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The Visit (I) (2015)
8/10
Finally a good M Night movie
19 September 2015
A brother and a sister visit their grandparents, all the while video taping the experience, and going through some very uncomfortable and unexpected events. Mom has sent them to visit, as they have virtually alienated themselves from her, but still want to see the kids. At first, everything is great, but when night comes...really weird things start to happen. Although the story is simple, and there is nothing earth-shattering here, it works just fine. Character's self-filmed movies, like this one, don't always work, but this was done in a clever way, with angles and shots that shine more often than not. All actors are pretty good, even the sometimes grating Oxenbould playing Tyler. Deanna Dunagan must have studied some kind of insanity manual to do this, she's very good.

Creepy, funny and with a neat twist. There's a real hilariously sick, or sickly hilarious scene that will haunt you for weeks if you're a germaphobe.
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The Avengers (2012)
10/10
So, which part did you like?
5 December 2013
Ah, comic superheroes. I used to read The Avengers as a kid. It wasn't my favorite comic, but I really got into the story-lines that ranged from simple single villain battles to country-wide political issues. Teamwork was of the utmost importance, and although most of the characters had their own comic series, it dove into some meaningful character studies itself, too.

As for the movie, you couldn't really ask for much more. It's got everything that an action/fantasy, hell even comedy lover would want and then some. Assembling a team, saving the world against evil while trying to cope with each other is just a lot of fun to watch! Each hero had some interesting story to them. You've got the bulk, brawn, & cooped up anger of the Hulk, the out of time sturdy super soldier Captain America, The playboy genius/joker Iron-Man, the arrogant but powerful & other-worldly Thor & the Russian Shield Agent Black Widow. But not Hawkeye. Nobody liked Hawkeye so let's skip him.

Tom Hiddleston is better than he should be as bad-guy Loki. He and Agent Coulson, played by Clark Gregg somehow became fan favorites. I understand Loki, he's a bit of a tragic figure. He's been damaged emotionally and physiologically by others, & good example of evil. But I don't understand Agent Coulson. I mean, I liked the guy but he has FAN SITES, by golly.

Director Joss Whedon was perfect for this, he's a comic book lover, & well established in epic like storytelling for TV shows. And I haven't even mentioned Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury.

Does the movie have flaws? Sure! But so does every other movie, including The Dark Knight, which had far, far more head scratches & dumb plot holes than I could count.

Regardless, this is a must see movie for all fans of the genre.
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Pacific Rim (2013)
8/10
32 Reasons Why You Need To See "Pacific Rim"
15 July 2013
Brings back child-hood memories of Godzilla Vs. xxx & Ray Harryhausen stop motion model animation & Tokusatsu!

Cool martial arts scene.

The visuals are imaginative & incredible without almost no bad CGI in sight.

Humans conquering problems through teamwork, made up of diversity.

The monsters are big, huge, GIAGANTIC, & scary as hell.

Estimated Damage to NY in "The Avengers"=$160 Billion. "Man of Steel's" Metropolis= $700 Billion. "Pacific Rim's" several continents= In the trillions (still being calculated as of July 2013)

Has drama & romance scenes that never get in the way of the action.

Draws from several genres of monsters, yet the final creatures are original.

Cool costumes that have detailed battle-reflected scratches and grime.

Charlie Day doing Charlie from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, but on smart pills.

Idris Elba' character Stacker Pentecost saying the coolest 6-word line about an apocalypse ever.

Tom Cruise was NOT chosen for the role of Stacker Pentecost.

Yes, that is Ellen McLain, voice of GLaDOS from the video game Portal that you'll hear.

Ron Perlman.

Awesome fighting sequences on land, sea & air.

Each special weapon Jaeger has it's own cool feature.

A very likable, personable protagonist played by Charlie Hunnam.

A beautiful, leading woman, Rinko Kikuchi, that's never exposed as a sexed-up dumb, kitten(you know, like Star Trek's obvious bra & panties scene or Transformer's Megan Fox bending over a car)

Some represented countries working together: China, Russia, USA, Australia, & Japan.

The 3D is actually good.

Good clichés, not bad ones.

Great use of color saturation.

Whether you love or hate Guillermo del Toro, you have to admire his flexibility: Horror, Superhero-action, Drama, & Fantasy. This is him at his nerdiest best with Sci-Fi Action/Adventure.

Cool during-credits sequence.

Best sequence of setting off a Newton's Balls (or Newton's Cradle) accessory in a movie put to film.

A live action Japanese Mech-warrior anime? YES PLEASE.

Over 2 hours long for maximum entertainment.

Expect over an hour of deleted scenes edited out of the movie for the DVD/Blu-ray release with alternate endings.

Boeing CH-47 Chinook helicopters doing incredible & probably impossible tricks with Jaegers.

ELBOW ROCKET PUNCH!!!

Done for less budget than Transformers: Dark of the Moon and still winds up looking better.

Funny scenes are funny.
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Inside (2007)
4/10
Gory but a disappointing mess
18 May 2013
A pregnant woman is being stalked & tormented in her house by a woman who wants her baby, and wants it OUT as soon as possible.

After hearing all the praise that Inside got, I was really looking forward to it. I've really been getting into some French horror lately, Irreversible being one of my faves, hell, I even really got into the love it or hate it High Tension. But this... really disappointed me. Aside from Béatrice Dalle's performance as the killer with a love for scissors, and lots of gore, there's almost nothing here! Alysson Paradis who plays the pregnant Sarah, is just not a very interesting character. We are supposed to feel sorry for her because she just lost her husband in a car accident, but I just wasn't feeling it. Since her character was scripted to be emotionally distant from everyone, including her friends, so are we distanced from her. Scenes are stretched out a bit longer then they should, resulting in nothing interesting happening & even becoming repetitive. For a horror movie, it wasn't scary, as the suspense is negated the further you go. I thought perhaps the ending would resolve something, but it didn't. There's just no real mystery here as to who the woman is if you even give it a second thought. There was no surprise, message or interesting conclusion to talk about after it's done. It's just... done. Sure, you're left with questions that the movie will not answer, but it has no reason to because the plot really turns out to be very thin.

