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Psych: The Movie (2017 TV Movie)
5/10
"My name is Burton Guster and this is my partner, White Privilege."
28 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
I'm going to sound a bit like some of the others who've written about Psych: The Movie - it was great seeing the gang back together, but the end result left me disappointed. The plot here barely matters as the movie is more about bringing back as many old characters as possible. And because of that, there's often too much going on. There are too many sub-threads that aren't needed and only serve to confuse the issue. Ralph Macchio - unnecessary. John Cena - unnecessary. Corbin Bernsen - (I can't believe I'm saying this) unnecessary. Even the reveal of an old returning baddie (which I won't spoil) - unnecessary and unrecognizable. The big exception to this was Jimmi Simpson as Mary. I always enjoyed his character and here, he adds something fun to the film.

The thing that I always enjoyed the most about Psych was the chemistry between James Roday and Dule Hill. Ask anyone who was a fan - it's what made the show special. And while there are some nice moments between Shawn and Gus, not all of it works. There are times where the comedy feels forced. It lacks that natural flow that made the show special. You've heard the expression that it's hard to catch lightning in a bottle, well, it's even harder to catch it twice. Other shows have tried and generally failed and, unfortunately, Psych is no different.

Psych: The Movie gets a lot of points for nostalgia. A couple of other parts I really got a kick out of were Gus' new stalker-girlfriend (especially when she mentioned Bud from the Cosby Show) and the final scene. Overall, though, a wishy-washy 5/10 from me.
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Bigfoot (1970)
1/10
Complete garbage
24 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
My short and sweet plot summary: A young man named Rick (Christopher Mitchum) goes in search of his girlfriend who has been abducted by the worst looking Bigfoot ever put on film. The local sheriff won't help, so Rick turns to a traveling huckster named Jasper B Hawks (John Carradine) for assistance.

What a complete load of garbage! Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, about Bigfoot is wretched. The movie doesn't scrape the bottom of the barrel - it turns the barrel upside down to get at the poo stuck to the underside. Dull, boring, horribly acted, with some of the absolute worst special effects anyone has ever seen - that' what you'll find in Bigfoot. Carradine may have been a decent actor at one time, but by 1970, he was appearing in just about anything offered. As much as I enjoyed some other films with Christopher Mitchum (Ricco and Summertime Killer to name just two), he proves here how bad an actor he could be without a solid script. It's all so awful it's really not worth saying much more.

After watching this movie, I think I need to revisit some of the other films I've rated 1/10. I think I've done some of those movie a disservice. On IMDb, of the 2,932 films I've rated, 63 received a 1/10. Some of these movies (Dead Men Walk, Sinbad of the Seven Seas, Night of the Sharks, Diamond Connection, Barbarian Queen II, ROTOR, The Adventures of Hercules, or The Swarm for example) have to better, or at least more enjoyable, than Bigfoot.
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Xena: Warrior Princess: Dreamworker (1995)
Season 1, Episode 3
6/10
"The moment you pick up a sword you become a target. The moment you kill everything changes."
21 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Gabrielle is taken hostage by Morpheus, the God of Dreams. Morpheus wants Gabrielle for his bride. Xena, as you'd expect, is having none of it. She enters a dreamscape, filled with all manner of threats she'll have to overcome if she is to survive and bring Gabrielle out with her.

Of the first three episodes in the Xena series, Dreamworker is filled with more magic than we've seen so far. It's not the best episode, but it is a nice preview of what's to come in the series. Xena's battles in the dreamscape are nicely staged. We are treated to some of the best action we've seen so far. The dreamscape itself is an interesting idea where, we quickly learn, anything is possible. Dreamworker also introduces us to the idea of Gabrielle killing in battle and what it would do to her. It's a theme that's explored in much of the series. It really adds to the muchly needed character development. Another plus for Dreamworker is that, when compared with the previous episodes, Gabrielle is less annoying. Fortunately, her character goes on to become much more than the damsel in distress she plays early in the series.

I guess my biggest complaint with Dreamworker is the way Morpheus is presented - or not presented would be more accurate. His absence from the screen hurts the episode. There's a lack of a big-time threat. While there are plenty of fight scenes, etc., without Morpheus, the episode is missing the danger or real sense of peril that should be present.
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6/10
I like a good 60s-era Euro-heist film.
21 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Jacques (Richard Harrison) is hired to steal a diamond worth $3 million. He puts together a crew - you know, an electronics expert, a safe guy, etc - the usual assortment of characters you'd put together to steal a heavily guarded, valuable diamond. Through all of their planning, Jacques and the others determine that once inside, they'll have 28 minutes (hence the title) to get the diamond and get out. Can they do it?

I like a good 60s-era Euro-heist film. 28 Minutes for 3 Million Dollars, while nowhere near as good as something like Grand Slam or some others I've seen, is a decent enough example of the genre. The plan to steal the diamond isn't as elaborate or as "serious" as some other heist films I"ve seen, but there's enough here to make it enjoyable. Taking a nod no doubt from the granddaddy of heist films, Rififi, much of the actual heist is carried out in complete silence. A nice touch. A little more drama from an inquisitive guard, for example, would have created some additional badly needed tension and a better overall film. The ending is a bit silly, but what do you expect? These guys never get away with it.

