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Ghostbusters (2016)
Less of a movie, more a series of skits
26 November 2016
Warning: Spoilers
--Possible Spoilers-- -I can't believe that's really a thing.-

The new Ghostbusters is a movie that pretty much every one knows the plot of at this point. Four women come together to battle a ghostly plague in New York City. On the surface, it's not a bad idea at all. With another set of actors or possibly different writers, it could have worked. There were several scenes this movie could have easily done without, and it would have been just as good of a movie, if not slightly better. Additionally, this movie suffers from almost everyone trying to be funny. There are very few "straight men" to balance things out.

The first portion of the movie establishes the main characters and how they come together. Kristen Wiig's character is shown establishing herself in a job that is not referred to at any other point in the movie, and way too much time is spent with this.

The middle of the movie goes pretty much as you would expect, with the crew busting ghosts and figuring out the details of what is a much larger plan. The climax is very well done, and a lot of originality was put in, along with nice nods to the original movie and cast. There is another scene at the end involving a rescue that does absolutely nothing for the story.

Of the entire cast, Leslie Jones was my favorite. Her character seemed to be the most believable.

I'm not sure what the process was for putting this together, but overall, the pieces didn't quite fit. It was gimmicky and predictable in some spots, and suffered from way too much mugging and goofing in others. There was very little balance in the group. In any group vehicle, there should be a nice balance of comics and straight men. You shouldn't have everyone trying to ham it up.

I was definitely disappointed. I wasn't disappointed comparing it to the original, which is going to invariably happen. I was disappointed in this as a stand alone movie. If they do a sequel, I hope they can put together a good cohesive script. The special effects are pretty, but a good story would be nice, too.
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The pieces don't quite fit
14 May 2016
Like other movies, old B movies can still stand out for one reason or another. Maybe there are some unique special effects. Maybe the story is actually rather engaging. Or maybe everything that could go wrong did, and the movie was still released.

This movie seems to fall into the latter category. As I watched it, I thought it seemed as though ideas were thought up and squeezed in somehow to make themselves fit and to justify other parts of the movie. It turns out I was right. If the trivia listed on IMDb is correct, the original concept was abandoned and the original movie had footage added to give us what we have now. A meaningless, senseless, illogical rambler of a movie.

As the narrator sets the stage, we're introduced to a some individuals who wind up becoming an unlikely group. It's hard to explain exactly how they come together only because the pieces don't quite fit. Let's just say it was a matter of convenience. A short plane trip turns into a scary night on the mesa, made scarier by dwarfs and women who seem to only communicate with glances. It's downright peculiar that not a single one of them ever spoke. Throw in a trip into the forest on the mesa and a finale in the doctors laboratory, and you have about an hour or so that you'll never get back.

In short, if you need something on in the background as white noise, this would do nicely. If you want a sensible, well assembled movie, move on. This ain't it.
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This is the reason I watch these movies!
14 May 2016
One important thing to remember when looking at the review history of a movie is that watching a movie is as much of an art as making it sometimes. You can't go into a movie like this and expect something as good as (insert name of current awesome movie here).

In the land of rubber monster B-movies, this one has a very comfortable home. According to the trivia on IMDb, this was made by some high school students in California. It looks like lit, but it also looks like there were some experienced hands at work in this movie.

It's silly, cheesy, and it definitely doesn't take itself seriously. What it does is offer a scenario similar to the creation of Godzilla. Those movies make a point of telling the audience how horrible nuclear waste is. This movie uses pollution as its base.

The pollution created by the town of Milpitas eventually festers and the monster is born. It wreaks unusual havoc, focusing on trash. People's lives are in upheaval as their garbage cans are the most important priority there is! Demands are made! Protests are attended! Garbage men are... are... well, I can't tell you that.

Of course the movie is predictable, and has the usual foreshadowing and such, but it's still fun to watch. The film makers had some interesting ideas, and certainly wanted to send a message about garbage and pollution. I think that message rang loud and clear. Most households were putting out at least 3 cans of trash in this movie. That alone qualifies as scary! The monster is just the icing on the cake!