More bad stuff include scene after scene where we continue to see a bad CGI of a baby being shifted around with silly emotions, bumbling idiot police & a completely ridiculous scene with one of the cops who does something unbelievably stupid with his captive & another REALLY weird scene with a circuit breaker which even the directors didn't know wtf was going on. Don't get me started.

Now, if you're just watching the movie for the sheer shock value, by all means go for it. There's plenty of blood & gore to go around. I do love my gory flicks, but why this movie tries to aim for something more serious when it's clearly just a mediocre gratuitous gore movie and why it's critically praised by some as the second coming of all horror films is beyond me.
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6/10
Saw ends the series with a bang, a rip, & a buzz.
1 November 2010
To those that have grown to love and hate the Saw series, here it is. The final Saw. How much you will like the end of the series depends on how you go in thinking about it. Here's some advice: Don't think about it so much and watch the movie. Also, stop expecting it to change. It won't.

In this one, a self-help motivational speaker is a survivor of Jigsaw's traps, and launches a book to promote helping others. But there are secrets to be uncovered from both him and the others involved from the previous installments, and will be pitted against, you guessed it: traps.

There's a whole lot of death here. A LOT. The body count registers more then any of the others, as far as I can tell. Hoffman himself is as dangerous as any trap. Most of the traps are OK, but there is one in particular that takes place in a junkyard garage that is gruesomely well done. The 3D effects? It was fine. Rather then doing a quick conversion, the producers actually implemented the 3D effects from the start. Some were very well done, others were very minor and simple, but at least not overdone. Still, I could have seen the movie in 2D and given it the same rating.

What makes Saw so appealing to me is the fact that the writers go that extra mile to tie up loose ends, filling in details of the past. It's obvious that they are making it up as they go along, and if you do wind up thinking too hard about it, it's absurd. Thinking back, so are most horror series movies. As usual, it's best to have seen the previous Saws in order to understand what is going on. Sure, this 7th Saw has its share of problems: a few too many unnecessary flashbacks, not enough screen time for the two big returning actors (John & Dr. Gordon) & timing issues. (The clock shows only 5 seconds left, why are they still working on it 20 seconds later??!)Another bothersome thing to me is that somewhere along the way, they tossed out "teaching the wrong-doer a lesson" and moved into "just kill anyone in the way" in order to progress the story. I think it could have worked without that, and it gave a bad feeling somewhere in the pit of my intestinal tract. But in the end, these are minor issues. You go see a movie like Saw to see who's the backstabber, how did he/she do it, and is person X going to make it out alive, not for sentimental crap. Those that continue to want to see a different movie, or a Saw that is aiming for an Oscar are in for a big disappointment. If after Saw 4 you were tired of it, don't be silly. Stop watching it and stop wasting your time.

I've also seen comments on how flipping back and forth from one story line and character to another is confusing. The previous Saw did this too. Well, I was never lost. It was easy to follow, and it made it all the more exciting. Seriously, if you can't handle fast-paced action sequences, slightly complex multiple story lines, and huge amounts of blood, go watch something slow and boring like Paranormal Activia, or whatever the hell it's called. Yes, director Kevin Greutert wanted to do PA2, but why? I do recommend Saw 7 over it.
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The Crazies (2010)
6/10
The Crazies works, but just barely...
9 July 2010
A small town in Iowa gets infected with a toxin that makes people crazy enough to kill each other. Town sheriff and wifey try to survive.

I really wanted to like 'The Crazies' a bit more. I like zombie/infected movies in general, even the cheesy ones, and of course Romero's ones, including the 1973 The Crazies, which this is a remake of. But The Crazies is in a long line of these types of movies that are popping up way too much, such as The Happening. Replace the nature part with government/scientist/terrorist group, etc., and you pretty much have filled about 5-10 years worth of these types of movies with little variety. (28 Days Later remains one of my 'recent' favorites) Sure, it had it's share of good parts, such as some folks strapped to gurneys while an infected walks around with a pitchfork. It's well produced, and director Breck Eisner seems to hold it together well, amid the small amount of movies he's made. Timothy Olyphant was good as the sheriff, but someone needs to beat him with an 'old' stick until he looks his age. But I guess I was looking for a bit more of this survival horror movie, maybe a better ending? I was a little disappointed with the cheese at the end, considering the movie takes itself seriously.
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6/10
Not fantastic, but not terrible.
6 July 2010
For those that don't know what the story is about, The Last Airbender is taken from an animation TV series on Nickelodeon. An Airbender is a person capable of using a power to control elements, such as wind and fire. The young protagonist, Aang, ran away because of the pressures of being an Airbender, and goes into a state of suspended animation. He is unfrozen by 2 others, Ktara & Sokka, but after he wakes up, finds he has been out for a long time. Since then, the Fire Nation has disrupted peace, launching a plot to stop Air Nomads so that they may rule over them and the rest of the world. It's up to the Airbender to help restore peace.

SO let's start with the bad: The movie just didn't have enough to make it great by any means. Much of the dialog was stiff, as was some of the acting. For a kid's movie, it was humorless. I saw the movie in 2D, but I heard that the 3D was awful, as it was originally intended to be a 2D. Don't try to compare it to other good movies such as perhaps Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings. And of course, it will never be able to replace 61 episodes that made up the TV series, because much of the characterization and story line is missing. The same can be said of countless other comic book and TV series adaptations.