Over the past few years, I've really come to enjoy Richard Harrison, When you get him away from Sword and Sandal films, he's got a flair about him that works in the more modern settings. He's in good form here and is easily the star of the movie. The rest of the cast is workmanlike at best with no one really standing out.
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2/10
Deadly dull
9 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
If I remember correctly (and I may not - it's been years), I think Phoenix the Warrior (or She-Wolves of the Wasteland) was standard fare on the old USA UP All Night movie show. At the time, I thought it was a decent enough time waster, but then again, I was usually pretty inebriated when I watched it. Re-watching it last night, sober as a judge, I've changed my opinion drastically. What a bore! An hour and a half of the deadliest dull film I've seen in a long, long time. The acting is atrocious, the special effects are horrible, the music is annoying after about 3.4 seconds, the dialogue is cringey, and the sets are as cheap as you'll find. Throw in some really crappy, amateurish fight choreography and a plot that comes across like it was written by a drunken badger and you end up with one sorry excuse for a movie. I watch a lot of bad movies, but Phoenix the Warrior is too much. I really can't imagine enjoying something much less than I did this movie. It's a disaster!

Based on other comments I've read, I'm sure this one will get voted down on IMDb. It seems there is an audience out there who enjoys Phoenix the Warrior for the titulation it provides. I really feel sorry for anyone who watches this dreck for that reason. I suggest looking elsewhere.
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6/10
Slow but rewarding
7 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
A young boy watches his father be brutally murdered by mobsters. Now in his 20s, Ray Castor (Christopher MItchum) is out for revenge. After killing a couple of the men who participated in his father's death, Ray sets his eyes on the mob boss. Unable to get close enough to succeed, Ray puts together a plan that involves kidnapping the boss' daughter, Tania (Olivia Hussey). It's all going as he intended, but something unexpected happens - Ray falls for Tania and vice versa.

Overall, Summertime Killer is nice little Italian crime/mob film. It's not as outlandish or action packed as some of its brethren, but it's enjoyable just the same. That's not to say there's no action. Summertime Killer features a bucket full of interesting and exciting dirt bike stunts, all capably pulled off by the master, Rémy Julienne. Really good stuff. There are also some nice tension filled moments as Ray hunts down his prey. The first killing, in particular, was nicely shot.

On the acting front, I'll just say that everyone is at least capable enough to make things enjoyable. Karl Malden, as the investigator brought in to find Ray, is sadly not given enough to do. I realized while watching Summertime Killer just how much I like Malden. He was a more than capable actor who always gave a professional performance. Here, though, his screentime is limited. The best I can say about Christopher Mitchum is that, here, he doesn't really mess things up. I like him, but honestly, he's not the best actor. He may look a lot like his father, but he doesn't have his dad's acting prowess. As for Hussey, I'll be nice and say she's in the movie. I've never been a fan.

More than enjoyable than a lot of films i watch, I'll give this one a 6/10. Fans of Italian genre cinema might enjoy it as long as you go into expecting a slower than normal poliziotteschi.
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5/10
A load of atmostphere that doesn't work as well as it should
6 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Dr Ralph Hayes (Alvy Moore) leads a group of psychic researchers into the wilds of a Louisiana swamp. A series of murders has Hayes thinking there might be a witch operating in the swamp. One of his team, Anastasia (Thordis Brandt), is a sensitive - someone tuned to picking up psychic impulses. Hayes hopes she will be able to lead them to the witch. But the local witch, Luther the Berserk (John Lodge), has his own plans. He wants Anastasia in his coven. He starts killing off Hayes' team one-by-one. Can Hayes and Co save Anastasia and the rest of their group?

The Witchmaker isn't what I'd call a good movie in the traditional sense, but it is reasonably effective and enjoyable if you're into this kind of thing. The biggest plus The Witchmaker has going for it is atmosphere. At times, the atmosphere is palatable. The isolation, the creepy swamp, the Satanic trappings, and the even the low budget look of the film - all worked on me and filled me with a real sense of unease. If there's one thing that really creeps me out, it's low-budget Satanic mumbo-jumbo. Also, I thought John Lodge was particularly effective as Luther. He uses his size to his advantage as he attacks the members of Hayes' group. It's a really frightening visage.



As my rating indicates, the movie isn't perfect to me. The biggest issue I have is Alvy Moore. The problem is that as long as I've been alive, Alvy Moore has always been Hank Kimble from Green Acres. You see, not only is Green Acres on of my two or three favorite television shows, but the stammering, forgetful Kimble is my favorite character. I can't look at the man and not think of Kimble. So when, as Dr Hayes, he's trying to give some sort of scientific explanation to what's happening, it doesn't work. It sounds so silly coming out of Alvy Moore's mouth. I complimented the film's atmosphere, but unfortunately, Alvy Moore ruins whatever atmosphere the film has built up at that point. He goes off-screen, things get creepy. He comes back, not so creepy. It's too bad for The Witchmaker that Alvy Moore was so good at playing light, zany comedy.
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Xena: Warrior Princess: Chariots of War (1995)
Season 1, Episode 2
5/10
"I'm not very good at this horse thing!"
4 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Xena is injured trying to defend a group of non-violent farmers. She's nursed back to health by Darius and his family. The local warlord says he wants peace, but Xena smells a trap. She's allowed to attend the peace meeting, but only if she leaves her weapons behind. As she suspected, the meeting is a hoax and she's forced to fight empty-handed. But the local warlord's son really does want peace. He must defy his ruthless father's wishes, though, if he is to be successful.