Definitely a solid 5, which is about where decent B-movies fall for me.
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Pink Angels (1972)
I was fascinated from the start
3 January 2016
After having just watched Pink Angels, I went online to find some commentary on the movie. Most of what I have read seems to be the same. I think I can offer a slightly different take on this film.

From a cinematic standpoint, the movie makes little to no sense. We are introduced in an opening scene that seems to not be related to anything else, even though there is a point in the movie where you may, like I did, have an "a-ha" moment thinking that the movie has returned to the moment it opened. You couldn't be more wrong. There are clips interspersed throughout to introduce The General as well.

What fascinates me most about this movie is mostly the volumes that are spoken about our society and the writers through the film. On the surface, it's about a group of cross dressing bikers out to attend a gala in L.A. The movie seems to follow their journey while also introducing us to The General in a completely different setting. During their trip they encounter a hitchhiker, overbearing cops, and a gang of straight bikers.

If you watch the movie and observe the characters, a few interesting traits show up. Amongst themselves, the bikers act like absolute queens. When in public, they make a point of putting up a "butch" front to hide their presumed homosexuality. Given when this was made, that made sense. You didn't celebrate being gay, you hid it. I think someone involved in the film relied on a lot of arcane stereotypes when putting this together.

Like a lot of things in this film, even their sexual orientation can be questioned. In a scene in which hookers are brought out to party, they engage in a weird comical sexual romp with some of the girls along with the straight bikers. Some of them do, anyway. Was this intentional, or just a slip by the movie makers?

The combination of cross dressing and homosexuality struck me as particularly interesting because there is not necessarily a correlation between the two. You can enjoy dressing up in women's clothing (Ed Wood) and be perfectly straight.

So if you want to enjoy a nonsensical romp with one of the strangest endings in any movie, this is a great choice. If you have read other reviews, you've already read about the ending. When you watch this movie, there is no way you can see this coming. Random? Possibly. It's hard to tell if the ending was patched together at the last minute or planned. I do think there is a chance, given how the characters are portrayed in the film, that it's also meant as a statement about how they felt about the gay lifestyle, for lack of a better phrase.
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Ghost Rider (2007)
One of the best bad movies I've seen
1 August 2015
8 years after the original release, I finally got around to seeing Ghost Rider. It was not much loved by the critics, so it was never on my "must see" list. Having procured an inexpensive copy, I thought I'd give it a go.

Let's clear the air first. This is not a good movie for many reasons. The writing is bad. The plot is predictable. The dialogue leaves a lot to be desired, and this movie definitely slows down at one point.

Having said that, it is still a lot of fun. Early on, we meet the main character and his love interest, which is one of the things that plays our predictably for the most part. We find out about his young life and an important life changing decision he makes. We come to the present day Johnny Blaze and witness his evolution into Ghost Rider. He's given a very specific task he has to undertake, which he does begrudgingly. Watching him handle the early transitions from human to Ghost Rider, I kept thinking of a flaming Hulk. Dr. Banner would have been proud.

Johnny continues his mission, and finds out the answers to some mysteries along the way. Now wanted by the police, he must figure out how to handle what his life has become.

The effects in this movie are pretty great, and I found myself admiring touches like the flaming trails left by the motorcycle. There were a few humorous moments, and of course a lot of Nick Cage... well... being Nick Cage.

If you don't mind very imperfect films, this one is a fun way to spend an afternoon. Just don't make a list of holes or errors, or you'll run out of ink.
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Written in 2 1/2 weeks, and it shows
25 May 2015
This movie is a mystery. I don't mean the movie itself, I mean the fact that it is in any context considered a comedy as well as the fact that it has been reviewed as such. If it was indeed trying to be comedy, I should deduct half of the three stars I've given it, but that would be cruel, although without Bill Murray that may be where this would have wound up in my opinion.

The premise was interesting, the execution plodding, and the visuals boring. I'm not sure where to even begin with the list of cinematic crimes this movie committed. Could it be the sometimes nonsensical dialog? Should I pick on the repetitive driving shots used? Maybe I could comment on the number of unnecessary scenes scattered throughout the film.

I will just leave all of that there, which may be for the best, because I don't think I have enough time to go into them with any detail. I will say that a movie that could have been interesting and engaging failed to hit either of those marks.