The good: The action was well-done for a PG rated movie, as were the special effects. Scenery, good cam angles, and the general mythology behind the story were spot-on. I would at least compare it to some lite kung fu movies. Without, umm... any Asians.

But there are two different types of people who hate this movie so much that they ridiculously give it a rating of 'one': 'Professional' critics that hate M. Night Shyamalan, and 34 year old geek fans of The Last Airbender TV series that still live with their parents, and probably have yet to see the movie. Oh, and lets add a third one: all those that give me a 'No' to "Was the above review useful to you?", although they are probably one and the same. Just a few glances at some comments here and in other sites like IMDb show some comments like "This movie sucked because it wasn't like the TV series". I also thought it was funny that low ratings were coming in far before the movie was released. Among some of the criticism was that the characters were boring, & didn't have enough background to them. So what? You all REALLY expected a so-so TV series to take off in an Oscar-winning performance on the big screen? Please. Shyamalan may no longer be the "it's a twist!" director we kind of fell in love with 10 years ago, but the hate felt for him after The Village & The Lady in The Water has gone on too long.

So what should be your expectations of it? You should go see the movie as an action/adventure, some sword and sorcery w/martial arts. It is NOT the epic, fun-filled family film it wants to be, sure, but to call it the worst movie of the summer? Please. You know what family films were bad? Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel. The Karate Kid remake. The Last Song. Marmaduke. Anything in 2008-2010 with the word "Twilight" in the title. I would rather see Airbender 3 times then a second more of those movies. Seriously, if you're that anal about movies, just wait for it on Netflix or something.
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Pandorum (2009)
7/10
OK mix of Event Horizon & Aliens
1 November 2009
Pandorum isn't going to win anyone over with deep, insightful messages, clever dialog or originality. It can be confusing, the protagonist falls down WAY too much (about 5 times before the first hour)and the rest of the cast of characters (the exception of Dennis Quaid) are as interesting as unpopped popcorn kernels. Action scenes are filmed to close or too dark. The twist ending will either make the story a bit more interesting, or make you roll your eyes up to the theater ceiling, where you will notice that it's not as well constructed as you thought it would be and are a bit mystified as to where the money for your movie ticket, soda and candy goes to.

Yet, I cannot not say Pandorum was bad. It delivered exactly what I expected: a horror sci-fi in a claustrophobic spacecraft with Dennis Quaid doing something questionable. Really, it's what I've been waiting for.

The movie starts off with a bang with crew member Bower (Ben Foster) waking up, not knowing who he is, all disoriented, & not knowing what his mission is supposed to be. Then another member, lieutenant Payton, (played by Dennis Quaid) wakes up, but no better with the memory. Still, they are determined to turn this ship back on, as things don't look good with it. But where are the other people? What the heck happened and what are those crazy & scary looking things with teeth? Eventually, Bower meets up with more survivors. But as I already mentioned, you can't invest your thinking into the characters too much to care about them, because everyone comes off as a bit crazy. So we put our focus on Bower and Payton, the only folks who seem to know what might be going on and how to fix it. The storyline does take you one mysterious step at a time, allowing you to figure out what is happening. The title "Pandorum" refers to some kind of space madness that occurs to some folks who wind up thinking that the mission is cursed and go nuts.

Still, if you liked Aliens, Event Horizon, or other similar movies, you'll likely enjoy Pandorum.
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6/10
Cool, but what does it really show in the end?
26 October 2009
No, I'm not telling you what happens in the end. Relax.

So main guy Clyde, played very well by Butler, goes up against society and it's justice system because his family was murdered and one of the murderers goes free. He takes 10 years to develop a plan, and he's going to involve his original lawyer, Nick Rice, played by Foxx. Nick made a shady deal that allowed the criminals to have soft sentences. Somehow, Clyde orchestrates a series of murders, all from his prison cell, and no one can figure out how he does it. At first, Clyde goes after the bad guys, but it's soon revealed that he had a lot more in mind, such as government officials.

What works here is Gerard Butler. He looks like he is enjoying himself as he sits back and watches his plan unfold, teaching people "lessons". Sort of reminds me of Saw in that respect. What doesn't work is Foxx, or at least the script of his character. We know that he has acting chops, he played so well in 'Ray', but there's no way he convinces me as a D.A., simply because there are just too many things someone of his intelligence would never do. The movie eventually gets a bit out there in the "real" department because this infection of things that are improbable start affecting other things too. Since the movie is taking itself seriously, I have to come to the conclusion that it wants you to believe everything here is on the ball. I'm not sure if I enjoyed how it eventually ended, either. What did we all learn from it? How could anyone have taken the actions and words of something similar to a terrorist to heart as a comfortable life lesson? Unfortunately, we first like Clyde a lot, sympathize with him, then we are forced to hate him. You know how Charles Bronson, Rambo, or any other "I'm gonna get you" character is still somewhat likable in the end? Not here.

But let me not hit too hard because I still enjoyed the revenge-but-something-bigger-than-that based story. Some of the scenes were clever, and it did have some cool AH HA! moments. Just don't think about it too much.
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Saw VI (2009)
6/10
Way better than it should be
26 October 2009
The sixth Saw is a damn good movie. Go see it.

That is all.

Still here? Need more to convince you, huh? Well, this is the best Saw since the 2nd, or perhaps since the first. Once again, it fills gaps in the story, works like a smooth, well oiled machine, & has clever, deadly traps. Surprises here are numerous, opening up twists in the middle of the story, not just the end. Less crime scene investigation, and more character based dilemma, which is good, because it was getting a bit grating watching a cop show with Saw 4 and 5. And yes, the gore is still there, still quite bloody, but somehow never overdoing it.