What an odd second episode. Xena and Gabrielle have just formed a friendship / partnership when Xena leaves her behind. You'd have thought the people behind the show would have used this episode to cement their bond. Weird. Being left on her on, Gabrielle gets up to all sort of hijinks in a local tavern - most of it is just plain annoying. It's like they weren't sure what to do with Gabrielle in these initial episodes. The fight scenes here are better than the first episode, but still a long way from what you see later in the series. The quick relationship between Darius and Xena is actually nice. There's some real chemistry at work. Very nice. The final showdown, complete with chariot chase, is the episode's highlight. There's some excellent camerawork on display. Overall, however, despite what I've written, I rate this one a very average 5/10. As I've indicated, it has its moments and I might have rated it higher, but the overall plot here is fairly routine.
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Xena: Warrior Princess: Sins of the Past (1995)
Season 1, Episode 1
6/10
"Shut up! I hate chatty food."
4 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
I suppose that Episode 1 does exactly what a first episode should do - set-up the series for the episodes to come. I had forgotten all about Xena's introduction. We first see her coming over a misty hill on her horse, framed by two trees. Nice shot. We quickly learn that Xena has experienced a change of heart and wants to go home and right old wrongs. In wrestling terms, it's a face turn. Gabrielle's introduction isn't so memorable. She's been taken hostage by some baddies. When we first see her, she's uber-annoying. In fact, she's annoyingly needy throughout this episode. Like I said, it's not the best introduction.

As for the rest of Sins of the Past, if it weren't the first episode, it would hardly be memorable. Xena is pitted against what we are told is an old foe / would-be lover named Draco. He wants her to join him and his army. He threatens her home with destruction if she doesn't. The final fight scene is good, but not great. We are, however, introduced to the Xena style of fighting that carries forward throughout the series. It's a fighting style where physics hardly matter. Xena and Draco are both shown walking on the townspeople's heads. In the real world, this would undoubtedly cause injury to the people doing the walking or the people being walked on. Not here. Xena even uses a couple of people as springboards, doing a flip off their heads. You have to accept it or you'll have problems with a lot of what's to come.

Anyway, a decent start to a fantastic series. It's not as spectacular as most of the rest of the series, so I feel comfortable giving it a slightly above average 6/10.
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5/10
Mildly amusing . . . but troubling
4 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Tony Curtis is Nick Johnson, a man who uses his irresistible charm to use women to his personal, financial gain. He goes through a string of women whose untimely deaths give Johnson more wealth than he could earn on his own (at least with the same, minimal effort). He meets his match in wealthy, young, beautiful, fabulously gorgeous widow Francesca di Rienzi (Rosanna Schiaffino). The problem is he actually finds himself falling in love with her.

My 5/10 rating should indicate that I found Arrivederci, Baby! mildly amusing. I wasn't rolling in the floor laughing, but most of the movie is at least passable entertainment at its worst. The final act where Curtis and Schiaffino go toe-to-toe is the film's highlight. They're on equal footing. With most of the other women, Curtis has the upper-hand before they realize they're being had. It's not fair. I think my favorite bits might have been either the croquet match or dance floor fight scenes - really good stuff. Other than the creepy bits where Curtis tries to play a "boy", he's good. I didn't care for the instances where he breaks the fourth wall, but that's not his fault. Schiaffino is in fine form. What a woman! After I watched her in The Witch, I wrote, "I don't know where these Italian producers found these incredible women. It's not a stretch of the imagination to believe Schiaffino could force any man to fall for her." I could say exactly the same after watching this film.

I've already mentioned my problem with Curtis as a "boy", but I had other issues with his NIck Johnson. I get the feeling that Arrivederci, Baby! was meant to be a light-hearted romp. But there's a really dark undercurrent that I found troubling. Johnson isn't just a typical, loveable con-artist stealing money from rich women. He's also a murderer and a rapist. Not the characteristics you find in most rom-coms.

A couple of final points: 1. The European locations are to die for in this movie. And here, they're presented in all their 60s glory. What visions! 2. The supporting cast is especially strong. Lionel Jeffries, Zsa Zsa Gabor (yes, even Zsa Zsa), Nancy Kwan, and especially Anna Quayle add a lot of flavor and variety to the film.
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6/10
Better than average piece of entertainment
28 December 2017
Warning: Spoilers
The Killers Are Our Guests opens with a daring daylight jewelry store robbery. One of the robbers is shot during the escape. The band of robbers is forced to seek medical attention for their partner and end up at the isolated villa of a doctor and his wife. Forced to comply, the doctor does his best to patch up the wounded robber. The baddies hold the pair hostage until they're able to hit the road. It's a nightmare of a night as the doctor and wife are threatened with their lives, the wife is raped, and, in the end, most everyone is killed.