Bill Murray plays Don Johnston, a man who received a letter informing him that he has a 20 year old son who is searching for his father. As a man who makes his money in the tech industry, yet has none of this technology himself, he relies on plans laid out by his neighbor and friend, who is determined to help him get to the bottom of the mystery. His search takes him to places. We don't know what places, because the movie was devoid of many details, including that. We know he was involved with the women he visits, and that's about it. We have no background, no details, no other information. We don't know where he is at any given time, and in one scene, a detail that would customarily be included is noticeably absent.

If you never see this movie, you will have undoubtedly found many better ways to spend the hour and 46 minutes it would take to view it in it's entirety. I like to think I'm rather generous when it comes to judging and rating movies, and if that's the case here, it's even worse than I'm letting on.
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My love / hate relationship with this movie
2 June 2013
Warning: Spoilers
While I will attempt to avoid spoilers, I am flagging my review just in case.

This is essentially the second JJ Abrams vehicle I've ever watched. I saw a few episodes of Lost, but was never a fan. On the other hand, I wholly loved the Star Trek reboot. The casting was magnificent, and the chemistry of the characters is completely intact.

Having grown up with the series and the original movies, I have still managed to adjust to the alternate universe. I am a fan, and I wholly endorse the idea. Conceptually, it's wonderful to almost recreate the "What if" scenario from Marvel comics? What if Spock had a love interest? What if Captain Pike had lived? These ideas and more are all being explored in the new Star Trek universe.

As a franchise, one of the concepts that has always made is special for me is the plausibility. Within this universe, there are races and species of all kinds. It's a given that a starship with this special crew does what it does. The science is acceptable. Some of it has even become reality! This is where my love / hate shifts slightly to hate, but not completely. More like dislike with a bitter aftertaste.

I was transfixed while watching this movie. I saw women with hands to their faces during some of the action sequences, riveted to the screen. It was amazing.

****Spoilers follow*****

While I was on the fence about using Khan in this way, I was good with it. The fact is, when you have seen Ricardo Montalban in this role, it's hard to adjust to a new concept, despite how good the actor is, and this one was brilliant.

The movie started to lose me late in the game. At some point, instead of climbing the to the top of the mountain of action sequences, they should have known where to level off. In Star Trek II, the scene in which Spock saves the ship is wholly believable. In watching it, all one can do is just marvel at the scene. In the new movie, the saving of the ship is ratcheted up a notch as Kirk doesn't just race to fix an important component of the ship, he somehow knows where this thing is he is looking for, and manages to kick into place an object that I would assume weighs thousands of pounds and is mostly likely heavily bolted into place, even if jarred temporarily.

Having gotten past this, I was settling back in when Spock beamed down to chase Khan. Again, this was a good scene to start, and then it too went way over the top. Had these scenes been in nearly any other movie, I would be fine, but they just don't belong in star trek.

That having been said, the movie is still worth watching, and it's wonderful to see so much attention being given to this set of characters. I think the actors are all doing a phenomenal job, and the writing is top notch as well.

Whether you are a new fan or a long time fan, you'll find much to make you happy here. Unfortunately, if you are a long time fan, there are more than a few concepts here you're just going to have to overlook. If the next movie follows this pattern, I think I'll pass and just pop in a DVD of one of the originals. In this age of special effects and fast paced action sequences, it's nice to sometimes go back to a time when special effects enhanced a movie, they didn't define it.

And be prepared. If memory serves, this movie consists of a LOT of close ups, and more than a few lens flares thrown in for style. The lens flares are an interesting touch, but they work.

I would have rated this movie another star or two had it not been for the two scenes I mentioned. They really hurt an otherwise wonderful movie for me.
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The Smurfs (2011)
They're smurfs, not cats.
31 July 2011
I don't even know what that means! The good news is, it doesn't make a difference. This movie is not out to change the world. If you are looking for award winning acting, you won't find it. If you want a snappy script, you'll have to look elsewhere. On the other hand, if you grew up with the Smurfs like I did, this is not a bad movie.