The story? What can I say that won't ruin the movie? How about that this is the first Saw to really stick it to what's happening with current events? Health care companies be damned.

Saw has managed to create some copies, such as 2008's Untraceable, & this year's Law Abiding Citizen. None of these movies applied logic. Implausibility is the word of the day. If anything in Saw happened in real life, it would have ended with none of the victims learning anything, winding up going to therapy for the rest of their lives. But seriously, if you go to watch a movie with that in mind, you're never going to enjoy yourself. Saw 6 can stand on it's own, requires a little knowledge of the past, sure, but not completely necessary. It took me by surprise because sequels aren't supposed to be good at all.

Oh yeah, before I forget, Tobin Bell has the absolute best lines here regarding health, patients and insurance. Don't miss that scene with him at the HMO office. Take a good look at the name of the company, too, for a good laugh.
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5/10
I like my ramen, but this was disappointing
29 September 2009
Poor Abby. She is a typical, or perhaps not so typical depending on your point of view, American girl. She comes and visits Japan with her boyfriend. He leaves for a job, which is much more important to him, she gets stuck at his apartment. He pretty much lets her know that the relationship should end, because he was letting her know all along that she was the one who imposed. Unfortunately for her character in the story, I don't blame him. He's not a good guy, but she should have taken hints a long time ago. So he's gone from the story, and she is left alone.

Drinking one night, she notices a ramen restaurant across the street. Apparently, something 'magical' happens to attract her to this particular place, because when she gets there, a Japanese cat statue beckons her to stay. She could have been drunk. It leads me to believe that if the place across from her would have been a gambling establishment, a meat factory, or a strip bar, she still would have wound up in there and a cried and lamented until she got a job there. Which is exactly what she did. She imposed herself on the owners and wined and moaned, practically forcing him to give her a job. OK, so if she didn't, it wouldn't be called Ramen girl, or even Strip Girl or Meat Girl. It would be 'I'm Getting my Butt on a Plane Back Home Girl'.

Now, to me, after this, is where the story falls apart. They have a language barrier. Somehow Abbey, played by Brittany Murphy, sometimes seems to care very little of the people around her, yet that's not what the story wants you to think of her. None of them bother to get an interpreter. For a long time, we see the owner, played wonderfully by Toshiyuki Nishida, attempting to communicate with her, and she tries to do the same, but each come back with miscommunication, anger, and some sorrow. We are treated with some secondary characters that add little to the importance to the story. Almost none of them know English and if they do, barley help our character.

A romance is thrown in sort of as an after thought. The comedy is sparse and not always funny. It isn't about food, which is sad because they could have had an interesting angle there. The story is implausible and annoying, once again considering the fact that none of the characters bother to help each other much with the biggest problem in the story: COMMUNICATION. The movie is so bad about that, that we don't even know ourselves how much of the dialog the characters understood about each other when they speak.

By the movie's end, I was underwhelmed with other parts of the story that didn't pan out well, like the owner's son. So much potential, so little reward. Still, maybe one day you can catch it on Lifetime, or channel 7984 at 2AM and may actually like parts of it.
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9/10
Totoro can be my Neighbor!
19 June 2009
There are very few directors/writers that can bring a "G" rated family film that is not only entertaining to children, but a wonder for adults. Before bringing us treasures like "Princess Mononoke" and "Spirited Away", My Neighbor Totoro showcased where Hayao Miyazaki would be for the next 20 years: on top of the animation game.

A father moves in to an old home with his two daughters, Satsuki, the older sister, and Mei, who looks to be about 5. Mother is sick, & away at the hospital, and they have an opportunity to see her sometimes. They meet new friends, including a boy who tells them the place they moved into is haunted. The new place is wondrous, but perhaps a little creepy. What happens after this is up to you. It's either a big, colorful part of a child's imagination, a real magical adventure, or a hallucinogenic trip from a mushroom accidentally eaten in the big backyard they have. NO, scratch that last part.

They soon encounter a "Totoro" a big, fluffy bear/cat/bird like creature who's as gentle as a sleepy puppy. Oh, he just happens to be the king of the forest. Other encounters include a cat bus, "dust bunnies" or "soot sprites" that are also found later in Miyazaki's Spirited Away, & a tree that... well I don't want to give it away.

It's simplicity is deceiving. The movie moves slow and makes you think that nothing much else is going to happen, yet by it's end we have seen everything from forming friendships, the importance of family, commune with nature & the human spirit in it's way of overcoming life's problems.

About the only problem I had with the movie is that it was way too short! Not short by the standard family animation, but short for a Miyazaki movie, who's films usually clock in at 2 hours! Regardless, this is a must see. My daughters love it, and stand absolutely mesmerized in delight. So do I. Even the credits are a treat!
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7/10
Terminator: The Scooby Dooby DOO version!
18 June 2009
The Terminator series, from T3, the TV show and this new one, would be best described as a "loosely based alternate reality where different things take place than what the director and writer intended years ago, and would make no sense if you pieced them together using your sisters doll house for props". Quotes my own.

This I figured out within minutes of seeing T3. The John Connor we saw was not the same John from the 2nd. And this new Connor isn't the same from ANY of them, not that we saw much of him from the future in the first place. After T3, I stopped thinking and instead did what a lot of people should do... shut up and enjoy the big pretty flashes of light and the BOOM! Crash! sounds.

This new Terminator takes place in the future rather then the present. Christian Bale, who plays Connor, was originally slated for Marcus, a much better role. Bale wanted to play Connor, and in the end, gets a less exciting part to play. Bryce Dallas Howard has little to do here. Her part could have been omitted and no one would have noticed. Everyone else is OK.

