they must save the universe. There is a battle scene that looked almost as real as when two kids play with toy soldiers.

If you need a good laugh, see this nonsense.
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8/10
Wrestling from Isla Nublar
15 June 2015
Most everybody agrees that the 2nd and especially the 3rd of the Jurassic installments were anemic rehashes of the wild show the original Jurassic Park was. So bad, that they put the genetically engineered dinosaurs on the endangered species list. This return saves the franchise, although there are some blemishes in scripting that are too noticeable to ignore.

First of all, when you go to see a Jurassic Park movie, you're there to see dinosaurs hunting people and smashing stuff to bits, right? It's hardly any mystery that something will go horribly wrong sooner or later either. It was a good device to show the park operating in the manner it's supposed to, and the Sea World/Disneyland touristy feel was the right approach. Still, you can't help but think, "OK, when do the dinosaurs break out and start chasing everybody?" The movie does not disappoint where dinosaur violence is concerned. There are plenty of dino-duels and chase scenes. The pterodactyl sequence is executed well.

Are there problems? Yes, several. One character has the word "Dino- meal stamped on his head from the first time you see him. Then there are the clichés that have shown up in every single JP movie now: kids in danger who are in danger because they're dumb and encounter the most dangerous dinosaur, references to a divorce that nobody cares about, an obnoxious corporate twit with a big mouth, a guy plotting to exploit the dinosaurs for his own agenda, and so on. There are some plot holes, especially in the inconsistent behavior of some of the animals. The story gives some character development to the dinosaurs, which usually works except for a couple of glaring and weird exceptions. Human characters really aren't developed too well, and one lead character was horribly miscast. And, whoever cranked out the tired "cell phones fail just when you need them" cliché needs to placed under arrest.

The story line has a clear destination, and moves well from chapter to chapter. The climactic melee at the end is exactly what the audience is hoping to see, complete with some great pay-offs of well done plot development set-ups.

Not perfect, but a great ride. Bring your popcorn and enjoy watching the dinosaurs go berserk.
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Maleficent (2014)
4/10
Lots of noise; unimpressive take on this old story
18 January 2015
Remember Sleeping Beauty? Try to picture how it would be if every aspect of it were turned up-side down. You'd have this.

The recent outbreak of efforts to rewrite fairy tales and make them more adult and dark is getting to a point where new extremes of darkness and violence are all that is seen, with ever more aggressive themes.

Maleficent takes this "darkness for its own sake" approach to new levels, but doesn't really come up with anything interesting in its new take on this old story. It fancies itself that way, by cranking out some now exhausted themes like "evil people are really the good ones' they're just misunderstood," There is an act of pointless violence that is an obvious reference to rape, and the story line tries to build a scorned woman motif from that.

Ultimately this is offered as an excuse for someone planning to murder an innocent child. Sorry, nobody who wants to kill a child is a hero. Ever.

The royal family are all rewritten as power hungry and vicious, and the fairies that once protected the child are stupid, inept, and useless.

I was wondering who was doing all the mugging and overacting underneath all that Maleficent costuming. Who else: Angelina Jolie being self-important, trying hard to be a frightening screen presence. She tries to chew up every scene she's in with glares and monotonal line reads. She seems to think (and she's done this in several movies now) that if she's wearing black, she's a scary villain. No, just one you look forward to seeing her get exterminated so she'll shut up.

Special effects are impressive, but always overdone. Every battle looks like something George Lucas and Michael Bay came up with when they got drunk together one night. Acting is poor throughout, and the director's heavy-handed approach is loud but never interesting.

This movie tries hard to impress you with smoke and mirrors, but does not succeed.
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The Christmas Secret (2014 TV Movie)
7/10
Sweet "feel good" story
18 January 2015
Hallmark premiered several new Christmas movies this year, and this one hits a lot of sentimental high points to be among the best.

A struggling single mother who waitresses moves to the town she believes her father (who died when she was a baby) had grown up in, to hopefully learn about him.

Acting by the entire cast is spot on for the approach this one takes. It's unashamedly a "feel-good" type movie, but with this story that's not a problem at all. The numerous secret connections between the characters suggest a higher power is at work bringing all these people together, a story line that is told in an uplifting manner that is never schmaltzy. The characters are likable (except for the villains who play their villainy very well too).

Just a good-natured film for some Christmas season cheer, which is what this movie set out to be.
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The Secret Santa (2014 TV Movie)
8/10
The truth about the jolly old elf is out there!
18 January 2015
This was the best new Christmas TV special of the 2014 season. It's a wonderful treat of Christmas spirit, with plenty of heart. It's the kind of story that rekindles the magic and wonder you felt as a child from the legend of a stranger who brought you presents some time overnight each December 24.