Overall, I found The Killers Are Our Guests an above average piece of entertainment. I'm not sure how I'd classify the film, but I'm going to go with poliziotteschi or Euro-crime. The film features plenty of atmosphere as the robbers harass and threaten the couple. The movie never goes as far as something like Last House on the Left, but it has a similar cramped, ominous feel to it. I really started to feel for the doctor's wife. Either through choice or force, she has sex four times during the night. And when it's not by choice, it's not very pleasant. While the police seem ineffective throughout, the way the police ultimately catch their prey is nicely handled and provides an unexpected twist. The acting is solid. Genre regulars Anthony Steffan, Luigi Pistilli, and Margaret Lee are as good as I've come to expect. It's always nice to discover a "new" movie with Margaret Lee. The rest of the cast is more than adequate. If it weren't for some fairly long stretches in the second act where the film almost grinds to a halt, I could have easily rated The Killers Are Our Guests higher.
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Catwoman (2004)
2/10
"Meow."
27 December 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Patience Phillips (Halle Berry) is a meek, mild-mannered woman working in the advertising department of a cosmetics firm. One night, she sees and overhears something she wasn't meant to. The company's new line causes horrible scarring after extended use. Patience is killed because of what she learned. However, she is brought back to life by an Egyptian cat and granted many cat-like powers. She decides to use these powers to discover who killed her and put a stop to the company she once worked for.

I knew of Catwoman's horrible reputation, but didn't really believe it could be that bad. I mean, squeezing the gorgeous Halle Berry into skin-tight leather should set you up for some thrills. Unfortunately, there's not a costume on Earth that could have saved this mess of a movie. Almost everything (the lone exception being some scenes with Halle Berry and Benjamin Bratt - I enjoyed the chemistry) is a disaster. The plot is paper thin, the baddies are weak, the acting is poor, the attempts at comedy are cringey, and the dialogue is silly. But as bad as all that is, nothing compares with the wretched special effects. I thought the CG cat looked horrible (and why use a CG cat anyway?), but then i saw the CG Halle Berry. I'm sure a small fortune was spent on these effects. What a waste! The shots of Adam West "climbing" buildings in the 1960s-era Batman TV show are more believable. It's just pathetic.
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6/10
A good late 80s giallo
26 December 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Sylvia O'Neal is a successful model working in Milan. After the final shoot for a big ad campaign, Sylvia attends a party with some of the other models. Sylvia doesn't realize it, but she has caught the eye of an older, powerful man. She's doesn't realize that he will also be at the party or the party's real purpose. She refuses his advances, but she's not strong enough to fight off the other models. While they hold her, the man rapes her. Distraught, she leaves the party in a hurry only to be found burned to death in a car the following morning. It looks like an accident until the others at the party start turning up dead. And when the police discover Sylvia was shot through the head before the car crash, it's obvious a killer is on the loose.

The 70s were the heyday for the Italian giallo. So it's always nice to discover one made in the 80s, nevermind the late 80s, that's actually good. Too Beautiful to Die is a solid example of a latter day giallo. An unknown killer, a fantastically gruesome murder weapon, artistic touches (tracking shots and blue lighting), a boatload of beautiful women, and plenty of atmosphere - this one has all the elements you expect to find in a giallo. Too Beautiful to Die also features some of the best (or worst) of the 80s. The music, clothing, and hair - all from the 80s. The ad campaigns and music videos the women are working on are incredibly reminiscent of a Robert Palmer video. It's a visual straight out of the 80s. In fact, much of the movie is a bit like watching a string of 80s-era music videos strung together into a film. Plenty of style. Another plus for Too Beautiful to Die are the plot twists and turns you expect to find in a good giallo. There are plenty of clues and red herrings sprinkled throughout that will keep you guessing to the end. With about 20 minutes to go, I was sure I had things figured out. And while I was partially correct, the movie had one more curveball up its sleeve. Very nice. If it weren't for the poor explanation of the killer's motivation, a couple of slow spots in the screenplay, and some questionable acting, I could have easily rated this one higher. Still, it's a nice giallo that fans of the genre should seek out.
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9/10
A story of strength
26 December 2017
Elizabeth Smart: Autobiography is, as the name implies, Elizabeth Smart's story told in her own words. Smart was abducted as a young teen, held captive by a deranged couple, brainwashed, and repeatedly raped for almost a year before she was able to escape. The film also explores the pain and suffering experienced by her family as they faced the initial shock and terror of a missing child, their ordeal with the police, and the highs and lows they experienced trying to find Elizabeth.

I'm not sure "entertaining" is the right word to use, but Elizabeth Smart: Autobiography is certainly a compelling piece of television. Elizabeth Smart's story is one of courage, bravery, and an unending faith. It's the story of a girl who did whatever she had to deal with her situation and survive. Elizabeth Smart iis amazingly calm as she recounts her ordeal. The specifics she details are heartbreaking. I'm amazed at Smart's poise as the horrors she faced unfold. What an amazing woman.