There's nothing really unpredictable about what is going to happen. Good guys go after bad guys, bad guys look like they are winning, good guys make a better plan. Oh, I can also go into the bad loopholes and tell you that these supposedly hard-to-kill terminators don't know how to kill humans very well, or how security at Skynet is a joke. I laughed at the FM radios used for communication. Yeah. Like Skynet isn't going to catch us on THAT. OH, and the time travel thing. It's not in the movie, so we have to assume it hasn't been invented yet, so HOW can Skynet know the significance of one Kyle Reese? But I won't go into that. Most any sci-fi is going to have these, and sequels have them plenty. None of that compares than placing McG in charge here, director of such fine award-winning pieces like Charlie's Angels 1 and 2. When the fight broke out between Bale and the cinematographer during a scene, McG said he didn't see it. Where was he? Was he clicking through his Scooby-Doo Viewfinder? And the writers? They wrote Catwoman. And just like that, 1000 people decided not to watch Terminator Salvation after checking that fact.

But seriously, forget all that. I'm making it sound like it's a bad movie or something. Nah. It's exactly what I want to see in a summer blockbuster. New types of terminators, a few good fights, a great helicopter scene in the beginning, and even Ah-Nuld. It won't even get you in trouble with your mom, it's PG-13ized!
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6/10
Got Curse?
18 June 2009
I wouldn't say I'm a total Sam Raimi fan, but I do like me some good horror. For the most part, DMTH was good. Not great, not fantastic, but just good. Beyond very minor elements, the story of someone being cursed is an old one.

A loan officer finds that a particular customer has placed a curse on her, for, umm, not granting her loan. That's right. She didn't steal her kids, didn't run over her family while driving drunk or stab her in the back, she was just doing her job and WHAM! got a curse. For the rest of the film, she tries to shake off this curse by magically going to the only fortune teller within a 1000 miles that can actually help her.

I've read as to how funny this movie is, yet I didn't laugh much. I saw the dark humor, two in particular involving animals. (Justin Long, who is at least funny in films such as Dodgeball, doesn't have one, not ONE funny line.) But dark humor is done much better in so many other movies. And about the story line, I have to say that it kept reminding me of the Steven King movie "Thinner". They were both cursed, and they both had to hunt down a cure before they were gone. Thinner's curse, was of course, much better and a hell of a lot funnier. And let's not even go into the predictable ending.

But I can't totally condemn the movie. There were plenty of creepy scenes, and Sam's got an eye for shots. Wait for a rental, though.
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1/10
So bad... you have to see it with your Hands!
24 May 2009
After years of reading that Manos: The Hands of Fate is one of the worst movies that was destined to go to the very bottom of the annals of bad cinema, I finally rented it to catch the experience myself. How else was I to know how bad movies would get without watching what is called the ultimate in cheesiness? Well, Manos sure didn't disappoint. Or should I say, boy, it disappointed. I've seen many an Ed Wood movie, and I can say that even Mr. Wood himself seems like a master film maker next to the diseases that this movie is. Don't get me wrong, I mean that in a good way, really I do. There is nothing better then popping in the Mystery Science Theater version of this movie and hearing them poke fun at this movie. I laughed hard, and it made me think, what if? What if this movie was burned and never found... we would have lost a treasure! Watching the movie is a test in patience. It also ruins your intelligence and makes you feel that rather then watching a movie, you are watching a bunch o' hippies that are high and/or drunk sort of flow through an imaginary script. They should show this movie at a stress test, perhaps give you a passing grade, or a degree or something that states you've accomplished a feat that only a few can do.

I can't even begin to tell you what scene would be the worst! Was it the loooong drive in the beginning, where nothing happens except driving set to some jazz music? The "teens" making out for days? The fact that the father is an idiot and led his family to all the craziness, amid the danger? The laughable audio that was dubbed in? The cat fights? Even the title of the movie, Manos, which means "hands" in Spanish, effectively makes this movie title "Hands: The Hands of Fate".

What I can tell you is the best part of the movie: watching the "Master" come out with his robe and show off the big red hands stitched into it. That amused for about 4 seconds. All downhill from there. Actually, the whole movie was a downhill that kept going into the ground and never stops, winding up in some inner core lava.

One gets the feeling that perhaps some of the actors, like maybe Tom Neyman or John Reynolds would have better served their art with a better script. One also gets the feeling that each and every person associated with this that saw the script, or met the director, or even smelled the manure on him should be drawn and quartered. It seems, though, that the cast DID indeed see how bad this movie was going to be by making fun of it, as they started calling it "Mangos: The Cans of Fruit".

So, should you watch this movie? Oh yes, you must! ONLY if you rent the MST3000 version (I heard that an unedited version is now available, now THAT must be eye-gouging torture). It's good to see how bad a movie can get and still laugh at it. I give the movie a rating of 1, and the MST3000 version a 9!

I was interested enough to try to find out as much information about this movie as I could when I found that a documentary called Hotel Torgo (2004) exists. There, they interview one of the last surviving members of the cast (I don't think they found any others that may still be alive) and even bring him to the location of the set, an old run down house in the middle of nowhere. It's worth a watch.

A review of another film within a review? It can only happen with Manos: The Hands of Fate!
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8/10
Bah, it was't bad at all!
24 May 2009
What is wrong with you people? Was it becwause your pwor wittle wolverine got changed from the comics a little? Did your favowit favowit character not appear on screen for 4 hours? Aww. There there, wannabe critics. It wasn't that bad.