A TV feature news reporter does a story about the mysterious appearance of snowmen on the hot Christmas Day at a home in Phoenix, AZ. This odd occurrence prompts her to research who would do such a thing and why. Interviewing the family reveals only one clue; one of the children had asked for snowmen in a letter to Santa. More research shows that similar acts have been tracked all over the country to two names the apparent benefactor has gone by at different times, Nick Myra and Luke Nast.

Her quest to find this kind yet elusive benefactor is told in a first person documentary/reality show format that works far better than you would expect. One might expect that approach to be corny, silly, choppy, or contrived, and yet it avoids all these pitfalls. Instead, you'll see a series of very emotional and heartwarming tales as we join the reporter in tracking this Good Samaritan, who has evidently been helping people at random in a variety of ways for some time. Each progressive act of kindness that is uncovered is more incredible and harder to explain than the last.

The ending couldn't have been any more creative or touching. It's set up very well, and the reactions of the characters are guaranteed to bring a tear to the eye of anyone, except perhaps the most die-hard Scrooges and Grinches.

Before closing, just wanted to note that this hidden Christmas treasure was aired by an unexpected source. You're thinking Hallmark Channel or the similar Up TV, perhaps? No, it was on TLC, which usually is known for exploitation "reality TV", and was an immensely refreshing change of pace from that.

Hopefully, they will re-run it next season. For a good dose of Christmas cheer, this one is recommended.
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One Christmas Eve (2014 TV Movie)
3/10
Coal in your stocking
3 December 2014
Just barely watchable.

If you love seeing a bunch of characters screaming at each other about everything in mock panic attacks, then this film might suffice. There seems to be no moral; when someone plays Good Samaritan to someone else in trouble, they wind up being the next victim of grossly exaggerated and unfunny calamity.

During accidents, you hear a familiar Christmas song as the tragedy takes place. Apparently they're telling you somebody getting hurt, or a fire breaking out is hilarious. It's not.

Most of the characters are not likable, especially the family. It's hard to care about a character that you don't like, or what happens to them, no matter how weird and contrived the events are. It's not too clear if they're supposed to be the stupidest people on Earth, or just the unluckiest, since the emphasis seems to be on how many bad things can happen to these people, rather than why we should care.

Think of "The Out of Towners," but with no heart or point, and you have this. Run a video of 34th Street or Wonderful Life instead.
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6/10
More Medfield College shenanigans
16 August 2014
Comedic take on the Invisible Man motif, featuring Disney's Medfield College gang of Dexter Riley, Dean Higgins et al. A good showcase for Kurt Russell's early work in comedy, before he started doing violent action heroes a few years later.

This time, Riley (Russell) is one of several college students trying to win a scientific invention contest. Lightning strikes (literally) and he finds himself in possession of a viable invisibility potion. He is ready to wow the world with this scientific breakthrough, but then, some evil hi jinx by crooks intervene, setting up some weird moments, car chases, predictable slapstick, keystone cop style bumbling, and other tomfoolery. The invisibility special effects are cheap, but it doesn't matter.

There are some slow points and lulls, but the good scenes make up for it. The golf sequences and the "invisibility presentation" bit are the funniest moments. The cast features some great character acting by Joe Flynn, Cesar Romero, Jim Backus, and William Windom.

Brainless fun for when you're in the mood for 3 Stooges type slapstick.
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Lizzie Borden Took an Ax (2014 TV Movie)
6/10
Biggest plus is Christina Ricci in the title role
7 August 2014
Christina Ricci is effective in the role of the infamous Lizzy Borden, who was suspected and tried in the 1892 ax murders of her father and step-mother. She was ultimately acquitted, but people at the time and even today believe she got away with a brutal and grotesque crime.

This made-for-cable movie is faithful to known historical facts about the woman and the murder case, and dramatizes the story well. The approach of the production pivots around Ricci's performance, and she was well cast in this role. She has always been strong with off-center characters, and portrays the suspected murderess with a subdued power. You can almost see a violent conflict inside her burning just beneath the surface each time she's on screen. The image is one of a woman that is plotting, and concocting a lie every moment.

The biggest negative is the appallingly out of place soundtrack of rock music. Whoever is responsible for this should get 40 whacks from Lizzie's ax.

