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The Rezort (2015)
Not too much new here
If you have read the premise for this movie, no doubt that you will have recognized it as being a zombie take on such movies as "Westworld" and "Jurassic Park". I certainly did, but I sat down to watch the movie neverless, because I had never seen that combination before. Unfortunately, while there are two big ideas in this movie combined, neither idea is really executed in a manner that is both fresh and compelling. All the zombie scenes are really just retreads of what you have seen in many zombie movies before, without any zippy or enthusiastic direction to add some life to what we are seeing. The theme park section of the movie also has a strong air of familiarity to it. Also, both sections of the movie are executed in a way that doesn't manage to fully overcome its low budget, from some murky photography to sets that look pretty flimsy. Despite what I have just said, I wouldn't say this is really a BAD movie - it's a lot better than watching a blank wall for 90 minutes. But all the same, I could only recommend it to people who have never seen a zombie movie before , and never seen those two theme park movies I mentioned near the top of this review.
Kono sekai no katasumi ni (2016)
I usually love anime from Japan, no matter what particular genre it tackles - comedy, drama, horror, science fiction, I enjoy it. However, with this particular anime film, I was severely disappointed with it. I'm not saying that it's a total washout. When it comes to depicting typical Japanese home life during the 1930s and 1940s, the movie is often interesting and insightful. However, when it comes to the main reasons a movie succeeds or fails - mainly with story and characters - the movie simply does not work very well. Even though the movie is over two hours long, it more often than not feels EXTREMELY rushed. Scenes go by so quickly, it's hard to often get a handle on what's going on. That includes the characters - frequently it difficult to know who is who and who is doing what. As a result, it's really hard to care one way or another about what is happening to the characters. As I said, the movie is not without interest, but if you want to see an anime movie about regular Japanese people during World War II, you'd be better off watching "Grave of the Fireflies" or "Barefoot Gen" instead.
The Pack (2015)
Not a dog of a film, but not successful
I wonder if Warner Brothers knows of this movie, seeing that back in 1977 they released a movie about people in an isolated rural area being terrorized by a bunch of wild dogs. And that movie was also called "The Pack"! Still, I am open to a rip-off as long as the rip-off is well made and has some new angles. As for being well made, the movie's visual look is passable, if still a little low budget to the eye. But when it comes to delivering the horror goods, the movie is not very successful. The first 40% of the movie is pretty dull for the most part. I understand the filmmakers had to set up the characters and the situation, but it should have been more interestingly presented than it is here. When the horror does start, it is not worth the wait. The dog attacks and other action sequences are really poorly directed, sometimes requiring the viewer to wait until they are finished to figure out exactly what happened. Also, neither the dogs nor the human characters are given enough personality, so you simply won't care one way or another who survives and who doesn't. I realize I may be illustrating this movie as being a real turkey. It really isn't, but it's all the same too bland, too familiar, and too much lacking bite to really be a grabber. Hunt down the original 1977 movie instead.
Bad Day for the Cut (2017)
Good revenge film
On the surface, "Bad Day for the Cut" might seem to be another revenge thriller, but it has some quirks that make it a touch above average for this kind of film. Certainly, the Irish backdrop gives the story a little freshness. The screenplay also throws in some details you usually don't get in movies like this, such as a few touches of (slight) dark humor, and a subtle message stating that getting involved in a quest for vengeance can come up with some unforeseen (and bad) consequences. Director and co-writer Chris Baugh also depicts the main character as someone who is not a superman, but all the same is determined enough that he might get to his goal regardless of who he may hurt along the way. Baugh also manages to engage the viewer in other ways, such as really brutal moments. The only real way the movie stumbles is with the ending, which may strike many viewers as feeling unfinished and not quite satisfying. But Baugh may be trying to show that even if one gets vengeance, there can still be an unfulfilling and regretful feeling to what you just did. I look forward to Baugh's next movie.