Wolverine seems to be the sore spot this summer. An unfinished leaked copy on the internet that half of these people based their reviews on. Critics making comparisons to last years completely overrated Dark Knight, some of them expecting X-Men Origins: Wolverine to be the pinnacle of superhero movies. Suddenly, a bunch of people give this movie a "one" rating. Please. It's an action movie that delivers what it promises. It's the over-expectation that causes all the negativity.

Here we see the story of Logan, a mutant born with claws that come out of his hand, in his early years. We find that he ages slowly and heals rapidly (As seen in X-men). He and Victor Creed, who has similar powers fight wars together, until one day, military scientist William Stryker invites them to become part of a mission. Eventually, this leads to a falling out between Logan and Creed. After Logan's girlfriend is murdered, Logan goes on the hunt for Creed, by doing something he doesn't want to do: align himself with Stryker and become a weapon for him.

The movie was short on characterization on some of it's players, because, well, it's focus is Wolverine. We see very little of the Deadpool, Gambit, or other characters. Fans went in and felt cheated that these guys were not on for a long time. I remember watching a movie a long time ago called "Father of the Bride" with Steve Martin. I was kind of dumb in saying it was a "good movie, but we didn't get to really know mom or his daughter much." My cousin turned to me and said "DUH. It's called Father of the Bride", not Mother of the bride, or The Bride". Bad analogy, I know, but really, DUH.

But let's continue with some bad stuff: As a Wolverine fan that's been reading comics since some of you were still in your father, I would have preferred an R rating. It seemed short for what it wanted to do, moving the storyline too quickly from one scene to the next. As such, it would have benefited from an extra 10-15 minutes. It might have left out an explanation or two as to what happened to characters, or how a situation was worked out. There might have even been a dumb scene or two. But after 4 decades of watching movies, I can say the same thing about a whole slew of other movies that rate highly and still have strange plot issues, bad characters, and cheapness. You go see Shawshank Redemption to see Oscar type performances, you go see a movie like Wolverine to go on auto pilot and be entertained by action sequences.

There's no denying that some of the battle scenes were cool. Come on! Bar room fights with claws? A flying jump to a helicopter and slicing it's blades? A Random Act of Violence against a thick steel door? Countless cameos and hidden goodies? Fans shouldn't be complaining, critics need more drugs, and yes, perhaps Fox should just hand over the rights to Marvel.
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Eraserhead (1977)
9/10
Can't get Eraserhead out of my mind
17 May 2009
I first saw this with a friend who, sadly, is no longer with us. He loved the eccentric, the unusual. Every time I watch or think about the movie Eraserhead, I can hear him saying "This is going to just blow your mind!" And that it did. I can not compare this movie to anything else out there. Sure, I have seen some art movies that drag you into some strange territory never brought by regular Hollywood movies, but this... this was so different. Are you supposed to be watching a story with a beginning and an end, or is this just a day or two of the life of a man? Is he crazy, or is everyone else? Does the word crazy even apply here, and if not, what does? A regular review cannot suffice in even attempting to describe the story. Surly, there have been several sites online that have gone through pages of attempting to describe what goes on.

I can tell you that Henry gets his girlfriend pregnant, and that the baby is the scariest looking creature ever to come out of a human body. But if I tell you about the lady that lives in the radiator, the (what I call) floating man, & the creepy parents, we are going to disagree in what we think we see. For example, I saw a world where nothing was working out for Henry, and that Earth, if that is the planet he is on, hates him. Stepping in a puddle, having an elevator disagree with his presence, and generally being the cause of everyone's trouble gives me the feeling that poor Henry has bad karma issues. Someone else will see a nightmare. Or perhaps Henry is in hell, custom made for him. But is it really depressing? Or is that just the way I was seeing it? It's worth detaching yourself a bit and feel the movie's dreamy state set in your brain for a while. Rather then analyzing everything, allow it to seep in and "haunt" you for the rest of your life.

I can continue telling you all kinds of things that happen, or I think happened, such as adultery, murder, & suicide, but you probably won't find all of these things in the movie. You may find that adultery is just a fantasy, murder is actually love, and suicide is an awakening. Or none of these things. Or something different.

Regardless, you must see Eraserhead. It's a film that begs conversation after you see it, but that's just what I thought. To someone else, this may be over-indulgence, egotism by David Lynch, a weird movie that must be forgotten to others, and to a select few, the most imaginative, visually stunning work of art on film.
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8/10
Rough start, but gets better
17 May 2009
After what seemed to be a cheap send up of the events in Terminator from it's plot, The Sarah Connor Chronicles works it's way up. From the Terminator movies, though, it changes a few things to make it into a TV show. Surely, TV offers opportunities not offered in the big screen. Never needing to suspend characterization for a 2 hour movie, we are able to see details of John and Sarah that we've never seen before. This could have gone either way. In this case, it's very good.

The story takes off after Terminator 2. However, the past will catch up to them, and time travel becomes the only option. Twisting events around going to the future, a new terminator is introduced, Cameron, who is played by Summer Glau. She is without a doubt a casting stroke of genius. Not only does she have the look and feel of a new kind of terminator, she's athletic, as very well noted in Firefly and Serenity. At 27, she can get away with being 17, another portion that fits well into the storyline. Thomas Dekker is John Connor. He's no slouch, but seems almost overshadowed. Besides, the title doesn't say John, but Sarah. Lena Headey will be compared to the original SC, and some die hard fans may scream, but I really started to like her at the end of the first season. Her role is written to be tough and take it, never backing down or giving up, & that's how she plays it. And another wow, Shirley Manson, is cast in a very important role. It floored me. The chick from Garbage? Really? But it works, even though this is her first real acting gig.