The only reason I haven't rated this a 10/10 was that I wanted more from Smart and less from the family. While their ordeal was no doubt gut-wrenching, their story isn't as "interesting" as Elizabeth's. Less family and more Elizabeth Smart would have made this thing even better. Still, it's a minor quibble with what is overall a wonderful documentary.

After watching this, I was interested to learn more about Elizabeth Smart's story. I'm shocked to read numerous posts on the internet that doubt her and the truth behind her ordeal. Most question why she didn't try to escape and why it took her so long to admit she was Elizabeth Smart when questioned by the police. I think she does an excellent job of addressing this in the film. If you've never been in her situation, don't judge. You have no idea what she was going through. Her fear was real and her reluctance to do or say something is completely understandable. These doubters infuriate me.
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4/10
"Why is it people don't ride zebras?"
26 December 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgård) is convinced to return to Africa so he might help the Congolese people facing enslavement and other atrocities at the hands of Belgian diamond miners. Tarzan is accompanied by George Washington Williams (Samuel L Jackson) and, against his wishes, his wife Jane (Margot Robbie). Soon after their arrival in Africa, Jane is kidnapped by a man named Rom (Christoph Waltz). Rom has a plan to turn Tarzan over to an African chief, Mbonga (Djimon Hounsou), who wants to see Tarzan punished for the death of his son. Rom intends to use Jane as bait to lure Tarzan into Mbonga's hands for a fortune in diamonds in return. As you'd expect, Tarzan sets out to rescue Jane.

My little, poorly written plot summary for The Legend of Tarzan actually makes the film sound better than it is. The plot here is paper thin. A lot of what goes on makes no sense at all and characters generally behave in an irrational fashion with little motivation. All are 2D characters without much depth. The showdown between Tarzan and Mbonga should have been a highlight. Instead, it's one of weakest sequences in the film. It's over before it begins. It's frustrating to watch a film that could and should have been much better had anyone spent more time developing a solid and compelling story.

Beyond my issues with the plot, I wasn't crazy about the film's structure. Parts of the story are told in a series of increasingly frustrating flashbacks. Most of the flashbacks relate to Tarzan's origin story - something that felt unnecessary to include in this movie. Not only are the flashbacks annoying but they do a pretty poor job of explaining a backstory we're all familiar with. They only serve to bloat the film and unnecessarily increase the runtime.

The acting is all over the place. Skarsgård makes for a weak Tarzan. Oddly, he seems uninterested throughout most of the movie. Robbie really doesn't have much to do and is wasted. Jackson does what he usually does - he plays Williams just like every other character he plays. He seems horribly miscast to me. Hounsou and Waltz are the acting highlights for me. With more developed characters and better defined motivations, they're performances would have been even better.

Even though I've already listed a number of negatives, the biggest weakness in The Legend of Tarzan is the overuse of some really bad looking CGI. Most of the animals look terrible. The gorillas, lions, wildebeests (especially the wildebeests) - none of them look convincing. There's not a "real" looking animal to be found in the entire movie. But the worst example of poor CGI can be seen in Tarzan's swing through the trees. A hand drawn cartoon would have looked more realistic. It's some of the worst CGI I've seen. And speaking of Tarzan swinging through the trees - the whole notion is ridiculous. Tarzan goes from one conveniently placed vine to the next at a speed that would have made a cheetah envious. It's insulting.

Despite everything I've written, it's obvious from my rating that I didn't find the entire film a total flop. There are moments here and there that work - Rom's diner scene with Jane being one example. So even though I've spent several paragraphs discussing the issues I had with The Legend of Tarzan, I'm still rating the film a 4/10.
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3/10
"Whoa, we got us a little Mexican standoff!"
24 December 2017
Warning: Spoilers
There's so much I could write about Transformers: Dark of the Moon that I'm not sure where to begin. I think I'll start with my one word review - wretched. It's one truly wretched movie. I'm not sure how you spend almost $200 million and make something this bad, but Michael Bay found a way. I usually begin one of these with a plot summary, but with Transformers: Dark of the Moon, I don't see any point. The plot here doesn't really matter. The plot is pointless. It's all about big explosions. And if there's one thing Michael Bay can do, it's make a movie with big explosions. The problem is that without a story I cared 2 cents about, the big explosions get pretty boring pretty fast. At 2 hours 34 minutes and with no interesting story, this thing is like running a marathon in mud. It takes forever. By the time the film's big finale rolled around, I was done. I couldn't take anymore. What a bore! But to be fair, I went back and watched the last part about three times because I kept falling asleep. You would think that any movie that ends with giant robots doing battle would have an ending that would hold your interest. That's not the case here. And if you're going to begin your movie on the moon, why not end it on the moon? We've seen Transformers battle on Earth before, so why not take the final battle back to where it all began? What a missed opportunity. And does Michael Bay believe in editing. There's so much fat here that could have easily been cut out. For example, ss I said when writing about #2, why are Sam's parents even in the film? They add nothing but minutes to the runtime. That's just one example of the many I could cite.