Slowness and familiarity sink this
While I admit that the Japanese setting for "Temple" gives this movie a little freshness, it's nowhere enough to disguise the fact that we have not only seen this kind of horror movie before, we've seen it done a lot better before. How many times before have you seen a tale about outsiders in a strange place deciding to check out a spooky place shunned by the locals? But you've probably seldom seen it as badly accomplished as this version. The complaints by other IMDb users that the movie is slow and uneventful are true. It takes over half of the movie for the characters to reach the title place, and then we have to wait until 75% or so of the movie is over before the characters realize they are in serious danger. And when the danger does start to rear its head, it is not particularly spooky or scary in any way - it all seems by the numbers. Also, by the time the closing credits crawl, you'll realize that there are a number of plot threads that haven't been resolved in a complete and satisfying manner. The movie feels unfinished instead. Even if you haven't seen this kind of horror movie before, you'll certainly see all the same that this go-around isn't particularly well done.
Benji the Hunted (1987)
Tiresome family film
I admit that I haven't seen every "Benji" movie that has been made - I still haven't seen "Benji: Off The Leash" - but I am confident that when I see that aforementioned movie, "Benji the Hunted" will still be in my opinion the weakest Benji movie that has been made. About the only thing it has going for it is some spectacular Pacific northwest scenery. But even the colorful backdrop won't stop most viewers from falling asleep while watching the movie. The movie blunders in two ways. First, there is really no edge for the most part to what we are seeing. Benji for the most part just wanders around in a quest that won't strike most viewers as being essential or life-threatening. That leads to the second problem, that being the movie is really boring. It just keeps repeating the same things over and over, and soon it becomes tiring and endless. The movie is capped by a really weak and abrupt ending. Not the worst family movie I have seen, but I would only recommend it to (very) patient little kids.
Family Blood (2018)
Both too slow and choppy
The basic idea behind this horror movie, that being making a parallel between drug addition with vampirism, isn't a new idea, but it hasn't been done before a great number of times. So I was willing to sit through this horror movie that uses this idea. Unfortunately, I thought that the end results for the most part were really weak. The complaint that other IMDb users have voiced repeatedly about this movie, that being that it moves very slowly, are unfortunately correct. The filmmakers were probably trying for a low key approach, which could have worked, but the movie goes too far trying to be slow and thoughtful. It becomes pretty tedious instead. Strangely, despite the very slow pace, there are a number of moments where it seems that footage (linking or entire scenes) are missing, giving the movie a feeling like that it wasn't finished and the editor had to do his best with the footage he had. This may explain why the concluding sequence (among others) is very unsatisfying and provokes questions instead of satisfying. I wasn't really bored with the movie despite its slow pace, and the entire enterprise has acceptable production values, but all the same, at the end I wished I had watched another horror movie.
Good family film
Like so many of the live action movies made by the Disney studio while Walt Disney was alive, "Greyfriars Bobby" has all but been forgotten in the years since it was released to theaters. While it isn't an unsung classic, it is a perfectly fine family movie that modern day children and adults will enjoy. Compared to most modern day family movies, it's tone is very quiet and subdued, which at first may put off some viewers craving excitement and high drama. But these people will probably be quickly charmed by the thoughtful pacing and calm drama. I will admit that in the middle third of the movie, the story pretty much stops and there isn't really anything done to advance the plot or characters. But even when this happens, the movie is never boring, and has plenty of charm and colorful attributes. As I said before, this movie isn't a masterpiece, but it's all the same a feel good exercise that will make you happy you watched it.
Dead Man's Burden (2012)
Some merit, but oh so slow....
I normally love westerns, so when I stumbled upon this one on Netflix, I decided to give it a look. Usually when I watch a western, I can find some good things about it and be forgiving of some flaws. Well, I did find some good things in this movie, but ultimately it was flawed enough to make even me realize that it wasn't very good overall. First, the good stuff. I really appreciated that the script decided to go against convention and put some fresh twists in its story and characters. I won't go into too much detail about how they do that, though I will mention that the character who is usually a bad guy in westerns like this is NOT the bad guy this time around. The locations and cinematography are also pretty good, sometimes combining to make some impressive visuals. Also, after watching so many fast-paced and action-packed westerns, this one is more laid back, and its calm and thoughtful feel is sometimes refreshing.
However, ultimately the movie is TOO calm and laid back. The story is extremely slow for the most part, and quite often the movie seems to be spinning its wheels instead of getting down to business. The movie was also saddled with a very low budget, with a minimum amount of production values. The cheapness of the project may also explain that some of the lines of dialogue are pronounced and recorded so poorly that it's hard to understand what the characters are saying. (Even the English caption option on Netflix was unable to understand some of the dialogue!)