The rest of the cast interact with Ricci very well, and the late Victorian era setting is convincing. That dark-humor jump-rope rhyme that mocked Borden might be hard to get out of your head afterward.
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5/10
Sincere effort, but doesn't tell the story very well
3 August 2014
Most everybody who has heard of this movie knows what the subject matter is: a young child has a near death experience, and later relates what he saw during this experience, which sounds like a description of heaven. He includes some facts that he could not have known about, making it appear his experience was real.

The movie is approached very sincerely, but it focuses not so much on the child's testimony, but instead opts for many other topics. Examples include people's reactions, and the family being the victims of unwanted public scrutiny. It appears that they didn't see enough substance in the main subject matter, and therefore dressed it with these tangent matters. The result is unfocused and disappointing.

I haven't read the book, but it's a fair guess more details about what you want to know can be found in it. Go with the book instead of this film.
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8/10
I've...GOT IT!
3 August 2014
Well, it was a famous exit line, so we'll never know if he finally did "get it" or not.

This, the earliest screen version of the classic whodunit novel of the same name, takes some liberties with it, but remains the best version over the countless other versions of this story even after 70 years.

Eight guests are invited and two house servants are hired to a secluded island by a man none of them knows. They learn all too late that they are being punished for murders they each got away with, when, one by one, each is being murdered. The murderer further taunts his remaining victims by marking each death with the disappearance of one of ten little Indians statues. He uses the Ten Little Indians poem as a framework for each murder. At first, it appears the murderer is hiding on the island somewhere, but soon it becomes evident he is one of the ten. Once everyone suspects each other, the tension builds well.

Great characterizations are done by a wonderful cast, and the story unfolds in just the right manner to keep you guessing. The spooky house environment provides a perfect setting for the action.The original book's ending was stronger, but this movie's alternative works OK.

See if you can guess whodunit, but be forewarned: if anybody named U.N. Owen, that you've never met, ever invites you to an island, turn down the invitation.
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Big Miracle (2012)
6/10
Saving whales: film at 11
3 August 2014
In the late 80's, a family of whales become trapped under the polar ice cap near Barrow, Alaska, before they can begin migrating southward. Local news, and a an angry environmentalist stir up support for the trapped whales, making the plight of the whales world news. Soon efforts to help them are undertaken as the new aquatic celebrities fight for survival.

There's certainly a point of view taken to one side of the environmental issue, but this movie is gentle and sentimental enough to get away with it. There's one event in the whales' battle for survival that is handled especially well on an emotional level, without becoming schmaltzy or exploitative. It's hard not to be involved with the endangered animals or what their fate may be after this sequence.

Acting is generally effective, although I hope the environmentalist played by Drew Barrymore was not as abrasive and irritating as shown in this movie. Barrymore is a great actress, but I was hoping one of the whales, or anybody, would slap her face and shut her up in a few places.

Overall, some harmless feel-good material. A nice family movie.
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7/10
Unique concept and approach to old fashioned ghost story telling
1 August 2014
Decided to revisit this classic. It was a brand new take on one of the more fundamental themes of the "scary movie" family of genres, life after death. M. Night Shyamalan adopted the always reliable Twilight Zone Gothic approach, but set up an all-time reverse twist finale that would have made Rod Serling stand up and applaud.

This could be Bruce Willis's most understated and yet finest performances of his career. No laughing and destroying stuff; instead he approaches his role thoughtfully. It was a new side to him, and he carried himself well. He's a child psychiatrist, with a new patient, Haley Joe Osment, that is filled with angst and makes the claim that dead people are drawn to him like a magnet and talk to him. Osment's performance is emotional and oddly believable. His classic declaration about dead people "don't know they're dead!" is one of the best delivered ever.

Ghost visitations are utilized perfectly and just often enough so that every one of them is executed with a dramatic impact and superior fright factor. Low lighting is used almost all the time for a dark, oppressive mood, which fits most of the time.

Now the weaknesses. In retrospect, there are some serious lapses in logic through the course of the story. How could the "twist" have been concealed from the protagonist so long, without some character or action revealing the truth to him? The scenes that are meant to address this fail to explain it. There are some very awkwardly slow scenes in the story, and others that just aren't useful. These scenes are constructed to set up the shock value of the final reveal, but most of them are just plain dull.

But overall, this is a fine work, complete with fine performances and an original concept that make for a good, scary ghost story.
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Sharknado 2: The Second One (2014 TV Movie)
7/10
Tornadoes and sharks and cameos, oh my!
31 July 2014
Caution: Falling sharks alert. Get out your buzz saws, or Kelly Rippa's high heels.