And I realize I'm starting to ramble, so I better stop here. I could go on and on about the poor CGI, the bad inside jokes, and the embarrassing treatment of Leonard Nimoy's legacy, but I won't . I don't want to overstay my welcome like Transformers: Dark of the Moon.
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7/10
"Those characters over there - that's what gives motorcyling a bad name."
24 December 2017
Warning: Spoilers
C.C. Ryder (Joe Namath), a motorcycle mechanic, is a somewhat reluctant member of an outlaw biker gang known as The Head. By accident, he meets a fashion photographer, Ann McCalley (Ann-Margret), and saves her from the other members of his gang. C.C. falls for Ann, but realizes he'll have to leave the gang if he is to win her over. C.C. enters and wins a dirt bike race, giving him the funds he needs to strike out on his own and pursue Ann. But gang leader Moon (William Smith) doesn't see it that way. He wants C.C.'s money for his own and goes after Ann to prove his point. C.C. will have to defeat Moon if he is to be free of The Head.

Given its relatively poor online reputation, I'm as shocked as anyone by how much I enjoyed C.C. and Company. The movie just clicked with me and worked quite nicely. Director Seymour Robbie may have been mainly a television director, but I felt he handled this transition to film very professionally. C.C. and Company is well-paced with plenty of sight gags and fight scenes that work as intended. For example, the scene where C.C. steals the dirt bike is really cleverly handled. The shot of him towing the dirt bike behind his chopper was a real kick. As for fight scenes, the fight between C.C. and Moon in the creek is really well choreographed and filmed. It's a solid action piece. Robbie also manages to throw in some menacing set-pieces, none more so than the kidnap of Ann. Again, nicely done.

The acting in C.C. and Company is also a highlight. I wasn't expecting much from Namath, but he gives a reasonably competent performance. In a lot of scenes he's not asked to do much more than sit on his bike and smile, but when challenged, he's more than capable. Ann-Margret is Ann-Margret and gives the performance you expect. The chemistry she had with Namath seemed natural and easy. The real star for me, however, is William Smith. He plays Moon as a hulking, menacing presence capable of snapping at a moment's notice. He's always struck me as a wonderful actor and, here, he really gets a chance to shine.

As I said near the start of this, I enjoyed C.C. and Company more than most. I was entertained throughout and that's all I ask of a film. A solid 7/10 from me.
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7/10
"I'm right on top of that Rose."
23 December 2017
Warning: Spoilers
When Mom Crandell decides to take the Summer off for an Australian vacation without her children, she hires a babysitter to oversee things. Mom is barely out of the country when the babysitter turns up dead. The kids, led by 17 year old Sue Ellen or "Swell" (Christina Applegate), decide they can take care of themselves. Using a copied resume, Swell is soon on her way up the career ladder in the fashion industry. With little help at home from her siblings, a new boyfriend, a failing company, and co-workers out to get her, Swell's got her hands full if she's to successfully navigate her Summer.

I don't think I've seen Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead in something like 20 years. I was happy to discover that, for the most part, the film holds up well. The comedy still works. Swell's interactions with her co-workers are often very funny. I got a real kick out of seeing a young David Duchovny working to thwart Swell. Or the way Swell pulls the wool over her boss's eyes time after time. Good stuff! The exception is Gus (John Getz) repeatedly hitting on Swell. Really cringey. I've always enjoyed Christina Applegate and here she's as good as ever. I wish she would have done more of this kind of film in the 90s. It suits her. I'm guessing that her role in Married with Children negatively typecast her. Other big pluses in this movie are some child actors who can actually act, life lessons that aren't driven home with a heavy hand, and some nice musical selections. The ending is something of a head scratcher. Even after being discovered as a fake, Swell is offered, but turns down, the chance to continue her career. Why? It's never made sense to me. Still, Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead is a solid movie.

Another thing I really enjoyed while watching Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead were all the late 80s / early 90s trappings. Shoulder pads, bright colors, big hair - the nostalgia just flowed over me. But the thing that really stood out was all the smoking. I forgot how much people used to smoke in movies. Seeing "17" year old Swell smoking non-stop really brought that home. You wouldn't see that today. It's definitely a product of its time.
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Pottersville (2017)
7/10
I'm a wolf!
23 December 2017
Warning: Spoilers
A down on its luck mining town finds a new life when locals begin seeing a bigfoot. Before long, there are tourists in town, cash registers ringing, and a nationally syndicated television show scouring the woods for a sasquatch. It's a Christmas miracle - or is it?

My rating for Pottersville seems at odds with conventional wisdom. It's obvious that I enjoy this one much, much more than most people. For many reason, the film worked for me. The cast is brilliant - from Michael Shannon playing against character to the always enjoyable Judy Greer to the gruff but funny Ian McShane, I had a blast with the cast. The plot is a another plus for me. It's just quirky enough to keep me entertained throughout. The bits about the furries, the bigfoot sightings, and the "unique" townspeople are all interesting touches. I've read several complaints about the lack of real comedy and, while I can agree to a point, there are enough moments that made me at least smile that I didn't need to laugh out loud to find the comedy enjoyable. Overall, I had a good time with Pottersville and have no problems rating it higher than most others.