As I said, there is some good stuff here, but the movie has a few too many flaws for its own good. It's the cinematic definition of the term "interesting failure".
Ultimately kind of pointless
Thought the core story for "Delirium" has a number of elements that should be familiar to those who have been around the horror and thriller block a fair amount of times, I think that the end results could still have worked under more capable hands. If you guessed from that last statement that I didn't think too much of it, you would be correct. This isn't the worst horror thriller I have seen, I admit. Typical for Blumhouse productions, it looks fine for what was a limited budget. And I admit that I was never bored at any moment, even when it rehashed elements I had seen before. However, it saddled with some severe problems. It's quite slow-moving at times, enough that you'll start to think that the screenwriter and the director were simply padding things out. There are also some missing details that suggest that some explanation for them either wasn't filmed or was left on the cutting room floor. A bigger problem is that the movie isn't particularly scary or suspenseful, possibly because of all those familiar elements in it. The director doesn't seem to have worked very hard to try to present these familiar elements in a fresh light. The movie does manage to pass the time in a relatively painless fashion, but that's all it really does - there is nothing that will make you remember it for a long time afterwards, or give you the desire to sit through it again.
The Legend of Lobo (1962)
Drab and dated Disney movie
During his lifetime, producer Walt Disney did turn out some interesting animal-themed shorts and movies. However, "The Legend of Lobo" is one time where Disney was apparently unable to give sufficient inspiration to his filmmakers. There are a number of things I could list that illustrate why this effort is a misfire, such as the obvious padding even for a 67 minute running time, the too-cutesy narration, and an ending that is abrupt and without a satisfying payoff. But I think that the main fault with the movie is that the wolf Lobo never becomes a strong animal figure. Yes, the first half follows him around when he is a pup, but he is then an immature animal that lacks any soul. It's even worse when Lobo becomes a full grown adult wolf - you never get a sense of any kind of personality you can relate to or understand. By the way, no director is listed in the credits for the movie - if the director decided to take his name off the credits after seeing the end results, I can certainly understand his decision.
Black Butterfly (2017)
Plodding, ultimately unsatisfying thriller
Since his fall from being in the Hollywood "A" list, Antonio Banderas hasn't been terribly successful in finding quality direct to video productions to star in, and "Black Butterfly" doesn't do anything to break him out of the doldrums. I will admit that I never got to the point of being bored by what I was seeing. However, all the same the movie failed to engage me. It's a very slow-moving movie, taking much longer to get to key points in its storyline. It takes about 40% of the movie for the Banderas character to realize that he might be unsafe about the hitchhiker he has invited into his home. But what's worse about the movie is the two (yes, two) twists the movie decides to pull off in its last half hour. While I admit I didn't see the first twist coming, right after it was pulled off, it instantly became ludicrous when thinking about it. And I thought about it a lot. Even worse is the second twist at the very end of the movie, a clichéd and oh-so-tired twist that essentially makes what we have seen up to that point a waste of time. Had the movie instead gone the more logical and believable route, and ditched those two twists, we might have had an okay thriller. But as it is, it will most likely frustrate and anger viewers.
P.S. Attempts to pass the shot in Italy countryside as being Colorado are very unsuccessful.
24 Hours to Live (2017)
Flawed but overall decent actioner
It seems that the makers of this movie got some inspiration from the 1950 noir thriller "D.O.A.", seeing that the protagonists in both movies are dying and are seeking revenge and justice. However, this time around you don't really get a sense of panic or facing mortality; in fact, this race-against-time plot point is touched on much less than you might think. There are other script flaws, such as the fact that the movie at times keeps jumping back and forth from one character and location to another, resulting in potential momentum and thrills unable to build to their full potential. Also, the ending is to a degree somewhat unsatisfying. All the same, the production values are pretty good, the movie never has any dull moments, and the action sequences are well made and exciting. In the end, this isn't a terribly memorable actioner, but it does satisfy while you are watching it, and sometimes that level of entertainment can be welcomed and enjoyed.