Even with that new Terminator movie with that screaming cursing Batman dude, TTSCC deserves to be watched by any fan of Terminator, or Sci-Fi adventure lover. The end of season two was a fantastic finale, but leaves many questions unanswered. In fact the last 5 episodes was the series' strongest. For every revelation, there were two more that needed explaining. As of this writing, it's up in the air if a third season will come to be, but it doesn't look likely. Fox loves to cut shows short. Ratings are ratings, or so you would think. Today, there are many ways someone can watch a show without it registering in some silly ancient ratings system. DVD & BR rentals, on the internet, recorded on a computer, or a DVR not registered for rating are just some ways. So get going and go watch it.

Edit: There are only 2 seasons, it's officially canceled, unfortunately. After seeing that many people have given me a NO on "Was the above comment useful to you?" I have to laugh. As the ratings here and in other sites will tell you, this was a good series, and the work of a small handful of people that go around and hate positive comments is a riot! Do yourself a favor, if you haven't seen it, and you aren't some hard-up Terminator fan that thinks that everything in sci-fi action should be linear and fall into place like little ducks in formation, don't listen to the angry small bunch and watch this. I'm sure that most of these "positive haters" watched one episode and based everything on that. My rating of an 8 stands.
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Heavy Metal (1981)
7/10
American Adult Animation that should have continued...
14 May 2009
When I first saw a Heavy Metal magazine, I was about 11. Some kid brought it to school and showed me a segment with the penis monster. If I recalled correctly, it was sliced in half by some warrior with a sword, destroying the beast. It was all I needed to see to know this wasn't an issue of Spider-Man. I didn't understand the reasons as to why any artist or writer would even create such a thing, but I understand now. The worship of the phallic symbol, the slaying of a male dominated society, perhaps? The movie takes on the surrealistic touch on the same thing, everything from a crummy sci-fi future taxi cab to a fantasy setting with lots of breasts and violence. It includes several short stories, including a wrap-around story. If you don't like one story, you are going to love at least one other. I personally liked "Harry Canyon" & "Taarna", but I enjoyed the others as well.

While it may seem obvious that the amount of nudity and violence will attract teens and older geeks, animation has continued to make strides in a variety of genres. Heavy Metal had so much to offer aside from this. It could have been a stepping stone to much larger projects where a live action camera can not compete with. But, alas, here in America we have hit a wall in creativity for the animated adult market, and it just about ended with Heavy Metal. Movies like "A Scanner Darkly", or even "South Park" come around rarely, and I find myself dipping into the only thing I can, and that's Japanese anime. It has evolved to the point where deep character study, stunning visuals, & great story lines is the norm.

As of this writing, May 2009, rumors exist that a new Heavy Metal is to be made. Let's see how that pans out, but I will keep my expectations low. Heavy Metal 2000 wasn't very good...
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High Tension (2003)
8/10
High Tension delivers
14 May 2009
So you're a horror lover, but you haven't seen High Tension? Your list is incomplete. High Tension delivers all the thrills & blood of your usual slasher horror, but with a most exceptional twist.

Cécile De France plays Marie, who is in the unfortunate position of having a psychotic killer after her with some kind of vengeance only a mad man can conjure, & at the same time trying to save her friend from the worst possible fate. A cat and mouse games ensues. We are kept in the dark as to why the killer does his deeds, we can barely see his face. It makes this mysterious killer even scarier. Relentless and obviously severely disturbed, we are given a glimpse of him in the beginning as to what he does to a severed head that made me throw up a little in my mouth when I saw it.

Surprisingly, I saw a number of comments stating that there were too many loopholes and that there were things that didn't make sense. I can only say that they probably watched the movie, and then turned it off 15 minutes before it ended. Try doing that with other movies like The Sixth Sense, or SAW. Perhaps they need to watch it again?

Sure, the movie may not have all the substance of more popular horror flicks (like the ones mentioned above), but you can't peel away from it, and to me, the ending made up for all it's shortcomings. Cécile De France is awesome, she dubbed her own lines in English from French, did her own stunts in the movie, and played her part well. It's not the standard woman runs from killer movie, you really get the feeling that at any moment, she's clever enough to kill the killer. Recommended.
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Hardware (1990)
6/10
Hard? Where? Oh, there...
14 May 2009
80's and 90's low budget sci-fi's about a post apocalyptic Earth, creepy people & killer robots makes for a good midnight movie. Consequently, the movie Screamers (1995) and The Matrix (1999) have the same stuff, and borrows a bit from Alien and Terminator. Hardware doesn't exactly scream originality, as the story comes from a comic book, made by Steve MacManus and Kevin O'Neill of Judge Dredd fame. When Hardware first came out, however, you never heard that because they never included it in the ads or credits. You'll see them now, however, on the DVD credits, after legal issues were raised.

It's probably best that you don't know anything else from it's small plot of a desert nomad (Dylan McDermott) gets a robot head to his metal sculptress girlfriend (Stacy Travis). And then eventually, that head comes to life. It's funny seeing McDermott go from this to TV lawyer. I've got to say, Travis may have aged a bit, & still looks good, but here she looks hot.

I say it makes a good midnight movie because even though it does make a good social comment, it doesn't expand better on the idea. It's a little dated by today's standard, it doesn't have many characters and it just isn't everybody's cup of... loose screws and miscellaneous parts.

But the inclusion of Iggy Pop was cool if you know who he is. Music by Public Image Ltd ("This is What you Want This is What You Get" was very good, and fit the movie) and Ministry. The SFX was good, and it isn't a long movie, thank goodness. See it, just, you know, do it after midnight.
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5/10
It should have been better
11 May 2009
Amid the fact that there was every opportunity to make a better movie, such as a larger budget, an interesting character that is Silver Surfer, the origin set up out of the way, and years of comic book lore to tap into, Rise of the Silver Surfer seemed to be nothing more then a slight shadow of what could have been.