My biggest complaint with Pottersville and the thing that keeps me from rating it higher is Tom Lennon. A little Lennon goes a long way. He's given way, way too much screentime. I admit that some of his interactions with Ian McShane and the Nelson Mandela song dedicaiton were quite funny, but overall, he's annoying. Less Lennon and I might have rated Pottersville even higher.
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The Villain (1979)
2/10
Ugh
16 December 2017
Warning: Spoilers
A slow-witted cowboy named Handsome Stranger (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is acting as a bodyguard of sorts for a woman named Charming Jones (Ann-Margret). Charming is traveling across the West with fortune in a locked chest. An old outlaw named Cactus Jack (Kirk Douglas) is hired to steal the chest. Cactus Jack comes up with trap after trap to try to get his hands on the loot, but each plan fails epically.

I can't tell you how many reviews I've read comparing The Villain to a live action Wile E Coyote cartoon. While I see some comparisons, the difference is that Wile E Coyote's tales are funny and told with wit and charm. The tale of Cactus Jack is filled with failed attempts at comedy and is about as dull as anything I've seen recently. None of it worked on me. I knew I was in trouble five minutes into the movie when Jack has an argument with his horse. Ugh. I could see my 6-year old laughing at some of Jack's hijinks, but none of it brought as much as a smile to my face. I was bored to tears. Without a car in sight, director Hal Needham seems horribly out of his element.

As for the acting, I watched The Villain for Schwarzenegger. However, in 1979, he was still a terribly green actor. In most scenes, he's as stiff as a board. The ridiculously gorgeous Ann-Margaret almost makes The Villain worth watching on her own, but after a while, ogling Ann-Margret can get tedious. As for Douglas, what an embarrassment! Let's just say that comedy wasn't his thing. The highlight of the cast for me was easily Strother Martin in a bit part. His five minutes of screen-time were easily the best part of the film.
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7/10
"I'm a cop, you idiot! I'm Detective John Kimble!"
16 December 2017
Warning: Spoilers
John Kimble (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a cop assigned to put a killer named Crisp behind bars for good. To do so, Kimble needs to find Crisp's son and ex-wife. All he knows for certain is the name of the small Oregon town where the live and that the boy is kindergarten age. Kimble goes undercover as a kindergarten teacher to try to find the boy. Even though he's a tough cop on a mission, Kimble realizes, to his amazement, that he enjoys teaching the kids. He also finds a love interest in one of the other teachers, Joyce (Penelope Ann Miller) - a single mother whose son is in Kimble's class. And, as luck would have it, Kimble discovers that Joyce is Crisp's ex-wife. How convenient! Kimble will have to act fact, though, because Crisp is on his way to collect his son.

For the most part, Kindergarten Cop is an enjoyable movie. Schwarzenegger seems naturally unnatural around the kids, but that works in the film's favor. Kimble should be awkward around his class. There are a number of humorous interactions between the un-humorous Kimble and the kids - my favorite being his reaction to the kid obsessed with death. Good stuff. As awkward as Schwarzenegger is around the children, it's the exact opposite when it comes to his co-star, Miller. There's a nice chemistry between the two that really shows on-screen. I would have loved to see the pair make more movies together. Another plus for kindergarten cop is Pamela Reed playing Kimble's partner. Reed is always good and gives a solid performance here. Throw in some nice action toward the film's conclusion and Kindergarten Cop ends up being a nice experience.

I do, however, have two complaints. First, the film is too long. I really think that if just 10 to 15 minutes were cut from the runtime, it would be a better, tighter movie. Cut the scenes with Cathy Moriarty, for example. They add zilch to the final product. Second, baddie Crisp and his mother aren't threatening enough. They're jokes. Had the pair been played with a more menacing tone, the final showdown would have been even better. Still, it's a solid film as is.
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7/10
Nice "little" giallo
14 December 2017
Warning: Spoilers
After years at a boarding school, Nancy Thompson (Jenny Tamburi) arrives at her late mother's home and is introduced to her step-father, Marco (Silvano Tranquilli), whom she's never met, and his lady friend, Gianna (Rosalba Neri). Nancy's mother's death was ruled a suicide, but Nancy's not so sure. She suspects that either Marco or Gianna or dboth may have had a hand in her death. Nancy begins playing a dangerous game by pitting Marco and Gianna against each other in her attempt to get to the truth.

Smile Before Death is nice little giallo. With only three characters that have any real screen-time and only two or three different sets, it's what I'd definitely call "little". Nancy's mother's murder may not be overly complicated, but it's still a real treat to watch Nancy get to the bottom of things as Marco and Gianna turn on each other. It's a hoot watching Nancy play them like a fiddle. They fall for it hook, line, and sinker. It's some terrific writing given how "little" the movie is. Director Silvio Amadio (better known for his giallo, Amuck) does a remarkable job of keeping the interest high even though we already know where most of the film is headed. Amadio also does a fantastic job of springing not just one, but two twists near the film's finale. Both worked perfectly as far as I'm concerned. Fantastic job of filmmaking.

