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Poltergeist (2015)
3/10
Just Bad
25 May 2015
Warning: Spoilers
I know a lot of people will be trashing this film because it's not as good as the original. But the simple fact is, it's bad all on it's own, regardless of the fact that it's a remake.

The scares are cheap. A lot of the plot doesn't make sense. For example, we learn early on that both parents are unemployed. Yet somehow, they can still purchase a four bedroom home. Really? Clearly, the filmmakers were trying to take the film away from the original housing boom of the first Poltergeist and into our current post-recession world. This is not done in an effective way. I think you could also argue that certain aspects of post 9/11 culture are present. For example, the spirit world is saved by a small drone like toy. The family used it to see into the spirit world. There was also a much larger presence of technology used to monitor the dead. It all seemed a bit militant to me. Some sort of commentary on the current military industrial complex?

Another huge flaw is the constant use of CGI. The first film is so terrifying because the audience can't see the world that the dead inhabit. The family is terrified, because they don't know where their little girl is. But we see the computer rendered version here, completely eliminating any chance of suspense. I wish that Hollywood would figure out that the audience cares about more than graphics.

The film also took a weird turn with the young son. Somehow, it became a coming of age story for him. The parents are strangely absent in some scenes.

I gave this a 4/10, and in some ways I think I'm being a bit generous.
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5/10
Pretty bad, but not quite as horrible as the review would have you think
17 October 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Someone handed me the DVD for "I know Who Killed Me" and told me to watch it. He told me it isn't really that bad.

So I did.

There are some standout performances. Julia Ormond is fantastic. I actually didn't find Lindsay Lohan too bad. It wasn't her best performance, but you can see that she has researched her role. She just wasn't given very much to work with. The script is very weak. It appears to be trying to mimic the success of The Omen, with babies being purchased to fool mothers whose newborns have died. There are random shots of owls and the full moon. The attitude seems to be, "I saw this in a different horror movie once, so I guess it's okay." Many shots also linger far too long on their subject, making the film very awkward to watch. It's also repetitive. I remember thinking, why are we back here? Didn't we see this exact same violent scene five minutes ago? It seemed as though the audience was supposed to receive some sort of satisfaction for watching Lindsay Lohan suffer. Elements of foreshadowing are so highlighted that it becomes obvious that they will be of significance later. This film has no concept of subtle.

Also, I won't give away who the killer is, but I emitted an audible groan when Lindsay figured who it was. Scooby and the gang may have been excited to catch this criminal, but it wasn't worth of a Hollywood movie plot.

All in all, I feel like Lindsay shouldn't have received the brunt of the bad press for this. She gave a competent performance. She just did so in a stinker.
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8/10
Funny, interesting, definitely worth the watch
12 December 2013
I had the pleasure of watching this film and Toronto's HotDocs festival, and I can say that there are few documentary films out there that can compete with this. We get a glimpse into the life of Doris Payne, a senior citizen with a past (and present) career as a jewel thief. She is one of the most infamous thieves out there, and her very presence in a shop will set off security staff. You may have even seen her in the news.

We follow Doris as she prepares to go on trial. We hear from friends and members of her family. We also watch drama unfold in front of the camera, as Doris' lies begin to catch up on her. A strong point of the film is when we get to hear anecdotes from the past. This lady has an interesting story to tell! It's no surprise that a narrative film about her is in the works.

What makes this film so fantastic is that while the filmmakers present us with many aspects of Doris' character which may contribute to our understanding of her actions, the audience is left to consider the root of her motives on their own. The viewer is challenged but not guided by preconceived notions.

It should also be noted that Doris Payne loves the camera, and is very entertaining to watch!
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Elizabeth (1998)
4/10
Poorly Done
8 November 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I have had a hard time understanding why this film is so critically acclaimed. The writing is poor, it is historically inaccurate, and makes little sense. I can deal with some artistic license for historic films, but this one is so far divorced from the truth that I had trouble sitting through it. Several significant characters are not properly introduced, despite the fact that they appear in several scenes. The script was a complete mess from beginning to end. Characters are extremely melodramatic, many of the scenes that we see do not makes sense. For example (spoilers):

A dress kills one person who touches it, but not the other person who does so? (This is also an example of an extreme historical inaccuracy). When Elizabeth looks at herself with her hair cut, she proclaims herself a virgin. This makes exactly no sense. This has no basis in how people felt back then, as young unmarried virgins wore their hair down their backs, as she was featured in the beginning of the film when she was young. It doesn't even work as symbolism for other parts of the film. I found this line to be baffling.

Basically, the film is one long irrelevant mess that relies on Hollywood's idea of what Elizabethan England is, with little substance or plot.
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