Now, the action was more intense then the first, I thought. What made them give this a PG was the general mildness of it all, very little or no blood. Safe for any child that can watch Y7 rated shows on Cartoon Network. Perhaps that is where they went wrong. Besides, the general fan base isn't really 7 yrs old, it's 20's, 30's, 40's, and older because they read the comics so long ago. Maybe, but then you have the short running time of barely 90 minutes. We were in and out before we even had a shot to get to know this new character suggested in the title of the movie. Or perhaps it was the fact that that when the grand finale came about we were so completely underwhelmed that we felt cheated on the setup that seemed a lot larger then it really was.

It seems that I would be contradicting what I said on the comment for the first Fantastic Four, that comic book movies should not be expected to be the same. Movies are movies and comics are comics. But here... at the end of the movie,(no spoiler) it was like robbing you of something important. So diluted and so unreasonable was the ending, that everything before it suddenly becomes useless. It removes the reality of the Silver Surfer back story, destroying it and making it unintelligent. A simplified, pat ending that was probably placed there by suits that perhaps wanted to pack everything in a short movie and keep it at a lower budget then other summer blockbusters. I don't know. Maybe it was the writers, the director, I'm not checking. It's just not worth it for me to do so because I am so saddened. And I'm not even a Silver Surfer fan.

Considering the relatively low gross, smaller then the first, I don't think we will foresee a fantastic four 3. So long FF. See you in 20 years when holograms are the new fad.
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Fantastic Four (I) (2005)
7/10
Fantastic Decision
11 May 2009
Like most super hero movies that are peeled from the pages of comic books, enjoying a movie of this genre totally depends on what your expectations are regarding them. Are you the die hard comic book fan, or the passive movie goer that enjoys action/adventure films? Did you bring the kids because you heard that it's safe for your 8 year old, and now viewing it as a family film? I read the comics as a kid. Though Fantastic Four was on the lower end of my reading schedule, there's little doubt that a legion of fans existed, and exist, that have been waiting for the full, theatrical release of them. Super heroes are a hot topic, and CG has finally caught up enough so it doesn't look like the previous release, or shall I say, non-release of the 1994 Fantastic Four that was never intended to be released to theaters. Gosh that was a bad movie.

But this movie... I came with the kids, I had lower expectations & wound up being entertained. I liked Ben, Mr Fantastic, Johnny was a blast and the Invisible girl was way different the the comic, but still very sexy. But I can understand why the fans didn't enjoy it much. It lacked the impact of the comic, & it did indeed feel like it was made for the kiddys in mind. A few bits of cliché and hammy dialog didn't really make me enjoy it less, because, well, most comic book stories have them.

FF felt like it was a set up for the sequel, getting character origins out of the way. And yes, it is a rated PG-13 family oriented action adventure, but barely so. It could have made a fine PG rated movie. Looking over the comments, I noticed that the fans, comic book lovers were expecting a lot more, and sometimes, that's not fair. Regular non-comic readers seemed to like it more, so I guess I was right. There's no way that a comic book with decades of stories can compact the same feeling in a movie. Just don't pull up your expectations too high, and enjoy.
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Metalocalypse (2006–2013)
8/10
Ingredients for viewing.. a strong stomach,
11 May 2009
...& a very dark sense of humor. I have not a clue as to how Brendon Small's "Home Movies" went on for 5 years, but apparently, people liked it enough. Metalocalypse is the opposite. Instead of life lessons learned, we usually wind up with lessons on death. Instead of generic characters, we have evil, war like creatures and the most eccentric characters this side of hell. Drugs, decapitations, and much dismemberment is just a slice of what goes on in a typical 11 minute episode of it. It's very adult, and if a 5 year old watches 1 minute of this, they will grow up to kill you. Ha.

Clever writing exists here, as it fills in generous amounts of the life & times of a Death metal band, Dethklok. It's kind of like "This Is Spinal Tap", but with blood, an Illuminati type group that wants to stop them, the coolest manager you have ever seen, clowns and cocaine, & lots and lots of more blood. Likewise, the humor is hard, but absolutely hilarious. Hell, even the music is good. Amid the mesmerizing, sometimes repetitive nature of the visuals, it is like a train wreck that you can't peel away from. Or, more precisely, an airplane that's caught in a storm, loses it's engines and about to crash into a train, somewhere over a gas line, and very close to a very large crowd of people all gathering for some useless cause. That's a lot of death. And that is a very good thing.
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3/10
I didn't want to watch it in the 90's....
11 May 2009
... and I should have never watched it now. A bad rip off of Nightmare on Elm Street mixed with Lawnmower Man, & a bit of Shocker.

Sure, you are not supposed to ask questions like "Gee, why is the Address Book Killer such a stupid name?" or "Why don't CAT scans have surge protectors?", but it's hard not to.

I found myself at odds with even more bewildering, illogical explanations. Such as how a serial killer suddenly has control of every single electrical appliance and mechanism. Look, I'm not the one to judge intelligence when it comes to sci-fi or any "good" movie that requires a stretch of the imagination. But had the movie moved out of the realm of a typical hospital CAT scan, and more into a mad scientist lab...

I cared so little for the characters, with the exception of Karen Allen's. Her son is a brat, so what if he dies? The bad guy is so... meh. Typical & boring. Special FX's are laughable, even by it's time of release. Compared to computer sfx extravaganza Jurassic Park, which released the same year, GITM showed it's low budget like strings holding a UFO. Like many 80's movies, it tried to reach out to a new "computer horror" genre, but this movie was from the 90's. Too late.
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