I can't say enough about the cast. I'm not really familiar with Tamburi, but here, she's perfect. Her transformation from shy schoolgirl to full-blown sexpot is a nice piece of acting. Tranquilli is a real pro, having appeared in a number of genre films I've seen in the past. As for Neri, I've sung her praises so many times in the past that doing so here would be pointless. I'll just say, she's good.

Based on my rating, it's obvious that the film isn't perfect in my eyes, but giallo fans really ought to check out this relatively obscure film. It's worth it.
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2/10
"You're not gonna believe this, but there's a snow cone vendor out there not wearing a bra."
13 December 2017
Warning: Spoilers
As the title implies, Larry the Cable Guy has a new job as a health inspector. Larry finds himself saddled with a partner he didn't ask for, farting, the prospect of a new relationship, more farting, a boss who wants him fired, even more farting, and a series of mysterious food poisonings at some of the city's best restaurants. Larry's a busy guy.

I've seen a lot of dumb movies in my day, but Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector might just take the prize as the absolute dumbest. I think my IQ dropped a few points while I watched. The movie isn't much more than a continuous 80-something minute fart joke. The fart jokes go on and on and on. I didn't find the first one funny, so by the 50th, I was about ready to slit my wrists. Oh my God is this thing horrible! In between fart jokes, the movie finds time to offend just about every group imaginable. I'm not one that normally gets offended when watching a movie, but here, it slaps you in the face. Race, sexual orientation, handicaps, you name it - Larry treats them all with the same level of disdain and ridicule. It's bottom-of-the-barrel comedy. Still, I haven't rated the movie a 1/10 because, despite itself and my knowing better, there were a couple of moments that worked - most involving Larry's partner, Butlin.

I'm shocked the makers of Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector were able to convince some of these actors to take the job. Iris Bahr (playing the previously mentioned Butlin), Megyn Price, Joe Pantoliano, and Joanna Cassidy must have all really needed the work. I'm shocked any would lower themselves to appear in this dreck. I know they were paid, but I still feel sorry for them.
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6/10
"Sometimes I think we shall never get together on this earth until we find someone on Mars to hate."
11 December 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Berlin Express is a mystery set shortly after WWII on an Army transport train headed from Paris to Berlin. The train carries an assortment of characters, all with different backgrounds and allegiances. The trip is sidetracked in Frankfurt after the attempted assassination and later kidnapping of a German named Paul Lukas. Lukas has the ideas and wherewithal to deliver a unified post-WWII Germany. Others, however, do not want to see this happen and would rather Germany remain divided. I know a lot of this may sound vague and incomplete, but I've probably already given away too much of the mystery as it is.

Overall, I would describe Berlin Express as a nice, but never great, film. The movie opens with a voice-over narration that is absolutely necessary to set-up what's to come. These monologues can sometimes annoy me, but without it here, the film would have taken at least an additional hour to explain what was happening. The acting here is solid, but not necessarily spectacular. Robert Ryan and Merle Oberon head the talented United Nations-style cast. The mystery elements work in Berlin Express. Curt Siodmak is responsible for the twisted, sometimes confusing, but always engaging, screenplay. The big twist to the plot that comes near the 30 minute mark worked almost perfectly on me. It really caught me off guard. Most of the story is told in a documentary, matter-of-fact style that suits the somber surroundings. Speaking of the surroundings, the real star here are the locations. The movie was shot in the actual post-war ruins of Frankfurt. The bombed out building, the crumbling infrastructure, and the gut-wrenching homelessness are filmed magnificently. It's sad and horrific, but absolutely beautiful.
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4/10
"It's raining white women."
10 December 2017
Warning: Spoilers
The Angels are charged with locating two rings. These aren't, however, any ordinary pair of rings. They contain secret information that, when decrypted, reveal information on everyone in the Federal Witness Protection Program. When witnesses on the list start turning up dead, it's obvious the Angels will have to step up their efforts. But the baddie is someone well known to the Angels - someone who knows the way the Angels work and think. In fact, she was once an Angel herself.

I really got a kick out of the first Charlie's Angels movie. It was dumb, but it was fun. In Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle there's just too much. I'm not sure I've seen this since I originally saw it in the theater, so I forgot how busy it all is. There are too many jokes, there are too many ridiculous situations, there are too many over-the- top fight scenes, there is too much of Cameron Diaz's booty shaking (if that's possible), and there is way, way too much CGI. The first movie took the original Charlie's Angels and turned it up a notch or two. This one rips the knob off. It proves the old adage that too much of a good thing can sometimes be a bad thing.

The highlight of the film for me is the cast. Diaz, Lucy Liu, and Drew Barrymore all have a charm to them that's a joy to watch. When the film is just the three of them without the huge special effects, these moments work. Unfortunately, these scenes are too few and far between. Also, I really enjoyed seeing Demi Moore. But then again, I always enjoying seeing Demi Moore.

Unfortunately, there's not much here to recommend. A 4/10 is the best rating I can give Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle.
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