The Outsider (2018)
Okay, but doesn't reach its full potential
There are some really good things in this East-meets-West film, but I have to admit that I am in the minority here, and I didn't think the movie was completely satisfying. I'm not saying it's a bad movie, because the movie does shine in some key areas. The whole package has a good visual look to it, capturing post-war Japan extremely well; this is certainly not a cheap-looking film. And the idea of the movie - a westerner finding his way into a side of Japanese society traditionally closed to foreigners - is certainly intriguing, and does lead to some very interesting moments. Western viewers who are interested in Japanese culture will certainly get a lot of insight.
But as good as the movie gets at time, there are some things that hold it back from being a really great movie. For starters, there is the pacing. While I am glad that the movie was not extremely fast-paced - which would be inappropriate for a serious-minded movie like this - all the same I have to admit that it was a bit slow at times. A little tightening here and there would have worked wonders. The biggest problem, however, is with its characters. I don't think the movie got into the heads of its main characters enough, particularly with the Jared Leto character. We learn practically nothing about his past, why he decides to join the yakuza, and what is going on in his head. He is such a bland character, it's hard to care about him one way or another.
I admit that I am glad that I saw this movie, since there is some really good stuff here and there. All the same, I don't think the movie is as good as it could have been. Yes, see the movie, but don't get your expectations too high, or you might be very disappointed.
Not without flaws, but is entertaining
I sat down to watch this movie on Netflix without knowing anything about it except for the few words the description on Netflix listed. I often do that, sometimes being pleasantly surprised by what I get to see, and that's how I felt about this particular movie. It is definitely not a perfect movie, and you'll see some big flaws right in the middle of watching it. For starters, it's a little odd that the loyal U.S. military forces would not arrive and start fighting back a lot sooner than they do. (You would think that they would at least send some air support fairly quickly.) Also, the protagonists have ample opportunity to take the weapons and gear of the fallen enemy combatants, but they only do this ONCE in the entire running time. And the very ending of the movie (which I won't reveal) is for the most part very disappointing, leaving many viewers to think they are being cheated in some way.
But fortunately, the movie does work for the most part. It's a very skillfully directed exercise, being that it's directed in a "real" time fashion, with seemingly very few clear edits. Instead, the movie plays out almost like one uninterrupted shot (though if you look real carefully, you will see where there are edits from one shot to another.) The movie also has a feel of authenticity, coming across as a more realistic treatment of the premise than you might think. The action and suspense scenes are also well done, containing a lot of excitement. If you are prepared to overlook those aforementioned (and other) flaws, the movie does manage to be effective enough to make it worth a look during a slow day.
Largely incohernet sci fi thriller
I really didn't have a problem with the basic premise of this movie, even if it has been done to a degree many times before in other movies. What I did object to, however, was how poorly done this particular version was. For starters, the movie moves at a glacial pace. Now, I am not one of those yahoo moviegoers who demands every movie move at a rapid pace from beginning to end; I realize that you do have to take time in a movie to set up the situations and characters. But the movie's first half all the same is way too slow, taking about double the time that another movie would take. Eventually I was asking the movie to simply get on with it.
Actually, despite the slow pace of the first half of the movie, there are some parts of the story where the movie does NOT take its time. There are some very important plot points where desperately needed explanation is needed, but never happened. Whether the script was originally like this, or some important footage got left on the cutting room floor, I can't say for sure. All I can say is that the first half of the movie is extremely confusing.
The second half of the movie is somewhat of an improvement over the first half. The pacing picks up, there is some action, and there is some plot explanation. But is it worth slogging through the first half of the movie? I say no. The movie still fails to engage the viewer, and you'll be counting the minutes before the movie finally ends. I say skip the entire package.
The Hunter's Prayer (2017)
Sort of watchable, but unexceptional
While this action thriller is far from the worst of its kind that I've seen, it is ultimately a forgettable viewing experience. It's kind of hard to figure out why it doesn't work, because it gets a few elements right. The acting is decent, the production values are pretty good, and the European backdrop does give the movie a little freshness. One problem is that the story itself is really nothing new - you will have seen the same basic plot in other movies before, including its various twists and turns. The characters are also nothing terribly new, and the lead character is a kind of bland figure who doesn't open up that much and show what he is thinking or feeling. There also isn't a lot of action, and while the few action moments do have some genuine energy, they are often directed and edited in a somewhat confusing manner. I would only recommend this movie to the few people who have not seen this basic formula before... but even then those viewers might have some of the same issues that I had.