Once again, sharks have hitch-hiked along with tornadoes in order to dive bomb victims from the sky during a perfect sharkstorm. Our finny friends have flown 3,000 miles east of LA to hammer a bunch of cameo appearance stars in New York. Speaking of flying, we open with the finest Sharks-On-a-Plane sequence ever filmed.

The Weather channel's shark funnel graphics of sharks spinning around and the "War on Sharks" bit are comic genius. Shark density reports such as "sharks are falling at a rate of 2 inches per hour," so you will not be caught off guard. Unless, of course, you stay outside, where all the sharks are flying around, which seems to be what everybody in this movie does.

SyFy has been the biggest master of camp and cheese on cable, and they readily admit it with self-mockery such as this. It shows a lot of humorous imagination, and the many celebrities in cameos take a good turn at poking fun at themselves.

Whether you like this or not will depend upon whether the approach of psychotic silliness hits your funny bone or not. If you do like that style of humor, then I recommend it wholeheartedly.
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Christmas with Holly (2012 TV Movie)
7/10
Sweet and heartfelt
27 July 2014
The opening scene with the bride left at the altar was unnecessary and appeared to be way out of place; it gives you a false impression of what the movie's plot will be. Fortunately, the direction the movie takes is much better than what you'd expect from the awkward opening.

The back story of the young mother who recently passed away, on the other hand, would have been useful but that's the omitted story you only learn bits of from dialog. Her daughter Holly in the grief of her loss, shut down and became non-verbal. Custody of the child was given to the youngest of her three uncles as per her mother's will.

The highlight is the acting of the twin sisters who play Holly; very sweet and the character is very sympathetic. The struggles her guardian uncle is facing in learning "on the job" to raise her work well in the story. The constant arguing of the uncles was somewhat annoying, but those issues are resolved and the story ends up being stronger for it. Finally, there is a romance that develops involving the shop owner (the abandoned bride) and the couple interact well together.

The fact it's set at Christmas time is a superfluous throw-away. This story could have been set with any backdrop.

The interaction of the characters works well, and although the plot doesn't have much dramatic conflict, there are some scenes that are very heartwarming to see, mostly those that feature Holly.
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Sharknado (2013 TV Movie)
A whirl wind into the sublimely ridiculous
12 July 2013
With a title like Sharknado, you expect weird. This movie delivers.

Grab some friends, lots of snacks, and a mammoth amount of suspension of disbelief. You're now ready for SyFy channel's latest escapade into the realm of the psychotically silly. This movie acts upon the mind like a mind altering substance, taking it to a land of shark-infested water spouts, science gone mad, absurd visuals, and movie making run amok. Riffing is optional; the movie is goofy and deranged either way.

A freak-storm turns into tornadoes/water spouts that vacuum up a zillion sharks that are swimming around and whisks them off to southern California. Some of the finny predators are pitched into local freeways and everywhere else, while other sharks continue to spin around in the hurricane. The sharks take no prisoners as they swim around soggy streets and wreak havoc with laughable CGI attacks. I did notice however that they obeyed all traffic laws while they swam through the streets.

This movie swims its way ever further into the realms of the jawbone dropping bizarre, with several key scenes to be on the lookout for. Look for the random one-in-a-million rescue near the end, and the wacky idea the heroes use to try and save the day. This sort of chaos is common throughout the entire movie.

Kudos to the movie makers for this pure unabashed nonsense.
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Fiend (1980)
6/10
Another Don Dohler low-budget classic, with more violence this time
22 June 2013
Everyone should see at least one (and preferably more) of Don Dohler's low budget indie movies. Fiend is consistent with the Dohler brand; put together on the cheap, stars a bunch of his friends and relatives, and is just good crazy horror movie fun. They're usually horror/sci-fi cross-breeds, and Dohler showcases his specialty, special effects, in the production.

This time, a ghost or spirit looking like a bright light enters a grave and reanimates a body. The walking dead man, frequent Dohler star Don Liefert, gives an adequately sinister touch to his blood thirsty character. He draws life essence from his victims, and has a voracious appetite to do this, since he has to replenish his energy frequently. Of course, this means there will be a high body count unless the fiend is stopped quickly. Only a neighbor of his suspects the guy, who is living amongst his victims in suburbia.

The tone is more sinister and bloody than other Dohler films; even a child is among the victims. The rampaging beast is merciless, and the violence somewhat masks the mediocre acting of the cast.

The low budget is visible at times throughout the movie, and the MST3K gang probably would have bludgeoned this film if they had ever shown it. Still, like all of Dohler's bargain basement horror flicks, it makes for a good thrill ride.
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