Hank Azaria was amazing as Gargamel, down to the evil voice. I had to actually remind myself at one point that it was him. The makeup was really good and he really had the character down. I wasn't totally impressed with the voice casting. They really could have done better. Actually, the casting overall was weak. I think they just went with some hot names to get people to see this. It didn't kill the movie, but it didn't help it.

All in all, it's not a bad little diversion. Keeping in mind I've sat through most of the Ernest movies, the pee wee movies, and even some bad martian flicks in the 90s. It's best to walk in with the bar set low so you're not disappointed. I did that, and I enjoyed the 2D version. It may not appeal to younger viewers not acquainted with the Smurfs as there are a fair amount of jokes that only work if you are familiar with them, like Smurfette's dress. Even the scene with Azrael and the cage that falls on her are to give you clues as to what makes them what they were in the cartoon.

If you have an afternoon to kill and a few extra bucks you could do worse. Just enjoy it for what it is and you'll do OK.
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Trust Roger Ebert!
9 May 2011
I used to look at IMDb regularly and base whether or not I went to a movie on the reviews. With this currently rated so low, I would have normally stayed away, but thankfully I found Roger Ebert's review, which was wonderfully objective. Is this movie perfect? No. Is it fun? Yes. Will you laugh? Probably. I've read several comments included in reviews on here about the side story lines, how little body fat there is on the actors (Really?! Maybe showing fit people is a really good idea.), and a few other things. My basic answer is, so what? Enjoy the movie for what it is. It's a brief look at the life of a two very chaotic and dysfunctional families. Sometimes that's how life works. It may not be your life, but it may be close to someone else's. There are times when the dialogue is so over the top, it was obviously to achieve a certain comedic or dramatic moment, and I'm OK with that. One of the important aspects to me is that in this day and age of movies that portray the worst of society, this portrays the successful black families. The characters were very believable for me. In several instances, I could have sworn I met them at some point in my life. The main characters are certainly the core of the movie. Sabrina and Jason are the young couple whose wedding is affected by the vastly different backgrounds they come from. The mothers are given a very powerful place in the film, with their actions affecting everyone else, as they should. The dynamics are interesting to watch at first, but by the end of the movie, it's very easy to see how and why people are the way they are. Some of the climaxes in the movie are easy to spot, others not so much. In the end, this was a very enjoyable movie, and definitely worth seeing. I almost never choose a romantic comedy as my first choice, but this was such a well rounded movie, even I found it very enjoyable (as a guy) to go to. It wasn't sappy, it wasn't cheesy, it was just plain fun.
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Nobel Son (2007)
How many words are there for BAD?
6 December 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Terrible. Awful. Flawed. Haphazard. I can't think of enough adjectives to describe how bad this movie was. What was an interesting concept was chopped up and pieced together and released to theaters. Here is a sure sign of a bad movie; If, at the end, the characters have to summarize everything that just happened, then it's a bad movie. Characters change without reason, other events occur that seem completely unnecessary.

SPOILER ALERT----- I think a lot of scenes were written just because they'd make good film. They contributed nothing to the movie, and only added to the confusion. We find out the truth about the kidnapping. If this was the case, then why did we have the original scene in the house, and why did we have the scene involving the thumb later on if the kidnapper had no intention of cutting it off. It makes zero sense. If this kidnapping had been set up from the beginning, then those scenes make no sense to the story.

I feel like any given scene was only written to cover a loophole somewhere else. SKIP THIS MOVIE. There are a couple of interesting spots in here, but the movie as a whole just does not hold up at all.
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Very good movie, but with a few flaws..
6 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers

Having grown up with the original Superman movies, I was impressed on a number of levels with this movie. The actor playing Superman obviously studied Christopher Reeve's take on Clark Kent and did an excellent job emulating the speech and mannerisms. I would have liked to have seen more scenes with Clark instead of Superman, but that doesn't take away from the movie for me. I thought the story was detailed and very interesting, and the set design for this movie was second to none! It was visually breathtaking.