Cute and sweet show
I'm glad that Netflix has been getting a lot of television shows from Asia, because there are some terrific shows to be found there. Several months ago I watched the fantastic show "OCTB" from Hong Kong, and recently I have started to watch this particular show from mainland China. I'm not sure what caused me to give it a look, since shows about teenagers and romance don't normally interest me, but I have now watched a third of the episodes, and I am absolutely charmed by this show. It is by no means perfect - there are some (minor) cultural references that don't translate well, and the story moves at a very slow pace. But the show remains buoyant all the same. The characters are not perfect, but you understand and sympathize with them, even if they make on occasions actions that you don't approve of. The issues the characters deal with are universal and understandable whether you're from China or any other country. You also get to learn about what life is like for ordinary Chinese citizens. And the tone of the show is refreshingly low key and warm instead of loud and harsh. I'm very much looking forward to watching the remaining episodes.
Equalizer 2000 (1987)
Unexceptional post-apocalypse movie
You might not think at first that a jungle country like the Philippines would get involved with making post-apocalypse movies, but it actually did happen a number of times in the 1980s. Many of them were made by the prolific B-movie filmmaker Cirio H. Santiago, and while "Equalizer 2000" is not one of his worst, it is perhaps one of his most forgettable. Despite hiring martial arts movie star Richard Norton, Santiago pretty much wastes him. Norton hardly gets to do anything resembling true martial arts, and for the most part he comes across as bland and unemotional. The bland feeling extends to the gun battles and car chases as well. Though there seems to be an excuse for action every few minutes, there is no zip or excitement to be found; it just seems to be going through the motions instead. As I indicated earlier, there's nothing to make this post-apocalypse movie stand out from the pack from the countless others that were made in the 1980s all over the world. If you want to see a GOOD post-apocalypse actioner made by Santiago, track down a copy of "Wheels of Fire" instead.
They're Watching (2016)
Takes way too long to get to business
Obviously inspired by "The Blair Witch Project", "They're Watching" does manage to bring in a few fresh elements that help it to be its own movie instead of a blatant rip-off. The Moldavian backdrop does give the movie a unique feel and look, for starters. Also, the acting is pretty good for the most part, making the characters pretty believable. The cast also brings in some low-key humor that is amusing while at the same time coming across as realistic instead of forced.
However, despite those aforementioned good elements, the movie doesn't really work. The main problem with it is that it's much too slow-moving and padded out for its own good. Yes, time should be devoted to set up the situation and the characters, but the movie takes way too long with this. After a while, you'll be impatient and snapping at the movie to simply get on with it. If you are really patient, you'll be eventually rewarded with a somewhat wild climax, but I don't think it's enough compensation for the slow and dreary time that unfolded just before it, especially since the special effects in this sequences are kind of cheesy at times.
This is definitely not the worst "found footage" movie that's out there - there are some good things in it - but you'll see that it could have been a great deal better than it actually is.
Diamond Cartel (2017)
Confusing and boring
Before watching this movie, I had never seen a movie made by Kazakhstani filmmakers before. After watching it, I have no desire to see another effort, at least any time in the near future. This movie goes wrong in just about every area you can think of. The only positive things I can about it is that it's decently shot, has (mostly) decent production values for what clearly wasn't a mega budget, and it has a one in a lifetime cast (though most of these well known actors are wasted in very small roles.) However, the movie is for the most part such a mess, it's hard to get any enjoyment out of those positive features. The story is extremely confusing, as if something went terribly wrong when it was translated into English. None of the characters are particularly sympathetic or interesting, with the only interest being how badly a lot of them are dubbed into English. Also, the movie doesn't know what it wants to be. Sometimes it's an action flick, other times it's a suspense thriller, and other times it plays like a very black comedy. With no constant tone, it's hard to keep your mind focused on what's happening, so much so that you'll start to forget the few coherent story details minutes after they unfold.... and you'll forget the entire movie minutes after the end credits start to unfold. I usually love B movies, but this particular one is really bad, even for my low standards.
Lethargic pace ultimately sinks this
While this Netflix exclusive film is far from the worst sci-fi thriller I have ever seen, it is ultimately unsatisfying. I admit that in many ways it's well put together. It looks fairly slick, with solid production values and excellent photography. The acting is low key but effective, giving the characters an edge that does often grab your attention. And the premise of the movie - a world where everybody is connected to what could be considered a cyber Internet - is intriguing, and throws in some interesting ideas.
However, as intriguing as the premise gets, there are some flaws in the script. For one thing, it has apparently never occurred to people in this futuristic world to keep using surveillance cameras... probably because if they were used, the story would have ended a lot quicker than it actually does. And while I was glad that the movie doesn't spoon-feed its audience explanations to questions, there were a few muddled moments that made me wish that the movie had more explanation for.
Those particular script problems don't sink the movie. What ultimately makes the movie fail is that it's very slow, bland, and meandering. The slow pace prevents any thrills from building, and it's frustrating that it takes more than half of the movie before the protagonist finds himself in trouble... and even when that happens, you don't feel any of the pressure or panic that the protagonist must be going through. It won't take long before you start telling the movie to simply get on with it. But it never does.
Not an awful movie, but if you do watch it, wait until you are in a really forgiving and patient mood.
Jiu ceng yao ta (2015)
If it had only made sense....
It's interesting to watch foreign movies that attempt to compete with Hollywood blockbusters, because sometimes you can find some entertaining movies that do things differently while being entertaining. However, there are definitely times when these foreign films can be as bad as the worst to come from Hollywood, and "Chronicles of the Ghostly Tribe" is one such movie. I didn't have a problem with the Chinese propaganda (every national cinema has films that trumpet their culture). And even though the special effects were kind of erratic, I didn't really have a problem with them as well.
However, I did have a big problem with the script. The first fifteen minutes are pretty coherent, but after that point, the movie becomes extremely muddled. There are a ton of unanswered questions and mysterious plot developments. Some of these head-scratching moments are eventually answered (kind of), but new murky touches come up to take their place. I don't know if the confusion was due to translation problems, a necessity to know Chinese culture well, or simply bad writing... though I suspect the third possible explanation is the answer.
The movie is well shot, fairly fast-paced despite its length, and it never gets to the point of being boring. But with such a muddled narrative, it's hard to care for the characters or what is happening. As a result, the movie is very unsatisfying. I would be willing to see these filmmakers do another movie, but only as long as they were working with a much better script.
Something Big (1971)
This particular western must have somewhat bewildered the few people who initially saw it in theaters when it was released in 1971. While the previous few years had had the western genre shook up by the spaghetti westerns from Italy and violent American westerns like "The Wild Bunch", this particular western seems to come from a earlier time. It's an old fashioned kind of western. Nothing really wrong with that, as long as the execution is done well. But sadly, the movie is a big letdown. The main reason why it fails is that most of the movie is really boring. The little story there is moves at a snail's pace, with abundant padding throughout. Things could have still been saved with an extra ingredient like action or comedy, but the movie is a letdown in those areas as well. There is very little action up to the violent climax, and the violence in the climax is not worth the wait. As for the comedy, it is pretty lame, with the only laugh being an unintentional one (a character has the name "Emilio Estevez".) Small wonder that headline star Dean Martin seems alternately bored or somewhat bewildered with what is going on around him. By the way, he's also offscreen for long periods of time, which he was probably thankful for.
Check Point (2017)
Really bad, even for a B movie
The other user comments here have stated in many ways how bad this movie is, that I wonder if I can say anything new. I'll give it a try. First of all, if you sit down to watch this movie expecting a lot of action, you'll be very disappointed. After the opening action sequence (which is repeated later in the movie!), there is no real action again until almost 50 minutes later. From that point on, there is some action, but it's choreographed and directed so plainly that there isn't the least amount of excitement coming from it. A bigger problem with the movie is the script. The story is incredibly slow-moving, for one thing, taking much too long to set things up and present the problem to the protagonists, one reason being that there are far too many characters the script feels need to be there. What little story there is also happens to be pretty stupid at times; the ultimate plan of the bad guys gets more absurd the more you learn about it and think about it. Also, the production values are pretty rock bottom for the most part, not just with the most unconvincing CGI blood splatter in motion picture history. I normally find something to like in most B movies, but with this one, I am really hard pressed to think of anything remotely positive.