Now for some of my issues... Years ago my father pointed out as we watched an original superman movie, that you never really see anyone get hurt or killed. I can't remember specifically, but I know you never saw anyone get killed. This movie kills 3 bad guys. I have a problem with that. I also have a problem with a few liberties taken. As the plane carrying the shuttle continues to climb, it nears the edge of space, yet the tail continues to burn. With the lack of oxygen at this level, the flames should have been extinguished. In the scene where Superman stops the out of control car, he picks it up and sets it down. During the scene, the woman pumps the brakes and tries to turn the key, but the car won't shut off. All of a sudden it's off!? No no no.... bad bad bad... I thought the picture of him setting it down was a great touch. Did you catch it? It was a recreation of the cover of Action Comics #1!

And early on, try to read what you can of the scrabble board. I only caught one word, which was alienation. I think there are probably more worth checking on there.

My other issue is an early scene with Clark and Lois at the daily planet early in the movie. There is a guy that walks into the scene, but it looks like he's not supposed to be there, because he suddenly stops. He doesn't do anything, he just walks in and stops.

I still enjoyed this movie overall,and while I'm a huge Kevin Spacey fan, I don't know that he brought anything special to the role of Lex Luthor. I would have almost liked to have seen Gene Hackman give it one more go. I'll definitely see the next one! A-
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The cartoon comes to life
10 April 2004
On the very short list of movie sequels that are better than the original, you will find this movie. It is funny, sweet, and charming all at the same time. As a live action cartoon, it hits the mark perfectly. Not only was it fun to see the cartoon monsters brought to life, it was also fun to see how much the animators enjoyed giving them life. The morality tale of "always be yourself" was prevalent throughout, making for a wonderful message. Many people are overly critical of a movie like this, expecting things movies like this aren't meant to deliver. It is pure silly fun and not much more. For those unaware, the kids are blamed as things seem to go wrong in Coolsville. Determined to make things right, they track down the person behind the reappearances of old villains. Shag and Scoob trek out on their own determined to prove they can be good detectives. Down the road the gang meets up learning more about themselves along the way. Through teamwork and perseverence they (of course) get to the bottom of the mystery, unmasking the villain in classic Scooby Doo fashion. I am happy to say I had a completely enjoyable time at this movie, and was pleasantly surprised, as I hadn't expected much going in. In the wide world of moviedom, if you go in expecting Batman <The original with Adam West> instead of The Matrix, you should be in for a treat.
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There's more to it than you may have read...
12 March 2004
I just had the opportunity to watch the AMC release of this movie on DVD. It can be tough to follow at times, as it is very choppy and has some odd transition, surely due to film damage. The movie is a bit convoluted, jumping right into the action with two girls racing two guys in a drag race, then flying off a bridge into a river. One of the girls seems to escape from the car. Did she? It's hard to say. In one scene she is walking from the wreck, and in the next she is playing a church organ. Her nights are haunted by visions, and her days are spent trying to figure it all out. She seems to suffer from episodes that are disconcerting and surreal, which makes you wonder what her true state of being is. There is some phenominal imagery used at the end, along with many creative camera shots.

I am impressed with the ideas behind this movie, given the budget that was used and the time it was made. I may have to watch it again to see if I can pick up a couple of nuances I missed the first time around. It is a great addition to any classic movie collection. Like many modern suspense movies, not everything you see is as it seems. That works very well for this movie.
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14 February 2004
I must start by saying that I do not believe that I possess the words to describe the beauty that is this movie. The visuals are no less than stunning. The detail in each and every character is breathtaking. The motion and sound make for an experience to get lost in. This is not your average animated movie by any stretch of the imagination. The dialogue is minimal, to say the least. The story is touching, and if you pay attention, you will easily follow it as it takes you from A to B to C. As a dog owner, I must say I was also impressed with the dog. At some point, someone involved with this story had a dog, as the dog did everything my dogs do.

I encourage everyone to see this movie. But stay through the credits! And not just for the terrific music!
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Elf (2003)
I didn't know they made them like this anymore!
8 November 2003
After seeing Will Ferell in Old School, Elf was a MUST SEE. This movie was incredible! In a packed theatre, I heard the audience laugh regularly, and little children chimed in once in a while, too! Elf is definitely a treat for all ages, with plenty of sweetness for all ages. There are many subtle adult-type jokes hidden in this gem of a movie. Keep your eyes peeled for bigfoot type footage of our friend! If you know the reference, it's hilarious! I would recommend this movie for ALL!
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